Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Matrimony

Your weekly bit of [unsolicited] advice...

Tip of the Week: More or Less

This tip requires a little courage. Especially if you're a perfectionist like me who feels totally deflated when you realize that everything you do is not perfect and (gasp) someone might actually be upset with you. But if you're willing to get over yourself and maybe take a small hit to the pride, this tip can serve you (and your marriage) well.

Here's what you do: when you and your spouse have a few minutes for a good conversation, ask the following two questions:
  1. What do you need more of from me in our marriage?
  2. What do you need less of from me in our marriage?
Simple enough, right? But actually getting those words to come out of your mouth can feel oh so intimidating because you have no idea what is going to come back at you. You may have just unleashed the floodgates of bitterness that your spouse has been holding in...You may have just given them full permission to rip you to shreds. At least, that was my fear.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that Andy was completely gracious with me and actually much easier on me than I would have expected.

But regardless, even if a lot of bad things do come out, wouldn't you rather know? I mean, probably not in that moment, but when you step back to think about it...What if your spouse does carry bitterness or resentment toward you over some issue, big or small? Let's get it on the table, People! Let's have the courage it takes to get to the root issues behind the frustrations and enjoy the deeper intimacy that will result on the other side.

So, sometime over the next 7 days, find the time to ask your spouse these two questions. I dare you!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

And the winner is...

Congratulations to Erica Halpin! You are the winner of a $25 gift card to Amazon!

Erica is a fellow church-planters wife, mother of 3 little warriors, and a paperchasing adoptive family! They are in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia. Follow her blog by clicking here.

Thank you all so much for participating in this giveaway! We had 78 different comments...I think the most comments I've ever had was about 3, so that's like about a 2,500% increase in comments! :-) Good job, friends! You didn't let me down!!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

(In Parenthesis)

If you've not yet signed up for the "300th Post Give-Away", click here to do so. The giveaway will be closed on Friday at midnight (PST). 

Andy has been out of town this week, so I've been single-mom-ing-it. I think it must have zapped all of my creative energies because I have had complete and total writer's block. I'll sit down to post a blog and...blank...nothing is there.

But, alas, I've had a bit of an "ahah" moment in mothering this week that I thought I could pass along.

Recently I've been noticing an increase in my frustration with my kids. It seems like someone is always crying or whining. There is rarely a time that I buckle them in their carseats that one of them is not upset about something. I wonder why in the world I need to use windex, carpet cleaner, and half a dozen paper towels to clean up after every single meal. It drives me nuts that my walls are all so grimy. I'd like to make it through a bath time without being as wet as the kids in the tub. And for goodness sakes, could you just hold the door for me when I'm carrying 60 pounds of groceries?!?! The list could go on and on.

Any other moms out there feel my pain?

I realized that these little frustrations were beginning to wear on me, affecting my interactions with my kids and how I felt toward them. I've been praying about it so much and reading some "Mom Books" and here is my grand ahah moment...

Put the frustrating moment in parenthesis.

Normally, these moments where I want to pull my hair out and give my 2-weeks notice for motherhood last only about 5-10 minutes. However, I was letting my frustration from them drag on and on all day. When Andy would ask me, "How was your day?" I'd always just look at him with the expression, "Don't ask." But then I realized that it's not my whole day that is horrible. It's these moments. They should not characterize my whole day (or my whole life, for that matter). I've got to isolate those moments in my mind so that I can enjoy the rest of my time with my kids.

I really do enjoy my kids and love them to pieces...85% of the time. (Is that a horrible thing to say?) However, I was not enjoying my kids 85% of the time because I was allowing the 15% ruin everything for everybody. Now I'm trying to take a few deep breaths, truly forgive my child for whatever the offense was, and then put the moment in a time bound set of parenthesis.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Matrimony

(If you've not yet signed up for the 300th post giveaway, click here to do so. The giveaway will close on Friday at midnight PST.)

And now for your weekly bit of (unsolicited) advice...

Tip of the Week: 15 minutes and everyone's happier

This piece of advice comes from the amazing Christine Caine, although I'm not even sure if she'd remember saying it. I remember it, though, because when she said it I laughed really hard and thought it was such an insightful piece of advice. Here's what it means...

