Monday, May 3, 2010

On Hold

Sometimes our plans change, and we need to pause a moment to regroup.
Been there?
That's where we are right now. So for the time being, Faith, Family & Fun will be on hold.
But we don't want to leave you stranded! Feel free to visit Trinity's other blog, hosted by our Women's Ministry: SHE Blogs.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Nutrition Can be FUN - Get Sneaky!

Goal: To increase the amount of veggies and fruits your children are eating
Challenge: Getting them to put them in their mouths and swallow them without having dinner time become a warzone
Outcome: ??

Ok – so if you saw the last post on nutrition, you read about the growing problem of childhood obesity, processed foods, and an overall lack of nutrition among Americans today. Maybe you agree and perhaps you want to begin to make changes within your own family. But maybe you are thinking that you have the pickiest eaters (spouse included!) known to earth and you don’t want your dinner table to double as a battlefield. Well, there might be a way for your children to eat their favorite foods – macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, brownies, and cookies and get huge doses of the nutrients their bodies need as well!

I came across Missy Chase Lapine, aka The Sneaky Chef. Her recipes include the kid-friendly foods but they have been chocked full of veggies and fruits. I was a little skeptical at first, but after ordering her cookbook and trying the recipes myself, I must say I am a believer! I figured it would be harder to “sneak” the foods by older kids – but a very picky 17 year old ate one of the hamburgers I made with the spinach and blueberry puree (unknowingly of course!) and LOVED it!

Even if you are skeptical, try it! It will be fun “sneaking” something good over on your kids. See the link below to Lapine’s website for free recipes. Remember that this is just one method to increase the overall health of your family. It is still very important to serve children fresh fruits and vegetables every day. You will be their model as they grow and begin to make food choices on their own.

~Nicole Hamlin, Family Life Minstries Intern

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Families Need Nutrition

Families have many needs today! We live in a fast-paced society and that often carries over into our family life as well. One of the requirements of my Family Life Education program at Spring Arbor University is to design a program that will target one need that families face. While there were many directions I could have taken with this project, I felt strongly that many families are lacking in a crucial area – nutrition. America as a whole has higher levels of obesity and in fact as many as 1 out of 3 children are now overweight or obese.
God made the earth to produce the nutrients to sustain our earthly bodies. But throughout the ages, we have made food easier to fix and seemingly tastier to accompany our busy lives. In the hectic schedule of everyday life it is difficult to refrain from fast food and prepackaged meals at times, but we as a society are paying the price. With the rise in obesity also comes an increase in diabetes, heart disease, and various other diseases and behavioral issues. Even “healthier” choices presented to us at restaurants and supermarkets are often two times the portion we are supposed to consume, and are full of sodium and fat.

If I have you discouraged or upset (sorry!), don’t be! There are ways to change the direction we have been going. It will take time, energy, and even sacrifices. But as you look at your children and want only the best for them, wouldn’t that also include the best foods that will sustain their bodies in the years to come? We need to understand what healthy nutrition is and what it isn’t. Don’t just rely on what you have heard or what the media says is good for you. There are many good books, websites, and resources available that provide education on nutrition. Even your Christian bookstore carries a sizeable number of books on health as God designed.

If you are asking how you even begin to make healthy changes without dinner time becoming a war zone, stay tuned. Because on Friday I will have some ideas for how you can start increasing the amount of vegetables your children are eating…without them even knowing! To good health!

~ Nicole Hamlin, Family Life Ministries Intern

Monday, April 26, 2010

Low Fuel - No Fuel

I never thought it would happen to me. I prided myself in pushing the limits without its embarrassing consequence. But once, as I was taking my son and his friend to their football game, it happened. For the first time in my life I ran out of gas. I mean, I saw the low fuel light flash several times (all right, it flashed so many times that it stayed on), but I ignored it. I ignored it because, in the past, I had driven miles with the low fuel light flashing and remaining on, without running out of gas. I am convinced more so now than ever, that if you keep driving on low fuel, it will eventually become no fuel.

This incident taught me a profound lesson about my life: I have a tendency to ignore the low fuel light flashing on the dashboard of my life. I ignore it because I believe I can push my body and mind to preach, teach, serve, minister, care for, and write one more day, one more week or one more month on the fumes of independence rather than the fuel of dependence on Jesus. Then it happens. I simply run out of gas in every area and relationship of my life. If I keep running on low fuel, I will eventually have no fuel to serve God, my family, my teammates, my community, and my world.
These days, I am learning that every week I need to intentionally find time to rest, recover, refuel and reflect, in order to give God and others my best self. Spending time with my wife and kids, writing, running/walking, praying, and journaling are just a few ways I rest, recover, refuel and reflect.
When do you rest, recover, refuel and reflect? What kinds of things do you do to refuel your energy tank and recharge your battery? What are some new practices you can begin to rest, recover, refuel and reflect, so that you give God and others your best self?

~Pastor Marvin

Friday, April 23, 2010

Road Trip FUN

In a few weeks, my family will be on the road. We’re looking forward to the trip, but I also know there will be moments in the car when it will be a challenge to turn boredom into family fun.

We’ll stock up on snacks, books, paper, and a couple of clipboards. (Full disclosure: there will be an IPod and a Nintendo DS in the car, too.)

We’ll also fall back on some family favorites:

• The License Plate Game

We’ve played two versions of this game. For keeping track of license plates from the 50 states, I download a list of states here, a website with lots of great ideas for car games.

We also play a version of this game that requires players to come up with a fun phrase using the letters from a license plate as the first letters of the words in the phrase. E.g., MHG becomes Mom Hugs Grandma.

• CDs

We love The Chronicles of Narnia, Focus on the Family’s Radio Theater audio of this C.S. Lewis classic, available here.

Another family favorite is the silly songs on Sandra Boynton’s Philadelphia Chickens or Dog Train CDs.

• Story Writer

In our version, one person starts the story by writing the first line of the story, the second person writes the second line, and so on.

• 20 Questions

This classic works for us, but does elicit a few squabbles over whether the item in question has been visible to all during the duration of the game.

• Trinkets from the Dollar Store

When the kids were younger, I surprised them with a small toy as they got into the car each morning. I may do that again this year, simply because it’s a family tradition.

Do you have any suggestions or advice? Any road trip stories to share?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Read the Bible with Your Family

Something special is on the horizon.
And you and your family can play a part!
Perhaps you know the National Day of Prayer is coming up on May 6. But did you also know there is a Bible reading marathon happening the 24 hours prior to the May 6 activities?

Beginning at 11:00am on May 5, and continuing through 10:00am on May 6, the entire New Testament is going to be read aloud within the city of Lansing. People will read for 15-minute segments from the Capitol Building, a downtown church, and from their own homes.
Readers are still needed between 2:30pm and 6pm on May 5 at the Capitol, and between 1am and 8am on May 6. The 1am-8am readings will happen in individual homes. Our hope is that some families will read together. Perhaps spouses, or parents and older children, would be willing to wake up and read to one another during the over-night shift!
This reading marathon was a wonderful event last year and we trust it will be this year, too.
God's Word is powerful!

If you would like to sign up to read, or just have questions, please leave a comment with your contact information, or click here to email me.



Monday, April 19, 2010

Do You Have a GPS?

