Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Matrimony

Don't you just love it when someone offers you unsolicited advice. Like another mom at the playground or Target who chimes in with some "helpful tidbit" of parenting advice when your child has momentarily lost their mind. Or like that person in your Bible study group who never ceases to have the solution for any problem or personal concern that you share.  I know, we all love that person.

In light of how much we all love that advice giving guru, I thought I'd offer a little unsolicited advice myself...your welcome! I had the grand idea that each Monday I could give a little marriage tip. I'm sure I'll have readers from all over the world flocking to their keyboards each Monday just to glean whatever wisdom this 7.5-year-marriage-veteran might provide. Brace yourselves, People. This advice may be so deep and life changing that you may even be tempted to send me money. If you have this urge, feel free to leave a comment and I'll make sure to send you my mailing address! :-)

So, without further ado, the tip of the day is:

Be a "Yes, let's!" kind of person. 

This is something my mom taught me before I got married. It's such an easy concept and I often hear those words, "Yes, Let's!" ringing in my ear when I'm tempted to shoot down one of my husband's ideas. Here's a few scenarios where you could put this into practice...
  • At 9:00 PM your hubby suddenly says, "Hey, let's go to the hot tub for a few minutes!" That sounds like the last thing on earth you'd want to do because you wanted to get ready for the next day, read a book, and get to sleep early. But suddenly you remember the "Yes, Let's!" principle and you and your husband enjoy a great 30 minutes to connect and have a heart-felt conversation at the hot tub.
  • Your husband comes in from work and says, "How about we go to (some restaurant) for dinner tonight?" You've already thawed out the chicken and have begun prepping dinner. But you think, "I guess this dinner will save until tomorrow night. Sure!" Yes, let's!
  • Your spouse wants to go camping and the closest you like to get to camping is a Holiday Inn. But instead of shooting down his idea, you try to think of what you can do to help make it happen. You say, "Yes! Let's do that!" 
When this principle is applied, the level of fun, freedom, and joy you experience in your marriage can sky rocket. Your spouse will feel the freedom to share his/her ideas with you without fearing that they may get shot down. Often, our reason for not wanting to do something is purely based on selfishness. Let's get over ourselves and go enjoy our spouse!

Each of you should look not only to your own 
interest, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:4
Love is not self-seeking.
1 Corinthians 13:5

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Just one more reason...

...why I absolutely adore Andy Wood.

The other night Andy came home and said, "Stacie, there's something I feel like God wants me to do, so I don't want you to fight me on it."

Wow. How's that for an opening line?!

I was bracing myself for what he might say...maybe, "I think I should write a book this year," or "I think we should start another campus for South Bay," or "I'm thinking of taking on another wife and embracing a polygamous lifestyle." (yeah right.)

No. Instead, he said, "I think I'm supposed to stay home to take care of the boys while you go to the Catalyst West Conference with all the leaders from South Bay."

WHAT?!?! Catalyst West is one of the best conferences in the country. South Bay is taking all of our staff, several of the spouses, and a group of leaders. I really wanted to go and was a little disappointing that I wouldn't be able to this year, but we really didn't have any options. We're extremely picky who we leave our boys with...especially Sammy.

I tried to talk Andy out of it (even though he had already told me not to!). I told him that it was a ridiculous idea and that all those leaders from South Bay were going and he needed to be there to invest in them. But he had an answer to every one of my objections. He's going to be traveling a couple weeks in February and he wanted to bless me with a little time to be re-energized and replenished spiritually.

So, let me know if you're going to be at Catalyst West this year. I'd love to meet you! I'll be the one with a blissful grin on my face and no peanut butter smudges on my jeans!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Souper Salad

We are entering the final week of our Daniel Fast. If you have been fasting during this time, I would love, love, love to hear what God has been doing in your please leave me a comment. It has been a wonderful season for Andy & me. Andy said his time with the Lord has been so fresh and good. He's literally been back in his little "cave" for nearly 1.5-2 hours every morning. For me, I feel like God has given me a clear sense of vision and direction for what He wants me to focus on this year, specifically as it relates to the women of South Bay Church. I am so excited for what I feel like He has in store!

Last night, Andy & I enjoyed a simple but yummy Daniel Fast I wanted to share it with you! I didn't have time yesterday to make a soup from scratch, but thanks to Safeway we were able to enjoy this yummy goodness:
I added a salad with it called "Ozarks Sunset Fruit Salad". It was pretty amazing. I got the recipe for it from a great website that Woody and Mabel from Grand Rapids, MI let me know about (Thanks for the comment!). This website is FULL of recipes and info on the Daniel Fast. Very helpful. So, here's the recipe for the salad that we had last night (and that we're having again tonight!).

