October Preview Pack

Here’s a look ahead to what we’ll be learning in Heroes Gate this September:

October 2: Toddlers-4th Grade will hear how Noah trusted God even when things seemed scary and uncertain (Genesis 6-9). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: How is God different from other gods?

October 9: Toddlers-4th Grade will discover that God is with us and keeps His promises as they hear the story of Abraham and Sarah’s long wait for a child (Genesis 12-15, 21). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: What’s love got to do with God?

October 16: Toddlers-4th Grade will follow the amazing story of Joseph as he goes from being a favorite son to a slave to a prisoner to a powerful government official and see how God made each of us special (Genesis 37, 39-47). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: What is my purpose?

October 23: Toddlers-4th Grade will learn along with Moses that each of us can play an important part in God’s story as they hear how God called Moses to free the Israelites (Exodus 1-4). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: What’s wrong with the world?

October 30: Toddlers-4th Grade will journey with the Israelites from Egypt to the desert as they discover that God wants us to live like Him (Exodus 5-15, 20). Club 56 kids will talk about the question: What’s the big deal about sin?

Small Things with Great Love

We are delighted to bring you a guest post this week from Lauren Mau.  Lauren and her family are regular attenders at Woodland Hills, and her children have grown up in our ministry.  We’re so excited to share her story with you this week!


By Lauren Mau, Guest Blogger

My husband Peter and I have three children. Peter and I have been together since we were seventeen years old. For my twenty-second birthday, Peter got a vasectomy, just a couple months before we got married. Adoption was heavy on our hearts so we decided to make that a permanent decision.   Our kiddos – Ephraim, Eli and Esther – are fourteen, twelve and nine. We met each of our kids when they were two weeks old.

Before kids, I was a middle school teacher. I soaked myself into my students’ lives. Before school, during school, after school and summers I would find ways to connect with the youth. They taught me how to cook and dance. I sent them to camps and visited with them at their homes and shelters.

When Peter and I adopted our second child, I made the choice to stay home. Daycare was such a nightmare with my oldest that I could not bear to start the search again. Ephraim had been in six different daycares during the first 9 months of his life.   At the first place he never slept. The second I would show up to pick him up only to find all the infants and toddlers strapped to chairs lined up watching Dr. Phil. After finding rubber bands and a game piece in Ephraim’s poop, I decided it was time to move on. The third place called me at work his first day in order to tell me what a naughty boy he was because he bit another child. I left work early, swooped Ephraim up, and he never saw a day two there.

Teaching was missional for me. Everyday I felt empowered to be His love. I felt a responsibility to reflect who He is and humbled when I realized how easy it was for me to lose site of the beauty He created in each and every student.

There was a clinging and dependence Peter and I had on Christ each time we went through the adoption process. It was an intimate, emotional journey filled with overwhelming joy and heartache.

After adopting our third, I began feeling anxious, unsettled. I had been home for three years. Our family was complete. I was growing tired of people abruptly ending our conversation when they found out I stayed home with my kids. Apparently homemaker is not an interesting career choice. I beg to differ. I have been a part of Lochness monster sightings in nearly every lake we have ever driven by. I’ve been followed and confronted by dozens of adults feeling the need to share their judgment on my family as a white mom raising black children, or someone not understanding my son, Eli has autism. I’ve participated in countless episodes of cooking shows that I judge as my kids create culinary masterpieces out of play dough and sand.

I tried to fill that missional feel I thought I lost in staying home with the kids. I started writing a children’s book that would reflect families that looked like ours.   I went to seminars learning how to start your own non-profit. I designed a potential mentoring program for kids who were adopted cross-culturally. I searched houses online in my neighborhood and daydreamed with my husband about opening a home for families in need. I started writing a book of short stories of how Christ had soaked me in His gracious, forgiving and passionate love. Instead of finding fulfillment, I grew more agitated as I would start but never see an idea to completion.

Being a stay home mom often felt small, isolating, and unimportant in the daily mundane routine.

Then one evening as I sat with Jesus in my upstairs hallway while my husband and children slept in the room connected to where I sat, I stumbled on Mother Theresa’s words: “Small things with great love”.

Christ blew me away with His clarity that night as I realized while I had worked so hard to try and do something big and great for Christ, I was missing the truth that all the small things of “staying home” are as crucial and missional as the big things when done in great love.

