Monday, August 31, 2009

Saying Yes ... To Say No

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We had a great discussion at Life Group this past week ... our topic was "Saying Yes, to Say No"

Now, what on earth does this mean?  It means that you have to know where you're heading in order to know what you can and can't do.  Jesus did it - He knew that He was heading to Jerusalem and He had chosen following the Father over the things of this world.  When things came up He was easily able to say no because He was able to evaluate whether it would get him closer to Jerusalem or not.

So, in your own life what are you saying yes to in order to say no?  Do you have a purpose in your life that enables you to say no to things that don't align with or move you closer to that purpose?  Sit down this week and write out your "purpose" - what do you want to say yes to, so that you can say no?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

GraceWorks

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GraceWorks is the special needs ministry @ NVCL.  We started it just over a year ago and have seen some incredible stories over the last 18 or so months ... not only from our families who benefit from the ministry, but also our GraceGivers who serve in the ministry!  GraceWorks isn't limited to just children who have diagnosed special needs ... any child in our ministry who can benefit from a GraceGiver can receive one.  Sometimes this means that a child has endured a difficult time in their life and they need the consistency of the same person each week at church to build into their life and walk beside them during this time, other times it means that the child needs specific medical care while in our ministry, while other times the GraceGiver supports their child in the classroom helping them to do the things that the rest of the children are doing!  

This afternoon we offered an "Afternoon Away" to the families who participate in the GraceWorks Ministry.  For three hours we kept all of their children at church while they enjoyed some time to themselves.  Everyone was excited and we had a wonderful time giving some much need respite to these families! 

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fresh Air

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This past week has literally been like a breath of fresh air.  I'm not going to lie ... it's been a crazy, busy week ... but it's been good!  Summers are hard ... especially when you're running something with volunteers - everyone is busy, not only you, but everyone else too who helps out.  That's where I've been all summer.  Knowing that God is going to provide exactly what we need.  Its always a learning process for me as I am a planner and in times like this I just have to trust that it's going to be okay.  

But, last weekend was refreshing.  God moved in the hearts of many, many people and filled us back up ... not only with volunteers, but with energy.  Summer was busy, at times frustrating, and I found myself longing for volunteers that we didn't have many times over the last several weeks ... however, this week has been amazingly refreshing.  

I LOVE helping people plug into ministry and it makes me smile each time I have the opportunity to schedule a new volunteer, knowing that God is going to use this opportunity to work in their life and in the lives of the children that they are going to touch!

So, THANK YOU to all of you who are giving your time to serve ... you may be in a classr
oom, in the workroom, at a computer, or holding a pair of scissors cutting out curriculum supplies at home ... but you're helping in a HUGE way ... you're helping to make something happen that couldn't happen without you!

"One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something"
-Henry David Thoreau

Thanks for doing your "something" you're making a HUGE impact!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Caption It!

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I captured it ... now its your turn to give it a caption ... I'll post the winning caption!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bracelets

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Friends of Kate's Family have put together bracelets to help offset the cost of medical expenses.  You can order a bracelet here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Parke County

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Covered bridges have always fascinated me.  So, a few days ago I just had that "I need to get away from the big city" feeling and had the day off ... so I took off 1.5 hours west to Parke County.  After finding a small visitor center in Rockville, I got a map and began my adventure.  My first attempt was not successful as I made a wrong turn, but after starting again I managed to find some covered bridges.  The route I took should have had 9 bridges, but it took me awhile to realize that they all weren't right on the path and that you kind of had to go exploring to find them!  So, by that time I had missed 4 of the 9 bridges on the route, but found the other 5.  Of course I had my camera along and here are a few of the pics I took during my adventure...


This bridge is in Mansfield, Indiana - its literally a ghost town.  There's no one there ... just TONS of vendor rows.  It's the town that the Covered Bridge Festival is held in each year ... attracting 1-2 million people to this ghost town! (which randomly includes a ski lift in the cornfields of Indiana!!!)


