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Amanda's Thoughts

Amanda’s Thoughts…                                          Faith Formation Ministry

 JUNE 2017

Woo-hoo! Summer time!! Warm days at the beach, late night campfires, gardening, camping, relaxation, vacations!  

Doesn’t it seem like we have completely different routines in the summer? I feel like I’m so busy trying to relax! The irony is perplexing! Plan, organize, and travel to go have fun. Get the lists out. Don’t forget the sunscreen or the watermelon. Mow the lawn and water the garden before we leave for the weekend. Summer camp, swimming lessons, soccer.

Hmm.. My summer plans look like they are all about ME and my family. Yes, it is important and necessary to focus on your own family, but that’s not all.  

This quandary is summed up very well in Galatians 5:13-15 in The Message Bible:

            “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom.”

With the business and craziness of the summertime, we can get lost in our focus. Serving others, loving others, that’s what we are commanded to do!

We each have so many amazing God-given gifts! Think about yours. Help your spouse/kids/friends think about theirs. Then think about how you can utilize those gifts to serve God’s children.

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10

Here are a few easy, fun, family friendly ideas for serving others!

·         Bring fresh garden flowers to a friend

·         Write and mail letters to grandparents

·         Bake cookies for a few neighbors (on a cool day)

·         Have kids operate a lemonade stand and donate proceeds

·         Host a spur of the moment potluck

·         Babysit for a friend

·         Donut Day (deliver donuts to a different person each week)

·         Reconnect with an old friend

·         Give a “just because” gift

·         Pray for someone each day

Have a great summer! Have fun and love your neighbor!

Amanda


Amanda’s Thoughts…                                          Faith Formation Ministry 

 MAY 2017

Finding Greatness

I had the opportunity to partake in the Nurtured Heart Approach parenting classes offered by Faith and Grace. One of the primary takeaways for me is that I am called to see my kids as God sees them. See their greatness. I have always loved a challenge.

One of the first really warm spring afternoons my two sons and I were in the backyard enjoying the beautiful weather and cleaning up the yard. We are dog owners so spring in the backyard creates a disgusting bout of dog-defecation removal. That was my job. Devon, who is five, was very helpful in digging straw out of the flower beds, putting toys away, and helping to take the patio furniture out of the shed. My almost two-year old, Isaiah, seemed to be distracted enough by the Little Tikes basketball hoop that had been in the storage shed all winter. Hooray for “new” toys! This lasted almost five minutes!

Typical of a two year old, Isaiah wanted whatever was in use by someone else. This meant he needed the bucket Devon was using to carry straw in the worst way. Devon showed his greatness quickly as he figured out a way to work with Isaiah and share the precious bucket. Seemed like that would buy me a little more time while I worked my way north on Operation Clean Shoes.

Set the scene—I am carrying around an old, half cracked ice cream pail and a metal garden trowel, “cleaning.” Isaiah sets his eyes on me, beelines my way, with his heart set on taking over my most coveted chore. Disaster was looming.

Thankfully I was about finished with clean-up and thought I could get the pail and trowel into the garage without incident. I was half right. Isaiah stopped at nothing to secure the trowel. *cringe*

He’s our second child, I was tired, and he wasn’t actually doing anything with the trowel besides holding it. So we took the trowel on our walk around the neighborhood and to the park. It is a nice trowel.

We made it home and I told him the trowel needed to stay in the garage tonight. File that under, “things you didn’t think you’d ever need to say.” So be it. Later that night, I moved the trowel to a top shelf in the garage leaving it barely identifiable.

The following morning Andrew, my husband, was out of town and I was loading the boys up in the van to go to church. I’m not sure how he saw it… it was so high… it wasn’t where he left it… the headrest on the front seat should have blocked it… DRAMATIC POINT AND SCREAM. SCREAM/YELL/CRY for 7 minutes as I think I can calmly reason with him that we can’t bring dirty garden tools to church. 

