Welcome to Sunny California!

We finally made it! We rolled into town Thursday afternoon with only one more incident to report. Mollie had her feet up on the dash of my car and managed to put a big spider-web crack in my windshield with her foot. It is honesty a "God-thing" that my beater car was able to get from Amarillo, TX to Dixon, CA without a hitch. That car has been the most dependable vehicle I've ever owned. She's not much to look at, but she can go from point A to point B every time!

Living Hope Church has just been phenomenal in the way they've welcomed us and helped us so much. We love this church already! We really love our new home, too. It's fairly new and beautiful and has a great backyard. In fact, we have 5 small palm trees in our backyard. Now, to all you native Californians that may not be anything to write home about, but to a bunch of native MidWesterners that is super cool! There is one tiny little palm tree that has already become known as Isla's tree. Here's a couple of pics.


Storm Clouds and Silver Linings

I'm in Santa Rosa, NM right now. This has been a crazy moving experience so far (to say the least). Let me break it down day by day.

- On our truck-loading day, a massive ice storm rolled in. Struggled to keep ice off the loading ramp.
- After truck was loaded, got it stuck in my front lawn. It took two guys with 4WD pick-ups and chains to pull it out.
- Our incredible friends who helped us so much packing and pulling the truck out of the ice/mud.
- A complimentary "good-bye" steak dinner at our favorite Lebanon restaurant. It was heaven after a very long day.

- We went back to the house to do a little last-minute cleaning. I learned that Jamie had accidentally packed the charger to my MP3 player and it was somewhere on the truck. I was VERY upset.
- I opened the front passenger door to our crappy van and the inside door molding completely broke off. Jamie was VERY upset.
- We finally get going down the road and stop 20 minutes later for lunch. After lunch, the moving truck won't start. Had to wait an hour for roadside assistance to show up. It was an easy fix, though.
- Jamie's dad, Ken, found a new door molding for us and had it waiting at the house when we showed up in Mustang, OK.
- Seeing family one more time before heading west.

- Jamie's van broke down west of Amarillo, TX. Overheated due to probable transmission issues.
- We pulled my beater car off the trailer and put Jamie's van on the trailer by pushing it with my beater car. Both vehicles received dings, dents, scratches, etc...
- We really didn't lose our temper that much.
- We checked into a hotel and after Jamie told the clerk about our "adventures", she upgraded us to an AMAZING suite! Very posh.

Despite everything, God is good and we're all safe. Keep praying for us!!!!!!!!!!!


Blogging Break

I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long. We are in full-on "moving to CA" mode so things have been pretty crazy. Pray for the family as we move this week. We're loading the truck Thursday, leaving Lebanon Friday, staying with Jamie's parents in Oklahoma City Friday night, and starting the big trek on Saturday. We're going to take out time since we have the baby and all. We hope to arrive in Dixon, CA next Tuesday morning.

I'll probably not blog much, or not at all, for a week or so. Check back in March.


Great Weekend

Well it's 2am and I'm getting ready to go to bed, but I wanted to post about my great weekend before I hit it. I took 13 teens to St. Louis to the Dare2Share Conference. It was really good. We had a good time and it was kind of a last hurrah with the youth group before moving to California.

My 9-yr-old boy, Isaiah, preached his first sermon today in KidzChurch. He was really excited about it and had studied hard. I was proud of him. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear it (which totally breaks my heart). I was busy rehearsing with the worship band and forgot to tell the KidzChurch leader to come get me before he spoke. I heard he did a great job and preaches a little like his Dad (a little long-winded). Isaiah has been saying for a few years that he wants to be a pastor when he's older. I try not to push him in any direction, but encourage all of his interests. I'm really super-proud of him! This is actually not his first sermon. He's preached a couple at school during show and tell. One time he actually gave an invitation after show and tell (which totally cracks me up - just because I think it's so awesome).

The other great thing about today was I had the honor of baptizing 6 kids and teens today. Britney in the first service. BJ and Acena in the second service. And Elizabeth, Alyssa, and Katrina at our "Bridge" Worship Service this evening. Yep, I had to get wet three times! I loved it and it was an awesome way to cap off a great ministry here in Lebanon, MO. The church had a farewell reception for us tonight, too. Lots of well-wishes and they presented us this cool picture to hang in the house to remember them by. We're really going to miss everybody!


