Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Dear Friends, What an incredible year. We have seen King Jesus do so many amazing things in our lives this year it is hard to know what to share and what to leave out. With that said, we will cut out the witty intro and dive right in.

After graduating from college in December, 2012 many transitions happened all at once. After much prayer, and a nine and half year wait we welcomed our second child into the world, Elora Grace. She is completely amazing and beautiful. Recovery was hard for Stacy as she had to have another c-section, but she was up and running around in no time. We had decided she would stay home with the baby so this was a big transition for her. 

January was also when I started working part-time for Home Depot. This job was very short lived as it was a 30 min drive at 3 AM and I almost died, literally, like every day. After this, I took a part-time job with Subway and McDonalds. It was a frustrating time, but we were grateful for Gods gracious provision. I also began serving Hopewell Presybterian Church in January as an interim pastor. Serving Hopewell was one of the highlights of the year and we were so blessed to be part of this church, even if for a short time.

2013 was also the year of the move. We lived at 5 addresses this year, no thats not a typo, I meant to write 5. In fact, if I ever decide to call it quits as a pastor I know I could be a professional mover, maybe even run my own business...LOL. I'm still not sure if God was trying to teach us something through all of those addresses, but we defiantly hit that point where we felt we couldn't go on. We had to move from the college in Toccoa, and then we moved to WI, but that's getting ahead of the story. 

In July of 2012 I started putting out resumes out to churches that were looking for pastors. Although we received some offers the right fit just did not present itself. Rather then jump into the wrong sittuation we decided to wait and see where Jesus would lead us. It was also during this season that we began to read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The book rocked our prayer life and we began to pray in new and radical ways. It was during this time when the Spirit led us to forsake everything and embrace him and pack up and move to Oshkosh, WI to start a church. This is an amazing story about Jesus moving in miraculous ways and if you would like to read it let me know and I will send it to you as I already have it in letter form. Jesus spoke so clearly though that we knew we had to go. Seeing people give to help us get to Oshkosh was so humbling as their gifts said, we believe your supposed to go too. 

When we moved to Oshkosh we did not have a job, a house, or anything lined up. We had one connection in WI and a small budding connection in Oshkosh. We just knew we had to go, and that we were supposed to go now. After living in a hotel for two days we were invited to a Missional community, a group of people living intentionally on mission for Jesus, for a local church plant called New City Church. Before the night was over we had a place to live for a few weeks and a place to store all of our stuff for as long as needed, and we did not ask anyone. This church has been an amazing blessing to us and we are so grateful to God for them. We now had a place to live temporarily, but no way to pay rent. Within eight days of moving I was hired as an assistant manager with Arby's and the training went so well that they promoted me to store manager before I was even finished with training. We then found a month to month renting sittuation, which everyone said did not exist in Oshkosh, until we bought a home in November of this year. Even this was a miracle as we were given a grant to make the down payment on our house and pay all of the closing costs that were left to us. 

Stacy and I also celebrated 10 years of marriage this year. It was awesome as we got to go to Laguna Hills, CA for free for training in starting churches for our anniversary. Of course we made sure we had free time to celebrate! We had a wonderful time remenicing about all Jesus has done in our marriage and how he pulled us from the depths of despair just a few short years ago.

On the church planting front we are in bit of a holding pattern until the new year. We have some logistical things to work out, but in the mean time we have been settling into and getting to know Oshkosh. God has truly settled our hearts here in a supernatural way as we all love the city and have a deep sense of belonging here. 

I cannot leave the letter without mentioning our daughter Aurora. She is amazing, but we have struggled with her some this year. She is strong willed and a natural leader and we pray that God uses this to do great things for the Kingdom. 

As I come to a close we do not know what 2014 has in store for us, but we are on this journey with Jesus. So whatever this year brings we know that as my friend Jon says, "God's got this."

Merry Christmas, The McDuffie's

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