Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Heart...Christmas Eve

In our home we mix traditions from Norway and the States. This year we started off the morning opening up one gift and then started into the full gift giving in the afternoon. We paused for a traditional Norwegian Christmas meal and had Risen Grøt, this is basically a rice pudding that is hot...basically. We put sugar, cinnamon and butter on top. In one of the bowls (this is a mystery to everyone) there is a peeled almond. The person who gets the almond gets a prize. It's great fun to pretend we have it and save the reveal until everyone is done. This year Karston got the almond (mandel in Norwegian). It was his first year getting it without "all the little kids get one."
The big winner!

Eager anticipation for the next gift

Then we jumped back to presents for a while. We decided to go to the 5PM service at church, as we would have been late for the 3PM service. I love going to Christmas Eve service at our church. It's a highlight of the year. We sing tons of great Chrsitmasy songs, hear the story of Jesus in new and creative ways and finish with anyone who wants to go on stage singing the Hallelujah chorus! I used to make fun of that until the first time I did it. I remember pulling my friend Steve on stage when we were in Atlanta and laughing most of the way through it. Now I truly love that moment.

Part way into the service there was a drawing of baby Jesus up on the wall. My heart suddenly longed for our babies in a way it hadn't yet. Oh, I've been longing for them for quite a while, but it had not hit me until that moment that I never dreamed we would make it to Christmas and not hear a word about our referral. Tears slipped down my face as I thanked Jesus for coming to the earth so that we would have the opportunity for forgiveness of sins and eternity in heaven when we leave this earth. I have been resting in Philippians 4:6 recently, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." I try not to be anxious about this process. I try to just thank God for the process and for my children and for the MANY people who have been part of our journey. I also present my requests to God. This night I was just sad as I longed for them.

That night, as Jeanne-Ann and I were talking she told me that she was crying and longing for our kids. She didn't know that it was happening to me too! Haha. They are coming. We will get a referral. For now, we just sit and wait. We live life, one day at a time. Each day praying the next will be the day we get the call. God is good...all the time. I know this to be true!

My sweet children, I know you are out there. I pray for you every single day! So do your brother and sister and mother. We can't wait to meet you and live with you as a forever family!

Friday, December 24, 2010

I won an iPad!

Well, MANY of you jumped on to help me with my latest video competition. I am sure there will be more to come in the future. Haha. I really enjoy doing it and winning is fun too. You are too kind to jump in and support me in these crazy endeavors of mine. Thank you! It was a close battle to the very end. The video that came in first was really awesome and honestly way more deserving than mine as far as good videos go. I "liked" that video myself.

That of course means I got second place! Second place was an iPad. They are in Germany and asked if I wanted to wait for it to be delivered or if I wanted the money in paypal. Now, if I am honest, I was VERY tempted to get the iPad...but we were planning on selling it anyhow so getting the money without the hassle of selling it is awesome! Straight to the baby fund!


Now for last minute Christmas items...thankfully I was up late last night wrapping gifts while I was refreshing my video, so most of it is done. I LOVE Christmas!!!

QUESTION: What's your favorite Christmas song?

You might remember this little nugget from a couple of years ago.


Here is my video and the winning video. Remember, the contest was with appventcalendar.com so the song is about the free apps they are giving away.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Wish List

What are you wishing for Christmas? An iPad? The latest droid phone? A Segway? An original Wrigley's chewing gum pack? We tell our kids that they can't go into a store and ask if they can have something, but they are welcome to tell us all year long what they wish for as we walk down the shopping aisles. We keep some sort of track of what they wish for and when Christmas or a birthday comes around we begin to ponder that list, we look at our budget, we talk about reality and then we make some decisions.

I love shopping for gifts for other people, because I love to give gifts. I wish I was loaded so I could give more and more, but with what we have, I love to get creative. I constantly see things and think, "I could make that." Then Jeanne-Ann gives me a good case of reality and says, "Seriously? You never do." That is true, but I could. Haha. Every now and then I actually do. I have an idea I am working on, but I can't mention it just yet, because I do have potential receivers of this gift who read this blog. (Yes, it's you I am talking about.) I am excited about it, because it is a cool gift and I can make it AND I think the recipients would really like it. I will let you know how it goes.

Want to see my wish list? I'll show you mine...will you show me yours? I would love to know what you are wishing for.

* Call of Duty Black Ops
* Belt Buckle
* Ted Dekker books - (Kiss, Boneman’s Daughter, Burn, Bride Collector or Immanuel’s Veins)
* Thumb Ring - Like Howie Mandel’s
* Red Sox knit hat
* Chair massager - one that hangs on your chair
* Anything Red Sox
* Fish eye/Macro lens for Canon Camera
* Great zoom lens with Macro for Canon Camera

Those things are all great and fun and all that, but the number ONE thing on my wish list?

A REFERRAL CALL from our adoption agency!!!

ps. A post on how I am dealing with anxiousness regarding this wait coming in the next week.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Warning: Buying on Craigslist? Test it before you buy it.

I learned a valuable lesson recently. Our Wii stopped working and was out of warranty. I checked Craigslist and found a ton of great deals. I put out offers to a whole bunch of people and got a reply and made the deal. Jeanne-Ann told me I should meet somewhere I could test it. I sarcastically said, "Should I bring the TV or just meet at Best Buy in the back by the TVs?" Then I told her that she sounded legit and she wanted to get the Kinect for her son. I knew where her baby went to daycare and found out several other things from her in our conversation. No problem.

I get home and the Wii makes a LOUD spinning noise when you put a disc in. Louder than the game. VERY annoying. So I contacted her about it. She said it has always done that and she thought that was what it was supposed to do. WHAT???!!!?? Are you kidding me? Then after playing for a while we kept getting disc errors. I told her this was not going to work out and I needed to return it to her. Then some guy contacted me (a boyfriend? I don't know) and told me I had to deal with him and was NOT to contact her anymore. I said that was fine and would be happy to deal with him. Basically he tells me that this is all user error and it is my fault and that the disc error is bad discs.

