Monday, December 15, 2014

Jesus' Birthday (Angels and shepherds party)

When Brian & Chele Condello moved to Oregon they brought with them a fantastic tradition. The kids would get dressed up as an angel or a shepherd and we would read the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke 2. (You can read that story below) This became an annual tradition with the Condello's and the Unwin's and the Prins's and more would join from time to time as well.
Last year's Angels & Shepherd's party
We decided we would keep this tradition here in California. As I read the story the kids act out the story as best as they can. It's adorable, sweet and funny all at the same time. After the show is over it's cupcake time! Kynzi made the cupcakes this year and it was seriously like getting cupcakes at a professional cupcake store! They were amazing!

So without further ado, here is the story of the birth of Jesus. 

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:1-20 NIV)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I lost a dear friend today

Today I lost a dear friend. One I have not seen in a few years, but one who has had a significant impact on my life. Bill Brown was the director at the camp I started going to when I was in 3rd grade. Delta Lake Bible Conference Center was extremely significant in my spiritual journey. I was not greatly challenged at church growing up (we did have some seasons) so camp was the place where I started my real journey with Jesus.

Camp is where I first realized that I needed to own my faith in Jesus. It wasn't just about making sure I was going to heaven, it was about really giving my whole life to Jesus. I remember when Ed Glover read from Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Ed said that “some of you are trusting God with part of your heart and it is time to trust Him with all of your heart!” that was me. I knew in that moment I needed to fully trust God. I told God that I was all in, whatever that meant and where ever that would take me.

The next summer I was working at Delta as a jr. counselor. Bill sat me down near the end of the summer and told me that he believed God wanted me to be a youth pastor. I had no idea what that meant. I never had a youth pastor. I had met a number of them at camp but only knew that they had to serve a week of camp and that I thought they were cool. 

Bill believed in me. He saw something in me that no one had before. It was such a significant conversation that I have not forgotten it almost 30 years later. As a matter of fact, it has been something I have used when I have trained volunteers and youth pastors since I have been in ministry. 

Bill loved Jesus. Bill loved camp. Bill loved people. It oozed out over everyone he was around. Was he perfect? No! Haha. But he has made an impact for the Kingdom of God that can only be known by God. The countless number of staff at camp over the decades all could look back and point to how God used Bill in some way. 

This morning Bill passed away of a heart attack. He is now with Jesus. That is pretty awesome, but he leaves behind many loved ones. 

I have lots of memories of Bill. I remember visiting him in his cabin and almost every time I would visit in the evening he would have a batch of popcorn. It’s funny. Until I wrote that I hadn’t thought about it, but the last few years I can be found eating popcorn on many evenings. Connected? Maybe.

We both share a birthday on April 14th. Every year Bill would send me a card or a text on our birthday.

Every year when I worked there we would do a cake auction and we would get together with Jeff Dooley and pool all of our money and pay ridiculous amounts for a cake and then we would sneak up behind Bill and smash it on his bald head. That was always a highlight for the campers and for us!

One time at a Haven camp week (mentally and physically challenged campers) bill wanted to show them a magic trick. He called me up on stage to be his helper. He rolled a newspaper into a cone, jammed it into my pants and then poured milk into it. a) He knew I HATED milk. b) he made the trick not work and poured milk all down my pants. The campers and staff and Bill laughed and laughed and laughed. He got me good!

We did a parody of Bad, bad Leroy Brown and it was Bald, bald, Billy Brown.

This back and forth fun is something I loved about Bill. 
I know his wife Sara and daughter Beth are loved and are in mourning. Praying for you friends.

If you have someone that has spoken into your life, take a minute or two and send them a card saying thank you. It is invaluable for someone to hear that they have made an impact on your life.

Because Bill spoke into my life I followed after God’s call on my life to go into full time youth ministry. I have been in full time youth ministry for over 21 years now! I point back to Bill as the beginning of that. 

