Stull Family 2014 Snapshots

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DSC_00492014 was a crazy and adventurous year with many leap-of-faith moments that were exciting, exhilarating, hard and uncertain. So, though I know we are well into 2015, I wanted to share a little about our past year.

Planting a church has been a great adventure. I never dreamed I’d enjoy “small church” as much as I have, and seeing Chris’s delight in leading a church and preaching each week has been change this blessing or the next to a different word. God has blessed us this year with an amazing Acts church unity that is pure joy. My three previous blog posts tell the story best. You’ll see Wellspring Church’s first-year journey through pictures. You can also visit Wellspringchurch.com to learn more about the church, see videos, hear Chris’s sermons, and more.

In July, God entrusted us with two more children, John (11) and Mariama (9). Just one week after bringing them home from Sierra Leone, Ebola struck their village. In this adoption journey we are learning so much about ourselves and God’s faithful love and provision for every moment. Even on the hardest days, the pleasure of the Lord in the midst of obedience overshadows the frustrations. And then there are also the gifts of those special moments that give great hope for each child’s future as well as our future as a family.

We covet your prayers as we shepherd a church and a family.

It’s been a big year. Our grocery cart is a good example of how big we are these days. We typically buy 25 lbs. of flour, 8 gallons of milk, 20 lbs. of rice, 50 lbs. of popcorn, 6 dozen eggs–and that’s just a start!

Happy momma with her boys
Happy momma with her boys

 

Daddy and his girls
Daddy and his girls
Snapshots of 2014… (yes, that's Micah behind the camera!)
Snapshots of 2014… (yes, that’s Micah behind the camera!) Wait for it…(scroll down, pretty please.)
Dillon is a junior at Baylor University.
Dillon is a junior at Baylor University.

2014 was an incredible year, and here is a snapshot of each of our lives:

Dillon (age 21):

  • Led the Baylor University Honors College on its first mission trip. They went to El Salvador over Spring Break.
  • Doing thesis research: Interviewing people on the Nyakach Plateau in Kenya after a week working with a group of Baylor pre-med students on a medical mission trip in May.
  • Running on the Scotland beach where “Chariots of Fire” was filmed and also visiting 10 other European countries while doing a study abroad at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands.
  • Led a group of peers from University of Maastricht to participate in a mission trip in Denmark.
  • Studying 8-10 hours a day all of July and August for the MCAT and passing with flying colors. One step closer to medical school!
  • This year we enjoyed the longest times of having him in the home since he was in high school. This summer we had him home for 6 weeks as he studied for the MCAT. Then, because his study abroad was condensed, he was home Thanksgiving through early January.

Zoom lens:

Since he doesn’t have a bedroom here, Dillon, and one of his best friends, Jay, visiting for Christmas stayed in our garage apartment. (Garage apt. = out w/cars, and in with large rugs, two beds, space heaters, chairs and tables, lamp and a small Christmas tree.)

Derek loves his bow ties.
Derek loves his bow ties.

Derek (age 19):

  • Served as Wellspring Church’s worship leader our first 7 months. He brings such energy and joy to help people connect with God through music.
  • Made 1st chair tenor All-State Choir.
  • Led worship at Arizona’s National Day of Prayer Service on the Capitol lawn.
  • Sang the National Anthem for his high school graduation ceremony.
  • Starred as the Beast in his high school’s “Beauty and the Beast” musical…and his girlfriend Taylor, who has the perfect Disney princess voice, was Belle! (Does it get any better than that as a senior, folks?)
  • He is now attending Dallas Baptist University majoring in music education, and a couple of weeks ago starred as Charlie Brown in DBU’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” musical.
  • He began serving in September on staff as the worship leader for the contemporary service at Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in Dallas. (The church I grew up in and was baptized at. Full circle!)

Zoom lens: Music to our ears during Senior Recognition day at Wellspring: “I’d like to thank my Mom and Dad for following God’s call on their lives to move to Arizona.” (We didn’t ruin his life after all! Thank you, Jesus!)

Caleb is a high school junior this year.
Caleb is a high school junior this year.

Caleb (age 16): 

  • Working really hard at baseball, catching & playing infield for the Varsity team; still swings the bat well … has a knack to hit that crazy ball.
  • Was chosen by his high school class as Homecoming Prince and Winter Formal Prince.
  • Doing a great job as the home front leader of the sibling pack.
  • Enjoys time with friends.
  • Happy to have his own bedroom for the first time in his life. Keeps it spotless. (He misses his best friend, big brother Derek…but not the mess he brings.)
  • Takes the time to invest in his younger siblings, helping with homework, playing games and swimming with them.

Zoom lens: One Sunday he was Wellspring Church’s MVP as he helped with set up, greeted at the door and handed out bulletins, ran the PowerPoint, took the attendance count, gathered guys to collect the offering, and helped with tear down.

