Top 10 Things about Living In Reedy Fork Ranch

I LOVE my community!  12 years ago my wife and I moved into a small little neighborhood in Northeast Greensboro called Reedy Fork Ranch.  At the time it was us and like 5 other houses.  Now it’s grown to be a massive community and I don’t think I’ll ever leave.  Sure, the houses are cookie cutter and kind of close together, but I think that’s part of the charm.  You’ll never convince me that Reedy Fork isn’t the greatest place to live in Greensboro.  So, here are my top 10 things about living here:

10. The Pool – We have a pool!  It’s awesome.  Sure, it’s too cold in the first month (except for the questionably warm moments that happen to coincide with a passing child), but it’s such a great way to spend the summer!

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9. Halloween – If you have never experienced a Reedy Fork Halloween you have seriously missed out.  It is chaotic cuteness on steroids.  Oh, you think you are going to watch Hocus Pocus and occasionally get up to greet a couple of superheroes and princesses as your door before returning to your couch?  That’s funny.  No, despite their costumes they might as well all be zombies b/c you’re about to get a taste of the apocalypse.  Pretty soon you’ll be screaming at your spouse to search the pantry for “SOMETHING! ANYTHING!” because you don’t think you can hold them off anymore.

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8. The Morning Commute – At first you may be thinking, “What!?  How is this a positive?  It takes 20 minutes to get anywhere and HWY 29 is like a scene out of Mad Max!”

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Exactly!  The average American spends less than 2 minutes in prayer a day.  I bet that’s not true of us Ranchers!  We have time and an urgent need!

7. Trails – Reedy Fork Ranch has a great trail behind the homes running alongside the creek.  It’s a fantastic place to walk, run or clear out spiderwebs with your face.

6. Rio Bravo – There are countless (read: 3) good restaurants in our area, but none of them have earned my patronage more often than Chilos Rio Bravo.  The waitstaff is friendly, the food is excellent, and every now and then you will get the chance to see how strong your heart is when someone get’s the ceremonial “Birthday Drum”

5. Flashback to “the good old days” – I know my neighbors.  My kids best friends have always been from in (or around) the neighborhood).  There is the smell of a grill fired up every evening and a spirit of friendliness/care in the community.  There’s not a lot of places in Greensboro that I would let my children just go out and ride their bikes.  In RFR, I can.

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4. Cheap homeowners dues – $50/mo is just insane.

3. Food Lion – What?  You don’t love the LION?  C’mon!  Sure, Harris Teeter is more professional, but when I go shopping I want the adventure of not knowing.  Maybe the girl at the register will tell me all about her new boyfriend.  Maybe they will be all out of carts and I’ll be stuck with one of the kids carts (that looks like a car) despite not having my kids.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll go in and find they decided to rearrange everything just to keep me on my toes.  Sure, Harris Teeter has a better meat selection, but there’s no unpredictability.

2 Community – I LOVE Reedy Fork Ranch.  The pool, the trails, the howl of the coyotes when I’m out for an evening run (that added motivation to keep my pace up!).  Ultimately, however, Reedy Fork Ranch is just a place…and there are a lot of great places to live.  What I love most about my neighborhood is not the place, but the people.  I don’t have to drive 20 minutes to a friends house – I can walk next door…or a few doors down…or around the corner.  We have a lot of friends here!

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1. The Future – Reedy Fork currently has 900 homes.  900 families that call this neighborhood “home”.  Over the next decade our community is going to jump into the thousands!  This is awesome!  With every new house being built another family is moving in to contribute to making this the greatest place to live in Greensboro.

If you are new to Reedy Fork…let me be the first to say, “Welcome Home!”

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Awestruck –> Proximity Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

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Coaching kids soccer is one of my favorite things.  Last season my team, the Nighthawks, went undefeated and just dominated everyone we played.  I’d like to say it was all coaching, but the truth is that I just had 4 kids who can really play.

After every game there was always two questions:

  1. What was the final score?
  2. Who had the most goals?

We knew we were going to win.  By how much exactly was up for grabs but we knew we were going to put numbers up on the board.

What they REALLY wanted to know was who on our team scored the most goals.  A few times they would ask in the middle of the game and I could see it: they started ball-hogging a little bit more.  A couple of times I saw on their faces some expressions that were “less than enthusiastic” when a teammate would score.

Because THEY wanted to be the one who scored the most.

Sometimes it’s hard to share success.

In a couple of weeks Awestruck Church will be sending out an amazing team of people to start Proximity Church in Northeast Greensboro.  We will be prayed over, loved on and encouraged.  In about 5 months we will have our first Sunday…

Then something is going to happen.  Something terrible.