So there is my story. I am not sure it is over as I need to decide how to finish this conversation, but you have been warned.

Craigslist, I love you, but I need to be more careful how I use you.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Thanx...and further endeavors

Our raffle was a smashing success. We raised just over $1,200 and had such a blast doing it. I want to thank all of you who donated towards our adoption this way. So many of you gave us gift cards to go into this raffle and then so many of you donated your dollars. I was seriously overwhelmed. So thank you! We are very close to having what we need for our referral check. (holding tightly that maybe it will be coming soon...Christmas gift?)

You may know that I happen to run into the most random things. On Tuesday morning I was headed to Port Angeles, Washington to speak at a youth group meeting. About 30 minutes before I left I remembered I had a website opened from the week before that had a video competition. I decided to look at it. Sure enough, the video was due THAT DAY! appventcalendar.com was running it and so I read the rules...less than 2 minutes, had to be in a Santa costume and that was it. You could do anything. I looked at the time and I decided I was going to try it.

I took a Christmas carol and rewrote the lyrics. Then I pulled down my Santa outfit, grabbed my guitar, practiced it twice and recorded it on my iPhone. I sent it in and the guy told me it was awesome and was in the top 10. So here is the deal. The top 10 were then uploaded to youtube on Friday and then it is up to the most views. Here is the breakdown 4-10th place get $15 iTunes gift cards. 3rd place will get a Parrot AR. Drone (remote control with your iPhone helicopter with a video camera on it). 2nd place wins an iPad and 1st place wins a MacBook Air! The competition ends on Friday, December 24th at 1AM...I think. It says Friday at 10AM GMT+1. This is a really great website as they give away a free app every day in December each year. I love loading my iPhone with the apps they give away. Feel free to jump over and support them.

So, here is where I come asking for your help again. Can you go watch my video...A WHOLE BUNCH OF TIMES!!!????!!! Are you planning on sitting down and watching some TV? Got a laptop? You could just keep hitting refresh all night. Even if the view count doesn't go up right away, it is still counting each view. It just takes some time for it to catch up. I would GREATLY appreciate it! Just go here.
3rd place. 
2nd place.

1st place.
Check out the video of the Drone...it's sick!


FB friends who want to view the video click here.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

5 Months

My how time flies. A year ago Jeanne-Ann and I had just made the decision to move forward in adoption process. A year and a half ago I wasn't even thinking about it! Now we have been on the waiting list for 5 months. If you are new to what I am talking about, let me explain.

In December we submitted our application to Dove International, then we took a bunch of classes, filled out a bunch of paper work, got fingerprinted, did more paper work, waited a lot here and there, had in-home visits and finally sent off our dossier (all our paperwork that said we were approved to adopt) to Ethiopia. On July 8, our dossier landed in Ethiopia. That is when we started on the waiting list.

That was 5 months ago today. They say the average wait is 4-6 months. Some have waited for just over 6 months and 3 weeks, some have waited just shy of 3 months. We are smack-dab in the middle of the "average." Typically I don't like to be average in anything. I am an all in type of person. We would love to be VERY AVERAGE on this one. So if we got the call today, I would not be upset. :)

Ever feel like the thing you want is so close you can almost taste it, but for some reason you can't quite grasp it? I feel ya kid.
(FaceBook friends click here to see the video below)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Adoption Raffle (lots o stuff) Help Bring Our Babies Home!

RAFFLE IS OVER!!

If you have been following our story for a while, you know that we are in the process of adopting 2 babies from Ethiopia. If you are new to the blog, welcome.

The process of adoption has been an amazing one. We are so excited to grow our family to 6! Two days from today will mark 5 months on the waiting list! WOW! Our pray is that we will get our referrals for our sweet children this month! Wouldn't that be amazing? I think about them all the time and I don't even know who they are yet. It is a strange thing. A year ago I did not think we would actually be moving forward on this… Not until God grabbed my heart and totally and radically turned it around. You can read more of our story here.

Today we are starting a Gift Card Raffle. We have been doing all kinds of fundraisers and we are trying to get creative in how we raise money for our adoption. Being that it is Christmas time, we thought that maybe you would want to take a chance on winning some gift cards to give away as gifts (or to shop with). So really you just MIGHT be doing a little Christmas shopping by supporting our adoption. Below you can see what we are raffling off.


Raffle tickets are $10 each or 3 for $20. You can get as many as you like. So, for example, spend $40 you get 6 raffle tickets.

After doing the math we realized that if 200 raffle tickets are bought we would receive $2,000 towards our adoption and that would cover the remaining amount of $ we need to have at our time of referral!!! That would be amazing! If we make anything over that amount, it would go towards our travel expenses to Ethiopia.


EXTRA TICKETS:

If you get at least one ticket there are other ways you can get extra tickets for "free."

1) If you post about it on your FaceBook status with a link to our blog post you will get a free ticket. (tag me by typing @erikwilliams as you post it)

2) If you blog about it on your own blog you will get another free ticket. (send me a link with your blog post in the comment section)


Just to be clear: donate $40, blog about it and FaceBook it TWO TIMES and your grand total is 8 TICKETS!! Or donate $60, blog and FB and you get 11 tickets! Those are pretty good odds. There is no limit...the only limit is you...haha.


Now for the goodies:

We will raffle off everything you see in the picture below (plus a few items not pictured). The way we will raffle them is in groups. There will be 5 total raffles and if you do not win the first round, your tickets stay in the pot for the other ones. You could win several things if you have multiple tickets in the drawing.


Bundles:

1) "Techie Bundle" - $50 Amazon and $50 Best Buy. $20 Starbucks (just added)

2) "Mall Package" - $50 Macys, $20 Christopher & Banks, $25 Starbucks

3) "Restaurant Bundle" - $25 Olive Garden, $25 Red Robin, $20 Texas Roadhouse, $25 Jamba Juice

4) "Local Package" - $20 Ike Box, $20 Bible Book House, Wash, Cut & Style by local Hairdresser (this will go to someone from Oregon); $25 Broadway Coffeehouse (just added)

5) "Music Galore" - $70 itunes, 1GB iPod Shuffle





Just click the donate button at the bottom of the page and put in your desired amount. (if you are local you are more than welcome to give us cash or a check)

The raffle will end at 5PM PST on Friday, December 17, 2010. We will then go live on camera at www.erikwithak.com where you can watch us draw names. This should be VERY exciting!

ps. There may be more things added as we go on.
UPDATE: We got $25 to Broadway Coffeehouse gift card and $10 to Starbucks.