It is a well known fact that (most) men tend to have a stronger sex drive than (most) women. Andy came up with a great analogy a while back. One night when we were brushing our teeth Andy said, "I think you sometimes feel about sex the way I feel about brushing my teeth." It was a valid perspective. My man begrudges getting ready for bed (i.e. washing his face, brushing his teeth, etc...). When he's ready to go to bed, he just wants to go to bed. That other stuff is just slowing him down. It's not that he doesn't want clean teeth, fresh breath, and good oral hygiene; it's just he's tired and brushing his teeth is the barrier standing in between him and going to sleep.

Women can sometimes feel this way about sex. It's not that we don't want a good sex life or value the significant role it plays in our marriage. It's just that, at the end of a long day, it's the "barrier" that stands between us and getting a good night's rest.

I truly hope that this is not the way you feel about sex every time, but if it's true that a man's sex drive is stronger than a woman's (and I'm pretty sure that's true!) then there will be times when your husband wants to have sex and you're just not feelin' it. That's when this tip comes into play: 15 minutes and everyone's happier!

Women tend to make "sex" this huge barrier with a million excuses..."we haven't connected emotionally, I'm so tired, I've had kids hanging on me all day, yadda, yadda, yadda..." Christine was saying that we have to shrink the barrier in our minds. She said, "Come on, girls! It's really NOT that big of a deal. 15 minutes and everyone's happier!"

When you put this piece of advice into action, you can go to sleep without the guilt of denying your husband (and in the process likely sinning against him, 1 Corinthians 7:3-5) and your husband can go to sleep happy because...well, I think that's obvious! :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

300th Post Giveaway!!!

Today is my 300th post since starting this blog!

There are 3 primary reasons why I blog:
  1. I love to write and I needed a way to get out all that was inside. The thought of writing a book is oh so intimidating to me...I wouldn't even know where to start. But a blog? Well, that's much more manageable.
  2. It keeps my family "in the know". We live a loooooooong way away from any family (sniff, sniff), so my blog keeps them updated on what's going on in our lives.
  3. Influence. I hope that my blog is an inspiration to those who attend South Bay Church, other wives in ministry, adoptive families, and anyone else who wants to join up in my cyber-life. 
The funny thing about blogging is that you really have no idea who's out there reading. I don't know if there are 5 people or 500 people reading a particular post. Some of my best friends never read it (I know this because they'll ask me about something in our family that I just answered in a post). At the same time, there are lots of people at South Bay who I hardly know who know a lot about our family because they do read it. It's a strange feeling.

So, I was trying to think of a way to get people to come out of the shadows and leave a comment to let me know you're out there. It had to be a really good giveaway. Something that everyone would want. But not everyone has the same interests. I racked my brain to think of a good giveaway. And then I decided on, drumroll please, a $25 Amazon gift card! Who wouldn't want that?! You can get (almost) anything your heart desires from Amazon...maybe not with $25, but it's a good start!

So here's how you get chances to win.

For each category listed below that you fit into, you can leave a comment. (Honesty, people. Come on, scouts honor.) Every comment is considered a different entry. I will leave the giveaway open for one week and announce the winner next Saturday, February 26.
  1. Just leave a comment. Everyone can do this one.
  2. Follow my blog. There are a few different options on how to do this on the right side of my screen. If you already follow or if you sign up today, just leave a comment to let me know.
  3. If you attend South Bay Church, let me know
  4. If you are a mother (or father) with a child/children under the age of 6, let me know.
  5. If you are a church planter's wife or on a church planting team of a church that is less than 2 years old...
  6. If you and/or your spouse are serving Jesus in vocational ministry...
  7. If you are an adoptive family (paper chasing or already home)...
Wow! Wish I could sign up to win! I'd get to leave 7 comments! Good luck!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A beautiful mess: Adoption 6 month review

6 months ago today Sammy was placed into my arms and into our family forever. What a ride it has been!

I heard someone say that you should not even try to evaluate how your adoption is going until you've been home for 6 months. And I must say that I agree 100%.

I hope that this blog inspires many, many people to consider and pursue adoption. I hope it also prepares adoptive families for some of the "rough patches" that you may encounter. Adoption is beautiful, but it is messy. It is a beautiful mess.

