Category Archives: SEVENS Partners

Greeting Cards & Bubbles

I guest blogged on Sacred Margins last week with the following post. Be sure to check out their site when you’re done reading here!

So many nights I’ve cried out to God asking Him for reassurance that we’re still doing what He called us to do with our street ministry. The heartache and lack of respect are draining, but there’s also been a drop in financial support, and increased criticism. We’ve reached a rocky incline and I’ve found myself doubting my ability to keep going, wondering if I’m making a difference at all.

I spent last weekend in bed with the flu and had to miss our weekly meal in the park. I was too sick to care, but then my family brought this card home to me. My breath caught around the lump in my throat as the gesture sank into my heart. Somehow, my street friends had scrounged up a greeting card. The inside was filled with their names wishing me peace and love, get well soon, and angels all around me. I was stunned, and renewed. It reminded me of Galatians 6:9 which says,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Don’t give up. I matter. Got it.

Most of us are not in the habit of reassuring each other of our significance, which makes it easier to believe the lie that we don’t matter. But the truth is who we are makes a difference even if we don’t see it and need to be reminded. Sometimes those reminders come in strange, unexpected ways.

A few years ago, I sat slumped at my desk, working on a writing project I didn’t think would matter to anyone but me. Lost in my melancholy mood, I sat there so long my screen saver popped up.

I love bubbles. I watched as they bumped and bounced, passing over or through each other, and sometimes sticking together for a bit.  Some moved faster than others, some stayed in one general area while others made their way to all corners of the screen. I thought to myself, we are just like those bubbles, confined to a certain space and have no control over who we bump into on our journey. Notice the words confined and control – good indicators of my mood. But then I watched something amazing happen. As the bubbles touched each other, they changed colors, and it struck me that we’re like that too. While there is constant motion in our lives, we are all changed by our interactions with others.

That’s true for you no matter who you are and what you do in this life. You are changing the people around you just by being you. That’s pretty significant. And it’s okay if you need reminders now and then. They may be as bizarre as a screen saver or as sweet as a greeting card, but they come when we need them, because we are loved, and we all matter. We need to say it and live it.

Who are the people you’re bumping up against today? Tell them they matter.

You just might be the reminder they need to keep going.

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Supper in the Park

Benny took Max and his best friend hammock camping for the weekend to celebrate Max’s 13th birthday. I can’t believe he’s 13. With every voice-cracking, smelly sock wearing, girl liking day, I’m the proud observer of emerging manhood. Today while two of my wild men are out conquering the Colorado forest, the rest of our family will be hanging out in Central Park in Boulder, sharing life with our friends that call the streets, parks, and woods their home.

The summer is coming to a close, and many of the 150 people we’ve been sharing our weekly meals with will be heading for warmer temps for the next several months. Our “regulars”, the friends we know by name as we seek each other out, will shift into winter survival mode. Benny will find fewer on the streets when he does outreach, but the conversations will be longer, deeper, and more desperate. Every week they’ll meet us at the park, we’ll talk about life and needs and prayers and hopes for a better tomorrow. It’s a beautiful time at these mini family reunions, yet we struggle to provide for them and for our own family. It’s sobering to process all of this, but there is peace in knowing we are right where we are supposed to be. God doesn’t show up in Boulder when we’re there, He dwells there and invites us to join Him in what He’s already doing.

We have amazing volunteers that bring the meals each week, but we need more help. We have a group that can no longer provide the meal once a month, so we need another group to step in and help fill the gap. If you are interested in more information about what it takes to host one of our suppers in the park, please email me at nikinowell@gmail.com

We are thankful for all of the people who help us serve each month:

1st Saturday – The Journey Church from Westminster

2nd Saturday – Boulder Valley Church of Christ from Louisville

3rd Saturday – The week we need filled!

4th Saturday –  Marc & Raechel Leduc & Friends

5th Saturday – Barlow’s Premium Cigars & Pipes from Lafayette

While I’m taking a moment to thank friends of SEVENS, and really a moment is not enough, we could not function without the support of our many friends that partner with us financially and/or donate resources throughout the year:

  • Alme Chiropractic / Maximized Living
  • Boulder Valley church of Christ
  • Camp OC
  • River Wild Ministries
  • The Barnett Family
  • The Browning Family
  • The Burham Family
  • The Clang Family
  • The Cloud Family
  • The Cunningham Family
  • The Cox Family
  • The Estler Family
  • The Frantz Family
  • The Gaddie Family
  • The Gilbert Family
  • The Hart Family
  • The King’s Oasis / L. Rose
  • The Lech Family
  • The Leduc Family
  • The Miller Family
  • The Moldenhauer Family
  • The Moore Family
  • The Norsworthy Family
  • The Olson Family
  • The Robey Family
  • The Rutledge Family
  • The Schlachter Family
  • The Sears Family
  • The Vardas Family
  • Vinelife Church
  • Westlink Church of Christ

I hope I’m not forgetting anyone. If I listed all of the people that encourage us and pray for us, I’d be typing all day. If this is you, thank you! We love you! 🙂

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The Great SEVENS Tour!