Mighty Micah
Mighty Micah

Micah (age 14):

  • Still playing soccer, basketball, track and tennis in season.
  • Received MVP award in soccer this year. A-MAZ-ING. (I’m unbiased, of course.)
  • Meek and mild off court/tenacious on the court.
  • He purchased a nice camera this year to support his photography hobby.
  • His latest home science experiments and inventions have included: Using a wooden clothes pin to create a gun that shoots toothpicks through paper; creating a cool game of bouncy mitts made of cardboard and grocery bags that continuously tosses balls high into the air; burning a gum wrapper by putting each end on both ends of a battery,
  • Chosen as winner of the Fit Kid award at his middle school.
  • Always staying abreast of helpful, handy household hints and efficient ways to do things.

Zoom lens:

He is constantly giving us perspective as a family. One day as Mariama again shared all the particulars about how she will raise her children (they won’t have chores, they will wear whatever they want, they will eat whatever they want, etc.). Micah understated, “Mariama, you plan farther ahead than anyone I know.”

Sweet Karis
Sweet Karis

Karis (age 12):

  • Her soccer team won the championship this year and unanimously voted her “most inspirational player”.
  • Her basketball team awarded her “most inspirational player” of the year.
  • In the glow stick game at camp she showed her tenacity by being the last of 2 out of hundreds of youth to “survive” in the game by not having her glow stick stolen off her back. The whole camp was gathered around 6th grade Karis and her high school senior competitor to see who would win. (The girl with the longer arms won.)
  • Is excited this year to be serving at her school as a teacher’s assistant in the special needs classroom at her school.
  • She is Team Wellspring’s “secret weapon” in community or camp flag football games (she may be small and she may be a girl, but watch your flag, Mr. quarterback!)
  • Highlight of the year: Flying to Tennessee over fall break to visit Karly and family, some dear friends we met at Wind River Ranch last summer.
  • And back to the “most inspirational player” awards…I’m pretty sure she earned that on Team Stull this year, too. #nufsaid

Zoom lens:

I have enjoyed great conversations with Karis this past 7 months as our dog Speedy and I have accompanied her on her nightly job of walking our neighbor’s labrador, Dolly.

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John (age 11):

  • A studious 5th grader
  • Was a key player in his community soccer team this fall.
  • His curiosity is amazing – he asks a million questions a day.
  • Is observant of every detail of life and takes note. This at times comes in very handy for a forgetful mom!
  • Eager to learn everything…NOW. Swimming, basketball, tennis, piano, drawing, etc. (We are slowly chipping away at things.)
  • Necessities: rice, chicken, hot pepper flakes, hand sanitizer, lotion.

Zoom lens:

John gets the most supportive child award for his interest in watching his parents’ triathlons. Though I have twisted arms and even used shame tactics (“How many of your athletic events have I attended?”), our kids have not been real interested in coming out for tri events. John, on the other hand, doesn’t want to miss rising early to come out and cheer us on! To add to his supportiveness, he even included two of his momma’s triathlon photos in his “all about me” album.

This girl loves to accessorize!
This girl loves to accessorize!

Mariama (age 9):

  • A super social 2nd grader
  • This girl has flair – think all-out Fancy Nancy when it comes to dress and accessories.
  • She does keep us entertained. We are hoping she can put her drama skills to work some day on the stage. She loves to sing and dance.
  • You have heard “a party waiting to happen”? Forget that, she is “the party” and it is happening nearly all her waking hours.
  • Enjoys time in the kitchen cooking (not quite Ninja knife skills, so we hope next year’s photos don’t show a few fingers missing!)
  • Her English skills have really improved and she is working diligently on her reading at school, with tutors and an online program.
  • Necessities: rice, chicken, lotion & lotion & lotion (did I mention lotion? Application every 5-10 minutes is desired.)

Zoom lens:

Mariama convinced me to buy sardines and proceeded to fry them up with onions in our kitchen. It took about a week, but we finally got rid of the smell. Most recently she went to her 1st daddy/daughter dance and enjoyed a delightful evening of Dad’s full attention.

Chris & Brenna at 11,433 feet in the Rocky Mountains.
Chris & Brenna at 11,433 feet in the Rocky Mountains.

Chris & Brenna – survived to live another year, and this summer will be celebrating 25 adventurous and fun, faith-filled years of marriage.

Thank you for caring about our family, and we appreciate any prayers you would like to throw our way. Wishing you God’s best in 2015!

 

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Wellspring Church 4-11 months

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Graduate Day

We sent off our first round of Wellspring Seniors into the world this day.

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Summer Intern Sarah Parker (from NMSU) with hosts Mike and Phyllis Hartwick

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The Im Family is commissioned and sent to work overseas with the IMB 

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JUNE

Wellspring Youth at Summer Camp

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Wellspring partnered with North Phoenix Baptist Church for camp

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Summer Prayer Walks in 9 area neighborhoods (hot temps = after sundown!)

