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5 Beautiful Things: a Summer Reflection

We are officially wrapping up the second full week of the Fall! As we experience the beautiful changing of the colors around us, the cool breezes, and pumpkin flavored everything(!), we wanted to reflect a bit on some of the beautiful things God made happen in our midst during this summer. Here are some pieces from our end-of-summer newsletter sent out a bit ago. Celebrate with us!


1) ONE Baptism: Our neighbor, Ben, received Jesus at our July 4th Pancake Breakfast and Parade! We had the biggest and most fun July 4th Celebration yet. The best part was that the Holy Spirit healed one of our neighbor's backs after Jordan prayed for her---and then another neighbor, Ben, gave his life to Jesus. Click here to watch a 30-second clip of the baptism: https://youtu.be/pFV4C3F_1xw

2) TWO of our Antioch students finished their first year of studies and practicums: Mark and Michelle have been engaging training in Church leadership through the Antioch School right here at the Boiler Room---they are getting married TODAY---and they're dreaming together about planting a missional community in the near future and how they might utilize their passions in gardening, family, physical projects, etc. We are so thankful for these two. Multiply your Kingdom, Jesus! 

3) THREE weeks of prayer during 2016: We finished out three different weeks of prayer in a series with the themes of Pray Always, Pursue Shalom, and Love Boldly. We also coached a team of Calvin students through hosting a 24-7 prayer tent and did a City-Wide Prayer Bike Ride called RIDE GR. One woman who rode with us on the prayer ride, and who grew up on the West Side, celebrated with us afterward that it was the first time she'd ever prayed out loud with a group of people in her life!

4) FOUR interns finished strong this July after giving themselves to a full year of laying foundations of discipleship and mission in their lives. Dan and Eddie managed a community garden project with the Other Way together and made sustainable improvements to the Love Feast meals. Renee hosted soaking worship nights in the garage after Love Feasts this summer. Rebecca has pursued and walked with several young girls in our neighborhood during Love Feast meals and is moving into a house with some other young women on the West Side in order to living intentionally together. Eddie is continuing for a second year in order to pursue a dream of working with kids and being part of a team to plant a missional community. We are so proud of each of them!

5) Neighborhood Picnics on FIFTH Street: We were delighted for an opportunity to team up with the St. Adalbert's Catholic Basilica across the street from us to host some big neighborhood picnics in the park (during our regular Love Feast time). We have been so blessed to get to know some of the parishioners and clergy who have a heart for prayer, the lost, and are open to working together as God's Church in the neighborhood. Partnership and church unity is GOOD!

Nubby Root Shoots: the precious value in unimpressive beginnings

End-of-Internship Reflections:

When I came back to Grand Rapids a year ago, I arrived with a very specific mission in mind. A mission that was so clear yet obnoxiously ambiguous and mysterious: grow deep roots. I got the concept but, in all honesty, “que?!”.

Yes, deep roots grow through dirt, quality dirt and they grow with water, just the right amount of water, they grow in sunshine and they grow in proper space and time. But, the thing is I’m not a plant, and although I appreciate analogies, I had to eventually get some solid direction.

When this internship at the Boiler Room showed up on my radar as a place that would carry these ingredients of growth, I was stoked, but also very nervous. The excitement came with the faithfulness and provision of God to lead me, and the anticipation of just how far I would come by the end.

But deep down inside I also knew that sometimes God doesn’t move as quick as we’d like, sometimes the roots have everything they need to grow and they grow, just… at a microscopic level. Sometimes, actually, oftentimes, it’s not the most impressive on the outside looking in.  Growth, I’ve learned ebbs and flows and from that discovery, it dawned on me: this growing deep roots thing, really has a lot to do with time, not so much “speed”.

My assessment of the internship is that it has provided

-          Good soil, solid biblical teaching.

-          Water from fellowship with the trinity and community.

-          Sun exposing of sin patterns and false gospels, shining nourishing light into those areas with good things: identity, gifts, and passions.

-          Space, room to be me, freedom to move towards God’s dreams in us and grace to make mistakes.

-          Time, embracing every season with faithfulness and patience.

