When It “Just So Happens”

At times, Thomas and I feel the weight of the daunting task of moving to Oxford in a year. The finances needed, the work of personal development, another transition, the goodbyes. And yet meeting each weight is the sweetness of God’s faithfulness. He doesn’t eliminate the pain or the uncertainty, but he does provide comfort and clarity.

One of the ways He has provided clarity is in the beauty of His timing. For us, that started back in March when our internship was coming to a faster close than we had originally anticipated. It just so happened that Danny was getting ready to launch a team in Oxford, England and our internship had been the perfect preparatory experience we needed to join that new team. It just so happened that our internship was culminating in Scotland and from there Thomas and I could easily tag on a vision trip to Oxford. It just so happened that the team we were joining was part of a larger collective, Ethne, that was having their once in 4 years conference that July. It just so happened that we had enough support saved up to cover the cost of traveling to Thailand for that conference. It just so happened that the conference was the encouragement and life giving experience we needed to return to Southern California refreshed and ready to do the work needed to transition to Oxford.

Ethne Conference & Our New Collective!
Ethne Conference & Our New Collective!

How easy it is to be naturally skeptical of these it just so happened experiences. But I have found that I can’t afford such skepticism. I trade peace for anxiety when I don’t remind myself of the Lord’s faithfulness. As Thomas Merton says, “We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.” We are so grateful for the ways that the divine has shown through for us during a season that feels daunting and risky.

So why was meeting our collective, Ethne, and attending that conference so important? Thomas and I are already fairly well connected within the CRM organization but moving across the world to join a new team is a deeper level of commitment for us. While at the conference, we had the opportunity to share meals and conversation with couples and individuals who have been serving with Ethne for up to 20 years. These deep wells made themselves available to us and we left that conference with a list of people we can call for any range of needs. We also had our first team meeting with Danny and that provided the much needed role clarity and team synergy that will carry us through a year of long distance teamwork.

 And that is where we are now – entering into a pivotal year in Southern California and keeping our eyes and hearts open for many more it just so happened experiences. I have a hunch that the divine is shining through for you too and I hope you can see His sweet faithfulness today. 

xoxo,

Rachel & Thomas

Bicycle Commuting in Glasgow

When you sit in a car, behind metal and glass, you experience the world with a protective layer between you and it. When you cycle, in the midst of sky and road, you experience the world by feeling it and being WITH it. I have very much discovered the truth of this as we’ve commuted first through London and then Glasgow on our bicycles.

Lest I make it sound like some dreamy adventure, I have definitely not always enjoyed it. Because the city is new, I don’t know where I am going most of the time. This means I can’t always anticipate sudden turns, or lanes to merge into, or cars to zip around. It doesn’t help that our GPS hasn’t been working and we’re following directions from an iPhone that talks to us through Tommy’s pocket.

Also, can we talk about riding on the left side of the road? It is one thing to navigate this in daylight, but a completely different challenge at night. There were a few times that I found myself turning into a pair of headlights. (if you’re reading this moms, we’re pros now and totally fine!) Cars here have been gracious and the roads are bicycle friendly, which is a major plus. There is an overpass above the freeway that has a ramp specially designed for bicycles. Pretty great.

I am also learning to add extra time to our commute to account for unlocking and locking our bikes, shedding or applying our warmth layers, reapplying deodorant and managing helmet hair. As someone who doesn’t have a very high patience level for all things fiddly, this is often a building source of frustration for me.

But then there are the moments when you are riding your bike along the city river and all the lights are glimmering across the water, or that rewarding feeling of weaving between cars who are stuck at that red light forever, or the burn in your legs and the hunger in your tummy as you roll up to the pub, or feeling a part of everything that is alive and bustling and moving in a city. And then there is the fact that we aren’t paying for gas, or adding to pollution and traffic. We are using our muscles and breath and life to move us across roads and cities. And despite my occasional grumbles, I truly love and value that.

Views on the way home
Views on the way home

 

Post riding treat
Post riding treat

 

Train station
Glasgow train station

London/Glasgow Trip Report #1

WE ARE IN THE UK! I honestly can’t quite believe we made it. We literally packed up our whole life in Pacifica, moved to Fullerton, stuffed our bike bags, got on our flight and landed on the other side of the world — all within about 48 hours. It’s been whirl.

All that to say, I could write a book about our experiences so far, or I could give you the bullet points. I’ve already started the long version, but if you’d like an update and not have to read for the next 5 hours, here’s the shorter version:

For starters, we took our bikes apart and put them in boxes. It took us longer than we thought, but we did it! We then packed our check on bags to the very last pound and headed to the airport!

