Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from South Georgia! This year, we have decided to do something different…instead of our normal CHRISTmas letter, we are writing a Thanksgiving letter. A Thanksgiving letter just seems appropriate because we have SO MUCH to be thankful for!! The two things we are most thankful for is God finally revealing our next call and moving into our new rental home after moving out of our townhouse 14 months ago.
So much has happened over the last year, I (Sara) don’t even know where to begin. As many of you know at the end of August 2014, we moved to NC to seek and wait on what the Lord wanted us to do next. We didn’t think it would be very long because Chris had been applying to a lot of churches for associate pastor positions and was moving along in the process with quite a few of them. He was in the final two or three with several churches but when it came down to the final decision, he wasn’t chosen. The search committees frequently told him that they wanted to choose him and our family, but when they took the vote they just felt like the Spirit was telling them no. They felt like God had another plan and purpose for us. He then started applying for senior pastor positions thinking maybe the Lord wanted him to stretch him. Chris never had the desire to be a senior pastor. He was content specializing in a certain area of ministry. So, Chris began applying to senior pastor positions. Again, he moved along in the process with several churches. Again, he was in the final two or three. And again, when it came to the final decision, he wasn’t chosen. Again, we heard the same thing of the search committee wanting to vote for us, but when it came time to vote they felt like the Spirit wanted them to say no to us because He had another plan and ministry for us. In October 2014, after three people in one week asked Chris if he had thought about starting a discipleship ministry, he sat down at the computer and typed up a ministry plan for a discipleship ministry. When he got done, he was amazed what was written on the computer screen, but thought it would be impossible for this type of ministry to happen. Chris continued to apply to churches and to our surprise we kept getting the same answer…the search committees wanted to say yes, but just felt like they need to say no. So, in December 2014, we began filing the paperwork we needed to make this ministry official and in January 2015 Mathetes 268 Ministries was born. In January, we got a phone call from a church in VA that we had a relationship with and they informed us that their pastor was getting ready to retire. One of the elders at the church wanted to know if Chris had gotten a position at a church yet and if not, would he be interested in applying for the position. We took a couple of days and prayed about applying for this position and felt like the Lord was saying yes. So, Chris applied to the church and then we waited…and waited…and waited some more. During our time of waiting, the Lord continued to fine tune Mathetes 268, us as a family, us as a couple and us as individuals. When Chris applied for the position in VA, he felt that if the Lord didn’t work it out for us to move there, then we would need to officially launch Mathetes 268. I agreed with him. In September 2015, we found out yet again that we weren’t chosen. Again, there were some on the search committee going into the vote who felt like Chris was going to be the one they were going to call to their church, but when the vote approached they just felt like the Lord all of a sudden wanted them to choose a different person. As soon as we found out, we took a day to just process the information. It was a day of grieving because when this door closed in VA, we realized that we would not be a pastor or a pastor’s wife for the foreseeable future and that saddened us. Chris asked me after we found out that we weren’t going to VA, if we needed to go back to applying to churches again. My response was, “If we go back to applying to churches, then I think we are just running away from what God is calling us to do.” We began letting people know that we hadn’t been chosen as the next pastor at the church in VA and then we started making plans to move to Valdosta, GA.
We have been on a whirlwind of a ride as we moved our family to Georgia, started Mathetes 268 Ministries, continued with homeschooling, found a place to live and got the Hooties settled into a new routine. But God has been AMAZING, and we can see how He has gone before us and prepared us and pastors for this ministry. To read about some of the amazing things He has been doing, there are some websites you can visit at the end of this letter.
Now for the Hooties… They have done so well over the last 14 months as we have waited on the Lord to reveal to us this next chapter. As their parents, we are so proud of how well they waited. At times, they waited better than we did. I guess that may be the faith of a child that Jesus talks about in the Bible.