From Benny-

Niki, the kids, and I are officially at the first stop of our 4 state, 11 city, SEVENS tour.  We will be gone until November the 3rd.  We will be updating our supporters, checking in with our SABBATH groups that worked with us this last summer, having a little family fun, and raising some much needed financial support.

I got up early Tuesday morning to finish packing the van and run some errands.  After scraping ice off the windshield and getting all the last minute details done, we were ready to leave…at 1:30pm.  Over the last few weeks, I took the back 2 seats out of our 15 passenger van that was donated by some members from the Northside church of Christ in San Antonio, TX.  I also built drawers and a hanging clothes rack to keep us organized on this long trip.

Our trip to Wichita went really well (9 hours with only 2 stops).  We got in late last night and are set to update our friends at the Westlink church of Christ tonight.  I had 4 really cool banners made for our informational display and had them shipped here, so Niki and I will get our display finished this afternoon.  Zoe gets to hang out with her favorite person in Wichita, Miss Danita.  I think they are going shopping.  Miss Danita knows how to show Zoe a great time.

During our “tour”, our daily family devotionals will come from Psalms and Proverbs.  We really want to focus on God and His love and care for us.  Life and ministry has felt very uncertain over the last few months because we lost almost three quarters of our support (economy, job changes, God calling supporters to mission work).  So I’m focusing us in on God and His care for 2 reasons.  1.  We need to be reminded of how God has come through in the past and how He’ll do it again.  2.  We need to keep God’s care for us  forefront in our minds and hearts so that this whole trip doesn’t become about raising money.  We truly want to bless these churches.

Our theme for this month is “SHOW UP!”  We will be encouraging these congregations to “Show UP” in the lives of the broken and hurting near them.  We’ll also be checking in with our SABBATH groups to see if they are “Showing Up” like they had promised.

Please pray for our family, spiritual protection, the hearts of those we are speaking to and for financial abundance.

Here are our Dates and stops.  Come and see us if we’re near you.

October
4 Sun. – Boulder Valley church of Christ a.m. service (Home)
5 Mon. – Preparing for the trip (Home)
6 Tues. – Drive to Wichita. (Cox)
7 Wed. – Westlink c of C, 6:15 p.m. (Cox)
8 Thur. – Hanging out in Wichita (Cox)
9 Fri. – Drive to Ft. Worth, TX with a stop in OKC for lunch with the intern. (Brown)
10 Sat. – Activities with the Legacy c of C. (Brown)
11 Sun – Legacy c of C in North Richland Hills,  a.m. classes and evening area wide teen event. (Robey)
12 Mon. – Open week (Robey)
13 Tue. – (Robey)
14 Wed. – (Robey)
15 Thur. – (Robey)
16 Fri. – (Bloecher)
17 Sat. – (Robey)
18 Sun. – Granbury c of C in the a.m., 10th & Broad in Wichita Falls in the p.m. (Carr)
19 Mon. – (Carr)
20 Tue. – (Carr)
21 Wed. – 10th & Broad, Wichita Falls (Carr)
22 Thur. – Drive to Temple, TX to see the Hartnagles and the Canyon Creek group from Belton.(Hartnagle)
23 Fri. – Drive to San Antonio and hang out with friends (Shough)
24 Sat. – (Pippert)
25 Sun. – Northside c of C in the a.m., small groups in the p.m. (Pippert)
26 Mon. – Tourist stuff in San Antonio (Pippert)
27 Tue. – Drive to Houston, outreach with Piercing the Darkness ministries in the p.m. (motel)
28 Wed. – Drive to Tulsa, OK with a stop in Grand Saline, TX (Herndon)
29 Thur. – Drive to Wichita, KS (Cox)
30 Fri. – (Cox)
31 Sat. – Hanging out in Wichita, Trunk or Treat at East Point c of C. (Cox)

November
1 Sun. – East Point c of C a.m. service (Cox)
2 Mon. – Drive back to Denver. Home sweet home.

On The Road and Lovin’ You,

-The Nowell’s-

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Brad the Intern

Brad and Kellie

His name is Brad Lemons, and the beautiful girl with him is his twin sister Kellie. Brad arrived in Boulder (from Kansas) on a Saturday, just in time for Supper on the Pearl, and didn’t waste any time getting to know our street friends. Brad was one of the teens that came on a SABBATH trip last summer, and it was life changing for him, so he’s spending his last summer before college hanging out with us and loving on the people we meet on the streets of Boulder, and the youth groups that join us for SABBATH 2009.