Once, when my husband and I were vacationing in Southern Florida, we decided we would drive the coastline south to Fort Lauderdale. We wanted to visit our friends who were staying there, as they sought treatment for their handicapped son. While I was hoping for an enjoyable, scenic drive, we ended up encountering four or five DETOURS.
All I wanted was the beauty and peace of the ocean and what did I get but the inconvenience of detours. A trip that should have taken an hour was turning into double the time. I tried calling our friends to tell them we were on our way down, but no one picked up. I had no idea how we were going to find them!
Just as we entered the city limits of Fort Lauderdale, the overwhelming urge to use the restroom overtook me.
So we stopped.
And before we got started again, we tried calling our friends. Still no answer.
BUT, as we turned back onto the main road, we could not believe our eyes. Our friends were pushing a wheelchair with their handicapped child across the street - right in front of us!
What were the chances???
We were in awe. And our friends were sure surprised! We had a great afternoon with them. It was truly God –ordained.

It wasn’t until the ride back to our hotel that I sensed God speaking a very simple yet profound message to my heart. I had mapped out my trip and was so disappointed when the detours interrupted my scenic plans .Yet because of those detours and inconveniences we arrived at the perfect moment to meet our friends.
This was a picture of my spiritual journey as well. Oh, how grateful and humbled I was to understand that God’s routing and timing of my life is precise and so well orchestrated. At that moment, I was overwhelmed by how TRUSTWORTHY my God is and how He truly does work all things together for my good.
All I could do was give praise and thanks for the amazing GPS (God Positioning System) that had led us on our journey.

How have you seen His GPS at work in your life?


Friday, April 16, 2010

Minute To Win It Fun

I don't know about you but if you haven't seen the show chances are you have seen the commercials. Balancing, bouncing, bobbling and more all in the name of a challenge and if you are on the show a chance to win $1, 000,000.

While having a family dinner at my mother-in-laws recently we decided to give some of the challenges a try and what happened next was an afternoon of laughter, pure delight and FUN!

Here are some of the challenges that we tried:

This Blows
Line up 15 plastic cups in a row and using the air from a balloon blow all of them off the table or, in our case, past a line in under 60 seconds.

The Nutstacker
Using a chopstick or skewer stack lugnuts one on top of each other 10 high.
We varied the challenge making it whoever got the most in a minute as none of us were able to successfully get 10 in under a minute. :)

Movin' On Up
In this one you take a stack of cups, marking one. The challenge is to try to get through the entire stack in under a minute, by repeatedly removing the top cup and placing it on the bottom.

Wheel of A Deal
20 cards face down, 5 stands...T-minus 60. Sort the cards before the time runs out.

When we played we were playing with three generations ages 3-60 and every one had a blast. No one won a million dollars but we were all winners. I can here the tales being told 20 perhaps even 50 years from now, "Remember the time..."
To create your own family memories and for an afternoon or evening of laughter and fun, check out the website for even more crazy challenges!

Let me know how it goes!


Note- Be sure to click on the links above each description for more details on how each game is played.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Devotions for Little Kids

Riley (5), Malia (3) and Lucas (10months) love this devotional book!! It's a simple 2-3 min read along with a song that reinforces the story. We play a song on the CD player while they lay down and settle in for the night and it helps them to have a bedtime routine.

One night, Riley said, "Mom, would you tell us the story about Ruth & Naomi again?" I thought I'd have to bring it down to their level so I proceeded to tell them about how Ruth said she would follow Naomi and help her. Riley interrupted me and said, "That's not how it goes. Ruth says, 'Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.'"
I guess they're learning a lot more than I realize.
And, they're growing SOOO fast!!

How do you do devotions as a family?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Coveting My Neighbor's Struggle

Parent Night at my children’s school was over, and I walked to the parking lot with a friend whose son was in my son’s class. “This year is going to be tough for me,” she remarked. “The teacher is marvelous, but she mentioned that our kids are now old enough that less parent involvement is needed. I’m going to miss not being in the classroom very much.”

Inwardly, I sighed. That hadn’t been my reaction, and I felt guilty. If I loved my son as much as this mom loved her child, then I, too, would be grieving the loss of this classroom contact. Instead, what I had done was to make a mental note to share with my son at breakfast the next morning, my excitement over his new teacher and all the new things he would be learning.

But, I caught myself as I got into my car. I’ve come to realize that life with God means paying close attention to my thoughts. Psalm 139:23 (NIV) says: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” My anxious, self-defeating thoughts were leading me away from God, and I needed to turn them over to God.

So, I did just that. Now, God doesn’t promise that obedience will always be followed by understanding, but in this case God rewarded my obedience with a bit of insight.

I realized I had it wrong. I was coveting my neighbor’s struggle! My friend is an extrovert. (See last Wednesday’s post on extroversion and introversion.) She excels at organizing events and encouraging our kids to have fun. I can learn a lot from her about being in the moment with my children and giving other people the gift of inclusion. But, as an extrovert, she at times struggles with celebrating her children’s growing independence. In contrast, I’m an introvert. Celebrating my children’s development comes more easily to me. It’s an area where I can come alongside her.

I Corinthians 12: 17-20 (NIV): If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

~ Marilyn

Friday, April 9, 2010

FUN with Bean Burritos

Did you see this post about storing beans upside down? And about making cans of refried beans 'p**p'?
In it I suggested that I would share a refried beans recipe if anyone wanted me to. And someone did. *grin* So here you go, Marilyn. And anyone else who happens to see this!

I have refried beans in my pantry, boys who are ready to 'help,' and the following recipe. And tonight we're having Bean Burritos!

Mix together in a large bowl:
1 can refried beans (Be sure to let your boys help with getting the beans out.)
1 cup salsa
1 cup prepared rice
1 cup cooked, cubed chicken
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Place about 1/3-1/2 cup mixture off-center on burrito-sized flour tortillas. Fold sides in and roll up. Place in a greased 9x13 pan, and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

I often make this recipe when taking a meal to a new mom, or ill friend. It's super easy to just double it - and then dinner is ready for them AND us! My family loves this dinner, and I hope yours will, too.
If not, at least your boys will have fun making the can of beans, well, you know.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Mothers

I Corinthians 12 tells us that God delights in diversity! As the body of Christ, we are called not just to put up with each other, but to celebrate our differences and to need each other.

Psychologists tell us that extroversion and introversion are among the most stable of personality traits. I want to share some info about extroverted versus introverted moms that has helped me understand my strengths and struggles as a mom, as well as the strengths and struggles of moms whose personalities differ from mine.


• Exploring the world with your young children
• Being on the go and thriving at a busy pace
• Providing your children with opportunities to be with people
• Teaching your children the importance of social skills
• Enjoying casual conversations with children; feeling free to ask them questions
• Being “in the know” when it comes to community, school, etc.
• Providing the spark to get things going and keep things moving
• Connecting and thriving in large group activities

• Being isolated at home with babies and preschoolers
• Tuning out social and other external expectations
• Worrying whether your children have enough friends and/or activities
• Overextending
• Respecting a child’s personal space
• Listening rather than talking
• Understanding an introverted child’s need for alone time


• Observing and reflecting on your children to get to know each one in depth
• Encouraging your children not to overextend
• Respecting and understanding a child’s need for time alone
• Respecting a child who’s not one of the crowd
• Providing a quiet and calming presence
• Tuning out distractions to concentrate on one child or one thing at a time
• Limiting extraneous involvements
• Standing back and watching your children be active and interact on their own

• Being outwardly focused on children and the tasks at hand
• Conflicts between the need to tune out distractions and the family’s need to interact
• Handling a large family or large groups of people
• Finding the energy to maintain the pace of active young children and adolescents
• Responding “on the spot” without time to think things through
• Being as accessible to your children as you think you should be
• Understanding an extroverted child’s need to be on the go and to think aloud

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do the strengths and struggles on these lists resonate with you?

