Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Make the Ask

Your invitation to church could change someone else's eternity. It's really that simple. You're not asking them to donate a kidney or loan you $10,000. You're inviting them to church. There is no Sunday of the year where people are more likely to say "Yes" than Easter Sunday. So take the challenge. Make the phone call. Send the email. Walk next door. You have the incredible opportunity to be apart of someone's life-change story. What a privilege!

The Power of One Invitation from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

Let's go out and SHINE this week!!! 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunday Rewind

Andy concluded our series on the book of James with a compelling message about "Active Faith". He started off by saying that genuine faith produces action and where there is no action, there is no faith.

I loved how Andy had a mannequin on stage with him. I think it kinda startled people when they looked up after the prayer closing out the worship set and suddenly there was a tall "I Am Legend" looking creature on the stage dressed in Oakland A's apparel. And it added to the humor when Andy broke the poor guy's arm during the second service!

So what was the point of the visual aide? Faith without action is dead. Not just lazy or lying dormant. Dead. No life, no brain waves, no heart beat, no breath. If what we say we believe does not match up with the way we live, we need to evaluate if we have genuine faith at all. True faith compels us to live differently.

The most powerful part of the message for me was when Andy said, "The worst thing I could do for some of you is to try to make you feel okay about your relationship with God." He walked over and put his arm around the mannequin and said, "It's okay, buddy. You're alright. I believe you have life." That is what so many Christian circles do. We don't want people to doubt their salvation so we coddle them and tell them that their lack of obedience is okay, when actually it could be a sign that they are not saved at all.

Andy concluded by acknowledging that we all have some level of hypocrisy in our lives. Even the most faithful followers of Christ may have a gimp arm or at least a stubbed toe. But that is drastically different than being dead. Andy challenged each of us to evaluate our own lives to see if there would be enough evidence to convict us of being a follower of Christ. Do our actions display that we have experienced genuine faith? If not, we may be as lifeless as the mannequin while trying to convince ourselves that we're okay.

Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  James 2:17

Click here to listen to any of South Bay's messages.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Teaching Kids about Easter

Andy & I had such a blast with the kiddos tonight while Mandy and Fi (& Efraim) went on a date. We told them the story of Easter using Resurrection Eggs. They are a great resource for parents to teach their kids in a fun, interactive way.

When you think about it, teaching children about Easter is quite different than teaching them the story of Christmas. One involves a cute, cuddly baby...the other betrayal, fierce beatings, and murder. So how do you teach your kids the most important story of all time without giving them nightmares?

Here's a few ideas that might be helpful if you try to do Resurrection Eggs with your kids:
  1. Hide the eggs first and let the kids "hunt" for them. We had each kid find 4 eggs and then come sit down.
  2. I started off by saying, "Tonight I'm going to tell you a sad story, but it has a really happy ending."
  3. Have pictures that correspond with the part of the story you are telling. I searched Google images and found artwork to represent each section of the story. It was a little tricky finding pics that weren't bloody and scary. Sorry, Mel Gibson, none of your shots made my 3 year old's slideshow. 
  4. Tell the story; don't read it. And keep it super simple and concrete. I didn't talk at all about the symbolism or significance of the various elements. Just told what happened. When I asked if anyone knew why Jesus died on the cross Caedmon was able to say, "He died for our sins." But I don't think he understands that yet; we've just told him a million times.
After the Resurrection Eggs we had another Easter egg hunt for eggs with jelly beans in them. They loved this! Then it was off to bath time where we caught this video:

Bath Time Fun from Stacie Wood on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Walk Across the Room

Do you ever feel like you want to be a "light" to the world around you but you just don't know how? I feel frustrated by this a lot...actually overwhelmed by it some days. In the San Francisco Bay area over 95% of people are unchurched and unreached by the Gospel. That statistic is suffocating to me at if I'm standing in line at Starbucks and I think to myself, "I am likely the only person in this store who has HOPE for eternity." Or when I talk with other moms at the playground and I can see how much their lives would benefit from having God's guidance in their decision making or His strength in their struggles or His peace in their pain. When you read a statistic like that 95% it can be shocking. But when you look in their eyes, it is heart wrenching. I know I have what they need. And they don't know they need it and may not think they want it. So what can I do? I'm just one person trying to be a light in my corner of the globe.

