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June 25

Good afternoon!

 

I know I sound like a broken record when I say this, but I cannot believe June is ending this week. Someone once told me that July 4th is the unofficial halfway point of summer. Not sure if I can accept that.

 

When I think about the 4th of July, I think of family traditions. It seems like a lot of people have traditions around the 4th, as much as they do Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. My childhood memories of the 4th are all about camping at Swan Lake Resort with my cousins and their families. My cousin, Bonnie, and I would “plan” our annual camping trip in detail, beginning in January. We’d narrow it down to the specific nail polish colors we would bring and how we would design our sandcastle for the sandcastle contest. All these details and I’d still forget my toothbrush. What I remember most about the trips is the fun we all had together. I am thankful for the memories. 

 

Keeping in theme, here is a devotion surrounding Independence Day from Vibrant Faith at Home, by Rev. Lee Yates.

 

He writes, “Independence Day is often marked by loud explosions and bright sparks flying through the sky. Among the many freedoms we enjoy is the freedom of religion. How might some of the fireworks we use to celebrate July 4 also serve as symbols of the religion we freely practice?”

 

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/explosion-of-meaning

 

Have a great week!

 

Amanda

 

June 14, 2017

Good afternoon!

With the school year ending and summer schedules starting, many are getting used to a new routine! As you are defining your new summer routine (or even if little changes for you), I encourage you to read this Vibrant Faith Devotion activity about reading together.

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/reading-together-being-together

I also have Summer Reading BINGO board for kids from Spark House Online (our Sunday School curriculum source) that has ideas for reading different types of stories this summer, including Bible stories. It could be modified and used as to what is best for your family! I have hard copies at the churches but if you’d like one emailed to you just reply to this email!

Enjoy the day,

Amanda

 

 

June 7, 2017

 

Good afternoon! Hope you are having a great start to the summer!

 

I have talked to a couple people today about summer plans and we come to the same consensus: summer is too short! There is so much to pack in during June, July, and August! In the busyness of this season, how can we continue to incorporate faith into our daily lives and keep growing in our faith?

 

We had the opportunity to go camping last week at Lake Carlos State Park, which is such a beautiful and fun place, so close to home! Keeping with my attempted family tradition, we tried to share our highs and lows during the week. I get the most participation from my five year old, of course. His high was “playing on my tablet in the camper” and his low was “going for walks on the trail.” Ok, so not the ideal answer I’d been hoping for. But I got to say, the boy is honest!

 

So, this summer if you have vacation plans, I encourage you to try to be intentional about faith formation through those plans! Here is a link to a Vibrant Faith at Home devotional that could be modified as appropriate for your family: http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/a-blessing-for-travel

 

It could be as simple as starting the day with a short prayer for a great day together or ending with sharing what you were thankful for during the day. Whatever works for your family!

 

Enjoy the rest of the warm week!

Amanda

 

 

May 24, 2017

 

Good afternoon!

 

The Gospel coming up this Sunday is the Ascension of Jesus. For the weekly devotion idea this week, here is a plan using resources from http://www.faith5.org/ and http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/awesome-ascension.

 

SHARE your highs and lows. (Side note: I’ve been doing highs and lows with my five year old son and last night he suggested we just do our highs and lows on Thursdays. Sorry, Devon, you have to tell me what was great about Tuesday too).

 

READ the story of the Ascension (Luke 24:44-53) or use this version from Vibrant Faith which is a paraphrased version of the Ascension story as if told by a disciple: http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/awesome-ascension-the-story-of-the-ascension.

 

TALK about how the story of the Ascension may relate to your highs and lows. Talk about the image of the Ascension.  

 

PRAY for each other’s highs and lows.

 

BLESS one another.

 

Wishing you a blessed Memorial Day weekend; remembering those who served.

 

Amanda



May 17, 2017

 

Hi!

 

The Gospel for this coming Sunday is John 14:15-21, about God’s promise of the Holy Spirit. Verse 16 is “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” Other words for “advocate” may be Spirit of truth, Counselor, Helper. Jesus tells us how we are not left alone; we were given the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are told to keep the commandments of Jesus. How does the Holy Spirit help us keep the commandments?

 

A devotion idea for the week:

·        Read the Gospel for the week (John 14:15-21)

·        Talk about names for the Spirit and what they mean

·        Discuss what the gift of the Holy Spirit means for you and what the role of the Holy Spirit is

·        For younger kids, here is a little devotion idea that provides a visual for The Trinity:http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/trinity-kool-aid

 

Hope you are having a great week! I feel so fortunate to be working with the congregations of Grace and Faith. Thank you!

