Thursday, February 28, 2008

Who Wants Coffee?!

There used to be a day when no one cared about the "taste" of coffee. Whoever drank it, only did it for the caffeine boost... which explains the creation of terrible tasting, instant coffees, and even canned Folgers. Mom and pop coffee shops existed then, but struggled to survive being that their only clients were friends and family, supporting their small business endeavor.

Then came Starbucks. It seemed like "from out of nowhere"... Starbucks came and literally BECAME the Coffee Industry as we know it today. You weren't cool if you drank anything BUT Starbucks. Yes, it was pricy, but that didn't matter, because it just tasted sooo good...and there was just nothing else comparable, not to mention the "trendiness" factor.

Speaking as an Ex-Starbucks Barista (and a HUGE Howard Schultz fan), I can't knock the company that gave me and so many others a great job, and even bragging rights as an employee! But what I can say, or at least agree with is a quote from an article I read this morning...

"Starbucks has become too successful for its own good, and has been swamped by competition offering the same blends, atmosphere, and more, for a lot less. There is no differential advantage in ambience to speak of, no smug connoisseur mentality for its patrons as a bragging right, and no elevation from the ordinary working class coffee drinker in price. Its lead has been dissipated and its attraction diminished by its own ordinariness as a neighborhood soda fountain serving coffee in various forms. It is in hot water. It may soon be renamed Starbust."

I don't know about the whole 'StarBUST' thing, but I know for sure that Starbucks isn't so much 'the trend' any more. In fact, I believe Starbucks CREATED coffee connoisseurs to its own demise. I know the differences between different coffee roasts, and even how each drink is made. I also know that the newer coffee shops put more effort into each Latte, and that's what I care about! Don't steam my milk twice Starbucks. I know it's still usable at a certain temp, but I want fresh milk please!

While Starbucks is slumping and spending time trying to get back on track, improving quality and service, newer, more hip Coffee joints are offering incredible deals and great tasting coffee in attempts to conquer their Goliath while he's down and vulnerable.

How fascinating!

In the meantime. I'm enjoying my local Caribou where I get 10 cents off my coffee everyday when I answer a daily trivia question correctly (or even incorrectly), of course they've integrated free WIFI, and even books for my sons to look at when I have to bring them with me! They always offer free refills when we're there for our marathon meetings, and they just seem happy when we're there (southern hospitality might have something to to with that). And...when I don't want to leave my house for a cup of coffee, my FAVORITE dark roast is Duncan Donuts Orignial Blend that they sell at my local grocery store!

Who would have thought that Duncan Donuts would get on the bandwagon?! Who's next? Taco Bell?!!

Anyway...There's a Starbucks a block away from my house, and I'm looking forward to walking in there someday...when I have a reason to.

Knowing what I do about Howard Schultz, He has some tricks up his sleeves. I can't wait to find out what they are!

Monday, February 25, 2008

For Grandma and Grandpa...

And everyone else who just can't seem to get enough Faiai in their bloodstream!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Momma!

I'm forever grateful that God blessed me with the greatest mom in the world! I love you and miss you mom. Your grandsons miss you too. Please come visit soon! Cameron has a birthday present for you. He wanted to mail it, but I told him the postman wouldn't let us put grapes in the mail!

I can't take credit for being the first one to wish you a happy birthday. Steve beat me to it. If you missed the link,
------> CLICK HERE <-------


Getting a Life!

Getting a life beyond Church was one of the first things on our agenda when we started planning our move out here. We've literally scoured the town for extra curricular activities that peak our interest. We're also just trying to make as MANY contacts as we can, because we've found that the more people we know, the more there is to do! Establishing play groups for the kids is tricky just because it's still pretty cold here. Too cold to take the kids to the park on a consistent basis. It should start warming up in March...(so that's what I hear) We'll see. About 2 weeks ago I found an ad on Craigslist for a softball league. I figured I'd call and check it out. I had no idea it was going to be way more serious than my co-ed team in SD! Holy Cow! They had me try out before they added me to the roster. I was pretty nervous. Thankfully the tryout went fine and I was able to pick out my number "5" and my jersey yesterday! We'll be practicing every week, and we'll have games on Wednesdays and Thursday nights. That pretty much covers my week nights!

I'm in the middle of making a decision about where Cameron will attend pre-school. The plan is to have him in school by the fall! That sounds crazy. I can't believe my baby boy is already going to be in pre-school in a few months.

Riley spends most of his spare time listening to his iPod. It's pretty funny. The boy will seriously sit on the floor holding the earpiece in his ear and listen to his favorite songs for an hour at a time! I made him his own playlist.