Source: MotherStyles by Janet P. Penley


Monday, April 5, 2010

Who Needs Instructions???

Just recently we purchased a couple pieces of furniture from Ikea--I was so excited. I was not excited, however, when I saw the size of the boxes and the realization hit me—assembly was required.

I know enough to know that the first thing you do when you open the boxes is find the instruction manual as fast as possible. It is only then that you can truly evaluate what you have gotten yourself into. I had gotten myself into a BIG project.

I began scanning the 16 steps and proceeded to charge ahead. Before long, I figured out that the first three steps were done incorrectly and I had to take the bed completely apart. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Deep breath.

I began again -- this time being incredibly careful -- but once again, I went too fast and overlooked another key step. Undo the work again.

Confession: I dislike having to follow instructions.

BUT instructions are important.

I have tried to assemble my life without looking closely at THE instruction book. I found the verses in the Bible I liked and skimmed over those that I did not like, or didn’t understand. I often just watched others' lives - especially those that were similar to me - and followed their lead. Eventually, though, my life would have to be disassembled so that it could be reassembled properly.

And at that point, I really wanted to look again at the instruction book. Boy, did I study it closely so as not to make the same mistake again. When I looked carefully, I started to notice foundational instructions that I had missed such as: Trusting God is a must. A life of forgiveness and love are critical if you a follower of Christ. God has a purpose for my life -- it is not my life anymore to do as I please.

Those are just a few of the key instructions I had chosen to overlook. Thank God that He loves me enough to break down my construction and rebuild me.

Have you ever gone through re-construction?


Friday, April 2, 2010

Resurrection Cookies - Have Fun AND Celebrate Jesus

Here's a great activity you can do with your kids which will give you an opportunity to talk about Jesus' death and resurrection. You'll need your Bible, and just a few ingredients. So check your pantry, then be sure to set aside time tomorrow night to make these cookies!

Click here for all the details.

And, in case you need to know - service times for this weekend at Trinity are posted in the sidebar to the left. See you there!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Basket with Meaning

I saw this idea and thought it was WONDERFUL! Instead of doing the Easter Bunny basket theme, try giving your children a meaningful Easter basket filled with reminders of the true meaning of Christ's ressurection. Include a card with a description of the meaning behind each item:

A Lamb: This represents the Lamb of God who came to take away our sin.

In a plastic egg: Jelly Beans that are the following colors:
  • black : Stands for the darkness of our lives before Jesus when we were still in sin

  • red: Stands for Jesus shed blood

  • white: Stands for our sins that are washed away

  • yellow: Stands for streets of gold in heaven

  • green: Stands for growing in Jesus
Bookmarks or story books that represent the story of Easter.
Rock candy to represent the stone that was rolled away.
Chocolate coins to remind us of the 30 pieces of silver.
An empty plastic egg with a marking pen write "He is Risen" on the outside. The egg is empty for the "Empty Tomb."

Children remember EVERYTHING and are sponges for knowledge. Use this as a time to teach them about Christ and all that He means to us!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Preparations

Easter Sunday is just six days away!
What are you planning to do this week to prepare?
My kids and I will be talking throughout the week about the meaning of Easter and what Jesus did for us on the cross. Though they are young, my children all try to understand as much as they can grasp at their age. We are going to read Matthew 26:11-66, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 23:1-56, John 18:28 - 19:42 and discuss what the Bible has to say about Good Friday and Easter. I encourage you to read these verses with your family this week and remember what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Another thing we like to do as a family to grow our faith is to reenact the Last Supper. I love reading the scripture and hearing my kids repeating back to me what they learned or already knew. I am amazed how much they discover every time I read them this scripture in the Bible. Each time we talk about it they learn so much more and pick up on another little concept.

Easter is a very exciting, amazing day when Jesus rose from the dead three days after He was laid in that tomb. We will have a celebration on Easter Sunday and rejoice that Jesus is a living Savior and He is no longer dead! We will continue to teach our children about the Biblical meaning of Easter and every other holiday, until they can fully grasp the power and love of our Savior. And I invite you to join us on this journey of growing our faith.
Yes, Easter is just six days away. I hope some of the ideas I have shared today will help you this week to prepare!


Friday, March 26, 2010

FUN with Dinner

Next Thursday is April Fool's Day. Do you know what you're having for dinner?
How about CAKE?

Actually, this delicious looking treat is two meat loaves, baked in 8-in. round cake pans, and frosted with mashed potatoes. I decorated it with ketchup and mustard dots.
My children look forward to cake for dinner every April 1.

And for dessert?
We'll be having taco salad. (Don't have a picture. Sorry!)
Scoop ice cream into waffle bowls and decorate them with coconut which has been colored green and yellow. (To look like lettuce and cheese.) Maraschino cherries serve as tomatoes, cut up licorice will be your black olives, and whipped topping looks like sour cream.

Give it a try. I promise, your family will love it!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quiet Time or Family Time - One and the same?

Last summer I took my boys to Lake Lansing Park because they wore me out with their begging asked me to. I had gone through a rushed and hectic morning and hadn't been able to have my quiet time with God. Figured once the boys were happily settled with their fishing rods, I could sit and enjoy the quiet with God.
Yes. It all sounded great to me!
Upon arrival at the park, however, while Joshua ran quickly to the fishing dock, Matthew begged asked me to throw the football around with him.

But what about my quiet time??? I whined inwardly.

Throwing the football was not what I had in mind. I wanted to be alone with God. Wasn't that the better thing for me to do? I wanted to pray and draw close to Him!
Sounds all nice and spiritual, doesn't it? But do you see how selfish the above statements are? I, I, me, and I.
The Holy Spirit graciously pointed out my selfishness, and prompted me to put down my Bible and pick up the football. And do you know what happened?
I discovered that I could love God by loving my son. As I threw the football around with Matthew, I prayed for him. I prayed that he would grow stronger in his faith every day. I prayed for myself, as Matthew's mom - that God would use me to reflect His love to my son.
And even though I wasn't quiet, even though I wasn't reading my Bible, I was very aware of the presence of God. I'm sure I saw Him smiling on my son and I. It was a wonderful time of communion with God - playing football with my son.

In what ways have you sensed God's presence by serving your family?


Monday, March 22, 2010

Gratitude and Grace

In two recent Wednesday posts, I’ve shared a bit about how I’m learning to better listen to the Holy Spirit during day-to-day interactions with my husband.

There’s a brief space of time between my husband’s communication and my response. It’s during those brief moments that I can choose to listen to the Holy Spirit . . . or not. And after listening, I can choose the respectful response . . . or not.

Reflecting on these experiences brings to mind a short story by Christian author Flannery O’Connor. In “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” O’Connor’s main character is a contemptuous old woman who is shot dead by a drifter. Only at the moment of her death, do her heart and mind open to God.

As she dies, her killer says, “She would have been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

While that short story has a somber plot, it resonates with me. Yes, I’m thankful for the many delightful gifts God has given me: my husband, our children, our extended family, our friends, my job, and our home. I’m also thankful for the simple pleasures that each day typically brings. I have so much, an outpouring of God’s grace.

But, I’ve come to conclude that the real evidence of God’s continuous grace in my life is the constant nudges from the Holy Spirit that convict me of sin. Sometimes they come during real-time interactions with the people I meet over the course of a day. Other times they come while I’m in prayer, or studying my Bible, or sitting in the sanctuary at Trinity on a Sunday morning. Just a few of weeks ago—during our sermon series on Reasonable Sins—I was prompted to write an apology note for some ungracious speech.

Often, those nudges are like being shot. They’re humbling. They’re an assault on my pride and my independence.

