Friday, December 18, 2009

"What is Christmas?"

I love Christmas. I'm one of those people that bust out the Christmas music late October in anticipation of the season. One of my favorite things about this season is getting cards and letters from old college friends and families. Although I'm not someone who could sit and right a letter interesting enough for someone to want to read, I do enjoy seeing what others are up to. I keep all the cards and letters we get, hole punch them and then string them on a ribbon, so my kids can enjoy looking through them and adding to it as they come in the mail.

This year I recieved a card with the following poem on it. The poem was familiar to me as I'm sure it's quite popular, but I couldn't help but read it a few more times. It seems that every year, the world wants to phase out the "Christmas" season and replace it with a "Holiday" season. I can't help but be worried about the impact that has on mankind — shifting the focus from love, peace and hope found in Christ, to the the self indulgent season of gifts and parties.
How do you keep Christ in your Christmas?
Are there ways to stretch it out to last all year?

What is Christmas?
It's more than a day
at the end of the year;
More than a season
of joy and good cheer —
Christmas is really
God's pattern for living,
To be followed all year
by unselfish giving.
For in giving to others
and in being kind
Man finds true joy
and peace of mind —
And peace on earth
will come to stay
When we live Christmas
every day.

Helen Steiner Rice


P.S. Faith, Family & Fun will be taking a blogging break until January 4, 2010. We wish each of you a very Merry CHRISTmas. And look forward to seeing you again in the New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Parting Words

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deuteronomy 11: 19

It's the same every day.
At 8:10 my son and I stand on the corner waiting for our neighbor, and then the three of us walk to school.
The boys will lag behind and I'll tell them to keep coming. Then they'll run ahead and turn around to wait for me.
They'll grab sticks laying by the road and pretend to shoot passing cars. (If you drive by us, don't worry. They're harmless!)
At some point, there's usually talk about the latest game in gym class, and more recently - what's on top of the Christmas wish-list.

But whatever the topic of conversation has been, our parting words are always the same.
Me: Remember, Matthew - God created you.
Matthew: I know.
Me: He loves you.
Matthew: I know.
Me: And He has a purpose for your life.
Matthew: I know.

I believe Matthew does know those things. But I will continue to remind him every day when I take him to school. Because Matthew is only nine years old, and I know there will come days when he's older and the questions of life are more significant than whether to have pizza or a hamburger for lunch. There will be a time when his trials are more serious than learning how to order decimals and memorizing state capitals. One day he'll wish his greatest fear was asking the class bully to give him back his ball.
When those days come, I want my son to be firmly established in his confidence that God created him, loves him, and has a purpose for his life. So as long as he'll listen, I'm going to keep stating those parting words.
And, you know? The day he thinks he's "too big" for me to say them, I think I'll start whispering them to him when he's asleep in bed.

How about you? Of what do you want your children to be confident when they're older? Do you have any special parting words - for school, or bedtime, or otherwise? We'd love to hear about them in the comment section!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Building Your Family's Faith

***Congratulations to the winners of the Zap Zone giveaway - Brian Hossink, Autumn Johnson, J. Olger, and Sarah Surline. Keep your eyes open for more fun giveaways in the future!***

At Trinity, we conduct a monthly Family Moment during our weekend services. These times are designed to encourage and equip parents to teach their children about God. In September, we heard a testimony from Mike Krumm and launched our Family Devotionals for our Philippians study. In October, we shared our vision for Family Ministry, our church findings and taught parents how to pray scripture over their children. In November, Jim Richards shared how he’s learning about God by reading the Bible to his kids at night and we provided a list of recommended Bibles for kids at every age.

You can view these 5 min Family Moments and download free materials here. Enjoy!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday FUN - Laser Tag Style

How's bedtime at your house? Do your kids generally get all ready when you say, "Go!" and you don't have to remind, nag, or cajole them to get the job done?

What's that? You're wondering why I'm bringing this up in a Friday FUN post? No, it is not because I'm trying to take the FUN out of your day. Rather, I am hoping to inspire you with a FUN idea.
Because if your house is anything like mine, bedtime is a chore. Looked upon with about as much enthusiasm as cleaning the bathroom. But after one particularly frustrating night, when my husband and I decided we just can't continue with the nagging, we came up with a plan for FUN.

Here's the deal.
When we say, "Go!" that's all we're going to say. We've told the kids they are responsible for getting themselves ready without Mom and Dad providing constant reminders to do this and that. (Our children are 13, 11 and 9 now. They KNOW what they need to do to get ready for bed!) And if they're ready at the determined time, if there has been no grumbling along the way, we're going to put a star on the calendar for that night.
And when the kids have earned 30 stars?

We're going to Zap Zone for a round of two of laser tag!!!

The kids are excited about this little incentive program. Zap Zone motivates them. Brian and I are looking forward to the FUN, too. But more than that, we're anticipating peaceful evenings between laser tag shoot-outs.

What would work for your family? How could you motivate peaceful evenings by offering some family fun? Maybe it's an outing to the movie theater, a visit to the ice cream store, a trip to the zoo, or an evening of laser tag? We'll be going on Tuesdays ($4 Game Day!). Care to join us???

And now, the giveaway we've been promising all week: Zap Zone has donated four Family Fun packs for our readers! Each pack contains one pass for a FREE game of laser tag and five buy-one-get-one-free passes for laser tag or glo golf. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment here by 10PM tonight (Friday) telling us you would like to be included in the drawing. (Telling us how much you love this blog will in no way increase your chances of winning. But it will bring a smile to our faces. *grin*) We'll draw four winners randomly from all comments left.
If you don't know how to leave a comment, click here for step-by-step instructions.
Please be sure to include your email address in your comment so we are able to contact the winners.
May the peace of Christ rest upon you this weekend.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Building Faith In Children As A New Christian

Are you a parent like me - new to Christianity? I didn't grow up going to church and wasn’t exposed to the church until 12 years ago when I met my wife. Early on I was able to grow in my new faith at my own pace, and challenge myself along the way. Then - six years ago - children entered the picture. Now I’m facing the challenge of growing the faith of my children when I’m still new to my own faith. How do I know if they will believe what I’m saying, or even if what I’m saying is correct?
I think for new believers this can be one of the biggest challenges we face when trying to raise children. How do we build the faith of our young children, when we are still building our own?

