Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Sum Up

Well, the church train was LOOOOONNNNGGGG this morning!  I was going to second service and the traffic into the church was stop and go from both sides of the Tegner/Tuolumne Road intersection.  I think the greeting time between first and second service attenders will be when we all roll down our windows and visit while passing each other on the road.  :)

I loved the singing time and communion during our worship today.  We recognized Orphan Sunday today by watching a video, and all I could think about was our sweet Gracie girl.  There's not a day that goes by that I don't pray for her and her brothers, hoping that one day we will be able to have a relationship with her.  She is always in my heart; always.  At the end of his message, Dave reminded us that "anyone can be a part of God's family."  That's right, we were all spiritual orphans and when we accepted God's invitation, He adopted us into HIS family with all of the provision, protection, power, and peace that He gives.  Thank you, Jesus! 

Today's message (from Acts 2) was the third message in the Unstoppable series.  I love the second point: "The center point of the message is JESUS.  Dave reminded us of the story from John 9 about the blind man that was healed and gave the most concise gospel message, "I was blind, but now I see."  But I loved it when day told us that the unspoken, central part of his message was, "and then Jesus showed up."  "I was blind, and then Jesus showed, and now I see."  That's all of our stories......we were blind (lost, addicted, alone, hurting, etc...) and then Jesus showed up, and now we see!  Thank you, Jesus!

During the third service, I was in a planning meeting for our upcoming Women's Retreat.  Please mark your calendars now because I believe God has some wonderful things in store for us.  You can check out our speaker's website here:  The dates are March 8 - 10, 2013.  If you save $10.00 a week, starting this week, you'll have the money you need to attend ($145.00).  We will have the entire camp to ourselves this year; it's going to be great!   Let me know you'll be joining us!  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday Sum Up

***Note: Started this Sunday evening, and it is finally!

Wow; I don't even have words to express how suprised and humbled Dave and I were this weekend by the incredible blessing given to us by our church staff and family!  We have been at NLCC for 20 years (I thought only old people made comments like that!), and our church family, board, and staff generously blessed us with a vacation and some money. I have to tell you; my first thought was, "We don't deserve that!" and my second thought was, "How can we spread that gift among the staff so that everyone receives some of that blessing because everyone deserves it."

You see, I immediately thought of all the things I DIDN'T do over the years that disqualified me as a worthy recipient of such a gift. There were phone calls and visits that I didn't make; there were cards I didn't write; there were meals I didn't take; and there were prayers I forgot to pray; and there were plenty of people I didn't connect with personally.  That's one of the hardest things for me being a part of such a large church - it is hard to keep up with people and their needs, and I can name off myriad ways I've failed to be the pastor's wife I want to be.  However, when I sit in quiet before the Lord, I am at peace with the fact that I have been called first and foremost to be the wife my husband needs so that he is free to minister as God has called him, to be the parent that is there for our children when weddings, crisises, or funerals pull their dad away, and then to minister where God has called me. So, sometimes I am not free to do all of the things that my mind can come up with to do for people from the church. 

Anyway, all of that to say, "Thank you, sincerely, NLCC staff and family for blessing us so greatly." Your love, honor, and gifts are not taken lightly or with an attitude of entitlement.  It has been an incredible blessing to be able to serve with you all these years.  We love you!

I don't want to sound biased, but I thought Dave did a great job today with the teaching from Acts 1.

Here are some of my notes and my thoughts from his message: An Unstoppable Force

WE are the unstoppable movement of God.    The Greek word "ekklesia" means "the called out ones". Church is not a "building" but a people. Dave shared that after Jesus had risen from the dead, he showed up over and over again to His followers because He knew it would take that many times for them to fully believe it was Him.  I'm thankful that Jesus shows up over and over again to us until we believe, as well!

2) We are called to share what we've seen and heard. It doesn't take a PHD to be able to share your story. We are simply called to be witnesses.  Most concise gospel message? "All I know is that once I was blind, but now I see!"  Everyone has a story, and every story matters!

