Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Family Hashing

Hey Dad,

Other than being a little anxious about losing you in the INTERNET Neverland, things are going pretty good. Not at all like a couple of weeks ago.

Maybe it was because we were in the transition zone...caught between summer and school, but the kids were terrible. They were constantly bickering, fighting, and thinking of numero UNO. I know my wife was frazzled, worn out, and wondering when I was going to officially deal with it. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have a pretty high terrible-kid-tolerance. But enough was enough. Even I was tired of the turmoil.

"Everyone upstairs to the yellow room,” I barked. “We're having a family meeting, and I don't want to hear one complaint.” Normally we meet in the familyroom, but I wanted a change in venue to highlight the seriousness of THIS meeting.

"OK," I began, "this has gone on long enough...things need to change." Then for the next thirty minutes I talked, they talked, I threatened, I talked some more...I asked forgiveness...I talked more, they offered suggestions, and then we closed in prayer.

Later, as we were going through the Wilson bedtime ritual, my son Ike (11) smiled warmly and said to me, "It's weird, Dad, but it felt really good during the family meeting."

That is so funny to me. I mean we've done all kinds of fun family things like going to the beach, eating at Chuck E Cheese’s, traveling across the country...but Ike never EVER said any of it "felt really good." His comment made me wonder if hashing things through as a family "feels" closer and warmer than doing fun things as a family. There must be something comforting and reassuring to know that no matter what---we're a family. We may blow it often, but we still regroup, ask forgiveness, and work together for the common good.

So I was going to encourage you to do something fun as a family this week, but instead let me encourage you to have a family meeting. Ask how things are going; talk about issues that need to be addressed. And whether they verbalize it or will FEEL good. In fact, maybe ‘hashing’ is the best part of family. Go figure.

See you on the other side of the email veil.
You ‘da dad!!!

Todd Wilson- Familyman

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bumber Sticker Dad

Hey Dad,

Just got back from speaking at a Labor Day Family Camp in Lake Geneva, WI. It’s always encouraging to be around a bunch of parents who are in the same boat as we are (it’s a really BIG boat). Lake Geneva Youth Camp is a great facility. The food was stellar, the people wonderful, the grounds beautiful, and The Screamer…well, it made you scream (see photo below).

The only drawback was that we had to brave Chicago traffic. Not only was it congested and slow, but it also seemed as if every road we turned on was under construction.

While we were creeping through Chicago, a bumper sticker not only caught my eye, but also struck a nerve in the deep dad-recesses of my mind. The bumper sticker was just three words on a plain background, but it spoke volumes.


At first I wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but then I realized that a longer version might read, “My husband is gone so much during deer hunting season that it feels like I’m all alone in our marriage.”

I’m sure the person bought or received it as a joke, but I felt myself getting mad as I stared at the tail end of that car. In fact, I had half a mind to follow the car to its home and chew out the guy for abandoning his family in favor of sitting out in the woods with a bunch of buddies to plug some animal.

As the car pulled away, I began thinking of similar bumper stickers that might have a market.

Golfer’s Widow
Businessman’s Widow
Pastor’s Widow
Football Fan’s Widow
Internet User’s Widow
TV Watcher’s Widow
Traveling Salesman’s Widow

Truth is, many wives feel alone in their marriages, their families, and their lives. They got married thinking they were going to travel life’s highway together hand in hand with their men and what they got were men who were so busy doing their lives that they didn’t have much time for them. It might be one of the reasons why Facebook is so popular among the female folk. We’ve let them down.

Truth is: deer hunting is fun. Golfing and watching football are too. Ministry, business, and our jobs are important. But none of it matters as much as the promise we made to our wives to love, honor, and cherish them.

So let me ask you a question: What kind of bumper sticker would be on your wife’s car?


You ‘da dad!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grace for Fugitives

God’s grace is more expansive than our sin. The whole story of Jonah is God going after depraved, fallen fugitives.
We basically understand why God pursues Jonah, since he was a prophet and a part of God’s people Israel, and he cared about God, at some level anyway. Jonah’s prayer revealed that he was basically a friend of God, not an enemy.
Yet God also goes after Nineveh. Jonah was pathetic in many ways, but Nineveh was violently wicked, perverse and sadistic. It makes me wonder why God didn’t just do away with the whole nasty place. That would have spared God so much effort.
But the good news is that God’s ability to clean things up is infinitely greater than our ability to mess things up. God’s grace is so massive, so expansive, so wide-ranging, that it tracks down both kinds of runners from God. Those who try to rescue themselves by breaking the rules, and those who try keeping them.
There’s no place where you might be now, or where you might have been in the past, or where you might go in the future, that will ever be beyond the reach of God’s grace, nowhere!
Tullian Tchividjian in Surprised by Grace

Lamentations 3:22-23
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Thought to Apply:
Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it. It means that while we were sinners and enemies we have been treated as sons and heirs.

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Love is....

....born with the pleasure of looking at each other, it is fed with the necessity of seeing each other, it is concluded with the impossibility of separation!"

~Jose Marti y Perez (1853 - 1895)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Keeping the Marriage Bed Pure by Resolving Conflict

Resolving conflict healthily honors marriage and keeps the marriage bed pure. Praying with your spouse leads to emotional safety, which encourages sexual intimacy.
Hey married folks. How's your sex life? Satisfied? Is it all you dreamed about in the early weeks and months of being married?
If not, I wonder what happened to that early sense of love? Where did it escape to? And how did it get there so fast? We seem to dirty the slate so fast in marriage. Resentments set in when we argue and leave the making up until it's too late. All too often, we forget to go back to our spouse and resolve – and I mean really take care of – the relational junk that bogs us down. Resentments build up like a pile of bones in a closet we didn't know came with the wedding ring.
What if we took care of the conflicts that so easily get in the way? What if we consistently worked to handle conflict in a God-honoring, spouse-edifying manner? I'm guessing many marriages would be completely different.
We're told in Hebrews 13:4 to honor marriage and to keep the marriage bed pure. I wonder if taking care of conflict is part of what "keeping the marriage bed pure" is all about. I used to think this Scripture was only about sexual impurity and sex outside of marriage (which are obviously part of the author's intent). But what if we keep the marriage bed pure by taking care of resentment and by resolving conflict through loving and honest communication?
True sexual intimacy doesn't happen in a vacuum, and I guarantee it doesn't happen in a home filled with perpetual unresolved conflict. I can't truly give myself to my spouse, and she can't fully give herself to me, when we harbor resentment in our hearts. It doesn't matter if we're full of unforgiveness due to a real or perceived relationship misfire. The resentment that builds up from not dealing with conflict is just incompatible with true intimacy in marriage.
I've heard it said that sex in marriage is like air. You never know how important it is until you don't have it anymore. If you've been married very long, you can probably relate to this statement.
When my wife and I are consistently taking care of conflict as it arises, and we're promoting emotional safety for each other in our marriage, our sexual intimacy is consistently nurtured.
When we're in an extended time of unresolved conflict, or we choose to avoid issues, or not to fight or to play the passive-aggressive game, sex suddenly becomes a huge issue. During these times, we tend to fight over not enough frequency or being unsatisfied with our level of sexual intimacy. When we're verbally fighting, we seem to find any "reason" to be sexually discontent.
Resolve the conflict, however, and issues of sexual discontent go away like warm breath on a cold day. Practicing good communication skills is always a good foundation for taking care of conflict, but it's not necessarily the only thing we should be doing.
My wife and I have found that praying together is one of the best ways to build intimacy. Praying for your spouse and praying with your spouse are two different deals entirely. It's easy to pray for my wife. Praying with her, though, takes our level of intimacy to a deeper level. When I expose my weaknesses and fears to God in prayer with my wife, we find we're both once again grounding ourselves in God's relational Truths.
I hope I'm not misconstruing this area. Men, hear me on this – resolving conflict in your marriage does not equal more sex (my apologies to men everywhere). Resolving conflict, fighting fair and honoring God in how you communicate with your spouse does, however, provide emotional safety in your marriage.
Correctly taking of conflict honors your marriage commitment. It honors your spouse, and it honors God. Making your relationship a place of emotional safety keeps the marriage bed pure.
Copyright © 2008, Matthew D. Turvey

