Dear Mission

Wow, do you clean up good!

What fun it was to see you all dressed up and dancing and laughing and having fun at the dance last night. I loved watching you.

Some of you count when you dance, some of you give up on the steps we learned at the dance lessons and do your own thing, some of you double over with laughter when your feet get tangled, some of you sing to each other while you dance, and some of you polka with great enthusiasm.

Thanks for entering into the spirit of the night with joy and abandon and laughter. Your joy is contagious, your delight inspiring.

Can’t wait to do it again…Valentine’s Day seems like a good time for another dance, don’t you think?


My control issues make it hard to dance

Two Ignite has hosted ballroom dancing classes at Mission this week as part of the month’s focus of 2drink. 2drink is all about sex and romance. So…ballroom dancing classes this week lead up to a fancy dancy party at the clubhouse in our neighborhood next weekend. (Are you coming? Are you excited?)

Band, dance instructors, fancy finger foods, photographs–kind of a like a grown-up prom. Without “Stairway to Heaven” or “Forever Young”–the themes of my junior and senior proms. (And, yes, Toben was my date for my senior prom. In fact, I still have the dress!)

Toben had my mom send his tux. I have nothing to wear! So I’ll head to Target later and see what kinds of party dresses they have. I don’t want to spend much, so I’m hoping for some Target magic. Cross your fingers.

Anyway, dance lessons.

We missed the west coast swing class on Tuesday night. There was an accident near church, the road was closed for a while, and most of the high school kids didn’t show to babysit. So I watched 26 K-5th graders by myself. (And I’ll go ahead and admit that I didn’t do it with a very happy heart. Sometimes serving is a joy, sometime’s it’s just grit-your-teeth obedience.)

Last night’s class was the cha-cha. And I think Toben and I have it down pretty good, for the most part. Except when I take over and lead.

I think there’s some sort of a metaphor for marriage in there.

It’s not that Toben wasn’t trying to lead, but he doesn’t lead with much vigor. So I can’t really tell if we’re breaking open, doing a twirl, or whatever. His movements are more subtle than blatant. And so in my uncertainty, I just blaze forward and do what I think we should do.

Sometimes I guess right and it works out okay. Sometimes not so much.

I kept thinking about the dance instructor saying that men are in charge on the dance floor. That the woman needs to follow even if he messes up. That ultimately the man is responsible if he messes up, the woman’s job is to follow.

I don’t really mean to open up a whole submission can of worms. Really.

But I will say this. Most of the wives I know want to follow their husband’s lead. They want him to lead boldly. With purpose. With confidence. It’s when we’re not sure that we tend to blaze ahead and take over.

For me? I think I need to wait for Toben’s leading to be more obvious. And if it’s not as clear as I’d like or need, I need to wait and ask questions. Otherwise we’re just going to keep stepping on each other’s feet.


why I love Twoignite

When I was 36 years old, I could clearly see marriages all over the world being ignited into the flames of harmony and growing deeper in love.   It was so vivid for me because my own wife and my children were growing deeper in love each year and I wanted to start the fire at my own house and spread the flame as far as it would go.

I grew up watching a lot of disharmony with my parents.  Therefore, I didn’t have a clue of how to have the “ideal” marriage where a husband and wife could actually enjoy each other’s company and everyone in the family actually respected each other.   That’s what I wanted, but didn’t know how to get there.

So, I interviewed thousands of wives and mothers at first and moved over to interviewing husbands and fathers.  To be completely truthful, I couldn’t find that many men who knew how to build a great marriage and home life.  So, I went back to the women and discovered that they all seemed to know what to do, but they couldn’t even figure out how to use their “internal relationship wisdom” with their own husbands and kids.

That’s what set me on the path to figure out how to make a loving marriage and family work in my own house.   I tried everything I could find in books and tapes.  I experimented with my wife and kids and many of my “great” ideas fell miserably flat.   But we never gave up as a family.  My wife and three kids knew of the problems in our society and they knew about Wallerstien’s research of painful consequences for both married couples and their children for over 40 years after a divorce.   I didn’t want that for my kids but I didn’t have the knowledge of how to keep from divorcing.   So, we set out on our amazing discovery journey.

Running the streets early in the mornings in Waco, Texas, I cried out everyday with great passion for God to show me how to have the kind of marriage that would glorify Him and be an example to the world of what is possible in any home.
Within two years, it was a though God not only gave me the information on several levels, but he provided a way for me to disseminate our family’s message to the far corners of the earth.   It was a seven day national TV Infomercial with some of the major celebrities at that time.

The show ran off and on for almost 8 years and when it ended, I was hoping to see a national awakening within marriages and families.   Oh, sure, I helped a lot of couples, but I never saw that “marriage revival.”   Disappointed at the time, but never losing my confidence in God’s faithfulness, I never gave up the dream of helping enough marriages and families to finally see a major awakening.   And I never stopped seeing how valuable marriage is as the “center of health within any society.”   The Weatherspoon Institute Report (10 Principles) is enough research to prove this point, but still no one was doing enough to bring a major healing to our nation within marriages and families.

