New Adventures!

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Swinging…

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

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Future home of our shop, DOWNTOWN SWEET

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
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      Watching for daffodils to peek out.

      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!

LXI

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.


LINKING ARMS

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.


AT HOME

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!

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Our chicks (human and animal) are growing up!

PRAYER

-For God to bless our business.  For investors.  For relationships through it.  (If you are interested in investing, read more here. If you’d like to donate, as some have asked, you can give here.)

-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)

Here!

LIVING HERE

We have a new address: Limestone, TN!

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The Year of the Farmhouse

Birthplace of Davy Crockett, and (we’ve been told) Granny Clampett from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”  🙂  So, we are cool, indeed.

After a lot of prayer and searching, we rented this farmhouse built in 1900 with plenty of room inside and out for homeschooling, church meetings & guests, and business.  We did a lot of cleaning and some painting to get in and can’t have too many appliances running at the same time or the house goes black, 🙂 but it’s a great place for us this year.


GOOD FOLKS HERE

God has been kind in giving us great connections.  We have met several pastors and church leaders in the area who have believed our crazy story (!) and accepted us as friends and allies in the Kingdom.  I’ve gotten to lead worship at a great church who have welcomed  as family.  I’ve also been  welcomed at pastors’ meetings and even been invited to speak next month.  So, we’re grateful for these relationships that the Lord has started and the Kingdom-minded, Jesus-lovers we’ve met.

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The kids, semi-enthusiastic about deep cleaning the rent house. 🙂

 


BUSINESS HERE

Well, this one’s taking longer than I want, but we’re slowly getting ready to make pralines here.  We’re still a couple of weeks and inspection away, but when all is done, we’ll be able to sell wholesale and retail from our home kitchen.  We’ll also be able to start the art biz again soon.  I’ll send website addresses again when those are up and going.


LOOKING HERE

We’re continuing to ask Jesus to show us those who don’t know Him and our place in introducing them.  I’m thinking He’ll give us more on that in another couple of weeks when we’re better settled.  I’m really looking forward to those conversations.

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The FunderFamily minus Laura, who was taking the photo.  (Notice Silas’ hat…in case you didn’t. It’s made of K’Nex.)

I’m looking forward to relationships with hurting people who start to follow Christ and grow to know Him.  This will take time, but it’s our Father’s heart, and we (and lots of you) get to be part of the journey.


 

So, we’re grateful to finally be in the place the Lord has been leading us to for years.  Two years ago when Laura asked the Lord how long this whole journey/waiting/thing was going to last, He said, “Seven years.”  Interestingly enough, when we moved into this area at the end of August, it was seven years and a month since He spoke and started this crazy journey in 2009.

Our Father has a plan.  And He will see it through.

Are you in the middle of a situation or a year or a decade that seems off God’s radar or slipping His notice?  It surely can feel that way, but it’s not true.  He sees and knows, and one day you’ll see how good the plan was.

From CO to TN (in photos)

Fun, successful, tiring, and encouraging:  that was the month of June.

A beautiful army of 15 adults and 18 kids from our River Churches family helped load us into the Penske truck to leave Colorado at the end of May.  We had a gathering with these folks in some form or fashion every night the week before we left.  What a great community.

Here’s the rest of the month of June in pics:

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First, we woke up on moving day to find our “was-gonna-be-spayed-but-we-procrastinated” cat giving birth in the garage.  She finished birthing her three kittens while we loaded the van.   Then she, the kittens, our other cat, 4 of the kids, and Laura squeezed into the van, complete with luggage, cat food & litter box, and pet carrier for 3 solid days of driving from CO to TN.  Isaac and I commanded the Penske.
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Laura’s view for over 1,650 miles of the 3,800+ miles we travelled in June.  We stored our stuff in Limestone, TN, a little town outside Johnson City.  We put our “everyday living” stuff at my parents’ house near Nashville where we will live until we find a rent house this summer.

 

