Winner of the Giveaway Contest!

Earlier this month, we began a giveaway contest right here on our blog!  By putting your back-to-school thoughts/traditions in the comment section of August 17th’s article or reposting the blog via social media, you were able to enter for a chance to win!  As the contest ended this past Monday, we’ve drawn from the names, and our winner is (drumroll, please)….Dina Poggione!  Dina, we’re excited to give you $20 worth of McDonald’s gift certificates!  You can pick them up at the HG Registration desk this coming Sunday!

Thanks to all of our readers who entered the contest.  We enjoyed reading your thoughts and posts regarding back to school and hope you’ll enter again with our future contests and giveaways!

September Preview Pack

Here’s a quick look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate over the next few weeks:

September 7: Preschool through 6th grade will hear the tales of three incredible stories from the Bible: Balaam’s Donkey, Elijah and the Widow’s Oil, and Daniel Interprets the King’s Dream.  In each case, kids will learn, “God can do some truly amazing things.”

September 14: Toddlers through 4th grade will hear how God made and loves the world and how “God wants us to care about what He’s made.”  Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: “Jesus – The Man/God” – Jesus was 100% God and 100% man at the same time.

September 21: Toddlers through 4th grade will learn the value of humility through the story of Rebekah and Isaac and the importance of putting others first.  Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: “Jesus – The Early Years” – Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

September 28: Toddler through 4th grade will meet the amazing women in young Moses’ life who helped him grow up and kept him safe as they trusted in God.  Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: “Jesus – The Teacher” – Jesus used great stories and parables to teach about God’s truth!

Need Patience? Try Cooking Beans!

We are excited to have another great post from guest blogger, Erica Hunt.  Erica is an Emerging Generation Associate Pastor at Woodland Hills Church.

“Have patience, have patience

Don’t be in such a hurry

When you get impatient,

You only start to worry

Remember! Remember!

God is patient, too

Think about the times

When others have to wait for you.”

These lyrics are set to a simple melody first introduced to me as a child by Psalty the Singing Songbook™. The song is easy to learn, and the lyrics lay out a logical argument for why patience should be on regular display in our lives. Psalty’s message, reinforced by parents and Sunday School teachers, persuaded my childhood self that it really could be that simple and easy to do.

He’s right that a refreshed perspective and consideration of others can motivate us to think and behave differently. This cute little song truly did help me as a kid. But as an adult, I have needed more than short bursts of intense willpower. Cultivating patience needs to be more than a “for the next five minutes, I will try to be more patient” approach. I’ve needed to work at developing habits and practices that s.l.o.w. m.e. d.o.w.n.

There are few other cultural values that drive our everyday lives more than convenience, which sucks the life out of efforts at cultivating patience. When so much of everyday life can be so easily achieved or accomplished, there is little incentive to purposely slow down. Yet many of us long for more time to spend with people and activities we care about. Willpower helps, but it isn’t enough.

Here are a few examples of things our family has incorporated to swim upstream against the current of fast and easy living. If you have patient-inducing practices of your own, make sure to share them in the comments so the rest of us can try them out.

We eat seasonal produce

Waiting for strawberries, apples and asparagus is so hard in Minnesota! Our fingers are practically still stained from the picking and processing of 2 flats of strawberries in June. As delicious as they were, we almost grew tired of them over the following days. But by not buying berries the other 11 months of the year, we’ve learned to appreciate the juicy sweetness when they’re fresh, knowing that they won’t be available for a while unless it is through the jam stored in the freezer.

We cook our own beans

When I first encountered the practice of cooking beans, I was in my early twenties and had never stopped to think about what happened to beans before they reached the grocery store shelf. It turns out they soak, boil and simmer, a process that can take up to 10 hours. We’ve learned to be careful with quantities because they don’t keep as long without all the sodium added to the processing. If we want chili but haven’t soaked the beans, we don’t get chili. Depending on the consolation prize on the menu, there is great incentive to soak beans the next day!

We dry laundry on a clothesline

If you have the space, try it out! It usually takes longer, but there is nothing like the smell and feel of sun and wind-dried laundry…especially bed linens and t-shirts.

We don’t give loans to our kids

Buying on credit could be the epitome of our convenience-obsessed culture. As our kids started to operate with the assumption that they could always buy now and pay later, we stopped extending loans. They have a list of extra chores to earn money and have learned to spend more carefully. Most importantly, they WAIT until they have enough to make the purchase, which they may or may not still want at that point.

If you were a fly on the wall in our home, you’d know there is no silver bullet here – no easy fix for persistent patterns of impatience, but practices like these do help. They remind us to lift our heads up, look around, breathe, and gain perspective. We might even savor a strawberry while clothes dry on the line.

It’s Time to Think Back to School With a Giveaway!

