Wanted: Armpit People. Inquire within.

Armpit people wanted? What.the.heck?! What kind of want ad is this anyway?

I’m gonna get to that in a minute…

First, I should preface this with my husband fully believes that I view the story of God and how God weaves truths into my life completely bizarre. And, I pretty much say, “yep, it’s the inner artist coming out”. And I first share this publicly, we laugh hysterically together, and I write a blog.

So..for your reading enjoyment: a completely bizarre relation between the story of God and Ashley’s everyday life. 11822806_10153077959124077_9124244716925359099_n

Recently, my husband went on a 10 day rest and renewal excursion.  (And by excursion, I mean a death-defying crazy person suicide mission. How this is rest and renewal is mind-boggling, but it is to him, so whatev folks. I’m just tryin’ to be encouraging.) His friend Todd and himself were to backpack the remaining 2/3 (61/93 miles) of the Wonderland trail around Mt. Rainier. He had no showers, 30+ lbs on his back trekking almost 10 miles most days. Again, he cray.

Let me tell you…when that man entered the stoop of my front door…he was quickly kissed and then asked to take his grimy self and leap into the shower. He didn’t just stink, he stank, like an “oh dear god”, eyes watering, hold your breath sort of way. I mean I love him, but dang Gina. (total 90’s reference, look it up).

I imagine that this is how people in the Bible smelled, every. last. one. Like, ain’t no way I’m touchin’ your stinky feet. Wash ’em yourself. I’m guessing there maybe a reason I wasn’t born back then. And a reason why Ashley wasn’t called the Son of God or anyting like that. (smile with me here people, I’m trying to be sarcastic)

11781627_10153078760869077_5715387813883507148_nIn the Bible, there’s this beautiful little gem hidden in the book of Exodus. God’s people, the Israelites had left their lives of slavery in Egypt and were heading out into the wilderness towards the promised land. They stopped in a place called Rephidim (no idea how to pronounce that so in your head just read “rephi-something-or-other”) to complain about the lack of water in their life. Basically, God told Moses to strike his walkin’ stick on a big rock and water came spewing out. Well…wouldn’t you know it…while they were there some Amalek’s came to fight.

btw, that was the Ashley paraphrased version.

Here’s what happened next:

Exodus 17: 10 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. 12Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. (NLT)

While you may picture a beautiful fight scene, Mel Gibson with a painted blue face screaming and hundreds following into battle.

I’m over here picturing a group of extremely stanky men within smell-your-breath distance. Aaron, Hur (what kind of name is that?), and Joshua (although he was leading the fight) were armpit people. They dwelled in the armpit of Moses.

Holding their breath, they labored for love of a people whom they served. It was hard. It was sweaty. The muscles ached, it was backbreaking, it was time-consuming, it required more of all of them than any one of them were capable. Loving each other enough to be present and active in the middle of a battle in the very specific way God had asked of them. And yet, they still stunk. But, even in the midst of their stinkiness-they did it.

As I type this, I’m reminded of a verse:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. (Rom. 5:8)

 Oh you guys, Christ loved us in our stank. He died for the stanky. And he wants the stanky to go find more stanky to learn of that love.

And he wants them to be stanky together, in a weird smell your breath sort-of-way. And he wants them to labor for love, together. And it’s time-consuming, and it requires more of them than any one of them are capable. Loving each other to be present and active in the middle of a battle in the very specific way God has asked them. And yet, they stink. And in the 11062921_10103310528446418_8131808220379891753_omidst of their stinkiness, they do it.

And it doesn’t look perfect, and it sometimes isn’t pretty. And it is oftentimes unconventional, and it’s probably going to be more worth it than they’ll ever know. And it’s probably not going to be results driven-but life and hope driven. And it’s probably going to be more than beautiful, because its honest and authentic. It’ll be exhausting from being real, and not from “doing” stuff. There will be no pretense and no production or need to put your best foot forward. It’ll be okay to be them, the way God made them. It’ll celebrate creativity and uniqueness and it will cultivate a deep sense of community and real family. And they’ll show tenacity and perseverance. And they’ll eat together. And they’ll be sad together. And they’ll be happy together. And they’ll tackle tough life stuff together. And they’ll celebrate the good stuff together. And they’ll find their place in the story of God together.

And they’ll be called Grit City Church. And they’ll be located in the “armpit” of the South Puget Sound in the beautiful city of Tacoma. And they’ll be known because they stand together as armpit people serving the armpit.

And they’ll want more stinkies to join them and pray for them, and advocate for them and become financial partners with them.

Because they’ll need Aaron’s and Joshua’s and Hur’s. And Johns. And Martins. And DeMarcus’. And Bobs. And Jorges. And Janes. And Jills. And Marias. And Kamarias. And Ashleys. And Coles. And Gingers. And Stephens.

