A Year In Review

As we enter the last few hours of 2018, my thoughts have continuously been turning to evaluate and review mode. What are the things we accomplished this year? Did we meet our goals? Did we set the right goals? As parents of young children it can often feel like we are just living to get through the day, or through the week. I’ve heard it said that “the days are long but the years are short,” and I’ve never been more able to relate to that statement in my life. I thought it would be helpful to write some things down to remind myself of all that has happened this year, as well as update our friends on our crazy life: past, present, and future. So without further ado, here is a year in the life of the Harrison Clan!

 

Lets start with the kids, because they are more fun anyway.

 

Levi: This year was a big one for our oldest! Here are the highlights: Levi started 2nd grade, and continues to love school. We are so blessed to be able to send him to a Christian school for the 3rd year. During one of the chapel times at school, he gave his life to Jesus! We continue to pray that he will thrive in his relationship with God as he grows older. He also started taking piano lessons, thanks to the generosity of his mimi and papa. He’s learned so quickly, his teacher is already moving him to an older class! Every person he meets falls in love with his sweet spirit and love of snuggles. He will be turning 8 in January!

 

Gideon: This year Gideon started full day kindergarten at the same Christian school as Levi. I have to be honest that I was a little worried about how he would do, but he took to kindergarten like a fish in water. His teacher loves him, and so do his classmates--especially the girls! He has shown himself to be a little ladies man, constantly writing letters and taking gifts to them in class (he even announced his engagement a few months ago, haha!). He has also become a lover of Jesus! He is constantly singing worship songs, talking about Jesus and told us Chapel is his favorite part of school. Recently he made a nativity scene at school, and when he brought it home, set it out under our tree over the presents because “Christmas is about Jesus!” He is still just as obsessed with all things trains as ever, but is finally starting to get interested in other things as well. He turned 6 in November!

 

Avalyn: This year our Avie is in her 2nd year of ½ day preschool with a Head Start program, which has been such a huge blessing to us as its no cost. Her teachers tell us she is a real leader in the classroom, with a lot of the younger kids looking up to her and following her example. She excels in art, drawing, and recognizing colors, numbers, and letters. She loves unicorns, princesses, dressing up, and most of all playing with her cousin Jade. For her birthday, Papa Peter sponsored a trip for Avalyn and Jade to see “Disney on Ice,” which was probably one of the highlights of her year. She has been such a huge help with Leola, and loves playing with and helping her sister. She turned 5 this month and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.

Leola: Our little caboose turned ONE in October and I think we are all still in denial. When I was pregnant with her I used to call her Lilo for short, and after she was born I felt like God showed me that she would be like the character of the same name from Lilo & Stitch (a 2002 Disney movie in case you have no idea what I’m talking about). In the film she takes a cruel alien and changes him with the power of love, despite how unlovable he was. God showed me that he created Leola to demonstrate His love to others by loving them in this way, and she has totally lived up to that! She smiles at every person she meets, and is in general the sweetest, happiest baby we’ve ever met. As she has gotten older she has gotten a little more sassy, but for the most part she is always smiling, always laughing at her siblings and loving on everyone she encounters. She is now walking, climbing on everything, says “Hi, Bye, Mama, Daddy, and Uh Oh!” We couldn’t have asked for a better baby to finish our family.

 

Rachel: Recently, I have taken on bigger roles at our YWAM Campus as the need has arisen. This summer I took over the Food Services department and have spent the last 6 months creating new systems as we grow as a community. I am in charge of creating menus, training crews, writing recipes and solving kitchen emergencies as they happen. It has been challenging, but also really fulfilling being able to work closely with our newer staff and more involved with training. I have also had the opportunity to train our brand new staff in a development group called Round Table, which helps transition them from their previous roles as student. It’s such a pleasure for me to get to know them and be involved in their lives.