By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Each year, it seems as though summer just flies by. School supplies are out earlier and earlier. Whether you are sending your little one to preschool for the first time or you have a child entering high school, back to school is a busy and exciting time. Lists of items to purchase and the trying on of clothing to see what fits/what has been outgrown all adds up financially and can contribute to stress for all involved.

Let’s take a look at this from the child’s perspective. Imagine getting a new boss and new responsibilities in your job every September. Next, your team is switched up on you, too. You will get to work with a few of your former teammates, but you will get new ones, too. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What would help ease your transition?

Now that you have your child’s perspective in mind, let’s switch hats again. You as a parent know your child. You are there for the good days and the bad. How can you aid your child in their transition? What are questions you can ask to make the transition as smooth as possible? How can you frame your expectations to best suit your child? Here are a few thoughts and questions:

  • Be prepared– go to your open house, research the teacher, find out what friends will be with them in their class, get the proper supplies
  • Before the school year starts, ask questions to determine how your child is coping. Some examples are: What are you the most excited about for school to start? What are you anxious about? If there was one special thing we could do before school starts, what would that be?
  • Let your child know they are not alone– walk them to class the first day, send a note in their backpack or lunch box, send them a text letting them that you love them and are praying for them
  • Establish traditions for the first day of school. Examples: special dinner, cookies, going for ice cream
  • Expect tired, cranky and drained kids
  • Ask questions about the day: who did you sit by? Who did you eat lunch with? Tell me a good part and bad part of the day

Back to school- a wonderful time of year with routine, activity and the crisp, cool air of fall on the horizon. Enjoy each stage, they grow up fast.

Win it-

A $20 McDonald’s gift card- for a back to school treat

To Enter-

In the comment section, we would like to hear what you do in your family does to prepare for school, a tradition you have or how you are feeling about school on the horizon. For an additional entry, Tweet or share our article on Facebook and copy the link into the comment section. The winner will be chosen randomly.  The contest ends August 25th!

Fear Not

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By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

As parents, we’ve all experienced children overwhelmed by fear. The sources of their fear may vary from a monster under the bed to a new classroom to snakes to vegetables. Whatever the source, their fears are real and troubling to them. Our responses to their fears vary, as well. You may become the bodyguard standing between them and a billy goat at the zoo. Then there are those times when you are their psychologist and get to the root of their fear, especially when they are scared of a place you know they are going to love. You’ve been their comforter, their encourager, their support, and even their crutch when fear rears its ugly head. I bet you’ve even been fluctuated from telling them to toughen up and face their fear or bribing them to try something new.

Fear is not just part of a child’s life. Parents have fears, as well. We fear that we are not doing a good job, that our kids will be hurt, or that we haven’t done enough or provided enough for our kids. Some fears keep us up at night or on our knees during the day. We don’t always see the effect fear has on our decisions or choices. Fear can lead to worry, which becomes anxiety and drives our behavior and decisions.

This scenario can be easily observed in a child’s life. For example, at 2 years old, my son was scared of dried leaves, which I still don’t understand. In warmer months, he loved being outside, but as leaves began falling on the ground, he started to get skittish when outdoors and eventually refused to go out entirely. This may seem foolish to us, but are we so different? It wasn’t that long ago that I realized my fear of kids getting hurt got to the point where I wouldn’t let them climb anything, not even into the top bunk without an adult ready to catch them. Once I had multiple children, I couldn’t keep up with their desire to climb and soon realized no one was getting hurt in spite of being up high without a parent as a safety net.

I’ve often wondered how God views our fears. The Bible describes Him as our Father and we are His children. Does He see our fears in the same way we view our children’s fears? The Bible repeats God’s response to fear in variations in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”(Joshua 1:9).

Another well-known Bible verse provides more insight into this command by saying, “God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love. It helps us control ourselves.” (2 Timothy 1:7).

God’s response to the fear of His children is He reminds us…

  1. That we are His Children
  2. That He has equipped us to deal with whatever comes our way
  3. That He will be with us
  4. That the best response to fear is to overcome it by controlling our response to it

Whenever a person overcomes a fear, they show great courage and determination. The process of conquering a fear transforms their heart and strengthens their resolve. In the same way, God reminds us that by standing against our fears, we will be courageous and become stronger for it. As a parent, He has equipped and empowered us to overcome fear, yet He is nearby to support and encourage us, as well. What a great example for us as parents to emulate. We can equip our children on how to deal with fear by modeling it and by walking them through possible responses to fear. We can empower them by reminding them that they are able to tackle every fear, especially knowing their identity in Christ. Then we can remind them that we are available when they need us, but even more importantly, God is there all the time. When our child has overcome a fear, we can celebrate his or her courage. The story of this victory becomes a testament of strength and a reminder of his or her ability to be strong and courageous. Another important element is to recall these victories as often as needed and, most of all God, knows us, knows our children, and knows how to transform us from fear often to fear not.