3) The time to move is now. My job isn't to stand here waiting for perfect circumstances to begin living out my faith and sharing my story. When we go "all in," God gives His power to us. 

Yep; great message. I'm excited to hear the rest of this series.

God bless any dear soul that might stop by this little corner of blogland.  :) 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Love Note

Aww.....this is what I found when I turned back the covers to get into bed tonight.  Whenever Dave or I have to be away over night somewhere, we often leave little good night notes for one another - one of the things I love about us.  :)

Dave is gone for the weekend with some other men from church for the Men's Retreat. I have been praying for each man who will be attending.  I know that there are quite a few men who are stepping out of their comfort zone to attend, and I admire them for that.  It says a lot about a man that he would be willing to go away with a group of other men to learn more about what it means to live out his faith as a man of God.   Dave will be sharing during one of the sessions, and I am praying that God speaks through him to affect change in each man's life.  I know Dave's been in prayer about this weekend, too, and I'll be looking forward to hearing how God worked.   I am also praying for each woman/mom at home this weekend.  God wants to teach us some things, too, if we'll be on the lookout.  We get to serve our husbands by taking care of things on the home front, even though that can be very difficult, especially for those with little ones.  God will give us what we need as we rely on Him each moment, and we'll reap the benefits of our husbands being encouraged and strengthened from the weekend.  If we'll look at it that way, it's a win-win!  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Goodbye, Facebook!

 In an effort to reclaim my life, I will soon be deactivating my FB account. This will be difficult for me, but that's even more of an indication of why I need to do it. I will also only check my email a couple times a day, so you may not get an immediate response. I will not be responding to texts unless urgent and I reserve the right to not be chained to having my phone on me at all times. I just need to narrow my focus and live in the moment with face to face interactions for the time being. I am not angry or running from anything; it's just that when I look at where I spend my time, I see that FB, email, and texting suck too many hours from my life. I want (and need) to spend my time in more meaningful and personal ways. I've allowed all of this technology and being instantly available to control me, instead of my controlling the technology and my accessibility. I'm sure if something is important enough for me to know, someone will tell me in person, or will call or email! I KNOW that I will miss you and all of your posts and pictures, but I thank you, in advance, for your understanding! Blessings to you all!

This was my last official FB post.  What follows below is a comment I left on that post giving a little more of an idea as to why I had to take such a radical step.  Maybe you can relate?

‎"I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate." Rms 7:15 This verse sums up my relationship with FB, Pinterest, the internet, and my email!

Facebook has become a compulsion for me; you can see that in the fact that I felt I needed to give notice to everyone before I deactivated my account so someone wouldn't think that something was wrong or be wondering what happened to me. I really want to do what's right for me in my life, and instead, I do the very thing I don't want to do - spend hours on FB, et al.

"Hello, my name is Gena and I am a FB addict." (Insert, "Hello, Gena" here). I'm sure I'm the only person who struggles with this, but with FB, I find that I am afraid I will miss something, so I sit there scrolling and clicking all the way to the last time I checked statuses. And all the while, anxiety and restlessness will start to grow in me because I know what I should be doing, and I seem incapable of making a good choice for myself. I have heard from several sources lately that we (even us women) can't multi-task as well as we think we can; something always gets shorted. So.....I fill my mind with ALL of this info from other people and I end up neglecting my family and my responsibilities. In spending time on FB/pinterest/the internet/email, I give up time to take care of myself, to care for my home, to spend time with God, and unfortunately and to my shame, to really BE with my family. I lose moments in real time with my family to read about someone else's moments. I also see people (especially some young moms I have talked to) playing this comparison game concerning what other families are able to do, their gorgeous family photos, where they go on vacation, the awards and honors and athletic accomplishments of other people's kids, etc... It's like a poison begins to build in our souls that leads us to believe that: we aren't good enough; that our spouse doesn't do enough for us; our homes are not nice enough; we don't get to have the great vacations other families have, our average kids aren't good enough, etc, etc.... Why do we do this to ourselves?!

