Hero Central VBC – a check-in

The logo for our Hero Central VBC

At Hero Central Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) at FUMC the week is flying past. But we’ve been learning plenty and…

Discovering Our Strength in God!

Here’s a slide show of photos from our most recent activities! You can visit other posts on our Hero Central VBC, to see more pictures.

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Every morning, the first thing we do when we gather at Opening Assembly is to engage in some rowdy singing and dancing. Among the songs we’ve been singing are Leap of Faith and Everlasting God and Superheroes. Based on the level of participation I do believe that singing is the favorite activity of the day.

We love to help lead the singing!

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Each day during VBC we are learning a character quality that helps all of us be God’s heroes. Wednesday we learned that:

God’s Heroes Have Wisdom!

What was the Bible story that went with our day about wisdom? It was about an experience Jesus had as a young boy. Read about it in Luke 2:41-52. This was a time in Jesus’ life when he grew strong and wise. (Kind of like our kids are doing!) He was also growing in other ways: he was exploring his calling; he was delving into his spiritual self.

Do we allow our kids the chance to grow spiritually?.

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Thursday’s hero character attribute was:

God’s Heroes Have Hope!

Our story from the Bible that illustrates this Hero Code is from The Beatitudes, found in Matthew 5. The Beatitudes tell us about God’s priorities: being humble and compassionate; working with our community to provide hope for others.

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This year we have such a large Grad Group, that they have been able to divide (and conquer) lots of different service projects.

  • Cleaning up the grounds around our Green Wood campus, and tending the veggie garden that is there. (Everything that comes out of this garden gets donated to the Food Gatherers Faith and Food program.)
  • Help distribute food from the pantry at Bryant Community Center.
  • Working with young kids during academic rotations at one of Community Action Network (CAN)’s summer camps.
  • Making and delivering lots of healthy snacks for the CAN summer camps. These camps are designed to prevent summer loss of learning. Having great snacks to eat helps learning!
  • Collecting, counting, and delivering our VBC service project items. Everyday at the closing time they report on our progress towards our goal.

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Continue the learning at home!

Here are a couple of questions to talk about around the family dinner table. (Or wherever your family is gathered together – perhaps in the car?)

  • When we say God values wisdom, what is “wisdom”? What are some ways that we can grow in wisdom? (Jesus calls all of us to be his “disciples” – and what is a disciple but a student!)
  • When was the last time you hoped for something? Did you have to wait for what you were hoping for? What are ways we can bring hope to others? How can bringing hope to someone else, end up blessing us?
  • How can being kind (merciful) or working as a peace-maker bring hope? Which of the other Beatitudes can empower us to offer hope?

~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team


Photo credits:
Hero Central images used by permission of Cokesbury.
Rest of photos courtesy of various volunteers at VBC!

What’s happening at Hero Central VBC?

The logo for our Hero Central VBC

Welcome to Hero Central Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) at FUMC where we are…

Discovering Our Strength in God!

Yes, we are ALL heroes; we’re God’s heroes! That is why we are gathering at Hero Central.

Here’s a slide show of photos from our activities! Have your kids tell you more about what they did by sitting down together to watch. You can pause it or go backwards or forwards, if you want to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Come back to visit, as more photos will be added as we engage in more activity!
 

And here’s a quick video:

If reading this in an email, you may need to watch the video at this link.

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Captain plays pianoOn the first day (Monday) we met our leader for the week, Captain Shield, who has piano-playing super powers!

the sidekick, Flame the Red PandaMost super heroes have a sidekick — Batman has Robin! Well, we have one too and her name is Flame.

Flame is a Red Panda, which means with her masked face, she comes already dressed as a super hero.

Awesome!
 

 
Captain Shield and Flame will navigate us through our week together, as we discover our strength in God!

 
We learned that every superhero has special words — a motto, or a call to action. Ours is a Bible verse:

'Do good! Seek peace and go after it!   Psalm 34:14b

Great words to live by. Ask your child to show you the hand-motions that go with this Bible verse.

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Each day during VBC we are learning a different way in which we are truly heroes for God. Monday we learned that:

God’s Heroes Have Heart!

But wait a minute, doesn’t everybody have a heart?

