Monthly Archives: November 2012

Our family has been on an interesting journey over the last 10 days.  In the middle of last week, I ran over our 15 year old cat while backing out of the garage with my girls in the car.  He’s mostly deaf and although the car was running for at least a minute, he never heard it in order to get moving.  It was awful!  Now, well over a week later, he’s still hanging in there, but due to his age this trauma has proven to be too much.  We know that he has days left with us, as we can’t fix what’s wrong and we won’t allow him to suffer any longer.

It has brought such interesting tendancies to light in our lives.  Bottom line, we want to avoid sadness at all costs.  I don’t want to feel the sadness, I don’t want my kids to feel the sadness, Mark doesn’t want me to feel sadness, and we would do anything to protect each other from it.  The problem is that if we try and protect each other from this, we are actually robbing each other of valuable emotions such as grief, gratitude, longing, and closure.  These emotions, although sometimes painful, are precisely the moments when God shows up at His best.  It is often in the sadness that our Comforter, Peacemaker, Healer, and Tear-drier shines His brightest.

It is also a valuable lesson that life is hard in this broken world.  Happiness is elusive, but Christ’s love is a firm foundation to stand on.  Unfortunately my girls and our family will face darker days than our favorite cat dying at a ripe old age.  This is simply training ground for holding on to joy in the midst of the sadness for the young hearts we are raising.  If we try to make it go away or shove it under a proverbial rug, we are not equipping them to handle what else may come their way.

And so, we will march on through the sadness and let Jesus go to the places in those small hearts where He needs to go.  I trust Him with their sadness (and mine, too) and I know He will use it to birth in them perseverance, compassion, and depth.  We really can’t go through life avoiding sadness or we will miss out on some of the most beautiful experiences in our humanity.

Thanks for all the well wishes for our family!  We serve such a good God and I’m so grateful that He’s got my kids in His hands!


I hope that this blog finds you at the end of a great Thanksgiving holiday!  We spent the weekend with my husband’s family and enjoyed ourselves a lot!  Mark’s flu from last week was gone within 24 hours, so thankfully he was able to eat plenty of yummy food.

Thanks to K.C. for jumping in to the media team at Hazel Dell.  As she found out, it’s really easy and fun!  If you are interested in volunteering in that area, but think you’ll be lost, you won’t!  Everything is laid out right in front of you and it’s basically clicking the next button when you’re done with the previous one.  You can volunteer for that or any other position at under the Resources link.  People always ask us where we NEED them…the answer is anywhere you want to be.  We have at least one open spot in every area, so jump in to volunteering today!

I spent first service in with KidCity.  There is nothing more fun than watching your kids learn the Bible and worship!  FYI…lots of times I paint the picture like my kids just always LOVE church and want to go.  It’s not always the case.  They are just like your kids, and some days they want to sleep in and play hooky.  They just know that most of the time that is not an option, so they suck it up and usually end up having a good time.  The best way to help your kids love church is to go so often that they have the opportunity to make friends.  That goes the same for you!

My daughter, Delaney, had a school choir performance after church.  Man, she’s beautiful and sweet!  I loved watching her sing her little guts out!

For those of you following my cat drama, Max is doing pretty well today and seems to be healing, although he isn’t eating as well as he needs to.  For those of you not following my cat drama, I may or may not have run over my 15 year old cat, whom we adore…yeah, it was a long week…

I love this story posted by my friend on my Facebook – “And there was a woman in our Church on Sunday, visiting from California. A woman who grew up in a non-Christian home and who has always been turned off by “Christians”. She always felt judged and like an outcast. She had tears in her eyes during worship and told me several times after the service on Sunday that she “loved my church” and wants to “look for a church like mine” when she gets home. This is an answer to prayer!! Thank you…for being you North Creek.”  That’s why we do what we do!

I hope you enjoy the upcoming Christmas season!  Spend your time loving your family, telling the story of Christ, and believing for miracles.  Be blessed!

An old friend of mine, Kevin Geer, recently became the lead pastor at my first church.  It’s brought back a flood of memories as I’ve watched him dive into understanding and appreciating the history of Kalispell Christian Center.  That’s MY beginning, that’s MY church, that’s MY family…and I haven’t been there in 18 years.  Nonetheless, that piece of my story, although brief, means everything to me.

