Thursday, September 27, 2012

That's What This Church Plant Is About...

I'm going to be reviewing a new book soon...

It's about church planting...starting a new church from the ground up...which is why we moved to Colorado!

It's by Trinity Jordan...and it's called "Jesus Never Said to Plant Churches...and 12 more things they never told me about church planting..."

It really has been an adventure moving here and starting this church.

Our way of life for the first few months when we got here look totally different than it does now.

It's exciting though! It's a great adventure to be a part of.

Some weeks are busier than others - like this week...our ladies' event tonight, an outreach on Saturday...and then the normal getting things together for Sunday.

For instance...I am teaching in our Adventure Kids' Church again this weekend...and one of the games requires us to look for treasure...which is not worth as much as wisdom!

So, I went on a treasure hunt of my own for a treasure chest!!!

I found one at Goodwill - totally worth it! We'll be able to use it for more rewards and games...just fun times for our kids!!

There is a lot that goes on during our week...and some of it looks the same from week to week...and some of it doesn't!

But it's all worth it.

We had 3 people accept the invitation to become a Christ follower at church on Sunday. There are 3 more people who are celebrated by us and all of heaven because they made the decision to make Jesus their Lord and Savior!!

That is what this is about. That's why we are doing what we are doing!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Some Blakney Colorado Firsts...

We have had (and will have) a few firsts this week...

Bella's first birthday in Colorado. We've already started celebrating! She's received cards and gifts in the mail, made a birthday cake with sprinkles, and got a card and crown from her school. She's a fun age, and we are looking forward to spending the rest of the week celebrating our beautiful, fun-loving, kind-hearted little girl...well, more of a big girl now...

On Sunday, it was my first time teaching Kids' Church in Colorado...and teaching it in general in a VERY long time. It went well, and the kids were a ton of fun. I'm looking forward to teaching again this next Sunday...I've already started preparing now! I don't consider myself a conventional teacher...and I definitely want the kids involved in that's taking some planning and creativity!! But those Adventure Kids are worth every bit of it!!!

Our first Joli Women's Ministry activity is this week, too. We are going to a place called Arts on Fire. If you've ever been to a place like Painting with a's similar to that - except this is pottery pieces and glass fusion get to select the project you want to paint and then they will fire it up for you to take home. 

I'm really, really excited about this. Our ladies will have part of the studio reserved, and we'll get to laugh, paint, and just have a great opportunity to build relationships with each other. And thanks to the generosity of a friend who wanted to invest in these ladies of Colorado, Joli has a starting budget to pay for the studio space and some snacks for the ladies...each lady will just have to pay for her own pottery piece she's selected!!! And there will probably be some money left over for the next event!! That's humbling to me!!!

I'm also excited that this is just the first of many things we'll be able to do with the ladies of Connection Church. I really am looking forward to volunteering with these ladies at local places, having fun get-togethers, doing Bible studies...the possibilities are endless!!!

I know that we'll keep having more "firsts" as time goes on...our first snowfall, our first holidays here, our first baby born here in a matter of weeks...just a lot of things ahead!! And they are going to be happening in no time!!!!

And it's an adventure that I am loving...and I love it even more that I get to enjoy it all with my best friend. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

You Need Your Church & Your Church Needs You

Highlands Ranch, Colorado, is an interesting area to start a church.

If we were in Louisiana, people would at least fake being excited for us. "Oh that's great..." and then engage in conversation about who they know in the area who needs to go to church...

But here, it's different. 

I handed a girl an invite card today at a local store. 

She looked at it over and said, "What kind of church is this? Catholic, methodist..." It seemed like whatever I said, she wasn't interested. 

The other girl said, "Oh, do you have like youth group stuff? My mom is looking for something for my younger sister..." 

No promises or even fake promises to be there or check it out...nothing. 

But, I feel like I've done my part. I invited them. They wouldn't know about it if I hadn't invited them. And who knows...someone else from our church may invite them too. 

And they may not come this Sunday...but they may come next Sunday. 

I'll never know...but I did my part. 

I read an interesting blog post by a girl named Jennifer. 

She's a college student, and I started following her blog because she posted some stuff about graphic design and etsy shops...and to tell you the truth, graphic designing has been one of the most frustrating parts of my life lately!! 

