Thursday, April 28, 2016

Do I really have to love my neighbor?

Loving others is a repeated command in the Bible. I think it's repeated because we are so prone to forget. We wake up with good intentions to love others and then we get stuck in traffic and end up flipping off the car next to us. We enter the office with good intentions of being kind to our co-workers but someone doesn't complete a part of the project and we think oh how we'd like to strangle them. We enter our home with good intentions of loving our family but our selfishness gets in the way. In the book of Romans Paul gives this instruction to the church in Rome:
Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10
It makes perfect sense for Paul to instruct the church in love. Over time Christ followers can grow inward and forget about loving their neighbor. Just think about that real quick. When as the last time you actively loved your neighbor? We all know neighbors can be difficult. We can also be difficult neighbors. Some of you have neighbors, in your apartment building, who play the music too loud. Instead of loving them you curse them. You may have a neighbor who allows her dog to do its business in your front yard. What about that neighbor who always park in front of your house when it is clearly your space! These are just a few examples.

Loving your neighbors can be a tricky thing. You see this in Scripture but don’t always apply it. Let me share a few ways you can actively love your neighbor this week.

1)  Smile at them
Smiles break down walls.

2)  Introduce yourself to them
Start out by learning their name. This helps to make them a real person who is known and loved.

3) Engage them in a conversation
When you see them in the hallway, outside or walking on the sidewalk. Its amazing where God can lead unplanned conversations with your neighbor.

4) Think of ways to serve them
Think of what would be meaningful to them and then do it!

You have to start somewhere in loving your neighbor, why not start today? If you are a Christ follower you are not given an option on loving others. I resonate with what C.S. Lewis says on this topic, “Do not waste time bothering whether you "love" your neighbor; act as if you did.”

You may not want to love your neighbor. You may have valid reasons not to love your neighbor. If you are a Christian, you are commanded to love your neighbor so start acting like you do.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Isaiah's First Birthday

This weekend we celebrated Isaiah's first birthday!

My first thought is, "I can't believe my son is 1!"

We had such a fun weekend. Family came into town. Friends came to celebrate. We got a bounce house. It was great being with our family for this special weekend. Isaiah is such a great kid. He is so full of joy.

As I look back on his party I am reminded what a great mom and great sisters Isaiah has. At his party his sisters wanted to be right there when he got his first cupcake. They sang happy birthday to him. Leah kicked off the singing with so much love. When he tired to grab the candle, Sophie was right there to protect him.

Charity made his party so awesome. She took so much time to make sure there was a rocket theme. She asked our neighbor to make a special shirt for him to wear. She had great snacks. When I look back on this party I think about how blessed Isaiah is to have his mommy. She cares so deeply for him and loves him so much.

Isaiah has been such a blessing to our lives. The smile on his face shows how awesome he is!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Helping people get connected

One of my passions for people is to help them get connected in the local church. God has placed me in a large church setting and let's be honest, this can be tough. People walk into our church and think, "This place is big." After that I believe people either think about how to get connected or are thankful to be able to grow in a setting where they can just sit and learn.

Knowing how tough it can be to really get connected in a large church in a large area we started something new about nine months ago. We call it our New People Dinner. Since it was a new event for us we needed to make a plan. Our campus staff got in a room with a whiteboard and began to sketch out what the day would look like.

We knew we didn't want this to be something that didn't feel organic. We didn't want it to be too scheduled but we wanted a good plan so we could accomplish helping people who are looking to get connected. We came up with the whiteboard dream to the left and since then we have tweaked and made this better!

After doing three of these we have learned a ton. We've learned about location, timing and who needs to be there. We've learned about how to invite people and how some people will just come on the day of. Every two to four months we send out an invite to anyone who has filled out a connection card that says something like this:
You’re Invited!
Finding a church community is a big choice. We also know that the larger the church, more difficult it can feel to connect and we want to help out. We’re hosting a dinner for our new guests to CPC Foster City. This will be a time for you to meet our campus staff and Elders. Our hope is to provide an opportunity for us to connect, for you to learn a little more about CPC and for us to have a meal together. Children are welcomed. Will you join us on Sunday April 17 from 4-6pm?
After we send the invite out we wait for the day to come so we can hang out with people who are new to our church. This has been a great time to connect with people and learn more about people. Whether your in a big church or a small church people are looking to get connected.

