Category Archives: Big Announcements


It’s the most commonly asked question when people want to know who we are, what we do, and why we call ourselves by this extraordinary number. There are many answers, but the simplest one is this:

God loves the number 7 so much,

He repeatedly uses it to illustrate His nature and plan.

The number 7 is found over 700 times in the Bible, second only to the number 1. In Genesis, God rested on the 7th day after spending six days speaking the world into existence. He told Noah to take 7 pairs of every clean animal onto the ark, and it was 7 days from the time of the closing of the ark until water began to fill the earth. The pattern continues through Revelation. It’s a number symbolizing completeness, perfection, being finished.

Life operates in cycles of 7: Days of the week, notes in the musical scale, wonders of the ancient world, continents, colors of the rainbow, number of holes we have in our heads, etc. We were astounded by all of the ways 7 is represented around us, but we kept coming back to the original 7, the idea of rest. That was the seed that had begun taking root.


While God was wooing us into a deeper relationship with Himself, our eyes were opened to the lack of rest around us. We work mainly with two groups of people: Christians, and the homeless. Sometimes they are same, but even when they’re not, they have a lot in common.

Believers are taught from birth to “Go into all the world,” but I think someone scratched the record and we got stuck on the word Go and forgot about ever slowing down or stopping. To rest was to risk idleness or laziness, and we didn’t want to give the enemy a foothold. And there’s so much to do! There’s no time to rest. My grandma used to say, “You can rest when you’re dead.”

I recently heard the phrase “Christian Fatigue Syndrome.” As much as I loved youth ministry, I was definitely suffering from that when we moved back to Colorado 8 years ago. It’s an epidemic among ministry staffs everywhere. More on that later.

The lack of rest among the homeless looks different, but produces similar results. When you’re homeless, rest is a safety issue. When you’re exposed and your life is lived in the public eye, rest isn’t really an option. You’re on your guard at all times, protecting yourself or your stuff. iphone pics 12302011 048

Do you know what happens when your body doesn’t rest? It’s susceptible to illness and disease, and you cease to function at the level for which you were created. You become cynical, judgmental, and inward focused. It’s the same for the spiritual life.

For the last six years, our goal has been to be a place of rest for our homeless friends. Amidst their stormy lives, they could find shelter in our presence, share a meal with us (we DO NOT call them feeds), and know they have friends who will walk through life with them. This happens through conversations, doctor appointments and jail visits, weekly meals in the park, and a lot of hanging out.

It’s also been our goal to teach Christians the concept of rest and give them an opportunity to experience it through our Spring Break and Summer trips called SABBATH. See what we did there?

Rest takes a few different forms. Sometimes it’s getting away from it all to be refilled and renewed. Sometimes it’s sitting in the Father’s lap and resting in the midst of a stormy season of life. It’s physical AND a state of mind, and absolutely essential to EVERY human being.


I love how it’s stated in Matthew 11:28-30:

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

That’s the life we desire for our friends and family, and certainly for ourselves.

Today is the first day of the 7th year of SEVENS,

and the beginning of our first Sabbath year.

That’s the big announcement. Can you hear us all cheering? 😉

This means so many things to us. Our ministry in Boulder is far from over, but we have reached a wonderful milestone. We’ve been creating a community for six years, and while we’ll still be nurturing and doing life with our community, we’ve come to the place of needing to rest. This 7th year will be all about that. We have a few ideas on what that will look like, but we’re relying heavily on the Holy Spirit to lead us through the process.

Our regular outreach and weekly meals will remain mostly unchanged, but we’ve decided not to hire summer interns or do any SABBATH groups this year. Our summers are the busiest time of the year with training interns and running our program, and that’s a good thing. What’s better than that? Our family ministry. This isn’t an either/or situation. Our children are a big part of the way we live out our ministry. They are a gift, they come first in our lives, and they deserve/need a Nowell family summer. In their 9, 10, and 13 years of life, we’ve never taken a family vacation. Never. The closest we’ve come is tacking a few days on to a youth trip. Even that has been over 9 years ago. We may or may not travel this summer, but everything we do will be in the spirit of rest as a family.

Why the big announcement?

YOU are invited to join us in our SABBATH year.

We know it will look different for each of you. We’ll be sharing some specific ways to find and make rest happen, but this is not a year of strict adherence to religious traditions. Really people, have you ever know us to be like that?  Think of it as a restful journey, and a practice that we promise will bring about greater blessing in your life. We’ll be hosting some fun challenges and activities relating to the number seven. Our website/blog is under construction to reflect the theme, and we’ll be chronicling our journey of rest here, and on Twitter and Facebook.

May I ask you for a favor? If you’ve ever been on one of our SABBATH trips, we’d like to hear your story, how it impacted you and or your community. Submit your stories, quotes, photos, etc. to be included in our Sabbath chronicle. Anything you feel will be uplifting and encouraging to others.

For those of you who love us from afar or haven’t participated in our groups, we’d love to hear from you too. Tell us what you think about the idea of rest. Is it difficult? How does it make you feel to take a day off? Do you take one at all? Share your stories about the number seven showing up in your life, or whatever you’d like to share.