Thanx for your donation!!
(FaceBook friends click here so you can click on the donate button)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Armless Pianist Wins China's Got Talent

Have you ever had a dream and something kept you from it? What is your "issue/disability" that causes you to not move forward on a dream you have had? Could it be possible that you are letting something stop you from your dreams because you just don't think you can?

This is crazy amazing!



Facebook friends click here to watch it.
Are you ready to stop letting it keep you from your dreams?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Is December Our Month?

We are just over a week away from our 5 month waiting list "anniversary." I wonder if this will be the month we get the call. I am holding on to hope for just that. It is weird. I did not think I would be the way I am about this. I could not have imagined how much our babies would have consumed my thought life. I think about them all the time.

I know that the Bible says we shouldn't be anxious.
Philippians 4:6-7 "6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
So I am trying not to be anxious and spending as much time as I can to be thankful to God for all that I can. I just did a post on thankfulness the other day. I am thankful! Whenever I think about our kids I thank God for the opportunity he has given Jeanne-Ann and I to be parents. Kynzi and Karston are amazing kids and they will be amazing older siblings. I can't believe that God is allowing us to be parents again! For that I am very thankful. I just want to hold them and love them and begin to teach them life lessons. Is that so bad? ;)

So today is another day we have not received a call for our referral. Maybe tomorrow?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

My Kids in the Paper

Every year when we get our first snow we all go out and build a snowman. Then we take pics and submit it to our local paper. Well, for 4 years in a row we have done that and 4 years in a row they have put it in the paper. Front page! This year we did not have much snow on the first snow fall, but we still took advantage of it and made a snowman...on a slightly smaller scale than last years. Here you can check out the pic from last year. Here's hoping we have a LOT more snow this year too!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thank You

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful day hanging out at home, playing games, being with friends and of course, EATING! I love Thanksgiving. One of the reasons is that it reminds us all to think of what and who we are thankful for. That being said, I am thankful every day, but it is a good time to say it out loud. So I thought I would share a list (not comprehensive) of things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for...
      My wife
                my children
                        friends
  laughter
                                   sunshine
         snow
                moments
   the gift of adoption
                technology
     a good book
             a good movie
                           time with my bride
     a date...with my kids....with my wife
             self-serve frozen yogurt
Ethiopia
          random texts of good news
                                              so many people supporting our adoption
   dancing with my daughter
              shooting paintballs from wrist rockets with my son
                     reconnecting with old friends
       sleeping in
my parents
              Fenway
  running
    collaborative journeying
                music
        Jesus
   chocolate
honesty
          celebration
                          thoughtful gifts
     a good fitting hat
            photography
                   surfing/ocean
traveling
                              hand holding
           others' perspectives
                              soft pillows
               guitar
  innovation
                  a kiss
knowing looks from my bride
              my heritage
                      languages
     time
                water
 flowers
                    my upbringing
                                          patience
      creativity
                 spell check
hot tubs
                                   video
                       nature
                            the Bible
          walking barefoot in the hot sand
  sports
       a great deal
                      a generous heart
                                        forgiveness
Heaven

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Simplicity - simplifying your life

I am a pack rat. I admit it. I have a hard time throwing things away. I am not sure exactly why. Maybe it's because I "may need it someday," or that I have sentimental attachment to something or I just can't let go. I don't know. I am sure there is a combination of all those things and more. I am getting better. Jeanne-Ann helps me with that. She is good at tossing things.

This week I got to spend some time with my friend Joshua. He is a youth pastor in Vermont and a couple of years ago he and his wife made some decisions to simplify their lives. It has become such a major deal that he has written a book about it. I sat down with him on camera and interviewed him about it. I thought you might enjoy what he has to say. Who knows. Maybe this is what I need to start moving more in that direction. Anyhow, here is the video. Enjoy.



By the way, if you are interested in buy his ebook, Click here to visit Becoming Minimalist.
If you buy it from this link 50% of it goes to our adoption!!!

ps. If you are reading this on FaceBook click here to see the video.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I need to tell you a story

This week I was at a conference in Colorado with a bunch of youth pastors. We had an awesome time of sharing one afternoon. Later that day in one of our sessions my friend Danny got up and said, "We have had a great time of being transparent and sharing some tough stuff. Today I have seen the Father's heart. We all know Erik worked really hard to get votes for his video and that he did not win. Today Erik told me his story about their adoption process. I heard a father's heart. Then when he walked away I saw the back of his shirt. It said, '5 million orphans...minus two.' That's when it hit me. We need to to take an offering for his adoption."

Then they all gathered around me and prayed for me. They passed a bag around and handed it to me at the end. We were in a meeting so I didn't pick up the bag to look inside of it. Jason had asked me to take Britt Edwards, our worship leader, to the airport during the session. On the way he shared his story of adoption and I shared mine. I prayed for him and he prayed for me and I dropped him off.

I decided to dump out the money and count it. I counted $100, $200, $300, $400...I was getting near $500 and I thought how amazing it would be if it were exactly $500. I hit $510!! I couldn't believe it. Tears started forming in my eyes. Then I read a note that was in there. It said that he would work it out with me and he was giving me $500! I know you are good with math, but that's $1,010!!! The tears went over the dam and flowed.