Ozarks Sunset Fruit Salad

4 cups fresh spinach, torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
4 kiwifruit, peeled & cut into half moons
2 cups oranges, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds, toasted

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well. Serves 4.

Recipe Notes
  • Serve with Orange-Poppy Seed Salad Dressing or Apple-Cinnamon Salad Dressing.

Orange-Poppy Seed Salad Dressing

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a covered glass jar, and shake well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Family Fun Friday!

The weather in San Jose has been exquisite this week. The boys got to go to the playground 4 times, have 3 picnics, and a trip to the zoo! It was a fun week.

Friday is Andy's day off, so we headed up to Oakland Zoo and enjoyed the beautiful weather while seeing some animals. Kids are funny, though. At least my kids. They'll look at an animal for about 2 seconds and then be on to the next thing. They both ran & ran so much and were completely exhausted once we got back to the car. They slept the whole way home, and then some. Here's a few shots of the day...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ridiculous. Absolutely Ridiculous.

For those of you who were not able to attend South Bay's Christmas Eve service, you may have missed out on seeing this video. I need to warn is ridiculous. And there's really no point to it. But if you want a good laugh, you should totally watch it.

FYI...Andy is in the red Snuggie, Filipe (our associate pastor) is in the green, David (another associate pastor) is in the blue, and Archie (our worship pastor) is in the ever-so-lovely peace sign Snuggie. Archie is the one who wrote the rap (borrowing some from similar raps), shot the video, and edited everything. It's his voice you hear. There is also a special appearance from Renan (our executive pastor), Aimee (our children's director), Laura (Andy's admin assistant), and your's truly!

I Love Snuggies from South Bay Church on Vimeo.

So, I'll admit it...we own a Snuggie (it was a gift) and I secretly love wearing it. Honest. Does anyone else out there Snuggie? Time to come out of the closet!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Barbara's Rice, Black Beans, and Corn

Andy and I joke that every meal for the Daniel Fast is pretty much just a different combination of brown rice, black beans, and/or corn. This recipe is no exception, but it's really tasty.

1 can organic black beans (drained)
1 can organic corn (drained)
brown rice
homemade salsa or pico de gallo
organic corn tortillas (read label to check ingredients)

Cook brown rice. I mix one cup of dry rice with 2.5 cups of vegetable broth. It took about 40-45 minutes to cook in my rice cooker.

In a medium sauce pan, combine corn and black beans. I used frozen corn. I also added some cilantro, green onions, lime juice, and sea salt. Heat over medium.

Toast tortillas lightly in oven. Spoon rice and bean mixture on top. Add homemade salsa and avocado. I found some yummy pico de gallo at Trader Joe's that was Daniel Fast friendly. Enjoy!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Daniel Fast Update

Today is Day 8 of our 21 day Daniel Fast. How's everyone doing out there? The first two days I always feel pretty crummy with a detox headache, but after that I feel really great! For Andy & me, this is our 3rd or 4th time to do a Daniel Fast and I must say that the food thing gets much easier each time. Our first fast we virtually ate nothing but salads and a few varieties of soup for 40 days. It got old, for sure.

Here's what's been on the menu at the Wood household:

  • Oatmeal with soy milk and fruit
  • Smoothie
  • Salads
  • Rice cakes with organic peanut butter, bananas, and honey
  • Soups and left overs from dinner
  • Lots of fruit (I love little clementine oranges & pears! Love pears!)
  • Trail mix of nuts & dried fruit
  • Fresh veggies with hummus
  • And my favorite, popcorn! The kind you pop yourself in a pan. Get a large skillet with a lid. Heat over high heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and one kernel of popcorn. Cover with lid. When that kernel pops, pour 1/3 cup of kernels into the skillet and cover with lid. When popping slows down, remove from heat and pour in a bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt. YUM!!!
Here's a great recipe for Lentil good that Andy said he'd like to have this even in non-fasting times. I gotta be honest, I didn't even know what a lentil was until a couple years ago when we were doing a Daniel Fast! But, alas, it can be found in the same section with the rice.

Lentil Soup
Susan Gregory (Daniel Fast)

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 (14½ oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (apprx. 1¼ cups)
2/3 cup pearl barley
11 cups vegetable broth (can substitute water, but not as tasty)
4-6 fresh thyme sprigs

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté until all the vegetables and tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and pearl barley, mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils and barley are tender, about 40 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

I always feel the need to emphasize that the purpose of fasting is not to focus MORE on food, but less...To create a hunger in our hearts for Christ. It's okay to be hungry on a Daniel Fast even though you're allowed to eat. Don't feel the need to always run to food every time you feel hunger. Use your hunger as a reminder to pray and ask God to make you more hungry for Him!

