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Merry Christmas From The Willits Family


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Here is the Christmas Card we sent out to friends and family.
If you didn’t get one it’s probably just because we didn’t have your address. You can sign up for our Christmas card mailing list here. You can also ask to get our ministry support letters. We are always looking for partners in the gospel!

Grace, peace, and Merry Christmas!

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Fundraising opportunity


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To be honest, I wasn’t all that excited when I realized I was going to need to be a fundraiser for the foreseeable future. I’ve done bits and pieces in the past and always struggled with asking people for money.

At this point, my family is three months into raising funds for the first year of the vision we believe God has given us. We’re trying to raise $56,843.00 to cover our seminary and living expenses. Throughout this process, I have read several encouraging books and had numerous encouraging conversations. And the biggest miracle of all isn’t that we have raised over 60% of our funds, or that in the process I find myself growing and learning because of this difficult task, but that my aversion to fundraising is nearly gone! It’s still hard, and I realize that I’m only beginning. But to see how the Lord is providing and how our community of friends are coming around us and believing in what God is up to in our lives has been a truly amazing thing!

Like I said, we’ve raised a little over 60% of our goal. All in all, we need $11,218 more to meet our goal and be fully funded for our first year of seminary, with church planting in mind.

Our prayer is that we are fully funded by the end of the August!

We’re still looking for a few partners. Is that you?

One cool opportunity we have right now is the Nashotah House Matching Funds Scholarship. You fill out THIS FORM :: Seminarian Support Donation Form and send it directly to Nashotah House with your attached check. When someone gives in this way, Nashotah will match up to $4,500 in seminary tuition and expense. For example, if you give $50 directly to Nashotah House, they will match it and we will receive $100 toward our seminary tuition. (Get more information on this opportunity here).

Andrea and I have also set up a giving / partnership page on our website www.TheWillitsFamily.com. If you’ve been asking, “What is he talking about?” as you read this blog, you can find all the details there.

I’ve always struggled asking people for money—really, asking people for help. But in the Kingdom of God we participate together in God’s work, always willing to help and partner with each other for the good of the Kingdom and good of the world.

Sometimes asking is really hard.
Sometimes giving is really hard.
Sometimes receiving is hardest of all.
But asking, giving and receiving free, unmerited, unearned, 100% grace is something we must all learn—most importantly in our relationship with Jesus, and also in our relationships with one another.

I’m learning, growing, receiving and, with God’s help, living every day more fully in the Kingdom of His Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).

Here’s a bit from one of those books I mentioned. So good!!!

“We may think of fundraising as a necessary but unpleasant activity to support spiritual things. Or we might believe that fundraising reflects a failure to plan well or trust enough that God will provide for all our needs…
From the perspective of the gospel, fundraising is not a response to a crisis. Fundraising is, first and foremost, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing our vision and inviting other people into our mission. Vision and mission are so central to the life of God’s people that without vision we perish and without mission we lose our way…
Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission.”

From A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen

Thanks, friends!

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A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE WILLITS FAMILY


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Willits Family #2The next big adventure is here…

It is with a ton of excitement and a bit of sadness that I share with you that Andrea and I will be packing up this June and moving north. I will be attending a seminary in Wisconsin — Nashotah House Theological Seminary. We’ll be on campus for the 2015-16 academic year and making big plans for the future!

Our sadness comes from knowing how much we will miss all of the amazing families at our church and all the incredible friends we’ve met in Texas! We’ve been Texans now for over 3 years. It feels like home and we will miss it!

Our family is loved, our kids are well cared for and we have really come to love the people and place in return!

Our year at seminary will be really exciting. Nashotah House is a very unique place and will offer our family a great opportunity to be formed spiritually through prayer, worship and education. There is also a great community of families, students and faculty that we look forward to sharing life with.

We take this step after a lot of thought and prayer.
We sense God leading and we want to follow!

If you know me, you know that I’ve had church planting on my heart for a long time! Andrea and I are beginning to feel like it might just be the time to do that. WOW!! But we want to be ready! Our hope is that Nashotah will be just the right place for us to be formed spiritually and to prepare through prayer and conversation for the adventure of church planting! We’ll be on campus for about one year and then I will finish up my education through their distance program while living in the place we have discerned to plant a church.

In conversations with my Sr. Pastor / Rector, Fr. David Roseberry, he also recommended I pursue this education with my sense of a calling to ordained ministry, leadership and church planting in mind.  So, I’m looking forward to the theological studies and Anglican formation, but Andrea and I are really excited to take this year to pray and dream about church planting.

