Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sophie's First Christmas

Sophie opening her first Christmas present

Monday, December 22, 2008

The announcements that got away

So last week we canceled Explode, our High School Ministry, because of the snow. I think that will be the only time we cancel church in Las Vegas because of snow. If you have 5 min and want to laugh, watch this ditty its quite the laugh...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Day it Snowed in Vegas

So you may have heard that we got snow here in Vegas. It started snowing on Wed, Dec 17th and snowed until about 11pm that night. I was bummed because we had to cancel invite night, but I was able to go home and see my family. Here are some of the pictures that we have from that night and the next day.

Sophie was chilling, she is so beautiful!

Here is Charity with Sophie outside our condo

Then on Thursday we went out to Red Rock. The whole time was amazing!

Here the Mountains to the west, they looked so amazing!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Update

I have to post this because its Wednesday December 17th @ 1:09pm in Las Vegas, NV. It has been snowing for the last two hours here! That is right, it is snowing in Las Vegas. I grew up in Big Bear Lake, CA and know what real "snowing" looks like. I am shocked, excited, impressed and want to go snowboarding. Too bad its not sticking.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sold my x-box

Yep, that rights. I sold my x-box 360 on eBay yesterday. Charity and I started talking about getting a Wii about 3 weeks ago and asked for one for Christmas. After we asked we started talking about it more and decided that we don't need two game systems. I thought about it more and decided that if my wife will play Wii with me than I will sell my x-box 360.
So right now my x-box is sitting in a box all packed up and waiting to be shipped (the buyer on eBay still needs to pay). Once that happens we are on the look out for a great deal on a Wii. We will probably buy a used one on eBay to save money.
It has been really cool with Charity not working and us having the time to spend together and also to be wiser with our money, we are really seeing God work!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter Camp is coming!

The other night at Explode I asked our leaders to pray for winter camp to Brian Head Utah, Jan 23-25. I asked them to pray, either verbally or non-verbally, every time they eat a meal for God to work in our winter camp. I wanted to ask you all if you would be willing to do the same? We did this for Hume Lake and saw God really move.
Yesterday at our student leadership meeting we created a “hit list” of students that we will be praying for them to come to camp. I will do my best to get this out to you all this week. Thanks so much for supporting what God is doing here with your prayers, I am excited to see God move in another camp!
If you are willing to give this your best shot will you please respond to me and just let me know?
Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Africa Update #4

Straight from my pastor:

Just a quick update from our team--
First, our team is GREAT. They are hard workers and Jesus lovers. We are almost done with construction on a new church building/Youth Center on the edge of Ouaga. The weather has been the dream of most people— high 80’s during the day—we’re going to come home with great tans!
Yesterday, Chase, Evan Faircloth and I traveled several hours to the home village of Victor (in our church). Victor was Chase’s roommate for quite a while before getting married recently. Victor had us take a bunch of stuff for his family for Christmas. It was amazing to travel to this REALLY African village (and we have been to several villages in our trips here). Wait til you see the pictures. I wish you could have sat with us in the bush taxi and been there when it broke down out in the middle of nowhere! Thanks for your prayers.

We shared Christ with 55 kids two days ago at our work site.
We are leading the Youth Group here in the capitol city for all the English-speaking kids (30-40).
We are thankful for your love, prayers and support. Nobody has been sick at all— well, Connie got car sick this morning! Everyone is in great spirits.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Birthday Card

Today I got my first birthday card in the mail. I was super stoked when I got it, and read it just before I left the house today. After I read it all I could was think how important people are to God and that I am so excited I get to be involved in life change. Here is the card I got from my neighbors that I met back in 2001 when I lived in San Diego. God has changed their lives so much and I am honored to have been able to watch! I love you Martian and Adrianne!

Africa Update #3

Just a quick update this time.
I actually talked with my Pastor today and they are having a great time! We talked using Skype, a free internet program, that has video and voice capability. It is crazy to me that I can talk to someone who is half way across the world now and see them! The team is doing great and they are working on a youth center there in Burkina in the captial city.
Tomorrow some of the team is heading to a guy in our church's village to give some items to his family (God is amazing).
Please pray for Pete Brockop, one of the missionaries there, he got malaria today and is not doing good. Thanks for praying for our team!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Africa Update #2

Another update from our Africa team... (I wish we were there)

Our Africa Team had an incredible experience today at the Dorcas House and all of South Hills Church got thanks and God was praised.

Our team presented gifts of quilts and other cool things to about 15 young ladies.

When I say "Dorcas House" don't think regular house, think African village with women who are being encouraged, loved and discipled in Jesus.

When we visited them today and gave them gifts from our church (THANK YOU QUILTING MINISTRY!!), here is what our missions staff said, "This may be the biggest gift these girls have ever received. You have absolutely no idea what you have just done for them. They will never forget this for the rest of their life."

I'm trying to post a video to YouTube but am having some trouble. I'll send the link later.

Check it out!

More later...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Strip Church

Yep, you read that right. About 3 months ago I met a guy named Brandon Piety from at church and we just got talking. I found out that he is part of a team that moved here from Grand Rapids to start something called Strip Church. This excited me! I was glad that someone was ready to tackle this whole deal with porn head on. Brandon and I started hanging out and I love spending time with him. I remember telling my mom about him and what he is doing here. Her response was so rad, I think she said something like: "WOW, that is a hard job! I will make sure I pray for them everyday" in her concerned mom voice.
About 2 weeks ago Charity and I went to the intro night when the team talked about Strip Church. I am so fired up for what these guys are doing and their passion to reach people in this city. The story got some great press and was even on Night Line. Somehow my face made it on National Television:Here is the link where the video is. After seeing me on there Charity said: "They showed that on National TV! Neal Benson". I didn't do anything bad, just being Neal. You gotta take 7 min and watch this.