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1-2

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Embrace this Season...But Don't Hide Behind It

This post is the last in a 4-part series discussing my top lessons learned/themes from 2010. Early this week, I shared about:
The last theme of my year revolves around being a mother to young children.

As a mom with young kids, I struggle to find the balance between investing my time, energy, and attention into them vs. being involved in church activities and pursuing some dreams that God has put in my heart. I am a firm believer that it is unhealthy for any mom to give herself 100% to either side. But finding the balance is difficult...and it's different for everyone.

Tedd Tripp, in his book, "Shepherding A Child's Heart" says it this way:
"You must regard parenting as one of your most important tasks while you have children at home. This is your calling. You must raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord...There is nothing more important. You have only a brief season of life to invest yourself in this task. You have only one opportunity to do it. You cannot go back and do it over."
To say "Yes" to this approach to parenting is to say "No" to other interests or opportunities that I might otherwise pursue (at least during this season). To be the mom I want to be, I have to accept that this is not my season to train for a marathon, or be as involved in hands-on ministry and leadership as I'd like to be, or to have a lot of lunch appointments and coffee dates with girl friends. I will have less time to read books, develop my writing & teaching skills, follow TV series, or maintain a perfectly orderly home. Parenting the way God calls us to parent is costly. But the cost of not parenting this way is so much higher.

The reality is that if I don't invest now, I don't get to invest later. If I don't develop trust and establish my authority with them when they are young, they will not allow me to influence their decisions when they're teenagers. If I slack off on training them now, I might get to "enjoy" having them around a lot when their 27 still living at home and can't hold down a job!

At the same time, I am still seeking to be as involved in ministry as I can without negatively affecting our family. I may not be able to organize and lead a mission trip to Ethiopia right now, but I can disciple a couple ladies one night a week. I may not be able to write a book this year, but I can update a blog. I may not have a very public ministry to women, but I can love on our staff wives. I may not be able to schedule lots of lunch appointments, but I can schedule a play date with my neighbor who is not yet a follower of Christ.

I want to embrace this season of motherhood (as exhausting and trying as it may be at times). I truly want to be the best mom that I can be to these two mighty warriors God's given me. And I am also committed to not use my kids as an excuse for my inactivity in the Kingdom of God.

So my lesson learned that I'm still learning from 2010 is this: Embrace this Season...But Don't Hide Behind It!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


This week I've been doing a 4-part series on my top lessons learned/themes from 2010. On Monday, I shared about how God continues to miraculously provide for our family financially. Yesterday, the topic was Despicable Me. Today, I'd like to share another theme woven throughout my year...a growing respect for my husband.

I wish everyone had the privilege of knowing Andy the way I do. Well, maybe I don't really wish that, but you know what I mean. I just wish that people on the outside could see the amazing man he really is behind the scenes. Lots of people get to watch him preach his heart out each Sunday and listen to messages that motivate them to seek God more. But I think that if our church could see how Andy lives his life, interacts with us as his family, and pursues God, they would be even more motivated to grow.

I'll just give 5 quick examples of qualities that make me respect Andy so much...
  1. His consistent pursuit of God. There is rarely a morning that you won't find Andy up before the rest of the family either reading his Bible or on his knees in prayer. He sets the pace for our home spiritually. There is also rarely a night when Andy doesn't pray over me before we go to sleep. He inspires me to love Jesus more.
  2. His discipline with working out and eating right. Andy has always struggled to maintain a healthy weight. Many of you have heard his stories from middle school when the kids would bang on the lunch table and chant "Chunky, chunky!" :-( Ever since I've known him, he's worked out pretty consistently, but this year he took his health to a whole new level. He has diligently exercised and watched what he ate all year and has lost almost 20 pounds. Andy is typically either losing weight or gaining weight, but this year he has learned how to maintain his weight and is doing an awesome job! I'm so proud of him!
  3. His growth as a leader. Andy is an avid, maybe even rabid, learner! Last year he read over 30 books on various topics such as leadership, spiritual growth, marriage, parenting, etc... He intentionally seeks out other leaders who are a step or two ahead of him to learn from them. He asks great questions (and he's full of them!). He is always looking for growth opportunities such as coaching networks to be apart of. Andy is humble enough to want to learn from anyone. When he meets with another leader, he asks one question after another instead of filling up the whole conversation with his own thoughts. The Bible teaches that God gives grace to the humble, and I believe God continues to provide learning opportunities for Andy because he humbly makes the most of every opportunity given.
  4. His pursuit of me. Andy adamantly protects our date night each week so that we consistently get some one-on-one time. It's hard for parents of small children to find time for meaningful conversation, so we prioritize that night. I love that date night is seriously his favorite night of the week. I know that I am a refuge for Andy and that means the world to me.
  5. His growth as a dad. When Caedmon was born, Andy was finishing his masters degree and pastoring a church full time. He had virtually no free time and, thus, I did most of the caretaking for Caedmon when he was a baby. However, he has been so involved with Sammy's transition home. He rocks him in the middle of the night, helps with bath time routine and putting him to sleep, wrestles with him and plays with him after work...Sammy actually seems to prefer Andy much of the time! "Boy's club" is a standing appointment for him on Saturday mornings. I fear I am quickly being "out-awesomed" by their dad!!
Ephesians 5:33 teaches that we as wives MUST respect our husbands. It's a choice we must make regardless of how "respectable" they may or may not seem. I'm so thankful to have a husband who makes my job easy!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Despicable Me

