Friday, January 25, 2008

Our New Small Group

We had such a wonderful small group in Bartlesville. We were in the same group from the time we joined Grace Community Church until about six to nine months before we moved away. It did change a lot over the years, different people, different times, etc., but it was the same group with some of the same people. We spent ten years in a small group with the Rumph's. The Casselberry's were in the group since shortly after Jason was born. We were mentored, held accountable, loved and nurtured by these people. We were with each other through new life and the loss of life, laughed with each other a lot and cried with each other some. We formed amazing friendships, which have and will continue to influence us for the rest of our lives! I miss the group so much!

When we decided to start a new small group here, on Thursday nights, which is the same night we met in Bartlesville, I felt extra homesick. But we have now met for two weeks, and it is so exciting and so fun to form new relationships. I try to imagine our friendships with these people in 10 years. When we joined our small group in Bartlesville, we were by far and away the youngest in the group. Now, in this group, we are the oldest! I think of what those "older" relationships (sorry to use the word older!) have meant to me, what I have learned from those who went before and even the opportunities God gave me to teach them, even though I am so much younger. We have those same opportunities with this new group, and I look forward to teaching and learning from them.

I have a really cool story about the group that I want to share. There is a couple who decided to join our launch team just a week before launch. Their names are Alex and Rhiannon. They are fairly new believers (maybe three years or so), and they are so excited about how God is using them and so excited to play a role at Kaleo. I don't know her real well yet, but I believe she very likely has the gift of evangelism. Well, she invited a friend of hers and her husband to join us last week. We were just having a social time to get to know each other better. I don't know where they are in their walk with the Lord, but I don't think they attend church, and at the risk of sounding judgmental, I really don't think they know Jesus. Anyway, they came, and we had a nice evening. We did not do anything real "churchy", but we did talk for about 10 minutes about what people wanted out of the group and then Brent closed in prayer. When this couple left, they were nice and said they enjoyed meeting us and gave me their email so I could let them know what was going on, but then the husband told the gal who invited them that he just isn't into church stuff, so I never expected to see them again. So I was ecstatic when they came last night. I had prayed that God would lead them back if He so desired - I prayed about it all week. I had emailed them and told them that we would be meeting for fellowship AND Bible study, so they knew what they were coming to. It was fantastic. They participated and asked great questions and just seemed really at home. Even better, they offered to bring dinner for the group next week, so apparently they are coming back. I am excited to be a part of what God is doing in their lives and in our lives through them. I am also just so excited about the boldness of Alex and Rhiannon, who invited them. Please pray for our group as we are witnesses to this couple and all the people who we run into who do not know Jesus!

It has been crazy busy with church stuff since launch, so my posts are so infrequent. It's nice that there are some of you who still check to see if I am out here in Blogland!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I wanted to upload some more pictures, but right now this will have to do! It is exciting to get a good picture of six people!!! This was only try number 2 - not bad! This was taken at home after the Christmas Eve service.

We spent the last day of 2007 at the San Diego Zoo. Both Brent's parents and my mother gave us some money to go toward a day out for our family. We were originally going to go to Sea World, but at the last minute we decided to go to the San Diego Zoo. We were able to purchase season passes for our family and will be able to go several more times during the year. My grandmother and aunt and uncle and cousins are in San Diego, so we go down there periodically. We are excited that we will be able to use this Christmas present all year! It is a huge blessing. In my experience, since Brent entered ministry, it is hard to really get a break unless you leave town and DON'T answer the cell phone! We got home last night at about 10:00, before the drunk drivers were on the road, which was our goal, then just rung in the new year with the kids. Jason fell asleep moments before, and James and Brent and I were dealing with "some issues" right up until midnight! I love having a teenager (almost)!

As I was thinking through 2007, the main thing that kept coming to mind is all the changes that have taken place. I'm sure that is true for most everyone. I have especially thought of the changes in my kids! James is almost 13 (1 months, and 10 days to be exact - he keeps reminding us!). That comes with all the good and bad. His attitude makes us crazy sometimes, but his tender heart and his true love for us and for the Lord is amazing. He has handled all of the change in our lives so incredibly, even though he hates being away from Bartlesville. He has learned to adapt and to adjust, and we are so thankful! He has some things to work on, as far as his attitude, but he wouldn't be human if he did not!

Jason is almost 10 - double digits! I think the move has been hardest on him actually. Sometimes I am not sure if I am right about that, but last night we were talking with him, and I heard myself say some things to him about what has changed negatively in the last six months in his behavior. I realize that the six months is pretty much the time we have been here. He also has some things to adjust in his attitude, but we are working on that. He is no longer a little boy, though, and we can see him entering the pre-teen stage. He has improved so much in school, and he has worked hard to make this happen. We never doubted he was smart, but he has always been less motivated and much slower to learn to things. Now, as I volunteer in his classroom, I see all that intelligence shining through. He is proud of his new found abilities and so are we!!

David is not a toddler anymore - I don't know how that happened. He will be five in early March - five - that means kindergarten next year. Where did the time go? I well up with tears as I type this. He has probably changed the least, however. He continues to just run and play all the time. He loves his friends and has several on our street. He loves balls - any type - and continues to be very talented athletically. We will see where that takes him with a family on non-athletes. We are trying to be sensitive to his abilities while knowing that we do not want our lives dominated by sports. He is a very loving child, probably the most affectionate of all the kids! He is also very smart, and we are excited as we watch him pick up on new things all the time.

I would say the first of the two most exciting changes in Sarah is that she is Potty Trained!!!!!!!!! There is nothing like potty training the baby of the family - no more diapers in this house!!! The second is that she has become a much friendlier little girl. I think I posted about this in the beginning of my blogging. She just did not like other people - kids or adults. She is still slower to warm up, but I think it is healthy now. She does play with other kids and she warms up much more quickly to adults that she did before. It is good! She has also developed quite an attitude! She knows what she wants and when she wants it and does not necessarily take no for an answer so nicely anymore. She does not put up with much from her brothers either.

I can't really speak for Brent about his year, but I can say that he is amazing and is doing a great job depending on God as we follow Him in starting this new church. It is hard at times, but I think we both agree that the hard times only help us to grow more dependent on how God wants to use us! As for myself, I have been stretched this year, particularly in the move for sure. Moving is not new to me. I grew up moving all of the time and making new friends every time I turned around. I went to 12 or 13 different schools before I finished high school, but I had been in Bartlesville for 16 years and moving was hard. I thought I would stay put and my kids would finish school in the same town where they started. I don't necessarily like it when my plans are changed, but I definitely felt a peace about moving, and God has been faithful to help me as we have adjusted to this new city. I am thankful that He has helped me to be bold in building new relationships, with complete strangers. He has helped me to be the hostess I never dreamed I could be, to cook and to clean and to enjoy entertaining. (Not something I really wanted to do before.) He has provided amazing friends and has helped me to be able to maintain my friendships in Bartlesville (something I was terribly afraid of losing). He has also provided amazing opportunities for me to have to be completely dependent on HIM - both in good ways and in very difficult ways.

Some of 2007 was very hard, some of it was incredibly wonderful. I have great memories, and am so thankful for all of the opportunities we have had. Have and wonderful 2008!!