Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Walk for Justice

It is surprising to many people to hear that human trafficking is happening right here in America. From tomato fields to domestic servants to children being sold for sex at truck stops, it is rampant. Occasionally we may hear a horrific story about modern day slavery that breaks our hearts, but we are left wondering what in the world can we do about it. 

If you live in the Bay Area, you can be apart this Saturday of a "Walk for Justice" in support of the CASE Act. The CASE Act, a.k.a. Prop 35, is an initiative that will be voted on this November which will toughen up the laws about human trafficking in California. This walk is an effort to raise money and awareness so that millions of Californians will vote YES on Prop 35 and put an end to modern day slavery.

I would love to have some friends to walk with, so if you're interested, let me know. Also, you can support me by making a donation on my fundraising page. Would you consider giving $10 or more toward this worthy cause? Click here to contribute. Thanks!!!

Check out this powerful 3 minute video of some survivors' stories. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Miscellaneous Monday

Today has been a pajama day for me. Partly because I didn't have anywhere I had to go today and partly because some Mondays simply require pajamas as a recovery mechanism from Sunday. Pajama days do the body (& soul) good!

We had a pretty normal morning routine... work out, shower (then back in my PJ's), breakfast, TV time for boys/ Bible time for Mom, and Caedmon's reading lesson. We I had a summer goal of getting through all of the 100 reading lessons. It doesn't look like we'll be completely done by the time that school officially starts, but we did Lesson 76 today and still have a few weeks left, so I'm pretty happy about that. Happy may not be the word Caedmon would use to describe reading lessons.

After our morning routine, the Littles and I hung a few pictures, made 2 different variety of smoothies which we turned into popsicles, and baked a loaf of banana bread...my house smells like banana bread right now. Mmmmm!

We also attempted to play Super Heroes, but I have determined that it is quite impossible for Caedmon's Super Hero alias to ever be defeated because he constantly invents new super powers to trump whatever attack Sammy & I throw his way. "Your goo won't stick on me because I'm wearing my cape and nothing gets through my cape." "I can walk across that hot lava because my boots are hot lava proof." It's truly a problem...

Also, joining the randomness of this Monday would be the fact that 10 (TEN!) turkeys walked across my front yard just moments ago. If that ain't "Silicon-Valley Living" then I don't know what it!

We had a big day yesterday. Andy preached an amazing and redemptive message about rising again from our past. If you missed it, it should be posted here later today.

Then, last night we had South Bay's summer interns over for dinner. This is the first summer that we've had any type of official internship, but it has been an awesome experience. We had 9 talented, servant-hearted, hard working, high-capacity guys & girls to be a part. They contributed so much to the ministry of South Bay this summer, and from what they shared over dinner last night, it seems that they felt equally blessed by the experience.

And what intern dinner would be complete without a little Michael Jackson and impromptu dance lessons from Jamie? Sorry I don't have any pictures of that...I was too busy groovin'.

A huge THANK YOU to all of our summer interns who have served their hearts out and made a significant eternal investment of their lives:
And, thank you also to Tim who has served as their fearless leader!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Do you ever have days when your world suddenly seems to be falling apart? In all reality, nothing has really changed. You felt fine yesterday, and you'll be okay tomorrow. But today you feel overwhelmed and unmotivated and like you would have been better off just to stay in bed.

Andy says he feels that way a lot on Mondays after preaching his heart out 4 times on Sunday. :-)

Well, I had one of "those" days earlier this week. Nothing in particular was wrong. I just started getting a little overwhelmed by a string of upcoming events that are rapidly approaching (3 large dinner parties, Caedmon's tonsillectomy, teaching at South Bay one Sunday, and beginning homeschool).

Sometimes when I realize all that lies ahead I go into maniac-mode and start working so quickly that I'm quite sure smoke is coming out of my ears. Other times I just want to lay on the couch and cry.

