Back to School; College Perspective!

Back to School; College Perspective | By Lila Smith

“There is no growth in your comfort zone and no comfort in your growth zone.” -Anonymous

As we all know, life is a constant cycle of change. It’s exciting. Overwhelming. Scary. Hard. Emotional. Every time a new school year comes around, I tend to be all too familiar with these emotions, at a higher level than usual.

In just a few days, I will be loading everything up and getting ready to enter into my sophomore year of college at GCU. My experience in college so far has been full of fun experiences, awesome friendships, insightful classes, and a deeper growth with my Savior, everyday. But in the midst of all of these great things, there has also been anxiety, discomfort, heartbreak, and homesickness. As a result, I am learning to daily rely on Jesus alone. To lay my struggles and worries at the cross, instead of trying to deal with or solve them on my own.

Messages Image(1924536944)My freshman year the Lord really planted a desire in my heart. The desire to build relationships with others, and to be someone who is there for listening and understanding them. I felt very called to apply for the position as life leader at my school. From my perspective, this is the dream – to get to share the Gospel with the girls God placed on my floor, and to be a safe place for them to bring their worries, insecurities, and struggles. This opportunity I am about to take is both exciting and exhilarating. But it is also terrifying. I do not feel qualified enough for this job, and I have to constantly remind myself again and again everyday to not compare myself to others and to their talents and abilities.

As nerve-racking as it may seem in my head, I am welcoming in this new season of change with open arms. I am jumping in head first to this position which God has called me. And, I am trusting Him to supply all my needs.

My freshman year alone, I left a changed person. The experiences I had, the people I met, the relationships that deepened, the classes I took; all shaped me in ways I never could have seen or imagined before going to GCU. Here are some of the things the Lord taught me, which I find to be helpful wherever you are in life right now:

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  1. Make time EVERYDAY for YOU and JESUS; Make HIM your BEST friend

Bible studies, chapel, worship nights, and even church just won’t cut it. Relationships grow from one-on-one moments. Make him your number one, all other friends and family can come next. We look like the friends we hang out with, so why wouldn’t we want to hang out with Jesus?

  1. Be INTENTIONAL

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Go out of your way to show people you care about them and want to get to know them and/or spend time with them. Make plans. Stick to the plans.

  1. IRON sharpens IRON (Proverbs 27:17)

The people you spend time with influence you, and vice versa. Make sure your peers are lifting you up, not pushing you down. Healthy relationships make a healthy, happy you.

  1. Get INVOLVED

Whether it’s ministries, church groups, adventures, just get involved! Community is a great thing that God gave us, and we need to use it to our advantage.

 


Lila Smith is a college student at Gr and Canyon University in Phoenix…Lila Smith is a college student at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. She is a Sophomore majoring in Psychology, with a minor in Christian Studies. She currently spends her time hanging out with friends, being a life leader on her floor, studying, going on adventures, and doing ministries on her campus. She plans to work in the church and/or be a counselor later on after her college years are over. 

How to Plan an Epic Adventure

Three valuable tips for your next outing, getaway or grand vacation | By Josh Clements

You don’t have to be a superhero to have epic adventures with your loved ones but after following the tips in this blog, you’ll probably be mistaken for one.  

When asked about epic summer adventures in July, in San Diego, I was drawn to a comic book analogy like like Superman is drawn to shouts of “help!”, like Tony Stark is drawn to a mirror and like Stan Lee is drawn to, well draw anything…(things just got a wee bit nerdy, I’m sorry, please hang in there).  BlogPost3However, what I’m really saying here is that when I hear the word “epic” I immediately think of heroes, quests and the exciting things that happen and the memories that are made as a result. 

A wise man once gave Peter Parker some sage advice: “with great power comes great responsibility.”  This is very true.  However, when thinking about “summer time” I thought of a phrase that contains the essence of this advice combined with my own philosophy: “with great amounts of time, comes great opportunity.”  The question you may have is “opportunity for what?” All of us have an opportunity to have an “epic summer adventure,” however, just because it is summer, and it’s a vacation, doesn’t automatically make it “epic.”

It is on an epic quest that our heroes; find their purpose, overcome challenges and finally achieve their goal.