But because they are all of those things, they drive me to a greater dependence on God and a deeper appreciation of His love for me. They’re what I need to grow as a Christian.

For this outpouring of grace, I lift up my hands in gratitude.

John 1:16 (ESV): And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Family Fun Coming April 20!

Here is a great opportunity for families to expand their global perspectives and support a worthy cause. Trinity Church is hosting a concert by the internationally acclaimed African Children’s Choir on April 20th at 7:00 pm. As their website states, "The African Children’s Choir™ is made up of some of the neediest and most vulnerable children in their countries. Many have lost one or both parents to poverty or disease. The African Children’s Choir™ helps these children break away from the everyday cycle of poverty and hopelessness."
There is no admission fee to the concert, but you do need a free ticket to come. The tickets will be available at Trinity Church's office and after worship services, beginning April 5th. There are a limited number of tickets available. A free-will offering will be taken to support the choir’s efforts back in Africa. For more information about the African Children's Choir, visit their website:
Come with your family and be a part of a wonderful evening of music and hope. Come and be a part of supporting these children. If you would like to volunteer on the evening of the concert as an usher or product table assistant, contact Carolyn Kersten by clicking here.

See you at the show!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Let Your Words Be Few

We arranged for a baby sitter, but hadn’t decided what to do on our date night.
My husband suggested a bike ride.

I wanted to suggest some the other options. “You’re right, we could go on a bike ride. But, we could also—”

I wanted to analyze the pluses and minuses of the bike ride. The sun still sets pretty early. Can we really make it from Hawk Island Park to the state capitol—and back again—before the park closes?

Then I remembered the space between stimulus and response—that brief moment between my husband’s suggestion and the reply I would make. Perched right in the middle of that moment, I should take time to consider how my husband would receive my words. Could I say a Christ-like response instead?

The previous day, I tried to dream up with some ideas for our date. Drawing a blank, I reluctantly defaulted to “Well, there’s always a movie.” But, after scanning the movie reviews, I didn’t see a movie we’d both like.

In contrast, my husband had just made a marvelous suggestion on one of the first warm evenings of the year. I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do.

So, instead of firing a series of questions and comments at my husband that would come across as disrespectful of his insight, I decided to simply affirm him by enthusiastically saying yes!

Sometimes, we should keep commentary to ourselves. There’s a time for discussion, but often simple affirmation blesses our husbands.

It’s all about love and respect, as we listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit during that brief space between stimulus and response.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Faith Like A Child

My husband and I joined the Parents Community at Trinity last Fall and learned about Leading a Child To Christ. Mark and I found that we often struggle with issues like "What age should we talk about salvation with our children?" or "When is the appropriate age for them to ask Jesus to be their Savior?" Here is a tidbit from the article they gave us.

You may wonder, "Can a young child understand the meaning of salvation?" Here is where we are mislead. We think that a child must "understand" rather than "believe" the message of salvation. Where does it say in the Bible that we must "UNDERSTAND" in order to be saved? It does say, however, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Salvation is God's gift to us. Have you ever noticed how quickly a child will accept a gift? He happily reaches out and accepts it, without wondering what he needs to do to earn it.

Children can be lead to Christ. God made the message simple so that even a child could hear and respond/believe. Take every opportunity to present this wonderful message to your children while their hearts are eagerly open!

There is no magical age that a child is old enough to accept Jesus as their Savior. Don't shove all the information that you can into the child, expecting them to "understand" everything before they can accept Jesus' gift to them. If they say they believe......that is enough! That is all Jesus expects and wants from believe and accept His gift of salvation!

What have your experineces been as you've talked with your children about faith in Jesus?

~ Betsy

Friday, March 12, 2010

Family Fun at MSU

How often are you and your family on the MSU campus? Do you experience MSU in the same way that NYC residents typically experience the Statue of Liberty . . . it’s nice to know it’s there, but you haven’t taken advantage of what’s available?

If so, this post is for you!

MSU has a wide variety of activities for families. For example, kids can tour MSU Farms and pet baby animals during Small Animal Days. The Junior Spartan Club provides free admission to selected sporting events and a variety of special perks. The 4-H Children’s Garden has an interactive butterfly exhibit each year . . .

Intrigued? These activities—and many others—are included in a booklet available for browsing or free download at the MSU website. (Limited info about regional activities is also included.) In addition, you might want to check out the Spartan Youth Programs website, which includes a variety of MSU educational programs for children.

Finally, did you know that MSU’s Grandparents University offers courses every June? For three days, your 8-12 year-olds and their grandparents can take kid-themed courses and stay overnight in an MSU dorm. Our family hasn’t participated, but we have friends who rave about the program. Signup usually takes place in early December, and popular classes fill almost immediately. But it wouldn't hurt to check even now!

What MSU fun have you had?


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Marriage - Decode!

My husband sent a short email, “The conference has been cancelled.”

I quickly responded, “Thanks for letting me know. Now we’re free to go up north!”

I then deleted my husband’s message and accepted an invitation from friends that we’d been about to decline. The entire process took under two minutes. Kudos to me for my time management skills.

But my spirit wasn’t at peace. And that usually means that I missed the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.

Scientists tell us that there is a fraction of a second between the receipt of a stimulus and our instinctive response. In the Christian life, we can capitalize on this short period of time to listen to the Holy Spirit and discern whether the response we’re about to give will honor Christ.

In the context of marriage, Love and Respect President Emerson Eggerichs describes this opportunity as “decoding.” Wives—who instinctively respond with love—should ask: Will what I’m about to say sound respectful to my husband? Husbands—whose instinctive responses are respectful—should ask whether the response they’re about to give is loving. Ephesians 5:33 (NIV) supports these recommendations: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

As I reviewed my reply to my husband, I thought about the importance of decoding. Had I been respectful? My upbeat email opened by thanking my husband for sharing the schedule change. So, why did I have a lingering concern?

Then it dawned on me. My husband was supposed to speak at that conference. He adds value at work this way, but for reasons outside his control, the conference had been cancelled.

He sent me an email about his desire to work and achieve, a desire that God has placed deep within his soul.

A typical wife, I responded with an email about the importance of family.

While family matters to my husband, I realized I’d missed his heart. I didn’t initially perceive that he actually shared a setback at work, not an update about his schedule.

So, I emailed an apology that acknowledged my husband’s disappointment, as well as my admiration for his commitment to his job. He accepted my apology.

But it would’ve been so much better if my first response showed appreciation for my husband’s desire to work and achieve.

It would have been so much better if I had used the space between stimulus and response to decode.


RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Love and Respect, Emerson Eggerichs (Integrity Publishers, 2004)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Love & Faith

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:6

I have probably breezed by this verse in Galatians many times and missed the importance of it. It lines up perfectly with 1 Corinthians 13! Isn’t it wonderful that God repeats truths he doesn’t want us to miss?
1 Corinthians 13:2 says “if I have faith to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Faith to move mountains is nothing to sneeze at, but if that faith is not born in a heart of love, it means absolutely nothing.
Hebrews 11 presents a long list of saints such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and Rahab - among others. Their acts of faith were forever written in Biblical history, but it wasn’t empty faith that accomplished these great miracles. It was obedience to God out of a heart of love which caused Noah to build an ark when he had never seen rain; which moved Abraham to lay his son of promise on the altar; which motivated Moses to deny his earthly heritage and take up the cause of people in bondage.
I don’t know what miracles you need in your life today, but faith expressed through love can move your mountains. Love in action shows your faith, and faithful obedience pleases the heart of God.

May you seek to please His heart today!

