Sunday, December 20, 2015

Experiencing Advent: week 4 Peace


How do we teach our children about Peace when we live in a world of chaos?
Our lives in the 21st century are go.go.go!
We have work, school, sports, dance, gym, church, playdates, family time, screen never ends.

The word Peace is all around us and our children hear it constantly
"I need some peace and quiet"
"That was so peaceful"
"Love, Peace & Joy"
"Peace on Earth"

Christmas season can end up being one of the least peaceful seasons of the entire year, school programs, piano recitals, dance performances, Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, Christmas lights, Christmas decorating, Christmas baking, Christmas wrapping, Santa visits, card mailing, the list is never ending.

Some people thrive on and enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, others are exhausted just reading that list, and are counting down the days not for Christmas but for Christmas to be over!  They find no peace during this season.

I'm right in the middle, I love Christmas and everything that it includes.  I do it all and more!  I enjoy celebrating things and I enjoy being active.  I also enjoy a night at home in my jammies doing absolutely nothing.  And I happened to be married to a man that would prefer to spend the entire Christmas season doing absolutely nothing on the above list.

Our family's take on Peace during the Advent season, is to not do too much, which is different for everybody and every family.  We make the call on activities like this, is it something that we have made a commitment to {sports, music, dance performance, work, etc}, is it something that we will enjoy or that will add chaos to our life.  If the activity is not a commitment and/or its going to add more stress than enjoyment to our family we say, "No!"

Another way we choose peace is to choose NOT to make dinner some nights.

Yep, instead of "dinner" we will either make breakfast;
eggs & bacon
pancakes & fruit
a waffle bar {waffle recipe to follow*}

...making breakfast at breakfast time can be so involved, but for some reason breakfast at dinner seems like an easy throw down meal.

Or have leftover buffet, {clean out the fridge and eat all the leftovers}.

Or a Sunday night favorite in our home, popcorn for dinner...yep, we have popcorn for dinner!
Image result for bowl of popcorn
We have a huge bowl of popcorn with some sides of fruit and maybe some cheese, serve this on paper plates in the living room while watching a Christmas movie or an episode or two of Americas Funniest Home Videos.

However you choose to do it, whatever works for you family, please find away to embrace the advent season without ruining the Peace of the season.

Peace doesn't have to mean quietness, it's a feeling, the state of your heart.  If your house/life being filled with activities and noise is something that fills you with joy, then let that Peace fill your heart.  If the busy-ness is taking peace from your life, then that is not what Christ desires for you.  Peace is a condition of your heart, and peace looks different for every.single.person.

May the peace of Christ fill your lives, your heart, this Advent season.
Pastor Kiera

*Breakfast for Dinner Waffle Recipe
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups melted butter 
2 egg
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butter and syrup, for serving

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add the milk, melted butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat a waffle iron. Do not use non-stick spray on the waffle iron; the butter in the batter will allow the waffle to release easily. Follow the directions on your waffle iron to cook the waffles. Serve warm topped with fruit and whipped cream or yogurt.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Experiencing Advent: Week 3 Redemption

Christmas season is in full swing.  Christmas parties, Christmas shopping, Christmas decorating, Christmas burnout!

Almost everyone loves Christmas, but the further we get into the season the busy-ness, rush, rush, rush, of the season can rob us of our Christmas joy.

My hope for you & your family this Christmas season is that you will find time to stop, and experience Shalom {Peace}.  Focus on the babe that came that first Christmas morning.  The child that brought redemption to our world, to us, to you!

This weeks advent theme is redemption.  Focus on that word...redemption...and what it could mean for you this Christmas season.  Advent is about expecting, the arrival of something.  Stop the rush, rush, rush of the "Christmas season" and embrace the Shalom, the peace that Jesus has brought for you.

Two small, easy activities that I ONLY want you to do, if they are helping you find the Peace of the Advent season and not adding to your long list of Christmas To Do's.

The first, a simple recipe, so simple, a 3 year old can do it {with the help of an adult}.

Christmas Rolo Pretzel Bites
1 bag small Pretzel twists {or rounds, or squares}
1 bag of Rolos {or Hershey kisses}
1 bag of M & M's {or any small candy or nut you want to use}

Preheat oven to 200 {not too hot!}
Line baking sheet with parchment paper, foil or just spray it good.
Place pretzels on baking sheet.
Place one Rolo {or hershey's kiss} on top of each pretzel.
Place in oven for 3-5 minutes, you want the Rolo/hershey kiss to be soft but NOT melted. Immediately start placing the M&M's on top of each Rolo/hershey kiss.  Let cool before eating {10 min in the fridge or 1 hour room temp}

Source Life Scraps Ink Blog

Coloring Time
Find some Shalom with a night or afternoon of good old coloring.  Break out the coloring crayons, pencils, markers.  Visit these links below and print off some great coloring sheets, turn on some nice soft Christmas music or movie, and just loose yourself in the peace of coloring.

source:Made by Joel
Here is a beautiful nativity that you can print out and leave just as it is, or color it, from made by joel.