I’ve found in the last couple of years is that it is not easy, but taking small (child-like) steps really helps. One of the first things I started when my son was young was reading the Bible to him. We were given a children’s Bible from Trinity Church. He seemed to enjoy it and it was the first time I had heard some of these stories as well.
When my son got to be between 4 and 5 we went to a Christian bookstore together and picked out the next level Bible - fewer pictures and more details in the stories. Each night I was not only learning the stories, I was building his faith. (Along with my own!) Over the past few years we’ve read 2 Bibles, a couple of devotionals and Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn.
Reading to my son has made it much easier to transfer my head and heart knowledge of Christianity to my daughters. It seems to be easier because my confidence level is higher (At least not everything I read is brand new...) and I find myself looking for opportunities to talk to them about God and what it means to be a Christian.

How about you? How has having a family impacted your faith? And how are you impacting theirs?

~Jim Richards, guest blogger

P.S. Be sure to come back Friday to enter for the Zap Zone giveaway!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Will a Band-aid Do?

Imagine you are about to get in your car when you hear the harsh whisper
of a stranger demanding you to remain silent. Before you know what is happening your wallet has been stolen and four inches of sharp metal has been inserted into your flesh.
Blood is flowing from the wound.
The assailant flees.
You reach for your trusty first aid kit. You always knew it
would come in handy.
Taking out a large band-aid, you place it on the
wound and drive home - satisfied that the wound is out of sight and on
the path to healing.

Preposterous, right? If you don't take care of that wound immediately
you are either going to die of blood loss, or eventually from an
infection. You have to deal with the wound. It is senseless not to...
But this is what we inherently condone when we try to change
the behaviors of people without focusing on their motivations. When we
look only at the actions and not the heart. When we try to fix our sin
problem without acknowledging that it's a heart problem. It's like
putting a Band-aid on a deep stab wound.

In Mark 7, Jesus alludes to the power of the heart when he declares,
"Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can
make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a
man that makes him 'unclean.'" (Translation: Why are you focused on the
behavior and not the motivation?)

Seems like it's easy to identify the knife wounds in our kids' lives (the places where sin is infecting) but how can we focus less on the outside condition and more on the inward reality? Let's talk about it together!


P.S. Be sure to stop by Friday. Zap Zone has donated some free passes and we'll be giving them away here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday FUN

Happy Friday to you!
Take a minute to celebrate life with this wonderful couple and their piano duet.
I dare you not to tap your toes and clap along!
Blessings to you this weekend.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Meeting with The Physician - Part II

Did you miss Part I? Click here to read it.

But then His eyes caught mine. He had that look again. The piercing one which went right into my heart. Only this time His gaze was moving back and forth from my heart to my eyes, and from my heart to my mouth.
I wondered what on earth He was doing now. Hadn't we reached our conclusion already?
And I rolled my eyes.
That's it! Do that again. No. Wait. And He put a mirror in front of me. Now do it.
So I did. I might have been a little too expressive with the eye rolling the second time around, but I was losing my grasp on patience.
Thankfully, the Physician had lots of it. Yeah, patience and patients! But at the moment, I had His full attention, as if there were no other patients on His mind except me. And without even a trace of the love leaving His expression, He began to talk.
Karen, that thing you just did with your eyes? You did it because you were not being patient with Me, didn't you.
As if He needed to ask.
It didn't look very nice, did it?
Of course, He was right. Again.
Darling, do you realize that is the same look you give your children when they are asking you for help, and love, and attention all day? Many times when these precious ones just want you to love them, when they need some mercy, you roll your eyes at them because you think you have something more important to do. Why is that, dear one?
I lowered my eyes and replied, "Uh. I don't know. Because I'm busy?"
When I glanced up, He was still looking at me. And that love was still there.
And He opened His mouth to speak again. Come closer. Let me have a look at your mouth. Oh...This is not good. My child, you have allowed harsh words to come out of your mouth. When your son was too busy playing to remember to use the toilet, you got upset with him and made him feel bad. Why did you do that, sweetheart?
Again, I lowered my eyes and replied, "I don't know. Because he should know better?"
Precious, Karen. My beloved child. I want you to model mercy for your children. They need to see it coming from you so they know how to show it to each other.
This time, I looked right at Him. And with tears running down my cheeks I said, "You're right. I know You're right! And I'm trying, Physician. Believe me, I'm trying! But I can't seem to get it right. No matter how hard I try, I lose patience and I say unkind things. I am so sorry. You've got to believe me! I just don't know what to do!"
And then He did the most amazing thing. The Physician reached out and took hold of my right hand. With His other hand, He wiped the tears from my eyes. He looked upon me with that love, and He spoke. My child, do not fear. I will help you. I am going to work in the hearts of your children. I promise. But first? Come. I need to do some work on yours.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Meeting with The Physician - Part I