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Launch of Kids Faith

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JULY

The Stulls travel to God’s Will Children’s Home in Sierra Leone to bring home their adopted children.

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Parent Child Dedications

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Baptisms

A father was baptized and then was able to baptize his own sons into the family of Christ.  Wellspring saw 21 professions of faith and 13 were baptized.

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Welcome Jacobson Family!

We welcomed Matt and Hollie Jacobson this month as fellow church planters. They will intern with Wellspring and begin their own church in 2 years.

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Transplanted Texans on Mission…

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September

Wellspring’s bumper sticker

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Women’s Fall Bible Study Kick Off Party

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First Membership Workshop

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WELLmoms launch

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See you At the Pole

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October

Wellspring Women’s Pink Party

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Preschoolers share in song

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Kids Faith Classes (pre baptism)

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November

WELLmoms Breakfast

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Men’s breakfast and workday at New Life Center

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Sunday Gathering

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Thanksgiving Sunday Brunch – Hosted by Wellspring Small Groups

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Brunch hosts: our small group leaders….

Multigenerational Buckeye Small Group

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30-40’sMarried – Pacheco Style

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30-40’s Married – Jones Style

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Multigenerational Litchfield Small Group

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Young Adult Small Group

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Young Married Small Group

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Mabel Padgett Elementary Thanksgiving Meal Service Day

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Thanksgiving Service Project: Partnering with Andy’s Pantry, other community churches, and Litchfield School District

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December

Women’s Night of Worship

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Serving the homeless in a nearby area

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Meeting about July’s Mission trip to Hungary

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Women of the Journey foster/adoption support group gather. Wellspring families also sponsored 30 foster kids through Arms of Love.

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WELLmoms Mommy and Me Craft Day

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Wellspring Women Cookie Exchange

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Christmas Eve

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Men’s Ministry

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Women’s Ministry

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Children’s Ministry

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Wellspring Church – 4 months old

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It has been two months since our last update in “Wellspring: A Church is Birthed”, and we have been meeting as a church for 4 months now. We want to thank all of our partners and tell you that we are already seeing fruit. We have seen a number of people profess faith in Christ, and we have had two baptism services, baptizing six.

