Author // Sherei

What I'm Listening to // No Longer Slaves (Bethel Music Radio on iTunes)

WHY WE'RE MOVING

I call it 'the great unrest'. The wiggle in my heart that dreams of big things. I can accredit 'the great unrest' to: being a millennial, being a childless-20-something, or being a child of God. The first two are easily dismissible. A weekend in the woods or on the road usually cures me of restlessness. The third is undeniable. When the Spirit of God starts speaking to my heart, His still small voice becomes thunderous over time, relentless in His invitation to the great unknown. 

Great times in Nashville with our best friend, Daniel Akridge

SIDE NOTE: It's with a bit of pain and hesitation that I write this post. While I am convicted and certain of our future, my heart hurts for students we will leave behind. Matt Gilman's song Every Captive Free just came on. This is a confirmation from heaven for me. This song has been a banner song for me in two ways: 1) to remember who Jesus is to me and 2) to remember who I am in Jesus. Obedience to Jesus is costly, and this time it's costing me a great deal to let go and say goodbye to my students at LCA. This song is one of those banner songs over my life that keeps me connected with the call of God on my life. This is a sign to me that Jesus is in control.

This was our happy norm. Our foreign exchange students, Mario and Peter enjoying some American Christmas traditions. Avery..not so much. 

For those reading who are new to Daniel and I, we have spent the last 2 years as Campus Pastors at Lancaster Christian Academy outside of Nashville, TN, where we led 220 students between 6th-12th grade.

Last December 'the great unrest' was knocking on my door. It didn't come from complacency or frustration. Daniel and I were working in a position that we loved. We were surrounded by an incredible staff at Lancaster Christian Academy who were more than supportive of our vision and ministry.  Tiffany Trotter comes to mind, a precious friend who led the ministry with us. Her support for us was unwavering, and I often felt we could change the world with her by our side. I also think of Brian Barrett, one of the music and drama teachers. One day I was freezing in the computer lab, noticably flustered, and Brian Barrett brought me a heater. He lovelingly set it up for me and said, "stay warm" with a wink. Those type of friends. Our core team of students were growing, and becoming the pride of our hearts. Daniel was on a growth track at the school and our dreams of recording music, buying a house, and starting a family felt inches away. Then 'the great unrest' came. 

Celebrating one of my students turning 18!

I felt the Lord, sweetly and gently say, "Sherei, don't camp here." I was confused. The grass was green, the soil was good, and our hearts were happy. Why shouldn't we camp out? Sometimes being obedient to Jesus means leaving the comfortable, safe, reasonable, and even fruitful environment you are in. Daniel and I began wrestling through the idea of 'what's next' with one another, the Lord, our parents, and our closest friends. Once we began to ask that first hard question, a river of dreams that had fallen asleep came to surface. Daniel has a dream of worshipping and stewarding the next generation. I have a dream of preaching across the country and waking up the sleeping giant of the culturally Christian church. We dream of going to seminary, and concentrating years of our life learning and understanding the scriptures to prepare us for the future. We dream of being a part of a local church where we can serve to our fullest in the areas of leadership and worship.

SIDE NOTE: Okay this is getting ridiculous. A Little Longer by Jenn Johnson just came on. The song of great significance that reminds me not to strive, but to rest in God's plan and love. Wow. Jesus is confirming so much. I hear you, Lord.

Spring is in the air! Lots of time in prayer about the future. 

 By the spring, these dreams were swelling in our hearts. We were searching our already crowded life to see where and how these next steps could fit in. Could we be at LCA and go to school online? Could I teach and get a sub to cover my classes while I traveled? With sadness, we realized that in order to pursue the things of God with excellence, we would have to drop a few spinning plates. Downsize. Re-evaluate. 

After several key conversations and time, by Spring we were actively researching seminaries. To be completely transparent, we both had no intention of leaving LCA. We knew we would have to find a way to simplify, but we were so not ready to put LCA on the cutting block. We came up with plans to move into a small one bedroom apartment a mile from the school, hoping we could cut back on costs, cut back on activities outside of school, and find time to do seminary on the side. 

Hard goodbyes came in May. Sending our boys home, and sending graduating seniors off. 

The last week of school, it became clear to Daniel and I that we needed to let go. It was so obvious that in order to be obedient to Jesus, we needed to surrender our comforts, and say yes to the GREAT UNKNOWN. In the two weeks leading up to the end of our contract, we decided not to sign the contract for the 2015-2016 school year. The administration was in full support of our decision, equally desiring us to pursue the call of God on our life. We left with such a blessing. So many co-workers, friends, parents of students, and students themselves showed us love, support, understanding, and joy at our future. It was a hard, sad time for us, but we stepped forward feeling loved and sent out. 