Andy and I (along with the Santos family) decided to host a neighborhood lunch this Saturday. It's really a very small and simple thing. We made a flier (4 per page) with the info about the cookout and then walked around our apartments door-to-door to invite people. Most people weren't home so we just left it on their door. But the people who did answer the door were nice and surprised by this gesture of friendship. It took about 45 minutes to invite over 40 "units" last night after supper. We're planning on inviting some more tonight. On Saturday, we'll just grill out, talk, and let our kids play together. It's really not a big deal.

We are just advertising the cookout as a way to meet the neighbors. South Bay Church's name is not on this event. We will not do any formal announcements and most importantly this is not a bait-and-switch (i.e. get everyone in one place and then force them to listen to the "Bridge Diagram"). We genuinely just want to meet our neighbors. We are hoping to build some friendships through this event that can develop over time and maybe, one day, we'll be able to share the love of Christ with them.

I'm writing this on my blog because I'm hoping you will see how simple this is and be motivated to do something in your sphere of influence. Be creative and share your ideas with me, too! You don't need to prepare a sermon or sparse Greek verbs to be a light to your world. You just need a little intentionality and the realizations that you've got something amazing to offer.

I'm currently reading Bill Hybels' book, "Just Walk Across the Room" that talks about personal evangelism in a way that's not scary or intimidating or just downright weird. There's a prayer in the book that I wrote on a notecard and plan on reading each morning. I'll end with this:

"My life is in Your hands, God. Use me to point someone toward You today--I promise to cooperate in any way I can. If You want me to say a word for You today, I'll do that. If You want me to keep quiet but demonstrate love and servanthood, by Your Spirit's power I will. I'm fully available to you today, so guide me by Your Spirit."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday Rewind

Andy preached one of his best messages yesterday on "The Principle of Perseverance". He acknowledged that each of us have some type of trial in our life. Some of our trials are a "2" and some of them may be a 9 or a 10. But we will never be without them and we rarely get to choose them.

Andy had  a bunch of dumbbells that we work out with on stage with him. He explained that God uses every test to develop our muscles of faith. God is going to use those muscles in amazing ways in the future that we can't understand right now. This trial is developing us for what's to come. Just like when we work out physically, our "faith muscles" are going to get sore and pain will be involved when they get tested. But it's a productive pain that will produce a harvest of righteousness and fruit in our lives.

The hardship and pain that we face does not have to define us, but the way that we respond to it will shape us.

In my life right now, I feel like the greatest trial I'm personally facing is this "waiting" for our child. I've realized that the wait time may be longer than I had originally expected and that's hard for me.  I can allow this waiting to make me anxious, depressed, and frustrated. Or I can allow this trial to develop muscles of patience, peace, and perseverance. In order to allow "perseverance to finish its work" (James 1:4) I need to take my eyes off of my problem and put my eyes back on my God.

Andy reminded us that when our God is too small, our problem will be too big. But remembering how great my God is takes the problems that seem over my head and puts them under His feet.

What trial are you facing in your life today? Compare your problem to the glory of God, and be encouraged! The more we endure trials, the more confidence we will have in God!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Books at Bedtime

We have started a new privilege for Caedmon in our home that he truly loves...library books in his bed at bedtime. Our bedtime routine has always included the reading of a story, but lately that hasn't seemed to "wind him down" enough. So, we decided to try letting him "read" to his stuffed animal for 10-15 minutes after bedtime routine was complete. We don't do this every night...especially if we're late getting him to bed. But he loves it when we do. He also understands that if he whines when we come back in to take the library books and turn off the lights, he will not get his books the following night.