When I first counted the cash I thought I had counted wrong, so I recounted. EXACTLY $500!!! That's what I would've won in the video competition. Had I not lost, this moment would likely not have happened. The Lord doubled it! I called Jeanne-Ann to tell her about it. She asked me if I was OK. I said yes. She said, "Are you crying?" I said yes. She said, "I thought you said you were OK." "I can't cry and be OK?" Haha. I started to tell her the story and I had to pull over. I could hardly get the words out. I seriously have not cried like this in a while. Jeanne-Ann then got Kynzi & Karston on the phone and I told them the story. I finished and said, "Isn't that cool?" Karston said, "Yup." I laughed and Kynzi told me she thought we were calling to tell them we got the referral. I felt so bad. But this was great news...just not THE news. Not yet. Soon.

I told the story to a friend that night, he told me that he wanted me to deliver something for him. It was a check for $250! Wow! I am so overwhelmed with God's goodness. I have never been good at asking for money. When I was a boy scout I didn't like going door to door to ask people to buy stuff. I do know that God has our finances in control. I do know He is good. I know that He is and will provide.

This is truly something that God is using so many people to be a part of. I am overwhelmed at how many of you have joined us in this journey and support us with your kind words of encouragement, your prayers, your dollars, your gifts, your time. Thank you. Thank you. Seriously, thank you. I knew when we ventured forward with this we would have to trust God completely. It is not easy every day, but it is good. As I dream of our babies my heart swells with joy and longing. I love praying with my family every night for some many things and I love to hear my kids pray for their siblings. I love sharing with them how God uses people like you in so many amazing ways. I love hearing them thank God for you. Thank you for being part of my family.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's Over


I want to thank you so much for voting for my video. It was a close race all week long. It was back and forth by only a few votes the whole time, until last night. I was behind by 5 votes. This morning I woke up and was behind by 20 votes. I kicked into high gear with my facebook pleas and people came out and voted! t was awesome. At one point I was 50 votes ahead.

In the end the other video had 1,183 votes and I had 1,097 votes. They came on strong. So I will not be going to the video finals. No $500 for our adoption. No $500 for McNary high school.

That being said, I learned a few things through this process. I learned that I could really get caught up in this and still trust God with the money even if I didn't win. I have known since we started this adoption process that we could not afford to do it, but I have also known that I have not worried about the money. So when I realized I wasn't going on, I was OK with it. I was disappointed because I am competitive, but I was OK. I also learned that the power of people getting behind something is huge. So many of you reposted the link for my video in your FaceBook status that I was blown away. The video I was up against had a whole bunch of people involved, so it was me with your help against a bunch of people and their friends.

I also learned how generous people are. You may have read my last post where I shared some of my friends were giving me a % of their sales if you put "Erik's Adoption" in the order. And now my friend Joshua Becker is giving me 50% of his eBook sales for any orders he gets from my website. I will try to have that up on Monday or Tuesday. I will be interviewing him about what "minimalism" is all about.

Anyhow Thanx for your support. Thanx for bearing with all my updates. Thanx for your prayers. We will be bringing our babies home before we know it...I am sure!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

iPhone sent to Outerspace?

What is the most creative thing you have done? Do you ever have an idea that you think would be really cool but just never do anything about it? Sometimes we just need the right motivation to get us to follow through with the dream. Last winter when we decided we wanted to adopt I knew I needed to get creative with the money part. I had bought customizedsong.com about 3 or 4 years ago, but I never did anything with it. This moved me forward and I did it.

I wish I was the guy that followed through on all the dreams I have, but alas, I am not. I think if I were I would be so overwhelmed with all my projects I might collapse. Haha. I will just keep plodding along and see what happens along the way. I have so many ideas in my head right now I feel like I just need to do something! I will let you know when the next idea is out.

I saw this on the news last night. I guy and his son decided to launch their iPhone into outer space. Wow! The iPhone is truly amazing! You have to see this in action.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fund raising updates

I have made it to the semi-finals in the "High School Spirit" competition. This means I need your vote again. Head over here and click on my video. Under the video that pops up you will see a little "like" button that looks like this.
Click on that and you are done. You will need to be signed into FaceBook in order to do it.

Something else cool came up as I was out "knocking on doors" to get your votes. I got a message from my friend Crystal Stevens who has been creating jewelry since she was a teenager using stuff from all over the world. We Create Freedom is her website where you can find great Christmas gifts. She has offered to donate 20% of all sales that have "Erik's Adoption" in the tagline of where you want it to go to. She uses this site to send 20% to people and organizations she believes in. Pretty cool, huh?

Another friend, Keri Boda, also offered to give 15% of her Mary Kay sales if you do the same thing. Just type in "Erik's Adoption" there too. You can find her site here.
I am overwhelmed with your generosity! Thank you so much!

Monday, November 08, 2010

4 Months

Today we have been officially on the waiting list to adopt our babies for FOUR months! What a crazy ride this has been. They say the average wait is 4-6 months. That's AVERAGE. It could be sooner, it could be later. If our adoption goes the way we are seeing others right now it looks like it will be more on the later side of things. If our adoption goes the way almost everything else in our process has gone we will be more on the sooner side. Who knows? God does and that is what we are holding on to.

A couple of really exciting things...

1) Last weekend we hosted an intro class to adoptions with Dove International Adoptions at our church's new building. It was awesome! Josh & Bex and Jeanne-Ann & I got to open it up by sharing our stories. I know that we got to be an encouragement to these other couples who were there. If you missed out on it and want to get in a FREE class, please let me know. We plan to host another class in the future.

2) We attended out first Adoption Support group last Tuesday. This group is made up of 4 couples from our church who are adopting from Ethiopia and Rawanda. We got to share where we were at in the process and encourage each other. This process can be very difficult at times and it is amazing to share this process and walk through it with others who are walking the same journey. We laughed, we cried, we shared. It was awesome! Are you in the adoption process? Can I highly recommend finding some other people to connect with? Share openly and pray for each other.

3) I made it to the semi-finals in the video competition I am in.  There are 4 videos left in this competition and it's head-to-head. Voting opens up tomorrow morning at 8AM. I would greatly appreciate your vote. The winner gets $500 and all of it would go to our adoption. Another $500 would also go to our local high school. Pretty cool, huh?