While I didn't lay around crying the other day, I was mopey and discouraged and just kinda in a funk. I started trying to figure out what I could do to perk myself up.

That got me thinking...what types of concessions do you give yourself when you're having a rough day? Are there little things that seem to put a bounce back in your step? Is there some treat that you allow yourself every once in a while just to put a smile on your face?

Here are a few of mine:

  1. An extra cup of tea. I normally just drink one cup of tea each morning, but on a bad day I'll have another in the afternoon.
  2. A trip to Starbucks. I used to live dangerously close to a Starbucks (like a 30 second walk), but now it's a little bit of a drive. But on a bad day or for a special treat, it's worth it. 
  3. Pancakes for dinner. That's what I did earlier this week. The thought of another healthy, low-calorie meal was more than I could handle. I wanted some pancakes and maple syrup!
  4. Buy something for my kitchen. I've only done this one time, but it was nice. I had been wanting a salad spinner for about 5 years. (Literally) But I don't really like to spend money on extra things and it just never became a priority to me. Recently, however, when I was having one of "those" days, I impulsively bought myself a $10 salad spinner. And, boy, did it put a smile on my face! I laugh to myself every time I use it.
Ok, so do share! What is something you do for yourself to turn your day around?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Tip of the Day: Don't keep it in the house. 

In my opinion, it is a lot easier to eat healthy at home than it is when we're out and about. Even when restaurants do provide a few healthy options, the unhealthy ones always look and sound so much better.

That's why I think it's so important to eat most meals at home and to guard with bulldog-ish ferocity what foods are allowed passageway into our homes.

What not to buy:

  • Highly processed boxes/cans of food found on the aisles of every grocery store. Only a few items on your grocery list should be found in the aisles. Most should be from the perimeter of the store where the fresh produce, dairy products, meats, and bread are kept. A few exceptions are pasta (whole wheat), beans, oatmeal, nut butter, whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat flour), and baking essentials. 
  • Desserts. If there are desserts in our house, we will eat them. That's why we don't keep them. "But what about those times that you are just really craving some _______?" Exactly! If you don't have access to it, you can't eat it even (especially) when the cravings set in. If we have guests over and there is leftover dessert, I always send it home with them or send it to the office with Andy the next day. And, although it hurts my heart a little, I have been known to throw desserts away. Because I would much rather the trash can eat half of a dessert than for ME to end up eating half of the dessert! There are plenty of opportunities for sweets and desserts throughout the normal course of life without stockpiling them at home.
  • Chips / crackers. In my mind, chips and crackers are just wasted calories. They don't fill you up (unless you eat an obscene amount), and they provide virtually no nutritional value. There are some whole grain, simply made crackers available. My favorite are Triscuits.

What to buy instead:
  • Fruit! I love, love, love fruit. Pretty much any variety. We almost always have apples and bananas, but I also love peaches, pears, plums, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, oranges, etc... You name it! A yummy and sweet snack.
  • Raw nuts. Nuts get a bad wrap because they're high in calorie. But raw nuts (almonds in particular) are really good for you and are stocked full of protein. It's a crunchy, somewhat salty snack that leaves you satisfied longer because of the protein. Just avoid all of those snack mixes loaded down with tons of oil and salt.
  • Yogurt. One of my favorite snacks is a bowl of plain (unflavored, unsweetened) yogurt with some honey and frozen berries. The honey and fruit provide the sweetness and the yogurt has lots of protein and other healthy things.
  • Raw veggies with homemade hummus. I know, I know. Carrots and cucumbers don't entice you the same way some good ol' junk food does. But hummus makes it more tasty and you feel a heck of a lot better after downing a bowl full of carrots than you do a bowl full of Pringles!
  • Popcorn! Did you know popcorn is a whole food? Not the movie theatre kind drenched in butter. But the yummy healthy kind you can make at home. Andy & I often have popcorn for an evening snack. 
  • Cheese & Crackers. Cheese has to be eaten in moderation, but a little (like 1 ounce) with a few Triscuits provides a yummy snack and energy boost.
  • All natural one-ingredient peanut butter. It tastes so much better than Jif or Skippy! A tablespoon of peanut butter with an apple, pear, celery, or a piece of whole wheat toast is the perfect snack.
With all of these healthy and yummy options to supplement your lunch and snacks, why waste your calories on foods that are bad for you and leave you feeling gross? True, you may miss the foods that you are so accustomed to buying right now. But it won't be long before you form new habits and even begin to prefer the healthier options. 