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The flight was long. There were many crying babies and not much sleep. We arrived in Heathrow and began the process of putting our bikes back together. That is until a few policemen stop by and tell us the cycle way is closed and we are forbidden to exit through the tunnel. Put bikes BACK in box and catch a bus to a hotel. 

Bikes on Bus

 

We put our bikes back together. Takes forever. A lot of people tell us that this doesn’t look like a vacation, but we still feel differently however exhausted, hungry, or cold we are.

The GPS poops out so we resort to paying for data and being guided by the iphone talking to us through Tommy’s pocket. Shoulda bought that phone mount. The bicycle trail is like off roading. Gravel. Mud. Bumps. GORGEOUS. Hard with 60lbs on the back of your bike and empty tummies. Tired.

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Daylight starts fading as we hop off the trail and onto the busy streets of London. Our adrenaline was pumping as we race the sun and traffic. We finally make it to Euston Station for a sleeper train to Glasgow! YES!

Find out we missed our bike drop off time by 5 minutes. Anxious.

Walk our bikes around the train station to find help. Finally find someone and they tell us it will be no problem to roll our bikes onto the train with us. Phew.

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Eat the best burger and drink the best beer. Make a few friends at the pub. Love how cycling brings people together!

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Hop on the train and try to sleep. I’m so exhausted, I succeed. But wake up in time to watch the sunrise – so worth it.

From there we climb back on our bikes and ride through the beautiful city of Glasgow to a coffee shop. There are separate bike streets here and so many more cyclists than in London.

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And now we have met our lovely hosts and will be doing more things as a team for the next 2 weeks. Currently sitting in bed, drinking English tea and eating a croissant. Excited to get some rest and dive in tomorrow!

LEC: Fall Semester 2015

LEC - Rachel and Thomas

One of the things that makes Life Equipping Community unique is the opportunity to have a meaningful and challenging academic experience outside of the traditional school system. Imagine regularly meeting with a cohort of emerging leaders all bringing to the table their experience, thoughts, and passions while being directed by a team of talented and successful leaders. The LEC environment is designed like an incubator: teaching, training, and transformation exist all at the same time.

We didn’t want to forget the courses we had so we’re going to summarize them below. We’ll provide the course name and some of the readings.

Spiritual Formation

This initial course of the LIFE Equipping Community is designed to offer understanding and practical experience in the area of intentional spiritual formation. The course will consider how the Kingdom life and ministry that Jesus has made accessible much be informed by and flow from the fundamental spiritual disciples such as solitude and community.

Gregory Boyd, Present Perfect

Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

Kingdom Ministry

When Jesus calls someone to follow him, he intends that call to be applied to the totality of how Jesus lived among us. A disciple is one who is with Jesus learning to be like him. To be a disciple is to be an apprentice of Jesus who is learning to say and do what Jesus said and did in the manner that he said and did it. In this course we will concentrate on the ministry lifestyle of Jesus that served to advance the Kingdom of God. This will include a focus on such themes as God’s Kingdom among us now, Kingdom power and the ministry of physical healing.

John Wimber, Power Healing

Old Testament Survey

A survey of the Pentateuch and historical books of the Old Testament (Genesis through Esther), highlighting how God worked through human leaders to guide his people throughout various periods of their history. Application to today’s organizations and ministry leaders will be discussed.

Bill Arnold & Bryan Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Survey

Bible: Genesis through Esther

Re-Imagining the Church

This course is an invitation to think hard and dream big, to re-imagine and rediscover what it means to be the church—the people of Christ who live as a community on mission. One “Lego” piece at a time we will explore the breakthrough moments in the story of the early church found in the book of Acts.

Acts describes a radical adventure of faith, risk, and ongoing discovery. Luke reveals the DNA that would show us how to thrive in any culture, in any context, at any time. The more we understand about the life we were meant to live, the more we will discover that there is no box to squeeze into or formula that must be followed. It is time to stop asking how we can copy the way they did things. It is time to start paying attention to the missiology and ecclesiology exposed by the stories of their journey.

Gary Mayes, DNA of a Revolution

Above All, Love.

Pacifica Beach

We want to fill you in on all the great things happening at LEC, especially the transformations we are already seeing among the interns. One of our struggles when we came here was that this group is younger and newer in their faith than we were expecting. We came in with hopes of more mutual collaboration and “iron sharpening iron” experiences. But out of this felt disappointment, God has been faithful to care for the desires of our heart. Here’s a little story that shows some of the ways He’s been doing that for us.

