Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Sutton Blog!

The Sutton's have a new place to put quick family updates!  Please subscribe to it and enjoy!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Road Leads...to iTunes

This is a blog I intended to post over a week ago, but due to the hassles of moving, and not having access to internet for a few days, its taken longer than I planned to get it up. I'm writing this because I wanted to talk a bit about my new record and explain a little bit about why I did it, etc.

Ministry naturally demands sacrifice. In my case, God has called our family to start up a new church in Fort Collins, Colorado. Because of the nature of our ministry, we are giving up a piece of our financial stability. Over the last year-and-a-half, this has led to many conversations about how we might earn a living while also reserving the flexibility to serve the community freely.

One idea Randi and I tossed around was for me to make another record and put it up for sale on iTunes. This was an idea that I was not opposed to, but I couldn’t fully embrace it either. The reason for this stemmed from the fact that I have never wanted to turn my worship music into some sort of commercial venture. In other words, I do not write worship songs with the sole intent to make money. However, I also realize that God has gifted me in the area of music and who am I to question God on a matter like this if He chooses to use my gifts to provide for me and my family.

Eventually I decided that I was not going to go out of my way to write new music for a new record. But if God started giving me new music and giving me inspiration for new songs, then I would take it as it came. And if it reached a point where there was enough material, then I would look at the possibility of compiling it into something I might be able to sell.

Honestly, I didn’t think anything would come of it because for about two years I have had one of the worst creative blocks I’ve ever had in my life. But not long after we decided to move, God began working on me in a different way -- He began to show me what worship might look like in our new church.

There’s a pretty good chance that many of the people attending one of our worship services will have spent very little time in a church. I began asking myself what was possible in the creative realm if I was leading worship for people who didn’t have a preexisting idea of what modern worship music might sound like. What was possible when my own creative process was not bound by the rules of current church culture? Questions like this began to open up tons of creative doors to walk through and explore.

And explore I did. God began to throw things at me left and right, not only in terms of creativity, but spiritually as well, as the last year-and-a-half has been a huge growing process for me. I have wrestled with life’s circumstances more recently than I ever have. As my family and I have been tested in so many ways, I have been forced to re-examine what it means to allow Christ to live in and through me. To re-examine my own identity in Christ, to be reminded of God’s provision and his never ceasing grace.

And the result is the EP that I just released. It represents a year-and-a-half of song writing, formed out of the change in my own life and all the things God has reminded me. It also represents my first effort at creatively stretching myself to the limits. It is not mainstream, nor is it what you would expect to hear in most churches on a Sunday morning, and I am OK with that. It is in every way different from anything I’ve ever done. I wanted to write in a way that the words were simple but represented big truths about God’s grace and our identity that are often overlooked in worship music.

So is this a worship record? That’s a great question. It is my worship, I can say that much. And maybe, at least it is my prayer, that it is your worship as well.

I think Randi already stated this in one of her blogs, but I don’t write music so that I can make tons of money or become a rock star. Let’s just face it, I don't think I'm that good, nor am I skinny enough to wear rocker clothes. But I do believe that music is meant to be shared. What kind of a person would I be to keep what God gives me to myself? So if in the process people enjoy it enough to maybe buy some of it, then that’s great. If you like the record, tell everyone about it. If you know someone else who might like it, point them in the right direction. There is a link at the bottom of this post that will take you to the iTunes store if you want to purchase it. Just know that your money is not going to pay for my new pair of skinny jeans or rock star highlights in my hair. It’s going to support me and my family as we live and minister in Colorado, doing what God has called us to do.

And for anyone who is interested, I will post an additional blog with the liner notes from the album as well as a few pictures from the studio since iTunes does not include the liner notes when you buy the record.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

We're Finished Packing

Everything is boxed up and ready to move into the U-Haul in the morning.

OK, so maybe we didn't box up Hannah.

We'll relax on Monday.
We leave at 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
We're officially vagabonds until we make it to Fort Collins Wednesday!
And here's a little something to look forward to in Fort Collins on Thursday. Check out these temperatures!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Get a Preview of Chris' New Album!

