Sunday, November 24, 2013

The end and the beginning

Today was our last day gathering together as CrossRidge Church. Over the past decade, CrossRidge has been a place for people from all walks of life to gather for worship, learning, growth, small group, and community service. And even though it was not part of our plan, CrossRidge became a conduit for the grace and love of God to penetrate our hearts like never before. Five years ago, Jimmy and I approached CrossRidge as visitors coming to share in a dear friend's burden as she grieved the loss of her young husband. We approached as visitors with no intentions of staying because, after all, we were comfortable with our no-strings-attached experience at a much larger church.

God drew us to this small church plant and changed our lives. Our connectedness to the Body of Christ took on a new meaning as we learned to truly share life with the people of our church- the good, the bad, the ugly. Our knowledge and love of the Word grew as we learned to study scripture, and, alongside our church family, applied it to our lives.

Jimmy has served as an elder in our church for the past couple of years, and God has grown him in wisdom and leadership. Every Sunday, along with the worship team, he humbly ushers us into the presence of God with songs, hymns, and spiritual songs. We have made the most precious and authentic eternal friendships here. I learned to teach children in Sunday School just in time- before my own younguns came along. God has used our meager offerings of food and effort and multiplied them to reach our community with His love. I could go on and on about how God has surprised us with good gifts and how thankful I am for the opportunities to serve, learn, and grow with this group of people. I say all of this for the glory of God!

Jimmy eloquently spoke of CrossRidge at our last gathering on Sunday. He mentioned our growth in numbers over the years, and our waning in numbers. He reminded us that God has been in it all... in the coming and going of people, and alas in the remnant who remain, eager to continue on in God's great commission.

I wrote a little about the vision for our new church in a previous post. More can be found at the Awaken Church Florida website. Our first Sunday service together will be in north Lake Wales on February 9, 2014.

So... there are several ways folks can respond to this news.

If you are wondering,"Why ANOTHER church?" 
John Piper writes in one of his sermons,

If somebody falls out of an airplane with no parachute on and you don't have one either, you aren't going to jump out after them. It won't do any good. Two deaths aren't better than one. But if you have a parachute on, you just might try one of those awesome rescue attempts, and free fall like a bullet to catch the helpless and pull your cord. It's the hope of safety in the end that releases radical, sacrificial love now.

Planting a new church is just one release of radical, sacrificial love, propelled by the hope of glory we know we have in the end. Folks are lost around us and we have the map. People are searching and we have the answer. If Awaken Church fills a void and reaches people with the love and truth of Christ... this is why.

If you are a Believer and are not connected to the Body of Christ, come play a part in genuine community as God desires and be a laborer! The field is ripe for harvest and we need folks to join us as the hands and feet of Christ as we embark on this new journey as Awaken Church. Our launch meetings are underway; we are gathering for planning and discipleship each Tuesday evening in downtown Lake Wales. The schedule and details can be found here.

If you are searching for fulfillment and purpose in life, come learn more. Hear our stories, listen to the Word of God, and see how this God we serve is great and faithful, and worthy of our lives.

If you are a Believer and are already connected to the Body of Christ, pray for us and for those we are meant to touch! We do not desire to grow by acquiring existing church members, but rather by spreading the Gospel to those who haven't heard and by providing a place for unplugged Christians to connect and live out eternal life knowing God well. A new church is not competition for an existing church! We are on the same team, Praise God! So get excited about what God is doing all over the place! And please, pray pray pray.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A camping party

Birthday parties are so much fun! But they can be a lot of work, so this year we decided on a low key evening get-together for Grace Louise's 4th Birthday. I somehow thought it would be a little less exciting. Ha! Apparently fun is in our blood, because this camping party was a blast! 

Welcome to...

Birthday girls can pick their nose if they want. While everyone is singing Happy Birthday. Yep. She did.

A few precious friends!

Silly string was a hit!

10:30 PM and jumping naked on the bed. Yep. She did that too!

THANK YOU to all who came to celebrate Grace Louise! Thank you for showing your love with gifts. We are grateful for your presence and willingness to have a little fun with us!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Busch Gardens

When daddy's away the kids (and mom) will play! During Jimmy's annual West Virginia deer hunting trip this year, we took our own mini vacation with CaCa to Busch Gardens! I went there countless times as a kid; it always has been my favorite park. 

This also happened to be the same weekend Grace Louise learned to start off on her big girl bike with no help...

AND got her first make-over by Rachel! Gorgeous!

Thursday, November 7, 2013


I'm not really into Halloween, as most of you know, but the past two years we have participated in a way that protects our children from fear and promotes servanthood and family fun. I hope that doesn't sound uppity or religious, because neither is my heart. Jimmy and I have the commission to raise up these children to know and love the Lord, so anything we do or don't do is just us aspiring to live up to that calling. And honestly, whether we participate traditionally in holidays and such, is not likely to impact our children's future as much as how we live or don't live Jesus on a daily basis in our home.

I let Grace Louise pick out whatever costume she wanted to wear from her dress-up box and Jamesy, well, he wore the only costume we had that fit him! Granny Dubose was handing out candy at the nursing home where she lives, so we paid her a special visit first! We don't see Granny often, so I was blessed to see the way Grace Louise honored her great-grandmother with attention, hugs, and even patience. Mmm, that girl makes me proud!

Like last year, we served hot chocolate, offered bug spray and cold water, and handed out bags of candy with our church information. Unlike last year, our bags said Awaken Church Florida, not CrossRidge. 

Jimmy and I have been connected to the Body of Christ at CrossRidge since 2008. God has used this group of Believers to grow and shape us like we never could have imagined. Our awesome pastor/friend and his family have recently been called onward to another city and church. The remnant that remains at CrossRidge has merged with a church planter new to our area and is moving forward with God's vision for our city- to awaken the lost to life in Jesus Christ and to awaken Believers to who God made them to be! We are planting a church in north Lake Wales, by the mall, launching February 9, 2014. Why another church? Why not? An amber alert, an alarm for the lost. If a child is missing, do we limit the search and rescue crew to a few? Of course not! 

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:15-17

Carrying on a family tradition- carving a pumpkin with daddy!

Cutest pirate man and strawberry "cortcake" evaaaaaaaa!!!