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not Going to Extremes

Being stubbornly silent or verbally explosive during marital conflict doesn't honor God. Finding balance in marital conflict resolution expresses honor and love for God.
A husband and wife were fighting. They refused to talk. Getting ready for a business trip the next day, and not willing to be the first one to cave in and actually speak, the husband wrote his wife a note, "Please make sure I'm up by 5:30 a.m. I must catch a flight."
At 9:00 a.m. the next morning, the husband awakens and realizes he's missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn't awakened him, when he noticed a note by the bed. It read, "It's 5:30 a.m. Wake up."
Who wins in a situation like this? Have you ever felt like you and your spouse are spinning your wheels in an argument you both know will never go anywhere?
My wife has always been better at keeping her mouth shut than I have. I mean this as a compliment. I tend to open my mouth too early, too often or too much (note to self: never again ask a woman if she's pregnant or just took the gray out of her hair).
The downside of my wife's verbal reticence was that early in our marital conflicts she could leave me talking to a blank stare for days on end. She could shut down the lines of communication with a flip of some mental and/or emotional switch.
It wasn't healthy, because the silent partner in marriage holds all the cards. The silent partner controls the emotional tenor of the marriage. The one who chooses obstinate quiet over talking through conflict stunts the growth of the marriage.
It's the same with our relationship with God. If I choose to hold back in my prayer life, to be stingy in those things I share with God, then I'm stunting my spiritual growth. And who does that hurt? God? I think his omnipotence can handle my freeze tactics. The silent treatment hurts my relationship with God and with my spouse. Obstinate silence changes the balance of power in any relationship for the worse.
Lest you think I have it in for quiet people, consider the other side of the coin. I know those whose verbal tirades have left their spouse literally quivering in fear of what comes next. I know husbands and wives who, in the name of "being real" or being "honest" in their marriage, let loose with biting, stinging words that wound their spouses to the core.
Instead of hurting the marriage by holding back verbally, these folks hurt the marriage by lashing out. These couples sell the same damage in a different wrapper.
To find the balance between these extremes, recognize that marriage, like our relationship with Christ, takes communication. Just as you won't grow spiritually without some form of consistent prayer life, you won't grow in your marriage without some form of consistent communication. If you're the spouse that likes to hold back verbally when you're mad, and you don't take the initiative to come back to truly resolve whatever conflict you're facing, you cheat yourself and your marriage out of God's best. If you're trying to keep the balance of power in your favor by holding back verbally, you're probably succeeding – but at what price?
Maybe you're the spouse using words to tip the balance of power in your favor. You trample on your spouse's feelings, self-esteem and dignity with every hurtful verbal exchange. Maybe you find yourself rationalizing your communication style by saying, "She needed to hear that," or, "I know the truth hurts, but somebody has to tell him." If this is you, I'd caution that there are very rare, limited cases when a married individual should take this stance of being marital judge and jury.
Instead, in humility, we would do better to take whatever "she needed to hear" or the "truth that you had to tell him" before the throne of grace. Earnestly ask God if your heart and attitude are right before ever going back to your spouse for the kind of conversation that could once again trample your spouse's spirit.
Find balance in your style of managing marital conflict. Silence hurts. So does verbally lashing out. Neither is a healthy way to resolve conflict in your marriage. In extremes, both styles of resolving conflict are futile relational power-grabs. If you're the quiet one, learn from your blabber-mouth spouse. If you're the talker that shoots verbal darts non-stop, learn from your tight-lipped spouse. Stop doing things the way you've always done them, and begin looking for different results.
Most importantly, though, don't focus solely on the balance of power in your marriage. Focus on the balance of power between you and your Maker. Balance this scale, and the rest tends to take care of itself. Are you talking with God? Or are you the silent partner?
Copyright © 2008, Matthew D. Turvey

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

It's Unfair Not To Fight

Avoiding conflict in marriage isn't fair to yourself or your spouse. Learning to embrace and resolve conflict healthily leads to a better marriage.
Remember June and Ward Cleaver – that oh-so-happy couple that chuckled through life's lessons with nary a care? The couple that never seemed to have any conflict? Never seemed to fight? Gee, Beav, weren't they happy?
June and Ward were my parents. They never seemed to disagree, to argue or to have any conflict whatsoever. I remember hearing my parents have a serious disagreement only one or two times during my formative years. If you grew up in a family where fighting was the norm and days of peace were something only the neighbors experienced, you may be jealous.
There are two sides to this coin, however. I came out of adolescence and into adulthood fearing conflict. I detested conflict. I didn't have a clue how to handle it. Conflict brought up emotions I didn't know how to handle. I had no backbone in my personal relationships – all because I didn't want any conflict. I ran scared.
Fast forward to marriage. God placed a wonderful woman in my life who was much less noticeably afflicted with conflict-aphobia. True to past form, I spent the first years of our marriage trying to avoid conflict and fighting. I hated the emotions dredged up by conflict, and I didn't know what to do when my wife brought up issues that were difficult for me to deal with. I wasted huge amounts of time avoiding conflict, hiding from it and trying to sweep it under the rug without dealing with it. I was doing all this while thinking it was best for me, best for my wife and best for our marriage.
However, instead of having less and less conflict (my inherent goal in avoiding it), my wife and I started having more frequent, more intense and more completely unsolvable conflicts. The very conflict I was running away from kept coming right back at me. I was running down a mountain away from an avalanche that wasn't slowing down.
I didn't allow my wife to have any negative emotions – or at least not to let me know about them. Through my words and actions, she understood I couldn't be bothered – or wouldn't be bothered – with conflict.
I was communicating to her, "If you have a problem with something in our relationship, don't tell me about it. It's your issue. You figure it out, and then tell me about it with a big fake smile on your face. Don't tell me about your pain. I don't want to know that you're feeling pushed out of my life because of my utter lack of willingness to deal with reality."
Our marriage arrived at a tipping point. Something had to give. The "my way or the highway" approach wasn't working. My wife couldn't go on with not being able to express herself to me. I couldn't go on hiding and avoiding the conflict gurgling right under the surface. I was destroying my marriage in my short-sighted efforts to make it my version of "better."
It was at this point of hurt that a series of events and connections with godly people led to me a life-changing revelation. I realized it was unfair not to fight. How selfish and arrogant of me to think that marriage had to be my way or the highway – especially when my way wasn't God's way.
For too many years I had been cheating my wife out of the chance to be heard. I was squashing vitality and life out of her and our marriage without even knowing it.
So I began to change. I began to accept that conflict done right is a wonderful thing. It's a crucible through which we take our relationship to a deeper level. We learn something about each other that lets us love deeper. When we accept our own shortcomings and the faults of our spouse and we work through them honestly, we get an incredible opportunity to extend God's grace to another person.
I soon realized I had also been cheating myself out of a huge part of marriage. I had not allowed myself to experience the emotions I was so scared of. When I paused and felt – really felt – the emotions that previously terrified me, I grew in ways I didn't imagine possible. Taking off my emotional sunglasses led me to see the world, my wife and my marriage in a full spectrum of new clarity. Life wasn't so one-sided anymore.
Maybe you find yourself in a marriage where your spouse "can't do" conflict. Or maybe it's you that can't do conflict. It's not fair to continue on this path.
Remember a few key principles to guide you through the process of fighting fair:
Emotions are nothing to avoid or be afraid of. Emotions just are. God gave them to us. Let's celebrate them in all their messiness, complexity, joy and pain.
Emotions are signposts that help you navigate the journey of marriage. Embrace the emotional expressions of your spouse and look for the message behind the words. What does your spouse's anger mean about their current experience and satisfaction in marriage? Learn from these emotions.
You make a better marriage when you work through conflict and honestly confront emotions. It may not sound macho, but my ability to cry with my wife and to better understand her pain led to increased intimacy in other areas of our relationship.
I'm not trying to be Ward Cleaver in marriage anymore. My wife and I no longer avoid conflict in our marriage. We see conflict as a chance to find the deep and rich rewards that come from living examined lives. We've learned to fight for our marriage – which is only fair.
By Matthew D. Turvey

Thursday, June 3, 2010

From Tragedy to Victory

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.
— James 5:11
It is easy for us to read Job's story and critique him at certain points. But we need to keep in mind that Job never read the Book of Job. He didn't know it would turn out well in the end. He didn't know about the conversations between God and Satan. He didn't know why everything was happening. All he knew was that one day, it all was going beautifully, and the next day, the bottom dropped out with no real explanation that he could see. Yet Job persevered in his faith and integrity.

