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The Stull Family Last Year Overview via Photos
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The Stull Family Last Year Overview via Photos
2014 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!
2014 was an incredible year, and here is a snapshot of each of our lives:
Dillon (age 21):
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 (age 19):
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 (age 16):
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.
Micah (age 14):
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.”
Karis (age 12):
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.
John (age 11):
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.
Mariama (age 9):
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 – 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!
We sent off our first round of Wellspring Seniors into the world this day.
Summer Intern Sarah Parker (from NMSU) with hosts Mike and Phyllis Hartwick
The Im Family is commissioned and sent to work overseas with the IMB
Wellspring Youth at Summer Camp
Wellspring partnered with North Phoenix Baptist Church for camp
Summer Prayer Walks in 9 area neighborhoods (hot temps = after sundown!)
Launch of Kids Faith
The Stulls travel to God’s Will Children’s Home in Sierra Leone to bring home their adopted children.
Parent Child Dedications
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.
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.
Transplanted Texans on Mission…
Wellspring’s bumper sticker
Women’s Fall Bible Study Kick Off Party
First Membership Workshop
See you At the Pole
Wellspring Women’s Pink Party
Preschoolers share in song
Kids Faith Classes (pre baptism)
Men’s breakfast and workday at New Life Center
Thanksgiving Sunday Brunch – Hosted by Wellspring Small Groups
Brunch hosts: our small group leaders….
Multigenerational Buckeye Small Group
30-40’sMarried – Pacheco Style
30-40’s Married – Jones Style
Multigenerational Litchfield Small Group
Young Adult Small Group
Young Married Small Group
Mabel Padgett Elementary Thanksgiving Meal Service Day
Thanksgiving Service Project: Partnering with Andy’s Pantry, other community churches, and Litchfield School District
Women’s Night of Worship
Serving the homeless in a nearby area
Meeting about July’s Mission trip to Hungary
Women of the Journey foster/adoption support group gather. Wellspring families also sponsored 30 foster kids through Arms of Love.
WELLmoms Mommy and Me Craft Day
Wellspring Women Cookie Exchange
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.
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
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.
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.
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“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!
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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