This picture that Beth let me use is typical of how I remember him.

Thank you Bill. I love you. I miss you.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Our Road Trip (move) To California

The next chapter of the Williams story has begun. It is one of which I look forward to seeing unfold with wonder and excitement. I have no idea what the next years ahead will look like, but we are on this journey together. That's what I need. My family and God to lead the way. His leading has been clear all along and that is how we have ended up on this road. It has not been easy, let me tell you!

Oh the tears. I thought I had emptied completely of my tears. I didn't know it was possible to cry so much. It feels like the weight of 18 years of memories and relationships has just dumped in a tsunami-like wave from my face. I know that time is the great healer (gift from God) and it will get better, but this is my raw, honest heart being torn apart.

What lies ahead is in God's hands and we will continue to walk where He leads. I believe He has a plan for each day and He is going to give us friends and joys that will be a wonderful. I will continue to open the pages of our journey so you can stay caught up and remember to pray for us as we go. Please feel free to let me know how I can be praying for you too!

Here is a little video of our trip south!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Surprise! Hot Air Balloon Goodbye

Today is moving day. Sigh. We were scheduled to start the journey at 6am but 2 days ago I contacted my friend Jim Desch who is a hot air balloon pilot. I have crewed with him since my first summer here in 1997. The crew all work for free and get paid with flights. 

I have enjoyed giving many of my flights to people I love over the years and that has given me great joy. The last 2 1/2 years (since my shoulder surgery) I haven't really been able to so much. My shoulder can't handle it. 

Kynzi and Karston have always wanted to go up since they were little. You can't really go up as a little kid. Well Karston turned 13 and Kynzi is about to turn 15. I had forgotten in all of my summer craziness and was just going to get together with Jim the other day but it didn't work out. 

So I asked if we could squeeze Kynzi and Karston in with some others and he said we could fill it as a gift to me. So I got Hannah, Meesh and Jenga up (Jenga moves on Friday). 

I woke up the kids and told them we were going to do an early morning breakfast before we left for Cali. "Breakfast" was the balloon ride. What a fun surprise. Only Hannah knew she was going up. Jenga and Meesh thought they were crewing. Love those moments! 

Enjoy some video and pics from the morning below. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Packing with some great friends!

Let's be honest; there isn't much fun about packing your home. The one thing that I find joy in it is being with my friends. The downside is you know they are coming because they're saying goodbye.

We had a party, of sorts, as we loaded up the pods. With Josh and Steve at the helm of packing the rest of us brought out everything relatively unscathed. 

This stuff is hard. I don't like saying goodbye (or see ya later for those who really don't like goodbye). I do like the idea of moving to a place where people will want to come visit. I hope they truly do. 

There are so many memories tied to this place and these people it's crazy as the memories have been flooding back over the past couple of weeks. So much joy has been filling my heart as I have been filing through the memories. As my heart fills up the tears have been spilling out. So many tears. I could say I don't normally cry much, but let's be honest...that would be a lie. 

I plan to update you on Cali life here more often than I have been updating. Join me in the journey. You can even "subscribe" by putting your email in on the right side of this blog. The. You will get an email when I post something new. If you would like that. 

The $10 Pizza Hut deal is pretty sweet!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We are moving so we got stuff to sell

Instead of posting one thing to Facebook and Twitter at a time I thought I would find a spot to put everything. We have a bunch of stuff and if there something that fits your fancy let me know.

Flags are $25 each or $40 for both. 
LPS sold

Djembe sold

Friday, June 27, 2014

We are selling our home. Interested?

OK friends. Gonna give this at try...
Do you know of anyone that wants to live in the Clearlake/Whiteaker/McNary area? Pass this along if you know someone. Pls send a private message if you would like our address. 