We are told in James 5:11, "We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy." God's plan finally ended in good, but Job could not see that midstream.
There are things about life that we don't understand. God can bring good out of bad. It doesn't mean that bad becomes good, because bad is bad. But it does mean that God can bring good despite bad, and our tribulations can bring forth good things. As Hebrews 12:11 says, "No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it's painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way."

Before disciplining a child, a parent sometimes will say, "This will hurt me more than it will hurt you." Meanwhile, the child is thinking, Yeah, right! That is how we feel when we are being disciplined or are going through hardship. It hurts. But it also brings forth something good.

God can take the greatest of tragedies and turn them into the greatest of victories.

Greg Laurie

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Made Katherine Cry

Hey Dad,
It’s another gray day of traveling. I wouldn’t mind a little sunshine but am thankful for the pleasant temperatures. There’s nothing worse than traveling in a blazing hot RV. It sure has been encouraging meeting so many Team Familyman members.

Everywhere we travel, I meet guys who are part of this great team we’ve assembled…and you’re part of it too. The thing I like about it is that it’s nice to know we’re all in the same boat. Every dad struggles with loving his wife and his children, and the pull of the unimportant.

That’s comforting to me…especially after making my daughter Katherine (13) cry. That’s right I, the Familyman, purveyor of good fathering and the embodiment of sensitivity, made my daughter cry.

It was one of those RV days. You know the kind. I was on edge. Anyway, at one point my wife was in a store doing something so I thought it would be a good time to pick up the mess.

“Katherine, would you pick up the stuff on the floor?” I asked nicely.

A few minutes later, sticking my head out from under the dinette to come up for air, Katherine called to me from the back bedroom.

“Dad, come here. I want to show you something.”

I got up looked at the mess that she had not touched and walked back to the back bedroom to see the smile of anticipation in my daughter’s face. It quickly vanished after I laid into her for not doing as she was told.
Even as the tears flowed down her cheeks, I continued. Then the dam burst and she wept openly and said, “I was just so excited to show you this.”

My heart was broken for making Katherine cry. I was so focused on me and my instructions that I forgot what was most important…my relationship with my daughter. The truth is, if I had been a good dad at the moment, then I would have listened more and talked less (and a whole bunch softer).

Since then, I’ve been making an extra effort to heal the wound that I caused. I want my princess to know that she’s more important to me than everything…including her behavior. I’ve talked softly, stroked her feminine side, and showed her that I’m glad she’s my princess.

So, Dad, don’t make your daughter cry, and if you have recently…make it right.

You 'da Dad,
Todd Wilson of Family Man Ministries,

Friday, May 21, 2010

Want Financial Freedom?

Rock Inc, Business mountain group of HROCK, would like to extend an invitation to Hrock church to join the Crown Ministry Life Group Study. This is a 10 week study on financial fundamentals based on Scripture. Crown was founded by Larry Burkett and is an depth study on scripture as it relates to finance but also gives practical guidance on accelerating debt reduction, budgeting, saving, and investing. This course will put you on the path towards financial freedom.

(image courtesy AllPosters.)

Due to limited availability, first to pay will have priority on the days and time.

We would like to start our first set of classes on or about the weekend of June 8. The class days will either be on a Sat, Mon,or Tue. Let me now which of these three days fit your schedule. Here is what we need:

1. Click on the link below and review the requirements for the course.

2. If still interested let me now which class days you would like to attend. (Sat, Mon or Tue.) Actual start dates will be determined once we get the interested folks information.

3. Contact me to make arrangements to collect $45.00 to order the materials.

4. We will plan to have an orientation in June to get the material and have an orientation.

Please contact Robert and Kaylee Fukui with questions, to register or for more details.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tell The One You Love!!!

Proverbs 16:24- “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

This morning when I was worshiping and praying with my family, I asked God to teach me how to share my thoughts more. There are a lot of times when I will have a thought of how much I love my wife or how hot she looks or how much I appreciate her. This also applies for my kids. The problem is I don’t always say what I’m thinking. I do tell them thoughts and feelings that are on my heart, but I am saying I could do a better job. I know how much it means to them.
Starting today, I am going to do a better job of speaking what is on my heart and mind. I want to lift up my wife, my children, and loved ones. This is not natural for me, but God is really doing some work in me. I love the change. I realize I am a work in progress, but I want to fulfill God’s purpose in me as a husband, a father, a brother, and a son.
So I encourage you today, do not hold back on words of love, kindness, encouragement, thankfulness, and truth. Life is too short, and the days go by too fast. We could never hear enough loving words from the people we love, especially our children. Let’s do this together and let’s make a change on how we express ourselves to our loved ones. So the next time you have a loving thought, don’t keep it to yourself, share it with the one you love.

Mark Soto

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Source of Self-Worth

Dennis Smith was rushing to class at a Christian school when he met one of his students lingering in the hallway.

“You’re going to be late for class,” he said.

The student turned away, staring out a window. The young man was crying as he explained to Dennis, “The other guys say I’m not cool. They tell me that constantly.”

The final bell rang as they walked toward the classroom, and Dennis gave the student a parting word of encouragement. Dennis recalls how he felt after the encounter. “My heart just ached for him. Felling like he didn’t fit in was crushing this kid.”

As both a youth associate serving in the schools and as a parent, Dennis has seen firsthand the emotional and social struggles of young people. “Self-esteem is a huge issue,” he says. “The young man I met in the hallway was only 11 years old, but his buddies had berated him for not being willing to use profanity and for never having had a sexual experience.”

Whether they’re preteens or nearly adults, peers can compromise the otherwise healthy self-esteem of a young man.

And guys are not alone in this struggle with self-esteem. Madison is a ninth-grader who enjoys the support of an affirming family and healthy church. But Madison says even Christian teen girls feel the pressure to appear beautiful and perfect in every way. “For girls my age, everything is about body image, “she says.

Beverly Odom is assistant director of a large student ministry in Georgia. She says, “Teen girls are constantly comparing themselves to each other and to images they see in the media. I often see the body obsession thing linger on into adulthood.

Whether positive or negative, realistic or skewed, the views our kids form of themselves during adolescence stay with them for years. Their self-esteem influences mental acuity, emotional health and behavior. Beverly says, “The pressure on most kids today is just unbelievable. The quest to be accepted goes on 24/7. Even Christian teens can lose sight of that they have in Christ and can be pressured to do things that, deep down, they know are wrong.”

How do we help teens arrive at a God-honoring balanced sense of self? “The kids we’ve seen flourish are the ones who accurately understand who they are in Christ,” Beverly says. “They must draw their identity from Jesus. Parents should try and steer their kids away from allowing peer pressure, social posturing or media to sour their perspective.”

