Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rick Rack Fabulous

Once when I was in 2nd grade I sewed a dress for my Barbie out of black felt and I put white tulling around the top edge for trim and a bow. The dress was very ... fashion forward. It inspired the same quizzical look that I wear when I watch runway shows and see extremely expensive clothing and think, "Hmmm..." I never thought that I myself, would be a costume designer or seamstress. But today, yes, today all that has changed. Today I pulled together costumes to transform two pastors into two superstars.

I researched, cut cardboard, magic markered, glittered, measured, cut, pinned and sewed to turn Pastor Dan from Highland Church and Pastor Al from Evergreen Church into Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock. I am dead serious.

Pastor Nathan, the movie making genius, has written a script and storyboard for "Star Trek: Movies in the Park" the intro movie for the summer's movies at Pfiffner Park. Filming took place today at 3pm. I finished the costumes this afternoon and I must say I was proud of the finished products. Of course, I only created the Star Trek insignias and sewed gold rick rack onto their sleeves and drew eyebrows, but I am proud nonetheless.

Behold: Rick Rack Fabulous, look at those sleeves! And that science officer insignia! Wow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cardboard Testimonies

A couple weeks ago we finished up a series entitled "The Road to Recovery". It was an excellent series, highlighting the 12 steps to recovery used in the Celebrate Recovery program we just kicked off at Highland. Celebrate Recovery is a 12 step program based on the 8 principles found in the beattitudes. It's designed to help individuals overcome the hurts, habits and hang-ups that come with addiction. Our group meets at 6:30pm on Tuesdays.

It was a great series and with it we introduced the song "God of This City" to our congregation. We used the song in various ways throughout the series, but my favorite way was on May 17th when we used the song as the background for cardboard testimones. Individuals from our church wrote out their testimony in two phrases, where they had been in life and where God's brought them, on a piece of cardboard. Then they displayed their testimonies to the congregation. It was so beautiful.

Ron, Jen and Olivia DeWitt were the ones that got me the most. Oh my goodness. I was doing all right during practice and then when little Olivia walked out I started crying so hard that I couldn't keep singing and could barely see the music to keep playing. Pastor Dan walked up from the front row with his testimony; that was an awesome moment too. It really showed the reality of who we are at Highland Church. We've all been broken and are saved by God's grace.

For sound quality purposes, we had to use the Chris Tomlin recording of the song in the video. I wish you could hear the response from the congregation. Their clapping grew and grew until it was tumultuous applause for the great things God has done for people in our church. Enjoy the video. This is a great idea for any church. Everyone has a testimony to share. What would your cardboard testimony be?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Video games and Jesus

The height of my video gaming career was somewhere around 3rd grade when I was playing Super Mario Bros. 2. Then my brother, who is almost 6 years younger than I am, started mercilessly beating me and I gave up on video games.

But a while back, I thought I’d give a new game a shot. So I sat down with a few others to play Halo. Don’t ask me which version, I don’t know. In Halo you are a character and that character walks around and shoots the other players’ characters. No need to worry, I never injured any other characters. I was too busy inadvertently walking off of cliffs, or getting stuck in corners or confusing my quarter of the screen with someone else’s. However, the biggest problem I had playing was not being able to get the hang of the controller. I spent the majority of the game staring either at my feet or the sky, hopping or shooting as I spun in crazy circles. I am not welcome to play with the teenagers again.

This morning my Halo experience came to mind and I thought about this, how often in real life does God look at me and say, “Oh no, she’s spinning around in circles again staring at her feet.”? Probably every time, I take control of my life out of His hands. When I think I can take control and do it on my own, I start questioning everything becoming dizzy with the possibilities, responsibilities and decisions to be made. When I'm trusting God with my life, I still have responsibilities and decisions, but it’s different when I know the one directing me has a bird’s eye view of eternity. He knows my life’s plan even when I feel like I'm wandering aimlessly. When I’m relying on Him and His direction, I can know that wherever I go, He’s watching out for me. How often the Bible reminds us to rest in God, to give Him our burdens, follow His plan.

