Planning your family’s summer weekends? Add worship & movies!

How does your summer calendar look?
Hopefully there is room for rest and rejuvenation.

How about room for God?

Have you been looking for a way to add faith conversations in your family? Here’s a suggestion:

A suggestion on what to do as a family on the weekends.

Start this coming weekend — or join us any weekend this summer! Worship at Green Wood at 5 pm on Saturday. (Come in your cut-offs!) Then join us downtown on Sunday’s at 9:30 for our…

Summer Movie Series!

For 1st – 6th graders we’ll be using the DVD series Buck Denver Asks … What’s in the Bible? created by Phil Vischer. (Phil created VeggieTales.® That’s Phil in the lower right corner of the collage of movie characters shown below.)

Phil Vischer and some of the characters from What's in the Bible? DVD series

I’ll bet you have questions…

  • What is this DVD series about?
    A cast of lovable, Muppet-quality puppets interact with Phil Vischer and other real people, teaching how all of the stories of the Bible fit together as God’s great rescue plan! We’ll start in Genesis and work our way through the Bible. (But we won’t have enough weeks to cover it all!)
  • Will I, as an adult, really get anything out of this?
    Yes! There’s humor, silly songs, and theological concepts explained! I’ll bet you’ll learn something. (I did!)
  • Why the change from the usual Rotation lessons?
    Summer needs a change of pace; a different way of learning – together as a family!
  • What about my younger kids?
    Green Wood is a relaxed environment for worship and kids of all ages benefit from worship. If needed your younger children can attend lessons held downstairs after the children’s moment.
  • What about my older kids?
    4th grade and up are invited to apply to be a Class Assistant. Contact Beth at church.

What does your summer schedule look like?

Photo credits:
Collages were created using pictures from various sources: What’s in the Bible?, Sunday Software, and from photos taken by church members.

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Remembering… every day

a person walks among flag-decorated gravemarkers

On Memorial Day we remember the men and women who died while serving our country. We also reminisce about lost family members and friends.We gather together, decorate graves, salute flags, and attend parades—a worthwhile day of tribute, a day of telling stories about service and honor and good deeds.

Where it falls on the calendar in the northern hemisphere, Memorial Day also signifies the start of summer. Sunny skies, picnics and vacations; more great memories in the making!

All this brings to mind other observances we need to recognize.

Remembering stories of God with us.

Brooklyn Museum - The Pilgrims of Emmaus on the Road (Les pèlerins d'Emmaüs en chemin) - James Tissot

Our children need to hear our stories of God walking beside us.

Our children need to be reminded of times when God walked with them.

In a recent Rotation from Luke 24:13-35, we heard Cleopas and his traveling companion reflect on their trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, when they realized that Jesus had been with them!
Open quote markBack and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?”
Luke 24:32

We need to offer opportunities for our kids to join the “fellowship of the burning heart.”

Let this Memorial Day be the start of an every-day-sort-of-thing: tell remember-when stories about times when Jesus was with you.

  • The time the car broke down the night before the big trip (rather than on the road).
  • An out of the blue, call from a friend when you needed to hear from someone just at that moment.
  • A sunny day after so many grey, dreary ones.
  • Hearing a Bible verse that was just what was needed.
  • The list goes on and on!

What are your God-with-you stories?


Where will Jesus show up today?

They didn’t expect to see Jesus. So they didn’t notice?
Just like I almost missed seeing the Dutchman’s Breeches.

A wild flower known as Dutchman's Breeches

There they were! At the edge of the walkway. How long had they been out?

How had I missed seeing them?

Dutchman’s Breeches are a tiny, early spring flower, getting their apt name from their appearance: petite, white, hanging-upside-down, pantaloons strung on an invisible clothesline. I hadn’t expected to see them yet. (Spring is rather slow in coming to these parts.)

Where will Jesus show up for you today?

The same sort of abrupt awareness came to the two disciples who were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They hardly noticed that an individual had joined their journey. They were so caught up in their grief-filled discussion over the death of Jesus, their expected rescuer. They didn’t realize that Jesus was walking besides them!

These Dutchman’s Breeches stir up deep connections for me. Do you treasure your grandmother’s recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies? Do stories gush forth when the making of those cookies happens? The emergence of wild flowers does it for me. Memories flow.

My Aunt Doris brought me a Dutchman’s Breeches plant from her garden many years ago. I recall her bending to the soil to poke them into earth. Doris has since gone on to her heavenly home. Seeing the delicate white flowers brings to mind Doris and her love of Jesus. The way she so readily and passionately shared her faith!

A wild flower known as Dutchman's Breeches

What reminders of Jesus’ love are you almost missing today?

Keep watch! Jesus is closer than you think!

Photo credits… Photos are copyright and are from my archives.

How to love others

Cute little girl holding red heart - a 1910 Valentine greeting
Did you get any valentines last week?
Why do we need a “Hallmark holiday” to remind us to love those around us?


Because sometimes it’s hard to love.

