Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas with the Lees

Ben and I will be traveling south for Christmas but I didn't let that stop me from getting a real tree or decorating the apartment!

I LOVE real trees for Christmas. Every year growing up I can remember going with my parents to pick out the tree. We would take it home and then mom would let us spray it with white snow. We would hang ornaments that we made, got on vacation or that my grandma gave us every Thanksgiving.

Now to be honest, Ben enjoys real trees but he would be okay having a fake one, especially since we live in a small space but we decided to keep the tradition going. Here is the tree Ben suggested we get...

It was super cute but we decided for this one :)

The tree lot was across the highway from our apartment so we walked it home. It was fun just walking down the sidewalk carrying it and getting it into the apartment.

So here is the finished product along with our Christmas village, nativity scene and the reindeer and sled.

And our stocking holders and the fun towels for the kitchen :)

And finally my beloved snow babies!

For Christmas Ben and I gave each other a kitchen table. There wasn't room for one in the studio and we actually didn't have one in our last place either. So for the first time in three years, we are thrilled to have a kitchen table!!!

Hope that you are enjoying this Christmas season with those you love!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A little bit of everything...

There is always so much going on here. I feel like when I sit down to blog there are too many different things to blog I sometimes just don't :) Here are some random things from the last couple of days/weeks!

On Monday my class was canceled so I thought I would kick off the week with some ice skating! Our friend Diana takes lessons and was so nice to show me and Kristin the ropes.
*The indoor rink at Yerba Buena

Skating was so much fun we decided to go again at the outdoor rink in Union Square. My friend Mary did all the branding for the rink so she scored us free tickets!!
*Some of our group at the outdoor rink

We totally braved Black Friday more than once...haha. So late Thursday afternoon Ben and I had dinner with friends here to celebrate Thanksgiving. Ben and I decided that we were going to rest and not do anything on Black Friday. After dinner someone said they just heard that GAP's entire store was 50% off from 6-10am. At this moment, Ben knew our day of rest was not happening. You see, there is this dress I have been eyeing at GAP for a couple weeks but I couldn't justify paying full price for it. 50% off?!?! I could definitely do that! So we decided that we would hit GAP but that was all for us. the time dessert is done, plans are being made for a 10:20pm movie and then a midnight run to Old Navy. Can you tell where this story is going? Ben and I went home after dinner and before we knew it, we were walking to meet friends at 9:30. Why not?! It is only one day a year :)

Here's the kicker - living in the city, we walk everywhere. So we left at 9:30pm and walked 1.2miles to a movie and Old Navy. We walked 1.2 miles back home at 2:00am. Then we woke up at 5:30 and actually rode the train (running late) to Gap. Then at 8am we walked 1.2miles back home. 3.6 miles and all for this!

So we slept from 8:30-10:30am but then woke up to head to Josh's for the Iron Bowl. We watch most of the BAMA games at Josh's place which is always fun. This game started fun but didn't end well for us. Already looking forward to next season....ROLL TIDE!

So we went home around 3:00pm and made plans to go to the lighting of the tree with our friends Josh and Carrie Beth. We met up at 5:00pm, walked another 2miles to Union Square. It was way more crowded than we expected but SO beautiful.

*Macy's all lit up

So because of the crowds we couldn't see the stage (Katherine McPhee and others performed) or much of the tree. In the middle of the singing, we walked to meet some other friends who were on the street behind the stage. Carrie Beth and I wanted to see how close we could get so we climbed on a wall and literally through some shrubs to get right on side of the stage.

*Here we are watching from the bushes

*And finally the lighting of the tree

It's still Friday, in case you lost track. We were hungry and tired of turkey so we decided we would grab something on the 2mi walk back home. The group was wanting something spicy so we landed on going to a Thai restaurant. Here is a milestone for me. If you know me well, you know two things...I can be a selective eater (aka picky) and Thai food is not on the list. The group offered to get pizza but in the spirit of adventure and being tired out of my mind, I said "no...Thai food is great!" Ben and Josh assured me that I would find something on the menu. I was very conservative in ordering but I ate it and loved it and would go back!

So we got home around 8:30 and I don't even remember falling asleep. It wasn't our planned day of rest but after a late movie, midnight Old Navy, 6am GAP, the Iron Bowl, a tree lighting, Thai food and walking 7.6 miles...who can complain?! It turned out to be a fun-filled great day!

We are getting our day of rest though...It's currently 11:25 on Sunday morning, Ben is still sleeping and we really don't have any plans for today!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

no choice but to be thankful...

