At the end of this month we will be packing up, loading up a Uhaul and heading East! Well… East side of America… but the West side of Florida. We are moving to the Tampa Bay area!
However, for a few years now we have sensed God’s pulling us back to the East coast for several reasons and yet each time we got serious God said No… wait! and so we did. But when the need to establish a southeastern hub for The Identify Network came up and we knew we needed to expand we took it to the Lord and He has given us the green light!!! We could pretty much live anywhere seeing as how we serve churches all over America. We considered several cities on the East coast but there were aspects of them all that kept us continuing to look for the right place to call home for this next season of our lives.
This led us to the Tampa Bay area in Florida. Neither of us have really ever thought we would become Florida residents but we kept coming back to this area. 1. It has a large fairly diverse population 2. The cost of living isn’t out of this world, thus it is a place we could consider just being in our second year of non-profit work. 3. We will have access to many cities and churches on the east coast that we will be able to serve and equip through Identify Network and we will be able to drive to in a matter of hours. 4. It’s a place where Dan’s parents will be able to thrive and would love to call home too. They are going with us and they are such a special and crucial part of our lives. 5. It’s near an ocean. I think when you spend a lot of time researching and speaking into difficult situations and dive into the messes that are worth making in order to love deeply then having a place to retreat to and recharge is important. For us, the ocean tends to be a place where that can happen. And having it pretty much available all the time… sounds perfect! and the kids made me add one more. 6. Winter and Hope, the dolphins from the Dolphin Tale movies, live there. 😉
Dan and I took a long weekend trip down to Tampa/St. Pete a few weeks ago and quickly fell in love with it’s charming neighborhoods, eclectic styles, bright colors, long bridges and blue oceans. We also felt drawn to the areas of poverty, the number of struggling public schools, and the work of God’s people there.
So, baring God shutting doors, which we have asked Him to if this is not where He desires us to be, we (AND Dan’s parents) are moving to Tampa/St.Pete come the end of November….as in a little over 2 weeks from now. Our hopes is that God is drawing us there to rejuvenate us but to also to keep stretching us to love deeper, to risk more, to have less, to seek out the hurting and marginalized, to change lives and to change schools. We pray it will be a place of retreat for friends and family and perhaps even strangers, to be in a place often where we need Him in greater ways than we have yet to. I cringe a little writing that even because it’s so hard…. but we’ve tasted and seen that it’s so GOOD!!
We’ve been asked if we are getting jobs there and honestly, we have considered it but we have decided not to because we feel that’s not what God has asked us to do. It’s tempting though mainly because the work we have been doing through our ministry is HARD…. and it’s HARD raising funding and awareness for such a controversial subject within and outside the church. Faith and sexuality can be so difficult to navigate for a lot of people and if it feels simple to you then I pray that God will put those into your life that help you wade out deeper, where it sometimes feels very muddy and so it forces you to search long and hard for solid ground that is big and secure enough for everyone who is searching for truth. Each time we consider other forms of employment we realize that God has put PLENTY of opportunities on our plate to serve in this area that we feel so passionately about and has give us SO much Joy in doing it. And whenever we are struggling because it’s HARD, we go back to what we know He’s asked us to do…. and trust that He will be sufficient and meet our needs as He sees fit. So we are ALL in!
Be praying for us…. we still don’t know where exactly we will be living once we get there. But we are asking God to place us in the area, neighborhood and school that HE wants us to be in!
We will keep you posted as the adventure unfolds. If you want to sign up to get our monthly updates on family and ministry news and also encouragement in how to engage our culture with our faith….. sign up HERE!
And we will be serving ALL of the East coast through our Southeastern hub of The Identify Network… so if you’re a part of a Church who wants access to our training or to have us come speak to your staff or church body please contact us. We’d love to serve you!!
Right up until a week or so before Halloween we were all in agreement on what we were going to dress up as… Harry Potter Characters!! THEN THEN my children discovered this world of Pokemon. All it took was one pokemon card given to one of my kids by some well meaning friend at school. That’s all it took. They were obsessed. DID you know there are like 1000 pokemon characters??? So of course that’s what they then wanted to be for Halloween. Since I hadn’t pulled together any black robes or striped ties or dobby ears yet… I ordered some face paint (TAG face paint is AWESOME!!), hit the thrift stores around here and we ran with it! A few of these came together mere hours before we walked out the door to trick or treat.
