Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fear & Uncertainty

"Fear should never take the place of joy. Uncertainty should never take the place of passion."      Lisa Young
There is so much uncertainty about life and specifically about church planting. We didn't know if this church would get off the ground or if we'd be beating our heads against the wall. We never know from one Sunday to the next who will show up. When we change something or start something new we don't know if it will work, how to plan, if anyone will come, etc... 

That uncertainty can lead to fear which has the potential to derail your willingness to take risks and live by faith. But when we pull into ourselves seeking our own security or comfortability, we lose all sense of deep joy and driving passion. Meaning, purpose, and significance gets lost in attempts to live a pain-free life. 

Growth requires uncertainty. But the level of joy awaiting those who will risk it all and, in so doing, prove God's faithfulness is unmatched by any other lifestyle.

(These are my reflections on Lisa Young's 
time with the pastors' wives at C3.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

C3 Overview

Our staff had an incredible time at C3 (Creative Church Conference) at Fellowship Church in Texas. There was not one bad session or speaker. I look forward to sharing some of my insights and "take-aways" from the conference in the coming days. But for now I just wanted to share a few pictures and one incredible video.

This video was taken from my camera, so the quality is not very good. However it was a powerful moment. The conference opened with a video of things in the world that are not right...poverty, injustice, etc. Then, this lady dressed in white dropped out of the ceiling supported only by these two ribbons. Try to listen to the words in the background as she dances. The narrator describes the strength and beauty of the Church in a dark and hopeless world.

A Picture of The Church from Stacie Wood on Vimeo.

The video below is Pastor Ed Young's debut as a rapper. Not bad!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sunday Rewind


On Sunday we wrapped up the Financial Freedom series with a message about making wise financial decisions. Andy talked about how our giving (or lack there of) can often be influenced by guilt and/or greed. Even those who are committed to tithing (giving 10% of one's income) can fall into these pits. 

For example, tithers can give out of guilt:
      * "I know that's what the Bible teaches, so I "have to" obey. 

Or they can be greedy even in tithing:
      * "I'm giving 10% and not a penny more."
      * or "If I invest this money, then God will bless me financially."

Andy encouraged us to move beyond the guilt and the greed, and to be motivated by the GRACE that God has poured out on our lives. When we recognize that God has been so generous to us, it motivates us to give back! When we begin to see our finances through this lens, we can live with great joy and freedom. We are no longer seeking to increase our standard of living, but rather we seek to increase our standard of giving. We can LIVE to GIVE!

Andy urged our church to take a "Giving Challenge". Over the next 90 days we are to take a step toward "Spirit-led giving". At the end of those 90 days, we can reevaluate our lives and our finances and see if God has not blessed us, provided for us, and grown our faith in amazing ways. Andy even issued a guarantee saying that if someone takes this challenge and is not in a better financial situation in 90 days from now, South Bay will return every dollar that they gave!

We had everyone write on their Connection Card if they were accepting the Giving Challenge. 63 of the 220 adults in our services stepped up to the challenge! I am so excited to hear all of the stories that will come out of people taking this step of faith!

FYI- Andy & I also accepted the giving challenge and we are taking our giving to a "whole nutha' level". We sat down last night with our budget and worked out the details. One thing I know for sure: YOU CAN'T OUT GIVE GOD!!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bunk Beds for the Boys

Dear Flash,

Mommy, Daddy, and I got our bunk beds all set up and ready for us. The only thing missing is YOU! Please come home soon.

I'll sleep on the top bunk because I'm big and brave. You can sleep on the bottom bunk. If you get scared in the middle of the night, I can take care of you.

I like the new bed a lot, but I really wish I had a brother to share it with. We can't wait to get you home. We love you already!

Your Big Brother,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Freedom House

A couple weeks ago Andy & I went to a benefit dinner for Freedom House, the Bay Area's first shelter specifically for victims of human trafficking. South Bay Church has been doing research on ways to get involved in the fight against human trafficking. We really have a heart for the aftercare of rescued victims, and while we know that human trafficking is going on right here in the Bay Area, we could not find any "safe houses" locally that provide care for these young women. The closest safe houses that we could find were at least a couple hours away. That is why we were so excited to hear about Freedom House.

Freedom House is a Christian aftercare facility that will provide for the needs of these victims. The survivors of human trafficking often need clothes, free shelter, food, language skills, medical attention, job training, legal assistance, counseling/therapy, and a variety of other services. Without shelters like Freedom House, police do not have many options once they have rescued the girls. The girls are left very vulnerable and are at risk of being trafficked again.