 

Many blessings to you this week!

Amanda

 

May 12, 2017

Hello! And happy Friday!

Something my family and I started doing this week was sharing highs and lows for the day. This is part of the “Faith 5” model I had emailed about a couple months ago. 

We have been sharing our favorite part of the day with each other at supper time for quite a while. I hadn’t been asking for the sharing of the lows but I am realizing that is important too. It’s good and necessary to talk and share our hurts and burdens. It helps to say them out loud and have someone hear them. This isn’t to be negative, rather to recognize that lows are just as valid and part of life as highs.

Sharing of the highs and lows also gives a great opportunity to pray for one another. We can praise and thank God for our highs and ask for help and guidance with our lows. 

What do you share with your family and friends? Perhaps you are already praying about highs and lows, but if not, try adding it this week! 

Have a good weekend!

Amanda

 

May 3, 2017

Good afternoon!

Tomorrow, May 4th, 2017, is National Prayer Day. The annual observance of this day was formalized in 1952 for people of all faiths to prayer for the nation. Grace and Faith will have the sanctuaries open tomorrow for personal meditation and prayer. There are several time slots available yet so please partake if you wish. Any questions, please email or call me!  Along with dedicating a time to pray for our nation (and world) tomorrow, I’m including a Vibrant Faith at Home devotion activity that intentionally dedicates prayers to our local community. Give it a try with your family this weekend!

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/community-prayers

Enjoy the rest of the week,

Amanda

 

April 25, 2017

Good afternoon!

I’m looking ahead at the week and am reminded that the Annual Rummage Sale at Grace is this Saturday, April 29th, from 8:00AM-12:00PM. 

For several years I lived across the street from a really great friend and [almost] annually we would have a multi-family garage sale. It was a highlight of my summer! It was so great for several reasons: 1) I got to hang out with my friend and her family for three straight days, 2) My unneeded inventory was converted to cash, and 3) I had less STUFF in my house. 

Household miscellaneous items, toys, and kids clothing have an average return on investment of about 8.5% by my calculation and experience. But there are other benefits to turnover through garage sales too! Someone else can USE your unneeded stuff, it doesn’t go to a landfill, and if you buy secondhand, you too are creating less waste! Generally speaking, we live in a country of excess. I have way too much stuff, even with my self-proclaimed mantra of minimalism.

Here is an interesting article about Jesus and Minimalism:http://becomingpeculiar.com/why-own-fewer-possessions-jesus-and-the-minimalist-lifestyle/ 

A devotion idea for this week:

With your family, go through a couple drawers or closets with an empty box. Fill it up with items you no longer use or need. Then donate the box to the Grace Rummage Sale, Love INC, Someplace Safe or another organization selling for benefit of an important cause. Say a prayer for the recipients of your no-longer-needed stuff! 

Happy CLEANING!

Amanda

 

 

April 19, 2017

Hello! I hope you had a joyful Easter day!

We were running late for church and my son was very upset he couldn’t wear sweatpants to church. Things really turned around though somewhere on the drive and the day was full of joy and fun.

Easter is a day and a season to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and His promise of eternal life!

For a devotion idea this week, read one of the Easter stories as a family: Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, or John 20:1-18.

Reflect on a time during your life when you have experienced feeling particularly awful. When you look back on this time, can you see God working with you through it? What tools did God provide you to get through it?

Through the season of Easter God gives us hope and a promise of new life!

Thanks for reading and have a great rest of the week J

Amanda

Modified devotion from For Everything A Season by Nilsen Family

 

April 9, 2017

Hello!

Holy week is here and life continues to be busy as we prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. What are your Easter traditions? What do you remember about Easter growing up? 

I think of the fun in the search for hard coated marshmallow candies from Fleet Farm. They tasted terrible but they were my dad’s pick for hiding because they had flat bottoms so they wouldn’t roll away. Their shape also optimized hiding possibilities. I also think of scrambling to help my mom make an egg bake late on Saturday night for the church breakfast Easter morning. I remember time with my extended family and lots of good food. I also remember JOY on Easter morning!

Below is a cool devotion to do through this week starting tonight. It gives a daily verse and a couple questions surrounding the verse within the Easter story. 

https://storyboardingchurch.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/busy-lives-holy-week-use-faith5/

Enjoy reflecting during this very special week!