Don’t ask me to Remember the names of these cute pokemons after tonight, it’s a language all of its own, but we pulled it off and the kids love how they look so I’m happy.
#diancie #squırtle #charmander #frogie #piplup #pikachu
I think most of us live in families, go to churches, and work in places where if you took a poll about the current election you might find that between all of you it’s like your vote doesn’t matter because you just cancel each other out. HOW can those in the same family, the same church, in the the same FAITH be SO divided? It feels so crystal clear what is and definitely what is NOT most representative of the Kingdom of God.
It’s tempting to want to wonder how in the world your parents, your relatives, your best friends, those in your small group at church, your neighbors, your co-workers, can at the same time LOVE JESUS and at the same time could EVER SUPPORT ________ .
If you’re anything like me you might find yourself wanting to back away from those individuals who not only possibly nullify your vote come November, but whose vote is a vote against what you feel like best honors Jesus. How can the person who shares your faith differ so and be so seemingly indifferent to the things the Lord has put on your heart, but the guy next door who doesn’t really understand or care about the Kingdom of God, but his politics supports and progresses your understanding of what will be best for our faith and families.
Just remember that Jesus continually surrounded himself and dearly loved those who came from various backgrounds. Even though they loved Him they still didn’t “get it” when it came to the kingdom and his purposes. They argued with each other, they misrepresented Him, They were vocal and eager for their idea of what “Christ’s kingdom coming to earth” should look like, but kept getting rebuked because it wasn’t what Jesus had in mind at all. At times the disciples represented polar opposites; a disciple who worked FOR the government (tax collector) and a disciple who HATED the government (zealot)… don’t you wish we had some of those fire side conversations recorded for us. Yet… these are the people He loved with all His heart, and He asked them to do the same for each other.
I think they ALL wanted Jesus to DO something when it came to their broken society/government/culture. I think they ALL wanted CHANGE! They ALL wanted the kingdom of God to reign…..And I’m sure they had various ideas of what that would look like. But, they knew it didn’t look like what they were living in currently.
None of them could predict or make sense of what His plan actually entailed or would require of them.
Maybe they would have tucked tail and ran had they known ahead of time.
God doesn’t look at America with any extra fondness or disgust than He did on Rome. He is still calling those to Himself who hold vastly different views on life and culture. And more often than we think we would get rebuked for our many stances on what the “kingdom should or shouldn’t” look like in our times. But again, He offers so much grace and places His love upon us and makes us brothers and sisters in one heck of a messy family. And over and over in His word calls us to love each other in the midst of the mess.
Trust me, I can relate with the desperate desire of the disciples for Him to CHANGE things in my country!
But I’m reminded that MORE powerful than the dominance of politics, the influence of the media, and the monopoly of the wealthy, IS the humble out pouring of His people’s lives, the countercultural acts of love and justice, the way we love our enemy ( AND our brothers and sisters who feel like enemies because they drive us crazy with their beliefs and convictions) even to the point of having less, losing the argument, being misunderstood and judged, laying down our rights, and overlooking a multitude of sins.
Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:35
If the disciples taught us anything, it’s hard to prioritize the Kingdom of God over the kingdom of our current situations and circumstances, but it’s what we have been called to. One is a greater Kingdom and a much more joy giving goal. It is not with out challenges and it might even cost us our life. It will definitely cost us our comfort, our time, our desire for those around us to see things the same way.
BUT, it is worth it!
This election will be but a teeny tiny blip on the scale of eternity and God is fully in charge of the happenings within.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:21
Praying this week for ALL you Believers out there who are having to have awkward conversations with your very Republican parents, family, friends, co-workers when the National Convention gets brought up and you want to have a good conversation with depth, because maybe for the first time issues matter to you more than they have in the past.
So you start talking and all of the sudden you don’t sound very Republican to them any more…. in fact all this talk about black lives mattering, religious freedom for muslims, embracing refugees, being against reparative therapy for gays, caring about transgender people, not joining in on the Obama bashing, pro-life meaning more to you than just being pro-birth, if you’re honest gun laws probably do need revisiting, and even… gasp, maybe we should care about the environment long term.
