Ah, the end of a day. Time for rest and reflection. I snapped this photo yesterday evening heading through West Texas on our annual family visit. Can you feel the calm? As Laurie and I bring 2014 to a close, there is so much that I am thankful for and pleased to have accomplished. In fact, I have lived out some dreams. Laurie is asleep as I write, so I’ll let her share her reflections later. After mentioning a few milestones I’m excited to share a glimpse of a side of our ministry you don’t often get to see, and I will make a need known for your consideration as you finalize your year-end giving.
In October Laurie and I celebrated ten years of marriage, and are more in love than ever. Our kids are a joy, growing in their distinct personalities and love for God. My own pursuit of God feels like an unfolding mysterious adventure. I have lived more from my heart of a worshiper and artist than ever this year, making time to complete more than a dozen works of art in my back yard woodshed and as artist-in-residence at The Machine Shop where I also had my first exhibition in September. I began exploring craftsmanship with woodworking. I harvested my first elk this fall, after years of trying.
Together, now in our eighth year of ministry, Laurie and I completed and released a worship album that is, as Laurie says “my heart for God cut open on a recording!” I agree. We led worship and ministered in so many settings including Peacemakers Conference, Resound Conference, trips to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and a whopping 3200 miles to California and back in the fall. We took a creative retreat and enjoyed developing and teaching the new things Lord has been giving us about power and authority in the kingdom.
We have now crossed the threshold of four years in Colorado Springs, and three of gathering in our home regularly for worship, prayer, and teaching–not to mention living our dream of receiving many guests through our home for times of rest, laughter, conversation, and prayer with easy access to Garden of the Gods for hiking and processing.
And all that is truly so great, but I am also mindful of this: In the mustard-seed kingdom, fruit is not measured in numbers of projects completed, but in the overflow of the love affair each of us has with God, imparted to people who can cultivate their own thing with God, and go on to impart to others as well.
Of course, it can be difficult to see this fruit. I know I often have a hard time seeing it, and one reason is that the engine of the relational ministry I’m describing is God’s faithful, generous pursuit of his people, not any kind of systematic effort on our part. There are no checklists. We never quite know how he will move, but somehow we make a space for him around the dinner table, the fire pit, on the walk or the fishing trip, and when we see him we are transformed–not always in an immediately identifiable way, but over the course of time with reflection the outworking becomes visible, like the notches on the door frame as kids grow older. Dear friends Machelle and Tom have made great strides in their journey since we’ve known them and are doing some reflecting. They graciously agreed to write some words that express what this kind of ministry has been like from their perspective.
Machelle: There is something significant and life-changing that happens when you give someone who is humble and trustworthy permission to speak to you. This is the kind of relationship we have been able to enjoy with Tim and Laurie for the past few years now. Because of their bold way of speaking truth into our lives, calling us out on the table so we can repent and grow, and inviting us into community with them and so many other inspiring and loving people, our children are happier, our marriage is healthier, and our home is a much more peaceful and joyful place. We are unspeakably grateful for the love and care that Tim and Laurie have provided through sharing their time, their family, their home, their hearts, their love, their friends, and their contagious laughter with us. The ministry of their music and writing is merely the icing on the cake of what a gift they are to me and my whole family.
Tom: Never before has my family had shepherds of our souls like Tim and Laurie Thornton. They hear us just as Jesus did the disciples, yelling “we’re going to die!” amidst the storms of our life, then they laugh a bit and calm the sea of our hearts. They see us toiling in the muck and mire of our life, then laugh a bit and call us out of the pigpen and into the Father’s loving arms. They care so deeply for who we are that they’re willing to listen intently as we pour our hearts out, and then remind us of how they see us through the eyes of the Lord Himself. They call us into the best possible future for us, and then work alongside of us to get there. Nobody has ever heard my wife or I the way that the Thorntons do. They help me to remember why my wife started out as my best friend long before kids. They remind me why each one of my three kids are a tremendous blessing. They have helped me to lead the hearts of my wife and children this year more faithfully than I ever have before. My wife is laughing and loving more now than she has since before we were married. I truly know for the first time in my life that my worth is found as a son of God and who He has made me to be, in comparison to what I can do, or how I can serve, or anything else.
Here at year-end, if you have some extra tax-deductable giving to do or if the Lord simply lays it on your heart to give an offering, would you consider sowing into us and this work?
We operate the nonprofit on a cash basis and as usual we are closing the year in the black, however our salary is “as funds are available” and as it stands, we are allowed $3,786 in salary which we do not have funds to disperse. [amount updated 1/2/15]. If you would like to give toward this purpose we’ll use the money to increase the financial health of our family and take care of some personal and home needs that have piled up (one of which is a new oven–our half-century-old GE just kicked the bucket. You know how important this is if you have ever had Laurie’s coffee cake). If you’d like to know more about specific needs or how our finances work please feel free to ask.
For next year, will you pray about beginning (or increasing) your monthly partnership with us? On a monthly basis we receive about 40% of the income we need through partnerships, and make the rest through program income (honorariums, offerings, music downloads, etc.) or extra work on the side. We’d love to see this percentage increase so the practical question of how we can make money from ministry will be of less and less concern to us in real-time.
Thanks and God bless you as make some quiet time at the year’s end in order to rest, reflect, and sow into what matters to you.December 28, 2014