Changes at Body Oak Cliff

Dear Friends and Supporters of Body Oak Cliff,

I write to inform you of a transition. As many of you know, in April of this year, Joel and I were privileged to welcome a new baby boy into our family. Theo is an utter delight, and he brings immeasurable joy into our household!

In spite of having a new baby, I decided to continue with my work at Body Oak Cliff because I am passionate about helping people experience real transformation in their everyday lives. Seven years ago I joined Joel in this life-changing work, and I have experienced an immense amount of healing and growth during that time. Because of what I’ve received, I want to pass it on! That’s why I’ve continued writing, coaching, creating, and facilitating, even after Joel transitioned into work as a schoolteacher.

But I recently came to a realization. In a few short years, Theo will head off to school. The eight months that I’ve had with him so far have flown by, and I can only imagine that this feeling of time slipping away will continue. So in these few precious years, I want to be fully present. I don’t want to feel constantly divided, constantly guilty – either that I’m not getting enough work done, or that I’m not getting enough time with Theo. Raising kids, as anyone who has done so knows well, is a full time job. Trying to work another job on top of it feels like, well, working two jobs. If you have read my blog, then you know how I feel about multi-tasking. I am at my best when I can give myself to what’s in front of me, and I am currently feeling the impact of trying to be in two places at once.

And so I have decided to take a pause. I expect that I will continue to write and coach and create and facilitate, but I will do so informally, and not as a paid employee of Body Oak Cliff. This will give me the freedom to adjust my schedule to the new season I find myself in without feeling like I am failing at one thing or another.

What does this mean for Body Oak Cliff? At this time, there are no plans to hire a new staff. Those of us who have been closest to the work will continue to live out our mission together, but on a purely volunteer-basis. Since our organizational expenses will be basically zero, we will no longer be soliciting donations.

To each of you, I want to express my deepest gratitude. Some of you have been supporting this work since before I came on staff. For your faithfulness, I am humbled. Others of you have thrown in your lot with me somewhere along the way, and you have no idea what it meant to me to know you believed in what we were doing. Regardless of how long you’ve been giving, encouraging, and praying, your support has been absolutely invaluable to me and to the people who have benefited from this work. If there’s one thing I regret about my work these past several years, it’s that I haven’t done a better job of sharing the stories of transformation that I’ve been privileged to witness. How do you measure someone’s experience of God’s love and the way that impacts how they love their children? How do you measure the value of healing emotional wounds and the way that empowers someone to discover and share their unique gifts with the world? Shame conquered, relationships mended, freedom found – these are the beautiful realities that characterize the Kingdom of God and, in a very real way, you have helped to bring this about to a greater degree in our broken world.

Even though Body Oak Cliff “as we know it” is coming to an end, the beginnings of a new vision are emerging. In conversation with my husband Joel, my roommate Rachel, and others, we are dreaming of a venture at the intersection of housing, racial inequity, and emotional health. For the past three years, we have been living out an experiment of “formational housing in community” on a small scale. We have been able to apply the principles of coaching and transformation within our household, and have witnessed firsthand the power of these tools within such close quarters. People often cite the difficulties of living with roommates, but we have found the benefits to overwhelmingly outweigh the cost. We believe that since our original, formational wounds occur within the community of our nuclear family, it is only within the context of a safe, loving community that we can be re-formed into who God created us to be.

The “Big Blue” family on Easter Sunday, 2020.

Since we have gotten to experience this gift of re-formation in community firsthand, we want to share it more broadly! In a time when affordable housing is scarce and economic hardship is rampant – not to mention the mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges that accompany these more tangible problems – this is desperately needed! We sense God calling us toward this vision, and feel that the formational work we have done thus far has been preparing us for this moment. We don’t have all the details worked out yet, but we are talking and praying our way toward discernment, and are excited about what’s to come!

With love and gratitude,

Deborah