I don’t know why I thought I was going to be able to post twice on my favorite day while having to also work and prepare/host a favorite day celebration/out door dinner party for missional community. Didn’t happen! One of these days I’ll catch up, even if some posts get posted in November. But for now, the rest of my Gospel family! You’ve heard about the Manuels, Taylors, and my DNA group girls – Sara, Lindsey, and Anna. Today I will attempt to tell you about the rest of these beautiful people, but first let me tell you a bit about our little extension of the big C Church.
I should say let me tell you a bit MORE about us, because I’ve written about us a couple of times. Here (when I knew I’d love them forever), here (when I first started getting to cook for them), here (when I was reminded of how the Church should love and thankful that my people love like that), and here (one of the many times something we learned together stayed in my mind for weeks). In short, we don’t go to church, we are the church. Our mission is to make disciples (someone whose life looks increasingly more like the life of Christ) who make disciples who make disciples right where we are. To borrow a few things from our website:
“Arise Church isn’t a place, although we do gather regularly. Arise Church is a people. It’s as much a statement as it is a name. Isaiah 60:1 says, “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” We are a group of people who seek to live our lives in light of the fact that the true Light of the world has come in Jesus, and all of life is about bringing glory to Him.
We believe that as Christ followers, we have a new identity and a new purpose. We seek to live our lives as a family of worshippers, united with Christ, sent out on mission with God to make disciples of all the world. We want to see our city saturated with the gospel, with the good news of Jesus, so that the love of God is both declared and demonstrated everyday in every neighborhood within our community.”
We are the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, and my favorite – the Family of God. I read an article yesterday that Relevant Magazine posted about community (you can read it here). It talks about some of the misconceptions of community being that it’s easy and convenient and natural. So true! It’s not easy. It’s not convenient. It’s not natural. Going to church, not being the Church, being a seat filler, a church consumer, is easy, it is convenient, it is “natural” because our human nature tendencies are sinful and selfish. Being the Family of God is hard, messy, and takes effort and intentionality. It’s not cookie cutter, it doesn’t just happen on Sunday mornings, but it’s SO worth it. These people really have become my family. We do the messy and hard work of living missionally together, admitting our failings and shortcomings, and loving each other and the world around us when things are good and easy and when they aren’t. I love these people! Brace yourselves for the biggest, longest paragraph ever about my people.
The Strouds live walking distance from my house and have impressed me since day one of knowing them. Bonni and Landon are so in tune with the Holy Spirit! They have picked up strangers on the side of the road because they felt the gentle tug to do so and invite displaced people into their family so welcomingly. Landon is hard working, a servant (has helped me move and fix things more times than I can count in the last 2 years!), and so full of insight. Bonni is sacrificially giving, so thoughtful (she texts me often and asks how she can pray for me!), and seriously has mom super powers. They have three kids under the age of three (Brandon, Callie, and Adelae) and still make time for us and the strangers that cross their paths! The Holmers are two of the funniest people I know. Rachel is so fun and sassy, an amazing quilter/seamstress, cute as a button, a loyal friend, and gives the best hugs! Matt is a a genius and knows as much as Google does, a master home renovator, an excellent griller, and the most amazing husband to Rachel. They are new parents to sweet baby Wolf and such an adorable little family. The Krasons are also hilarious (we have a lot of funny people!) and watching them walk through a hard season of obedience has encouraged me a lot! Ashley and Tim are both college professors, so full of wisdom, and have such a hunger for demonstrating and displaying the Gospel to their neighbors and our community. Another family with three littles! Lydia is so adorable and I want to squeeze her every time I see her, Issac is ridiculously smart for his age and never ceases to amaze me with his smarts, and Tanner won’t let me talk to him yet, but we’re working on it! Tyler and Kaitlyn make me laugh too and are two of my favorite newlyweds. They’re perfect for each other, have a sense of adventure that inspires me, and aren’t frazzled by anything life throws at them (washing dishes in bathtubs, yellow