Friday, June 22, 2007

had to happen . . .

Haak's first haircut! Me and Zeke got one, too.

Tomorrow we head to Catalina, so this is probably the last post for a week or so. Have a great week.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

LTC Feedback

Have you taken the time yet to listen to our "Family Ministry" Life Together Conversation?

(See the little audio player embedded on this page in the upper right corner? Couldn't be easier!)

So far, we've received this great bit of thoughtful and encouraging feedback from Kathy Chechopoulos. . .

Hi Tim,

I listened to part of the MP3 posting you and Pastor Steve had on your blog. (I only listened to part because I attempted to listen with all 3 kids are home and awake). I just wanted to say how excited we are about the idea of everything being on one night this summer. I think it is also easier for really little ones to be up late once a week rather than several nights in a row. And also easier for those who are working in the daytime to be gone one evening a week rather than several in a row. Our family definitely struggles with balancing too many weeknight commitments and taking advantage of the many great opportunities to both serve and be fed at church.....Mondays Evan meets with Dan, Josh, and or Craig Hughes to work on tech stuff/light bulbs; Tuesdays I serve at Awana and Spero and Maria attend, Wednesdays are the once a month Trustee meetings...usually once or twice a month Evan is needed to do sound for a wedding, outside event held at Grace, or church meeting. Therefore, we still have not done a growth group. We really feel like we need time to all be home together a few nights a week. Thanks for encouraging us to value our family nights at home.... even when it is to "good" things.

So, if you would like my vote to move the AWANA night around to coincide with other ministries, you have my vote! My brother in law is an English ministries pastor at a Chinese church outside of Detroit. They use this model. EVERYTHING is Saturday night there.....potluck dinner, AWANA, Jar high and high school youth group, college, adult Sunday school classes, etc. Most of the families in their church do not have extended family in the US, so the church is very much at the center of their social life as well. They have Chinese lunch take out every Sunday for lunch as well.

Also, Spero has been memorizing John 10:10-18. He commented the other day how this reminded him of your sermon on the sheep and goats! I know that it must have taken quite a bit of coordinating to pull this off, especially for 3 sermons, but it really made a lasting impression! Thanks so much for your ministry. We feel very blessed to a part of Grace Church, especially at this stage for our lives.

Kathy Chechopoulos

If you don't know what Kathy's talking about, it means you haven't listened yet, but aren't you curious? If you have, what are your thoughts and reactions?

good for him

Regardless of what you think of the President and his handling of the war (I think I'll stay away from that issue!), he's to be commended for his bucking what they say is the majority of Americans on this embryonic stem cell research issue. Here's the story of his latest veto. . . 06/21/2007 Bush vetoes embryonic stem cell bill

My understanding based on my light reading on the subject is that there are a variety of other very promising stem cell therapies that are not "embryonic" and therefore do not cause the killing of a child. The president is rightly encouraging research of these alternative therapies.

Unfortunately the media is not usually great at drawing these important distinctions and paints the president with a broad brush as opposed to stem cell research. He is supportive of stem cell research, but opossed to embryonic stem cell research. Important distinction.

The Biblical doctrine of the sanctity of life guides us in these matters. It is not right for us to take a human life in order to save another one. These matters of life and death are in God's hands.

What say you?

Baby Esther Newman

The Newmans are the proud new parents of Baby Esther, born yesterday at French hospital. I had the joy of holding and praying for little Esther last evening.

Sorry I don't have a picture of the baby, but here's a pic of the Newmans from last Sunday's dedication . . . Cade, Joy, Eli and Abraham. Great Biblical names. . .

Newman Family

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"LT Conversation: Family Ministry" now available

Our very first "Life Together Conversation" is now available HERE. You can also listen right now. . .

This first conversation focused on Family Ministry. . . what it means, why it matters and why we're committed to it.

The above is a picture of Steve and me commemorating our kickoff Conversation. You can see we're getting juiced up. We're snuggling up so that we can both lean over into that iPod. Pretty low tech at this point, but it works for now. Our vision is to step up the technology and the quality as we go along this summer.

We'll let you know when this Conversation is available in iTunes. If you go to the Conversations page at the website, you'll also have access to other resources related to or referenced in the conversation.