A few coloring pages for the grownups....just click on the link below each image.
Source: Free Coloring Pages
Source: Everything Etsy

Source: Buzz Feed

A few for the kids....just click on the link below each image.


Source: Education dot com
Source: Color it by Number
Source: DIY Network
source: honking donkey

Pastor Kiera

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Experiencing Advent; Week 2 Know

I hope you were able to experience the shalom of advent this past week.

This Sunday/week is about 'know'...

What does that mean?  What does that look like?

Depending on the age and or personalities of your children you can take this discussion on 'knowing' 2 different ways.

1} You can discuss what they 'know' about Christmas & Jesus. {an intellectual know}
2} You can discuss that Jesus knows them and that they can know Jesus. {a relationship know}

A few simple ways to celebrate these two different versions of know with your kids this week...

*Set up your nativity {or if you're like us, your many, many nativities} 
While unpacking and setting out each piece. Talk about the meaning of each piece.  Make this as detailed or simple as needed for your kids.  You can take this either direction with 'know' you can 'inform' your kids {intellectual know} about the pieces of the nativity.  Or you can talk with them about the why {relationship know} Jesus came as a baby.  

*Make Christmas ornaments; A simple ornament 3 ways
          a} Reminder Bulb
               -1 empty clear glass bulb
               -1 piece of straw/hay/rafia
               - nail, 1 white feather
Place the hay, nail & feather into the glass bulb.  Each of this items are symbols of Jesus and can serve as reminders of our relationship with Him.  The hay = he humbled himself and came as a baby, being born in a manger, so we could know Him.  The nail = He died for our sins, so that we could know Him.  The feather = he sent the Holy Spirit so that we may know Him!  Print off or hand write a Bible verse that your family chooses to attach to the ornament and hang it on your tree.
          b} The Emmanuel Bulb 
               -1 empty clear glass bulb
               - small strips of paper{any color you choose} & something to write with
               - a permanent marker.  
Write ways that God was with your family this past year.  {he comforted me when I was scared/sad/lonely, he healed my broken bone/body/heart, he supplied our needs, we enjoyed his creation, we saw a waterfall, a new friend, an old friend, a great church, a good school year, a hard school year, etc, etc, etc}.  Roll these strips of paper up and drop them into the ornament.  Replace the metal hangy thing.  Using the permanent marker document what this ornament is on the outside, {ex. "Emmanual 2015,"  "Our Journey with Jesus 2015," "Jesus Loves Us 2015"} Place on your tree.

          c} Jesus is the Word Bulb
               -1 glass bulb {does not need to be clear {you will be covering the bulb up}
               - a computer & printer
               - white glue/mod podge
               - foam paint brush
Using your computer print off Bible verses {either Christmas related Bible verse, ones about Jesus, or your favorite verse} in a small, easy to read font.  Cut the verses into strips.  Glue these strips onto the outside of your glass bulb.  Cover the entire bulb with strips.  Let dry and then hang of your tree.
Idea from the turquoise home blog 

*Know-in the kitchen...
     2 different ways to experience know in your kitchen this week with your kids...
          a} Intellectual Know-find a simple recipe that your kids might be able to memorize/know and make it.  Something simple like a 1 cup Snack Mix {5-6 different ingredients, raisins, dried cranberries, peanuts, sunflower seeds, dried mango pieces, coconut, chocolate chips, chex cereal, popcorn, etc} measure 1 cup of each ingredient into a large bowl {or large bag} and mix together.
          b}  Relationship Know-do you have a favorite family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation {relationship}.  Together make this family/relationship recipe.

Our goal with these advent ideas are just that...ideas.  We want your family to experience the shalom of advent this year.  We do not want to add to the busy-ness of the season and give you more to check off your to-do list.  Please do not see these as added stress.  Choose 1, maybe 2, of these activities, and ONLY if you don't have other ways your family is already celebrating advent.  Relax and experience the shalom of the season!

Pastor Kiera

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Experiencing Advent:Week 1 Comfort

What is Advent?  

Advent literally means "the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event"...