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

A few days ago I was meeting with our Physician.
The GREAT Physician, that is.
I was talking with Him about my children. My friend gave me a list of 31 Biblical virtues, and every day I talk with the Physician about one of those virtues as they relate to my kids. On this particular day, we were focusing on mercy.
As I do every day, I told the Physician how much I love my children and how great my desire is for them to grow up and become young doctors, walking in His footsteps. Then we started talking about this "mercy" issue.
See, my children are pretty good at being merciful to small animals, and cool bugs they find outside. They know when their friends are in need of kindness and they're able to be merciful toward them. And my kids sure have a handle on understanding when they, themselves, should be the recipients of someone's merciful ways.
But when it comes to showing mercy to one another? Oh, they are desperately lacking.
It is much more common for them to cut each other down and tear one another apart with unkind words. Words which show no signs of mercy. And it hurts my heart when I hear them say these things.
It really makes me sad, and as I talked with my Physician about the sadness in my heart, I nearly started crying. I told Him I know it is more than just the words coming out of their mouths which need to change. I understand it really is a heart issue, and I asked Him to change their hearts. I asked Him to give them new hearts which spring forth mercy and kind words, which build each other up.
At this point, the Physician was quiet and looked at me with gentle eyes. Though His look was full of love, it pierced right through my heart. And I got silent for a moment.
I just looked at Him.
And He kept staring at me with a shocking love, and a look which told me He could see right into my heart.
I asked Him, "Why are You looking at me like that? I'm here to talk with You about my children!"
But He simply kept looking at me.
So I stared back. And I couldn't get over the look of love in His eyes. He wasn't trying to be more stubborn than me. I knew He was trying to tell me something.
But He wasn't talking about my children, and that's what I didn't understand. He knew that's what I was there for. I had made an appointment to talk about my kids, and I fully intended to keep it.

In time, His love won me over and I began to hear what He was saying. And as soon as I heard Him, I knew He was right. The Physician told me that He will work in my children, but He has also given them me. And the Physician reminded me that I am to be a model of mercy to my children. He told me I was right - they need their hearts to be changed - but they also need a model of mercy to follow, and that is one of my primary roles as their mother.
"Oh, Yes! You are so right! You are! You are! I will be that model for them. Yes, I will!"
And I thought we were finished. I was ready to hug Him and be on my merciful way.

But then...

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the Meeting with The Physician!


Monday, November 30, 2009


1 Timothy 2:5 (New Living Translation)
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.

Ever have the sneaking suspicion that something isn't quite right in your checking account?
Let's say your balance on line is significantly different than the one in your checkbook. When this happened to me, I chose to trust MY balance. I continued to purchase as if nothing was wrong.
Some call it denial. I call it another 'd' word.


After a week of living in my fantasy world, my bank sent me a statement. Now I had a choice. Ignore the statement and put it with other bills, or address the issue head on. I took a deep breath, sat down at the computer, and proceeded to open the dreaded statement.

Let the reconciling begin.

I found only one mistake. I had recorded a $150 debit as a $150 deposit. That's a problem. Not a $150 problem but a $300 problem!
Whew! So glad I balanced the account. At the rate I was spending, I would have dug a very deep financial hole.

I stopped and thought of the spiritual ramifications of this lesson: Avoiding the truth has consequences.
And I know I have done this with God.
He has whispered something is wrong and I have listened for the moment, then continued on as if I heard nothing. But eventually the Truth has been revealed - in a broken relationship, a deep wound, or a host of other painful experiences.
Then I faced a choice.
Would I open myself up to the opportunity to be reconciled to the Truth?
I hate to say it but at times in my life I have removed myself from Truth. I have avoided the statements that allow for reconciliation to take place. Rather, I have believed a lie: Reconciling is a bad thing and will limit your happiness.

The Truth is that Jesus Christ desires to live in harmony with me and transform me into His likeness. Only reconciliation can bring the freedom and joy I long for. I love knowing how I stand in relationship to Truth -- I am deeply loved and accepted. Therefore any errors that need correcting are for my good and His glory.
I have begun to love being reconciled. Both in my bank account, and with my God.


Friday, November 27, 2009

FUN with Turkey Leftovers

Happy Friday!
Hope you had a great day of thanksgiving yesterday - enjoying family and friends and the goodness of God.
Now, what to do with all that leftover turkey???

Here's an idea!


Turkey Tortilla Soup

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Divine Calling

“…you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15

We have many different roles in life, mine include: wife, friend, sister, daughter, member, customer, employee and parent. Some of these roles come easily - like daughter, didn’t need to do much for that one! Others take some time and effort - like employee and friend. The one role I choose and continue to develop is that of parent. Often parents are described as “caregivers” or “providers”, but really it is so much more than that.

What if we started to think of parenting as a divine calling? Our primary goals are to raise children that continue to grow in faith, encourage them to use their gifts to glorify God and to serve others with the same compassion that Christ teaches us in the Bible. We need our kids to understand how the world works - in the light of the way God instructs in the Bible. We can send them to their Sunday schools for an hour a week, maybe have them in a Christian school, but if what we do as parents is in conflict of what they are taught in church, it’s all for nothing. It’s a divine calling, that honestly, only falls on us.

Religion (Faith) never thoroughly penetrates life, until it becomes domestic." Horace Bushnel

I love this quote, it’s like anything in life, unless it is repeated, practiced, shown, displayed, acted out, talked about over and over and over… it just won’t stick.

We need to act it out in front them – prayer during difficult moments of the day or times of praise, and not just for food and as a quick blessing before bed. Acts of love towards your spouse and others - kids see this and mimic it to each other. If we show them that patience and kindness is the norm, and not the exception to every day interactions - we are shaping their hearts for the future. Helping them learn values and attitudes that can help them cope in life when they get older and get into difficult situations with peers, etc.

It’s a difficult role we are blessed with, but as I start to think of it as divine calling, it almost doesn’t seem as daunting. God’s grace makes it possible for spiritual formation and He has provided us with the Bible, a church family, and the Holy Spirit to help us nurture our children’s faith.

How about you? Do you find it difficult to make "religion" more domestic? It's easy to slip into the Sunday only mode of being a Chrisitan. What do you do as a family or even individually to keep every day focused on Christ?


Monday, November 23, 2009

Love. Thanks. Ask.