Freedom House will not only provide the victims with all of the services listed above, but they will also provide the opportunity for the women to hear the gospel and attend optional Bible studies. The reality is, providing freedom in this life without giving someone hope for eternity falls incredibly short of what the Bible exhorts us to do. Freedom House wants to provide a safe environment where these young women can tangibly feel the love and healing power of Christ.

Andy & I are so excited to be meeting with the founder of this organization in a few weeks. We are hoping that South Bay will be able to partner with Freedom House both financially and through volunteer support. Freedom House is hoping to have its Grand Opening this summer. You can read more about this amazing organization here.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me...
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners...
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise 
instead of despair. 

Isaiah 61:1,3

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

C3: Rise of the Iguana


I am SOOOO excited that I get to attend C3 again this year with my husband and the South Bay staff. Last year one of our partnering churches paid for Andy and I to attend C3 at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. It was such a time of refreshment and inspiration for us. The whole time we were there, we kept saying how we wished our staff was with us. This year we were able to bring a team of ten people! Filipe and Mandy couldn't make it due to having a very new addition in their family, but everyone else is here. 

So today we are flying to TX and we'll be coming back on Saturday. I'm looking forward to taking lots of notes and I hope to pass on a few nuggets to you! 

(My precious friend, Lina, is taking care of Caedmon. Caedmon on steroids. Pray that he'll be a good boy for her!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lipstick Woes

One of life's small frustrations for me comes in the form of buying lipstick. I attempted to buy a tube today, comparing colors, trying to find the perfect shade. But the problem is, just like underwear, you can't try it on until you buy it. I'm thankful for that rule. Really, I am. But I cannot even count the times I have bought a tube, tried it on, hated it, and never worn it again! That was my experience today. Wasted money. Now, I have to work up my courage again to make another attempt...that could take weeks. Months even.

So would anyone like a [almost] brand new tube of Maybelline's Plum Wine lipstick? Not my color.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Caedmon on Steroids!?!?

On Friday morning Caedmon woke up being his usual energetic, talkative self. Since it was Andy's day off, we enjoyed a slow morning around the house. I noticed that Caedmon was starting a runny nose and cough, but just figured it was another of the many colds that seem to cycle around every couple of months.

We decided around 11 to run a couple errands, but when I asked Caedmon to go potty and get ready to go, he refused to cooperate. At first we thought he was just being defiant, but then I realized that he truly was not feeling well. I asked him if he'd rather go out for a little while or stay home and lay on the couch watching movies. He asked for the movies...which is rare for my little boy who wants to be on the go. So Caedmon and I turned on a movie while Andy ran to Blockbuster in search of The Lion King.

While Andy was gone, I noticed that Caedmon seemed incredibly uncomfortable. He kept fidgeting and changing positions on the couch. He would suddenly scream and say, "My tummy hurts," or "My head hurts". I didn't really know what to think. Was he going to throw up? Is he coming down with something serious?

I noticed that his breathing seemed slightly labored. It was very subtle. He wasn't gasping for air or even breathing through his mouth. But I could see his chest rising and falling which I've never noticed before. He was also coughing every 10-30 seconds, not a croupy cough, but just a constant cough with a bit of rattling around in there.

I had a feeling in my gut (Thank you, Holy Spirit) that we needed to take him to the doctor to get him checked out before the weekend. Now, I am the Queen of taking a "healthy" kid to the doctor and the doctor takes our $25 and says "All clear" so I was second guessing myself. But I called our doctor anyways. The receptionist said they were all booked up but she would message the doctors to see if someone could work us in. I waited about an hour (by this time is was 1:15 on Friday afternoon) and then called them back. I was quite proud of myself, because I'm normally not very assertive. But I guess when it comes to my boy, I can make things happen. This is how the conversation went:

Me: I called an hour ago saying I need to see someone about my son. If you can't fit me in I need another option b/c we need to see someone today.

Receptionist: OK, I'll message the doctors and someone will call you back.

Me: No. We've already done that. I need to talk to someone now.

Receptionist: OK, I'll send it as an urgent message and they'll call you back soon.

Me: Within 15 minutes.

Receptionist: Yes.

The nurse called me right back and got said, "Can you be here in 30 minutes?" I said, "Yes, we'll leave right now."

The whole way there I was 2nd guessing myself. Caedmon looked and was acting pretty normal. Just a regular cold. When the doctor saw us, I could tell that was exactly what she was thinking, too. That's okay. A wasted $25 co-pay is worth my peace-of-mind. But when she listened to his lungs she said, "Wow! He is really wheezing. Not just a little bit. It's a good thing you brought him in!" In an instant I felt totally vindicated and like maybe I'm not a paranoid first time mom! His oxygen level was at 95% and they said 92% requires hospitalization.