Behind where we live is a place called Frankie's. It's a combination between Dave and Busters and Boomers. Not as kiddie as Boomers, but it has an inside arcade and outside rides including 3 go cart race tracks. Anyway, we went there last night and had a really fun time. Cameron and I drove a race car, we played put put golf and played some arcade games inside. Cameron was SOOO tired by the end of our night, his eyes were literally closing when he was on one of the kiddie rides inside the arcade. Malae and Carla came with us and Ashlee and Carlee Towns met us there. We'll definitely have to go time...without the boys!!

Since I never take pictures of my Riley boy, here are a couple from the mall the other day. He's totally got the curly hair going on, by the way. It's going to be just like Cameron's. If I could only find a way to keep all that hair under control!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I needed a new pair of shoes, so I went to my favorite shoe store this morning to check out the selection. Cameron went with me. I told him that we'd get him a pair of shoes too (he always needs new shoes), so I picked some slip on tennis shoes out for him and then found a pair for me. While I was finishing putting my shoes back on, Cameron came around the corner wearing these bad boys:

Yes...half croc/half lightning McQueen sandal looking things. I told him to take them off, but he told me "they're only 20 bucks, mom!" (they we're $19.99- He was pretty close). I told him they were too goofy and that he couldn't walk around wearing them. After this very sad face:

Steve sat him down on one of the shoe fitting stools and told him that they could make a deal. If he went 2 nights in a row without wetting his bed, daddy would get him the shoes. "Is that a deal?" Steve asked..."No deal!" Cameron said. Then he told us he was "just kidding", and said that we don't have to get him the shoes because he said his grandma is going to get them for him when she comes! "Oh yea! Good thinking Cameron. I'm glad we didn't get them. Grandma would be sad if she came here and you already had them!"

Reasoning with a three year old isn't easy. After this interaction, I'm wondering who really reasons with who!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cameron has a message...

...for his friends in San Diego!
(Sorry for the low quality...I was on a time crunch)

Another Big Win Weekend at C.A.T.T.

With the addition of a nice screen, small P.A. system, a GREAT violinist/Electric guitar player, and a few more people...This past weekend set the bar for our next few services leading up to our "First Look" in March.

I've always been a fan of using technology in the Church as a multi sensory way to connect people with God. Although a service with minimal lights, sound and graphics can be just as compelling, there's something about the extra effort put into enhancing sound and video that just takes a weekend service to a different level.

This weeks service elements included a thick 4 song music run,

a "MyStory" segment,

Announcement/Update and an interactive response time,

Lee talked about persecution and how it relates to us,

And we watched an INCREDIBLE video that some of us had seen at the Leadership Summit last year. This video highlights the history of the Church through the ages by chapters, fast forwarding from one to the next. At the end, we're reminded that WE are writing the next chapter of the Church! What will the church in our day in age look like a decade from now? Such a cool message for us especially as a new local church.

After we cleaned everything up, we went to a friends house for a few high fives and chill time. We laughed like crazy for most of the fact, I didn't realize until we Got home that it was almost 2AM...oops. I blame it on Lee...the comedian!

This weekend was a big win! By faith, we'll trust that next weekend will be even better!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So glad...

he can finally feed himself.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Moving Along...

Since before we were married, Steve and I have lived for the weekends. I'm not sure where or when I decided to invest my being in Church on Sunday, but I do know that when I think about how that happened, I'm immediately reminded of something I heard Bill Hybels say way back when I first got involved in ministry. "The local church is the hope of the world".

Every time I think about that statement, I'm reassured that there's nothing else I'd rather give my energy and time to than being part of developing the local church, and partnering with others who have the same passion to see lives changed and people reached for Christ.

We are brand new at the whole "church plant" thing, but it's been sooo cool to see similarity in dynamics between a church of 2000 and our church of 30. Our 30+ member home team consists of people who represent every personality type that I remember back at our previous church where 2000 people was an average attended weekend. Preparation for weekend services is just as much work as it used to be, only a little more involved and physical since our staff consists of 4 people. We came from an established "system", almost like a template for planning the weekend, and here we're in the middle of defining our own system. Last night as we set up for home team, I experienced another dynamic that I think will follow us no matter where we go, as long as we're in ministry.

Last night, our home team met in a new temporary building. It's a classroom inside of an already existing church here in Raleigh about 10 miles from where we live. We're meeting at this location for three weeks. At that point we'll move into a more permanent meeting space closer to us. Our service was pretty simple and structured and included our first communion together as a church. The 4 of us split up tasks during the week for our service. One of my tasks was setting up communion. Throughout the week, I casually stopped in different stores to get the things I would need for dressing the table and the actual elements that would be served by our pastors for communion.