It's 10:25pm on Thanksgiving Eve and as I think about my life I have no choice but to be thankful. The more I reflect on the last year, the more overwhelmed I am by this ongoing, never-ending list of reasons I am grateful. Here are just few...

I am thankful for my husband-
  • Because he makes me laugh so hard my stomach starts to hurt
  • Because he loves me when I'm selfish
  • Because he works hard to provide for me and to protect me
  • Because his faith has been tested and he has persevered
  • Because he is compassionate toward those around him
I am thankful for friends
  • Because they challenge and encourage me to be a better wife and follower of God
  • Because they pray for me
  • Because they ask tough questions and demand honest, no bs answers
  • Because they celebrate great moments with me and when the not so great moments come, they share in bearing the burden and then tell me when to stop feeling sorry for myself :)
  • Because they let me call or drop by at a moment's notice when I need to talk
  • Because they inspire me with their stories of faith and how they live
I am thankful for God
  • because he saved me
  • because when I was at my worst, Christ died for me
  • because he loves me according to his character and not my own
  • because he wants to work through my life
  • because he provides for us and is faithful
I am thankful for Calvary Church and The Well college ministry who sent me out with abundant blessings to live life and walk with God in San Francisco. I am thankful for many people I know well and don't know at all who continue to believe and invest in me. I am thankful for Epic Church and the chance to be a part of a team starting a church here.

We have celebrated some great moments over the last year and we have struggled through tough times. At the end of the day I look at my life - I have a husband, family, friends and a God who loves me and is for me...and so I have no choice but to be thankful!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We got offices!!!!

I have been in the same place ALL day and it is amazing!! Epic Church got offices last week and officially moved in this week. This is a really HUGE deal for us. As most of you know, we have been working out of coffee shops and our apartments since June 1. Being mobile was great and we got to meet and know lots of people. The downside to being mobile is losing time walking from place to place everyday in search for good internet :) We are grateful for two mission teams who put together 56 boxes of IKEA furniture and helped us get settled in. (You will hear more about their work in my next post.) So here is where I spent my day.....welcome to my office :)

Did I mention it's only a 7 minute walk from my apartment?!?!

*Where the work gets done :)

*This is for you when you come to visit me! (also my new favorite spot to read)

*More room for meetings and guests

*A view from the door

Ben and Tim are in a meeting but I want to show you there space later!

I'm still catching up the up: Epic's 2nd Preview and Ben and I are moving apartments on Thursday!!


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bessie Carmichael

First let me say that this is WAY over due :) As you can tell I started write this on November 2nd and am just finishing it today, November 9th!

Before I can update you on the second preview service, I have to follow-up on something from the first! If you read about 10.10.10 (if not, you can read here), you know that at the first Epic Church preview we received an offering in the service with the intention of giving 100% of it away to buy supplies for Bessie Carmichael Elementary School. It was our desire early on to partner with a public school if possible. With all the budget cuts in the state, public schools in California took a big hit.

We chose to serve Bessie Carmichael for many reasons - here are a few:
  • It is the only school I have seen in our neighborhood
  • It educates children from predominantly low-income families who are in great need
  • It's principal said YES to working with us!
Once we received and counted the offering, we asked the school for a wish list that included some basic supplies I assumed every school had. A few items on the list:
  • retractable ball point pens
  • sharpies
  • binders
  • composition books
  • staplers for teacher
  • dry erase markers
  • network printers (We were able to get one!)
  • laminating machine
  • hole punchers
  • copy paper
  • prizes for kids games
We weren't able to get everything but did as much as we could. It was a great joy to shop for everything and deliver it to the school last Tuesday. Ben Pilgreen and I had the privilege to deliver the supplies to a very excited and grateful staff at the school office! Here is a picture of it all!

We want to be a church and people who love and serve the city well. Pray as we continue to figure out ways to do that through Bessie Carmichael and as well as other opportunities.

more to come....


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Day of Celebration

So I am a couple of days late in posting so much fun news!!! Just pretend that it is still last Saturday :)

What a great day of celebration Saturday was?!?!?! Living 3000 miles away from family and friends, Ben and I have learned the art of celebrating moments from afar! Saturday was a big day of celebration-in and out of the city. So here is a shout out to three big moments...

#1 Daniel Sisco and Karly Alexander became Mr. and Mrs! Ben and I got to know these two during our time in Alabama. While we were serving at Calvary Tuscaloosa, Karly was a student on our leadership team and Daniel was apart of The Well Band. We wanted to be there in person for the big day but couldn't make the trip! We loved keeping up through tweets and updates from friends. Before we moved to SF, Karly invited me over to see her dress when she got it from the store. We love these two and can't wait to see where their life goes from here!