What are you waiting for these days?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Halloween - Extreme Makeover, Trick or Treat and Pumpkin Seeds

For the last three years I have been running a retreat over Halloween weekend. As a result it has been hard to participate with my kids in the trick or treat festivities. (sidenote: this is not a should I or should I not debate) This year we finally were able to move our camp to a different weekend. It has been many years since my kids have wanted to attend whatever church happened to put on an "alternative" or trick or trunk or harvest party event. They wanted to go trick or treating with their friends, so that's what we did. I have fond memories of this as a kid. I even went my senior year of high school and ended up winning a 12 speed mountain bike from the inside of an M&Ms bag celebrating Mickey's 50th birthday.

I had not put much thought into what I would wear, as I usually don't dress up much anymore. Then we found out that Kara & Jeff Brown were headed over to the Salem Conference Center to a viewing party of Extreme Makeover Home Edition (can we drop "edition" as there is no other show anymore and just call it Extreme Home Makeover?) with the Oregon School for the Deaf and they had tickets for us. Jeanne-Ann and I went over because we wanted to support the Brown's and because they were showing the East Coast feed and we wouldn't miss our time with our kids.

I threw together an outfit and dressed up like a nerd of Urkel-like status. I even had 3 different styles of Billy-Bob teeth that ended with braces. Jeanne-Ann dressed up like a nurse (I have an owie..can you look at it?) and we were on our way. We went, ate some yummy desserts and met Scott, the guy who did most of the work with Kara on getting her hearing aids fitted, and enjoyed the show. Yes, I cried. I always cry when I watch that show or Undercover Boss. But this one had so much more meaning because we got to be a part of this whole experience. I will forever be connected to this show/school/experience because of the impact it has had. Largely on my friend, but on our community as well. I got to see myself on TV a few times too! Steve is with my in a couple of shots too.

We headed back home to catch up with the gang and trick or treat till we were done. It was a beautiful night out and the Condellos, Unwins and Bakers (Heather, Andy, Kyler and Lily) and Williams family walked around and filled their bags. It was fun to see everyone. There were some great costumes and then there were the "I'm a skateboarder" costumes. Lame!


When I was a kid, we would come home and separate all the different candies by kinds and categories. Chocolates in one section, chewy candy in another, etc. Then the trading would begin. There was a science to getting the stuff you really wanted. I don't eat much candy anymore. (attempt at trying to live a slightly healthier lifestyle which includes no more McDonald's, etc.). I did anjoy an Almond Joy and some gummy junk.

Then we went home and finished the pumpkin seeds. I made one batch with sea salt and the other batch with sugar and cinnamon. I have decided that the salty seeds are so much better! Need a good recipe? Check out Bex's blog. I have not tried it, but it sounds great. I just clean off the junk and then soak them in salt water overnight; spread them out on a tray with greased tinfoil; pour salt on top and cook for 45 minutes at 350F. Yum!

It was an extra special treat to have my parents with us this year. They came out for an extended weekend and my kids were over the moon about having them there to trick or treat with them!

What is your favorite candy?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Help me raise $500 for our babies with a click of a button (won't cost you anything)

I am in this video competition. The theme was high school spirit so I thought it would be fun to do a twist on A Christmas Carol. It was fun putting together. For the first round you have to go here and then click "like" below the video. The first place video gets $500 and another $500 goes to the school of their choice.

Make sure you "like" the video called "High School Spirit" by Erik w/a "k" Williams. Thanx so much for your help! Spread the love would ya?

Click here to watch and vote!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sitting on the Beach Reflecting

I am not technically sitting on the beach, but I am really close. I am sitting in my car looking at the dunes and listening to the wind and the waves crash. This weekend is our high school fall retreat. The theme is "identity." This is always a great theme for high schoolers. These are people who are constantly trying to figure out who they are. At times that is still me too, but I have found more and more who I am and am pretty secure in who I am.

As I feel the warm sun on my face and remember conversations at this place from the years past, I know that there are many who will come this weekend who will wrestle with who they are. Tonight I am speaking about labels. Everyone puts labels on other people and on themselves. I am asking students to choose 3 labels that they most identify with (there will be a list of a whole bunch of different labels hanging up all around the room).

In high school I was a bit of a label chameleon. Not the kind that changes just to fit in, but the kind that changes so that they can identify better with the group of people they were with. I was in the "brain" classes and played sports, so I hung out with the jocks. During lunch I would often play hacky sack with the "pot heads." (even though I was a bit naive and didn't realize they were actually smoking pot). I was in the band, marching band and jazz ensemble. I was on the bowling team and also was in the ski club. There was hardly a "people group" I didn't spend time with. I loved that.

I felt like one of my calls in life was to love people, no matter what label they may carry or others had put on them. I still feel that is the case. Obviously there are always close circles of friends you connect with better than others. I had a really special group of friends in high school that I loved being with. They were people I wanted to spend time with. People I laughed with and learned with and still stay connected to. They are the people I longed to hang out with at our 10 year and 20 year reunion. And, because of Facebook and other wonders of the internet, I am still able to connect with them. Not as much as I would like, but that is OK. We are able to pick up at any time.

So I think about these students coming this weekend. We all want to fit in. We all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We all want to be known. We all want to be loved. I try REALLY hard to learn people's names so that I can say their names (the sweetest word in our own language) and know them a little bit. Perhaps my saying, "Hi Cory. How are you? How did you do on that big final you told me about last week?" might be the thing that causes someone to realize that life is not so bad. It's not a major deal for me to remember their name and what is going on in their life. BUT, it is a major deal to them to know someone cares and remembers them.

After talking about what labels they put on themselves I am going to look at labels that God puts on us. They are pretty incredible. If you look at the Bible and read what God thinks about you it is AMAZING. He cares about you. He thinks about you. He loves you. AND He likes you! Check out these verses that have been put together by the Freedom in Christ Ministries (they found these verses in the Bible and put them together in this list).

The three categories they talk about are:
IN Christ you are - accepted, secure and significant.

I would love it if you looked at that list and then commented below as to which one is most significant to you. Who are you?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Chris Tomlin in a Rap Video?