You can see it on their faces… you know the look, they don’t say it… but they are thinking it. You’ve turned liberal. You’re probably a democrat. You might not even be a Christian anymore, for all they know the church you go to is probably one of those wacko ones. What is happening to their daughter, friend, co-worker????
You start to feel like you wish you could gather up the words you just spoke and leave the table or get off the phone.
Don’t. Let me encourage you to pray for humble boldness and a genuine heart that is willing to have the conversations even when others think you’ve jumped the tracks.
Honor those who have different opinions than you but don’t fear their opinion either. I know this is really difficult when it comes to parents, because they can see disagreement as disrespect sometimes, but press through and trust that God is able to work in their hearts as well. It may not be that they ever fully agree with you. But over time they hopefully will see that your life is lived out with a coming Kingdom in mind. That those ‘controversial, wacko, liberal’ sounding views ARE really about trying to usher in heaven here on earth… not the opposite.
Jesus was willing to be misunderstood in so many things He said and did in his ministry. It’s not enjoyable or easy but so can we.
So, for those of you out there who feel really out of place on both sides of the political arena when talking about economy and social matters and you choose to speak up for what you feel are Kingdom economics and that all people are Image bearers…. Know you’re not alone.
Now what? You ask. What can we do to help be the Change that is needed? You ask.
Well, once you understand the facts and let it change your perspective and step into another persons plight…. Then, friend everything you DO will be part of the solution. Because what you do will be intentional with the framework of bringing justice and freedom to all.
It SHOULD Impact….
The people you interact with, the moments you speak up instead of let ignorance or prejudice rule.
It will mean talking to anyone and everyone you encounter in the course of your day to day life and having a deep commitment to justice for all even at the expense of your own comfort, “success”, peace, feeling of safety, security, convenience, and maybe even the expense of some relationships.
White Privilege: Often I think we get the wrong picture in our head when we think of this term. I wanted to share something that has helped me understand it more.
I once heard it described more like a Monopoly Game that was started by our great grandparents. (much longer ago than that but for this illustration we are going with four generations)
* This is not a perfect analogy, it’s just something that has helped me understand what people are talking about when they say white privilege. There’s really a lot more we benefit from than just this illustration provides, but again… it helped me. Nothing takes the place though of reading actual facts and stories of black history. It changes you. It changed me.
It is a great resource of stats that is FULL of systemic issues that we CAN do something about? The data are organized into 12 categories: Police, the War on Drugs, Prison (Mass Incarceration), Criminal Justice/Courts, Education, Employment, Wealth, Workplace, Voting, Media, and Housing.
Don’t let this information overwhelm you to the point where you can’t let it sink in as reality, but also don’t let it paralyze you into thinking you can’t do anything about it. You can.
Read, Listen, and…. then ACT. It will take a willingness and commitment to listen, compassion, involvement, time, sacrifice, creativity, deep thinking, money, political involvement, incarnational living, life on life discipleship, being pro-life not just pro-birth, doing what the bible says is true religion, and a heart of boldness and humility….and oh, it will takes years if not our whole lifetime!
But WE CAN DO SOMETHING! We must!
Every now and then I join up with Emily Freeman and we talk about what we learned the previous month. It’s been so helpful for me because it’s made me develop a habit for noticing and being aware of the things that happen or that are new and make me think.
April is my very favorite month in Texas!!!! I actually really REALLY like Texas during the Spring. ( I tend to tolerate this state the other months of the year.) It’s the month I feel most alive. It’s the month I keep the door open and drive with the windows down. It’s the month of Bluebonnets!!! It’s the month Abel was born. I just love it.
I LOVE Cabbage. Roasted (I drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cajun seasoning!! SO good!) , in soups, or Slaw, in a box, with a fox… it’s definitely become one of my favorite veggies. And I totally prefer Cabbage/slaw on my taco over lettuce. And yes, I just learned that in April.