So this is just a friendly reminder for all of us: put control of your life in God’s hands so you don’t have to spin around in circles or walk off of cliffs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

City Council

Tim Michalski loves Stevens Point City Council meetings. There was a time when we couldn't go out on the third Monday of the month because he wanted to be home to watch the city council meeting on channel 3. That was before he found out that they air again on Tuesday. We often go to Belts and then walk with our ice cream to the river and on the way we pass by 1516 Church St, the courthouse where the meetings are held and Tim gets excited every time. I love that he is so into this!

Tim's birthday was just a couple weeks ago and I surprised him with a plan I'd been forming for months. I gave him two tickets to the Stevens Point City Council meeting. Of course there really aren't tickets, I created them. Lovely, aren't they?
I was not a big fan of city council meetings. Tim can tell you anything about city council and all that takes place at the meetings, the key players, the city officials and directors and their major actions and plans. I was going because I wanted to see Tim's big dream come true. But let me tell you, last night was riveting! I am dead serious.
They voted on building a new sign in front of the fire station and it was a close vote; all the residents from Lorraine Blvd. showed up to speak against the ditching and swailing projects going on in that area of town. Afterwards I made Tim drive me around to see the different locations affected by the decisions that were made. I really enjoyed it, maybe not as much as Tim, but it was fascinating.

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Highland Kids video

The New Highland Kids video is finished! Nathan did an excellent job putting it together. The rest of the website will be finalized and updated very very soon. Exciting! The summer's already off to a great start for kids ministry!

Watch and enjoy!

Welcome to Highland Kids from Highland Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Planning and a rockin' team

Today has been a grand day of planning and strategy. I love it! This morning Mindy Cooper and I got together to start planning the children's Christmas play. It's going to be amazing. We're going to be doing a news cast theme. Mindy and I have amazing creativity synergy. The two of us get together and you know something incredible is going to happen. The creativity can usually be gauged by the amount and volume of our laughter. Sometimes when we're planning and writing together we laugh so hard that when we finally stop, things in my office are still ringing. No lie, ask anyone else in the office.

This afternoon I got to plan the Kids Rock lesson on joy. We'll be using lemons to show that we can have joy no matter what. When life hands you a lemon of a situation, joy helps you make lemonade. Delightful. I also got to plan the Rock Climbers craft and activity for Sunday to go along with their lesson on creation. Our preschoolers will choose an animal picture out of a hat, act out the animal and when the other kids guess it, they'll all color in the picture together and staple it to the creation board. Beautiful.

I just got back from a planning, scheduling and strategy meeting with Suzanne Crueger, my Rock Formations (nursery) director. We're getting ready for our big Dr. Seuss Sunday at the end of June and for the Amazing Family Race at the end of July. It is great to have such strategic thinkers in my pool of kids leaders.

I'm about to go into a meeting to work out more of the details for our Dr. Seuss Sunday and Tale of Despereaux carnival with more wonderful, creative and detail oriented team members. What a fantastic day! There are a lot of events going on this summer, but these events are in capable hands. I get to work with such a great team. Highland Church is incredibly blessed to have this team of leaders putting their time, energy and thought into Highland Kids.

This is an official shout out to the Highland Kids team. You all rock!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dreaming and Moldova

Amy Winkelman and Cristi Schroeder are getting ready to embark on an incredible journey to Moldova. This journey is something that has come from years of dreaming, praying and following. Amy has had a strong pull toward helping orphans for years and years and at a women's conferent last year, Cristi started recognizing the great desire she had to help victims of sex trafficking. But these women didn't just take their deeply felt compassion and sit on it. In only a little over a month Amy and Cristi will be traveling to Moldova in Eastern Europe to work with missionaries and meet with others who help orphans and victims of sex trafficking.

