Yes & Amen

Hello there, my name is Anastasia Fomenko and I’m a wife and a mama. You may recognize me from the worship team at the Ventura campus. I love leading worship. The presence of Jesus has transformed my life, so there’s nothing more rewarding than leading people to meet with God where they can find true fulfillment for their life.

I also come alive when I’m helping people discover their value and purpose in life, which is why I’m passionate about small groups. All of life is built on relationships. We were designed to live in community, to know one another deeper than a quick “hello” on a Sunday morning or a nice comment on social media. My husband, Vik, and I have so much fun leading our young adults’ group. Sometimes I feel like hosting is my love language. It’s such a joy having people in our home, which we’ve rented in Ventura for the past few years. The dishes and mess afterward somehow feel comforting, knowing I could bless someone with a coffee or a meal and honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a good conversation?

A few months ago, we felt like God started speaking to us about purchasing our own home. We had no idea what that entailed, but asked God to lead us. We felt like some practical steps needed to be taken to open that door. As we began talking to realtors and lenders, reality quickly sunk in. It would take a BIG miracle for us to own anything in this season of our lives. The list of obstacles was long. Secretly, I was ready to give up but the truth is, I’m thankful to have married such a persistent man who dares to believe and doesn’t give up so easily.

One afternoon, I was driving home from picking up my daughter at school and a worship song, that we both love, came on. She started belting out the chorus as London loves to do, “Faithful You are, faithful, forever You will be. All your promises are yes and amen!” Suddenly, she said, “Mama, I can’t wait for you to get pregnant and have a baby in our new house.” Well, what you may not know is that we’ve been trying to get pregnant for a few years now. Suddenly I was in a pool of tears. The Holy Spirit was so gently reminding me through her words that every promise He has spoken over my family and me is, “yes and amen.” How could I ever forget His faithfulness? One of those promises was sitting in my back seat. When the doctor told us it would be difficult to conceive the first time, London came to us as a perfect little miracle. All of a sudden, no mountain seemed too great, no price seemed to high. Every impossibility became possible with the One who has me in the palm of His hand. “Rest in my promises,” I heard Him say in my heart. It reminds me of the verse in Psalm 116:7 (NLT), “Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me.”

I have seen too much of God’s goodness to doubt Him this time around. I believed God. I wiped my tears and ran inside to remind Vik what he already believed (ha!). In a matter of weeks, a condo became available that had dropped out of escrow (of course, because it was waiting on us). The price was almost too good to be true and the financing came together miraculously. With the year coming to an end, and the holiday craziness, it didn’t seem like there was much hope left. But isn’t it just like God to give us this Christmas miracle? We closed early in December and Vik went to work renovating and constructing. Our amazing home is coming together just in time for the New Year.

Can my story serve in this new year to remind you that your Heavenly Father is big and faithful? He does what we can’t do by ourselves. If He’s given you a promise, don’t let circumstances or impossibility take that away. I’m thrilled to believe and see more of those promises unfold in my family. His Word is truth and that’s the only truth we need to believe. I pray you experience your own BIG miracle this year! 💛

IMG_0100Anastasia Fomenko is mother to London, wife to Vik and a licensed pastor at The City Church. Together, Vik & Anastasia minister to our California Coast Bible College students and the young adults in their City Group. She offers voice lessons and inspires us weekly with her passionate worship on the Ventura campus worship team. She’s just ventured into songwriting and is set to release her first worship single early this year! You can follow her (and London) on Instagram and sign up for a City Group here.

Raising Kids

I can’t believe how fast time flies!  I just turned 53 in October and all three of my boys came for Thanksgiving with their amazing wives and my incredible grandson, Jack. We now have another grandson on the way, thanks to Jake and Nancy.  Their baby is due May 13th, two days after Jack’s 2nd birthday.  Oh does that bring back memories!  All three of my boys were born two years apart and boy was it a whirlwind!  One of the most memorable, overwhelming moments of being a mom was when my oldest son Jude was four, Jonathan was two and Jake was just an infant.  Jude was climbing on my back, Jon was pulling on my leg, Jake was wanting to nurse and my husband was wanting me in the bedroom (if you know what I mean ;).  I was thinking to myself, “Is my body not my own?”

I remember feeling so overwhelmed in this season of my life.  It could be so easy to just “get by,” on a daily basis but I had to stop and remind myself that this season would pass quickly. If I was going to be effective, I had to remember I was called by God to steward the lives of these three young men who had a purpose and a call before time began.  This became a reality to me when I was in the hospital right after I had my 2nd son, Jonathan.  I had this moment with God where He impressed on me this thought, “You don’t know who you have in this son, raise him well.”  Wow, it sobered me to think of the responsibility God graced me with to raise these young men of destiny.

If you are a parent, an aunt, a teacher, or even a friend to someone who has kids, you have the same privilege and opportunity to help nurture the destiny of a young human being with a divine purpose. If you are a mom, you don’t have to wonder if you have what it takes, God chose you to be the mother of that child and He will give you what you need to accomplish the task.