Don't forget this: "People want to be known and loved." -Vicki Pettingill

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Catalina Fun- Day One

We really wanted to go to Maui for this spring break. We also realized if we did go that we would need someone to come help us because we couldn't go snorkeling together. The next best option, head to a different island; Catalina Island that is.

We sailed in yesterday afternoon. Our boat was a little delayed but we got here safely. After checking into our hotel we headed straight down to play in the sand. Sophie caught a crab while Leah build a Sandcastle. 

After Isaiah woke up from his nap we headed out to dinner. We went to a place called the lobster trap it was pretty good but not great. 

After dinner we headed to a local spot for some fresh ice cream! It was super good and then we were off to bed. 

This trip is a constant reminder to me of much I love spending time with my family. My kids are growing so quickly and this time is precious. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A Full Day at Legoland

Yesterday we had a full day at Legoland. We entered the park an hour early with early entry from the hotel.

Within the first hour we were able to hit three rides, take our picture with Emmit and sit with the Lego friends. 

Taking some advice from the workers we made our way back to Kindgom Land. They advice was, "People will go right to the front rides and make their way back. If you start in the back and work forward you can miss a lot of that."  They were right! Leah and I walked right in the dragon roller coaster. She did awesome!

From there the girls rode the joust horses

From there we went to the Lego Mini City. This is a must see when coming to the park. They have all different mini cities here from Washington, D.C. to London to Vegas. Finally we had to get our picture with our city. 

After looking at the mini city we stopped for a boat race! 

From here it was on to a few more rides that our kids totally loved! They have a fun water ride that Leah really wanted to ride with me. She insisted on being the driver. I wasn't a fan at first but was so stoked to spend time with her! 

From here it was off to the new Lego Friends area. It was a good change of pace. We hit the 2 pm show and the girls enjoyed just relaxing and watching. Afterwards we snapped a pic with some of our Lego Friends in the car! 

After this we went back to Fun Zone (I really think this is what the area is called). The girls drove cars, boats, planes and helicopters. It was so much fun! 

One of the best things about Legoland is how close the rides are to each other. We didn't have to trek from ride to ride. We also found a fun Lego factory tour to see, rode a cool boat ride that tells you about some of the larger Lego builds in the park and let's you see a different view. Overall we had a fantastic day! 

I totally recommend Legoland to anyone. Would you? 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Legoland in an hour

Today was a long day! 
A long but good day. 

We left our home at 8 am and headed for Carlsbad. After a long drive (we made it in one tank of gas) we checked in to the Legoland hotel. 

After landing in the room we went on a fun hunt they have for the kids. It was a hunt around the hotel to find clues to get into a secret treasure chest in the room. The girls loved it and found Lego treasure! 

After our hunt we decided to go to the park. Now we only had about an hour left because it was closing soon. Thanks to a tip from a friend we figure out how to do this for free. 

After riding three rides we exited the park and went back to our room for dinner. To save a few bucks we used Door Dash to bring us yummy Mexican food. 

To top the night off we went to a disco party and then hopped in the pool. We had an awesome day until I lost my wedding band at the pool. Oh well...

Final thought for the day: super thankful to God for this time with my family. They are so important! 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

My hope for our Young Adults Ministry

In our Young Adults (YA) ministry we're currently going through the book of Colossians. The book of Colossians is a great New Testament book written by the Apostle Paul. Starting in Chapter 2,  Paul lays out his purpose in writing the book. The Apostle Paul never visited Colossae but he was aware of what was happening in the city. He knew that false teachers were trying to persuade Christ followers to stop following Christ. The goal of these false teachers was to promote talking about wisdom and worshipping angels; this was a big deal back in Paul’s day. It is still happening now. Paul caught wind this was happening in Colossae and he didn’t want the Christians to be confused with this false teaching.

So instead of being apathetic, Paul engages. Paul engages in a difficult situation. He does his best to make sure that Christ is glorified in the conversation.

Then he talks about his purpose in writing the letter. His purpose helps shape some of my hopes for YA. Here are three things I hope YA will be:

1) Encouraging.
Paul's goal is for the church to be encouraged in heart and united in love. These are tied together; their encouragement in because of their love for each other. The individuals in the church needed each other. Paul never tells them to function on their own; he is always talking to them as a group of people. When you grow as a Christian, you grow best with a group of encouraging, loving people.

