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Community is defined by Webster as "a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals."  Urban dictionary (a personal fav) defines it as “an interacting population of like-minded individuals, affecting the identity of the given members and also their cohesiveness. In gaining similar social perceptions gives them a sense of solidarity." I love those definitions. To stand with people together for a common purpose and each person affecting the other it’s so beautiful. Community has always been deeply important to my family. We are a sports family, team based, never an “I” always “we”. And two and half years ago, my family left our familiar and cohesive community, our beloved sports families and friends believing that God was calling our family to Sandpoint. When we arrived, we had an expectation that there would be a community waiting for us in our driveway. What we found was the four of us alone standing in the driveway looking at each other and thinking, "ok God what now?" His answer  “Forget about what has been – it’s nothing compared to what I’m about to do” Isaiah 43:18 (NLT).

Inspired,  we began to attend various churches in the area and finally landed at Cedar Hills.  We knew when we walked into the lobby that Cedar Hills was unlike to any church we had been to, it was a group of people who were interacting with each other, you could see the friendship and cohesiveness in them. There were zero “church people” expectations put on them, they came as they were and you could feel how much they loved Jesus and did so together freely. The next week we came back and shortly after that I had joined the staff.  

 I loved my job absolutely everything about it. The team was energetic and dynamic, nothing was impossible, dream big, love Jesus and be all in. YES! I could do all those things and be supported by people that were doing the same. There was such a strong sense of solidarity you could feel it in a room where the team gathered at any moment. This team had a desire to know Jesus in a deeper way and while I loved the work aspect of that, the actual spiritual connection that was taking place, was amazing. I had very big walls up to guard against such a thing and slowly those walls of protection I had put up for so long began breaking like a dam. Jesus was softening my heart for this time, to be able to serve His people with an unshackled heart and to experience the Church free from fear and pain. This began to spill into our home, and our family began connecting to people in and through the church, and before we knew it we had community in a big way.  We got involved in a life group, and through our life group, our community expanded even more. We attended volunteer serving events outside the walls of Cedar Hills, and our community continued to grow. As it did something amazing happen, those walls we had held on to continued to break, and we began to walk in the community, not as strangers, but as a part of the cohesive Cedar Hills Community out in the community of Sandpoint and God didn’t stop there. 

 "We serve a God on the move, get ready and do not shrink back" was the theme throughout our staff team in 2018. I felt this more and more each day, I began to branch out teaching in student ministries, sharing my testimony in women's group and spoke in a celebrate recovery group. I felt that stirring in my heart that we should step out of the church community we have so longed for. I wrestled and questioned God many times over the next few months. Seriously...God... I am serving you every day, I am surrounding myself with your people, we pray all the time in the office, worship music blares on most days, you don't really want me to leave this?  The answer I received in a morning devotion was Deuteronomy 2:6 (NLT) “The Lord our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain."  There it was, I had stayed long enough to be healed, redeemed and restored wholly by Jesus and through the community that embraced my family so intensely. I had stayed long enough to find my voice for God, and for my family to find their own voice, their own footing, and purpose in our family’s journey with Christ. 

 Trusting God and his word he gave our family when we arrived into Sandpoint "..forget what has been" and in line with our team theme of not shrinking back , it is time to leave this mountain and head into the wilderness otherwise known as the education system and be blown away by what “He is about to do”. I am overjoyed to have an opportunity to spend my day around teenagers who need to know the unconditional love of Jesus.  To live out loud that through Jesus and the community that belongs to Him, that he has brought me full circle from the broken teenager who sought a world away from the church, to a woman so on fire for the Church running towards the teenagers of next generation of God's community.