A few times a week, my favorite musician comes to my house, sits in my living room and puts on a personal concert for me and Hannah. With nothing more than a guitar in hand, the sound of my husband singing fills our home. It’s one of the best sounds in the world to me.
Chris is always writing and singing something new and giving me and Hannah a first listen. Now I’m excited to announce that he’s ready to give others a preview of some of his new songs.
Go to NoiseTrade.com/ChrisFreemanMusic to download two free songs from his upcoming album, The Road So Far. The album is very personal, but it’s one that I feel everyone can identify with on some level while also enjoying the brilliant musicianship.
Later this week, the entire album will be available to buy from iTunes. I have to brag that all the songs were written, produced and recorded by him.
Chris’ goal in making music isn’t to make big bucks or achieve rock star fame. Music is just a natural outpouring of who he is. We believe that music is meant to be shared, which is why he’s made this album available. From our living room to yours -- we hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Countdown Is On

Our days are numbered here in Tyler.
Tonight was our last night of Oasis -- after 8 years, might I add.
Tomorrow is Hannah's last day of daycare.
Friday is my last day of work.
Sunday is our last day at Colonial Hills.
Wednesday is Chris' last day of work.
And then it's pack, pack, pack until we move the following Tuesday morning, August 17th.

We're looking forward to what's to come while remembering what's behind us!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Freemans Visit To Fort Collins

Chris and I just ventured up to Fort Collins for a few days with the goal of finding a house and a job for me. We were able to find the perfect house, and hopefully I'll hear something definite about a job soon. I had a FANTASTIC interview with a company I'd really like to work for. So we'll see what happens, and I'll keep everyone posted.

It was so great to be with our best friends. We would actually stay up late talking, dreaming and planning. Here's a picture of us freezing to death in their basement and doing a little research on our iPhones. :)

While away, I wrote every day on my personal blog, but failed to upload it all here. I realize there are folks who follow this blog that may not frequent my page, so here are the links if you're interested in more details about the trip.

Day 1: Amarillo By Morning
Day 2, Part 1: House Hunting
Day 2, Part 2: Job Hunting
Day 4: Su Casa Es Mi Casa
Day 5: On The Road Again

I have to say that David and Laura's house is just great. They've really done a good job setting it all up, and it's starting to seem like a home. Hopefully they'll post pictures soon (hint! hint!) because it is such a fun place. They've also had quite a few opportunities for meaningful conversation and the starts of new friendships forming in just the short weeks they've been there. Please continue to pray for them as the church is beginning to plant even now through them. We can't wait to join them in August!

Also, please pray for Chris as he leads our group of Tyler college students on a mission trip to Guatemala for the next two weeks. Pray for Hannah and I, as well, as our family is missing the most important link any time he's gone. Thanks!

Praise God for all He's doing in us, through us and around us!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Week One

We pulled into Fort Collins the city illuminated by the headlights of our Uhaul truck filled with our accumulated possessions, Josiah and our dogs riding with my parents in car following us. For so long Fort Collins was a place we visited, read about, dreamed of and prayed for. Driving down Mulberry to our home we saw the city in a new way. We've eaten at many of the places we pass by and traveled the same roads, but never like this. Now we're from Fort Collins.

Our rent house has now started to feel more like a home. Now with most of our boxes unpacked and moving behind us we look ahead.

Over the past several weeks God has deepened our understanding of how he works and just how connected we all are. Our lives and experiences have led us and prepared us for this calling. We are so thankful for all of the overwhelming support and prayers.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Livin' On A Prayer

I think Bon Jovi says it best...

"WHOOOOOAAAA, we're half way theeeeerrrre. WHOOOA-OH! We're livin' on a prayer!" (That was for you, Joe and Latricia Sutton!)

Tomorrow half of our ministry team -- the Suttons -- packs the last of their things into a moving van and travels to their new home in Fort Collins.

Chris and I will follow in August, so we just say, "We'll see ya later." But for our families and closest friends, goodbyes aren't too easy to come by.

We knew when we began to consider a church plant in Colorado that it would mean sacrifice for us, but the sacrifice is huge for our families that we leave behind. We ask especially that your pray for them. They'll need the comfort and assurance that God will take care of us and peace though our families are spread miles apart.

Please also pray for safe travels for the Suttons tomorrow, and perhaps patience as they have a toddler in tow!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Where's My Water-Proof Mascara?

A recount of today's events from Randi's perspective:

Of all the days to forget water-proof mascara... what an overjoyed mess I've been today!

This morning, Chris led the congregation in worship as he played guitar and sang, something he's done countless times. But this morning was different -- I was watching my husband, the love of my life and best friend, now as the music pastor of our new church. Following him in preaching was David. I've listened to him teach a thousand times it seems since we were in high school Bible study together. But I couldn't help but see him in a new light, too, as I listened to him preach now as the pastor of our new church. Shoulder-to-shoulder I stood with my best friend Laura as we held hands and dabbed our eyes, completely overcome with pride in our husbands and amazement of how God is setting His plans into motion. Oh, how I love my friend. After the service, they had our team stand in front of the church to recognize us all and allow for everyone to come and greet us. The handshakes, hugs, words of wisdom and teary-eyed well-wishes were enough to make a heart swell ten times its size. I've never felt more supported in my life.