For anyone planning an outing, getaway or grand vacation remember to do these three things that epic heroes have done before us in literature and film:

  1. Define the purpose.
  2. Identify and prepare for challenges.
  3. Achieve something great for our family and friends.

I believe that all of us do a great job of the first two.  

We make a plan: “This summer we are going to Disneyland so we can go on the rides and meet the characters.”  

We prepare for challenges: “We will pack a backpack full of snacks and water so that ‘little Johnny’ doesn’t have a tantrum while waiting for Dumbo.”

However, we can look to our hero for advice on how to shift our summer outings from mere vacations to epic adventures by achieving something great:  

BlogPost6After his third year at Hogwarts, Harry routinely visits the neighboring village of Hogsmeade to partake in warm and tasty drinks at The Three Broomsticks and pick up some candy at Honeyduke’s Candy Shop.  Does he go alone?  BlogPost7No, he travels with his best friends Hermoine and Ron.  While there, they enjoy their time.  However, they also take the time to connect with each other.  They share the experience of partaking in everything that Hogsmeade has to offer, but they also talk about many things, are transparent, and, as a result, become better friends because of these conversations.

Does Harry plan his travel? Yes.  Does he take in the sights and sounds “the foreign land?  Yes.  Does he rush off to “check something off” his itinerary?  No.  

This is essential.  

He spends time with his best friends.  He talks with them about what is on his mind.  He shares the experience with 

them.  They sit.  They bond.  They develop their relationship.  This is what we sometimes miss while on vacation; focusing on using the time we are given to build relationships with the people whom we care about.

It’s easy to think  “oh man, I spend $300 on tickets, $1,000 on airfare, and have only five days to experience it all. Sooooooooo we only have 15 minutes to sit on this beach before we “have to” move on to the next thing.” BlogPost8Another wise bearded man (no, not Dumbledore) said “All you have to do is decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.”

No matter how much money you spend ($5 or $5,000), it is essential to focus on what is most important; who you involve, the words you speak and the relationships you build.  No matter what, you will take pictures of the sights and of your fellow adventurers.  Later, when you and your travelling companions look at these photos, what will they remember?  Will they remember you pulling them along to look at an exact replica of a Nimbus 2000 or will they remember the conversation you had before you ate a handful of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and the face you made when you tried a lawn clippings flavor?

Different locales are amazing; various beaches, different countries, even hidden parts of our own city are perfect settings for your adventure because they allow us to create shared experiences. What will you share? What will you do to make your time epic?”

The time will go by like The Flash (sorry, I couldn’t resist), how will you make the most of it?

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image1Josh Clements is an excellent planner of fun family outings, day trips and long, eight hour dates with his wife, Hannah. As an Eagle Scout, he knows how to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Together Josh and Hannah help raise Adam (15), Gracie (11) and Aidan (8). Josh has been a professional educator for 12 years and is currently working at San Marcos High School where he teaches 9th grade English and is the yearbook advisor. Josh and Hannah own the “little green house on the corner” in historic Escondido from which they often “adventure” to buy donuts from Peterson’s Donut Corner.

The Adventures of Salt ‘n’ Peppa

Just For Laughs | by Sonya Finley

So here’s the deal. Tracy and I love to get together and do something interesting for our December birthdays. One instance a few years ago was no exception.

That particular year, we decided we had exhausted the ol’ dinner and a movie routine and wanted to try something new. I thought a trip downtown to the San Diego Gaslamp District would make for a very cool evening. Because parking is usually a painful affair, a ride on the COASTER sounded like a fun option. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I worked for the transit agency and could ride all modes for free—can you say “Bonus!”

I pitched the idea to Peppa…or is it Salt? Anyway, Tracy loved the idea. Citing her trip to India she managed to convince her husband that she would be safe. “If I can go to the poorest parts of India on my own, surely I can ride public transportation.” Surely!

Since I came up with the idea, she picked the restaurant. A nice, upscale, happening little place, with all the ambiance two ladies out on the town needed to make the evening great. Lucky us, it was only a few blocks from the trolley station. This was going to be good, right?! We were excited.

