Staff Bio: Paula Bowlby

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Hi I am Paula! I just celebrated my 10th anniversary on staff here at Woodland Hills! I started out by volunteering in the Children’s Ministry many years ago and I just kept on going, never looking back. Since a young age, I have loved working with children. I fulfilled my life’s dream 23 years ago when I gave birth to my oldest child Brandon. I have always wanted to be a mother and being with my kids is where you find me the most happy. I have three children: Brandon, Adam and Hannah. They are older and busy with work, college or both. Children are truly a gift from God, and I am so thankful for mine and the opportunity to work with yours! My favorite part of each week is the smiling kids who walk down the hallway! I try to commit their names to memory and greet them as they come down the hallway.

Each of us as staff were asked a few questions so that you could get to know a few fun facts about us. Here are a few of the questions and my answers:

What is something that very few people know about you? I love cars. I love looking at them, researching them and checking the newest models out. As a little child, I could name the make and model of most vehicles and to this day, I still can. I am girly as can be so please don’t ask me about the engine or suspension – it’s all about the look to me! 

What would your dream vacation be? Since I burn very easily, the beach would not be my dream vacation although I love water! I would travel all through Europe eating great food, checking out the beautiful country sides and buzzing metropolises, studying buildings and shopping in fun markets. If we were shooting for the moon, I would take a cooking class in those countries, too, so I could bring the flavors home with me and share them with others.

I enjoy working with the volunteers and each of the children who come through the doors. My greatest prayer for all who come through the Heroes Gate doors is that you know you are loved and that your faith and knowledge of Jesus grows each time you are here.

Book Review: Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Curriculum Specialist

Woodland Hills Church

I love the Bible. That’s probably no big surprise as teaching the Bible is my main job at Woodland Hills. However, if you were to ask about my favorite Bible, the one I get most excited about, it wouldn’t be one of several study Bibles that sit on my desk or the handy travel-sized one in my car or even the one my grandparents gave me as a kid. No, my favorite Bible, the one I can’t help telling people about, is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. It is, in my opinion, one of the best translations of the Biblical narrative and message I have ever seen, and it’s written for kids (though adults like it, too)! It doesn’t just tell stories but focuses throughout on God’s love and redemption and connects the stories by showing how He has been working throughout human history to draw people to Himself. Plus, the beautiful artwork on every page by British artist Jago makes you want to stop and read every story you pass.

So, it was with quite a bit of excitement and anticipation that I ordered Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, another collaboration by Lloyd-Jones and Jago. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a wonderful collection of 101 thoughts and ponderings in free-verse poetry format that are both easy enough for kids to read and potentially spiritually transformative. Lloyd-Jones beautifully writes about things like trusting God, God’s power, unity in the Body of Christ, and forgiveness. They’re simple enough ideas for kids to understand and yet challenging enough that adults will find themselves growing closer to their Creator, as well. A Bible verse is included with every “thought” to help kids connect what they’re reading with what the Bible says. And, once again, Jago’s amazing artwork fills every page, providing beautiful visuals to accompany what you’re reading and pondering.

If you’re looking for a devotional or conversation-starter for your family, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing is a fabulous choice. And if you already own The Jesus Storybook Bible – Great! Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing makes a perfect companion book to help enable kids to dig deeper into God’s truths and apply them to their own lives as they draw closer to Him.

Screen Time

By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Screen time – For most parents, this is a daily consideration. We have done a little research to find some safe and educational websites for you to consider for your children as you grant screen time. Some are more educational than others. We have grouped the websites by age for quick access. Have fun checking the sites out and sharing them with your kids. Save a little time for the Highlights website site and the hidden picture quiz you may remember from your childhood.



Multiple Ages-

There’s An App for That?


