Posts Tagged family
Sunday, October 26, 2008 was our first of three monthly Preview Worship Gatherings at ASU Poly. Our faithful launch team of 60 was inviting friends, preparing to serve, and excited about this big step for our new church. We had a set-up run through scheduled for Saturday night, the 25th.
On Friday the 24th our trailer arrived from Portable Church Industries, filled with most of the equipment we would need in order to conduct this public gathering. By the way, I would never try to plant a church without using PCI. It was one of the best investments we made.
Sandwiched in the middle of all of this was the birth of my second child, Caitlin. She was due on October 20th, so we had figured that we’d have plenty of time to get her home, get settled, and get ready for the church gathering — after all, most second children come early. But not Caitlin. By the time the weekend came, we were still waiting for her. I started making backup plans in case I’d have to miss the first gathering, and it was a pretty wild time.
My wife, Molly, woke up on Saturday and knew that Caitlin was coming. We waited as long as made sense and then, as I was preparing to drive the trailer over to ASU, Molly said it was time to go. So I dropped the trailer off, handed the keys to John Kronwald and said, “We’re gonna go have a baby. Hope to see you tomorrow.”
Caitlin was born around 10:25pm Saturday night in good health with no complications. The next morning I woke up, went down to the hospital cafeteria to pray and run through my sermon notes, and then headed off to our first gathering.
It was a memorable Sunday. Joel Buckingham led worship. JT Trottier shared his “God Story.” Charlie Jolly read the Scripture. I taught on “Jesus’ Prayer for Glory” as part of our Jesus’ Prayer for His Church series. 177 people showed up.
After the gathering, I headed back to the hospital, introduced Abby to her little sister, and spent the day resting and rejoicing with Molly.
Two years later, I’m amazed at all that God has done. My little girl is two, and our little church has grown significantly. What an incredible blessing.
Happy birthday Caitlin!
I saw this clip from Saturday Night Live and couldn’t wait to show Molly. Enjoy!
I have so much fun with my family and particularly with my two-year old Abby. Check out one of our latest causes for laughter:
If you’re a consistent reader of this blog, you’ll notice that I haven’t posted in about a week. Today is the explanation…
Last Saturday night at 10:42pm we welcomed our second daughter, Caitlin Carolyn Simmons, into the world. She was born 8lbs 8oz and both her and her mom are doing well. We’ve had lots of family in town and have taken a few days off to get our act together as a family of four!
Below is a picture of Abby with her new baby sister. Click here for more pictures.
God has, once again, blessed my family above and beyond what we could imagine. One of the most significant commitments we’ve made to starting Second Mile is moving into the community. Within three days we had multiple offers on our house and within seven days it was sold. Amazing. I know people who have had their house for sale for almost a year, and ours sold in a week.
Then, while we’ve been homeless, we’ve had the joy of living with our friends Charlie and Bonnie in their basement. It’s a beautiful home with plenty of room and their hospitality has been out-of-this-world. In the meantime, we’ve looked at 25+ homes (almost all of which were short-sales and big-hassles). We offered on three homes that we liked and then it was time to wait. All three were good and one was exactly what we wanted (so we had our prayer team pray that God would provide it).
Well, 6-8 weeks later (while we were still waiting), a new house popped on the market that was a regular sale and, though another person offered $12k more than us, our offer was accepted the first day. Amazingly, this house was even better than the one we had asked everyone to pray for and, ironically, they back up to each other. Today we signed the papers, we get keys Friday, and we move in a week. We are thrilled.
It’s funny…but I don’t know totally how to react to all of this. While the Scripture does say that God sometimes gives us more than we ask or think (Eph 3:20) and that he is a generous Father who loves to give good gifts to his children when they ask (Mt 7:11), I am also aware that I don’t even deserve a house, nor am I owed anything by God. I have never given a gift to God that he should repay me (Ro 11:35). I think the reaction that God wants is for me to enjoy his gifts and to delight in the love of the Giver.
But what has troubled me more than once are the comments that some Christians have made when I have told them this story. They’ll say something like, “Well of course God did that for you” or “What else did you expect?” I think when they say this they are simply trying to celebrate God’s generosity. But I also wonder whether these comments carry the assumption that God must bless me in these temporal ways. God may not always provide the temporal blessings I hope for. I know that there are Christians tonight across the world who have zero temporal comfort and God loves them just as much as me.