Yesterday I began a 4-part series of blogs sharing my top lessons learned/themes of 2010. I gotta warn ya...yesterday's post on God's Provision for our family was much more encouraging then this one will be... We could sum it up as God is good, and I'm pretty rotten.

I have a tendency of thinking of myself as way more noble than I actually am. I can think of a million hypothetical "trials" that I may encounter in my life and how I would hypothetically respond to them. For some reason (probably because my heart is full of pride) I always imagine myself walking through that trial just as Jesus would-- humbly, gracefully, joyfully, and with self-control.

Well, in 2010 God saw fit to rock my boat a little and let me catch a peek through the window of my own soul...Not nearly as pretty, neat, and tidy as I imagined in my hypothetical world.

I have shared some on this blog about how difficult the first 3 months home with Sammy were. Sleepless nights, inconsolable screaming fits, his refusal of affection yet need of being held. We had gone through training, read books, and talked with other adoptive families. We knew in our minds that it might be tough, and we also knew that the transition period would not last forever. What I was not prepared for was my own emotional response to this trial.

I have been astonished, dumbfounded, and repulsed by some of my responses during this difficult transition period with Sammy. This is a child who I love deeply, have prayed for earnestly, and for whom I would gladly lay down my own life. How in the world could I (someone who's been seeking to be more like Jesus for over 20 years now) get so angry, impatient, and frustrated by him (a child made in the image of God who has been through tremendous loss and exceedingly difficult circumstances in his short 2 years)?

Have you ever had one of those, "Where did that come from?!" moments when you say, think, or do something so terrible and out-of-character that you think demons must have momentarily taken over your body? Well, unfortunately, I've had more moments like that than I'd like to admit. And the truth is, it wasn't the devil who made me do it. It came from within. From deep down in my heart. 

Proverbs 4:23 says "Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life" and Matthew 12:34 says, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." The fault lies not with Sammy or adoption or trials in general. The fault lies in the sin found in my own heart.

By God's grace, I believe we've made it through the most difficult part of this transition process. I cannot even begin to describe how much richer our family is because Sammy is here. He brings joy and laughter to the mundane and we see a real tenderness in his heart. But one of the most wonderful (yet painful) gifts Sammy has given to me is a mirror to see my own heart and need for the mercy of God.

2010 has been a reminder to me that I have not arrived. My character is still under constructions. And my heart is in constant need of cleansing through the blood of Christ.

Monday, January 10, 2011

God's Provision

Over the next 4 days I'm going to share my top 4 lessons learned/themes from 2010. The first theme has been God's miraculous provision for our family...

This first time I personally experienced God's financial provision in my life was in college when I signed up to go on a mission trip that cost $5,000. I had no idea where that money would come from, but I felt led by God that I should go on the trip and He took care of the rest.

Then there was that time soon after we got married when we realized we were not going to have enough money to pay our bills. We were both attending seminary, both working part time, and just were not making enough money. We had a small amount of savings that we watched go down, down, down all semester until our savings and our checking accounts were completely depleted. We had a bill to be paid for about $150 and we simply did not have the money...Until I checked our mail one day and there sat a check for $150. God came through.

A couple years later I was pregnant with Caedmon and we were in desperate need of God's provision again. We felt led that I should quit my job as a teacher in order to stay home with Caedmon. Over the course of three months, Andy & I had to find renters for the house we owned, find a place for ourselves to live, and raise additional financial support for our church so Andy could take a raise. I remember being so stressed but constantly reminding myself that God was faithful. I knew He would come through somehow, but it was foggy to me. However, at the end of that 3 month period, the haze had cleared and we were left staring at God's provision.

