Monday, April 30, 2012

Closing one chapter...starting another

Yesterday was a bittersweet day for me as we had our last Sunday services at Don Callejon School before moving into our newly renovated facility. South Bay Church has been meeting at DCS for the past 3.5 years and there are so many wonderful memories and "God-stories" in that place.

Here are a few of my most memorable moments from our first 3.5 years as a church:
  • November 16, 2008- Our first ever public service. So much work. So much prayer. So much publicity. So much nervous energy. We weren't sure if anyone would show up or if it would just be our staff holding hands in a circle singing Kum-Ba-Yah. But 125 people from our community showed up that day and a church was born. 
  • May 3, 2009- Our first baptism service. 18 people, most of whose stories I personally knew, decided to get baptized that day. I watched with tears streaming down my face as those people came out of the water pumping their fists in the air as if to say, "I feel so ALIVE in Jesus!" I thought to myself, "You are the reason we moved to California. You are the reason we started South Bay Church. And you are so worth it!"
  • We met outside under a tent on the school's blacktop during our first two summers because we weren't allowed to use the gym. Much to our surprise, we grew a lot each summer. 
  • 3 years of Easter egg hunts 
  • Loving our city by helping with all of the Santa Clara city events: 4th of July Festival, City Street Dance, Art & Wine Festival
  • 4 years of Christmas Eve services
  • Passing out thousands of door hangers
  • Receiving hateful phone calls from the thousands of door hangers :-)
  • Giving a young widow with 4 children a minivan
  • August 29, 2010: Sammy's first day at South Bay
  • Establishing our first international partnership with Ethiopia via Compassion International
  • 2 years of Kids' Games
  • Staff parties- oh, how I adore our staff
  • Seeing our growing base of volunteers serve their hearts out: set up, tear down, first impressions team, BayKids leaders, production crew, life group leaders, office volunteers, special events, and on and on and on. It is a humbling and beautiful thing to see so many people give so many hours in efforts to show God's love to their community
  • Having my kids tell me about what they're learning in BayKids and hear them quote their memory verse.
  • Watching the culture of South Bay take root... our people serve sacrificially, give generously, invite their friends and family intentionally, and love without walls
  • Hearing stories of lives that have been changed. Every single one is significant and just blows my mind at the goodness of God.
  • Praying and fasting with Andy and/or our staff on behalf of our church and our city
  • Celebrating 286 people who have made first time decisions to follow Christ and 152 people who have decided to be baptized since the beginning of South Bay Church
South Bay has grown from 3 families who didn't know anyone in the Silicon Valley to a 40 person Launch Team to having 919 people in attendance yesterday. So many lives have been changed through a local public school that was transformed into holy ground every Sunday. I realize that the "Church" is the people of God, not a building. But that particular building will forever be special to me. 

God did this. He gets all the credit and glory and honor for it. What a privilege and indescribably JOY to get to be a small part of this big thing that HE is doing. 

As we close this chapter and begin writing the next, we believe with every fiber in our beings that the best is yet to come! We will see you next Sunday at 1180 Murphy Avenue, San Jose, CA 95131.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Growing Generosity