 

Andrew: This year Andrew took on his biggest role in YWAM Denver to date when he was asked to join the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) helping my parents along with a select group of others in running the base. Although we have both been on the Leadership Team for some years, this has put him in even greater levels of authority in our ministry. It has come with challenges, but he is thriving in it (no surprise to me, but maybe a little surprise to him)! He is so pastoral, and has taken on a lot of new pastoral roles necessary in ministry—working closely with our young leaders every day. On top of that he is also still running our worship department, the School of Worship, and the Winter Discipleship Training School.

 

As a couple, we have had many amazing opportunities this year! We taught in a School of Worship in Lakeside, Montana for a week, which was our first time teaching a full 12 hour lecture as a couple. We have been able to lead worship together on a weekly basis, and teach in our own community as well. As a family, one of our favorite experiences this year was going to Disney World over summer break! It was so much fun with the ages of our children to see the magic and wonder!

 

What God did: Not only did God provide for our every day needs, but 2 different times in the last 3 months, God provided at the last minute with two $1,000 donations right when we needed them! One time through a supporter, and one time anonymously. Our faith in our provider has grown more and more as we learn to trust Him every day.

 

So what’s next?

 

In 2019 we have some amazing opportunities starting right in January. Starting on the 14th Andrew will be leading the Discipleship Training School, which will have a musician track and a snowboarder/skier track. We are excited for this opportunity to see lives changed. Rachel will still be leading our food services department so we will both be very busy!

 

At the end of January we will be traveling to Jeju, South Korea for a School of Worship Gathering with YWAM International. We are honored to be invited to participate in equipping worship leaders from around the world who will be gathered at this conference. We will be traveling with our sweet little Leola, but leaving our three oldest behind for the week. This is something we prayed very hard about and felt like God spoke to us to go. This will be my first time in Korea, and it has long been a dream in my heart to go to Asia and Japan (we will have a free day in Tokyo coming back)! We are both very excited to connect to our greater YWAM family and help with training.

 

We are also excited for this trip because it will be right before our 10-year anniversary in March! Hard to believe it’s been 10 years, but we are glad for the opportunity to be together doing what we love.

 

We also have a lot more opportunities to teach, not just in our own community, but also in other YWAM communities.

 

Here are some prayer requests!

 

Prayer requests:

1.     As mentioned, we have a busy few months coming up! Please be praying for grace as we manage many details, and grace for our children as they have less time with us than normal.

2.     For our trip to Korea, for grace in traveling and dealing with jetlag, especially for Leola. And grace upon grace for our children as we are away, and for those who will be caring for them.

3.     For financial provision as we move forward with trusting God. One of the things we feel called to is to send our children to a Christian school. This is obviously not a cheap endeavor, and starting in the fall, we will have 3 children going to school. We need favor to get 3 scholarships and financial provision for their tuition. We are not worried, because God wants this just as much as we do!

4.     Grace as we trust God in all that we do.

 

To plant a seed...

Dear friends,

My name is Rachel, and if you’ve found your way here, you probably know that my husband Andrew and I work full time on staff with YWAM Denver alongside my parents, Peter and Linda Warren.

When I was young, I had the privilege of being able to attend Faith Christian Academy (FCA). It wasn’t until I was older and had my first child that I understood what an amazing privilege that was. As I realized my children’s spiritual growth was my responsibility (and how tremendous a task that has become in our current culture), I became increasingly passionate about them being able to have a Christian education. Thanks to our generous family and sponsors, we have been able to send our oldest son, Levi, to FCA for the past two years. He has regularly come home singing worship songs, memorized scripture, and on February 13th he invited Jesus into his heart during school chapel. While I know that ultimately the foundation for his faith comes from our home, it is incomparable to being surrounded by fellow believers and teachers who when faced with challenges don’t simply depend on their own understanding but PRAY for guidance. 

Our second son, Gideon, started Kindergarten this past fall, and this is where we need your help. It is the desire of our heart that all of our children would be able to attend FCA, but the cost of tuition—even while eligible for scholarships—is beyond our abilities. But it is not beyond God’s ability! When we determined whether or not to move forward with enrolling Gideon in school as well, we prayed that “God would provide a scholarship with his name on it.” The very next day the school notified us they had one scholarship left and were going to offer it to Gideon!

