Monthly Archives: December 2012

Well, my first highlight is that North Creek went REALLY multisite yesterday as we met in hundreds of home all over Clark County!  We cancel our regular services on the last Sunday of the year and encourage people to BE the church to their family, neighbors, and friends.  It’s awesome!

One of the best parts of cancelling our services is to give our team a break.  Most of our team volunteers or works for small stipends week in and week out.  Although we let them have Sundays off regularly, they are still wired to plan, think, and wonder how their ministry is going when they are gone.  There is something so refreshing about knowing that everything is on hold and they can decompress for a week.  Rest is spiritual!

Several babies to celebrate!  Tatiana (from Battle Ground) had a baby girl last month and I think it never made it to my blog!  Also, this week at Hazel Dell, Chrystal and Rene Arellano had Royce on December 26.  Just a day later on December 27, Sarah and Will Sherland met their own little girl, Hanaye.  Someone asked me how many babies North Creek grew by this year….I really don’t know as I lost count.  It’s over a dozen and we are considering buying all of our nursery workers new cars in deep appreciation for their ministry!

We prayed for miracles and what is more miraculous than a baby?  On that note, I have several ladies on my prayer list who want to get pregnant.  My prayer is that God will give them the desires of their heart!

Mark and I were in Montana all week.  Something happens when you spend time away.  It clears your head, gives you the ability to pray, think, and dream  We are ready for 2013!

While in Montana, we got to hang out with one of my long-time friends, Jenny Woods.  She’s the author of my guest blog a few days ago.  We were friends in high school, roommates in college, and now we are both in ministry.  I am grateful for her ear and friendship!

We also hung out with Kevin Geer, whom I wrote a blog to a few weeks ago.  He recently became the lead pastor at the church I went to as a teenager.  He will do great things for God there!  I am excited to watch his new adventure unfold!

My email exploded while I was on vacation.  My new year’s resolution is to empty my inbox by the year 2014…

We are addicted to starting and restarting churches.  Lives are changed all around us everyday and there is no greater joy than being a part of Jesus’ first love, the Church.  Let’s do this!

Enjoy your last moments of 2012!  It may have been a difficult year or one filled with blessing.  Either way, Jesus is in the midst of it and if you will put your faith in Him, He will work all things out for good.

Be blessed!


Today I wanted to share a guest blog post from my dear friend, Jennifer Woods.  I hope you have a blessed Christmas!

As I was sitting in the quiet wee hours of the morning, looking at our Christmas tree, my eyes fell on one of the ornaments that holds great significance to me.  It may not look like much to anyone else’s eyes…a little porcelain, a little paint…but the story, the reminder behind it all is something I will never forget.

It was about 5 years ago, around the beginning of December.  It was a time in my life where I was busy and ‘on-the-go’ keeping up with the youthful energy and antics of a 3 year old boy and 5 year old girl.  Being an avid reader and book lover, I took time each month to meet with a group of friends as part of a book club. It often became my saving grace as it was filled with ‘intellectual conversation’ and laughter.  At our November gathering, it was announced that we would be doing an ornament gift exchange for December.  Everyone was to bring one ornament to share.

The Saturday before the gift exchange, I left my two sweethearts at home with their daddy so that I could go search out an ornament.  I saw it as an hour of bliss – the chance to wander around a store aimlessly without having to dole out gummy snacks or wipe runny noses.  Ahhh….sweet freedom.  Wanting to support local businesses when possible,  I had heard that Hoopers was having their annual Christmas craft fair  – lots of unique ornaments to choose from, right?  Normally I would run to my favorite, quick and convenient “go-to-store” Target, but today was about LEISURE.  So I left the house with a grateful heart and only $6 in my wallet.  There was something inside of my heart that liked this challenge.  To find what I needed within the budget that I set…nothing more, nothing less.  I reminded myself that the trip wasn’t going to be about purchasing for me.

As I drove up to the store, I said a quick prayer of thanks and asked the Lord to help me find what I needed, and to help me stay faithful to my small budget. Walking up the sidewalk to the front of the store, I see a ‘fresh baked mini-donuts’ stand and was immediately captured by the smell of fresh donuts.  Oh man!  They smelled SO good.  $3 a bag.  Mmmm…the kids and Jamie would LOVE those… It could be a ‘thank you’ treat for letting me go out.  I could use $3 on donuts and still find an ornament with the remainder, couldn’t I?   Decided!  That is what I would do.  On the way out, I would go home with donuts!