Okay, here comes so honesty...brace yourselves.

The first 3 months we were home felt like someone waking us up from a nice sleep by throwing ice cold water on us. Every. Single. Day. Andy and I were both sleep deprived, Andy was going through an extremely busy & stressful time with his job, and it felt like we were losing our minds. There was no break from Sammy. Let me explain...

Sammy would wake up early almost every morning, often by 6 AM. Once he was up, he was in my arms. If I was unable to hold him for a period of time, he would follow me around the house with his arms up either whining or crying. He literally needed to be held almost constantly. He would only nap for 30 minutes to an hour each afternoon. He was exhausted, but once he made it through one sleep cycle he would have just enough energy to jolt himself awake. For bedtime, one of us had to be in the room with him while he fell asleep. There was no more watching a TV show to unwind or having a good conversation about our day once the kids were asleep. It would often take Sammy an hour and a half or more to fall asleep. If we tried to leave the room he would immediately start screaming and even shaking at times. Sammy was absolutely petrified that we would abandon him. He had to see, hear, and touch us at all times. So he would fall asleep around 9:30 or 10, which is about the same time I try to go to sleep at night. There was no break. Even throughout the night there was no break because he would wake up 4-5 times a night. At first he would wake up screaming and scared. Then as time progressed, he would just stand up in his pack-n-play and want me to hug him. Sometimes he'd fall right back asleep. Sometimes he'd be up for an hour or more. Sometimes I had to hang halfway out of my bed to keep my hand on him. Sometimes he needed to come in bed with us.

While Sammy was very needy of affection, he didn't always want / know how to receive it. He bit me a few times while trying to hold him and rock him. He would have inconsolable crying spells where, if I tried to touch him, he would slap, kick, or spit on me. He bit Caedmon at least a dozen times. All of these physical manifestations were just him working out the grief, confusion, loss, anger, and frustration that he was feeling. We knew that in our heads. But honestly, it didn't make it a lot easier to deal with.

That was our first 3 months.

It felt like torture because we didn't know when it would end. We knew the transition period wouldn't last forever, but it certainly felt like forever when we were in the middle of it. People told us that this may last 6 months to a year.

I was REALLY struggling emotionally during this time. Almost like a postpartum depression (which, interestingly enough, our social worker said that post-adoption depression is not uncommon). My thoughts and emotions were all over the map. Andy and I were both thinking, "What in the world have we gotten ourselves into?"

I warned you that I was going to be honest, right?

Around the 3 month mark, we started seeing some major progress. Sammy was still sleeping in a pack-n-play in our room and continued to wake up most nights, but now only once. He would just need a hug and then he'd be back to sleep. This was a huge, pump-your-fist-in-the-air kind of victory! All of life is much easier to cope with when you are getting adequate sleep.

He was also much less "needy" during the daytime. He still needs to be held and loved on each day as any two year old does, but the need is not as motivated by a sense of fear that if I let him go I may never pick him back up.

We just had a huge breakthrough last week when we moved Sammy into Caedmon's room. We had purchased bunk beds for the boys long before we got Sammy home, knowing all along that the goal was that they would share a room. I had no idea how the transition out of our room would go. I envisioned (with an ulcer developing in my stomach) more screaming fits and sleepless nights. But no! Sammy is actually sleeping better in there than he did in our room! The first night we put him back there he woke up screaming one time because he didn't know where he was. But he went right back to sleep and has been fine ever since. Albeit, it is a little tricky to get the boys to fall asleep in the same room, but overall I am very pleased with our new sleeping arrangements!

When we first got home, it honestly still felt like we were a family of 3 and that we were taking care of a friend's child. I hated feeling like that. I wanted (and expected) the attachment and bond to be immediate, but we had to grow into it. The commitment was always there, but the feelings took time to develop. (Sometimes you gotta FAKE IT TILL YOU FEEL IT!)

Now, at the 6 month mark, I can hardly remember what life was like without Sammy as apart of our family. It absolutely feels right and natural that he is one of us. We are a family of 4. Sammy is a Wood and he feels like my son.