When we were preparing to move to California to start South Bay Church, we had some pretty daunting financial circumstances in front of us. Andy had about $20K in student loans from college that were coming out of differment since he finished grad school. We had to sell our home in Texas in a housing market where houses weren't selling. And we felt led to move to one of the most expensive cities in America to start a church. I cannot even tell you the countless miracles we saw from January 08 to February 09 when South Bay had it's Grand Opening. Our house sold, we were debt free, and 279 people showed up for the Grand Opening of South Bay Church. Unbelievable.

2010 has been one example of God's provision after another. There were three main leaps of faith financially which God led us to take this year. The first was our adoption of Sammy, which ended up costing about $34K. That number is astounding to even write, but God provided for every. single. dime.

South Bay's giving challenge in February was the second time God really stretched our faith. Andy did a series on financial freedom and challenged our church to begin trusting God with their finances instead of clinging to what the world values. He challenged our church to begin tithing over the next 6 weeks and see how God provides for them. I felt like we should take the challenge with the church and contribute and additional 10% of our income on top of what we were already giving during that 6 week time span. It was a stretch for us, but God was faithful.

Then, over the summer we realized that at our current rate of growth we were going to outgrow our facility within a year. Thus, Andy led our church through a capital campaign last fall to try to get into a more permanent facility. Again, Andy and I felt prompted by God to trust Him with HIS resources that He's given us.

You'd think with all these examples of God's miraculous provision in our lives, these opportunities for faith would be easy for us. Second nature, even. Our go-to response. But one thing I've learned about God is that He will keep taking us to new levels of generosity and faith. He never wants us to get too comfortable where we are when there is SO MUCH MORE of Him to be experienced.

From a $5,000 mission trip in college to a $35,000 adoption ten years later, God is faithful. Always has been. Always will be. So, let's put our faith in Him this year!!!

Sunday, January 9, 2011


This Sunday, South Bay Church joined with churches all over the world in a new series called, "Awakening". We are focusing the next 21 days on prayer, fasting, and personal devotion.

Andy preached an awesome sermon today about the story of Zacchaeus and his decision to say "Yes" to Christ. He challenged our church to make that our decision this year...before we're faced with the question, before the opportunity to deviate arises, before the invitation exists...whatever God asks of us, may our answer be "YES!"

Andy concluded his sermon with a story about Mother Teresa and her wholehearted devotion to Christ. He read several of her prayers/declarations that I wanted to share with you. May these prayers be echoed in our own hearts this year:
  • Lord, I yield myself fully to You.
  • I embrace Your calling on my life.
  • I will do Your bidding without delay.
  • I will refuse You nothing.
  • I will endure all hardships for Your sake.
  • When I don't feel Your presence, I will still be faithful.
  • I will seek to love You as You have never been loved before.
  • Here am I. Send me.
 I am so excited about our fast that starts tomorrow. Andy & I have opted to do a Daniel Fast and also to not watch TV/movies throughout the week (with the exception of date night). I realize that fasting is not on the Top 10 list of what most Americans enjoy doing, but I feel such a need to cleanse my body physically after the holidays and to refocus my heart spiritually as we launch into this new year. I believe God has great things in store for us this year and I want to be ready for them!

If you'd like some ideas for the Daniel Fast, click on the "Daniel Fast" label on my right side bar. I also plan on posting a couple new recipes as well.

Stay tuned to my blog this week as I'm going to be sharing my Top 4 lessons learned/themes of 2010. The titles will be:
  1. God's Provision
  2. Despicable Me
  3. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
  4. Embrace this season, but don't hide behind it

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Back to Life. Back to Reality.

The holidays are over and blogging is back in session. It's funny to me that I can be so giddy and excited about the holidays coming...putting out decorations, eating all the yummy food, spending time with family and friends...and then be every bit as excited and giddy that they are over...getting my house clean/uncluttered, eating healthy, and getting back into a sustainable routine.

We had a great holiday season and were able to see almost all of our family...
My parents & my brother were all able to visit us for an early Christmas in California.

After Christmas, we trekked up to Michigan to spend some time with Andy's family. This is the first time we've had the whole side of the family together since Meaghan and George's wedding almost 6 years ago. And at that point my sister-in-law, Jamie, and the 3 kiddos were not yet apart of the picture. It was so good to all be together.

We also got to spend time with Andy's mom, brothers, and "Nanny" while in Michigan. It was fun watching everyone meet Sammy for the first time. Our two boys left Michigan with no lack of love (or presents)!

Now it's back to grocery runs, washing clothes, updating finances, and picking up the same toy 12 times a day. But, somehow, that sounds oh so wonderful to me right now. Embracing the mundane.