The other day a tweet popped up from Carlos Whittaker. He had been speaking at the Catalyst conference and mentioned the Catalyst Backstage site. During this conference they did interviews with people backstage. It's a really fun idea for people who couldn't be there. These two guys, Tripp and Tyler, were on with the guy who headed up the conference. I gather that they are the funny/comic relief for the conference. They came on with bowlcut haircuts. They were pretty funny actually. They talked about their rap video they had just done, so I popped over to their website and checked it out.

If you don't know who Chris Tomlin is you should check him out. He is one of my favorite worship songwriters and singers. I LOVE his stuff! I have sat with him a couple of times poolside at a couple of conferences and he is a pretty quiet, gentle guy. This video gave me a totally different perspective of him and I love it! 

Check out this video.



What is the worst style you have ever had that you actually thought was cool?

Friday, October 08, 2010

3 is a Magic Number

Today we have been on the waiting list to adopt our 2 precious babies for 3 months! I wonder if this will be the month. If the average person waits 4-6 months, it probably won't happen. Although almost every part of our process has gone quicker than the average, I am not holding my breath. As soon as I realized we were hitting month 3 I thought of the song, "3 is a Magic Number." I first heard Jack Johnson sing it on the Curious George album, but could not find it on youtube. I did find this version though...not as good, but the lyrics are there.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sometimes Magic Happens...I'm Inspired

Every now and then I see something and it moves me to want to create. This was the case when Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake got together the other night.I am convinced that JT is a musical genius. There is plenty of his stuff I think is junk, but when it comes to music and comedy, he is amazing!



Check out what he did at the ESPYs. I can't believe how he can go through all those genres and keep it all together. The hours and hours that must have gone into making that happen has to be huge.

(if you are reading this on facebook you need to go here to see the videos)
What inspires you?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yes, I am back

It has been very quiet on my blog for the last 2 weeks. Sorry. I have been knee deep in homework for a class I am taking called Spiritual Leadership Foundations. (I am currently working on my masters). I am loving this class. I am reading some amazing books. The problem is I am reading a LOT and having to write critical essays, which is WAY more than just a book report. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed honestly. So I have not felt like I have had time to blog or thought that was the best use of my time. School is also back in session for the rest of my family and it is football season for my son. That takes up TONS of time!

I have just a bit over 1 week left and have a 10 page paper due at the end of it all. I have to write a Bible study on the book of Nehemiah. Do you know a lot about that book? Yeah, me neither, but I am about too. Well, I have been reading through it and listening to it on my way to work every day. So, I have no idea how much time I will be on between now and then end, but I am not done blogging. That is for sure. The 40 Days of Blogging "experiment" was a great one for me. I loved it! I love blogging. I love writing. So, I will be on and off.

What is taking up much of your time these days?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Me and 35 Women??

My good friend Bex has blogged a few times about one of her favorite authors, Shauna Niequist. She has written two books, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet. After Bex blogged about Bittersweet I decided to pick it up and have a peek. There was some struggle stuff in the first few chapters and I was feeling like I could not relate at all. Then I had 3 days in a row that went pretty rough. The last one of them was finding out my friend Lorelei had passed away. Suddenly these words Shauna had written connected with me.

Fast forward to today. Bex, through her crazy magic connections, was able to host Shauna at her home. I had no idea how many people would end up showing up, but I planned to go. Mostly I wanted to support Bex, but I also thought it would be cool to hear this woman who has a really good way with words. Half way there I got a text from Josh saying that it was ALL women and about 35 of them. He was hiding upstairs in his room. I decided to turn around and head home. It would just be too weird.

I pulled into the driveway and looked in my passenger seat. There, looking sad as if I had completely forgotten them, were 8 paper bags that were supposed to be dropped off at the church. Ugh. As it turns out, I had to drive all the way back. On my way there I decided I would sneak in the back door of their house and listen in on what was going on. To my happiness, the back door was open and I walked in. I could hear all the ladies chattering and laughing. Then I saw this spread.

I think I realized the true reason I came over! Look at this. Way to go Bex!!! Haha. I did enjoy some dessert and some good for you snacks as well. Then I sat there and listened from around the corner.

Bex was telling the story of how she had connected with Shauna and then it was Shauna's turn to share. She read a little and then took questions. I kept tiptoeing my way a little closer so I could hear better. I finally got around the corner and moved my arm far enough to catch this picture.

After listening some more I decided it was time to ask a couple of questions. So I popped my head around the corner and asked how her husband Aaron did with all of her traveling and then followed up with asking what her favorite iPad app was. There was some "gasps" at the sound of the male voice behind the wall and some laughter. All in all it was a good time and I was glad I popped in for a while. I headed home early so I could put my kids to bed. Thanx Bex for putting that all together. Great job!


Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book? Me? I really love Ted Dekker and I love Bill Hybels' Just Walk Across the Room.









Addendum: Turns out it was an invitation for girls only party. Oops. There must be a movie about guys who do stuff like crashing parties and stuff. ;)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cheerleader Gets Kicked Off Squad Because of Lyrical Complaints

I saw this interview and was shocked! A 6 year old girl had to cheer the words "Our back aches, our skirts are too tight, we shake our booties from left to right." These are little girls. Are you kidding me? So the mom complained and 100% of the rest of the parents voted to kick her daughter off the cheer squad! What in the world is wrong with these parents? I don't care if you have God in your life or not, this is NOT OK!

I have a daughter. I know I may be a bit on the conservative side when it comes to my kids. Sue me. But this is out of control. I would vote to kick off ALL of the OTHER parents! Keep the kids, but dump the parents. It just makes my heart sad when there seems to be no moral ground held by most people anymore. I know that I may offend some of you when I say this, so feel free to speak your mind, but it is my blog after all. Anyhow, it drives me crazy when I go to see a PG-13 movie and parents are bringing their 6 year old kids to it. It hardly matters what the subject content is about, there is a reason that there is a rating that says if they are under 13 they need parental guidance. But seriously, I feel like there are so many parents who could use some guidance.

