Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Moment of Obedience

As I sit here to type this entry, I am totally humbled.

Today, the Hooties and I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for New Year's Eve dinner.  While in the produce section giving the older Hooties a lesson on how to pick out veggies, this middle-aged man walks up to me and asks if the van in the parking lot that has "For Him" on the license plate belonged to me.  I told him it did, but in my mind I was thinking, "Aww, man, he must have hit me.  I really don't have time for this."  Then he proceeded to tell me that last week he saw my van and the Lord told him to bring our family a Christmas present, but he passed it off and just went on with his day.  So, here he was at the grocery store a week later and saw our van again.  He told me that the Lord again told him to go give our family a present, so today he came looking for us in the grocery store to give us a Christmas present.  This man gave us some money.  For those of you who know what is going on in our life, you will know how much of a BLESSING this is to us.  We are about to start something new.  We aren't sure which churches/people are going to financial support this vision that the Lord has given us.  But in that small moment...in that man's moment of obedience to the Lord...the Lord reminded me that we will be taken care of.

I was also reminded about what I teach the women I disciple every week...that when we HEAR the Spirit speaking, we must BELIEVE that He still speaks and then OBEY what He has put before us.  And this man did that today.  I was reminded that the Lord STILL speaks to His people...all we have to do is slow down long enough to hear Him speak.  Often times, I get caught up with being a mom of four children, and I forget to slow down.  I forget to be still.  I guess the reason this event impacted me so much is because this is how we try to live our life...listening for the Spirit, believing what He says and then obeying what we have been told.

I will admit, it was a little hard taking this man's money because I am usually the one on the giving end instead of the receiving end. So, when I called Chris to tell him what happened, I asked him if it would be OK for us to frame the money this man gave us to be reminder of what God did today in the grocery store...in that one moment of this man being obedient. So, we pray that one day we will have an office to put this reminder in.  That we won't forget what we learned in this moment.

We will be praying for this man.  That he will continue to live a life of obedience to the One he serves.  Even though I didn't get to properly thank him for what he did, I know that the Lord is well-pleased with His faithful servant.

  
 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Traditions

This year was a different Christmas for us.  We didn't get to incorporate very many Christmas traditions like we normally do since all of our belongings are in storage.  I think it was a bit harder for me than for the Hootie Hoos, so I guess I did a good job keeping my emotions under control.  I missed Chris and I pulling out our Christmas tree, lights and decorations.  Staying up decorating the tree, but waiting to put the star on top once all the Hooties could be there.  I missed changing out the Hooties'  pictures on their stocking holders. I missed seeing the stocking hanging from the mantle. I missed reading all of our Christmas books (The Legend of the Christmas Stocking, The Legend of the Candy Cane, The Legend of the Christmas Tree, etc.) and doing crafts with the Hootie Hoos.  I missed having our advent wreath and teaching the Hooties about hope, love, joy and peace.  I missed lighting the Christ candle on Christmas Eve and letting it burn all day on Christmas.  I missed having our 12 Days of Christmas box that we start on the day after Christmas to learn about the Christian meaning for each gift given.  We have had to be creative this year.  Instead of having our stockings we used pillow cases.  I tried to make it special by getting an ornament that represented each Hootie.  Josiah got a dolphin since he is SO interested in dolphins.  Sophie got a UNC polar bear since she LOVES polar bears.  The UNC part fit perfectly since we are living in NC.  Kyrie got a tiger since she is a BIG Daniel Tiger fan.  Tobias got a lion since he went crazy for it while we were shopping for ornaments!  We wanted to do the 12 Days of Christmas with the Hooties, so I have found some crafts and coloring pages to do with the Hooties.  Even though we don't have our book, we are still taking time each day to go over each verse of the song with them and teaching them about each gift given.

Through this season, the Lord has been teaching me that I don't need all of these things to make CHRISTmas special for the Hootie Hoos.  I have learned that traditions are good, but if they become more important than worshiping the One who came, then I don't have my priorities in the right order.  So, next year when we are settled into our new place, I look forward to continuing our traditions, but I know my heart will be in a different place than it was last year when we celebrated CHRISTmas. 

Here are a few pictures from our CHRISTmas morning:

Our Christmas pillow stockings

Opening their stockings


SUPER excited to get these...she has talked non-stop about them since she saw them in the store

Excited about Legos...even more excited that it was a train!