This evening, our guys were honored as they were ordained by our church. Our pastor, Robert, explained that ordination is the church's formal recognition of God's calling for Chris and David to do ministry. (As a side note, he also explained that we're ALL ordained for ministry.) The ordination involved the guys being examined individually by Robert and then together by all of the deacons. They were then brought before the congregation who was given a vote to ordain, of which they voted yes.

There were a few testimonies given on behalf of Chris and David. The word used over and over again to describe each of them was "integrity", which is so evident to Laura and me. Then the congregation was invited to come forth and pray for us - the guys seated in front of the congregation and us wives standing behind them. Our present and past college students came first, followed by family and close friends, then the deacons and finally the pastoral team. The prayers offered up on our behalf were things our team has prayed since we began dreaming of a ministry in Fort Collins. It was so affirming to hear our prayers echoed by such wise, Godly people. I admit I opened my eyes and peaked a few times. I just wanted to soak it all in. We were surrounded by our own personal heroes of faith.

A reception was held in our honor following the ordination service. The room was packed! It was such a sweet time that we'll never forget.

We're so grateful for our church family. Their influence has played a significant role in who we are and what we do. We're so appreciative of all that Colonial Hills has done for our families and plan to take anyone who is willing to Fort Collins with us. Thanks to all of our family and close friends who came to celebrate with us on our big day!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thank You!

“Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can't quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!” Colossians 1:3

Words cannot express our gratitude for the support and generosity shown to us by our family and friends yesterday at the Flapjack Fundraiser. Over 60 families were represented, 15 volunteers cooked, served and cleaned, and more than $3,500 was raised. To put it simply, we are overwhelmed and humbled. Thank you!

We'd also like to say a special thank you to The Diner who graciously allowed us to host this event. We appreciate you so much, Lloyd and Tresa Nichols! (And if you're reading this and you've never eaten at The Diner, you don't know what you're missing!)

To see more pictures from our event, please click here: Flapjack Fundraiser Pictures.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How Great Thou...Art?

So we figured we should give you all an opportunity to preview the photography that will be available for silent auction tomorrow night at the Fort Collins Flapjack Fundraiser. All photographs are framed and matted. The size of the photo is indicated next to the picture.

Starting bids for the photographs are:

$15 - 8 x 10
$25 - 11 x 14

We hope you all enjoy the photography.

Southwest Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park
(14 x 11)

Creek, Buena Vista, Colorado
(14 x 11)

Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, Colorado
(14 x 7)

Aspen Tree, Rocky Mountain National Park
(8 x 10)

Yankee Boy Basin, Ouray, Colorado
(10 x 8)

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
(8 x 10)

College Street, Fort Collins, Colorado
(8 x 10)

Open Mall, Fort Collins, Colorado
(8 x 10)

Yankee Boy Basin, Ouray, Colorado
(10 x 8)

Ephesians 3:20-21

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we think to ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Friday, June 4, 2010


I have been completely humbled and overwhelmed by the ways that God has been working to get us to Fort Collins. First, in March, He opened doors for David and I to rent a little house in the perfect neighborhood. Even though we didn't have jobs yet and couldn't prove that we would make our rent, the landlords decided we would be good for their house and took a chance by letting us rent from them!

Then, in May, I started getting my resume ready for job openings. I knew they would be posted soon and that most principals would want to hire before the end of school. So, I checked the website daily for specific positions that I could apply for. One Wednesday I checked and there was nothing. Then, all of a sudden, the next day there were 12 positions at 8 schools that I was qualified for! I was excited and worked late that night to prepare cover letters and my resume to send to those schools. I had my sights set on one position at Bennett Elementary, though, and emailed the principal at 8pm. At 8:23, he called me! He said he was only calling because I went to Texas Tech and he was FROM WEST TEXAS! I was amazed and was so thankful for that connection. I have also already taught at a school with their same, and very unique curriculum. Another connection!

