Monday, October 31, 2011


There's much debate in Christian circles about whether or not to participate in activities surrounding Halloween.  I can see both sides.  What I've decided personally is that our family will not "celebrate" Halloween...but that doesn't mean that we have to ban all related activities.  For example, you won't find my house decorated with ghosts and witches, but if my boys want to carve a goofy face on a pumpkin and have it glowing on our front porch - not a problem.  If the boys came to me wanting to dress up as a zombie or sorcerer, the answer would be "no".  But so far they have wanted to dress up as things such as a pumpkin, animals, and Super Heroes - go save the world little ones!

While I support alternatives to trick-or-treat (such as Trunk-or-Treat), there is not one in my town.  And to be honest, I don't really see anything "dark" about letting the local business owners and our neighbors hook my boys up with enough dessert to last them through Christmas.  I respect people who feel differently, but that's where we stand.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Even Though...

The prophet Habakkuk lived during a time of international crisis and national corruption.  He questioned where the Lord was in the midst of the destruction and violence.  Yet after remembering who God is and what He has done, Habakkuk's prayer ended like this: "Even though the fig trees have no blossums and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty; yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.  The Soveriegn Lord is my strength!  He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains." (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

I think it would do us good to remember this prayer in times of uncertainty. 
"Even though________, yet I will rejoice in the Lord."

We all have different things to fill in the blank, but it is the same God who is in control of it all.  May you be filled with His peace today as you place your trust in Him.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Top 10 Excuses for Not Serving in Hopeland

In every church there are ministries that struggle to get volunteers.   In our church, one of our greatest challenges is getting people to volunteer their time in our Childrens Ministry.  So I thought I'd take a look at a few excuses that have gone through my head and that I've heard about serving in Hopeland (our birth-age 5 area). 

#10 "I didn't know we needed more volunteers."

It's true that we don't hear the pastor begging from the stage every week for people to volunteer (although he may have to start soon!), but that doesn't mean the need is not there.   I looked at the schedule this morning for the weeks ahead and it is SAD.  I love my church, but this makes me ashamed of the investment our church family as a whole is making in our children.

#9 "I am not gifted to serve in that area."

Sometimes it is necessary to serve in a secondary ministry in a church if there is great need, regardless of gifting.  I am not a "natural" when it comes to kids, but I am capable.  Maybe you are too.

#8 "I am too busy!"

If you are already serving in another ministry on Sunday morning...ok, valid excuse.  But if not, is it really too much of a sacrifice to give an hour or two of your time once a month?  Invest in the ministry of the church...don't just be a consumer.

#7 "The chaos will drive me crazy!"

Maybe so.  But consider this...the chaos is mainly due to the fact that we have a shortage of volunteers.  Be part of the solution.  There is safety in numbers :)

#6 "I need a break from my kids."

I understand.  Being a mother is very energy-consuming and we all need a break.  But when you are enjoying sitting in service and allowing someone else to care for your childs needs, why not return the favor?  Hopeland exists to teach our children about God, but also as a ministry to mothers and families so that they can worship and learn without distraction.  Without volunteers, no one will have this luxury.

#5 "I have no one to watch my kids while I'm serving"

If they are old enough, have them help.  If not, it won't kill them to spend two services in a row either in Hopeland or XTreme Kids (trust me...I've tried it).  Yes, sometimes my boys complain when I tell them daddy is leading worship and mommy is watching babies so they have to stay at church longer.  BUT it is also a great learning opportunity for me to show them how we all have to sacrifice and serve if our church is going to function well.  Plus, they really learn their lesson well for the day after hearing it twice in a row :)

#4 "I don't know what to teach"

Great news...the lessons and crafts are all planned out in detail.  And if that's still too intimidating, you can volunteer in the 0-2 year old room or to do Check-In. 