They’ll need extra armpit people. Because they can’t do it alone.

So, consider this your wanted ad, the BEST thing is happening and we don’t want other armpit people to miss out.

Inquire within.

Email me ashleynchambers@gmail.com or Cole colewchambers@gmail.com. We’re stinky, but we will respond and if you’re local we’ll take you to coffee. If you’re far, we’ll share coffee over the phone or google what-ever it’s called (so no technology savvy, that’s Coles department and until he starts writing this blog…), or skype, or something like that. Because frankly we like coffee, and we will probably like you too.

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February 2015: we loved, we advocated, we gathered, we ate.

Well this little short month, seemed well…really short.

The homefront:

10955683_10152607063665846_2335272999697391516_nSadly, we had a terrible play during the superbowl and the Seahawks lost. This is more terrible for some of us here than others. In fact, some people in our house may have actually enjoyed this little fact, but we won’t name any names for fear of regional sports related persecution.

Other than that, I took Cole’s mom to see Rogers and Hammersteins “Carousel” on broadway as a late Christmas gift. We enjoyed a night out on the streets of Seattle (we’re hardcore) eating food and watching a wonderful production. This month on the work-front, my team at work achieved their highest month ever in sales, exciting! And, I was able to go with both my girlies and their school to “Advocacy Day” in the state capitol to raise awareness for all the great benefits our Head Start Schools provide for those in lower socio-10982460_10152624637215846_8550469485908427871_neconomic and disabled kids receive.

Cole took his dad (also a late Christmas gift) to see C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” at the Moore Theater. I’m gathering from pictures they enjoyed crazy Seattle coffee snobbery (Chemex…don’t ask…I don’t know) 10426298_10152685390710036_2050712116997543112_nand a great production. Cole is sort of continued later..stay tuned…

The kids (yep, all four) started sports at the YMCA. Oren in karate, the girls in ballet and gymnastics and all FOUR in swimming (totally looking forward to lots of camping 10924815_10152575045385846_9103125320824616768_n 10931116_10152622397705846_3593078812723973782_nand pool time this summer!). Oren also participated in his first ever science fair (which resulted in my first ever science fair related banging my head on a desk..whomever thought 1st graders should do this is NUTS! #facepalm). I can’t harp on it too bad…he loved it, BUT what 1st grader dropping mentos into diet coke wouldn’t?

We as a family also FINALLY did our last move-in task and we set up our “Bohemian Basement” (for those of you pinterest followers thinking, “What is Ashley up to?”). We wanted a space for group gatherings, dinner functions, etc. It turned out amazing, and to be honest if you are EVER in need of a cheap home decor: Go Boho (I feel like that should be a hashtag).

The Ministry:

Cole began his first official month working from “home”. He was sent off with a wonderful farewell lunch by his awesome co-workers at World Vision. He is so honored to have been an employee of a great organization who works hard to meet the needs of children all over the globe. I will probably miss his as my 4 yr old girls say, “worker girls” (sounds horrible, but they are 4). This is in pc terms: a predominately female co-worker team as well. Even though I never met most of them, we had some on-going inside jokes and shared yummy chocolate and goodies through my messenger hubby, and I’m thankful for them providing my hubby with constant comedic relief and an outlet of lots of kids stories.

So…what now? Well we (Cole and I) attempt to share office space and responsibilities and hopes and dreams (we’ve always shared that) and he is now able to focus on his passion: ministry. So, that’s the most exciting thing in the last 9 years! :)

10997523_10103051449832038_3693304250962448563_n 10991185_10103051460475708_4675545286414599450_nThen we launched some great new things with our small group (hopeful core team…click here for more on that).

We partnered with our apprentice church (and Cole and I’s home church for the last 5 years) to co-host a Loads of Love event. We had a group of volunteers take over a local laundromat and provide free laundry, snacks and kids activities for families in need.

This month our group also participated in a worship night which included a purposeful group prepared meal and a communion style dinner. Over our meal, Cole taught on the cost of discipleship and we shared a reflection on song, Bible verses, and thoughtful connection with God through the collaboration and participation of each persons skills and talents. Of course any time you have 18 people (a majority under the age of 5), there will probably be baby barfing, babies screaming, and thankfully we had playdoh in our candle holders which acted as a make shift toddler and kid distraction. It was a beautiful reminder that God has woven together His people to encourage, uplift and challenge us to live life in raw gospel filled community and it doesn’t have to be “perfect” to be good.

Our group also launched out into two discipleship groups: men and women. Our goal as we apprentice together is to learn, grow and share together and go deeper in our faith. This is just one of the ways we are doing this. We all had our first session this month which was really a time of community and get-to-know-you’s and a lot of laughs (and can I just add: really good food).