Yes, everyone does have a “heart” in the pumping-your-blood sort of way. But when we say: “God’s heroes have heart,” we are describing the good character qualities they possess; the hidden-inside-you traits. God wants us to look beyond exterior appearances and see the hero inside of other people! Our Bible story for today taught us this; it’s found in 1 Samuel 16:1-12. God choose the next king of Israel – what a surprise choice! A mere shepherd boy as king? God saw what a big heart young David had for God.

How can we combat our culture where the focus is on “appearances”?
Try teaching your child to look inside.
 

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We love gathering up front to help lead the singing!

After our opening time of music, preschoolers go off to their stations…

Preschoolers in Crafts & Science

And elementary kids go to their stations (and in-between, on the first few days, they posed for crew photos).

Crews are gathering for a photo.

A crew takes a break for their crew photo.

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making snack mix for CAN.Our “older” elementary kids in our Grad Group are working every day this week on various service projects – both local and global. After some ice breaker games, today they learned more about these projects: a camp for kids in Liberia, and projects at Community Action Network (CAN), including making snack mix for CAN’s summer camp for kids.

They are going to be reporting on our collection progress. Let’s bring them something to count!

 

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Continue the learning at home!

Your kids will enjoy telling you about their day if you ask open-ended questions. Here are a couple of questions to talk about around the family dinner table or in the family vehicle, or wherever:

  • Regarding our story on God choosing David as king… Have you ever been fooled by looking only at the outside of something and found out it wasn’t quite what you expected? Tell about it. (Ever opened a rotten egg?)
  • Why do you suppose God choose David (the youngest son of Jesse) to be the next king? (Need the answer?)
  • God doesn’t look at outside qualities — muscles or money — he looks at our inside, at our heart. Talk about the meaning of this type of “heart.” (The Bible uses “heart” meaning our inner thoughts and feelings; the part of us where we wrestle with life, where we check it out inside.)
  • God values a kind and caring heart. (God’s Heroes Have Heart!) What kind, caring behavior have you noticed in others? What can we do to grow our hearts to be heroes for God — to be more kind and caring?
  • God sees other valuable traits in each one of us. Name some heart qualities you see in other family members. Name at least one heart quality you see in yourself.

~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team


Photo credits:
Hero Central images used by permission of Cokesbury.
Video created by Jeff Wason. Music by one of our grad group members!
Rest of photos courtesy of various volunteers at VBC!

Heroes will be on parade! Coming soon!

The logo for our Hero Central VBC

Vacation Bible Camp (VBC) is coming soon!  has arrived!

See our activity from Monday or all of the days we’ve been through so far, of our hanging out at VBC.

Get ready for Hero Central at FUMC where we will…

Discover Our Strength in God!

Each day, during VBC (July 10-14) we will embark on adventures alongside some well-known Bible heroes and discover the qualities that make us truly heroic in God. We will learn about how we have Heart, Courage, Wisdom, Hope, and Power.

Flame, the Red Panda, is our VBC sidekickAlong the way we will also meet some cool characters including Flame, who is a Red Panda.

 

Perhaps you’d like to prepare for VBC?

Start off by listening to our theme song, Leap of Faith.   (To watch this video you may need to go here.)

 

Hero CardsAsk your adults to download the app that goes along with Hero Central. On Monday at VBC we’ll receive a set of five Hero Cards. Scan the day’s Hero Card with the app, and receive a message from Flame! You’ll also be able to play the trivia game to review each day’s Bible story. Or, create your own superhero, for epic adventures around the world of the Hero Central App. Sounds like fun.

 
One other way to get ready is to learn about the service projects we’ve chosen this year for kids to support.

  1. A local project: Donating a box or two of cereal which will be distributed through Ann Arbor’s own Community Action Network. During the school year many families in this community rely on meals provided by the schools. In the summer months, there is no additional assistance to replace the school meals, so a box of cereal can be a big help.
  2. An international project: For the past several years our VBC (and the entire congregation) has yearly supported a project or camp in Liberia during July. We are planning to do so again this year. Below is part of a message from Rev. Nathan in Liberia who will be organizing Camp Bucalaka for youth and children. (Rev. Nathan has organized camps in several different districts or areas of the church there; this will be the first camp for this area.)
    Our next Camp is scheduled for the Gretta Muffer United Methodist School and the Dean Memorial UMC in John Dean Town, the home of our retired bishop, Rev. Dr. John G. Innis. This will be the first time for such an occasion to reach that part of our church. We are looking forward for your prayers and support.

