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spotlight: providential redux

You know when somebody tells you a story about somebody you don’t know and you listen just to humor them?

annie1I realize that in a blog format you don’t have to pretend to care and you can just surf on to the next website of interest, so let me give you four reasons to stick it out and keep reading:

1. Look at the cute baby picture.
2. A good story is a good story – period.
3. Sometimes we need to be reminded that God is in control and hear a story about God’s providential plan for somebody’s life unfold from beginning to end.
4. The gospel changes everything, infuses everything, and if you love Jesus you just go with the flow.

As a point of reference, J & Sal are good friends of our from college and, with their powers combined, two of the funniest and most thoroughly enjoyable people we know.

Here’s Sal:

In case you are wondering why we changed our blog name from Polka Dots and Pinstripes, J started a new job! [. . . ] He left Dell after almost exactly 3 years to create a non-profit called “The For the City Network” or “For the City.” I couldn’t be prouder of him. Some of you might be confused, so I will give you some back story.

1. We read a book – September 2007

About a year ago we started reading a book with a group of friends called Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller.

It totally changed our whole worldview: the way we thought about God, ourselves, each other, and the people around us. One of the main things the book tears apart is our notion that we should give (money, time, care, etc.) because we feel that we are better or have more than others.

It may be true that we (all Americans) have a lot (especially on a global scale), but that this shouldn’t be the motivation for our giving or extending ourselves to people in need.

The main motivation for extending mercy is that God was merciful to us. Period.

Luke 6:36: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Jesus gave, saved, loved, and helped us when we did nothing to deserve it and nothing to honor Him. What should stop us from overflowing that same undeserved mercy we were given to those around us and act like the One we love most? Tough stuff in practice. We are still learning and God is not done with us.

2. J gets excited – January of 2008
So J, who is one of the most merciful people I have ever met, got pretty excited about organizing people and thinking about how we can be more strategic in helping people both in our church and outside of it.

With a team of people at our church, J and the team started concentrating efforts to figure out how we can start mobilizing people to serve around the city and tell people about opportunities.

3. Build a building.
At this very same time our church was trying to decide where to build a building. Because our church has a vision to be a part of renewing the city, we bought land in an area where there is a lot of opportunity.

Within the campus, we are building office space for non-profits to foster synergy among them. We are also creating the sanctuary as a multi-use space so that it is available for use for community/ city-wide events during the other 6 days of the week. There are going to be a lot of possibilities with these new buildings.

4. Memphis – August 2008
All along the way J was thinking this would be an excellent 2nd career, but was very happy in his job at Dell. Then he went to Memphis for three days.

A lot can change in 3 days.

He left discussing where we might move to get his MBA.

He and his friend Travis set off to Memphis. Travis is J’s exact opposite, except as it relates to journals and pens. In this way, they are identical. They complement each other really well.

When we (me and Katie, Travis’ wife) picked them up from the airport, he said that he needed to quit his job and do this for the rest of his life.

If you know J, he doesn’t mess around. He is not a dreamer. If the words make it out of his mouth, it is as good as done and he has already thought through the implications, so I reply “Alright. Sounds good,” not knowing at this point even what he was talking about since he hadn’t told me about the trip, yet.

He proceeded to tell me about how Memphis has an amazing network of non-profits that all do what they are really great at, but are networked together to do the maximum good. He met with people who had lived in neighborhoods for 25 years mentoring, he met with non-profit community developers, he met with church staff, and many more. They all knew each other and they all worked together for the city.


J and Travis love the name “For the City” as a result of it being a term they constantly say all week. They buy the domain name upon returning home, just in case.

5. J has a chat with his boss – August 2008

When J returns from Memphis his boss asks how the trip was. J frankly tells him that it was life-changing. His boss admits to his own dreams of doing something that helps people and makes a difference.

Not what J was expecting, but very confirming.

This was one person that he thought would try to talk him out of it.

6. Vision Series – September 2008

Every fall our church has a series of sermons that cast the vision of the direction we are heading. This year it was called “A Church For the City.” Pretty strange and has nothing to do with J or Travis.

7. J gets an offer! – December 2008

8. God tests J. – December 2008

While we were considering and praying, the day after J got the offer, J gets a raise and promotion.

Haha. The “irony.”

9. J starts his new job! – January 2009
His vision for the non-profit is that it would be a network that would be a strategy leader, coordinator, and advocate for city renewal by creating partnerships, influencing and casting vision for improvement, generating new initiatives, channeling funds/resources, mobilizing and equipping volunteers, & meeting diverse needs.

There are so many more obvious things that the Lord did that I didn’t write here. Ask me if you are wondering. ;-) We can’t wait to see where He takes this!

Thanks for going with the flow J & Sal – we will be praying for you as you try to live out the gospel “for the city”.

We will do the same.

Link: ‘Pinstripes for TOMS

. . . . . . . .

Sal has walked the aisle of bloggery and rededicated herself to blogging about life as a Lopez.  I have a feeling that, should she be successful, it will be well worth keeping her on your Google Reader or frequently checked blogs.

You can find her, J, and Annie at La Casa de Lopez

  1. January 24, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Wow – that was very inspiring, to see people of God living out as salt and light!

  2. January 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Whoa! We got a shout out! I feel a new wave of pressure to be a more diligent updater! Thanks, guys! Can’t wait for the Abbey to come out and play! Truth be told she will come out in February, but not play until this summer sometime.

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