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In December, my in-laws took us to Disneyland and California Adventure. It was the first time Eli had been and we had a blast and we spent an extra day at the parks after the rest of the family left. A couple of things to note:

  1. People don’t like to be on video, so I don’t take much video of people who aren’t me or my kids. Erica doesn’t like to be on video either, thought she values that I am preserving these memories in video-form.
  2. Erica felt horrible this whole trip, but she powered through like nobody I’ve ever seen do before. I mean, she was exhausted and in pain, the whole time, and when we got home she went to the doctor and was diagnosed with “walking pneumonia.” So… that’s just a side note.
  3. When Eli was dancing, there’s a good chunk of that in the video below, Erica said, “This is the best day of my life.” Even though she was in pain, she still found a great deal of joy in watching our kids create some life-long memories.

Enjoy the recap video…

Back in November, our family took a trip up to the Northwest and visited family in Eugene OR, Dallas OR and Vancouver WA. Thanks to Uncle Mitch, whenever we go up to Eugene, we get to spend a little time playing around in the University of Oregon’s Player Development Area. It is attached to PK Park, their baseball field. Enjoy…

Today marks the end of a significant part of our family story.

We have shut the door on an incredible season of personal and family growth. And we have opened a new chapter.

On July 3, 2017 we welcomed a little boy into our home as our foster son. Elijah came to us at just the right time. He hit the ground running, growing, learning, and yes, screaming too. And it’s been a big process adjusting to life with three kids and it’s been especially challenging because he came to us at 3-years-old.

Erica and I have always felt called to do for one what we wish we could do for all, through fostering to adopt or fos-adopt. Even before we were married we talked about adoption and always knew it was something we wanted to do down the road. We started seriously looking into it close to two and a half years ago when someone called us out of the blue asking if we would think about adopting their grand-daughter’s baby. That threw us for a loop and forced us to begin having conversations. We determined it wasn’t the right time or situation. But we began a process.

In that process, even before we welcome Elijah to our home, there were plenty of ups and downs. We were “submitted” for a lot of kids. But we were never chosen. We were praying fo the right child, at the right time, for the right reasons and God did not disappoint. When we were brought to a “disclosure” meeting with the county of Fresno department of social services, we were handed a huge redacted packet of Eli’s history. We asked questions and we were presented with all of the data. And then we had to leave and think and pray about it.

The next day our social worker called us and said, “So, what do you think?” All I could say was, “I’m running out of excuses. Let’s do it.” And I don’t regret any of it.

Today marks the end of that process.

Today, February 23, 2018, we went from fostering Elijah to welcoming him as our newest Foster. If you track with our social accounts, you’ve missed a lot of what’s been happening because we could only post certain things and we couldn’t show his face. But now, as Elijah James Foster, and our son, we can show his face.

I’d like to invite you to enjoy this montage video of some highlights from the last 7 and a half months.

Our experience with Elijah has revealed to me, even more, the depth of God’s love for us. I can’t wait to share some of those things with you. Stay tuned.

“Coming to Two Cities was a big change and I realized that God was always with me whether I believe it or not. That he would always be by my side and that he loved me no matter what.” – Madison McKenna, Baptism, Nov 2017

“It’s okay to be how I am because God made me this way and he created a purpose for me and I just need to find that purpose and pursue it.” – Jessica McGrail, Baptism, Nov 2017

There are many myths we live by that God never intended for us to believe. They’re just things that we pick up on and never really think about. Things that perhaps, you learned from the people who unknowingly taught them to you, by how they lived and how they talked. It’s those off-the-cuff and untested nuggets of “truth” that sometimes make the biggest impact on our theology and faith.

I recently wrote about one of these myths here: The Perfect Before Presence Myth.

In the spirit of the Christmas, today’s myth has to do with the idea of Immanuel.

The Immanuel Means Easy Myth

Here’s the basic idea.

  • Jesus demonstrated his love for us by coming down in human form, Immanuel (God with us).
  • Jesus died for us and then rose again, and provided a way for reconciliation with God.
  • Since we know God is With Us (Immanuel) and God is For Us (He died and rose again for us),
  • We trust Jesus with our lives and everything is easy and clear after that.

Ok, maybe I’m oversimplifying it, but isn’t that how we think? I mean, in fact we tend to believe that if God isn’t answering my prayers in the way that I want, maybe He’s not there at all. Right? Isn’t that our logic?

Here’s the deal though, if God were small enough for you to control with your will, meaning He always did what you asked for, He’d be less-powerful than you and that’s not the God I want to worship, and not the God I’d trust with my life. I want to follow, I want to worship a God that doesn’t do everything I want Him to do, but does what is best for me. Isn’t that what you want? You don’t really want someone to cater to your every emotional whim, do you?

