I’ve tried to write this update several times over the past few weeks, but so much has been happening, both on the surface and internally, that it feels like my words are never going to catch up. But big changes are happening, so I’m going to throw this update out there anyways, incomplete as it is….
A house accustomed to community
“People write their addresses in pencil and wonder at their strange existence.”
More and more over the past few years, this line from “The Vision” by Pete Greig has felt like a tagline for my life. I’ve moved six times (including three states) in the past four years. And this weekend that number will be upped to seven times.
On Sunday (assuming we finish painting by then) we are moving in to the Tracy House, just a couple blocks east of Troost. We’ll be sharing an upper duplex with two other women, a baby (yes!), and a guy. Our bedroom will be on the third floor, with a small living room and a not-so-small bathroom that we’ll share with the guy, while the girls are on the second floor.
We started talking about the possibility of this the same weekend that both our jobs ended and it feels like a good fit in so many ways. Historically Troost has been Kansas City’s dividing line between the black and white neighborhoods, between the rich and the poor, the privileged and the underprivileged. The neighborhoods east of Troost have a reputation of violence, crime, drugs, broken homes, and bad schools (we found some pretty sobering statistics). Which is exactly the kind of neighborhood we’ve been yearning to live in, exactly the kind of place we feel called to.
Not only that, but we’ll be living in community, praying together, ministering together, sharing meals, sharing life. Yes. It feels like a solid step towards a myriad of things we’ve had tucked away in our hearts for a while.
In some ways, the Tracy House already feels more like home than any place we’ve lived since we got married, maybe because it’s a house accustomed to community. We’re looking forward to adding some of our own touches to it, too, like painting upstairs (the living room, the bathroom, and our bedroom). I’ve never lived somewhere where I’ve been able to pick paint colors. It’s just a little thing, but it makes me excited (we have a collection of bright, cheerful paint swatches of blues and yellows sitting on our side table right now and I’ve been scouring the internet for paint deals).
Now we just need to pack (luckily, moving so often has encouraged me to simplify on a regular basis)….
Along with the move into the Tracy House, we’re also planning on joining a new “leadership collaborative” at the Boiler Room. The purpose of the collaborative is “developing and equipping leaders in the Boiler Room to extend the kingdom of God in Kansas City and beyond.” Each person in the collaborative will choose a “kingdom assignment,” some sort of project in prayer, mission, or justice, according to their specific gifting and calling (for Derek and I this will probably involve some combination of neighborhood ministry, community living, hospitality, prayer, and possibly a community garden), and explore the question: “Who am I called to love and how do I love them well?”. Together the group will walk through the process of starting and developing these projects. We’ll meet weekly for prayer, worship, friendship, encouragement, accountability, and strategic input. We’ll also be going through teaching on developing a right, kingdom-centered perspective on God, ourselves, and the world, as well as looking at our own personal callings, how God has interacted with us I our lives, and how He’s shaping us as ministers and leaders. It sounds like good stuff.
This will be their first time doing something like this so we’ll join 15-18 people in a sort of test run of the program. It’s just a part time commitment, so people have the option of still working and going to school at the same time (Derek will still be working at the Roasterie and I’m continuing to look for work).
When Derek first told me about the collaborative, I was a little hesitant about it. It sounded great, but it sounded like they were inviting pioneering type people who wanted to walk out a specific call. To be honest, I wasn’t sure we were the kind of people they were looking for. I mean, yes, we had all these dreams on our hearts for community and incarnational ministry among the urban poor….but we were living in Brookside, working our normal jobs and not walking in any of those things. We weren’t even making definite plans to walk in them any time soon. They were just ideas, just dreams for someday.
But we prayed about it. And our jobs ended. And things opened up with the move to the Tracy House. And then several weeks ago we met with Wendy Andrews and several other girls who might be joining the collaborative as well to go over the preliminary plan for it (which has changed already, but anyway…). As we listened, something deep inside me stirred with a resounding “YES!”
The building of a bridge of faith
So here we go, moving forward. A lot of the details are still fuzzy and I don’t know exactly what it will look like here to begin walking in the things we’re called to, but this move and this collaborative feel like steps in the right direction. I believe God will bring clarity as we continue to step forward.
I’m reminded of a reflection I read a couple weeks ago, so I’ll end with that:
“The Lord never builds a bridge of faith except under the feet of the faith-filled traveler. If he builds the bridge a rod ahead, it would not be a bridge of faith. That which is of sight is not faith.
There is a self-opening gate which his sometimes used in country roads. It stands fast and firm across the road as a traveler approaches it. If he stops before he gets to it, it will not open. But if he will drive right at it, his wagon wheels press the springs below the roadway, and the gate swings back to let him through. He must push right on at the closed gate or it will continue to be closed.
This illustrates the way to pas every barrier on the road to duty. Whether it is a river, a gate, or a mountain, all the child of Jesus has to do is to go for it. If it is a river, it will dry up when you are near enough to it, and are still pushing on. If it is a mountain, it will be lifted and cast into a sea when you come squarely up without flinching, to where you thought it was.
Is there a great barrier across your path of duty just now? Just go for it, in the name of the Lord, and it won’t be there.” (Henry Clay Trumbull, quoted in Streams in the Desert, p. 202)