Tom and I are just back from our quarterly retreat. As part of the framework for my reflection I have been reading Ruth Hayley Barton’s book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. I was particularly struck by her thoughts on taking time to draw aside in order to notice the presence of God in the present moment – what she likens to Moses drawing aside to examine the burning bush and discovering that he is in the holy presence of God.
Learning to live in the present moment, being grateful for what it holds and giving thanks for how God has created, it is an art that draws us close into the presence of God. This enabled me to recognize the presence of God not just in the moment but in the whole of the year that has passed. And so I find myself kneeling in awe and reverence at the privilege of co-creating with the living God.
As we race towards 2012, Tom and I and the growing Mustard Seed team are overwhelmed by the generosity of God and the many good friends God has given us. This has been an incredible year for us and we have much to celebrate.
We have much to celebrate this Year
- We began the year by launching our new website, which has enabled us to expand our written and video resources and begin publishing ebooks.
- It has even encouraged Tom to start blogging, and he now contributes a weeklymustardseedconspiracy post. Our recent publications, Waiting for the Light: a devotional for Advent and Christmas and the video Lord Jesus Christ, Draw Close, have been particularly popular and are being used by many to prepare both for the coming of Jesus and for the in-breaking of God’s new creation all over the world.
- Godspace continues to blossom as a site for spiritual resources and I appreciate your comments and help in . This year we had over 200,000 visitors and were listed by some as one of the top 100 Christian blogs. The most popular series was “Tools for Prayer”.
- The daily facebook prayers are also growing in popularity as more and more people seek to connect daily to God through their internet interactions.
- We facilitated four Spirituality of Gardening seminars, a brainstorming session on Recession Readiness, and several small networking gatherings at the Mustard Seed House. We had the joy of sharing new ways to serve God in changing times with friends including those at Goshen College and AMBS in March, the Inhabit Conference in April, the Overseas Ministry Study Center in May, the Wild Goose Festival and Reformed Church Educators in June, and the Mennonite Laurelville Center in August. We also held creativity workshops at several churches, including Kent Covenant and Sanctuary Christian Reformed Church in Seattle.
- In August we held our 20th Annual Celtic Retreat, a milestone event that marked a new phase of the development for the Mustard Seed Village. Shortly after, we received an anonymous donation of $25,000 as a matching grant for the first building, and other friends responded to the challenge. With $50,0000 raised we are still praying for the remaining $35,000 to build this pole barn classroom. Our gifted architect and friend David Vandervort is working on the plans, and construction will take place over the summer next year. Last week Tom and I gifted the first five-acre parcel of our 40 acres on Camano Island, valued at $120,000, to Mustard Seed Associates for this purpose.
- Last week Forrest Inslee, who heads curriculum design for our upcoming Sustainability Semester Away program, secured approval for accreditation by Northwest University here in the Seattle area. Our partners at Creation Care Study Program (www.creation.csp.org) are circulating our curriculum proposal to the 30 Christian colleges they work with for approval.
- If God continues to bless, we will launch the Pacific NW Sustainability Semester next September. What makes it distinctive is that students learn not only about environmental and other global challenges likely to confront us in the coming decade, they will also learn about new community-based ways of living that are more sustainable environmentally and economically. They will also learn how they can work with others in these turbulent times to create new sustainable local neighborhoods.
- We are so grateful for our growing MSA team… Cindy Todd, Andy Wade, Forrest Inslee and Ricci Kilmer. We are also grateful for our generous MSA board and friends like Lindsay, Crickette, James, Nancy and Dennis who volunteer their time to keep MSA moving forward. Our most desperate current need is for a part-time administrative assistant for the MSA office.
- We have shared hospitality and food from our garden at the Mustard Seed House with friends from Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Africa, Canada and the U.S.
- The MSA team celebrated its own milestones this year. I celebrated my 60th, Tom his 75th, and Andy Wade his 50th birthday. We are grateful for God’s mercy and grace as we seek to grow our ministry and journey with Jesus Christ in these troubled times.
We wish you and yours a new year filled with compassion for the growing numbers of our neighbors locally and globally that are likely to be impacted by both the growing economic troubles in Europe and climate change everywhere.