I just wish that I knew what I was doing in that area...but since I don't...I rely on people like Jennifer to help me out :) 

Anyways, she wrote a blog about finding a church closer to the school she's attending. She listed the things that she is looking for in a church. (You can read her great blog by clicking here

It intrigued me so much...and I actually find myself reading over it again and again. 

I have actually been emailing with her...kinda interviewing her...asking her specifics...

And she's kindly responded with more details about what she's liked...and what she hasn't liked about churches she's been to. 

(and also giving me a few pointers about my blog and email setup, which is always much appreciated!!)

What I've taken away from it is that she wants to feel like a person. She wants to be greeted by name. She wants to have the opportunity to build relationships with others and journey with them as they all grow in their faith together.

I grew up going to church. I was involved in almost every ministry there - it was a small church and mostly made up of my family. I was helping teach children's church at the age of 11. 

When I went to college, I was fascinated by the big churches in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Fascinated. 

And I was ok with just attending. I helped occassionally, but I was so involved in college I didn't feel the need to be involved in a church...

Getting to church right on time, sitting in a chair, not really talking to anyone, and leaving as soon as the service was over. 

Only once did I have an usher tell me that he had noticed I hadn't been there for a couple of weeks. It was during a holiday time or I was skipping or something...

My roommate went to smaller churches and played piano for them. Even on Wednesday nights. I don't know if I was burnt out by the time I got to college...but now, I feel like I missed some opportunities to be involved...opportunities to use my talents. 

I'm glad that there are people like Jennifer who know what they are looking for in a church...and they are willing to commit once they find it.

I know it's ok to visit different churches, but it's important to commit once you found one that fits you...and you find that it needs you just as much as you need it. 

Eli Gautreaux says that you should marry your church...for better or for worse, in good times and in bad...stick with it. Your church needs you just as much as you need it!! 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Connection Church Denver - Joli Women's Ministry Fundraiser...

We are a part of a phenomenal launch team (the 14 or so of us who are working together to make Connection Church happen)...

It's exciting to see the people who are dedicated to making this church a reality.

Each Sunday is a marathon kind of day. Early morning...hard work carrying in, setting up, meeting people, smiling a lot, taking care of things while church is happening, and then tearing down...

It's just a long day. But it's great that everyone pitches in...and really goes above and beyond...

Yesterday, once the nursery was finished being set up, there were ladies helping set up the cafe area...and everything was taken care of like that. We were set up a lot faster than we thought we would be...and as we get more and more used to will go even faster. 

There are point people for certain areas, and it's that person's responsibility to make sure everything is done correctly, but they are not on their own to make it happen. That's a good thing. We really are in this together. No one has this mentality of "well, I'm finished with my I can just wait for church to start..." 

It really is a great team to be a part of.

And we are blessed with a phenomenal set up. There are churches who have existed for a long time and still don't have the media/sound/lighting/kids' church set up that we have...and that is because we are under Crossroads Church in Lafayette, LA, and they set us up for success with these things...which is a HUGE HUGE HUGE blessing...

One of the things I'm getting to lead is the women's ministry here. I'm really excited about that...getting to provide women in this area with opportunities for fun, fellowship, and a way to build relationships with each other. I'm believing for strong friendships to happen through this ministry...I'm praying for it even now...

Our first event is coming up next week. We're going to Arts on Fire - which is where you can pick out a pottery piece to paint, and after you paint it, they fire it up for you to take home...

I'm really looking forward to it!!! We are renting the back room, providing snacks, and the ladies will just pay for their own pottery pieces. It is going to be a lot of fun!!!

I'm currently hosting a Pampered Chef online/catalog "show" as a fundraiser for our Joli Women's Ministry here at Connection Church. Instead of earning free products from the show as the host, I'll be able to receive a cash donation for Joli from my consultant, Darlene Chatham.

If you are interested in shopping for great gifts for others or products for yourself as well as helping me donate to a great ministry, you can check out the website here. Once you are on the website, click "shop online," and you will be taken to a page where you can then enter Bri Blakney as the host. Any orders are appreciated!!!!