He is incredibly affectionate, frequently looking at me throughout the day, spreading his arms wide and saying, "Hug?" He is generous with his kisses and has a tender little heart. He is not the "snuggler" that Caedmon is and may never be. That may just not be his personality. But he does let us hold him and rock him without a fight.

Another area of progress: when he first got home he would not cry when he got physically hurt. I guess he had learned that it did no good to cry. But it's not health for a baby to learn not to cry just because no one will respond to it. So every time he got hurt I made sure to kiss it and hold him and tell him it's okay to cry. And now he does. He runs to me with his boo-boos and receives his Mommy's magic kisses.

Another thing...when I was in Ethiopia with Sammy, he would have nothing to do with books. When I tried to read to him he would scream and throw the book across the room. He had probably never had someone read to him. Now he loves books and we read them everyday...often on his own initiative.

We're still working on some areas...things that may have their root in adoption but are further enhanced by the fact that he is two years old. For example, he is overly independent. Not just in a 2 year old way, but in a I-had-to-fend-for-myself way. Also, when he gets really upset, he is still inconsolable. It only makes him more angry when I try to calm him down.

So, it's a journey and we'll be walking this road for a long time...I guess the rest of our lives to some extent. But the climb is no longer quite as steep or arduous and we can lift up our heads now to enjoy the beautiful view. The view of a precious Ethiopian child who grew, not in my belly, but in my heart. The view of my two sons hugging each other before bedtime. The view of a child who is daily stripping off fear, insecurity, and grief and instead putting on peace, hope, and abundant joy.

Not bone of my bone, but heart of my heart.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentine Fun

I'm not exactly sure what came over me this Valentine's Day, but I got really into it! I think I must have just been really inspired by various ideas I picked up from some blogs I read (none of these are original ideas). I took photos throughout the day to share our fun with you!

Breakfast of Champions:

Each love of my life was greeted with a love note and some "I love you" pancakes. (I used a turkey baster with the pancake mix to write their names.)

Opening cards and packages from grandparents!

Preparing Valentine's for Caedmon's preschool classmates:
 The diligent worker needed a lolipop to keep him going!

The girls got a pair of sunglasses and a card that said:
"Valentine, you LIGHT UP the room!"

 The boys got a car and and card that said, 
"Valentine, I WHEELIE like you!"

And my personal favorite...
We gave both of his teachers a SBUX gift card with a card that said,
"Valentine, when you're in the mood for something steamy..."

When I thought of the idea for his teachers, I cracked myself up! I thought to myself, "This is really inappropriate, but it's too funny not to do!" I know both of his teachers and I think (hope) they thought it was as cute as I did.

For dinner we enjoyed almond chicken, glazed carrots, asparagus, and couscous. I say "we", but that only includes Andy, Sammy, and myself. My picky eater wouldn't touch it.

 And for the really yummy part (remember I am a dessert addict)
 Ghirardelli brownies with fudge icing

And, chocolate covered strawberries!

Yeah, we definitely consumed a few too many calories on Monday. It was great, though! I hope that you and the loves of your life enjoyed a wonderful day together!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Please consider adoption...

Saw this video from another adoptive family and had to share it. I hope it stirs your heart.

(double click the video to watch it in full screen)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Matrimony

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you and the love(s) of your life have a wonderful day. And now for your weekly bit of [unsolicited] advice...

The staff girls at South Bay have been reading a book together called, "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace. I got this list from her book. I thought you might enjoy trying out a few of these on the week where we celebrate love!

Ways to Bless My Husband
  • Pray for him daily.
  • Speak words of kindness, softly and gently to him. 
  • Surprise him with a sweet note or card in his lunch.
  • Serve a special meal to him- his favorite food.
  • Give him an unexpected gift.
  • Fill up his car with gas.
  • Thank him for something good he has done.
  • Praise him for one of his good character qualities.
  • Be humble enough to confess your own failures to him.
  • Reaffirm your commitment to him.
  • Initiate a special time of love-making with him.
  • Spend time with him doing something he likes to do.
  • Ask him to take a walk (with you, of course).
  • Obey God and let your husband see Christ in you. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love Week: Random