Christian teens have clear and tangible reasons to feel OK about who they are. Their self-worth should be grounded on, and bolstered by, the following realities:

- They are made in God’s Image.
- Jesus personally cares about them.
- They’re worthy of unconditional love in your home.
- They can find a haven of acceptance among other believers.
- God has a plan for their life.

Although these truths can be a great source of encouragement, teens’ emotions don’t automatically “catch up” to the facts. Self-esteem issues often feed on irrationality. Teens must vigilantly pursue an honest view of themselves, their circumstances and the Lord. Feelings shouldn’t be allowed to trump the facts.

A healthy self-esteem isn’t grounded in one’s strengths or abilities. Of the five points listed above, none leads teens to find their value by comparing themselves to others. Somebody will always come along who is prettier, wealthier, smarter or more athletic. That’s inevitable.

Our teens’ self-esteem must come from their knowledge of who Jesus is and from the assurance of His love and care. Parents have the privilege of emphasizing these truths as they model acceptance, forgiveness and love. These truths provide lasting purpose and clear direction even to those traversing the heady and often challenging years of adolescence.

Alex McFarland has been ministering to youth and their parents for 20 years, and is author of the STAND series of devotional books for teens.

There is no doubt; it is very challenging to parent our kids in today’s society. It seems like every where we turn; there is an attack on what we as Christians believe our family values should be. The world says the opposite of what we are trying to instill in our kids. It is so important to encourage our kids with words of kindness, encouragement, love, praise, and the truth of who they are in Jesus. But one thing we as parents can give our children is a marriage that reflects and reveals who God is. Our parenting starts with our relationship with Jesus, and our relationship as husband and wife. We owe our children a loving, forgiving, and secure home. Like I said before, “Our kids are watching and learning, not by what we say, but by what we do.” I have learned this over the years.

My wife and I have a 22 year old son who is married and has blessed us with a beautiful granddaughter and a 14 year old and a 6 year old daughter. I have seen a difference in all their lives as my wife and I (especially myself) have learned to love, encourage, affirm, and create an environment where it is OK to fail or make a mistake. This builds trust with our kids, (don't get me wrong, we still need to discipline our kids and there are consequences for poor choices). Just like our Daddy in heaven creates for us. With Him, we are not reminded of our past failures or our imperfection. We are reminded how much He loves us and how we are created in His image.

So when we establish trust; when our kids know that we won’t fly off the deep end through growing pains, they will be more likely to come to us in times of confusion, times of peer pressure, and times of trouble. We haven’t always got it right, but our God is full of grace and compassion. He gives us the wisdom and discernment to raise our kids. I know there will be bumps in the road and we will make mistakes as parents, but we must continue to model Jesus and love, encourage, affirm, and create a secure home for our kids, no matter what age they are.

Mark Soto

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May Family Picnic

Eden Rockers know how to relax and have fun!  Thanks for coming out today.  It was wonderful to see so many of our families out enjoying the beautiful day and rich fellowship!  (and you can never go wrong with passing around cookies!)

Thanks Daddies for playing ball with the kids. 
It was such a joyful noise to hear the happy shouting and laughter!

And a SHOUT OUT goes to Mark and Raquel who celebrated their wedding anniversary today!  Have a blessed, romantic, and abundant year Soto Family!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

"I Love You More Than..."

I wanted to share this article with all you Dad's. I recommend you go to for encouraging articles for dad's. I pray this will bless you, motivate you, and encourage you with your kids. Remember, it is not too late to connect with our kids. When you think about it, we only have them for such a short period of their lives. It blows me away when I look at my son to see him already a husband and father. So take advantage of the time you have with them. Let them know how much you love them. I know I have blown it at times, but I have learned not to dwell on past mistakes and to make the best of now and the future.

Mark Soto

Not long ago, a reader of this weekly email named Tom sent us an encouraging message. He took our suggestions on expressing love to his children and made them his own. He wrote:
Recently, I read in your [email] about how to connect with your small child. I got down on my five-year-old's bed and told her, "Do you know that I love you wider than an airplane's wings?" "Do you know that I love you more than Mama Kangaroo loves the little baby in her pouch?" "Do you know that I love you more times than all the leaves on all the trees in our yard?" Later, she told me with a beaming smile, "Dad, I love when you tell me those things."
To Think About ...
Great things can happen when a dad thinks creatively and expresses his heart to his child. And maybe there's a nugget here that you can apply with your children. What's in your heart for your child? During those moments when you feel pride or love or joy welling up because you have great kids or you grasp the privilege of being a dad, how do you express it? Those moments might not happen every day, but look for them and relay your feelings to your child.
Maybe, like Tom, you can share a meaningful word picture, or renew your commitment to spend regular time with your child. Bonus hugs are always a good idea. And every kid wants to hear their dad say something like, "I thought of you today, and it really felt good." Too often, we dads don't feel comfortable sharing our emotions, but we need to overcome that, and one of these ideas could be a good place to start.

Championship Fathering

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Barrier To Prayer

So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.— Matthew 5:23–24

An unforgiving Christian is an oxymoron. If you are a Christian, then you must forgive, because forgiven people are forgiving people. Therefore, you cannot be an unforgiving Christian. And if you want your prayers to be answered in the affirmative, then you must forgive others. Jesus gave this command: "If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matthew 5:23–24).Jesus also taught us to pray, "And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us . . . (Luke 11:4). We need to learn to forgive, because we are all flawed. We will sin against people, and people will sin against us. Husbands will offend their wives, and wives will offend their husbands. Parents will offend their children, and children will offend their parents. Family members will offend one another. Friends will offend one another. So we must choose to forgive. We must determine not to let those offenses keep us from communion and fellowship with God.It may be that someone has really hurt you. You may even have every right to be angry and bitter. But do you know who gets hurt the most when you harbor anger and hostility and vengeful thoughts toward someone? You do. And not only that, you are cutting yourself off from fellowship with God. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to "be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. . . ."When God forgave you, did you deserve to be forgiven? Does the person who hurt you deserve to be forgiven? Forgive anyway. Based on God's love and grace, we should forgive.
Greg Laurie

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

After Church Hospitality

Come join us!

Mark and Gana enjoying coffee, fruit, and biscotti
after Sunday morning service.

Have you been enjoying the hospitality after church on Sunday mornings?  If you haven't checked it out yet, please come see us under the white tent right outside Ambassador Auditorium!  We have organic coffee and fruit and the best biscotti outside Italy!

If you are looking for a way to get involved at HRock and with other Eden Rock families, please consider volunteering once a month!  It's easy and it's fun! 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

May 10: It's National Wear Your Apron Day!

I'm wearing my apron.

It's about more than keeping clean while cooking dinner.  It's a subtle celebration of womanhood. 

It's claiming (or reclaiming) a domain almost lost in our society.  This domain--home, we call it--has been surrendered piece by piece to fast food joints, social clubs, satellite TV, internet, smart phones, and a million little devices and appliances that claim to to make our lives easier.  And yet the hub of all life--the home, has been whittled away.  It's scarce these days for families to sit around a table eating a home cooked meal, having engaging conversation, and priceless bonding.  Table linens and the good china are brought out only on special occassions and sometimes not even then.  Where are the cosy little nooks where mother and child snuggle together with a good book?  Where are the lazy afternoons laying on the lawn together, looking at the clouds?  Where do the young people go when they need a good cry?  Do they bury their faces in Mama's apron and know somehow that everything will be OK?

I wear my apron with pride.  It's my way of saying it's OK--in fact, it's more than OK, it's great!--to be "just a housewife."  I get to wipe the tears and bind up broken hearts.  I get to make messes in the kitchen and clean them up.  I get to wipe up spills and sweep crumb-covered floors.  I get to clean up after some fantastic little people who are worthy of all my hard work.  They are princes and priests and I am sowing seeds into the harvest of their greatness.  I am blessed to be able to have a place that is mine--to express myself in all the details, all the nooks and crannies.  A vase of flowers here.  A piece of homemade art there. 