Our prayer will be where, when, and with whom God might want us to plant a church. Our leaning right now is that we will end up back in McKinney, Texas. McKinney was rated the #1 place to live in America this past year! And we think it just might need a strong new church to participate in God’s mission of love and redemption among the growing population!  We’re open to where God will lead us and who he will put in our path to partner with, but this is what we are currently thinking about and praying about.

It really is exciting!
But it’s a bit scary as well!

We need all the prayer and support you can give!

We are going to be doing fundraising over the next six months to cover some of the tuition and living expenses, so plan on hearing from us.

We also plan on setting up a blog specifically to keep all our friends and family in the loop on how you can pray for us and support us as we embark on this new journey!
(Look for that in the next month!)

We know that God is leading us and that we have a strong community of friends and family that will come alongside us to participate in what God is doing!

We are excited to see how God will lead and provide over these next couple years. Thank you in advance for your prayers and support!

With love and excitement,
Erik and Andrea

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Family :: The pursuit of perspective and productivity


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For the last couple weeks I was on my own, a bachelor if you will!  My family was out of town. The first 4 of those days I was home alone and then for week or so I was touring around Southern California, trying to do some writing, thinking, dreaming with a good friend of mine. Not to forget the NT Wright conference I was able to attend. Which was amazing! 

Here’s a thought I had during this time. It was a surprising thought to me.

While sitting at home alone, family gone, a rush of excitement came over me — I was going to be so productive while my kids and wife were gone! I mean I love them, I’ll miss them terrible (eventually) but let’s face it, kids are work, full-time – attention demanding – energy draining – beautiful but hard WORK. Marriage is a bit different and consumes one differently but let’s be real, if you’re not working at it you’re probably failing at it. I don’t believe that takes anything away from the beauty of having kids or being married but confesses the reality that it’s work and all the other things on your to-do list come in behind this and rightly so. So when my family is out of town for 2 weeks and I think, “productivity here I come” it’s understandable. Right?

You see, the thought is that I’ll be able to read more than I normally do, write more than I normally do (I wrote most of this blog during that time), watch more, play more and sleep more than I normally do! Sleep was last on that list but maybe first in my heart! I have an almost 2 year old, come on now!

But as I sat to do some of that extra reading I realized something, productivity is great but in what area of my life do I really want to produce greatest results? The first thing that came to my mind was discipleship. I want to be a better and closer disciple of Jesus. But after that, the greatest “product” I can invest my time, talents, heart, soul and energy in is my family!

The health and vitality of my family will reflect my investment. The more time I give, the more energy I give and the more love I give to my family the greater and closer we will be. If I give my family the leftovers and the afterthoughts of my energy and “production,” the product that is my family will not be very fruitful itself. Is this not true of any relationship? The more you invest in it the more you will get from it and out of it, the more produce there will be to go around for everybody.

I don’t love the production / investment metaphor because this is not some economic – consumer system, it’s a relationship! Maybe we can think of that word “produce” in the same vein as the scripture talks about it. The organic produce or fruit that comes from a life connected to the giver of all life and produce. So it’s not, “what did you produce or make today?” but “What kind of produce did you gather from the crop or field that you have been working in during this season of life?” For me it’s important to remember that you can’t buy or earn this kind of produce, the only currency is your heart, soul and mind and a little blood and sweat or strength. The of Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 22.

// The best way to experience the most productive growth in your life as a disciple.

The other thought I had around this was that if being a disciple is truly the top priority on my productive desires list then the investment into my family is also the way to have the greatest growth and productivity in this area of my life.

There is no better way for a man to grow as a disciple then to serve his family and love his wife well!

A book I read once said that “the goal of marriage isn’t happiness but holiness.” I’ve found that to be very helpful. Nothing comes even close to growing me as a disciple of Christ in the ways I hope and pray to grow then giving myself to my wife and kids. They sharpen me, the stir love in me, they sand rough edges and kill selfish bents.

I would add that this is also the effect of a healthy, biblical community and close genuine friendships for those in different places and stages of life. To find a community that you can give yourself to and can receive others in can be vital piece in your life as a disciple. For the Christian, family can and must take on broader and more inclusive definitions. This is true for single people and married people but that would lead to a much broader conversation.

So, first and foremost I desire to daily become a better disciple of Jesus. My family is the best playground in which I will be the most productive in that aim.

Secondly, my family, it’s heath and closeness and love for Jesus is absolutely the greatest thing I can ever “produce” with my love and effort.

That is a really important perspective for me! It is something I don’t think I often have in mind as I work and wrestle with life. There is nothing I can produce that will every be more valuable than my family. And when I give myself first and foremost to that aim I will produce more and deeper life and virtue in my pursuit of Jesus. There is a beautifully tangled relationship between the two. So to have the perspective that family is a distraction to real creativity and productivity is a crime, one I have way to often committed. And It’s a perspective that many men I know hold as they think about work and family.