Amanda 

The schedule for services this week is:

April 13th, Maundy Thursday Worship at Grace, 7:00PM

April 14th, Good Friday Worship at Faith, 7:00PM

April 16th, Easter Sunday, Sunrise Worship at Faith 7:00AM, Easter Service at Grace 9:00AM, Easter Festival Worship at Faith 10:30AM

No Sunday School on Easter

 

April 5, 2017

Hello,

I subscribe to a daily news blog called, “The Skimm.” It’s a daily news briefing of national and international stories. I don’t read a newspaper regularly or watch the nightly news (I’m Gen Y/Millennial, you know!), so this blog serves as a reasonably good source of news for me, as I find it unbiased and concise.

Today’s main headline was, of course, the chemical weapon attack in Syria. I can’t possibly understand this horror and sometimes when I read about things like this I have trouble even believing what I am reading is real! I feel so helpless and I feel so advantaged.

We undoubtedly live in a broken creation: natural disaster, human made disaster, political unrest, war, starvation, serious poverty. It would be much easier to ignore our global and local neighbors but that’s not what we are called to do. I have no answers, but I know that God calls us to love our neighbors and will help us figure out ways to love. Maybe it is finding a cause to donate toward monetarily, or a need we can fill by serving and volunteering, or it is to pray for others, or maybe something else.

The link following is a devotion activity about unrest and turmoil in our world. It’s a challenging one, in my opinion, and requires some significant thought.

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/praying-the-headlines-2 

If you try, let me know your thoughts.

Wishing you peace!

Amanda

 

 

March 30. 2017

Hello,

The Gospel from this past week was John 9:1-41, the story of Jesus healing the blind man. Verse two and three reads:

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.

This scenario characterizes our human desire to find fault or blame, either of ourselves or someone else when life throws a major curveball. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen, period? The unanswered question of WHY? 

As Pastor Dennis talked about in his sermon, we live in a broken creation. There will always be bad things happening. These bad things however are opportunities for God and for us to respond to situations in the love of Christ. Through challenges it is necessary to remember that we all have varying ways of experiencing grief and working through tragedy.

Natalie Hanson writes about the unanswered “why’s” in life in her blog:

https://www.nataliedawnhanson.com/must-accept-unanswered-whys-life/ 

And here is a family devotion on the subject:

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/wasn-t-in-the-stars

 The verses above also remind me to keep in mind that we never totally know what another person has been through or what they are facing (tragedy, job loss, death, health problems, and more). May we experience the light and hope of Jesus today and always.

Enjoy the week,

Amanda


March 23, 2017

Prayers Please!

How many times does this phrase run through your Social Media account? Social media can be a great medium for sharing information and finding support. People ask for prayers and often receive responses that those requests are being fulfilled. But are they really? Is it just a canned reaction to a request? The responses are generally public and people will see who has responded and what they’ve said. It’s my hope that those prayers are being had if they are promised. But I’ve been guilty of a response and forgetfulness to actually say a prayer at time or two in the past.

This isn’t to say that we aren’t thinking of others and aren't concerned for them. God knows our hearts. But we have the gift of prayer and we are to use it!

Here’s a little Social Media prayer challenge:http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/social-media-prayers

I encourage you to modify as appropriate for your family!

Enjoy the weekend!

Amanda


March 16, 2017

Good evening! 

The Gospel from Sunday contained one of the most known verses in the Bible:  

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16

What does it mean to you to believe in God? Believing in his existence? Believing Jesus is the son of God? Believing by putting all of your trust, faith, and hope in Him?

An idea for a family devotion this week: Have each person in your home write this verse down and post in a few visible places around your home (bathroom mirror, fridge, door to garage). Ask each other what this verse means to your family.

Enjoy the rest of the week J

Amanda

 

 

March 8, 2017

 

Good afternoon!

 

Temptation… the subject of Matthew 4:1-11, the Gospel from this past Sunday. Not a subject we like to think about, much less talk about.

 

As Pastor Dennis discussed in the sermon, there are common temptations we wrestle with. We are tempted to believe that what we say and do matters little. When thinking that the impact we can make is unimportant, we also face temptation to be silent. That is we are tempted to not speak up for what is right and silence often equates to agreement. Another temptation we face is to share information about others that tears down rather than builds up. Propaganda, gossip, hurtful and unnecessary information.

 

Jesus tells us to love our neighbors. We are all God’s children. People that hurt us and people that we hurt are God’s children. Looking at our adversaries as children of God will help us to resist the temptation to speak poorly of others or say hurtful things. With God’s help, we can interpret the things our neighbors do and say in the best possible light. We can be examples of love and respect toward those we disagree with.

 

Here is a link to a devotional to try with your family about temptation:

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/getting-unstuck

 

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Amanda



February 26, 2017

Good afternoon!

