Tag Archives: Patrick Family Updates

Multiply – only by the fruit of the Spirit

It is time!  What an amazing God we serve, and we cannot thank Him enough for His constant provision to meet our needs.  The past several years have been an interesting journey, to say the least, but the exciting thing is that it was only a beginning of this new adventure we are now on.  As I look back on many lessons God has been continually teaching me, and as I look ahead to the work the Lord has prepared for us here in Florida and around the world, one word has stood out to me: Multiply.  There are a few reasons this has stood out to me, but I will try to focus on what God has specifically been laying on my heart as we arrive and begin our work here in Florida.

Sam and Eli loved helping their grandparents in the
garden this summer, especially tomatoes!

The idea of multiplying has had a very visual role for us this summer as we spent time at Oma and Opa’s house and also at Grandma Karen and Grandpa John’s house in Greeley.  In both grandparents backyard there is a portion dedicated to a vegetable and fruit garden.  Sam and Eli have just loved having these gardens in their backyards because they love to go out, see what new fruit or veggies have arrived, and pick them… and then eat them right there!  Now how does this relate to multiply you may ask, great question!  I am sure most of you can see the correlation of a garden to the idea of multiplication… starting with just a seed, a plant can grow until it bears the fruit (or veggies) it was intended to, and from those fruit (or veggies) can be planted more plants that bear more fruit… and this process can go on and on as God wills it.  Something that happened every time though, was that each plant would only give off the fruit that the plant was intended to give: a tomato plant (which was the boys favorite this summer) does not give off apples, nor does an apple tree give off tomato’s, but each grows and drops the exact thing they were intended to.  And when they would bear the fruit they were designed to give, they would multiply to no end.  It really makes me stop and think, “WOW, what an amazingly creative God we serve!”

This idea of trees bearing fruit is used often throughout the Bible, but some specific things have stood out to me as we look to multiply among the interns here at Disney.  For one, I find it very interesting in Paul’s letter to the Galatians when speaking of the Holy Spirit Paul writes: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  There are many things I find interesting here: one, that Paul uses the word “fruit” of the Spirit, as in a singular fruit… not fruits (which would seem to make more sense since he goes on to list 9 separate traits), but all of these traits he states are the Fruit of the Spirit.  I have never seen a tree that bears more than one kind of fruit, so this tells me that each of these traits must go together as A fruit of the Spirit, you cannot have one without the other.  Secondly, I find it interesting that Paul uses the word fruit, an item that God designed in nature to be a major example of multiplication, when describing traits of the Holy Spirit.  This is describing to us the fruit that the Spirit will bear, the Spirit that dwells in us if we are followers of Christ as Romans 8:9-11 talks about.  So, if we are following Jesus, and the Spirit is living in us, then it would make sense that we should be bearing the fruit of the One that is in us, the fruit of the Spirit.  A better explanation of this can come from Matthew 7:15-20 where Jesus says: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

So what does this mean for us in the ministry God has brought us to?  We believe we are here to multiply, to make disciples of all Nations through the power of the Holy Spirit.  But in order to do this, it would be fruitless unless we ground ourselves in the One that will make it possible.  So my prayer as we have begun this ministry, a ministry God planned and has orchestrated for us to play a role in, is that we would never be relying on ourselves and in turn become a bad tree, but instead that we would constantly, every day, every moment, be doing exactly what Jesus asked us to do if we want to follow Him: “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'” (Matthew 16:24)  Because only then will we be a branch that is a part of the true Vine as Jesus says in John 15:1-8: “‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he cleans so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  This isn’t only my prayer for me, but for each and every one of you who choose to follow Jesus Christ.

Three years of amazing lessons

Just a baby, and he already stole our hearts.

Three years ago this October 22, my life changed forever.  I didn’t realize, even though I thought I could imagine, how much having a child would impact my life until it happened.  I don’t think anyone really can grasp the reality of something like that, until it is experienced first hand.  I knew there would be added responsibility, although I didn’t realize the depth of it.  I knew I would love this little person that was made with a mix of my DNA with my beautiful bride’s DNA, plus whatever else God threw in, but I didn’t realize how much he would teach me about love.  God is so creative in all the things He has set in place in this world of ours, the way He created marriage – where a man and a woman would leave their families and become one.  How that marriage relationship is designed to reflect His relationship with His bride, the church.  And then, through the marriage relationship He designed for us to be able to take part in giving life to another – to experience just a sliver of what He did when He created all.  And then the relationship that ensues with the little person that is a result of that life giving process.  It amazes me how much this relationship has taught me, and continues to teach me, especially as a dad.  So many times in different situations I get a minute glimpse at how my Father in heaven loves me, relates with me, and wants the very best for me.  I only wish I could be as loving to this boy God has blessed me with as my Father in heaven has been with me, but it helps me, at least as much as my finite mind can, to understand more about His amazing love for me, His child.