#2 Bret and Jennifer get engaged! Bret, who was a groomsman in the Sisco wedding above, proposed to his girlfriend after the reception! Talk about love being in the air :) Ben and I were watching the Giants/Phillies (see #3) game when we got the phone call-such a fun call to get! Bret worked as an intern in our office last year and was in Ben's Sunday morning discussion group. Jennifer is as sweet and kind as can be and it will be fun to see what the future holds for them!

#3 The Giants just won game 2 of the WORLD SERIES tonight! The celebration started for us on Saturday when the Giants beat the Phillies!!! The game was in Philly but that did not stop people from taking the celebration to the streets! Our friend Josh, is gracious to let us watch the games at his place. So we have to walk right by the stadium to get home. Here is a picture and a video from that night! Sorry the video is a bit sideways :)

with much joy -

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pictures and Video From 10.10.10

*Programs for the first service

*Birth - 2 years

*3-4 years

*5 - 10 years

*This face pretty much describes me before service :)

*Phil, Ben and Josh running a/v stuff

*Meeting people

* Brad and the band leading worship

* Ben Pilgreen teaching

* After service people at the information table

You can watch video from the service by clicking here!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10.10.10 - A day in the life of a church planter...

Sometimes I can't believe how quickly time passes by! Our first preview service at Epic Church has come and gone and it was a GREAT day! Here is what it was like from my perspective...

*Disclaimer - the best way for me to reflect on things at the moment is chronologically - stories and follow-up to come later :)

Well, let's start the night before...

9:00pm - I met some of our team at the Pilgreen's to load a few last minute things into the trailer and the van. When we opened the trailer, we noticed that one of our signs had a hole ripped right through the middle...NOT good! But that's not big deal when Kinko's is open 24/7. Tim Milner, our Executive Pastor, and I left to go and find a Kinko's. We were called back to the Pilgreen's because the van wouldn't start. *I thought to myself..."What the heck is going on?" Got the van running and found Kinko's and placed our order....time to get some rest!

12:00am - Kinko's called to tell me their printer wasn't working but they would do the best they could to have our sign ready for the morning! *I thought to myself..."These little things will not distract me or hinder what God has planned for tomorrow." Back to sleep!

4:30am - Ben and I woke up and got ready to head to The W Hotel for our first preview service. We kept going over everything we needed - clothes, make-up, computer, notes, etc. I was mostly just all seemed surreal...could this day actually be here?!

5:30am - We hooked up with the Milners, picked up our sign from Kinko's, picked up our friend Josh and headed to The W Hotel. The sun was not up yet, but we were...ready for what this day held.

6:00am - We met Brad and the rest of the volunteers (as well as a mission team from Shades Mountain) in the back of the hotel, checked in with security and began to load-in all of our gear!

6:00-8:30 - During this time, everyone worked like busy little bees. I am so grateful for our staff, volunteers and the mission team from Shades Mountain in Birmingham. As soon as the the trailer was un-loaded, I took several volunteers and headed to the two rooms we have for children's space. It was so fun to see the Epic Kids space come together. Foam floor had to be laid down for the baby area and play gates were set up to separate the toddlers from the 3 & 4 year olds. Once the Epic Kids area was done, I went back to the worship room and I was blown away by the progress made. Sound was working, screens and pipe & drape were up and lights were being worked on! I gathered some people to make sure the chairs were aligned where every person could see the screens and then my part in set-up seemed to be done.

* I started thinking to myself "Time is flying by...things are really coming together...this is really happening...two years of prayers and planning and here we are...!"

8:30 - I took a few minutes to myself to have some "quiet time", get dressed, put make-up on and get ready for people to arrive.

9:00 - 9:30 - I don't remember all that happened during this time except I was going through my areas making sure nothing was forgotten. I did eat a sausage biscuit at some point in here - thanks Kristin!

9:30 - All of our volunteers from Epic Launch Team, Shades, South Bay and Crossroads met in the worship room for a meeting. Our staff stood with Ben at the front of the stage as he expressed how grateful we were for them for their help and shared our excitement for this day and for the future of Epic Church! As Ben prayed for us and asked God to do the impossible in this city and people's lives...for the first time, this day, I began to get emotional. I was so overwhelmed by God's love and mercy and my heart was full of gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in San Francisco.