The Transfiguration was the subject of the Gospel today.

The story of the Transfiguration is a literal illustration of the presence of God. He comes in the form of a cloud, there is a bright light, and His voice is clear and audible. The Bible contains countless other physical examples of God’s presence.

Do these still physical examples exist? Of course they do. How do you see God? How do you hear God? How do you feel God’s presence?

We’ve all likely heard accounts of people (or maybe you have personally) seen a supernatural light. Was it the Lord? Have you heard the stories of people that have “technically” died and then are revived and claim they saw God? 

This hasn’t happened to me, and I’ve never heard God’s literal voice, though wouldn’t it be nice to have that concrete direction! However I certainly can determine times in my life where I have heard God speaking to me, by the variables left surrounding particular situations, which seemed to clearly point me in the right direction. I heard God through some challenges I faced shortly before the birth of our second son, Isaiah. God had been speaking, and when I finally listened, an incredible peace was restored in me. 

What about the instances of God’s presence through the less dramatic times in life? Have you ever had a person in your mind “out of the blue” and decided to call them up and it turns out they really needed you? Or you really needed them? Or the “coincidences” of daily life that keep us safe—suddenly remembering something super important, missing an accident by just moments? And the examples of God working in people around us, that simply inspire us to do better. 

God is everywhere! 

Here is a link to a Vibrant Faith at Home devotional about God’s presence. 

http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/god-in-the-clouds

Have a great week!

Amanda

 

February 23, 2017

Good afternoon!

I’m reflecting on last week’s Gospel lesson from Matthew 5:38-48, particularly verse 44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Sure, I prefer if people like me, but that’s just not reality and that’s fine. I’m thinking beyond the surface when I read this verse.

What does it feel like to be persecuted by someone? I honestly don’t think I’ve ever received hostile treatment based on my political beliefs, religion, or race. Obviously my friends and family don’t agree with me on everything I stand for politically or religiously. But I’ve never felt ostracized for who I am, living in west central Minnesota. It’s impossible for me to try and empathize or even understand what people persecuted for their faith, beliefs, or race really go through as they face the world. 

Is this true for the majority in Douglas County? So then, does that create an even bigger challenge from Jesus? How can we stand up for the oppressed and help the persecuted? How can we love the persecutors as well as the persecuted? How do we love ALL of our neighbors? 

Here is a devotion that relates to this subject to try this week: http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/finding-faith-in-the-stranger

God, help us to follow your teachings, to love and pray for our enemies and the persecuted. Amen.

Thanks for reading, and have a good remainder of the week!

Amanda

 

February 1, 2017

Hello! 

Goodbye January, hello February! I guess winter is back, but we will see what the groundhog finds out tomorrow! 

Super Bowl Sunday is looming. As a good friend of mine put it, it’s always fun to get together for a nice eating… I mean outing. What do you enjoy about the game? The actual game? The Doritos commercials? The buffalo chicken wings 

If you do host or attend a party, certainly the fellowship and company is enjoyable. I also think it’s a great celebration of the end of football season! ;-) (Sorry to my husband, Andrew).

I was browsing the Vibrant Faith at Home website and found this home devotional activity centered around sports rituals. It prompts us to think about the hospitality aspect of sports rituals. Part of the activity includes questions like…

“Watching a game together can be a bonding activity. What do you share in common with your guests? What other good times have you shared? Why did you invite these individuals? Jesus often ate with friends, but he also shared meals with people who were considered outcasts of society—Samaritans, tax collectors, people of a different political party or religion. Would a person who is of a different race, political persuasion, or cultural background feel comfortable at your party? Would it be too much of a stretch or too uncomfortable to invite someone new, someone different, someone who is often left out?”

This devotional activity will work whether you think about it in terms of a Super Bowl Party or any other gathering in your home. Give it a try this week!

http://www.vibrantfaithathome.org/item/winter-sport-rituals

Thanks and have a great week!

Amanda

 

January 18, 2017

 

Good afternoon!

Hope you are enjoying the January thaw. I know the vitamin D has helped my mood!

Last Saturday I went to a youth ministry conference in Fargo called ReCharge. I was overwhelmed with all of the information and there were several takeaways.

One of the sessions I listened to included information about Faith5. It’s a relatively simple concept that lays out a format for faith based sharing within your family. Here’s the website if you want to read more: www.faith5.org 

The italicized portion below is directly from www.faith5.org

FAITH5™ (Faith Acts In The Home) is a simple, easy-to-implement faith practice, perfect for incorporating into your bedtime routine for five to fifteen minutes a night. When done over time, the FAITH5™ carries the power to enrich communication, deepen understanding, aid sleep, and promote mental, physical and spiritual health. The five steps are:

·         SHARE your highs and lows—Easy enough, right?

