Life Interrupted: A Christmas Story

I know, I haven’t posted anything in several months, but this one was worth sharing.

Our student ministry is in the midst of a series called Life Interrupted: A Christmas Story.  One of our student pastors shared a story last night during the service that my 16 yr old daughter had written about her recent experience.  Being the proud dad that I am, I wanted to share it with you. Please indulge me.

It began on a Sunday morning before church. I was standing in front of my closet just staring at all the clothes. They were literally everywhere; on the floor, out of the drawers, on the hangers, when I thought to myself, “I’m pretty sure I have too many clothes. I won’t even wear all of these by Christmas time.” I let the thought just sink in and continued with my day.

Mom and I went to bible study that night when I finally said something to her. Francis Chan, who wrote Crazy Love, had inspired us. He had said what if we all lived in community with each other. What if we shared money and food? What if we shared clothes? What if? I followed on the idea. I got in the car and told my mom that I didn’t want any Christmas presents. I wanted to use the money for something else, for someone else’s Christmas. Jesus gave to me didn’t he? So why should I take away from people, it seems unfair.

It was then that our plan sort of made itself. My mom and I raved on and on about it in the car. We got home that night and told my dad. Almost immediately we all started talking about doing this and doing that and giving money to this person and their family.Finally our Christmas plans had been set. Starting on the 13th of December and ending on Christmas we vowed to do something of service everyday. Even Christmas day!

It did take a little getting used to… We told my brother the grand idea and he responded with “Yeahs and oh cools…” all in that monotone voice of a boy who wants an XBox for Christmas. Though it’s such an outrageous and unheard of idea it will probably be the most rewarding thing I’ll ever do. Already we have my cousins in on the idea, and as one big family we’re going Christmas caroling at an assisted living facility. We are excited to have adopted a family through LHC and are humbled to provide for a 19-year-old disabled boy and his caretaker. In addition we’re sending money to some of our favorite charities and a good friend in Seminary. I’m counting down the days!! Only 4 left!

Thank you God for making my family and I realize what giving means. Thank you God for humbling me. And most of all Thank You God for loving me and showing me what it means to love others.

To God be the glory, great things He has done.

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extending our reach

One of the issues we wrestle with the most in Family Life ministry is extending our reach beyond the hour or two that children and students are in our ministries each week.

One of the creative solutions that our LHC Kids team has come up with to extend our reach is called Route 6:7 (based on Duet 6:7). We used to send the kids home with a weekly “talk sheet” with questions for parents to cover with their kids during the week. We noticed that these 1/2 page sheets ended up in their Bible, purse, floor board, or trash.

The newest member of our team, Sara, had the ingenious idea that we could condense the questions and print them on a card that could hang from the rear view mirror in the car where they would be visible throughout the week. They contain a weekly memory verse, as well as a question for each day of the week.

Here’s a pic:

67-hangers

The feedback has been incredible. Kids think they are the greatest thing ever and are begging parents to hang them up in the car immediately after church.  And, parents are actually using them. Just today I stopped by the local grocery store and saw 3 cars in the parking lot with the most beautiful pieces of yellow paper dangling from the rear-view mirror.  I can’t tell you how proud I was of our team in that moment.

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7

What are you doing that is extending your reach?

outside the church

what do you do when they won’t come to you?

one of the things the Family Life team has been wrestling with over the last year is – how do we expose our ministries to more kids/students who don’t currently attend our weekly ministry events?  we’ve decided that no matter how great of an event we provide on a weekly basis (and we do provide great events), that not every child between the ages of 0-18 will participate in our ministries. we can have the hippest speakers, rockinest band, best facility, biggest budget, etc.. and the truth is not every kid/student will come to us.

we’re not satisfied with that. with a goal of reaching as many as possible for the Kingdom, we are beginning to focus on getting outside the walls of the church and into the community.

here’s just a few things we’ve been up to:

  • this afternoon our team will be kicking off red ribbon week at Lake Travis Middle School with a drug awareness presentation to over 800 middle school students. we have to walk the line between church/state, but the opportunity was too great to pass up.  Matt Williams our middle school director will be speaking and our LHC band will be playing.
  • our high school ministry, under the direction of Kirk Gentzel, felt the need to start an additional weekly Bible study/discussion. the decision was to have it outside the walls of the church and meet in a public place. you can catch them at Paciugo’s on Monday nights for some Jesus and java (or gellato if that’s’ your thing).
  • yours truly was selected to participate in Leadership Lake Travis. this is a regular monthly gathering of a select group of parents/leaders in the community who meet with the district superintendent and the elected school board to gain a better understanding of key issues facing the district and to offer support.