Cletus, Take the Reel

I am really tired of "redneck" humor. Most of it is just not funny to me anymore. But this really made me laugh.

No Country for Old Men

Jamie and I saw a great movie last night - No Country for Old Men. This is a Coen Brothers film and it's getting a lot of Oscar buzz. I love the Coen Brothers. I was going to list my favorite movies of theirs, but I honestly love them all. (O Brother Where Art Thou, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, and all the rest). No Country... features one of the best villains in the last 20 years. Javier Bardem plays the psychopath killer-for-hire, Anton Chigurh. Chigurh is seriously every bit as creepy as Hannibal Lector. Tommy Lee Jones is brilliant as the worn-down country sheriff, too. Also. this may be one the most intense, suspenseful movies I've ever seen.

The only detractor for this movie is its anti-climactic ending. Profound, but a bit a bit of a let-down. Definitely worth seeing, though.


Happy Birthday, Mollie!

Today is Mollie's 11th birthday. She's awesome! I love her more than she'll ever know. This year she got a cell phone for her gift. (I know, you can send me emails about how wrong it is to give an 11-yr-old a cell phone. But you try to say no to that face!) This is my all-time favorite Mollie/Daddy picture. Jamie took it 3 1/2 yrs ago on a family camping trip in northern California.

Two New Addresses

I have been a little stressed the last several days not knowing if we're going to have a house to move into when we get to California in less than 3 weeks. But while I stress, God provides. We have a house now, and it's one that we got to see while we were there visiting a few weeks ago and we liked it alot.

My other new address is for this blog. I'm no longer at http://youthpastorjeff.blogspot.com, but I'm now at http://jeffwideopen.blogspot.com. Hopefully everyone finds their way to the new address.


Big Announcement

Many of you who read this already know, but I can really make it public knowledge now. I have resigned my position as Youth Pastor at First Church and have accepted the Senior Pastor position for the Living Hope Church in Dixon, CA. While we are sad to leave Lebanon, we are very excited about what God is doing in Dixon.

I started talking to the elders at Living Hope towards the end of September and it has been quite a process of taking it slow to make sure this was the right decision for them and for my family. Lots of prayer together, fasting together, long conversations, trips, and interviews. I have to say, though, from my very first contact with Living Hope, I told Jamie that this just feels like a church tailor-made for us. When Jamie got into the conversation, she felt exactly the same way. Living Hope is a young Evangelical Free church (about 6 years old). They are also young age-wise. They are a self-supporting church (average attendance 80-110), but they are not yet property owners. Sunday morning worship takes place in an elementary school gymnatorium. They also rent a space for teens and offices. I love that they're not tied to anything physical - there's a very real sense of Living Hope Church being people - not buildings. Dixon is a smallish town of about 18,000 (near Sacramento), but it's sandwiched between two larger towns. There are only 7 evangelical churches in Dixon, none of which seem to be averaging more than 150. So it really is a mission field. Everybody involved just feels like Living Hope is on the brink of something great. It's a very exciting church to be in right now!

This is obviously a big step for us. I kind of always thought I would retire as the oldest living youth pastor. But over the last year or so I began to feel God transitioning my heart out of youth ministry and giving me a heart for pastoring. I really have a sense of calling with this move. The only other thing in my life that I've felt that with was my decision to preach. All the other positions I've accepted, were because they made sense or there was sort of a sense of God opening a door. But with Living Hope, I really feel like all roads in my life have led here. I can look back on all my former experiences and see how they've prepared me for this.

My last Sunday at First Church will be 2/17 and then we'll start the trek to California later that week. Please pray for us as we pack and search for a house.


Abortion or Immigration

Check out Jacob Riggs' blog, AFrayedKnot, for a great discussion that's going on right now. Jacob asked which issue is more important right now - abortion or immigration. Great question and discussion! I like AFrayedKnot because Jacob is one of the best bloggers I know of for generating spirited discussion.