This beautiful home on quiet street is move in ready.  Four bedroom/ two bath.  1866 sq.ft.  Nice open floor plan with fireplace in great room.  Kitchen has hardwoods, SS appliances, an eating bar and walk in pantry. Laundry room with storage. Beautiful Large master suite with luxury master bath with jetted tub, double sinks, and large walk-in closet. Fenced in yard with sprinkler system (front and back) and hot tub!! Central A/C and wonderful neighbors (huge plus!). 


If you are interested please contact me at erikwithak777 at gmail dot com (never put your email online or spam bots will find it).


Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Next Chapter in Our Lives

When I was told "I think it's time for transition" my world was rocked. I am a loyalist and don't look to jump around from place to place. I have been in my last 2 jobs for almost 18 years. As you know, I have been a stay-at-home dad since March 1 and it has been fantastic. I have really enjoyed being home with my kids. (There is an upcoming post on stay-at-home Pappa life).

I want to tell you a story. On Saturday, March 8, I had lunch with my friend Kurt. We were catching up and sharing stories. He asked me what I wanted to do next. One of the things I told him I would love to do is to be a youth pastor leading a student ministry team in a local church. He thought I would be great in that kind of role. An hour later, Scott, the executive pastor at Southwest church in Indian Wells, California called him and told him that their student ministries team leader was leaving and wondered if Kurt knew anyone who might fit the bill. He told Scott that he just had lunch with his next guy!

I didn't know about that phone call until about a month later but Kurt did tell me that night but he found the perfect place for me. He set us both up on an email together and later that week we had a phone conversation just to get to know each other a little bit. We really enjoyed our conversation!

From there he asked us to look at some of the videos from the services that explain their vision for the future the church. After watching that and chatting the next week they asked us to come down and see if the area in the church and the people even fit. If that was the case then we could keep going with our conversation.

Even though we were down during a sandstorm we both loved our time there! We love the people, the area, the vision of the church, etc. We even stayed in the same hotel with bands who are performing at the Coachella festival and got to know son of them. That was pretty cool. 

After praying and seeking counsel we decided we want to come back for round two. That was a week, for me, looking "under the hood" during all of their meetings throughout the week. I also got to sit down with several of the people on their team one on one. It was a great time and I was thankful that Jeanne-Ann joined me for the last weekend of that trip. 

We met with the high school volunteer team for lunch and asked lots of questions back and forth. That was a really cool time. I also spoke at the 1st middle school service and then the high school service. On Monday we drove around with a real estate agent and looked at a bunch of homes before we flew home. Wow!

We chatted at the end of the week and agreed that we should make this thing happen. I'm so thankful that Kynzi and Karston have been involved in the conversation since the beginning. Although it will be a tough departure we all agree that this is what God is calling us to do. 

So, on August 1, I will start at Southwest Church as the Student Ministries Team Leader/High School Pastor! I will be working with a great team in the student ministries world and a great team at the church! Anyone need a place to stay during their next vacation? 😊👍✈️

We sure could use your prayers on a number of things. We need to sell our house! Ugh. We also need to find a place to live there too. We need to find the right home, neighborhood, schools, etc. Transition is not easy. Jeanne-Ann is leaving a job she loves, we are leaving "family" and our home of 18 years, Kynzi and Karston are leaving all they have known (so are Haak and Nyah, but they are getting bunk beds when we move and that is all that really matters...though there will be a point when they don't understand why we can't see some of their favorite people) and we are starting over in so many senses. 

I am super excited about what we are going to, but quite sad about what we are leaving. 

Thank you for your prayers!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

A Dream Come True (baptizing my own kids)

From the day I first knew our children were on their way there were many things I dreamed for them. I dreamed of wrestling with them and teaching them to fish and how to throw ball and how to care for people and how to be humble and how to love. I dreamed of showing them how to love Jesus who loves them infinitely more than I could ever imagine. Which, honestly, is difficult to imagine.

I've dreamed of marrying them off someday to an amazing spouse! I've dreamed of them having children of their own that I get to spoil. One of my dreams became a reality today after inviting Jesus into their life many years ago, I got to baptize them. 