I’m not talking about your loving your family and your friends. I’m talking about loving those who are different, or difficult, or down-right irritating!

But Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).

Doing good, loving our neighbor — the stranger, the person who pushes our boundaries — it’s easier said than done.

Last week we talked about ways to love God. By loving God we are keeping the first four of the Ten Commandments. By loving our neighbor we are following the last six.

Love God Love Others
1.  Do not worship any god except me. 5.  Respect your father and mother.
2.  Do not make statues of gods (idols). 6.  Do not murder.
3.  Do not misuse my name. 7.  Do not commit adultery.
4.  Remember the Sabbath day. 8.  Do not steal.
9.  Do not tell lies about others.
10. Do not long for what belongs to
     someone else.


How do we talk to our family about loving our neighbor?

Start close to home…

  • Identify who your neighbors are. Do you know the names of the people who live around you?
  • Discuss why you live where you do. Did the “neighborhood” have anything to do with where you live?
  • What are some activities you enjoy doing? How might these activities help you to be more neighborly to those in your neighborhood?

Move out a bit…

  • Did Jesus mean neighbor, as in someone who lives next door?
  • Name some of our “neighbors” who don’t live in your neighborhood.
  • How do we recognize a “neighbor?” (Hint: It’s about recognizing a need.)
  • What are some needs we see in our community? In the world?
  • Move out further…

  • What do we do with our doubts? (The needs are so great!)
  • What if people around us want to throw their hands up and say, “What good can I do”?
  • What do we do when our attempts to “love” a neighbor are rejected?
  • How can we persevere?

    How is your life a testimony to your love of God and neighbor?

    Photo credits:
    A valentine from 1910 by Royce Bair via Stock Solution Photo Agency. Shared under a Creative Commons License.

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    In this new year, I have a wish for you

    Happy New Year!

    I hope that your new year will be filled with peace, and prosperity,
    and encounters with the presence of God.

    Oh shucks, that’s not my real wish.

    I mean, yes, I really do desire all of that for you,
    but here’s what I’m honestly hoping for…

    That your family spends time together
    incorporating stories from the Bible into your everyday life.

    I’m hoping that when your child invites a friend over for dinner and this friend hears your family making sacred connections with the secular, and they question your child about this behavior, your kid proudly says, “this is what we do.”

    How can you get to this point?

    Read together the Bible. (Use a story Bible if your kids are young – here’s a good one: The Jesus Storybook Bible.)
    Ask a question that start with the words “I wonder…”
    Listen carefully to everyone’s replies.

    For example, to prepare for our upcoming Rotation on the Ten Commandments, review the story of Abraham and Sarah. Read Genesis 12:1-4, and 15:1-5, and 17:1-9.
    Then ask:

    • I wonder if God’s promises to Abraham ever came true?
    • I wonder what an everlasting covenant is?
    • I wonder how this story ties to the Ten Commandments?

    Refer to this post if you’d like more discussion questions.

    What can you do today, to practice what you hope to achieve in the coming year?

    Photo credits:
    Click here for info on banner photo (not visible in readers or email).
    New Year’s greeting from 1910, by Puzzler4879 under a Creative Commons License on Flickr.

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    How goes your journey?

    This entry was originally posted when our kids were talking about the wise men, however it applies to all year ’round! What are you doing to further your faith growth?

    Painting by James Tissot, in the Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

    I find it amazing that the wise men made such a long, arduous journey to worship Jesus. Previously I had pondered questions that the wise men may have asked as they prepared for their trip. Such as…

    • Where would the star lead them?
    • What would they find?
    • How would they be received?
    • And, are we there yet?

    Wait a minute! This sounds like an adventure someone else (whom we’ve recently studied about) made to an unknown destination. In fact, it may well be that they both came from the same area!

    Both were Gentiles (not Jewish) at the time God summoned them. Neither knew exactly where they were going when they left their homeland. Both obeyed God and were instructed by the stars. (Abraham: Genesis 15:5, the magi: Matthew 2:2). (Did you figure out that I was thinking of Abraham & Sarah?)

    Both parties chose to venture into the unfamiliar.

    Speaking of an uncharted odyssey…

    How goes your family faith journey?

    Does it feel like you don’t know where your faith walk will lead you, or what you’ll find along the way, or even if you are on the right path? Join the wise men! Here are some hints about how to stay the course on your family faith journey.

    a starParticipate in rituals.
    Celebrating family rituals is a great way to grow in faith together. Rituals and traditions are repeated activities that help family members develop a sense of belonging. Make time for rituals that connect us to God: Saying table grace, bedtime prayers, daily Bible reading… Add a new ritual! What occasions can you make special (besides the usual holidays and birthdays)? It’s not too late to start an Advent ritual.

    a child holds a newly created Advent wreathMom with two girls look at a Bible

    a star Worship together.
    If kids don’t experience worship as a child, what will cause them to want to participate as an adult?

    A family worships togetherChildren have a time with the pastor at church

    a starServe others.
    The family that serves together, stays together!