Give it a listen and give us some feedback. We'd love to hear your raw reactions and suggestions? Is this valuable for the family of Grace? What are your suggestions for speaking to a potential audience beyond Grace?

Check out the new Grace Flickr Photo Site!

If you're paying attention, I'm sure you've figured out that I've been fooling around with flickr.

Well, we've just created a grace flickr account at

We're constantly taking all these pictures, but have had no quick and easy way to share them with the congregation. You see a few of them in the life@grace each week, but there are usually many more that never are shared. The flickr system, we believe, solves this problem.

So check out these great new photo albums. . .

2007 Child Dedications: Father's Day, Mother's Day and back in January

2007 DWAP with the Graingers: Dessert with a purpose for one of our missionaries

2007 Mexico Dinner: a killer burrito feast for a great cause

2007 Busy Courtyard: shots from last Sunday morning

2007 College Freshman Kidnapping: an annual event where the college leadership rousts the graduating seniors/incoming freshmen out of their beds for breakfast on a Monday morning
Tell me what you think. . . isn't it fun? All part of celebrating and valuing our life together

Grace Summer Nights/4th of July Promo Video

Last weekend was Father's Day Weekend. . . we had a whole bunch of folks visiting, but also a whole bunch missing. Here's the hilarious Ernstrom productions promo video for Grace Summer Nights and the Annual 4th of July Picnic. . . . Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On a Balloon Ride

Lindsey McIntosh, one of our delightful college students has started a blog.

On a Balloon Ride

I like the title. I wonder what it means to Lindsey? I don't know her, but her posts have encouraged my heart on this Tuesday. Check it out. . .

We'll add it to the list.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Lindsey.

trying something new . . . my very first . . .


I'm nearing my 39th birthday and feeling the urge to try some new things. So yesterday I hopped on my brother Chad's road bike and went for my first road ride. I'd never ridden a "skinny tire" bike before. Chad caught me on highway 1 heading out to Morro Bay, pulled over ahead of me and took this little video of me approaching. . . living proof. . .

I went out to Southbay, up to Turri, caught Los Osos Valley Road and then cut across to Foothill to Patricia. . . about a 22 mile or so loop. It's a whole different workout than Mountain Biking. My lungs did fine, but my legs were hurting. Lots of peddling. I got a bit bored and felt like an iPod would have made things a bit more exciting, but I did enjoy the change.

So what new things are you trying in your life and in your relationship with God? How are you stretching yourself? How are you mixing it up?

dig for the truth

Talked about Lot and the destruction of Sodom on Sunday . . .

Here's a link
to the iTunes Music Store and a Digging for the Truth episode about the destruction of Sodom. . . .

I thought it was pretty interesting to note the historical evidence to support the Biblical account. Worth a watching if you're an iTunes person. I'd seen a while back and kept thinking about it in preparation.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Don't give up. . .

Missy Grant kindly pointed out in a comment on the last post that I missed Colette Joyce's great Viewpoint article in the Saturday's Tribune. . . | 06/16/2007 | Viewpoint: Don’t give up too early on saving your marriage

The article is outstanding! A terrific example of "salt & light" presence. Collette noticed a trend, and gently and wisely responded with a letter to the editor offering a differing viewpoint. She doesn't come off as jamming her viewpoint down everybody's throat, but she craftily points out the damage and cost of divorce.

Because I liked it so much and I want you to read it so bady, I've taken the liberty of copyng and pasting it in its entirety below. Let's look together for other ways to engage our community and culture on life issues like Colette so wisely does.

Wouldn't it be awesome if the Trib received not one, but twenty letters like this one the next time a similar trend emerges?

Viewpoint: Don’t give up too early on saving your marriage

By Colette Joyce

W hile cruising through a recent issue of The Tribune (May 29), I came across a couple of divorce articles.

I was pleased to see the “Divorce doesn’t always equate to disaster” article. Focusing on women who had to “start over” after being left by their husbands, this article gave quotes and tips from women who had made the best of their uninvited situations and had experienced positive results.

Next to this article was a large picture of a wedding ring poised to be flushed down a toilet, accompanied by the “Unhappy Ending” article.