Our kids always fight about who gets to pray. Once we figure out who’s turn it is, we usually sit for a while listening to one of them go on and on with lots of “um’s” and peeks from behind their little hands. So, after more than a few nights of re-heating cold dinners, we gave our kids a little fun instruction to help them with this special time.

We have begun encouraging them to use a 3 sentence format:

1) LOVE: Tell God how much you love him.
2) THANKS: Thank Him for something.
3) ASK: Ask Him for something.

So Riley, our oldest, gave it a shot one night at dinner. In her sweet voice she prayed, “Dear Jesus, I just want you to know how much I love you. Thank you for my family. Please, please, please I’d really like it if you gave me more Polly Pockets.”

Priceless! Ryan and I barely contained our laughter to tell her what a great job she did. To this day, we remain hopeful that one of the kids might get around to praying for our food. But, in the meantime, we are going to enjoy these sweet prayers and often funny requests.

Now, my goal is get Ryan to use this format so I can stay awake until the end of our bedtime prayers.

Please share! We'd love to learn any tips or stories about your prayer time with your spouse or your kids?

~ sharina

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Time for Friday FUN!

Happy Friday to you!

Today I want to do a little experiment with you - and your kids.
Quick, now, call them over to the computer and listen to the Chicken House Mix together.

A few times.

C'mon, it's only one minute and two seconds long - you can do this!

The experiment is this: I want to know if this crazy little song makes you all smile like it does my kids and I. And I want to know if it makes your kids do funny dances around the room.
Seriously. My thirteen-year-old daughter throws her arms around to the beat of the music and seems to have an involuntary urge to crow with the rooster.
It's hilarious.
~ Karen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

I love getting ready for Thanksgiving. I think it's the perfect way to enter the Christmas season. I saw on Facebook recently one of those, "make this your status.." type suggestions of mentioning something you are thankful for with every status update. It seems after the first few days of the more "obvious" selections, the choices would get more personal and reflective.
I think it would be a great idea to start a November tradition of thankfulness around the dinner table. Maybe get a poster or journal and have each child say something they are thankful for each day, but make a rule of no repeats. My three year old Leah is usually thankful for the same thing - "all the people of the world." I love the way she says it, like all the people in the world are a gift to her. So sweet. I hope she keeps this same sentiment as she gets older - taking care of all people, being able to think beyond herself and even those in her family or at her school.

I'll be honest, it's easy for our family to be Thankful this year - steady jobs, healthy kids, a home, school, and a church. There have been Thanksgivings in our life where it was more difficult to be thankful - trying to get pregnant, watching my husband struggle with illness and weight loss, dealing with overtime and stress at work, my husband being without a job, and even just feeling far from God as we head into a season where His grace and love are most apparant.
Does this circumstance sound familiar?
We all have different seasons of life filled with highs and lows. And in the midst of them, the Word urges us to not "be anxious" (Yikes! Something I struggle with for sure!) but to give thanks. And we have a great resource for finding things to be thankful for - our kids. They may surprise you with some moments of gratitude or things to be thankful for that you never would have considered.

Ask your kids over the next few days to tell you why they're thankful, and let us know what they say. We all could use some insight from a childs heart once in a while.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Experience the Power!

The word experience can be defined and used in a variety of ways. For today's purpose, how about this way: Experience the mighty power of Christ.

I grew up in a culture where the charismatic, hand raising, holy rollers “experienced” Christ BUT the the rest of us Christians were much more reserved. We didn’t “feel” and “experience” Christ. Our righteousness was built like a ladder. The higher we climbed, the more righteous we became. The ladder was a set of rules and guidelines. If we followed the rungs of the ladder higher and higher, we would become more righteous in the eyes of God and man. But, don’t get over-excited when you climb that ladder! Don't let the experience take hold and emotions overflow...because emotions are not seen righteous.

Am I the only one that grew up this way or has felt this way at some point during their Christian experience?

Philippians 3: 9-11 “….. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

Paul wants to experience mighty power! Two things strike me. One, his righteousness is not about him. Two, he wants to feel, yes experience the very power - that earth changing totally amazing power - that God used to raise Jesus from the dead. What could take more power than raising the dead? Paul wants to know what it must have felt like to be dead and have God awaken his heart with a kiss from his healing lips. To open his eyes from an eternal death to find his face nestled in the very hands of God. Pulling his face closer to His with a smile and hearing Him speak in the softest and at the same time loudest voice, “Wake up and Live”.

I want to experience this! I want to feel what it is like to be awakened by God. I want to experience the emotion, feel the emotion and, maybe even, display the emotion. Yes, I do!

I want to feel my heart beating wildly in my chest. I want to know Christ for the first time, every day. I want what Paul wanted. I want to experience the Power!

~ Tim

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday FUN - Faith-filled Resources

Hooray! It's Friday!!!

Do you have any special plans for the weekend?

My family and I will be celebrating my niece's birthday at a pool party on Saturday. And Sunday we're going to learn more about the Old Testament at the Walk Thru the Bible seminar at Trinity. Can't wait - because I think having a clearer understanding of the Old Testament is going to be a great help to all of us during family devotions.
So thankful for this resource!

Hey, did you know Trinity offers lots of great resources for our families?
Why not take a minute to follow this link to the Family Life Resource page and see what's available to you. I noticed some great studies coming in January. (Hint: click on the 'Small Groups & Classes' link.)

Enjoy your Friday!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Loving God, Loving Your Baby

When I see a baby laugh, I think of pure joy. We’re drawn to babies laughing, which is evident in the proliferation of baby clips on youtube and America’s Funniest Home Videos. For a super fun pick-me-up, check out triplets laughing on youtube.