The next week, on Friday, I interviewed for a Kindergarten job at Bennett over the phone and found out the following Monday that I did not get that. The principal said they were still interested in me and that the Kinder team was pushing for me for the 1st grade job, which was the one I really wanted in the first place. Well, long story, short- I did get to interview for it on Thursday and on Friday, I was offered the job!!!! I was (and still am) in complete shock! I mean, I hadn't even met them! For all they knew, I could have been a complete crazy person!!! :)

On Monday the 24th, the principal called and told me I needed to go to training June 3-4, so David and I packed a little and went to our new home! And, that's where we began to feel the full impact of how God provides! As if we weren't already in awe, God continues to show us that he has been preparing us for "such a time as this" for many years.

It's midnight and we are driving back to Tyler. I've written enough for now. It's all so amazing! I'll write more tomorrow about God's provision that I didn't even know was going on!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mark Your Calendars

There are some exciting events coming up that we would like you to know about. We would love for you to join us if you are in the Tyler area. Your support is SO important to us!

June 6:
David is preaching at Calvary Baptist Church in Tyler at 10:15am

June 6:
Pancake Dinner and Silent Art Auction
6pm, The Diner in Tyler
$5 per person (all proceeds benefit the Fort Collins church plant)

June 13:
8:30 and 11am -
David and Chris are leading both services at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Tyler

June 13:
6pm -
David and Chris are being ordained at Colonial Hills

Thank you to our friends and family for making these events possible! We are blessed beyond measure to have such enormous support as we embark on this new adventure.

Please join us for one or all of these events, especially if you're in Tyler!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Finally finished a book!

I finished a great book today! This is quite an accomplishment for me since I can't remember the last book I actually read all the way through. That is really sad... Especially since I am a teacher and encourage my students to be lifelong readers! I guess I actually do read all the time. I read tons of childrens' books and books about education. And I did read a potty training book! Those count! I guess the difference is that this is the first book I read that I picked just for me! And I'm sure glad I did!

I read Elisabeth Elliot's book, "Through Gates of Splendor". It was recommended to us as we began planning to follow through with a new life that God has called us to. It was actually the book that was recommended for our parents to read. We bought them each a copy... And they have a ten-page report due by next Friday! :) Not really, but I do hope they, and everyone else, finds the time to read this very moving story.

This story of courage, commitment, and callings follows the lives of five young men and their wives (and some children) as they lived and ministered among native people groups in Ecuador in the 1950's. The amazing element woven throughout their stories is their dedication to doing whatever it took to tell everyone of God's Good News. The author's husband, Jim Elliot, wrote in his journal, "Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God." That sums up their calling then, and our calling now. I just love how Elisabeth Elliot ends the book. This statement was not only true for them, but is a reminder for all Christians that nothing is about US, but is ALL about God!

"It's not the level of our spirituality that we can depend on. It is God and nothing less than God, for the work is God's and the call is God's and everything is summoned by him and to his purposes, the whole scene, the whole mess, the whole package- our bravery and our cowardace, our love and our selfishness, our strengths and our weaknesses."

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up...

As a kid I was a dreamer. I was going to be Spider-Man, I was also going to be the Dread Pirate Roberts (that's the character from The Princess Bride, in case you missed it). Really, I would have been happy to grow up having any occupation in which I could have worn a mask or uniform. I think all kids are to a certain extent. It’s just their nature. I can’t speak for girls, but for most boys, we dream of being heroes, firefighters, cops, cowboys, super heroes... Something larger than life. I have no shame in admitting that when I was in the third grade, my best friend and I decided our calling in life was to start a Beach Boys tribute band. We were going to be called “The All Americans”.

We literally knew all of their songs and would stand out on my driveway and give concerts to all the other neighborhood kids. And the only thing better than a real guitar was the sound of a guitar made with my mouth. It was pretty sweet. And we were going to be huge.

Kids never aspire to be ordinary and never ever wrestle with what they are going to do with their lives. They just know. And while later in life most of us are told that we should stop being dreamers and join reality, I think that our dreams and passions serve a purpose. A Los Angeles pastor, Erwin McManus, posed this question to his church -- “What if our lives are meant to be the fulfillment of God’s dreams for us?”

Let this sink in for a moment.

God has created each of us with a purpose for our lives.

How sweet is that? Maybe there is a rhyme and a reason for why we have these specific dreams and passions. I absolutely believe that before we were even a thought in our parents minds, God had already dreamed big dreams for our lives and given each one of us a purpose. A grand plan for every person that is born, and when we enter into this life, we begin the journey of fulfilling that purpose.