Whereas the first article referred to situations beyond the person’s control (such as infidelity, desertion or abuse), the guidelines in “Unhappy Ending” appeared to be for those who “had decided to end their marriage.”

While these guidelines might be appropriate for a spouse in an abusive relationship, they seemed to oversimplify or encourage the divorce option for others.

Although it’s heartening to hear that situations sometimes end positively after divorce, we all know that divorce is painful at best. We have a social responsibility to exhaust all possibilities before turning to divorce. No one ever said marriage would be easy, but we took a vow. It’s sacred. Our decisions impact others as well — extended family, children and friends.

Let’s not trick ourselves into thinking it should be so easy.

Most of us are working hard at our marriages. Anyone considering divorce probably already believes they’ve exhausted all possibilities. But, subconsciously, it might appear easier to flush a marriage than to save a marriage.

So, why not consider a few additional thoughts before you throw in the marital towel:

1. Know your goals and test your motives. We all tend to seek advice we’d like to hear. And we often tune out advice that’s in our best interest — simply because we’re tired or it sounds painful.

Don’t kid yourself—be your own devil’s advocate. Rather than unintentionally screening out contrasting advice, seek it. Focus more on what you can do to improve the marriage than what you think your spouse should do. If you think you’re ready to head down the divorce path, call good ol’ Aunt Sally or a pastor and listen open-mindedly to what they have to say.

2. Choose a counselor wisely. Interview several counselors. Even counselors have a bias or point of view about marriage. Is their goal to save marriages or to seek personal fulfillment for their clients? Will you be paying someone to tell you what you want to hear or to help you heal your marriage? Remember, counseling is a business, too. A counselor may think you’re a happier customer if he leads you out of a messy marriage. But temporary solace doesn’t equate to long-term happiness.Will your counselor be there to help you down the road when the sadness of the custody arrangement or financial calamity seeps in? Select a good marriage counselor —one who concentrates on restoring your relationship rather than making sure it flushes smoothly.

3. Compare your situation now with future realities if divorced. If you’re considering divorce, you are obviously not happy with your relationship as it is. But take a moment to look ahead and imagine a few likely scenarios after divorce.

People wait an average of three years to remarry after divorce. Consider whether you’re ready to have parenting discussions about your children with the new spouse or significant other.

4. Enlist support for marital healing. Ask for the support of your friends and family as you strive to save your marriage. This is counter-intuitive because we tend to want to keep things quiet when we’re having troubles.

5. Spend at least as much time and money on your marriage as you would on a divorce. Spend some time remembering the reasons you fell in love with your partner. Pull out pictures of the fun times you had. Go on dates, even if it’s awkward at first.

Also, don’t flinch about spending some cash on your marriage — for dates, counseling, gifts, retreats, etc.

Even aside from the great emotional cost, divorces are expensive— with estimates often topping $10,000 or more.

Have you considered all other options for the problems you’re facing? Counseling? Temporary separation? Reducing stress by hiring a housekeeper? A special marriage retreat? Prayer? Think hard before flushing.

Finally, even if your marriage is in good shape, you’ve probably witnessed many friends’ wedding ceremonies and pledged to help them succeed. So, be good listeners and offer constructive advice without making unkind remarks about someone’s spouse. Offer to baby-sit so couples can go out together. Get creative. Let’s encourage and assist one another in our marriages!

Colette Joyce is a freelance writer who lives in San Luis Obispo. She and her husband, Chris, have three children. They’ve been enjoying and working on their marriage for 19 years.

Grace Folks in the News: 06.17.07 edition

Did you see these Grace folks in the news this weekend?

Kari Appleton was featured in a Tribune's Home insert article about Dave O'Brien's Forest Garden Center in Arroyo Grande. . . | 06/15/2007 | Design notebook: nursery helps bridge interiors with exteriors

Michael Leece was mentioned in a Tribune front page article about local high school graduations. Michael was the Valedictorian this year at San Luis Obispo High School. Congrats, Michael. I had no idea. | 06/16/2007 | Graduation Elation

I also noticed pics of several of our Grace young people in a pictorial spread about local little league in Friday's edition of the SLO City News. Let's see, I think I saw Sam Secord, Matthew Mundorf and Conner Trett. Was there somebody else, too? I can't remember.