Our goal is to raise $6,000-$10,000 to be able to cover all the cost of 2018-2019 tuition for both of our boys. As with everything else in our lives as missionaries, we depend on the support of friends and family for all of our financial needs. Will you consider partnering with us?

If you are interested in giving, you can make a tax deductible donation to YWAM Denver here with the memo line “Harrison kids.”

With love,

Rachel

“I would do anything for love…”

You know that song. The one by the dude who chose the most perfect stage name of all time. “MEAT – LOAF.” If you’re not old enough to know what I’m talking about without an education in the finest realms of music history, here’s the only snap shot you need.

This dude named himself “Meat Loaf.”

And he’s singing about love.

And people listened, by the way. A lot of people. At least 2 million of them bought the 1993 single, taking it to certified platinum status.

I’m not here to knock on Meat Loaf, but to simply point out that love makes us do crazy things, right?

 

Our family has been busy. Like, “particularly” busy. Remember that last blog I wrote? So filled with ambition and promise? I believe the basic premise was something to the effect of, “I’ve discovered that I need to start sharing with others what God’s doing in my life, so expect many more of these to come.”

8 months later, here we are. (facepalm)

To be fairer to myself, much of that time was spent:

- Tending to the various needs of my three young children…

- Preparing and directing my third School of Worship at YWAM Denver…

- Building our network of supporters

- Welcoming our fourth child into the world (NBD, but kinda low key a very big deal—check the Instagram for those baby pics)…

- Sleeping haha, JK

- Managing our many other leadership responsibilities throughout YWAM Denver…

- Playing tag team with my wife in our desperate attempts in preserving what’s left of our physical and mental health…

You get the idea.

 

With all the chaos seeming to steadily increase with each season, it’s in the quick moments of reflection like this that I wonder how we got ourselves into this mess.

 

How did we get here?

Where are we headed?

What needs to change?

 

Recently a friend of mine asked me a really important question: He wanted to know what would compel someone to dedicate their lives to the gospel of Jesus, knowing that they would be saying “no” to so many of the pleasures this world has to offer. 

Not speaking of sinful pleasures or “lusts of the flesh,” as clearly indicated by the scriptures, but more so the pleasure we find in things like “job security”…”safety for our families”…”self sufficiency”…

At times it sounds like the promise of a less worrisome life. At others, the temptation towards an “independence” that causes us to forfeit the need for faith in our walk with God (yikes).

 

The kind of things you begin to wish you had when you’re forced to trust in God with all you have...

 

Maybe those “things” aren’t attainable to anyone…maybe they’re imaginary.

But why position ourselves in this lifestyle where those ideas seem so much further from our reach?

It’s a question that I need to continuously remind myself of my answer to:

 

It. Is. Better.

To. Give.

Than. To. Receive.

 

It’s not that people in ministries like I am need to be taught or convinced that this idea is true. I think it’s more that we need to be reminded of WHY it’s true.

We give and give and GIVE until there’s nothing left to give, but it’s in this place of having nothing left that we find ourselves in one of two states: content…or burned out.

 

I once heard a pastor put it this way: “God tells us it’s better to give than to receive because He knows from personal experience!”

He’s not trying to sell us on some sort of higher morality ideal that will merely cause others to feel sentimental over our generosity. He’s telling us because He sincerely believes it to be true. It’s how He’s always operated. God loves to give us good gifts.

James 1:17 says, Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”

We can’t out-give the giver of every good gift.

We can’t out-love the greatest lover on Earth.

Yet as we imitate Him we are privileged to experience what we never could through “receiving.”

When we give, we experience what God Himself takes GREAT DELIGHT in.

 

When I’m fully focused on how tired I am, how busy I am, how stressful life can be, I begin to feel like all my strength is being stripped away from me. But when I remind myself of WHY I’m tired, WHY I’m busy, and what all the work we’re doing is moving towards, I can feel His strength rising within me to do what He made me to do.