In either case, have your kids bring their donation(s) to the collection at the front of the Sanctuary.

Are you ready to discover your strength in God?

See you soon!
~~ Carol, on behalf of the VBC Team

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a mailbox iconParents and caregivers and everyone who is interested (grandma want to see what the grands are doing?) can sign up to receive an email each day during VBC. Just enter an address over on the right, up-above, and click on the big, blue button. (Or scroll down if you are reading this on your phone.)

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Photo credits:
Hero Central images used by permission of Cokesbury.
Mailbox by Danil Polshin, is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY 3.0).

How to prepare to hear youth champion choosing love?

Youth Worship 2017 LogoThis weekend, the Youth in grades 7-12 will lead worship at both Greenwood on Saturday evening and downtown Sunday morning. Why should you make sure that you and the kiddos attend one of these services?

Three reasons:

  • Little kids need to espy big kids in action. (Hey, I get to do that some day!)
  • The viewpoint the Youth will promote is wise: Choose Love.
  • There will not be any Cool Disciples workshops for grades 1-6 this weekend!

Do you suppose the “open door” in their logo, parodies to a degree, that old TV show Let’s Make a Deal – where contestants picked either door number 1, 2 or 3?  (The Bible story the Youth will reference does have three characters making choices about showing love.)

But choosing love is not random. And it is more than just choosing to love and care for someone else – it also involves choosing to allow God to love us!

This door opens two ways: to receive God’s love and to show love to others.

A little preparation for worship may be helpful. (And certainly a debriefing afterwards!) How about using three ways – all involving stories and song. (Something I’m sure that we’ll hear lots of in worship!)

the number one  The Parable of The Good Samaritan is depicted in artLet’s start with a review of a familiar Bible story: The Good Samaritan.

Read the story in Luke 10:25-37.

Which of the three in this parable that Jesus taught – the priest, the Levite, or the Samaritan – chose a loving response to the beaten man by the side of the road?

What were the risks that each person faced? Why do you suppose the Samaritan chose love?

 

the number two  The cover of the book Forever Young by Bob DylanNext, how about a storybook based on a song? Forever Young by Bob Dylan (yes, THAT Bob Dylan) for ages 5 – 10, is about a young boy who is given a guitar by a street singer; his story shows how a gift to another can impact countless lives. (Ann Arbor District Library has this book. See if it is available!)

Do you suppose a simple act of giving (and loving) can still have an impact in today’s world?
Do you think it is better to give love or to receive love? Why?

 
the number three  And the third choice is a song by Pete Townshend: Let My Love Open the Door. The Youth have been learning this song and we’ll hear it this weekend.

Consider how these words could be God speaking to us, reaching out in love.
“I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today you’ll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say
Let my love open the door
It’s all I’m living for
Release yourself from misery
There’s only one thing gonna set you free
That’s my love
That’s my love
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door.”

 

The Youth from FUMC at Soulfull Retreat 2017
Youth at Soulfull Retreat at Lake Louise Retreat Center, 2017

Come experience the youth as they share their faith in music, drama, and liturgy. Members of the senior class of 2017 will share their journeys with the congregation. (Always a tear-jerker for me!)

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Photo credits:
Choose Love logo designed by Wendy Everett. Group photo of youth at Soulfull Retreat at Lake Louise Retreat Center, by Peter DeHart, © 2017. Used by permission.
An icon of The Good Samaritan, photo by Ted, licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0). Orange Numbers in the Public Domain via WPClipart.com.

How “acting as if” makes way for a miracle?

The formerly paralyzed man walks!

The crowd inside the house was packed tight. And now four hard-working, faith-filled, determined men had created a hole in the roof so as to lower their paralyzed friend into Jesus’ presence. These friends were certain that Jesus would heal their buddy.

They chose to act as if it were already true.

I have read this story countless times. (It’s what I do when I am writing Rotation lessons.) I even will find myself returning to the story, reading it again, after the lesson is complete. Why?

Because usually I discover a new insight.

And sure enough I did. Something occurred to me that I hadn’t previously considered.

When Jesus says to the lame man:

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Get up, take your mat and go home.

What would have happened if the lame man hadn’t gotten up?

What if he was too afraid?
(He could fall flat on his face, and make a spectacle of himself!)