This week I’ve been sharing about some of the ways the Wood boys can earn money around here. ( Cash for Candy, Household Jobs, & Scripture Memory) As parents, training our kids how to properly handle money is a wonderful gift that we can give them. And part of that training, for Christian parents, includes what it means to tithe.
Tithing (giving the first 10% of every dollar we make back to God) is such a simple thing to teach a child. In fact, it’s really simple for adults, as well. Simple, but not easy. The beauty of teaching a child to tithe when they are young is that it feels normal and the discipline is not nearly as difficult for them. 
Andy & I were both blessed to have parents who taught us to tithe when we were children. So as we grew up and started making more money, it wasn’t ever a question to us whether or not we would tithe. 
Generosity has been a huge blessing and source of joy in our marriage. It’s really neat to watch God continually grow our faith as He calls us to higher levels of generosity. Anytime you increase your giving it feels a little scary, but it is fulfilling to watch God continually provide. A highlight of my year each year is when I total up our non-profit contributions to report on our taxes and TurboTax notifies me that we are at risk of being audited because our non-profit contributions seem disproportionate to our income!
One reason our chores and Bible verses are worth 10 cents each is because it’s so easy for them to visually understand tithing. Let’s say that Caedmon earned a total of $3.40 one week. I would give him 34 dimes that we would line up in 3 rows of 10 with and extra row of 4. Then I have him take at least one dime from each row to put in an offering envelope and at least one dime from each row to put in his piggy bank to save. Sometimes he way exceeds the 10% rule. Then we count how many dimes he has left and I trade him a dollar for every ten dimes he has. The leftover money goes in his wallet for him to spend as he pleases. Although, right now we’re saving for season passes to Great America so all of his extra money is going towards meeting that goal. 
Caedmon has so much fun with this whole process. He loves trading out his dimes for dollars and counting the grand total. The child loves money...probably a little too much! For instance, at Easter time we were talking about acting out the Easter story and he told me that he wanted to be Judas because Judas got all the money! I literally was speechless. I think I said something like, “Uh, I don’t think you want to be Judas, buddy. Judas was cursed. He’s the bad guy in the story.” But he was still pretty confident. It was only when Andy told him that Judas died and didn’t get to keep the money that Caedmon was ready to choose a different character. Slightly disturbing...
Nevertheless! Teaching principles of Biblical finance should start young. And we’re hoping that the Biblical principle about “the love of money being the root of all evils” will one day sink in as well!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Scripture Memory for Money

This week I've been sharing a few ways that our boys can earn money. They are currently saving to buy a  season pass to Great America so we are trying to give them opportunities to earn some sweet MOO-LAH around here. So, in addition to selling their candy and doing their chores, they can also memorize Bible verses for cash. Each verse is worth one dime. If they memorize the reference, they get an extra dime.

You can use any Bible verses you want...BayKids always has a Bible verse they are trying to help the kids memorize. Sometimes we memorize verses based on certain character qualities or sin issues we're working on.

Also, my parents gave us a great book that has a Bible verse for each letter of the alphabet from the Old Testament and New Testament. The book comes with a CD that tells a little story for each verse and sings a song with each verse. It's nice to listen to in the car. Click here if you'd like to get a copy. (Wow, I just looked at the price. I had no idea how expensive it is. Makes me a little more appreciative of the gift!)

Sometimes we work on these at meal time or driving in the car. You could choose one or two verses to work on per week and practice quoting them throughout the day and at bedtime. We don't push this like crazy, but try to do it when the boys are feeling motivated and cooperative.

So what's the point of having our kids memorize all this Scripture? Is it brainwashing? Do they even understand it or are they just quoting it by rote? The reason Scripture memory is important to me is that the Bible says, "I have hidden Your word in my heart that I may not sin against You." Scripture memory for kids lays a solid foundation in their hearts and minds about who God is and the way that He says life works best. Even when they don't fully understand what they are memorizing, I believe that God is using it in their hearts to do things we can't see with our eyes.

Here are the ABC Bible verses from The Memory Bible by Stephen Elkins.

Old Testament Verses:

A- How AWESOME is the Lord Most High. Psalm 47:2
B- On my BED I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Psalm 63:6
C- God CREATED the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
D- My mouth will DECLARE your praise. Psalm 51:15
E- Let EVERYTHING that has breath praise the Lord. Psalm 150:6
F- A FRIEND loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17
G- A GENTLE answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1
H- Love the Lord your God with all your HEART and with all your should and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
I- So God created man in his own IMAGE. Genesis 1:27
J- The JOY of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
K- KEEP my commands and you will live. Proverbs 4:4
L- Your word is a LAMP to my feet and a LIGHT for my path. Psalm 119:105
M- "For MY thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways MY way," declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
N- The NAME of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10
O- To OBEY is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22
P- "For I know the PLANS I have for you," declares the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11
Q- He will QUIET you with his love. Zephaniah 3:17
R- REMEMBER your Creator in the days of your youth. Ecclesiastes 12:1
S- The Lord is my SHEPHERD, I shall not be in want. Psalm 23:1
T- Give THANKS to the Lord, for he is good. Psalm 136:1
U- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own UNDERSTANDING. Proverbs 3:5
V- In the morning, O Lord, you hear my VOICE. Psalm 5:3
W- As for God, his WAY is perfect, the WORD of the Lord is flawless. 2 Samuel 22:31
X- Glorify the Lord with me; let us EXALT his name together. Psalm 34:3
Y- You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble. Psalm 32:7
Z- It is not good to have ZEAL without knowledge. Proverbs 19:2