Ty Reynolds

To kick it all off today, the first 7 people to respond to this post on the SEVENS blog (with more than 2 sentences, thank you) will receive a free t-shirt. (Not you, Ty. SEVENS interns not eligible. :P) If you already have one, you can give it as a gift, or donate it to someone else. Every time you wear it or see it, you’ll be reminded to live in the unforced rhythms of grace.

So what’s your story?

Will you join us?



Filed under Big Announcements, Making a Difference, SABBATH

Mourning the loss of sweet baby Christopher

Here it is. The post I’ve been avoiding for a few weeks. After the last exciting post, I’ve truly dreaded writing this one. My heart aches daily and I can’t fix it. If you’re my friend on Facebook, this is old news by now. Little Christopher, the blessing I delivered on July 12th, went home to be with Jesus on July 22nd.

While I am grateful for the 10 days we all got to love on him, I have struggled every day since then to understand why, how, and what if. I’ve been a part of his life both in and out of the womb for the past 8 months and now I feel like I’ve lost another child. According to all of the paperwork, I’ve lost a grandchild. Lexi listed me as her mother. As big of a responsibility and honor as that role is, I’m at a loss trying to comfort her when I’m grieving so deeply myself. I love her and I know she knows it. God help me to love her like she needs me to.

I said in the last post that some things are too sacred to share, and some are just too private, but I can tell you this: Little Chris got an infection in his umbilical stump inside of his body after his cord fell off. By the time he was admitted to the hospital, the infection had spread and surgery was required. He was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver where they did everything they could for him, but he died the next day. I can’t say any more. It makes the top 5 worst days of my adult life.

Gathering around a table to remember what we’ve been given and to celebrate life is fairly normal for my family, so we held a memorial service for Little Chris at the park in Boulder, underneath the library. There were about 20 people there: some street friends, volunteers from Stand Up for Kids, a few close friends, and of course our family and summer interns. We played a slide show of the pictures we had taken of him, and lit a candle for each day of his short life. Everyone was given an opportunity to say a few words, and I choked my way through my brief speech. We ended our time together in a circle of prayer, and at Lexi’s request, a group scream. You had to be there.

I had strewn small river rock over the table, so we invited everyone to take a pebble with them or throw one in the creek that rushes by the library. I scooped up 11 pebbles, and one by one, my friend Nesti and I threw them into the creek as reminders: one each for love, healing, hope, friends, family, community, peace, joy, strength, and the promise of seeing him again someday. I kissed the 11th stone and asked Little Christopher to please tell my sweet baby that I love her and that I’ll see her someday too, and I aimed for the rapids and let it fly. Nesti and I stood there and cried together for awhile. As I was beginning to calm down, Benny pulled me into a hug, kissed me, and whispered that he too had thrown a rock in for our baby. I love that man!

The cremation was a few days later and nothing prepares you for that experience. I had to sign a waiver to be present at the cremation, and now I understand why. The mortuary was wonderful to us and they tried to prepare us the best they could, but it was a jarring experience and one I hope never to repeat. Every one of us that was present at his birth was present at his cremation. We all decorated the box he was cremated in, and wrote letters to him. I poured my heart out in a 3 page letter, then sealed it and watched as Lexi placed it inside. I said what I needed to say, and there was a little healing in that for me.  It was difficult to watch Chris (Little Christopher’s dad) go between silently pulling into himself and weeping. We all grieve so differently. I just wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him everything would be O.K. when I myself was feeling the sharp sting of death. I think we all did a pretty good job of encouraging each other through that day, and what had begun as friends 3 weeks earlier, brought us close together and made us family.

Today I received a package in the mail for Lexi and Chris – molds of Little Christopher’s hands and feet – a gift from Children’s Hospital. We’ll open it together when I see them on Wednesday, and there will be more tears (probably mine) as another milestone passes. I hope tomorrow will be a little easier than today.

My sincerest thanks goes out to Bob Flory, the director of Pastoral Care at Children’s Hospital Colorado, all of the wonderful nurses and doctors from Boulder Community Hospital and Children’s Hospital, and John DeMers of Crist Mortuary in Boulder. These people were kind and supportive during this horrible time. God bless you all!

To my fellow grievers and friends who have loved us through this tragedy, thank you for not letting us walk this path alone!

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Filed under Big Announcements, Niki

How I delivered a baby with my iPhone

  • I used Google Maps to find the house where my friend was in labor.
  • I timed contractions using the timer function.
  • I played soothing music on my iPod to keep my friend as calm as possible.
  • I checked the weather to see how long the rain would last.
  • I played Words with Friends while my friend sat in the tub for a bit.
  • I texted with my husband for moral support.
  • I chatted with my midwife friend for general information.
  • I updated Twitter/Facebook to tell everyone I had just delivered a baby.
  • I took lots of pictures.

So I got your attention with the title of the post, now let me share more about the experience itself. My friend, who prefers the term “houseless” to being called “homeless”, told me back in January that she was expecting. For the past several months we’ve been talking and planning what would happen on the big day when it arrived. Being the hippie that she is – and I use that term with love – she wanted to deliver at the campsite she and her boyfriend were staying at, and I begged her to let me be a part of it. Instead she was staying with a friend when the baby decided it was time. (Click on the images to enlarge them.)