They started Caedmon on a breathing treatment and gave him a shot of steroids. (Not too excited about Caedmon on steroids. That's taking "Caedmon" to a Whole Notha' Level!)We also took home two inhalers. The doctor said both of the medications make the kids' hearts beat fast so they feel fidgety and hyper. Nice.

It's not been too bad, but I can definitely see it's effect. Yesterday I didn't put Caedmon in BayKids at church because I thought he might be contagious with his cold. However, we did walk over for a couple minutes to pass out the Valentine's that he made. We had been there for all of two minutes when Caedmon found some maracas and started beating a helpless little girl! We left soon after.

So, one word of advice to attention to your kids' breathing, especially if they are getting a cold. This had never happened to Caedmon before, but I knew to look out for it because it happens to my nephew. Just something to keep in mind.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's Just Money

One time when I was preparing to go on a mission trip back in college, one of our leaders was talking with the team about the importance of eating whatever is provided without complaining. There are no "special orders" when you're on a mission trip. You don't like to eat fish eyes? I'm sorry, but you can swallow them whole while holding your breath for the glory of God! Our leader said the phrase, "It's just food."

I've thought about that phrase a lot because it's so counter intuitive from the way we think. Our whole lives seem to revolve around food. Planning what we'll eat, buying groceries, preparing meals, choosing restaurants. We have countless options and yet we seem to stick with what we are most comfortable with. If we are 30 minutes delayed on a meal, we complain that we're "starving". To us, it doesn't seem like "just food." But the truth is, that's all it is. It's just a tool to keep our bodies nourished and have energy.

Different subject, same principle:

Right now I am up to my neck in adoption grants, trying to find some money to help out with all these adoption expenses. I stayed up past midnight last night trying to finish up four grants. This has been the first week since we've started this journey that I felt a little overwhelmed by the cost of it all. I think in my mind I had prepared to pay for about half of the expenses, but then assumed that we would get the rest of the funding from outside sources. We are just now starting the fund-raising process (you have to be completed with your homestudy before you can start). In my heart I am 100% confident that God will provide for us. But in my mind I realize that we are out on a limb and if He doesn't come through we'll be in a tough situation.

Honestly, though, I kinda like being out on a limb. (Maybe that's why Andy and I seem to find ourselves in these type situations a lot!) It's not comfortable. You can't fit a Lazy Boy and a plasma TV out there. But I like it because of what it does for my relationship with God. Let me be clear, Andy and I are not trying to be unwise or put God to the test to see if He'll bail us out again this time. We're just trying to follow His leading without fear of the unknown limiting our willingness to take risks. It doesn't take a lot of faith to live life in comfortable circumstances. But that's not the type of faith that I want. I want to actively BELIEVE GOD for the miracles that He desires to unleash on my life!

We've already spent over $13K and still have somewhere between $10K-$15K to go. I have watched our Emergency Fund (for all you Dave Ramsey fans out there) shrink to half of what it was before we started this process. That's kinda a hard pill to swallow.

But then it dawned on me: IT'S JUST MONEY!!! It's not my security. It's not intended for me to hoard. It is a tool. And I'm willing to put it to work however I feel like God wants me to. I know that God has led us to adopt and He can supply all of our needs. He "owns the cattle on a thousand hills." He is not wringing His hands or looking for a bailout. He is God, and I for one trust Him.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sunday Rewind


Yesterday Andy continued the second week in our Financial Freedom series with a message about contentment. He started off with this video:

South Bay Cribs from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

After watching the video someone asked me, "Is that really your couch?" Ummm, yes. And, "Do you really only get 3 channels?" Also true. But you know what? That is just where we are. Would we like nicer stuff? Sure, but "our stuff" is certainly not limiting our happiness or contentment. And, in my mind, it feels much nicer to sit on a couch that I own verses one I'm paying off. Same with our cars. If you wanted to see a really funny video, then they should make one of our cars...maybe next time!

Andy's message was about moving from a heart of greed to a heart of contentment. He said that it is possible to possess everything, yet have nothing. It is equally as possible to possess nothing, and yet have everything. We can get so caught up in desiring the next "best thing" or wishing we were in the next stage of our lives (or the previous stage of our lives) and totally miss all of the blessings that God has put in our lives right now.