This apron is my uniform.  It says that I am on duty.

What other profession in the world allows one the freedom of full expression?  What other profession lets you change directions in the middle of a project?  Let's put away the math books and bake some cookies.  What other profession pays you in the early morning warmth of a cuddly child who smells so sweet?  Can anything be compared to a child reaching into your apron pocket looking for a toy, a piece of gum, or a sticker and then looking up to you with eyes that say, "Thanks Mom" even if his lips don't?

I am a woman. 

I am a housewife. 

I am a cultural revoluationary. 

I am ready and on duty. 

When I put on my apron I feel empowered. 

Not all superheroes wear capes.  Some wear aprons.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How Amazing She Is!!!

I am married to an amazing woman, an amazing wife, and an amazing mother and grandmother. I watch my wife as she gives of her self time and time again. I am in awe of her heart of giving. I know how much God loves me, when I think about the wife He blessed me with. I just want to honor my wife this day, on Mother’s Day.
I want to say thank you babe for loving me where I am at. For having the patience to deal with me and for holding back what I deserved when I have failed you as your husband. You are an amazing mother to our children. Your love is never ending, even when you are tired or at your wits end. I have learned so much from you by just watching you with our children. You have taught me to really think before I speak, especially when I am angry. You have always encouraged me to spend individual time with our children. I am a better father today because of you.
You have such a mothering heart. It is so obvious when I see young women who just want to be around you or come to you for advice. People tell me how much they love you. I am so proud to be your husband. I want to encourage you as a wife and a mother. I may not say it enough, but you are doing an amazing job as a mother. And to see the impact you have made in Ana’s (our Daughter-in-law) life is amazing. What a difference in her character as a wife and mother. You are teaching her so much through your example. I know you don’t give your self enough credit, but you deserve it more than you think.
You are also the hottest Grandma I know. Our Granddaughter Aubrey is so blessed to have you as her Grandmother. When I look at our son and our daughter’s, I see your heart in them. God has used you tremendously in our children. Thank you for being so transparent with us. For allowing us into your heart. I love you so much. If I had to do it all over again, I would marry you again, and again. HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Mark (your hubby)

Friday, May 7, 2010


It seems that mothering has fallen on hard times.  This wonderful noble vocation has not only lost a lot of respect (ever heard someone say they were "just a mom"?) it's become more and more difficult--or so it seems.

According to Save The Children's Mothers Index the United States is not the easiest place to be a mother.  In fact, the U.S. rates number 28--under many other developed countries including the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; and eastern and central European states such as Croatia and Slovenia.  What sort of things effect a country's score?  Things like access to health care, enrollment in preschools, length and pay of maternity leave and access to birth control.  (To see the whole index for 2010, click here.)

In all my motherhood struggles, I cannot say that my having (or not having, as it were) health insurance, having (or not having, as it were) my children enrolled in preschool, having (or not having, as it were) maternity leave and using (or not using) birth control have ever been factors in what made the struggle harder.

What are my greatest challenges?  How to find time to spend intimate time with the Lord, because every time I sit down with my Bible and a cup of tea there is another diaper that needs to be changed.  Questioning whether or not I'm giving each child enough one-on-one time.  Striking and constantly readjusting the balance of much is too much and how much is too little?  Finding time to honor my marriage with special one-on-one time aside from children and when I find the time talking about something other than the children.  Saturdays filled with dentist appointments, dog to the vet, groceries and errands leaving me too tired to fold the laundry on the couch.  Wanting to connect with each child, honoring their individuality and special gifts, and feeling guilty when I know I've blown it.

Is mothering really more difficult than it was in the past?  Of that I'm not sure.  I know it is when I start using the world's scales to do evaluations of my mothering.  You know that arbitrary and completely artificial list we all have in our minds somewhere.  Never lose your temper, three square meals a day with no repeats in a week, clean house, manicured lawn, children involved in community activities, Awanas, piano lessons and sports, keep up with correspondance, teach the children manners, fingerpaint with the kids, volunteer for several church activities and committees, go on all school field trips, spend time with your husband with enough energy intimacy at night, and in all this find time to stay fit!  When I hold my mothering up to that I feel like I am failing.  But, when I come into the grace of God and look to His Word for what my role is, I know that I am more than able in Him! 

A friend once shared with me her philosophy of parenting, "My job," she said, "is to be a steward of my child's journey."  I love that.

I am to instruct my children in the ways the of the Lord, cover them in prayer, show them love and model for them a life lived passionately with integrity.  And remember grace.  I need to show my kids how to extend grace to others by first extending it to myself.

Breathe.  Deeply. 

Grace.  God has already provided everything I need.  Inhale.

I cannot earn His love by my good works or good mothering.  Exhale.

I have to trust that when I fall short, God librally makes up the difference.  Breathe in grace.

I have to let go of the desire to appear perfect.  Breathe out grace.

I have to decide that Jesus has already acheived the standard and that I stand complete in Him.  Deeper and deeper.

Learn to say "no" to some things so that I can say an ethusiastic "yes" to the best things.  Yes, Lord.

I can forgive others for their imperfections, becuase I stand forgiven for mine.  Joy.

And if I can accept these truths for myself, I can teach my children to accept them, too.

The United States may rank number 28 in the Mother's Index, but the Lord stands number 1 as a Father.  And He is teaching me how to parent by parenting me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Taking The 'I' Out Of Marriage

Selflessness is not a marriage strategy but a heart transformation in Christ.
by Clem Boyd
It was late Sunday night. Julia had slipped into something more comfortable. I could hear water running and smell scented soap. I knew what she was up to, and I loved her for it — she was cleaning the kitchen.
This is usually one of my household duties. After a weekend of nonstop activity, it would be understandable if Julia just plopped down and rested. Instead, she chose to clean the dirtiest room in the house — for the sake of the family.
Acts of sacrifice, sprinkled freely throughout a marriage, make love richer and deeper. We know that, so what's the problem with doing it? Self.
Self constantly asks for more: What about my needs? What about my hurts? What about my time? Sacrificial love challenges us to give to our spouse in uncomfortable or unreasonable ways — ways that cost us emotion, time and pride.
If we pray to become more selfless, God will act. But self-giving love as a regular virtue in marriage means that we deal with some tough questions:
How can I love this way when I'm feeling unloved?For newlyweds, giving comes easier. After a few months, though, we need renewable motivation to maintain selflessness for our husband or wife, in spite of the cost to ourselves. Selflessness has to start with turning to Jesus.
Through Christ, we are promised God's love forever. To be selfless requires thinking about how God's love for us cost Him His Son. How can we apply this type of selflessness to loving our spouse?
Why put myself out when my spouse is acting like a jerk?What better time is there? Jesus didn't wait till we became more kind or thoughtful before He died for us. He did it while we were still selfish and uncaring. This same extraordinary kind of love, shown in small acts of generous behavior, will improve your marriage.
One of the most selfless things about Julia is the way she listens when I'm a jerk. Recently, I was pretty negative about a youth ministry we're involved in. It was hard for her to hear that I questioned why I was doing this outreach, that it felt burdensome, that I thought it was really more her thing than my thing.
Julia didn't respond in anger. She listened, expressed her feelings and prayed quietly. She offered a gentle answer that settled my wrath, allowing me to think through the real problem. (As much as I love working with kids, it drains me.)
What's the difference between selflessness and passively letting my spouse get his or her way?My friend Martha Manikas-Foster puts it this way: "Selflessness costs something dear, and conflict avoidance protects something dear. When my husband David became more willing to work out conflicts, putting aside his natural tendencies to avoid them, then I saw he was being selfless."
Often I'll find ways to care for Julia, but if it means discussing a problem and enduring the intense discussion that might ensue, I avoid it. The most loving thing I should do is pray about it, talk about it and stop pretending it's not there.
How can I love my spouse more when I feel as though I'm giving so much already?You may feel overwhelmed with work, kids and church. How can you do something extra for your spouse?
When I'm out of energy, I admit it to God, then my weakness becomes a conduit for divine strength. Maybe I'm extra tired, and Julia asks me to rub her back. So I pray, God, give me energy.
Other times we may want to be the giver but won't admitour own needs. Occasionally, the most selfless thing we can do is to acknowledge feeling overwhelmed and articulate our inadequacies.
• • •
Selflessness is not a marriage strategy but a heart transformation in Christ. "Jesus defines selflessness from the Incarnation to Calvary, so to be selfless is to identify with Him," says Martha's husband, David. "The point is to value your spouse so much that her best really is your goal."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Mother's Vital Role

"A mother plays a vital role as the primary interpreter of a father's personality, character and integrity to their children. She can either help them bond together in love, or she can become a wedge that keeps them apart."