It began in 1986 when I was 10 years old.  My friend invited me to summer camp and we met in the parking lot of the church.  I had no idea what to expect and it was the first time away from my parents.  I only briefly walked through the doors of the building for an orientation.  We loaded up and rolled out of the parking lot a short while later.  I had no background with Christianity, but the second day of camp I decided that I wanted to give my heart to Jesus.  I vividly remember walking out of the chapel at Hungry Horse Bible Camp that night and staring up at the stars.  They looked so different!  I can’t explain it, except to say that I understood that God, the creator, was also my living Savior.

I wouldn’t step foot back in the church for another year.  It would be summer camp again, now as an 11 year old, and I loaded up my belongings in the church van for another adventure.  Once again, God spoke so clearly to my young heart.  He had a plan, purpose, and destiny for me and I knew it without a shadow of a doubt.   And yet again, another year passed.

After camp in 1988, I started having my mom take me to youth group on Wednesday nights.  My youth pastor, Mark Stromberg, became a lifeline in my faith.  Nearly everyone else in my friend’s circle came from a Christian home.  They had heard the Bible stories a million times, but for me, it was incredible.  God chose David!  God saved a nation by parting the Red Sea!  Jesus HEALED people…and not only that…if I pray, He’ll heal people through MY life!  I loved to learn about the Bible and did everything extracurricular that my youth pastor scheduled.  I can remember being CHANGED by a Bible study on the book of Judges.  That’s how desperately I wanted to know the Word of God!

At 15 years old, I got my driver’s license.  (In Montana, they think 15 year olds should have the privilege of driving a several ton weapon…) It was then that I could go to church on Sunday mornings, too.  I met Pastor Bob Ross.  He was at Christian Center for decades as the Senior Pastor.  He wore a suit, tie, and cowboy boots and he had a deep, gruff voice that bellowed out of the microphone.  He spoke with an authority that left you riveted.  For the next three years, I listened to him on Sunday mornings and Mark on Wednesday nights.

Looking back, I am sure that Pastor Ross and Mark had no idea that this little girl from a non-Christian home was hanging on to every word with a death grip.  They probably wondered many times if their ministry was worth it.  They probably sat in board meetings and fretted about how to pay the bills.  They probably fought wrong thinking in people’s lives and went to bed many nights feeling defeated.  They probably had dark moments where they questioned their call to ministry and their ability to lead.

And there I was.  On the left side of the sanctuary, about three rows in.  Every week.  I would go on to graduate from Bible college, get my license to preach, and start a church.  I would grow up to love Jesus and believe I could change the world.  I would grow up…changed.

So, thank you.  Thank you to my pastors, thank you to the board who made the right decisions, thank you to the congregation who wrote tithe checks, thank you to the volunteers who served.  I had no idea that a fleet of people were sacrificing so much for me, but rest assured, it was worth it.

And to Kevin…there’s a little girl in your audience somewhere.  Don’t stop.  Don’t question.  Don’t quit.  She’s hanging on every word, too.

My highlight this week is that Mark made it!  He woke up in the middle of the night SICK with the flu.  Our Sunday schedule was as follows: Throw up, preach, throw up.  A lot of people asked me why he was still preaching even though he was so sick…well, he’s a pastor at the core of his being and he believed in his sermon.  He wanted to preach it and that he did.  He delivered it strong and with authority, which was the dichotomy to when he got home and slept for the next 18 hours…

On another note…people do so much for our church that goes unseen!  Mylissa is our shopper, Ron cleans up outside, the Tilley’s donated a day to do a deep clean, Adam is our new “honey-do” volunteer (Sorry, Adam, for the ridiculous title), and the list goes on…it is amazing to have Behind the Scenes servers who give and give!  Thank you to all of you!

We had a new guest yesterday who said she wanted to start a relationship with Jesus.  That’s why we get up in the morning!  Thank you to those of you volunteer and give so that people can have their “AHA! Moments”.

My small group is coming to a close next Monday.  It never fails to happen…I find amazing things in each person that I really like.  That is my favorite part of groups – putting random people in a room and getting to know their stories!   I’m sure some of them will be back in our next group and some will try another group, but I am SO thankful that I got to dive into their lives for a season and get to know them.

