Christmas fun

I’m back from my blogging break. It’s been a long week. But here are some highlights for the fam:

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Reade Christmas Tree Farm in Snohomish provided us a great tree for cheap, rolling hills covered with trees, a tractor ride and free cocoa. This may have been the first year we had no major meltdown or marital “disagreement” on the day we got our tree, hooray for that!

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Ever wonder what 2 1/2 batches of chex mix looks like? Here you go. See the nice sharing taking place with my three little cooks? Those are my favorite moments. They measured all the ingredients for me and shook it all up and have done their fair share of eating it too ūüôā

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We were planning on 16 children this morning at our house for our Christmas Craft morning, but we only had 11 due to colds and such. It was fun, the kids decorated wrapping paper, made ornaments and iced sugar cookies (or rice cakes!).

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In other unrelated news, I am excited to be back to cloth diapering for Audrey, now having enough to go 2 full days before washing, which is my bare minimum for my own sanity. The above are my new (bad photo sorry!) darling dipes for little Audie girl. When diapers are this cute, who wouldn’t want to cloth diaper? Thanks Amanda for the great diapers and the custom capes for our boys for Christmas. I can hardly stand to keep them hidden for 15 more days!

A little seedling

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When Pastor Jonathan,¬† prayed for Karissa and I on our last day at Northshore, he used an image of a seedling to describe the church that we feel God has called us to plant. In church planting lingo, the seedling image is often used. I actually like the imagery because I believe it accurately reflects the initial startup of an organic church. Our hope and prayer is that this little seedling that we lovingly refer to as Sojourn, will not just grow into any old tree, but that will be “planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8. This has become one of my prayers for our little church. Feel free to join with me in this prayer.

Karissa and I are praying for a lead team of about 20 adults. We are asking God to reveal to us people who are feeling called by God to be a part of a missional church. Missional is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot in “churchese”, but for me it means a group of people gathering together in an organic way to actively express the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word, deed, and power (Matt. 9:35). For our little seedling this will look like meeting together as a large gathering twice a month for corporate prayer, worship, teaching, and a meal. The other two weeks will be spent in smaller communities we will call missional communities. COMMUNITIES – because the church will be made up of a collection of communities that will each have 10-15 adults plus kids. These communities will each have a community pastor and will have “church” together every other week in someone’s home. This will be the place where people will know others and where they will be known by others. These communities will be the heartbeat of the church. Whether the whole church is gathered or scattered, we are the church. MISSIONAL – because each community will adopt a mission, something that they can regularly do to bless their local community through the Word, deed, and power. For instance, if a group is located in Bothell, they may adopt the mission of taking care of the widows in their community. This might be yard care, housework, carpools, shopping, praying for, hospital visits, and more for the widows in their neighborhood.

As we get closer to planting this seedling, we will keep you all informed not only so you could pray for us, but also because you might want to join us in this adventure we are embarking upon. By the way, we came to the name Sojourn primarily because of the two definitions: 1. a temporary dwelling place, 2. a journey. We felt both of these definitions describe uniquely what it is like to follow Jesus. If you are wanting to know more about Sojourn, let Karissa and I know. There are many ways you can partner with us in this venture. Soon, we will be releasing a prayer letter of sorts to not only let people know about what we feel God is leading us in, but also to build a team of people committed to praying for Sojourn. If you know of someone looking for a community of followers of Jesus who would be interested in something like this, send them our way. Thanks so much for your prayers as we step out in faith.

-Chris

Day 1

Thanks for all you who were wondering about how my day went. It was a good day overall, I had a chance to ride along with another field representative and got a great picture of what it looks like to go up to a home and do an estimate. I have much to

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learn, in fact the learning curve is pretty high in identifying existing insulation, reasons why to updgrade to an R38, etc.

I know you were all hoping I had stories of my first encounter with the wildlife that can live under homes. Fortunately, in the only space we entered that had rats, we did not make any visual contact. The only real story I have is that the fella who I was riding on with (a great guy) accidentally left the tailgate open while we drove from Marysville to Seattle. As it turned out, the only thing that was lost was his lunch box. Lame for him, but it ended up in him buying me lunch at Wendy’s.¬† I tried to buy but he wouldn’t let me, hence the great guy comment.