So, what do I have to show for it? Some pretty unimpressive nubby root shoots yes, but more so a heart that is committed to the time it will take to go deeper. A sobering awareness that my God is worthy of it all, no matter how unimpressive the outcome may be.  A renewed passion for the humble decisions of the heart to be faithful and patient.

  • Faithfulness// constant, loyal, qualities of stability, dependability, and devotion

  • Patience// able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious

I’ve been struck by the many scriptures that implore us to “bear fruit” in EVERY season. Faithfulness and patience just so happen to be on that list of spiritual fruit. This is how I know God’s spirit is working in me, because as a branch, I can do nothing. But I can do one thing and that is to abide in the vine. All of that being said, I’m very grateful for the work God has done through this internship and the way it has impacted me.

Some other ways I’ve been impacted:

-          The concept of being an orphan, slave, or son. I had many orphan and slave tendencies mixed in with Sonship that I realized are not God’s heart for me.

-          Witnessing the faithfulness of this family to God’s word and to each other. Growing up in a pretty toxic environment in my family and the area I grew up, I had a longing to peer into the home of a stable healthy family and see what it’s supposed to look like. I was able to do that this year. Even through messiness, I saw honor and love stay intact. Super healing for me. "

There is so much value in each and every season of our lives, I invite you to join me in reflecting, to take inventory of the value that has come, or that you believe will come in due time, from the unimpressive beginnings in YOUR life. Feel free to share in the comment box below!

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Board Games at Love Feast : A Poem

It's April everyone! With the changing of the seasons, the Stockbridge Boiler Room team decided to bust out something new as well, board games at Love Feast.  The Holy Spirit is full of gifts from the Father and I'm always so astounded by how creatively these gifts are delivered to His children.  As I was reflecting on what to write about for my blog post, I could sense a poem was the best way for me to express my  appreciation for the fun and joy these gifts of games conjured up in our neighbors. Here it is: 

Connection

Like scattered dots on a page

Linked by lines

Building pathways

Reaching  

For Isolated pieces to meet

To move

Forward

Boards patterned to create

With shapes of all sorts

joy for the rich and poor

partners picked for teams that win

and don’t discriminate

Games that create a space.

for laughter, for grace

rules that come from kindness

Following guidelines, to free up the fun

Kindness. Leads. so well…

Inviting all to come

to just be

touching blind eye’s to see

recreating hearts to feel

transforming minds to dream

connecting

with the God of love

through fun

Knock Knock, Who's There?

An unexpected knock at the door is a powerful sound. All the possibilities of who could be at your front door creates such a palate of emotion. Maybe a girl scout selling her cookies with cuteness; a Mormon locked, loaded, and ready to convert; a neighbor looking for a lost cat; or some felon running from the cops. What if this mystery person on the other side of the door came with an invitation? A weekly meal and an offered ear to hear those heart cries that should never  be carried alone, to be shared with a community that wants to, yes actually desires to, bombard heaven with these requests.

For our present season of 24-7 prayer (as well as the one previous), the Stockbridge Boiler Room family felt the nudge to shake off all that girl-scout stereotyping to be those door to door knockers. The theme for this week is "Pray Always" and this scripture comes to mind:

“Praying at all times in the Spirit with every prayer request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession from all the saints”

Each request we gathered from our neighbors is pinned on dangling strings of yarn in our prayer garage to be prayed for “at all times in the Spirit”.They are literally “in your face” when you approach the intercession station that set up in the far right of the room. Every time a request is prayed over, a hole is punched on that specific prayer request slip. It’s quite a “holy” endeavor. It’s a holy endeavor to keep knocking on the doors of heaven “with all perseverance and intercession from all the saints”.

This pounding also happens on the entry ways of our own hearts. And this is the reason behind the little basket as you exit the prayer garage which holds strips of paper with little ways that we can be the answer to our prayers.

I don’t know about you but pounding causes me to become alert and I’m challenged with the phrase in Ephesians 6:18 to stay alert.  This is why I am so grateful for these 24-7 prayer seasons that remind me to stay, to watch and to pray, to be vigilant, to wait and to be sent when he speaks. And it reminds me that I am commissioned to do this with "all the saints". Bless you as you we band together this 24-7 season and many more to come.