Send Tampa Update

We just finished up our “Send Tampa” weekend! What a whirlwind … Here’s a quick recap of the purpose and the outreach opportunities we took place in over the last two days.

Here’s the quick answer to “WHAT exactly was ‘Send Tampa?'” …
“Send Tampa is a two-day, intensified version of what every believer living in the Tampa Bay area has been redeemed and empowered to participate in on a daily basis. It is a focused effort of Covenant Life Church whereby we seek to share the gospel message of Jesus Christ as well as practically love and serve those in our city in response to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Send Tampa is a venue through which CLC can begin meaningful relationships w/ others as well as strengthen existing relationships with those throughout the city.”

There were a variety of outreach opportunities to choose from this weekend. Among the options were: A Woman’s Place (gospel-centered pregnancy resource center), Created (residential and safe house program for vulnerable women in the sex industry), Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful (landscaping around area parks), Neighborhood Prayer Walking, Serving the Urban Poor, movie night at CLC, coffee shop conversations, etc.

We signed up to work at A Woman’s Place on Friday morning, serving the Urban Poor Friday afternoon, Movie Night on Friday evening, and working at Created Saturday morning. It was such a great opportunity to not only love on the people of this city in the name of Christ, but also a great time for us personally to learn very quickly the deep needs of the people in Tampa (especially after only being here for two weeks).

We worked on the landscaping outside of A Woman’s Place, pulling weeds, planting more plants, and putting down some mulch. A Woman’s Place is one of the only gospel-centered pregnancy centers in the area, and it is literally surrounded by abortion clinics (one almost directly next door). It was a joy and privilege to come along side of the staff at the center to help improve the outside facilities. We look forward to partnering with them more in the future.

Later that same day, I went out with another group to take meals to the poor around the downtown area. We were able to talk with and pray with several people in one particular park and give them the meals. It was eye opening and heart breaking to hear their stories. One in particular, R.J., really touched my heart … even after he had experienced so much struggle in such a short time, he had such kindness in his eyes and hope in his words. As a church, we hope and pray for more opportunities to engage and build relationships with the poor in our city.

We had a movie night for our community Friday evening. That was a fun time of meeting new people and fellowshipping with our new church family.

Saturday morning, we did some painting at Created, the safe house and residential program for women in the sex industry. This is a place where women who want out of the sex industry lifestyle can go to learn life skills and find a safe place to live with people who love them and love Jesus. We were able to hear a few stories of the ladies in the program and paint the back porch for them. It’s a fantastic ministry that I personally hope to get more involved in, as well.

Over the course of this weekend, our eyes were opened to the real needs of our city; the need for the hope that is only found in Jesus Christ. May we be a people, a church, that truly reaches out with the love of Christ, being his hands and his feet on a daily basis. May “Send Tampa” not be something we do once a year on a pretty weekend in Florida; I pray it is something that we can each continue to do on a regular basis with our neighbors, our coworkers, and anyone God puts in our path along the journey.

Justin preached an incredible message today to end our Send Tampa weekend. He preached on the amazing good news of Ephesians 2.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Oh the beauty of verse 4 … “BUT GOD”! We were all dead in our sins, by nature children of wrath … BUT GOD! Enter the creator of the universe, the one we needed saving FROM also is the same loving God who came himself to save his people. In his great love for us, he has redeemed us and delivered us. He hasn’t done this for us to live cozy little lives, attending service on Sunday and forgetting what we are here to do the rest of the week. No … it is so that in the ages to come, he might show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus! As Justin said today, that is truly the greatest news we could ever hear!

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to love the people of this city this weekend, and the prayer of my heart is that God continues to push us out and help us to press on as we strive to make his name great and his name famous in this city. What great news we have as believers in Jesus Christ — may we always remember to live is Christ and to die is gain! Let’s boast ever so loudly in the greatness of our great God!

Thank you for your prayers for this weekend!

For His Glory,
the whedbees

Painting at Created

Painting at Created

The team at A Woman's Place

The team at A Woman’s Place

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Adjustments, Firsts and the Occasional Pink Eye

We’ve been here a little more than a week, but it definitely feels like a year with all we’ve been trying to accomplish and all we have coming up/going on! We’ve had a few ups and downs this last week, but through it all, God’s faithfulness and sovereignty are always abundantly clear. I’m truly thankful!