I wish I could put into words how proud I am of these two women for following their God given dreams and passions, to act on what He has placed in their hearts. I wish I could share an ounce of how inspired I have been by their dreams. After "The Worth of One" missions and informational meeting Cristi and Amy hosted several weeks ago I have been more pressed than ever to find and succeed in the dreams and plans God has for my life. Cristi recently wrote , "Because we are following our dreams to Moldova. God is inspiring others to follow their dreams."

The best way I can think to pass on the inspiration and the dream is to ask you to look into their trip at Cristi's website. Be inspired and follow the dream God has for You. If you don't know what that dream is, start asking Him to show it to you.

Please be praying for these wonderful ladies, for their dreams and Moldova.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Stories and the why question

I recently finished 1 & 2 Samuel and I'm now in 1 Kings. I'm pretty familiar with all of the stories, but this time through I feel like the story quality of these books has been illluminated to me. The emotion, the fear, the betrayal, the revenge, the love, the jealousy. At first I thought this perspective would disappear after I finished with David's story, but it just keeps on going! His sons, his grandsons, the overthrowing of the throne! It's excellent, action packed reading.

Just this week one of my favorite Bible figures has come onto the scene: Elijah. His story is gripping! He performs incredible miracles, calling down fire from God, defeating the prophets of Baal, seeing rain fall for the first time in over 3 years, outruns chariots, is fed supernatural food by angels, runs for 40 days straight, sees wind rip apart a mountain, witnesses a supernatural earthquake and raging fire and is able to discern the gentle whisper that is the voice of God! But in the midst of all this he is desperate, scared and incredibly lonely. At one point he tells God that he's through and asks God to take his life.

1 Kings 19:14-18 records that on Mount Horeb Elijah cries out to God saying, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left and now they are trying to kill me too." It's after this that God's answer comes quickly. God gives Elijah instructions and lets him know not only has He been preparing a ministry partner and successor for Elijah, there are also "7,000 in Israel--all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him."

What an incredible response! It wasn't instant. Elijah had been feeling all alone in his quest for God for a long time before God answered and encouraged by sending him to Elisha and letting him know there were others who were devoted toe God. God kept urging Elijah along, even when Elijah finally got to the mountain he had to state his case twice. Why?

Why doesn't God answer our questions and our despairs right away? I don't know. But I do know that God is at work even when we are frustrated with Him and want to give up. Even when we feel like we're all alone, His plan is working. He is leading us to Mount Horeb where He will reveal His answer.

Elijah's story is so inspirational because it's finished. We know the end. We know God didn't let Elijah die in the desert or leave him to be killed by Queen Jezebel. It's much more desperate when we're in the middle of our own stories. But there is hope.
Wherever you are in your journey with God, whether you are seeing God bring down consuming fire and drenching a dry desert land in rain or you are slumped against a broom tree trunk in the middle of the desert telling God that you're finished, you can't keep going. He has a plan. He's leading you to the place where He can speak to your need too.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chameleons vs. Transformers

What an awesome Sunday! Whenever a month has five Sundays, the fifth Sunday is our all family service. Kids 3 and up join in the adult service. Pastor Dan or Pastor Nathan and I team teach and we create special kids' notes for the sermon, more object lessons and sermon illustrations. Last Sunday was our third time doing it and Pastor Nathan and I pulled out all the stops! We did a message entitled Chameleons vs. Transformers. Our base Scripture was Romans 12:2a "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
There was a fantastic skit, an exploding experiment, awesome notes for the kids AND great content and message! This Sunday had it all, including the wonderful background Nathan created picture above.

I got more comments on Mindy Cooper's portrayal of Kerry Chameleon, a woman who is terrified of standing out in a crowd, than any other portion of the service. Especially emblazoned on the minds of the church was the moment Kerry started trying to make her hair and camo sweatshirt look like my hair style and suit jacket.
Teaching the absolute truth of God's Word in a creative way. What an excellent way to start the week.

It is good to be a part of Highland Church. Love it.