Hard to catch a shot as he speeds by. But
he still has that hold on our hearts.

Three years ago, we couldn’t wait to meet Samuel, and I cannot believe how the little baby that we welcomed into this world early on that Fall day in 2008 has taught me so much in such a short time.  I am amazed every day for how blessed I feel to have this sweet little boy as my son.  Thank you God for Samuel Thomas…  I love you my boy!

Get your feet wet… a big step of faith.

“And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” – Joshua 3:13

Crossing the Jordan River
1780s
Unterberger, Christoph

This story, and others that talk about stepping out in faith (literally in this case), have been popping up to Michelle and I since we started praying about joining Campus Crusade for Christ staff, especially when we decided to have Michelle step away from her job with the American Cancer Society (which was our main source of income at the time) and into the waters of the Jordan… or at least to trust God that He would continue to provide as we follow His lead into the ministry in Florida that He has called us to.  Looking back at this story in Joshua, we see the Israelites witnessing God performing wonders right before their eyes, in order to take them where He called them to go.  We continue to see God use this story, as well as the stories of other missionary friends, to lead us forward in faith to follow His call on our lives.

Right now, we feel God asking us to take another big step of faith.  What we feel God is asking us specifically at this time is to plan on being ready to be in Florida in January.  This seems so impossible, and this is one of those things in life where we have struggled with discerning whether or not this is our own selfish desires, or if it is truly God working in and on our hearts.  Back in April when we attended a follow-up training in Arkansas, some of the encouragement we received from the coaches was to pray and ask God to reveal a specific time that He would send us to Florida, and then to pray fervently for that to happen.  So, Michelle and I both began to pray, and both of us came together one night to discuss what we felt God was speaking to our hearts as a time that God wanted us to arrive in Florida…and both of us felt that January is when we are supposed to be there.  At that time, we were somewhere around 25% of our monthly support goal, so January felt like a huge hill to climb, needing God’s guidance every step of the way.

Lately, especially over the last week or two, we have been feeling encouragement and confirmation on asking God to send us at a specific time – and again January has been coming up as when we are supposed to be there.  As of this post, we are at 52% of our monthly support goal, so if it were to happen for us to arrive in Florida in January, God would have to move a mountain over these next few months and bring in almost as much support as has come in during the past year.  We know it is possible, but sometimes it is hard to act in faith in light of the unseen.  But as we learn in Joshua, as well as in the steps of faith that God has already led us through, it usually works that God will provide when you take the step of faith and it is usually not before that action is taken.  The waters of the Jordan didn’t budge an inch until the priests took a step of faith (literally) into the water, and only then did the waters get “cut off and stand up in a heap.”

This morning, I again returned to this story in Joshua, just to remind myself yet again about how God moved.  As I read, I was reminded of the details of this story – like the fact that when the Levite Priests carrying the ark of the covenant came to the Jordan River, it was during the season that the river is flooded (see Joshua 3:15 and 1 Chronicles 12:15) – so they are not only crossing a river, but a river running at a higher level.  But what does God ask them to do as they are on their way to the promised land?  He asks them to take a step of faith into the water, and it is then that the waters move.  As I looked at this story, I was curious to look at some cross-reference verses in the New Testament, and I ran into my sermon notes from our church service on Sunday, which I normally don’t leave in my Bible.  When I came to them I noticed a verse reference that I had underlined which made me curious to look it up, it was this verse: Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  And then this afternoon I was reminded of a verse I was made familiar with not long ago thanks to a newsletter update from some of our missionary friends in Italy, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him.” – 1 John 14-15

So, what does this mean for us?  Well, it means that we are prayerfully planning on packing up our stuff here in Arizona soon in order to prepare to move out sometime between now and the end of December (when we need to be in Colorado for the annual Denver Christmas Conference hosted by Cru staff).  From there, we are praying that we will have the courage to be ready to leave for Florida in January and trust that God will complete our team of ministry partners to make it possible for us to report to where He is calling us.

This of course means we need your prayers as well.  Please join us in prayer that we would be sensitive to and follow God’s will for the path and timing we are to take on this journey, and we humbly ask that you pray with us that God would provide for our needs by January in order to make it possible for us to report to Florida where we hope to reach the world with the love of Christ.

