Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Finish Line!

I made it! I ran through the finish line. The cheers and the emotions are still very real with the realization that I just finished the hardest race of my life thus far. Granted, I have not tackled many hard projects, but the sacrifice that it took to get my masters degree seemed very similar to a marathon. I had the thrill and excitement at the beginning. I had moments where I received a second wind and stretches where I settled into a solid pace. At the end, my body and mind were wondering if I was going to make it and were longing for the chance to collapse and relax. And now after two weeks, my body is still having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. I always knew Tatum was cheering me on, but I do not think I realized how much she had run right alongside of me during my race. This hit me as I saw how emotional she was through the graduation weekend. We had made it! And now I am doing whatever I can to help her finish strong (Tatum’s graduation date – August 3rd). School has definitely dominated our marriage, and we are excited about the next phase where we have time to enjoy each other more and to really pursue our careers.

The graduation also signaled the end of my graduate internship at Flood. This definitely caused a lot of reflection. Although I am excited about the full-time, salaried job, I am incredibly grateful for the journey I have been on with many of you. Some of you have helped me financially, and many of you have offered your prayers to help me get through this phase. I cannot express how much I appreciate each one of you. And much beyond the behind the scenes support, we felt the encouragement and the support from everyone each time we saw you or talked to you. Tatum and I are incredibly blessed with friends and family, which shined even brighter through this journey of support-raising. So thank you for believing in us and believing in what God wanted to do through us. And we hope that you will continue to pray for us, even though the prayer updates will not be as regular. Along with that, please continue to let us know if there is any way we can pray for you and support you.

I do want to give you a quick update on the last couple months at Flood. Due to the additional responsibility of moving in May, the last two months were overwhelming with putting a house together (90% of this was done by my beautiful wife) and finishing everything before graduation. But in the midst of that, we had several New to Faith classes along with some growth group training. I wanted to highlight one of the NTF groups. We only had two people go through this last class, and because it was during one of my busiest stretches, I don’t think I fully realized what God was doing. After three weeks of explaining the gospel and answering questions, we found out the woman had accepted Christ and the guy was incredibly close. Although my brain was overwhelmed throughout the class, it was fun to see God work through Mindi and I to bring them both closer to God. What a blessing!

What’s in store now? I officially start my full-time job with Flood on July 1st. The newest job responsibility will be in the area of education, where I will be overseeing any class that we offer for enrichment. In other words, I will be looking for ways to help our church grow in their faith outside of Sundays and our weekly groups. So I am spending most of my summer brainstorming, planning, and putting things on the calendar. Then, after Tatum graduates, we will be taking almost three weeks off to relax and celebrate the close of this chapter. This will include a trip back east to visit friends and family, along with a week-long trip to Hawaii. This second trip will definitely be a blessing to our marriage since we have not relaxed together, just the two of us, in a very long time.

Also, I am hoping to transform Lehmantations.com into something a bit more than a support update blog. I really enjoyed writing devotionals this past year, so I am hoping to explore that a bit more. Also, I will try to post some of the papers I wrote throughout seminary just in case you are intrigued to read them. If you are interested in the thoughts and ideas that have birthed out of my education, please check back on occasion. I will also email you if I add any significant material.

I think that is all I have for now. Again, thanks for helping me cross the finish line and I am excited to journey with you in whatever God has in store for us and for you in the future.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Easter Update!!

I wanted to finally take the time to update you on what happened over the Easter holiday. Flood has always put a significant amount of time into planning for Easter each year, knowing that it may be the one of only a few times a person steps foot in a church all year. We try to figure out ways to allow people to truly encounter God and hear a clear presentation of the love and grace that God offers. This year, the staff member in charge of Sunday production, along with the help of a few others, built two huge Lite-Brite boards. We gave each person a peg when they arrived and created a tangible way for people to respond to the message. We started with giving people a chance, who have never put their trust in Christ, to come forward and place their peg into the huge board. Then, we opened it up to the rest of the church in order to see what kind of force our light could be to the world around us. My job was to be up front and be available to pray for people. It was an amazing viewpoint as I watched around 20 people put their trust in Christ in each of the two morning services. Two women who had just finished up our most recent New to Faith group made the commitment. I also saw another woman, who went through the class about 6 months ago, place her peg into the Lite-Brite along with her brother and sister-in-law. Also, I witnessed a woman, who only came to one New to Faith class, make the commitment as her mother, who is involved in our church and has been praying for her for years, was crying as she stood walked to the front with her. The day reminded me of how everybody is on a process, and what a thrill it is to be just a small part of their journey. It makes every difficult conversation and moment of prayer worth it when you see people make such a huge commitment. I sincerely thank each one of you who support me and allow me to have such an amazing viewpoint on what God is doing.