Upon entering the store my senses were overloaded with Christmas festivity – holiday music playing, the heavy smell of pine and peppermint, and trees dripping with ornaments of every kind!  So many things to look at.  After browsing for a bit, I came across this little tree near the corner.  It’s branches weren’t heavily flocked with ornaments like the rest.  Maybe that’s what drew me to it.  It had a quiet charm about it.  A handful of about 15 ornaments rested upon it’s tiny branches.  And then THE ornament caught my eye.  A little porcelain shepherd boy with his sheep (which for some reason reminded me of my little guy at home), with the saying underneath, “It took the heart of a child to reach the soul of the world.”  I took the ornament off of tree to look at the price…$2.99!  Of course.  A smile broke on my face, as I reveled in the Lord’s faithfulness.  $3 for the donuts.  $3 for the ornament. Can it get any better?  Feeling grateful and satisfied with the ornament in hand, I got ready to leave the tree to make the purchase – until another one caught my eye!  Equally as moving, a porcelain Mary holding a baby, with the saying, “What Mary knew by sight, we know by heart.”…also $2.99. Ugh.  I couldn’t decide.  I loved both of them.  I WANTED both. …to keep…for myself. I begin to justify…I could get one ornament for the gift exchange and one for me.  I’d still in my $6 budget.  Victory, right?  No one even knew about my donut idea yet  – they wouldn’t know what they were missing.  After all, donuts aren’t great for their health.  I’d be a GOOD mom, by NOT giving them junky donuts. Ha!

This self-talk continued on for a few minutes as I walked around the store with both ornaments in my hand.  And then a word struck me …”obedience”.  Oooh.  Not the word that I wanted to hear. I knew what I had to do.  I chose one, put the other back on the tree with a longing sigh and left the store with my $6 purchase: one beloved ornament (that I had to give away) and one bag of donuts. Sigh.  When I got home and presented the donuts, they were gobbled up without much thought or appreciation.  A dark cloud of pity formed in my heart as I mentally stewed…What a waste!  I should’ve bought both ornaments.  “Obedience” – ha!  It’s SO overrated.

As the week went on, my heart and perspective gradually softened and I was able to move on from my disappointment.  I went to the book club gift exchange later that week.  People arrived with their brightly colored wrapped presents.  The hostess had an extra wrapped’ present – just in case someone forgot theirs.

The exchange began – white elephant style with numbers being picked, and the ‘trading up’ banter beginning.  It came time for me to choose a present.  I picked the small, shiny, red-foil papered box.  Still being a kid at heart, with secret, hopeful excitement I quickly peeled off the wrapping paper.  A little cardboard box.  I lift the lid and peel away the tissue paper…..Mary.  THE Mary ornament from Hoopers!   Possibly the very ornament that I held in my hand, longing for.  How could it be??  I hadn’t told ANYONE about the ornament.  Out of all of the stores and ornaments in town that could’ve been chosen – and here she sat, cradled in my hand.   Tears filled my eyes.  I was absolutely speechless.  No one at the party understood the significance of that gift.  But I did.  With tears in my eyes and a silent prayer of thanks, I had some quick explaining to do.  Needless to say…at the gift exchange, my present didn’t get stolen.  And the extra gift?  Turned out that the person that received the ornament that I brought (the little shepherd boy),  received the ‘extra’ in a game and gave me the other ornament. That day I went home with the shepherd boy and Mary…and a heart that will never forget the faithful, extravagant, detailed, love of a Savior.

Merry Christmas!  The story of Jesus’ birth continues to captivate my heart and I am so thankful that the world stops to acknowledge HIM!

Church this morning was beautiful!  I loved the music, the lights, the message, and the warmth of smiles.

I helped out in Tiny Town for first service.  My daughters came to serve with me and it was a true delight!  Those little faces are so amazing!  They worshipped with pure hearts and then we sat on the rug and sang a Christmas song.  Sweet little voices!!!

Worship in the main service was a close second, though!  I loved the carols and the songs…awesome!  I’ll be singing, “Take us to Heaven” for the rest of the week.  It doesn’t sound near as nice as when our team sings it, but it’s the best I’ve got!

One of the kids at church bought Mark a stacking chair game because he likes to straighten the chairs at church so much…HAHAHAHAHAHA!  And a teenager made us chocolate!  Thank you!

Remember that we don’t have service next Sunday.  It’s “Stay at Home in Your PJ’s Day!”  I encourage you to plan something special with your family…cinnamon rolls & coffee?  Favorite Christmas movie?  Board Games?  Don’t just use it as a day to sleep in, but use it as a day to celebrate people you love!

Loved this quote on Facebook today:  Thank you Chris, for an amazing service this morning. You are truely a gifted speaker! You always manage to put God’s words in my ‘language’ and I am so very grateful! Also, thank you Tara & Vanessa for sacrificing your time and for taking such amazing care of my beautiful boys so I could enjoy the service!