11024647_10103051464168308_249361871755716680_n (1)Lastly, Cole began his pre-work as a Pierce County Chaplain. This is an on-call volunteer position, and will provide Cole with valuable extensive training in both crisis intervention and grief. He will be one of our counties emotional first-responders and provide emotional and spiritual support to victims, families in trauma and to emergency personnel in need of this support. Oftentimes, they are the ones who help the family get further assistance with planning a funeral, connecting to local churches and counseling services. When you watch the news and a traumatic event or community situation arises, know that my hubby and his fellow chaplains are present on the front lines.  Please pray for him as he attends further trainings, and experiences these different heart-breaking situations.

As we now have time on our hands (with 4 kids is that really possible?…in theory anyway), Cole and I are strongly working on developing community connections. Our goal is to spend time with our neighbors, friends, children’s schools, and with community members. We believe firmly that God has called us to deepen those ties as we pursue ministry.

We could use prayer in the following ways:

-As briefly stated, Cole’s training with Pierce County Chaplaincy. This month he attends “Crisis Intervention” training.

-Those who have made a core team commitment are headed to church planting boot camp, March 17-20. Please pray that God will speak to us as we look ahead, are trained, and work out all the details of starting a non-profit and church. 11021051_10103051453868948_6950017742877685576_n

-Our team is amazing. We have some great things planned for March. Pray for us as we spend time in our city meeting people where they are and bringing Christ’s love to dark places.

-Pray for discipleship groups.

Thank you for taking time to check in with us again, we are so thankful for your prayers and your un-waivering support. If you would like more info on anything were up to, would like to make a contribution, or would like to join us please feel free to email colewchambers@gmail.com or ashleynchambers@gmail.com.

In Christ,

Cole, Ashley and the littles Chambers (and Merci Mae too)

Tinkerbell, Moonstones, and the broken places.

Photo by Chelle Nicole

Photo by Chelle Nicole

In the most recent years, Disney has released several Tinkerbell movies. Thanks to Netflix, and a few colds meaning movie and snuggle time, we’ve been watching A LOT of Tinkerbell lately.

We’ve seen them all about 3,932,829 times.  “Tinkerbell and the Lost Stone” captured my heart.

To summarize, Tinkerbell is given a large task, to build a sceptor that will incase a moonstone. She is entrusted care for the moonstone while she builds. Basically a moonstone is a stone of the moon (amazing.right?). Every year the “blue moon” rises and the fairies have to capture the blue moons rays through the moonstone, which creates pixie dust for the entire year. Pixie dust is needed for fairy flight and thus the most essential nutrient for all fairies. In the course of her tinkering, annoyance followed by anger at a friend, the moonstone breaks. She works really hard to repair it, but it is irreperable.

Just remember friends, I am a sleep deprived crazy mom of toddlers–I can find connections in the most bizarre of places. Its a special gift reserved for those of us going insane as a way to keep our sanity. Bizarre as it may seem, (and completely embarrassing), I found myself deeply connected to Tinkerbell. I understood her plight.

You see, four weeks last January, life looked a little different for us. Our friends, a family of six, moved in with us. Life had thrown them something awful and wrapped it up in more pain, loss, and devastation no one should have to endure.

Ultimately, everything culminated in the loss of livelihood and home. Life wasn’t playing fair, people weren’t playing nice. Four children, 2 adults on the street in less than 12 hours time.

It feels both like yesterday and forever ago.

Those few weeks required constant connection with Jesus. Faith wasn’t just an idea–it was living and breathing.

It had legs, arms, stomach, and heart.  Our daily life caught up in Jesus’ master plan. We could feel it.

We left these four weeks wrung out and worn thin, and yet fully aware of God’s hand in all of it.

We took a risk. We hadn’t let them down, they ultimately hadn’t let us down. But, even with assistance and logging hours–their situation couldn’t be mended. It resulted in them moving out-of-state where employment could be mustered and were fresh starts could somewhat be made. But it wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t the answer to the prayer we had been praying.

Sometimes life is like that. So we prayed and we moved on….well…we tried.

After those four weeks-we were shattered; like the moonstone we were broken into fragments, pieces held together, but not the same. Never the same.

We felt barren and lifeless-completely unusable for the purpose intended.

Keep trackin with me here….

Tinkerbell didn’t give up. She went on a balloon ride to a broken ship to find answers. And then with the encouragement of a best friend, a group of rats chasing her down, and without any time left she had to let the moonstone be fragmented.

We too traveled on (not on a balloon ride but in a 1987 creeper van); hoping that God would give direction in our calling. We knew he was going to use this time as a time of learning and growth and he often does in the desert places.

Psalm 107: 4-9 says, “Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.”