As if that is not enough, we had the Strategic Fatherhood event the following night. We had never done a fatherhood event before, but we realized with the way our church is growing through procreation right now, we should look into it! We were hoping 40 or so guys would show up, so we were thrilled that 75 guys came and most of them attempted to take part in our potluck. Its always a little risky when you ask men to bring food, especially when the first 10 claim soda, but it turned out to be a great meal. Pastor Matt and his growth group shared their journey of trying to become more strategic fathers, and then we had a big brainstorming session to share everybody’s wisdom. We were definitely encourage to see so many fathers, and many men who will one day be fathers, interacting and encouraging each other. I am excited to see what God has in store for the men of Flood!

Finally, I wanted to share with you the next step in our extremely transitional period of our lives. After 2-1/2 years in a one-bedroom apartment, we are making the jump to a 3-bedroom house! Through some friends of ours, we were offered an amazing deal to rent this house. The family needed some people they trust to take care of the house and we needed an affordable rent. It ended up being a great fit and we are moving in two weeks. We are really excited to have more space, which includes a backyard. I am finally going to be able to buy the army-sized pack of toilet paper from Costco and have a place to store it!! We view this as an incredible gift from God as we pray through what God has in store for us in the future. So please pray for us as we try to move in the midst of an intense time at school, and especially for Tatum as she will have to live in clutter for a bit until we get settled (if you know her, you know why this is a prayer request). But now we will have room for any out-of-town visitors!! If we are not a good enough reason to visit, you will want to see the one wall that has tree wall paper on it, as if you are standing at the edge of a forest!! We will see you soon!

I am finishing up another New to Faith group this week, and Tatum just finished her Core group. I will give you an update on both of those in the next blog entry. But for now, if you could pray for our situation at Kearny High, that would be great. We are out of a home for the next two weekends because of a reported case of swine flue in the school. We will be scrambling a bit, but are confident that God is still going to do great things in the next two weeks.

You stay classy, friends and family. Thank you so much for what you mean to Tatum and I.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Not Going Anywhere....

I thought I would post a quick note to say “Happy Easter!!” to everyone. Many of you will celebrate this momentous holiday with family and friends, which hopefully is a refreshing and fun experience for you. Now that I work at a church, my new tradition is to celebrate Christ’s resurrection by helping others celebrate with me (which includes helping them find a place to park…). As with most churches, Easter is a big Sunday at Flood. We have had the theme of Risk this year, with a focus on sharing Christ’s love with others. There are many within our church who have taken the risk of inviting friends, family, and coworkers to attend church with them on Easter. Since most people are more open to it on such a significant holiday, we are praying that many who do not know Christ will hear and experience His love for them. So we would love for you to pray with us that God would show up in a powerful way on Sunday and change lives.

Also, we are having our first Fatherhood event on Monday night, right after Easter. We have been blown away by the response and have 60 rsvp’s already. This is obviously a need within our church, so pray that God would use the time of sharing and discussion to push the fathers of Flood to be more than just present in the lives of their kids, but to also be strategic.

I also have a few updates of praise. We just finished a New to Faith class, where I had 7 people going through the seeker section. We are following up with them over the next week or so, but we already have one woman commit to follow Christ! It has been amazing to be a part of what God is doing in transforming people’s lives. If you think of it, pray that she would find the community that she needs to really grow in her trust of God and that the rest in the group would continue seeking God.

Finally, in some bigger news, I have been officially hired by Flood!! My internship ends when I graduate, so I was waiting to find out what the next step would be. In the midst of some tough economic times, God has blessed our church with enough finances that they were able to hire me full-time starting in July! I will share more about my job description when it is fleshed out, but my main focus will by on the same areas of ministry. So thank you so much for everyone who has supported me financially and prayerfully over the past two years. For those who have been supporting me on a monthly basis, your commitment ends after June!! Its my own version of an economic stimulus package. Overall, Tatum and I are thrilled to be here longer. We have been blessed through our church and are excited to see how God can use us in this community over the next couple years. So if you go to Flood, sorry, but you are stuck with me!

I’ll post another update soon to tell you about Easter, the Fatherhood event, and Tatum’s core group. It is a blessing to serve alongside of each one of you.


Monday, March 2, 2009

February is over!

It is officially March, which has been welcomed into my life. I just finished a week of events which were a blessing, both to me and others, yet it all happening in one week left my quite tired. Other than the ministry updates included below, there is not a whole lot to report on. Tatum and I are studying away. I have just over 3 months until graduation. At that point, I’ll be having a graduation party whenever I see somebody. The one social highlight we had came the week after Valentine’s. We actually went out for a nice dinner in Little Italy. We talked. We laughed. We relaxed. It was insane. That whole “date” thing is worth all the hype. But since we forgot our camera on our one social event, you only get a picture of the cliffs along the Pacific. Now onto the ministry updates…..

Soma Conference
We have an annual conference entitled the “Soma Conference”, which is always focused on wholeness. My job each year is to oversee the coaches for each team and spend the painstaking time of figuring out which team is the best fit for each person. Its one area where my excel spreadsheet skills from my engineering days come in quite handy. Although it is draining, it’s a good fit for me. I also coached five guys throughout the weekend, which is always fun for me. The theme of the conference was Risk and we had some amazing speakers in for the main sessions and the workshops. Overall, the conference was a huge success so thank you to all who prayed.