Josiah turned seven in June and started second grade in the fall. We got 268 Academy established shortly after moving to Georgia and continued with our studies. Josiah really enjoys art, math, and spelling. He took an art class this summer and really enjoyed it which helped him to grow in this discipline. Math comes very easily to him just like it does for his dad. As for spelling, he likes the weekly challenge of getting 100% on his pre-test. I made a deal with him that if he got a 100% on the pre-test, then he wouldn’t have to take the regular test on Thursdays. Well, he has stepped up to the challenge and has passed every pre-test thus far. Josiah is in his last year of being a Spark at AWANA (it is a weekly program at a church where children learn scripture memory verses, Godly characteristics, and team work through games). He continues to amaze us in his ability to memorize verses and the books of the Bible. On his first night of AWANA here in Georgia (he hadn’t started AWANA in NC this year because they started the week before we moved), his teacher gave him his new book. His teacher opened up to the first couple of verses (they were review verses), and he told them what they were. Talk about being convicted by your child!! The last time he looked at those verses was in the spring and here it was in the fall and he remembered them!! Another activity that he is getting involved in is Chess. Our local library offers a chess class twice a month. The first time he went, he came home talking non-stop. When he does that, I know that his cup has been filled up and he has really liked what he has done. This chess class also does chess tournaments which Josiah is very excited about attending. Josiah will be doing basketball for the first time in January through Upward Basketball. We let him think about it for a few weeks, and he decided he wanted to try something new. We look forward to going to the games and cheering for him.
Sophie will be turning six in January and started Kindergarten at 268 Academy. She continues to do really well in school. Her favorite subjects are math, handwriting, and art. She has started speed drills in math and also began doing subtraction…two of her favorite things. She also likes handwriting…writing her numbers is one of her favorite things to do. And then there is art…this girl LOVES to write a “story” and then draw a picture to go with it. At night, we often hear her over the monitor telling her brothers and sister an imagination story. I love seeing this creative side to her. As the one who is the most reserved about new situations, Sophie has done an AMAZING job with the move. She has done great as we visit new churches and have been meeting new people. She has also jumped right in there with AWANA and has earned her first badge as a Spark. She is doing a great job with her scripture memory and tries to memorize at least two verses a week. She thought about doing Upward Basketball, but then decided she wants to watch her brother play first and maybe play next year. She continues to be very athletic and competitive. You can find her riding a bike or running in the wind…she even went running with me a few times over the summer and was a lot less winded than her mom was!!
Kyrie turned four at the beginning of November and started Preschool at 268 Academy. She continues to do really well in school and has really taken off with her reading. She really likes the “Dick and Jane” books. The two older Hooties learned to read with these books, so I decided to keep with tradition. She is really growing in her fine motor skills and is getting really good with her coloring, cutting and handwriting. Kyrie has also started AWANA this year and is in her first year of being a Cubby. She is doing a great job with her Bible memory each week. Kyrie enjoys dressing up in fancy clothes. I am not talking about dress-up clothes, but dresses that most little girls would wear to church on Sunday. She would do it every day if I allowed her, but sometimes our activities require something a little less fancy! Kyrie was a flower girl for one of my friends in September. We did a dress rehearsal…put on her dress, high-heeled shoes, hair bow and gave her the bucket that would be holding her flowers. We practiced walking and dropping flowers. When we got all done, I was praising her for doing such a good job. Then she told me that she wasn’t a real flower girl yet. I asked her why she thought that because she had all the stuff to be a flower girl. Then she informed me that she wasn’t a real flower girl yet because she didn’t have any earrings!! So off to Michael’s I went to buy some stuff to make clip-on earrings for her to wear to the wedding. She continues to be such a maternal little girl. This girl has more babies and baby doll stuff than I know what to do with. She does a really good job taking care of her babies and real people when they don’t feel well.
Tobias turned two in June and is attending 268 Academy for the first time. He has been doing the “Your Baby Can Read” videos and is doing really well with recognizing the words. He is also learning his colors, shapes and the letters in his name. He can count to ten by himself and after that he needs a little help. Tobias is definitely ALL boy! He loves trucks, cars, wrestling with Daddy and collecting rocks and nuts when we go outside. He definitely likes to be outside and he spends most of his time in the swing while the other Hooties play. Tobias is such a happy, full-of-life little boy. His smile and laugh are contagious and he often tries to make people smile and laugh with him. Tobias started AWANA for the first time this year and is a Puggle. He doesn’t do scripture memory like the others, but he is learning some of the Bible stories and does a craft. The first couple of weeks were a little hard for him, but he is getting better with being dropped off. There is a definite conflict that goes on…he wants to go like his brother and sisters, but at the same time he misses Mommy and Daddy. But we know it is good for him to be introduced to these Bible stories and to be around other kids.