~Nicole Hamlin, Family Life Ministries Intern

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pancakes for Dinner

Sometimes we just like to have pancakes for dinner.......and it's usually when my husband, Mark, is out of town. However, he does enjoy them with us once in a while. :)
In case you'd like to try pancakes for dinner tonight, I thought I'd share my recipe with you from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Combine 1 cup flour, 1 T sugar, 2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.

In a separate bowl whisk together 1 egg, 1 cup milk, 2 T cooking oil, and I like to add a little vanilla.

Pour the liquid into the dry mixture bowl and stir until combined.

......and start making pancakes.....mmmm.

........and keep making them.....because your kids eat about 5 mine?

We like to eat our pancakes with butter and powdered sugar.....sometimes syrup and sometimes peanut butter with syrup. How do you like to eat your pancake?

Of course you can always add blueberries, cinnamon, chocolate chips, etc. to the batter (not all at once though...hee! Choose ONE! :) and make something special for your family! :D Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Promise Worth Keeping

The good-looking kid (gets the looks from his mother) you see in the picture is my son, Micah. Last year he developed a love affair with baseball. One Thursday he asked me to work on his pitching with him. I told him that I would after I finished working out. I finished my workout, got something to eat, showered and before I knew it, time had slipped away from me. Now, I was rushing out the door to get to the office. As I was walking out the door, I heard his innocent but maturing voice, "I thought you were going to work on my pitching with me."

Now, I had every intention on playing with him, but had conjured up several "good" reasons why we should postpone his pitching session: I was running behind schedule, he had just finished eating, and it had been raining earlier (Now, it really hadn't rained long and hard enough to prevent us from playing). "Son, can we work on your pitching when I come back home this evening?" He said, "All right, dad." Although his "all right" sounded like he understood, I knew it was laced with disappointment. His "all right" sounded like a hope deferred, and I was the one who had deferred it.

When he conceded, I knew I was about to break a promise to my son. But, the Holy Spirit would not let me. He nudged me to put down my bag, my blackberry, and my afternoon snack and pick up my glove and work on pitching with my son. I obeyed. It was the best ten minutes of my day. Yes, it was inconvenient. Yes, it interrupted my flow. But, something more important than my schedule and my flow was at stake. My integrity was at stake. My example and reputation of being a "father who keeps a promise" was at stake. (I know another Father who has a reputation of keeping promises.) This was about more than playing catch. It was about making and keeping a promise to my son. I told him I would, and I needed to keep my word. It was a promise worth keeping.

What promises have you made to your spouse, children, family and friends, you need to keep today? What inconveniences or interruptions have you allowed to prevent you from keeping your word? What baby steps can you take to fulfill your promises?

~Pastor Marvin

Monday, March 1, 2010

Love With Actions

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:18

Not yet being blessed with children ourselves, my husband and I take great delight in our 20 month old niece. She stayed with us overnight recently and as I was getting ready for work in the morning, she followed me around from room to room. I gave her a kiss and when said I had to go to work, she began to cry and say repeatedly, “Come?”

Her plea melted my heart.

Lately, God has been convicting me of how I love, or rather, do not love others as He has commanded. I may say that I love them, and perhaps believe that - for the most part - I have loving feelings toward them. But in actuality, I am not showing love to certain people because it’s difficult, uncomfortable, or requires something of me. It is easy at times to love with words but much more difficult to love with actions.
Not having fully developed vocabularies, young children love so well with their actions. My niece demonstrated her love by following me, crying, and clinging to me as I tried to leave. I knew for certain that she loved me and showed me that the best way she knew how - through her actions!

I want those around me to know that I love them by my actions toward them. I want them to have the distinct impression that they are loved by me, by Christ loving through me.
Love with actions means being patient with our children, being kind to our coworkers, and not being envious of those that appear to be better off than us. Love with actions means seeking another’s well being before that of my own. Love with actions means refraining from anger when my husband offends me. It requires that I keep no record of wrongs.
Loving people God’s way goes against our human nature, but through Him all things are possible!

How have you experienced love through the actions of another person? How have you expressed love with actions?

~Nicole Hamlin, Family Life Ministries Intern

Friday, February 26, 2010

FUN with Beans

Did you see Sharina's post Wednesday about involving your kids in the kitchen? She inspired me to share this tip with you for some FUN on this wintery Friday. Because, not only will it benefit you - as the adult who is always looking for ways to save a little time - but if you have young boys in the house, it's a sure way to get them into the kitchen to help. If only for a moment!

Here's the deal: Do you use canned beans in any of your cooking? Tired of spending extra time scraping out the tricky beans that seem to cling to the bottom of the can? From now on, store your cans of beans upside down. Then, when you remove the lid and turn the can over, the beans fall right out. ALL OF THEM!
And here's the part that will get your young boys into the kitchen to help: If you're using refried beans and you've stored the can upside down, you can call your boys into the kitchen and tell them the can is going to, uh, p**p. Really. Remove the lid, turn the can over and give it a hearty shake. Gravity will take care of the rest. And believe me, the sounds and effects of the beans splatting into the bowl will make your boys laugh hysterically.
At least that's how mine responded. *grin*
By the way, this tip also works well for cream soups.

Oh, and I have a GREAT recipe which uses refried beans. Shall I post it here sometime?


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kitchen Helpers

If you’re like me, meal prep is a crazy/busy time when the kids are cranky(hungry), I’m famished(cranky) and all I want is to get a healthy meal on the table. My girls LOVE to “help.” But in my haste, I often shoo them away. Have you been there, too?

I’ve learned, therefore, the best time to invite my girls into the kitchen is not around meal times but - instead - when we’re relaxed. And through our times in the kitchen together I have also learned, cooking with kids has a lot of advantages and disadvantages.

1. Kids learn about nutrition, math, science, reading, and patience.
2. Cooking teaches kids to follow directions and enhances their imaginations.
3. Great conversations happen during cooking together.
4. There’s something for every child to do…sorting, measuring, pouring, cutting, mixing, etc.

1. It won’t be neat.
2. It won’t look pretty.
3. It may not taste great.

BUT the benefits your kids will experience from spending time with you in the kitchen will definitely trump the mess they’ll make. So, next time, think twice before shooing them out of the kitchen!

Got any easy, kid-friendly recipes you can share with us???


Monday, February 22, 2010

Matters of the Heart

Everyone seems to go through a season in life (sometimes several times) where things just seem HARD and NEVER ENDING! Some days it just seems impossible to even get up in the morning.......why even "fight" through this day?.....It seems we'll get the same results over and over again.....failure.

This past year has been a season of hard times for Mark and I. We seem to have several issues going on in our life and all of them seem HUGE and STRESSFUL! One of these issues is having more children and it just doesn't seem to be happening for us.

I have had 3 miscarriages in the past year and I have never had trouble with having our first 3 children. We also have a heart for adoption and that doesn't seem to be happening right now either. Everything seems to be piling up on us and caving in. Sometimes it's hard to celebrate a holiday when your heart is so heavy and you feel suffocated with burdens. How do we go on each day? How do we keep the JOY that Jesus tells us to have?

Matthew 11:28 (Jesus says.......) "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

It's during these tough days that Jesus walks with us even closer and we feel Him even more. We need to be the ones to draw near to Him.....He never leaves us! Mark and I have found that during the "storm", when things seem so bleak and impossible......that Jesus was taking care of everything....He had it under control....He never left our side and we come out even STRONGER in Him. He's GOD for goodness sake!! How could we think that we could do a better job or have a better way of living our life? He is our Creator! I know if God's plan is even BETTER......then I want to WAIT and TRUST in HIM!

