Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Marking the Beginning.

Welcome. If you are reading this it means that our journey is probably much further along then it is at this current moment while I type. YAY!
This blog marks the beginning, the start of something new for the Stevenson clan. I can't say when the change in our hearts started, and I can't pin-point the day God really revealed the start of the change to us, but through time he did.
Months ago change and transition started at the wonderful church we were honored to be serving at. Throughout the changes and transitions a stirring was happening in our hearts. One that we eargely sought after, but didn't know the meaning of. We listened and followed. We search for meaning, and prayerfully considered the path we were being beckoned to take.

APRIL 8, 2010- Ryan and I decide to take a trip to San Francisco. A prayer retreat. A time to make decisions. On the docket: A senior position Pastorate in Michigan (at another church we love dearly), To plant...or not to plant? On our way out of town, we stop at Starbucks in Southport (West Sac). Ryan asked if we can drive around the area a bit.
What we saw: Mommie and babies everywhere, young families, houses being built, new area, a new horizon.
A sign?
Well no, but a seed was planted that day while we drove the area before heading to SF.
Ryan and I had a wonderful getaway in SF. While we were there we talked, we dreamed, we prayed, we thought.
We asked each other the hard decisions about the choices ahead. Where did we see our family in the near future, where did we NOT see our family. Hard decisions, hard doors to close.
We decided Michigan was not our place. Not the journey we were meant for.
We decided that God had brought us to this time to take us on a new journey-- a journey to plant a church.
Now, for the WHERE?
Well, prior to our quick pit-stop and drive around West Sac, it WAS NOT on our potential places to consider a plant.
BUT, and thats a big BUT....
AFTER driving around, our hearts couldn't leave that area.
Ryan and I both agreed without question, or full understanding of the whys...but West Sacramento-Southport to be exact would be the place.
WHAT...and WHERE....down.

The following days after SF were busy, exciting, and scary. Getting confirmation from both of our parents. Both sets told us about how Southport has had a special place in their hearts. Both said that its been a place that for a while they all have felt needed a church.
Business conversations and planning to were to follow for a month. Lots of discussion happened amongst ourselves and head pastors as to what would be next as we amped up for this plant.
Our plan, stay on staff with our gracious church for a year, then launch June 2011.
Sound like a plan?
But not God's for us, yet.

Now, to current day. Today, day...well, let's say it's day ten of the real start to this journey. Why? Well becuase until ACTIONS take place, it's all just talk. Just dreams. Just a plan.
Plans have changed. Actions have happen.
Our journey has begun.

I can't really say WHY the plans needed to change.
And I can honestly say nothing caused the change.
But our hearts changed.
As we ventured down the systematic journey of planting the church. Our hearts stirred.
Something wasn't right, the journey wasn't quite as it was meant to be for us ... yet.
Many conversations, tears and raw prayers later, we decided to actively seek out moving to West Sac.
We put our house on the market--as a short sale.
This was big. I love our home. It's beautiful. It's our first. It was the place we brought Eli to a year ago. It holds many memories of another dear journey in our life, the journey to having Eli in our arms.
Putting the house on the market made me feel like we were putting our memories on the market too.
While we were so, so very excited about moving to Southport, letting go of our home was the first step in making the church plant "dream", a real action.
Our house went on the market May 14, 2010.
Over that weekend we had 5 showings.
On Monday, May 17 -- we had an offer.
As with all short sales, this is a LONG process. We are still waiting to hear back from the bank regarding that initial offer.

With our house on the market, our hearts still turned.
Something still was not right.
Ryan and I struggled communicating our feelings.
Tired, strained, overwhlemed, busy.
All words that flooded every conversation.
Words that described our feelings, our spiritual states, words that in no way pointed to us healthfully planting a church.

Confusion set in.
If God, has so evidently placed this calling on our lives, how are we supposed to do this feeling the way we do?

Ryan and I began to wonder what to do.
Do we pull the plug on the plant, even though we know with confidence this "church plant" is right?
Do we step away from ministry in general?
How do we prepare ourselves for the demand of a new church, when we don't have time to even rest together?

Honestly, conversation after conversation happened, with no result.

Sunday, May 23 Ryan and I decided that the best thing for us to do, in order to fulfill God's plan in our lives was to step down from our current Ministry commitments. That would mean stepping down from a church we love, stepping away from Ryan's pay, and standing on our own for a year.
Huge breakthrough, huge step to ask.

Ryan and I plugged the numbers.
Ryan started looking for a job in the secular world.
One that would disconnect him from the daily church grind, so he could rebuild his spirit in preparation for the plant.
He put resumes out everywhere.

We talked to our family first, positive they would say we were crazy and question our financial decisions with concern.
They didn't.
They supported our decision 100%.

Monday, May 24
We started working on transferring our insurance obligations to individual plans. We sought the counsel of other family members and a life mentor. All agreed that it made sense, and was right.

Which brings us to today.... May 25
we put in an application for a rental in the Southport area of West Sacramento.
It's the day I started journaling our journey.
It's the day Ryan resigned from The River Church

Today day we officially stepped away from the comfort of our life, to pursue a new beginning in Southport.
Today we committed to starting fresh, and renewed so that we can be effective at touching this beautiful community.

I am scared, but at peace. I have concerns, but am confident.

This is a new journey for us, but it's not for God.
He had this written and orchestrated since the beginning of time.
And while there are still a lot of things up in the air in our minds, we follow a Savior who already knows the path ahead.
So this is us, Stepping out.....following Him where He leads.
Off we go.

1 Timothy 6:17 "Put (their) hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."