Today in class an intern led the us into a Discovery Group, an obedience based method of learning scripture that we have been training and coaching them through. The verse we focused on was 1 Peter 4:8 – “Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins”. One of the questions we ask at the end of the discovery time is, “If this is true, how does this challenge us and what will we do about it?”

I (Rachel) have been invited to step up and contribute more to the development of the interns by shaping spiritual formation sessions and engaging the girls in mentoring relationships. But to be honest, although this is something I am excited about, I felt like I was dropping the ball. I like to empathize and process and listen, but speaking up, challenging and direct leading is something that is harder for me. I felt ashamed that I had let opportunities pass where I was literally invited to speak up and speak into lives and situations at LEC.

And then like a small whisper through my heart, I realized in that Discovery Group, how I was covered in love: when my fear gets the best of me, when I act courageously and when I make mistakes. And right there, welling up inside of me was a desire to try—to be okay with getting it wrong, but to test my voice and my leadership and commit to loving myself and others in the dips and bumps of being in process. In that moment I committed to obey that holy nudging and to lean into my fear with intentionality and courage.

Discovery Groups, like the one I just explained, are a key component of Disciple Making Movements. They’re all about discovering who Jesus is and learning to follow Him.

We tell you this story because we want to let you know what’s really going on and invite you into a little snippet of what life and being in LEC looks like for us. And although we had disappointments, we are still learning and are continually finding ourselves grateful to be here, with this group of people. This is a little bit of my (Rachel’s) story, but it is much like the breakthroughs that we are seeing happen in the interns’ life as well. And it has been so exciting to be a part of that.

For those of you who are actively supporting us, thank you for covering us in prayer and enabling us to grow into our vision to see young emerging leaders mobilized in Disciple Making Movements. We believe that like any big thing, movements are the sum of many small stories.

We’ve arrived in Pacifica!

Pacifica Coast

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I am sitting here in our new backyard, of our new home, in a new city and it all feels so…new. One way I could tell that we had moved to a new house is that I woke up in the middle of the night to get some water but couldn’t find the light switches, tripped on the differently arranged furniture, and was startled by the squeaky floor before successfully filling up my cup and returning to bed. I suppose that quitting my job, signing the leasing papers, goodbye hugs, packing the U-Haul, driving up the coast and then unpacking the U-Haul also communicated that we had moved. But there is something so sure and concrete about tripping on your furniture in your home that makes you realize it is still a new home.

So all that to say, Thomas and I moved to Pacifica, a city about 20 min south of San Francisco. It’s a small, beautiful, quiet beach town and so far we have been greeted by sunshine and no fog. (Although I have been assured that won’t last.)

Not only are we experiencing a location change, but we are about to jump into a big lifestyle change as well. A couple months ago, my mentor Jill Randall invited me and Thomas to join her and her husband, Bill, in a program called Life Equipping Community. We both had good jobs, loved our city, and felt connected to the people we shared life with. But at the same time, we both felt like we were moving closer and closer to a time of transitioning out of Fullerton. Our first year of marriage was one of learning and settling in. The rhythm of marriage is so different than anything either of us had experienced before and sometimes it felt like learning how to walk on a boat in the middle of the ocean. It hasn’t been without its challenges or surprises, and in some ways, I feel like we are just now getting our “sea legs”. All that to say, we were feeling more ready for a change, and the Randall’’s invitation came at just the right time.

We are committing to a 9 month process of personal and spiritual development through a very socratic style of learning. We feel like these months are going to be foundational to anything we do later in life and our goal is to come out of this time with more togetherness and more clarity of calling. Although we are moving for this specific program and for a set amount of time, the decision we made to ‘go all in’ feels like it will act as a launchpad of sorts.

We have had a dream for awhile to see movements of disciple making and spiritual and emotional freedom happen within our context and spread further than we could ever reach. This move to Pacifica feels like the start of something great being awakened inside of us – individually and together.

Thomas will continue working for the next several months to help finance this transition. We also have a growing team of people who have invested in us with their time, resources and prayers. We are so grateful for you guys. If you’re curious to hear more details about what this next season looks like, take a look at this page: https://staff.crmleaders.org/Kirven.

So here’s to new adventures, seeing Jesus show up when life cracks and changes, and tripping over furniture for the next couple of nights. We’d love to stay in touch – hit that subscribe button for more stories and an easy way to stay updated!