Here's a list of ten random things I love:
  1. I love hot tea and typically have at least one cup per day. Chai and earl grey are my favorites.
  2. I love desserts. It's borderline a disorder how much I love desserts. My two favorites are tuxedo cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory and good ol' chocolate chip cookies.
  3. I love Broadway shows. For my birthday/Christmas, Andy knows I would normally rather have tickets to a Broadway show than anything else. It's not always possible, but it is always special!
  4. I love(d) breastfeeding Caedmon. TMI, I know. I just think breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful, pure, and intimate acts in life. I have to remind myself that it is a social faux pas to stare at a mother breastfeeding her child. When I weaned Caedmon at 13 months, we both cried. 
  5. I love traveling internationally. Not so much the actual traveling part, but I love seeing new places and experiencing new cultures. 
  6. I love riding horses. Not so much the trail riding, ten horses in a straight line type. But the run them until they can't run anymore type. I had a horse growing up and some of my best childhood memories surround my experiences with that horse.
  7. I love laying on a blanket watching my kids play at the playground. Side note- a couple weeks ago we were leaving the playground and I said, "Boys, wasn't that so much fun?!" To which Caedmon replied, "Mom, how could you have had fun just laying there? You didn't even play in the sand or go down the slide!"
  8. I love the feeling I have after a great workout. Wish I had that feeling more often!! :-)
  9. I love it when other people make (almost) all my decisions for me! That's weird, huh? I'm just not very opinionated about most things. I don't care where we eat, I don't care what flowers I have in my wedding, I don't care what toppings you get on the pizza, and I don't even care that much about what movie we watch. Don't get me wrong. I do have opinions on some things and I may be one of the most stubborn people you'll ever meet when it comes to those issues (not my best quality). But most things, you can decide.
  10. I love the beauty of God's creation. There is something so majestic, so life-giving about staring out into the ocean or being surrounded by snow capped mountains. It reminds me how small I am and how big God is...and that's a good thing to think about.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love Week: South Bay Church

It's no secret that I am head over heels in love with South Bay Church. Here's my top 10 for South Bay:
  1. The pastor is REALLY hot! (That better not be one of the reasons YOU love South Bay Church!) 
  2. The refreshments always greet me like an old tea on a cool morning. I think Andy goes through about 4 bottles of water, 2 bananas, and 3 clementines every Sunday morning!
  3. I love the intentionality of the mood/experience that Archie and the creative team work so hard to prepare. It all works together to draw us into the presence of God and to be ready to hear from Him.
  4. I love that both of my kids LOVE Bay Kids. I never have to arm wrestle them to go. They enjoy it, which is a really good thing since they get a triple dose of it each week!
  5. Our worship band rocks! (Pun totally intended.) I love to feel the base and drums in my chest. And I think the people who wear earplugs are so cute; I just want to squeeze them!
  6. I love that I get tears in my eyes at least once almost every Sunday...God is doing something so fresh in our midst. 
  7. I love feeling challenged to take next steps each week. There is rarely a week that goes by that I don't do something differently because of the sermon I heard on Sunday.
  8. Our staff families are uh-may-zing! I could sing their praises all day long. Just pick a name and I've got a list of things I love about that person.
  9. I love meeting people in between the services who tell me stories about how God is changing their life through the ministry of South Bay Church. That NEVER gets old. Every. Single. Story. touches my heart deeply.
  10. I love knowing that we are apart of something so much bigger than ourselves. I believe that our lives and this church are just a small part of the movement that God intends to do in the Bay Area. In 20 years from now when we look back at all God has done, we will be filled with such joy knowing that we were apart of it.
If you are a South Bayer, please leave a comment to tell me something that YOU love about South Bay!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love Week: Sammy

