I just read a Facebook status update posted by a woman I work with from Lifeway:
Know your “yeses” and the “nos” will take care of themselves.
Mike and I have had a tremendous amount of change over the last several months, and I have not done a fabulous job of keeping the changes up-to-date in here. Every day we are trying to “walk in the yeses” so-to-speak, and not get weighed down by the discouragement that “nos” can bring. It’s what we expect daily of our own children, and thus what made us send ourselves on the 40-Day “no complaining/whining/grumbling challenge.”
ALLOW ME TO WALK YOU THROUGH 12 MAJOR MOMENTS of the PAST FEW MONTHS:
1) Mike resigned as Children’s Pastor at The Summit, completing the 3 years of reshaping that he had committed to do before walking into creating family shared experiences. He still misses those kids and families, and it is always so good to see kids around town!
2) Through a private message on Facebook, Alyssa Goins from Lifeway Christian Resources contacted me with one question: “Will you write choir musicals for kids?” It’s a lot like when I started painting murals on walls in ATL. I said, “SURE!” and then we walked through the how-to process. Having done many music projects and curriculum, we enjoyed the musical challenge. It took shape, beginning an unexpected, yet very fun, relationship that continues to provide daily bread for our family’s needs. Right now, in fact, I am beginning a Scripture project that will be launched in November.
3) Before we left for Texas to film a church demonstration video of the first musical iHope Christmas, which is being released right now for the coming fall/winter seasons, Mike was contacted by a Chaplain of Wesleyan Academy, a large Christian school in High Point, NC. This man had invited Mike to speak for the students twice in the spring, and he had heard that Mike was no longer serving as a Children’s Pastor. The concept of shared family experiences captivated Pastor Paul, and he and Mike met to talk at length about how we can partner together to reach families of all ages who attend that school but who have pretty much given up on regular church attendance. By the time we left for TX, First Wesleyan Church in High Point was asking Mike to take a full-time position with them, and part of that job would be to launch Cre8 in High Point.
We left for TX with a lot to pray about.
4) As the mini-van wheels rolled along, so did our petitions to the Lord. After seeking wise counsel from many significant friends and family members, we returned home to turn down the job offer at FWC, and to complete all of the beginnings of getting Cre8 Church up and running, establishing the non-profit status, looking for places to gather, finding the families who are wanting to build this family ministry, and Cre8:TOGETHER.
5) Our 2nd day home was a doozy! We set out to look at 2 properties. The first one is an estate that was priced over a million dollars under its value, and from the images online, it looked like it had been perfectly designed with all of the Cre8 environments in mind! The second one is an old abandoned warehouse in a bad section of High Point, once a high-end furniture showroom, now bank-owned and foreclosed, in need of complete renovation.
6) We never made it to the warehouse that day because our entire day was spent with the owner of the estate property. A 70-year-old man who had left beloved city-living to become a farmer “because God told him to.” Upon meeting us, he pointed to the 5000 sq. ft. garage and said, “We had church in that building for 3 years… and see that pool? My wife and I don’t swim and all of our kids are grown, but over 400 people have been baptized in that water…” In a short amount of time, this man built a 500-acre nature preserve, and owns 600 acres, complete with trails, an equestrian center, lakes, and forests. Our journey with this man and his wife was God-kissed, and we spent hours and days together, talking, learning, crying… and over the next weeks, it appeared that God was doing “above and beyond what we could ever ask, think, or imagine…” The man would say things to Mike like, “I am old. I’m tired. God told me to build, and I have known that I am building something that I will never see completed in MY lifetime.” Then with tears in his eyes and a gentle gesture to Mike, he would say, “But I am not the one with the vision. I am not the one with the calling…”
7) We DID end up looking at the abandoned 15,000 square-foot warehouse as well. The last purchase price on that building was over $600,000. When we found it, the bank was asking $175,000. Just weeks later, they were asking $30,000!!! I wanted to slap down the funds to get started that day! Mike felt the need to wait. He was right to wait, and we are currently waiting to see if the bank is ready to simply “let it go” as a donation, having talked with one of their representatives just yesterday… SO… THAT is a big possibility, and someday I will tell you the complete vision for such a place!