I know that no one can take control of my life for me. No one can mother my kids but myself. It may seem radical to deactivate my FB; I mean, can't I just NOT CHECK IT as often? No, I can't. I've tried that before, and if I am able to access it, I will end up spending hours on it. I need to take radical action to get my life in alignment with my priorities. I can't trust myself to do the best thing for me, so, for me, it takes deactivating. If I don't, I know I'll get sucked back in like the addict who can't take just one drink or pill or hit.

I already feel that I fail at so many things, and with FB, I feel even more responsibility to know what's going on with each of my FB friends' lives. I can't keep up with my immediate family and those I interact with, so why do I willingly add over 500 FB "friends" that I feel a need to keep up with? Don't get me wrong, each of you, my FB friends, is there because I have and want some connection with you. I love seeing what you are up to, but I need to do that more the old-fashioned way - Christmas cards or email or phone calls. And....all of the rest of my family is on FB, so you can message them if you have something I need to know about and you don't know another way to reach me.

I have come to the conclusion that FB is not the most responsible (or healthy) way for me to connect. I wish it were different, but right now, it is what it is.

To all of my family (close and extended), I will miss seeing all of your posts and pictures, and maybe sometime in the future, I will be able to add FB back into my life in a responsible manner. For now, you know how to reach me, even though it won't be as easy to do that. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

I pray God's richest blessings on you all, and may you be able to balance your personal, spiritual, work, play, and tech lives better than I have been able to.

Much love,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Older Woman

I don't know how it happened, but all of a sudden, I am an "older woman." I guess turning 48, being married for 26 years, and having children ages 21 through 12 - well, let's just say those numbers seemed to step right up and slap me in the face!

I may be older, but surely, I'm not the "older woman" that's supposed to mentor other younger women, right? You know, the older woman that is supposed to possess wisdom gleaned through years of living as a faithful wife and loving mother; the one who supposedly knows how to make and keep a home; the one who should know and obey the still, small voice of the Lord above all others; the one who is now comfortable in her own skin; the one who has stepped beyond her doubts and anxieties into the wide open spaces of peace and contentment.

I guess what I'm saying is that older does not necessarily mean wiser or more mature, sometimes it just means older. Or at least that's how I feel. I've come to realize, though, that by simply surviving for these 48 years, I've been through some experiences and learned some things from God's word that I can now share with someone who might need to hear it.

This body of mine is showing its age, reminding me that I am not as young as I think I am. I still struggle with insecurities and feel like a little girl that doesn't know what to do at times. I often wonder if what I think I'm hearing from the Lord isn't really just my own thoughts. And Lord knows......I don't have the "keeping a house" thing down. Yep; I may have lived more days than someone else, but I sure don't feel that mature in many areas of my life. the last year, God has shown me that I have grown in maturity in some areas. I don't always see it because I'm just doing my best to live my life day by day, trying to walk in His ways. I find myself stumbling now and again, more often than I'd like sometimes. Without even realizing it, though, I have learned a few things along the way that I've adopted into my life, and there have been a few times lately when the Lord has allowed me to share those things with someone "younger" than me. These things don't seem like new thoughts, or even wise thoughts, to me when I share them, but I have seen from the look on these gals' faces that it is a new thought for them.'s good to realize that just persevering on this journey of life gradually brings its own amount of wisdom - wisdom gained through time, experiences, and God's Word. I'm still here, so I guess it's to be expected that I've gained a little bit of knowledge (and hopefully some compassion) that God will use to encourage or instruct someone else.

I am simply called to humble myself before God and allow Him to work through me in whatever way He chooses. Sometimes, that means sharing a little bit about something I've gone through in life that might encourage or help someone else. I may still sometimes feel like a little girl or that I don't have it all together, but really.....I'll always feel that way on this side of heaven. And that's okay.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Well, hello there!