He is getting so big!

Waiting to open presents

Love this Hootie...

...and this one...

...and this one...

...and this one!

He was SO excited to see this car in the store...and even more excited to play with it

Opening baby accessories...so excited to have a crib, car seat, etc. to use while taking care of her babies

Opening up his Ziggle from Pa T and Lin-Lin

Opening up her construction outfit that she has wanted since seeing in the store. 

 

Quick Trip to NOVA

So, we have been very busy the month of December.  It started with a trip to GA the beginning of December.  We were home for six days before heading to NOVA for a few days.  While we were in NOVA, we were able to hang out with our VA grandparents (Mimi & Bob-Bob).  They are very special people that went to our old church.  Most Mondays they would watch the Hootie Hoos, so Chris and I could go out on a date.  They would do fun grandparent things with the Hooties.  This was such a special relationship for the Hootie Hoos since all of their grandparents lived out of state.  So, we stayed with them while we were in NOVA and the Hooties LOVED it!!  There are some pictures of the Hooties with Mimi and Bob-Bob below.  We were also able to spend some wonderful time with our dear friends, John and Jen.  I would put them in the category of framily...they're friends, but we definitely love them like family! I was able to go to lunch with one of my dear friends...it was SO nice to have some girl time! We also had an open house and got to see A LOT of people from our old church.  It was a great time of fellowship and a great opportunity to share with them what the Lord has been doing in our lives.  Chris was able to go to the movies to see the last Hobbit movie with some friends that he saw the other movies with.  We had breakfast with Jen and Baby James and Zachariah.  Zachariah surprised his parents by coming home early from New Zealand.  We had no idea that he was home except for the fact that he posted something on Face Book.  We are thankful that he was able to squeeze breakfast in since he was only home for a few days before leaving for Spain.  Then the Hooties spent some time decorating a gingerbread house with Mimi and Bob-Bob.  Then we also got to see the world's best babysitter, Darian!!  She flew in from being in South Africa for 3 months and literally came straight to where we were!!!  The Hooties were able to play with her for a bit before we put them to bed.  Then we headed to a little coffee shop to hear about her trip and all that God had been teaching her over the last few months.  To talk with about what He may want her to do next.  It was such an honor for her to come and share since I KNOW she was suffering some jet lag.  She is a pretty amazing women who LOVES the Lord.  If you have some free time, you should check out her amazing blog.

Well, I guess I should get going.  Here are some pictures from our trip.  Hope you enjoy them!

Hanging out with Bob-Bob

Getting some love from Rachel at the open house

Chatting with the Wades

So of our old youth

The Wades

Breakfast with this cutie

Love this girl

And this girl...so serious

Love this boy...Josiah was too busy playing...thus, no picture of him

Kyrie LOVES her some Baby James

LOVE this boy

Breakfast with Zachariah...can't belive he had only been back to the States for two days

Decorating a gingerbread house

She kept sneaking candy

The finished creation

Opening up stockings from Mimi and Bob-Bob

Some Starburst and Kisses...doesn't get better than that!
We had a BLAST hanging out with Mimi and Bob-Bob