To give until there’s nothing left…but contentment.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13

 

If we GIVE without knowing WHY, our giving will run ourselves DRY

 

As He is the only one worthy of all of our efforts, all of our efforts will feel purposeless if not directed at Him. It will feel like something’s missing. Like it’s all just a waste.

But when it’s HE that we direct our giving at, the greatest waste of all feels like a privilege.

And others will call us crazy for it.

 

Just look at the story of Jesus’s anointing at Bethany:

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume (as scholars have estimated it to be the equivalent of the average person’s life savings—*very* expensive would be an understatement), which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:6-13

Love makes us do crazy things.

“Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Love makes us do crazy things.

“Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…” Hebrews 12:2

Love makes us do crazy things.

 

-      I’m proud I get to show my children what it means to live for Jesus, even and especially when it’s costly.

-      I’m humbled to witness the Holy Spirit enable me to minister to others when I feel like I have little worthwhile to offer them.

-      I’m continuously surprised by how my capacity has increased, even when I *feel* unproductive

-      I’m becoming more at peace with myself in being “enough” for God

-      I’m learning more and more what it means to forgive myself for the ways I fall short

 

All of these were things I couldn’t so easily write down not so long ago. My busyness was consuming my thought-life with little acknowledgement towards who I was chasing after.

 

 

Thank you God that I’m learning to receive your love and your strength. Grant me the determination to continue growing in this way.

 

As for you…

No matter who you are…

You are being chased by a love greater than anyone could ever display, because He paid a price higher than anyone could ever pay.

 

His love has made Him do crazy things...

Beloved, may you be greatly aware of his affection over you today.

 

 

As before,

Thanks for listening.

 

Andrew

 

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

#tinybrainybits (Mind Blown)

How many times do you think you’ve heard the term “mind blown” in the past week? Month? Year? Perhaps you used it yourself not but 2 minutes ago to describe the crazy good burrito you just destroyed over lunch? Or that new sushi joint you discovered across town? Or in exasperation over the latest fidget spinner craze? I know that this generation tends to throw this phrase around far too much, but I think I came close to actually experiencing it this morning. My mind was *quite* blown…at least compared to how it usually feels about itself. That is to say, while I seem to elicit occasional praise and encouragement by impressing others, it’s been a while since I’ve been significantly impressed with or surprised by myself.

Let me go back a bit.

The last time I flew on an airplane was returning home from my parent’s house in D.C. this past Christmas. At that time my physical health was probably the poorest it’s ever been. I weighed 235lbs, which for some people might not seem like much, but the numbers didn’t matter to me as much as how I felt. I was miserable. I ate whatever I wanted, and I drank too much too often (not enough to get drunk, but enough to dull the pain of a hard season of life that a few close friends and family are aware of). I’m sure I’ll share more about that season sometime, but it’ll have to wait for now. Regardless, there came a point where the decision to change something was increasingly necessary. As a husband to an amazing wife, father to incredible children, and the son of a faithful heavenly Father, I knew I had far too many blessings in my life to give in to depression. It was time to start moving forward.

Back to today:

I mentioned “the last time I flew on an airplane” because as I write this, my family and I leave for a long anticipated vacation to Kona, HI for 12 days. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for what has been in the minds of our 3, 4, and 6 year old children: an absolute eternity. As I finished packing one of our suitcases I stepped onto the scale to check and see if it would accommodate the TSA requirement of 50lbs or less. If you’ve travelled with multiple small children before you know that every suitcase counts, so we had this thing packed as close to that number as we possibly could. Before I could bust out the calculator to differentiate the weight of the suitcase from my own bodyweight I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing on the scale. As I held the suitcase in my arms the screen read 236.4lbs: almost exactly what I had weighed less than 6 months ago. I was literally holding the weight that I had lost in that period of time. I began stepping on and off the scale with and without the suitcase as many times as it took for me to convince myself of what had happened. From 236.4 to 189.4. I was holding a 47lb bag in my hands.