We too have received encouragement from friends and family, experienced a group of rats chasing us (I’ll save that story for another day), and we let ourselves be fragmented hoping that brokenness would move us to where we hoped we were going.

And then, lately,  we have felt drops. Slow methodical drops of life-giving rain.

Photo by Chelle Nicole

Photo by Chelle Nicole

Uncomfortable movement and stirring.

Peace and silence-turning to the sounds of the rush of water.

Tinkerbell realized that the fragments actually produced prisms and magnified the moons rays more than the moonstone in its hardened original state.

I think I am catching on.

Our hearts magnify Christ’s love more out of of the things he uses to break our hearts. The ruined dark and hurt places in our world, should, could, and need to break us. From that brokenness, Christ stirs us and calls us to mending. He leaves us fragmented and reliant on Him so that He is better reflected and uses it to move in the healing of his people.

“If you are generous with the hungry
    and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
    your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
    I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
    firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
    a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
    rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
    restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
    make the community livable again.” (Isaiah 58:10-12)

Of this I am certain–fragmentation and brokenness is still beautiful, perhaps even more so.

Broken places are where Jesus is found.

He is found in the gathering of neighbors, in the service to the needy.

He is found in the worship of friends, and in the risk-takers.

He is growing, us and stretching us and is taking us on a BIG journey to the places that have broke our hearts, he’s not letting us remain the same or go back to who or what we were.

So were asking for thousands and millions of prayers.

1185876_10204932785829100_1550914131905954828_n

Pray for us as we go to the empty places, the dark places, and the lonely hearts to whom we sit with and mourn with and for.

Pray for the risky, pray for the uncomfortable, pray for the depth, and the perseverance, pray for the hearts of those dark places we go, pray for restoration, pray for renovation.

Pray that this community is full of rain which leads to life.

And pray that when life is sometimes “like that” and it moves and heads in a direction different from ours that we remain broken, held together by strength of the one who is stronger than all of it because was once barren and lifeless as a dry river bed, is now growing full of raging water. This last season felt unreasonably dry, but we are recognizing that it was part of the desert we were intended for. We had to pass through to learn, to grow, to live broken and to learn to stay faithful–even when it felt barren. And now, we move, we do, we say, we act on, and we head out. We’re about to enter the rapids, and these are the broken places exactly where he has called us.

Almost Christmas, Christmas 2014 and January 2015

January has officially come and gone. As Cole says, “Ash, you really only two seasons: almost Christmas which culminates at Christmas and almost summer which culminate in June, July, August and part of September”.

Guilty, as charged. We’re done with the “almost Christmas”, Christmas, and were now  in “almost summer”. I suppose many of you are wondering what were up to, after we completely bawled our eyes out writing our last post in November.

10373717_10152481447495846_3519588386802853857_nIn just under 3 weeks, our friends, family and even complete strangers came together and provided us with such abundance-we do not even know how to thank you all, most donated anonymously SO THANK YOU! We were able to raise enough funds to cover all moving expenses, deposits, and rent for the first month. We are extremely grateful for your generosity.

We officially moved into our new Casa de Chaos thanksgiving weekend. Oh, whats that you say? “wasn’t that the coldest weekend in the PNW and the only day it has snowed?!” Why yes, yes it was. But, we moved anyway with the help of our truest and dearest friends (who else shows up for that?).

We LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE our new place. We may still be in the “honeymoon” phase of living here, but so far we have all the items on our “must-have” list. A driveway, bathroom on the main level, open floor plan for hosting, PARKING (hello!), a yard and a neighborhood where our kids can ride bikes, or go on a walk and I’m not loosing my brains worrying about them being run over. (Well, I may still freak a little).

And extra bonus: a fireplace. We’ve NEVER had a fireplace in our lives.

Every time we fire that baby up, we stand around in awe that fire can be present in a home without actually burning things down. (Okay, completely just joking, but it is awesome ambiance).

Our home has already had quite a few miles logged into the “EVENT” bracket. We hosted the girls’ bday party, a fondue night with our small group, multiple get togethers, a planning session for the future of our small group and a few other events I’ll share about it a minute. (Keep Reading).

In December, our neighbors didn’t know the chaos that was coming-we welcomed ourselves to the neighborhood with cookies, treats and Christmas cards. While our neighborhood seems to be a little fragmented, each of our neighbors welcomed us warmly and invited us into their homes.

10906392_10152569536270846_3526365460972555149_nWe also welcomed a new member to our family. Good ole’ St. Nicholas brought our family a new puppy, Miss Merci Mae. She is adorable, and naughty and my hubby swears he will never be convinced to get a puppy again. Taking her on walks in our neighborhood, has become a great tool to meet new neighbors and have a great presence in our community. Also, please add Merci being successful at potty training to the list of “prayer requests” needed at the Chambers home-nothing says “welcome to our home” like a puppy “gift”….I’m totally off topic now….