My hope is that YA will be one of the most encouraging places on the Peninsula. My hope is people will come on Thursday night and long to come back the following Thursday. My hope is people who are beat up, downcast, under pressure and discouraged will walk through our doors and find encouragement from others and encouragement from God.

2) United in Love. 
Think about this real quick, we live in a culture where we love to cut each other down. I love to say sarcastic remarks and make fun of people but this isn’t Paul’s goal for us. The goal is to encourage in love. The way my brain works is sometimes it’s easier for me to understand what something is when I understand what it is not. Paul does not want the church to be divided. The false teachers were dividing the church.
What are things that can divide the church?

My hope is for YA to be united in love. To do so we will choose to be people who:
Fill the gaps with trust
Believe the best in people
Trust others

3) Understand the Mysteries of God. 
Now that we know Paul's goal is encouragement in love, he mentions this full understanding. Paul doesn’t want them to just know a little and be surprised later. He doesn’t want us to find out information in 140 characters or less; he wants us to have a complete understanding.

There is something filling about having a complete understanding. Its like walking into a test at school and knowing everything that is going to be on the test and more; its like you wrote the book and now you can calmly write it all out. Paul wants us to have this complete understanding also!
All of this concludes with knowing the mystery of God. I find it interesting he calls it “the mystery of God.” The false teachers wanted to have conversations that would confuse the Christians but Paul wants to give them everything. He wants them to know the entire mystery so much so that he gives up what the mystery is. The mystery is Jesus, and this mystery has been revealed to us in the New Testament! My hope is that people find truth in the name of Jesus Christ and understand the mystery of God!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hiking with the Kids

I'm planning to take my kids to Yosemite this summer. As a kid we went to Yosemite every summer and I'm really looking forward to this trip. To prepare my kids for some of the hikes I enjoyed most I have been telling them we are going on walks together. We've been walking around the block but I've also reached out to friends to find other hikes we could go on.

One of these hikes was to a place called Sugarloaf Mountian. The first time I did this hike was with Sophie. Leah was feeling sick and I needed to get out of the house. The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful and it was a perfect day for a two mile (round-trip) hike. Sophie and me loaded up in the car and headed to the location. The trail started near a park that the kids have been to before. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect but the hike was fantastic!

We had a blast on the hike. I gave Sophie the GoPro and she filmed every dog we encountered. There were some parts that were more difficult for her than other parts but she really enjoyed it. We stopped at the top for a snack and looked over the Bay. She was such a trooper!

After knowing the hike we decided to take Leah and Isaiah the following weekend. Charity had plans with a friend and I wanted to get all the kids out of the house. We loaded up the car and headed out. I put Isaiah in the Baby Ergo and off we went! Leah wanted to take some pictures on the way and I was quickly learning this hike wasn't as simple with three kids as it was with one! The weather was once again beautiful and the temperature just right!

This time we decided to bring our travel checkers game and played a game on the top. It took us a little while to get up top, mainly because we had our whole family (minus Charity) with us. Isaiah was wiggly, Leah was hungry and Sophie leading the way. Looking back on the whole adventure it was a blast! On the walk back down Isaiah fell asleep for most of the hike. He did awesome! Leah was a super trooper and did a 2 mile hike at just 5 years old. Sophie impressed me with how much she could hike.

Overall, we're getting ready for Yosemite and I can't wait for the adventure!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Buy Her Flowers

Starting early on in our relationship I began buying flowers. Its not because I like to buy flowers, but because of what flowers do to her face. When she gets them, she lights up. They always seem to make her smile. When my wife gets flowers it does something for her.

When we were dating there was one occasion that I bought my flowers that still makes me laugh. I was heading down to visit her for a date. I thought, "I'll stop and grab flowers real quick." There was a little stand I could park down the street and grab flowers quickly. I pulled into the spot and totally forgot to feed the meter. I walked down the street and bought some beautiful flowers. As I was walking back to my car I saw the meter maid pulling away. That afternoon the flowers cost me almost $40 instead of the normal $10.

I like to buy flowers for my wife:
- When she needs extra joy in her life
- To show her how much I love her
- When parenting is tough
- I'm more busy at work than normal 
- When its raining outside
- To see a big smile on her face

What I've learned about buying flowers is to not use them as a "make up" tool. I like to buy my wife flowers as something special, a special token of joy in her life. 