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After recouping a couple of days with my parents, we headed further south to visit family, friends, and churches.  Our first stop was north MS.  We spent the night with a wonderful, mission-minded family who gave up (unbeknownst to us) their master bedroom for us to stay.  Later that night, we visited HeartLand Church.  How nice to see some great friends of a decade now and to see how good the church was doing.  I was amazed that the Lord has been teaching HeartLand many of the same things He’s been teaching us: the power and everyday importance of the gospel, following Jesus not religion, and being “Kingdom minded” (realizing all us churches are on the same team.)  The next night we had a gourmet supper with some friends who stuck with us through the hard Waiting Years in Coldwater…lots of laughs and a late night of giggles for the kids.
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Then we spent some time in my hometown of Florien in central LA, seeing family & getting to speak at a great church there.  My grandmother fed us into oblivion, and we got to see a lot of family and old friends and people who have been my inspiration since I was a kid.  After a few days there, we descended into heavenly-food country in south LA where we spent a week with Laura’s family whom we hadn’t seen in a year.  In this photo, Silas got to learn to swim in the same pool his mama learned thirty years ago.
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South LA.  Laura’s dad hosted a fishing trip on a beautiful pond, and Sam got to do his favorite thing.
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That’s a wad of people, ain’t it?  Friends of ours with five beautiful kids of their own.  Great family and great to hear what the Lord has been stirring in their hearts lately.
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Laura’s uncle hosted a tubing venture on Prien Lake in south LA!
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South LA.  Some friends hosted a fish fry and game night.  We laughed a lot with those folks who have been friends of the family for many years.  As you can see, they know how to be cool.
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Movie night with Laura’s dad for Father’s Day.  Disney cartoon was on tap that night; John Wayne was earlier in the week.
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Next stop was Pineville in central LA.  We got to share our seven-year story at The Gathering Place, a great church who is seeking to follow Jesus, not religion.  And we met up with Camille, a friend we had just left in Colorado!  She is from LA and was in Pineville visiting family when we were there.  Small world.
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One of our last hurrahs was supper with these friends who have loved us since before we were married.  We were part of the same church when Laura and I were engaged.  Love these folks!  We also had frozen yogurt with friends from college days who are still loving people for Jesus in our college town.  AND, on the way out of town, we stopped in on our pastor and his wife from the first church I was on staff.  Such beautiful people, and we loved hearing how the Lord had sustained them and given them a more blessed life now than ever.
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After the grand “tour” of the south, we returned to my parents’ house, helped a bit around the place, and caught up on laundry and finances.  Just when we thought we’d go visit Johnson City again to look for a rent house, the kids came down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.  Fever & itchy hands and feet (mouths were spared) worked its way through all five kids, in varying degrees.  THEN, Silas went through a couple of days of stomach trouble that I won’t even discuss that kept us up late and sent us to Urgent Care.  (I will say it involved lots o’ prune juice, paper towels, and a Wal-Mart parking lot at night.  Make of it what you wish.)  And a big thank you to friends in the medical field who saved us the cost of an ER visit!  When we all recoup, we plan to go back to Johnson City/Jonesborough to check out rent houses, hoping to move there by the end of July or early August to begin setting up our online businesses, getting in the community, and meeting those whom Jesus wants us to disciple.  We think it’s great how God hasn’t spelled out exactly what we’re going to do there…keeps us on our toes and following Him.  He’s setting the agenda.  And it’s good.

And, so, there’s the month in pictures.  I wish we had pics of ALL the people we saw along the way.  That way you could see how the Lord went ahead of us to arrange this whole month; we were able to reconnect with way more folks than we thought we’d be able to, representing over 30 years of relationships.  And we were encouraged to hear how God is teaching His children so much about Himself and those He loves, all over the U.S. from Colorado to Tennessee to Mississippi & Louisiana.

Thank you all for being with us!

Dead & Alive

As the move gets closer, we want to communicate more of what is in our hearts these days…what the Lord has taught over the last 7 years of craziness and how that affects what we dream of Him doing in Tennessee.

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A letter I received from a sweet lady who “got” Romans 6.  So great!

(*If you’d rather hear my lovely voice, here’s me teaching this in more detail at a great church in Colorado: Dead and Alive.)

I learned something seven years ago that broke a sin cycle in my life.  You know what a sin cycle is, right?  You sin…feel guilty…grovel…vow to never do it again…do it again.  Then it all starts over. Continue reading

Moving Update & 2 Great Guys

MOVING UPDATE

With donations that have been promised, we have gone BEYOND meeting the moving goal!  Unreal.  This is our last week here.  We plan to drive away on May 31st.

Moving Expenses:  GOAL OVER-MET!  Woohoo!

Monthly Support:  $2000/mo needed – $1325/mo committed = $675/mo still needed


KENNY & CHRIS

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Weekly video-chat with Mr. Kenny.

Mr. Kenny Moore is a 75-year-old phenomenon, retired Director of Missions for the Colorado Southern Baptists.  He leads horse-back hunting expeditions in the Rockies, competes with his dog in agility contests (his dog competes, not him), and he loves to talk about what Jesus has done.  We especially spend a lot of time talking about who we are in Christ (see “Dead & Alive” blog.)  He is a great mentor to me, and I am grateful our weekly conversations will continue in Tennessee.

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My friend Chris

Chris Hartman is a man prepared.  He loves gear…outdoor, camping, adventure-type gear.  And He loves Jesus.  He’s an apprentice with Advance Him, like we are (were), and he and I met each week to read the Bible & pray together.  Great guy.  As part of his apprenticeship, he just moved to Uganda for 6 months, and he asked me to be his Advance Him “mentor.”  Boy, was I honored.  Before he left, we made a deal to trade work: I would create a painting for him, he would create a leather journal for me.  Super-great!