Next up in the Love Week line up is Samuel Wondimu Wood. Here's my Top 10 for Sammy:
  1. I love how Sammy is 100% committed to running around the house naked every chance he gets.
  2. I love that Sammy is a great eater...unlike some other unnamed children in my household. 
  3. I love how Sammy will suddenly look at you and say, "Five five!" which means he wants a high five.
  4. Sammy truly may have one of THE most adorable smiles ever given to a child.
  5. I love the way his skin feels. There is something different about black people skin. It is so smooth and the muscles are so firm and dense. It just feels different and I love to touch his beautiful skin.
  6. I love how he sings "Jesus, Bible" when he knows it's time for bed. That means he wants me to sings, "Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so." He got the two most important words right!
  7.  I love that he thinks he is hysterical and the best thing that ever happened to planet earth. And he doesn't really care if you agree with him. He is one resilient little fella.
  8. I love to watch Sammy dance...especially to Ethiopian music. So stinkin cute.
  9. I love how he comes running when I pick him up from Bay Kids every Sunday. Not sure if he's running to see me or to get the treat that he knows I brought him. But, hey, I'll take it!
  10. I love when people look confused when they see us out in public and I simply smile and say, "He's mine." 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love Week: Caedmon

Top 10 things I love about Caedmon:
  1. I love that Caedmon wakes up slowly and is super cuddly in the morning and after naptime. My absolute favorite thing is to wake him up from nap by crawling in bed with him and snuggling him awake.
  2. I love that Caedmon has a growing attention span and can engage in one activity for quite some time now.
  3. I love how imaginative Caedmon is. He is rarely "just Caedmon". He's always some type of super hero, or pirate, or fireman, or whatever else he can envision.
  4. I love that Caedmon loves books. He would let me read to him for over an hour...and occasionally I do! I'm so excited for him that he will learn to read soon. The whole world will open up to him then!
  5. Caedmon says at least one ridiculous and hilarious comment per day. I try to tweet them just so I have a record of them.
  6. I love that Caedmon's face looks absolutely angelic at times. There is a sweetness about his face that melts my heart. (I have definitely had the thought that God gave him that face to make up for some of the not-so-angelic behavior that he's blessed us with.)
  7. I love the way it sounds when Caedmon gets really tickled about something (normally one of his own jokes) and he just laughs uncontrollably.
  8. I love that Caedmon has an amazing memory. It's really quite stunning. We were driving down the road one day and Caedmon quoted me my entire "Welcome" that I did at South Bay's Christmas Eve service...literally word-for-word. The only time he heard me practice it was on the car ride to the service which was about a month prior to when he quoted it.
  9. I love that Caedmon is FINALLY beginning to respond to the discipline that Andy and I have so diligently been administering since he was a baby. I promise you, it felt like we were banging our heads against a wall when it came to finding effective discipline with him from the time he was 15 months-4 years old. But, lo and behold, the passing of the 4th birthday has started making the pieces fall into place. We still have a ways to go, but this is progress, People. Major progress!
  10. I love that Caedmon is affectionate. I told Caedmon the other day, "I love that no matter how big you grow, you are always the perfect fit for my arms." He loves to be close...holding hands in the car, hip to hip watching a movie, nose to nose as I tell him goodnight or goodbye. He is my cuddle-bug.
When I tuck Caedmon in bed at night, I always say to him, "Who does Mommy love?" And he points to himself. That was the first "game" I taught Caedmon. He's been doing it since he was 6 months old!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Love Week: Andy

It is "Love Week" in the Wood household, so I'm going to share with you a little glimpse of what I love about the 3 most important men in my life.

First up, Andrew Michael.

  1. I love watching Andy preach every Sunday. You will always find me with my Bible and journal open, taking notes as fast as I can. I learn so much from him and it never ceases to amaze me how each message seems to truly grip his heart. 
  2. I love that he's not a picky eater. He likes to eat healthy, but he will eat whatever I serve him. That makes him easy to cook for!
  3. I love that Andy can look at me from across the room or even while he's preaching and I know exactly what he's we just had a 5 minute conversation through a glance of the eyes. 
  4. I love that he doesn't take himself too seriously. He laughs at his own quirks and often makes himself the butt of the joke. 
  5. I love the feeling I have every Friday night after we drop the boys off with Mandy & Fi and we are on our way out for Date Night. 
  6. I love that I can trust Andy completely. He has such strict boundaries for himself as to the ways he interacts with other women. No car rides alone with another woman, no unsupervised meetings with another woman, no discussing personal matters with another woman, etc... It speaks volumes to me about his priority and protection of our marriage.
  7. I love that Andy values my opinion and asks for it often. It means the world to me that I get to be involved in almost every major decision that he makes, not only with regards to our family, but also with South Bay. He truly listens to what I think and uses my perspective to help him make his final decision. This makes me feel so apart of the vision and ministry of South Bay Church. This is not just "Andy's thing" and I do my own thing. We are a team and God has called us both to this ministry.
  8. I love that he is generous...with me, with our kids, with others, with our church.
  9. I love that he has the remnants of a 6th finger. Seriously. His dad was born with a 6th finger (I believe). It wasn't a full size finger and was removed at birth. Andy was born with just a little nub where a 6th finger would go. I call it "Nubbies" and I love to pick at it...not sure that Andy really loves this, though.
  10. I love that I am the one woman in this life that gets to call Andy Wood her husband. It is an honor and privilege to be married to such an amazing man of God, and I do not take it for granted. 
What about you? I shared 10 things with you that I love about my spouse. I would love to hear at least one thing that you love about yours!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Matrimony

