Growing More Than Vegetables

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:42-47)

When I became director last October, one year ago, what God laid upon my heart as a priority for our school going forward was strengthening community and prayer.  At every turn, I saw those priorities confirmed, as I met with the board and they affirmed those goals, as I met with other Childlight administrators and they decided to make community the theme of this year’s conference, and as I met with Jim and Renee Hughes who spoke about a vision for our students to become more dependent [prayer] and more interdependent [community].  This is in contrast to independence, which the world says is the goal of education.

I have since been so encouraged to see both of these things growing so well at Arborbrook.  Like our beautiful garden, which is now brimming with cabbage, kale, and other edible veggies, our family at Arborbrook is growing too, not just in size but in both community and in prayer.  Did you know the following?

a)     We have sixty new students at Arborbrook this year.  That represents a lot of new families!

b)    Most new families have been assigned a mentor family to help ease their transition into Arborbrook- many of these mentor families made contact over the summer.

c)     We had almost 100 people go on our fall family trip to the Creeper Trail, getting to know one another around bowls of chili, cycling the path together, and talking under a beautiful starlit sky.  There were many returning and many new families on this trip.

d)    Twenty-two teachers, including several staff people, went to the teacher conference in Chattanooga, being inspired to love kids and build community in new ways in the classroom and with families.

e)     Men’s prayer on Tuesday mornings has doubled in size, and there are consistently more than a dozen women attending our weekly women’s prayer time.  They pray for specific needs within our school body, for students in each class by name, and for faculty and staff members as well.

f)     The women are getting ready to gather for their second monthly prayer fellowship at the home of Lori West, who so graciously has opened her home for these important times.

g)     Teachers and staff members pray together for our school every Wednesday after school in my office.  This is not required, but several teachers make it a priority to come and pray weekly.

h)    The PVC Teams are amazing- I hear testimonies every week from parents who are excited about the new friendships they are finding working alongside someone else on the hot lunch team, the gardening team, or any number of other parent teams.

i)      Our Facebook page has over 100 members with a growing number of pictures and testimonies about all the things going on at our school that make it so unique and special. We also have a newly created “Arborbrook Serves” page on Facebook which highlights some of the outreach events we are doing as a school.

j)      The Publications Team is finalizing a photo directory for families to make it easier for us to get to know one another.  This will be put up on Arborville as soon as it is ready.

k)    There are maps online on Arborville of where we all live to enable families to find families who live near them more easily.

These are just a few of the things God has been doing through the faithful service of so many of you to build community and prayer, interdependence and dependence, at Arborbrook.  Here are a few of the things that are coming up you can be a part of:

a)     If you haven’t come to prayer yet, try and make it one week.  You are welcome to just stop by whenever you are able.  Men pray at the high school every Tuesday morning beginning at 6 a.m. and women pray at the lower school in the quad every Tuesday morning beginning at 8:45 a.m.

b)    This coming Friday night, Arborbrook will have its first official “Family Fellowship Night” of this school year.  There will be time to break bread together, to fellowship together, and to worship together.  The worship team for that event is preparing today.  The publications team is preparing to take free family photos (which will be emailed to you).  This will be such a rich evening together; you won’t want to miss it!

c)     There will be a men’s retreat sponsored by Peregrine Ministries coming up in November- it is a great opportunity for some Arborbrook dads to meet some other Arborbrook dads on a deep level.  Contact Jim Hughes for more details on this. (jim.hughes@arborbrookhigh.org)

d)    This Thursday will be our second all-family Assembly (we have these about once a month).  Our high school ensemble will be singing and leading us in worship that morning, and we will have an opportunity to celebrate our remarkable cross country team.

e)     Try and make it to a sporting event if you haven’t already.  There are still some volleyball games coming up this week (both teams are playing Tuesday at Providence) and basketball season is just around the corner.  These games are a terrific way to get to know other Arborbrook families.

f)     On November 8th, there will be a special evening of service for our teachers and staff from 5-10 p.m.  High schoolers and parents are needed to help wash cars, watch children, and pray over our teachers and staff on that evening.  Talk to Renee Hughes for more details on this. (jim.hughes@arborbrookhigh.org)

g)     The Wiseman’s Shoppe is coming up!  Consider donating some gently used items for the shop and volunteer to work there one day- you will have SO much fun doing this- helping kids shop for inexpensive gifts for their families, wrapping presents, and serving hot cocoa and cookies.

h)    The Outreach Team led by Elisa Curtis is providing us with monthly opportunities to serve outside Arborbrook.  They have one coming up next Saturday.  Contact Elisa Curtis for more details (elisa.curtis@arborbrook.org)

I want to leave you with a very interesting metaphor taken from a book I am reading called Nurturing the School Community by James Drexler.  In it, he quotes Lois Zachary who talks about community in terms of a forest.  I was drawn to this analogy since we are a school that is all about the outdoors, and it reminds me of the passage in Acts that talks about healthy community in the early church.  I love it when God creates something in the natural order of things that mirrors a spiritual truth.

Ecologists tell us that a tree planted in a clearing of an old forest will grow more successfully than one planted in an open field.  The reason, it seems, is that the roots of the forest tree are able to follow the intricate pathways created by former trees and thus embed themselves more deeply.  Indeed, over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an interdependent mat of life hidden beneath the earth.  This literally enables the stronger trees to share resources with the weaker so the whole forest becomes healthier.

This in turn reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Jeremiah:

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water
 that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

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