I would post these pics, but the SLO City News does not yet have any online presence.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

free hugs

If you spend anytime on YouTube, then you have probably seen Free Hugs, one the all-time most viewed videos. . .

Anyway, I showed it to my kids today and before I knew it they were out in the garage making "Free Hugs" signs and asking us if we'd take them downtown. I said, "Not today." So they promptly went out to the curb and started waving down cars and strangers for free hugs.


It works! Some ignored. Some stared. Most smiled and 10 hugged. Lemonade stands to honk signs to hug signs. What will they come up with next?

We asked the kids around the dinner table, "Why does this work?" We had a great discussion about the universal need for love and for touch. . . how everybody is hurting and carries with them pain of one sort or another. We all need hugs!

Haaken & Dad

Lazy Father's Day afternoon. . . . hope you enjoyed yours. Here's a pic of Haaken and I. He loves hats more than any other kid I've ever seen.

Friday, June 15, 2007

off to Kenya

Annie & Alyssa Johnson and Lindsey Iunker have headed off to Kenya this morning. Lindsey has started a travel log blog. . .

Mungu ni Mwema

Click over and encourage her . . .

Thursday, June 14, 2007

introducing "Life Together Conversations"

Did you know that Pastor Steve and I sit down each week and produce a 25-40 minute audio training resource for our Growth Group leaders? We talk about the text, the message and quickly walk through all the Growth Group questions. Each week that resource is posted on a certain place on our website (Can you find it?) and a weekly email is sent to the leaders introducing the message text and letting them know that the training audio is available.

I started doing this before P. Steve was even called to Grace, so when he got here and started overseeing our Growth Group ministry, it was natural for him to jump in. Hopefully it's useful for our leaders. But even if its not, it's been a bunch of fun for us.

So. . . .

With Growth Groups on break for the summer, we've decided to take this whole idea of an audio training resource, put a twist on it and make it available to the congregation and to the world. For now we're going to call this new resource "Life Together Conversations."

Like this life together blog, the purpose of "Conversations" is to enable us to deal with a variety of relevant topics that relate to our life together in a casual and informal manner.

Here at Grace, we believe strongly in the special place of preaching in the church, but we also believe that there is much that needs to be and should be discussed and communicated that cannot be effectively communicated in a sermon. "Life Together Conversations" is for some of that other stuff.

We'll talk about the way we do ministry here at Grace and why, things we're thinking about, books and articles and blogs we're reading, values and ideas we're passionate about, stuff going on in the church family and our families. Our plan is to involve others on our staff and perhaps some outside guests.

Beginning next week, we'll post our newest "Life Together Conversation" both on our website and on a new Life Together Conversations podcast that will be available through iTunes. We hope you'll enjoy listening on your drive to work, or while you're exercising or while you're sitting around the house. And we hope you'll tell us what you think.

Our first Life Together Conversation will focus on Family Ministry: why we're committed to it, what we believe about it and what we're doing about it. We want to tell you all about our upcoming Grace Summer Nights and why we're so excited about these evenings of fun, food, family and fellowship.

We've got lots of other topics in the pipeline, but we'd love to hear your ideas. Anything you'd like us to cover?

Do you think this might be a helpful and valuable resource for you and others at Grace?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

coincidence or compliment?

I've been meaning to post this for awhile. Gordon Wong designed our simple, elegant Grace logo. . .

grace logo

It is serving us well. But check this out. . . .

There's all kinds of stuff with similar logos sold at Nordstrom and all over the web by Philosophy Cosmetics.

Imitation is the highest form of compliment.

Sue em, Gordon! No, you better not. . .

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

good for your soul?


Exercise is an ongoing battle. The kids are getting old enough for me to take them along on certain things. This evening I took Zeke and Eden and we hiked Bishop's Peak. Zeke, who just turned 5, made it all the way to the top. I didn't expect that! The ice cream reward might have had something to do with it.

Along the way, Eden asked, "Hey Dad, isn't hiking good for your soul?" I said, "Yep, it sure is!"