A tattoo on my wrist with the words “small things with great love” reminds me daily to find contentment, purpose and joy in the everyday moments when I see them through the eyes of Christ’s great love.

You Can Make a Difference

By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

I started attending Woodland Hills almost 24 years ago. Yes, I was a baby then! Well, not quite. You see, when I started at WHC, I had a baby. My baby was one year old at the time. We had been trying out churches for around 6 months, Woodland Hills was the first church where my baby would stay in the Nursery so I could attend church. This meant the world to me to have a place where I felt safe and my baby had fun.

It came time for us to volunteer and give back. I volunteered in the nursery and then at the check-in desk. I made hearts, oh yes, back when we had felt hearts for family numbers. I loved my time of volunteering so much that I applied to be on staff 11 years ago!

It is people like you who made all the difference in the world for me and my family. Volunteering is easy and we have so many different areas that you can jump into. If meeting new people and computers are your gig, we have our Welcome Team. If loving on kids is your thing, we have many opportunities. I am asking you to prayerfully consider whether God is asking you to be a part of Heroes Gate.

A Little Time, a Big Investment – Just think back in your life to the people who helped you grow in your faith, in your identity, and your giftings.  You could be that person for a little one in Heroes Gate.  Consider serving in HG this school year.

  • Team Leaders – Connect with kids in infants, toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, elementary, or Club 56.
  • Storytellers, actors, or teachers – Connect kids to God’s story
  • Welcome Team – Connect families to HG
  • Special Needs – Help all kids participate fully
  • Worship – Connect kids to God through music

Click Here to sign up or contact Bethany Blick – bblick@whchurch.org or 651-287-2714

Roots are Vital for Families, Too!


By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Did you know that Sequoia trees are some of the biggest trees in the world, the current record holder coming in at 275 ft. tall, (that’s 35 stories high), 25 feet in diameter, and approximately 2,500 years old? Such a tree is an amazing sight to see, but it’s what you don’t see that makes it all possible. Sequoias have a unique and marvelous root system beneath the ground. Though the roots are relatively shallow with no taproot to anchor them deep into the earth, these trees rarely fall over. They withstand strong winds, earthquakes, fires, storms, and prolonged flooding. How is that possible?

It comes down to connection. The root system of a sequoia is wide spreading and often intertwined with other trees. Twisted around and holding tight to one another, they literally hold each other up. Whereas most trees compete for space, sunshine, and nutrients, sequoias support other redwoods. They are not only gentle giants, but they are extremely fruitful, as well, and can produce up to 400,000 seeds a year, all of which are no bigger than a tomato seed! When a forest of sequoias is thriving rather than just surviving, they are ensuring a lasting legacy through their connection with one another. Their individual stories are intertwined along with their roots, uniting each of them to a much larger story.

These connections are vital to sequoias, and it’s the same with us. We were never meant to go this journey alone. Instead, God – who is a relational God – made us for community and dependence on Himself and one another. When we truly connect with others and create a real and vulnerable relationship, we can truly be ourselves. It’s a mutually invested and authentic relationship where we feel valued and known, which empowers us to give back relationally to others.

In this way, we want to emulate sequoia trees through our ministry in Heroes Gate. It’s our desire to see community growth and for meaningful connections to be made among our staff, volunteers, families, and the children to whom we minister each week. How can we do this? By striving toward continual spiritual growth together as we help each other, share resources, support one another through hardships, and hold each other up in words, actions and prayer. We seek to be fruitful and produce change in others as well as ourselves as we spread the Good News of God’s amazing story. Like a forest of sequoias, we will only truly thrive when we are connected to one another.

That’s why this year, the staff and volunteers of Heroes Gate are focusing on a key word: CONNECT.

·      We want to help your kids connect to peers and their leaders in authentic & real relationships that are appropriate for their age levels.

·      We also want to help your children connect to God in a meaningful way so they can see themselves as God sees them and to intertwine their individual stories to God’s story.

We want to extend an invitation to you, as a parent, to provide feedback or suggestions on how we can help these connections occur and how we can assist you in becoming connected to other families, as well.   We will continue to share more stories and ideas on connecting throughout the year!