8) On Sunday (Father’s Day), Mike preached at the Wesleyan Church. He gave his most passionate sermon—a message that has been building in him as a man, a husband, a father, a leader, for nearly two years. He graded himself with a “C” for public speaking, but I think it was because of how “on his sleeve” his heart was worn. I watched a crowd receive his every word and simply could not have been prouder of him!!! Now, I am wondering, right along with him, “WHAT is the Lord doing?!?!
9) This is something, and a wonderful provision, we weren’t seeking. You see, even though Mike turned DOWN the full time job at FWC with benefits, we DID agree to part-time work. There is ENORMOUS potential in that group of believers, who gather in an old SHOPPING MALL that has been renovated. Mike had written out what our current monthly family budget is, living small. Then we prayed. The part-time offer they presented was $33 a month MORE than our family’s current monthly budget. This was, again, DAILY BREAD… and a way for us to live as a family with EVERY dollar/donation that comes in for Cre8 going straight into the ministry and NOT to meet the needs of our family. In these beginning stages, especially, we have prayed for these lines to be clear, so that our motives and intentions are perceived in the place where they really are. Without question.
10) The Saturday before Father’s Day, we were hit with a mighty blow! After all of the relationship building with the estate owner, the 5-year contract over the pine trees/pinestraw sales next spring to bring in annual revenue to fund Cre8, the prayers, and even our vision launch meeting that was just held on the property…. The owner accepted an offer for the part of the land (50 acres) we had looked at buying for the Cre8 Family Experiences… Surrounding all of this, an investor friend of ours had agreed to do all he could to help make the purchase with us and get this going, positioning this Family Ministry ahead a good FIVE YEARS! But now, it is under contract—with someone else. The owner told Mike, “I am sorry. We are just tired.” So, we all cried. Even the kids. (Of course, J. Michael is still holding out for a miracle! It doesn’t say SOLD… YET!)
11) Camp KidJam came at just the right time for us! The kids and I dried our eyes, and went to hang out and serve with a hilarious and loving group of young adults. We laughed our faces off for four days, and we saw 500+ children, with all manner of family struggles, lifting their hands in worship to the God who loves them and knows every detail of their lives. We simply… joined them!
12) Mike and I have had many conversations surrounding any and all property beginnings for Cre8. We have always said, “This is something that needs to be able to happen ANYWHERE!” And the LORD is really making us keep our words! So, just as WE have been Cre8ing from our own home, and others are learning to do the same, TOGETHER, these families and we will be a CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS until our “walking in the YESES” brings a place to settle in, to grow, and from which to “GO.”
We couldn’t be happier! You see, Jesus told believers to GO. He did not say, “Rake up as much debt with a facility as you possibly can, and then, just barely stay afloat *if* you can convince everyone to come to you and do everything that you have outlined for them to do!”
There are people in need who live RIGHT next door… to my family… to yours. Behind a warehouse… and in a school…
SO!!! We are planning a PRAYER JOURNEY and hope that many families who want to Cre8: TOGETHER will bring each other and walk through this journey, listening for God’s YESES. You see, what YOUR family is called to BE and where your family is called to GO is different from mine. And our family is setting out to simply help serve yours into walking GOD’S YES for you. If we all would do that, then maybe our community culture would look a little more like LOVE.
After the PRAYER JOURNEY, we will be having CHURCH WITHOUT WALLS throughout the Summer, and on Sunday late afternoons/evenings, we will gather to CRE8: SUMMER NIGHTS. So I will post where and what we’ll be doing together as soon as we have it all set on the calendar!
My delay on all of this updating was because I had HOPED to update you once we had a “YES” on the property! But instead, I took the blessing of the “NO” to do so…
In closing, I hope you learn to “Know your ‘yeses,’ and the ‘nos’ will take care of themselves.”