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CHRISTmas 2014



CHRISTmas 2014

Well, another year has come and gone.  The Greenwood Family has stayed pretty busy in the midst of some pretty big changes for us.  Right now, we are in a season of waiting.  We found out in March that our former church was going in a different direction as far as a senior pastor was concerned.  Chris and I had talked previously that if it came back as a no, then we knew that our time in Reston, VA was coming to an end.  So, when we found out, it became time for us to start applying to churches.  Since Chris and I have a passion for discipleship and family ministry, we just thought it made sense for him to apply for Associate Pastor positions.  Time and time again, we got pretty far along in the interview process thinking that we would be moving.  But time and time again, we heard, “We really want to say yes to you, but we just feel like the Lord is wanting us to tell you, ‘No.’”  On one of our interviews, we were having lunch with the search committee and the senior pastor.  During the lunch, the senior pastor asked Chris why he wasn’t applying for senior pastor positions because everything that he saw on paper about Chris looked like that is what he needed to do.  So, Chris and I took some time to pray…trying to get more clarity on the direction God was leading us.  Chris has never had the desire to be a senior pastor.  He didn’t go to seminary with the dreams of being the main man, so this was completely new territory for him.  During this time though, the Lord continued to grow the passion of discipleship and family ministry in our hearts.  So, as Chris began to apply to senior pastor positions, we began to look at leading a church with these two areas as the primary focus.  We got phone calls with plenty of interviews.  Chris shared his passions and ideas on how to incorporate discipleship and family ministry into the life and function of the church.  And again, we would get pretty far in the process.  And again, we heard from multiple churches, “We are excited about the ministry vision that God has given you, but we just don’t feel like our church is ready for the vision.”   So, at the end of August, our family moved to North Carolina to live with Chris’ parents.  Chris was wondering what he would do to provide for his family when out of nowhere, he got a job offer to work part-time at the new Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) here in Goldsboro.  They wanted him to work with the youth and bring a family ministry focus to the youth group instead of a program/activity focus.  During all of this, the Lord is continuing to fine tune what He wants our ministry to look like.  We ask that you pray for wisdom and guidance as we feel like we are getting closer to what He wants us to do.  As we continue to wait, please be praying for us as individuals.  Over the last several months, the Lord has brought some things to the surface that He wants us to work on.  We don’t look at this season as a waste of time, but rather God preparing us for what is to come.  Pray that we don’t lose heart as He continues to work on us so we can be the individuals, couple, and family He desires us to be. 

Now on to more exciting things…nope, no baby announcement this time!  But I do want to take a moment to update you on the Hootie Hoos.  You may be asking, “Who are the Hootie Hoos?” Well, we have been asked that question quite a bit.  The story goes that one day, the kids were full of energy.  I made a passing comment about how they were acting like a bunch of hoodlums, but it just didn’t seem right because they are far from being a bunch of hoodlums.  So, I said they were acting like a bunch of Hootie Hoos.  Chris liked it and it has stuck.  So without further ado, let’s talk about the Hootie Hoos!

Hootie Hoo #1:  This would be Josiah..our sweet, 6-year-old son. Josiah started 1st grade at 268 Academy (the name of our homeschool) in September.  He continues to do amazingly well in school.  Some of his favorite subjects are art, math, and science.  When we lived in VA, we had a friend that would take time to teach Josiah different art mediums and show him how to draw, paint, etc.  I think this one-on-one time has helped Josiah to fall in love with art.  His favorite part of math is addition/subtraction speed drills.  He gets so excited when it is math time and often wants to do his speed drills first.  This year for science, we are studying underwater sea creatures.  About a year and half ago, Josiah saw the movie “Dolphin Tale.”  This is the true story about a dolphin named Winter who lives in Clearwater, FL.  Since seeing the movie, he has been reading and learning as much as he can about dolphins. Chris and Josiah actually went to see Winter when we visited our family in GA in April.  The highlight of his visit was being able to touch and take a picture with Winter.  So with all of this interest in dolphins…and now whales and sharks…we decided to spend the year studying about underwater sea creatures using the Apologia curriculum (which we HIGHLY recommend). We constantly find him with a book in his hands.  One of his favorite times is when we go to the library and check out new books.  When we moved to NC, we decided that he was ready to get his own library card.  He has enjoyed being able to check out his own books.  Since moving to NC, Josiah has loved the freedom of having a backyard to play in. He has also enjoyed riding his bike and hopes to take the training wheels off sooner than later. We found a church here in town that has the AWANA program.  He continues to do well with his memory verses and enjoys his time with other boys and girls his age. 

Hootie Hoo #2:  This would be Sophie…our sweet, lovable almost-five-year-old daughter.  Sophie started Kindergarten 1 at 268 Academy this September.  With Josiah, I started a kindergarten curriculum when he was four and finished the rest of it the following year when he was officially enrolled in kindergarten with the state.  This worked so well, that I decided to do it with Sophie.  So, even though she isn’t officially enrolled in kindergarten, she is doing kindergarten work and is doing an amazing job!  Her favorite subjects are science and math.  So far in science, she has learned about the five senses, how God created her, and the weather.  In math, she has already learned how to count to 100 by 1’s and 10’s.  She is learning how to tell time to the hour and half-hour and how to count money.  Sophie also loves to read.  It is crazy how well she can read and is already reading chapter books like her older brother.  Sophie has also been enjoying the freedom of having a backyard to play in.  She loves exploring the world around her.  Another thing that she has discovered is she loves to run.  Yes, running!  Often times on our family walks, she would start off riding her scooter.  Part way into our walk, we would see the scooter on the side of the road with Sophie running down the street.  On our way back home, she would pick up her scooter and ride it the rest of the way home.  Sophie is also in the AWANA program and is doing really with her scripture memory.   She has a small class size which is great for her shy personality. 