I had discovered another miracle in this story! The story that already contained several miracles — the industrious nature of the four friends, who overcame hardships to take a friend to Jesus, and the miracle of sins being forgiven and of course, the miracle of a previously paralyzed man able to walk! And now this miracle:

The lame man had to get up. He had to act as if the miracle were true.

'Immediately the paralyzed man stood up. He took his mat and walked out. (Mark 2:12)

Acting on a truth is what is needed for it to actually become your truth.

What is stopping you? Can your faith be an instrument that helps someone “get to” Jesus?

What about your kids?

Act as if your child is a spiritual being. (Because we are all spiritual beings!)
Act as if your child is interested in talking about faith.
Act as if you will discover something new.

You need to be brave — to “act as if” — to take part in miracles – however big or small they may be.

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Photo credits:
The lame man walks is a screenshot from a video posted by Bible Society Australia, who licensed their work under a Creative Commons (BY-NC 2.0) License.

Want an easy habit for 2017 that will bless your kids?

the sun rises over Lake Superior

As the sun rises, are you ready for the start of a New Year? Are all-systems-go in the annual building of resolutions? How about just one more easy habit to take on for 2017 – one that I guarantee will generate good-feelings in your child.

AND, this intention only takes about 30 seconds. And, it’s flexible: it fits into your morning, or your evening routines, or whenever. What could be better!

What is this simple practice?

Bless your children.

Blessings are simply saying good things to your kids, on behalf of God. It’s giving them a daily stamp of approval! Like swearing on a Bible, you state truthful words; language your children desperately need to hear.

Easy instructions: Get started today! Trace with your finger, the sign of the cross either on their forehead or on their hand, while saying their name and something up-lifting about the new year ahead. Try this…

'You are a very special person, created by God to do good in the world. May you eagerly approach the New Year, open to change and excited by new beginnings.

Tomorrow, either repeat the same words or use something else.

Want to know a secret?

You can even use these affirming words to bless yourself!

(I’m thinking that I’ll start off the new year doing just that.)

Whatever words you use, start an easy, new habit and bless your child every day.

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Photo credits:
A sunrise over Lake Superior by Sharon Mollerus, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Hidden inside the ordinary, will you see God-alongside?

Christmas eve worshipAs you gather with your family and/or friends, ponder this question:

What was your favorite part of the Christmas Eve worship service?

I’ll bet you get a variety of answers.

My unofficial poll included the music offerings, and when all the lights are turned off and Silent Night is sung by candle light.

The telling of the story didn’t make our list.

I wonder if we have become so familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth, that we forget to be amazed?

Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem

I spent Christmas Eve too sick to attend worship. Home alone, in bed, I decide to read the story. I’m glad I did. Functioning as the only component of “worship” that I had, it allowed for deep contemplation.

I was reminded of the wondrous, amazing aspect of Christmas.

What’s that you say?

As explanation, I’ll use a phrase often heard in this season:

The Incarnation

Star of Bethlehem Nativity

The Incarnation is a concept that leaves me awestruck. (And also feeling a bit jumbled – reminding me that sometimes we have to live in the mystery.)

Incarnation is a big word that comes from Latin, meaning “the act of being made flesh.” It’s what God did in the birth of Jesus. Somehow, mysteriously, Jesus is both fully God and fully human!

In Jesus, God is with us!

The prophet Isaiah had described our coming Savior as Emmanuel. What a perfect title for Jesus, because “Emmanuel” means “God with us.” It’s the very thing we need and look forward to the most: the presence of God himself! Jesus wasn’t born just to save us from our sins; God came to be with us.

God loved us so much that he chose to come into the world in the actual person of Jesus. We find this expressed in John 1:14, which paraphrased reads…

The “Word” was made flesh and moved in with us.

The Adoration of the Shepherds, a painting by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

Even more amazing (if that is possible)… God joined us, not just in human form but as a tiny, helpless baby! What are we to make of this news? Knowing what we know, what will we do?

Who would have looked for God as a baby in a manager in a stable?

If the way we live shows what we believe, should we be actively looking for God among us?

What does God with us look like today?

Richard Rohr calls it, “hidden inside of ordinariness.”

The Incarnation

A humdrum home for animals, equipped with a feeding trough. Where will God-with-us show up next?