This bridge is along a gravel road in the middle of fields and crosses a small creek.  You can still drive over this bridge!


Nett Bridge is between Rockville and Bridgeton.  It's right along Bridgeton Road and has a beautiful view of the Indiana fields.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good Fun

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In case you've never seen this video it's well worth the two minutes that it takes ... you'll get a good laugh from it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Free Chick-Fil-A!!!

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It's one of my favorite places ... and on Labor Day you can get a FREE Chicken Sandwich just for wearing your favorite team jersey!  Trust me ... I'll be there with my Buckeyes stuff on!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

S67 Video

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We're heading into our Volunteer Expo Weekend @NVCL so I've been spending the week compiling our videos and pictures from the past year to showcase to potential volunteers what serving in Studio 6.7 is all about ... and how fun it can be!  Here's our video from our "Night of a Thousand Stars" - this past year's volunteer appreciation event!


video

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday's Tip

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Here's a great video on helping preschoolers remember the most important facts from a Bible story.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quote

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When one door closes another opens. But often we look so long so regretfully upon the closed door that we fail to see the one that has opened for us.
Helen Keller

I came across this quote tonight and it reminded me of how often I get so caught up with the doors that have closed that I miss the doors that God is opening for me.  What a great reminder to always be moving forward, seeking God, and pursuing the opportunities that He has ahead for us!

Monday, August 17, 2009

An Example

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To be honest, I've wanted to write this post for awhile now ... but just never have.  I want to start out by saying that if you're a Christian - people are watching you!  Your life IS your testimony ... the things you say, the places you go, the way you act ... you're being watched and those things speak to more of who you are than anything else!  Being a Christian isn't about the 1.5 hours you spend at church each week ... its about the 168 hours each week that you're in relationship with Christ!

You may have read on here before that I play softball on Sundays ... I play with a great group of people and pray that I am a light to them.  It's not a church league ... just a regular city league ... and I love that ... I love that I have a chance to get to know some people in the community who I would have never met, except for this common link of the game.  

It breaks my heart though that there is a team in our league making a proclamation on their shirts, but not showing it through their actions.  Their shirts say that they represent Christ ... unfortunately though their actions don't and it breaks my heart that their being watched by unbelievers who are wondering what Christianity is all about.

The Bible teaches us to be an example and it is something that is easy to lose sight of as we get caught up in the day to day frustrations, but I hope that you will take this as a reminder to watch your actions, your words, and your witness in front of everyone ... both believers and nonbelievers.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Home

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Kate is home for a short time in between chemo treatments!  You can continue following her story here:  www.caringbridge.org/visit/mcraekate

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Ice Cream Shop

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The K&W was one of my favorite places growing up ... I'm from a small town (although rapidly growing in one of the fastest growing counties in the country) ... anyway, while I was growing up it was a small town nestled between Cincinnati and Dayton.  It was settled in the early 1800's and was rich with Underground Railroad history ... in fact there are more than 27 homes there where slaves were hidden in their attempt to escape slavery.  Its just a small town with lots of history and many years ago one of those buildings along main street was turned into an ice cream shop.  It was the place that people gathered, hung out, and where we enjoyed ice cream on hot summer evenings.  

Being in Indiana for two years now its one of the things I have missed terribly (not so much the ice cream ... I can't eat it anymore, but the atmosphere)  The atmosphere of that small town ice cream shop was something special and sometimes there are smells, sights, noises, etc that take us back to being a kid growing up in small town america.  

Tonight was one of those times.  I've finally found an ice cream shop (actually its gelato) where I can eat and not be affected by my food allergy!!!  This in itself is amazing since I have not had ice cream from an ice cream shop in YEARS!!!  So tonight, I was taken back to my childhood years ... it wasn't on main street in a small town ... instead nestled inside Clay Terrace an upscale shopping plaza here on the northside of Indy.   It was a small taste of my childhood, even though it wasn't quite the same ... so, what takes you back  to a memory, to your childhood???