jackets in their apartment, new jobs, etc). The Baxters are brand new parents (less than a month) to sweet baby Amelia. Blaire is beautiful and as friendly as can be. Christopher is quiet in a group but SO observant and full of wisdom when you sit down and talk to him. I’ve loved getting to know them more and more and seeing them fit seamlessly in with our family. They are full of insight and handling new parenthood like champs. Chris and Grace are my other favorite newlyweds. Grace was in our DNA group when her and Chris were dating and then got engaged! They have such a beautiful story and every time I think about it I get chocked up. They’re adorable and marriage looks good on them. Lyndsey Hester is the most hospitable l person I know! She’s funny, clumsy (which adds to her funniness), warm, kind, friendly, great with kids, fashionable, beautiful, and I always know she’s going to give me a hug which makes me love her even more! She’s so full of blind faith, bold hope, and loves her people so well. The Mansells are an encouraging and impacting family. Amanda and Clay are super involved and influential in our town. Clay is a genius business man and makes Clinton a better place to live by the ways he contributes to it. Amanda embodies gentleness and is an incredibly supportive wife and mom. Annabelle is adorable, sassy, and smart. She teased me for having a Starbucks frappe phone case Sunday. She’s 7! Drew is another one of our hard working guys! He has helped me move and fix things A LOT. The way he’s grown since he’s been at Arise has been so beautiful to watch. Jenny and Cole are another set of cute as can be newlyweds and my neighbors! Jenny is a first year teach and handling it with such grace. Cole is in law school, and I’ve seen Legally Blonde so clearly I know how hard that is so I’m impressed. Jayme is another one of our interns along with Lindsey and Anna, and she’s great! She has a heart for the nations and loves kids. She keeps us organized and on track with teaching the kiddos. Mindy has SUCH a heart for broken people and uses it in a big way. She started a group for wounded women and loves them beautiful. She made the brave decision to go back to school recently for counseling and that impresses me a lot! David is here in Mississippi for a semi-temporary time to live and work with college kids at MC. I don’t know how long we’ll have him, but I’m glad he’s with us! He fits in so well with our other guys and LOVES the heck out of the college guys he works with. Josh and Britney are also my neighbors (we have an awesome street!), have an adorable dog, and helpfully jump right in to run powerpoint, lift things, and selflessly help in any way they can every time they are around. Candace doesn’t get to hang out with us as much because she’s a world traveler and taking care of and visiting grandkids, but I want to be her when I grow up! She’s so fun and vivacious and fashionable. When she’s in town and with us, she always has encouraging words of truth to speak. And she gave me one of my favorite dresses! Zach and Jessica recently moved to Clinton, but jumped in head first with doing life with us! They’ve only been here a few months and are already radically loving and reaching out to their neighbors in such beautiful ways! Zach is a great teacher, full of wisdom, and has such a heart for the Gospel. Jessica is an amazing teacher, also chocked full of wisdom, and let me talk her into giving Harry Potter another chance! And there are the families who have been with us and moved to different cities and states – JD, Trisha, and Marion, Rebecca and Caleb, and Sarah, Brandon and Hadleigh – who are still in our hearts and missed dearly!
I could go on and on so much more about all of these people and all of the things I’ve learned from them. I could tell you story after story about how we’ve grown. I could make a list a mile long of the prayers we’ve prayed, tears we’ve cried, and all the ways we’ve seen God move. We laugh a lot, we interrupt Michael when he’s teaching us A LOT, we learn together, we grow together, we eat together (A LOT), we celebrate, we mourn, we love. It’s incredibly beautiful, incredibly messy, not always easy, but the most life giving season of life I’ve ever lived. The same article on community I mentioned earlier stated another misconception of community being that it’s optional. It’s not. I grow because I read my Bible. I grow because I pray. And you could grow some solely doing those things. But we just aren’t meant to live life alone! God created the big C Church. He meant for us to need each other. He meant for us to be messily in each other’s lives. I have grown dynamically more than I ever have in any other season of life because I’ve experienced what’s it’s like to be the Family of God, not a seat filler, not a Sunday consumer, but a family member. I love these people and the way they love each other, me, and our God.
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.