For my wife, Orange is always the best color for a flower. Knowing her favorite color is orange helps me to always make the right choice (Yes, even on Valentines Day). 

If you've forgotten to buy your wife flowers in a while, today is a great day to start! 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Leah Turned 6!

March 11 2010 @ 7:06am we were blessed with our little Leah. I've actually called her little Leah most of her life, there are times I call her "little face" because when she was born she was the smallest in the Benson family.

Fast-forward six years and we're celebrating her life again! On Friday Leah went to school. After school I brought her home her favorite flower, multi-colored rose. When her sister was done with school we loaded up the car and went to see Zootopia. I had such a great time with my little girl. I love that she still sits on my lap in the movie!

Afterwards we came home for dinner and cake. Just singing her happy birthday was a joy! She is so much fun to be around. Love you Leah!

Friday, March 04, 2016

Cool New Opportunity

A few months ago I had coffee with a super creative guy. My friend Brain Berry introduced me to Mark Campbell. Mark lives across the Bay from me and is leading at a super cool church called Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley. At this first coffee with Mark we talked about Men's Ministry, life, a little of our history and good movies.

After our first connection Mark invited me to speak at their Men's Ministry on a Wednesday night. They do something super cool called Road Crew dinners. The night officially starts at 6:30pm but in my mind the connection time started much earlier. When I rolled in around 4pm there was already a few guys grilling up some killer Mexican dinner. Other guys were making sure the room was ready. There was bantering, smiles, laughter and high-fives.

As the sun began to set the men started rolling in. I always think that food attracts people; especially men. Mark is helping to reach the most difficult population in a church, the men.
Men don't seem to naturally attend a church service.
Men actually seem to think that church is lame.
Some men will never enter a church.

On Wednesday night there was a room full of men. The age range was all over the place. There were 14 year olds and 75 year olds there. There were guys who just graduated from college and men who have been married for 30 years. It was a super cool experience to be a part of. I felt privileged to be invited to share with these guys what God is stirring in my heart and life right now.

As I've thought about my time there, I have a few things that stick out to me:
* Guys need a fun environment to connect with other guys
* Food attracts and keeps men coming
* Relationships keep guys connected more than food
* Good leadership knows these facts
* Good looking material makes a difference
* People don't care what you know until they know that you care
* Guys need other guys in their life to grow strong in the Lord

Sunday, February 14, 2016

We Will Suffer

Last Sunday I preached a sermon at our South Campus titled, "Living Like a Child of God." Paul is writing to the church in Rome and tells this group of young believer that they are children of God. They are not children of some statue. They are not worthless people who are an accident. They are not just here on earth for nothing. They are children of God!

We are children of God.

We also are children of God. God has chosen us to be His children. We have been adopted into sonship. God's children are led by God's Spirit. Its a new way of thinking. God is not some distant, far off, uninterested, mean-spirited god who is mad at us. God is our Father; our Heavenly Father who loves His children.

As Paul concludes in Romans 8:17 he says this;
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
There is an inheritance to be had for God's children. But there is a qualification to receive this inheritance. The qualification is we must suffer with Christ. We know that Christ suffered for us; Peter reminds us of this in his New Testament letter (1 Peter 4:13). There is no prescribed method of suffering for each individual. Each person is going to experience their own suffering as Christ suffered for us. I’m not even going to try to standardize the experience because each of God’s children will experience suffering in their own unique way.

As you walk, live, eat and breathe as a child of God please remember that you will suffer. This week I plan on writing more on some of the suffering I've experienced as a Christ follower.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Isaiah's First Bike Ride

This weekend Isaiah took his first bike ride. I've been looking to get a bike seat for him for a few months and finally found the right deal on NextDoor!

Watch this quick video to see how much he enjoyed it!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Something will go wrong

It's never the question if something will goes wrong. The realty is something will go wrong. When something goes wrong how will you handle it?

This morning I woke up, read my Bible and then got the text message. It's the text message no pastor wants to get on a Sunday morning. It said this:

Good morning!
We are out of power.
PG&E is doing some work on Shell Blvd.
They are going to hook up a huge generator to restore power in the church.

The picture is the huge generator that PG&E brought in that was attached with the text message. Within 5 mins of receiving this I got a call from our Technical Director helping to explain the situation. I needed to get to church quick to figure out a plan of what we would do. At this point I texted our Elders to keep them in the loop, took a quick shower, called a few staff and was off.

