Community First Village: Week 13

“The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything.”
— Charles Spurgeon

It’s easy to become overwhelmed when I think about all that lies before us. We will be packing up our RV in 4 short weeks—leaving this beautiful established village to start The Field’s Edge from scratch. There are endless things to think about and plan for but God is teaching us how to know when we should move and when we should stay still. Thank you for joining us in prayer as the Lord works on our hearts to operate that way—still a long way to go, so keep praying!

We watched Finding Nemo on Saturday afternoon with Truma. There is a lot of wisdom in Dory’s famous quote, “Just keep swimming.” If you’ve been reading along, we have had some weeks that discouraged us, which is exactly what the enemy wants to do. I keep saying this but in this world we are guaranteed to have ups and downs, but God can handle all that. What is required of us is faithfulness, which is sometimes easier said than done, but worth it every time.

I can tell you with certainty that nothing we are doing is possible without the Lord. He is the reason for all things good and the driving force behind our journey. Not only that, but He is going before us to pave the way for His will to be done. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of, but that’s just it; we are along for the ride. We have the privilege of participating in something He could do without us. For whatever reason, He designed our family for this calling and we are honored that He has chosen to use us in this way.

The Lord is the only explanation for the news we received on Thursday night. My Dad sent me a text with pictures of some mail for us delivered to their house in Midland. I immediately noticed that one of them was from the IRS so we asked him to open it and anxiously awaited a picture of the letter.  We are pleased to announce that by the grace of God, The Field’s Edge Inc. is now officially a 501c3 non-profit organization. When we filed in early January, we were told that we could expect to have a response from the IRS between 3 and 18 months, and that the response might be a request for more information. For us to get our approval in just over 4 months is literally a miracle. The Nonprofit Management Center of the Permian Basin did most of the legwork to get everything filed, and we will continue to work with them going forward. They are wonderful.

On Friday I spent most of the day in the office accepting rent payments from our neighbors, trying to book a fishing trip for my buddy’s bachelor party, and calling RV parks around Midland looking for a place to live. Many of the RV parks in the Midland area sprung up around 2011 for oilfield workers and are not much more than some caliche pads and RV hookups—not really what I have in mind for my wife and kids. Most of the more family friendly locations are full and we got pretty discouraged a few weeks ago when we were calling around. I called a place in Gardendale that has a playground, dog park, 24-hour security, and more, and they happened to have a spot available. The owner seemed sure that there would be another spot available by the time we needed one. I will admit it was really tempting to snag that spot, pay an extra month’s rent, and have a sense of security that we know where we are going to live. Something in me (the Holy Spirit) gave me the feeling that doing so could be an act of disobedience out of my own desire for control. After we talked about it, Briana had the same conviction so we decided to wait on the Lord.

A few weeks ago we thought we had a potential starting point with a friend of ours to secure two doublewide spaces in a manufactured home community. These two spaces would accommodate six to eight 399 ft.2 park model homes to give us a start while we plan and raise funds for our larger vision. While that particular iteration of the plan has since fallen through, it gave us the idea of creating a working model community on 2+ acres of our own using park model homes where we can lift a few people off the streets, establish a reputation, and help people to see our big vision for a full tiny home village on +/- 20 acres. In the beginning, our small working model community will have a small garden, chickens, and other microenterprises to empower our first residents to earn a dignified income. We will live there as well in a park model home that would accommodate a family of 4 people and 2 large dogs better than our current RV. Eventually we will relocate all of the park model homes to the larger property. Eventually we will incorporate them into our full-scale tiny house village by using them as hospice and respite care for our neighbors nearing the end of their lives.

We are keeping an eye out for available 2-5 acre properties in Midland and actively seeking opportunities for said land to be purchased, leased, or better yet donated. Who knows, God may even provide the 20 acres we are seeking for the long-term vision soon. God knows what we need. A known prayer warrior from our home church told us to get ready for God to knock our socks off, and I believe that’s the spirit we should have.

Street cat on a leash

Street cat on a leash

On Saturday, there was a cool event called Reach Out Austin, where the currently homeless community was invited out to our village to receive love. We had showers, laundry services, haircuts, and many different resources for the homeless. There was also a table that said, “Want to live here?” with information about applying for Community First! Village. Our friend and documentarian interviewed several of our neighbors who openly shared the struggles of homelessness as well as the amazing things God is doing through this Christian community.

We knew there was going to be bad weather Sunday morning. It was supposed to hit around four in the morning, but it didn’t. We got up and headed to church in a light drizzle even though the radar indicated pretty severe weather ahead. If you know me well, you know that severe weather freaks me out.  A few years ago, the sound of thunder sent my heart racing.

On April 27, 2011 I was walking to class at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The tornado sirens went off for the third time that week so I knew my test was cancelled and I headed home. We had set up some chairs in the basement just in case but we didn’t take the warning too seriously. At least not until our TV switched to a live shot of an EF4 barreling through town and our power went out. We ran down to the basement and watched the sky turn green through the little window. The rain stopped and we heard the unmistakable sound of a tornado nearby.

The first thing I saw when we headed out of the house was a couple with two young children. They were carrying everything they had left in some trash bags. The husband was bleeding from his head and their two dogs were stepping over live power lines. It was a deadly night in Alabama. Sixty-four people lost their lives including people I knew.

Over the years, the fear from that night still haunts me, but the Lord is working on that. Recently I have been able to keep my composure until after tornado warnings expire, but Sunday morning was a breakthrough from God. We were about three songs in to the worship set when we got the tornado warning notification. I looked over at Briana and she knew how I was feeling. I wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen. The next song was “In Christ Alone” and I didn’t pay much attention to it until I heard the first few lines through the sound of the downpour on the metal roof.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

Tears started to well up as I wrestled with my fear, but God knew that all I needed was to look to Him. Then the next song started:

When Darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

I started to weep, not because I was afraid, but because of the overwhelming peace I felt as God used the music to remind me who He is, and that there is no room to fear anything but Him, even death. After a convicting message from 1 Peter 1:17-19, we headed to Luby’s utterly exhausted, but with God-given peace. That afternoon while we were eating a slice of Briana’s homemade mixed berry pie, we were offered a space to rent for our RV on a lovely woman’s land in Greenwood. She even has horses.

The Lord is at work in our lives in many ways. When we first submitted to His will and offered our lives for His kingdom, we had no idea it would be so hard, yet so amazing. Each day we are being refined and though it often hurts, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

Prayer requests this week:

·      Our neighbor Steve will find out on Thursday if his cancer is in remission.

·      That we come up with a meaningful homemaking project for Community First! Village.

·      Continued prayers for the right land at the right time.

·      Strength for our pastor Dr. Wood in his cancer treatment.

·      Praise for an amazing 27th year of life (JM)

·      Please join us in beginning to pray for future residents of The Field’s Edge

May every cry “I can’t,”
When yet, in fact, “I must,”
Become by grace, “He can,”
And then in Him, “I trust.”
— John Piper