I didn't get the best workout, but it was sure better than nothing. The other benefits far outweighed the light workout.


what size?

Brianna is sharing her insightful and vulnerable thoughts on having a BIG family over on her blog. . .

Just Showing Up

Our family has been watching Cheaper by the Dozen 1 & 2 recently and my kids have been asking that we add another 8 to our mix. Like it's that easy!

It is so fun to watch the dynamics between them. I never ever thought I'd have 4 kids. It's changing me.

We continue to talk adoption. Appreciate your prayers.

3 more blogs discovered

Three more blogs came my way. . . .I'll add them to the list in the right column.

Chris Emyln (Vaughn):

Chris is the 22 year old son of Chris and Helen Vaughn, who attend Grace. Chris will be graduating from medical school in Wisconsin next May at the ripe old age of 23! (How'd he do that?) Chris attends Grace when he's back on the Central Coast. He writes about his interesting experiences at the hospital. Check it out.

Becky Hawkins:

Looks like Becky has started her own invitaitons business called Sugar Plum Invitations. Her blog, which she calls "She Walks in Beauty" has a great style and look. Check it out and support her business. Becky, have you given up your other job as a dental hygienist?


Monday, June 11, 2007

letting go


Eden took this picture of Sage Sunday afternoon. Isn't it great? Do you know where this is? (That's an easy one, isn't it?)

In preparation for Sunday, I'm thinking about the nature of faith. Doesn't trusting God sometimes involve letting go and jumping?

coke isn't it

Read this frightening and informative post about the contrast between water and coke over at Lara Laity's blog . . . .

The Laity Adventure: Water or Coke?

Is all this stuff really true? Does it apply to Dr. Pepper too? If so, Pastor Ken is in real trouble.

I'm reaching for my water now.

where you at?

What did you think of this article in today's Trib about studies confirming the deterent effect of the death penalty? | 06/11/2007 | Studies say death penalty deters crime

As a Christian, what's your view of the death penalty?

Do the OT death penalty passages have any relevance to a Christians view today?

Is support for the death penalty congruent with or contrary to a commitment to the sanctity of life?

Have you thought much about this?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

on top of Cerro San Luis

100_1622.JPG, originally uploaded by theule.

Been too long, but got out on the bike this morning . . . actually my brother Chad's fancy new bike . . .

Here's me and my friend, Sean Cheney.

'bout passed out. . . .it will be easier next time. . . .

Friday, June 08, 2007

SLO Blues

100_1596.JPG, originally uploaded by theule.

The Rondas joined us at the Blue's game tonight. They've lived on the Central Coast for a lot longer than us, but had never been to a Blues game before. That blew me away. Its a great close family night out, especially if you can score some free tix!

Saw the MacGregors, the Dennis Peterson Family, Debbi Weeks and Marti Warde.

It was freezin' but fun.

messing around. . .

Originally uploaded by theule

lovin' it

Originally uploaded by theule

Another one from this morning. . . my big boy, Haaken.

4 kiddos


Took the kids to Avila this morning. They all just jumped into the creek that empties out right there. I always am a bit nervous about that creek. Is it healthy or is it a "polio pit." Time will tell. . . .

Going to the Blues game tonight. . . they're playing the Athletes in Action team. See you there?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

BIG meeting, BIG surprise.

If you missed Sunday's Annual Congregational Meeting you missed out. The big surprise was a 15 year service recognition for both Pastor Ken and Pastor Al. We give thanks for these men and their faithful service. If you missed, make sure you say "congrats" to both when you see them.

There was so much valuable information communicated that evening. . . we hope you'll take the time to listen to the audio and download the 20 page Annual Report. We've even post a PDF version of the Powerpoint Presentation to click through as you listen. All these resources can be accessed at

If you were there, what were your thoughts/reactions?

Lance's Blog

Lance Iunker emailed me on Sunday and said, "I'm listening to your sermon right now."

I'm assuming he meant that morning's sermon. That's pretty crazy!

Lance has started a blog at . . .

In his latest post, he shares an awesome perspective on the war and his experience.

I miss Lance! My kids pray for him nightly.