Growing up the word advent meant one thing to me, CHOCOLATE!  My mom would purchase an Advent Calendar that had 25 little cardboard windows that hid 25 pieces of chocolate.  I'm sure the chocolate was cheap and gross, but as a child I LOVED this little Christmas countdown. 

{ps Trader Joe's sells 2 different versions of a chocolate Advent calendar, a cheap $0.99 one for the kids, or a $9.95 version with better chocolate for the grownups!}

This chocolate calendar was my only word association with Advent as a child.  But I knew that the arrival of that chocolate calendar in our house meant that Christmas was close!

The season of Advent is celebrated in many churches around the world.  The Advent season includes the 4 Sunday's leading up to Christmas,  Advent season focuses on expectation and serves as an anticipation of Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. The  Advent Wreath is one of the notable symbols that the church uses during the Advent season.  This wreath  is one that lays on a flat surface {rather than hanging on a door or wall}, with 5 candles within the wreath; three purple candles, one pink candle, & a white candle in the center of the wreath. As a whole, these candles represent the coming of Christ, the light of the world.  Each candle represents an aspect of the spiritual preparation for the coming of the Jesus Christ. Each Sunday during Advent, a candle is lit.

On the first Sunday of Advent, the first purple candle is lit. This candle is typically called the "Prophecy Candle" in remembrance of the prophets, primarily Isaiah, who foretold the birth of Christ. This candle represents hope or expectation in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

On the second Sunday of Advent, the second purple candle is lit. This candle typically represents love. Some traditions call this the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing Christ's manger.

On the third Sunday of Advent the pink, or rose-colored candle is lit. This pink candle is customarily called the "Shepherds Candle" and it represents joy.

The fourth and last purple candle, called the "Peace Candle," {sometimes the “Angel Candle”} represents peace and is lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent.

On Christmas Eve, the white center candle is traditionally lit. This candle is called the "Christ Candle" and represents the life of Christ that has come into the world.  The color white represents purity. Christ is the sinless, spotless, pure Savior.

Celebrating with an Advent wreath during the weeks prior to Christmas is a great way to experience Advent, the arrival and excitement of Christ, as a family.

The themes for Redding First this Advent season are :
Week 1: Nov. 29th - Comfort
Week 2: Dec. 6th - Know
Week 3: Dec. 13th - Redemption
Week 4: Dec. 20th - Peace

We think in the busy-ness of the holiday season, it would be wonderful to have a few things that your family can choose to participate in that reflect on these Advent themes and allows you and your family to experience Advent in a new way.

Family Friendly Advent Wreath
"Building" your family advent Wreath for less than $10
What you will need:
*5 decorative holiday glasses, we found these at the Dollar Store; $5 {or votive candle holders, small mason jars, etc}
*3 packages birthday candles; $3 {1 pkg pink, 1 pkg purple, 1 pkg white, Walmart has all these colors in the birthday section for $.98 pkg}
*something to stabilize the candles; sand, rice, rocks, lentils, etc; $1 or free {we found the green sand at the Dollar Store}
*greenery; clippings from trimming your Christmas tree, pieces from a tree in your yard, faux greenery, or mini faux wreath; $1 or free

Have your children place about an inch of your "stabilizing substance" in the bottom of the candle holders. They can then place one of the birthday candles into each holder (3 purple, 1 pink, & the white one in the middle).  Arrange candles in a circle in a location that works for your family; kitchen table, piano top, mantle, coffee table, etc.  Arrange some greenery around the bottom of the candles to mimic a wreath.  Each Sunday light the candle for that week.

I placed our "wreath" on a cake stand
 so I can easily move it off  of the table when needed

Advent Ornaments:
     Talk to your children about the 4 Sunday's of Advent and the meaning of each Sunday {The themes for Redding First this Advent season are Comfort, Know, Redemption, Peace or you can go with the more traditional Advent Themes of Hope/Prophecy, Love/Bethlehem, Joy/Shepherds, Peace/Angel & add a 5th ornament for Christmas Eve, the Christ ornament}.  
     Brainstorm ideas that these words might look like, {This was our families brainstorming ideas before we headed out, comfort=music, know=book, redemption=cross, peace=dove}.  Now with an open mind and brainstorming ideas still flowing go pick out inexpensive Christmas ornaments that would represent these ideas/words {Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target, Shopko, Kmart all have ornaments around $1 a piece.} 
     I took the kids out and tried to find ornaments that matched our brainstorming ideas, we ended up with, comfort=sleigh, {we also thought an angel would work, or we found a teddy bear or fluffy boots}, know=owl, {we also saw a hat or an elephant might work}, redemption=cross, peace=dove .   
     Now each Sunday/any day your remember or have time during Advent place your weekly Advent ornament somewhere special on your tree.
Different Options: Have a mini tree that you place your special Advent ornaments on, or a wreath that you hang on a wall or door.