In our house we continue to have conversations about what our kids can watch and listen to and view online. As they get older we allow a broader scope of things for them. That is natural. My kids no longer LOVE Dora the Explorer and Bob the Builder. That is the nature of progression in life. But I am also not taking them to see Inception. It's too intense for them. I loved the movie, but my kids aren't ready for that. And don't tell me that the parents had to take their kids because all their friends were going. BE A PARENT!!! Parent your kids. Grow up.

OK, I did not know this is where I would go when I started this. I don't like to rant so much. So I will end it here with a final thought. I will parent my kids the way I believe I should and I will try not to judge you for your parenting skills. Just don't bring crying babies into that Romantic Comedy that is rated PG-13 when I am having a date with my wife. Deal? Oh, and please don't vote to kick a 6 ear old girl of the cheering squad because you are ok with your daughter cheering raunchy lyrics. Thanx.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Do you attend youth group?

I have been involved in youth ministry since 1993 full time and for 7 years before that working at camp in the summers and retreats. I love youth ministry! It is an amazing thing to be a part of. I get to see lives change! What a privilege it is to be a part of someone's life in this capacity. I have seen a lot of things. I have seen things that have brought me great joy. I have had my heart broken over others' poor choices. I have been surprised. I have been pranked. I have seen miracles. I have laughed a lot. I have gotten to play a lot. My brother says that I live in NeverNever Land.

Studies find that there are tons of benefits of attending a youth group. Knowing this, and after all of these years of seeing it happen, why does it still surprise me when a student who has been doing so well goes off and makes some really bad decisions and walks away from it all. I guess surprise may not be the right word. I don't know what the right word is. Whatever it is, it frustrates me.

Students are leaving the church. USA Today posted an article about it.When I see someone who has been so excited about church and youth group and Jesus up and walk away my heart breaks. I have cried many tears over that over the years. Is there anything I can do about it? I don't know. Ultimately we all have to make our own decisions. We have to live with our decisions. Some will be good and some will be bad. I would never want to force anyone to go to church and be part of something bigger than themselves, I just want others to see how great it can be.

I know some of you may have feel like the church has hurt you. Usually it's not the church but someone in the church who did the hurting.  It makes me wonder though...

What about you? Are you a teenager? Do you go to youth group? Why or why not? Adults, do you find church relevant or irrelevant?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Lighter Fare

If you read here regularly you know that there is a mix of mundane, fun, funny, sad, heart wrenching, etc. It's a hodge-podge of what my life is. The last few entries have been on the tearing up side. Water works have been a plenty. Some have complained that they soaked their keyboards and that Best Buy doesn't cover water damage. So, to help you, my bloggy friend, I am going to the lighter side for a post.

The following are some funny and interesting things I have seen recently that I think are worth a looksee.


Do you ever get frustrated with how fast people drive through your neighborhood? Call your friend who is really good at drawing.



I think this is me?


I want to build one of these rooms and do some fun videos. Wonder if anyone out there can do it for me?


OK, I have no idea how they did this. Trick photography? You tell me. It's pretty awesome though.


I LOVE the Amazing Race...can't wait to see it again. I would love to be on this show some day. It screams me. It's almost like they wrote the show for me, but I just haven't been on it yet.


Never celebrate too early! (I've been there)


There is a reason this video has over 137 million views. We all love to laugh. Try not to laugh...watch the whole way.


I love to fish. Wish I could fish like this! WOW!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Miracles!!!

A few weeks ago I wrote about how a normal day changed completely for a group of choir singers when Lenny Kravitz showed up and heard them singing his song. He joined them and played drums. Another ordinary day that totally changed happened to me.

Yesterday I went for a bike ride with my friends Brian and Steve. We hit our 10 mile loop and 30 minutes later Steve and I headed over to the Extreme Makeover Home Edition site. They were doing the big reveal and we wanted to be part of it. I got to be there on the first day and now I got to be there on the last day!

Let me hit you with the highlights...
Back up to last week.
I followed Bex's tweets as she and Josh "stalked" the Extreme Makeover bus around town.
I tweeted that I got to see the moment they told everyone what they were doing.
Bo from Rethink asked if I would do an interview with someone connected with the show.
I went and did an interview with Rich Duncan, the guy who was leading the construction.

Reveal day was coming. Meesh said she was going to volunteer on the final day at 6AM. I would not make it.
Back to the present.
Steve and I got to the site, but they wouldn't let us into the VIP section.
I called Shaney, who worked for the PR company and she took us to a section right behind the bus where all the stars were.
We waited
and waited
and waited
Over the course of the next 5 hours...
Rich Duncan and crew waited right in front of me.
Bill Austin, who heads up the Starkey Hearing Foundation, stood next to him.
They gave out over 400 hearing aids...the best money can buy.
He got interviewed, but it was a short interview from a local news station.
He still wanted to tell stories...Steve and I engaged in conversation with him.
Suddenly I had a moment where I realized God was prompting my heart...


...I told Bill of my friend Kara who is the wife of one of our worship pastors. She has 90% high frequency loss in her right ear and 10% in her left. I asked what his hearing aids could do for her. He said, "Bring her over and I will test her and take care of her."
I didn't know what "take care of her" meant, but I began to pray.
I called Kara.
They were headed out on a date.
I told her she needed to come over right away for a hearing test.

She didn't really want to...she wanted a quiet night with her husband.
Jeff convinced her.
Back up for a moment again...
She's had 2 hearing tests. One when she was little and one when Caleb was born.
1 1/2 years later Caleb stepped on her hearing aid and broke it.
He's 3 now.
Back to now...
They showed up.
I walked them over to Bill and then introduced them.
I left to go to Karston's football practice...I prayed with Steve in the car that she would receive a hearing aid.

An hour later Kara called and said we had to talk.
Often that is not good...but I prayed.
They showed up at practice.
Kara said, "A free hearing test?"
"Yes."
"Just a free hearing test?"
I am thinking, oh no...they charged them!?
"That's what I thought it was."
"You didn't know anything else?"
"No."
Tears...
"THEY FIT ME FOR TWO HEARING AIDS...FOR FREE!!! $3,000 WORTH OF HEARING AIDS!!!"
My turn...tears...
"WHAT?"
Hugs...tears...