And while God’s dreams for each one of us might take on different shapes and appearances, I think there is an overarching theme in his purpose. I think God created us to be pictures of His truth and grace to the people around us. At the end of Matthew, right before Jesus swoops up to Heaven in a flash, he gives us what we now call the Great Commission and he says, “Go and make disciples.” I hear David (Sutton) remind people all the time that the word GO in that verse is not implying something that will happen, but something that is happening. In other words, Jesus was not telling the disciples to go tomorrow, or next year or whenever they could fit it on their calendar for a mission trip. Instead, it’s something that is happening right now. AS you go. AS you are living your life, let it be a life that paints a portrait of God’s love.

When we choose evangelism as a lifestyle, something that is ongoing, we suddenly find new purpose in our lives. For the four of us, it has changed the way we view our relationships and interactions with others. Paul wrote in his letter to the Thessalonians, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News, but our own lives, too.” (1 Thes 2:8) What more purpose do we need than to know that we were placed on this earth to exist in such a way that by just living life with others, we can be living testimonies of God’s grace?

We are always running into people who ask, “How did you know God was calling you to be church planters?”, or, “How did you know God wanted you to move to Colorado?”. But we can’t really give them the answer they are looking for. We don’t have some sort of secret formula that helps determine God’s will for our lives. Unfortunately, God doesn’t usually write out his will for us on the sidewalk with a lightening bolt. Understanding God’s will comes in understanding who He is and who we are in Him. Instead of asking, “What does God want me to do?” perhaps we should be asking, “What does God want to do through me?” The answer comes simply in understanding our identity in Christ and the mission He has given us. Live a life in which you love God and love others.

In our case, it just so happens that we relate very well to the type of people that we will meet in Fort Collins. God has placed a very specific passion in our hearts for that city, but the overarching purpose for our lives is the same as anyone else’s.
We recognize that God has called us to live life with the people around us and in doing so, be a picture of God’s grace and truth. That purpose exists for every believer whether you are in Tyler, or Fort Collins, or across the world or wherever you might be. We have discovered that God’s dream for our lives is to play a part in bringing the rest of the world into the reality of God’s truth. I’ll take that over my dream of being in a Beach Boys cover band.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Our Guide

Our daughter Hannah is transforming before our very eyes from a baby to a little girl, toddling around the living room, choosing between carrots and more macaroni and cheese, and patting her stuffed puppy dog's back to "give him loves". My favorite thing to do with her right now is practice walking. I walk beside her, her finger wrapped tightly around my index finger, though she has excellent balance and is really ready to walk by herself. But when she does trip, I'm often able to soften the impact a little or completely when she has a hold of my hand. This process has been a great reminder to me of how God guides our steps.

When we first made the decision to plant a church in Fort Collins, I clung to this scripture (found in Psalm 37) because it reminded me that even though we were stepping into the unknown, God our Father would not leave us. In fact, He promises to care for and provide for His people, which includes our families and our future Church family.

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

25 Once I was young, and now I am old.
Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned
or their children begging for bread.
26 The godly always give generous loans to others,
and their children are a blessing.

You may not be planting a church, but God's promise is for all of His people. And you may not describe yourself as godly as the scripture above says, but if you are His child, he describes you as holy and as righteous as Christ. And you may not call yourself His child, but He welcomes anyone into His family.

I have loved God for 12 years and He has never abandoned me or left me in a time of need, and I don't foresee Him doing so now. Praise God that He keeps His promises.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Our Charming Children

Well, we just thought it would be fun to write about the best part of our families - our children, Hannah Riley and Josiah David. Hannah is 1 year old and Josiah is 1 and a half. They are great friends and light up every time we just mention the other. They are quite the charmers. Everywhere we go they talk to anyone and, in our opinions, are already showing God's love through their beautiful eyes and smiles!

They are such blessings! Everyday as we watch them grow, we are even more amazed at the miracles that only God can do! Our children are our greatest joy and we thank God for them everyday.

We will sometimes post pictures on this blog, but we update our family blogs more often. Check those out for the latest and greatest about our charming children.

Freeman's: randi-lynn.blogspot.com
Sutton's: houseofsutton.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Home Is Where The Heart Is

During this last trip to Fort Collins we looked for job opportunities and searched for a home. 35 houses later... the saying, "Home is where the heart is", lost its meaning. Turns out, clean carpet, caulked showers, and a somewhat odor-free environment help to make a house a home. Our house search was both exciting and sobering. Since it is a college town, there were lots of renting options, but many of those options would not be suitable for our families. After looking at several houses in deplorable condition, we drove by one in a great location close to Old Town and CSU. We met the very nice owner and found the house to be in great condition and perfect for one of our families. We decided it would fit Laura and I the best, so we submitted an application. When we submitted it, however, the owner let us know that they are hesitant to rent to us because we don't have jobs yet. I am sure they think we are a little crazy... but we know that God is in control.