I get it. I understand why he was angry. I let him have the darn thing last night. As we were driving he calmed down. At this point I thought about what was positive in this situation. What is his greatness this morning? Perseverance, resilience, determination, attention to detail, effective communicator (he’s not saying many words yet but we always know what he wants), and he exhibited ability to self-sooth. I also thought about my greatness in the moment: patience, understanding, staying calm, seeing my error in not setting a clear rule for him, and perspective. This bold tantrum was not going to impact our day further than it already had.

This wasn’t a big deal and it wasn’t a big problem. But looking at others through the lens of Christ will always be the right choice! Celebrating the greatness through the real life moments we face will only enrich us and those around us.

“As I have loved you, love one another.” John 13:34

Happy SPRING!! Wishing you warm days and clean yards!

Amanda


Amanda’s Thoughts…                                                 Faith Formation Ministry

APRIL 2017

He is risen!

What a beautiful time of the year! Hope, growth, the world anew! I love hearing about traditions that families have surrounding Easter. Here are a couple of ideas to think about this year!  

Easter Cupcakes

Materials needed: Bible, cupcake or small treat for each member of your family, relighting birthday candles.

Open with prayer: Dear Lord, open our ears and hearts to hear and understand the story of your resurrection. Thank you for being the light that leads us. Amen.

Read Luke 24:1-12. Give each person a cupcake with a candle. Light the candles and turn off the lights. Talk about how Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). Talk about Good Friday and how on that day the light looked like it was gone. Blow out the candles and wait for them to relight. When the candles relight, celebrate! Jesus is the light of the world and no one can extinguish out that light! Can others see the light of Christ in you? Then, enjoy the cupcakes!

Resurrection Resolution

As a family, talk about what kind of resolutions people make at New Years, during Lent, or other times during their lives and why people make resolutions. This year, try making “Easter Resolutions.” Talk about the importance of Jesus’s Resurrection and consider making resolutions that honor Jesus, spreading His love, grace, and good news. Here are a few questions to consider when making your Easter Resolutions:

·   What can we do to show others that God loves them?

·   What can we say to let others know that God loves them?

·   How might we embrace tough times like Jesus did? How might what we say or do when we're facing a challenge be a witness to God's love and care?

·    Whom can we tell about Jesus, our Savior? Whom can we invite to come with us to worship, Sunday school, or some other activity at our church?

Support each other to follow your resolutions! Close your devotion time with prayer.

Sources:

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/easter-cupcakes

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/resurrection-resolution


MARCH 2017


FEBRUARY 2017

Hello! And happy February!

Constant love. This was the theme of one of the sessions I attended at the ReCharge youth ministry conference in Fargo in January. The session was presented by Nicole Weisz, the current Director of Children’s Ministry at Hope Lutheran Church in Fargo. She previously was a special education teacher in the Fargo/Moorhead area for almost 20 years. Ms. Weisz also is a certified presenter of the Nurtured Heart Approach.

Nicole’s presentation was fantastic. She opened by talking about how some love comes so easily: when you get a hug or sweet message from your child, when you are in one of your favorite places with your favorite people (think summer time at the lake with your family), when things just plain go well (the day flows, everyone you meet seems happy), when you outright feel appreciated (raise at work, sincere thanks for your contributions), and so forth.

Then again there are times when love feels heavy, hard, or plain impossible. The example used was a rushed trip to Wal-Mart. You have the expectation that people will be cranky, it will be busy when you’re already rushed, you won’t find everything you need, and you’ll forget where you parked. Obviously there are more serious situations where love doesn’t feel present or possible, but the point was clear: ask for help.

Ms. Weisz spoke about how before her rushed trip to the store, which would follow with a couple difficult phone calls she needed to make that day, she just took a moment to talk to God.

She took a moment to simply ask God for His help. Inviting God in, and asking for His wisdom and guidance. 

Her day proceeded but in a completely different way than expected. Her shopping was pleasant, as she paused to see people enjoying their jobs, stopping to talk to people she knew, outwardly being friendly to those she didn’t know, having a conversation with the clerk. The phone calls following went well, one of which created a pivotal moment to the start of a very important and long term relationship with a particular family. Without God’s help that day, would that have happened?

This is a very summarized version of the presentation, but the take away was: We can’t love like Jesus. It is impossible for imperfect humans. But we can ask for help. We can ask for help to love like Jesus.

