Just a quick reminder that our Love Makes Cents campaign to raise funds to help kids in Costa Rica attend Camp Penuel will be ending this coming Sunday. We’d love to have all the money the kids have raised to be brought in this weekend. We’ve been hearing some great fundraising stories and ideas from the kids and are excited to see how much they’ve raised together!
Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate in the month of March:
March 6: Toddlers through 4th graders will learn along with Jesus’ audience as He lets them know about the Greatest Commandment (Mark 12:28-34). Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: Would Jesus Surf the Web or Play Video Games?
March 13: Toddlers through 4th graders will be amazed as they hear the story of the poor widow who gave all she had to God (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4). Club 56 kids will discuss the question: Should I Be Following or Leading?
March 20: Toddlers through 4th graders will hear about the last hours Jesus spent with His disciples at the Last Supper (John 13:1-17:26). Club 56 kids will discuss the topic: How Do I Resist When My Radar Warns Me?
March 27: Toddlers through 6th graders will celebrate the good news of Jesus’ resurrection at the first Easter (Matthew 26:36-28:10; Mark 14:32-16:20; Luke 22:39-24:21; John 18:1-21:23).
We’re “totally stoked” as a certain sea turtle might say for this coming Friday’s free all church movie and beach party event! Doors open at 6:15, and the fun begins at 6:30 with games and contests followed by a showing of Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” Free popcorn and Goldfish snacks will be available. If you’d prefer to bring your own comfy camp chairs or a blanket to spread on the floor, please do. Kids can come dressed in their favorite summer wear (shorts, t-shirt, sandals) or in a costume of their favorite character from the movie. We hope to see you then!
Most Sundays, our Elementary kids watch a short “movie trailer” featuring the next week’s story. This Sunday, February 28th, Toddlers-4th grade will hear the story of a rich young man and his encounter with Jesus (Matt 19:16-30; Mark 10:17-31; Luke 18:18-30).
We are excited and honored to post an article written by guest blogger Leah Berg. Below, she shares her dreams for parenthood and the lessons she’s learned since it became a reality. Leah and her family are regular attendees at Woodland Hills and Heroes Gate.
By Guest Blogger Leah Berg
Before kids, I was an outstanding parent. I had a little family in my imagination when I would think of my future, and we were awesome. My little “mind family” was so well-groomed, and we always had clean noses and clothes. We never yelled at each other out of complete and utter exhaustion, and I never begged God for mercy and daylight during those long middle of the night feedings. I could always remember when I had last showered, and no one ever pooped in the bathtub. We were completely self-sufficient, capable of doing all the right things at all the right times, and everything always worked together for good. Sigh, it was heavenly.
….Then we decided to grow our family in real life. *insert screeching tires and shattering glass*
What I didn’t realize (or didn’t want to realize) was how deceptive this “mind family” really was. We learned quickly as we moved forward that a clean anything in life was to be considered a luxury and not to be taken for granted. I learned to sort of love the middle of nights when the whole world was quiet and it was just me and my baby. (No wait, I love sleep. I just felt like I should say that…) And as far as poop in the bathtub…well…I’ve learned that there is nothing a giant wad of Clorox wipes can’t fix. However, by far the biggest lesson I have learned through parenting and our adoption journey is our incredible need (and great privilege) for community. In my mind, there was no need for anyone else’s help along the way, and we only needed to depend on our own strength and ability to get things done.
Let me fill you in on a little secret: the only place where complete autonomy works well in a family, or in life, is in your own mind. That’s it.
Here’s how this realization happened in our life:
My husband Paul and I had been married for 9 years when we decided we wanted to grow our family. We were married young and after nearly a decade of college and grad school, traveling and buying our first home, we decided we wanted to adopt. Adoption had been our plan for our family for a while, and this felt like the right time to pursue it. We began our home study, and started filling out ALL the paperwork. After nine months of being “in process” we were matched with our amazing birth mom, and a month after that on August 23, 2014 our sweet Vivian was born. Throughout these months on our journey we saw first hand the immeasurable love our birth mom has for Viv, experienced the full depth of loss that occurs in adoption, and can say with absolute certainty that we serve a redemptive God who can restore any situation because of His abundant love for us.