There will be some, in both locations, who compare Awestruck to Proximity.  Which church was more exciting?  Which church had the most people?  Which do I like better?  No one will say it!  We know better than that…but it will be a thought that creeps into the minds of some.

I really do understand.

Here’s the thing…

One day my two children, who I have poured everything into for 2 decades, will leave home and set out to make a life on their own.  It would be a pretty selfish dream to hope that they struggle.  What kind of father wants their kids to call home saying, “Life is a lot harder than I expected…I can’t do it without you”?   Likewise, it’s a pretty dumb kid that thinks he made it on his own!

My hope is that when my children leave home they step into a success that was beyond anything I could have ever achieved myself.  I want them do accomplish more than me…and I want their children to accomplish more than them!  That’s called LEGACY.  My legacy.

Their success is my success.

In 5 months, Proximity Church is going to begin and we are going reach a lot of people!  I believe that a bright future is in store for us.  As we look forward to our bright future we can do so with great thankfulness in our heart – for a church like Awestruck who has prepared us to realize our potential.

We should be excited!

And so should everyone at Awestruck.

Our success is their success.


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I’ll never buy a weed-eater.

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We can afford one.  That beautiful lawn stylist above runs about 140 bucks.  That’s nothing!  I’d be the envy of every yard barber on my street!

Nope.  I’ll never buy one.

I met my next door neighbor the very day I was moving in.  He is a big dude, and I needed a hand getting my mower off the truck.  So I strolled over, introduced myself, and asked him to give me a hand.  And then…

 

 

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Sometimes the best way to connect with other people is to let them do something for you

We walk through life feeling like it’s our job to tackle everything alone.  We were designed, however, for a life lived completely to the contrary.  Community is shared burden, shared experience, shared life.

I’ll never buy a weed-eater of my own because the day I do is the day I have quit living in community.

 


Awestruck –> Proximity Part 2

Ready to hear the story of Josh and I’s biggest disagreement?

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I thought he lost his mind.

He called me and told me all about this church planter he had met.  He was excited.  That wasn’t new.  Josh is frequently excited.

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The excitement is contagious.  It’s one of my favorite things about Josh.  That didn’t bother me.  Besides, I love church plants so it was cool hearing about this new guy.  Then Josh said something.  Something that just struck me as insane…

“I want to give him $1,000”

“Um…Josh, we have $1,100 in the bank.  

“This is important to me.  I want to do it”

“I can take a look at upcoming expenses and crunch some numbers and see exactly what we can do.  I don’t think $1,000 is a good idea though”

“I hear you, but I want to do $1,000”

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So we hung up and I took some time to pray about it.  I called him back an hour later and said, “I wouldn’t do it, but if it’s important to you then it’s important to me.”

Church planting runs deep in the culture of Awestruck.  Over the years we have given irrationally to start new churches.  It’s not what we do.  It’s who we are.  So, as Proximity Church is sent out we are experiencing the same blessing.

Josh hadn’t lost his mind.  He just understood that Awestruck is a steward not a storehouse.  People, resources, money…these things don’t stay at Awestruck.  They are sent out to make a Kingdom difference.

And that’s worth getting excited about.

 

 


Money, Mebane and More Sound Equipment than a Trailer can Hold

You feel called to start a church.  You’re excited, you believe with all your heart you are going to reach everyone and nothing will get in your way…

Then someone on your team asks you how you are going to pay for all the stuff you need

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Ok.  That’s not true.  I knew we were going to fund this thing.  We have a generous team. Several families at Proximity are currently giving 20% of their income because they believe and are passionate about the vision!  20%!!  Come on man!  Also, we have a tremendous support team that has likewise been investing into Proximity.  If you have a great vision and a great team then you will always have people who believe enough to give.

I wasn’t stressing the money, but I knew we needed to bring in quite a bit more to hit our pre-launch goals

Then, two days I received a text asking if we would like some sound/projection equipment.  In an hour I was connected to my new best friends at Crosslink Community Church in Mebane NC who just showed up big time out of a love for the Gospel and church planting.

 

So today Michael Calvert and I rode on out.  We thought for sure a truck and trailer would take care of the job…

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Nope.  Not even close.

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That’s as much as we could get on and we had to leave the biggest piece (and a couple of other things) behind!  You know what, I’m glad!  It gives me another excuse to go visit my new friends.

After walking through their amazing facility and hearing their story Michael and I were able to ride back together and dream of the future of Proximity.  That actually might have been more valuable than the equipment!  Seriously.

Their present is our future.  I want our people…and our support team dreaming BIG for Proximity!  We are COMING SOON and COMING CLOSE to Northeast Greensboro because there are a LOT of people out here looking for a church like what we are bringing.