The day of our date, Tracy was dropped off at my job and we rode together to catch the COASTER. If you have never ridden the COASTER, I suggest you do it at least once. It takes you from Oceanside to San Diego on a route that travels right alongside, well, the coast. And the views are, well, coastal. Just kidding. It is a lovely ride though. Even better when you are traveling as the sun goes down. The hour long ride gave us plenty of time to chat, as girls like to do.

By the time we got to the final COASTER station in San Diego, it was relatively dark. No worries, the station had plenty of lighting, and our wait for the trolley was not long. We soon found ourselves at the heart of the Gaslamp District. As I mentioned before, I checked Google Maps and found that the restaurant was only a few short blocks up from the Trolley station. But, as my sense of direction can be a little wonky, I accepted Tracy’s suggestion that she Google the directions to make sure we were headed the right way. Awesome-sauce! I love smart people with good ideas.

We were both dressed up for the occasion, however, after about 15 minutes of walking I sorely regretted the cute little booties I was sporting with my cute little outfit. We seemed to have been doing quite a bit of walking but not quite reaching our destination. We walked by some nice hotels, a few cool restaurants (not ours), and even brushed up against a not so savory area where the homeless found shelter. I was a bit confused, and might have even mentioned it, but I trusted Tracy and the directions she was getting from her navigation program.

20151211_203532After several more minutes of walking, which included a much needed pit stop; we finally stopped and asked for directions. In fact, Tracy even called the restaurant to make sure we were headed the right way. That was a really good thing . . . because when we finally got our bearings, we realized we had passed the restaurant (and other buildings) at least twice— maybe even three times—in our efforts to find our way to the place we were seeking.

 

All in all, what should have been a brisk 10 minute walk to the restaurant, ended up taking these adventurers almost a half an hour!

How is that, you ask? The restaurant was only a few blocks from our drop off point you say? Well, let me just give you a little piece of advice. When you are walking and you seek directions from Google Maps be sure to click the “walking man” icon, not the car. Yeah. Needless to say, we got back to the station a lot quicker than we did going.


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Sonya A. Finley (SonyArletta) is an artist and designer currently working “undercover” at North County Transit District and will soon be moving over to the San Diego Airport Authority. She is a proud mother of four young men: James, Kevin, Joshua and Johnathan. Sonya attended US International University, School of Performing and Visual Arts, where she majored in Advertising Design, she received her Associates in Fashion Design from FIDM and her Bachelor’s in Fine Art (painting emphasis) from Mississippi State University.

A Father’s Day Guide

A Father’s [Dad. Daddy. Daddio. Pops.] Day Guide | by Stacy and Lacey Brown

Dad. Daddy. Daddio. Pops. What is it about the love of a father that makes us feel so covered and protected? Similar to how our Heavenly Father unconditionally loves and cares for us, His children, our fathers here on Earth are entrusted with nurturing and New Photoguiding us from the time we’re born, all the way through adulthood. As tiny humans, we typically know our dad as the leader and provider for our household. Dad is the one who teaches you how to ride a bike, start saving your money early, and to not take “no” for an answer when pursuing your dreams. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that my own dad is not only my biggest fan, but also one of my best friends. A father’s role is all-encompassing and for this, he truly deserves all of the respect and admiration from his family. Proverbs 20:7 tells us,

The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!”

Yes, and amen! I can certainly attest to the integrity of both my dad and my father-in-law, and feel deeply privileged to have been raised by men of such virtue.

Lace and DadIf you’re like me (Lacey), maybe you’ve struggled with knowing how to honor your dad on Father’s Day. It’s hard when you want to give him something that will let him know how much you appreciate him, while simultaneously being too old for crafts, and having no desire to search for another tie (sigh). Or perhaps you’re like my brilliant mama-in-love, Stacy, who somehow manages to always to give the most amazing, meaningful gifts—usually something that’s way better than what you could have picked out for yourself (#notkidding #sorrynotsorry). As Father’s Day approaches, we thought we’d team up to compile a rather practical “gift guide” for the day in which we let our dads know just how much they mean to us. As we began searching for some of the more “materialistic” gifts, we pondered the way in which we shop for our own dads and/or spouses. How does my husband, dad, grandpa, (you fill in the blank), feel loved and acknowledged?

