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Happy Thanksgiving!


We hope you and your family are able to enjoy time together this holiday weekend and celebrate your many blessings.  We encourage you to take the time to talk about things for which you are grateful and praise God together for all He has done in your lives as a family.  May this weekend be a blessed time of love and thanksgiving!

Staff Bio: Karyn Carlson


It is time again for an installment we like to call, Meet the Staff. Karyn joined us in May 2016 and has been a wonderful asset to our team. I asked Karyn some questions to help you get to know her. Enjoy her responses!

Tell me a little about yourself:

I have attended Woodland Hills Church since its Battle Creek days.  I love WHC because it feels like family to me even though it is so big.  I served on the Worship Team under Norm Blagman’s tutelage for several years and have served in the Children’s ministry as a coach, worship team singer, and door guard for a few years, and I am excited to grow into my new role as the Children’s Elementary Team Coordinator.  Church has been a part of who I am my entire life because I am and forever will be a pastor’s kid. Being a follower of Christ is something I strive toward every day.  I have been blessed with a godly husband named Brad (19 years and counting!).  We have three kids: Sam (16) is a Junior, Ben (14) is a Freshman, and Maddy (10) is in 5th grade.

What do you enjoy the most about Children’s ministry?

I have really enjoyed getting to know all of the fabulous volunteers that sacrifice their Sunday mornings to invest into the lives of Heroes Gate kids. I love talking through challenges and brainstorming ideas with them to navigate those challenges.  My absolute favorite is being approached by a kiddo who openly and transparently shares their story with me.  When this happens, my heart fills with joy and I am once again reminded to live life with child-like faith.

What is your dream vacation?

Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England with my husband.

Tell us something very few people know about you:

I can solve a Rubik’s Cube.

When it comes to movies, I will take action/adventure over romantic comedy any day.

I love office products (it’s almost an unhealthy obsession really…if I am honest.)

What do you do in your spare time?

Crochet blankets

Play video games with my children


Create anything I can dream up.

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 – or 651-287-2714

Family Devotional: Connecting to God’s Story

By Teresa Sayles, Children’s Creative Arts Director

Woodland Hills Church

The Bible is not just a book of stories. It’s not a random collection of characters and events. No, the Bible is so much more than that! The Bible is, in fact, one BIG story! All of its stories – from the major ones like the Exodus and King David and Jesus to the seemingly minor ones like Elisha and Naaman and Philip and the Ethiopian – are all connected to one another, creating one big, amazing story! So what connects them all? How can they be one big story? Because they all come together to form God’s Story. It’s a story that began before the creation of the world and continues today with us. That’s right – We’re part of God’s Big Story, too! God is still moving and working in our lives and world, and that makes us all players in his unfolding story! And because everyone is a player in God’s Story (whether they know it or not), that means we all have the ability to change and impact one another’s own individual stories, as well.

As a family, create a Biblical timeline (see below for an example) of the major events and characters you know. See if you can find how some of the stories connect. (For example, David is connected to Abraham because Abraham is his ancestor. Or you might connect the story of Peter and Cornelius with God’s announcement to Abraham that his descendants would be a blessing to everyone in the world.) Place the timeline near where you might do family devotionals or bedtime stories. Then, as you read stories from the Bible, you can figure out where on the timeline the story takes place and know what happened before in the story and what’s coming up.

Timeline with graphics

One Bible that does a terrific job of connecting the stories and laying out God’s Big Story is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. With beautiful words and amazing illustrations, it is, by far, our favorite Bible for young children in Heroes Gate!

Remind your kids as you talk about how we’re all part of God’s Big Story that they have a role to play in that story each day. God asks us to be world-changers, even in the seemingly small things, and He promises that through our words and actions, He can do the incredible. As a family, take some time to talk about ways each of you can practically change the world for the better and add value to someone else’s story. And then encourage your family members to do just that! If your son says he wants to greet people with a smile and open doors for people that week, be sure to give him encouragement and opportunities to do so! If your daughter decides she can use her drawing talent to make beautiful pictures for family and friends, get her those art supplies ASAP! Remind them that how they live out their part of God’s Story can influence others’ stories and cause ripple effects throughout the world and history. In fact, that’s how most of the stories in the Bible work – One event or person or people group at a time whom God works through to do the remarkable and change the world.



By Paula Bowlby, Early Childhood Associate Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Today I was thinking back to my when my kids were in elementary school. Each of them in 4th grade had a unit in Social Studies where they learned about neighborhoods, communities, towns, cities, states and so on. I have been thinking about community and the definitions of community. In elementary school, community is defined as “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” We as parents have the opportunity to instill a different type of community in our kids. Community defined as, “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

In the Bible, we have several examples of community. In Hebrews, we are encouraged to meet together and encourage each other. In Galatians, we are called to bear each other’s burdens. We are created to be communal people, doing life together, praying for each other, helping each other and being together. Community is a beautiful thing.

The story of my life would be very different without my community. My “core” group of friends and family have been through thick and thin with me. They pray for me, they love me and they encourage me. Kingdom happens in community; Jesus is there. He moves in community. He uses us to encourage others and visa versa.

As part of my job, I have the privilege to participate in many types of community. In a church our size, it is sometimes hard to connect. I thought today I would take the opportunity to share with you a few places where you might meet a friend or find community.

Sunday mornings

Try sitting in the same spot each week. According to some of our reliable regulars, by sitting in the same spot, they have met and made friends. Some of the “neighbors” in the seats next to them now feel like their community and their church.

Volunteering is a great way to meet and establish community. For me, when I started coming to Woodland Hills, I met some of my very best friends this way.


Morning Meet-Up meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays here at Woodland Hills. It is a time when parents meet with their preschoolers and have a time of fellowship and playtime. Check out their Facebook page or consider even joining the Facebook group.

Cultivate is in session on Tuesday evenings and new classes are starting soon. Come to a class and meet people in a smaller setting. Free childcare is provided.


The Refuge is a wonderful community that meets on Thursday evenings. The meal starts at 6, worship at 6:30 and teaching time around 7 pm. There are several break outs to check out at 7:30. Free childcare is provided.

Being a healthy, connected parent is a gift to your children. To help your children develop community for themselves, I suggest a couple simple steps:

  • Attending the same service regularly
  • Be on time! It is hard for kids to walk in to a group and to have missed out on something or to walk into a large group because they are late.
  • Be consistent.
  • Be excited for them to go to class and to be with friends. Help them connect to their leaders and kids in the room. Your excitement will be contagious.
  • Be bold and connect with a parent of a child the same age as yours in the Gathering Area or the hallway. Maybe meet for lunch or a playdate.

Community is wonderful. If you or your child is having a hard time finding community, seek us out. We are happy to be of assistance and are here to help. Check out our website for activities that are happening at Woodland Hills.