And we are a lot closer now than we were yesterday thanks to Crosslink!

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Awestruck –> Proximity Part 1

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I’ve always wanted to be cool.

Zach Morris, Ferris Bueller, and Stefan Urquelle (not Steve Urkel) were my role models of choice.

Needless to say, I was not cool!

Then, in 2007, I tagged along with a cool pastor and his cool team to a conference for cool pastors and cool teams.  We had a blast learning from some of the greatest leaders out there, walking around the Atlanta Mall, and making fun of other pastors.  We had a lot in common!  I was sure I was destined to be cool like him.  Then, on the last day there we were once again at the mall and he tried to talk me into getting these $150 shoes.

$150!  FOR SHOES!?  For my feet?

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Ok…we rebuilt.

In time, after years of fantasy sports and plates of turkey bacon at Tex and Shirley’s I looked up and Josh had become my closest pastor friend in Greensboro.

In October 2010 my small house church joined up with Awestruck to reach Northeast Greensboro.  That was the beginning of a 7 year attempt by Josh to make me cool.

He failed.

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I still don’t have the awesome shoes, I can’t grow the beard, and I’ll never be near the social juggernaut of Josh Parrish…

But I did pick up one big thing:

The Gospel requires big risk and big sacrifice.

So, here we go.  I could stay at Awestruck for the rest of my life.  Anyone who thinks that I (or anyone on our team) is starting Proximity because we aren’t happy just isn’t paying attention.  I LOVE Awestruck.  But I love the Gospel more.

“Missions is giving up something you love for something you love more” – Andrew Hopper

So, Proximity Church is COMING SOON and COMING CLOSE to Northeast Greensboro.

It’s not coming out of nowhere.

Proximity Church is coming out of risk.  It’s coming out of sacrifice.  It’s coming out of a church that has a commitment to do whatever it can to share God with Every Single One!

And it wouldn’t be happening without the friendship and support of the coolest guy I know.


Soon. Close.

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The Talk.

“Dad…what kind of changes?

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We knew it was coming, but I still wasn’t quite braced for it.

The thing is, I anticipated it being this incredibly significant event.  I’d take the boys up into the mountains, we would watch a sunrise and I’d tell them of the beauty of all God’s creation.  Then I would effortlessly guide them through The Talk.  Then we would hike down the mountain.  The boys, confident in their masculinity and maturation, and I, I would likely be thinking hard about getting Kristan pregnant just so I could have the talk again someday.

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That’s not at all how it went.  First of all.  I don’t like camping…so there’s that.

The truth is, it went better.

I told them about certain physical changes they would endure.  The funny stuff: voice changing, getting hairy & told them that the days of showering once every three days (read: five days) would be over.

It was important, however, to take this opportunity.  They are young, and this conversation is an ongoing journey and not a one time “check it off the list” of parental responsibilities.  So, I began.

“It’s not just going to be hair and stink” I said, “The way you think about girls is going to change”.

“I already have a girlfriend!” Asher chimed in.

“I know buddy…and that’s what scares me”

I told the boys that they are really going to notice girls.  They are going to think about them, a lot.  They are going to talk about them with their friends.  They are going to want to hang out with them, and it’s going to be different.

“So here’s the thing guys.  As you get older and begin to notice girls we are going to talk a lot about how to both honor and respect God and girls with your words, actions and even your thoughts.  The most important thing is that you know this: We are in this together.  My dad wasn’t around when I was a kid and I didn’t have anyone to talk about all this stuff with.  You can tell me anything and ask me anything.  I’ll tell you the truth and it won’t be awkward for me.  You just have to promise that when you become teenagers you won’t ever disrespect your mother.  Deal?”

“Deal.”

“And dad” Nolan said, “I won’t feel awkward either”

We still have a lot of conversations in our future, but these boys…I’m proud of these boys.

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Passports

Tim really didn’t want to let us on that flight.

Kristan and I woke up last week ready to fly to the Dominican Republic for a few days of much needed relaxation.  When I say, “woke up”, I mean that we rolled heavily out of bed after about 90 minutes of shut-eye.  It was 3AM and we had a very early flight.  So we get to the airport, walk up to the counter with that cheery “I’m gonna be in the Sun in a few hours” look on our face and set our passports flat on the counter.

Well…Kristan’s passport was flat on the counter.  My passport curls up like the letter “U”.  Several years ago it was, um, bathed in the washing machine.  No big deal though.  It has effectively gotten me to many foreign countries since then, including the Dominican Republic.  It was all good.