(Dr. Dobson in Parenting Isn't For Cowards)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April Date-Your-Mate Winners!

Big CONGRATULATIONS go out to Steve and Elizabeth Bates for winning April's Date-Your-Mate Giveaway!!! What did they do on their winning date? Went out for Brazilian food and shopping!

Steve and Elizabeth were college sweetheart, meeting at InterVarsity! They were friends for 2 years, dated for 4 years, engaged for 1 year and have been married for 13 years. Been making history together for 20 years!

In their own words:

Q. Elizabeth, what do you love most about Steve?

Elizabeth: I love Steve for his gentleness, trustworthiness, loyalty, love for God, compassionate heart, total ability to tear up easily and unashamed about it, which by the way, is one very attractive thing I find in him (once we were watching Homeward Bound in a movie theater, a story about dogs and cats who talk? Well, I had my head on his shoulder and suddenly, I felt 'raindrops' on my head. I looked up, there were huge drops of tears rolling down his eyes...awwwww...such a gentle giant, my Stevie); and not forgetting his good looks and his absolute unconditional love towards Judah and Sophia. The way he loves on our kids melts my heart every time and makes me fall in love with him over and over again.

Q. Steve, what do you love most about Elizabeth?

Steve: I love Liz for her tender heart and her selfless servanthood toward others. She's an awesome mommy for my kids, creative, and organized, which keeps me balanced and on schedule. She is my beautiful wife and a woman of honor whom I trust completely.

Q. What is your favorite kind of date? What do you do when you go out?

Elizabeth: Before kids, it was the non-crunch times where Steve just hung around me while I shopped, followed by dinner and a movie. I loved that. After kids, honestly? When the babysitter comes, I'm absolutely ecstatic to venture anywhere and do anything away from the kids for a bit, with my Stevie! =)

Steve: Dinner and a movie.

Q. Share at least one piece of marriage advice or encouragement.

Elizabeth: The humility to walk over to each other after an argument (even though you really don't feel like it), reach out and touch, muster enough sincerity to say, "I'm sorry (for whatever part you were responsible for). Please forgive me and I love you. We can talk about it again, but for now, let's move on, okay?" To me, those words and that humble act in and of itself draws in a spirit of reconciliation and peace. Easier said than done, but I'm a strong believer in it for any married couple! =)

Steven: Dying to self and giving up pride. Learning how to listen and being humble as a husband.

What did they win?

An autographed copy of Real Life Marriage by Tim and Anne Evans! We've recommended this resource in past (read it here) and are thrilled that Tim and Anne graciously donated it to our giveaway!

The Evans Family

From their website: "Life is about story. Take a retired Chicago-suburban fire chief, a nurse, thirty-plus years of marriage, six adult children, four grandkids, one dog and what do you have? The story of a Real Life marriage and family."

Please avail yourself to this great resource!!

We have some great prizes coming up next month as well. So, get out there and DATE YOUR MATE!!!! Time spent with your spouse makes you a winner every time! And you get a chance to win a fun prize from Eden Rock as well! (For the details on the giveaway, click here.)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Love Is...Positive

1 Peter 4:8- “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

One of the things I love about my wife is that she’s persistent. If she gets something in mind, she makes it happen. One of the things that irritates me about her is her stubbornness. What’s the difference between persistence and stubbornness? When she pushes her persistence too far. Or from my perspective, whether I agree or disagree with what she’s doing!
I can’t love stubborn people. If Karen’s vacuuming the floor, and I step in front of her to get a hug, if I’m not careful, I’ll get sucked up in the vacuum. She’s completely on task.
If I see that stubbornness (the negative characteristic) it becomes difficult for me to love her. If I focus on the persistence (the positive side) and remember that this is part of what I love in her, not only do I nurture and grow what’s positive in her, but I nurture and grow my character too.
How do we best do that? The apostle Paul tells us: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
We need to concentrate on things that are the best, not the worst.
Michael Systma in Marriage Partnership

Bonus Reading: 1 John 4:7-16, 20-21

My Response: One attribute or character trait I appreciate most about my spouse is…

I can relate to this story. My wife can also be persistent herself. When I got home from work this morning, I crawled into bed with my wife to cuddle. I laid there with her for about a half an hour, and when she woke up, the first thing she said was, “I got to do laundry”. For me I’m thinking about just sitting and sipping on my coffee, and enjoying talking with my wife. But I realize how she is wired. I know if she doesn’t start the laundry first thing, she will not be able to sit and enjoy her coffee. And by the way, I too have almost been sucked up by the vacuum. I know to just stay out of the way. If my wife’s thoughts were a computer screen, she would have multiple windows open, and she would be thinking about all of them at one time. As for me, I usually have one window open at a time, and if I have a second one open, it is usually minimized. So what I’m trying to say is that I used to get frustrated about my wife having to do some chores first thing in the morning, but I’ve come to appreciate how she takes care of things immediately. I’m a procrastinator, so I love that my wife handles things right then and there. And there are times that I could easily look at the negative side of it, but I choose to see how God created her, and it is amazing. And likewise, my wife knows how I enjoy our coffee time in the morning before anybody else wakes up, so she will do what she needs to do and sit with me so we can stay connected. So the next time you are irritated with your spouse, ask God to show you how to focus on their positive character traits. Imagine if God only focused on our negative traits.

Mark Soto

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What Should Be A Father's Top Prioity?

Not every dad will agree on what belongs in the No. 1 spot, but I’m convinced that one goal should be near the top of every father’s list: modeling God’s character.
Many of our children’s ideas about God will be based on their relationship with us. If children grow up with an earthly father who is absent or emotionally distant, it will be much more difficult for them to view God as an actively involved heavenly Father. If a dad is overly harsh and rigid, his children will likely see God as a judge who is quick to punish their sins. On the other hand, if a dad is engaged and loving, his children will more readily put their faith in a God who cares for them.
Whether we like it or not, our fathering will create impressions about God for our children, and it’s up to us to make the most of our opportunities. We have great potential here. We can model qualities that will allow our children to have a more accurate picture of God’s character.
At first blush, this task seems impossible. After all, none of us come close to matching God’s perfection. My dad was not perfect either, but he made God vivid to me by how he treated me. He was not condescending or negative; I respected him, and I learned to respect God.
How can we show our kids what God is like? Consider the attributes of God: He is love. He is just. He is merciful. He is slow to anger. He is available. God protects and provides. Does that sound like the kind of father you want to be? No doubt, that’s the kind of father your kids need.
Make every effort to reflect the character of God in your life-which means you should get to know Him. Then you’ll be able to give your children a glimpse of who God is as their Father.