On the job front, Randi and Laura both had unexpected moments of hope. The week before going, Randi saw an opening for a marketing position at a high-end stroller company. She debated whether or not to drop in and, when we couldn't find their office, assumed she wouldn't be able to. While we were in a local toy store, Randi thought it wouldn't hurt to ask them where the stroller company office was. Upon asking, the ladies behind the counter got really excited and insisted on taking Randi to meet them right away. Turns out, their offices were right upstairs. Randi was greeted by a little dog in a laid back atmosphere and was able to make contact with an energetic company and meet more of the great people of Fort Collins. Upon returning to Texas, she emailed her resume, but has already heard that they filled the position. She made a great contact, though, and experienced a wonderful example of how God works in ways that we don't always expect!

Laura had a similar experience. Before going, she had researched schools and found several that seem like a good fit for her. One of these is Dunn Elementary, which happens to be across the street from the last house - and best house - we saw. While visiting with the owner, Laura mentioned that she was interested in working there and, as it turns out, the owner's children went there, her relative works in the office, and she knew many of the teachers. She excitedly offered to take Laura over there right away and show her around. Yet another unexpected moment of hope!

Our trip was both exciting and sobering. We are not sure exactly how everything with housing and jobs will work out - we continue to trust God. To the world and even some close to us, we seem crazy... we even feel that way ourselves sometimes. The amazing part of this journey, though, is the overwhelming peace that we have even when we don't have all the answers. We acknowledge that this peace is supernatural and only comes from God! We praise His name for the destination and the path that gets us there!

Isaiah 42:16
"But I'll take the hand of those who don't know the way,
who can't see where they're going.
I'll be a personal guide to them,
directing them through unknown country.
I'll be right there to show them what roads to take,
make sure they don't fall into the ditch.
These are the things I'll be doing for them -
sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

Since we’ve started letting people in on our plans to move to Fort Collins, we’ve had a ton of questions. So I thought it would be nice to answer some of those questions all at once:

What’s a church plant?
To get a better understanding of the term "church plant", let's think in terms of harvesting a crop (something this suburban girl has never had experience with, but just follow me for a minute). A farmer will plan out when and where they'll plant their crop. The climate and location has to be just right. Then they must tend to it to help it grow. (Notice I didn't say to make it grow.)

We've determined that the climate is right to "plant" a church in Fort Collins now with the goal of building a community of believers. As it grows, we'll be there to help cultivate it. It's up to God, though, to actually stimulate growth.

Fun analogy, huh? I can't take credit for it. I borrowed that one from Jesus.

Oh! So you’re going to build a church, right?
It depends on how you define "church". Our goal is not to go and merely build a building. In fact, it may be a long while, if at all, that we begin thinking of building a building. Actually, we're going to build a community of believers (the Church), meeting most likely at someone's home until the need arises to find a bigger location.

When are you leaving?
Neither of our families have firm dates when we’re leaving. Our goal is to be there before school starts next year, but we're flexible to whatever God may have in store for us - leaving either sooner or later.

Do you have jobs and homes already?
Not yet. We’re planning a trip the second week of March, largely focusing on the home and job hunt. A place to sleep and eat would be nice, right? So that’s big on our list to-do.

Are you guys going through an organization?
We will be considered church planters through the North American Mission Board.

What other questions do you have?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

MOST Of What I Need To Know...

So I once read this little essay titled something like, "All I Ever Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten". I don't remember the name exactly, but most of you probably know what I'm talking about. While this is a cute little essay and it strikes some sort of sentiment that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, I can’t say that I learned everything I need to know in kindergarten. I learned that if I tried to kiss the girls, then I would get a note sent home, and I learned that while I had a thing for my teacher, there was just no way it would work out. I was way too mature for her. But the bottom line is, I started first grade with a lot to learn about life.

This adventure that we are getting ready to embark on has gotten me thinking about what exactly led us to this point. And I have been having conversations with a lot of people asking me what in our lives has brought us to a point where we are ready to leave all that we know and move to Colorado?

Hopefully the list below will answer some of those questions. It is a list that pays tribute to all that Colonial Hills Baptist Church has been to the four of us. All of us are products of our environments and we are products of Colonial Hills and the investment that the people there have made in our lives.