  • You want a Rock.
  • You want Steady.
  • You want Trustworthy.
  • You want All-Powerful, All-Knowing and Everywhere-All-The-Time, not conjured upon your requests and slips out when you’re done with Him.

At least, that’s how I feel. Take for example how Jesus prays right before he’s arrested…

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 NIV

Jesus, talking to the Father, asks for another way… and the Father doesn’t do it. Since when does Jesus ask for something and it not happen?!

Ever get a “no” for an answer to your prayers? It’s not fun, trust me… truuuuuuuust me, I know this one well. But I don’t want a God who changes all his glorious plans because I want Him to.

So here’s the truth…

  • Jesus demonstrated his love for us by coming down in human form, Immanuel (God with us).
  • Jesus died for us and then rose again, and provided a way for reconciliation with God.
  • Since we know God is With Us (Immanuel) and God is For Us (He died and rose again for us),
  • We trust Jesus and follow Him.
  • He acts on behalf of His purposes with our best interest in mind. But His our best interest has more to do with eternity, than the here and now. He’s playing the long-game. He’s knows how everything works out… and it’s glorious.

Following Jesus is like walking in a cloud. You can only see a few feet in front of you and He doesn’t clear the next few feet until you take a couple of steps.

It’s not all smooth-sailing after you take the plunge to trust Jesus and anyone who tells you it is, is either very fortunate or lying. Take a look at all of the major characters of faith, they all experienced darkness and confusion, even after God revealed Himself to them.

I think it’s time we stop, inadvertently, teaching, whether in word or deed, that Immanuel Means Easy. We know better than that, don’t we?

If you’d like to digest these kinds of ideas more, I suggest binge watching these message series:

What myths do you accidentally live by? Are those myths holding you back from truly living a life of freedom?

The following is from an Instagram/Facebook post my wife posted. It is a reflection of our heart and I am so proud to be married to this woman.

I have been putting this boy to bed for several months. He likes to hold my hand as he falls asleep, since the first night in our home. I couldn’t even count the number of those nights that he would fall asleep and I would look at his sweet face and sob asking God why. SO MANY WHYS! And wondering how I was going to let someone I love so much go.

A song called Take Courage has been playing in my heart and mind since we were in child search. Those nights I would have to really command myself to “take courage my heart. Stay steadfast my soul. He’s in the waiting. Hold on to your hope. Let your triumph unfold. HE’S NEVER FAILING!

Well a few weeks ago we experienced a major turn of events, and a true Christmas miracle for our family and I really saw how much God has been at work in our waiting. We found out that WE get to be this sweet boy’s FOREVER FAMILY.

Wow God…

Now when I put him to sleep I can look at this face with deep deep gratitude for what God has done and only He could have done.

I’ve been processing a lot in these past few weeks the very painful process of adoption for everyone involved…the foster parent who has to let the child go, the bio family who can’t care for the child, the adoptive parents who know that their joy comes out of lots of pain and brokenness, the child who has experienced more loss than any human should ever have to.

It would be an understatement to say that fostering and adoption have become so important to me and close to my heart. If you want to talk about getting more involved in this community, I would love to talk to you.

Thank you to all who have been praying for our family during this season.

Two Cities: GROW 2018

December 8, 2017 — Leave a comment

Dear Two Cities Family and Extended Family,

I can’t believe 2017 is almost over! We’ve seen so much happen in the life of Two Cities Church over the past year, with the single most significant thing being the people who have gone public with their faith through baptism.

Let’s recap some of the things we’ve experienced over the course of 2017:

  • We baptized Timothy Salcedo, Trisha Route, Noah Shepherd, Hope Shepherd, Brittany Williams, Gabriel Williams, Madison Mckenna, Jessica McGrail and Desire Mendoza!
  • We’ve had more guests over the past year than our previous two combined.
  • More than 60 people participated in Community Groups throughout the year and we’ve experienced community like never before by hosting the weekly After Party.
  • We’ve given over $600 in aid for the victims of the Santa Rosa fires to get everyday essentials while they put their lives back together.
  • We’ve raised over $1,800 to benefit City Without Orphans.
  • We’ve pledged to volunteer over 100 hours to several other community non-profits.
  • The Who Needs God? series created a social media buzz that brought guests who were Christians and had given up on church, atheists and skeptics to explore faith.

We are accomplishing our mission and I want to thank you for being a part of it. As you know, our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and it doesn’t stop with those already in the room. Our mission actually expands to every one of our relational networks, as our vision continues to be a church that unchurched people love to attend.

The #1 question I get these days is some variation of this: “How do we grow from here?”

The reason, as you are very aware, people ask this question is because our rooms are full. We had two services for a season to accommodate that, but that cut the energy and bodies in the room by almost half for each service. Also, capacity for our kids is an issue. It gets really crowded in Waumba Land and UpStreet.

