The party has started!!!  All month we are celebrating our TEN YEAR anniversary.  We are excited beyond measure to share the stories, honor people along the way, and thank Jesus for all that He has done.  And the best is yet to come!!!

As part of our celebration, we will be handing out free Coffee Church shirts all month.  We already ran out, so the new order has been placed!  Aren’t our people the best?  The shirts are free, but pass on the blessing by giving extra to our missionaries around the world.  We are highlighting four missionaries this month in honor of our ten year and we want to be generous with all that God has blessed you with.  What a privilege!

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We also passed out coffee tins with coffee candy in them and a note about our story.  You’ll have to watch the sermon below to truly appreciate the history of our coffee tins!  It’s been quite the adventure, but with all of the challenges, all of the ups and downs…it is WORTH it!

We took a special offering for our FIRST missionaries, Chris and Heather Schneider.  Ironically, I just got off of a Facebook conversation and they have a need of about $4000 right now.  Would you take some time and pray that God would provide for them?  Make sure you listen to see if God would have you sacrifice as well.

ALSO, you can sign up for our Growth Groups right now.  Signups are going great as our groups prepare to start next week.  See your options at

And a special shout out for our young adults group.  They are knocking it out of the park right now, so if you’re out of high school and need a great group of people to hang out with, register under the Growth Groups link and they will track you down! 🙂

AND congrats to all of our new 6th graders who celebrated their first night at The Difference Youth.  I’m pretty excited for you all because I know what the last year in youth group has meant to my own daughter.  It’s a special place!

AND our Kindergartners are on their way to KidCity!  It’s a big transition for our young ones, but it’s an EXCEPTIONALLY well run class for our K-5th Graders.  If your kindergartner isn’t one that makes transitions easily, talk to our kid’s pastor, Andrea Garner.  She is very helpful and takes the time to make sure kids go at the best pace for their personality.  You can contact her at  She also loves having other moms and dads volunteer,  so if you’d like to be a part of your elementary schoolers spiritual growth at church, let her know that as well!

Speaking of Andrea…HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the best kid’s pastor and one of my favorite people!!!  You are a joy to do life with and I am grateful for your investment into my kids!

Phew!  Make sure you are at the next three weeks of church because we are just scratching the surface of FUN! 😉

Here’s the video of last week.  You’ll enjoy the history!


This week Mark and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary, so I thought I’d write a blog to those of you who aren’t married about some tips to help choose well in the most important decision of your life.  If you’re struggling in your current marriage, you should not read any further as we are prone to being consumed with discontentment and the need to compare.  The reality is that the marriage you are in is the one you should be working on!   There is no sense in looking back on what you “should have done”.

Also, good to note….marriage is from God for a man and a woman according to Scripture.  My lens is through the eyes of a Jesus centered marriage…the basics of a commitment to faith, prayer, and the Word of God are foundational and implied.  So, here’s my thoughts on some good things to watch out for in a potential spouse:


1. Purity first.

Sexual sins harm and destroy marriages with violent force.  After so many years in ministry, I can tell you this:  many warning signs of those prone to sexual deviancy were very visible during dating relationships.  Look for a person who wants to wait for sex until married, has high standards for their computer use, speaks appropriately of the opposite gender, has a history of purity, and who treats your body with respect.  I’m not mincing words here: if you have a concern over some of the sexual comments, activities, or habits of someone, don’t enter into a dating relationship or marriage under any circumstances.  Pornography addictions, affairs, and illicit activities are areas we dive into as pastors all too frequently with people and it is a pain that you will be wise to avoid if at all possible.  If you are honestly evaluating your own life right now and seeing these tendencies, it is time to get help!  It is possible to rely on Jesus, be surrounded with the right counseling/accountability and find victory in these areas.  Until then (which will be a long process), you aren’t in a place to date and get married.


