Monthly Archives: May 2013

Last night we began to film our high school graduates in preparation to honor them at church in the upcoming weeks.  We are excited to graduate 10 very sharp individuals that represent six high schools.  It was a surreal moment for me as I looked into each of their eyes and played back their history with North Creek Church.

Seven years ago, just as they were entering junior high, we opened our doors.  At that moment, all but one of them were strangers to us.  We had said a thousand prayers for them, but their faces were invisible at the time…and there they sat before me.  As I listened to one after the other thank their parents, church, leaders, and peers, I felt like God whispered, “Here is the fruit of faith.”  They are quite literally the reason behind every work day, every offering, every drop of sweat.  We did it all so that children and teenagers would flood through our doors, learn to live for Jesus, and go change the world.  And this is the first graduating class that we have had from junior high through graduation.

Some highlights for me:

Jessica Yonko was about to enter Mark and I’s youth ministry when we stopped being youth pastors to be church planters.  Her parents looked into her 11 year old eyes and told her they would be planting a church with us and she would be one of three teenagers.  She looked into the camera last night and proclaimed that this journey has been a highlight of her life.  Faith never fails.

Five of our graduates were from Battle Ground.  Who would have ever thought that our Vancouver campus would have the opportunity to go multisite and impact an entirely different community?  While we are in the process of hiring a youth pastor just for the Battle Ground campus, these five graduates have thrived at the Hazel Dell campus on Thursdays with a deep youth ministry that welcomed them in with open arms.  We are grateful to have gotten to know them!

Several of our graduates are on my miracle list.  That’s the list of people in my heart that have succeeded under circumstances that could have destroyed them.  They are the testimonies where Jesus stepped in and they grabbed ahold of His promises for their lives.

All of our graduates have dreams and goals for their lives.  Students who come through our youth ministry know Jesus.  They are confident, strong, and secure in their faith.  I am encouraged to send out a fleet of people into adulthood who want to make a difference with what they have been given.  We are all proud of them!


So, graduates, keep going!  Don’t lose your love for Jesus and His House.  Stay tied into a strong community of people who believe in the best for your life!  We love you and support you!  Way to go!  Let’s go change the world…




Nothing lit on fire this week on Sunday morning!  We’ve made progress since last week!

It was a really great Sunday morning at both campuses!  Hazel Dell had finished the Us series last week, so we welcomed missionary Craig Mathison with us to share a message about Zaccheaus.  It was really great having him with us for the morning!  If you would like to give to our missionaries, just mark your giving envelope for Be Present.  We have a monthly commitment to a dozen missionaries and your giving helps us reach that commitment.

At Battle Ground we finished off the Us series with Kris Gray preaching on Nurture Romance.  She knocked it out of the park as usual!  We enjoyed that series so much and appreciated all the great stories of various dates that our married couples participated in.  Lots of amazing things happening in the marriages at North Creek!  If your marriage needs some changes, we are praying for you.  We serve a God of redemption and miracles!

Mark and I headed off on Sunday night to our previous church to help them celebrate their 75th Anniversary Celebration.  It was great to see old friends and how big all of their kids have gotten!  It was a crazy realization that there is a good chance we will be celebrating North Creek’s 75th Anniversary from Heaven.  I can’t wait to meet all of the people that came to know Jesus through our church.  We’ll all have a big party with lots of coffee!

Congrats to Nick and Maria from our Deaf Church on their wedding this weekend!  We wish you well on your new life together!

Also, congrats to Rob and Lori on the birth of their daughter on Saturday!  Such an incredible moment when you become a parent for the first time!  We wish you plenty of sleep for your new life together!

We hope you had an enjoyable Memorial Day!  Seven years ago I had a baby on Memorial Day, so it will always be a very special day for us.  The importance of giving birth to a baby that will grow up in a free country because other’s have given their lives is not lost on me.  I am so grateful for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that I can tuck my kids in at night.

So many great things in store for North Creek!  We have lots of exciting plates spinning right now…solving the need for a youth pastor at Battle Ground, solving some of our facility issues at Hazel Dell, continued growth…thank you all for being a part of it and investing your time and resources into the House of God.  We love to see lives changed and we are ready for more of it!!