Upon arriving at church two of our Elders were there within 3 minutes of my arrival. We had a guest preacher, Gary Gadinni, with us and we connected with him about the morning. Gary was great and said, "I'm here to serve you." We tossed out a few ideas and after talking with more of our staff we were able to make up a decision. It wasn't an easy decision. We needed input from others, we needed to pray, and we needed to listen to information that we didn't have.

We decided to move our 8am service to our High School Ministry room across the street at Charter Square. There was still power at Charter Square so we would be good. After making the call it was time to move. At this point we had 22 minutes until our service was going to start; 22 minutes to move an entire church service to a new location that none of our team uses. We all shared the responsibility and communicated with as many people as we could. We had one consistent message to share, "We are having our 8 am service at Charter Square. We will figure out the next service next."

My role was to head to the parking lot and redirect cars. Dave, one our Elders, came with me. Dale, another Elder, went to Charter to help there. Gary went to Charter and spoke. Our worship team went over and made it all happen. At 8:01 am I received a text that said, "The power is back on but we don't have the lights up in the auditorium."

Charter Square was packed! It was great seeing our people respond so well and be so flexible. It was great seeing the church be the church.

As I think back to how this all worked out I think there are three lessons I'm taking from this:

1) We worked together
This was a group effort to make this happen. This wasn't about me. It wasn't about anyone else. It was about helping others draw closer to Christ. We wanted to help people have a time to worship Jesus and hear His word proclaimed. We worked together to make that happen.

2) We prayed
We didn't attempt to do this on our own efforts. From the first text until the decision we prayed. We texted others and asked them to pray. Gary said that he texted his church and asked them to pray. That is awesome! How cool is is that another church was praying for our church! God could have chosen to not allow the power to be restored and we would have been fine, but we wanted to talk with God for help.

3) We were flexible
We listened to others and were flexible. It wasn't my idea to move us to Charter Square. I had a different idea. Other people had different ideas. We talked about simply inviting people to return at 9:30 am and hoped the power would be back on. In the end it was the right call to move to Charter Square and help people connect with God. Everyone was flexible: pastors, worship leaders, Elders, ushers, and many more!

A huge thank you to our team for making this morning so memorable! Now the work begins of taking this information and what we executed on and great a plan for when it happens again. Because we all know it's not an if it happens, but when it happens.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Isaiah is learning to wave!

Today Isaiah turned nine months old! I can't believe that just nine months ago we bought him home from the hospital. Having kids has made me realize how much time really does fly!

This year I'm committed to taking more pictures of my kids and documenting it. Here is a quick video of him waving...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Young Adults: State of the Union

Last Thursday, January 14, we started a new series in our Young Adults ministry. Its a seven week that I kicked off where we will go through the six core values of CPC. I started the message series off with what I called "The State of the Union" address.

The State of the Union is a rally cry for our Young Adults for the year, it is what we will focus on for this entire year. You can hear the entire message on our Young Adults site, but let me summarize what we're going to focus on.

The mission of CPC Young Adults is to make and mature more followers of Christ. 

This is the same mission statement for our entire church. We're not going to mess with that! Its a great focus for our church, especially with the location God has strategically placed us. We're going to have two main focuses for the year: to help more people find Christ and follow Christ.

Maturing Christ Followers
Our main goal for 2016, in the maturing followers of Christ part, is to double our small groups. We currently have 4 small groups meeting on a regular basis. The average size of each group is somewhere around 12 people. With the amount of people we have in our Young Adult ministry we need to double this this 8 groups so people can be in discipleship community.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
Making Christ Followers
We live in an area that is approximately 97% unchurched. That means there are a lot of people who we can tell about Jesus! We're going to do this by focusing on friendship evangelism. The goal is for each person to share Christ with one of their friends this year, in hopes that they will enter into a life changing relationship with Christ. When a person meets Christ is it normal for them to go and share that truth with others.
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. John 1:41-42a
An Eternal Purpose
This ministry isn't about us, its about making the saving truth of Jesus Christ known. We're going to focus on reaching single and married people, on the Peninsula, ages 18-35. We're going to do this by meeting on a regular basis. If its Thursday, our Young Adult ministry will be meeting. We're going to do this because people are dying without the saving truth of Jesus.