Carey Casey is CEO of the National Center for Fathering
and the author of Championship Fathering

I know it can be challenging to father our children in today’s society. It seems like we have an uphill battle. Every where we turn, we seem to deal with a world that wants to redefine what the family is. God created family, and God created us in His own image and likeness. And He created us as father’s to reflect and reveal who God is to our children. Like I’ve said before, He is not looking for perfect parents, or perfect fathers. He is looking for father’s who are after His heart and want to love like Him. To be just and merciful like Him. To protect and provide like Him. To be available to our spouse and children and to be slow to anger like Jesus taught us through His example.
Yes we will make mistakes, we will blow it with our kids, and we will put our foot in our mouths from time to time. It is O.K.; God doesn’t keep a record of our goof ups. But we need to learn from our mistakes and allow God to change us in those areas that we seem to repeat over, and over again. You can do it. I know I have and I continue to learn as a father, a husband, and as a child of my Daddy in heaven. So this is for all of us dads, whether you are a new dad, a seasoned veteran, or a dad to be. LET’S BE MORE LIKE HIM!
Mark Soto

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Learn To Take Advantage!

I’ve been learning to take advantage of the times my teenage daughter chooses to open up and talk. In the past I would make a comment of her lack of communication towards my wife and I. I so badly wanted to just talk to her the way we used to. When she was younger she would talk, and talk, and talk. I regret I didn’t take more advantage of those times in her younger years. My daughter is 14 years old now, and sometimes I wonder who this person is living with me. I would try to force a conversation or nag her to share her day, but I have come to realize that if I give her the space and time she needs, she will open up. I try my best to become a listener and just enjoy those moments. When I would try to fix her situation or make some comment, it would only shut her down. So now I have become a listener, and when the time is right I will give her some fatherly advice in a loving way. I truly have a peace about her teenage years. I know that God has a purpose for her life. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like she only talks on her terms, but when my wife and I give her space and time to open up it is so much more intimate and we connect more with her. There are times where I would wonder if I am doing a good job as her father. I know I am and I will make mistakes or say or do the wrong thing, but I have learned to humble myself and seek forgiveness with God and with my children. It was my birthday yesterday and my daughter wrote me a letter. It was very moving to hear her tell me that I am doing a great job and to keep doing what I’m doing. It brought tears to my eyes. So I know as we go through the teenage years there will be times my daughter may not want to talk or share what’s on her heart. But I do know if we as parents just ask God to give us grace and peace to just give them time to open up when they are ready; it will be well worth it. Even if is for a brief moment, it will bring you closer to your children and you will build trust with them. I have seen the difference in my daughter since I have learned to shut up and listen. There is a movie called the Notebook. It is about a love story of a man and his wife. The movie starts out in a convalescent hospital and then it goes back and tells the story of their life together. Well the later stages of their life the wife has Alzheimer’s, and she is in a convalescent hospital. The husband comes to visit her everyday even though she doesn’t know who he is most of the time. But she has moments where she regains her memory and recognizes her husband. They talk and dance and he just enjoys the moments with her before she forgets once again who he is. It is amazing how faithful he is, he doesn’t try to force his wife to remember. He knows if he does he will only push her away. He took advantage of those times when she remembered who he was. Now I’m not saying my daughter has Alzheimer’s, but I am saying that I do need to take advantage of those times when my daughter is ready to open up and share her heart with me. I want to be a faithful listener and studier of my daughter. I know as she grows and matures, she will open up more and let us in as parents. We have already been through the teenage years with our son, and we have a great relationship today. And I still have my little 6 year old daughter who just loves to talk. I appreciate it more than I ever did before. I know there are times when we are tired, pre-occupied, have chores to do around the house, or maybe involved in ministry, but I tell you to take advantage of those talking years. You don’t want to regret it in their teenage years. Your kids will go through some years of trying to find their identity, or independence from you, but hang in there. It will get better, and you can build a trust with them during these times if you are patient and learn to listen. It doesn’t mean they can do what they want, we still need to discipline, but we need to let them know we will be their for them when they need us. Hang in there and take advantage of those times when they open up and allow you into their lives. It will be an investment into your children that will always pay out.

Mark Soto

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Does A Healthy, Successful Marriage Look Like?

What does a healthy, successful marriage look like? It mirrors the love of God.Hosea 14:4-8.
For many people, the word commitment has such drudgery attached to it. They picture someone saying, "I'm staying in this marriage whether I like it or not!"
But the Book of Hosea shows a different kind of commitment. God's commitment is proactive. Even though he was rejected by Israel, God took the first step to heal the breach. What a combination of initiative and gentleness! When you disagree with your spouse, it may be difficult to be the first to let go of the anger and offer reconciliation. But this is how relationships survive and thrive—someone takes the first step, approaches the other, pulls the relationship out of a standstill, and moves forward.
And God didn't stop with just the approach. He also promised rewards if the people would turn back to him: that they'd blossom like lilies, spread with the span of an olive tree, relax in his shade, and enjoy the blossoms in a vineyard. Committed love pays attention to the rewards of married life—the beauty of brief words well said, the colorful depth of passion, the easy side-by-side of sitting on the porch at night, the sharing of a vivid sunset.
A healthy, successful marriage mirrors the full-service love of God. It searches out the loved one—and finds joy in the details of living together as a couple. (See also Genesis 2:18-23; Exodus 32:11-14; Song of Solomon 8:5-7; Acts 18; Hebrews 13:4.)

Good Words to Remember:
I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely, for my anger has turned away from him. Hosea 14:4

Today's Challenge:
Does your marriage resemble the full-service love of God? If so, how? If not, why not

Saturday, April 3, 2010

God's Master Plan

A while back, I was asked, "Who crucified Jesus?" Maybe the question should be, "Who didn't crucify Jesus?"The religious leaders played their part, as did Judas, Pilate, and, of course, the actual soldiers who put the nails in His hands and feet. Satan played his part too, but here's something else to consider—God the Father killed Jesus.The Bible says that "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him" (Isaiah 53:10 NKJV). This means the crucifixion of Jesus was not a mistake. Nor was it an afterthought.It was part of God's plan from the very beginning. Before there was a solar system, a planet called Earth, a garden called Eden, or a couple known as Adam and Eve, a decision was made in the councils of eternity that God Himself would come to Earth as a man and would go to a cross and die in the place of all sinners.Why? So that humanity could be put into contact with God. Jesus came to Earth to purchase back what was lost in the Garden of Eden. He came to buy back the title deed to Earth. He came to die on a cross for our sins.Humanity's worst mistake was, at the same time, God's master plan.The Bible says, "He suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone" (Hebrews 2:9 NIV). In His own words, He came to give His life as a ransom for many (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).In other words, Jesus was born to die so that we might live. The purpose of the Incarnation was for our atonement. The birth of Jesus was for the death of Jesus.As He prayed facedown in the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew that Judas Iscariot was on his way there with the temple guard. He knew the physical pain that awaited Him. He knew they would punch Him, rip His beard from His face, and tear His back open with a whip. He knew they would nail Him to a cross.But worst of all, He knew he would have to bear the sin of the entire world. When Jesus pierced the darkness with his cry from the cross, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"—meaning, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"—I believe that, at that moment, he was bearing the sins of the world: past, present, and future.He was dying as a substitute for others. The guilt of our sins was imputed to Him, and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on our behalf.Why did this have to happen?God was punishing Jesus as though He had personally committed every wicked deed by every wicked sinner. And in so doing, He could forgive and treat those redeemed ones as if they had lived Christ's perfect life of righteousness.This is called justification. It is not just merely the removal of sin. It is the imputing of the righteousness of Christ to those who put their faith in him. That is what happened when Jesus hung on the cross.And Scripture clearly teaches there was a moment when the sin of the world was placed on Jesus: "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24 NIV).So, as tragic as the death of Jesus was, on this day we remember that it really is, in effect, very good!Jesus was forsaken by God for a time that you might enjoy His presence forever. Jesus entered the darkness that you might walk in the light.
Greg Laurie

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good Friday Event!