As we looked at 1 Timothy 6:6-11, Andy said that the solution to contentment is living with an eternal perspective. If we really wrapped our minds around the fact that we are here on this earth for about 80 years but we will be in eternity forever, it would change the way we view these 80 years. We wouldn't make decisions based on what would benefit us in this moment. We would care a lot less about keeping up with the Jones' and would care a lot more about whether or not the Jones' knew the love of God. We each need to honestly answer the question, "Will I PURSUE what is temporal or will I PURSUE what is eternal?" Do not be deceived into thinking you can pursue both.

God has put unbelievable blessings in my life, but I have to choose today to receive them. Today, I will spend time with my son whether or not I receive it as a blessing. I will eat food whether or not I receive it as a blessing. I will sleep in a warm bed with a roof over my head whether or not I receive that as a blessing. There are countless blessings in my life. I just have to make the choice to receive them. It's all a matter of perspective.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Today is our DTE!!!

What does DTE stand for? Dossier To Ethiopia! That's right, all of our paperwork is currently boarding a FedEx plane to be shipped to Ethiopia! Once it arrives, we could literally receive a referral for our child at any time. The typical wait time is 3-4 months. That's when we'll get his photo and any info they know about him. Then we'll have to wait another couple months before we're able to go get him. I. CAN. NOT. WAIT.!!!!

So, in honor of this monumental day, I thought I'd share with you some prayers that I've been praying for our son, affectionately called "Flash" for the time being:

  • for our paperwork to arrive in Ethiopia and be processed with no hold-ups or delays
  • that God would Sovereignly pick the exact child He wants to be in our family and that that would be the referral we would receive
  • provision for our son-- food to eat, clean water/milk to drink, clothes to wear, a blanket to keep him warm, appropriate medical care
  • protection from evil-- that he would not be abused or neglected, that he wouldn't see abuse or other brutal crimes
  • that he would be resilient-- he's not an orphan because he comes from a well adjusted, loving family with plenty of resource. He will likely have experienced some trauma in his young life. I'm praying that these events will not define him, but that his personality and psychological health would resiliently bounce back once he's placed in a loving, nurturing family.
  • that there would be a caretaker who genuinely takes interest in him. That he/she would look in his eyes, speak gently with him, kiss his little face, and tell him that he is loved. 
  • that he would attach to Andy and me without complication...that the transition into our family would be one of great joy and feelings of security and love instead of confusion and distrust.
  • that we would be able to go get him by the end of July at the latest
  • that God would provide for us financially as we pay for the remaining adoption expenses.
 Thank you for your prayers on our behalf!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nursery Rhymes With Caedmon

For Christmas we gave Caedmon a flannel board set with nursery rhyme flannel pieces. I'm actually kinda surprised by how much he loves it. He's gotten really good at most of the nursery rhymes and it's super cute, so I thought I'd share the joy with you!

Humpty Dumpty from Stacie Wood on Vimeo.

Hey Diddle, Diddle from Stacie Wood on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sunday Rewind (a little late)


This past Sunday was a monumental day for South Bay Church. We are no longer a one-service-Sunday kind of church because this Sunday we added an additional worship experience! (9:30 & 11:00 AM) We did so much to prepare for this day. Some of the preparations include:
  • 21 days of prayer and fasting as a church leading up to this Sunday
  • doubling our volunteer base in one week to support the additional service
  • sending out a 60,000 piece mailer to invite the community
  • distributing 5,000 doorhangers
  • challenging each person to invite 3 friends
  • a 24 hour prayer chain leading up to the big day
We were so excited. Andy felt slightly nauseous all week and had to take Tylenol PM on Saturday night so that he could fall asleep! We were anticipating awesome things.

So when Sunday at 9:30 rolled around and there were only about 10 people in the audience, you could say we were a little concerned. However, I guess people out here just like to be "fashionably late" because by the end of the worship set there were over 150 people in attendance! Over 300 people attended South Bay this weekend which makes this past Sunday our highest attendance on record.

Why do we celebrate the numbers? Why are they important? Because, here's another number for you: 95% of people in the Silicon Valley do not attend any church and are heading toward a Christless eternity. Those 300 people represent 300 souls that matter to God and therefore matter to us. We will always be about reaching one more person with the hope of the Gospel!

Andy kicked off our new series on Financial Freedom. His main point was that a right relationship with God and a right relationship with money equals peace in our finances. God's design for our finances is that we would recognize that He is the master, we are the stewards, and money is the slave. When we get those components flip-flopped we live with incredible amounts of stress, pain, and frustration in our lives. Andy challenged us stop clinging to our money with clenched fists and to open our hands to God. It is in that that we will find freedom!

Looking forward to a great series!