Meet the Tylers

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We are the Tylers, Steve, Colleen, Chase (13), Elijah (11), and Max (10), along with our two cats, Bowie and Leonidas.  Steve is a firefighter and I teach 3rd grade.  Between our work schedules and the boys’ schedules, it is a busy life we live.  We are also very involve in Boy Scouts and in our church.  When I met Steve 18 years ago I never envisioned being the mother of 3 boys; I always wanted 2 of each, or at least an even number of children.  But, of course God had a different plan. Raising 3 boys is a daily adventure and that has exciting twists and turns and it always amazes us how different the 3 boys are.

Chase is our brainiac 13 year old who thrives on knowledge-particularly useless information.  He is a swimmer and plays piano.  Elijah is the comedian of our family and brings the laughter into our chaotic world.  He plays the trombone and likes to draw.  Max is a combination of his two brothers and is constantly trying to find his place in the family  (besides last born).  He also swims and plays the tuba.  All three boys are Scouts, love Legos and get in trouble at school for reading too much.

Steve and I were raised in different denominations – he Church of the Nazarene and I Catholic.  Early in our marriage we didn’t attend any church because I was not interested  in religion at all.  Then, when I was pregnant with Elijah, I felt a need to find a church.  Neither of us was really interested in attending the other’s church so we shopped around and ended up becoming United Methodists.  My own spiritual journey has been a bumpy road and I still feel like a baby Christian.  Steve’s faith has always been strong,  and his knowledge of the Bible astounds me sometimes.  Our children each have their own level of faith and ask questions from time to time about it.    We all attend church on a regular basis, but need more to help build our faith, both invidually and as a family.  Our hope is these series of devotions will help us grow closer to God as we pray and study together. This is a new adventure we are looking forward to, it won’t be easy at first and may take us til Epiphany to get into a rhythm, but God willing, we will make  it work.

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Meet the Youngs: We are For (I mean 5) ever Young!

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We are the Young’s… Mike, Wendy, Isabella, Quinn and Kadin.  We are a family as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children or a group of individuals living under one roof.  We are not biologically related but we are committed and love each other unconditionally.

We have children in each age group… mid terrible teen (did I say terrible?) who is funny and passionate and caring and creative and strong. She wants so badly to be the person God wants her to be she sometimes loses sight of the last thing she thought was so important. She loves people and has great potential to change the world!

We have middle school boy. He is quirky and silly and has a sense of justice that is out of control sometimes. He likes to correct his siblings then tell me he is just trying to do my job for me. He has some very different insights into life as he sees very simply.  Sometimes the way he says things is so very profound!

We have pre-school wild man who thinks he is a fighting ninja but likes to be called baby and drink out of sippy cups at 4 (don’t judge me! This is a battle I haven’t won yet but I am making strides! Haha).

Mike and I are along for the ride. We are both pretty easy going and laugh easily. We have been married for almost 21 years and wouldn’t trade one day! We love to try new things but like Isabella we sometimes forget what we thought was important and a necessity 5 minutes ago.

That is why we love our family devotions.  We have truly enjoyed learning the rhythms of the ancient church and love setting our evenings by our time together to read and pray. Good Dirt is our choice for these times because we love how it reminds us to take Jesus into the next day and look back over our day and intentionally see Him. Good Dirt offers us the ability to talk and pray for each other and for others. It equips us with ideas for how to live with purpose. We as a family are unwavering in our desire to glorify God. Sometimes we fail miserably and obviously but we are resolute in our togetherness.  This is our journey of family.

Meet the Daniels

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Welcome to a sneak peek into our completely crazy, over-the-top, scheduled to the last second life.  We are the Daniels:  Riki, Chuck, Genevieve (13 years old) and Caroline, who we call Charlie (10 years old).   Chuck and I have been married for almost 16 years.  I’m a stay-at-home mom although that’s a misnomer because I am almost NEVER at home.  Chuck works in the oil fields of West Texas.  We are Texan through and through so you might find that I tend to throw in some y’alls and “fixin to’s” from time to time.

At 2 ½ years of age, our Charlie was diagnosed with autism. While this diagnosis was a defining moment in who my family would become, it is not autism that defines who we are.  It is who we turned to that defines us.  What we found while walking the road that autism has taken us down is that we serve a truly amazing God.  He has met us exactly where we are at each and every point in our journey.  He is there in the moments of grief and comparison that inevitably come when one of your children is measured against other typically functioning children and the world finds them lacking.  He is there when the prayers just won’t come because we can’t think of one more way to ask Him to take this cup from our girl. He is there in those moments of joy when Charlie does yet another thing we were told she would never do.  He is there when an older sister, though still a baby herself, truly “gets” her younger sister and changes the way her parents see their role.  He is there when we realize that without autism in our lives, we would have missed so much of His amazing Grace, and that is something we could not imagine.

We are honored to be a “Good Dirt family”.  My hope is in marking our lives by the seasons of the church we will find another layer in our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And that by sharing this part of our journey with you, we would all realize that our God is bigger than any struggle we might face

Meet the Liebenthals

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We are the Liebenthals.  We currently live in Gwangju, South Korea, but we have known many homes.  If there is one thing we’re consistent in, it’s exploring.  We love to explore.  We also love cheese and chocolate milk, Hot Wheels and legos, robots and dinosaurs.  But those are shifting loves – they change with the seasons.  You know how it goes.  But to explore is to enjoy life.  Oh, the anticipation of what’s around the next bend!