9:45-10:15 - I got all my check-in volunteers to Shauna, who is overseeing Epic Kids check-in. During this time I was also making sure that we had enough volunteers in each kids area for the number of kids we were expecting.

10:15 - I didn't expect the nervous/anxious feeling to hit me so soon but it did. People were showing up. I met the sweetest family who came because the husband received a granola bar and an invite card downtown. They thought it started at 10 but them showing up early gave us a chance to get to know them and surprisingly realize we had a mutual friend.

10:35 - We met behind the worship room for a Tech meeting. Brad ran through the details of the service and Ben gave us a quick pep talk and prayed for us and the people arriving. *It was at this point all the prayers and encouraging text messages from the morning started to replay in my mind...

"You are loved and being prayed for over and over.."
"Lifted each of you up by name today...enjoy it"
"Love well today..."
"This is what you risked everything for...cheering you on!"
"Prayed for you during our staff time before church"
"Praying for you - love you" "Praying for God's favor..."
"There are so many people praying with you today"

I was reminded that I am not here, doing this alone and that thousands of people are praying for us and for San Francisco! It was time, not to shrink back, but to move forward in faith!

10:45 - People were everywhere! All of a sudden the pre-function space and the worship room felt full to me. I tried to meet as many people as I could before we started service.

Just before 11:00 - A count down hit the screen and service was about to begin. I was at the sound booth, grabbed my mic and my program and walked with Ben P to the front room to take a seat. At this point, I did feel a little like I might throw-up! Just had that feeling of nervous anticipation. Brad and the band kicked off the first song!

11:00 - 12:00 - At the beginning of the service I had the privilege to welcome the crowd for the first time (part of my nervousness I suppose). After the music, I went to check-in on Epic Kids. It was awesome to see so many kids playing and listening to teaching from the Bible. I walked back into the service as Ben got into his teaching. The crowd was responsive and very lively. Ben would ask a question from the stage and people would talk was awesome! After his teaching, I gave some announcements, we took up the offering and the service was done.
*Ps- 100% of everything we collected on Sunday will go to purchase supplies for Bessie Carmichael Elementary and Middle School.

12:00 - Everything seemed to happen so fast but at the same time each moment seemed so full. I got to talk with people after service which was so good! I got to hear some of their stories, why they came and why they were looking forward to coming back!

12:30 - It was time to pack everything up! As we packed up each room, we shared stories from the different people we had met and celebrated what God is doing here. Again, so grateful for volunteers here. We could not do what we do without the help of many! It was amazing to see everything go back into the box/crate in came out of only 7 hours earlier.

2:00 - Everything was packed up and it was time to eat lunch and head home. We walked away from The W Hotel in awe at how God is working in this city and in our lives here. We were super tired and super hungry. We walked toward home hoping to sit down and eat somewhere. Every restaurant was packed because the Giants were on TV so we ended up at Quiznos which seemed gourmet at this point :)

3:00 - We made it home, I called my best friend to celebrate/share more about the service and then Ben and I crashed!!!

After getting some rest, we ended the day with some of our team - celebrating the first preview service and celebrating Shauna's birthday! I couldn't think of a better way to end the day!!!

10.10.10 was a great day! We have waited for this for so long but it is only just the beginning! 192 people came. 132 of those were from San Francisco (others were mission teams from Shades and the bay area) and 23 kids were in Epic Kids!

If you are still reading..haha..thank you for sticking with this picture-less post! I want to remember this day, just how it happened and this helps! There are more life stories and lots of pictures to come. You can even watch a video of the service! I will post that next!

Thank you always for the prayers, encouragement and love you shower us with! We know that we are not here alone and your support means so much to us!

Love to you all -

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Short Sentences

There is SO much to catch up on since I last posted. There is also SO much I want to tell about this week leading up to the first preview service for Epic Church. In order to catch up quickly here is the past week or so in short sentences and pictures :)

We left off the day BEN GOT A JOB!!!!!!!

*Ben and I celebrating the night we found out about the job.

* We rented out the W Hotel for a practice run through of setting up/tearing down!

*Our first mission team, from Little Rock, arrived to help Epic get ready for 10.10.10!

*The Giants beat the Padres and are in the playoffs!

*Also, I didn't get to post about this but we kept the Pilgreen boys for the weekend last month while Ben and Shauna traveled out of town!

There are two BIG things that I want to share more about:
  • I still want to post about some of the things that Ben and I learned through the job search process and how it changed us.
  • We are less than a week away from the first preview service at Epic Church!! We are beyond excited and I want to share more about final preparations and how you can pray for us leading into Sunday!

Thank you for being on this journey with us!