As for me…well, we have spent the last 14 months waiting on the Lord. For me it was a season of being patient for His timing. I am a planner. I am an organizer. So, it was hard…real hard…waiting for Him to reveal His plan for us. During my time in NC, I was able to reconnect with old friends from my teaching days and make some new friends. I also stayed busy by helping a good friend decorate for her rustic barn wedding that happened at the end of September. I had SO much fun helping her take her vision from paper to reality. I have decorated for quite a few baby showers, bridal showers and birthday parties, but have never done an event to this scale. I am so thankful for the opportunity, and I must say that it gave me the desire to maybe start a business one day. Right now is not the time because a lot of our energy and focus is getting Mathetes 268 Ministries started. So, while we are getting Mathetes 268 off the ground, I will enjoy decorating for smaller events for friends and family. In the immediate future, I will be spending my free time decorating our new rental home. I am SUPER excited to have a home again!! I am very thankful for the season of living with family while we waited on the Lord to reveal His plan for our lives, and our children have been able to create wonderful memories with their grandparents. But let’s be honest…we are A LOT of people and we take up A LOT of space, so it will be nice to spread out and have our own space. Chris and I spent a couple of weeks looking for houses. We found a couple that we really liked, but we were second in line and ended up not getting either one of them. We heard about this house through one of the rental companies in town and from what we saw on paper this place looked like it would fit our family perfectly. The only drawback was we couldn’t look at it because there were people still living in it. We had to wait about a week for the people to move out and you better believe we were the first ones there to check out the keys…we weren’t going to risk losing out on this place! They day we looked at it, Chris picked me up at my parents’ house after he got done have a business meeting. On his way to pick me up, he got a phone call. We drove to the house and I went ahead in while he finished up his call in the car. As I walked through the house, I felt like this place could really work for our family. Chris walked in the front door and he said to me that this was going to be our house. As he sat out in the driveway, he just felt like this was where we were going to live. I was hesitant to claim that since we still had to apply for the house and since the rent was over our budget. We went back to the rental company and told them we were interested, but wanted to know if there was any negotiating on the price. One of the ladies contacted they owner and he was willing to come down!!! So, we applied for the house and within a couple of days we found out that we had been approved. We just spent our first night in our new home on November 17th and we are beyond excited!! We have a guest room, so please let us know if you want to reserve a spot at the Greenwood Inn. We love to have visitors!
Hello All, Chris here! I hope this letter finds each of you well and stuffed from your Thanksgiving celebrations. J I wanted to write a quick section about my own journey over these last 14 months. Sara has done another masterful job of condensing our lives into a few readable paragraphs, so I won’t go over anything she has already shared. What I do want to share is that this journey has been a very difficult one for me in particular. I have had to let go of some dreams and plans in order to let God bring about new ones. I have seen that my desire to want to be in control also demonstrates in visible ways my lack of trust. These last 14 months have brought me to a place of total abandonment to the plans and purposes of the Lord. I have read about it, taught about it, counseled others to seek it, but until about four months ago I had not truly reached it. For the arrival of that place, I am beyond thankful. I am also thankful this season for a few other things in particular: 1) I am thankful for a wife and family who has supported me each step of this journey (It is hard to overstate this one). 2) I am thankful to our parents and the Hooties’ grandparents (both by blood and adopted) who have offered our children consistency and love over these last 14 months. 3) I am thankful for a new home in which to make new memories with our four wonderful children. 4) I am thankful for our brothers and sisters in the faith who have prayed for and encouraged us through this journey. 5) I am thankful for the financial provision of the Lord through His people and those not yet His people that is allowing us to take this journey. 6) Lastly (for the sake of brevity in this letter), I am thankful for the hand of the Lord going before us and preparing each step of the way. He is indeed Jehovah Jirah.
One thing that seems more real to me than ever before is that, as we look forward into 2016, we have absolutely no idea what lies before us. We have no idea what lies ahead of all of us on a global scale, for all of us as a country, for us collectively as the Body of Christ, and for us individually as the Greenwood family. This ministry venture could all fall apart. It could take off beyond what I can manage. It could be somewhere in between. All I can say is that, regardless of the outcome, these last 14 months have been worth it. Sara and I unwaveringly believe the Lord has called us to do this. Called us to do what we can to strengthen the American church for the dark days ahead. All I can do is reach out my hand and ask churches to let me walk with them through this journey (Acts 3:1-6). I am just a willing vessel. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His continence upon you and (through His Son, Jesus) grant you peace. Happy Thanksgiving and merry, merry CHRISTmas!
Chris, Sara + the Hootie Hoos
Family website: www.ilovemyhootiehoos.blogspot.com
Mathetes 268 Ministry website: www.mathetes268.org
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