We are by day.....not to let any life circumstance create our JOY! It's only through Jesus that we can have true JOY in life! We count ourselves so very BLESSED! He has given us SO much and MORE! That puts JOY in my heart and a SMILE on my face!

~ Betsy :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Serving Together: FUN Ideas

Use one or more of these family activities to help your children learn more about what it means to be a servant.

I Spy: Take the family to a sit-down restaurant. Tell the children they are spies who must identify the best servant. Help them notice the waiter/waitress by asking them to point out clues that suggest a servant’s attitude, spirit and work. (i.e. Listening well, taking care of the needs of others, etc.)

Frozen Arms: Tell the children that you magically froze their arms so they are not allowed to bend elbows or wrists. Place candy or cookies in the middle of the table and tell them they can each eat one. Without bending their arms, however, it will be impossible to serve themselves – so they must figure out how to serve one another to get the good stuff! When done, explain that we are called to serve those unable to serve themselves – but the real blessing comes back to us.

Read Together: Read and discuss the following Scriptures.
_ Mark 10:43-45 (Jesus described servants as “great.”)
_ Philippians 2:5-7 (Jesus modeled humility & service.)
_ James 1:27 (Christians are to care for the needy.)

Team up with us as we deliver food to 3,000 Lansing families in need on Sunday, February 21st. For details, click here!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Serving Together: Building the Family Bond

Continuing with our focus on serving this week, let's take time to think about how our family bond can be made stronger as we serve together.

Here are some things to keep in mind during your family service project.

Build Your Relationships: Serving together is an ideal time to get to know each other better. Take note of what different family members do well. Intentionally encourage them and tell them you are proud of how they demonstrated a great attitude or area of strength.

Here are some things to do afterwards to get the most out of your experience.

Talk About It: Take time right after you finish serving to talk about your family volunteer experiences. By reflecting and talking about it, the experience will have a greater impact and allow family members to share what really meant a lot to them, moved or challenged them. This is a great way to get to know each other better.

Discussion Questions: The following questions may be helpful to guide conversations when you finish your time of serving together.

What? What kind of difference did we make together? Allow each member to share any stories about the experience. They can be sad, silly, frustrating, funny, serious or touching stories.

Why? Why was it important to do this project together as a family? How did it fit with the values and beliefs that are important to our family? How did it impact you?

Now what? Is there anything that we will do differently as a family as a result of our time serving together? How did it impact our entire family? What kinds of activities do we want to do in the future?

Pray for Those Served: Take a few minutes to pray as a family asking God to bless those you served by using your act of service to bring hope, healing and grace into their lives.

Team up with us as we deliver food to 3,000 Lansing families in need on Sunday, February 21st. For details, click here!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Serving Together: How To Get Started

This week at Trinity we are excited about gearing up for the Church of Greater Lansing Food Drop - happening Sunday, February 21! With our focus on serving this week at church, we thought it would be good to focus on it here on the blog, too.

So, today, let's think about how to get our families started on a service project.

First of all, Why Serve?
*Experience God & joy in making a difference together.
*Increase a child’s sense of gratitude by seeing those less fortunate.
*Allows you to learn more about one another & opens communication

Before Serving Together
Find a Shared Passion: Spend some time talking with your child/teenager about the things that interest and concern them. It will be more meaningful if you have a shared passion for the specific areas of service. (Examples: If your family has an interest in poverty-stricken areas, find a place to feed the homeless. You may have a teenager that loves kids and it would be great to serve in an orphanage or at the church with the children’s or special needs ministry.)

Find a Good Fit: Serving can be as simple as baking cookies for a homebound
neighbor or making birthday cards for those in a nursing home. It can be an extended serving time such as a missions trip or meeting a particular need on a regular basis. Keep in mind, there are often great projects and scheduled mission events already planned that your family may want to take part in. It’s important for kids to participate in the selection process.

Set Expectations: Put your child more at ease by explaining what to expect. If visiting a nursing home, for example, explain they may encounter odd sights, sounds and smells. If feeding the homeless, share why some people may not be able to take regular baths but we love them anyway. If helping children with special needs, explain why some can’t respond “normally” to conversations, etc. You may also want to coach them on manners and explain what they will likely do while serving. Set the tone for a great time together!

Team up with us as we deliver food to 3,000 Lansing families in need on Sunday, February 21st. For details, click here!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic FUN

Ever since I was a child the Olympics have captivated me. I well up with emotion when I see the torch. I stand taller when I see our country's flag. I enjoy every story told of Olympians pursuing their dreams. With that said, you must know, I love the Olympics!

So, today's the day! The 2010 Winter Olympics are about to begin.

Here are a few ideas to help your family have fun with the Olympics.

Choose a country. Every Olympics each member of our family chooses a country to adopt as our own. I print off flags, we color them and then track that country during the Olympic games. You can take this as far as you wish; reading books about the country, finding a missionary stationed there, eating ethnic foods, or finding it on a world map. During the Summer Olympics my daughter cheered on Germany, on a recent trip to Frankenmuth she was delighted to find the German flag and see yet another glimpse of their culture.

Keep a world map and book of flags nearby. My kids enjoy the challenge of finding the different countries and flags as they are highlighted throughout the Opening Ceremonies and competetion. Who knew learning could be such fun?

Get active! Take this time to try out some new winter sports; an afternoon ice skating, a trip to your favorite sledding hill, try out different positions and nickname them the different sports. For example, wearing your helmet go head first on your belly and pretend you are doing the skeleton, or pile multiple people in a longer sled and pretend you are doing the bobsled, for the luge lay flat on your back and push off with your hands. Practice balancing on a snowboard or pretend while the Olympians are making their runs. Have a Wii Fit? Try to break a new record for ski jump, skiing or snowboarding.

Watch the games! Be inspired by men and woman pursuing their dreams. Keep an eye out for athletes professing faith. Hear stories that will inspire and find teachable moments about overcoming defeat.

Do you and your family have any fun family traditions related to the Olympics? I would love to hear about them!
Enjoy the 2010 Winter Olympics!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Love AND Respect on Valentine's Day

Is there anybody out there with “purchase Valentine’s Day card for my husband” on her to-do list?

If so, I want to encourage you to scratch that item off your list! Instead of a card that affirms your love for your husband, consider writing him a short Respect Note.

The Bible reveals that a wife's respect for her husband is as powerful as her husband's love is to her. As Ephesians 5:33 states: "Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband" (NIV).

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, President of Love and Respect Ministries, tells wives that through RESPECT TALK we can......

* Re-kindle moments of closeness in the midst of stress

* Open your husband's closed spirit when he feels everybody respects him but you

* Counter the misperception you are trying to be his mother

* Give him hope that you view him equal to you, not worse than you.

* Re-energize his deflated ego in the midst of outside factors that are discouraging him.

Intrigued? If so, here are some suggestions for how to proceed. First, keep your note short. Second, think of three things that you respect about your husband. Keep in mind that husbands are energized when their wives show appreciation for their desire to protect and to provide, to serve and to lead, and to analyze and counsel. So, focus on those areas in your note.

Third, write the note and give it to your husband!

Does a respect note sound like a crazy idea to you? Have you ever told your husband how much you respected him? If so, what was his response?

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs (Integrity Publishers, 2004)


Monday, February 8, 2010

Catechisms Anyone??

We have started catechisms with our family, so the kids can really hide God's word in their heart and really KNOW why we believe what we believe!

"These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." - Deuteronomy 6:6-7

A catechism is a way of teaching the doctrines of the Christian faith in a systematic way using a series of questions and answers.