So I like bullet points, and some of you reading this are highly aware of that fact (if you’ve known me for any length of time, you know my love for “lists”). Here’s a brief “list” of some of the things going on/coming up:

-Renting/Buying a house (and trying to decide wisely which is the best option for us)
-Adjusting to a brand new city
-Brandon’s first week at Covenant Life
-4th of July at the beach
-Pink Eye
-‘Send Tampa’ Mission weekend

I’ll just start at the beginning of the “list” …

We are living with a wonderful family from Covenant Life right now as we get settled and look for a place (in their guest house, actually) and WHAT A BLESSING it has been for us. It gives us a place to call home for a month as we search for a place to call our home for much longer. This family has become great friends in just a short week, and we are truly thankful for their selfless acts of encouragement and support. We have also had several families bring us meals during our first week here, and that has been incredible. I can’t put into words how helpful that has been!

We have been searching like crazy people for rental homes and homes to purchase. We were pre-approved for a loan, which is incredible, so we are searching out both options to see what is best. We have one particular house we are serious about pursuing and we have been praying a lot about it. Please pray with us as we walk in faith and the knowledge that God has a perfect plan.

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Our new, great friend — and we just happen to live in his back yard right now! 🙂

The adustments to a new place come in waves. We’ve been so busy learning the area, researching houses, driving around, and meeting new people that reality didn’t set in until this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, we know we are supposed to be here, but there’s always going to be an adjustment period as you begin a new journey in a new place. This past weekend, I had my share of ugly cry moments. HA

Thankfully, I’ve had people around me, near and far, to share with and it has honestly been a great time of growth. (And I’m sure there will be a few more ugly cries along the way, too … )

I was reading my bible and a new devotional on Saturday morning, having an ugly cry moment. I was reading in Luke 8 where Jesus heals the woman with the issue of blood. She just touches his clothes, just the hem, believing he will heal her, and she is healed. I LOVE this story for so many reasons, but mostly because of Jesus’ response to her — in verse 48, he calls her “Daughter”. What a term of immense love, especially back then! I just love how he responds to her in the most tender way. And in that moment, I felt the peace that only comes from Christ as he reminded my heart that he calls me Daughter, too. I’ve been chosen and adopted, and I am greatly loved. AMAZING! I also found myself in Psalm 121, a great passage when you’re feeling weak … “I lift up my eyes to the hills, from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” What encouragment! I’m thankful for the word of God!

Brandon’s first week at Covenant Life went great. The guys are wonderful to work with, and he is settling in nicely. So many people have welcomed him with open hearts. It’s super encouraging. We are so excited to be here serving with such great people.

Anderson and I didn’t get to go to church this past Sunday, as the dreaded pink eye hit him hard Saturday morning. We’ve just been treating it at home with some lovely coconut oil and he is on the mend, thankfully. If you know him, it hasn’t stopped him in the least — you can’t keep a good man down. 🙂

So we didn’t contaminate anyone on the 4th, we didn’t attend any parties, but we drove over to St. Pete Beach to hangout in the afternoon/evening and see if we could see any fireworks. Even a strong Florida summer storm couldn’t ruin that fireworks night! We could see fireworks ALL along the coast. I think every beach from here to Clearwater had a separate fireworks show, and we could see them all. It was insane! Maybe we just made our first “new tradition” here in Tampa … 🙂

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The beach bum all worn out from all his fireworks watching.

Lastly, we are excited about a mission opportunity in the city this weekend. We are doing a mission “trip” right here in the city. Covenant Life is sending members into the city, in different groups with different purposes, to love on the people of this great city. We will be doing a variety of missional outreach projects — prayerwalking neighborhoods, landscaping in the park, helping local businesses with manual labor, putting together meals and distributing them to the homeless in the area, etc. We will have a movie night for the community on Friday night, too. We are super excited to jump in and love on this city in Jesus’ name. I’m praying God will use all of us for his glory and to make Christ’s name famous in Tampa. I’ll write later about how it all goes. 🙂

Enough for now … Thank you all so much for your continued love, support and prayers.

Until next time,
April

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We made it!

We are officially in Florida! WOW!

We arrived around 4:30 pm yesterday afternoon after spending a night in Savannah, GA thanks to a very dear friend! (Don – THANK YOU!)

It was a long trip, but everyone did really well. Anderson was a fantastic travel partner, and Brandon drove the U-Haul like a champ. It was pretty tedious to drive that 26 ft truck while pulling a long car hauler. He did great!

We had some friends help us unload and we have been settling into the adorable guest house we are staying in for a few weeks thanks to an amazing family here in Tampa. We have been greeted with so much love and encouragement, and we are so grateful.

I’ll write more later, but for now, I’ll leave you with a few pictures from this past (whirlwind) week. A few days before we moved, we snuck away to the beach for a quick trip with some family, then we came back to Harrisburg, packed up the U-Haul with the help of some incredible people, closed on our house on Thursday thanks to the amazing Kim Snyder and drove out that afternoon. INSANE! 🙂

God has shown us his grace and love over and over again as we’ve prepared for this move. While it was incredibly hard to say “see you later” to our family and friends, God has continued to meet us right where we are and provide for our every need. We never walk alone and he is always faithful.