There is so much that is innocent, precious, sweet, and a true picture of who our amazing creator God made us to be that can be seen in the joy of a child. As pure and precious as babies are, they need to know their Heavenly Father, and we begin sharing God’s love with them, long before they’re walking and talking. When we talk about sharing Jesus with our children, we usually think of school-aged children, but building faith into their lives begins long before that.
We’re clearly told “God is love...” If God is love, then infants will connect the love they experience from us with Him. So... how you hold your baby, the tone of voice you use when you talk to your child, the songs you sing, and how often you tell your baby that Jesus loves him is even now planting the seeds of love and truth in his heart and life.

A baby’s first impressions of Jesus is up to you. Your hugs, smiles, laughter, and a loving tone of voice are God’s love directly to her. As your child grows, and learns more about God, he will be more open to trusting Him and to loving others. Your child begins her spiritual journey long before she starts walking.

“Jesus loves me this, I know...” can be the song your child hears you sing, as you stroll him, lay her down for a nap, travel in the car, and as you go throughout your day together. It can be the tenor of your lives.
As for me, when I see parents showing love to a child through their words and their deeds, I think of a God who loves me, His child, and I’m grateful for the reminder. And, at the same time, I’m grateful for loving parents who are living their faith and making a difference for all of us.

- Belinda Lund Bjarki, Trinity's Children's Ministry Director

Monday, November 9, 2009

Everyday Moments

Ever feel overwhelmed with the task of raising your child spiritually? Does it have to be that complicated? When I was a child, I vividly remember times where my parents used everyday moments to show me Jesus.

At the age of 4, I stole quarters from my dad’s nightstand. He used that opportunity to share with me about Judas and how he betrayed Jesus because of his love for money. I learned how Jesus died on the cross for my sins and how much He loved me. That night, I invited Christ into my heart and it’s a night I’ll never forget.
Another time, my brother and I were goofing off. He pushed me and my face slammed into the pavement resulting in my teeth penetrating through my bottom lip. Blood gushed everywhere as my parents rushed me to the hospital. My dad and brother sat in the waiting room in agony as they listened to my screams as the doctors stitched my lip. My dad used that moment to share with my brother about the pain Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins.
The memories of my mother passing on her faith are less intentional. I recall her banging her head on the kitchen cabinet and saying, “Lord, these kids are driving me nuts. Please help me!”

A friend recently shared that he will use his failures to teach life lessons. At a store one day, he received terrible customer service and got angry at the salesperson. While steaming and sitting in the car, he told his kids that Jesus would not want him to treat people like that and we should always treat others in a way that we would want to be treated. He went back into the store and apologized to the salesperson. What a lesson!

There are many ways to pass on our faith to our kids. It doesn’t have to be just at bedtime or praying at dinner. There are hundreds of opportunities we have in our daily routine. How are you using everyday situations to share Christ with your kids? Let’s hear them!

~ Sharina

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fun for Families coming December 6th

The Wharton Center is putting on a show for kids again this winter - Click Clack Moo. I went with my son's school last year and just loved it. This is a great thing to do as a family, or for some one-on-one time with one of your kids. More details from the site:
All day long Farmer Brown hears “click clack moo, clickety clackety moo...” The cows are typing and protesting their working conditions! Will Farmer Brown give in to the animals’ demands, in this hilariously “moo-ving” new musical about compromise? Based on the award-winning book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, Click Clack Moo is performed by Theatreworks USA, the same artistic team who brought you If You Give A Pig A Pancake. Book by Billy Aronson; lyrics by Kevin Del Aquila; music by Brad Alexander.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gifts for Life

Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9

Dad, Mom, do you sometimes feel like you do nothing but instruct and teach your children? Do you feel as though you're just no fun, because all you do is say, "Do this," and, "Don’t do that"? Have you been concerned that your children see you as nothing more than a litany of lessons?

Or maybe you're totally cool with the way you teach your children and I'm the only one who struggles???

I love the wisdom of Solomon in the Proverbs, and the encouragement he gives me in raising children. What if we took to heart what Solomon said in Proverbs 1:8-9? (Go ahead and read the above verse again!) What if we thought of the words we speak to our children - the instruction we give them – as gifts for life?

I'm picturing my children opening a gift I've just given them. Imagining the excitement on their faces as they tear open the paper to see what's inside. And, the sheer joy coming from them as they lift the present from the box to examine it more closely.

Yes, that is how I want them to receive my teaching. I am not speaking to burden them with useless information. My role as their mother is to prepare them for adulthood and I want every word I say to them to be like a gift – given and received with the understanding that it will benefit the one who hears it and believes.

Oh! I think I may have just discovered our next family memory verse. How about you?
~ Karen

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hot Bath

But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

Titus 3:4-8 The Message

For twelve years, since the building of our home, I have existed without HOT water—in the bath. Why is this important??? Some could care less whether or not they ever take a bath. I, on the other hand, LOVE baths. It allows me a place in my home where no one can follow me. I can take a book and escape. And that’s what I have always done in each of the houses we have lived in - until this one...the new house. Go figure.

From the moment I discovered this problem, I started asking questions—questions to the builder, questions to the plumbers, questions basically to whoever would listen. Someone must have an answer! But, no one did. Maybe this was a plot against me! Or, maybe God just didn’t want me to take baths. In my madness, these seemed to be viable options.

Finally after 11 years, I became completely desperate. I began transporting hot water from bathroom sink to the bath tub. Ten pitchers later - poof! - I'd have a hot bath. On some level, though, this still did not seem right—shouldn’t I be able to turn on the water and it get hot! Other people I know have hot water every time they get in the tub—why was I not one!

After many, many years, I had resigned myself to this sort of existence. It had become “do-able”. Until one day this fall when my mom and dad came to visit. Before long we were in a discussion about the water upstairs.

All of a sudden my father says, "I’ll take a look at it. I think I know what is wrong with it." Okay, whatever, I thought. In a few moments, he came back down stairs and behold there was HOT water. “What was it?” I desired to know that which had plagued me for years.

“A scald protector—it just needed to be removed.”