The good news is that I bought my very first pair of coveralls! They look great, feel great, but not quite like a pair of new socks…they just aren’t as cozy.¬† Okay, the truth is they don’t feel great…but they get the job done and are comfortable.

A new pair of socks

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If you are anything like me, you gladly skip the pre-wash on the new package of socks and immediately throw on a pair. ¬†In fact, I enjoy getting new socks for Christmas because who wouldn’t want to walk around in new socks on Christmas Day? ¬†I even have a friend who wants to be financially secure enough in life to one day never have to wear the same sock twice! ¬†I won’t rat you out here, but you know who you are…

New socks are great, and I am hoping that this new job I start Monday morning sharp, will be as enjoyable.  For those of you who have not heard, I did finally land a job.  Thank you for your prayers.  God has provided a great opportunity for me in the insulation business.  You are reading the words of the newest sales rep for Clean Crawls.  These guys are the best insulation removal and re-installers in the Northwest.  They have been in the business longer than any other company around and take pride in their service, product, and quality.  And now for the shameless plug РIf you need any work done in your attic, crawlspace, or added insulation in your walls (or know someone who does) AND you live anywhere up and down the I-5 corridor in WA, give me a call.  Now is a great time to make your home energy efficient.  Getting in crawlspaces and attics is now my full time job, so I can come by and give you an estimate.  I am about to get friendly with all the lovelies that live under our houses!  So far, I have heard stories of sales reps encountering rats, mice, cats, raccoons, and even an otter.  Needless to say, a large maglite will be standard issue!  

I am looking forward to this new season of life. ¬†I just concluded 10 years of ministry at Northshore Baptist Church in Bothell, and am very grateful for the experience. ¬†Karissa and I got married there, dedicated our babies there, and spent ten years loving and serving the families there. ¬†I learned so much about God, myself, marriage, fatherhood, ministry, and the list goes on. ¬†For all of that, I am grateful. ¬†However, I am totally ready for the next ten! ¬†I am praying that in the next ten I will continue to learn more about all of the aforementioned things, and then some. ¬†Oh, and just so you know, pastoral ministry is not going to stop with me no longer being employed by Northshore…but more on this later. ¬†This next season of life is upon us and it starts in about 10.5 hours. ¬†Here’s to tomorrow feeling like a new pair of socks!

More than a meal

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Karissa has worked with Step by Step, on organization that brings hope and health to mothers, babies, and families for many years originally as a Behavior Health Specialist and now as a volunteer. This last Friday night, Karissa and I had the privilege to volunteer at the annual Step by Step Christmas Party. What a treat this was for us. Karissa was able to reconnect with many of her past clients, hold their babies, and share stories about life. These mothers and their families came for a wonderful dinner which was served to them at their table. Along with dinner, came gift basket style door prizes, activities for the kids (face painting, balloon art, a cupcake walk, advent rings, cookie decorations, and even pictures with santa. For all of these families, this was an evening to be rememembered. Perhaps the best part of the night was the Toy Shoppe. Here each mother was given the opportunity to pick out one toy for each child in their family. These toys were donated by many different people and all were brand new. Not only did they get a toy for each kid (and they were some really good toys) but then there was a team of gift wrappers. Paper, scissors, and tape was flying furious, but you could not believe the relief and joy in so many mom’s eyes. I couldn’t stay out of this room, because you could tell that this was a room that brought so much hope to people who did not think they were going to get anything but dollar store items for their kids this year. There were many tears shed that night, as stories of desperation were shared by moms who for at least one night this Christmas season had much to be hopeful about.

Karissa and I love the organization Step by Step and if you were looking for a place to donate extra this year, maybe this is the organization you could give your time or your money towards.

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-Chris

Bittersweet

I keep hearing the pat phrases, “Change is hard, but so good”, “When a door closes another one always opens”, “Things have to get better!”, etc. I know those things are true and I see great things in the midst of these past few months but at the same time, words don’t really help make it better in the moment sometimes. Change is plain old hard. A closed door (despite others opening) is still closed. Things getting better means they’ve been pretty tough.