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​Wellspring Church’s first baptism service, mid-March in the courtyard of Mabel Padgett Elementary School.
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​Chris is delivering great sermons, and many have asked about making podcasts of his messages available. We are praying we can get that feature on our website soon.
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Our handy team members are always figuring out clever ways to get what we need in the thriftiest way possible. Mike Hartwick went to the home improvement store and built the needed drum enclosure with his own two hands! Doesn’t it look professional?
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Derek Stull has continued to lead well in worship, and pull in other talented young musicians as well.
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We were blessed to have FBC Mustang, OK, come out during Spring Break and help with all sorts of things. They painted two houses, worked at the teenage pregnancy center, served two days at the Agua Fria Food Bank, passed out invitations to Wellspring, did concerts, and they sang the National Anthem at a major league Spring Training game.
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Brenna Stull had a chance to share the Wellspring story with Tom Brown on FaithTalk Radio in April.
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Leader meetings at the Stulls’ house have grown to be 60 strong, and have included potluck dinner, sharing stories, prayer, and planning.
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No shortage of food at the leader meetings (this is after most had been through the line!)
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Leaders fellowship around the tables before the planning meeting begins.
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Attendance on Sundays has grown steadily from 115 two months ago to 186 in attendance by the end of May. We also reconfigured our Sunday worship set-up to center the big screen, and were able to purchase a new and improved sound system.
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Wellspring worship leaders Derek Stull and Manny Orozco along with Taylor Napodano had the chance to lead worship at the Phoenix Country Club for the Good Friday service, which included pastors and leaders from congregations all over the Valley.
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At the Good Friday breakfast Chris and Brenna were able to share a word, and were encouraged and thrilled to meet a number of people who share a similar vision for God’s heart for Phoenix’s revival.
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A group from Cross-Eyed Skates, a skate ministry out of FBC McKinney, came out the weekend before Easter to lead a Wellspring outreach at the Goodyear Skate Park. They also served at Wellspring’s Easter Eggstravaganza community outreach the day before Easter, where children hunted for over 4,000 eggs the youth group had prepared.
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Derek did a great job leading the Easter Choir, which included a variety of ages: 11 years to age 85. The Easter Choir had a blast practicing and can’t wait until the next time they can sing. We had 206 in attendance on Easter.
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Powerful teaching from Jill Rhodes continued at the Heart & Home Bible Study through April, reaching about 20 women each Wednesday night, and 15 each Thursday mornings.
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Brenna with LIFT (Leaders In Fellowship Together) Leaders Pam Lyons and Sandy Betgur. Brenna had the chance to speak to the women’s ministers of Greater Phoenix at an all-day conference end of April. She shared how God has led them in their giving, adopting, and planting a church as they sought and surrendered to the Lord’s will. And she dared them to ask the Lord for direction and be open to new things God might do.
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Derek and Taylor had the opportunity to lead worship at the State Capitol lawn on the National Day of Prayer.
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Shawn and Lisa Copeland continue to give strong leadership to our middle school and high school students each Wednesday night. The youth will be joining North Phoenix Baptist Church’s camp in Big Bear, California, the third week of June.
The Sunday following Easter we met at a nearby park for “Party in the Park”, an after-Easter celebration.
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Chris shared a brief message and Nicki Pacheco shared her testimony.
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God blessed us with 72 degrees and sun! It was a day full of JOY and fellowship.
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Three believers were baptized in the portable baptistry.
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Party in the Park included a tasty lunch by the generous Doug Johnston of Choo Choo Bar-b-q, and fun on the ball fields.
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Women’s Bible Studies wrapped up with a dinner in May. Forty women came and shared fellowship, food, testimonies about the past year, and looked ahead at the upcoming summer activities. One testimony: Dorothy shared that she had actually moved to Phoenix to be a part of Wellspring Church, because she had heard about what was going on and didn’t want to miss it. Natalie shared that she and her family had planned to move away from Phoenix this summer, but are considering staying because of Wellspring Church.
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Women stayed and visited into the night.
The Wellspring Men also meet each Friday morning at 6 a.m. for powerful Bible Study, share and prayer time (but it’s too early to remember a camera, thus no photo! :))
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On the home front news: the Stulls received on May 15 the document they desperately needed by May 19 in order to proceed with their visa applications to bring home their two adopted children from Sierra Leone. This allows their file to move on to the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone. They are praying the visas will be issued by July (instead of the normal 4-5 months) so that the kids can come home and get to know the family as a unit before the oldest two sons leave for college in August.
A note from the Stulls:
We thank God for the privilege of serving Him, and for having us here for such a time as this. The biggest news is that we feel we are seeing, since Passover/Good Friday/April 18, the first Phoenix’s breakthrough for revival. Since that date, God has shown us daily new hearts He is stirring to trust Him in new ways, let go of baggage, fully surrender, and see new visions for what God wants to do. We thank Him and we praise Him.
We continue to seek to stay as close as possible to Him, being right in step to cooperate with His plans…not running ahead and not lagging behind. It is a heated battle, but God is greater. We know it is not by our might or power, but by His Spirit that we do everything.
“Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12  We thank God for the start of fulfilled longings!
Thank you to everyone who, through their financial gifts and prayer, is enabling this ministry to do all that it is.
Bless you!
Chris & Brenna Stull
…and one last photo! Wellspring Church just had our first young marrieds dinner at the Hartwick’s house. These are a few of the couples who came. We enjoyed an evening of hearing each other’s love stories, and look forward to the small group Bible Study in the Fall.
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Three Cheese Ziti with Turkey

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Three-Cheese-Ziti-with-Turkey2Photo & recipe credits: http://skinnyms.com/three-cheese-ziti-with-turkey/

 

Because it has become such a big hit with my family, I have to share this great recipe. My friend Amy brought it to us the week before our move last summer when we were in the midst of crazy packing, and we fell in love with it. The cayenne pepper gives a spicy taste to the ground turkey without the fat of sausage. We have eaten it with both gluten-free pasta and whole wheat pasta and loved it both ways. So, with fond thoughts of a friend who showed TLC to our family in our time of need, I post this great recipe:

Three Cheese Ziti with Turkey

Servings: 8 | Calories: 289 | Total Fat: 7 g | Previous Points: 5 | Points Plus: 6 | Saturated Fat: 3 g | Trans Fat: 0 | Cholesterol: 20 mg | Sodium: 228 mg | Carbohydrates: 43 g | Sugars 3 g | Dietary Fiber: 5 g | Protein: 15 g

 Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey, (optional, if you prefer meatless)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara, no sugar added
  • 4 cups cooked ziti or penne shells (cook according to package, about 2-1/2 cups dry shells)
  • 1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded, low fat
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

Directions

In a large skillet over medium-high heat cook ground turkey, diced onion, minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and cayenne pepper. Break up the meat as you go, cooking until turkey has lost its pink color. Drain any fat from turkey and add the entire jar of marinara sauce, stir.

Cook ziti or penne shells according the package instructions. Al dente is preferred (firm but not hard). Drain and add to cooked turkey and marinara.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine cottage cheese, mozzarella, ricotta and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and oregano.

In a large casserole dish or 9″ x 13″ pan, add 1/2 turkey mixture (cooked turkey, marinara and cooked shells), top with half cheese mixture, then repeat.