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My side of the bargain: a painting for Chris using Mountain Mama coffee
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Chris’ side of the deal: a leather journal for me (with an east African coin enclosure.  What?!)  How great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Blog Series & Specs

 

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Mr. Silas and I

 

BLOG SERIES

We want to start, little by little, as the move gets closer, communicating more of what is in our hearts these days…what the Lord has taught over the last 7 years of craziness and how that affects what we dream of Him doing in Tennessee.

It’s exciting stuff.  Life-changing stuff for us and, we believe, those whom God puts in our lives in Appalachia.

We bet you’ll like it, too.

So, we’ll start that soon.


DOLLARS AND CENTS UPDATE

Prayer for provision for the move is full-on!

Moving/Settling Expenses:  $6500 needed – $2600 promised = $3900 to go

Monthly Support: $2000 needed – $1150 promised = $850/mo to go


GETTING SPECIFIC

Some folks enjoy giving to or praying for a specific need.  Here are some specific needs (and hopes) that aren’t yet met, both financial and prayer.  If you commit to any of these giving/prayer needs, please contact us and let us know which one(s) specifically.

Prayer:

  • a team in TN: like-minded families/individuals who want to see the Kingdom grow
  • open doors into the community
  • open doors into people’s lives as we immerse ourselves in the community
  • success/favor in praline and art businesses (see below)
  • the right house in the right rural community
  • for God to connect us with the “lost sheep” of the community
  • Provision for moving, settling, ministry, businesses, giving, and living.

Moving/Settling:

  • Moving Truck Rental, cross-country: $2100
  • hotels, 3 nights: $180
  • Gas: $500 moving truck/$200 van
  • Meals: $140

Ministry:

  • Keyboard: $1300 or used keyboard equivalent to Yamaha P-255 for worship/music at church gatherings, coffeeshops, backyards, wherever.

 

Our businesses we are growing for ministry opportunities and sustainability for our family (fancy term for giving or investing in such as this is “Impact Investments”):

  • Pralines: $600 (printed packaging, equipment, licenses/permits/inspections in TN)  www.funderburkspralines.weebly.com
  • Mud & Daisy (art): $300 – frames to sell artwork in stores; updated printer – $1200.   www.mudanddaisy.com
  • Wholesale plant nursery: nothing needed yet; just dreaming and exploring

 

We are excited about getting settled in TN and seeing what our Father has up His sleeve.  Love and appreciate you folks!

Davy & Laura & the FunderPray-ers

 

 

 

 

The Plan for Moving in June

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Unbelievably, it’s been almost a year since we moved to Colorado to learn from this loving and God-following community of churches and the Advance Him missionary team.

And it’s been almost 7 years since God called us into this crazy journey of faith.  (read Crazy God Story).

Now it’s time for us to move to northeast Tennessee and take what we’ve learned with us.

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO IN TENNESSEE? 

In short, we will do whatever Jesus says.  

The Lord has spoken clearly that our purpose is to share the gospel of Christ (Acts 26:18), not only for salvation, but how it affects our everyday lives.  We expect to do this through relationships, one on one or in small groups.  We want to see folks know Jesus and follow Him, be a part of a community of believers (church), and disciple others themselves.  This “community of believers” may be a local church where they already have connections, or it may be a new body of believers (church) that meets in the houses of those involved.  We also want to partner with, pray with, and encourage other leaders and churches in the area who have similar hearts.

Our first year, our focus will be to get to know the people and culture of the communities.  We plan to volunteer at ministries such as food banks and apartment outreaches, volunteer with town & community events, pray with church leaders, and/or help lead worship wherever I can.   As we settle in the first year, we expect God to give us more insight and direction for the future.

In short, we will do whatever Jesus says.

Logistically, half our work-week will be in ministry (as described above) as a missionary of Advance Him, the other half in growing our businesses of selling pralines, teaching piano lessons, and/or landscaping, as well as developing our new art biz, Mud & Daisy.  We will focus on whichever business(es) do best and support our family and ministry goals.

TIMELINE?

We plan to move this June.

WHAT DO WE NEED?

  • $6500 for one-time moving expenses
  • $2000 in monthly support, including ministry expenses ($900/mo is already committed for the coming 2016-2017 year!)
  • We hope to reach these goals by the end of May

WILL YOU ALWAYS NEED FINANCIAL SUPPORT?

We do not plan on it.  The Lord has not spoken directly yet, but it seems good in our minds to grow our businesses, keep living expenses down, and be at least 80% self-sustaining in 3-5 years, while continuing to commit half our time to ministry and keeping that as our primary focus.  Our long-term goal is complete sustainability.  For now, with monthly support, those businesses have time to grow to make us self-sustainable and still allow us time to develop relationships in the community to grow His kingdom.

HOW TO HELP:

You can pray like a maniac with us!  Pray for financial provision to move and settle in TN, open doors into the lives of the lost and those yearning to walk with Christ, and that God would continue to “go ahead” of us in prepping people there for whatever He wants to do in their lives.

You can give one time or monthly for a year.  And you can give as much or as little as you like.  See our Give page for more details.