What we ended up with comfort=sleigh, know=owl, redemption=cross, & peace=dove

Comfort Food
Cinnamon Roll Advent Wreath
Unbaked Cinnamon Rolls (either from scratch, frozen, or from the refrigerated can thingy, your choice)
In a 9x13 pan arrange rolls into the shape of a wreath/circle, bake according to recipe/package directions.
Add green food coloring to the glaze/icing and frost your Cinnamon Roll Advent Wreath with green!
Talk with your children about how we find comfort in different things (food, blankets, people) but that true comfort comes from God.

Our hope for these activities are not to add to your busy holiday season, but to give your family moments to experience Advent together.  Memories of slowing down and soaking in the meaning of this season.

Pastors Beau and Kiera

Friday, January 9, 2015

Reading My Bible Daily and Other Things...

Wow. 2015 is here!

I remember watching Back to the Future II and thinking that 2015, the year Marty McFly travels back in time to, seemed so far away.  So far away in fact that the flying cars, self-fitting jackets, and holographic movie marquees actually seemed plausible.

Well, all of a sudden it seems, 2015 is a reality and even though we're already 1 week in, I have yet to see one flying car, a self-fitting jacket, or a holographic movie marquee.

A few things from that movie did come to fruition though.  The video phone Marty used are a reality now, although we call it Facetime.  We know Marty's awesome television sunglasses as GoogleGlass.  And my childhood dream of hoverboarding to school is now a viable option ... because apparently hoverboards are real!

Even though self-tying shoes and capsule sized just-add-water entree dinners haven't made it here yet, it doesn't mean they never will.  I'm sure someone, somewhere is hard at work on them and sooner rather than later those things too will become our very real reality.

But as cool as those things are, they actually have no real impact on what really matters... my ongoing relationship with Jesus.

If I were to travel back in time, I would see at multiple points along my life's continuum, my past-self attempting the discipline of reading my Bible daily...  I would also see, however, after a few days my past-self giving up.  I was too busy, too tired, too forgetful, too lazy...

Fundamentally I know these things are stall tactics of the Enemy used to thwart my attempts at strengthening my relationship with Jesus.  But still, after attaching all sorts of excuses to reconcile my heart's desire with what I actually know to be happening, I invariably come out the other side feeling defeated and just give up.

Now, who does that make sense to?  Out of the two powers vying for my soul why am I giving in to the one I know has no power over me?  Why am I helplessly conceding when all I need to do is ask Jesus for help?

Regardless of the excuses and the constant starts and stops, I consistently have the strong desire to want to read my Bible everyday.  I think that's how we're designed... We were created to be in relationship with Him... We have imprinted on our hearts this inescapable desire to know God better.

So this year, I've made up my mind that it's going to be different.

And I'm starting 2015 acknowledging three things:

1.  There will be attempts to stall, stop, distract, and discourage my attempts of the daily discipline of reading my Bible.  I wouldn't expect anything less really.

2.  Sometimes those attempts may succeed.


3.  Acknowledgment of these realities creates room for me to fail forward - an opportunity to faithfully press into God and His wonderful grace, allowing Him to help me know Him more and more - not just give up.

To that end, the kids in the Family and Children ministry department, the staff, and myself are starting with the book of Luke taken in bite-sized chunks.  It's a 51 day track and about 20 verses per day.

Here is a link to an easy-to-follow map of the book of Luke that we're using.

Please feel free to join us on this journey if you'd like.

And remember, if you fail to read everyday, fail forward and press into God's grace... just start again!

On this journey with you,

Pastor Beau

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Was and What Is...

I recently took one of those who-are-you tests that supposedly can figure out what makes me me by answering 50 questions.  The results?  In a nutshell, and no surprise to me, I am a guy who lives and experiences the world through my senses.

It is because of this super important aspect that a big portion of my life revolves around experiencing the world through smells, sounds, tastes, and textures... but mainly smells and sounds.

Smells and sounds to me are a time machine... with the faintest smell I can be transported to a different time and place.

The first few notes of Bon Jovi's "Shot Through The Heart" immediately transports me back to 1986; a time of new schools, summer days, and good friends.