Our lil Santa

Is this not the cutest picture you have ever seen? (Ok I know I am a biased dad)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Africa Update #1

Not sure if many of you know that I am helping with missions at our church now. I have a huge heart to see people know Jesus and missions are a secret passion of mine. For the last 5 months I have been working on sending a team to Africa and here is the first update I received from the team:

Friday morning, 7:05 (8 hours ahead of you)

It wasn’t really all that long ago that missionaries had to travel here by boat (2-3 months)....Becky Nehlsen’s parents did that. Now we can get here in just over a day from the west coast! And communicate instantly.

Our team is doing GREAT. We spent our first day getting oriented and getting our bodies somewhat used to the time adjustment— not bad so far. We checked out the city and saw where the work here is progressing and what we can do while here. Our flights over (30 hours of straight travel) went great. My dream of leaving the airport and getting out into a French town came true. We ran up to Senlis and had lunch and looked around the old part of that town — a cathedral dating probably to the 13th century.

Our team will be working this week on a new Youth Center out at the edge of the capital city where the villages are being gobbled up by the growing city.

It is encouraging to see how God is working in this country but the challenges here are great. Islam is being funded by national governments in the middle east. Christianity is funded by individuals from the west.

50% of this country is Muslim. 10% Christian. 30% hang on to traditional tribal beliefs. The battle is on to win the hearts of those 30%. I feel like a spiritual soldier out here.

Pray for our ability to work hard and glorify God and enjoy Him in this place.

We may head out to Victor’s (South Hills) family and give them their gifts from Victor and meet all of them.

We’ll keep in touch.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Leadership Quote

I am working on a paper where I am looking at leadership in Numbers 12, 13-14, and 16. As I have been studying leadership I found this quote from Peter Druker:

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

The Shack

When we go on vacation we have somewhat of a tradition; I do all the driving and Charity reads a book to me. I know that sounds kinda lame, but it provides great conversation and a way for us to do something together. I think I added it up that we spent about 18 hours in the cars on our trip last week. The time was great and I really do enjoy spending that with Charity.
This time she read a very popular book called "The Shack". I don't want to give the book away, but I do have to say that it is amazing. I want to talk about (somehow) this Wednesday night at Explode. The book talks about God in a way that most Christians, that I know, don's view God. I feel the way He is represented in the book was a shock to me, at first, but then it made sense as we kept reading.
I think this book could be a great resource to help people address pain in their life. I think the author does a wonderful job in the way that he portrays the story and the hurt that we all have dealt with.
I hope that you can see how ambiguous I am being and I hope that makes you want to get out and read this book.
I don't think it will take much time, I think you can use this a great way to share Christ in a new way to people and I think they will be open to this story that is sure to grab their heart.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

From the 805

That is the area code in Santa Maria, CA where Charity's parents live!
We got into town on Tuesday making the 6 hour drive in 8 hours. We decided that was not too bad considering that Sophie only cried for like 30 min of that. She did really good. She slept the first part and then was over the car seat the second half.
Here are some pics of the trip so far
We went to this place just south of Pismo Beach where these monarchs come and land every year. I guess we got there about a month early, so there weren't as many as we thought, but it was still so cool to get see them!!!

Here is Sophie's first look at the Ocean... ok, maybe she didn't really get to see the Ocean, but I imagine that she knew it was there.

Sophie got this really cool deal that she sits in and I have to put this pic up cause I am fascinated with it!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Smile Time!

Sophie is just super smiley today!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photo Booth

Charity just put Sophie in her Christmas dress options and since I was on the computer we took some quick pics. Here is the best one!
I guess we really do look a like! I am so in love with this little girl.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Todays Plan

I haven't blogged in a long time. Things have been crazy good. God is really stretching me in life right now. This quarter of school has been the most difficult for me. I am usually an A student just by default, which is hard for some people to understand and hard for me cause I don't have to study much (I am not trying to sound pompous). But with life the way it has been for us school has not come as easy to me.
Today and I am taking the day off to just get some school done. I have felt myself being a complainer lately about how much school I have to do (waaaawaaawaaa). I am sick of whining. I want to see God work through me and help me accomplish school so that I can be a better servant/leader for Him.
Here are my goals today:
  • Talk to Mark Salazar, my best friend
  • Finish 2 more questions on my final exam (that is means writing two 3 page essays)
  • Take a shower (later)
  • Go to the gym (if I get the essays done)
  • Take Charity on a date

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

This is a great video, I think we will be showing this @ Explode in the month of December.

On my heart

Here is an email I just sent to our Elders asking them to pray for our High School Ministry, Explode. I feel like God wants to do huge things here. Will you please pray for us too?

Dear Elders,
I am writing to you to ask you if you will remember to pray for Explode on a regular basis. We have had some huge wins in the last couple months I really feel like God is moving in amazing ways.
This summer we, our adult leaders, made a commitment to pray for Hume Lake every time we ate for over a month. That was the most successful camp I have ever been a part of. We took more students than we have ever taken and more students made a commitment for Christ than I could have imagined.
From that time on God has really pressed praying more for Explode on my heart. I took Him up on that and prayed a whole bunch for Invite Night about a month ago. That night we had record attendance; over 180 students were there. Since then we have averaged over 100+ at Explode.
Will you please take the time to remember Explode in prayer and remember the lost students that we are trying to reach? I feel like God is doing something big; like we are on the cusp of something huge that is about to happen and I don’t want us to miss out on that. Pray for students to be a light on their campus, for small groups to engage students and for students to shine for Christ in their homes. I really think that we are in an amazing place right now.
Thank you all so much!