I have to admit that I’m a little sad to see the Christmas set go down.  I loved it, but it’s days are numbered…

I’m confident that God has good plans in store for North Creek in 2013.  I love living this adventure of growing and building a church that impacts our county.  Here’s to new blessings in the New Year!

If you are a teenager and want to have fun on New Year’s Eve, facebook Kris Oja Gray.  She will hook you up with a spot to the party at the Air Park.  What in the world is an air park?!?!?!  Who cares!  If there are teenagers in the room, it’ll be fun!

We don’t have staff meeting for two weeks.  I may wither away into oblivion without my people… Actually, the truth is that Mark and I come up with insane ideas when we have breaks and our team is afraid to give us time off.  Two weeks could be dangerous!

Lots of faces I love at church today!  Christmas always brings old and new friends from far away places!

Eddie rocked it out to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra this morning at Hazel Dell.  He’s way cooler than we are, but we’re glad to have him!

I really hope that you have a peaceful and sweet Christmas.  I know that it seems that the world is very crazy right now, but rather than that being discouraging for you, just remember that’s the very reason Christ came in the first place.  It will all be OK.

Merry Christmas!






Today bloggers across our country will be posting cookies and crafts in honor of the children lost a week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary.  It is with great honor that I will participate this morning.

As a child, I will always remember my mother’s infamous sweet tooth.  She loves anything with sugar in it, and so, very often, I would come home from school to freshly baked goodies.  She would proudly offer them as a gift to us, but I knew that she was making them as a double blessing for both her children and herself.

My mother’s name is Sandy.

As a family, we understand mental illness, violent tendancies, and fear.  As a Christian, I understand that Jesus Christ is the hope of the world.


Chocolate Cookie Sheet Cake

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 t. salt

1 cup butter

1 cup water

4 T. cocoa

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk with 1/2 t. vinegar added

1 t. vanilla

1 t. soda

Combine flour, sugar, and salt.  Place butter, water, and cocoa in a pan and bring to a boil.  Pour hot over flour mixture.  Beat eggs and add soda, sour milk, and vanilla.  Add to chocolate mixture.  Pour into 12×18 cookie sheet.  Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Combine 1 stick butter, 3 T. cocoa, and 2 T. milk.  Heat, but do not boil.  Remove from hear and beat in 2 cups powdered sugar and 1 t. vanilla.  Frost cake immediately.


It was a very different weekend than we had planned at North Creek.  In light of the shooting tragedies in our nation, we changed the messages to reflect both our grief and our hope in Christ.  Bottom line: when we come face to face with the darkest evil, we do not cower, but proclaim the love of Christ.  Love wins in the end.

I hugged a lot of crying people on Sunday.  It’s OK to be emotional and feel that grief!  Just balance it out with the determination to spread the hope of Christ as well.  We, as Christians, carry the weight of change in our country.  We must be the ones to show up, speak up, and boldy march into the worst situations.

I taught our preschool class at Battle Ground on Sunday with my old friend, Janelle V.  Super cute kids with LOTS of distractable energy!  Gotta love our Tiny Towners!

Our staff/board Christmas dessert was on Sunday!  I looked around that room several times and thought, “Wow. Our church is BLESSED with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.”  Do me a favor and write one of them a letter or note about what you appreciate about their ministry.  You can find all of their contact info on  They serve with an unstoppable determination and grace.

Invite a friend to church this Sunday!  It’s Christmas and we’d love to have them join us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.

We dropped off a MOUNTAIN of toys to Sarah J. Anderson Elementary on Thursday, thanks to all of you!  They couldn’t believe that we just kept unloading more and more toys.  Sarah J. serves a lot of low-income families and your gifts will help to bless about 350 children.  Amazing!!!!!!

I walked into my daughter’s school yesterday and started weeping when I saw the police officers.  I know…that’s a little extreme.  But what I saw in front of me was goodness.  More people put their lives on the line for our protection, than people who try to rob us of our security.  I felt the same way when I saw the teachers as well.  We must always focus on the people in our lives who strive to bring peace, grow our lives, and try to make a difference!

We want to say a big “Thank You” to all of those involved in the Christmas Concert last week!  It was such a beautiful way to usher in the Christmas holidays.  It took an absolute ton of work and people, but it was so worth it!  Way to go!

My oldest daughter is home sick today.  She actually said, “Why couldn’t I be sick tomorrow so I don’t have to miss school?”  Maybe she’ll grow up to be a teacher!

Remember to send us any of your “Circle Maker” stories!  You can email them to me directly at  We look forward to celebrating all the things that God did in our lives in 2012.  He is good!

Be blessed!!!!