New Testament Verses: 

a- And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him. Romans 8:28
b- How BEAUTIFUL are the feet of those who bring good news. Romans 10:15
c- Let the little CHILDREN come to me. Matthew 19:14
d- DO to others what you would have them DO to you. Matthew 7:12
e- EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13
f- FORGIVE as the Lord FORGAVE you. Colossians 3:13
g- GIVE, and it will be GIVEN to you. Luke 6:38
h- The Lord is my HELPER; I will not be afraid. Hebrews 13:6
i- What is IMPOSSIBLE with men is possible with God. Luke 18:27
j- JESUS answered, "You must be born again." John 3:5-7
k- Always try to be KIND to each other and to everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
l- For God so LOVED the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
m- Be MERCIFUL, just as your Father is MERCIFUL. Luke 6:36
n- Love you NEIGHBOR as yourself. Matthew 19:19
o- Children, OBEY your parents in the Lord. Ephesians 6:1
p- Be PATIENT, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
q- Everyone should be QUICK to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19
r- Show proper RESPECT to everyone. 1 Peter 2:17
s- SEEK first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you. Matthew 6:33
t- Whoever and be TRUSTED with very little can also be TRUSTED with much. Luke 16:10
u- Do not let any UNWHOLESOME talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up. Ephesians 4:29
v- I am the VINE; you are the branches...apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
w- WORSHIP the Lord you God and serve him only. Luke 4:8
x- If anything is EXCELLENT or praiseworthy- think about such things. Philippians 4:8
y- Don't let anyone look down on YOU because YOU are YOUNG, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
z- ZACCHAEUS, come down immediately. Luke 19:5

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kids and Chores

Yesterday I mentioned that our boys are trying to earn enough money to buy a season pass to Great America. Although our "cash for candy" incident certainly put them further down the field, they also have a couple other ways that they earn money around here. So today I thought I'd share with you our household "jobs" that give the boys opportunities to earn "wages".

I found this chore chart system on this blog. She provides you with templates and printables, so I'm not going to recreate that. But hop on over to her blog if it looks like a system that would work for your family.

Basically, I decided which jobs were appropriate for our boys and printed off icons for those. Then I laminated everything and put velcro on the back so that I could switch out the jobs. Whenever the boys complete a job, they take down the job icon and replace it with a ticket. The ticket is worth 10 cents, although, I've considered giving them a raise to 25 cents because 10 cents isn't getting them very far very fast. Still undecided on that.

If all of that seems like way too much work for you (because, just keepin' it real, it took a looooong time to cut all that up), you could get a ready made chore chart from Target or Amazon and write in the chores that you want. You could also just buy a roll of tickets instead of cutting out and laminating the colorful ones.

Here are the chores that we rotate around here:

  • Make bed
  • Wash dishes
  • Dust
  • Vacuum
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Set table
  • Clean playroom
  • Clean bathroom
  • Take out trash
  • Scrub baseboards
  • Wipe off table
I think I will also add to the mix watering plants because I'm going to attempt a little garden soon.

Another great option to include is some skill type things that the kids are learning. 
  • 5 minutes practice shoe tying
  • Stay dry daytime / nighttime
  • Practice riding bike without training wheels
Tickets can also be lost by whining, bad attitudes, fighting, etc... It's a big motivator and often more effective than a time out or spanking. 

Now, let me be real honest lest you think I have this house running like a well oiled machine. My boys are not able to do ANY of these without assistance yet. Often it feels like more work than it's worth because I'm letting them "help" me wash the dishes or wipe the table. And every mother of preschoolers knows that "help" means I'm doing the job and the child is gleefully ineffective.  

But my friend who has 3 grown children recently told me, "It's good to let them help now when they are eager (albeit incapable) because, if you don't, when they are old enough to do it by themselves they won't want to help if you don't start them young."

I also don't want to lead you to believe that I involve my kids every time I clean up. No, no, no. I feel like I spend my whole life cleaning up messes that they create and maybe I'm allowing my kids to be lazy and slothful by enabling their mess making. But the reality is, children are blissfully unaware of the magnitude of their messes. I am aware. Too aware. But the kids, not so much. 