·         READ a Bible verse or story—Grab the Bible and open it up, or use the verse/reading from your regular daily devotional

·         TALK about how the Bible reading might relate to your highs and lows—And maybe sometimes you won’t know!

·         PRAY for one another's highs and lows—Take turns leading the prayer if you wish.

·         BLESS one another—Trace a cross on each other’s forehead.

Anyone want to join me in doing a Faith5 Challenge for 7 days? We will start Sunday. Let me know by emailing me at aaschneeberger@gmail.com. I’ll do a daily email and see how it’s going!

 

Enjoy the rest of the warm week :)

Amanda

 

 

January 12, 2017

Good afternoon!

I just listened to Pastor Dennis’s sermon from this last week. If you didn’t get to see it, it is available on the Faith Lutheran Church website under the “streaming” tab. A great option if you chose not to battle the cold and wind last Sunday!

In the sermon, Pastor Dennis talked about identity, loyalty, and commitment. What is your identity? Where do your loyalties lie? What are you committed to? These questions could be answered by considering what consumes your thoughts, what you spend time talking about, where you spend your money, and where you spend your time.

But what is the most important part of your identity? As Christians we are baptized, which is a physical proclamation that we are children of God. How essential it is to remind ourselves of the symbol of our baptism. Pastor Dennis gave an idea to frequently reinforce this most important part of one’s identity.

Every time you wash your hands think or say:

“I am God’s beloved child sent to others with God’s love.”

Challenge for the week: write those words down and post them by your sink. Teach your kids to do the same!

Have a good week!

Amanda

 

 

January 12, 2017

Good afternoon!

I just listened to Pastor Dennis’s sermon from this last week. If you didn’t get to see it, it is available on the Faith Lutheran Church website under the “streaming” tab. A great option if you chose not to battle the cold and wind last Sunday!

In the sermon, Pastor Dennis talked about identity, loyalty, and commitment. What is your identity? Where do your loyalties lie? What are you committed to? These questions could be answered by considering what consumes your thoughts, what you spend time talking about, where you spend your money, and where you spend your time.

But what is the most important part of your identity? As Christians we are baptized, which is a physical proclamation that we are children of God. How essential it is to remind ourselves of the symbol of our baptism. Pastor Dennis gave an idea to frequently reinforce this most important part of one’s identity.

Every time you wash your hands think or say:

“I am God’s beloved child sent to others with God’s love.”

Challenge for the week: write those words down and post them by your sink. Teach your kids to do the same!

Have a good week!

Amanda

 

 

January 4, 2017

Hello and Happy New Year!

Do you write down New Year’s resolutions? Or talk about them with your family? I suppose its cliché but there certainly is something about starting “fresh” in January!

It seems to me that most resolutions or goals are focused on oneself or one’s family. This isn’t bad at all; in fact it’s quite important! The New Year is a good time to reflect on how to become a better version of you. And becoming closer to God can help with that!

Love God. Love others.

What about resolutions involving other people? This Vibrant Faith Resource is a cool activity to do as a family to reflect on Jesus’s teachings to help others and challenges your family to think of ways to follow His teachings.

 http://vibrantfaithathome.org/item/resolutions 

Stay warm this week!

Amanda

 

 

Dec. 21, 2016

Hello,

Christmas is almost here as well as the joy it brings. But Christmas certainly can bring up other feelings too—those of grief, loss, sadness, even doubt. In the sermon Pastor Dennis shared this month about facing Christmas with feelings other than just joy, we were reminded that the feelings of sorrow and despair are very real and ok to acknowledge. And that Jesus is always with us and will help us through our challenges.

The Vibrant Faith at Home I’ve included today is about missing someone at Christmas. It includes a worksheet, which initially turned me off, but in thinking about it again it can be healing to write things down sometimes. Either way, the point is recognizing that your Christmas Eve dinner table looks different and acknowledging those we miss.

http://www.vibrantfaithathome.org/item/missing-someone-at-christmas

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas!

Amanda

 

 

Dec. 14, 2016

Hello!

We’ve been talking about symbols during worship. How many Christian symbols do you have in your home? This time of the year, it is so easy to spot Christian symbols—Christmas trees, nativities, angels, wreathes.