It took all of a minute—and now a whole new life of HOT BATHS. In fact, sometimes it is SCALDING—so hot I cannot get in right away or I have to add COLD water (go figure).

One day - as I was getting into my hot bath - God spoke to me in a story.

I had for many years lived a LUKE WARM existence spiritually—I wanted to live with a different temperature but it seemed to elude me. I had always been drawn to God and "knew" He loved me. Wasn’t that enough? Something inside of me cried out “NO—there is so so much more—how bad do you want it?” Looking back I see that I didn't want it bad enough. I was unwilling to search after it with everything in me.

Every so often, thanks to an author or sermon, I would sense my temperature change, but then it would go back to temped. On one level the bath accomplished the cleaning part of the process but with no enjoyment.

Then I became more desperate for more—I started asking more and more questions, started studying more and more books and the Bible. This is the phase of my bath life where I took others “vibrant hot filled lives “and poured them into my life. This is when I couldn’t get enough Beth Moore Studies, not enough books on God, self help books—you name it. Most of my vibrancy came from someone else’s experience. I seemed to “control” in one sense the temperature of my life by how much I poured in. If I stopped pouring in, I would almost immediately go back to my normal lukewarm life.

I think I had finally resigned myself to this being all there was for ME. Others could have the hotness but mine was going to have to be (mostly) artificially created.

Then my FATHER came. And, out of the blue, identified and removed the hindrance. The hindrance in my life centered on a desire to hold on to an offense, and not forgive, which lead to a root of bitterness.

Basically, I had allowed this sin pattern to become a way of life. It is amazing how easy it was for HIM to remove it—He knew right where it was hidden and how to correct the problem. What was also amazing is how quickly transformation of the heart can take place when the blockage is removed. The Holy Spirit was no longer constricted by my sin; it was free to FLOW.

I LOVE my bath time now. I have hot water that flows and flows and flows….thank you JESUS.

~ Wendy

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fall, Faith, & Fun

I used to love paint by number pictures. My type A, non-creative brain could easily create a masterpiece! The earth is alive with color right now, as if the hand of God was lavishly painting each tree and every leaf with rich and vibrant tones! Have you looked around lately? Have you paused from the hectic rhythm of life to marvel in the beauty that is exclusive only to autumn? My breath has been taken away many times over the past couple of weeks as I have tried to soak in what seems to be so fleeting. What have you done with your family to take advantage of the season?

We took my 16 month old niece to a beautiful park last weekend. After taking a bunch of pictures I was struck by one in particular. Raegan was standing in the middle of a pile of leaves with a look of pure wonder on her little face.

Don’t miss the little things…take time to enjoy, marvel, and wonder in the simple things around you. Recapture the beauty our Creator has surrounded us with by seeing it through the eyes of your children.

Take a trip to a park or even in your own backyard. Make leaf piles or build leaf houses with your kids! Afterwards, have them collect a few leaves and use them to make leaf-print placemats. You can find the directions right here!

As you are making the placemats with your children, remind them that just like these placemats will represent their place at your family table, Jesus also has a special place for them at His table in heaven.

- Nicole Hamlin, Family Ministry Intern

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't Give Up!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

I've got great kids. I love them so much!

I know the same is true of you. I know because I've had some of your children in my Sunday school class. I've experienced their charming personalities and I've seen your tender love for them when you drop them off for, and pick them up from class.

Indeed, we have great kids.

But sometimes I feel weary in parenting. Sometimes I get tired of hearing my children complain. Sometimes I wonder if any of the spiritual training I'm trying to give them is making a difference. Sometimes I feel like a failure, and I want to quit.

Do you know what I mean?

However, the Word of God tells me not to give up. It promises me that one day my efforts will produce a harvest.

If only I don't give up.

So, although sometimes I find myself feeling weary, I will not give up. In spite of their tendency to eat with their fingers, I will keep reminding my children to use their forks. Though my children fight, I will continue to pray that God will place in their hearts a desire to live at peace with one another. While it may seem to be inconsequential, I will persist in hanging Bible verses on the bathroom mirrors because I know the kids read them. And even though I am not perfect, I will keep asking God to reflect His love through me to my children.

Because I know my God is faithful. I know He is the One who will ultimately raise these kids. I know I can trust Him. And I know He will produce a harvest, if only I don't give up.

Will you join me in NOT giving up?

~ Karen

Monday, October 26, 2009


I just received a truth that is rocking my world. How did I miss this all my life?

Poser. We have heard that word before. We all fit into that mold in one way or another. I truly have known poser days. But Philippians 2:3 just hit me upside the head. It states, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”

Don’t try to impress others? Man, do I ever want to impress others! I want people to think I have my junk together. Is that so bad? Why is it that being transparent - being real and open - is so hard to live day-to-day?

Easy! If I weren’t faking, posing, or painting on the face I wanted you to see, it would show you who I really am. And, that scares me. I know my heart and my thoughts and if you did, too, you would say, “Nut job!” But, here’s where the verse struck me, “…thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Honestly, I think I’ve always translated that word in my mind from “thinking” to “treating.”

Personally, I believe “thinking” is deeper and more intense than “treating.” Think of you as better? Hmmm…wouldn’t it be much easier to do this thing superficially, treat you nicely, put you first, give you my parking space? But, really I must be thinking of you as better, too.

That is where the poser comes in. I spend most of my life posing to others that I value them and think highly of them based on my actions towards them. We are a pretty civilized group, for the most part. We do treat most people kindly and, in an insincere kind of way, we are act as though we like those around us.

But what about our thoughts? Why did God ask for our thoughts in this verse and not just our actions? Is it possible to muster up thoughts of love, selflessness for our mother-in-law, our boss, our brother? Can we do this? Can we love and care for the hardest most difficult people in our life on a heart level? My first thought was, “not in this life time!” and then came Philippians 2:13 “God is … you the DESIRE and POWER to do what pleases Him”.