The real productivity will come when we invest in the most beautiful things we can ever co-created with God, our kids, our marriage, our closest community and primary community that we share life with. For me this is my wife and kids!

Jesus is always and already pulling back the veil and releasing the Kingdom into my life. Sometimes I just need to have the eyes to see it and a centered heart to experience it in the laughter of my kids and the kisses of wife.

Amen.

 

And just to show off my family! Here is a Mother’s day card / poster we made for our mothers. It’s show’s off my crew well. I love them!

 

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Family Fun…


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Kids can be tough! Being a parent can be really hard work and exhausting. No doubt.
But they are such a gift!
Here is my crew…

Reese is my little lady! She is friendly but fragile. She doesn’t like being tossed around but she loves being held, at least for a few short minutes and then she wants to start crawling around. She’s slow to walk but quick to explore. We’ll see what that means for her in the future. She’ll stare you down, looking deep into your soul, i’m nervous this will be a manipulation tactic in the future. I’m mainly nervous cause i know it will work on me every time. She is in a waving phase… as you can see in the picture today. She is beautiful and i think she will be my soft hearted, friendly little flower. But her beauty scares me… teenage years = lock & key!

Jack, well he is all boy! He can be extremely polite but watch out, he might want something. Yep, he’s my little con man. I think he is going to be smart, clever and conniving. Hopefully we can channel his powers for good. I think he will be a handsome young man and hopefully that mixed with this con man tendencies doesn’t equal anything criminal. He doesn’t know a stranger and can hang with the boys but also can be fiercely independent. I think he will have lots of friends but a larger inner space than most because he will also be comfortable with himself. He gives great high fives and even better hugs!

Being a dad is a huge gift from God! I could write much longer paragraphs about each of my little loves. They are amazing and i love dreaming about what they will be someday! And i love even more enjoying today!
Some people fight for years, spend their fortunes, cross air and sea to live lives of parenthood. For others, it happens before you want it to. But i believe for everybody, not matter how it happens… it’s truly a gift from God. Don’t take it for granted. Not everybody gets this gift. Take it with gratitude and be fully present every minute! That’s really hard as well but i want to try!

 

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Gifts…


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God gives us all different gifts. I’m not to keen on using the word blessings as many do but i was looking at this picture and was filled with gratitude for the amazing gift God has given me in my children. It’s not because they look like me (though they do) 😉  but it’s because the depth and beauty and joy they add to my life. I’m thankful!

I put these images together, little me is in the middle, to be able to see how much my kids look like me. It’s kinda crazy! Especially Reese! WOW!!!

My kids and my wife inspire me! In so many way.

 

 

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Saturdays


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This is my Saturday, every Saturday! I want to write something eventually about ritual and rhythm but for now this picture says enough.

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Merry Christmas from the Willits family!


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Well i tried to send out an email to ALL OF YOU! My list was about 190 people long but i’ve already had about 50 of those emailS get shot back to me with some kind of failure and then a few others i had to delete cause i realized i had the wrong email address (old college emails or whatever). Bottom line, i need to update my gmail email list!

BUT – Andrea, Jack and i wanted ALL OF YOU to have this little Christmas card!
We made it with you in mind, hoping that each one of you will have a great Christmas and an amazing new year!

So…
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE WILLITS FAMILY!

Christmas Card

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Having a blast // Smiling baby!


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Well Andrea and i are having a blast with Jack!
It’s kinda crazy, you love this stage and don’t want him to get any bigger but at the same time you can’t wait for him to grow a tad bit and start responding more and interacting more, even crawling and walking… all that good stuff.

For now, we’ll take a smile!  PRICELESS!

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09 family goals…


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Well this will be my first full year of marriage.
Andrea & i got married April 13th 2008 (we have amazing wedding pictures you can see here)
But this is the first full year so we decided to make some goals.

I thought i would share…

#1. Become Active in the communal life of our church.
(we just moved back to Nashville & started going to a church so we wanted to make it a goal to get really plugged into a community.)

#2. Develop an avenue of ministry in the city.
(this was my wife’s idea and think it’s awesome! We want to live out our faith!)

#3. Get our credit card debt below $XXX dollars.
(i wish there was only three digits to our debt but there is not. So we have a dream! i mean a goal of getting out of credit card debt. We want to be free!)

#4. 10 marriage enriching activities.
(We are not sure what these will be :: conferences, seminars, etc. But we know we need to keep our marriage fresh! Any ideas for these activities is welcome!)

#5. At least one 3-5 day adventure trip.
(money is pretty tight these days so we want it to be a goal that we get away at least once for a little adventure together. Can’t wait to accomplish this one!)

So there ya go. Our 09′ goals!

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