Hope to see you on Thursday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Belonging to Christ

On Sunday I preached a message on Romans 7:1-6. It was titled "Belonging to Christ" and I looked at the difference between being married to the law and belonging to Christ.

This was a great text for me to preach because I've never been able to keep the law. I have a long history of not being able to keep the law! I was fifteen years old the first time I was arrested. I was accused of doing a drive-by-shooting. I was pulled from the back of a car and had a shotgun firmly pressed against the back of my head while on my knees in the middle of the road. I didn’t do a drive-by-shooting, I know all criminals say they didn’t do it, but I was just a fifteen year old throwing fireworks out of the car.

Watch the entire sermon to hear the whole story and what's changed in my life...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sophie's first time snowboarding

Growing up I loved snowboarding! I started the sport around the 5th grade. I had skied since I was 5 years old but once I saw a snowboard I couldn't get it out of my mind. I begged my mom to just rent me one for a day... and she did! She brought me to Snow Summit, put me on the chairlift and picked me up at 4:30 pm.

Sophie's experience was a little different than mine! See when I was a kid you couldn't just go get a snowboard lesson because they didn't have them.

I picked up Sophie from school and we jumped in the race car (Subaru Outback). We set our direction for Truckee, CA and we were off! We had a ton of fun talking in the car, making jokes and stopping for potty breaks.

The part of the (long) drive was when we got up to snow level. It was great seeing Sophie's face and hearing her excitement about our trip! We finally made it to Truckee and stopped by Tahoe Dave's to get Sophie her rental board.

After getting her rental we stopped by friend's house to stay the night. Peanut and Heather welcomed us with open arms and a warm meal on the table.

We stayed up late playing in the snow, making snowballs, sledding down the driveway and doing things every kid should have a chance to do with another kid their age.

I can't really say we woke up early in the morning, but it was pretty early when we woke up. We geared up and headed to Northstar for the day. The parking lot was packed by the time we arrived and we were ready for our day! Sophie did great with the cold weather and as you can see she is all geared up.

We went to Gondola first and then headed over a perfect spot for her to practice. Sophie did great at getting on her heel edge and learning to stop. She really is a natural at snowboarding. I used to teach lessons and I can see talent in kids; she has it.

After practicing for a little while we moved up to the magic carpet. The magic carpet it a great place for a kid to practice. It allowed Sophie to get a few chances to practice her J turns and work on her stopping.

Overall she did awesome! Take a look for yourself at this video I made for her from her first day!

Monday, January 11, 2016

11 Years of Marriage

On January 7, 2005 I married my best friend!

We met as interns at Eastlake Church in South San Diego
I asked her to marry me on the beach in Carlsbad
We got married in Encinitas
Two days later we immediately moved to Vegas to serve at South Hills
We had two kids
Moved to San Mateo to serve at CPC
Just had another kid
And celebrated 11 years of marriage!

When I look back on our lives there are too many thoughts to write down here but here are a few I'd like to share.

We've traveled
I was trying to do the math on how much we've been blessed to be able to travel together. Here is what I came up with so far:
We've visited 6 different countries (Mexico, Canada, Burkina Faso, Italy, Jamaica, The Bahamas)
Set foot on three continents together (North America, Europe and Africa)
Traveled to 12 states (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Florida, New York, Atlanta, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Hawaii)

And this year we  celebrated our anniversary in beautiful Half Moon Bay, CA. We stayed at Oceano hotel and had dinner at Flavor. It was a great time to hang out, chat and enjoy our marriage. We took some time to look back on life and thank God for all we've been able to do together.

We've laughed
One of the things we've done most together is to laugh. Sure we have our times where we disagree on things but we'd rather laugh together. Sometimes we laugh at each other for silly things we've done. Sometimes we laugh at movies. Sometimes we laugh at the crazy things our kids say or the silly decisions we've made but we sure do laugh a lot and that has kept us in good spirits!

We've multiplied
We were reminded of this fact again this year because we brought our little Isaiah with us on the trip. For the most part he did really well and is the best third wheel ever. We have been very blessed to have children in our youth. We have friends who have struggled with pregnancy and experienced infertility. We are so thankful for the children God has given us!

Thanks for all the fun times Charity! Looking forward to many more.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Leah's first time snowboarding

January 1, 2016 was one of the best days of my life.