Can He give me the desire to love others with a deep and honest love that does not end with a thought of, “that person drives me crazy!”. Can do away with the pretense? Can the poser become real? God says Yes!

~ Tim

Friday, October 23, 2009

Neighborhood Outreach Idea

Ever get caught up thinking, “Why am I really here? What are we doing?” There are so many pressures on our time and on us, as individuals and families. It’s easy to feel torn: We’re pulled in so many different directions.

It’s simple, I know, but Jesus said, "Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the Godflavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept.

We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
(Matthew 5:13-16, The Message)

God’s plan for growing us up is that we become Godly parents building faith into their children (see Deuteronomy 6). It all begins with the family, but it doesn’t end with family. His plan for reaching the world is us, His church. And, He made it clear: we are to be light shining bright in this dark world.

On October 31, when much of our culture celebrates darkness and death, we want to be light bearers, celebrating Jesus, the very breath of life. Because of our very busy lives, many neighbors don’t get to know one another. So why don't we consider this: opening our homes to build relationships with others. How? Maybe instead of passing out candy from behind our doors, we invite a group of neighbors to roast s'mores in our front yard. Or, make a fun activity out of hiding candy in a haystack in our driveway to foster interaction and fun with those neighbors around us. If you'll click here , you'll find a variety ideas for family fun!

Let's be the light we were intended to be.

-Belinda Lund-Bjarki, Trinity's Children's Ministry Director

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I love that God still speaks...I love that he speaks through His Word and His creation. And, recently, I was in awe of how others speak yet I hear His voice so clearly.

That was definitely the case this weekend when my husband and I went out to dinner with a couple that we have not connected with since college. They were within leadership of our campus group at MSU 25 years ago. We had wonderful conversation about family and work and life in general. We spoke of miraculous things we each had seen God do and then some how we ended up on the topic of marriage...specifically our marriage.

The gentleman began to describe his thoughts and concerns when he first heard we were getting married--something like, "Those two are so opposite...this is going to be interesting." Now looking back, I'm sure many people thought the same thing. Let's put it nicely - my husband can be described as a calm, gentle, easy-going type of guy while I, on the other hand, can be described as rather strong-willed and high maintenance type of gal. Yet, God brought the two of us together and the sparks began to fly!

Our friend continued to describe stages that he, in his forty some years of marriage and ministry, has watched couples transition through. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully. He described the first three stages which made complete sense - it seemed like we had just gotten through them. First, we come together because we are ATTRACTED to each others' differences. Then we marry and becomes ANNOYED by the very things that attracted us! This leads us to the third stage - ANGER. We become angry because we cannot seem to change them. This third stage is the point at which marriages seem to thrive or die. You have a critical choice to make at this point --were you in this for the long haul or not? It is usually at this point that one or both of the spouses, if they can't get past the anger, find someone they are attracted to and start the three stages all over again.

If you make it past the ANGER stage you begin to ACQUIESCE (big word for you basically give up trying to change the other spouse). Then you begin to ACCEPT the spouse which allows you to move toward actually ADMIRING the spouse that used to drive you crazy. Finally you come to the end where you actually ADORE your mate and can't imagine how you could ever live without them.

When he got done going through the list, I had tears in my eyes. With each and every stage he described, my heart resonated. I knew these stages, I had lived through these stages. I actually had lived in the annoyed and anger stage for a very long time and did not know or really care that there were any other stages. Now looking back, I am so thankful we have found life on the other side of anger and frustration in our marriage. Most of all, I am so amazed to see how God had changed ME. And, in changing ME, He has changed our marriage, stage by stage.

~ Wendy

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cupcakes & Fire Engines

In our last Parent's Community class, nearly 50 Trinity families joined together to live out "SERVING like CHRIST" (Philippians 2). Both parents and children decorated and delivered treats to our local firefighters who risk their lives to keep us safe. We hit 11 fire stations in the Greater Lansing area and had a BLAST!! It was so cool to see families interacting together and reaching beyond themselves.

Riley, our 4 year old, meticulously iced and decorated her cupcakes with 5 m&m’s. When she heard that she could eat one, her eyes got BIG and she proceeded to load it with so many m&m’s that you couldn't find one bit of the frosting! I couldn't stop laughing!

Our family went to the Marshall Street fire station. We were given a HUGE welcome…kids hopped on the trucks, toured the facility, ate popcorn, sat around with the firemen.
This was a wonderful experience. Our children learned the joy of serving others! God truly does work through M&Ms, cupcakes and little hands! Check out our Parents Community...we meet from 6:30-8pm at Trinity on Wednesday nights through November 4th. We'd love to see you.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Time Better Spent

I've always spent time on the computer. Sometimes, in the evening, surfing aimlessly. You know...checking in on the celebrity scene ( a little time salivating over new shoe arrivals ( in on my teams (espn, checking the weather back home so i could feel sorry for myself about how cold it is here ( Sorry, I'm a southerner having a tad bit of difficulty (understatement) adjusting to the cold.

HOWEVER, something then happened. I stumbled across Beth Moore's blog last Christmas. And, honestly, i can't remember what happened after that. In what order. How it began to snowball. But, today, i have a handful of blogs I love visiting.

Blogs that feed my faith while often making me laugh and sometimes cry: Lysa Terkeurst, It's Almost Naptime, Jordan Jones, Surviving Motherhood.

Blogs that are creative, inspiring, just plain fun to look at Fabulous K, Simply Seleta.

Blogs that get me in the mood for a little home decorating A Soft Place to Land and the Nesting Place.

Let me give you just a taste of what I'm talking about. Promise me, if you don't read anything else today you'll read this.

See what I mean?

Today I don't know the latest celebrity going into rehab. I couldn't tell ya what Nine West's new fall line looks like. And, I don't know today's temperature back home. (Of course, I still check in on my beloved Spartans.) NOW my time on the computer is better spent because of many gifted folks, sharing a little of themselves -- their faith, their creativity, their talent.