Cook uncovered for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

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A Church is Birthed: Wellspring

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It is hard to believe that just one year ago God was beginning to stir in our hearts the idea of moving to Phoenix to plant a church. He has shown us that we are a small piece of the grand puzzle he is putting together in Phoenix that we believe will be a picture of His mighty power and glory. Our desire is stay close to Him so that we may fully cooperate with what He is doing. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland,” (Isaiah 43:19).
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We are thankful to our sending church First Baptist McKinney, Texas, and our hosting church North Phoenix Baptist Church. We are also thankful to Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, Texas, and the friends, family and partners who are giving support. God has provided a strong leadership team, place for us to meet, name, iconic logo, musicians, sound system, and so much more.
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Following are a few photos of what has transpired since we moved here 7 months ago:
We have handed out over 1,600 of these invitations over the last 6 weeks. A big thank you to Jeff Simpson of Day6 for the great logo.
We have handed out over 1,600 of these invitations over the last 6 weeks, directing people to wellspring church.com. A big thank you to Jeff Simpson of Day6 for creating a great logo, and to Mark Presley for the graphic design of that logo for cards and signs.
These postcard invitations went out to homes within a 6-mile radius of the school where we meet.
These postcard invitations went out to homes within a 6-mile radius of the school where we meet.
Mabel Padgett Elementary School - 15430 W. Turney Ave., Goodyear: Our front door
Mabel Padgett Elementary School – 15430 W. Turney Ave., Goodyear: Our front door
Welcome to Wellspring!
Welcome to Wellspring!
God provided two great used trucks to hold our 300 chairs, AV equipment, pipe and drape, rugs, and supplies. Our set-up team has been unloading the trucks and getting the worship center set up in only 35 minutes!
God provided two great used trucks to hold our 300 chairs, AV equipment, pipe and drape, rugs, and supplies. Our set-up team has been unloading the trucks and getting the worship center set up in only 35 minutes! The rare rainy day provided a cool reflection.
Thankful to HEB Printing in Dallas, TX, for the super signs, which are used on site and on street corners.
Thankful to HEB Printing in Dallas, TX, for the super signs, which are used on site and on street corners.

 

We had 277 people for our launch service on Feb. 9! Since then we have had between 110-135 on a weekly basis.
We set up 300 chairs and had 277 people for our launch service on Feb. 9! Since then we have set up about 140 chairs and had between 110-135 on a weekly basis.
Worship leader Derek Stull is doing a great job leading music, along with a number of talented musicians God has brought our way.
Worship leader Derek Stull is doing a great job leading music, along with a number of talented musicians God has brought our way.
Wellspring's Core Values: Seeking, Connecting, Giving, Growing
Wellspring’s Core Values: Seeking, Connecting, Giving, Growing
Pastor Chris Stull preaching about our Savior Jesus Christ, the Wellspring - a refreshing source of life.
Pastor Chris Stull preaching about our Savior Jesus Christ, the Wellspring – a refreshing source of life.
Wellspring KIDS Ministry
Wellspring KIDS Ministry
Wellspring Preschool Ministry
Wellspring Preschool Ministry
Post-service connections
Post-service connections
We are enjoying the courtyard at the school for fellowship after services. After the launch service, Doug Johnston of All Aboard Barbecue served 300 barbecue sandwiches and hotdogs.
We are enjoying the courtyard at the school for fellowship after services. After the launch service, Doug Johnston of All Aboard Barbecue served 300 barbecue sandwiches and hotdogs. Thank you, Doug!
Courtyard fellowship
Courtyard fellowship – God blessed us with a 72-degree sunny day for our launch.
Heart & Home Bible study launched in November and has met since then. It meets in our home and we have the privilege of being taught by amazing Bible teacher Jill Rhodes.
Heart & Home Bible study launched in November and has been meeting since then. It meets in our home and we have the privilege of being taught by amazing Bible teacher Jill Rhodes. “I have been in Bible studies before that were informational, but this has been transformational from day one,” said Jeri. “This has been the best thing that happened to me since I moved to Arizona,” said Lindsay.

 

Incorporated in the Heart & Home Bible Study each meeting is a practical take-home item.
Incorporated in the Heart & Home Bible Study each meeting is a practical take-home item.
Wellspring Women: Share and Prayer time around the fire pit
Wellspring Women: Share and prayer time around the fire pit

 

Wellspring's first DiscipleNow weekend: Feb. 27-March 2. Twenty-four youth attended, and a number of them have expressed a desire for baptism.
Wellspring’s first DiscipleNow weekend: Feb. 27-March 2. Twenty-four youth attended, and a number of them have expressed a desire for baptism. (The hand sign is a “W” for “Wellspring”.)

photo 2-7 The Youth at DNow weekend collected 1,600 items for a local church’s pantry. The high school girls won the contest for the most items.