Enjoy the pics!

Until next time!

April

 

 

 

 

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The Big Move Approaches

I thought it might be time to give a quick update to anyone who is following our move. I want to be sure to first mention how gracious God has been to us during this whole process. Even when we have felt overwhelmed or stressed, God has graciously shown us every “next step” in his perfect and precious timing. We are excited for this new chapter, and sad about the one we are closing.

As of Tuesday of last week, our house is officially “under contract” (thank you and a shout-out to our friend and High Caliber Realty’s wonderful, Kim Snyder). We were in an interesting situation with potential buyers, and were waiting until 5 p.m. last Tuesday to make any decisions. Between 3-5 p.m., I prayed a lot for God’s direction and his will to be done, and asked a few close friends and family members to do the same. God graciously answered those prayers as he made it incredibly clear which direction to take. Lord willing, we will close on the house on June 25th and probably head out of Harrisburg towards Tampa on the 26th.

There are so many emotions as we prepare for the next step in the journey God has our family on. We had some friends and family members over for a Memorial Day/Coca-Cola 600 cookout (like we’ve done every year for the past 4-5 years). We realized this was the last year we’d be able to do this annual get-together with these amazing people in our lives. We had fun that evening, but in my heart, I was a little sad. As I held my brand new four-week-old nephew and rocked him to sleep, I looked over at our wonderful friends sitting around our patio table, and could have cried. What will it be like when they aren’t close by and close enough to sit at our patio table? What will it be like to watch my sweet nephews grow up in pictures and on FaceTime? Are we doing the right thing? And God’s answer entered as quickly as the questions came. Yes, child, you’re following my leading and my plans for your family. It isn’t usually easy when God gives you the clear command to “go” (which He has given all of us in one way or another – we are all called to take his gospel to the nations and to make his name famous in places that desperately need him), but we do have such a peace and we are thankful for that peace. While we will miss our friends and family SO much, we know God is sovereign over all things, and we know his plans are good and for his glory. We know our friends and family members will be okay, and we know we will, too. (And I’m so thankful Allegiant flies out of Concord, NC for SUCH a good price … :))

And we have officially talked to Anderson about the big move, as well. Everything we have read about moving with young children said to wait until about a month out before really talking to them much about it. While he has obviously been privy to many conversations about selling the house, moving, etc., we hadn’t yet sat down with him to talk about the move. We did that yesterday. We were at home last night after a busy and fun weekend, and out of the blue, Anderson said, “I want to move to Tampa.” No joke … Now I know he has heard it from us, so it wasn’t completely out of the blue, but it shocked both Brandon and me. What a great time to discuss it with him, right? HA So we chatted for just a few minutes – he is only three, so we didn’t want to drag it out. Then this morning, we read “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day” book (twice) and talked about what it means to move.

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We pray for Anderson’s heart on a regular basis regarding this move. We pray for him to be comforted if he has any fears. We pray for God to bring peace to his sweet, young heart as we pack up the only home he has ever known. We know God has called us on this new journey, and he hasn’t left Anderson out of that plan. He has a plan for Anderson in Tampa just as much as he does for Brandon and me. That’s such a comforting reminder to my mommy heart.

So the boxing up began today. I hope to get a little done each day, even if it’s only one box. Hopefully that makes the load a little lighter as we reach the home stretch.

Here’s a funny picture of the most precious cargo we have …

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I guess that is all for now. Our inspection is potentially this week, so please pray for things to go smoothly as we navigate the waters of inspections, appraisals, surveys, packing, etc. We are excited, nervous, anticipating, sad, and every other emotion possible.

I want to leave you with a new favorite song of mine. Brandon introduced me to this CD this weekend, and I absolutely love it. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the move, but it’s a beautiful song and the words are intense and amazing. It’s called “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” by Sandra McCracken and I love it. Hope you do, too!

Until next time …
May you know how much Christ loves you and dwell in his presence daily!

April

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Big News

It is with both sadness and excitement that I write this short blog post to update all of you. We have felt the call of God on our lives and, after much prayer and seeking the Lord’s will, we will be moving to Tampa, Florida to be a part of a church plant in an urban area in the city. God has been working in our hearts, and he has made his plan clear to us as we have prayed about his will in our lives. We love Christ Community Church very much and have been so thankful to call it home, so it is an emotional time in our lives as we prepare to leave friends we love so much. Our house is currently on the market, and the goal for the move to Tampa (contingent on selling our house) is June 15.

