Wednesday, December 31, 2014

An Update from the Woods: 2014 in Review

 Dear Family and Friends:                                                            December 27, 2014

Woods' Family Highlights of 2014
- John & Jennifer celebrated 20 yr. anniversary on Dec. 17 with a Steven Curtis Chapman Christmas concert & a trip to San Antonio for the Broadway production of The Lion King.  
- Having Joseph & Francisca Akakpo, native missionaries & friends from Togo, West Africa stay in our home (August) & share about their ministry with our FBC church family. 
- Brenna's first piano recital on Dec. 7. 
- Bradley became a teenager (6/26) Brenna went to double-digits (1/21).
- Bethany's profession of faith (7/13); Brenna's baptism (1/12). 
- Refinanced home; purchased new used Yukon XL (in full) :). 
- Maggie, our Chihuahua, turned 16 yrs. old on Dec. 23. 
- Celebrated 10 yr. anniversary of Brandon & Bradley's adoption (10/8), Brenna's Gotcha Day (4/21) and 7 yr. anniversary for Bethany's adoption (11/27).
- Helped facilitate the sell of my dad's house in Marshall.  

- Turned 14 on January 25
- Mission Trip team member with Revolution Student Ministry in June to Litteton, CO. 
- TMEA all-district band member on trumpet as a Freshman & earned letter jacket. 
- Stood alone on his campus at Hutto HS on September 25 for See You at the Pole, the global day of prayer for students. 
- Meritorious Award recipient in Awana

- Celebrated 13th BD (June 26) with a Journey to Manhood Weekend
- Weekend included dinner at Shogun's with some godly men, father/son getaway to Dallas, Medieval Times show, and tour of At&T Stadium. 
- Mission Trip team member with Revolution Student Ministry in June to Litteton, CO. 
- 1st chair Alto-Saxaphone at Farley MS Wind Ensemble. 
- Milestone Award recipient in Awana 
- Farley MS football team member, playing WR & String Safety. 

- Followed Christ in believers' baptism on January 12 at FBC Pflugerville. 
- Recipient of Excellence Award in Awana
- turned 10 yrs. old on January 21 & celebrated with a sleepover, family party, & an annual daddy/daughter trip to Build-A-Bear!  
- Began taking piano lessons in September and doing great!
- LIT (Leader In Training) PreTeen Mission: Ft. Worth mission trip team member in June, sharing Christ & ministering to children & families in FW.
- Enjoyed her 9th season playing soccer, scoring half of her teams' goals in the Fall. 
- 5th Grader at Nadine Johnson Elementary School.

- Turned 9 yrs. old on August 11 & celebrated with her annual Build-A-Bear trip with dad along with a family party. 
- Trusted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior & Lord on July 13 at home. 
- Earned Sparky Award in Awana. 
- Continues to excel in gymnastics; loves music & dance. 
- 3rd Grader at Nadine Johnson Elementary School in Hutto. 

What We Do
- serve at FBC Pflugerville; John - Children's Pastor; Jennifer - Wee Ones Preschool Music Teacher
- parents at Casa de Woods
- Facilitate care for my dad, John H. Woods

What We Enjoy
- Family Devotions, Movie Nights, Family BD parties, reruns of Full House & Cosby Show 
- Our Golden Retriever Belle (2 yrs. old in June). 
- Annual traditions like:  Preteen Camp (July), VBS (June), Mission trips (June), summer vacation, daddy/daughter date night (October) and dance (February), Spring Break (March), summer, & Christmas trips to MawMaw & PawPaw's house in Longview. 

- You can keep up with the happenings of the Woods' family on 
Facebook (John & Jennifer), Instagram (jawoods68), Twitter (@jawoods68), and at 

Remember:  When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5 HCSB)

Hope you & your family had a very Merry Christmas and wishing you God's best & blessings for a Happy New Year in 2015. 

John, Jennifer, Brandon, Bradley, Brenna, and Bethany Woods

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Grace in Unusual Places

Grace.  We all need it.  None of us deserve it.  Grace.  It's getting what we don't deserve.  It's how we're saved.  Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace you are saved..."

In the past couple of days I found grace in some unexpected, unusual places; and it amazed me.