Have you observed God, hidden, yet present with us, in the ordinary?

Let’s look for Emmanuel! Here are a few searching suggestions:

  • Go for a drive at night, and be dazzled by the neighborhoods festooned in Christmas lights.
  • If it snows, go outside and catch flakes on your tongue. (Or spend time studying the rain drops rolling down the window pane.)a child ponders the first snow
  • Lay on your backs under your Christmas tree and silently gaze upward, pondering the beauty and perhaps the scent of pine or spruce.
  • Watch and notice when your child seems in an attitude of awe. (A moment of wonder is often characterized by quiet stillness rather than enthusiastic activity.) Silently join them in their observation.
  • Where will you find God?

May you experience God with you — in whatever ordinary awesomeness he arrives.

a blue line

Photo credits:
The first photo is from my archives.
Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem was created by moi from an Unsplash.com image by Tim de Groot. The figures were adapted from wpclipart.com; the words are the start of Luke 2:4, NIV.
Star over Bethlehem by Garrett W. offered on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.
Birth of Jesus is a portion of “The Adoration of the Shepherds,” a 1622 painting by Gerard van Honthorst; from Wikimedia, in the Public Domain.
Babe in a manger by Rapolas; from Pixabay, in the CC0 1.0 Public Domain.
First snow by Joe Thorn, offered on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

What happened to me on a night full of beautiful miracles

ambulance in action

When the kids were little whenever we heard the siren of an ambulance or a fire truck, I would always say, “Make way for the helpers!”

One Saturday night, eleven years ago this night, I needed those helpers.

I don’t remember much about the eve of November 19, 2005 but I found out later that there were miracles happening left and right – even before the ambulance and the fire truck got there. (I was told later that the fire truck arrived first.)

I was home alone and I sustained a burst aneurysm in my brain; usually a fatal event.

When an aneurysm — a bulging, weakening in the wall of an artery — ruptures, it leaks blood into the space around the brain. Things did not look good.

The first miracle: At the moment it hit, I was on the phone. I was talking to my husband, Greg, who was over in the western part of the state, for a hockey tournament with my son. Greg was just passing the phone to my son, when he heard a slight gasp — the aneurysm hit and I lost consciousness. Not hearing any response from my end of the conversation, they thought the connection had been lost. Redialing. Busy signal.

The second miracle: My high school daughter was out babysitting and came home early(!) I think the story was that the parents she was sitting for had decided (for some unexplained reason) to call it a short night.

The third miracle: She had left her phone on the floor by the garage door. (Hidden under stuff?) I guess in those days a phone was not as important? The timing of events was about to get unbelievable.

The fourth miracle: My daughter walked in at the instant my husband — continuing to get a busy signal when calling me — dialed her phone. The phone was ringing as she walked in and of course, she answered. I often think of what would have happened if a minute had passed between her entrance and his call. She (being a teenager) would not have looked for me (situated in the back office); she’d have headed straight upstairs. She would not have gotten the call.

The miracles continue… Needless to say, my daughter called 911 and the neighbor — a nurse. The rest is a blur of activity and more miracles. The best brain surgeon at the University of Michigan, the best nurses in intensive care, friends and family who believed in prayer…

I had a 5% chance of living. And it turns out that I kept defying those odds. Friends have told me that the surgeon came out and said, “We’ve done all we can.”

And yet I survived.

Then they would say, “Well, she may never walk again.”

And then, I would. (After much physical therapy!)

The next dreadful prediction was that I may never talk again… or have fine motor control or… and on and on. Each one gradually torpedoed.

You all prayed. And here I am.

praying peopleThis experience has taught me to believe in prayer!

The miracles continued to come. Released from hospital after 6 and a half weeks. Friends and neighbors who decorated the Christmas tree for our family, drove kids, and brought meals. A dear friends who drove an hour just to get me outside for a short (very short in those first days home) walk!

 
And the miracles continued. A friend who recognized my need for additional Physical Therapy and fought for me to get it! Another friend who took me with to one of his “stretching” sessions with Coach James Henry, and solved an aftereffect of surgery — deliberating pain in my toes!

Eleven years in and I am still recovering and still receiving miracles. Praise be to God!

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Photo credits:
Moving ambulance by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, from Pixabay, and praying people,adapted from clipart by algotruneman. Both of these images are licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License.

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