Call and Response

I wanted to share a link of a film that is coming to VEGAS - click here
I am sharing it with you because the film will be in Vegas starting on December 5th at the Colonnade. This film doesn’t pay for advertisement and relies solely on word of mouth. Its an humbling and heartbreaking loot at slavery in this world and as Christ followers I think its something that we all need to see and wrestle with. So as my friends, colleagues, and people of influence I say go see it and bring a person or two along or your entire small group along with you.

The man behind the project (Justin Dillon) has an incredible heart and I have heard him share how God has opened a million doors to get this filmed, produced, and in to theaters. It is not backed by any big motion picture organization.
Can I encourage you to check to see if it will be showing in your area.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Video Rap Announcement

This will make you pee your pants!

Monday, November 03, 2008


I just saw this on my friend Kristal's blog. I am pretty shocked just by seeing this! This is not who I want to/hope will be our president. We gotta pray hard tonight!


That is usually the answer that I give people lately when they ask how I am doing (and I'm sick of it). I am feeling pretty bummed today. I feel slammed with school, work, ministry, and not being there for the family because of all this.
I had a great talk with a man I really respect, Rob Hall. I was asking him about school. I have been feeling pretty anxious about getting my degree done. On the other hand I have been convicted and asking myself: "Am I more concerned about the degree or the education?" The degree will be worth it, but the education will help me through life. I think this has just been one of those crazy weeks and this is me being honest.
Here are some things that I want to do this week:
  • Leave the office on time
  • Hold Sophie more
  • Be on time for dinner
  • Commit to being positive and not let this all get at me
  • Spend quality time with God; especially reading my Bible
  • Focus on what matters most
Thanks for praying for our family and this new stage of life for us!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Finished it up

Last week I finally got my side finished up. About a year and a half ago I started thinking about what kind of tattoo to get for Charity. I didn't really want to get her name on my body and she agreed with that. I decided to go with a heart, which represents her name: Charity. I wanted to get some roses around it because she loves flowers. The artist, Johnny Five, added the lock and key. I went and got the outline done last year in December. I was supposed to go back two weeks later to get it all colored in. Well, life hit and school have been crazy. Oh yeah, we had a baby too. So I finally made it up to Bad Apple Tattoo and got it finished. After 2 1/2 hours here it is. I love this tat!!!

Praying for our new president

For about the last week I have been super convicted to be praying for our new president. I cannot see the future so I, like most Americans, have no clue who the president will be. I do know these things though:
  1. We need to pray for our new president
  2. We need to pray for our country to be wise in voting
  3. We need to pray for voters to exercise their right to vote
I feel like this is such a huge election year. My wife and I have already voted, so please pray for God to give you wisdom and vote!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

So these pictures are much over due. Parenthood is the most amazing (time consuming) thing that we have ever experienced. Here are some pictures of our little adventure.
Sophie does look a little sleepy, I don't think that she has any clue what is going on...

She definitely loves spending time with her mom!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


This quarter I am taking Hebrew through Fuller Seminary Southwest. Hebrew has to be the hardest language I have ever studied. Greek definately kicked my butt for the last two years... Hebrew is now kicking me while I am down. Ok, its not that bad, but my brain is very confused.
Did I tell you that it reads the opposite way as English yet?
Here is the Hebrew Alphabet
(s0rry if this verbal venting)

Spending time with family

Ok, so Nikki may not be "real" family but her family has been here for us so much since we have been in Vegas. We went over to their house the other night for dinner and Sophie was loving on Nikki! Sophie loved Nikki so much that she went there on Thursday for date night so Charity and I could get out and get some us time. It has been crazy busy with work, school, ministry and everything else that wants to steal our time.
I just have to add that I really think my baby is the cutest baby in the whole world! She is doing so much better, thanks for all you prayers.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sophie's First Wedding

This weekend we went to Conrad and Karen's wedding. It was so much fun to be apart of the event and just see them. Conrad has been my best friend since like 5th grade and it was so rad to see him get married this weekend. Here is a family pic on the dance floor

Sophie and daddy were dancing and then the song: "My Girl" came on

This is a cool picture having some of the crew back together

Saturday, October 18, 2008

9 Pounds

That is right! You are looking at a 9 pound baby right now! She is growing and eating! Sophie is right at the weight she needs to be at. We had a scare last week where she wasn't gaining enough, but this week when Charity took her back she had gained 9 ounces and is at her ideal weight! She loves to throw that arm up in the air, it is the cutest thing in the whole world!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just Chilling

Sophie was just chilling in the car seat getting ready to go hang out with Mom and Dad on date night.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Family Picture

This has the be the best family picture we have so far...


I wish I had pictures to go along with this post.
Last night, when I went to kiss Sophie goodnight, she was all smiles. I thought that she was tired but she just kept smiling at me. I was so in awe, I have seen her smile, but she usually doesn't smile much for me. She would literally see that it was me and start smiling all big and making the cooing noises. I was a proud dad!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

New Pictures

I have been lagging on getting some new pictures of Sophie up for your viewing pleasure.
This last week my sister, Beth Diehl, came out with our mom and her son Blaze. We got this cute picture of the cousins.