2.  Financially disciplined.

The most argued about topic in marriage is money.  Marry a person who tithes 10% of their income to Jesus or expect there to be issues.  Malachi 3:6-12 talks about how God will take care of you if you are faithful:

“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

Mark and I have never made a lot of money with both of us in full time ministry and church planting, but in 18 years we have paid every bill and never argued about finances.  If your spouse doesn’t have the foundational belief of giving and the discipline to follow that up with sacrificial action, you are setting yourself up to be outside of the blessings of God.  That statement should make you shudder.  You will be wise to make generosity a standard for who you marry…and for yourself.

Also there are a multitude of other financial questions to address: does the person you’re interested in pay bills on time?  Do you hide financial information from you?  Do they have the history of interviewing well, keeping jobs, and getting good reports?  Do they save money or spend it with little regard for responsibility?  How much debt do they have and why?  If they have nice things, but have a mountain of debt, you’re headed for a problem.  Be wise in whom you connect your financial future to!


3.  Stability is sexy.  OK, maybe not when you’re 20, but when you have kids, jobs, bills, and mortgages…someone who does what they say they are going to do, shows up, and is emotionally level is VERY sexy.  There’s a saying that the good guys always finish last.  It’s true…their marriages finish last…when you’re old.  So look for a person who is faithful, dependable, loyal, secure in who they are, prone to joy, not controlling, and not addicted to substances.  (Again, if you’re struggling in these areas, get help!)


We often buy into the fairy tale idea of being emotionally swept off our feet with love.  I definitely think that’s a part of the equation!  However, we do have control over our decisions and if there was ever a decision to weigh out pragmatically…it’s marriage.  I used WAY more of my head to date Mark than my heart.  In fact our first date was like an interview between the both of us about how and why we believed about a TON of issues.  It was almost embarrassing to discuss some pretty intimate topics, but we had no time to waste.  I was not going to let my heart take me somewhere that I knew wasn’t going to lead me to the right place.  I also relied on Godly people around Mark and I to have input.  We went to church together, did ministry together, and allowed people into our world publically and privately.

If I had red flags on my key issues, I would have walked away (and Mark as well).  I know this because I did it with several men that my heart pushed me towards.  And I was right.


Marriage is a risky business even when you have high standards.  Many of my friends over the years have realized secrets, discovered lies, and been blindsided by some awful realities.  It happens in life, but the key is to avoid what you can avoid and allow Jesus to redeem the rest.  He’s given you Biblical standards, offered you wisdom, and provided you with counsel.  It is your responsibility to use that to make the best decision you can with the precious life you’ve been given!

There’s not enough room on the internet to write about all that happened on Sunday morning, so the next 1000 words will have to do!  It was our Annual Baptisms and Brunch for North Creek Church.

On a funny note, the Pacific Northwest has had the warmest summer in recent memory, but we managed to schedule our outdoor service on one of the two rainy days all summer…thankfully the sun came out for the only two hours we needed it to and we were able to have an absolutely beautiful morning!  We had a plan for bringing it inside, but we simply couldn’t have fit everyone, so we were happy to pull off our original plan!  The worship team actually practiced under tents as it rained on them, while Rachael and I dried off every chair just before service!  With a little extra coffee and a lot of gracious people, it was a wonderful morning!

Also, our team is the best!  Walking around a cold, wet field at 7:00 am on a Sunday morning and seeing ahead to three hours later with a full swimming pool for baptizing, hundreds of chairs, tables of food, tanks of coffee, games for toddlers, and a stage full of anointed musicians…you realize that the greatest gift of ministry are the people who are neck deep in it with you!

We had the honor of hosting our Northwest District Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Don Ross and his wife Brenda, this weekend as well.  It was a privilege to have him be a part of such a fun morning, but he also stayed to tell his story of transition and change to our staff.  Good words of advice as we go forward to all that God has for us!

I also realized that North Creek may get a reputation for crying and hugging after Sunday…my goodness!  We baptized 14 people and each story was as powerful as the last.  It was TOUGH to watch without getting a little misty…or sobbing uncontrollably….whichever.  I want to highlight my favorite part of each changed life:

Carlo:  Carlo is one of our young adults and an amazing man of God!  He’s such an articulate person and reminded us that God is proud of us when we do our best to honor Him. Isn’t that the truth?  We feel so unworthy sometimes, but Jesus LOVES us deeply.