Hootie Hoo #3: This would be Kyrie…our sweet, independent three-year-old daughter.  Kyrie started Pre-school at 268 Academy this September.  It is so much fun watching her learn so many things so quickly.  She has learned her months of the year and days of the week.  She knows her numbers up to 20.  She can name all the letters and tell me the sounds that they make.  We have been working on some fine motor skills like coloring, writing her name, writing the letters of the alphabet and cutting with scissors. The thing that she has improved the most on is her reading.  We have known for quite a while that she is able to read, but in good Kyrie fashion…she just didn’t want to do it.  About a month ago, she decided that she really wanted to read and will now sit down and point to the words as she reads them.  Kyrie tends to be more of a home body and has a strong maternal side to her.  She LOVES her some babies…real or play.  When she plays with her babies, she does everything from changing their diapers to feeding to reading to playing with them.  This transition has been a little hard on her because she knows she has quite a few baby accessories in storage, but doesn’t quite understand why she can’t play with them.  Kyrie has been to AWANA a couple of times since she turned three.  Some weeks she is fired up about going and other weeks she isn’t, so we let her stay home.  But we are still working on her memory verses and it is amazing that at three she is able to remember the verses! 

Hootie Hoo #4:  This would be Tobias…our sweet, rough and tumble 17-month-old son.  While the older Hooties and I are at school each morning, Tobias spends time with Chris.  They usually do chores, go for walks, watch “Your Baby Can Read” videos and then find some time to get on the floor and wrestle.  Josiah was never much of a wrestler, so now that we have Tobias, we are learning a whole new way to play with him.  His favorite thing is for us to throw some pillows on the floor and lay down on them.  Before we know it, Tobias is crawling and climbing all over us.  If his brother or sisters are on the floor playing, he has been known to tackle them.  Often times we are telling Tobias to be gentle with his older siblings, and I have a feeling this is how it is going to be for many years to come!  Tobias wants to do the things that the older Hooties do, so often times that means bundling him up to take him outside when they go out.  If we don’t, we often hear quite a bit of yelling…I often feel like he is cussing me out in baby talk. Tobias brings so much laughter to our family.  He knows that he is silly and will do what he can to make us laugh.  He continues to amaze us in how much he understands.   His ability to follow directions is crazy!  He knows how to put his clothes in the hamper, put his shoes in the shoe basket, put his toys up along with many other things! 

Well, it seems like each year our update gets longer and longer.  I guess that is what happens when you have six people to write about!!  We have stopped paying for and keeping up with our babysite.com membership. Instead, I have begun a blog. Please feel free to check it out. I have our family blog and individual children blogs. Just go to:


            We pray that you find time this CHRISTmas season to slow down and remember  the reason for this time of year…to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who became the Risen Savior of the World.


With Love,

Chris, Sara and the Hootie Hoos





Merry CHRISTmas from the Greenwoods


Saturday, December 20, 2014

A 15-year Reflection



December 18, 1999…
This was our first date.  We were in college.   We had just come out of some hard relationships.  Both committing to the Lord a life of singleness.  But He obviously had different plans.  When we were least expecting it, He brought us together.  I can’t believe that out first date was 15 years ago!  