We are taking one question per week, so the kids can really understand, take it in and memorize the scripture. There are 60 all together, so it may take us a while, but we'll go through them all and when they are finished.....they will know all the answers to "why we believe what we believe" and better yet.....WHERE it tells us so in God's Word!

Here is our Question for this week:

Question: Where do we learn about God, ourselves, and the world around us?
Answer: From the Bible
Scripture to Memorize: 2 Timothy 3:16 - All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness."

I would love to encourage you to start catechisms with your family, so your children can know why you believe what you believe and the scripture to back it up!

~ Betsy :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Homemade Pizza...What Could Be Better?

Most Friday nights we make homemade pizza! It's been a tradition for quite a long time. We are so spoiled to have this recipe and now it's hard to order pizza out! So here it is: will need 1 T of yeast mixed with 1 cup warm water. Let the yeast set in a separate little bowl for about 8 minutes or until it's foamy & smells yeasty.

In another larger bowl, you'll add 3 T of honey, 1 T of salt & 3/4 cup warm water...........along with 4 cups flour.
I like to use 3 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup wheat flour. It really gives the crust a lot of flavor!
I also put some of the wheat flour down on the counter to kneed the bread & any extra I throw into the dough (if it's too sticky), I use the wheat. So start working the dough. Get out all of your aggressions!! You will really start to feel it in your arms after about 8 minutes or so.

I also use cooking spray on the pizza pans & a sprinkle of corn meal. This helps the pizza not to stick to the pan.

This recipe makes 2 large pizzas.....

Then I take melted butter and brush the crust and then sprinkle it with garlic salt.
Next, comes the sauce! We have found that our very favorite pizza sauce is actually from Walmart! It's the Great Value brand of pizza sauce. It's really light and sweet.....not such a heavy tomato flavor that knocks your socks off! It's perfect!

Gather up all your cheeses! I usually use mozzarella, Parmesan & Asiago. I buy the chunks, so I can grate it myself!

Into the oven they go!! Put them in a cold oven and turn the oven to 475. They will need to cook for about 20 minutes or so, but just until nice and golden on top and the crust is done.

......And now we wait.......

...and wait...

It's DONE!!

It's the best!! We love it!! I can't wait to eat it........

Enjoy!! ~Betsy

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Not Your Average Trip to Target

My family and I were getting ready for a mission trip to Jamaica, and had to go to the store to purchase several things. We stuck together in the beginning - filling the cart from the list we were given. Toothpaste, baby powder, sun block, goldfish, etc. The list went on and on. Slowly, however, the older kids and my husband drifted off to other areas of the store until it was just me and my youngest son, Luke.
Luke had already estimated in his little mind how much money we had to spend for the mission trip. He was excited to find just the right items for the family we will be staying with at Whitehouse, Jamaica, but was aware there was a cost.
As we started unloading our overflowing shopping cart onto the conveyor belt, I told the cashier about our trip. It didn’t take long for the total to be revealed—almost $100 over the amount we had set aside for shopping. Granted, we had purchased a few items for our family's personal use but it was still more than we had expected—or at least more than Luke had calculated.
Without a blink, Luke reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet, and gave me a $20 bill. For some reason, it didn’t register with me what was going on. But the cashier understood, and she began to tear up. All of a sudden I saw Luke's eyes and they were full of tears. Something (better yet Someone) had moved him to empty the last of his money to pay for the purchase.
Now tears streamed down my face, too.
Part of me wanted to give Luke back his money, and tell him it was the thought that counted. But a still voice prompted me, Let him give it; the way of the cross always COSTS.
Oh, to see his heart revealed in such a beautiful manner. I saw Jesus in those precious eyes. And so did the woman at the register.
We walked out to the car, bags in hand and hearts overflowing.

Have you ever seen the heart of your child revealed? What happened?


Monday, February 1, 2010

Let's Pray

I recently received the book God is No Stranger. It is a book of prayers and has touched my heart. "These prayers of Haitian Christians converted from Voodooism reflect the paradoxically childlike yet deep faith of a mountain people who have come to know God as a Friend acquainted with their culture and daily lives." (from the book's back cover)

This prayer particularly gets me today:
The people on the coast are beginning to drink sea water.
We here in the mountains don't even have sea water to drink.
Dear Lord send the rain.
Our Father knows exactly what our brothers and sisters in Haiti need today. Will you join me in praying for them?

Father in heaven, You see what has happened in Haiti. You know the needs of each individual. Needs for food and water, for shelter and rescue. Needs for comfort, and assurance that You are still faithful. You see each person who is hurting and scared, and You hear their cries for help.
And You are able to meet them, to provide for each need, and to show Yourself powerful.
We praise You, God, because that earthquake did not knock You off Your throne, and the after affects are not too much for You to handle.
Today we are asking You to bring peace and hope where there is still chaos and fear. Please empower the men and women who are working for relief. Make them Your hands and feet. And please, LORD, continue to grow the faith of these brothers and sisters, even in the midst of the devastation.
Yes, LORD, glorify Yourself through this circumstance.
We're asking it in Jesus' Name.
Amen and amen!


Friday, January 29, 2010

True North FUN

Do you have some sportsmen in your family?
Like tasting wild game?
Looking for something special to do this weekend?

Trinity's Men's Ministry - True North - is holding the 2010 Sportsmen's Banquet and Wild Game Tasting event this weekend. And you're invited!
There will be displays, clinics, game tasting, a silent auction, a meal and a program. And the best part? You don't even have to be a guy to go! Women are welcome, too.
Tickets are almost sold out for Saturday, but we have it on good authority that there is plenty of room Friday. Tickets will be available at the door up until meal time. (6:00 Friday, and 5:45 Saturday)
Click here for complete details on Trinity's website. Then grab the family and head on over to the church!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Praying for our Children

As parents, I think one of the greatest things we can do for our children is to pray for them. And sometimes it's easy to know what to pray.

*Our children are facing a struggle, and we pray for resolution to their trouble.
*They have a test coming up in school, and we pray they will do well.
*There's an overload in the sibling rivalry realm, and we pray for peace.
*They're driving us nuts, and we pray that God will grant us patience.

Ahem, I mean, I'm not the only one who experiences this, am I?

Yes. It's easy to consider the moment and pray accordingly, but what about our children's futures? How can we pray thoughtfully and intentionally beyond the momentary circumstance?
I have a good friend who gave me something that helps me pray for my children. It's a bookmark I keep in my Bible and it has printed on it, 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for your Kids. There are prayers written out for each day of the month which lead me in how to pray for my children.
Today is the 27th and this is what I'm praying: "Lord, please instill in my children a soul that 'followeth hard after thee.' (Ps. 63:8 KJV)

Yes! Today I am praying that my children will develop a Passion for God.

Will you join me?


Monday, January 25, 2010

No Accident

My 19 year old daughter was recently in a car accident. She is ok. The little girl she had in the car was ok. The car was not ok. It is totaled.
Yet I am so thankful.

In years past, thankfulness would not have been my response. My typical mode of response was nothing less than FREAK OUT. And then after a while, continue to freak out and heap on the blame and assign plenty of guilt. But, praise God, that was not the response this time.

My response this time made me realize something had changed in me. I understood that I am not in control. I became convinced that my God is trustworthy and that He really, really loves me.

Believe it or not, I haven't always believed these things about God. Sure, I said I believed them. I even lead Bible studies on believing and trusting God. But my actions and reactions showed what I really believed--that I didn't trust God (I trusted me), and I didn't think HE was paying attention. I thought I needed to make my plans succeed and, therefore, I needed to manipulate and control life.