I'm really excited about how this ministry is going to grow!!! And I'm really looking forward to meeting new ladies in the area and sharing our journey of faith together...

this is a wonderful adventure to be a part of...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Can Get Used to This

The weather is beautiful. Yesterday was a rainy, dreary day - which is my favorite kind of day - and the high was 55 degrees. It was amazing. I loved watching the clouds hover over the mountains...and hearing the rain...and feeling the cool breeze...and smelling the pumpkin candle I was burning...It was a gorgeous day to me...and yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It makes me look forward to the snowy days that are coming...and it is not a matter of "if," it's a matter of "when" they come!!!!

Lee has been able to work more from home. His Apple interview went great - like incredible - and there are no openings right now. They said that they like to have people "on the bench" ready when they need them, but as of now, there is nothing open...and they are not sure when there will be. That seems a little crazy to us, but there's nothing else we can do about it. He's looking into another job...and we are both confident that God is in control in this whole situation. He's providing for us.

Thankfully our friends, families, churches and businesses who have continued supporting us through this transition have helped us be able to focus on the starting the church and taking care of those needs. We are so grateful for our support team. So grateful. God has tremendously blessed us, and we know that lives are being changed in Highlands Ranch because of their love and financial support!

I've loved having Lee at home more. The kids have too. We've been able to practice music together (since I'll get to sing on the worship team when I'm not teaching in our Adventure Kids service or having a baby). He still goes out to take care of church business, but he's actually been able to take Bella or Brennan with him at times, which the kids love. And I do too.

We just feel so blessed to be here. We are really adjusting well.

Bella is so excited about our Adventure Kids Church. She loves being a part of it all!
And she loves loves loves her school. She woke up before I did this morning, and she dressed herself - cowboy boots and unbelievably cute. I love her school too. The director has been so kind and encouraging to us. It's a wonderful place. And I can usually leave Brennan with Lee when I go to drop her off...which gives me a little free time to myself.

Brennan seems to love it here too. He's communicating really well...almost too well...and he loves to be able to go into our backyard whenever he wants to play...and I love that he can. He's such a boy! He's done really well being a part of the church plant too..

The baby in my belly is quite active. I've dealt with the normal aches and pains of pregnancy, and I feel very confident in the doctors who are taking care of me. Again, another blessing here in Colorado.

God is good to us...not just when our circumstances are going good, but all the time...He is good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

"Next Sunday..."

It's been a wild week!

The launch happened so successfully...such few minor things that we will have fixed for this next Sunday.

That almost feels weird saying, "next Sunday..."

This is it. This is our new way of life. It wasn't a one time event. We'll be setting up, practicing, having service, and tearing down every week...

What I am happy to say is that this next Sunday will look a lot like last Sunday. We didn't do anything special besides a welcome announcement...but everything from kids church to our service will look pretty much the same. That's a good feeling. We know what we are doing, and people will know what to expect.

I am very proud of Lee. He did great. He's a phenomenal leader...and not just a worship leader. Just in general. He's awesome. He was able to encourage people to worship...some of whom had never been in that type of church service before.

It was amazing leading worship with him for the first service ever at Connection Church. There were several moments when I had to work hard to hold back the was an exciting, emotional experience...literally, a dream coming true right before our eyes. And we get to do this again...

I'm proud of our kids. They survived another late night and ridiculously early morning. Bella was having a bit of a meltdown at the end when we were about to leave, but for the most part she did great. It's hard on her little 4 year old body...Brennan fell asleep during service, which was wonderful...and of course he took a great nap when we got home.

I know that there are going to be some ups and downs...physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually...

It's hard at times to be prepared for the downs. It's like you don't see them coming. But staying connected to Jesus and to others will help us in those down moments. I'm glad that I don't have to face them alone....that I don't have to keep them to myself.

I'm looking forward to next Sunday. I am looking forward to seeing people return for our second service as well as those who will be there for the first time. Like I've said...this is what we came for. This is why we are here. And when those 4 people stood up to respond to the invitation for heart leaped!

God is doing great things in Highlands Ranch...this is just the beginning.

Greater things are yet to come!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Night Before...

This is it...the night before our first ever Connection Church service. 