Sophie is getting better in the bath tub

Sophie also loves her Oma

And most important, she LOVES spending time with Mommy


Today one of our HS girls is wearing a button that says:

if it were any easier it
would be called football

Thursday, October 09, 2008


I really wanted to write this last night, while the thoughts were still fresh, but after cleaning the church until about 10:30pm I knew I needed to come home.
What is invite night?
Invite Night is a time for students to be intentional about reaching out to their friends. We really focus on teaching our students about evangelism and how they have the most influence on them. We bring in our student leadership team and really give them freedom to dream together and think about what they want the night to look like. Our students chose to do a "Club Theme" (that may only work in Vegas.
We started the night at 6:30pm with an invite only BBQ for sports teams. We fed the students and just created a place for students to hang out with each other. Our Men's Director, Kalani, totally blessed us by cooking food for us with some adult leaders. After the food was done we sent everyone outside (our church meets in a strip mall) and had them go into the Worship Room. We created a tunnel that they all had to walk through with red carpet, paparazzi, and a fog machine. Rockstar sponsored the event, so the hyper juice was flowing.
We had some amazing worship for our students to get involved with a quick game and then I got up to teach. I spoke on Genesis 1:24-31, day six of creation. I got some great info on the giraffe and how it defies evolution. Then I went into how we are created in the image of God. I talked about something called Laminin; the basic protein that holds our bod together. Here is an image of what it looks like. I did something that I normally don't do, I had students stand up who wanted to surrender their life to God. I was shocked! I am not a huge numbers guy, but we had 29 students who got up and went into the other room to talk with a leader about their choice. On a great note, we totalled 181 students (not a numbers guy, but God totally worked). The night in a whole was just a huge blessing.
I had some great talks with our leaders who saw God work, it was so good for all of us to see more of the potential we have in this city to reach Jesus. Thank you to everyone who prayed for us!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Using what God has given us…

I was looking through my files and found this, thought it was cool.

After traveling for over 30 hours we finally landed. We had been planning this trip for the last three months and we are finally here. My wife looked over at me and with a huge smile said: “I can’t believe we are in Africa, I have always wanted to come here”. I looked over at her at just smiled back, I thought to myself "I never thought God would take me here". We were in Burkina Faso, the third poorest country in the world. One in three kids die before the ago of 10 and the life expectancy is 42 years old. The average worker makes $2 a day, if they have a job and 87% of the population is unemployed. These are just some of the stats that I learned in the car ride from the airport.
We arrived at the guest house, what would be our base of operation for the next two weeks. I didn’t sleep the first night, I guess it didn’t matter we got in at 3am. I was just so shocked that God had brought me here. I kept wondering, why me God? What do you want with this pale white kid that was raised the mountains? Why did you bring me to Africa? The answers to these questions would come, it just took some time and listening to God.
The first day we went and did a tour of the churches we would be roofing and the pastors we would be partnering with. The team of twelve ranged from a High School senior to a 65 year old VP of some big company, we were a different team. As we drove around I just kept looking at all the people. I was amazed, I don’t think I had ever seen so many people out in the streets just hanging out with each other. I didn’t really know what to make of it and had to remind myself of the unemployment.
After working on some roofs and totally blowing the minds of the missionaries in Burkina, I guess we worked to fast we took some time to paint a church that has a center for Compassion International at it. We started sanding and next thing I knew there was 20 kids in the room with us, they just wanted to help. I started working with some of them and had them help me. I looked over and my wife was just sitting with them, she was taking time to spend with them. She got it, I had missed it. I was focused on the job and not the people. It is usually the other way around. I’m the pastor that spends too much time with students and forgets to work.
I could share hundreds of stories with you and ones where I remembered to spend time with the kids and knew that the work would get done when it got done. When I got home I felt God tugging on my heart. I felt Him reminding me about my times in Africa, and that is what He wants of me, to spend time with people. I can preach the best sermon in the world, and people will forget it. I can make the best winter camp ever and students will remember the snowboarding only. I can do this and I can do that, but students will never forget the time that I spend with them. Students will never forget the time that you spend with them. One of the team members with us was my middle school pastor; I have never forgotten what he did for me and how he allowed God to use him to impact my life. Tonight at our middle school program his son will be there and I will spend time with him and invest in him and the other boys in my small group. Who will you remember to connect with this week? Get out of the office, take some students to Starbucks and just chill with them.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Adult Leader Training

We just had adult leader training and I love our leaders. We really do, honestly, have the best leaders ever! I am always so encouraged by the people they are. Tonight we talked about Matt 22:37-39 and how we need to be who God has God us to be first. Leaders must have their hearts in the right place before God can use us to impact students lives.
Thanks for all you do leaders!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Made it home

This week I was in So Cal hanging out with a group of like minded youth workers and the time was great. As much as I loved it all, I do have to say that I am glad to be home. It was rad to have my wife pick me up at the airport, see my daughter, eat dinner with Charity and sit on the couch with my family.
Charity is feeding Sophie right now and she is leaking it all over her neck. I love this! Had to put up this picture of Charity with Sophie sleeping on her... I love my girls!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I'm with a bunch of youth pastors right now and I started a twitter today. Click here to check it out. Not sold on it yet. Not sure if I need/want something else to update. Could be cool though. Its late so I may just be tired. Lets see how it works....

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Not trying to brag

But I have to say that Sophie is the cutest kid I have ever seen. This is us watching the Chargers game. She wanted to cheer...