Just the mere whiff of a pine tree is enough to waken the butterflies of Christmas morning anticipation in my stomach.

The soaring strains of the Star Wars theme song invokes such strong feelings in me that it can actually change my attitude (for the better of course!).

Or the scent of rain, or the 'ping!' of a Super Nintendo boot screen, or gingerbread, or the Ghostbusters theme song, or the smell dust burning off of a dormant heater... it's all actually quite remarkable and wonderful.

If I had to put what I experience in a word we can all understand it would be:


I love that word!  That word encapsulates the feeling of "ahhhhhh" in me.  My happy place, my mental cozy spot.

But here's the rub:  I can never be nostalgic about the future.  It is impossible.

And that is why nostalgia is also dangerous for me...  Nostalgia is always rooted in the past.  Things and places and smells and sounds that have already happened.  Moments in time that have slipped into memories.

The irony of this whole thing is the fact that nostalgia is predicated on past experiences.  There can be no nostalgia without past experiences.  At what point do past experiences become nostalgia?  Can I be nostalgic while at the same time creating nostalgia?

I've decided on this: If I spend all of my energy reliving what was,  I will therefore forfeit what is.  If I let my life be consumed by my past,  I will therefore forfeit my 'now'.

"But nostalgia gives me such a good feeling."

"I don't want to not be nostalgic."

"Especially because it's who I am and makes me me."

"But I also don't want to miss out on now... what is."

After much thinking and inner dialogue... here is where I have landed:

I don't have to choose.  I can actually live in both worlds (without splitting myself into two).

If nostalgia is rooted in the memories of the past then there must be a future counterpart.

I believe the answer to that question is expectancy.

Nostalgia + Memories = Past

Expectancy + Hope = Future

As Christmas time rolls closer the nostalgic side of me is giddy with memories of Christmases gone by, of presents opened, candy canes eaten, songs sung.

Because memories of past Christmases for me are ripe with nostalgia... it feels good and cozy to mentally live in that space... but it doesn't have to end there.

With a subtle shift in the way I categorize smells and sounds, emotions and feelings I arrive at the same base 'good feeling' I associate with nostalgia.  Only this time my focus is not on the past but on the future:  time I will spend with my family, things I will eat, presents I will give, love I will show.

I now find I am filled with the expectancy and hope of future memories that will be created in the Christmas of now which will eventually morph into the nostalgia of tomorrow, to be repeated over and over again.

Nostalgia + Expectancy = Abundant Life

This Christmas go ahead and visit the Christmases of the past, those nostalgic, cozy places.  But also choose to live in the expectancy and hope of what Christ offers us every day, a personal relationship with Him.

Pastor Beau

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Family Conversation Starters...

Hello parents!

This week why not start a new time of spiritual discussion around your dinner table?  Use these conversation starters to spark God Talk at dinner time.

Try it... I think you'll like it (and be surprised at what your kids think about God!)

On this journey with you,

Pastor Beau


Item needed: mouse trap
Show the mouse trap. (If you have creative kids, ask one of them to think of a story about a mouse and the trap.)
A mouse is a pesky little creature that eats through packages of our food and leaves nasty droppings—yuck!  

Why do we set a mouse trap?
 (If you do)

What do we put on the trap to try to catch the mouse?
 (Cheese; peanut butter; etc.)
The mouse wants the cheese so badly that he goes after it and is CAUGHT by the trap.

How is sin like a trap? (It catches us when we give in to it; it looks good, but the end result is not good; we want what we want so we give in and we can’t stop; etc.)

We need to be freed from our sin.

Play the Choices game. List two choices and ask kids to move to the side of the room of the choice they like.

 For example—if you like pepperoni pizza go to the left, if you like cheese pizza go to the right. (Soccer/basketball; sport teams; favorite school subjects; kinds of game systems; ice cream flavors; vacation spots; hobbies; etc.)

Even though sin is a trap, we have a choice on whether we give in to sin. Jesus’ death frees us from sin’s power and we can choose to do what is right.

Asking for Help

We are all tempted (it is not a sin to be tempted), but when we give in to temptation and do what is wrong, we sin.
Talk about what we could do when tempted and yet not give in to sin. 
  • You want a pack of gum at the store, but don’t have any money.
  • You are tempted to look at a friend’s test paper when you don’t know the answer.
  • You feel angry at your mom when she wouldn't let you go to a friend’s house.
  • Your little brother is annoying; you want to scream at him to leave you alone.
  • You’re supposed to clean your room; instead you want to play a game. 
Remember that sin is a trap. Asking for God’s help can help us say no to temptation.