There is something about a New Year that offers NEW hope. NEW year, NEW feels, NEW chances, BIG dreams, fresh starts. So each year, Marcus and I set our annual intention with a NEW word. Just one. This decision has consistently become a fulfilled purpose by year’s end. And 2018 was no different.
I don’t thing I knew exactly what we were asking. I just knew we needed a MIRACLE. It didn’t appear as though we, (my husband or I) were in any crisis. I’d say we felt… fine. But the thought of the next twenty years looking like the “fine” WE were staring at, left a pit in our gut and sorrow in our hearts. Our kids were doing well in their school and activities. My business was growing at its fastest pace. But the passion for our purpose was barely burning and a deep, insidious discouragement had settled in.
In 2013, we started a new church. Center Church consisted of our Tribe, a few friends and our immediate family members (who may or may not have felt a little obligated). This new upstart church began in a house in the urban core of our San Diego neighborhood. But even though we started with this tight little crew at the beginning, 2018 represented the loss of many of the folks that had pioneered the church with us. They were our “ride or dies… Until they weren’t. There came the abandonment and loss–the deep kind of hurt deep. And in some ways, 2018 began the journey of realization that we weren’t really “fine.”
Three months after our start in 2013, we began meeting at Perkins Elementary in the Barrio. 45% of the students there are homeless. And the campus reflected the state of crisis its families were in: tired, broke-down, hurting. But our heart was to bring the hope of Jesus there, and make His love impossible to ignore.
The road of church planting never promised to be easy. But God’s promises never failed. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
Those early years became the moments I did new things. Now, I’ll admit, quite a few of those moments were, “I don’t want tos.” But growth rarely occurs when you merely get what you want. My discomfort started the ministry of Center Kids. That in itself was a miracle.
It was there in that humble elementary school that my husband, a worship pastor and music guy for twenty-five years, set down his guitar and picked up his gift for communicating God’s Word boldly.
My kids learned to serve there. They fed the felt need of our city’s homeless neighbors. They cleaned the streets and gave to those who are most at risk.
We fell deeper in love with our city and all the people who call it home. We lived by the creed that, “Nobody’s perfect, everyone’s welcome and anything’s possible.”
We gave all we had to the students and families of the school we called our church home.
We followed God’s lead in restoring hope there.
We threw great parties and gathered for inspired, life-changing events.
My whole Tribe experienced new life there. We worshiped, we were forgiven, we were saved to make a difference. And I learned that with God, anything is possible.
We saw people know God, find freedom, discover purpose and make a difference.
And then, just two weeks ago, we said good-bye. Not to Center Church. The church is not a building; the church is it’s people. But in the waning hours of 2018, we received our Miracle. Center Church moved to a new home. A fresh start. A new beginning. Beauty for ashes and sorrow for joy.
For five years we had worked hard. We knocked on doors. We asked and did all we knew to do. The chips were down and “fine” was actually failing. Then we surrendered and chose one word…MIRACLE. We did not choose the word asking for something specific. “Miracle” was to be our reminder that God is God, and I am not. I can decide, determine, drive and strive and still fall short. We all need God for the win. 2018 was full of surprises. But one thing is certain, it stayed true to it’s ONE word: MIRACLE.