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Oh yeah! Today was a great day! Church was amazing; we had our half-time event for Renown, the campaign to build our new campus. Pastor Bret preached a great message on such an important topic. The feel at church was amazing. Men's ministry grilled up some bomb grub! Thanks for hooking that up Kalani.
Then to top it all off I got to chill on the couch and watch the game with Sophie. She fell asleep in my arms and the Chargers won (it was too close for me).

Friday, September 26, 2008

One Month Old

Today is Sophie's one month birthday. I am not sure if "one month" counts as a birthday, but we are stoked on it! Today at lunch Charity and I talked about all that we have been through over the last month. We have had many ups and downs. Through all these good and hard times we have learned so much and here are some of those learning's:
1) We have a beautiful baby!
2) We have a church who loves us
3) We love each other first
4) We are both newbies to parenting
5) Charity is more hardcore than I had ever imagined. She gets up all the time and I don't even think she sleeps
6) Sophie finally slept through the night last night
7) I can tell you about the NICU
8) We both know what its like leaving the hospital without your kid
9) We found out, again, how many people love us and support us
10) We both are learning new schedules in life.
We are so blessed to have Sophie and so excited for the little lady of God she will grow into. She is so beautiful, thanks for praying for her

Leaders are Learner

This is a quote that I learned back when I first started school and it didn't really hit me until that last couple years of doing ministry. I mean, lets be honest, how many times have you screwed up and done the same dumb mistake? I know I have. How many times have we all failed to learn from the situation. Lets take the winter camp we have been doing for the last 3 years now in Brian Head, Utah. I have learned so much about booking transportation, training leaders, taking care of meals, organizing the speaker and finding a good place to meet.
Leaders are Learners...
The saying does not work the other way; Learners are not always Leaders. Have you noticed that? As much as I could want to learn does not mean that I will be a leader. I could very well finish my MDIV and not be a leader, but God has created me to be a leader. I constantly remind myself that when I at school that God is using me and training me to be a better leader, to help people understand the word of God, to lead students into a life-long relationship with Him
Just remember that to be an effective leader we must all continue to be humble learners.

The City we live in

Sometimes I forget that I live in Las Vegas. Today reminded me on so many levels how hurting this city is. I went down to the strip to pick up a gift for Charity, something she totally wants! (She doesn't even know she got it yet). I was in a rush. I had to be sneaky and get down there. I was rushing there on the freeway, parked at The Bellagio Casino and walked to Tiffany's CO.
I caught myself rushing to get all this down and while I was purchasing the gift, I felt God just tugging on my heart saying; "Are you too busy to love the people down here?... Are you too busy to reach out to them?"
That broke my heart.
I bought my gift and just made some observations that I need to remember:

1. Las Vegas is huge
I say that because it took me about 3-4 min to walk through the casino. This place is big because people are constantly loosing their money. That means that lives are hurting and people could be messing up their families.

2. People are gambling at 11am
This hurt my heart. People are so desperate for money. I know that some people can handle to play the games a bit, but not me. I see so many people that are hurting. I watched someone, as I stopped for a min, play what looked like $5000 on one hand of craps. That is more money then my family will gross this month. It convicted to see who is reaching out to them... It also made me think about the hope that they are searching for. People are looking for hope in the wrong place.

3. The dress code on the Strip
Or the lack there of. I am constantly shocked to see what people wear here. There is like this unwritten law that when you come to Vegas everything goes, you can be whoever you want to wish or wish you were. It made me sad. I have this theory called "Daddy Issues" and I believe that girls dress for attention because they are compensating for the lack of the love of their father.

All of this is happening in my town and God just convicted me today to be open and ready in every situation. I did not choose to come to Vegas to live, but God brought my family here to do His work. That is what I want to be focused on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Office

The season premiere of "The Office" is tonight on NBC @ 9pm! We are super excited for it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Is what time I woke up at this morning to go to SYATP (See You At The Pole). It was totally amazing. I went to Coronado High School in Henderson, NV. We had about 70 kids show up, which makes me happy living in Vegas. I hope it went for everyone else.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chargers Finally Won

And I think that we have the reason why...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Video Announcements

Something we have tried to do is just spice up the announcement time by making them a skit, or doing voice overs or just plain having fun! We have a great student who graduated two years ago who just does amazing video ideas. I give him the announcements and he gives me a video Wed before service. I have never been disapointed and have almost peed my pants some of them are so funny. Here is the one from this week:

Fantasy Football

This year I swore to myself that I would not do fantasy football. I had all the thoughts in my mind and all the rebuttals I would use to those who would attempt to sucker me into the horrible game. I thought: "I don't have time, I am having a kid" or "I just cant do it with seminary right now". After all my planning and thinking about how to get out of it, I think the conversation went like this about a month ago:
Jesse: So you ready for the season
Neal: You bet I am
Jesse: The draft is in two weeks
Neal: You ready to get crushed again?

And from there the rest is history. I once again got sucker into fantasy football. So what did I do? I committed to winning and suckered my wife into helping me! We are doing it as a team, that way we can both have bragging rights. We are not competitive one bit...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bath Time

So... bath time. Wow, what can I say. A picture is worth a thousand words!

So obviously Sophie hated the bath, but sure did love chilling on the counter in her soft little towel that makes her look cuter than all get up! She is such an amazing little girl!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lil Bugger

Charity and got this sling to hold Sophie in and it is amazing! It is called a Lil Bugger and all you have to do is put the kid into it, she just chills in there; kinda like a taco and it is amazing! I definately know that my life is changing now that I am stoked on things that hold my kid up. If you are a new parent, know a new parent or need something cool to get someone having a kid this is it! I am so thankful that we got ours! Thank you Mary Beth, we love it.