“MOST Of What I Need To Know I Learned At Colonial Hills”

1) I learned the value of authenticity.
Robert Carter is the Chuck Norris of pastors. I am convinced that if we could harness the power that is held in his beard, we could solve global warming, end wars and make school lunches not only healthier, but better tasting as well. The greatest attribute of Robert, however, is his authenticity. I have never met a more transparent, real guy in my entire life. It’s because he is so comfortable with himself, and that comes from understanding his true identity. The guy that I see preaching on a Sunday morning is the same guy that I eat lunch with on Mondays and the same guy I heard today doing an Elvis impression for some of the older ladies in the church. Watching him taught me to be comfortable with myself and who God created me to be.

2) I learned how to not get “Calaway’d”

You may not call it “being Calaway’d”. You may call it something very different. But all of us know a “Calaway”. That’s right. He’s that guy or girl that has the magical, mystical ability to convince you to do something you were absolutely positive you didn’t want to do. Our “Calaway” is Jerry Calaway. He is our worship pastor at the church. He’s this great guy and he might be one of the most passionate people I have ever met. That's him in the picture below. The kid on the back was Calaway'd into riding with him.

I’ve known Calaway for 18 years and I learned a while back how to avoid getting “Calaway’d”. It’s really very easy, so be very quiet and listen carefully -- Don’t get caught in a room alone with the man. That’s where he strikes. He catches you off guard, which confuses you and leaves you with your defenses down. And the next thing you know, you’re running a spot light in the Christmas pageant. BAM. You’ve been Calaway’d, sucka.

3) I learned the value of discipleship.

One of the biggest sources of my own spiritual growth has been discipleship. I have been blessed to have people in my life at Colonial Hills who invested in me, mentored me and who have been amazing examples of what spiritual maturity looks like.

4) I learned the value of buying a falcon that has a high self-esteem.

If you don’t go to CHBC, I apologize because that makes no sense to you. You see, our senior pastor, Robert, is a man among boys. He could simply hunt with a gun like most normal people, but that is too easy. Robert chooses to fly falcons, which in turn do the hunting for him. It’s very fast and graphic and might be one of the most manly things I’ve ever seen someone do.

But lacking the same passion for life that Robert has, most of his birds have killed themselves. I’m convinced it's an issue of self-esteem. Simple lesson. Buy birds of prey with a healthy self-image and they won’t kill themselves the first chance they get. It’s much more economical. If I ever man up enough to own a falcon, this is a lesson to take to heart.

5) I learned what it means to live a missional life.

At our church, missions is a huge priority. That is evident in everything from our local outreach Mission Tyler, to the amount of international mission trips that our church has taken over the past 10 years. My first mission trip was with CHBC to Mexico. My first international trip was to Guatemala. Since then, I’ve been to Russia, England, Scotland, Brazil and all over the United States. This picture is of some of my students at the summit of an active volcano on our day off in Guatemala. Being missional is about being an adventurer. Living life boldly. Colonial Hills encourages me to live a missional life because that is what God created me to do. I know that God wants to use me as a means to reveal his truth to the rest of the world. At CHBC, missions isn’t something that is just talked about, it is something that we do.

6) I learned the value of having a church staff that loves each other.

Contrary to popular belief, church staffs do not operate in some sort of utopian state where they all get along all of the time and everything is perfect. Our staff is no exception. We occasionally disagree with each other or sometimes rub each other the wrong way. But I can say that those times are few and far between. All of the pastors on our staff are genuinely great friends. We invest in each other and spend time together. We laugh a lot and joke a lot. We also pray together a lot, we grieve when one of us is hurting, we celebrate when our kid’s soccer team goes to the playoffs. Being a close staff makes a staff that is of one mind and one direction. And that makes a difference in the growth of our church.

7) I learned about God’s grace and what it means to live the Christ life.

Nowhere else have I ever heard a purer, more simple presentation of the gospel than at Colonial Hills. I have learned what it means to be covered by God’s grace and how that effects the way that I live my life. I have learned what freedom truly is and that the abundant life begins now. I learned that because of my identity in Christ, He has set up shop in my life and desires to live his life in me and through me. This takes a great weight off of my shoulders when I realize that living successfully for the cause of Christ has nothing to do with my own performance and everything to do with His power working in me.

But notice that I put the word “MOST” at the beginning of my list. This isn’t because Colonial Hills failed at its job. It isn’t because there were some things that it didn’t do for me. I use the word “most” because there are some things that need to be learned that Colonial Hills can’t teach me. CHBC has been faithful to what God has called it to do, which is to prepare its people to go into the world and live for Christ, in whatever way that may be.