Below is a link to an interesting piece from the ELCA on the meaning of the Advent wreath. “…the Advent wreath developed a few centuries ago in Germany as a sign of the waiting and hopeful expectation of the return in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The wreath, a circle, came to represent the eternal victory over death through Jesus Christ. The evergreens were a sign of the faithfulness of God to God’s people, even in death, and the lighted candles were a reminder of the light of Christ brought into the world.”

Here's the link: http://blogs.elca.org/worship/?p=207

This week, set aside some time after dinner and discuss the meaning of some of the Christmas symbols in your home. Where did you get them? Why do you display them? What do they mean to you? 

Stay warm!

Amanda

 

 

Dec. 7, 2016

 

Hello!

Pastor Dennis’s sermon this past week was about Faith Webbing. Faith webbing is the idea of “wrapping children and youth in a web of faith so loving and caring that they will know Jesus and always want to be a part of a local congregation.” Raising a child in faith is the responsibility of parents (Deuteronomy 6:49), but when a child is baptized, the people of the church agree to HELP the parents raise their child in faith. This enormous responsibility is shared. 

"It takes a village" to raise a child in every aspect of life. A child needs influences from several generations, as each generation and each person has completely different insight, perspective, knowledge, and gifts to share. This is true for a child's education, health, safety, and over all well-being. So of course it takes a village to grow and foster a child’s faith. It is our responsibility to share our gifts! And there are so many ways to do that. We may be models of faith, prayer, or compassion. We may be teachers. We may be examples of Christian hospitality. Some people have such a gift of sharing the Gospel, and living the Gospel. So then, is it our responsibility to truly consider our gifts, and how we can use our gifts to foster faith in not just children, but also each other? 

So, we are the village and we can rely on the village. Thank goodness, right?!!

And in the spirit of the weather the last couple days, here is a link to a “cool” Vibrant Faith at Home activity to use sometime this week. It’s about slowing down, reflecting, and unplugging. It may also be a good time to think about the gifts you offer the 'village'!

 http://www.vibrantfaithathome.org/item/winter-cold-and-cozy

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Amanda

 

 

Dec. 1, 2016

Christmas Presents. How do these two words make you feel? Joyful, excited, peaceful, fulfilled, overwhelmed, anxious, uncomfortable, indifferent?

Thinking of the reasons of why we give Christmas gifts offers some perspective about feelings surrounding gifts. The wise men brought valuable items to Jesus, with absolutely no expectation of anything in return, a solid example of a gift (not a gift exchange). They shared what they had, graciously and generously in the spirit of the goodness and love that surrounds Christmas. 

When you’re giving gifts this Christmas season, think about the joy and love you are spreading in the act of giving. Giving of your time and talents is great expression of generosity too.

Here are a few ideas to talk about in your home, regarding gifts:

·        Why do we give gifts?

·        It is important to our family to give gifts?

·        What are some gifts we could give that don’t cost money?

·        Giving versus exchanging.

·        And never forget—God gave us the greatest gift of all. 

Here is a link to a cool resource regarding Christmas gifts from Vibrant Faith at Home: http://www.vibrantfaithathome.org/item/christmas-decisions-bah-humbug

Happy December!

Amanda

 

Nov. 22, 2016

 

Good evening!

Happy Thanksgiving week! The following is a link to an intergenerational activity created by Vibrant Faith to use at your Thanksgiving celebration this week.

Thanksgiving Table

Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving, full of thanks to God, time with family and friends, and pumpkin pie!

 

 

Nov. 17, 2016

Hello! 

The Gospel coming up this week is from Luke 23:33-43, and is about Jesus’s death on the cross. The text describes the conversation Jesus had with the two criminals on either side of him, being crucified at the same time as Jesus. One criminal mocked him while the other asked Jesus to save him. Jesus told his follower he would be saved, while Jesus himself was dying on the cross.

Jesus had complete faith in God, through the whole process of his death: betrayal, condemnation, violence, mockery, and unimaginable suffering. Not only does this give us a glimpse into the depth of the love the Lord has for us, but it gives us the ultimate example of undoubting faith in God.

Most of us know people (or are people) that have endured great suffering in life. How is faith affected by hardship? Strengthened, challenged, lost? Think about people in your life that have been through serious hardships: health, financial, relational, loss. This week, let’s pray for our friends and family members that are struggling. Pray for their faith and trust in God. Strive to be an example of faith in the Lord.

Peace!

Amanda


Nov. 10, 2016

 

Good morning! And happy Thursday! 

“Be a good listener” is one of my top five parenting phrases. When I tell this to my four year old, it means I want him to follow rules and be respectful. It’s a noun, not a verb. But what about listening as an act?