So much has happened in those 15 years.  We moved from dating to engagement to planning a wedding to getting married.  As newlyweds, we learned how to live together and communicate in ways that were new to us.  There were definite hard times, but we had made a commitment to each other and to the Lord.  We went from teaching at a brand new Christian school together  to attending seminary while I taught at a public school.  We have gone from being a couple who could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted to being blessed with our first born son.  We went from me working full time to being a stay-at-home-wife-and-mom.  You went from seminary to working part-time at a church and part-time at a Christian school to working full-time at a church.  We went from apartment living to living in a townhouse (the closest thing to owning a house). We went from having a son to having a son and a daughter.   We have gone from trying to figure out how to live like Jesus would on our own to having some amazing people pour into our lives and teach us what it means to REALLY live like Jesus.  We went from having many youth coming into our home to adding another daughter to our family.  While we were loving on our children and the youth of our church, the Lord called us to start investing in the lives of those around us.  Investing in ways that didn’t make sense to the world, but made perfect sense to the One who was leading us.  As we were living this life of obedience, we welcomed our  fourth child into the world.  Shortly after welcomed our son, we found out that our pastor was leaving our church, so you graciously become the interim pastor along with being open to be the next senior pastor out our church.  Little did we know that the Lord had different plans for our family.  It was a hard season for us as the Lord used this event to bring to the surface things He wanted us to work.  Some things were individual, some things focused on  us as a couple.  There were times, when I didn’t want to go through the process.  There were times, I would go kicking and fighting as the Lord was fine tuning me to be the wife, mom and more importantly the disciple of Christ He wants me to be.   We sensed the Lord was wanting to complete this work He had started, so we took a step of faith and left a full-time ministry position to work part-time at a church plant.  We went from having our own home to living with our parents. In the months after leaving a full-time ministry position, the Lord has continued to fine tune your calling.  We knew that the Lord has given us a passion for family and discipleship.  In our minds, it made sense for you to apply to associate pastor positions that specialized in discipleship and/or family ministry.  As we moved far in the process with a few churches, we were taken aback when we heard numerous times, "We really want to say yes, but we feel like the Lord wants us to tell you no."  So, we took some time to pray and see if we were missing something.  After the time of prayer, we felt like we needed to start applying to senior pastor positions.  Again, we got pretty far in the process with some churches.  Again, we heard some similar things from the churches.  They told us, "We really like you.  We really like your vision for ministry (having a discipleship focused ministry).  We just don't feel like our church  is ready for that yet."  So, after hearing this several times.  We went back to praying.  

And here we are, 15 years later…

The Lord is doing something that we NEVER would have imagined.  We are still applying to senior pastor positions, but at the same time we are exploring the possibility of starting a discipleship ministry. The vision the Lord has given us is working with the leadership of the church to have a discipleship focused church. We are on this new journey not knowing what may happen.  But we do know we serve the One who is in control of all things.  There are times when we don't feel like we are equipped to do what He is leading us to do, but then we remember there is no better place to be...in a place of COMPLETE dependence on the Lord.  There are times we think that it is impossible for four churches to understand the vision we have been given, let alone be willing to hire us.  But then I am reminded of the many times, the Lord provided for His people and realize that we are no different.  If the Lord is calling us to do this, then He is fully capable of getting four churches to go on this journey with us.  So, as we explore this possibility, we ask that you pray for us.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray for discernment.  Pray for conversations that we will be having in the near future.  Pray for churches to understand the vision we have been given and want to bring a discipleship focus to their church.  

So, I am very humbled as I reflect on the last 15 years.  If you asked me on December 18, 1999 what my life would be like on December 18, 2014, I would NEVER have imagined that I would be sitting here typing all that I just typed. But I am thankful for all the ways that Lord has used us as a couple, as individuals and as a family to further His Kingdom.  


Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Busy Trip to GA

We got back a couple of days ago from spending a little over a week in GA visiting our family there.  While we were there we celebrated birthdays and CHRISTmas.  We also squeezed in some visits with friends.  Chris and I were able to talk to some people about some possible job opportunities.  So, we shall wait and see what happens with all these conversations.  Until then, enjoy some pictures from our time in GA.


Sophie and Lily playing at Jungle Jim's

Sophie and Kyrie at Jungle Jim's

Pool of Balls

Where is Josiah?

Celebrating CHRISTmas at Granny Whoosh and Papa Gig's house with Bryson and Lily

Uncle Chris reading Bryson his new book

Uncle Chris showing Lily her new video
 
Uncle Chris had a lap full of kiddos

Tobias excited about something


Sophie got a new family for her doll house

Josiah and his new Lego set

Celebrating Kyrie's birthday at Mimi and Bup-Bup's house


Making a wish

Opening her present

He melts my heart
 
Kyrie got a Daniel Tiger Treehouse


Getting some love while visiting Grammy Ila

We were able to get a picture of Gram Ila and the Hootie Hoos.
Swinging at Mimi and Bup-Bup's

I bet she could have gotten all four Hooties on her lap if she tried

Riding the tricycle

Sophie


Josiah

Kyrie

Chris

Kyrie wanted to play hide-and-seek in the van...so we did!

Mommy found her spot

It got pretty intense