One thing that I didn't get during the week that I was going to need was a black table cloth. I didn't find one in the three stores I went to earlier in the week, but I figured I could pick one up at Target on the way to church. Note to self: Black table cloths are not easy to find. I scrambled around for an hour before our service searching the town for 1 black table cloth. None. Seriously. Steve called me to tell me to come back to the church. He said we'd be ok without the table cloth. I started getting REALLY frustrated because for 1 - Steve was irritating me, and 2 - We had 15 minutes until church started and I hadn't dressed the communion table. AHHH! Anyway...I drove back to the church mad at Steve (it feels so much better to be mad at him when I'm mad at myself) but knowing that I was just going to have to be creative with what I had. Needless to say, I was nervous. As Steve started his first song, I remembered the feeling. The deep breath I used to take at 7:00PM on Friday nights knowing that we had done all we could to that week to prepare and that it was just time to step aside and let God take over and run the rest of the nights service. He was ALWAYS faithful. I took that same deep breath last night as our service began, and thanked God that he's STILL faithful! Awesome conversations took place last night, Lee gave an incredible talk (dude can cast vision like NOBODY'S business) and we took communion together for our first time which, for me, marked a defining moment in the life of Church at the Triangle.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Anyone got a paperclip?

In gathering all of my paperwork together for todays staff meeting, I became aware of a few items that I need to be WAY more thankful for. I remember the day, not so long ago, when I "used to could" just go back to the metal cabinet and grab whatever I needed to get my things in order. Today I'm more thankful than ever before for a paper clip, a staple and a manilla folder...all things I never think about until I'm without!!

Our meeting today involved catching up on each other's tasks and brainstorming for our first 6 services. It felt REALLY good to work the creative team dynamic together today. Something about it just drives me, motivates me, and makes me just want to jump around! I didn't but...I felt like it.

After our meeting, we were able to SCORE on some great office equipment from an unnamed location. If I told you where we got it, well...don't worry about it. Me and my homegirl "CT" stayed safe, and we made sure not to leave any traces of evidence that we had been there!

Good times!!

Aside from a home team bible study, a ton of people praying and a heaping wad of faith, here is Church at the Triangle... in sticky notes.

Sticky notes EVERYWHERE!!

A ton of really awesome ideas came out of our meeting today thanks to some good thinkers and a pack of Sticky Notes!

This weekend, at HomeTeam, we're continuing our series in Acts and taking communion. It's been a week since we've been together as a group...I can't wait for Sunday!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

ONE MONTH IN ONE WORD...and a post.

This week will mark 1 month since we moved from San Diego to Raleigh. If I had to sum up the past four weeks in one word, that word would be CLARITY. It seems like every day brings new revelation that just stinking renews my soul.

Becky came to visit this weekend. I was so so soooo happy to see her. We had a good time just catching up on life and showing her around town. We're saying goodbye tonight, since her flight leaves early tomorrow morning.

On the way home from our Superbowl party tonight, Beck mentioned something to the extent of what a big task it would be to start from ground up and make an entirely new group of friends. As soon as she said that, I was hit with yet another moment of clarity. Since we've been here, making friends hasn't seemed like a task at all. Whether it's through Craigslist, or our small group meetings, or just coffee at Caribou, God has just blessed us with new friendships daily and it's been so refreshing to start from scratch. And for whatever reason, we're not too concerned about jumping into any deep relationships with anyone right now. As weird as it sounds, there's something so freeing about walking down a busy street or a crowded mall knowing that NO ONE knows me! I don't know if that's because our REAL loneliness just hasn't set in yet...or just call me in denial... but I'd rather believe that the peace that Steve and I are experiencing right now is just a blessing from God as we seek Him and His best for our lives.

Yes, being a mommy is super challenging right now. And I've gone psycho on my kids and my husband more than a couple times since we've been here...but that's really only because I have a patience issue that needs dealing with. Thankfully Karla and Malae get here on Wednesday to help out with the boys so Steve and I can go on a date and run a few errands by ourselves without "scream boy" and "Mr. I'm Hungry" in the back seat.

At a church we visited this morning, we read a few verses out of John 15. This entire chapter in John is simple yet so profound. These words really help me understand this season of my life, and encourage me to keep following hard after God. Tonight, when I think about the sacrifice it's been to leave all we know to follow "God's calling", I think of this verse, and am humbled by the fact that "He first loved us"...and not the other way around!

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.

John 15:1-15