We have been in northeast Tennessee six months now! We thought we would spend the first year getting to know people, setting up a family business, and praying/listening a lot. Well, all of that has happened and even more so than we expected!
What’s in this update:
- We’re opening a downtown shop!
- What we are doing in TN
- Meeting with LXI
- Family Life
OPENING A SWEET SHOP!!
The newest venture? We are opening a sweet shop called Downtown Sweet in the small town of Jonesborough, the oldest city in Tennessee. WHAT?! It’s located in one of the tiniest shops on the main drag of the historic downtown! It is at the heart of the area we are called to and
we are very excited! Feeling like it was time for us to begin a business that would provide our family with consistent occupation, productivity, and income, we began asking the Lord this fall for direction. The shop idea came about when a pastor had invited Davy to meet with him at the local coffee shop. While there, the coordinator of downtown approached Davy, “Are you the praline people?” (We had started selling our pralines in a few local shops.) She told him that the chocolate shop on the street was moving to California and wanted to know if we would be interested in opening a storefront there. Davy said he normally wouldn’t have given the idea of a sweet shop a second thought, but we had been praying specifically about a business. There is much more to this story that shows the hand of God and the fight back of the enemy, but it would be a long one. So, long story short, after much prayer and discussion between us and our close friends and family, we became confident this is the direction the Lord wanted us to go and signed the lease agreement. The biggest pull was actually not the business (though we expect to enjoy it and for it to do very well), but the opportunity to develop relationships. We have seen open doors in relationships just in the starting of our shop. We have been very warmly welcomed by our shop neighbors and are excited to work alongside them! The shop also has an upstairs room that the believers in the area can use to gather in prayer, reading the Word, worship, and encourage one another. The apostle Paul made tents to help support himself. We will make sweets. .
“SO, WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN TENNESSEE?”
How many times have we heard, “So, what are you doing in TN?” Well, we have more clearly defined what we are here to do. All of the areas cross one another, but we’ve narrowed it into 3 things.
- 1. Be the Church: As believers, WE are the church. Christ’s body and bride.
- We will be part of a close, local group of believers that we meet with and “do life with” frequently. We hope this is a lovely, laughing, crying, encouraging one another in the faith, and listening & following Christ, our Head, community. As throughout history, we expect this body to go through seasons of growth and “sending out” to spread the good news and power of Jesus Christ.
- We also want to work with the body of Christ in this region of TN. We are one team. Our goal is the same: grow the Kingdom of God. It’s a mission. And often it’s war. We want to work with other leaders and pastors to do this and fight the good fight.
- We want to acknowledge and support the body of Christ across the nation and the globe. That sounds big. But we can do our small part. We are extremely grateful for the believers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Colorado who have supported us in many ways to get us here. We want to do that for others. We also keep tabs on and pray for those we know serving him Uganda, Africa. We expect God to continue connecti
ng us with those He wants us to support.
- 2. Make Disciples: from sharing the story of Christ to the lost all the way to mentoring the believer to be “sent out” as disciple-makers themselves. This will take on different shapes and sizes depending on how God leads. It may be daily or weekly prayer, Bible studying, worship, and/or encouragement. It may mean working together and playing together. It means meeting people where they are. It means us growing in Christ, too. It might be through an official “501c3” organization and/or it may be just along the way. It means following the Holy Spirit’s leading in all things.
- 3. Care for the Hurting:
- When the disciples sent Paul out to the Gentiles, one of the few things they mentioned was “care for the poor”. All through the Bible, through Jesus’s time on earth, the poor, orphaned, widowed, imprisoned, foreigners, and oppressed were important to Him. So many scriptures that speak our God’s heart for these people. There are so very many needs out there and we could pick any and all and go after them, but it is important to follow Christ’s example and do only what the Father tell us to do. As we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, we can be confident we are caring for those we need to care for. And when each member of the body of Christ follows our Head, it’s a beautiful well orchestrated thing!
We will begin meeting with LXI’s leadership each week. For those of you who do not know, this fall we met the young leaders of this group, and Davy began meeting weekly with one of the guys. There are serving Christ by loving on youth in the low income government housing of Johnson City. Some have even moved into the neighborhood so they can be regularly in the lives of the kids there. You can check out their website at http://www.movelxi.com. We are very excited to join these guys, to walk alongside them as we watch what God does here. In addition to bearing the burdens of at-risk youth, many are in the season of life of new marriages, starting “careers”, and starting families. It is such a sweet time of life.
Davy meets new pastors and leaders regularly, continues to learn about and join what God is doing in the body of Christ in the region, and meets weekly with church leaders in the area to pray and encourage/be encouraged in the faith. He also led several churches in worship, which is always a joy for Him.
On the home front, we are all doing well. The kids are as energetic and creative as ever. Our house is always in a mess with some project, be it Knex, legos, or cardboard & duct tape. Schooling is picking up speed again after the holidays and we are starting to learn about activities in the area. Well, I think those are the happenings of the last 6 months!
-For the Marooney family settling in here and LXI leaders ministering to at risk youth. For us to lead as Jesus desires.
-For our friends in remote Uganda who are walking a hard life but seeing people come to Christ and warring tribes come together as new believers in the family of God. Pray for their strength and for them to continue in the faith, depending solely on Him. Pray for the Karamajong tribe who are new believers starting to share their faith with fellow Ugandans. Most of them do not read and are learning the Bible stories by heart and retelling them by memory. There are many challenges yet they are starting to see sweet fruit. Catch them on Facebook here.
Thank you for being on this adventure with us!
Laura (& Davy, & the FunderSweets)