So I figure if they help me clean up even 10% of their messes, they feel like they are making huge contributions (and painful sacrifices) of behalf of our family and will therefore grow up to be hard working, contributing parts of society. Good logic?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cash for Candy

I'm not sure that this is anything to be proud of. In fact, I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I did this. But, I thought I'd share it with you nonetheless.

Recently it dawned on me that we had an enormous amount of candy in our house. An entire drawer in our kitchen was bursting with it and it just seemed to keep multiplying. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter, etc... They get it from school and church and SuperCuts and from the man at the convenient store just for looking so darn cute. Candy was coming out of our ears and, because I only allow them to have one piece per day, there was no way they could have ever eaten it all.

It was beginning to drive me nuts. Not just the fact that we had it, which was troublesome enough, but also my son's obsession over it.

I thought about throwing it away one night after they went to bed, but I knew what type of response would greet me the next morning. I'm brave, but not that brave.

One time I went through our overflowing candy bowl and just threw away all the peppermints to make more space. Peppermints. I mean, what kid really loves peppermints? Well, as soon as I threw them away there was great wailing and nashing of teeth because, wouldn't you know, peppermints had suddenly become Caedmon's favorite candy.

So in efforts to avoid World War III, I had to come up with a win-win solution. It dawned on me one night as I was laying in bed. I thought to myself, "The only thing that Caedmon loves more than candy is money. I could pay him for his candy!" (Now do you see why I'm a little embarrassed by this post?)

Caedmon and Sammy are trying to save money to buy themselves a season pass to Great America. But at 10 cents per chore, they're not getting very far very fast. So I thought this would be a great way to boost their bank.

Caedmon was conflicted when I told him about the idea. I could see the wheels turning in his little head, weighing out the pros and cons of this life-altering proposition. But, alas, he agreed to my plan when I told him that he and Sammy could both pick out 25 pieces of their favorite candy.

So later that morning we dumped our candy stash on the kitchen table and started counting. They first picked out their 25 pieces...major decisions, People. Once that was behind them, we started trading candy for dimes. Put one piece of candy in the trash; put one dime in the bank. (Small candies like M&M or jelly beans were worth 5 for 10 cents.)

So that, my friends, is how I ended up paying $41.30 on candy that was probably worth a grand total of about $8. How embarrassing is it that we had over 400 pieces of candy stuffed in a drawer?!?! Well, it's gone now, except for their small coveted stash that they are savoring. My plan is to refill that drawer with some healthier treats (not like carrot sticks...think fruit leather or granola bars or dried mango) and ward off candy like the plague. We'll see how long I can keep the dogs at bay!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Asking for help: Part 2

Yesterday I posted about why I should wear I sign that says, "Confront me if I don't ask for help." (Click here to read that post.) God has been teaching me this lesson with my husband, like I shared yesterday, and also with my friends and church family.

Last Easter I wrote a blog about Easter Behind the Scenes where I shared what the day of Easter was like in our personal lives. (Craziness.) After a friend of mine read that post, she told me that she felt like God put it on her heart to make sure we had some help lined up for this Easter. I told her how much I appreciated that, but hadn't given it much thought since last year.

Then, a couple weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook from my friend about lining up some people to help us on Easter weekend. My first impulse was to post back and say something like, "You guys are so sweet but we're really okay. I know everyone is busy that weekend." But in my heart I knew that we actually did need help and I should receive it as a gift from God.

What I was BLOWN AWAY by was the outpouring of love and support that came as a result of that post.

  • Three young professionals took care of our kiddos on Thursday night so that Andy & I could enjoy a date. 
  • A precious family brought us dinner on Saturday night so that we could get a good meal without having to deal with the prep/clean up.
  • Another friend picked up our boys from BayKids in between the 1st and 2nd services so that we could grab a few quick family snapshots. (Pretty much the entire photo shoot looks like outtakes from a bloopers video due to our uncooperative sons. But that certainly was not her fault!) Then she took them back to their classes so that Andy & I could continue interacting with guests.
  • Three other amazing young professionals took our boys home from church during the 3rd service and played with them all afternoon. The boys even got a coveted trip to McDonald's and frozen yogurt out of the deal!
  • That night, another friend from church came over to spend the night at our house because Andy had a medical procedure scheduled for the next morning and we had to leave the house at 5:30 AM. When we got home at 9 AM the next morning she was outside with the boys playing water guns in their PJs! :-) Our boys had a BLAST this weekend. 
This Easter felt COMPLETELY different to me personally than it did last year. The Monday morning after Easter last year, I felt like I had just lived through a bad fist fight and wanted to lay on the couch and suck my thumb! This year I felt a little tired, but emotionally I felt great. I felt loved and supported and like I had been able to focus on the things I needed to focus on without neglecting my kids or going crazy in the process. 