So what’s new with ministry stuff? Glad you asked…

In December, one of our hosting events was a small group vision casting meeting. We wanted to give our small group we have served with over the last few years the formal invitation to join us as we experiment through what “church” might look like.  More or less, we were asking for them be apprentices with us and learn, in the hopes that they will join our core-team for Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 2.09.56 PMchurch planting in a year. Cole and I prayed for just one family to say, “We may possibly join your core group, but we aren’t sure so can we apprentice with you and find out”. We had amazing response and had one family commit to being core members, and 3 other families commit to be apprentices.

Part of our heart in our church plant, but also a big part of our Casa de Chaos mission, is to be a part of each of our neighborhoods, community, and areas we are already in and allow our homes to be welcome centers. Our group hosted a taco friday fun night. About 6-8 friends and 6 neighbors came together to have a fiesta (aka play charades) and eat tacos <—- that was the point right?!

1506968_10102780840470368_6733019523388230608_nAdditionally, as a group we partnered alongside a local Headstart site located in an urban subsidized family housing development community center and hosted a Family Fun Night. Our group brought in pizza, the Tacoma twister (balloon artist), and played games including Feed the Woozle and a Tenzi Tournament (the winner brought home a family movie night basket with lots of free redbox codes). According to the 5 families in attendance, the family advocate and the teacher, the night was a major success and the parents and kids feel better connected to their community. (Please note: Due to privacy, We are unable to post pics of these events)

Our current prayer/physical needs include:

We are looking for 2 additional or more committed core group members to join us by March and be a part of church planting boot camp. Pray for the right two people who see the vision, believe in urban missioning (I’m making a new word), and who have a heart for THIS city in all its gritty beauty.

We would LOVE one of the future joining core group members to have some sort of amazing musical talent because some hand bell and basic elementary clarinet and saxophone experience may not cut it long term..I’m just sayin’…pray for like guitar or piano and passion for leading worship…sort of important items on that list.

As were looking ahead at “almost summer”, we would love to do some worship and/or backyard movie nights and are in need of one to two projectors, small sound device that can be used for audio at a 1503866_10102780843045208_6240006894475660766_nmovie night and somewhat portable for smaller community events (like the Family Game Night). They can definitely be used items.

We have been having car trouble lately, and are getting the vehicle assessed by a mechanic as to what needs to be done both now and over the next year/long term. Pray for affordability of repairs or for a reliable car that seats 7+ to fall out of the sky (one can pray for that right?).

Pray for us, for our team, spending time in service to others, and being a part of the dark places is exciting but also tiring. We would love to be covered in the prayers as we head out into our city.

Most importantly, pray that God would keep filling, leading, guiding and directing and that we would be reflections of Him throughout everything we do. That we would lead others to learn, grow deeper, and live an abundant life in Christ even in the midst of all the chaos.

Thank you for taking time to read and for being a part of our ministry as we learn, develop and apprentice in leadership to God’s people and as we serve our city. If you would like to chat more in depth about our vision, events we’re hosting, joining as a funding partner, or to possibly join as apprentice or core group member please send a private message or email colewchambers@gmail.com or ashleynchambers@gmail.com.

Many Blessings,

Cole, Ashley, and the fantastic four

*fondue night picture credit goes to Ginger

Pretty little packages tied up with string…..

I’m just a little angry about it this week. My window in my room is broken, like its so old that the frame rotted so when we closed it when it got to cold the glass completely came out. The wash machine has been broken for almost a month and is a custom order because the old house has odd staircase measurements for modern wash machines. And then, my refrigerator broke, so we’re essentially “camping” in civilization. Fun, oh so very fun. And then we can’t even be excited about crazy awesome really good news because we also get stupid news in the same fell swoop.

None of these physical things are my families fault. None. We currently live in a hundred year old house, we got a steal of a deal on rent because the owners couldn’t afford to fix some of these issues and went low cost on stuff. We didn’t mind we really loved the character. And honestly, we’ve lived here 5 years and nothing has gone seriously wrong UNTIL NOW, and it all goes to crap at the same beloved time.

And, besides: here we are: this cute (I think so anyway) redheaded family with a deep calling to be present in the city of Tacoma.

And, not just “be here” be present, but to be engaged and to move in the direction God is calling us, which is to serve and to bless the marginalized here in THIS city. It’s both scary and wild and fun all at the same time. Because we are really cool like that.

So obviously: pride, control, and pity are just a few of my issues.

We’ve been saving money for over a year for a planned move into a neighborhood. We live on a busy 4 lane road, there’s no sense of neighborhood. We have no yard, and no parking and we knew that if God were calling us into full time ministry a new home would be a necessity (not to mention get these kids outdoors-they drive me wild sometimes).