Yesterday one of the Battle Ground groups brought 7 baskets for Thanksgiving Dinners.  We were able to bless some families – not necessarily who NEEDED the food the most, but all of whom NEEDED the reminder that they are important to God and their church.  THANK YOU to that small group who went out of their way to make people feel loved.  Here’s some of the Facebook notes we got about it:

Thankful for the generous, giving hearts of my church family ♥ North Creek is the best!!!

Juuuuuuust got my socks incredibly blessed off me by my church. *serious warm fuzzies ya’ll* I’m soooo sooo thankful! Thank YOU, North Creek Church for {Being Present} in my little families lives!!! I’m already plotting how to pay it forward.

Our family is feeling so loved and blessed by our church family at North Creek!  THANK YOU Coffee Church for BEING PRESENT and being AWESOME! 🙂

If you’re feeling the desire to be generous, stock up on toys and jackets for our upcoming Be Present Give.  More information coming, but there’s your warning!!!!

If you are looking for an end-of-the-year donation, please consider North Creek as well.  We took on a mountain with the merge, and although we are on track to be solid and stable by the one-year mark, it’s been a big financial adjustment to need double the income from a year ago.  Worth it?  Yes.  Learned lots?  Yes.  Want to launch more campuses in the future?  Yes.  Crazy for the mission of God?  Yes.  Drink too much coffee?…

We had a group of 35 people go to Winter Jam on Friday night!  Everybody had a good time and it was another great opportunity to meet people you might not have previously known!

On Thursday the youth had a guest speaker who was our former student.  Courtney Huskisson is one amazing woman whom we are proud to have gotten to invest in for a season!  Thanks for coming back to preach and showcase what a life devoted to Jesus looks like!

The K-2nd Grade boys had a giant nerf gun fight party after church yesterday in Hazel Dell’s auditorium.  That’s why we don’t decorate with fancy, breakable things…

Way over my word limit for the day, but it’s not my fault that God is doing so many cool things…. Be blessed!




deep-wide-andy-stanleyJust finished Andy Stanley’s book Deep and Wide.  (Andy is the pastor at North Point Church in Atlanta.)  WOW!   What a book for pastors and leaders!  I loved every page (even the ones that hurt my feelings!).  I highly recommend this book for people who attend North Creek Church as well.  So much of our current model of ministry is based off of North Point and it may help you understand why we do what we do and help you be a part of it in a more strategic way.

The best part of the book was simply the reminder of what it takes to lead a church.  I think sometimes it’s easy to focus on the warm and fuzzy parts of ministry and wish that was the job description…holding the new babies, hugging necks on Sunday mornings, and watching spiritual “light bulbs” come on in people’s lives.  But the other side is what creates those moments and it’s tough…vision casting, correcting course, fighting for your culture, leading change, and changing minds.  It’s a weight that is heavy, but it must be carried if we are to raise up churches that do more than sustain the status quo.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the book:

“We know that the best performers usually build the biggest churches, but not necessarily the healthiest ones.”

“The church needs leaders who are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we hand it off to the next generation in better shape than we found it.”

“[At North Point Church] we are inconsistent and at times unfair.  Not on purpose.  We just find that clinging to grace and truth creates tension.”

“Our goal isn’t to create an environment that is ‘set apart from the world.’  We are up to something way more significant than that.  We want to change the world.”

“Vision is the place to begin every discussion pertaining to change.  You should never begin a conversation about change by addressing where you are now.  You should always begin with where you want to be.”

“Watch what happens when a leader who is naive enough to believe that Jesus is still building his church stands up and casts a vision so compelling that it ignites the imaginations of people who were secretly longing to give their lives to something bigger than themselves.”

“Ask [Jesus] to burden you with something worth risking your career for.”


Just those few lines out of the book are enough to challenge the very core of every pastor. I know it challenges me!  Good thing I love a challenge…

I believe that North Creek has all the ingredients to reach into the hearts of those who are far from God and watch Him change their lives.  And we will stop at nothing less.  Would you do us a favor and pray for our pastoral staff?  We want to be leaders of a mighty movement of God.  The cost of that is high, but so are the rewards.  Let’s build a Church that changes the world.