This Easter, God got out His megaphone and yelled in my ear, "Stacie, ask for help!!! There are plenty of people who would LOVE to help you if they only knew about your need!!!" 

So to all of you who helped us in some way or prayed for our family, THANK YOU! You blessed us beyond what you could understand. You were holding up our arms this weekend and it truly made all the difference in the world.

And if you are a pastor's wife, let me challenge you to let your people know when you need help. If they are anything like the amazing people of South Bay, they love you and want to bless your family. But it is nearly impossible for them to anticipate your needs. We have to ask. 

So, pastor's wife or not, let's all realize that we have people in our lives that would be more than willing to help us if we would be honest enough to let them know that we need help. Let's stop feeling sorry for ourselves and 'playing the martyr'. If you are drowning, let someone know. And if you're feeling pretty good about life with a few life preservers handy, look around you to notice who's drowning. We've all been in both places at one time or another. 

Here's our ridiculous attempt at some family photos. There were a couple good ones, but a lot more funny ones than good...

Oh well. At least we have it documented and it really does show their personalities!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Can I get a little help around here?!

Have you ever seen the movie 28 Days? It's a Sandra Bullock movie where she plays the role of a recovering alcoholic who is sent to rehab for 28 days. I saw it a long time ago and don't remember a whole lot about it, but I do remember that her counselor at rehab made Sandra Bullock wear a sign around her neck that said, "Confront me if I don't ask for help"because her unwillingness to ask her help was the main reason she had wound up in so much trouble.

Probably the reason I remember that part of the movie was because I subconsciously realized that I need one of those signs.

Maybe you're the same way. Maybe you've got a bad case of "Do it myself" disease and you may have contracted it for a variety of reasons. The two-part reason I'm a carrier of the disease is because I don't want to inconvenience others by asking them to help shoulder my load, and I would (pridefully) like the world to think that I can shoulder my own load just fine.

And maybe most days I can. But there are times that I'm drowning and I never even let anyone know until after I've already found some solid footing again.

God has been teaching me this lesson in huge, techno-color ways this past month.


March was a bit of a doozy month for us. We moved and Andy traveled 3 times really close to the date that we moved. This was the first time (out of 6) we've ever moved that we haven't had either my mom or sister to help us "set up house". I'm not sure exactly what happened when God was creating me, by the visual/spacial part of my brain just never developed, thus decorating a house by myself is among the top 5 most overwhelming things I can imagine. On top of this, things are pretty intense (understatement) around South Bay right now due to Easter and moving into our new facility. Andy's been quite stressed at times and has had some health issues as a result.

Because I know Andy's already carrying a lot of stress from work, I don't want to add anymore to it when he comes home. So I try to pretend like I can manage everything around the house on my own. Sure, I can pack and unpack our house, update our finances each week, prepare our taxes, hang pictures, clean the house, register Caedmon for school, make home cooked meals, call our insurance company to figure out these medical bills, and look gorgeous every evening. Well, scratch the last one...I gave up on that.

But I was drowning and I didn't want to admit. Instead I started becoming more and more frustrated and, unknowingly, bitter.  One night Andy said to me, "Stacie, what is going on with you? You aren't acting like yourself. It feels like there's some kind of wall between us and you are treating me and the boys differently." Ouch. I didn't even realize that my frustration was being taken out on my family, but it was.

When I searched my heart a little to figure out why I was feeling frustrated, I realized that I felt like I needed help and Andy wasn't helping. When I explained it to Andy, he was so gracious. He honestly had no idea that I was overwhelmed (see, I'm pretty good at hiding it...thus the reason I need to wear that sign), but once I explained it he could totally understand how I would be feeling that way.