Every time I felt overwhelmed with the chaos of kids and wanted to react negatively toward them, I would remember this moment in the hospital.  Trust me, I needed that reminder because Jon was a very difficult, sensitive child that needed his mom to be patient with him.

The three boys are now all in the ministry with families of their own and doing well.  People often asked Jude and I how we raised three boys who love God, love His church and are doing what God called them to do. Like everything in life, we committed our children first to the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 (TPT) was one of our guiding verses:

“Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they learned from YOU will be with them for life.”

The Amplified version says;

“Train up a child in the way he should go (teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents}, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I believe these three keys can help you to be an effective parent:

  1. “Dedicate your child to God.”
  • This is not a one-time dedication, this is recognizing they are not our kids; they are God’s and we just have the privilege of being a picture of God to them!
  • Ask yourself, “Who would my child say God is by looking at my life on a daily basis?  Is he kind? Is he consistent? Is God attractive to my child?”
  1. “Point them in the way that they should go.”
  • We must teach our children that God is their source of wisdom and will. If they see us believing God, becoming who God calls us to be and building His kingdom, it will inspire faith in them.
  • One of my favorite thoughts from the recent parenting series is that our children are “seed full.”  They are full of potential that God has placed in them and our job is to help identify what is in them and help them nurture and begin to discover who they are and what God has called them to.  We water the seeds with our words and by teaching them to seek God for themselves.
  1. “The values they learn from you will be with them for life.”
  • Our children will not just learn from what we tell them but will learn more by how we live out our values.
  • The most effective thing you can do as a parent is to live what you want them to be! Live your life in such a contagious way that it would be hard for them to choose a less than satisfying life!

Trust me when I say, there are so many things I would have done differently as a parent. The next time I post on parenting I will tell you those things but today I pray that you will stop in the midst of day to day living and remember, you have been called and graced by God to parent your amazing children. We do our best to point them in the right direction, and even though the choice is ultimately theirs, we can trust our Heavenly Father to help us all along the way.

I believe in you!

XO

Becky

Open Doors

A WILD Devotional by Katherine Hageman

For the first time in fifteen years as a Christian, God miraculously opened the door for me to share some Bible studies with my Mom, twin sisters, and Grams.  My mom had been molested by an evangelist as a young girl, and was turned off to “church.” My sisters were living with their boyfriends, and although Grams took us to church every Christmas Eve, we never talked about the Lord.

When I first gave my heart to Jesus, I went from the “norm” of attending New Age meetings with Mom, to becoming a wild fanatic in their minds!  It took many slow and steady years of prayer and love for my family to trust that “what Katherine had” was a good thing.  They opened their hearts; and God, who plays the best chess game in the Universe, moved mountains so that we could study His Word, together!  

It was during Bible study that we first learned of our “family scripture.” Grams’ confirmation as a young girl in church was– “For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord who has mercy on you.’ — Isaiah: 54:10 (NKJV).  My husband, Dean, gave the eulogy at my mom and dad’s funerals, and read that very scripture, declaring it over our family forever.

I was torn when the time came, many years ago, for us to leave this area and move to Vacaville.  I didn’t want to leave my extended family without us the only “church” they cared to have.  But Dean and I knew God’s plans were for us to raise our four sons there, and we thrived there for thirteen years.

A couple years before we moved back, I began to feel a deep drawing to my family.  The move happened suddenly..  The Lord opened all the doors in His perfect timing, again.  Our sons all grown, we now had six young nieces and nephews, and a granddaughter, to love on in Christ!  Our hopes were fulfilled when we arrived home to discover that my whole family, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, desired to come worship God with us in church!  Three years later, and they are all still growing in Christ!  Praise God!

Do you long for your family to experience Jesus in the same life-changing way that you have? Maybe you’re reading this and you know someone in your family is praying for Jesus to become real to you. When Jesus went to the cross, He was separated, “forsaken” for the first and only time by His Father so that we could be accepted into His family as children of God. That’s how we know that Jesus loves each one of us more than we ever can love each other!  Pray and watch the Lord move those mountains.

 

Kathy's picKathy Hageman, by God’s grace, is a mom of four amazing sons, two daughter in loves, and grandma to two precious granddaughters. She and Dean have been married for 33 wonderful years   She’s passionate about teaching and helping women to realize their full potential in Christ.  She has been involved in women’s ministries for many years and leads the “Breakfast & Bibles” City Group with Pastor Becky.

Catching up with Keola Bolles

Today Keola Michele Bolles is with us. She and her husband, Steve (who leads our Ventura Campus worship team) are our newest staff members. They have three great kids, Addi, Micah and Judah.

What keeps you busy most days?:  Hahaha, I’m a mom and a wife… so, I do a lot of cleaning up, laundry, and kissing ;). I also work part time at City Church doing the finances and I substitute at City Christian School.

All that kissing! No wonder Steve’s always smiling.

What’s your favorite part of church?:  I love ministering to Women… all women.  I love hearing their stories and loving on them.  What an honor it is to be a part of so many beautiful lives.  There is no greater feeling for me than when the Lord allows me to be a part of someone’s healing process.