If you are the one in your family who grocery shops (like I am) than you are the Gatekeeper of what kind of food is allowed to enter your home. Unhealthy options abound whenever you go outside your house. But while you're at home, make sure what is available is whole, real, healthy food!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Prayers for Ethiopia

This past Saturday, 16 people boarded an international flight and launched South Bay Church's first official mission trip. This week they will be serving in Nazaret, Ethiopia with our partnership church, Nazaret Emmanuel United Church. We were able to develop this partnership through a ministry of Compassion International called Church-to-Church (C2C).

Nazaret Emmanuel is an amazing church and we have plenty to learn from them! This church was originally started about 15 or 20 years ago by 10 college aged guys. These guys started a Bible study at the Coptic Orthodox Church, which is the predominant religion in Ethiopia. The Coptic church is similar to Catholicism in that it has it's roots in Christianity but tends toward religious tradition and hollow rituals. This Bible study that they started began to experience a fresh movement of the Spirit of God. It grew and grew and grew, which caused much concern to the leaders of the Coptic Church.

Finally these men decided to branch out to start a different church, but it was not without intense persecution. A couple of the men were actually martyred for their faith. Over the last 15-20 years, Nazaret Emmanuel has been apart of launching nearly 100 churches and have somewhere around 30,000 people connected in their network of churches.

When Andy got home from visiting there last summer, he said that worshiping with them at their Sunday service was like nothing he'd ever experienced. They start their worship service with about 45 minutes of intense prayer with everyone praying a loud at the same time.

Nazaret also has a Compassion program where they serve over 200 kids similar to an after school program here. But this program provides food, medical care, funding for school, and spiritual training.

Our team will be doing a variety of things, but one of the coolest parts is that they will be able to meet / play with a lot of the kids that people in our church sponsor through Compassion! I may or may not have snuck in a little present for them to deliver to our child!

I can hardly wait for the day that Caedmon and Sammy are old enough to take on this trip. What a special experience that will be to take Sammy back to his country of origin to love, serve, bless, and learn from them.

Will you join me in praying for our mission team this week?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's on the nightstand?

Lately, I seem to be accumulating books on my nightstand. I usually limit myself to 2 or 3 books at a time (a marriage book, a parenting book, and something else). But I have started 6 and have 2 more just sitting there tempting me.

Here's a peak:

1. Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas- My current favorite book. I'm almost done with it but I'm kinda dragging my feet because I don't want it to end. It's a biography of the life of William Wilberforce who want the key figure in abolishing England's slave trade. I love biographies. The book is inspiring, well written, and fascinating. I'll write a more thorough review later. (Eric Metaxas also wrote Bonhoeffer which is another awesome read. It's long and takes a bit of commitment, but it is so worth it!)

2. The Skinny Rules by Bob Harper- Andy picked this book up while we were on vacation and I've been reading it since he's done. It has 20 "rules" that Bob teaches about nutrition and weight loss. It's a super easy read because the chapters are 3-5 pages each. It is practical and informative if you are trying to lose weight or just learn about nutrition. There are also some menu guides and recipes in the back.

3. Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas- Haven't started this one yet because I just got it as a gift in the mail this week. But I know I'm going to love it because Gary Thomas also wrote Sacred Marriage and Sacred Parenting, which had a huge impact on me. Sacred Influence is about how God uses wives to shape the souls of their husbands. I can't wait to dive in!