As we begin sharing on our new Faith, Family and Fun blog, we encourage you to visit often. It is our hope to come along beside you - in your faith walk and the faith walk of your family. Let's do this together - let's share our faith, our creativity and our talents!

This blog was created to provide a special (and fun) opportunity to build a new found sense of community, with an increased level of connection. Trinity families - and all those who visit this site - who may not have connected before can connect now! A great way to do this to share your comments. By commenting on our various posts, you share your insights and maybe even your struggles. We want to hear from you! To learn how to post a comment, please simply click on the word "Questions" found above.

~Leigh Ann

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Measure of Success

Ryan and I are in the early stages of raising our family. We have a four year old, three year old and six month old. The other night our conversation became quite serious. As parents, in the midst of it all, how do we know if we are successfully raising our children? How do we measure our success (or lack thereof)?

Do we look around - to the families we admire - and see how we're measuring up? Do we compare the behavior and hearts of our children with other children? What measuring stick do we use? How do we gauge? How do we know?

When we look at scripture, it all points back to loving the Lord and loving others. Deuteronomy 6:5 -7 gives us clear instructions for raising our children.

5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

In a society where families are busier than ever, how do we keep Deuteronomy 6:5-7 the foundation, the guiding force in raising our family?

God designed the HOME to be the primary place for spiritual growth. Studies show that parents are 2 – 3 times more influential in the faith development of their children…more than any pastor or church program. Yet, we see today spiritual life in the home is virtually non-existent.

Research tells us that fewer than 10 percent of churched families read the Bible, pray (other than at meal times), or do acts of service together as a family.

At Trinity, we are committed to helping families Build Faith @ Home. We created this blog as a way to inspire, motivate and equip you as parents in reaching your kids for Christ. Each week, we will feature new posts emphasizing Faith (Monday), Family (Wednesday) and Fun (Friday).

Please join us as we grow and learn together! Bookmark this page and check in often!

~ Sharina

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Welcome to Trinity's Faith, Family & Fun blog. We're so glad you found us!

We created this blog as a way to inspire, motivate and equip you, as parents, in reaching your kids for Christ. Each week, we will feature new posts emphasizing Faith (Monday), Family (Wednesday) and Fun (Friday). Our goal is to help families Build Faith @ Home.

The blog will go "live" Saturday, October 17.
But in the meantime, since you're here, please feel free to check out a few of our posts below and explore some of our links!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tell Them Now

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
Luke 11:9

My son had lost his Nintendo DS. One minute he had it, and the next? It was gone.

Now, Matthew is known around our house for misplacing things, so I wasn't surprised when he told me he couldn't find the DS. I figured it would just show up – like all the other lost items tend to do. But this time, the lost item stayed lost for weeks. In fact, Matthew seemed to nearly forget about it. Until his friend called and invited him over to play.

Matthew was excited about the invitation and quickly donned his shoes and coat, and began looking for his DS. Matthew and this particular friend always play their DSs together.
Suddenly his eyes filled with tears because he remembered his DS was lost. And he began a frantic search. Yes, Matthew began searching and I began praying.

LORD, I know You know where Matthew's game is. Would You please, please show him today? Even now?

I was confident God knew the location of the absent DS and I planned to tell Matthew after we found it that I had prayed for God to show us. And then it was as if God said to me, No, Karen. Don't wait. Tell him now.

But, God, I argued, what if we don't find it now?

Tell him!

So I did. I said, "Matthew, I'm asking God right now to show us where your DS is."

Moments later – we found it! Stuck inside the couch through a hole I didn't know existed.

This time, it was Matthew who prayed, "Thank You, God, for finding my DS!"

And this time, his tears were happy tears.

As I reflected on this event with Matthew, hoping it would be something he always remembers, praying it would be a moment which grows his faith, I realized there was a lesson in it for me, too.

While it's good for me to point out God's faithfulness and remind my children of the ways He has answered our prayers, I think it's better for me to tell them I'm praying while we're still in the middle of the storm. I think it helps them learn to watch for God. I think it models faith in the midst of what we cannot see. And when God, in His perfect timing, resolves our situation – I think it brings Him more glory.

Are you in the middle of a difficult circumstance today? How about telling your kids – right now – that you're asking God to show you the way!

~ Karen

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Acts of Kindness

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Last winter I took off a few days during the Christmas season to spend with my kids. Earlier that year, I had stumbled on a great site with ideas of acts of kindness that can be done as individuals or in groups: Acts of Kindness

My kids and I chose a few items from the list to put into action. What a great couple of days! We baked brownies and cookies with notes inviting our neighbors to Trinity. One neighbor sent a thank you note in return, which was great to share with the kids.

We also picked up big box of donuts and took them to our local fire department. They were very appreciative and gave the kids a tour – of course, the kids loved the fire trucks. It was a big highlight for them!

Later in the winter I was able to find an organization that accepted care packages for soldiers who were not receiving anything from home. We shopped for the necessities and they colored pictures thanking them for their service.

This fun website offers a number of daily acts of kindness that are sure to provide your child with what faith in action can look like. Here are a few of my favorites:

10 Students can clean classrooms for the custodian.

25 Be a good neighbor. Take over a baked treat or stop by to say “Hello.”

28 Say something nice to everyone you meet today.

38 Volunteer to read to students in the classroom.

52 Give another driver your parking spot.

53 Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.

66 Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.

77 For one week, act on every single thought of generosity that arises spontaneously in your heart, and notice what happens as a consequence.

82 Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.

So here's your challenge: check out the Acts of Kindness site by clicking here and share with us the acts of kindness that resonate most with you and your family. Then, "GO!" and spread a little kindness and compassion.

~ Kelly

Saturday, August 1, 2009


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