I started writing these newsletters as a way to communicate with family and friends about our experiments in trying to follow Jesus. It should be no suprise that raising children and being a loving spouse make for lots of interesting mistakes or inspiring moments (depending on how you look at them). These documents record many of the pleasures (and pains) that we have found in turning our hearts toward God and loving the world he created.
In early 2011 I wrote, “Working Out Our Salvation: Voluntary Poverty, Accompaniment, and Enemy-Love”. Here I tried to outline the most important and radical actions Jesus took among those he discipled, expecting that he could accomplish them in our life too. Specifically, I sought to address the spiritual compromises I kept coming back to as a mental health professional, feeling encouraged to embrace more of God’s intention for us as followers of Jesus and yet feeling trapped in a series of life-choices that had made it difficult to move into a better space.
Then, in March 2012, I sent out another update called, “Love’s Answer at the Right Time: Our Winton Family Newsletter”. This one emphasized a big step forward for us in terms of work: I was able to reduce my position to half-time. Plus, Gabriela Shalom Winton was born! Changing my work schedule allowed me to spend more time with our two children and helped to make room for a new ministry (music, communion, and prayer) and volunteer counseling opportunities. We also felt a certain measure of grace since our shortfall in income had been provided for.
Due to some difficult and exciting changes with our housing and in the garden, I wrote a part-two for 2012: “Hope and Peace Along the Way: A Mid-Term Family Update”. In this newsletter, I shared about our garden work and the unforeseen answers to prayer regarding our new housemate.
In 2013, I wrote two newsletters describing how our experiments continue to shape us, how God is opening our hearts to Him, and where we feel his Spirit leading our family. Two highlights for me were our travel plans (to Peru) and the vision for free counseling/spiritual direction in our neighborhood. Read the whole thing here: “It’s Harder Than We Thought: Another Update From the Wintons” and “We made it to Peru! (and other tales from 2013)”.
We returned to Peru a year later (Jan. 2015), so I wrote a short reflection and posted the video presentation I put together about our trip: “2015 Winton Family Newsletter: ‘Blessed are you who are poor'”.