4. Moms Who Changed the World by Lindsey O'Connor- A friend is letting me borrow this book. This book takes 9 different people who were world changers (i.e. John Wesley, Amy Carmichael, Augustine, etc...) and looks at their mother's influence on their lives. It's a really interesting perspective and gives value to the "behind the scenes" work of motherhood.

5. Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic- If you have young kids and you don't have this book, stop reading this blog immediately and order it for yourself as a gift! This book is funny and insightful. It breathes a breath of fresh air on motherhood, and don't we all need that from time to time?! The chapters are all 2-3 pages so even busy moms can find a few seconds to read it. You will be encouraged!

6. The Well Behaved Child by John Rosemond- I started this book but haven't made a lot of headway on it yet. To be honest, the author's tone is a little harsh for me. In my mind I think I agree with what he's saying, but he just says it in kinda an offensive way. It's a book about effective discipline instead of all these mamby-pamby psycho-babble methods that are currently floating around. I'm going to give the book another try because my sister says there are some really good ideas/methods in there. I'm just going to need to wear a face mask when I read it. :-)

7. Platform by Michael Hyatt- Haven't started this one yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Michael Hyatt has a hugely successful blog and was the CEO for Thomas Nelson publishing house for 8 years. This book is about how to get your voice heard. It's "a step-by-step guide for anyone with something to say or sell."

8. Real Marriage by Mark & Grace Driscoll- Andy & I originally got this book to read together and discuss. We thought we'd shoot for one chapter a week. Well, that was about 7 months ago and we are yet to discuss it! :-) But, hey, it's been a crazy 7 months! I love Mark Driscoll and have really enjoyed the first 5 chapters of this authentic look at biblical marriage.


1- A past journal- I'm reviewing some stuff for an upcoming message. (Don't tell anyone, but I'm teaching at South Bay on August 12.)
2- My "thankful" journal- I try to write things that I'm thankful for in here at least once a week.
3- Current journal
4- Bible- this is my priority read. :-)

Now, if I could just have a few days of uninterrupted time by a beautiful body of water, I'm sure I could knock some of these books out. Nevermind, I guess I just settle for 5 minutes before bed!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Today marks Day 45 of P90X. I'm halfway there!

Here are a few thoughts/tips from my personal experience:
  • Schedule your workouts. It doesn't necessarily have to be the same time every day (although it is for me), but you will have much more success if you know when you will be working out each day instead of just trying to fit it in. The only time of day that works for me is first thing in the morning. Do I love getting up at 5:15? No. But I know if I don't I won't get it in, and it's worth it to me. That means I try to go to be by 9:15, which means I had to cut out virtually all TV and I have a very short evening. I had to make a values call about what was more important to me.
  • Keep pushing play. This week I've been pretty tired and unmotivated. I'm a little sleep deprived right now and so getting up in the morning has been a pure act of the will. I haven't felt like working out and the work outs have felt tougher since I'm tired. BUT, I keep pushing play. I may not be performing at my peak condition this week, but I'm hanging in there and doing what I can because I know I'm still getting stronger even when I don't feel 100%. I'll get it back. I am forever quoting to myself Tony Horton's line, "How do you feel that day? Do what you can." 
  • Weights, not just cardio. After doing P90X on two different occasions, I am now a BIG believer that strength training changes the way that your body looks more than just doing cardio. I know that every time I get motivated to get in shape, I just want to do cardio all the time because that is where you burn the most calories. But I see such better results when I make myself do regular, hard workouts with weights. I'm no expert, but I would say half of your workout time per week should be invested in weight training. 
  • Find your balance and jump back in. If you want a good laugh you should see me do YogaX. Balance and gracefulness has never been my thing, but I'm working on it. During the balance postures Tony Horton always says, "If you fall out, ain't no big thing. Just jump back in." Same is true for physical fitness. Life gets crazy sometimes. You go on vacation. You've got a sick child. You have a deadline at work. You welcome a new child into your family. And, unless you are some type of Superhero, you are going to lose your rhythm for a while and workouts will be the first thing to go. At least they are for me. Ain't no big thing. Just jump back in. Fight to find your balance again. 
  • Nutrition matters. For all of you who, like me, would like to think you can eat whatever you want as long as you work out, wrong! In Bob Harper's book, The Skinny Rules, "That four-mile walk you take every morning? It burns about 350 calories- not even a small bag of fries at McDonald's. That hour of Pilates or yoga? Ditto- not even equal to a large chai latte at Starbucks." Ouch. Don't go knocking my chai lattes! The point is: exercise alone without focusing on nutrition won't cut it. 
It's not easy. But most things worth anything aren't. I'd say your health is worth it!