Brad 3

I’ve worked him pretty hard already. Here he is hiding from me in the new SEVENS fridge. j/k  Brad’s responsibilities include street outreach with Benny, assisting me in the shopping for the SABBATH groups, connecting with the teens we work with, and anything else we tell him to do. He is a natural when it comes to hanging out, making people laugh, and welcoming new faces, and he’s doing a great job. We’re so glad to have him here this summer! You’ll be hearing from him in the next SEVENS newsletter and here on the blog.

Brad

Brad on a turf tour in Denver.

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From our friend Whitney Riggs

“I get this feeling sometimes that after the world ends, when God destroys all our buildings and our flags, we will wish we had seen everybody as equal, that we had eaten dinner with prostitutes, held them in our arms, opened up spare rooms for them and loved them and learned from them.”

Christ’s love compels us…he died for all. We regard no one from a worldly point of view. God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. For He says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’

He forgave us all our sins. Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.

1st paragraph from the book “Searching for God Knows What”, Donald Miller
2nd paragraph from the book of 2nd Corinthians in the Bible.
3rd paragraph from the book of Colossians in the Bible.

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We’re counting our blessings…

Literally.  While preparing for their ski trip to Winter Park, the Northside Church of Christ in San Antonio has spent the past several months collecting outreach supplies for SEVENS.  Headed up by the youth group and an amazing set of volunteers, they came up with all kinds of clever names like the month of  “SOCK it to Satan.” They collected over 750 pairs of new socks for us to hand out when we do street outreach.  The donation drive ended with “Sacks for SEVENS” where the teens stapled a list of needed items to brown paper bags and passed them out at church.  Northside members then took them home and filled the bag with items from the list.  When everything was collected and counted, there were over 30 boxes full of stuff!

northside-ski-trip-and-sevens-127

We were amazed by the generosity of this church family and I was overwhelmed to the point of tears as we thanked them.  The boxes contained 750+ pairs of socks, 265+ deodorants, 6700+ baby wipes, 3200+ feminine hygiene products, $550+ in gift cards for fast food restaurants, thousands of band-aids, antibiotic ointment, tubes of superglue, athletic tape and gauze, pain relievers, and other items that make up first aid kits, and 789+ miscellaneous items such as hair products, shaving items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and Kleenex.

WOW!  THANK YOU NORTHSIDE!!!

After everything was unloaded, we took them to the Pearl Street Mall where we do a lot of our outreach, and they did a prayer walk.  They met some of our street friends, which was a small taste of what awaits their group that will be joining us for our summer program, SABBATH, in July.

We have so many reasons to be grateful for the people at Northside.  They are also the ones who provided the money for us to purchase a much needed 15 passenger van.   The back end is already loaded with outreach items we’re using now and it will come in very handy in a few short months with our summer groups!  We’re hoping to have our new logo finished and painted on there soon.  We are blessed indeed!

Here’s the ski group in Winter Park right before we drove to Boulder.  Max and Zoe are in the front holding chunks of snow, Benny is in the back row on the left, Pete was already in the van because he was too cold, and that’s me in the black leather jacket on the far left.

northside-group

God has brought so many wonderful people into our lives.  We are happy to be partnering with the Boulder Valley Church of Christ who is not only allowing us to store stuff in their building, but they were the first church to commit to hosting Supper on the Pearl once a month.  Last month’s menu was Chicken Noodle Soup, rolls, cupcakes, and Gatorade.  They gave of their time and resources but most importantly, they gave themselves as they engaged the individuals and families that joined us for the meal.

We met a newly homeless family at the last meal.  The husband, Rick*, lost his job and is spending his time trying to find a place for his family to live.  His wife Jill* is on disability which doesn’t go far with them and their two young sons.  We were able to give them flannel shirts we had received from a youth group Benny had met in Florida last November, some packets of basic necessities from a youth group in Chicago, and of course some of the stuff from the Northside group.  It’s humbling and faith building to watch as God brings his people from all over the country together to provide for the needs of those we meet on the streets of Boulder.  To semi-quote that old Beatles song, “we get by with a little help from our friends!”

nell-and-terry

On a sad note, we lost a good friend recently.  Our neighbor Terry ended his own life two weeks ago today.  We’ve been doing our best to take care of his wife Nell, whom we dearly love. It was with great sadness that Benny spoke at the memorial service in the same place he performed their wedding last April.  If there can be a silver lining, through this tragedy we’ve had the opportunity to get to know Nell’s son and his wife a little better.  They are close to our age and are needing friendly support as well.  They have a daughter that’s Max’s age.  Please pray for Nell and Terry’s families and all of their friends as everyone grieves and remembers Terry in their own ways.  I pray that we are offering hope and comfort and showing them that God loves them, a fact that they are doubting right now.

Next weekend our friend Michael is bringing a group from Oklahoma State University to join us for Spring Break.  I’ll be back with an update after that.

Thank you for your prayers and support of SEVENS and the Nowell family!

~Niki~

*Not their real names

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