Youth shared in the worship service how the Lord impacted their lives at DNow weekend.
Youth shared in the worship service how the Lord impacted their lives at DNow weekend.
Chris preaching about how we as followers of Christ are empowered to change the world.
Chris preaching about how we as followers of Christ are empowered to change the world.

 

A big thank you to the team from Lake Pointe Church that came to serve over launch weekend. They hosted a luncheon for the teachers and administrators at Mabel Padgett Elementary. They also helped make and pass out 1,500 water invites, and host a "date night" for   military couples at Luke AFB, load and unload trucks for the service, and work in preschool and children's ministries. (As you can imagine, they also greatly encouraged us!)
A big thank you to the team from Lake Pointe Church that came to serve over launch weekend. They hosted a luncheon for the teachers and administrators at Mabel Padgett Elementary. They also helped make and pass out 1,500 water invites, host a “date night” for military couples at Luke AFB, load and unload trucks for the service, and work in preschool and children’s ministries. (As you can imagine, they also greatly encouraged us!)
…and lastly, all of the above pictures would not be if it were not for the dedicated launch team members. They have joined us in our home twice a month for potlucks/planning since August. They are selfless servants who just want the Lord to be lifted up and God's Kingdom to be increased. We thank God for them!
…and lastly, all of the above pictures would not be if it were not for the dedicated launch team members. They have met in our home at least twice a month for potlucks/planning since August. They are selfless servants who just want the Lord to be lifted up and God’s Kingdom to be increased. We thank God for them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To India With Love

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I thank God for the opportunity to partner last month with Lifesong for Orphans in India. I went with a promise: “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” (Isaiah 50:4) I am thankful for the chance to encourage those ministering to orphans–the caregivers at Jyothi Nivas Children’s Home–and to teach the Bible to and spend time with the children. Bob and Siromani Stoll, who led our group and have done ministry through orphanages and churches in India for 35 years, were an inspiration to me and an example of the amazing things God can do with people who cooperate with Him to get His work done in the world. I am also impressed with the diligence of Lifesong for Orphans in spending each ministry dollar with intention and purpose.

I am thankful to Elizabeth Shaw, Lifesong for Orphans Board Member, who made the way for me to go on the trip. The time with she and her daughter Neha was a delight. Here they are giving me the lowdown on sarees and how they are made.
I am thankful to Elizabeth Shaw, Lifesong for Orphans Board Member, who made the way for me to go on the trip. The time with her and her daughter Neha was a delight. Here they are giving me the lowdown on sarees and how they are made.
A common sight along the roads.
A common sight along the roads.
Arriving at Jyothi Nivas Children's Home - Siromani Stoll and her husband Bob founded it.
Arriving at Jyothi Nivas Children’s Home – Siromani Stoll (left) and her husband Bob founded it.
This loving home has a special place in my heart.
This loving home has a special place in my heart.
Hospitality in India is amazing - they give gifts of garland as guests arrive, and also display large welcome banners.
Hospitality in India is amazing – they give gifts of garland as guests arrive, and also display large welcome banners.
Sweet girls
Sweet girls
I got hundreds of kisses on my cheek and gave hundreds of kisses over the week. My friend Leslie commented on what a privilege it is to not only be the hands of feet of Jesus to the hurting, but the lips, too.
I got hundreds of kisses on my cheek and gave hundreds of kisses over the week. My friend Leslie commented on what a privilege it is to not only be the hands of feet of Jesus to the hurting, but the lips, too.
Special times with the children at Jyothi Nivas Children's Home.
Special times with the children at Jyothi Nivas Children’s Home. We met at 6:00 a.m. each morning and then again at 6:30 p.m. Though they were busy with school and homework and studying for exams, they were eager and engaged. They even asked if we could start earlier for the last night’s session, then stayed late, singing into the night.
Closing a session in prayer.
Closing a session in prayer.
A typical sight as we drove outside of Narsapur.
A typical sight as we drove outside of Narsapur.
The people of India once again showed their hospitality with these beautiful garlands for our team.
The people of India once again showed their hospitality with these beautiful garlands for our team.
Attendees of the regional convention: women's section. They would line up after services each day to be prayed for.
Attendees of the regional convention: women’s section. They would line up after services each day to be prayed for.
The men's section at convention. Many are pastors in their local areas, and Bob Stoll has helped a number of them with church plants.
The men’s section at convention. Many are pastors in their local areas, and Bob Stoll has helped a number of them with church plants.
Temples are set up along roadsides in honor of thousands of Hindu gods.
Temples are set up along roadsides in honor of thousands of Hindu gods.
Caterers prepared lunch for convention attendees.
Caterers prepared lunch for convention attendees.
No paper or plastics needed: just a banana leaf loaded with rice and veggies.
No paper or plastics needed: just a banana leaf loaded with rice and veggies.