Monday, July 16, 2012


Sometimes we just need a good dose of Perspective, amen?

So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is 
seen is temporarybut what is unseen is eternal.   2 Corinthians 4:18 

Almost without fail, every time I get a case of the "poor me's" or discouragement or a desire to turn in my 2 weeks notice, it is because I have shifted my focus to what is seen (in the moment) instead of what is unseen.

Keeping an eternal perspective brings all of life back into a working rhythm. Things make sense. Decisions seem more clear. Energy is refocused. Motivation returns. Strength is renewed.

It is craziness, pure insanity, to live our 80 years on this earth as if that's all that there is. It's normal to live for the moment, or if you're a real planner, for 10 years from now. Normal, but not wise.

Can you find yourself in one of these scenarios?

  • It feels like a huge sacrifice to give extravagantly toward kingdom causes when we're focused on this life. We may not be able to buy that new piece of furniture or take that vacation if we give this money. And for the moment, that hurts. But in light of eternity, that new piece of furniture suddenly seems very insignificant. I don't think I'm going to be missing that leather couch when I'm walking on streets of gold.
  • The thought of opening your home to a foster child or adopting a child feels like too much when you consider the disruption it will likely cause to your family. But when we refocus our thoughts to remember that God never intended this life to be about our comfort, the thought of giving a human being who is broken and hurting a chance at life and relationship with God seems like a commitment we're more willing to make.

  • Inviting our friends to church or initiating spiritual conversations with family members who are far from God feels risky and awkward...until you refocus on "that which is unseen." The sobering reality that every person we know, love, or brush shoulders with will spend all of eternity in heaven or in hell motivates us beyond our own discomfort to share the hope that we have. 
Just because you can't see something doesn't make it any less real. It makes it easy to forget about, but it is real, nonetheless. More real than I think I have any concept of. There are things that matter so much more (and for so much longer) than this life on earth.

What are you frustrated or worried about today that has no/very little eternal value? Time for a perspective change!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

Making a big decision can sometimes paralyze us with the fear of making the wrong one.

We labor over what we should do, think about it when we should be sleeping, weigh out pros and cons, and get advice from everyone we know.

AND, if we are Christians, we have the added component of "the will of God." So we pray to know God's will, hoping that God will reply through some sort of cosmic email. And we read the Bible taking all kinds of verses out of context and wondering if they apply to our situation. We've all been there.

It's a stressful place to be. And the more significant and life-changing the decision, the more stress it seems to create.

  • What college should I attend?
  • What career path should I take?
  • Should I continue pursuing this relationship toward marriage?
  • Is it the right timing to start a family/ add another child?
  • Should we make this huge move across the country?
  • and on and on and on...
We recently made a big decision for our family...one that I never thought we would make. A decision that I labored over and prayed through for about a year. We decided to homeschool Caedmon, at least for the time being. 

So I will be busting out the long denim skirts, start wearing my hair in a bun, and begin building a bomb shelter under our house. Just so I can fit in with all the other homeschoolers, you know. :-)

There are a ton of factors in this decision for our family. This blog will never be about trying to convince the world that everyone needs to homeschool their kids. Andy & I just came to a place where we felt about 70% sure that this is the right move for us and for Caedmon.