My oven is on a tilt…. actually I think my whole house is. I didn’t know that until I baked a sheet cake for small group the other week. The cake was very thick on one side and thin on the other… but all of it was delicious!! I made the Pioneer Woman’s Texas Sheet Cake. and it was Divine!!!
What’s worse than doing Laundry: Doing it with Unscented Laundry detergent. In an effort to try to minimize chemicals in our home I have been using unscented soap. And I have discovered that it zaps what little joy there is to be had in doing laundry right out!! I want to be mindful of how many household chemicals we use but this is just one area I can’t sacrifice in. What’s your favorite laundry soap?
The BEST Lice remedy: Zoe got lice back in March and I used Rid shampoo but it didn’t seem to get rid of the problem completely. (and with lice… you want COMPLETELY!!) Besides the fact that getting rid of nits in her curly afro hair was such a pain, I wanted to use something on her that I knew wouldn’t hurt her hair and would help me with the nit issue. Thus researcher Casey kicked in… ya’ll, me in research mode is cray cray. But this time I found what I was looking for. A magical formula that would be a one step fix all for her itchy head! Helps with killing lice, itchiness, loosening the nits, and taking care of the hair.
You will need:
a bottle of coal tar oil shampoo (I use Neutrogena T-gel Shampoo, Selson Blue I think would work too) and a bottle of cheap conditioner,
A bottle of Tea Tree Oil and a bottle of Eucalyptus oil. (I had both of these already) and white Vinegar.
Now, I whipped this up in my Blender. (you just want to wash it well afterwards but it worked like a charm for me)
I used 1/4 bottle of shampoo, 1/2 bottle of conditioner, 3/4 cup of vinegar, 25 drops each of both essential oils. Blend.
When you use it just dampen the hair with water, dump it on… It made a lot so I just used as much as I could on her. Leave it on hair for 5-10 minutes, then rinse it out really well. Dry the hair with a towel, brush/comb then use a nit comb. * With Zoe’s super curly fro I combed through with a big comb… then blew dry it straight, sectioned it off and flat ironed it small section at a time THEN went through it with a nit comb. Flat Ironing it also works to kill any nits that are on the hair. Then I let her wear a pony tail for a few days. So far…. so good.
Shower Cleaner Tip: One of the household chores I hate the most is cleaning the shower/bath tile walls. Not only is it a lot of work, I feel like I’m inhaling a billion strong chemicals. Well, I read a tip a while back that said to wash your shower with dish soap and a washcloth! So I did and the dish soap cut right through everything that gets on the shower walls and it smelled good and not like I’m breathing in a cloud of fumes… and those walls sparkled like a newly washed wine glass when I was done. So… that’s my go to method from now on. Your welcome!
FRESH AIR is my favorite NPR show: I love NPR…. I wish, I wish, I wish Christian radio was more like NPR. I feel like Christian Radio these days is like going back and drinking a frappuccino after you’ve developed a taste for good strong black coffee. (I also learned how to spell frappuccino just now… never would have guessed the u in there.) I really enjoyed THIS episode of Fresh Air on the 30th of last month as they interviewed Tom Hanks.
Bridal/Baby Shower Trend: Speaking of showers…. I found out this month about a new (to me) trend that’s being included on invites. It says to Not wrap your gifts when you bring them. And, I think I have mixed feelings about it. Pros: Saves time and money, Lets people spend more time on visiting with each other instead of opening gifts. Great for brides/expectant moms who are more introverted and don’t like being the center of attention. Cons: gift wrapping can be so much fun and pretty, opening gifts allows giver to see the joy on the guest of honors face and words. It’s a way to focus on the reason we are there to celebrate. What do you think about it?
Reading: My friend Abbey Smith’s Blog. I LOVED this post on Beyonce’s new album. My favorite paragraph was:
Watching: We watched an episode of United Shades of America the other day where the guy went and visited with the KKK. It was sobering and I think my mouth hung open most of the time I was watching it.
Enjoying: Two Soft Boiled Eggs sprinkled with pink salt on Trader Joe’s Soft Wheat Bread every morning for breakfast!
Wishing for: A stand up desk…. or THIS would do. 🙂
Can you believe this kid is THREE Now?? OH my goodness. He’s so awesome!