Then, last June disaster struck, our minivan transmission blew. It was going to cost us more to fix it than to buy a different car. So, we were able to buy a car outright in cash, but it just happened to be the same cash earmarked for moving. No big..right? We will just wait and move next tax season.

Remember those two REALLY REALLY BIG things we found out about this week?

1) We were accepted to be paid through a missionary organization to live out God’s mission as church planting apprentices here in Tacoma. (shout from the rooftops, glory glory hallelujah..answered prayer). And we are just ecstatic and NOT sure how to share our AMAZING news. (So yah, we just did!)

And in the same 24 hours..

2)The home we are renting is suddenly being put up for sale MUCH sooner than tax season and we have to move..like pretty stat.

So here’s the truth of all it. We knew that church planting apprenticeship was hopefully coming and that we didn’t want to stay in our house for much longer. In prep for all that, we’ve been plugging away at medical debt from my gallbladder surgery, and have a financial plan to be completely out of debt SOON. We live like as small as you can possible live on a CASH system. I’m building a strong business from home, Cole’s working full time and we are BOTH ready to enter ministry–we were getting ready for the very near future.

But, we just don’t have the money right now to move, and we don’t have a choice.  This whole idea stresses me out and makes me angry.

So I guess there was nothing left to do but let it go (frozen theme song anyone?) and pray with some close knit friends.

And in the quiet place, God whispers, “I have a plan for you–but you are gonna have to rely on me. You wanted faith–but it is going to require some bold trust-in-me-faith”.

I guess this is where God completely messes me up.

I’m sitting here screaming, “We had a plan God a REALLY REALLY good plan God.”

And he’s all around saying, “I’ve got a better plan, ash, a MUCH MUCH MUCH different,but BETTER plan, ash.”

And, he’s made my heart abundantly aware that I need to rely on him for His grace, His mercy, and His provision.  Fear and pride have no room here.

Ministry is hard, its rough, we BOTH as pastors kids knew this and yet God has made it abundantly clear. We are called to it, in a very unfriendly to church region of the USA, so we better cling tight to the anchor and let the waves take us where we need to go. Storms, calm waters, and all the stuff in between (I actually don’t know the word for that…is there one?).

And I’m letting go of the different packaging and letting God do His work here and now, and allowing us to move in HIS direction.

And so here we are….despite our independent self-reliant nature…we’re going to have to share our needs, and let God have his final say:

We need more than just four walls and a roof. We need a place that extends warmth and welcoming and a place that makes “faith” seem a whole lot less scary. Our home will be utilized for community gatherings, and a place of ministry. So you know we NEED the basics: a great common area, a yard, some parking, and a bathroom on a main level. We plan on renting here for the next 5 years…so we need something that accommodates our little toddlers but will all be hugely tall kids (have you seen my hubby?). Plus, we’d like it to be in one of the neighborhoods we plan to spend most of our time and church plant in.

I guess, I’m asking for a miracle to help raise enough funds for our first and last months rent, and deposit plus the amount necessary for the rent increase we will experience when we move (based on our needs a home costs a little more than our budget will currently allow as we finish off our financial plan to be debt free), so that we can move forward in the vision God has so clearly given to us. We set up a Go Fund Me Acct, if you would like to be part of our miracle and fund us…click here.

And, we ask you to join us in this journey-ask us about it, we really are excited. Please join us in prayer, and excitement and celebration that we are moving (in more way that one) forward.

Blessings,
The Chambers Family19chambers14

the fresh start

Do you smell it? It’s soon-to-be fall in the Pacific Northwest. (which is my absolute favorite).

Summer is ending, fall is coming.

This year, I was ready for summer to end. We traveled all over this year. Camping in Cle Elum, trips to Grammy and Papa’s new mini-farm, trips to grandma and damnpa’s in Mukilteo, trips to the mountains, a trip to GG’s in Montesano, a transmission blowing in our minivan, a purchase of a NEW to us creeper van, road trip to Oregon twice…yes, we were busy and I am so ready for routine and normalcy. These good things must come to an end. And I’m ready. Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.27.22 PM

I’ve already spent my $10 and bought myself a combo candle pack: apple cider, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon. It smells heavenly. Everytime my hubby walks in the back door, he tells me it’s just not fair that the house can smell so good and yet there’s nothing in the oven. I smile.

“Exactly,” I say, “Exactly”.

I’ve already bought my pumpkin spice latte. (Sidenote: Dear Starbucks, you’ve lost a customer! $4.08 for a tall! Nope, not anymore).

3/4 kids started school last week. Oren is now officially a first grader. He told me until he turned 7 he couldn’t be. So, he was actually a kindergartner for the first six days of school. I let him roll with that belief, why not? It’s just so cute.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.27.00 PMMy girls started their first days of preschool, which leaves Judah and me to wander the mornings doing as we please.

