New Year=New Blog – sort of

Thanks to one of our friends, we have been given the ability to have a truer website. Instead of lifewiththefoxes.wordpress.com you can now find us at the simpler

www.lifewiththefoxes.com

All of our old content and blog posts are over there, but the exporting/importing process was a little rough, so some of the posts are missing pictures and other media. I am slowly working on cleaning it up, but for now, know that that is our new website.

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Our New Normal

I had every intention of regaling you all with our Christmas exploits. The decorations were just the beginning.

Our city holds a Christmas festival every year, Christmasville, and I wanted to share how much fun it was, especially for our four year old.

I wanted to talk about Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God Christmas concert that has become a tradition for our family.

I even wanted to talk about how awesome the new Star Wars movie is.

But all of those things got trumped the past few weeks by this:

Marshall Foxes

 

I wrote, back in October, about how God is telling a bigger story. It’s not just our story that is being written but also that of the team and the ministry at MTSU (and, ultimately, it’s God’s story). It seems that the story has ended, or at least the chapter has. The team that was working there and those of us who were still working towards that goal are now being redirected elsewhere.

For us that means our goal is no longer the city but now the mountains of West Virginia.

Marshall University is our new assignment. We have mixed feelings about the change, but they’re mostly positive at this point.

Marshall is, in many ways, very different than MTSU. It’s a smaller school, both in size and student body. The student demographic is different as well. Most of them are from in state and many of them are first generation college students. While MTSU had a lot of music majors, Marshall has a great forensic science degree.

But there are similarities too. The main one being that they, just like every college student ever, wrestle with questions of identity. Who they are. Why they are here. What they are going to do for the rest of their lives. And what does God have to do with any of this?

And that is why we’re growing more excited about this change every day. For some people, God gives them a heart for a specific place. But for Brandi and I, God gave us a heart for college students. It doesn’t really matter where, just as long as we can come along side them and help them figure out the answers to those questions.

So, that’s what’s new for us.

Christmas lasts until Jan 6, so you still may see some of our activities chronicled but until then;

Merry Christmas!

 

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Foxes Loving Christmas

We finally got our decorations up, which is always one of my favorite parts of the season.

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What Happened After Dinner

“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan.

“Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver. “Why, don’t you know? He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but not often here, you understand. Never in my time or my father’s time. But the word has reached us that he has come back. He is in Narnia at this moment. He’ll settle the White Witch all right. It is he, not you, who will save Mr. Tumnus.”

“She won’t turn him into stone too?” said Edmund.

“Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!” answered Mr Beaver with a great laugh. “Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her two feet and look him in the face it’ll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her. No, no. He’ll put all to rights as it says in an old rhyme in these parts:

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be know more
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

You’ll understand when you see him.”

“But shall we see him?” asked Susan.

“Why, Daughter of Eve, that’s what I brought you here for. I’m to lead you where you shall meet him,” said Mr. Beaver.

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone that can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

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You are not an appendix

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I recently finished reading Skye Jethani’s “Futureville” and found it excellent food for thought.

Early on in the book Jethani spends a lot of time discussing calling and the need to embrace a theology of vocation where we embrace the multitude of specific callings each person may have without placing them in a hierarchy of value, “each calling is valuable because of the One who calls us to it.” (Ch. 7)

As I read this I thought about Paul’s exposition on callings (especially in 1 Corinthians 12) and how it is compared to a body.

A body NEEDS diversity to thrive. The best thing for blood to do is circulate; the best thing for bones to do is be immovable; the best thing for skin to do is cover and be covered. We can’t put these functions into a hierarchy because if any of them ceases to function in its manner we cease to function as well.

If my bones are on the outside and my skin is circulating and my blood is immovable – I am dead (and dismembered).

So why do we try to do this in the BODY of Chirst, that is the church. It doesn’t really matter what your calling is, it matters that you do it with excellence. Your calling might not look “spiritual” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t essential – you aren’t an appendix.

(And even the appendix isn’t as superfluous as we like to pretend it is)

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A bigger story

As we expressed frustration over why we aren’t in Tennessee yet with a friend the other day, she reminded us that God is telling a story that is bigger than us.

Right now, at Middle Tennessee State University, there are only 3 Cru staff members working fulltime to reach the students on campus. MTSU has between 20,000 and 26,000 students. To put that in perspective, Winthrop, our alma mater, has roughly 6,000 students. MTSU has A LOT of students and they’re studying everything from Music and Music Business (thanks to their proximity to Nashville) to Aerospace Engineering and Concrete Industry Management.

While we (as well as another married couple and a single guy) raise support to join them, there are three people reaching out to that large and diverse of a campus. Certainly, this is a story bigger than us. God is teaching them how to trust him with those daunting numbers just like he is teaching us with our own very different but still daunting numbers.