We couldn’t think of a better way to explore this than by incorporating The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. This book provides insight on each of the different languages in which people share/receive love, which include: Physical Touch, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts. You see, not only are love languages something to examine in terms of your significant other, but they are equally as important in any relationship. The following are some specific examples of ways to bless your dad on Father’s Day.

 

Receiving Gifts [For Dads from young children]

Does your dad or husband share/receive love via gift-giving? Moms, think about giving your child a budget and let them pick whatever they want as a gift for their dad. Note that this is where self-control comes in (☺). The kids know the budget, and they get to pick the gift. Something homemade is always a good idea too! (Macaroni necklaces from 5-year-olds never get old).

Quality Time (For Dads from adult children)

As many parents do, I know my own father receives love by spending some “QT” together. Why not take him to a Padres game or other sporting event? Stacy recently took her father to Spiritivity, a local “paint and sip” art studio, which turned out to be an outing they both thoroughly enjoyed. Not very artsy? How about a homemade picnic on the beach? Moms, maybe you can help facilitate lunch with your teenage child, but let them go alone for some one-on-one time.

Encouraging Words [For Dads from children of any age]

We can’t think of a more sentimental way to express your love than by writing it out for your dad to cherish forever! Creativity is encouraged, but remember, specificity is best with these types of gifts. Try writing out ten things you admire about your dad, or a classic acrostic poem (great for kids). Go the extra mile and frame it for him to keep in his office.

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Acts of Service [For Dads from children of any age]

Who wouldn’t love a getting good book of coupons for chores/errands nobody likes to do? Mow the lawn, get his car’s oil changed, clean the rain gutters, the list could go on. Scratch a few things off your dad’s “honey-do” list. You’d be surprised by how taking care of simple, very practical things can be super helpful— especially for dads who are older. Remember, it’s easy to give this kind of gift, but execution is crucial!

Physical Touch [For Dads from the wifey]

A good foot or shoulder rub for your dad is a nice gesture, but who are we kidding? Moms, it’s all you for this one!

Although many of these ideas seem pretty fundamental, it’s often simple actions that end up having the most significance. We hope this is helpful as you reflect on your relationship with your own dad this Father’s Day!


About the Authors

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Stacy and Lacey Brown are a dynamic mother and daughter-in-law duo, established in 2010, when Lacey married Stacy’s oldest son, Zac. Stacy is wife to her honey of thirty years, Tom Brown, and mama to four children; Zac, Gabe, Jake, and Megan. Lacey and Zac were high school sweeties and married after nearly six years of dating. They reside in Escondido with their fur-child, Charlie Brown.

 

 

 

Wife – You Are More Than Your Role

Wife – You Are More Than Your Role | By Byron Vardilos

I have the privilege of being married to an amazing woman. I first met Theresa at a coffee shop in Fort Worth, Texas. It was a typical fall night during my Junior year at Texas Christian University. A group of four of my fraternity brothers and I had just finished eating dinner at a local downtown eatery. I was a newer Christian at the time and being part of BYX rooted me in my faith.

Brian, who we called “B-Grow,” announced to the group that he had forgotten he’d promised to meet a girl at a coffee shop and we were over an hour late.  We all piled into a beat-up Chevy Suburban and rushed off to the coffee shop. Little did I know I was about to meet the love of my life!

I’ll never forget the night. I walked in, and there she was. She was beautiful (and sitting at a table by herself reading a Bible!). I don’t remember the conversation, and we only exchanged a few words, but driving home that night was one of the few times in my life I distinctly heard God’s voice. He told me that this was the woman for me!

Byron & Theresa Nov 1998That was over 20 years ago! 20 FULL years of ups-and-downs, success and failures, four kids, two dogs, and over 16 moves!

The first few years of our marriage were rocky, to say the least, but since then, each year we get closer and I learn more about this wonderful woman. With so many things vying for our attention, it’s becoming more and more difficult for wives to keep their identity.

Theresa has had many roles over the years; the role of a wife…the role of mom.  More recently, she is adding many more roles. But the roles do not define who she is.  First and foremost, she is a Daughter of the King!