Seventy percent? 

That doesn't sound very convincing. 

No it doesn't, but that's about where I land on most decisions in life. Most of the time I don't get to 100% certainty until I can look at it from hindsight. I think it's part of how God grows our faith. 

When I'm making a huge decision like this, one that I'm confident God has an opinion on, I do several things.
  1. Pray. Sometimes I fast. I write in my journal. I literally get on my knees. I tell God that I just want to do His will, whatever that is. And I ask people to pray for me.
  2. Look for guidance in the Bible. It's dangerous to start jumping all over the Bible to random verses and claiming them for your situation. But if you will hold the course and continue studying whatever Bible reading plan you were currently studying, I believe the Holy Spirit can illuminate the Scripture to give you guidance. 
  3. Research. I try to get all the facts surrounding the decision so I can make a well informed pros/cons list. I put a lot of time into researching schools in our area before making this decision.
  4. Seek counsel. Everyone seems to have an opinion, so you might as well hear it. Don't let yourself feel obligated to do whatever they suggest, but their thoughts may help you see things from a different perspective. Counsel is best sought from godly people who know you and have your best interest at heart. 
  5. Trust. This is the most important one for me. This is what keeps my anxiety to a minimum. I trust that God's Sovereignty is bigger than my poor decision making skills. If I make a wrong move, God can reveal that to me, help get me back on course, and work it all together for my good. I also trust that God is not going to let me walk off a cliff if I am truly seeking Him with all my heart and want more than anything to do His will. Even when I don't feel a lot of clear direction, I trust that He's guiding my steps as I seek Him.
One verse that God kept bringing to my mind in this decision regarding Caedmon's education was:
 "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

In my mind that verse doesn't mean that if I delight myself in God, He'll give me whatever I want. I understand that verse to mean that as I delight myself in Him (by pursuing Him, obeying Him, serving Him) He will literally give me (place inside my heart) certain desires. His desires. He transforms what I want as I worship Him.

The reason, I believe, that God kept bringing this verse to mind is because of what a drastic change in desire I experienced. If you were to ask me 2 years ago if I would ever homeschool my kids, I would have said, "Absolutely not." I had no interest in it and I was a big proponent of public schools. Andy & I both grew up in public schools, it's a great way to connect with people in the community, and it allows kids to learn how to be a light in a dark world. Homeschool? No thank you.

But the more I prayed and the more I researched, God began to change my heart. One day I realized that I kinda wanted to give homeschool a shot. See what it's like. Get that extra one-on-one time with Caedmon. That's when God dropped Psalm 37:4 in my mind and whispered, "I changed your desires. That is your cosmic email." 

So here we go, Folks. We are taking the plunge into the world of home education. Please feel free to notify us if we begin growing exceeding weird. 

If you are making a huge decision right now, trust that God is big enough to direct you without you even knowing it. He's got ALL THINGS under His control. Sure, you can choose to rebel against Him. But if you are earnestly seeking Him, do not fear! He will direct your path. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fight for Justice TODAY!

It's official. The CASE Act is going to be on California's November ballot as Proposition 35. This is huge and exciting news for all who hate human trafficking and love justice. It's time to get the word out!

from their website:
"In California, many vulnerable women and young girls are held against their will and forced to sell their bodies. The victims are often girls as young as 12 who are sexually exploited for the financial gain of human traffickers. They are afraid for their lives and abused -- sexually, physically, and mentally.

Proposition 35, also known as the CASE Act, is an initiative that will fight back against human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and children in the state. Click here to learn more.

17 million registered voters in California can make a firm statement to traffickers around the world that we take slavery seriously and care about those in bondage.

By voting YES on Prop 35, you can take a stand and say that we won’t tolerate the sexual exploitation of children by human traffickers."