I wish I could say this has been the magic cure and the missing puzzle piece to getting Caedmon to stay in his bed and go straight to sleep without complaining.  Not so much. But it does provide one more incentive for him to make good choices leading up to bedtime. So, it's at least helpful enough that I thought it was worth passing along!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

He Is My Son

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba [Daddy], Father."  Galatians 4:6

Nothing would break my heart more than if Flash did not embrace his new identity as a son in our family...if he saw himself as an outsider, a second-rate family member...if he felt he could try as hard as possible but never "win" our love the way Caedmon has...if he noticed the color of our skin more than the love in our hearts...

That would be heart wrenching for me and I would do everything possible to make him see how much we wanted him. We went to great lengths to get him...sacrificed a lot financially all because we wanted him so desperately to be our son. We will love him and treat him exactly the same way we would a biological child. I don't just want to be his Mother. I want to be his Mommy. I want him to feel completely comfortable with me and uninhibited in his ability to give and receive affection. I want him to live as a true son!

God feels the same way about us, which is why Paul was so upset with the way the Galatians were acting. They were living like slaves to God instead of sons to God. Paul was saying to them, "Guys, you've missed the WHOLE POINT!" God had gone to great lengths to provide a way for them to be His sons...God had sacrificed His Son so that we could be sons and daughters. And not just children who speak to Him formally with a detached sort of relationship. But like Caedmon with Andy. Caedmon feels the freedom to run to Andy any time, day or night, calling, "Daddy! Daddy!" He jumps in his arms and is completely uninhibited in his willingness to express whatever is on his heart.

That is the way God loves us. We are not slaves. We are not second-rate family members. We are sons and daughters. It's time we accept it and start living like it!

Because you are sons [and daughters], God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba [Daddy], Father."   Galatians 4:6

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunday Rewind: What R U saying?

On Sunday, Filipe continued our series on the book of James talking about the power on the tongue. He taught that by controlling our tongue, we learn to control our lives. That's a huge statement, but it is exactly what the Bible teaches in James 3:1-2. When we focus on having self-control in the words we say, that self-control flows over to other areas of our lives.

With the tongue, we have the power to destroy or nourish life. I've been specifically thinking about this in relation to parenting Caedmon. The things that I say to him are shaping the way he thinks of himself, others, and the world around him. I have begun speaking (out loud) words of "prophesy" over him throughout the day. I know...that sounds a little weird. But, I believe that it will have a profound impact on his life.

Here are some examples of things Andy and I say to Caedmon:
  • Caedmon, you are a leader.
  • You are a man of prayer.
  • Caedmon, you are a world changer.
  • You are a smart boy.
  • Caedmon, you are a man of character and integrity.
Honestly, it felt a little strange when I first started doing this. But it only felt weird to me; Caedmon was fine with it. So today, I want to challenge you to speak virtue into your child (or someone else in your life). I think we'll be amazed at the power of our words to help them live up to all the potential they have in Christ!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Date Night

Date night is the highlight of my week every week. I feel like it is imperative for married couples to continue to "date" each other throughout marriage. Some weeks, it is honestly what keeps me from going insane. If I've had a tough week with Caedmon or if Andy's been super busy, I know I at least get date night...which for me translates into Andy's undivided attention, a good conversation, and a meal that I don't have to cook (even if we get fast food!). 

I know a weekly date night can get super expensive, especially if you have to pay for a babysitter. That's why we switch babysitting with the Santos family. Every Thursday, Andy and I go on a date and the Santos family gets a house full of kids. Every Friday, Andy and I watch the kids while Mandy & Fi enjoy a date. "Babysitting" includes feeding the kids dinner, bathtime, AND bedtime! It is so nice to have one night a week when you don't have to worry about doing those routines with your kiddo while you know they're having fun and being well cared for...FOR FREE! (We're able to put each others kids to sleep b/c we live in the same apartment complex. One parent takes the kid(s) home while the other parent puts their own kid(s) to sleep.)

Here Lily, Caedmon, & Caitlyn are watching a few minutes of 
Aladdin after bathtime to calm down for bed. 

So, I want to encourage all of you with kiddos out there to find a family friend that you can swap off babysitting with. It's good for your finances, good for you marriage, and good for your kids to see their mommy & daddy committed to loving each other!