In conclusion, this experience has taught me to celebrate the blessings of God and to enjoy them, but also to never demand or presume that I must have them. I have Jesus. He is more blessing than I will ever get my arms around and I want him to be enough.
Molly and I are currently traveling through the midwest on a wedding circuit. A few days ago we spent some time back in Champaign, IL revisiting our days at the University of Illinois and reconnecting with some friends. It was great to be back and to re-stock our Illini gear.
We spent one evening with some friends from our old church, Community Evangelical Free Church. We were there during the back half of our undergraduate years. Though we were students who didn’t bring much to the table in terms of either money or service, they poured into us and made us part of the church family. Seeing these friends was a great encouragement.
Additionally, we were blessed by one of the finest Bible teachers I have ever heard, Mike Shea. His Galatians, Luke and Isaiah series were life-changing, and I still listen to his sermons on a regular basis.
Molly and I found ourselves refreshed by their encouragement and reminded of how faithful God has been to us. It also makes me hope that some college students passing through ASU Polytechnic will find a similar home at Second Mile Church.
Session 10: Planning
This session helped us begin to implement all the previous things we had been working on and set key milestones that will help us get done what needs to get done before we plant. It’s both encouraging how much we have already done and discouraging how much there is to do. We’ll try to hold these plans loosely as they will surely change.
Session 11: Priorities
For this final session, anticipation was high. All week we had been told, “Don’t leave early. Make sure you stay for the last session, it’s always the best.” We were not disappointed.
In this session, Dr. Steve Childers (President of GCA) presented his “Eight biggest mistakes…that he can share publicly.” The gist of this session was that personal spiritual renewal and health is far more important than some version of of earthly “success” in church planting. This was a sobering session that caused both Molly and I to really think seriously about what lies ahead. Here are a few of the key takeaways for me:
- I have views of what “success” is and most of them are illegitimate and not based on faithfulness to God’s call.
- Joy comes from who I am in Christ, not what I do for Christ.
- At the root of my frantic propensity to overwork is usually the sin of pride and an exalted sense of my importance in the kingdom of God.
- Goals are things I can influence and control. Desires are things I cannot. Therefore, I should work toward my goals and pray for my desires.
- God’s goal for my life is not merely to serve him, but to know him, love him, trust him, glorify him and enjoy him. God is not a means to another end–he is the goal of everything.
- God loves me. Really. A lot. “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
- I need people who don’t just tell me how to live and do ministry better, but also point me to the truth of the gospel.
- I can choose to be content and enjoy life now, or I can put my hope in “I’ll be happy someday when…” and never actually get it.
- I have an amazing wife who needs to be treasured and not sacrificed to the idol of “success.”
As you can tell, this was an impactful session. We’re so thankful to EVBC for sending us to this seminar. We learned a lot and were truly refreshed in many ways. May God be your joy and may you know the power of his amazing love.
Tomorrow Molly and I begin the 4-day Global Church Advancement Church Planting Seminar in Orlando. This conference has been recommended by Steve Ogne (EVBC’s church-planting coach) and is one of my requirements for completing the membership process to Acts29.
I am very excited to have the chance to be with other people who are in this process and to get some real practical, gospel-driven training. Also, I’m thrilled to do this with Molly and to have the shared experience together, not to mention just time away together.
If you think of us, here are some things we’d like you to pray for:
-That our hearts would be knit even stronger together in this church planting work.
-That we would learn some important lessons in advance to save us and the church future heartache and pain.
-That we would be able to meet and network with like-minded people for encouragement and future ministry partnership.
-That our daughter, Abby, would do well in our time away from her (this is the longest we’ve been away from her).
Thanks! I’ll be sure to post some updates and key things we learn.
My daughter Abby turns 2 today! We can’t believe how fast it’s going and we can’t believe how much we love her. What a blessing.
We’re also rejoicing with my friend Justin Anderson, pastor of Praxis Church, whose first child was born today. I don’t yet know her name, but I know that, Lord willing, two years from today Justin and I will both be amazed at how big our little girls are.
Happy Birthday Abby!