We will be missionaries in the city and will live on financial support from family and friends. Brandon will have a couple part time jobs, as well, and I might have one, too. Some of those specifics are still being determined. Right now, we do know Brandon will be leading worship for a church plant in the city (Covenant Life Church, where a friend of ours is currently on staff), while also potentially working at a coffee shop. All we know for sure is that we are supposed to go, and God is leading us as we work out the rest. We are excited about what God is doing and to see him move, while also sad to leave a place that has been home to us for so long.

If you have any questions or would like more details about our move (or information about maybe partnering with us), we are only a phone call away. We would be more than happy to discuss any of this with you. Thank you all for your love and support, and we are so thankful for each of you.
_______________________

If you are feeling led to partner with us, we need support in two main ways: prayer and financial support. If you would like to partner with us, please let us know and please feel free to subscribe to this blog for future updates about our mission work in the city of Tampa. Below you will find the information on how to partner with us financially:

Financial support for the Whedbees will be sent to Covenant Life Church in Tampa, and will be kept in a designated account.

Here are the three ways to contribute:

1. Online “billpay” via bank – E-checks can be set up to send automatically and can be sent to Covenant Life Church @
Covenant Life Church
P.O. Box 10249
Tampa, Fl 33679
Please designate “Whedbee” in the memo

2. Check (via USPS) to Covenant Life Church @
Covenant Life Church
P.O. Box 10249
Tampa, Fl 33679
Please designate “Whedbee” in the memo

3. Online at http://covenantlifetampa.org/ministries/giving/
(Please write “Whedbees” in the comments section)

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I LOVE ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible’

Anyone with a small child, or a big one, will LOVE “The Jesus Storybook Bible!”  We read it to Anderson every day, and he LOVES it.  Every story points back to Christ … Here is an excerpt from one of the stories we read today at nap time.  I couldn’t help but write it down and share it:

Operation “No More Tears!”
(The Rescuer will come: prophecies from Isaiah 9, 11, 40, 50, 53, 55, 60)

–The story begins with a short explanation of who Isaiah was and how God used him to tell the people about the coming Messiah.  It explains how this (below) is the ‘message God gave to Isaiah, like a letter to his children.’

“Dear Little Flock,
You’re all wandering away from me, like sheep in an open field. You have always been running away from me. And now you’re lost. You can’t find your way back.

But I can’t stop loving you. I will come to find you. So I am sending you a Shepherd to look after you and love you. To carry you home to me.

You’ve been stumbling around, like people in a dark room. But into the darkness, a bright Light will shine. It will chase away all the shadows, like sunshine.

A little baby will be born. A Royal Son. His mommy will be a young girl who doesn’t have a husband. His name will be Emmanuel, which means ‘God has come to live with us.’ He is one of King David’s children’s children’s children. The Prince of Peace.

Yes, Someone is going to come and rescue you! But he won’t be who anyone expects. He will be a King! But he won’t live in a palace. And he won’t have have lots of money. He will be poor. And he will be a Servant. But this King will heal the whole world.

He will be a Hero! He will fight for his people, and rescue them from their enemies. But he won’t have big armies, and he won’t fight with swords. He will make the blind see, he will make the lame leap like deer! He will make everything the way it was always meant to be.

But people will hate him, and they won’t listen to him. He will be like a Lamb – he will suffer and die.

It’s the Secret Rescue Plan we made – from before the beginning of the world!

It’s the only way to get you back.

But he won’t stay dead – I will make him alive again!

And, one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth – as the waters cover the sea! Everything sad will come untrue. Even death is going to die! And he will wipe away every tear from every eye.

Yes, the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for him. He will come!

I promise.”

We love that one!  

If you have kiddos, find “the Jesus Storybook Bible” for them today!

 

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Snowmaggedon 2014

Well … “Snowmaggedon 2014” came and went … Most of the snow is already gone, but we had fun while it lasted. 🙂

Brandon was home from work today, so we “suited up” and braved the elements to play a little snow football and go sledding.  It’s sad when you’re sledding and you can still see the grass.  HA!  But you do what you have to do in NC …

Here are some pictures from our fun day in the snow, and a video link at the bottom!

Practicing before the "big" hills ...

Practicing before the “big” hills …

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Daddy and his brave little boy ...

Daddy and his brave little boy …

Weeeeee

Weeeeee

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Our snow angel

Our snow angel

Everyone needs a little hot chocolate after playing in the snow!

Everyone needs a little hot chocolate after playing in the snow!

Sledding Video Link:
http://tinypic.com/usermedia.php?uo=fNkd6hpTbcMWHdjjcoTm04h4l5k2TGxc

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