Mathew:  Mathew is new to his faith and used his time in the tank to repent to his parents because Jesus has showed him that his actions aren’t honoring to them.  He was excited to give his life to Christ to allow Him to change those habits.

Trey:  Trey is a teenager who feels a call of God on his life.  He feels like Jesus changed his desires.  My favorite line of his testimony is “I say today that my old sinful self is dead, and my new life in Christ is alive!”  Isn’t that powerful?!?!

Andrew:  Another teenager living for Jesus!  Andrew shared about feeling empty before meeting Jesus and how Jesus is setting him free from depression.  Andrew has a kind, gentle heart and Jesus has a great plan for him!

Sean and Amanda Riley:  Husband and wife shared about their journey of growing in Jesus together and went underwater simultaneously.  What the crowd couldn’t see is when they came up, they immediately turned, embraced, and cried together.  All I could think was that the generations behind them will be different because of that moment.

Aaron:  Aaron is one of North Creek kids, and what a story!  His parents adopted him from China, so right before his baptism he wanted a letter to his birth mom read aloud.  Aaron opened with, “Dear China Mom…” He went on to tell her that he hopes she meets Jesus someday.  Isn’t that an absolutely moving picture of adoption?  God is so good!

Drew: Drew’s parents, Joe and Kris, are our forever friends.  Kris is our Hazel Dell youth pastor and they helped plant North Creek when Drew was just a toddler.  Drew is a tender person with a deep love for Jesus in his life.  He didn’t make it through his own testimony as he crumbled and wept over Jesus’ forgiveness for him.  When we planted North Creek, we did it for our kids to watch and live out a journey of faith.  He only knows this amazing story of ministry, but I know God will write another amazing journey of ministry in his future.

Ashley: What caught me up in Ashley’s testimony was the time she took to paint the picture of gratitude towards her parents.  She honored them well through tears and words.  She also honored Jesus as well as she spoke of her own inconsistency in following Him, but He remarkable consistency in loving her.

McKenzie:  Jesus has given me a mandate to pray for this one, so we took a moment out of her baptism to call out to Jesus for her future.  She is anointed by God in a way I don’t think she understands yet.  McKenzie shared about how God connects with her in worship!

Kennedy:  My daughter.  Oh, my daughter.  Sometimes her love for Jesus and the wisdom she has absolutely stops me from breathing.  I’ll write another blog this week in tribute to that moment.  It was a great one!

Justin:  Justin’s testimony was the shortest we got and I loved it!  He gave Jesus the credit for changing Him and ended with “I am a simple man.”  It might have been short, but isn’t that the most profound?  It has very little to do with all of our stuff we have done or haven’t done.  Jesus is a life-changer and our job is to follow Him without complicating the story! 🙂

Maria:  Sweet, joyful Maria!  Maria has been searching for Jesus for a long time and recently North Creek Church was a catalyst for bringing a lifetime of information into a life changing relationship.  She flew out of that water with her arms high in victory and a smile as wide as His love.  It was a precious moment!

Sydney:  Sweet Sydney!  She is our worship leader’s daughter as well as our kid coordinator’s daughter!  She has a kind and generous spirit.  The hug she gave mom at the end of her baptism was a touching tribute to a long heritage of ministry families.


One of the greatest gifts God has ever given me is the privilege of being a part of this church….

Be blessed!


You can find all of the photos at:




If you missed my previous post, catch it HERE before you read this one!


It was her last event and by far her biggest challenge.  How ironic that with all of the hurdles during this gymnastics season, it was about to come down to a vault.  She would need to run, block, and land well…symbolically overcoming a mountain of struggles through a difficult year.

And then she ran.  The same run that floods my eyes with tears.  A run that constantly reminds me of God’s promises.

She flew over that horse with determination and power.  And I erupted in cheers…not because I know if she did well (because I can’t tell a good vault from a poor one), but I cheered because she is fearless.  Brave.  A conqueror.  A fighter.  Everything I hope for her to be.

