I’ve been so focused on posting about Christmas lately. I suppose that makes sense since Christmas is only a few days away … how did that happen? I am so unprepared this year. I used to be done with Christmas shopping before December, but we just finished last night. I feel like I get worse every year. Please, tell I’m not the only one!
This Christmas season has been a bit strange. It’s the first one in a very long time that we haven’t been in ministry at an existing church. It feels different, but not necessarily bad. It’s definitely a slower season, but I’m not complaining about that one bit. We’ve been soaking it all up and savoring it.
Anyway, last week I promised a life update. It’s been a while since I’ve caught everyone up on what’s been going on with church planting, family life, etc. So grab a cup of coffee, tea, cocoa, whatever and let’s chat!
Peter and I began church planting training in October. It’s probably typical for the training to start before you actually move to plant a church, but our situation isn’t very typical. It’s been hard to make it to all the training sessions with Peter’s work schedule, so our district superintendent has very graciously been bringing some of the training to us!
The training has been so helpful. We know that the Lord has called us here, we know why He has called us here, but figuring out the logistics or even knowing where to start has been confusing and overwhelming. Training is bringing a lot of clarity. I’m so grateful that we didn’t start training earlier than we did. I was chomping at the bit to get started, but God knew that we needed time to heal, regroup and reconnect as a family, and settle into a very different routine.
At this point, we have developed a vision statement. We are really asking the Lord what the next steps need to be. We don’t want a church just for the sake of having a church. We want a church that honors, glorifies and makes much of Jesus. We want a church that loses sleep over lost souls. We want a church desperately seeking the Lord in prayer. We want a church sold out to Jesus. We would love it if you would pray for us as we seek God’s direction.
(You can read more about our decision to church plant here)
God has already been moving in our midst! We had a college student connect with us, who was interning at her church in New Mexico. She moved here in August and comes from a church that is passionate about reaching the lost and planting new churches. We have such like mindedness in terms of ministry and reaching the lost. It has been such a blessing getting to know her and to be her “home away from home.”
In October, God added another college girl to our lives. They both come over weekly to have dinner with us, study God’s word & pray for one another. It’s been an amazing time. Currently they’re both home for Christmas (one in New Mexico, the other in Louisiana). We miss them! Our weeks aren’t the same without them.
God has also been bringing people into our lives who desperately need Him. Peter has been able to connect with and pray for some people on his mail route. In addition to that, we have some neighborhood kids we have met. They come from a very rough home life. Both they and their parents need Jesus. We are enjoying getting to know all of them and pouring Christ’s love into them.
At first, it was so hard getting used to our new “normal.” As you might know, Peter is working as a mail carrier in a neighboring town. He typically works 6 days a week. While he only had one day off as a pastor, it was different, because his schedule was more flexible and we would see him during the day. Now he’s gone all day. Sometimes he gets home at 2. There have been days he doesn’t get home until Claire’s in bed. We never really know what kind of day it will be.
That being said, having less time together has caused us to be more intentional about the time we spend together. Peter’s days off have become so treasured. We have had some of the greatest times together lately, adventuring in new places and checking out our new town. I’m so grateful.
Our absolute favorite place has been the St Louis Zoo! We share a car, otherwise I’d likely be there once a week. We’ve also enjoyed a local ceramics place, the orchard in our town, a nearby state park, the library, and lots of other fun places in St Louis and Springfield (we’re pretty close to both places).
I’m planning on writing a more in depth post on homeschooling at some point in the next month or two, but I figured I’d throw a tiny update in here! First grade is going so well. We’ve had to make some adjustments along the way, which was expected, but we haven’t had to make as many changes as I thought. Loop scheduling is working amazingly for us. We have switched up curriculum a little, but only in one subject (if you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know). Overall, everything was a perfect fit for our personalities, learning style, goals, and schedule.
I’ve also been loving how flexible our days are with homeschooling. Claire and I were able to go spend a few days with my sister in September. We spent time together, got our hair cut (well, not Claire … she’s working on getting her Rapunzel hair back) and got to see Lauren Daigle in concert together! It was a great time.
In October, we traveled together as a family to the Awakening Prayer Conference in Arlington, TX. This is the 4th time Peter & I have attended, but the first time we brought Claire. We drove and had a blast road tripping together. It was amazing being in presence of Jesus together as a family. We are so grateful for Crossroads Tabernacle working so hard to put this together each year. It honestly has changed our lives in such amazing ways.
We’ve also been able to take days off when my mom has visited from Iowa. I love that we’re able to take off for a few days and enjoy things like these without worrying about school.
… And all the other stuff
As I briefly shared in this week’s menu post, we adopted a kitten this week! We went to Petsmart with the intention of pricing a hamster or guinea pig for a Christmas present for Claire. The local shelter was there and had so many sweet kitties. We were petting them through the cage and then decided to hold one. He was so gentle when he was playing and just purred the entire time I held him.
We brought him home and already love him! We named him Leo. Our other cats (3 year old siblings we have had since they were 6 weeks old) have mixed feeling about him. Henry is already adjusted to him. Giselle hates him and hisses at him constantly. Gus, our pit bull, loved him right away, but he was scary to Leo the first few days. Now they’re buddies.
We have been attending a local Assembly of God church. Right now, we are not having services (just Bible study in our home), so we were eager to find a place to worship and find community. We are part of the Nazarene denomination (you can read more about the specific doctrine here if you’re interested), but the Assembly of God is fairly similar in most ways. This church has a great pastor who shares our heart in so many ways. They put a lot of emphasis on children. Claire is thriving there. When we moved here, she was struggled with severe shyness/social anxiety. Now she has friends at church and talks to everyone – even strangers at the grocery store. It has been such a blessing to see her come out of her shell. The church we’ve been attending has been very instrumental in that.
She also started Junior Bible Quizzing with them and is memorizing a lot of Scripture! It is so wonderful to see her tuck God’s word away in her heart. We have had so many deep theological discussions while we were “studying.” She had her first quiz meet last month. Although she was a little too nervous to buzz in, she had so much fun! Her confidence is increasing with time.
Another thing worth mentioning: Claire has lost 5 teeth this year! I love the sweet, toothless grin. They’re growing back in fast, though. Her four front teeth are mostly grown in, so her smile is a little less toothless. The above picture was taken in Texas, during the Awakening Prayer Conference. She and her friend both lost a tooth! It was a fun thing to experience together.
I guess that’s pretty much all that’s going on in the Doyle household. I hope you’ve enjoyed this update on family life and church planting. It’s not what I typically post, so let me know if you’d like to see more updates like these!