I didn't sleep in, in fact I woke up early
I didn't sit around watching football, I spent most of the day driving
I didn't have a fantastic dinner, I ate turkey jerky in the car

It was a great day because I was able to take my daughter snowboarding for the first time! I started snowboarding when I was about 12 years old and fell in love with the sport! When I dropped out of high school, at the age of 17, the first thing I did was head to the slopes to ride. When I thought about moving out of the house I head north to Truckee so I could snowboard more. Snowboarding is in my bones and taking my little Lead was so fun!

I woke her up at 6 am and gently brought her to the car, buckled her in and we hit the road. After two hours of driving she was pretty bored but she hung in there. We made it to Truckee and stopped by Tahoe Dave's to pick up her rental board. She was so excited that she wouldn't take the boots off in the shop but wore them to the car.

We headed to Northstar and got ready in the parking lot where we boarded the shuttle and made it to the mountain. There were light, I stress LIGHT, flurries as we walked to the gondola and Leah took it all in. She put her hands out and slowly walked just enjoying the beautiful 12 degree morning.

After getting up we spent most of the day snowboarding with some breaks to make snow angels, build snowmen and play polar bear family.

Thanks to my GoPro I was able to record some of the days events. The goal for the end of the day was to ride the chairlift and we made that goal! It was such a great day.

I'm so proud of my little girl for all her hard work. I knew the day was a huge success when we were driving home and I looked back to find this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Bible Reading Plan that Works

As 2015 ends and 2016 is nearing you might be thinking what you will be reading in God's word this year. You also might have flashbacks to a Bible reading plan that you started and completely failed. Maybe you set out to read the entire Bible one year and it was a complete flop. Sure, you held fast in January but once you arrived at Leviticus you got lost and confused; your Bible time felt dry and you just quit. Maybe you last longer but once August hit and you were in the thick of the writings of the prophet Jeremiah you couldn't handle it anymore.

What makes a reading plan successful?

First, you have to make reading God's word a priority out of a love for Him. Don't make it guilt based. Any reading plan that is guilt based isn't going to bring about the fruitful growth in your walk with Christ that you're desiring.

Second, it has to be manageable. I have a friend who surfs. I have surfed in the past but not in almost a decade. When we talked about Bible reading plans I asked him, "If you took me surfing would you take me first to Mavericks?" Of course he responded with an emphatic, "NO!" If you've never had a daily reading time, don't set out to read the Bible in a year. Start with something more manageable, maybe that would be an investment of 5 minutes a morning.

Here are three ideas you could choose from for a Bible reading plan that works this year.

Read the book of John
The book of John is known as "the other Gospel". It's the last Gospel written and is found in the New Testament. This is a great place to start reading the Bible for a handful of reasons. First, it focuses on Jesus. The book is dedicated to the life of Christ and keeps our focus on Jesus. Second, it's 21 chapters long. Studies show it takes us 21 days to make something a habit. If you read one chapter of John each day for the next 21 days Bible reading will be a habit. Finally it will help you understand how God sent Christ so we would believe.
But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31 
Read the Proverbs 
When I started reading the Bible this is where I began. I was leaving my men's small group one evening and a guy asked me, "Neal, where are you reading in God's word right now?" I was frustrated because I didn't know where to read! He took about five minutes to explain how reading the Proverbs was a great place to start. The book of Proverbs is broken into thirty-one chapters. We all know there are 31 days in the longest month. The plan with reading the Proverbs is to read the Proverb that correlates to the date of the month. For example, if today is December 29 then you would read Proverbs 29. If you miss a day, just skip ahead and read based on the date.

Read the Whole Bible
This reading plan is not for the faint of heart. If you haven't spent much time reading God's word I encourage you to build up to this. I was a Christian for about 2-3 years before I embarked on this journey. Now, its a brilliant journey and a fantastic one! This is the plan that I have used for about twelve years now. I've lead groups of people through the plan and unfortunately seen more people stop the reading plan than have completed it.

It takes a commitment of about 20 minutes a day, each day; every day of the year. You start in Genesis and read about 3-5 chapters a day. If you have been a Christ follower for years and are looking for a new invitation into God's word this is for you.

No matter what plan you choose to go with reading God's word on a daily basis is such a filling part of the life of a Christ follower. It sets you a part from the rest of the world. It gives you guidance and direction. It will shape you, challenge and require you to think about how you're living your life!