So, for the sake of our financial health and to enable us to grow, we are moving on. Our Board, Stewardship Team and Leadership Team have searched the options and we all unanimously agree that the place that gives us the best visibility, financial stability and options for growth is the Clovis Veterans Memorial District Building, 808 4th St, Clovis, CA 93612… where we launched the church!

What does this mean?

  • Using a different arrangement of rooms than we have previously, we will be saving the church around $3,000, just in facility related costs, every month. That’s big for us!
  • Our Road Crew needs to beef back up because we’re going portable, but we’re thinking creatively on how to streamline and make the process easier and faster.
  • Our first Sunday at The Vet will be January 7, 2018 and our final Sunday at our current space will be the morning of Christmas Eve. We will not have a service on December 31.
  • We will take the week after Christmas to move our gear out and put the building back into the condition it was when we moved in.

Our goal is to raise $20,000 through this campaign to cover our moving costs, refresh some of our portable environments and start to build up our reserves again.

Please consider how you can contribute to our end-of-year GROW 2018 campaign. As a registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, every dime you donate is eligible for you to use as a charitable tax-deductible gift on your 2017 tax returns. Here’s how to give:

  1. Give online through eGive
  2. Smart Giving: Text “GROW (insert the amount here) to (559) 745-7009
  3. Mail a Check made out to Two Cities Church, with GROW in the memo:
    Two Cities Church
    1865 Herndon Ave K304
    Clovis, CA 93611


Micah Foster, Lead Pastor

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11

There are many myths we live by that God never ordained. Honestly, I’m still discovering them. They’re just things that unknowingly become ingrained into us without us ever making an active decision to accept it as truth. Things we might have grown up thinking, by inference, not necessarily teaching. It’s what wasn’t said, sometimes, that impacts us more than what was.

One of those myths is what I call…

The Perfection Before Presence Myth

Here’s the basic idea.

  • I know I’m not perfect, I’m a sinner.
  • My sin separates me from God.
  • I want to follow Jesus, but…
  • In order to approach Him, or be in His presence, I need to turn my life around… be perfect.
  • Once I get my life straightened out, I will be able to truly follow Jesus and approach God.

You’re probably looking at that saying, “That’s so wrong” or “Yep, that’s me” and maybe you’re saying both at the same time, because there’s this tension we don’t know how to resolve.

Last night I went to the Fresno County Juvenile Hall with people from several different churches, including Two Cities Church, to put on a Christmas Party for the boys currently living there. The situations and life track many of these boys are on, are heart-breaking. Many of them have been in there 2 or 3 times and one young man I spoke with is in for the 9th time! Can you imagine that, 9 times?

While talking to one of them about their belief in God, he said, “I want to follow God, but I’ve gotta get my life together first.”

I said, “That’s a common misunderstanding. The fact of the matter is, none of us, volunteers, are here because we were able to get our lives together. We’re here because we gave our broken and messy lives to Jesus. And Jesus has been cleaning house.” 

He didn’t understand, as most of us don’t, God isn’t up there handing out judgement, he’s handing out mercy. The reason this young man was in there is because of robbery. I reminded him that God’s mercy has already been on him because all it takes is on citizen with a concealed weapon, all it takes is one person willing to shoot one bullet and he’d be dead.

You can’t get clean and then come to God, you’ve got to come to God to get clean. The walls of the church won’t cave in on you if you show up with your life in shambles. Don’t let the enemy of your soul convince you otherwise. Here’s the truth.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17 NLT

So here’s the truth…

  • I know I’m not perfect, I’m a sinner.
  • My sin separates me from God.
  • I want to follow Jesus, so…
  • I approach Him to surrender my life to Him.
  • He loves me, accepts me and cleans me so that I can fulfill the true purpose He has for me.
  • I am an adopted, royal-child of God, co-heir to the throne and there’s nothing that can take that away.

What myths do you accidentally live by? Are those myths holding you back from truly living a life of freedom?

In the wake of so much tragedy, my best friend, Paul Haugen has released a song that he wrote a few months ago. It is meant to bring hope and inspire and I pray it does those things for you. Enjoy.

“I wrote this song a few months ago after the divisiveness on my Facebook feed had reached a high point. I had this sense in me that in spite of all of our differences and strongly held beliefs there was and is a connective tissue that holds us together; that there’s this thing inside of us that makes us so much better together than we could ever be apart. I believe that connective tissue is hope. I think we all want better. We all want change. We just are really bad at listening sometimes. I remembered a time in my life where I felt safe and I really want that for my kids. What really scared me was thinking about how long it had been since I felt that way and the thought that my kids might grow up in a world without that feeling of safety. I wanted to write this as my stake in the ground declaring that I believe we can be more; that we can be better. So this is me hoping that we find a way to love one another and maybe find a little bit of hope.” – Paul Haugen