I sit on the edge of my bed and prepare my heart for prayer. My hands open into the beggar’s cup formation and I sigh a deep, cleansing breath. I remember the day I learned this prayer posture, gathered together with the Communion Rhythms team in Deborah’s studio. Warmth, authenticity, dedication, and a heartfelt resolve to know God deeper and more intimately would linger in the air during our meetings. I will always carry a piece of this group with me in my heart, as the regular interactions, authentic encouragement, and helpful accountability in our spiritual growth patterns are rare and treasured gifts in Christian community. Mountainside Communion is a church that lives this out as a lifestyle. Praise God.
I think back to the previous year, before joining the Communion Rhythms Guide Team, when my husband, Luke, and I had participated in one of the Vocational Discernment groups. A similar passion and drive permeated those meetings, as each participant deeply desired to know the Lord’s leading in their life. Held in the home of Warren and Janet, our group had the tremendous and unique opportunity to gather around the table of these incredible people. Jan’s wisdom, the sparkle in her eye, and her heart of faith, strength, courage, and joy sent beams of light around the table as we discussed and shared our journeys. Warren’s wisdom, the warmth of his strong voice, the genuine kindness and care of his presence created a safe, sturdy setting within which our voices mattered and our vocational ponderings were authenticated. Josh’s wisdom, his steady eye-contact and gaze of sincere and heartfelt interest when each person would share, his thoughtful question-asking, and Christ-centered leadership built spaces and places for people to make important strides in their vocational journeys. Our work together as a team was encouraging, and as a result of these important meetings, I sensed the Lord leading me to pursue my first pastorate position. Josh brought a sense of great dignity and calling to this vocational step by commissioning Luke and me at a Sunday service, right before I started my position as Global Outreach Pastor at Whittier Area Community Church, and for that I was truly grateful. Much thanksgiving and joy fill my heart when I think about the way that these faithful Vocational Discernment groups, meeting over time in the homes of truly inspiring people, are making a difference in the lives of many.
The most precious, personal, and tangible result of the prayers that I learned in Deborah’s studio links to three small stones. I remember holding them gently in my hands and asking the Lord for a child. I prayed with hope and cautious optimism that the Lord would answer the cry of my heart to have a family. One large stone represented Luke, and I held it tenderly with love and gratitude for the wonderful gift that he is in my life. The other large stone represented me, and I asked that the Lord would open my womb and prepare me to be a mother. The small, beautifully round stone, represented the prayer of my heart—a longing to have a child. Now, as I sit here with our daughter, Rosie, I celebrate the way that God answers prayers, and think and wonder on all those new prayers for others, for my community, for our world, that I desire to pray. And this points me to the most important lesson that Josh and the Mountainside Community model: abundantly love your community. Humbly pray for the Lord to work. Faithfully act with justice and mercy in response to the present needs. At a justice conference, one of the seminar speakers said, “If you want to see what church would be like if Jesus was on earth today, go visit Josh’s church in Monrovia.”
May God richly bless and multiply the faithful work of Mountainside Communion in the years to come. May God’s blessing of peace and provision be abundantly poured out upon Josh and Ari and their family, and all of the faithful leaders in the church. Thanks be to God for this good gift. Luke and I are deeply grateful for the many ways we encountered God through our time at Mountainside Communion.
We remember Josh’s cornerstone verse, which God laid on his heart so many years ago: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8