I don't like to make assumptions, so I'm not going to assume you know or don't know much about baptism. Here's what I do know: I know that baptism is not a magical thing. There is no magic powers you get when you go in the water. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward choice to follow after Jesus for the rest of your life. It's also a symbol of our death to sin and our new life in Christ. Going down in the water is like death that Jesus paid as a result of our sin. Coming up out of the water symbolizes the new life that we have in Jesus. It also symbolizes Jesus rising from the grave and coming back to life.

Today I got to baptize both Kynzi and Karston! As a dad, to see my own children publicly claimed that they love Jesus and want to follow him for the rest of their lives is so huge! Trying to keep it together while I was in the tank was difficult. Tears began to well up in my eyes. Of course, if you've read my blog for very long you know that tears come relatively quickly to me. Ha ha. It was also cool to have Meesh and Sean in there with us as their pastors!

If you've never been baptized but have thought about it I would encourage you to consider it and talk to a pastor about it. Or contact me and I would be happy to chat with you about it.

I'm blessed to have some pretty amazing kids!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A comedy show with my college roommates

A few weeks ago my friend Derrick texted me and asked me what I was doing the week of April 3. I said nothing, outside of being a stay-at-home dad. My life is pretty free these days.

He asked me if I wanted to go to Houghton with him. I told them I would love to but $400-$500 is not something that I just had laying around these days or ever. He told me he would fly me out there and wanted me to open up for his standup comedy show. I replied to him that being funny when we hang out and doing standup was totally different and he should know that. He agreed but still thought I could do something to warm up the crowd. I have spoken to audiences all over the world and I usually made them laugh. But never in a standup routine type of deal.

I decided I would do something I have done many many times over the last 15 years. Improv! I started doing improv with a group at our church at a church function. After that one time we were asked to perform at several different events. Each time we would do an event someone else would ask if we could come to do their event. It became regular thing for us to do. 

We got really good at it and actually got a gig every Friday night at a restaurant. If I am totally honest, I would tell you that I have said many times that if the guys at Whose Line is it Anyway would have given me one shot I think they would let me be on their show. I love improv so much! Wayne Brady was always my hero when it comes improb. Particularly his ability to come up with songs on the spot. I love doing that.

As Derrick, Shoe and I sat in our old campus center that look very similar and very different at the same time, we planned the evening together. We walked through a few of the things that Derrick would be doing that night and then we talked through the different improv games I was planning. Landed on a game called freeze, and mannequins.

Freeze was the first improv game I ever did in my life and it was at my first week of college at a freshman orientation meeting. I thought it would be apropos doing that evening. Then in mannequins I had Shoe up with me and two students, who were the ones who moved us into position every time we were going to do something in the game.
Thanx to Amanda Salvatore for the pic

The last thing I did was ask for five words, grabbed a guitar and created a song on the spot using all five of those words. It was so much fun! Derrick got up and did his standup routine and we all laughed all night long. I cannot believe I got to do a comedy show with my two best friends from college at the college we graduated from!

A couple of side notes for my trip:

A few of our friends from college (Shelly, Amy and Dan and Amy's husband Chris.)
that work there now, came and had dinner with us and stayed for the show as well. It was also fun to get to meet their kids.

I also got to hang with Shelly and Christy, James and on top of that my friend Julie from high school! My old friend love tank was really filled this week! Honestly, I needed several more days to my friends just catch up on old stuff and new! We all had so much to share and we barely scratched the surface. It's things like that where I am thankful for Facebook and other forms of social media.

I also walked around the campus and saw all the new things that had changed. Of course, some things never the gum tree!


I remember walking through our campus bookstore when I was in college and seeing the "Houghton Author" section thinking, "One day I am going to have books in this section." Now I do! Y is for Youth Worker is the newest book on their bookshelves!!

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