In the last two years, I’ve witnessed Theresa growing in all areas of her life.  She’s embracing the truth of her identity in Christ. I want to encourage you, the women of The Fathers House, to do the same!  A great resource that talks about this identity is the book, The Secret of Significance, by Robert S McGee.images

With raising four children ages 10-16, running multiple businesses, volunteering and participating in community activities, Theresa and I are at the busiest season of our lives to date. Full schedules blur the bigger picture for all of us.

I’m naturally big-picture thinker.  Theresa is much more detailed, so we complement each other in this way.  Whenever I see her taking on too much or getting caught in the minutia, I remind her to take time off for reflection. I ask her questions like…“What do you want to be doing in 10 years after the kids have left?”  “What is God calling you to do?” and “What is your long-term mission?”

The answers to these questions don’t have to be world-changing, like ending world hunger. But these types of questions have helped Theresa stay focused on what is most important and discover a passion to impact the lives of families and women.

I’ve watched my wife take on these habits and can encourage you to think of some that can help you grow in your identity:

1) Build time each week in your calendar just for you. Theresa is introspective, so once a week, she gets away to the beach or a coffee shop by herself to pray, journal, exercise, and have a time of quiet reflection with the Lord. Find what refuels your tank and make the commitment to do it each week.  If you catch yourself feeling guilty about taking this time to recharge, remember, even Jesus took time away in the “lonely places. Taking care of yourself in this way will bless those you love the most!

2) It’s ok to say “no,” even to good things.  Nothing can tire you out more than feeling obligated to say yes to every opportunity to serve. Having the bigger picture at the forefront has helped her say “no” to things, even good things, that are not part of her bigger mission. This helps her avoid burnout and keeps her focus on what is most important.

3) Know your strengths.  If you haven’t taken a spiritual gifts class, I highly encourage it.  There are also numerous personality tests, including the Myers Briggs and StrengthsFinder.  Learning your natural gifts can help you identify new roles and opportunities you may not have considered before.

4) Know your season. Theresa and I are in, what is affectionately referred to as, “The Long Middle.” But seasons will not last forever. Knowing your season provides perspective which can keep you going, even when you feel like giving up. If you’re in the darkest Winter right now, know that Spring always follows winter!

5) Find mentors; be a mentor. God uses people to grow us up in the faith. The Father’s House and has made it a priority to spend time building relationships. This is a good place to find and/or be a mentor.

6) Work on your schedule as a couple and prioritize. On Sunday night, Theresa and I get together and have a brief meeting to go over our calendar for the next week.  It’s not always perfect, and sometimes messy, but it helps us plan out and make sure that we are spending our time wisely.

7) Plan a weekly date night. Having a weekly date night is a non-negotiable.  It allows us to connect, at a deeper level, and communicates to our kids that our marriage is important.

8) Read inspirational books. Theresa has become a voracious reader.  She also listens to positive podcasts and audiobooks to learn while driving or doing work around the house.

9) Pain is part of the process. Psalm 30 says that “weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  The transformative process is not all sunshine and rainbows.  Theresa has encountered many challenges in recent years with all the demands upon her and in building her business.  But I’ve watched the challenges make her stronger!  Like weight training, where you tear muscle fibers to gain strength, the hardships she experiences are building her into a much stronger version of herself.

10) Make wise decisions about health. “I want to work out and eat healthier, but I just don’t have the time.”  We’ve all been there.  I think the biggest revelation for Theresa and I recently is that the time and energy we spend on exercising and making good food choices will come back to us ten-fold in the form of increased energy, health, and clarity of thought.  Don’t feel guilty about taking time to work on your health!

I want to encourage you to take some time this week to seek the Lord and ask him to use you in a new and fresh way.  Then take action and go for what God has put on your heart. Stir up your gifts and trust Him for the great reward!


Byron & Theresa TCU GraduationByron met Theresa over 20 years ago at Texas Christian University where he played baseball and studied business. Married for almost 19 years, they have four children Jacob, 16, Hannah, 14, Caleb, 12, and Abigail, 10.  Over his career, Byron worked as a Business Coach in the Real Estate industry, as well as in sales and entrepreneurship.  He is committed to Christ and helping others live out their full potential. He enjoys spending time with his family, playing piano and guitar, mountain biking, trail running, weightlifting, the ocean, travel, and any sport involving a ball.