Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Open House

Saturday was a big day, both for our church and for me. For months, our planning team and I had been meeting to discuss and organize an open house event in our new church building. Our goal was to "peek the curiosity" of the neighbors, giving them a chance to find out who we are (and vice versa) and hopefully lead them to want to know more and visit us again. We offered a plethora of activities for kids, because we really wanted the neighborhood kids to have fun and to draw in the parents - face painting (a big hit), bubbles, crafts, sidewalk chalk, a scavenger hunt, a puppet show, a big inflatable soccer activity, and more. For the adults, we had a big buffet, information table, book table, chess, live music and informational sessions, where members of the church were interviewed about the various aspects of our church community.

The day went very smoothly from a logistical standpoint and although it was chilly and cloudy, it did not rain
(a huge answer to prayer)! Things were quiet in the morning, but we had many guests stopping in by the time midday rolled around. All in all, we saw many new faces and everyone who was there seemed to enjoy themselves and feel welcome. The church really came together to make this event happen - we had church members helping at every station, working hard to keep the buffet stocked, playing music, being interviewed, setting up, cleaning up...you name it. It was wonderful to see what a team effort it was.

The biggest answer to prayer, though, was to see new faces in church Sunday morning - people who had
visited on Saturday and were still curious. Most of these people came to the open house because of personal invites and relationships with people in the church, which is often the case and, in my opinion, the best way to reach out. But there were also a few faces of neighbors who simply wanted to know more! And what's more, Nate preached a wonderful and challenging sermon Sunday morning for these guests to hear, a sermon that he has gotten wonderful feedback about over the last few days. Another answer to prayer.

Thank you to the many of you who were praying for this event. We continue to pray that the connections from Saturday would continue and deepen. God is working in our new neighborhood and we are excited to see what is to come!

Book table

Buffet. Full of treats and drinks all day!


The face painting was a huge hit!

One of our deaf members, talking about our church's thriving deaf ministry

Inflatable soccer activity

Kids, watching the puppet show

Our music team

Ping pong

Ellie sitting on my lap, watching the puppets

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dedication Sunday

Yesterday was yet another special milestone and celebration in the life of our church! (We are in an exciting season!) We had a special Sunday service to celebrate the new church building - a "dedication Sunday". The service was held in the afternoon, so that friends, former pastors and many others could join us to celebrate (and still attend their own churches in the morning). There were special messages and thank you from several people, special music performances, and Nate shared the story of the new building and renovation. We thanked God for all that he has done over the last few years and especially since we first visited our new space in December 2014.

The theme of the event was "Many Nations - One Goal". We highlighted that we have 23 countries of origin represented in our church but we are united in Christ. It's wonderful to celebrate our diversity, as well as our unity, together! Everyone brought sweet treats to celebrate, each representing their county of origin (I baked american chocolate chip cookies, of course!). The buffet was very large and well enjoyed by everyone afterwards. People stayed around for several hours to chat and mingle after the service concluded.

Here are a few photos from the day:

Opening musical performance

Bethany sang on the worship team

Nate, sharing the story of the building renovation through photos

The very full sanctuary!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Special Thank You!

In our old church building, the babies and kids up to age three had a small room in which to play. When there were three kids and three adults, it was nearly claustrophobic. Many of the toys were old or dirty and needed to be replaced. As parents of a little one, we were thankful to have a room to go to during the service, but we were wishing for something bigger, cleaner and better organized.

Fast forward to today and our new Baby Room! This has been a project of mine over the last few months (with the help of the other moms in the church) and I'm so pleased with how it has turned out. Because of the financial support of many of you readers, we had enough funds this year to purchase new baby room furniture, as well as used and new toys. So far, we have been enjoying this new space on Sundays during the sermon, and we also feel good about visitors with small kids coming to our church and joining us. We've even gotten comments from church-goers that it's the nicest room in the building!

Thank you for your partnership with us and enabling us to make this happen! Here's a quick video so you can see the results!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Working Through It

Ellie, Mama & Mozzy reunited
Last week, Bethany and I were able to get away for a few days. Bethany's parents watched Ellie, which was something they really enjoyed! It was so good for us to have some time away to relax and rejuvenate. Ellie did really great with Grammy and Grampy and had a lot of fun.

But our first day back, when we tried to put her to bed, she started crying and would not go to bed until Bethany rocked her and got her to sleep. This never happens and in the beginning, we were really confused. She is just getting to the point where she can express what she is thinking about through words or phrases. Last night, as Bethany was putting her to bed, she was saying things like "Mama back" and "Papa back." She was processing her experiences in her own way and working through it all. She was still processing the fact that Mama and Papa were gone but came back.

Part of being an adult means that we get better at stuffing our challenges and issues down and not dealing with them. Ellie thankfully hasn't learned this yet and processes her thoughts and challenges out loud. For us, it is easier to forget or shove things aside and try to forget about them instead of dealing with our issues. A fundamental part of the gospel is that we are not able to heal ourselves and that we need to confess that inability to God and to ourselves. Once we respond to God's calling on our lives, which is to live in communion with Him, we are called into a process of healing and restoration. As we confess our sins, fears and weakness to God and to others, we are able to access the power of the Holy Spirit that continues to transform our hearts! It is a beautiful and painful process of letting go of idols and leaning on our creator.

I needed this reminder to engage in this process. Transformation is a constant process. We need to keep working through it!