Yet over the last few years, I have gotten personal with HIM. I have found that even when there was pain and suffering, He was there with me. When life didn’t go my way, He showed a better way. When my expectations in others were disappointed, He remained faithful. Even when others rejected me, He always accepted me.

So today, I rest in the fact that God is GOOD. I choose to trust HIM because He has proven Himself trustworthy. God has shown me that He is in control - even in the midst of the painful, scary, out of control events in my life. God has done an amazing work in me. And in the face of my daughter's car accident, I have come to understand that His work in my life has been purposeful. That the change I see in me was no accident!

And bottom line - I know in the depths of my heart His incredible love for me.

Do you?


Friday, January 22, 2010

FUN with Check-in

Have you heard? Trinity's Children's Ministry is soon going to transition to registering children’s weekend attendance electronically. Doing this will make our children safer, be more efficient, and save us all time.
But since change can sometimes be painful, we thought it would be a good idea to ease you into things right here at Faith, Family & Fun.
Yep. We're always looking out for you!

You may have already noticed the kiosks, like this one, where you’ll register your children. To transition to this new system, we will begin registering ONLY elementary children electronically. All children, infant to pre-kindergarten, continue to register as you currently do.

For electronic attendance, here’s what you’ll do:

Each week, stop at a kiosk and register each child in your family. There are 4 kiosks and a computer at the registration desk for you to choose from.

Begin by entering the last name of your child.
Select the child you want to register.
Select the group/room you would like to register your child for.
After entering your information, labels will be generated for you. Then, take your child to the appropriate room. Parents, or a designated family member, are expected to both drop off and pick up children at each service.

When you register each child, you’ll receive 3 labels per child per weekend service.
1. One label is for room attendance. You’ll take this tag and hand it to your child’s room volunteer.
2. One label is a nametag that goes right on the child.
3. One label is for you, the parent or individual dropping the child off. This matches the child’s nametag and allows only you - with this label receipt - to pick that child up from that room. This label will function in a similar way to the current “family number.”

When it’s time for you to pick up your child, bring your matching label to the room and show it to the room volunteer. Both your tag and your child’s tag will be matched with the attendance label.

For the first few weeks of this transition, we need you to update some of your child and family information. We’ll have a card by the kiosks for you to fill out. This will include updating your e-mail address and child allergies. It is important that we have this information.

Once families are comfortable with enrolling elementary children electronically, we will begin transitioning Early Childhood families. While we are in the midst of this transition, there will be someone at each kiosk to help and assist you with any questions you may have. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions by emailing Ashley at:

Looking forward to continuing to grow with you and your precious children.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Raising Great Kids

Were you at the Christmas Eve service at Trinity last month?

Remember hearing Kirk Cousins speak about his faith?

Wasn't that an inspiring moment as a parent???

I remember sitting in the balcony listening to Kirk, and praying that my boys will grow up to be fine, godly young men like him.
Yes, I was picturing in my mind - my two boys as well-spoken, faith-filled young men. Ahhhh. *peaceful sigh*

Then we went home.
I don't remember what happened, but something set one of my son's off and it was not pleasant. He was yelling and arguing and being disrespectful. And that image I'd had in my mind an hour before? It was long gone.
Then suddenly I wondered, When Kirk was a pre-teen, did he ever have moments like this one? Is there still hope for my son?

So, do you know what I did?

I emailed Don Cousins and I asked him. And I asked him what he thought the most important thing was that he did as a parent, raising Kirk.

Don's reply?

Yes. Kirk had moments, too. All kids do, he assured me. (Thanks, Don!) He said it was the grace of God working in Kirk that made him the young man he is today.
Don also pointed me to a sermon he gave at Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Holland about parenting. It is filled with principles he believes are crucial to us as parents, from Deuteronomy 6.
Click here to listen. You'll be glad you did!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Just Give It

You never really understand how much you need your vacuum until it breaks—especially if you have a dog and three kids.
When our vacuum broke down for the second time in three months, we decided to purchase a new one. While the old one sat in the garage—waiting to be set out with the trash - I began to wonder, what if the old vacuum could be repaired? That would mean we could have two vacuums which would be great in case one broke again. So I took it to the repair shop and, sure enough, for a small fee this vacuum could be repaired.
A couple weeks went by and I kind of forgot about the vacuum. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Finally I went in and picked it up. As I was putting it in the trunk, I sensed God saying, “Who needs this vacuum?”
Of course my answer was, “I do!” I proceeded to explain to God all the reasons a second vacuum would be helpful in our home. Yet, I sensed Him asking once again, “Who needs this vacuum?”
A name came to my mind.
I wish I could tell you that immediately after the name popped into my mind, I proceeded to drive it right over to that individual’s home. But I didn't. I drove around with that vacuum in the back of my car for days. I knew who I was to give it to, I just didn’t want to part with my second vacuum.
The next week, a Bible verse came to my mind “if a man has two vacuums and sees someone who has none, you are to give the vacuum to them.” (my very loose paraphrase) I called and asked if this family needed it (they said yes) and proceeded to drive it right over to their home.

I am beginning to understand that God wants to provide for others and He wants to use us to do it. We need to unclasp our fist, ask with whom we can share, listen for His prompting, and JUST GIVE IT.

Have you ever sensed God prompting you to give something away? What happened?

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's COOOOLD outside!

People often ask me, "Why in the world did you move from Maui to Michigan?"
Honestly, during January and February I begin to question this myself. But there are a few places in town that we enjoy during the cold winter months:

Jumpin Jax: Jumpin' Jax is a 10,000 square foot facility with 7 big inflatables, and a NEW JUST for toddlers area, for your child's enjoyment. There are obstacle courses and slides, fun for all ages and parents are welcome to bounce too. Our kids bounced for 4+ hours and took great naps!!

Red Cedar Gymnastics: There's an open gym time for kids to play on the trampolines, bars, beams, rings, bouncy floor, etc. It's a great alternative to signing up for weekly classes and the kids love the treat!
Edru Skate: Enjoyment for the whole family, skating lessons, laser tag, special parties and much more. They have a special skate time for toddlers where you can bring your own push toys. Skate rentals available.
FunTyme Adventure Park: We love the mini-lane bowling, arcade games and indoor golf dome. Free parking and food on site. Phone for hours of operation, varies by season. There's one on Jolly Rd West of Okemos Rd and another in Mason.
Time together as a family is a wonderful thing!
What are your favorite places to go???


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time with God

Marvin Williams is our new Senior Teaching Pastor at Trinity and through the course of interviews, someone asked Marvin to talk about his personal relationship with Christ. He shared about his times studying the Bible, journaling and prayer, which were all things I expected to hear. And I am glad he is investing that time with the LORD.

But then Marvin said something I hadn't anticipated hearing.

He said that most recently, he has found community with Christ through his relationship with those in his family.

When he loves and serves his wife, he senses God's presence.

When he plays basketball with his boys, or stops to have a coke with his daughter, he finds community with Christ.

Time with God is a part of his everyday life. It isn't just the time he spends alone in the scriptures.

I find this concept so freeing and encouraging as a parent. To be sure, I enjoy my time alone with the Lord. But I have found a new sense of God's presence with me as I live out my roles as wife and mother.

*To know that I can experience God and have community with Christ while I am doing the "duties" of a wife and mother - even the boring, mundane things like folding laundry and cleaning up spills.

*To know that HE is with me in every single moment.

Ahhh! This delights my heart!

Thank You, Lord, for using Marvin to open my eyes so that I may recognize Your presence more and more.