21 days

Today Sophie is 21 days old. It made me think about some of the crazyness we have been through, but also the blessing that now lives with us (I know that may sound funny). It is weird to think that in 2003 Charity and I met. In 2005 we got married. In 2008 we now have a kid; a beautiful little girl. When I look at Sophie, she is just so amazing. I have told many people that I just don't want to leave the house or do anything because I feel like I am missing something. I do dread the day I hear she took her first steps and I am not there. But I also know that God is working all this out in His timing.
Tonight we went over to our friends the Mansfields and just hung out with them. I have talked about them before, and its nice to just chill with them.
Sophie is doing great. She is eating well and it looks like she is growing! Its just so amazing to me to see how she grows and how she gets bigger and how strong she is and that she has all she needs. Thank you to everyone who continues to pray for us. Please pray for Sophie to desire to nurse. We are still doing like half bottle, half expressed milk and its getting hard on Charity. By the way, Charity is the most amazing mom! She is so patient with Sophie and just there to love on her. I love being married to that girl.
Well its time for the 10:45 feed, so I need to go help out. Please keep praying for us, and if we can pray for you just let us know!

In The Beginning

We are doing a series in our High School Ministry right now called: "In The Beginning" and I am loving this series! I am studying day two and three of creation right now and just in awe of all that God created! I am constantly amazed at how God made everything in order and with a purpose.
God knew to make water before plants so that plants could have water to survive. I found something called:
DAY AGE THEORY – Each “day” was actually an “age” or “long period of time” of about 1 billion years.
This made me kinda laugh, just a little. If each day was not a "day" then plants would have died because they were made on day three and the sun was made on day four. Therefore what would have been there for photosynthesis to happen? Now even deep, is that bee's were not created until day five! That means that all the plants would be no more. If you get the time to study Genesis One and really dig into the scientific information about creation and how it all works, you will love it!
Also we are posting all our message on podcast, through iTunes

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rosie and Sophie

The family is all back home! Today I went to the Rock's house and picked up Rosie. Rosie is our 2 1/2 year old little puppy. Rosie was the baby of the family, but not anymore. We got Rosie from the Rock's as a Christmas present and we love her! Kody Rock is the first kid I met coming out to Vegas. He has been in my small group for 4 years now and this year, his senior year, will be year five. We love this family!
I had to put this picture up with Rosie and Sophie.
Charity and I weren't sure how Rosie would act with Sophie here and she has done great. At first she didn't really acknowledge her, but the first time she cried Rosie turned into Mom #2! Rosie hears Sophie and wants to make sure she is ok. I put Sophie on the couch next to Rosie to just see what would happen and Rosie, gentle as could be, just rested her head on her in such a loving way. I am super thankful for that! I am now truly out numbered in the house!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Today Was Amazing

Sunday September 14th 2008 was a great day. I went to church this morning and we did this table to promote student ministries. We brought in some waffle makers and lured people over to check us out in-between services. Marc did a great job at making that happen and nothing would have gotten there if it wasn't for Amy (true story). Service was amazing. Marc and I hosted and welcome was the best I had been apart of in a while (I felt focused today). The announcements were funny, even though I don't remember any good jokes we said.
One of the best parts of the day was at the end of the message my pastor, Bret Johnson, gave people a chance a accept Jesus. We are in week two of our current series titled: "The Borne Identity". I got to pray with some really cool people today and give them Bibles as they start their walk with Christ. We sang a song right after (that I cant remember the name for the life of me) and it made me tear-up. Just the thought about getting the chance to be involved in people's lives is amazing.
Came home to help Charity out and started watching the Chargers game with Sophie. She crashed out and then Charity did too. The Chargers barley lost, I am still mad, and it was a lame loss. The ref made a bad call with like 50 seconds left in the game.
After that Charity's mom left, thanks for the help Cheryl, and it was just the three of us again. Sophie was being fussy so we walked to the Mansfield's house to hang out for a min (they are our neighbors with twins). Their sons were both in NICU so we can relate to each other.
Came home and watched Click with Adam Sandler. I love this movie and the message is portrays. It reminds me what is important in life. With that said it is off to bed so I can wake up in two hours to help feed Sophie.
Thanks for all the prayers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Infant Acid Reflux

That is what Sophie has. After all the hospital stuff, doctor visits, blood draws, IV stuff and everything else that I have seen done to our daughter giving her 0.4 ml of Acid Reflux medicine doesn't seem so bad (we got our NICU bill today and it was $24,000+, thank God for insurance). So that is the diagnosis right now. Thanks for praying for Sophie. I will put up more pics soon. She is so beautiful!
I hope the Chargers game is on TV tomorrow, Sophie said she really wants to see LT kill the Broncos...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Simply Text

So these last couple weeks have been crazy in my life, but I found something cool to help with ministry. Its called "Simply Text". We were using this text message system that was hard to use and pretty pricey, we all know the economy is funny right now (that is my favorite line to hear lately). So we checked out Simply Text and this system is amazing. It is much easier to use then our old platform and a better deal. For the cost of one month is the price I was paying for our HS ministry alone. On this system we have MS, HS and College on a plan that is a better deal. If you are in ministry you gotta check this out and give it a whirl.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sophie is home! (again)

And if feels so right! Charity and I are so excited she is back. We were at the hospital for about a day and a half and it was hard. It was also relieving to get some questions answered that we needed and get things all lined up with Sophie. Being a parent is so much harder than I could have ever imagined. The staff at St. Rose, our hospital, was amazing and so supportive. They have a great group of people running that hospital.
Thank you all for praying for us and just being so supportive. We have both felt so loved on and so ministered to. We are grateful to everyone who has prayed for us, with us and around us. Thank for loving us and being the church!