Wow! It's been a year and a month since I last posted here, and I've had quite a few times I had things on my heart that I wanted to share. Instead, I focused on what was in front of me, obeyed the Lord as best I could discern, and set aside this blog.

A lot has happened since my last post. A quick run-down?

February 22, 2011 - Dave and I celebrated 25 years of marriage! I read a quote that was floating around on the internet at Valentine's Day that said "A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers." Can I just say, "Ain't that the truth?!" :)

March 2011 - my first fundraising banquet since taking the role of Director with Turlock Pregnancy Center. I felt that it went well, but must say, I was nervous having to get up in front to speak. Some great people shared with us that evening; Eli and Cindi Arrigotti shared about their open adoptions, a client and her boyfriend shared (via video) what the Center had meant to them, and Holly shared about her abortion and why she wished Turlock Pregnancy Center would have existed at that time. We met our fundraising goal for that event - Thank you, Jesus! :)

May 2011 - Servolution #4! Watch this video of a past Servolution and contact me to let me know that you would be willing to lead a team for this year's Servolution (which is now called "Love Turlock" to join other valley cities all serving together on one day, showing love in action).

June 2011 - We headed back to Washington DC for vacation. Eric had to work, but the rest of us had a wonderful time at our nation's capitol. Our favorites? The Library of Congress; the Supreme Court building (very, very interesting; I'd have never thunk it!); the White House; and the Federal Bureau of Engraving. We also visited Williamsburg VA, and Philadelphia PA (loved the National Constitution Center) and the Franklin Institute was phenomenal! The trip was a wonderful time for us all!

June also held a missions trip to Portland, OR for Hannah, Peter, and Dave. Kari was able to go and stay with her Aunt Nancy and Uncle Todd who live there and spend time loving on her cousins Hugo, Augie, and Pearl. She loves the babies, that girl!

In July, I was able to go to the Uppercase Living convention in Las Vegas. Hate Vegas, but had a fun time at the convention, and Dave was able to join me.

August 2011 brought a leadership trip to Costa Rica for Dave. He had a great time suffering for the Lord - white water rafting, zip-lining, hiking, etc... Poor guy!

Also in August, Kari started 8th grade and Peter started his sophomore year. Hannah started her senior year at CSU Stanislaus (unbelievable!). And.....Dave, Eric, Hannah, and I ran The Giant Race half-maration in San Francisco (Peter ran the 5K).

The fall was a rough time for me as I struggled with a herniated disc. My world became a narrow path of pain that kept me from many, many things. After a long road, I ended up having surgery on December 23rd. I had never experienced pain like that ever in my life, and I pretty much only had relief if I was down on my back. I thank God that there was finally an answer to my pain, and I have been great since the surgery. I am back to walking, but I am afraid to try running again as that was when I first noticed the pain. I am hoping that at some point I am at least able to get back to running three - four miles, but that will be a bit down the road.

During those dark and painful times this fall, God allowed me to see that I fill so much of my time with meaningless running and busyness of my own making. Without being able to go-go-go, I had to let many things go, and take it a day at a time. And you know what? The world went on. I had one of the most peaceful Christmases I've ever had with not being able to run hither and yon looking for gifts. I didn't bake all the goodies I usually do. I ordered all my gifts online. And it was all fine! Why, oh why, do I make my life more difficult than it needs to be? I have always said that I have the uncanny ability to make anything more complicated than it has to be, and I want to stop that! O Lord, I ask you to continue to help me sift my life and activities down to what really matters.

So, how was that for a quick rundown of the last year? We're now a month and a half into 2012, and in a couple of days, Dave and I will celebrate our 26th anniversary! I'm so excited that we are able to get away for a couple of nights - those times are necessary for us to reconnect with who we are outside of our jobs, children, and responsibilities. We really are those same two kids who fell in love all those years ago! :) And I'd do it all again in a heartbeat!