On Tuesday (New Year's Eve), I was in Mardel Bookstore in Longview.  I was perusing some artwork that I was considering for purchase.  It was breakable artwork.  I picked up the frame I was looking at in one hand; and had my Chick-Fil-A full glass of tea in the other hand.  Some how or another, the frame slipped from my hand; and I went to grab the frame with my other hand - the hand that I was holding my tea with.  Well, needless to say, that created a disaster.  In the process of trying to grab the frame with my tea hand, I put my tea through my cup and ice and tea proceeded to go everywhere.  At the same time, the frame I was holding and another one fell to the ground and shattered.  What a mess!  I warn my children frequently about picking up things that are breakable.  I can't count how many times I've said, "You break it, you buy it."  Well, I broke it.  Nearly 32 ounces of tea and ice splattered everywhere.  It was all over me, all over the floor, and all over other pieces of artwork and crafts.  Let's just say I felt like and looked like a dork.  Some employees hurried over to help me.  Instead of giving me the what for, they gave me what I didn't deserve - a big dose of grace.  They made sure I was alright, offered me some paper towels to clean myself up, then proceeded to clean up the broken, wet mess that I had made.  I offered to pay for the two broken pieces of art; and they would have none of it.  I apologized for the mess; and they were gracious.  Grace at  Mardel.  I didn't deserve it; but I got it.  And I was grateful.

The next morning on New Year's Day my family left Longview to head back home to Pflugerville.  We decided to stop for lunch in Corsicana at Subway, where I already had designs on taking advantage of their $5 footlong special for January, which began on that day.  But I didn't read the fine print, because the $5 special did not include four premium footlong sandwiches; one of which was roast beef; which two of my children ordered to the tune of $7.75 each.  I was not happy; and the manager and my family knew it.  I made a scene; and I did not handle it well.  Not a good way to start off the New Year.  I asked the manager if she could give me the two roast beef sandwiches for $5; and she would not comply.  When I paid for my family's food, I was fit to be tied. When I sat down with my family to eat, my wife eloquently relayed to me the depth of her embarrassment at how I had handled the situation.  She was right.  I had blown it.  On top of that, I also realized that my Club footlong sandwich, which was on the $5 special list, was rang up at $7.75 instead of the $5 special price.  So I sat and ate my sandwich with an embarrassed family.  They all finished, as I had made up my mind that I at least would get the difference back for my sandwich which should've been $5.  However, when I did, I went with a different attitude.  I was apologetic to the manager and her staff for the way I had handled the situation.  I explained my quandry, and why I thought the roast beef sandwiches would've been $5.  So what did the manager do?  She offered me grace.  She not only refunded me the difference for my sandwich; she refunded me for one of the two roast beef sandwiches, which she did not have to.  Grace at Subway.  Grace I didn't deserve.  I went to the van, apologized to my family, and shared the story of grace that I'd been given.  I received grace and forgiveness there as well.

We left Subway and made it back to Pflugerville about mid-afternoon.  Because there was no food in the house, I went to Chick-Fil-A to grab some supper for the family.  And guess what was waiting for me there?  You guessed it.  Not just chicken.  Grace.  I placed my order in the drive-thru:  four chicken sandwiches (all wheat buns); 12 count grilled nuggests; 6 count grilled nuggets, and medium tortilla soup.  When I got to the window, I paid for the order.  They told me it'd be about five more minutes.  I got a free tea to drink while I waited.  GRACE.  I pulled forward to wait.  They brought my order out; and I noticed that I had chicken-noodle soup instead of chicken-tortilla soup in my bag.  The CFA employee asked me if I wanted to keep it the chicken-noodle soup.  I did.  GRACE.  And because I had to wait, they brought me out another twelve count of grilled nuggets instead of the six count I had ordered.  GRACE.  Grace at Chick-Fil-A.  Extra soup.  Extra grilled nuggets.  Free tea.  Grace.  I didn't deserve it; but I got it.  And I, and my boys that consumed the extra bowl of soup, were grateful.  

Grace is waiting in unusual places.  I found it at a bookstore, at Subway, and Chick-Fil-A.  I found it in Longview, Corsicana, and Pflugerville.  Grace is waiting everywhere.  It's waiting for you.  Are you looking for it?  I've committed to do my best this year to take more opportunities to find and extend grace whenever and wherever possible.  Nobody deserves it.  Everybody needs it.  You could make somebody's day by offering unmerited, undeserved, free grace.  That's the same kind of grace that God offers to you and me.  We don't deserve, and we can't earn it.  It's free.  Grace is always free to the recipient, but often times expensive, costly and demanding of sacrifice for the one offering it.  God offered grace to us through Jesus.  He continues to offer it to us each day.  You can find it if you're work, at home, at church, on the freeway, or wherever you may be.  Grace.  When it's afforded to you, pass it on to others.  Nobody deserves it.  Everybody needs it - including you and me.