here’s the bottom line – it can’t be about getting as many people to come see you and your event. that’s only half the strategy. we have to go and meet people on their turf.

how about your team? what are you doing to get outside the church and into the community? seriously, we want to know so we can get better at this.

family life summer

The Family Life Team had an amazing run the last few months. This has been the busiest and most rewarding summer for both our children’s ministry and our student ministry.  A few highlights:

  • We kicked summer off in the month of June with our largest VBS ever which saw 1197 kids in grades K-6.
  • The very next week we took over 70 students in 9-12th grade to Copper Mountain for our high school camp called Road Trip.
  • In July we held our first ever Rock Camp which saw over 90 students in grades K-12 participate.
  • Then last week, 94 of our 3-5th graders experienced Kids Camp and 145 of our 6-8th graders spent their time at Beach Week.

Some other numbers:

  • While there was a little lap over in some of our events, we had the opportunity to impact over 1500 unique kids/students this summer.
  • Over 500 unique adult volunteers served in some capacity.

So, if you stop by the office Tuesday afternoon, you won’t find us. We are sneaking away as a team to celebrate all the good that God has done.

And, it’s only the beginning.

vacation day 9

we were sad to leave the rental house. it was fun.  i see many more home rentals in our future.

day 9 highlights:

  • we left the Scottsdale area and headed to the Grand Canyon. the drive is so unique. you start in desert, pass through prairie lands, and end up in the forest and mountains all in 90 miles.
  • we arrived at the Grand Canyon around noon. i wasn’t sure what to expect. the view was amazing. absolutely breathtaking.
  • we spent about 4 hours driving the east rim road to Desert View. again, all views were absolutely astounding.
  • we headed back to flagstaff through the town of Cameron and were pleasantly surprised at the views of the Little Colorado Gorge and the Painted Desert. a much more picturesque drive.
  • once back in Flagstaff we checked into the hotel before heading out to dinner at the local pizzeria – Roma’s Pizza.

we called it an early night. long drive tomorrow.

vacation day 8

this was our last full day in Scottsdale. we are going to miss having a house with a pool and a pool table. the kids have felt like they are living the celebrity life style. who knew it just takes a swimming pool and a two story house to be a celebrity?

day 8 highlights:

  • since it was our last day, the kids were in the swimming pool by 9a.
  • i was driving everybody crazy with needing to pick up the house, pack our bags, etc., so Wendy “made” me go play golf by myself.  i ventured out to The Boulders resort. i cannot believe how cheap the golf is here. $55 to play one of the nicest courses I have ever played. Next to Kapalua, this might be the nicest place I’ve ever been too. I see a guy trip back here in my future. we’ll just OD on golf.
  • while i was playing golf, Wendy and the kids hung out by the pool, played Wii, and had ice cream for the 4th day in a row.
  • for dinner we hit up the local Buffalo Wild Wings. those are some hot wings! baby were they hot.  
  • after dinner we headed over to CrackerJax for some putt-putt golf (total domination on my part), and some go kart racing (again total domination).

We are going to miss this place. tomorrow – Grand Canyon.

vacation day 7

day 7 was the Sabbath. so, we did our best to not do much of anything.

day 7 highlights:

  • as any good pastor would, we found a local church to attend. our choice was Phoenix First AOG. I had the opportunity to see Tommy Barnett speak at the C3 conference back in February so thought we would pay a visit.  the service was great and started our day off right. we missed our LHC peeps though.
  • after church we stopped at Chipotle for lunch.  we eat here enough i should probably buy the stock.
  • after returning to the house: i took a nap, caitlin read for a while, parker talked on the phone, and wendy lounged by the pool.  eventually the rest of us joined in on the pool action and worked on our tans.
  • in the early evening we kept with our tradition of ice cream for dinner on Sunday’s by heading the local Cold Stone Creamery.
  • the night ended with a 3 hour Phase 10 competition. caitlin was the grand champ.