A week ago today, I got the phone call I had been waiting for and made the drive to be with her as she labored. This being my first experience with a home birth, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had been a doula (care person for the mother) for two of my friends, but it had been in a hospital. I was a little out of my element this time, but tried my best to be prepared for anything. Little did I know that I would be catching a baby.

The dad, a friend we’ve known for a couple of years, was a great support person. I was so proud of him. We passed the day chatting, timing contractions, and doing everything we could to make my friend comfortable as she did all the hard work. Labor and delivery are fascinating! The body knows what to do and my friend had to pay attention and figure it out as she went along with the cues her body was giving her. I tried to make suggestions when I could, but it was up to her, and she was a trooper.

A midwife friend coached me through delivering the baby and the placenta, taking care of the umbilical cord, everything. It was amazing! 9 hours after I arrived, little Christopher took his first breath. I whispered a quick blessing over him as I laid him on his mommy and began cleaning him up and looking him over. I was nervous but had been praying all day for wisdom, guidance, and peace and felt all of those things. God is so good! My friends gained 6 lbs. and 14 oz. of blessing, and I will never be the same for having been a part of it all. There is so much more I could say, but some things seem too sacred to share on the internet. My friends are now learning how to parent and be a family, and I’m honored that I can speak truth, love, and hope into their lives.

Yes, my iPhone came in pretty handy, but it was nothing compared to God’s calming presence as heaven touched earth and I experienced the miracle of new life with my friends.


*I want to thank our friends Jeff & Katherine from the 11th & Willis church of Christ in Abilene (our last SABBATH group) for providing many of the items needed during and after delivery, including the cute blankets we wrapped Baby Christopher in. 🙂

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Filed under Big Announcements, Making a Difference, Niki

Introducing our 2011 Summer Interns…

Every year we hand-pick a few college students to intern with us for the summer. We offer them a unique opportunity for hands on, life experience in community outreach and faith training as well as various service opportunities. This year we are excited to have two hard-working Texans joining us for the summer. Good thing I make excellent sweet tea! 😉


Tanner Colley is from Wichita Falls, Texas. He is a senior English major with a History minor at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. He has been interning with their campus ministry, Mustangs for Christ, for the past 2 years. His future goals include missionary work and writing science fiction, so he’ll fit right in with our family of Dr. Who addicts. Tanner has spent his last 2 spring breaks with us in Boulder and is looking forward to being here this summer. When asked why he wanted to intern with us and what he hoped to take away from the experience, Tanner replied, “Because God told me to and because I love the Nowells and their street friends. I hope to gain a sense of Love without hindrance.”


Ty Reynolds is from Granbury, Texas. He is a sophomore Business Management major (thinking about minoring in Sports Management) at Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma. He’d like his future to include working in the sports industry, possibly as a sports agent. Ty is a movie buff and with all of the summer blockbusters coming out, we’ll all be hitting the theater during our time off! As a 2-time SABBATH participant, Ty is a SEVENS veteran. Why does he want to be here and what does he hope to take away? “I want to intern with you guys because the 2 times I have gone in the past were 2 of the most memorable moments of my life. Being out there on the streets loving on the people we meet just feels so right. I hope I come away from this summer with an even more open heart towards the world and everyone in it. I also want bragging rights with my friends to say I had the coolest summer ever by getting to hang out with homeless people and show them God’s love.”

Pictures can say a lot about a person, and these are saying that Tanner’s love for coffee makes him the official SEVENS coffee maker, and with Ty around, I won’t have to lift anything heavy all summer. 😉 They also expose the raw, hidden modeling talent which we will immediately put to work when they arrive in 2 weeks. Want to look like our interns? Order a SEVENS shirt today!


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Filed under Big Announcements, Interns, Volunteers

The New & Improved SEVENS Website!

There are lots of exciting changes happening with SEVENS! We launched the new website this morning and are very pleased with it. There are still a few little kinks to work out, but our hope is that it will give a glimpse into who we are, what we do, and why we do it. We want as many people as possible to live a full life which includes serving with the gifts God has given each of us. Our website is a picture of how our family is doing just that.

We’ve been working hard to streamline the website, blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts so we’re easy to find. We’ve linked up with our personal blogs, our supporters, the summer camp we’re a part of, and more.

We have 1,000+ photos to share between the site, the blog, and our official SEVENS ONLINE Facebook group page. There’s a small photo gallery on the site that we will update periodically.

You can visit the 7’s Gear page to order t-shirts and stickers.

If you’ve partnered with us for activities and programs we’ve hosted, we’d love to include your quotes, pictures, testimonies, etc. Please email your stuff to me.

You can subscribe to this blog by email or rss feed by clicking on those links over there on the right.

See? Sometimes change is good. 😉

Coming Soon: Announcing the 2011 Summer Interns, Volunteers in the spotlight, and Spring Break.

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Filed under Big Announcements