For me, fall brings a new sense of “freshness”.

I don’t know about you, but I like fresh. I like clean sheets, a freshly made bed, and the knowledge that second chances and newness create life in my soul. Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.26.47 PM

As you know from my previous post, Cole and I are in this place of ending what has been and are gearing up for a new adventure. And, right now i’m in the “in-between”, but I’m ready or maybe I should say, “I’m getting ready”.

Like the purchase of new school supplies, backpacks, candles, and lattes, my heart says bring on the change, the fall, the fresh. And, yet in order to bring on the change and the color and the adventure, I realize that like the leaves that will fall from the trees part of me has to change too. So, friends here I go.

Heart evaluation, soul adaptation.Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.26.15 PM

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2

So, dear Jesus: Let what needs to change, change and what needs to stay, stay. Form me, make me, and create in me who and what you need to-to do your work. I know you are good and worthy. You have my best interest in heart and you want me mature.

Amen.

once upon a time at burger king and the out-takes.

43chambers14So, if you’ve ever wondered…occasionally, yes occasionally, we have bad days. Usually, they come on the heels of a great day.

4 kids dressed in somewhat decent only borderline homeless looking (or hipster looking)clothing. check.

4 kids with food crammed in their bellies and no one complaining of being hungry. check.

4 kids with socks and shoes or sandals or socks with sandals (Reminder: we are in the Pacific Northwest). check.

4 kids loaded in our new 1987 creeper van (yes, we call it this). check.Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 2.45.32 PM Then we proceed to the dentist.

We all walk in, check in, sit down. And, we still haven’t had a temper tantrum, a whiny child or a canation (whatever this is–I’m not sure. I just know that it can be good or bad and I’m living in a toddler world, we speak on their terms).

The boys come back completely cavity free–hallelujah.

All 4 kids in the van. Celebration!

Don’t squeal too loud people will stare.

Me to them, “Oh my gosh you guys, you did it. We all did it. We were on our best behavior and we had such a great morning! Let’s go to Burger King for lunch and to play on the indoor toys since its such a hot day”. Squeals of delight.

And then we arrived, Burger King the holy grail of all things for my kiddos.

This is where it all starts to go downhill.

We unload and go potty. All of us.

We play for 20 or so minutes, eat lunch. And know what happens? My youngest pees his pants in the tunnel at the top of the playground. #facepalm

I’m outnumbered. simply outnumbered.

So, the extra pants were left in the creeper, the pee is still at the top of the tubes (and I have a very natural fear of heights), and I can’t leave 4 kids alone in Burger King  or the real creepers will creep. Hear what I’m saying?

We’ve been here for 45 min. Plenty long. It’s officially nap-time. Brilliant idea: let’s go home. 2chambers14

We proceed with fully fit throwing planking toddlers. They have figured out that if they all do it at the same time, I do not have enough arms or gusto to carry them all. But, we manage to get to the front door.

Oren looks at me and with sheer dread as he looks at the expanse of parking lot like its a giant lake of alligators, shrugs his shoulders and says, “Mom, I’m just a kid. I’m not sure how we’re going to get across this thing with them”.

Me, “Me either, buddy, me either”.

But, we buckle down. We half drag-half demand some level of cooperation and reach our vehicle.

They plank again. on.the.ground. between me and the car next to me.

As I’m unlocking my car and opening the door, some lady in her cute little car either doesn’t care or doesn’t notice the kids on the ground next to her vehicle and begins backing up. Like, going to run over my kids, backing up. I’m waving my hands trying to get her attention, while at the same time moving 3 little plankers to the front of my vehicle and literally holding them in an upright position.

She drives away.

No one is injured, and I return to opening the door and attempting to get planking children into the car.

They bolt. Yes, two of my children bolt around the front of the car. Oren chases them. I finish pushing the one child in my arms into the car and head around the back.

23chambers14My 2 runners, a chasing Oren, and a box truck are about the meet up in the middle and I’m too far away to do anything.

Picture this: A fiery 3 yr old redhead screaming in the creeper van screaming bloody murder for Burger King toys.

And me a fiery much older redhead screaming outside the creeper van, “STOP STOP STOP, EVERYBODY STOP!”

The box truck barrels through. And, I can no longer see my kids. They’ve disappeared.

I’m running towards where they should be. A woman who may have only seen the last 2 min (not the full 20 min of attempting to “control” my kids) yells from the door of Burger King in a very judgey tone, “You need to watch your kids better.” ….if looks could kill……..but, I have 3 missing kids and ain’t nobody got time for that…..

I walk around a large car to see 2 kids on the ground with an older brother on top, fighting to keep them there, he says, “Mom, I saw the truck and I had to save them. I tackled them for you”.