Anyone who knows me is probably wondering at this point how the heck I pulled that off? While that’s an impressive amount of weight to lose in a short period of time, I really can’t take much credit for it at all. My wife is one of the most disciplined and hard working people I know. When she began this new eating plan called “Trim Healthy Mama” (I’m stoked about the plan…not the name), I determined myself to be as committed to the lifestyle as she was. She had the misfortunate of getting pregnant almost as soon as she began the diet (sorry babe ;-)), but this made me want to stay faithful to this new way of eating all the more.

Now PLEASE KNOW…this is not about to be a sales pitch for “Trim Healthy Mama,” or a ploy to convince you to pursue eating according to their plan. If you want to talk about it that’s cool, but believe me--I have many things I’m infinitely more passionate about (the grace of Jesus that saves the lost, the strength of coffee that satisfies our souls, the power of expertly crafted metal-core breakdowns to lift our spirits, etc…). I’m only sharing this experience from my life as a sort of testament to what God himself has graciously begun on the inside of me.

It’s interesting how many biblical truths begin to come alive when you begin taking care of yourself. Galatians tells me that I will always harvest what I plant. When I live only to satisfy my own sinful nature I will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature, but when I live to please the Spirit I harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. I’ve been involved in full time ministry for the better part of a decade and I can tell you this: the battle to take back my soul and continually commit it to Jesus is as present today as it was when I first started. Life has its highs and lows, and serving God in ministry is absolutely no exception to the rule. But if I’m honest with myself, I’ve not always been faithful to plant and harvest in the right places. In the seasons of lows, I found myself turning to the lesser pleasures of this world as momentary distractions from the pain.

Giving in to the appetites of my own sinful nature began piling on all of this additional weight that He never intended for me, both emotionally and literally. By the grace of God, and with a little help from my wife, I’ve begun to see that being mindful in what I choose to eat can have tremendous effects on the rest of what flows from my life.

Here’s something else I didn’t expect to happen: as I began eating better food and ridding my diet of unnecessary garbage, I found that I had significantly more energy. So much so that I woke up one day with an overwhelming urge to go running (Wait, what? Running?! Who does that? Well I DO THAT NOW, THAT’S WHO!) I go running, and I clean more, and I have greater ambition to produce and create and get off of my butt and I can’t believe the difference in how I feel 50lbs later. I also can’t believe how little I accomplished before now.

This blog is a small part in the beginning of a new season in my life. I want to give back to my friends and family what they’ve always given me: encouragement to carry on and move forward. We need that from each other. Every testimony from my life, it doesn’t just belong to me. Many of you wouldn’t know it, but I’ve gotten to experience some pretty amazing things in these past several years—almost too many to recount when I really sit down and think about it—but perhaps that’s another reason why I’m here. As much as it might demand some deeper vulnerability and a bit of soul searching from time to time, I’m committed to the journey if you’ll just lend me a few moments in your day. It’s been a while since I’ve really written anything so some grace will be needed as I learn to express myself, but ultimately I trust we’ll both be better off because of it ;)

So may these entries bring you hope and build your faith. As weird as they might read at times, may they encourage you in the knowledge that if God can use a basket case like me then He can certainly use you too. I pray the Lord gives you the grace to let go of whatever weight is holding you back from living a fulfilled life. I pray that you one day are made aware of just how heavy that weight is, and that you run to the only One worthy of all of our attention in this world. May you at times be just as privileged as I’ve been to hold the weight of your past and see how far you’ve come. And may whatever comes of this result in you drawing closer and closer to the God who loves you enough to blow your mind from time to time.

Thanks for listening,

-Andrew

 

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

INTRODUCING...

GREETINGS FELLOW READERS AND EXPLORERS OF THE WORLD WIDE WEB!

We are the Harrison family, and we're so glad to meet you. Welcome to our first ever family/ministry blog, newsletter, and website. We hope you make yourself at home and explore all there is to see. Perhaps you've been following our endeavors on Facebook or Instagram, or maybe this is your first introduction to our family. Whatever the case, we're excited to continue sharing more of all that God has been doing in and through our lives here with YWAM in Denver, CO. Feel free to comment or contact us at anytime. We're looking forward to getting to know you all!

-Andrew

 

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14