I’m learning to see the beauty in my plans not going the way I’d hoped and my expectations not being met.

The Saturday of niceSERVE 31 fell on our son Finn’s final YMCA soccer game of the season. His coach (and Summit’s Connect Director), Dan Sherfield, had a great idea to bring niceSERVE to the soccer field in the form of a cleat exchange. Families in the league would bring their child’s outgrown cleats to the field and exchange them for a larger size. We would grill hot dogs for all the families at the field on Dan’s fancy new portable grill, hand out coupons for free Jeremiah’s Italian Ice to all who participated in the exchange, and make it an epic final game day of the season. We were so pumped!

And then the soccer league had a scheduling issue and with just days notice our final game was moved to the Saturday before niceSERVE.

Our plans of collecting cleats for two weeks in multiple locations to have plenty of size options for the exchange began to look a bit bleak, and we didn’t have a lot of time to come up with a plan B. We were discouraged, but we decided to put on our green shirts and move forward with the cleat exchange a week early, and see what God would do with it.

We were discouraged, but we decided to put on our green shirts and move forward with the cleat exchange a week early, and see what God would do with it.

When I first agreed to write this blog, I thought I would have some really huge and profound story to tell about how lives were changed on a Saturday morning at a soccer field as a result of this project. I thought I’d get to write about a tired, worn out mom coming up to the tent crying tears of gratitude, telling me how her kids wouldn’t have been able to play next year if it weren’t for this—this cleat exchange, this niceSERVE 31 project.

Instead it seemed from my vantage point that there were road blocks and forks in the road the entire way. My plans and expectations weren’t met, and so it felt like a lose.

But the more I thought about how God led us to this particular project, I realized so many small, but very significant stories had begun in the days—and even years—leading up to our soccer cleat exchange.

Two years ago, my husband Andy wrote an article for the SUMMIT Magazine about how our family felt challenged to apply what we learned from “The Art of Neighboring” to our lives. Our first step was leaving a soccer league with friends that we loved to find one closer to home, so that we could find more opportunities to love our literal neighbors better. Dan Sherfield read the article, and one Sunday in the Lobby after church told Andy that he coached a soccer team for Finn’s age-group downtown and invited us to join.

It’s four seasons later with Coach Dan and we have invested many hours on the sidelines building relationships with neighbors and new friends. The Sunday after our plan B version of the soccer cleat exchange, our daughter Janie ran into two of her new friends from the soccer fields visiting Summit for the first time, and then saw them again at niceSERVE this past Saturday! That’s no small thing.

I have no doubt that this is all just a catalyst for the stories that God will continue to write, both in my family’s life and in others.

Dan’s invitation to join his team led to new, rich relationships with neighbors, which led to the organization of an experimental niceSERVE project—where over 50 pairs of cleats were collected that will be disbursed to families through the YMCA’s scholarship program. I have no doubt that this is all just a catalyst for the stories that God will continue to write, both in my family’s life and in others.

And so I’m learning to see the beauty in my plans not going the way I’d hoped, as it means God’s is perfectly in motion.

 

 

Now that niceSERVE 31 has come and gone, we hope you'll take the opportunity to continue dreaming up ways to serve your neighborhood, partner with organizations, and show those in our city how much Jesus loves them. Find more details on serving locally here.

Ashley Simonds is a long-standing volunteer for the communications department. She is one of the phenomenal editors who helps make the SUMMIT Magazine what it is! She enjoys cooking, going to the beach, and spending time with her husband, Andy, and their children.