Please let us know your thoughts and any words that God may be giving you to share with us on this topic.  Thank you again for your partnership in prayer or financial support with us in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, in order to make disciples of all nations.

Elias Ray: First Year Flown By

Just one year ago God blessed us with our second son, Elias Ray Patrick.  This strong-willed little bundle of emotions has certainly added spice to our family!  When Eli is happy, there are few babies as cute…his smile and laughter absolutely melt your heart.  But when Eli is not happy, there is no doubt about it!  Even as a baby, he likes to have things his way.  And he hates taking naps (which has stretched my patience to the limit at times).  But I wouldn’t trade my fiery little man with so much personality.

We celebrated his first birthday a couple of weekends ago with a mellow family day on his actual birthday, May 14, followed by his baby dedication at church and a birthday party with Nate’s family on May 15.   Then we were able to celebrate Eli with our Colorado family once we arrived in Greeley the weekend of the 20th.

Eli enjoying some yummy cake at Grandma and Grandpa Zack’s.

The best part was watching our “baby Eyi” take his first steps on his actual birthday, walking several steps back and forth from mommy and daddy as we clapped for him.  Of course Samuel wanted Eli to walk over to him too, and seeing Eli walk into his arms followed by a big brotherly hug was one of my favorite moments as a mom yet.  I love seeing my boys love each other.

The past year has flown by so fast!  It is so easy for me to get caught up in the busy-ness of motherhood and forget to be thankful for these little lives.  I am grateful for times like this when I am forced to step back and enjoy my boys for the gift they are.

A Bittersweet Goodbye: Loving work, but loving God more

ACS Great West Leadership Team Meeting – January 2010

After six and a half years of bleeding purple and pouring myself into helping Relay For Life succeed in the Great West, I said goodbye to the American Cancer Society yesterday. 

It still feels surreal…I think I’m somewhat in denial.  You see, I loved my job.  I loved working with amazing volunteers who are so passionate about fighting cancer.  I loved getting the opportunity to be creative and affect meaningful change within the Great West Division.  I loved training staff to do Relay well and writing Relay curriculum.  I loved leading our volunteer training program and being responsible for our amazing Regional Summits.  I loved working with talented colleagues and sharing fun memories with them.
But I love God more.  And what He has been teaching me is that when a good thing, like my job, becomes an ultimate thing in my life, it is no longer a good thing…in fact, it is what God calls “idolatry”.  That when I find myself defining my life and my identity through my job, that my priorities are out of place.  That I need to let go and follow Him, placing my identity solely in Christ. 
As God has been calling Nate and I into full-time ministry, He has been making my pride and my idolatry more and more obvious to me.  The amazing thing is that He has been so loving and gentle as He strips away the things that I have placed too much value in, slowly and surely drawing me to complete reliance on Him. 
I know He is equipping me for the work He has prepared for me in Florida.  And an important step in that process was leading me to let go of my job and follow Him.  Even when it seems scary, risky, or even foolish. 
God made it very clear to me that following Him meant giving this up first, and trusting Him to provide – not only financially, but trusting Him to provide my complete sense of worth and significance as well.
So thank you, American Cancer Society, for giving me many years of challenging, engaging and fulfilling work.  Thank you for introducing me to many truly amazing people.  And thank you for the opportunity to grow professionally and personally while working on some incredible projects.  I know the fight against cancer will continue strong in the hands of your capable staff and volunteers.
And thank you Lord, for loving me enough to help me change.  To learn how to face my pride and my idolatry and choose you instead.  To find my significance solely in you.
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 
        – Colossians 3:1-4, NLT

House SOLD: A lesson in trust

Our Christmas Card photo from 2007, with our new house.

One of my biggest prayer requests throughout this journey into full-time ministry has been regarding our house.  Of course, like many others here in Phoenix, we bought our house at the peak of the housing boom and values have plummeted.  It felt impossible to consider selling it…it seemed like a huge barrier to joining Campus Crusade for Christ and following God’s calling to Florida.  But as God was changing our hearts and drawing us to Florida, we had to trust Him that He would provide a way and take care of the house details.  

We put our house on the market back in August and began the long process of negotiating with the bank.  God blessed the process by allowing the bank to work with us in the midst of Nate’s unemployment and bringing some solid buyers who were offering a good price for the home in this market.  We have seen example after example of friends and family who have tried to sell their Arizona homes only to have buyers back out or experience multiple bank denials.  We had to trust that because God is calling us to Florida, He would provide a way for the deal to move forward. 