It's going to take a lot of money to get the publicity needed to inform 17 million voters. Could you help?

Here's a few ways to get involved and fight for justice:

Share on Facebook 
Re-tweet on Twitter
Send an email to your friends
Walk for Justice- I'm planning on walking in Oakland on Saturday, August 4th. Anyone want to join me? Let me know. There are also walks in Sacramento, San Diego, & Long Beach.
Contribute financially today!

What can YOU do to give a voice to the voiceless today? Do something.

He has sent me [AND YOU!] to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives 
and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vacation's over. Now what?

I've come to believe that the phrase, "We're going on vacation," requires additional clarification to get an accurate picture of what's really going on. In my experience there are at least 3 types of vacations. 

1- Relaxing (i.e. laying by a beautiful body of water somewhere tropical)
2- Sight seeing (i.e. a trip to New York or Italy)
3- Visiting Family (click here, here, and here, to see our most recent adventure)

Occasionally you can link two of those together, but rarely all three. 

Another thing I've noticed about vacation is that being out of normal routines makes it rather difficult to find times to read the Bible and work out on a daily basis. Those two activities are pretty high priorities around the Wood household, but when you only get to see your extended family for a handful of days a year, it feels kinda wrong to say, "Excuse me while I go spend an hour reading my Bible and then one more hour working out." When we're with our family we try to soak up every single minute we get with them. There's a time and season for everything...

So, needless to say, both Andy & I were hurtin' for some time alone with God by the time we got home. Andy told me that he was going to begin his quiet time that first morning by saying, "Hi, Jesus. It's me, Andy. Do you remember me?" :-)

Vacations are wonderful and needed and should be embraced with the tightest bear hug you can muster up. It's okay to break from normal disciplines and routines. You can eat that dessert. You can sleep in without guilt. You can stay up late laugh laughing your head off with your siblings or having heartfelt conversations with your parents. It's the richness of life. The cream. The stuff that makes the rest of life taste good and feel right. 

One more valuable truth about vacations... life is not intended to be lived as a vacation. 

When vacation is over, don't lament it. Get back at it! Jump back in with both feet to routines and disciplines and hard work. Eat healthy. Work out. Make time to invest in your relationship with God. Live life with vigor and focus and a purpose bigger than yourself. 

It may take a couple days to get all those vacation clothes washed, get groceries in the fridge, and find your rhythm again. But don't "blame it on vacation" for too long... you've got an abundant life to live!

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly! John 10:10 (NASB) 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vacation Rewind: Round 3

Our final leg of the Tour de Family was with Andy's dad's side of the family, starting in Brighton, Michigan. Hope you enjoy the pics...

Riding in the tractor with Papa
Mimi & Papa's house is being renovated so it's a full-on construction site right now! 

Andy really wanted to show me Northern MI, which is gorgeous in the summertime.
His aunt & uncle own a home up there so we all drove up to spend a couple days with them.
Lots of cousins for the boys to have fun with! 

This is Oscar. Caedmon called him "Oscar the Grouch" but I'm not sure that he liked that! 

Lily & Amelia 


Look past the ice cream covering his face to notice Caedmon's first missing tooth. 

Ferry ride to Mackinac Island 

Mackinac Island is a beautiful, quaint town off the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You have to take a ferry to get there and there are no cars on the island, only bikes and horse & carriage. 

Denise & Pete (aka Mimi & Papa)
We enjoyed a delicious lunch overlooking the lake. 

Mmmm... fresh smoked salmon and Michigan white fish with all the fixin's  

Caedmon thinks it is hysterical to try to kiss us on the lips. 

It is required by law (well, almost) that you eat fudge when you go to Mackanac. They are 
famous for it. We showed up just in time to watch how they make it. YUM!! 

The kiddos discovered a "lost treasure chest" on the beach! 