How well do we truly listen to others? Sometimes we listen so that we can respond rather than listening so we can hear. At times we are more attuned to our own body language and facial expressions than actually paying attention to what the person talking is saying. I know I’m guilty of this. So, what have I missed out on by not truly taking the time to listen?

What about listening to God? Are we being good listeners to God by following his commandments? That’s good and it’s important. It’s also arguably easier than drowning out the static and really listening to the Lord. Again, what could have we missed by not truly taking the time to listen to God?

Psalm 46:10—“Be still and know that I am God.”

Ideas for this week:

        Have a conversation and don’t be afraid of silence. Listen, then think, then respond.

        Turn off the static and relish silence.

        Think about the times during the day that you are listening to God.

Enjoy the rest of the week!

 

11-2-16

 

Hello!


Not sure about you, but I am feeling worried for the vitality of our news stations come next week when they won’t have countless dollars pouring in to run negative political ads. What will the media tell us to do next? Will we be back to learning about copper frying pans that change our lives? Or will Toyota offer zero interest financing for five years on the new Tundra? What next?!!

 

Obviously I am joking, but I truly am looking forward to the constant negativity exiting. Back to the good old, every-day negativity from the media! Wish I was joking here!

 

But, there is always good, right? There is always something to be thankful for.  And there is more good than bad! It seems like more of a challenge to find the good, than to find the bad, but maybe it’s a simple as looking.

 

Challenge for the week—find the good in three different not-so-good circumstances.

 

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

 

Have a really GOOD week!

 

10-26-16

 

Hello!

 

The Gospel coming up this Sunday is the story of Zacchaeus. You know, “the wee little man!” Is the song in your head yet? Sorry, now it will be all week!!

 

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
and a wee little man was he.

He climbed up in a sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see.

And when the Savior passed that way
He looked up in the tree.
And said, 'Zacchaeus, you come down!
For I'm going to your house today!
For I'm going to your house today!'

Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
But a happy man was he,
For he had seen the Lord that day
And a happy man was he;
And a very happy man was he.

 

So, Zacchaeus was perceived as greedy, rich, and not liked. Ouch. But the Lord showed him grace and mercy. I personally find it much easier to understand that Jesus intends for us to show grace to the people that are oppressed for being down on their luck, poor, sick, or aren’t within the social “norm.” But to have compassion for “privileged” folks?! Those that live in excess, judge, and even oppress others. Hmm, am I judging others my just making that statement? Do I live like that?! Are we all guilty of judging those that not only sin, but just plain live differently than us? Wow, this takes real work.

 

But Jesus is merciful to ALL. EVERY SINGLE PERSON is a child of God. Zacchaeus’s life was completely turned around by the mercy shown to him. Even when we can’t understand it, God works through us to model his incredible mercy and grace.

 

A few things to try at home this week:

         Pray for someone who has been unkind to you. Practice God’s mercy.

         Find a simple way to show grace to someone you don’t know this week (let someone in front of you in line at Target, pick up some trash at the park, leave a kind comment card at a restaurant).

         Teach the Zacchaeus song to a child!

 

Peace!

 

 

10-19-16

 

Hello, and happy MEA week! This week seems to me to be the unofficial halfway point of fall. November is looming! For those on the home stretch of corn harvest, prayers for a safe and successful finish!

 

The Gospel coming up this week again discusses prayer, with the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Jesus uses this story to illustrate the danger of self-righteousness, and the importance of humility. Self-righteousness can certainly lead to a dangerous cycle of judgment: the thoughts of “at least I don’t do that” or “I’m so thankful I’m not like this person.” Oppressing any person is oppressing a child of God.

 

We are all sinners. Here’s the great news: we are forgiven! Our prayer focus this week can be practicing humility and experiencing God’s incredible mercy.

 

The conversation starters for the home this week are from our Sunday School curriculum, and are right in tune for thinking about prayer.

 

Family Conversations—From Spark Activate Faith

 

        What would you like to thank God for?

        Is there a wrong way to pray? If so, what makes it wrong?

        What is okay to say to God?

 

Enjoy the rest of the week!

 

God’s Peace,

Amanda

 

10-12-16

 

Hello!

The Gospel lesson coming up this Sunday is from Luke 18:1-8 and is about the parable Jesus told about the persistency of a widow seeking justice from an unethical judge, who finally responds. Jesus was making the point that if the widow can get answers in this unlikely circumstance, think about how easily God will respond to us, if we ask. So this week, let’s focus more intentionally on bringing our prayers to God.