What’s the best thing you’ve read recently? Why?:  Oh my goodness… Where do I even begin?!  Obviously the correct and only answer here is the Bible! Lol, but I love reading, and there are so many wonderfully perfect stories that have influenced my life and perspective.  I tried to give five, but Bethany wouldn’t let me! So I’ll have to say “Jesus Feminist.”  This book has influenced me and helped shape me though so many seasons.  As a woman in ministry, it can sometimes feel as though you get lost in the mix, but this book reminds me that Jesus was the original feminist, He is for me and I belong.  I love that this book brings all women together and puts down any division among us.  

Best thing you’ve listened to?:  I recently listened to Jentzen Franklin preach a sermon called, “Worthy is the Lamb.”  It was extraordinary!  I loved how this sermon so practically reminded us that the focus should never be on us.  Good or bad, no matter what is happening, “Worthy is the Lamb.”  God deserves all the glory and credit, and our insecurities don’t matter.  He has chosen us and He deserves for us to give ourselves to developing and changing lives.

Funniest thing that has happened to you lately:  I don’t know…. That’s kinda sad!  Lol! I’m going to have to work on remembering the funny moments!

What prayers is God answering for you? Oh man, God has been in the business of answering our prayers lately in so many ways.  But, I think the biggest way he has come through is with the selling of our house in Florida.  But, honestly, this entire season of moving across the country and transitioning my life to Ventura has been so much fun as we watch the Lord move on our behalf.

What’s Jesus teaching you?: This may sound so simple, but this is the scripture I find myself meditating on the most lately is Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV), “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.”  When I am confused about my path and not sure how it is all going to work out, God reminds me of this.  It’s like He’s saying directly to me, “Don’t worry about it!  All you need to know is that there is a plan, it is good, and you will like it.”  And, I find extreme comfort in that!

Family. A Beautiful Story

The greatest story every told, is a story about a family. Through the illustration of the family, God describes His relationship with us. Through faith in Christ we are called children of God (Gal. 3:26, 4:7; Rom. 8:14; 2 Cor. 6:18; John 1:12). The Bible also likens the church to a bride (Eph. 5:22-27). Why would God use the illustration of Father and Husband? Because He planned the family to be the home of our most valuable relationships. In family, life is given, developed, and released into destiny. God designed family to be critical to every stage of life, from conception to death.

Our families, and the relationships within them, are precious to Jesus. Whether we are single, married with children, married without children, divorcees, or empty-nesters, we all have some sort of family experience. Whether we grew up in the perfect sitcom family, or lived through total dysfunction, we have been shaped by our families. Our family background does not define who we are, but it is part of our story, and God wants to use it.

My parents did not grow up in church; they met Jesus after they were married. They both came from very broken and hurt environments. After they gave their lives to Christ and began attending church, their entire lives changed. In one generation, they turned from total family dysfunction to a family marked by love and support. We were not perfect, but I am in awe of what God did in one generation because of two people who set their minds to create a Godly family.

Now that I have a family of my own, my desire is to raise a family who loves God, each other, and the church. I thank God for the choices my parents made. Their decision to follow Jesus has affected every generation that will follow them. This is the way God intended family to be, that one generation would pass His word on to the next and each generation would become greater. We will go from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18), strength to strength (Ps. 84:7), grace to grace (John 1:16).

Not everyone was raised in a family that was safe for development. The idea of God being a father or a husband may be terrifying. Not every home taught the best way to live or spoke about who we could be in Christ. But God takes our broken places and will heal them as we allow Him to. The brokenness my parents experienced growing up could have caused our family to fall prey to the same issues, but my parents allowed Jesus to come and heal their lives. My prayer for your family, whether it feels fractured or strong, is that each person will experience God in a real way and fully believe His goodness and greatness.

My husband and I are passionate about seeing families healthy and strong throughout the church. The series in September has been on the Vision of our church. One Sunday, as I sat listening to the message, I was struck with the thought that the entire family needs to be part of the church vision. Although children may not understand the same illustrations we do or be able to sit through an entire message, they want to be part of what God is doing in the church just as we do, if not more. Out of that moment I wrote a three-week family devotional relating to the key words of our church vision – BELIEVE, BECOME, BUILD.

These devotionals are meant to be quick, family-friendly times of discussion, no longer than 10-15 minutes. They can be done after a meal, in the car, before bed, or any time. There are separate discussion questions for preschoolers, elementary age, and teens. My prayer is that this devotional will be used to pass on vision to the next generation, just as my parents passed it on to me. Let’s see what can be done in one generation through our lives!

With love, Katie

Family Devotional – Week 1

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Katie and Phil have been married for 15 years and have three boys. They are non-staff pastors at The City Church. Katie is passionate about marriage, family, and the local church. She serves on the service production team, leads City Groups and teaches Middle School Math at City Christian School. In her free time, Katie loves to be outdoors with her family (watching her boys play sports, go hiking, swimming, or roasting smores) or writing devotionals for her blog.

To connect with Katie, join her City Group, Team or follow her blog for working moms at thatworkingmomlife.wordpress.com.