    Families participate in a service project

    10 kids ages 10 and under dug a 30 foot drainage ditch

    It’s not too late to consider joining us on our spring Appalachia Mission trip.

    a star Watch for a shining “star” (or two or three).
    Notice signs that lead us to think of Jesus.

    The sun sets over the lakeChristmas eve service

    a starCultivate your personal faith.
    Don’t you want your kids to “do as you do?” Take time to build your own faith. Set aside a regular time to commune with God in prayer, read the Bible, or join a class at church.

    a blue line

    As your family traverses its way along your faith journey, know that God is our God and God is always with us!

    Photo credits:
    Painting of traveling magi by James Tissot, in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
    Star from the public domain via
    Other photos from my archives or from from the families of FUMC. Appalachia photo copyright, Richard Rupp Photography; used with permission.

    Purposeful Gratitude

    In reading the story of Abraham and Sarah, have you noticed that Abraham has a habit?

    He stacks stones.

    A very balanced pile of rocks

    No, Abraham wasn’t piling rocks in an artful manner such as the photo above. He built altars. He deliberately heaped soil and rock, forming a reminder. A physical stalwart to remind him of an encounter with God. He would use these altars in his worship to God and to remind himself of God’s promises of blessing.

    In the season of Thanksgiving, how about we be as deliberate, and make our gratitude be purposeful. The key is to make this your new normal. Here are some ways to do this with your family:

    • Why not pile some rocks. Go out for a walk to collect stones. Once back at home, in a family gathering (perhaps at the dinner table), read about Abram’s altar building in Genesis 12:6-8 or Genesis 13:3-4 or Genesis 13:18. Make a pile of your rocks naming each one as a thanksgiving to God.
    • Take the next step and write thanksgivings on your rocks with a permanent marker, or use a glue and water mix (Modge Podge) to apply cut out pictures to your rocks.
    • Allow your rock pile to be re-built on a daily basis!
    • A "shrine" of things that invoke the memory of God's goodness

    • The Life Application Bible tells us that Abram built altars to “remember that God was at the center of his life.” Build a different sort of “altar.” Fill a space in your home with reminders of thankfuls. Allow touching and rearranging and additions and subtractions. (Photo on right is at the Nelson home around Easter time.)
    • With older children discuss ways people often build “monuments” to themselves or to their stuff. Why do you suppose we do this? How can we break into a new focus of being grateful?
    • A blessing box - a place to store your blessings!

    • Fill up your family blessing box!
      If your child didn’t get to make one in our Art Workshop for the story of Abraham & Sarah, you can view the lesson here and download the instructions here. Decorate any old box!

    What are other ways your family makes gratitude purposeful?

    Photo credits:
    Balancing rocks by Viewminder, who licensed this photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons License. “Shrine” photo from the Nelson family. Used by permission. Blessing box photo from my archives.

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    What was Jesus thinking!?!

    My two day-old son, freshly home from the hospital, was being laid down for a nap when my two and a half-year-old daughter surprised me. She insisted on singing to him the song we sang to her every night at bedtime – the first verse of the hymn Precious Lord — all by herself!

    Has your child ever surprised you with something that you didn’t expect?

    Sometimes things your child does will astonish other people. The Jewish teaching community likely experienced eye-opening amazement with a young boy named Jesus who joined their midst in the Temple courts during the Passover celebration. “Everyone was surprised and impressed that a 12-year-old boy could have such deep understanding and could answer questions with such wisdom” (Luke 2:47).

    A public domain painting of Jesus amidst the 'doctors' in the Temple

    That sort of thought didn’t percolate through Mary and Joseph’s minds, however. No, this event did not invoke a benign well-look-at-what-our-boy-is-doing sort of moment. Mary and Joseph had frantically searched for Jesus for three days. They couldn’t find him anywhere! Describe Mary and Joseph as anxious; worried sick. When they finally found Jesus in the Temple courts, can’t you hear Mary sputtering:

    Jesus, what were you thinking!?

    I’ll bet they are stunned by Jesus’ reply.

    Why did Jesus stay behind at the Temple?

    (a) He was almost a teenager. He wanted to irritate his parents.
    (b) He got so wrapped up in his exciting surroundings that he totally lost track of time.
    (c) Your reason here _______.

    Mary and Joseph had been searching for Jesus. Meanwhile, Jesus was searching for something entirely different.

    Jesus was searching for something that all of us look for!

    Aren’t we all looking for an explanation for feelings we can’t explain…

    • What is this sacred reverence which hums within us, when we allow it to escape?
    • Why do certain situations (holding a newborn, catching a glimpse of beauty, the receipt of joyous news…) invoke feelings of deep respect, tinged with awe?
    • What is my purpose here on earth?
    • What can I do to promote peace, justice, love and compassion?

    Do you suppose that Jesus found what he was looking for?

    Have you?

    Photo credits:
    Jesus in the Temple a painting in the Public Domain by William Brassey Hole (1846-1917), via Wikimedia Commons.

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