I read a book about a woman that set alarms to pray just for her children over 12 times per day. I initial thought was, “Wow! How is that even possible? Where is there time to do that?” But really, our prayers don’t have to be long and they don’t have to be offered in a certain way or place, and we have the freedom to pray whenever we want to!

Questions for kids of all ages (adapted from Faith Talk with Children by Vibrant Faith Ministries):   

•          Memories: Say a favorite prayer.

•          Actions and Feelings: When do you take time to pray? Why at that time?

•          Values: What is the one trait of your father or mother that you value the most?

•          Etchings: Talk about an experience that you thought was an answer to a prayer.

An idea of when to use these questions this week: after supper!

Have a great rest of the week!

 

10-5-16

 

Good afternoon!

 

You’ve maybe noticed the “Joy” posters in both churches… we talked about joy in God Squad and used this posters as a means of sharing some joy in our lives. Check them out and feel free to add to them!

 

We can model the joy of Lord by consciously deciding to be joyful. Joy is contagious, isn’t it? Are there people in your life that are so joyful, you feel better after you’ve spent some time with them?

 

So this week, let’s think joy! Play some music that brings you joy after supper a few nights this week. Plan to spend time with someone that brings you joy in the next seven days. Make some time to bring joy to someone who could use a boost. And enjoy the rest of the week!

 

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Nehemiah 8:10

 

Peace!

 

9-28-16

 

Good afternoon!

 

This week in your home, I encourage you to take some time to think about your relationship with God and talk in your home on how you make The Lord a priority! How can you help one another focus on God?

 

Questions for kids of all ages (adapted from Faith Talk with Children by Vibrant Faith Ministries):

•          Memories: Tell about a time you did something wrong. What made you feel better? 

•          Actions and Feelings: Name something you want to thank God for.

•          Wondering: How do people know you are a child of God?

•          Growing Together: Name a place where you feel close to God.

 

If anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him.—1 John 2:5 NIV

 

Have a great week!

 


9-21-16

 

Fall greetings to you! I hope you are enjoying the beauty of God’s work as we approach the Autumn Equinox. This has always been my favorite time of year. I love the crisp air, fall colors, opening up the windows, and adjusting to a new routine. Oh, and less mosquitos! This is prime time in west central Minnesota, in my opinion. My husband is ready for another Vikings football season. And a great start to the season: defeating the Packers... Skol!

 

This week, I encourage you to reflect on the beauty of the changing seasons. Talk about God’s beautiful creation in your home. Take a nature walk with a parent, child, sibling, or friend and focus on being present, appreciating this beautiful time of year.

 

Questions for kids of all ages (adapted from Faith Talk with Children by Vibrant Faith Ministries):

•           Memories: Who loves you? Name as many people as you can think of.

•           Actions and Feelings: If you could be any person in the Bible, who would you be and why?

•           Wondering: What does it mean when someone says, “I forgive you?”

•           Growing Together: What are all your names? Why were these names chosen for you?

 

 Sing praise to the Lord; tell the wonderful things he has done. Be glad that we belong to him; let all who worship him rejoice! –1 Chronicles 16:9-10 GNB

 

God’s Blessings to you!

 

 

9-14-16

 

Good afternoon!          

 

“The home is more broadly understood as the life of faith in and through people’s daily life relationships, especially those established over time.”

 

This quote was the theme of the article in September’s newsletter, the beginning of weekly emails to our congregations, to support church in the home. You will recall that the challenge given in the article was to think about redefining the term, “home” as a relationship.

 

The latter part of the quote emphasizes the importance of relationships “established over time.” I like this—it’s less overwhelming. We can’t expect strong, nurtured, healthy, faithful, satisfying relationships to materialize without commitment, effort, and time. If we listen to Jesus, follow his Word, and focus on what He wants for our lives, these relationships will bloom.

 

So, as promised here are a few ideas for bringing church home, cultivating and nurturing our relationships within our home:

·        Think about your faith “home,” and how it includes more than those living with you. Pray specifically and intentionally for each person.

·        Consider someone who has had a major impact on your life in faith, and share the impact this person has had on you with those in your home.

 

Questions for the kids (adapted from Faith Talk with Children by Vibrant Faith Ministries):

·        Memories: What is the best thing that happened today? Why?

·        Actions and Feelings: Pretend you know someone who lost their possessions in a flood or storm. What thing of yours would you like to give them? How could you help them?

·        Wondering: If you made a picture about joy, what color would you use?

·        Growing Together: Tell about someone you really like. What makes that person special?

 

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 5:5-6

 

Blessings to you this week!