Bob Stoll, 88 years old and going strong in the power of the Lord (How many people at age 88 volunteer to ride in the jump seats for a "suspense-filled" one hour drive?) His love for the Indian people was such an inspiration! In the past 35 years he has founded 3 orphanages and helped plant 7 churches there. Lifesong for Orphans is partnering with Bob and allowing for even greater ministry and impact. Pictured is Andy Lehman, Vice President with Lifesong for Orphans (lifesongfororphans.org).

Bob Stoll, 88 years old and going strong in the power of the Lord (How many people at age 88 volunteer to ride in the jump seats for a “suspense-filled” one hour drive?) His love for the Indian people was such an inspiration! In the past 35 years he has founded 3 orphanages and helped plant 7 churches there. Lifesong for Orphans is partnering with Bob and allowing for even greater ministry and impact. Pictured is Andy Lehman, Vice President with Lifesong for Orphans (lifesongfororphans.org).

A marathon session: Strategic planning to help the orphans of India.

A marathon session: Strategic planning to help the orphans of India.
A church service. I was blessed by their passion and dedication.
A Christian church service. I was blessed by their passion and dedication.
The girls of Jyothi Nivas Children's Home helping with dinner.
The girls of Jyothi Nivas Children’s Home helping with dinner.
The kitchen at Jyothi Nivas Children's Home
The kitchen at Jyothi Nivas Children’s Home
The boys at Jyothi Nivas pull out mats and sleep on the floor in this room.
The boys at Jyothi Nivas pull out mats and sleep on the floor in this room.
I was amazed at the loads they were able to transport by bike.
I was amazed at the loads they were able to transport by bike.
Bike repair shops get good business in India -- they seem to keep those bikes running for at least a century.
Bike repair shops get good business in India — they seem to keep those bikes running for at least a century.
Streets are full of these, oxcarts, bikes, fast cars, and roaming cows. No traffic lights or signs anywhere, so it's quite an experience.
Streets are full of these, oxcarts, bikes, fast cars, and roaming cows. No traffic lights or signs anywhere, so it’s quite an experience.
The girls at Jyothi Nivas during an evening session. I loved to hear them sing.
The girls at Jyothi Nivas during an evening session. I loved to hear them sing.
A local school assembly.
A local school assembly.
The classroom at a local school.
The classroom at a local school.
Chicken stand…get 'em while they're fresh!
Chicken stand…get ’em while they’re fresh!
We toured Narsapur one morning in an auto rickshaw.
We toured Narsapur one morning in an auto rickshaw.
Cows roam the cities freely and are considered sacred.
Cows roam the cities freely and are considered sacred.
This guy at the fish market was serious about getting fish cleaned quickly for customers (no time to wipe excess from his legs and feet!)
This guy at the fish market was serious about getting fish cleaned quickly for customers (no time to wipe excess from his legs and feet!)
This fruit stand got my award for the best display and product positioning.
This fruit stand got my award for the best display and product positioning.
Seamsters line the streets.
Seamsters line the streets.
The bananas are so sweet and tasty!
The bananas are so sweet and tasty!
Government workers on strike! They created human roadblocks to prevent any transportation. Thankfully the strike was over after one day and we were able to get to the airport.
Government workers on strike! They created human roadblocks to prevent any transportation. Thankfully the strike was over after one day and we were able to get to the airport.
Garlands for sale
Garlands for sale
On our 45-min. drives to the pastor's convention each day, we saw workers in rice fields lined by coconut trees on each side of the road.
On our 45-min. drives to the pastor’s convention each day, we saw workers in rice fields lined by coconut trees on each side of the road.
The dear woman washing dishes at the pastor's convention.
The dear woman washing dishes at the pastor’s convention.
One day Kumari set us up for a lunch she had packed for us to have at convention. The tables were set up in a small bedroom. Just a few minutes after I snapped this photo, a leg on the left table gave way and everything went into the floor!
One day Kumari set us up for a lunch she had packed for us to have at convention. The tables were set up in a small bedroom. Just a few minutes after I snapped this photo, a leg on the left table gave way and everything went into the floor!
On a mission trip, ALWAYS be ready to give a message or sing a song at a moment's notice. They even pulled Neha up to the front for a few words at the pastor's convention.
On a mission trip, ALWAYS be ready to give a message or sing a song at a moment’s notice. They even pulled Neha up to the front for a few words at the pastor’s convention.
This is the hall that the girls do their homework in each night at Jyothi Nivas.
This is the hall that the girls do their homework in each night at Jyothi Nivas.
Normal traffic in India.
Normal traffic in India.
It's amazing what a small tractor and trailer can move!
It’s amazing what a small tractor and trailer can move!