By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

As a parent, there are so many things to figure out. Every child is unique, and as they age, their needs, abilities, and wants change, creating a whole host of other factors that can really make parenting feel like a lifelong apprenticeship. Don’t get me wrong – I love being a dad, but just when I think I’ve figured out something, then a child grows into a new age group, or the next child doesn’t follow the same pattern, or life gets booked up so much that time just seems to go in fast-forward.   So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that figuring out how and when to guide my children’s spiritual development is equally challenging. Here’s the part where I bear my soul (extreme vulnerability) and admit – gulp – that even as a trained professional children’s pastor, I struggle to teach my own children consistently and effectively at home. Incorporating faith discussions, devotions, and Bible studies are important to me, yet they can’t seem to get any momentum for the long term. Teachable moments are valuable and often great opportunities for children to develop solid faith foundations, but if I’m too busy or unprepared, I miss a prime learning moment. I’ve had successes and failures at being intentional or prepared, but I have diligently tried to model a real, transparent, and humble faith when I think my kids are watching and even when they aren’t. Just as kids pick up language, facial expressions, and mannerisms by watching their parents, they can learn a lot about God through our lives. This takes some of the pressure off and helps to keep me from feeling like a failure. However, it is still good to have some easy-to-use tools to help our kids grow in their faith. So, I want to share a few apps that have become wonderful tools for intentional spiritual development with my kids. They are user-friendly, quick, and can be used anywhere your phone or tablet can go. Incorporating devotions or Bible reading into normal life patterns can be made easy by these apps.

During a family meal, we read a short entry from the Jesus Calling Kids app. This daily devotional based upon the adult book of the same name provides a Bible verse and a short devotion written in God’s voice. Each day’s content is short, easy to read, simple enough for a young preschooler to learn from, and deep enough for adults to be challenged, as well. Sometimes, I’ve found it helpful to reword a passage to be about God and not from His voice to make it easier to understand for our younger children and to avoid confusion of them thinking it is the reader’s personal opinion. The downside to this app is the cost at $9.99.

Another great dinnertime app is called Gabbit Family. Instead of devotions, this app focuses on providing interesting questions or activities to spur on discussion and relational connectedness in short time frames. There are varieties of questions in the free version, and you can purchase more content later if needed. There is also a Gabbit Travel app for fun road trip games and discussions, as well. When kids feel like parents are listening, they are more likely to open up when an issue or question arises, thus providing a teachable moment.

For bedtime Bible reading with children ages toddler through early elementary, check out a free app called Bible for Kids. This multimedia Bible provides interactive Bible stories. Each story has a narrator, interactive illustrations, various quests and challenges, and at least two questions to check for learning. Kids will enjoy the extras while listening and learning. The content is well done and engaging. I love that I can pull my phone out and look at a Bible story anywhere with my children, whether waiting for food at a restaurant or sitting at the library.

Finally, my kids have also enjoyed an app called Superbook. This interactive and multimedia Bible is great for older elementary children (readers). Kids can read a Bible story, take quizzes or play games, watch video clips about certain stories, or look up other facts. There are so many options that our family hasn’t even explored them all yet. This app is also free, which makes it even better in my book.

These apps are helpful tools as we engage, equip, and empower our children in their faith journeys. We can still be intentional in developing a strong faith foundation by modeling our faith and being available for teachable moments, as well, but it sure is nice to have some easy-to-use tools to help us along the way.

Staff Bio: Patrick Showers

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By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

It is staff bio time again! I don’t know about you, but I love staff bio time. We only have a couple left. This week we are featuring Patrick Showers. Patrick has been at Woodland Hills for over 12 years. He has been in many roles and has many giftings. Enjoy learning a bit about him.

PATRICK: “I started following Jesus 22 years ag,o and I have experienced great adventures as well as tough times during that time. Through that journey, God led me to children’s ministry, in which I have served in some capacity for 20 years. I’ve been blessed to be married to my wonderful wife Lynnette, and we have four children: Jesiah, Adriel, Eliah and Malachi. We currently live in White Bear Township.”

I asked Patrick what he enjoyed about Children’s ministry.

PATRICK: “I enjoy seeing kids having positive experiences and connections with God’s word, church, the Bible, worship and prayer. I also enjoy seeing kids grow and mature in their faith.”

I asked Patrick where his dream vacation would be, and he had quite the list! Patrick would like to travel to Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Germany and Austria. He would then continue on to Israel, Greece and Turkey.

Lastly, something that not many people know about Patrick is that he loves playing football. He was the center and nose tackle in high school on an undefeated team for two years.