I’m aiming to post twice today to make up for the one post I missed and get out part 1 and 2 by the end of the day, but we’ll see! In the next post, I’ll go a little more in depth about the family aspect of my church, but in this post I want to talk about two families. In the little over two years that I’ve known these two families, who feel like my family now too, along with the rest of our Gospel family, I’ve seen them both walk through some hard things with such supernatural grace, patience, and hope.
First, I want to tell you about the Manuels. Michael, Megan, Myles, and Marlee.
Michael felt the call and vision to start Arise Church. Since we’re going through the process of studying the New Testament church to learn what it looks like for us to be an elder lead church vs. a pastor lead church, I won’t call him our pastor (it’s going to be a hard habit to break!). BUT, he is a shepherd for us to the utmost! He loves Jesus in such a real and contagious way. His personal desire, and desire for us, his family, and all believers to live for the Gospel and in the freedom of the Gospel is incredible. The way he’s helped change my view on living missionaly right where I’m planted has forever changed my life. He’s funny, transparent and vulnerable, full of wisdom, challenging and encouraging, an amazing leader, an excellent teacher, the best realtor around, and just great. He’s broken over sin and overwhelmed by God’s grace and the gift of freedom that is ours. He also occasionally misuses or mispronounces words and it’s hilarious. We call them “Michaelisms.”
Megan is beautiful, has the most tender heart, is such a great mom, and lives her life to share it with others. She’s also a ballerina! She has a heart for the nations and for the least of these and is always seeking to do something to serve those populations. She lives for the Gospel, hurts with those who hurt, mourns with those who mourn, and rejoices with those who rejoice! She’s graceful, quirky, and funny. She is one of the most encouraging people I know. One of my favorite most endearing things about Megan is how she often leaves a gathering, like missional community or a girls’ night, and doesn’t say goodbye. It makes me laugh every time and I love that about her. But seriously, Megan is such a giving and caring soul! She somehow has the ability to sense when I might not be having a great day and always speaks words of truth, wisdom and hope to me. I love her! And Myles is a silly goof ball, understands way more about the Gospel than he can even begin to realize at his age, and teaching the kids on Sundays isn’t quite as fun when he isn’t there.
This beautiful family has been on a LONG journey for 3+ years of feeling called to adopt their sweet future baby girl, Marlee. It’s been hard, really hard, and there have been many times where I know it’s felt hopeless. I love that they can be honest about that and confess the times when it just simply sucks to still be waiting. But I also love that they NEVER stay in hopelessness. Megan has a blog where she’s written beautiful about the journey many times – http://themanuelfamily-mandm.blogspot.com/. I also love how beautifully supportive Megan is of other local families who are going through the adoption journey, many of which she’s watched get to hold their babies already. Can you imagine how hard that is?!
Those are hard days for her (and Michael and Myles), and she admits it. Being able to admit that is beautiful to me for sure, but in the midst of her hurt she keeps on loving and supporting everyone in her life. They’ve willingly invited us along on this journey with them to pray for them, help carry their burdens when it’s hard, and rejoice over every small step towards bringing Marlee home. I don’t know why they don’t have that baby girl yet, but I do know that the present suffering can’t compare, even for a millisecond, to the joy that will come when she’s here. And we are going to have the biggest, most celebratory party you can ever imagine when we all get to meet sweet Marlee one day! She’s going to be the most loved little girl on the planet and have the fiercest village anyone could ever imagine! This family means the world to me and I am a better version of myself because I know them.
The Taylors! If you follow me on Instragram, you should know who Hazel and Henry Taylor are. Allow me to jog your memory (purely for the sake of reposting cute pics of Henry and Hazel).
Henry and Hazel are adorable and have all of my heart, and I’ll talk a little more about them and their cute personalities in a minute, but first I have to talk about their parents. Obviously two of my favorite kids in the world wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for them, so I’m thankful for that! But Scott and Amanda Taylor are two amazing humans apart from their two amazing little humans. They could be a move star couple for real, an insanely stylish and beautiful family. But don’t let their movie star looks trick you, they are two of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met! They are so even-keeled. Being the highly dramatic and panicky person that I am, their ability to remain calm no matter what life throws at them impresses, challenges, and encourages me.
Amanda, as mentioned, is a beauty! She’s one of my fashion inspirations and one of the two people who finally talked me into wearing booties. If I ever get to be a mom, I’m going to DAILY channel Amanda Taylor. When her toddlers freak out or throw a fit, as all toddlers do, she just looks at them and calmly tells them to relax or be strong. I’ve never seen her frazzled by anything! She’s full of wisdom and has a heart for knowing and reading scripture. She loves reading blogs as much as I do (and I always know she’s going to read my posts!). She’s a loyal friend and the way she stays connected and makes time for her college friends impresses me! She’s sassy and fun and I’m always slightly disappointed when she’s not a gathering because of a sick kid or being out of town.
Scott is hilarious and witty. He too is full of wisdom and daily living for the Gospel. He’s an amazing dad. He’s a great handy man and builds their own furniture. He cooks. He cleans. He takes care of those cute kids A LOT. I mean, he’s the model husband! He’s been with Michael all through the journey of planting a new church. He is intentional to build relationships with every new person that walks through our doors (and by our doors, I mean the YMCA doors, because we don’t have doors, haha). He’s a great leader not only for our Gospel family, but in the Clinton community too. And a little more about their little people. They both speak so articulately for toddlers! They’re smart. They are ADORABLE. Hazel is the most independent child I’ve ever encountered. Henry is the politest child I’ve ever encountered. They are just my favs! Life goals for real.
Above everything else, the thing I love most about them is the hope they have in Jesus. This year hasn’t been an easy one for them. Scott lost his mother unexpectedly. Amanda lost her mom a few years ago. Grief is always hard no matter who it is, but I know too well that the loss of a parent is really tough. They also said goodbye to the last home either of their moms will know and have been displaced while finding a new home for a bit. Despite any hardships they’ve gone through, they’ve continued to be incredibly loving and serving to our Gospel family! They’re amazing friends to everyone who is privileged to call them friend. They camp in garages and go to zoos and fairs and everything in between with their kiddos. They love Jesus and really strive to live for the Gospel in all they do. I’m so glad I know them, the Manuels, and the rest of my Gospel family that you’ll get to hear about soon. Living life with these people is one of the main reasons I love this season of life more than any other I’ve lived yet.
This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.