Here's your weekly bit of [unsolicited] marriage advice...
Last fall Andy and I led a Life Group for South Bay called "Marriage Built to Last". It's a video driven curriculum by Chip Ingram and was a great resource that I would highly recommend for other small group Bible studies.

One of the most valuable tools that I took away from the study was what Chip refers to as "The Conference".  This simple tool can open up some awesome discussions and really help you see what's going on beneath the surface in your spouse's heart.

There are 3 questions that the husband/wife are supposed to ask each other.
  1. What are you concerned about?
  2. What do you wish?
  3. What are you willing to do?
One spouse asks the other Question #1 and then listens intently without interrupting (no comments at all) as they answer. Then the other spouse answers the same question.

Andy and I will sometimes take a few notes while the other person is speaking to help us remember all that we said. You shouldn't feel any pressure or put any pressure on your spouse regarding question #3- "What are you willing to do?" It is not a requirement for your spouse to fix all your concerns or make all your wishes come true. Chip Ingram said the first time he and his wife had a conference, his answer was, "I'm willing to have another conference." That was it. And that might be where you're at right now. But at least it's a start.

This conversation can last 5 minutes or 2 hours. It's a great "Date Night" discussion starter. The biggest benefit for Andy and me is that it gets us beyond the day-to-day maintenance conversations and reveals what we're really thinking about under the surface.

So, I challenge you to have "a conference" with your spouse before Valentine's Day. You've got one week!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eating Green

Andy & I were working on our budget last night and were struck again with the reality of how much money we spend on food. I feel like that guy on the Dave Ramsey video who says, "I figured out where my paycheck was going...I was eating it!"

I cook dinner between 4-6 nights per week. We do date night one night every week and some weeks we may have a church event or someone may have us over for a meal. But most nights, I cook. The top two priorities for us when it comes to food are 1) stay within the budget, and 2) eat healthy. We like lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which I know can add up.

I would really appreciate some money saving tips from you guys. What secrets do you use to save money at the grocery store?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Wood Family First...

Last week, Andy & I purchased our first vehicle as a married couple. The last car I bought was my freshmen year of college and we still own it. It's probably worth about $10 now, but it's lasted me 12 years and was 3 years old when I got it. Andy's last purchase was our senior year of college...a Chrysler Lebaron. It was a beauty...

The entire inside of the car was red leather. 
Valentine's Day year round, Baby!

We replaced that car with a car given to us by my grandparents, for which we were oh so thankful! Well, our poor cars have increasingly become the butt of everyone's jokes. Needless to say, it was high time to find something a little more reliable. 

So, we searched Craig's List, found a used minivan Swagger Wagon for a good price, and started negotiations. We were able to talk the seller down $1300 of his original asking price because we had two secret weapons: 1) an envelope full of cash (thank you, Dave Ramsey), and 2) Renan Santos. 

Renan is on our staff at South Bay and the man changes out cars like you change your pants. It's unbelievable. When he was in college, he literally bought and sold THIRTY (3-0) cars in 2 years...all for profit. So, with Renan at the negotiation table, the seller didn't really have a chance. 

We are happy to join the ranks of families pimping that phat ride of a minivan. You may have already seen this video, but it is worth another viewing. (Double click the video to get it to go to full screen.)

And here's my best Swagger Wagon pose: