*Disclaimer: This is a long post. Don't expect a quick read. But...I think it is worth reading, particularly if you know Matt and me! I think you'll be excited, too!
One week ago Matt and I pulled out of our driveway at 4:30 a.m. At 9:30 p.m. we rolled into the driveway of our friends' home in Orlando, Florida. Our drive took us through Arkansas, a few miles in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and finally, Florida. Can we say LONG day? Yes. But we enjoyed it! Matt and I always love road trips together because we can have uninterrupted conversations. We also love the freedom to just be quiet. The kiddos were safe and sound at home with Matt's mom, which freed us up to relax and focus.
This trip was a vision trip for us. We have known for some time that we are moving. What we didn't know was what our new job would look like, or what life is like in Orlando. We spent a full day driving around with a realtor, exploring the town and looking a houses. Obviously, we won't be buying anything we looked at on this trip, but it was comforting to get an idea of what we can afford...which in the depressed Orlando real estate market is a LOT of house! We will be able to increase the size of our home by 1000 sq. feet without increasing our mortgage! This will be the fulfillment of a dream for both of us. It's not that we desire a big house, because that's not it. In fact, my favorite home we've ever lived in was a 500 sq. foot, 1-bedroom cabin in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. The dream Matt and I have always shared is to have a home that allows us to welcome guests, love on them, and make them feel special. We have been able to do this to some degree where we are, but we will be able to do it better in a home where our guests can have their own room that is designed specifically for their comfort, and is not one of our kids' rooms. We are also planning on getting our foster care licensing, and having a larger home will allow our foster kids to have a special place of their own, too. So, needless to say, the real estate day was very encouraging, and very exciting! I feel bad for all the people who are trying to sell their homes, but I am glad we will benefit from the poor market.
The best part of the trip was the time we spent with our new managers, Brad and Kathy. We stayed with them, and had two full days just talking together. Normally I wouldn't reveal and identifying information on my blog, but the ministry we are going to is way too exciting not to share! Before we move, I'll tell you the name of the ministry we are leaving, and give you details. Because you're reading my blog, chances are you are either a woman, a parent, or a grandparent. Both of the ministries are fantastic, and I know you can benefit from what they offer.
We are transferring to the Bright Media Foundation, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ! Dr. Bill Bright and his wife, Vonette, founded Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951. Their original intent was to reach students for Christ on the UCLA campus. God saw the Brights' love for Him, and their passion to take the love of Christ to the world. God honored their dream, and today Campus Crusade is the largest interdenominational missions organization in the world. With 70+ ministries, and 26,000 staff worldwide, Campus Crusade is meeting the needs of all different kinds of people. The Bright Media Foundation came about several years ago, with the goal of keeping the writings of Dr. and Mrs. Bright readily available to the body of Christ. When Dr. Bright passed away in 2003, his son Brad, and daughter-in-law Kathy, assumed leadership of Bright Media. God has given Brad and Kathy a passion to help people to truly know God. Out of this passion, two projects have developed: Discover God, and Discover God for Kids. We will be working on the Discover God for Kids (DG4K) project. What a great privilege and honor for us! It is a perfect fit--God-designed, really--and you'll see why as you read on.
We have noticed a startling trend during our years in our current ministry, and through our past experiences with our families, and as school teachers. The majority of parents today do not know how to build spiritually strong foundations for their children. Because they don't know how, they are leaving their children's spiritual education up to the church and/or Christian school. This is sad because the most important factor in the growth of a child is the parents. Kids will learn far more from their parents than they ever will from any other source. The church and the school (I'm speaking in generalizations here, not saying this applies to every church or school) are not giving the children enough substance. The overwhelming outcome is a generation of children whose views of God are skewed because they have filled the gaps in the knowledge with their own ideas about God. So often, when the tough times come, this shallow understanding cannot bear the weight of pain or any challenge from the culture, and the person will abandon God altogether. This generation are the marriages, parents, families, and leaders of tomorrow. They are our future. Sobering thought, much?
This is where the Discover God and DG4K projects come in! They exist to resource people, in order that they might come to understand WHO God truly is, and WHY He matters. This understanding is the key to living a life of joy and peace--a life where Christianity is not a chore, a burden, or an impossible task. Knowing God--the true God, not a distorted view of God--is the most important thing in life. DG4K is a developing ministry. The team has spent the last several years building a framework for ministry to kids. Now we get to come in and help flesh it out! DG4K has a great website: http://www.dg4kids.com/. It is home to Family Adventures, a wonderful FREE curriculum that parents can use to teach their children about the character of God. We have been adapting this curriculum for a larger group, and using it in our church's Awana program this year. Mommies, Daddies, and Grandparents, this is good stuff! The lessons will help you build those crucial foundations for your precious kids. When we get to Orlando, I will be spearheading the development of a blog to further help parents be intentional in their children's spiritual growth! Together, Matt and I will be working on building the Kids Zone. We want to include as many fun, interactive things there as possible to help develop connections with the kids, and to add truth to their understanding of God.
There will be many other facets of our job, too. We will be writing 5th grade curriculum for a ministry that runs after-school programs in the public schools! We will get to work on developing partnerships with some other key children's ministries around the country, and with some other countries around the world (I can't reveal names yet, though the partnerships are already in progress)! We want to customize the curriculum for churches, for schools, and for homeschool families, too! I will also get to use my photography gifts to help illustrate a book written by Kathy Bright! These are just a few of the things DG4K is about. There is more I will talk about later, too. SQUEEEEEE! I am so excited! You'll be hearing more about this in the next several months. =)
The other cool things about the trip were getting to eat Cuban food, going on a tour of Campus Crusade's headquarters, and spending an evening with all the members of our new team. We broke up our drive home into two days. On the first day, we spent an hour at Daytona Beach, where found some beautiful seashells. We then drove through the heaviest rain I've ever seen in my life (went 25 mph on the interstate for about an hour!), had dinner in Chattanooga, and spent the night with our dear friends Brian and Carol in Murfreesboro, TN. The next day was an easy straight-through from Murfreesboro back home. After the long drive on the way down, 6 1/2 hours seemed like nothing!
So now we're home again. I am sick, and will be spending much of the next few days taking vitamins, drinking water and tea, and trying to get rested and well again. Matt is painting the dining room and kitchen today. The new upstairs carpet comes on Tuesday! All week long, Matt will be spending his evenings tiling the bathrooms and laundryroom. I get to spend the next week doing cleaning and touch-ups around the house, painting baseboards and trim, and making sure the house is ready to list. It goes up for sale next week! Over the next few months, we need to work hard at raising more support. We are under-funded right now, and we have to get back to full support before we can move. We also need to raise a bit more to cover the slightly increased cost of living in Orlando. The sale of the house and getting our support back up are the two things that have to happen before we go. We would like to move as soon as school is out. We have to be there by July 1st in order to get the 5th grade curriculum written for the 10/11 school year. Please pray for our family. There is so much to be done!
Wow...this ended up being longer that I thought. I hope I've managed to convey some of my excitement, and haven't bored you to death! =)