(Right now we just put Lily, Cailyn, & Caedmon in the mix. Baby Efraim will soon be joining the ranks of date night, as well as Flash when he arrives. That means we will have 5 kids 4 and under by the end of the year! One night of chaos for one night of pure bliss. It's so worth it!!)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This just in...

We received some really bad news regarding our adoption today and I am super bummed about it.

The Ethiopian Federal Court announced that, effective today, all adoptive families have to appear in court in Ethiopia to testify to their desire and commitment to adopt their child. Both parents must be there. This court date will take place 1-2 months after we are matched with our child. While we are there, we will meet our child and then HAVE TO LEAVE HIM for another 2-3 MONTHS while all the paperwork is finalized. This seems unbearable to me.

This will require us to travel to Ethiopia twice. That means we will have to leave Caedmon twice (with whom, I don't know) AND we will incur about $6,000 more in traveling expenses.

I'm so sad right now...I'm going to stop typing now and spend some time in prayer.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sunday Rewind

We kicked off a new message series this past Sunday on the book of James. In describing this book of the Bible Andy said, "It'll kick ya in the teeth." Hmmm...sounds inviting, huh?

This Sunday Andy talked about the importance of OBEDIENCE to the Bible. We don't just read it for knowledge; we read it to change. His key point was that obedience starts with listening (our head), proceeds to the heart, and is completed with action (our hands).

My favorite part was when Andy said, in essence:

HEAD + HANDS but NO HEART = religious, pious, Pharisee

HEART+ HANDS but NO HEAD = misguided activist (lots of passion, but don't know where to start)

We've got to have all three elements in order to really honor God with the type of obedience that He desires.

The highlight of the service was when three people took a step of obedience in their relationship with God to be baptized! Baptism is always a huge celebration for South Bay! Enjoy the pics below.

We brought the older kiddos over from Bay Kids so they could
celebrate and witness the baptism with us!

Friday, March 5, 2010

One Month Waiting

As of today, we have officially been "Waiting" for the referral of our child for one month. We were told that the referral process would likely take 3-4 months so we're still on schedule.

Bad News:
There were NO referrals during the month of February. That means that none of the "waiting families" from our adoption agency were matched with their child during February. I don't know what the bottleneck is. Could be the Ethiopian government, changes in the US Embassy in Ethiopia, the blizzards in the DC area (where our adoption agency is located). I'm not sure. There were 17 referrals during the month of January and 0 in February. Strange.

Good News:
One of the families from our adoption agency keeps an unofficial list of all the waiting families and the order in which we will receive the referrals. It's unofficial because not all of the families have "checked in" with the chat group, so there are some mystery families out there. But according to her list, the Wood family is 2nd in line waiting for a toddler boy! We are also on the list for infant boys since we requested a boy 0-30 months. We are number 10 on that list, so it's much more likely that we will get a toddler.

I was so excited to find out that we are #2 (or somewhere around there)!  That means that if our adoption agency receives a handful or referrals, we could very well get matched with our son any day! We just need to pray that some referrals start coming down the pike. Actually, through this chat group that our agency provides, several of the families are joining together to fast and pray one day week for the referrals to pick back up. Believe me, there is no shortage of orphans in Ethiopia! We just need to get the System moving so those orphans can be matched with their Forever Families!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

This is unheard of...I have never left Caedmon overnight twice within a two week time period. Maybe that means I don't get out much or maybe it's just representative of the fact that we don't have any family living within 3,000 miles of us. But nevertheless, I am leaving (AGAIN) on a jet plane and I would be lying to say I'm not excited!
Two weeks ago our staff went to C3 at Fellowship Church in Dallas, Texas. Today my friend/fellow SB pastor's wife, Kendall, and I are flying to Corpus Christi, TX for the Glo Conference at Bay Area Fellowship. The past few months, Andy has been in a coaching network with Bil Cornelius who is the pastor of Bay Area Fellowship. Their church is hosting a women's conference and Bil's wife, Jessica, has invited all of the wives from the coaching network to come.