God is good. All glory to Him on this.

Want to read more? Check out Jeff and Kara's blog.

What have you seen God do lately? Or perhaps you want to answer this question? What do you want to see God do?


 I hung out with the Mayor of Salem. Poor thing had to stand behind us.
 Rob Zombie was on hand for helping make the Nightmare Factory even more scary.
 The whole team waiting for a busload of kids

 They just "moved that bus"

That's Bill Austin!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My sister and bro-in-law are expecting!

Nina and Wes have been on quite the journey. You can visit their blog and read more about it, but I will give you a few snippets of it. For five years they have been trying to have kids. The "trying" part includes the traditional kind and the adoption kind. They tried through the state of Kentucky and that didn't work; they tried to adopt from Nepal and that has been put on hold; and they tried to adopt from Ethiopia (ring a bell?).

Well, after 3 months and 2 weeks and 6 days they got a call. (the timeline is a little off because they have been on a list for Nepal and then they had to move to the Ethiopia waiting list) The crazy part was that they were only planning on one child. Nina had a dream they were getting twins and she told her agency, but they said they had never had twins through their agency. Well, they now told her she is the talk of the office because they found out they are getting twins! One boy and one girl. They are currently 2 1/2 months old and MAN are they beautiful! You can't see pics yet until it is all finalized, but I have released more than my fair share of liquid salt since the call came on Thursday.

You seriously just need to watch their video on their blog. Make sure you have some Kleenex or you may drench your couch like I did (true story).

They were about to go on a major fund raising blitz this week because the "extra" baby was going to require about $5500 more. Up until that point they were excited because they had all their foreign and agency fees ready to go and even a little for airfare for their first travel date. Well all that changed with baby number two, and they needed $3300 by the end of this week. Just as They were about to send out letters to everyone thy knew to raise the funds, an amazing person who wants to remain anonymous to the rest of us, told Wes and Nina they were sending a check for $3300 to cover the rest of their missing funds!

OK, I decided to post the video here. You can read more about their story on that last link.



Wanna hear about more miracles? Wait till tomorrow's post! (my eyes can't handle all of these tears)

I have to be myself

There is a good chance you have never heard of the artist B. Reith. He sings and raps and I absolutely LOVE his style. It is so intriguing to me. When I was growing up in the 80s it was clear that if you rapped, you did NOT sing. The most obvious example was when I heard "Oh baby you. You got what I need." STICK TO RAPPING! It was terrible, yet somehow very sticky in my head. Well, I love to sing and I love to rap. I have grand illusions of one day putting out an album and having several genres on it. I would not be a very "commercial" artist according to Simon Cowell, because I like so many different styles of music.

B.Reith "sticks it to the man" and does both...really well! He even has a song that deals with that exact topic. I even found this video where he talks about it. I love the line:

"So tired of trying to please everyone, a million different opinions
I'm just going to be myself whether they like it or not, I'm giving it all that I got"



I highly recommend picking up his album on his website.

I wonder. Is there something in you that wants to come out, but you keep it tucked inside because of other people's opinions?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A 7 year Dream comes to fruition

Tonight was the official opening to our broadway commons building. It's a part of our church where church, commerce and community come together. We have been planning for this day for 7 years!

First we had a great worship service, filled with music and video that was a look back on the last seven years, and the Word of God brought us by Steve Fowler.



When the service was done all 1100 of us went outside to a ribbon cutting ceremony.



We heard some inspiring words they cut the ribbon and then we walked inside for the grand tour of the new building. It has four floors including a beautiful prayer room that overlooks the city. We also got to see several of the meeting rooms which are filled with the best technology available. Karston was most excited to see the TV that comes out of the floor as the blinds come down and the lights dim.





They also had hot dogs and drinks and snacks and we got to hear Warren Barfield in concert in the Amphitheater.



There is also a medical clinic that is part of the Broadway Commons building that is free for the community. How cool is that?

Another dream Im excited to see come to fruition is going to Ethiopia and bringing my children home. Bex and I were talking after the ribbon cutting ceremony and commented on how awesome it will be to have so many children in our community who have a history of being born in Ethiopia. The day is coming when blended families are not such a strange sight to see. Perhaps for many that time is already here and I just don't see it. But now my heart is singing every time I see a family that looks similar to what my family would look like the very near future.

I love to dream. What do you dream about?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Favorite Tweets

I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite tweets people have posted. They each have made me laugh out loud. PS, if you don't know what twitter is, look here.

prodigaljohn prodigaljohn I wish I felt as close to my neighbors as I do to people who flash their lights to warn me of a cop. That is community!
Bex Mann bexmann Turns out my t-shirt is ever so slightly see-thru. This would explain the "looks" I was getting at Target this afternoon. Fantastic.
AndyStanley AndyStanley Just helped G. trim his mohawk. My dad never did that for me.  
 Joshua Griffin joshuagriffin If I eat 11 of these Hostess Cupcakes I'll have 100% of my calcium for the day.
Vin Thomas vinthomas BREAKING NEWS: President Obama wins the Heisman Trophy after watching just two college football games! #fb (RT @racheldurban and others)
Ethan Suplee EthanSuplee When examining a despicable personality I am usually startled by how much we have in common.
MattReeve MattReeve I just got flipped off by a boy scout who was driving a minivan w/his Dad in Chaska, MN. Is there a badge for that? 
kurtjohnston kurtjohnston 
 Hmmm...beginning to question Obama's potential for change; the line n Starbucks was just as long as it always was. 
(written the day Obama was inaugurated)


Just plain cool:
@greggrunberg RT @erikwilliams: it's true about the nose hairs people. I got 2 of them for $30 off thanx to Yowza!
Rick Lawrence RickSkip Bought T-shirt to help #ErikWilliams in his adoption fund for Ethiopian girl-got it for Lucy's 12th b-day. Get one at http://bit.ly/aBo3zY 

 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...