WE'RE GOING TO SEMINARY

We spent the next several weeks applying for seminaries, and praying for the Lord to highlight cities that had seminaries that we wanted to attend. Before we knew it, Charlotte was popping up everywhere in our little world. On billboards, in news articles, in facebook posts. I, who am SO not a basketball fan, started randomly following Steph Curry's story - the man from Charlotte who loves Jesus with all his heart. Of course I saw Steph everywhere with the NBA finals happening. It was one of many confirmations that stirred our hearts for Charlotte. It is home to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a beautiful multi-denominational, multi-racial, moderately conservative, profoundly evangelical, academically elite southern seminary based out of Boston. As we narrowed our seminary search, Gordon-Conwell rose in the ranks.

Avery's got his game face on and promises to be the best study buddy. 

Avery's got his game face on and promises to be the best study buddy. 

We took a scouting trip to Charlotte the last week of May. While the trip was fruitful, we were still unsure. The following weekend we went to our nephew's baby dedication in Chattanooga. A precious family friend was at the ceremony and subsequent lunch after service. She is a mighty prayer warrior and is a source of peace for Daniel and I. We began sharing our plans with her and she mentioned a friend, Thaddeus Fennig, who was planting a church in Charlotte in the late summer. With our little church planting hearts thump, thumping, we knew we needed to get in touch with Thaddeus to see what he was all about. 

WE'RE HELPING TO PLANT A CHURCH

On the two hour car-ride home, I immediately googled him. I read aloud to Daniel the heart behind the church plant, which was outlined in Thaddeus's blog. He and his wife, Kristen, are church planters from ROCKHARBOR Church in Huntington Beach, CA. Thaddeus had been in a church planting residency for the past two years, preparing to plant a church. To make a long story short, he and his wife, along with a small team of planters, are relocating to Charlotte in July to start ROCKHARBOR Charlotte. We called Thaddeus and talked with him and his wife for the rest of the trip home. By the end of the conversation we were spinning. The heart, vision, passion - lined up so clearly with mine and Daniel's desire for the local church. They were specifically praying that the Lord would send them southerners, who knew and understood the culture, to be a part of the plant. They were also praying for a worship leader and graphic design person to join the team. Daniel and I just kind of stared at each other at the end of the conversation and said, "Did God hand pluck us out of LCA to be a part of this team?"

Yes.

That was our answer. We prayed, talked with family, and sought wisdom. All of the unknown was turning into 'A-HAs'! We stepped out in the dark, and He turned a light on. My heart feels so full, and so encouraged. 

Thaddeus and his wife Kristen will be leading the church plant in Charlotte. 

Thaddeus and his wife Kristen will be leading the church plant in Charlotte. 

So what does the future look like for the Jacksons? 

In late July we will relocate to Charlotte, North Carolina where we will become full time students at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to pursue our Masters of Divinity. We will also be serving as a part of the launch team for ROCKHARBOR Church Charlotte. Daniel and I will have a very flexible schedule to be able to pursue a huge dream in our heart and step out more in worship leading and speaking at conferences. Little Avery will be happy to have mom and dad home more, taking study breaks to throw a stick with him.

WE'RE LAUNCHING DANIELANDSHEREI.COM

As a part of stepping out and being obedient, Daniel and I have have created www.danielandsherei.com as a landing place for people to learn more about our worship & speaking ministry. One of the passions of heart is to minister together in the local church. We are a good team too! Daniel and I love and enjoy working with one another, and our camaraderie is evident when we are given the opportunities to serve together. We have been invited to lead several ministry events together, including nights of worship, chapel services, youth services, and week long camps. We are carving out intentional space in our life to be able to step into this type of ministry more. If you know of a ministry event that you think we'd be right for, from guest leading a wednesday night service, being the guest speaker and artists at a weekend conference, or leading a special event, please let us know. We are willing to travel anywhere and everywhere, and love serving both large and small congregations. 

Goofing off with some of our girls on a ministry trip this summer.

Goofing off with some of our girls on a ministry trip this summer.

We'd love for you to come on this journey with us. Our friends and family have been the support system that's enabled us to DREAM BIG, and we want you guys to continue to be a part of our story. We can't say thank you enough for the lavish love you've shown us as we've faced the unknown. Please take a moment to subscribe to our Newsletter, so we can keep you posted on what's next. 

Don't forget to leave some feedback :D. We want to know our readership. We'd love to hear your encouragements, prayers, support, and general feedback below!

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