The wait for her score feels like an eternity, but I decide in that moment to watch her face instead of the scoreboard.  At this point, the score is only a number, but her face, that face…

This year had started off so well.  She had won the State Championship as a Level 3 and was ready to take on the world.  But the next ten months would prove to be a journey with life changing lessons marking it’s path.  She had joined a special group with a strategy change of focusing on strength instead of Level 4 routines.  It seemed like a good call at the time, but we began to see that her personality type was not the right fit for her new circumstance.  While some girls were thriving, we watched as day after day of strength training pushed and shaped her into uncomfortable molds for who she was created to be.  She deeply missed the performance training and missed the repetition of her normal systems. She never gave up, but her verbage began to change drastically…”I can do this” became “This isn’t something I’m good at”.  Her confidence began to falter.

Haven’t we all been there?  So sure we are a round peg in a square hole, but change is often scarier than just showing up day after day.  Maybe it will get better?  Maybe I just need to make it work?  What would life be like without these friends?  Without this familiar ground?  What is on the other side of the familiar?

As she wrestled with whether to change course or keep trying, she took another blow with an injury at her first meet in January.  Both of her wrists were damaged, which equated to extreme pain.  For the next eight weeks she agonizingly limped through competitions, all the while sliding even further backward in strength training.  Her scores often reflected her struggle and finally the day came when she looked at me and said, “I don’t think I’m on the right team.”

It was in that moment of desperation that the balance changed.  The fear of what was on the horizon became less than the fear of continuing on with the current course.

So, with tears in our eyes and trepidation in our hearts, Kennedy jumped in with another team in our gym and began the journey to salvage the end of the season.

Being placed in a team that was seemly crafted to her personality, she began to fight again.  I watched her determined spirit arise from discouragement and with it came confidence.  By the time Sectionals hit she had enough skills under her belt to feel better about her two nemesis’: bars and vault.  Her scores were still low for her, but her presence had changed.  She made it to State and used every moment of the next two weeks to sharpen and learn.

At State, I chuckled to myself to see that we were starting on bars.  Of course.  When I told Kennedy that, she quoted a video she had watched, “I may have lost some battles, but I will not lose the war.”  No, no you won’t, sweet girl.

The best bar score she had managed to pull out was at Sectionals with an 8.6.  When the score popped up at a 9.125, I fell off the bleachers.

She wasn’t going down easy.

Beam and floor were next and she got two more good scores.  Vault would be her big finale and with a personal best during the year of an 8.45, I knew it was still a long shot to end with four strong events.

And now there I was.  A long year behind us, looking at her face, not caring one bit what the scoreboard said.  She stood there in her little pink leotard…fearless.  Brave.  A conqueror.  A fighter.  Everything I hope for her to be.

And then came the smile.  Wide and contagious. I turned my head. 9.175.10985248_10204949515110853_8638013123941017344_n

Tears caught up in my throat and my hands cupped my face.  She did it.  She ended well.  Full of determination, confidence, and security in her strengths.

I cried that day because the war was never gymnastics…the war was fear and insecurity.  Fear of embracing the best path for herself.  Fear of disappointing other people.  Fear of failure.

And as always, our children teach us the most profound lessons: It is true that our confidence can be lost in the midst of life, but it can also be found.

Kennedy walked away that day with a 6th place medal, a 36.7 All Around score, but most importantly, she walked away saying, “I wish we had gym on Monday.  I am ready to learn something new!”

Rest, sweet girl.  God has new journeys for you just around the corner.

Today would you take a moment and vow to change what is shrinking you?  Rise up!  Dust off the “old you” and be everything God created you to be.  Recapture your spirit, your determination, your passion!  Shrug off your circumstance, your hindrances and the “what ifs”.  You’ve got this!  You’ve really, really got this.

kennedy bw

My daughter just finished her second year of gymnastics and I can’t wait to give you an update to her story.  It’s been quite the experience this time around, but first, I thought I would repost this from a year ago to catch you up!  Stay tuned!!!