But it wasn’t all good.  Tim was having none of it.  He tells me my passport isn’t going to get me past the TSA.  He tells me if I get past the TSA that it won’t get me on the plane in Atlanta.  He tells me that if I get past the TSA and on the plane in Atlanta it won’t get me past customs in the Dominican.  I was stranded at the airport.

Where were my protestors advocating my release?

Anyway, I go over Tim’s head and get to Atlanta.  PLOT TWIST!!!  Tim was RIGHT!  I get stopped and this time I can’t go over anyone’s head.  The minute the saw my passport they pulled my bag and gave my seats away.  I asked, “What do I have to do to get on this plane?”

“You aren’t getting on this plane”

Ugh.  I was frustrated, angry, depressed.  I was…everything.

Then, a sliver of hope.  The boss tells me that Atlanta is one of VERY FEW cities in the US where you can get same day passports.  He tells me that “If I hurry” I can make the next flight!  WHAT?!

So, all I need to do is locate the passport place (it was one of three options), make my way through Atlanta, fill out all the forms, trust the government to deliver, and return back to the airport and I can still go?  Sweet!

It was the closest I’ve ever felt to The Amazing Race!  I was calling everywhere, Kristan was navigating, I was running across busy streets and pushing through lines.  So exciting!!!

Then the waiting.  We have lunch as we wait for the passport to be processed.  I’m HOPING it gets done before they close.  This is the first time I stop to breathe and when I do, it happens…

I feel it.  The weight of all my frustration and anger and sadness over the whole thing.

Kristan tries to cheer me up and I kind of snap at her.  It was just for a moment and I got myself sorted out pretty quickly, but it happened and it reminded me of a big difference between the two of us.

In the crisis we both worked.  We both did our part to make it happen.  We worked really well together.  Then, when it was over Kristan was able to do something I couldn’t do: Hope.  I braced myself for the worst.  She was sure of the best.

Turned out she was right.  We got the passport and we got to the DR.

But even if she was wrong she was still right.

“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your day?”

In hindsight, we can look at it and say, “Yea, that was frustrating” but the truth is that God really did something awesome.

If Tim didn’t let us on the plane, if Atlanta didn’t offer same day passports or if we had a layover in any number of other cities or if there wasn’t another flight that day (or if all other flights were booked up) then we wouldn’t have been able to go at all.

The truth is that our trip down to the D.R. was much closer to the best case scenario than the worst case scenario.  If not for Kristan I NEVER would have seen it that way.


Our Home/Their Home

It’s 3PM.

That means I have an hour…an hour before the doorbell starts ringing and the dogs start barking.  An hour before the banging and laughing and cries of it all being “unfair” begin to rain down from the upstairs.  An hour before MY food gets eaten by a bunch of vagabonds invading MY space and annoying ME!

And I can’t wait.

Every day our house becomes a home not just for my kids, but also for kids up and down the street.  Some of them have great families and others I’m less sure about.  Most of them are (somewhat) respectful kids but a few of them look at me blankly, like I’m trying to teach them latin, when I ask that they say “thank you”.   All of them feel like they belong.

I had that growing up.  It changed my life.

When I was young I spent every day annoying, err, sharing life, with a nearby family.  I was an annoying kid and I’m not sure why they tolerated my constant presence.  Perhaps it was to keep an eye on me or maybe they were just too nice to send me home.  Then again, maybe it was on purpose.  Maybe I was their ministry.

It doesn’t feel like much – making sandwiches and pouring milk, all while simultaneously being a referee and jury, but it’s changing lives I know it is.  It’s hard, and it takes patience I often don’t have. They are just…always there!  Yesterday I stuck my head inside the refrigerator and silently screamed out my frustration!  Then I shut the door and delivered another snack to another kid that isn’t mine.

Can anyone relate?

Yea, they get on my nerves sometimes, but I’m so GLAD they are always there!  These kids, they aren’t my kids…but the ARE my kids.  God has put them in my life and provided me an opportunity to minister to them the same way that family ministered to me.

And when I forget it, I get hit over the head with my own selfishness…

Like yesterday, when one of these kids who I have complained about and been impatient with, knocks on my door looking for a friend or just someone to talk to.  Yesterday was the worst day of his life & he needed more than snacks and a room to bang around in.  He needed someone to sit with him and talk to him about life, hope & Jesus.

As Kristan told me the story about their conversation I realized that every sandwich made and every scratch on the wall that we didn’t freak out about was currency used to purchase trust.

So the countdown begins.  It’ll be noisy.  Someone will get hurt (probably Asher).  There’s a good chance that I’ll lose my mind for a little while.

It’s worth it.  We want them here.

The only way to make a difference in a life is to be in the life.