Dear family and friends, November 7, 2011
We are wrapping up our fourth month here in Canton, GA! The leaves are turning beautiful colors and falling all over the ground and the cold fronts are moving through. Next time I write an update it will be after Thanksgiving and in the midst of shopping season madness. Our first major family holiday as permanent residents here in Canton. There have been lots of goings on this past month, so let’s move on.
Last time I wrote we had taken a trip to Memphis to get Kate’s dental appliance checked out (helping correct an under bite). I believe it was the night we got back the appliance popped partially out of her mouth. God gave us grace in that it did not hurt Kate and we were able to find a new pediatric dentist to go to the following day. It has subsequently been removed and the dentist is checking her teeth periodically to make sure her teeth don’t move back to an under bite. The past three weeks have been a mass of birthday planning (Kate is now the big 5) and parties. We had a really fun time celebrating Kate’s birthday here in Canton. She got lots of great presents, but I believe the best present she got was for her cousin Elizabeth to come and spend the week with her. We met my mother and sister in Murfreesboro, TN and picked up Elizabeth and got to spend some quality time with part of my family. We drove back up to TN last week to “joyfully” (did I just say that?) give my niece back to my sister. But in all honesty it is such a privilege to get to know my niece at such a young age and have these personal experiences with her. I know we will look back and cherish these times as our kids get older. Now that Big Sister’s party is over we have to start thinking about what to do for Little Sister’s birthday…Yes, Maggie will be turning 2 on November 22. Is this really happening? I’m beginning to figure out that there is no better gauge of how time flies than by how fast my kids’ birthdays go by. Personally I am trying to adjust to the days getting shorter and figuring out how to manage myself as “The Season” is getting closer. Something about the holidays makes time and stress management just fly out the window.
Grace Valley is also moving along quite well. Since the last time we “talked” we had a Grace Valley Board Meeting. Our Board members from all over the Southeast (Florida and the Atlanta area) came up to Canton and had a great day of fellowship and discussions on future directions of the ministry. It was such a blessing and encouragement to get together with Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have taken hold of the vision of Grace Valley and to be able to work beside them.
Our Pastors’ groups are doing very well. Phil has experienced deeper fellowship and openness within the two groups of lead pastors he meets with, and the youth pastors’ group is also going well. We added another pastor to the group and I was able to lead the group solo a couple of weeks ago while Phil was at a National/International pastor’s conference, Catalyst, in Atlanta. It was a great experience for me to engage these pastors without the safety net of Phil’s experience by my side. We hope to continue to develop my ability and skills to facilitate this group and others like it in the future.
We also had a meeting with a missionary counselor, Beverly Richardson, who we are hoping to partner with in the future to provide counseling, debriefing, and transition services for the missionaries we will serve in our ministry. It was a very good meeting and we are looking forward to developing our future partnership with Beverly in order to provide more comprehensive and relevant services to missionaries seeking help. Beverly has been a full time missionary in the field and is currently wrapping up a full-time missionary counseling position she has held in Thailand so that she can live closer to her family in the Atlanta area.
I was able to finish a first draft of our counseling philosophy, and will be tweaking and adding material to it over the coming weeks in order to put a finished product on our website. I will also be developing a counseling policy document to more clearly define our expectations of Ministry workers who seek our help and what expectations they should have of us.
During the winter months we will not be holding organized events on the Grace Valley property, but are looking for ways to prepare for events we will hold in the spring. One of the things we are trying to do is build an outhouse on the property so we can provide attendees with an accessible and adequate bathroom facility. One of the pastors from Phil’s groups got inspired about this project and has volunteered people, preparation and resources in order for us to accomplish this. It seems like something simple, but God is already blessing us with the means and people to build our first building on the Grace Valley property.
Personally, I feel Melissa and I are still adjusting to life at her parents’ home and in Canton. With my work being non-traditional and Melissa not working full-time for the first time in seven years it has been a stretch to find balance and routine in our lives. But in truth, God has blessed us more than I could have ever imagined in our move here. Our girls have adapted extremely well to the move and God has allowed us to ease into living with Melissa’s parents with abundant grace. When I think about the little things that I haven’t gotten used to and the routines I haven’t developed yet, I’m amazed at the number of things that I could be dealing with that God has blessed us with not having to worry about right now. Not to mention the fact that God has provided renters for our house, unexpected donations, and little jobs here and there to help us make ends meet. Next month I hope to have more news on my own search for part-time counseling work and our plans for the holidays.
Here is our prayer list for this month:
- That God would continue to bless our pastors groups and the relationships that are being built through them
- That God would help me make tangible progress in my search for part-time counseling work
- That God would give us energy and encouragement throughout the holidays and the winter months
- That we would be able to develop relationships and community in the building of our outhouse
- That through part-time work and/or support we would be able to afford health care for our family in the near future
- That God would help us to nurture our personal and family walk with him
- That God would begin to provide the ways and means to acquire and begin developing the property so we can start receiving pastors for restoration from crisis
I want to praise God for the ease and safety in which we have been able to complete our move thus far. I also want to praise God for my ability to go to a men’s retreat with Christ Community Church and the relationships I was able to begin to develop through that. Praise God for our family and the blessing of having so many of them be in personal relationship with Christ…It is profound how God has blessed both Melissa and I’s families with an abundance of believers. And as hectic and stressful as this season can be, praise God for the fellowship we will experience and the remembrance of why we are here. I hope that all of you are encouraged this month and that God will speak to your hearts and help you to be a beacon of his grace. I would love to hear from you by phone or e-mail if you have any questions, comments or just want to catch up. Don’t forget to check out my blog at www.gracevalleyministries.org over the coming weeks if you would like to stay up to date on what’s going on until my next update (I actually do plan on blogging as soon as I stop procrastinating).
435 Colmer Rd., Canton, GA 30114