Saturday, May 2, 2015

When Multiplying Feels Like Dividing

I've often written about how great our community group is.  These are the people we do life with.  We share our joys, our struggles, and the day-to-day mundane.  We encourage one another and build each other up.  We help each other move and take meals when someone is sick.  We play games, throw parties, and worship together on Sunday mornings.  We laugh together, cry together, and sometimes just sit in silence together when no words are necessary.  This is our family.

The great thing about this type of family is it's constantly growing.  New people are drawn into the fold and get to experience, and participate in the sweetness that is life in community.  The downside to this ever-expanding paradigm is that eventually your living room literally cannot hold one more person.  Our group, which gets together on Tuesday nights, grew to 28 people.  At times people were practically sitting on each others' laps.  (We're close like that, but still...)  With so many, it's hard to pour into individuals the way we ought to.  It's hard (if not impossible) for new people to feel comfortable and cared for.  And above all it's hard to develop the kind of relationships that foster growth in Christ.

The solution is what Sojourn refers to as multiplication.  That's when one CG becomes two-- the process we just went through with our group.  We appointed new leaders and hosts.  Half of the group stayed with us and half went with the other leaders.  It's bittersweet.  It's necessary.  And it is painful.  I can't tell you how many nights I spent in tears not wanting to have to go through it all again.  (Our CG multiplied a year and a half ago, and had grown from 8 to 28 in a matter of months.)  It's not that we never see those in the other group now, but it's hard to maintain that same level of closeness when we aren't part of each other's lives in the same way.  It's hard to say goodbye.

Now we are a CG of 13.  It's no longer necessary to bring every chair in the house into the living room when our group meets.  I don't have to double recipes for our Tuesday desserts.  Our house is no longer bursting at the seams come 7:00 on a Tuesday night.  But one thing there is more of is space.  Space not only to breathe, but also to share.  People who never felt like they could talk much in a group of 28 now open up and tell their story.  There is space to listen.  When you have so many people who have struggles to talk through, it's hard to hear everyone in the space of a few hours.  We're now better able to care for our people because we actually have the space and time to listen, dig deep, and pray.

 So yes, multiplying is hard.  There are no two ways about it.  But it's a beautiful picture of the expansion of God's kingdom.  When we're called to Christ we aren't called to remain stagnant.  By God's grace and through his power we're called to grow.  Not only in our own faith journeys but also as a community of believers.  We're called to be kingdom builders, and that's what I see in the microcosm of community group.  I see the body of Christ building up the kingdom brick by brick.  And it's a wonderful thing to be able to invite others into that process.  May we always be people who have room for more.

Friday, January 16, 2015

2014 Year in Review

Despite the fact that it's already mid-January, I'm doing a 2014 Year in Review.  Mostly in pictures.  Enjoy!

The first time James went to Sojourn in January 2014 was in style.  I only wish I had this same outfit in every size so we could continue enjoying Hipster James.  Alas...

 2014 was filled with lots of good family time.

James went to his first wedding (our friends Merritt and Mary) and he was thoroughly traumatized when Patrick put him on his shoulders.  

 I had so many great times with Claire last year.  This picture kind of sums up all of them.  :)

James is always getting piano lessons from Patrick, and here is his first piano tuning lesson from Grandpa.

We celebrated Mother's Day with my whole family.  It was great to have everyone together.

 My Dad, Seema, and Anika visited this summer.  It's not a great picture I know, but doesn't James look so much like Dad?

Our VBS theme at Sojourn last summer was Proof Pirates.  I got to teach my 4th and 5th graders and we had a blast.  Clearly, we went all out when it comes to costumes.  Go big or go home.

 We flew out to Colorado in August and James got his first taste of hiking in the Rockies.

 After Colorado we headed to California and James went to the beach for the first time.  Too bad the water was too cold to go swimming.

 We had a great time with John, Sarah, and Esther in beautiful San Diego!

This is one of my all-time favorite videos of James.  Apparently trampolines are hilarious.

With James, everything is complete silliness.

 Fun times at the Sister's Tea Parlor with good friends.  (I'm going to try to recreate the experience next weekend with a tea party for all our CG girls.  Wish me luck.)

 James got to meet Pax, his CG buddy.  (Even though James is always sleeping during CG.  They'll be good buddies as they get older though.)

 For my 30th birthday we went to Sky Zone.  It's this amazing trampoline park, and believe me it's a good workout!

 James and Pax patiently waiting for their dinners.

 We went paint balling with some friends.  It's intense.

Leading community group continues to be the highlight of our week.  What an awesome group of people!

Our community group spent a day pumpkin picking at Galrein Farms.  Beautiful day.  Awesome friends.

In November I was asked to attend a writer's conference at LifeWay.  We spent 3 days writing a new kids' curriculum.  It was so inspiring to work with such creative people!

 The Freibergs came for a visit to Louisville and finally got to meet our family!

 We have a ping pong table in our basement that gets put to good use.  One night we had our whole CG downstairs playing Round Robin.  Awesome.

 We celebrated Thanksgiving in Mt. Vernon, MO with Patrick's grandparents and extended family.

 Holly is home for a couple of months from Zambia and we've been enjoying taking twin photos.

 December 16 was James' 1st birthday.  I got suckered into having a birthday party for him, but it turned out to be really fun.  The birthday boy was pretty tired but rallied halfway through and enjoyed himself as well.

Nap Time is for Wusses

Being a mom has been hard this week.  James has been having a hard time napping lately which means it's been ten times harder for me to get anything done around the house.  I've found myself inching nearer and nearer to the end of my already fragile rope and all because I have a one year old boy who just wants to play.  And play.  And play some more.  Apparently naps are for wusses.

He's sleeping now (praise the Lord) and I'm enjoying a few snatches of peace and quiet.  The funny thing is, whenever he's sleeping, I miss him.  I'm looking around at the playroom with toys strewn around the floor and the half drunk bottle of milk that's dripping onto my already gross carpet, and I think where is the time going?  How is it possible that he's already walking?  He waves bye bye now and makes funny faces to get other people to laugh.  He can clap his hands on demand and shake his head no.  When did that happen?!  His little personality is taking shape more and more everyday.  It seems like just yesterday that he was a tiny newborn.

In the midst of those stressful moments when he's screaming in his crib and all I want to do is drink my coffee and read Isaiah in peace, I find myself almost wishing the time away.  I tell myself that this phase won't last forever and that someday I'll have my time back.  But sitting here now I'm wondering if having my time back is really what I want.  When James is older and doesn't need me as much, am I really going to relish the time I have to do the things I want?  Or am I going to long for these days when he's little and needed his mommy?

I'm one of those people who loves to think back on the past.  I often wish I could go back in time and relive a day here and there.  I know that's what I'll be thinking 5 years from now.  So why do I wish my time away while I have it?  Those people who say "Enjoy every moment while your kids are young" are spot on and insane at the same time.  Not every moment is enjoyable.  Don't get me wrong, I won't miss the version of James while he's teething and does nothing but scream all day, and it looks like there's no end in sight.  Parenting is downright stressful sometimes and it's not realistic to think that each and every moment is one you'll want to cherish forever.  On the other hand, always longing for a future day isn't healthy either.  You could wish your whole life away like that.

What I want is to be completely present in each moment and to find joy even in the stress of parenting a one year old.  When I look back on this time I want to know that I wrung every ounce of joy from every moment, even the hard ones.  I want to remember how God gave me strength to climb back up that fragile rope and enjoy the time he gave me with my precious little boy.  I guess I'll be learning how to do that one missed nap time at a time.