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."