Like today. Helping Christopher pack up his office at church came at me out of no where. Was it really time? Was this really happening? Were we really moving on?

Tears now. We are moving on. For real. But this church home, this community of people holds so much of my life story in it. At the ripe age of 11, I first stepped foot at Northshore as a sassy, rather out of control pre-teen. One mom even dared to ask my parents if I could possibly be on drugs. I set out to go out with as many youth group boys as I could. I met a friend whose heart would be knit to mine to this day, in a way I could never have imagined. Many people loved me unconditionally there and shared the story of Jesus with me in the most tangible, meaningful way. My life was changed there, my heart was changed in the midst of a group of people that modeled Love for me.

In high school years, I turned away, dated a cute boy who didn’t go to church out of my rebellious heart, fell in love with him and he followed me back to church and we both found Jesus in a new way in the process. We came there dressed in our prom clothes the day after prom, our senior year of high school, having made it through prom night with not so much as a kiss.

A few years later, I put on my wedding dress in the basement and made a slow walk up the church stairs to come down the aisle and wed my best friend. 450 people shared that day with us. Lots of youth group kids and their parents. It was the perfect day.

I watched Christopher come alive there as he led the Junior High group for 7 years. We poured our lives out, had kids in our home often and gave everything we had to the students God placed in our path. We loved it, we loved them.

With great delight we shared with everyone that we were expecting our first baby and with great fear we asked for prayer when she was born early and was very sick. For six solid weeks, nearly every night someone from church brought us dinner in the hospital. The NICU nurses could not believe that we were so well cared for. It was amazing, such a sense of family, we felt so blessed.

We happily brought baby after baby Sunday mornings and often to daddy’s office during the week to be doted on and loved and held and kissed year after year.

The past three years so much has changed. Looking back it’s easy to see that our direction would change though it still was such a surprise when it did in September. What isn’t easy is walking out the door that is closing. Trying not to look back with tears. Knowing the people we are used to running in to and being around won’t be in our path in the same way anymore. There is something sweet and rich about being somewhere for 20 years. Being known, being remembered and being loved in the same place.

We know that the best is yet to come and that we are in for a great adventure. It is exciting to dream about what we want to do, to have the freedom to try new things and to trust that our future doesn’t rest in our own hands.

Thankful to feel deeply, to be turning the page to a new chapter, to have a Hope that never changes and to be doing it all with the same cute boy I fell in love with 15 years ago.

-Karissa

Audrey update

For those of you wondering where things are at with our little girl, here’s the latest. We went in for a follow up visit today, at first check her labs were good and her body seems to be infection free. In a few days we’ll have the conclusive results. Also we’ll plan another visit to Children’s Hospital in a couple weeks for another test and she’ll go on a longer term medication as well. He said that the next 4-6 weeks would be most likely for a recurring infection in her kidneys so if you would pray with us for health inside her little body especially for a few weeks, we would love it.

If you missed that part of our story and want the scoop, click on the ‘hospital’ tag on the right for all the posts about Audrey’s recent kidney infection and hospital stay.

Christmas Creativity

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I am so excited for Christmas! Why you ask? For a number of reasons, but right now, I can ‘t wait to exchange gifts with Todd, Danielle, Stephanie and Karissa. This was the first year that we decided to to the old draw name trick. I was not too excited about it, because who doesn’t like opening up two gifts instead of one…but it made sense to save some dinero as well as continue our pattern of trying to make Christmas not all about the indulgence of stuff. ¬†However, when Danielle suggested that we do something creative for our drawn name, I began to get really excited. ¬†What a potentially (I’ll let you know for sure in about a month) great tradition…to give a gift as well as some creative expression. ¬†This could be a poem, dramatic re-enactment, song, sculpture, carving, skit, story, painting, pantomime, etc. ¬†Not only am I looking forward to sharing my creativity with the person who’s name I drew, but I can not wait to see what everyone comes up with. ¬†It is all going to be a surprise, so it should prove to be quite enjoyable. ¬†

Karissa and I are continually trying to solidify our family traditions and have been pretty dilligent in thinking through how we want to experience the Christmas season as a family.  I am sure we will share about those in the days to come.  Until then, what are your favorite Christmas Traditions?

-Chris