Then, a couple weeks before Christmas, we learned that the deal would likely close around the first of the year.  This brought a whole new batch of anxieties for me!  The idea of packing up our house in two weeks before Christmas and finding a new place to rent before our trip to Colorado was overwhelming.  I found myself tied up in knots worrying about things I couldn’t control.  

It turns out that just like God promises, I really did not need to worry at all.  That He had all the details under control and was providing for us even beyond our imagination!

We had been searching for a rental and were about to put down a deposit when the new owners approached us saying they really wanted us to stay and rent the house from them.  We really didn’t think we would be able to afford the rent since we know what houses in our neighborhood are renting for, but the new owners were willing to discount the rent to meet our requirements in order to keep good renters who would take care of the house for them.  They were also willing to let us rent it on a month-to-month basis, giving us the freedom to leave for Florida as soon as God provides our full support.

So instead of having to find a new rental, sign a long lease, and move across town in the middle of the holiday season, we were able to stay in our home, take care of the place, and pay less rent in a situation that is good for everyone.  It worked out better than we even imagined it could.

It makes me wonder, why was I so worried?  God had everything planned perfectly.  He has provided for us over and over again through the years, and yet I feel like I am constantly learning this lesson.  I have to remind myself every day that He is ultimately trustworthy, especially as we continue in this process of raising our support and following His calling into full-time ministry.  

But it is a constant encouragement and reminder to trust in His faithfulness as I walk these hallways and vacuum these floors and put my little boys to sleep in their very own bedrooms each night.  God is good, and I can trust Him completely. 

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
      Matthew 6:31-34, NLT

Denver Christmas Conference 2010

Wow, we just got back from a whirlwind trip to Colorado. We enjoyed some great, but quick, time with Michelle’s family up in Greeley and then headed quickly down to Denver for our first ever Denver Christmas Conference, now that we are officially staff with Campus Crusade for Christ.

You might be asking what the Denver Christmas Conference is (better known as DCC). Well, we weren’t quite sure what it was either. But we found out first-hand that it is a great – although exhausting with two very young munchkins – experience! But rather than me trying to explain it, here are the words direct from the godcc.com website’s “What” page:

We want to see your life changed. We want to see the world changed.

Every year at the Denver Christmas Conference (DCC) college students from all over the Midwest come to grow closer to Jesus Christ through prayer, powerful worship, passionate bible teaching, and community. You will have many opportunities to be equipped with life and ministry skills, to connect and network with other students, and to reach out locally and globally. We are excited to announce that this year we will be assembling at least 100,000 meals for on-going relief efforts in Haiti in partnership with Kids Against Hunger on Dec 29.

This year you can look forward to a film festival, multiple dance parties, fun on the 16th street mall, and possibly the biggest New Year’s party you’ve ever been to.

GO DCC and GET FREE this winter break!

DSC02701
A snapshot of just a portion of the room during one of the main sessions.

As mentioned above, part of this year’s DCC included a time where staff and students participated in a meals for Haiti even that allowed us to package over 104,000 meals to be sent to those in need as a result of the Haiti earthquakes that happened just one short year ago this week. See the video below for the story that Denver’s local Fox news channel did (you can even see me – Nate – in the video at about 1:41 or so – at least my back as I loaded boxes onto pallets). It was one of the many Faith Building events that students and staff participated in while at this years conference.

 

Another faith building experience you might have seen or heard snippets about if you follow me on Facebook, was a Freeze Flash Mob that both students and staff participated in on Denver’s popular 16th Street Mall New Year’s Eve. For those that don’t know what that means, it basically means this: the total group of people at this event (around 1200 students and a few hundred more staff on top of that – so lets say 1500 to be easy) went out to Denver’s 16th Street Mall (which is an outside pedestrian street with shops, restaurants, etc – where they were holding New Years parties along with fireworks at 9:00 PM and Midnight) and acted like they were just normal people out mingling or shopping or doing whatever all up and down the entire 8 blocks of the mall. Well, at a pre-planned time of 8:15 PM, everyone that was part of the Denver Christmas Conference froze in place no matter what they were doing for 5 complete minutes. Once that 5 minutes was up, they “went back to being normal”… well, that is usually where Freeze Flash Mobs end, but not this one. As part of the faith building experience, the staff and students used the attention this flash mob produced to strike up conversations with bi-standers along the mall… all in the hopes of guiding them through a survey that leads to a spiritual conversation. It was quite the event, especially with the very cold temperatures in Denver that night.

After DCC, we headed back up north to Greeley and spent another full week meeting with friends, family and some newly introduced friends to share more about the ministry God has called us to and what it is He is doing with and through us. If we haven’t had a chance to share with you yet, just let us know – we are striving to connect with everyone personally so that you can hear first hand what is going on with our new Patrick Family Adventure.