My husband is THE BEST for working it out for Kendall and me to be able to go to it. I'm really looking forward to hearing Christine Caine as she teaches and getting to meet a lot of other pastor's wives. One really cool benefit to being apart of the coaching network is that we will get to have a "Round Table" discussion with Christine Caine and Jessica Cornelius. I cannot wait to learn all I can from those two incredible women of God. 

So, just in case you missed this line in the previous paragraph: My husband is THE BEST. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Andy! Look forward to sharing my insights with all of you out there in blog-world!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Handling Hopelessness

(These are my reflections on Jentezen Franklin's talk at C3.)

In ancient culture tearing one's clothes symbolized deep grief, overwhelming circumstances, and utter despair. There are many instances in the Bible where people tore their clothes as they faced horrific trials that seemingly could never be reversed or fixed. As some point, I suppose, every human faces suffocating pain from which there appears to be no relief. Though it's uncommon for us to respond by tearing our clothes, we would all be familiar with the desire to crawl in bed and never come out.

But in Leviticus 21:10 the Bible says somthing that seems strange, almost unreasonable and heartless. God instructs the High Priest to never tear his clothes. Not when he faces sickness, not when his child dies, no matter what. How is that possible? Should he just be expected to pretend that all is fine and paste a smile on his face when he has fresh, gaping wounds in his heart? Why is it okay for others to tear their clothes but for the High Priest it is forbidden?

One subtle but significance difference. Once a year, the High Priest had access to the Holy of Holies. He had access to the presence of God. He lived with the annointing of God on his life. He had an intimacy with God to which the other people did not have access.

For the High Priest to tear his clothes would imply that his problems were greater than his God.

The same is true for believers today. The Bible tells us that WE are a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Through Jesus, we have access to the "Holy of Holies", not just once a year but at any moment we call upon Him. So we don't grieve like those without hope. We don't face insurmountable odds like those without faith. We don't endure trials like those without Jesus.

In this life we will face grief and pain and despair. But we face it differently because we know: There is no problem in our lives that is greater than our God!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Chocolate Chip Biscotti

My friend, Marissa, makes biscotti like it is going out of style and it is seriously the best biscotti you've ever tasted. One reason it's so good it because she doesn't overcook it until it's so dry that you choke on it. I needed something sweet tonight, so I attempted to whip some up. While I don't think I got the cooking time quite right, I am making myself sick eating too much of it as I type this. So, I thought I'd share this yummy recipe with you so you can go make yourself sick on it, too!

Chocolate Chip Biscotti (by Marissa Lockett)

1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter (room temp)
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
2.5 cups flour
as much chocolate chips as you want (I add 1 cup semi-sweet)

Preheat oven to 400. Cream sugar and butter. Blend in eggs until light and fluffy. Blend in baking powder. Then add flour. Fold in chocolate chips.

Form into a loaf and bake until golden brown. (I don't know the exact length of time, but more than 30 minutes.) Place the baking sheet on a lower shelf in the oven so that the top doesn't brown too quickly. Slice while warm.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Wow. If you missed South Bay yesterday, you missed out! There is not way this recap could ever do justice to how amazing those services were. There were all kinds of special elements to the service. For example:

1- The guys who parked cars wore birthday hats (kinda cheesy, I know. But it made everyone realize from the time they drove into the parking lot that it was a special day.)

2- The stage was decorated with cardboard boxes representing each month of South Bay's history. On each box was written a number representing the number of people who made first time decisions to follow Christ that month.

3- The staff (mainly Archie) put together this awesome year-in-review video that really captures the whole story of South Bay.

Year in Review from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

4- Andy preached an incredible sermon about the significance of one life. He reminded our church of God's passion for the one lost soul and that we as individuals and as a church need to be about reaching that one person. Andy said, "When we lose our passion for the individual life, we lose touch with the heart of God."

5- We ended the service with "Cardboard Testimonies". Not sure if you've ever seen this done, but there was not a dry eye in the room. It is such a powerful display of God's grace in each individual's life. It was truly a moving and powerful worship experience. I hope to post our video of this soon. It's not available yet.

We praise God for all that He has done in our midst over this past year and we look forward with great expectations for all that He will do in the coming year. The best is yet to come!!!