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When are we going to Tennessee?

One of the questions I regularly field goes something like, “I thought you were supposed to be in Tennessee by now.”

My internal response is usually, “I thought so, too”, but my external response is usually to fumble through some explanation about how our ability to BE in Tennessee is dependent on reaching a state of being “fully funded”.

I can understand that, a lot of times, these fumbling efforts are probably not clear to anyone who hasn’t gone through a similar process, so I wanted to take a few moments and try to clear that up (although, truthfully, I would rather talk about this over coffee so feel free to stop reading and call me and we can do that instead 😉 )

What we will be doing in Tennessee is working with college students to help them navigate questions of identity, purpose, and who God is in the midst of it all.  In order to be able to devote our full-time effort to being there our paychecks (and all of our work expenses) are essentially crowd sourced by people & organizations that think what we are doing is important and want a piece of the action (most missionaries and, truthfully, most non-profits also get their funds this way). Instead of a few individuals being paid to just raise these funds for the whole organization we get to be on the frontlines of both fund raising and impacting college students.

And, yes, this can be daunting, and sometimes we do wish we could skip this step, but we know it is good and we really do enjoy being directly connected to a tribe of people who value what we do enough to be a part of it.

So when will we go to Tennessee? Honestly, we have no idea as it relates to the calendar, but Chris did illustrate our remaining need:

log chart pic

So the answer to when is simply when each of those silhouettes “becomes” a person or organization who is committed to regularly giving so that we can focus on impacting the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.

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From One Parent to Another: Kids Workshops

Apparently, October is Fire Safety Month. Do you know how I know this? Because in the past two weeks, Savvy has built not one but two firetrucks.IMG_3151

Lowe’s and Home Depot both hold kid’s building workshops at least once a month and they both focused on Fire Safety Month this time.

They don’t always do the same thing. At Home Depot, Savvy has built her own chalkboard and a football game.

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While at Lowe’s she spent the summer building vehicles for each of the Avengers (my favorite projects thus far).

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They’re on Saturday mornings. You can check the schedule at their websites (Lowe’s and Home Depot). And the best part: they’re free!

You get to spend a couple of hours with you kid while you build a toy or game together that your kid gets to then take home and play with. There is nothing bad about this.

Sure, at this point, most of the work is done by me, but it is totally worth when my daughter pauses during her bedtime routine to look up at her toys and say, “I love my Avengers toys.”

(An aside: Lego store also has a kids building workshop but your kid has to be 6 or older. And they will not budge on this. Lowe’s and Home Depot have decided that I am able to supervise my 4 year old with a hammer and nails, but Lego has decided she can’t put a few plastic bricks together. But I’m not bitter or anything…)

Have you done any of these workshops? Are there any I’m missing out on?

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Foxes At the Zoo

A couple of weekends ago, we went down to Chapin for a missions conference. One of the things the church did for the missionaries was line up a few different activities for us during our downtime. We took this opportunity to take Savvy to Riverbanks Zoo for the first time. We assumed she would really enjoy it.

IMG_1489Steampunk giraffe

But it took some convincing. Mostly, we had to convince her that she couldn’t just sit and feed the bronze orangutan pretend food all day.

Feeding the Oragutan

But, a ride on the carousel was enough to turn things around (see what I did there)

On the Carosel Savvy on sholders

The highlight of the day, from our daughter’s perspective, was feeding the goats and giraffes. While our host was in line to buy the giraffe food, Savvy would simply pick up what had fallen on the ground and feed it to the giraffe.

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The day was a lot of fun and we are very thankful for Chapin’s missions team for giving us this opportunity.

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The Missing Prodigal Son

Back in the day, Jesus told this story about a family; a dad and two sons. One day, the younger son asked his dad for his share of the inheritance so that he could leave his father’s house and do his own thing.

Eventually, the money runs out and he wakes up to realize that he has hit rock bottom and decides to humbly head home and ask to be his father’s servant.

Unbeknownst to him, the father has been waiting for him and runs to him, bringing him back to the family.

And, according to every children’s Bible that I’ve read (and quite a few sermons that I’ve heard), that’s where the story ends.

Which is a problem for me. Yes, right now, my daughter is the younger son in the story, currently rebelling against her Father, but a lot of kids grow up to be the older brother.

Remember the older brother? When their dad threw a party to celebrate the younger son’s return, he stomps off in a pout because his father is making a bigger deal out of his younger brother than of him. After all, the older brother hadn’t left in the first place.

Savvy will undoubtedly be raised in church and, at least for some of her life, be an MK (missionary kid). She needs to know not only that her Father will embrace her when she returns to him, but also how to not be bitter when other prodigals return and parties get thrown for them.

I wish that children’s Bibles understood that.

Let’s not end the story before Jesus does.

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