Men’s Event
In order to save myself some effort and utilize a great speaker, we had a Men’s Event the Monday night before Soma, which is Thursday through Saturday. Well that sort of backfired on me because we had 115 guys show up. That is 40 more than any Men’s Event we have ever had during the week! So all of the sudden I had to put some effort into figuring out the food problem since the hunger was not being dissipated. I cannot complain that the event took effort, though since God answered some prayers in bringing out such a huge turnout. I’ve heard great feedback and more guys are interested in the future Men’s Events. The topic was “Dangerous Friendships” and Todd Langerveld talked through principles found in the friendship between David and Jonathan. We also had a challenge to give up NOT spending time with God for Lent. So my prayer is that the men at Flood spend more time with God over the next 40 days than they have in a long time.

New to Faith
Also, we finished up another New to Faith class this past month. It was definitely a smaller class in that we only had two girls, but it was still a huge success. It’s always a thrill to walk alongside of people when they are seeking. One woman had already made a faith commitment to Jesus Christ, but still had a lot of questions. Therefore, she was fine going through the seeker section of our class. The second woman was definitely in a place of seeking and had many questions. The best news came at the end when both girls asked if they were allowed to go through the second tract of the New to Faith class. Just to give you context, we have only had one total person choose to do that in the past year. The second girl seems very close to making a faith commitment, so we are excited to see them continue to grow in tract 2. So if you think of it, please pray for them.
Growth Group Leader Training
Well, although I thought I had four guys going through the training, two of them had to drop out because of schedule conflicts. So I’m finishing up with the two that remained, and the other two will join another four guys in a new training starting on March 15th. Please pray with me that God would continue to raise up more men to be growth group leaders.

So what does the next month hold? Tatum gets a well-deserved spring break! I might get a weekend camping trip in, but most of my month is full of studying. Here are a few highlights that are coming up though:
➢ Tatum’s Core Group on finding redemption from sexual pasts. Her next group starts up on March 15th, so pray that God would speak through her like He has in the past. (You can talk to the girls from her first group for proof)
➢ We are going to try an event in April focusing on Fatherhood. Since having babies is the new fad at our church, we realize we need to start addressing the new role. So pray that God would lead us in that.

Thank you to each one of you. Your prayers and support have been a huge encouragement to me throughout the year. I know any success in my ministry is tied to your prayers, so thank you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

And now its February....

Time for another update! I was avoiding it at first because I was in denial that I am back into the swing of things. But alas, I am. Tatum and I had a wonderfully relaxing break over Christmas. It was the first time that both of us had off of school since June 1st, so we were definitely excited. We spent some time in Colorado with family and in Idaho with friends. We talked about things other than school, played the wii, enjoyed snow, watched some movies, went skiing, and ate more food than we really needed. We definitely got the relaxation we needed for the final push of school. It is hard to believe that I am done in 5 months and Tatum is done in 6 months. Go ahead. You can let out a cheer!

This quarter in seminary is going to be a challenge because I am taking both of my classes independently. That means I do not have to go to class, but it also means I do not technically have deadlines. Just one: at the very end. For those that know me, that is not ideal. I have set my own deadlines and have already missed most of them. Good times. So please pray for diligence since I really want to graduate.

Regarding Flood, the first few weeks back included a 3-day staff retreat, the big growth group launch (at least big for me), and the Fripple Awards, which is our thank you event for all of our volunteers. The retreat was good, but unfortunately it made me realize how much I have on my plate over the next couple months. The Fripple Awards were also a success as almost 200 people came out to celebrate what Flood has done over the past year. We really do have amazing volunteers and its always fun to see how God has worked through each one of them over the past year. We also shared the vision for the year which is centered on the theme of Risk. I’ll share more as things come into fruition.

Our growth group launch was the biggest ever on the guys side. We have 5 new groups and 3 other groups with a few openings. We will see if everyone that signed up actually follows through with it, but we filled up each group by the end of the last church service. I am blessed with the leaders that God has put around me and I’m really excited to see where the men’s ministry goes over this next year. I’ve included the big things coming up next month in case you want to put some prayer behind it. February will definitely be a busy month.

New to Faith → Our next New to Faith class starts on February 8th. I’m not sure how many will be participating, but prayer is always needed as seekers wrestle through their questions and roadblocks.
Growth Group Leader Training → We will start up another training on February 8th. We are hoping for a few more guys, which will force two trainings.
Men’s Event → The next men’s event will be on February 23rd. Todd Langerveld, who has been on staff with Campus Crusade for the past 25 years, and discipled Pastor Matt, will be in San Diego and will share on dangerous friendships. We are really excited to see how God uses him.
Soma Conference → Febraury 26-28 marks our annual Soma conference, where we talk through how God has created us and His desire for wholeness in our lives. Todd will be staying the whole week and will be the keynote speaker for the conference as well.

Thank you for all of your support and prayers. It is a blessing to serve at Flood and you all make it possible and make it a joy. Its crazy to think that I am in the final leg of my internship. And it will be fun to celebrate with all of you.