Invite a friend with you this month as we kick off our Protect and Serve series in June.  It’s going to be a wonderful series that has nothing to do with the police…

Our Learning Center is celebrating the last days of school today and tomorrow with a BBQ.  That means I had a hot dog for breakfast…  If you are interested in an incredible preschool environment for your toddler in the fall, you can get all of the info you need at  And a mommy note: lots of our signups are from Vancouver families, so there are carpool potentials in your future!  Congrats to all of our “graduating” preschoolers this week!

So much going on and so much to say!  Thankful to be a part of this church and your lives.  Be blessed-


When we started a church, we began a journey of tumultuous ups and downs of personal growth.  While stepping out into what seems like complete darkness over and over and over again has molded and shaped us in astounding ways, I also think there are several character traits that we needed to develop ahead of time in order to succeed.  Maybe as you read this, you are just beginning a step of faith that seems monumental.  Read on…it’s good stuff for your future!

A necessary attribute to stepping out in faith is perseverance.  Not to discourage upcoming faith-steppers, but our story has not gotten easier over the last seven years.  In fact, each day has gotten exponentially more difficult.  I can vividly remembering closing my eyes during those first exhausting months of starting North Creek Church and saying to myself, “This is the hard part, it will get easier.”  And then I realized the most horrifying thing: The only way it will get easier is if we fail.  Success will bring more people, more responsibility, more problems, bigger leaps of faith, and more complications.  And that is good news, whether it feels that way or not!  We had to quickly get over the negative parts to that reality and embrace the fact that anything worth doing comes with work…lots of work.  The good news:  Even though this is not an easy job, we continue to see the fruit of persevering.  The hard work is continually sprinkled with changed lives and miraculous stories.  Don’t search for simple, search for significant. 

Another one of the telling of the attributes that is needed to lead a charge of faith is optimism.  Mark and I run pretty high on the optimistic scale, so when the lows come (and they will come), we are able to pull through.  We have met with multiple church planters (and other people taking giant leaps of faith) and I can tell you that the ones that tended to be more on the “Glass is Half Empty” side, all shut the doors of their churches…and it didn’t take long.  I don’t say that lightly because it was heartbreaking to watch.  The levels of discouragement in people we loved was concerning to the core of our being.  In fact, I think that if you tend to lean toward the negative, you should probably run from being the main leader of a church until you resolve that issue in your life.  The last thing God wants for your life is to hate ministry.  You’ve got to believe and hope deep within your heart.

A third attribute that we’ve needed to sustain our lives is rest.  There is an ebb and flow to ministry (and life).  Sometimes it’s just crazy and you’ve got to keep moving, but other times it feels like the calm before the storm.  Enjoy that calm and rest!  We do our best to honor the Sabbath and we take vacations.  We also sit down nearly every morning on the couch and drink a cup of coffee together.  We talk about the kids, the church, what we are doing for the day…it’s time to think, laugh, and connect.  We stop and enjoy life when we can because it keeps us healthy.  Resting also reminds us that God is in control, not us. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t take any time to think, you think too highly of yourself.”

So, that’s a good start to some things to keep in mind as you follow God’s path for your own life.  Many blessings as you take steps of faith!


Some Sundays are so funny, it’s hard to describe!  It’s those Sundays where everything is breaking, falling apart or lighting on fire.  Those are the Sundays that you smile and remember that Jesus is still in the room, so everything else is irrelevant.  We had that Sunday this week!

My two favorite moments were when one projector at Hazel Dell exploded before service and a hazy, blue smoke filtered through the ceiling.  As Chris Harold said, “I think it’s dead.”  Yeah.  It’s dead.  Then only 30 minutes later the preaching opener video played upside down and backward for no reason.  Really?  How do you do that???