He said to me, "Stacie, you have got to let me know when you need help. It is not that I am unwilling to help or don't want to pull my weight around here. I just didn't know the pressure you were feeling or all that needed to get accomplished."

REALLY?! All I have to do is ask?
Yes. At least with my husband, it really is that simple.

So we talked it through, got a plan, and life has been running much more smoothly the past couple of weeks. Team effort, not flying solo.

I've got one more example I wanted to share, but this post is getting long so I'll save it for tomorrow. In the meantime, ASK SOMEONE FOR HELP!!! :-)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Same Page

I recently finished a book that I just had to share with you. If you are a mom, a daughter, or better yet a mom with a daughter, this book is for you! I could see myself in the pages of this story, and I think you will too.

The Same Page, written by Courtney Bullard and Shauna Pilgreen, is a fairy tale flip book that takes place back in the era of castles and formal balls and beautiful dresses. I loved getting lost in the storyline of Adela & Ysebel, the mother and daughter who each tell the story from their own point of view. It was my go-to book for a mental break when I needed to check out of my reality for a few minutes and jump into someone else's.

Without giving away too much, this is a story of a mother and daughter who are struggling to understand each other. Reading the story from both people's perspectives is really helpful in considering what the other person must be feeling or thinking. It exposes the "why" behind the outward behavior.

As moms, we can get so focused on the external behavior that we often miss the heart of our child. We forget to probe deeper to understand more fully what's motivating the behavior, and in the process can deeply wound our kids and teach them to retreat inside themselves instead of coming to us to talk through what's going on in their hearts.

This book gave me a renewed commitment to listen to heart of my kids.

The other key lesson that I learned from this book was in regards to pursuing my own dreams. Motherhood requires a lot of self-sacrifice and service to others. Most days, my whole life revolves around meeting other people's needs. And at the end of the day, no one is giving me high-fives for folding the laundry or doing back flips because I scrubbed a couple toilets or sending me a bonus check for preparing and cleaning up from three meals that day. And you know what? I'm okay with that. I'm learning to embrace my role as a mom and (most days) I'm incredibly grateful for the privilege of getting to stay home with my kiddos.

But in the midst of getting life accomplished, it's easy to lose yourself.

It's so easy to invest all of my energy and time into helping my husband and children accomplish their goals that I forget that once upon a time I had goals of my own. Goals. Dreams. An identity apart from anyone else.

As a mom, it's often easier just to shelf our own goals because it seems like a bad time to pursue them. And we can tell ourselves that we're honoring God by dying to ourselves and putting other people's goals and interests above our own. But really what we're doing is just dying. A piece of us (a beautiful piece that God uniquely created in us) lies dormant, but it was meant to thrive.

This book reminded me that I need to rummage through the closets in my heart where I stored some goals for a more convenient time, dust off the cobwebs, and start to dream again.

The reality is that I do my family a huge a favor when I am fully alive. I give my kids a gift by showing them what it looks like to fully embrace the dreams God puts in our hearts. My family does not need a domestic servant. They need a mom who loves life, loves them, and is living her happily ever after.

That is what "The Same Page" stirred up in my heart. I hope you will order it today and allow God to breathe some fresh life into your heart, too. Click here or here to order one today. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Don't Miss Out!

Just wanted to remind everyone that you DO NOT want to miss this weekend at South Bay Church. I don't want to spoil all surprises, but the service is going to be so special.

Last night, Andy shared with me an overview of his message. He stood on a stool and preached while I sat on the couch taking notes. Then he passed a dinner plate and I gave an offering while singing the Doxology together. Just kidding. We're not that weird! Anyway, the sermon is about what to do with all of our doubts and, let me just tell you, it is going to be powerful. If you have a family member, friend, or co-worker who has put up a wall towards God or just can't shake their doubts, this is the Sunday to force them invite them to come. They may just find the Answer they've been looking for.

Here's all the info:

The Hunt
When: Saturday 4/7 at 1pm
Where: Live Oak Park, Santa Clara. See map

We are hosting a community wide Easter Egg Hunt Saturday at 1pm in Live Oak Park. We are going to have a blast!