Look at everyone you meet through the lens of Christ.

“And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Peace! Amanda


 JANUARY 2017

Hello! And happy January!

“Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12 

The book, In This House We Will Giggle, by Courteny DeFeo defines biblical love as: “caring for others, expecting nothing in return… love is focused on others and there are no preconditions.” 

The book goes on to say that when teaching kids about love from a biblical perspective to consider that:

1.    Love is why our faith works and why we serve one another (Galatians 5:6,14).

2.    Love binds us together (Colossians 2:2).

3.    Love gives others joy (Philemon 1:7).

Love God and love your neighbor. Certainly easy to remember, so why is it so hard to execute? 

We are not supposed to keep score. The dialogues of “he got more presents than me” and “I picked up my clothes yesterday” that drive me crazy as a parent, are just the juvenile versions of “he spent [dollar amount] on [insert hobby] so I should be able to spend [dollar amount] on [hobby]” and “I watched her kids so she owes me.” Not models of biblical love.

Love based on conditions and “fairness” isn’t love. We’d be in a world of trouble if God loved us with conditions and kept score.

God’s love is unconditional and never-ending. Think about that! An unattainable goal for the sinners we are, but at the same time the ultimate model for navigating through life! Love like Jesus loves. 

Maybe a way to find more love in our lives is to simply look for it. When the neighbor kids are patient with my four year old playing Legos, when the coffee is brewing when I wake up, when my mother in law invites us over for supper, when my friend just calls to check in: those are examples of love. Volunteers at church and Sunday school, readers, servers, praying for others, giving: those are examples of love.

Cheers to 2017!

Amanda

Some faith formation ideas surrounding love to try in your home this month:

·         Take turns surprising others in your home by helping them with a chore they usually do on their own.

·         Around the table one night, share why you love each member of your family.

·        Write some “thinking of you” notes together and mail to family and friends that live far away. 





December 2016

Hello! And happy December! I’m going to describe a December Saturday in my mind and a December Saturday in my reality:

Here’s my “Norman Rockwell” December Saturday:

I wake up before my family. I grab a steaming cup of coffee and a good book, and curl up on the couch for an hour by myself before the rest of the family wakes up. I start making breakfast—the sausage is sizzling and the eggs are scrambling as my happy children emerge from their peaceful slumbers. Everyone gathers ‘round the table and we plan our day. We decide to head out to the nursery for some winter fun. I make some hot chocolate for the drive. The whole way there we chat about what we are looking forward to this month, what we want to get Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas, and what kind of Christmas cookies we should bring the neighbors this year. We arrive at the tree farm, and the boys play delightfully on the giant fluffy snow pile. We then take a ride behind the horse drawn sleigh, snuggling under the wool blanket. When we get back to the lodge, we pick out a tree top pot to put on the front porch to enjoy for the Christmas season. The drive home is quiet, as everyone is simply reflecting on the beauty of this time of the year. We arrive home and rest. I was thinking ahead and put supper in the crockpot, so no work is required late afternoon. Maybe we take one last walk on the trail before the snow really starts. Maybe after supper, we drive around looking at Christmas lights. Ah, the peace of December…

Hahaha! Funny, right?!

Here is my real December Saturday:

5:30AM, my oldest son wakes me up, asking me if it is morning. Sure. There’s no coffee ready, I used the last filter yesterday. Paper towel it is. By now, my youngest is shrieking to get out of his crib. He wakes up hungry. After taking two bites of a banana, his chubby little hand tosses the remaining to Toby, the dog. So, I dump the remaining crumbs of Cinnamon Toast Crunch out onto Isaiah’s high chair tray. By this time, Andrew is making eggs assuming he can find a clean fry pan. Devon wants toast, but there is only a half piece left in the bag, and it’s the heel. Despite our best efforts, no one eats at the same time. We decide to try to go to the nursery. Jackets, boots, hats, mittens: 20 minutes to find, 20 minutes to put on and we are on the road! Ten minutes—Dev needs a bathroom break. Quick stop at the gas station we passed five minutes ago. Back on the road. Ah! I forgot Isaiah’s hat! Guess his hood will have to do. We arrive and the boys are starving. Popcorn and M&M’s, please. We are ready to sled! Heading out to the hill, Isaiah’s ears are already cold. Devon runs up the hill, and heads down finding out it is a rock solid ice. Ready for the horse drawn sleigh? We board the wagon, and grab a blanket. Rusty, the gassy Clydesdale, takes on a loop of the place, while Isaiah screams most of the time. Horses love that, you know. We get back to the store, pick out a tree top pot, and attempt to leave. The pot doesn’t fit in the van, but that’s ok, we can tip it. I haven’t vacuumed pine needles out of my vehicle for several months. The boys both fall asleep in the van on the way home, which is fine, it just means no naps for the rest of the day for two kids that have had the diets of chipmunks for the last six hours. Once we are home, we enter the whirlwind of getting ready for the coming week. We reconvene at the supper table, and end up having a great meal and conversation. Enter our nightly routine of baths, books, snack, bed. The evening routine goes well, as it almost always does and the evening suddenly quiets down. Ah, the peace of December!

 Even though I know it, and I receive DAILY reminders from God, I still think I can plan my life! I think I can control how my family feels on a particular day. We are encouraged to be in a constant state of “what is next?” rather than embracing the present and listening to the Lord. My parallel December Saturdays are a light example of expectation versus reality. My real life Saturday includes a little more jest perhaps, but the blessings of the two different days described are the same. My actual Saturday was GREAT—time with my family, food on the table, the joy of the winter, and time together preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. God is constantly giving us reminders of His goodness and presence in our daily lives; we just have to listen!

 Wishing you and your family a December of love, peace, joy, and MEMORIES!

Amanda


The Role of the Home                                                                                             August 29, 2016

I’m so excited to work with Faith and Grace Churches, and to focus on faith formation. I hope to offer support and additional perspective to an inter-generational approach to faith formation.

 Part of faith formation is recognizing the changing landscape and the role the church and home play in faith formation for all of us, young and old, and in between. David Anderson writes about this in his book, “From The Great Omission to Vibrant Faith.” This book is part of the Vibrant Faith Formation series, which you’ve likely heard about in a church newsletter, temple talk, or have attended a meeting about. David Anderson explores how the role of the home has changed in the last several generations as it relates to church, and fostering faithful young (and not so young) people.

He writes, “The home is more broadly understood as the life of faith in and through people’s daily life relationships, especially those established over time.” Cool perspective, huh?! Thinking about home in the term of relationships?

Let’s face it: life doesn’t always accommodate the ideal of a typical weeknight evening with a perfectly prepared meal, a happy family sitting around the table joyfully consuming the nutritious feast, talking about the blessings of the day. Maybe that happens to someone, somewhere, sometimes. That’s great. But it’s ok if our home lives don’t fit into that box either! 

Part of faith formation is figuring out different ways that the church can support the home. What if we thought about home in the capacity of relationships? Would that make it easier or more difficult to nurture faith? Obviously, we all have different “home” lives. My husband, Andrew and I have two young sons; so Andrew, Dev, and Isaiah are part of my “home.” I don’t live with my brother anymore but talking to him on the phone feels like “home.” This summer I had the opportunity to spend more time visiting friends and family, and that felt like “home.” Home isn’t limited to where we sleep. It’s not limited to our spouses, sons, and daughters. Bringing God into our “homes” doesn’t only mean conversations at the dinner table!

So, in an effort to support Faith and Grace Churches in faith formation, I am going to be sending weekly emails with ideas for bringing church into the home. So, let’s first rethink what the term home means to each of us. I leave you with a challenge:

Think about the people and relationships that make up your “home.” How do they influence your faith? Do you talk about God often in your “home?” Who would list you as part of their “home?” Discuss these ideas with your faith “home.”

 Amanda Schneeberger

Faith Formation Ministry Associate

aaschneeberger@gamil.com

PS—if the church doesn’t have your email address, please send it to Debbie (faithlc@gctel.com) or Kay (grace@gctel.com)!