On a positive note, we had some great ministry happen in the midst of it all.  Our “Us” series has been impactful on many levels over the last month and this week was no exception.  Both campuses had the message “Finish Together”, which was focused on the issue of marriage and divorce.  It is a tricky subject in our society, but nonetheless, one that must be addressed from a Biblical perspective.  If you missed it, you can listen online at

Jordan and Matt both had awesome cover songs this week as well!  It has been fun to watch our worship teams stretch themselves into some new genres and show us what they’ve got!  I will miss this series when it’s gone, but I bet we’ll come up with a new, creative idea for the next series.  We serve a creative God, so there is never a shortage of new ideas.

We are praying for those impacted by the tornado in Oklahoma.  It is epically devastating and difficult to process.  If you’d like to give to tornado relief, we support Convoy of Hope as a church.  You can give online at

Small Groups opened for registration on Sunday.  We have some great groups that are designed especially for you to make some good friends!  You can register online at  Thanks for being a part of our community!

I love where North Creek Church is heading!  This is such an amazing adventure that we are all blessed to be a part of.  I feel like our greatest days are yet to come and He will use our ministry in incredible ways in our future.  We are loving multisite, loving our addition of Battle Ground, and loving our team.  We are humbled and blessed.  He is so worthy of our praise for all that He pours out on our lives.  Don’t lose focus on that in your own world!

If you’d like to give to our “Projectors-That-Aren’t-On-Fire” Fund, we’d appreciate it.  We will use this opportunity to trade out our back projector (which is the wrong resolution), which means upgrading the projectors adds $1000 to our monthly budget.  On that note, did you know that our giving drops every summer?  It’s a challenge for most churches.  Since we don’t stop ministry during the summer, we would love for you to make a commitment to give even when you’re gone.  We have great online giving tools on our website that you can use when you’re off to the beach and camping!  We appreciate your faithfulness!

Let’s go change the world.  Be blessed!

When I was 17 years old, I got the privilege of driving my dad’s race car during the time trials on a full-fledged race track.  I had walked the track many times growing up and I felt comfortable navigating the car on it’s wide lane.  My strategy as a 17 year old was simple: push the gas pedal down as hard as you can and drive FAST.  After all, that’s racing, right?  The faster the better.

So, that afternoon, I pulled the car just over the edge from the pits to the track and did just what I had planned to do…I punched it.  And just to say it, my strategy worked like a charm out of the gate!  But then something interesting happened when I came to the first corner…I had to slam on my brakes because I was coming into the corner too fast.  I hit the brakes in a panic realizing that I had misjudged the leverage it would take to turn.  I lost all momentum because my strategy failed me.

Now, I had watched hundreds of races in my life.  I grew up at the races every Saturday night, often times falling asleep on my mom’s lap as a young girl.  I would eventually get a job selling programs as an elementary student and then move into the concession stand where I would sell sausages boiled in beer and nachos soaked in spicy cheese.  I knew the race track, I knew the cars, and I knew who the winners and the losers were.  I was “trained” in the ways of the race track, but when it came time to race, I relied more on that training-from-the-stands and less on what mattered the most: instincts.

As pastors, we can make the same mistake.  We are trained in leadership, we are surrounded by leaders, we think we know how to lead, but we miss the most valuable key…our natural instincts that are divinely birthed in the heart of a pastor by God.

What I should have done that day is let my instincts drive that car rather than relying on what I thought I had been taught for all of those years.  I should have pushed the gas to the right measure where I could let up at the corner and kept my momentum through the next stretch.  I may not have started out as fast, but in the long run, I would have been much faster overall.  And as I began to trust those instincts, I am sure that at some point, I would have navigated that track flawlessly.

My instincts, partnered with my training and familiarity, and practice would have been the perfect combination.

Pastors – it can be tempting to think that one more leadership tip will be the answer…if you just hang around one more great leader, something will rub off on you…sure, do that.  But in the midst of that strategy, stop and ask yourself what your gut is telling you.  Maybe when all of the leadership training says to punch it, the voice of God deep inside of you says to let up and rest because the next stretch is coming.  Maybe you should feel the power of your church around you and begin to listen to what it needs at that moment.  You will be surprised that most of the time you will know exactly what you need to do and it’s probably not written in that book you’re reading.

The real question…will you have the guts to listen to your gut?