Please join us tomorrow, GOOD FRIDAY, 7pm at Ambassador Auditorium, Fire Carpet!

We will be showing The Passion of the Christ, remembering together what makes Good Friday SO GOOD!

There will be activities and a separate movie for children--along with worship and a snack!  So bring the whole family!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marriage & Money

The minivan was loaded down with suitcases, sunscreen and disposable cameras. One thing Mary and Bob forgot to bring to Disneyland, though, was financial communication.
Mary had convinced Bob to take this family vacation. They made plans for the trip, but in their minds, the plans looked different. Bob decided the family would carry sandwiches into the park and would most certainly not buy gifts and souvenirs. Unfortunately, he didn’t let his wife know. Mary hoped they could enjoy their vacation without worrying about a tight budget, but she didn’t voice her expectations to Bob, either.
Because of their lack of communication, the entire family was miserable, and the main goal of enjoying a fun, memorable vacation was thwarted. If Bob and Mary had only known how to be more honest and open about their financial decisions, their costly trip to California could have been worth every penny.
This story is all too common. In fact, most couples are able to recount similar experiences of poor financial communication. Talking about money doesn’t always come naturally, but the following tips can make the process a little easier:
-Identify each other’s money personality.Your money personality is the way you naturally tend to handle money. It is not a skill
such as making a budget or balancing a checkbook, but rather a predisposition toward finances. For example, you might be a spender, saver, risk taker or security seeker. As you identify money personalities, avoid making value judgments. No personality is more desirable than another, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
-Do a money dump.
Lay out all your thoughts and concerns about money. Talk about what each person is bringing to the table as far as debt, spending habits, future financial goals, and so on.
If one person is ruining your credit score, address the issue. If one of you is frustrated at having to report to the other about each coffee purchase, talk about it.
In short, get it all out.
-Have frequent money huddles.You need to talk regularly about finances. Even if one person is managing the money, both spouses need to give input about budgeting and spending.
It is also wise to set a limit on how much each of you can spend without the other’s approval. This keeps you both accountable and reduces surprises on bank statements.
As your financial communication improves, money woes and marital tension can be sent packing, creating a more blissful home.

Bethany and Scott Palmer are financial advisors and the authors of “First Comes Love, Then Comes Money”. For more financial resources from the Palmers, Visit

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Attention Eden Rock Families!!! We have some GREAT things coming up and you will not want to miss out!!!


Our next Eden Rock meeting is GOOD FRIDAY! So, to encourage Family Time for Easter, we are hosting a special Good Friday service. Same time, different location! So, take note! We will meet at Ambassador Auditorium at 7pm on Friday, April 2nd. The grown-ups will be watching The Passion of The Christ together and the children will be watching The Jesus Film and having special Easter Themed crafts. Please bring your whole family and invite your friends!!!

2. Calling all CAMPERS!

September 16-19, Carpentaria State Beach. Get away for a few days with your family for a relaxing time tent-camping by the beach! $85 per family. SPACE IS VERY LIMITED! So register right away! FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE! Register with The Sotos or The Gombojavs.

3. DATE YOUR MATE! At the April 2nd meeting we will draw names for April's DATE YOUR MATE giveaway! This months prize is AWESOME! And autographed copy of Real Life Marriage by Tim and Anne Evans! (We blogged about this book here) If you haven't entered our giveaway in the past, click here and you can read the fine print. Basically, just let us know if you went on a date with your spouse and we'll enter you! A winner is randomly drawn from all entries. Our prize vault is growing. So, enter!!!! And tell your friends. You do not have to be an Eden Rock attendee to participate!!!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

March Winners!

With their date of a movie and homemade cookies, Rex and Chuie Nishimura have won our Date-Your-Mate Giveaway for March!  Rex and Chuie have been married for almost 13 years and have three beautiful children whom they homeschool!  When asked how they balance marriage and parenting they said, "We compliment each other well. He likes to plan and research trips. I make sure we bring what we need on the trips."  It's fitting that they go to H-Rock, because rocks just happen to be their passion, as you'll see in their slideshow!  ENJOY!

So, what did they win?  Two (count 'em, TWO) CD's from H-Rock's very own, Kenny Peavy!!!

If you've been to H-Rock, you already know and love Kenny's music!  Where can you get your hands (or ears) on Kenny's music besides Sunday mornings at H-Rock?  Introducing Kenny's new website:!  There you can see pictures, listen to the music, link to his Twitter and Facebook pages, and most importantly order a CD!  His CDs can also be purchased through the church's website.

Don't forget to visit all our Date-Your-Mate sponsors by clicking on their buttons on the sidebar!

We have some amazing prizes collecting in our prize vault!  So, get out there and date!  Even if you don't win, you win, because time with your Love is an investment in your marriage!

Some good parenting advice, too late

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Never Stop Studying

We have been married almost 10 years. 

When we first got married Gana worked for a construction company and had to set out in the morning at the ungodly hour of 5am!  I used to get up and make him breakfast which he would never really eat.  Finally he just asked me to make him a piece of toast and coffee.

I took this to mean that he was not a big breakfast eater.

So, I never really made him breakfast.  The kids eat oatmeal most mornings (which Meg makes).  I eat with them, drinking tea or coffee.  He eats toast or pan dulce or something like that and has a cup of coffee before work.

That is until recently.  I was sitting with him watching TV and a commercial came on for some fastfood breakfast sandwich.  He said, "That looks good."  I replied with, "What?  You don't eat breakfast."  He replied with, "That's because you don't make it."  I replied with, "That's because you don't like breakfast!"  He replied with "How did you get that idea?!"


Turns out his rejections of my breakfasts when we first got married were not because he hated breakfast, but more because he hated 5am.  Turns out he likes breakfast and wishes I would make him a more interesting breakfast each morning.

Just goes to show you, even after you've been married a while, don't stop learning about your mate!  Don't assume you know him or her.  I bet there are a few assumptions you have about your spouse that could be challenged.

Have fun studying your spouse.  I'm off to fry some sausage and eggs.

Friday, March 5, 2010

How We Love!

1 John 4:7-8

God's Love and Ours

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Last month was a tough month for me. I was in a real funk and couldn’t get out of it. I was getting really frustrated with myself. I kept asking God what was going on. I was short tempered with my wife and kids. I felt irritable (my wife asked if I was going through PMS). She was joking of course, but I didn’t have an answer. My patience was not there. I found myself complaining about things I normally would not complain about. Then one morning my wife and I woke up to have our coffee and were watching Joyce Meyer on television. She was talking about our trials that we go through. She mentioned that God doesn’t always tell why we are going through our trials or funk in my case, but to ask Him to give us the strength to get through it. I stopped asking why and started asking God for His grace, patience, and to give me strength to get through what I was going through. I also had accountability partners and my supportive wife to open up to. Then one morning I was reading through my daily devotional and it lead me to 1 John 4. I realized I was not representing who Jesus is in me. I was not very loving during that month. I like to say that I knew my wife loved me, but she really didn’t like me during that time. Right after that I felt a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt a sense of freedom. I felt the love of my Daddy fill me again. I realize that we need to love, even when we are struggling. I know sometimes it is easier said than done. Remember we love because He first loved us. It says whoever does not love, does not know God. I want to know God. I want to know how to please Him, to know His will for me, to know his deep love for me. Then I want to give it away to others. I know I will have my moments where I may drop the ball, but our Father picks us up, dusts us off, gives us a pat on our back, and says, I am proud of you and I love you. John 13:34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” We love one another with our words, with our actions, how we listen and empathize, but it starts with our relationship with our Daddy who created us in His image. Let’s love like Jesus loved us by dying on the cross for you and me.

Mark Soto