#3 "Children scare me/I don't know what to do"

Ask someone to volunteer with you who is more comfortable with kids and can give you direction.  You don't have to do it alone.  This Sunday I had 4 in the nursery, two under 1 year and two that were walking.  I finally had my 8 year old come in to help me because I just needed more ARMS.  No skill was needed...just someone to pay attention to the babies and keep one of the toddlers from throwing hard objects :)

#2 "I don't enjoy spending time with kids"

Sometimes it's just a matter of adjusting your perspective.  Remember that this ministry is vital to our church body.  The children are our future.  And by volunteering you are doing much more than caring for and educating the children.  You are blessing the ministry leaders who give TONS of time planning lessons and covering for people who don't show up to serve (I won't even go happens way too often) . You are serving families by allowing them to fully engage in the service.  And you are also serving the Lord who has made it clear how precious children are to Him.

#1 "I don't know how to sign up"

Just ask me, or anyone on the staff for that matter, and we would be glad to help you with that!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are You Plugged In?

Our family loves watching movies.  We need to make decisions about which movies to allow ourselves or our children to watch and be influenced by, and ratings don't help very much.  There is one resource that I use frequently and am so thankful for, and that is by Focus on the Family.  This website reviews new movies coming out, older movies, tv, and music from a Christian perspective.  The reason the reviews are so helpful is that they don't just give you thier opinion, but they break down the movie into specific content areas so that you can make an educated decision.  Instead of merely knowing a movie might have "foul language", the review will tell you exactly which foul words are spoken and how often they occur.  You can know what the sexual or violent scenes consist of in detail.  The reviews sum up positive elements and negative elements of the film.  It's the first place I go before deciding what to see at the theater, what to reserve from the library, and what to say when asked the question "Mom, can I watch this?". 

Normally the only theater we see the inside of is the dollar theater because I refuse to pay top dollar for a new movie.  I've learned to wait.  But every now and then a movie comes out that I REALLY want to see!  Recently the movie Courageous fell into that category, and it didn't let us down.  As I was trying to decide if we should indeed spend the money, a friend of mine told me about a way to get cheaper tickets!  So this tip is for my frugal friends:  You enter in your zip code and the movies playing in your area come up.  Select the movie/time that you want.  The tickets are 50% off, plus $1 each processing fee.  (So instead of $8.25 per ticket, you pay ~$5.12.)  You pay with a credit card and within an hour they email you a Pick-Up number.  You can go up to the cashier or the kiosk, enter the number, and out come your tickets.  I was nervous about trying it, but it worked!  Got to see a great movie and save money at the same time...woo hoo!  The one thing we had forgotten though was to show up earlier than the start time of the movie.  Being given the choice of the first or second row in a movie theater was not so great...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Learning Something New

I love to look downstairs and see this.  Plenty of salsa, beans, and applesauce to last us through the winter.  I've always thought canning was a great idea "in theory" but was never willing to put in the effort...until a good friend coaxed me into it.  She has a garden and asked me if I would be willing to help with the weeding and canning.  In exchange I could have half of the goods.  I agreed right away!  Any job done with good company is a whole lot more enjoyable. 

For the apples, "Gramma Jan" and I took the boys to Scenic Ridge Fruit Farm in Jeromesville.  Wow, is that place huge!  I didn't know if the apple picking would be kid-friendly, but to my surprise it was perfect.  There were lots of trees and they were so low to the ground that even Brady was able to participate easily.  Later that day I got to show them how to make applesauce (which was a first for me too).  I was in awe of the Squeezo Strainer that allows you to dump in cooked apples (skin and all) into the hopper, turn the crank, and out comes the applesauce while discarding the skins and seed out the side.  Simply an amazing invention!  Although you do have to turn the crank the right direction for it to work properly as I found out :)

And while I'm on the subject of food, I have never been able to get banana-nut bread to turn out right.  This week as I was staring at two large brown bananas that no one in my family would dare eat, I decided to try a recipe given to me many years ago.  I now wish I would have tried it sooner!  The bread was yummy and moist and so I want to share it with anyone else who doesn't like to waste their brown bananas.


3/4 c. sugar, 1/2 c. vegetable oil,  1/2 c. applesauce
1 c. very ripe mashed bananas (2 large)
1 3/4 c. flour, 2 t. baking powder, 1/2 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)

Mix together and bake at 325 for 65 min.  Makes 1 loaf.

My dad was always the cook when I was a child.  He had a garden, canned, and cooked from scratch.  Of course I was never interested in learning it all then.  I suppose I'm making up for lost time now :)  And I'm very thankful for knowledgable friends and family who are willing to teach me!