And these things are so good and so important. They are the moments we will play over and over in our minds, and it is the story of our precious girl that we will tell her as she grows. But these are not the only lessons we learned and not the only growth that occurred. We also learned very quickly that adoption requires community. From the very start, we needed to continually rely on our community’s support to help get us through. Asking for help did not come easy to us, and receiving help freely offered was more humbling than I imagined it would be. Its scary to be that vulnerable even with close friends, and it felt like weakness to show any lack of self-sufficiency. But thank God for persistent family and friends. It was their relentless grace and support that made each ask for help easier and easier. And it was through the act of “the ask” that we were able to grow in humility and fully appreciate our deep and strong community. I can say unequivocally that we would not be where we are today without these people and their gifts.
We hear it in church all the time, this need for community. In big and little ways in our life and our faith we are told how beneficial it is to surround ourselves with deep and true friends and family that understands and loves and supports. I was skeptical at first for sure, but I am here to tell you, IT’S TRUE. I’m the girl with both hands waving wildly, shouting “YES! YES! AMEN! IT’S TRUE! I’VE LIVED IT!”
Most Sundays, our Elementary kids watch a short “movie trailer” featuring the next week’s story. This Sunday, February 21st, Toddlers-4th grade will hear how Jesus is our Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21 ).
By Patrick Showers
In February, Heroes Gate and Club 56 children are challenged to raise money to help peers living in Costa Rica attend a Christian camp. While to us this may not seem like an important focal point for raising funds, the value is driven by two reasons. First, we work with Camp Penuel staff to determine how our efforts can directly affect at-risk children in this country. Many of the kids who attend Camp Penuel come from poverty and live in shantytowns where food and resources are scarce. Second, we seek to find a way to connect the need to the everyday things we take for granted in Minnesota. This way we hope to give children an opportunity to see the world beyond their day-to-day experiences and develop a compassion for others around the world.
Camp Penuel Costa Rica has a specific focus to give children ages 7-11 the opportunity to know their heavenly Father through Christ Jesus and the abundant life that he offers through the power and love of the Holy Spirit. The vision is to rally a multi-ethnic team of support to work towards providing facilities of excellence and diversity so that each child can have a wealth of new, safe, and fun experiences that they will remember for their lifetime, but more importantly, that are God-anointed and forever will change their lives for good.
This organization values mission teams to support and enhance their work. Our church has sent several teams there, including a recent group in January that included several volunteers from Heroes Gate.
Love Makes Cents has been a Heroes Gate learning element for almost a decade, and we continue to be amazed at the generosity and compassion of the children. They find a way to fill their banks and meet the financial goal every time. They’ve provided for kids in Haiti, Mexico, Rwanda, and now Costa Rica. Their gifts, instead of being minor or unimportant, continue to enhance the spiritual and physical impact of each ministry organization.
We encourage you to discuss why giving is an important part of our role as followers of Christ with your children: our generosity stems from the selfless love and endless provision of Christ, and we are blessed when we give just as much as those who receive it. Over the years, I’ve seen kids give all they had and then work hard to find other sources of money to give. I’ve also heard kids tell their parents that they don’t want to give their money away and refuse to take a LMC bank box. Both responses are normal for children. Giving doesn’t come easy to everyone, and LMC seeks to provide a venue for families to pass on their values regarding generosity to their kids.
Ways to help kids learn more about Camp Penuel Costa Rica:
- Visit their website and look at the pictures posted there.
- Using a map of North America, locate Exparza, Costa Rica and the town you live in. Have kids measure the distance between using their arm or a household item, or older kids can figure out the miles with the key.
- Look for opportunities to have kids brainstorm things they are thankful for in their lives. Meals, clothes, toys, family, friends, a good school, teachers, and being able to attend church are a few ideas. Ask your kids to think of things they might not have if your family didn’t have a lot of money, didn’t know Jesus, or had never been out of the city. Have kids pray for children in Costa Rica to be blessed with things your kids are glad to have in their lives.
- Share about the ways you give, why you give, and who receives it.
- Come up with a plan to help your children consistently give and determine who will receive their gifts. Perhaps put together a jar or bank with a picture of the recipient ministry on the outside.
Remember to bring in LMC banks Sunday, February 28th to your child’s classroom. Preschool children can also grab a LMC bank from their station located near the middle of the Early Childhood hallway, or they can drop their money into the offering box in that same location (HG offerings in February go toward Love Makes Cents).