Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas - A Couple Days Late

It has been a long time since I posted anything. There are several things to account for that. The first is that I watched the first two seasons of 24. I have never watched the show but have so many friends who are addicted to it. I have to say that I like it, but it is addicting. I only have two seasons in my house, but I am sure if the third had been here, I would have started watching it also. I think I will wait to see the third for a while. We were also busy planning and preparing for the Christmas Eve Service. I had several adoption cases to finish before Christmas.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We did. It was somewhat stressful until Christmas day, but we had a very relaxing Christmas day. We missed our family and friends, but it was still nice. We did not shop until just a few days before, but that was nice. Brent and I got away overnight, which we needed so much, and we shopped part of the time. We did not buy nearly as much this year. We have decided a couple of things. One is that we are going to buy one together gift for the kids at Christmas, plus stocking stuffers. Hopefully it will eliminate all of the junk that accumulates in our house. It also allowed for better use of our money. We did not spend as much and purchased two oxen and a plow for a village in a third world country with the extra money we would have spent. This year we bought the kids an Air Hockey Table. They are enjoying it.

I cooked Christmas dinner. I don't really like to cook a lot (although I have gotten better), but the meal turned out nicely. I was a little nervous about cooking a turkey for the first time, but it was good, and even my gravy turned out. That is a huge deal around here - I have never made gravy that had the right consistency. Eric came over to eat, then afterward, we were just all exhausted and laid around on the couch while the kids played. I dozed off a couple times!

Christmas Eve we had a service with all of the Independent Christian Churches in the area combined. We did the majority of the planning and preparing, and it was held in our facility. It turned out nicely, but I will say we were thankful when it was over ane we could relax.

As I look back over the year, I feel so grateful for all of God's blessings! I am completely humbled by the fact that he took the form of a man and came to this earth to live and experience life like us and then be sacrificed so that you and I can live eternally with Him. I am so undeserving! I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! I will try to post some pictures later.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So Much Happening

It was a crazy week last week. We had our preview service on Sunday and had great friends, the Bergs, here to visit. It was a good week, but just incredibly busy. I don' t know even where to start.

Our visit with the Berg's was not what I had hoped, though it was such a huge blessing to see them! I wanted to just be able to spend lots of stress free time with them, take them up to the Sequoia's and talk and share life. Well, they definitely shared our life and got to be an important part of the very first actual service for the church, which was way cool! But I felt terrible that we did not have the time to take them to the Sequoia's or anything. Friday and Saturday they were a tremendous help for us as we got things prepared - cleaned children's toys, set up cabinets in the children's ministry room (They won the race and even helped with a second cabinet!!!), set up chairs, bought last minute things, etc. Then they attended the service and helped us tear down. We fed them late meals and worked them to death. We did get to enjoy Sunday and Monday. We hoped to get away, but things did not work out. However, our friends, the Limiero's kept all four of our kids from the time church was out until after we got back from the airport the next day. We showed them around Bakersfield - the beautiful parts and the really ugly parts. Then we returned to our house and sat around debating ministry issues before we played board games. We were up late, then slept in the next morning. We then went down to Burbank for lunch and to get them to the airport. Because of a huge wreck on "The 5" we were routed to the 405 and ended up at Santa Monica. They were able to see and have a picture by the ocean, then we had an excellent italian lunch before heading back up to the airport. It was a nice day! Jeff and Courtney, I hope you guys know how much you mean to us!!! I know it was a hard weekend, but we love you and appreciate you!

Our service went amazingly well! There are things we will adapt and change, but overall it was great! We had five families attend that had not been involved with our launch stuff at all. There were lots of volunteers from the other churches with a total attendance of 68. We were thrilled, considering we did no advertising for this one. It seems like children's ministry went well, and the kids enjoyed it. Our facility is wonderful!!! We are so incredibly blessed! One person that attended the service told Brent he did not understand the preview service and thought we should just continue on every week. Parts of me wish that was possible, but right now we have so much to get done before January 13th that we need the time. It was encouraging, though, that someone was so excited! People expressed excitement over the Service Sundays, which is good, too. It's a little out there to actually not have a regular service one Sunday a month, so we have wondered how people will respond, yet we feel convicted that this is incredibly important to help keep the church outwardly focused, so it's nice to hear someone catching the vision.

The final thing I want to touch on is Spiritual Warfare. We have been warned over and over about spiritual warfare in church planting. We have felt pretty blessed in that things have flown smoothly for the most part. There have been moments, but I don't think all of that has been spiritual warfare. But I definitely think I experienced a lot of it this past week. While I tried to prepare myself, I didn't do a very good job. This time it came in such an unexpected way. I know that the next six weeks could be filled with even more. I guess I would just ask for extra prayers surrounding this. We just want to be good tools, and even today I have felt so emotionally overwhelmed with things that I have not been able to accomplish things that need to be accomplished. I'm sure that Satan is just smiling from ear to ear as he watches me being paralyzed in my emotions.