Caedmon transformed himself into "Clay-Man" 

Andy & his sister Danielle were about to get their heads torn off by the boys during a chicken fight. 

The Stolman Family
Brad was Andy's best friend in high school. Brad & Lisa were college sweet-hearts just like Andy & I were. So the 4 of us have been friends since then, were at each other's weddings, and have celebrated our growing tribes of boys. We always try to prioritize seeing them when we make it to Michigan!

So, folks, those are the highlights from the 2012 Wood Tour de Family. We racked up 10,000 sky miles and put 2,300 miles on my grandmother's car, with a 5 year old and 3 year old traveling companions. Over the course of our vacation we changed sleeping location 7 times, spent time with 42 different family members, and ate more dessert than should be legally allowed. So many wonderful memories.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vacation Rewind: Part 2

After spending time in South Carolina with my family, we headed up to Michigan (14 hour car drive!!) to see Andy's family. These are the highlights from our time with Andy's mom.

Giant cookie cake in honor of Caedmon & "Sam"
made by their awesome Aunt Jamie 

Good lookin' Andy with his good lookin' brother, Josh   

The beloved Aunt Jamie with Samantha & Aiden 

Sammy went go-cart racing with Uncle Josh 
(sorry the pic is so dark!)

We went to a glorified, adult version of Chuck-E-Cheese complete with go-carts, miniature 
golf, and laser tag. Pete, Andy's cousin, and his family drove 2.5 hours to hang out with us!! 

Spent a day at Lake Michigan. So beautiful. Of course, we had to do the obligatory 
burying someone in the sand. Andy's brother, CJ, let us bury him! 

What is a day at the beach without ice cream? 

 There was a pier that people were jumping off of into 65 degree water. Andy took the plunge.

He's taken. He's mine.  

This is us trying to convince Caedmon to jump off the pier (about 10-12 feet). 

We finally convinced him when we said we'd give him $5 if he did it! He loved it! 

Andy & Caedmon with Nanny 

Andy with his cousin, Mariah 

Uncle Josh & Aunt Jamie with the boys 

Uncle CJ with the boys. I could not get them to put their tongues away! 

Andy and his mom

Fun times!!! Check back tomorrow for one final post from our visit with Andy's dad's side of the family!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Vacation Rewind

We have just arrived home from a Tour de Family and I have about 700 pictures (literally) to share with you. After trying very hard to pick out only the best, I've still got over 250. Hmmmm... I guess I'll just have to hit the highlights and some of the cuteness will be for my eyes only.

So here are some of the highlights from our time in South Carolina with my side of the family.


Tractor riding with Pops 

A trip to Fort Jackson. "Soldiers! Attention!" 

2 beautiful ladies... the oldest and youngest in our family 

Wrestling in the pool with Uncle Kevin 

Ready, set, JUMP! 

My beautiful sister-in-love, Laura, with Baby Taylor 

 First skiing lesson with Uncle Kevin

 JJ's turn to drive the boat with Uncle Steve

Water balloon and silly string war 

 A delicious dinner overlooking the lake

It was so special to get to be there for Taylor's baby dedication 

 A trip to Monkey Joe's to get some energy out

 Pops knows what little boys love

 Skipping rocks at the pond


 Celebrating my Grandmother's 95th birthday

My sister, Stephanie, was so sick due to being in her 1st trimester of pregnancy.
This is one of my only pictures of her from the whole week and I fear it wasn't her best-vacation-ever.

The boys sang "Old McDonald" to Grandmother, 
prepared as part of the curriculum for Grand Camp 2012 

Who should I kiss first?!?!?

Bedtime stories with CC 

We also managed to fit in:
1- Andy's birthday party
2- Family pictures
3- Father's Day celebration
4- Caedmon's first tooth came out
5- and Sammy sported a 102 fever for 4 days. 

Besides Sammy's fever and Steph's constant nausea, there were so many wonderful memories made and fun times had. We are a blessed family!