As the mother of this home, I must confess that part of the joy in exploring for me is the way it leads you off the beaten path.  Away from the crowds and the hustle and bustle of city life.  Away from the visual and adible noises and into the quiet.  Sometimes it’s difficult to locate the direction of ‘quiet’ here.  But God knows my inner compass and he placed us on the very edge of our great city.  Right up against a hill with trails and rice paddies and cuckoo birds and deer.  My heart is full of thanks for this divine gift.  The gift of quiet and the gift of paths that wait to be explored.

My husband’s joy in exploration includes teaching our son how to respect and respond to the surprises that await them.  From catching fish they’ve never seen before (not even in books!) to saving worms stuck on the pavement.  From saying a kind “hello” to the Grandfather who affectionately touches our son’s face to moving away from the boy who likes to push.  From how to set up camp for the night cooking your food over a fire to how he can choose a good coffee shop.  But I think one of my husband’s favourite parts of exploring is the path that leads back home.  There’s nothing quite like returning to a safe, quiet, comfortable place.  Ours happens to be 250 sq. ft. – I think diplomatic real estate agents call it a “cozy” home.

Our son enjoys his Taekwondo classes and his homeschool Sonlight classes.  He loves meeting up with friends to play at their house or ours – or better yet at the park.  And, although he’s recently been asking for a car, he’s usually a real trooper when it comes to hiking down to the bus stop to get into town.  He’s a good walker and he loves to talk while he walks.  He’s very connected to family and often talks about those he loves.  I’ve been thrilled to find his father’s humour bubbling out every once in a while, too.  He’s every inch his father’s boy having only inherited my brown eyes and inability to wake up quickly.

We are excitedly awaiting Advent and looking forward to our hearts’ exploration through the Church Seasons with Good Dirt.  As we take steps around our neighbourhood and into the forest, we are always looking for God.  As we visit with friends, we look for Him there, too.  My heart’s prayer has been that this special time of navigating our way through the Church Seasons will grow a more tenacious longing to see God.  It will be fascinating to see that path light up as we share our findings on this blog along the way.  Happy Trails!

Meet the Morykons

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We’re the Morykons—Brian, Joy, Lucy, Ramey and our new addition, Liam. The fab five as we like to now call ourselves. Joy and I, Baptist born and bred, encountered spiritual formation in our 20s at an Evangelical Free church. A few years ago we moved from Lynchburg, VA to our current location in Fort Mill, SC—to take a swim in the charismatic stream, as I like to tell people. It’s been quite the adventure.

It’s popular in charismatic churches to pray for revival. And right they should: we need to be revived. But what’s often not described is what a revived life looks like. You may find yourself in need of a defibrillator to jolt you back to life. But afterward (one hopes!) the heart beats on it’s own. That’s why we’re doing this Good Dirt devotional. We want to walk out revival, to do sustainable soul exercises that keep the heart of our family healthy and makes us feel alive, awake and free.

People who visit our home say it is a place they feel God’s peace. It’s not always peaceful here, of course. We fight, cry and each try to get our own way. But we’ve done our best to cultivate an unhurried life and make room for each other. Joy is a creator and artist, often knitting, sewing or painting. She’s a natural at cultivating creativity in kids, and I’m always amazed at the artwork that awaits me when I arrive home from work. And me? I’m a web designer, songwriter, worship leader and recovering perfectionist. I’m graced with a super flexible schedule that I often take for granted, but I am reminded in this moment how much of a gift it is.

That’s a snapshot of us and why we’re doing this. Thanks for joining us on the adventure.

Meet the Weyels: A family figuring it out together

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We’re the Weyel family. I’m Gary, and I get the privilege of introducing our clan.

My wife, Carolyn, and I met in college and married shortly thereafter. We’re one of the fortunate few who have been able to stay in our little university town on the Central Coast of California.  San Luis Obispo has been named one of the happiest places on Earth, which is one of the first things you’ll probably hear if you meet anyone from our city. I’m sure it makes us  all insufferable, especially when we talk to our Midwestern friends in the dead of winter (“20 below? Really? It’s sunny and 72 degrees here today!”).

We have two children—our daughter is eight and our son is five. There was a time when our eldest was the easy one, but things have pretty much evened out now. They’re good kids who like going to the library on Saturday, visiting their cousins, and singing silly songs.

Why Choose Good Dirt for Families?

Carolyn and I were both raised in Christian homes and attending church every Sunday. While my family has a  faith tradition rooted in American evangelicalism and Carolyn’s family is Lutheran, much of our world view was shaped by our time together at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in college.

We’ve had a few fits and starts with family devotions at our house. To be honest, most of it has to do with laziness on my part, but I’ve also struggled with finding material that is appropriate and teachable to kids with a three-year age difference and vastly different maturity levels. Plus, finding a time we can consistently meet has also been difficult.

Despite the roadblocks, we really want to have time together as a family in God’s Word. The Good Dirt family devotion is a way for us to call out our lame excuses and commit publicly to a year of family devotions. Or at least to TRYING to have family devotions for a full year. Because I know there are going to be days when I’m in a bad mood, or the kids are fighting, or we really need to be somewhere else, or whatever. But we’re going to try–we’re going to show up and do it wrong and feel uncomfortable sometimes and that’s OK, because we’re in it together.