Then, along came some precious folks in Phoenix, Arizona, Michael Hall and Steve Uhlmann, that wanted the same thing for marriages that I’ve always dreamed of, but this time, they spent two years figuring out which marriage ministry was making the most lasting impact upon our current marriages.   They couldn’t find one!   So, like me, they set out to create a marriage ministry within local churches so that the world could see not only the high value of marriage, but millions of examples of actual happy, lovingly bonded couples and families reflecting a genuine love for each other.  It’s the 20, 30 and 40 year olds that have named it:  TwoIgnite.

When I heard of their ideas, my heart jumped again within me.  I was going on 68 years of age, but I started feeling 40 all over again with a renewed fire burning within me to finally see this new ministry accomplish what I never saw with my own efforts.

I’ve watched my own 34 year old pastor, Ted Cunningham, explode with a fire to do similar things that I had dreamed of when I was his age.   I’ve seen my own two sons excited about this new idea and I have witnessed the enthusiasm growing within pastors, where ever I travel, when they hear about this new vision for marriages.

Finally, a marriage ministry within local churches growing pastor to pastor that may be God’s way of healing the homes in this generation!


The Adventures of Woodland Hills Family Church

Woodland Hills is getting off the couch!  Two Play has ignited a spirit of adventure as well as the “getting to know you” spirit in our church.  This is so cool. People who have attended our church from the very beginning are getting connected for the first time.  I am beginning to see the power of PLAY with my own eyes.

Two Ignite was birthed as a local church movement for the purpose of strengthening marriage through adventure.  I see it happening.  I see couples getting out of their comfort zone together.  I see people making real changes in how and where they do “life” together.

Tonight, six couples will cook Tuscan food together at my house.  Several of  us have never met. But tonight they will be elbow to elbow at the stove and the dinner table.  Tomorrow, twelve people will have new friends, new perspective, and new cooking skills.  Sunday morning at Woodland Hills Family Church, there will be new handshakes, hello’s and maybe even hugs.  I love knowing that God already knows how tonight’s group will live in community together in the future!

All of this to say, I see Two Ignite working in ways I never imagined.  Be encouraged…..God has imagined so much for your life. (Ephesians 3:14-21)


Ready for the Weekend

The first weekend of every month is twoignite weekend at Mission Community Church.  So this coming weekend we are tackling 2Drink. We have informed the congregation that this is going to be a PG-13 service.  Heres why:  2Drinkto great sex. Is our sex life dehydrated? Do we want to settle for sips or do we want to be intoxicated? Ignite the passion in the bedroom, kitchen, or even the great outdoors.

This is going to be an interesting topic.  I think at first I thought that this might sort of be a pretty fun, upbeat topic to cover, but the more I think about it the more I think it is going to be pretty challenging for a lot of couples.  I had a friend tell me once that every couple either has a problem with sex or money. So if he’s right, we are going to have a lot of couples in the room for whom this is going to be a tough topic.

We are doing a few things to make it easier for couples to talk about it.  We’ll maybe not easier, but at least we are going to give them some tools to help get the conversation started.  Honestly, this could be one of the most important topics we cover this year.  Can’t wait to see how God moves and works through this weekend.





2Sweat: Feed a cold, sweat with a fever?

Something tells me that I’m not going to contribute much to the goal to lose 3,000 pounds at Mission Community Church this month. It’s been two weeks since I’ve worked out and the only sweating I’ve done has been with a fever early last week.

I’ve got a wicked sore throat that feels painfully dry and somehow I know that if I went for a run, I’d fall over and die in a pile on the side of the road, unable to call for help because my voice is so hoarse.

In the olden days of not so long ago, at this point I would just give up on working out altogether. But not so much anymore.

What’s changed?

My motivation. I used to stop and start with workouts all the time–starting with grand plans and stop when I didn’t see results in three days. Why bother? I’d think as I dipped into a pint of Chunky Monkey. Exercise doesn’t make any difference.

Back in April I hopped on the 30 Day Shred bandwagon sweeping through my circle of friends on Twitter and Facebook and blogland. I didn’t particularly love it, but I felt strong knowing I could actually do push ups. And not girl-y ones either. Real push ups that make me feel like I could handle army bootcamp. (Well, maybe not quite yet, but a girl can dream.)

Thirty days into it, I hadn’t lost the “up to 30 pounds” semi, sort-of promised. But I felt stronger. My endurance was greater. And while I hadn’t lost much weight, some of the jiggly stuff wasn’t jiggling quite so much.

So I continued.

Sometimes I “shred,” sometimes I walk, other times I run. And I’m even starting to enjoy it. I enjoy feeling healthy, feeling strong.

And so as I think about not having exercised for the past two weeks, it’s okay. Because this really isn’t a 30-day thing with a goal of losing X number of pounds before a certain date. It’s a lifestyle thing. A commitment to being strong, being healthy. No, the last two weeks haven’t been great, but it’s only two weeks. And I have a lifetime ahead to get back on track.


Getting Ready 2Drink

This week at Mission we are getting ready for our big 2Drink weekend on October 31/November 1. 2Drink is all about sex and romance.  Should be an interesting weekend to say the least.  We have a couple of big surprises planned for the month of November that you’ll want to take advantage of if you’re in the area. Come join us!  Stay tuned for more details.