There are just a few minor details left to work out, and then we just have to convince ourselves to go to sleep tonight.

It really is exciting. I never imagined myself not living in Louisiana...I never imagined living in Colorado...

But here we are...

This is what we came for. This is what we've been working for. This is what we've been created to do. This is the story worth telling.

And all of the blood, sweat, and tears will be worth it when someone connects with Christ for the first time ever tomorrow...when someone responds to the invitation to make Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of his or her life.

That's what we're here for. And I am praying for that moment.

We will have a lot to do tomorrow morning...even before 10 am when our service starts.

And my precious little babies will be waking up as the sun is starting to come up.

But, just like us, they will be excited.

I don't know if I can describe the feelings I have right now...

Shawn Reine, our campus pastor, texted me & Lee this picture of our suburban when we first drove up almost exactly 3 months ago. It's crazy how much has happened since then...and how much hasn't gone like we thought it would - some for the good and bad.

But it's all worked out...we are better people for what we've been through.

We know that God has called us here. We know that we are fulfilling what He wants us to do.

That's an indescribable feeling!

So, tonight as we make our final preparations for tomorrow...and tomorrow when we wake up and get started on a day that will make history for us...I am humbled and thrilled to know that I am a part of something so great...that God has chosen me to be a part of this. What a great feeling!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not Just Pregnant...But Feeling Very Pregnant

I've been feeling very pregnant lately. Very.

I've been able to get around and about pretty easily until now...and I can't say that I felt this way so early on in my last 2 pregnancies...It just means that I'm getting closer to the end!

I'm at 31 weeks...almost 8 months...the final trimester.

I haven't had any unusual complications, but I've had the normal complications associated with pregnancy! Aches and pains, nausea, heartburn, insomnia, trouble getting up or sitting down...

I asked my new doctor about it...and he said that it just sounds like a normal, healthy growing baby.

On the good side, I've only gained 17 pounds so far this pregnancy...the last 2 pregnancies were much higher than that at this point...and at the end...we won't even talk about that.

But, I'm also a lot more active this time around. I have 2 kids to chase around. And we moved into a 2 story house...and both bathrooms are upstairs, so I'm burning lots of calories going up and down those stairs!

But this baby girl is pretty active...she moves a lot, and of course it is when I'm trying to sleep! It's good to know that she's moving, and she's healthy...

I feel humbled and honored that God has chosen Lee & me to be the parents of another baby. My heart breaks as I hear of or read of other parents who have miscarriages, still born babies, or even lose their children at a young age. I wonder how it can happen...especially after my own early miscarriage...and if I let it, those thoughts can grip me with fear that I will lose this baby too. And honestly...I think that is part of the reason I've had such a hard time deciding on a name.

But Lee & I are trusting God for a happy, health baby. We know that God has a purpose for this child...I mean, we weren't expecting this pregnancy at all...but we are trusting Him that He knows what He's doing, and that He's going to take care of us and this child.

So, just about 9 more weeks, and we'll have another baby here! I'm filled with excitement and anticipation of what's ahead! Including announcing her sweet, little name that will fit her perfectly!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

This Doesn't Take God by Surprise

There is so much going on right now. It's getting down to the details.

And it is so hard not to get stressed about it. I don't know why stress is such a natural response.

I think it has to do with taking it upon myself and not relying on God.

I mean, we have timelines that we are working with. Things have to be ready for September 9. That is our first service, and we want it to be perfect. And some of the things we have been working on are not at our mercy...we've done our part, but the rest is out of our control.

But I keep reminding myself that these timelines and delays aren't taking God by surprise.

He's completely aware of what we need and when we need it...

And no matter when it happens, He will be glorified.

We need to do our part, but we can rest assured that if we are doing that, God is going to come through.

This time right now is a huge test of our faith...not just for me and Lee or our family, but for our whole launch team.

Life is still going on...regular life can't wait on hold forever. And we know that after the craziness of starting in September and working through everything, we will get into what is a "normal" routine for us...but the excitement of getting started is building every moment of every day!!!!

And it is exciting to know that, even in the hardest, most frustrating moments, God is and will be glorified...and I need to remember to respond in a way that He will be glorified in me. After all, everything that is going on isn't taking Him by surprise...