One year ago:

My youngest daughter Kennedy was a difficult baby and toddler.  She didn’t sleep through the night until she was almost two, she was picky about every food choice, and we would later find out she was very anemic, which caused lots of lethargy and mood swings.  Her uncontrollable tantrums were frequent and I often threw my hands up in exasperation as to how to break the cycle of being held hostage by her erratic behavior.  She clung to me with a fear of abandonment that was difficult to navigate.  Her preschool teacher even warned me that she was too shy and uncommunicative to begin kindergarten as she would struggle socially if we put her in school.

Mark and I spent lots of time in prayer believing that God would have to intervene in little Kennedy’s life.

Maybe that’s why I remember the warm summer day when she was just two years old.  Kennedy was running across the yard with her baby-fat-filled legs and I felt God whisper to my heart, “She’s going to be a gymnast.”  OK.  I didn’t know anything about gymnastics, but it impacted me so clearly that I would often repeat those words when I saw her run….”She runs like a gymnast.”

What was very far from my reality that day was that God wasn’t just telling me about a talent; He was telling me that He had a way to turn all of her weaknesses into strengths and that He had a plan to mold and shape her.  He was telling me that He had it all under control.

I would spend the next three years asking Kennedy if she’d like to try gymnastics, but her social issues made the conversation too tense to pursue, so we waited.  At five years old she finally decided to try a tumbling class.  From my perspective I watched something unlock in her little heart on those mats.  Very quickly we went from a class to pre-team and then had the opportunity to try out for team.  A gymnastics team is an unbelievable financial and time commitment.  Once again we prayed to God for wisdom…”We are pastors, Lord.  The two things that in short supply are money and time.  If you want us to do this, You will have to provide.”  His answer was the same, “She’s going to be a gymnast.”

So, we prepared to jump into a team situation with a large financial commitment and 12 hours a week of practice.  Our deal with Kennedy was that she was not allowed to quit for one year if she was going to start.  “It’s all or nothing, Baby.”  Shockingly, she decided to do it.

I’d love to tell you that her apprehension stopped there, but it didn’t.  We would spend the first four months of practice literally pulling her body out of the car with tears running down her face and dropping her on the gym mat.  Our hearts grieved and we spent HOURS debating our decision.  Were we hurting our child by pushing her too hard?  Every time the answer was the same…”She’s going to be a gymnast.”  We mustered enough determination to finish out the year.

And then one day it all changed.  I watched as God used gymnastics to validate her perfectionistic traits.  Her focus was precise and unwaverable in hour after hour of practice.  She began to find comfort in who she was and how she could relate to those around her.  Suddenly she began to dance as she waited in line for her turn.  She laughed with her friends and hugged her coaches with abandon.  She was changing before our eyes.  Even school became easy and confidence preceded her in almost every situation.

Last weekend was a strange full-circle moment for me as we headed to the State Competition.  I watched her rise to the occasion, nail out an unbelievable score (37.975) and win First.  Not only did she take gold in her age division, but Kennedy ranked 4th in the state for Level 3 out of all age groups.  On top of that her team won the Team Competition and her All-Star team won for our section.

But all of that was shadowed by the fact that she was there at all.  The little girl that jumped up on the winner’s podium on Saturday was unrecognizable from the girl I knew a year ago.

Saturday reminded me that God is growing and shaping our lives with a plan and a purpose.  He has put things inside of us that will propel us to where we need to be.  And the key to unlock all of this is simply perseverance.  We’ve all just got to stay the course…when it’s easy, when it’s hard, and even when we are in the winner’s circle.  We need to trust in God to finish what He has started.

I don’t know where gymnastics will take Kennedy from here.  Honestly, there is no pressure for it to be the answer forever, but what I do know is that God used it as a catalyst for Kennedy to get to the next season of her life.  I am forever grateful for the journey that the last seven years has taken us on and I have a lot of hope for the next seven…Go Kennedy!  Go Jesus!