Hospital Update

Sophie is still in the hospital. We don't think she is dehydrated anymore, she has been peeing a lot! She is still being monitored for her intake and output (yes they really do weigh every dirty diaper). Charity was able to stay there last night and I came home. It was hard to be here again without Sophie and even harder without Charity.
Thank you so much for all your prayers. Please keep praying that the doctors will figure out what is going on so we can take Sophie home, we don't want to rush anything this time. I thought about this verse today that God spoke to me about 2 years ago here:

And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. Deuteronomy 8:2

We know God has a plan for us during this entire time and that He is really using this experience to shape us into the family He has called us to be. Thank you for praying for us, loving us and encouraging us during this time.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Back at the hospital

Today is a very disappointing day for Charity and I; we had to take Sophie back to the hospital. Please keep us in your prayers. She will be ok, she is just dehydrated and not eating well. The doctors did all the tests and there are no serious infections of anything crazy they can find. It is hard being a new parent and wanting the best for your baby and then finding out that all this is going on. We are both pretty bummed. Please pray for us as we spend a couple more days in the hospital...

Monday, September 08, 2008

13 days old

Today, just about 5 min ago, Sophie was born 13 days ago. The last thirteen days have been crazy for Charity and I. The first week Sophie was in NICU, she has been home for a week now and its been amazing. I never knew: how much she would cry, how much people would bless us, how many people would pray, and how little sleep we could function on (really that is for Charity).
This weekend our friends Carlos and Diyi came over and brought some much needed Starbucks! Thanks a million guys. Sophie loves them (already) and fell asleep on Diyi's lap. It was fun to have them over on Saturday. Jessica ended up leaving on Sunday and that was not so exciting. Jessica has been a huge help to have her with us. She was able to drive Charity around and did some errors for us that just needed to be done. We will miss you Jessica!
On Sunday we had some people come over and pray for Sophie. She has been kinda fussy lately and we're not too sure what is really going on. Please pray for Sophie and us. It is so hard for Charity to be up so much and when your kid is crying and you have no idea what the problem is it can be extremely frustrating.
Thank you so much for praying and we appreciate it if you would keep praying as we are parents now! I have so much respect for parents and all they do.

7 Things I've learned By Being A Dad

Being a dad has been more different than I could ever imagine, but I love it. I thought I would take this chance (with all my wisdom) and just share some things I've learned as a dad over the last two weeks:
1) Baby skin is so soft!
2) My finger is as big as her forearm
3) Both her feet fit in my hand (with extra room)
4) Take a nap when you can, ever if that means the dog falls asleep on you too
5) I never though diaper changing would come so natural
6) Get advice and do what your heart tells you
7) Pray for your kid every chance you get

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sophie is 10 days old!!! (We think)

So today Sophie is 10 days old. I know people told me that it just goes so quick, but I never believed them. Its weird to think she is growing up already. She hasn't really gotten any bigger (she is 7 pounds 3 ounces), but has lost some weight. Our pediatrician told us that a 10% weight loss is normal. This is a pic from last night. Sophie and daddy had some "skin to skin time". She kept looking at me and wanting me to love on her, I will cherish these days.
Pray for her, she has been pretty fussy and gassy. We took her to the doc again today to find out what is going on. They helped her have a bowel movement (sure you wanted to know that) and it has been MUCH better. Thank you for praying for our family. We are learning to live on less sleep than we had before. I will do my best to keep putting pictures up here for all to see.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thank You!

Thank you all for praying for us and being there for us during this hard and totally not expected time of our lives. God has really taught us so much and shown Himself faithful and trustworthy once again (He always seems to do that). We are so excited to have Sophie home and be spending time with her. I will try to keep updating you all on what is going on in her life, she really is our precious little charger (that is what I call her).
Today Sophie got her first bath (look how beautiful she is!).
It was a day of firsts for her. Her first time she didn't sleep and mommy and daddy had no clue what to do (thankfully she wasn't crying). She really is a true blessing and amazing addition to our lives. Please pray that we will amazing parents to her and that we can show her the love of Jesus on a daily basis. Will you also consider to pray for her daily? We are praying that she will love Jesus at an early age and just be a world changer!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sophie is home!

Praise God!!! Sophie is finally home. Thank you so much for all your prayers! After much prayer and hard work going to the hospital Sophie is finally home. She got her feed tube out last night at 11pm and Charity made the commitment to be at her 2am, and 5am feed times. After the 5 am feed time Charity came home yelling and woke me up (I'm still not sure what she said) but I knew we had to go to the hospital. She told me to hurry and wake-up, that they were going to let Sophie come home.
We got to the hospital around 6am and were packed up ready to go at 7am. It was a for sure God thing. Our nurse worked hard and the doctor knew that Sophie was ready. Our nurse said the coolest thing, something like: "Its great to have parents like you who really care, but its hard to see you go. You make the job rewarding." It was a true blessing to leave with our baby today.
Thank you so much for all your prayers! We feel so blessed right now. Just to make you laugh, Sophie peed on me during her 9am feed time. I felt it soak out the diaper into my pj's. It was gross but so worth it!