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The road is shared by oxcarts and cars.
The road is shared by oxcarts and cars. I’m pretty sure the strategy for drivers is dart quickly left or right, whichever direction you think someone else is not darting.
The kids were excited to receive Bibles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and bars of soap from donors through Lifesong for Orphans.
The kids were excited to receive Bibles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and bars of soap from donors through Lifesong for Orphans.
Getting through the long line at immigration in the Bombay airport was an experience.
Getting through the long line at immigration in the Bombay airport was an experience.
Having eaten more curry than I've ever had while in India, I just had to snap this pic of this fast food restaurant at the airport.
Having consumed while in India more curry than I’ve ever eaten, I just had to snap this pic of this fast food restaurant at the airport.
The slums of Bombay - just over the fence from the airport.
The slums of Bombay – just over the fence from the airport.
Lots of love.
Lots of love. I pray for God’s continued protection, guidance and blessing on the the sweet orphans of India and those caring for them. Amen.

 

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2013 Thanksgiving Blessings: Happenings with our “New Things”

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new thing“See, I am doing a new thing….” Isaiah 43:19a

New Place – Signs of Settling

When we decorated for Christmas a couple weeks ago, I realized that when the decorations were packed away only eleven months ago, I had no idea they would be moved to a new house in a different state for Christmas 2013. A lot can change in a short time. Moving brings stress in a myriad of ways, but I believe one of the hardest for a mom is the concern for her children and their adjustments. In February, as it became clear the Lord was calling us to Phoenix, my heart broke for our son who would be starting his senior year of high school in the fall.  But on Thanksgiving Day as we gathered around the feast, we joined hands as family and friends, and each of us expressed a word of gratefulness. Derek, my high school senior, was one of the first to speak. “I’m thankful we moved to Arizona,” he said with heartfelt sincerity. That was one of the sweetest Thanksgiving blessings this momma has ever heard!

New Church: Wellspring – Our Facility Needs are Met

When you start a church from scratch, there are numerous considerations that aren’t factors in established churches. One of the most important considerations is where to meet. Our first couple of months in Arizona we spent hours researching options in the area. In the end, we landed at a local elementary school. It is a beautiful facility with a gorgeous courtyard, good parking, easy access to the gym for services, two playgrounds and basketball courts, easily accessible bathrooms and nice classrooms. Chris got approval from the district to rent the gym, cafeteria and six classrooms, but soon after, he found out we actually would not be able to use any of the classrooms because none of the teachers had agreed to it. We understood why they would hesitate since it was risking the cleanliness and orderliness of their rooms, but we also knew it would be almost impossible to run a good program for preschoolers and children without access to individual rooms. The Wellspring launch team prayed for two months that a few teacher’s hearts would be open to giving us a chance. Just before Thanksgiving we received an email from the principal telling us that three rooms had opened up for our use, including the preschool room located just across from the gym where we hold services! This was just in time for our first morning preview service on Sunday, Dec. 15th. We have two more “trial run” Sundays (Jan. 12th and 26th) before our big church launch on February 9th.

New Family Members – Last Step!

When we started the adoption process, a friend told us that international adoption is not for the faint of heart. We definitely “amen” that statement. After two years of paperwork, seeking signatures for affidavits, court orders and more, the adoptions were approved in an African court. We have two new family members as of Oct. 21st. and Oct. 23rd. Now to get them here! Having received the last needed document, we were able to get the visa application and all the necessary papers in the mail on the eve of Thanksgiving, and we are so thankful for that. We hope to have our visa appointments by February and bring them home before Spring Break. I can hardly wait to share pictures and details about our additions!

Thank you for praying for us as we continue to settle in, wait for God to provide for Wellspring Church, and soon help transition into our home two new children from a foreign land. God is good and we give him all the thanks and the praise!

 

 

 

Speaking of Endurance Training…

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Triathlon winners: gold, bronze, gold
Triathlon winners: gold, bronze, gold

Okay, I admit it. I was thrilled with the whole thing. My husband, son and I did our first Arizona triathlon last weekend. First of all, it was a crisp, beautiful fall morning and the tri location was nearby. I loved that it was a “reverse” tri (get the dreaded run out of the way first, then enjoy a dry bike, and finish with a heated pool swim…then wrap up in a beach towel and jacket). I also loved that we did it together. The icing on the cake was that we all placed in our age divisions. My son and I both brought home our first gold medals and Chris brought home his first bronze.

We train, and it is fun to be rewarded for it every once in a while. But this is not where we place our greatest training efforts.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I Timothy 4:8

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2

Father, thank you for the blessings of health and the energy to train and participate in the fun of competitive events. But help us to daily remember to invest our greatest efforts in spiritual training, through your Word and prayer. As we face trials and heartaches, thank you for the endurance your Holy Spirit provides to help us keep moving forward to the goal to which we have been called. Thank you for your grace and promises to sustain us and meet our every need in our journey. We can joyfully embrace the present and the future because we know your heart. May our focus each day be on the things that will last forever: God, God’s Word, and the souls of men. Amen.

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