Now that we have made it home after a decently long journey for us and our kids, we are recovering and giving thanks for all God did in the “short” two and a half weeks we were in Colorado. Thank you to all who helped us out on this trip, we are grateful!

Samuel wishes you a Happy New Year!

Well, we’re here in at the Denver Christmas Conference and it’s New Year’s Eve.  I decided to sneak away and borrow mommy and daddy’s laptop to post my review of 2010.  I hope you all enjoy my perspective on a year of changes for the Patrick family!

Me and Baby Eyi on Christmas Eve

It’s been another busy year for the Patricks.  One of the biggest changes for me has been the arrival of my little brother, baby Eyi (mommy and daddy call him Elias Ray, or Eli for short).  When mommy’s tummy was really round I didn’t understand what a baby was.  But then Eyi was botn on May 14th and now I know that a baby is a little person that makes a lot of noise and takes a lot of attention, but is also very cute and fun to help take care of.  I love my little brother Eyi and now I can hardly remember what life was like before he was a part of our family.  One of my favorite games is when daddy runs around holding Eyi and chasing me…it almost feels like Eyi and I are playing tag already.  I know we will have lots of fun as soon as he starts walking and running himself!

Actually, that makes me think of all the changes baby Eyi has been going through. He just started crawling this month!  And he’s been doing lots of new things lately, like eating solid foods and sitting up too.  And the best part for mommy and daddy is that he has started sleeping through the night and napping better, which also makes Eyi a happy baby.  Baby Eyi has a really cute smile and a great laugh.  I love to laugh and play with him, and he tries to crawl and follow me everywhere I go and play with all my toys.  I’m just learning to share with him and mommy says I do a pretty good job.  I’m sure it will take lots of practice.
Santa brought me new cars for my collection

My favorite things right now are cars and choo choo trains.  I especially love my growing collection of Hot Wheels and Disney/Pixar Cars.  I also really like playing with balls and riding my bike.  And I love dancing and singing to songs on the radio, especially the Christmas music daddy and mommy have been playing lately.

Daddy and mommy have been talking about another big change for our family too.  During daddy’s recent unemployment, daddy and mommy have been feeling an increasing desire and calling to serve God full-time. They tell me that they spent a lot of time praying and asking God what He wanted for our family.  Sensing God’s calling, daddy and mommy have joined as full-time staff members of Campus Crusade for Christ, which is very exciting to me.
I didn’t know this before, but Campus Crusade is a worldwide organization that is committed to making an eternal difference in people’s lives by giving every person in the world the opportunity to say “yes” to Jesus.  Daddy and mommy will be focusing on reaching the 8,000 student interns from 52 different countries that participate in the Walt Disney World College Program.  Daddy and mommy actually participated in this program in 2003 and they say they saw the need for ministry to these students first-hand.  God has been arranging circumstances in really neat ways to send our family to Florida to minister to these students, and daddy and mommy are really excited to see God’s calling so clearly in their lives.  They say that the opportunity to reach student leaders from 52 different countries all in one place, at one time, speaking one language was just too enticing to ignore.
Here at the Denver Christmas Conference I’ve gotten to meet some of the students who have been impacted by the ministry at Walt Disney World through the 2010 Summer Project, including a student from China!  I’m not really sure where that is, but mommy and daddy say it is really far away and that it is a big deal to have a chinese student from Walt Disney World all the way here in Denver for the Campus Crusade student conference, which is kind of like a spiritual growth retreat for over 1,000 college students.  Mommy and daddy say that being at this conference has only confirmed their sense of being called by God to reach the students on the Disney College Program in Florida.

Before our family can actually move to Florida to begin our ministry, daddy and mommy have to raise our support.  They tell me that like many other missions organizations, Campus Crusade staff members have the responsibility to develop a team of financial partners who provide the necessary finances for their outreach, including their salary and ministry-related expenses.

So I’ve been seeing many friends and meeting a lot of new people as daddy and mommy have been sharing their calling to reach the student interns in Florida over the past couple months.  I hope I’ll get the chance to meet many more people like you this spring as daddy and mommy continue to share with more people until we are ready to follow God to Florida. 
God has really blessed our family in 2010.  I hope you enjoyed hearing a little bit from me about how God is leading our family.  We would love to hear how God has been moving in your family too.  We are trusting God for another great year in 2011, and we wish you a blessed New Year!
With love on New Year’s Eve,
Samuel Thomas Patrick
(mommy, daddy and Eli too)