Sophie Update #6

Thank you all so much for your prayers, today was a great one! Sophie has been consistently taking her food! Do you notice anything different about this picture (besides my sweet gown I'm wearing)? Sophie got her feed tube out at 11pm tonight. Going to all her feed times is really paying off today. We had the charge nurse say the most encouraging thing I have heard all week: "Well I probably wont be seeing you guys tomorrow night."
We have had some really amazing nurses over the last couple days and Sophie is really on the road to coming home. The Doctors have said that it could be as early as tomorrow, but we are not holding our breath.
Sophie is eating well and really staying on top of her feeding. Also Charity and I are getting to be an example for Jesus there. Our night nurse complimented us many times on working as a team, and doing what we can. She told us that we are the kind of parents she loves to see! Thank you for praying for us.
Our first family picture, yep; that's us! The pictures are somewhat grainy because we don't want to use our flash on Sophie's little eyes.
Its time for bed cause its after midnight, but I just had to share this huge win!
Please pray for:
* Sophie to continue eating
* Sophie to come home soon
* Charity and I to be a light for Jesus
* Charity to get rest
* God to prepare us to be parents at our house
Thanks so much for keeping up on us and loving on us and praying for us! It really means so much.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sophie Update #5

Its hard to think what day it is right now... Sophie is doing much better! Thank you so much for all your prayers. She has been moved into a different room, but still in the NICU. Here is a picture of her new bed. We were able to bring her in a little stuffed giraffe and one of our students made her a sweet name tag! Charity also dressed her in some different clothes and got rid of the white hospital get-up she was in.
She has been taking her bottle at the fed times and that helps mom and dad feel much better. Thank you for praying for that. She took 60 cc's at her last feed. That is up from the 30 cc's she was at just about 36 hours ago.
There was talk of moving her up a floor and out of the NICU, but just before we left we were told that plan was scratched. It was kind of hard to hear, but we see the light at the end of tunnel approaching rapidly. She hasn't used her feed-tube in over 12 hours! The doctors put her on antibiotics for another day, so earliest we could leave would be tomorrow, Monday.
Today as I was changing her diaper she peed all over my hands. It was pretty nasty, but I am grateful that she is hydrated and doing better.
Please pray for:
* Sophie to keep eating
* Her appetite to increase
* She will keep eating her 50 cc's per fed
* Charity to get some rest
* Us to continue to be a light for Jesus
Thank you so much for all your prayers for our little girl, she is a true blessing from God and we are so thankful for all He has given us.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sophie Update #4

Sophie is officially four days old now. She was being funny and kept putting her arms up like she wanted to ride a roller coaster. Today was a somewhat tough and long last 24 hours. We were extremely encouraged at the progress she was making and were hoping she would have her feed tube out this morning or afternoon. Sophie has had some trouble eating (taking the bottle) and if she wont take the amount required she gets the rest fed to her through the tube.
Last night Charity and I were both pretty heart broken. She has used the tube about 3 times in the last 24 hours. Every time she uses the tube it means at least 48 hours longer she has to stay in the hospital.
The yawn that Sophie is doing is how all the Benson family is feeling right now. Please pray for Charity to get some rest, I think she goes the hardest of all of us. We are trying to go to most of Sophie's feed times (8, 11, 2, 5 am & pm) and its getting rough on us. Thank God the hospital is only 2 miles away. Our family is tired and stretched right now. Charity and I go to the hospital, stay with Sophie about an hour, come home, eat and do it all again. About half our time is spent going to see her.
Please pray for:
* Sophie's appetite to increase
* Successful feed times
* Mom and Dad to be an example for Jesus @ the hospital
* Mom and Dad to get time with Jesus and some rest
Thank you so much for your prayers. We really do want to honor Jesus with our lives and this has been a huge struggle for us. We know that God is going to use this for His glory and we want to be involved in that. We are so thankful for our beautiful little girl; she is truly amazing!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sophie Update #3

Sophie is doing better! Last night Charity and I were able to spend some time with her and she has been very tired. She will get on the bottle and just kinda fall asleep. The nurses have been very encouraging and telling us how she is getting better and her color is good. Last night Charity and I decided to just sleep through the night. It was hard being home without our baby. We sat in bed last night just talking about how weird it is.
This morning Charity went in at 5am. Thank God that her mom is here to help drive her. The nurse shared with her that at her 11pm feed she took her bottle in 30 min and then at her 2am feed she took it in 15 min! This is really what we need her to do so we can get her home sooner.

This morning we went to her 11am feed (we can't do the 8am or 8pm feeds because that is right after shift change) and she was the most awake we have seen her yet. Our nurse was very uplifting and reminding us how she is improving every day. At first Sophie would barely open her eyes to see us and was not that alert. Today she was looking all over the place and had great voice recognition. If you notice, this is her first picture with no oxygen. Please keep praying that she will be able to stay off and keep her oxygen levels up. It is so hard to see so many wires and tubes on our baby. Last night we had another win; she got her IV off!!! She still the deal in her hand, but they are not giving her fluids anymore.
Today I went to Starbucks and almost broke down when the lady casually asked how I was doing. I am not doing good. My daughter is in the NICU and I am confused. Charity and I both really appreciate all your prayers and continued support. Thank you for praying for Sophie.
Pray for:
* Quick recovery
* No more oxygen
* Desire to eat
* Mom and Dad to be strong and get rest
Thanks all!