For the four of us, it means leaving the shelter and comfort of our own church and taking that leap of faith that is required to go where God is calling us. He is calling us to Fort Collins, Colorado. He is calling us to go and to share God’s truth with the people there. We have a lot of things left to learn in our own spiritual growth and we have by no means arrived, when it comes to our spiritual maturity. CHBC has done everything it was called to do in preparing us to live the life God has called us to live and now it's time to take the next step.

I ask you - What is God calling you to do? Where is He sending you? Is it across the office to strike up a conversation and start investing in a coworker? Is it to be involved in local missions, like volunteering with a local missions organization or planning or taking part in an outreach with your church? Is it across an ocean? How is God calling you to be a picture of His truth to the world? You were created to live large and it's time to leave the nest and begin to live the life God has created you to live.

We would love to hear your thoughts on how your church has impacted you. Feel free to comment.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Join Us In Prayer

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

What a privilege to be able to communicate with the living God! As children of God, we are to “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

We are so excited for the opportunity to move to the community of Fort Collins. As we go, we realize that we must rely on the strength that comes from allowing God to live through us. Please partner with us by committing to pray regularly for our ministry team, the city of Fort Collins, community groups in Fort Collins, and the church we will plant. We will post more specific ways to pray for these things in the future, but for now here are the highlights:

Ministry Team - Pray for our marriages, children, families, jobs, and ministry partners in the area.

Fort Collins - Pray for relationships to be built with city leaders, students at Colorado State University, and with young families.

Community Groups - Pray for various community organizations that we hope to get involved in. Some of these include the Bike Co-op, Fort Collins Music Association, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fourteeners Initiative, Wolverine Farm Publishing, and Community Gardens.

Church - Pray for wisdom as the church seeks to clearly communicate God’s grace through worship, bible study, and missions.

We will keep this blog updated with what is going on in this journey. If you are going to commit to being one of our prayer partners, please let us know by going to our website www.iheartfortcollins.com, clicking on the “Get Involved” link, and filling out the provided form. We are so excited about this journey! Thank you for your partnership.

“Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can't quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!” Colossians 1:3

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My City

Snow falls like white confetti from the sky in celebration of the new year. It's the beginning of January in Fort Collins. The trees in Old Town still hold tight to their Christmas lights, like a child unwilling to give up their toy. Cyclists ride by, bundled in the single digit temps, on the way to their lives. I love this city. The smell of coffee and pizza, the sounds of cars forging through the snow, the sky wrapping the town up in it's grey blanket. This city is different than the others, not because other cities are worse or better. It's different because it's my city, my home.

As I walked viewing the city through my camera lens, I am underwhelmed by what is captured. I just can't get what I am feeling into a shot. I continue to shoot until finally I end up in a small local shop at the far reaches of Old Town. I walk in out of the snow blanketed outside world, and take off my gloves and hat. Once visible from behind my wintery costume, I am greeted by the owner. Our conversation went from toys made from rubber trees to human trafficking eventually to spiritual matters. Now its all back in focus, what I so desperately wanted to capture on 'film' has now captured me, the people of Fort Collins.

Walking back onto the snow covered streets with a toy made from an old rubber tree in my backpack, my soul is warmed by what God has led us to. My thoughts can't help but wonder what this city holds for our lives. I look down in the snow to see footprints and I wonder where they are going, somewhere interesting, to work, a coffee shop, or maybe they just lead home.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Welcome to Our Blog!

We are The Suttons...

...and the Freemans.

We’ve been best friends for a long, long time, with a common bond of loving and serving God. Through our years of ministering to college students together, we’ve in turn become ministry partners.

A few years ago we began to dream big with God of how He might use us as a team to show folks where they might find the same love, purpose and healing through Jesus Christ that we’ve discovered for ourselves. After laboring in prayer over a few years, we realize our calling to be missionaries within the United States. Specifically, God has led us to Fort Collins, Colorado, where we have been called to build a community of faith with other young adults.

We are currently living in our hometown of Tyler, Texas as we prepare to move to our new home in Fort Collins. We created this blog so that anyone interested in what we’re doing can stay up to speed with our progress. We also want to invite you to partner with us in this ministry and pray with us as we prepare to go to Fort Collins. You can either subscribe to this blog or check back as often as you like.

To know more about this community that we’ve fallen in love with (hence the name: I Heart Fort Collins), you can find basic information on our homepage, iheartfortcollins.com, or even check out the city’s official website, fcgov.com.

Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey.