We currently have a full house. JP moved back in with us at the end of June and it has become increasingly permanent every since. He is working on staff in BG at the church that I am serving at as the interim youth pastor/family ministry consultant. My friend Joel (a former fellow youth pastor) is the pastor and he asked me to come on staff part-time to transition them from an "entertainment-based" youth ministry to a family focused ministry, which is in line with my passion. After much deliberation, questions, community discussions here in Findlay and some clarifications, I signed on part-time and temporary. I cut my hours back at work and have been working there 2 half days a week, plus Sunday nights since April. It has been a good balance for me, to remain in the work force, and yet have time to minister to teens and their families. I have spent a lot of time with parents, talking to them, asking tough questions, giving encouragement and helping them develop a vision and heart for their family. The transition is moving slowly, but surely, and quickly in certain areas. There are some great parents and amazing teen in the group. This past week we decided to cut one day off of my weekly routine, as I commited to stay on through the fall, so I will now be going up there 1 half day a week and Sunday nights. I am very excited about that decision, as it frees me up to be more present in our community here in Findlay, and with our house church.

JP came to visit a week or two after his graduation and stayed for a night. We talked about a lot of things and a lot of options and enjoyed one another's company for a night. He took off to head back to Oklahoma a couple days later and give it a shot for a few weeks/months. He was back quicker than expected and I happened to call him as he was heading home. I reminded him that Kelly and I would love to have him come live with us on a more permanent basis and told him about a potential opportunity at the church I was working at. He came up and met with Joel and Jennifer (the pastor's wife/PT children's pastor) and it was a match. They brought him on to lead their worship band, plan intentional worship experience and to lead the church into conversations and actions in the arena of social justice. So, JP has been here for over two months now and every day seems more real. We love it, Halle really loves "JTee" (as she calls him) and I think JP loves it as well. He is really gifted at what he does and it is such a blessing to serve alongside and live life with one of my first teens. He is truly an amazing young man and friend. He feels more and more like family to us every day.

Two families from our house church decided that we should all move into a mobile home park and commit to living in closer proximity to one another. The one family, the Brewers, decided not to renew their lease, which was up two Monday's ago. They weren't able to get a trailer in that time, so we moved all of their possessions into our garage. They stayed with the Stemen's last week and have moved into the Smith Abode for this week. It is so much fun having them here, as they are VERY easy to live with. Their matress is set up in our family room, behind the couch (we have a very large family room 20x25) and their 9 month old daughter is in the pantry/future study. The house is lively, and I am so excited that we are using it to its full potential right now. It is fulfilling for me, and Kelly is enjoying it as well. I like when we can use our home in a way the encourages and helps others. I hope that we can continue to find ways to do so (thanks for the link Eric, I signed up!).

So, things are good. I will try to write more about the house church aspect of things another time. In short, we are enjoying our community. We are enjoying our housemate. We are enjoying life. We'll see what tomorrow holds.
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one conversation at a time

I study for my Master's every Monday, from after work until midnight. Studying consists of reading articles and books to finish the thesis for my Master's. I have hit about 23 walls while working on this project, but am currently making some progress and feeling a little better. I want to be done with it in December. I really want to be done with it in December.

Tonight I cheated. Instead of going to the library after work, I went to the Hunsaker's for dinner. I missed Kelly. I missed Halle. I missed the Ballmers and Hunsaker and Stemens and Brewers and JP. It has been such a busy week with all the destruction and restoration going on. It was such a nice time of being with one another. It was refreshing, and then I went and got a solid 3.5 hours in on my project, so it worked out fine.

I picked a book off the shelves of the library called, "Making Disciples - one conversation at a time". I breezed through most of the book, not seeing much to glean, but found a very helpful section on the "one another" statements of the New Testament and how they guide life in Christian community. Then, I found a fantastic page and a half at the end that I have to share with you. There is some church language he uses that I wouldn't use, but I love the application of this Scripture. It may not be a new thought for you, but it is for me and I love the application of it to my life, your life and the way we ought to live. If you have time... please read it.

-- From Making Disciples - one conversation at a time

"One denominational leader lamented, "... What are we doing wrong?"

I asked, "How straight can you take it?"

He responded, "I'm desperate to know the truth. Our church is dying."

Here's what I told him: "The efforts of your denomination remind me of that story in the reign of King David, when God put it in his heart to bring the ark up to Jerusalem and set it in the Tabernacle (2 Sam. 6; 1 Chron. 13). He place the ark on a cart, drawn by oxen, and headed for Jerusalem. Along the way the oxen stumbled, and the two sons of Abinadab, Uzzah and Ahio, reached up to steady it. When Uzzah touched the ark he was struck down dead, and the whole enterprise came to a halt. David became angry with God that his friend had been killed.... So here's my questions: Where did David get the idea of carrying the ark on a wagon?

"From the Philistines, " He answered correctly. "It had cause so much trouble back in their country that they loaded it on a wagon and sent it back to Israel."

"Exactly!" I told him. "David's bungled project is a pefect picture of your denominations: you are cretainly God's dear people, and you are sincerely trying to accomplish what you belive to be God's will. But you have borrowed your methods from the Philistines. God have explicit insturctiona bout how the ark was to be carried so this very thing woudld not happen. But when you use Philistine methods to do God's work, people get hurt and the whole enterprise breaks down.'

Listen... Why don't we just do what Jesus told us to do: make disciples. And why don't we do it like He did: Daily conversations about the kingdom of God with a few close personal friends -- right in the context of every day life."

Michael D. Henderson
Making Disciples - one conversation at a time
pgs. 172-173
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We Survived

So... we survived the great flood of Findlay.

It is so strange to live in a town that has endured a natural diaster. It is strange because I have always been the one watching the news from afar, not knowing how to help. It is strange because I live on the north end, and many north enders never even saw the flood other than on their tv screens. It is strange because some of our friends actually had to desert their house and stay with us until the flood waters receded. It is strange because there are mounds of rubbish on every street south of the river, throughout the downtown area and alongside any creek... very eerie and sad.

JP and I helped friends clean up their downtown restaurant today. They are within 2 blocks of the river but have never been breached in previous floods. This time 5 inches of poopy water filled their shop from front to back. 5 inches of poopy water is a big deal for a restaurant, but not as bad as it could have been and is for others. We are hoping they can reopen this source of income for their family on Monday AM, after the health inspector visit. From there we drove around to friends homes and businesses to assess the damage and see how we can help in the upcoming days. One family had 3-4 FEET of water in both of their businesses, their only source of income and another 5 feet in their basement at home, all located downtown. Another family stored many family memorabilla in the crawl space of their small house and couldn't do a thing when the waters rose multiple feet in 30 minutes. Now, there is a muddy, soaked pile of belongings stuck in their crawl space waiting to be disposed of. A family from work had their main source of income literally get swept down the river. The river came in one wall of windows, swept up all of his tools and and pushed them out the other windows and down the river. Another friend's entire church is a total loss. Everything, all sound equipment, all chairs, all computers, everything they had. Gone.

People's homes are destroyed. Other's primary source of income has been eliminated, or at least made inoperable for an unknown amount of time. As we drove around and talked to people I saw varying degrees of disbelief and dismay. Many are not sure where to turn. Insurance was either not sufficient, doesn't cover certain things or has a high deductible ($5K for one friend). We discussed this at length at house church tonight. We have been active and plan to be active. We created a list of projects we want to help with, from friends and family we have talked to. My friend Tracy is bringing a crew down from his church in Oregon, Ohio tomorrow, which will help put a dent in our list.

Thanks for your prayers, calls, e-mails and texts.
We appreciate it.
We are fine, but there are many who are not. They are broken.
Pray that we will come in contact with those people and can extend a hand or lend an ear as needed.
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