Easter Services
When: 8:30am, 10am, 11:30am, 1pm, 5pm
Where: Don Callejon School. See map

We will have five Easter Services this Sunday where we'll be kicking off a new series called "Where Is God When I". Click here to reserve free tickets or visit our new website for all of the details.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Family Fun Fridays

Family Fun Fridays usually take us to the playground if the weather cooperates. I decided to tote the camera along last week to grab a few snapshots of my boys...for the grandparents of course!

Check out how beautiful the sky is in the picture below. 

And who says kids are the only ones who can have fun at the playground?
I brought my favorite playmate with me that day!

I'm pretty sure we are the only adults who attempted to ride double on the dolphin that day!  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gethsemane from a parent's point of view

Have you ever thought about Gethsemane from a parent's point of view? I was so gripped by that thought today as I read Mark's gospel account of Jesus' prayers. The translation I was reading from (Holman Christian Standard Bible) said that Jesus was "deeply distressed and horrified." He told His disciples, "My soul is swallowed up in sorrow- to the point of death." 

I always think about Jesus as my comforter. What happens when Jesus needs to be comforted?

The Bible says that Jesus prayed over and over again for His Father to take this cup away from Him. Surely His prayers broke His Father's heart. What parent doesn't want to do anything in their power to ease the suffering of their child? 

I think about my friend who has watched her child suffer through leukemia. Watching him wince with pain as he swallowed. Watching him vomit from all the chemo. Suffering in her heart while she watches her son suffer in his body. 

The only reason my friend allowed her son to be continually poked with needles and taken through countless uncomfortable medical procedures is because she knew healing was on the other side. The pain was a productive pain. She knew there was no other way for Luke to live than to endure the pain. 

I am overwhelmed with thankfulness that God loved me enough to not take that cup away from Jesus. He had Jesus endure the pain because He knew there was no other way. Not if I was going to be able to live. 

But I know that Jesus wasn't the only one suffering that day. I know the Father was also swallowed up in sorrow. His heart must have ached to rescue His son from the pain He was about to take on. 

We should thank Him today that He loved us so much that He would allow Jesus to suffer on our behalf. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Cow...We bought a cow!

Well, not actually a whole cow. More like a quarter of a cow. And our cow, which Andy affectionately nicknamed "Prime Reba", will be delivered to us in individual packages, labeled and frozen. Right now, she's still lazily grazing her pastureland here in beautiful California, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This all started with a conversation (or series of conversations) that Andy & I have had, primarily with Filipe & Mandy. We got on the topic of processed foods at one of our kid's birthday parties recently, while I'm sure we were all stuffing our faces with plenty of processed foods. Mandy told everyone about a company she heard of here in California that raises grass-fed cows and sells them to individual buyers. It seemed like such a strange and foreign idea at the time.

The more and more we talked about way meat is handled, the food that we put in our bodies with very little thought, and the effect it is having on our health, the more I was feeling like I didn't want to eat anything at all! Hormones, pesticides, refined flours/sugars, etc... It was totally overwhelming and left me feeling guilty every time I went to the grocery store or ate a snack.

Mandy also told me about a blog called 100 Days of Real Food. On this blog, a typical suburban family from North Carolina took a pledge to eat nothing but whole grains, natural products, and real food for 100 days. It's pretty extreme, but so fascinating and educational.

As I began reading the blog and learning more about it, I slowly began to go from being totally overwhelmed with an "Only rich people eat organic" mindset to feeling like it wouldn't be so difficult to make some changes around here.

Then, Mandy sent me an email this weekend saying they took the plunge and bought a cow (a split-half)! Andy and I jumped on the website to do a little research and number-crunching, and decided to join them! I couldn't believe we did it, but if you're interested in joining us you can click here to get more info.

At this point, I'm quite confident that many of my friends from South Carolina and Texas are shaking their heads and thinking, "We knew it wouldn't be long before you turned all 'California-crazy' on us." Well, maybe. But I would like to remind everyone that the 100 Days of Real Food blog is written by a gal in North Carolina, the good ol' biscuit and gravy lovin' South.

So, at this point, I'm still in the "gathering information" phase. I will continue to make changes slowly as I understand more and more, but I'm not yet ready to throw out all my cookbooks and start over with only whole foods. Maybe one day I'll get there, but today I simply bought Triscuits instead of Wheat Thins. Baby steps, People, baby steps.