I’ve never been so proud, scared, frantic, and angry all at once. I wrangle, wrestle, and bribe them to the van.

I’m now sobbing in my front seat, “I’m never doing this again, I’m never doing this again. I hate burger king”.

Why am I sharing this? This is my confession to the world: my life is far from perfect, these moments are the norm. I am not capable to be the BEST mom all the time. I don’t have it figured out. I am so far removed from the term perfect. Life is sometimes just chaos. And, yet in the midst of all the chaos, I have an anchor, a calming overpowering awareness that Jesus was orchestrating all of it. That my kids ended up safe.41chambers14

And why after days like these, I am fully aware of my need for him. If it were up to me, I’d be done, thrown in the towel, and having already been crazy.

In situations like this, I’m more aware of my selfishness, my need for control and my desire to do things on my terms and how Jesus requires me to be present away from my needs, give up all control and do things on his terms. I see myself as these rowdy toddlers throwing full on planking fits, and I’m so thankful for the Father’s patience with me. Sometimes, the out-takes in our life reveals our very need for reliance on Him.

And, the silence is broken.

10256808_10152081530924077_8288180258620374096_nToday has gone fantastic by all forms of measurement from this mom.

I spent the morning cleaning. The 3 inches of cheerios, grapes, mac n cheese, lost lego pieces, scraps of shredded paper (I have a hamster for a daughter, I swear) were all swept up with pure delight and determination. The dishes were loaded and my sinks were bare.

I had a 10 am coffee date with a GREAT friend. We chatted about being a mom, hopes, dreams, visions and about how to love our kids well. She encouraged me and uplifted me in so many ways. (Because being a mom is hard, yo. And finding a friend who loves Jesus and gets my chaos is.so.very.valuable).

My kids have been fed lunch and I should earn a gold medal in toddler nap time.

And yet, my husband sends me a text, “How’s your day?”

“Today is great! The kids have behaved well, coffee date was a success. Kids are all napping and the house is really really clean compared to normal”. delete. delete. delete.

Sigh. the truth.

“In theory, it’s going well..kids are sleeping, I’m working on business stuff right now, the house is really clean compared to normal. And yet….There’s this deep sense of urgency in my spirit. I’m at any moment going to start to cry. Today, I’m just really aware of God’s plan, vision, and future church for us and it’s both overwhelmingly beautiful and unabashadly scary. And I’m so ready, and I’m so fear-filled. It’s all colliding in me at this very moment.”

So, I guess putting that out in written form, has me sobbing. Uncontrollable sobbing. Like every episode of Parenthood, sobbing.

And, there’s a collision in my soul and a chaos of beauty surrounding me.

So my prayer is taken from someone else-because I’m not sure what else to pray:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine10307365_10152205384765846_4157575803973430674_n

And my husband responds, “I hear you. It’s weighing on me too. I have a nervous/excited/dread going on. I’m ready though. SO ready. Thanks for sharing with me”

And, I’m still. so.very.still. for a moment.

I take a deep Spirit-filled breath of thanks, relinquishing of fear, and a foundation of hope…

And, I blog for the first time in close to a year, because God is working and moving..

He has been working all along, but the all pieces, and the chaos, and the analyzing places of my heart, mind and soul are finally being freed to groan, feel, lament and praise.

And, I ask for prayers, for thousands of prayers. Prayers that we can move into this unknown, prayers that our fears wouldn’t be debilitating, prayers that our trust would be in Him, and that we would move out of the way to reunite with God in his vision for us.

 

 

my thoughts on messy things.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 12.40.10 PMIn the last few years, I’ve learned that people will always let me down, always. Real Relationships are hard, messy and at some point the other person will hurt me.

I used to think “if they hurt me, their loss” and move on.

But, the reality of that–it gets pretty lonely. Again, EVERYONE you are in REAL relationships with will hurt you at some point.
and the truth is, at some point, I too will hurt them.

So what’s my other option? Forgive so that I may also receive forgiveness. It’s really that easy, and that hard.

Gal 6:1 says, “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (MSG)

I’ve expected perfection from others while being substantially less than perfect.

I’m thankful for grace. I’m thankful that others showed me grace when I had none. I’m learning that offering grace isn’t just about forgiving so that I can have forgiveness–but that Christ can use my forgiving spirit to heal my own heart and to keep it soft-and alive.

I’ve chosen the lonely isolated road. And it hurt, and there was no repair.
Now, I’m choosing the vulnerable real messy road. And it hurts (and it’s sometimes awkward), but there is healing beyond what I’ve ever imagined. I’m watching other people grow, develop and change because I am staying for the messy when common sense says “leave”.

There is a gentle breeze of magical Christ movement in my midst-and I’m sad I missed out on it for so long.