Indiana

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Every great state ... and especially those states in the midwest host a state fair every summer.  I've lived in 2 states in the midwest ... and thus been to 2 states' state fairs.  I have to say ... the Indiana State Fair was much more "country" than the Ohio State Fair.  Both focus on agriculture and farming ... something both states are known for ... but the Indiana State Fair seemed much more like your local hometown fair on steroids.  I went with a few friends from my small group at church and we had a great time!!! 



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday's Tip

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Here's a great video on helping preschoolers apply Bible Stories to their daily lives...




Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Eyes of a Child...

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We've been growing as a ministry lately and recently it created the need to open a fourth preschool classroom (which I still need to post pics of!).  As you may have read, the new classroom is called The Attic ... its not really in the attic, but on the top floor of our building and the only classroom that's up there.  The stairwell leading to the classroom wasn't quite ideal.  It was concrete, dirty, dark, and narrow - but it was the best option and with a little TLC it would work.  Well, the first weekend came and we hadn't had time to lay the carpet, but wanted to create a traffic flow so we asked parents to carefully take their children up those stairs ... telling them carpet would be in soon.

Well, this past week the carpet was laid and the stairwell not only looked a ton better, but was also much safer!  I was excited, no longer were we asking parents to take their kids up the "emergency stairwell" it was now a stairwell and it was much safer with the addition of the padded carpet instead of the hard concrete!  I was certain that this would make going to the new room a much better experience!

Until this past weekend...

When one of the preschoolers asked their mom if their new room was still The Attic ... of course it was she was told.  Then the child asked ... but now there's carpet, its not like an attic anymore!

You see, I was concerned about the stairwell, obviously from a safety perspective, but also from a visual perspective ... it just wasn't pleasing and who really wants to use the emergency stairwell anyway?  But, the children thought that they were really heading to the attic (there is a HUGE window at the top of the stairs that overlooks the roof of the Preschool Pod) and for them that was cool.  

Often kids don't care about all the material things that we get so caught up with on a day to day basis - simple is just fine with them!  We find ourselves worrying about the presentation and what others will think ... but when you see the world from the eyes of a child those things don't matter ... its the people who do.  The kids are more excited to see their favorite teachers each week - they don't worry about how they get there, the size of the stairwell, the color of the carpet, or that they're upstairs ... they think an attic is cool and just want to be with the people there each week!  

So, look around ... what are you so caught on right now that might not really matter if you looked at it through the eyes of a child (with simplicity and a loving heart)?

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Reminder

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School starts here tomorrow and for many places across the country it started today.  The beginning of the school year is busy, but God gave me quite a reminder earlier today to not only pray for the children who ARE starting school, but also for those children and families who ARE NOT heading back to school this year.  

Earlier I was looking at photos of a family I am friends with who sent their 5 year old to kindergarten this morning ... I still remember the night she was born - I had been hanging out with them at their house!  We are both in different states now than we were five years ago and life has changed quite a bit ... but I was so excited to see her first day of school pics up on Facebook earlier today!  Then, I read a journal entry from her best friend's mom ... the mother of another 5 year old who should have been starting kindergarten today too.  But their life stood still 6 weeks ago when their daughter was diagnosed with cancer ... everything changed that day.  Below is a partial entry Kate's mom wrote today ... it reminded me to not only pray for those kids who are heading off to school, but also for those families who won't be sending a child to school this year.  So, please join me in not only praying for Kate, but for other families across the country who are in this same situation as another school year begins.  Also, please pray for those families who lost a child this past year ... specifically for the Beltz Family here in Indy who lost Christopher this past year.

Please take a few minutes to read the words below and pray for Kate.

"Will started preschool, and Olivia started 2nd grade at a new school today. Kate however, was unable to start kindergarten. Such a new chapter for Olivia and Will today, and such an unexpected chapter for Kate. Today it has been 6 weeks since we came in for her initial CT scan. 6 weeks ago, I received a call from our pediatrician saying we could come to PCH and wait if we wanted to be worked in for Kate's CT. She was getting it to rule out a mass because of sudden slight tremors in her right hand. I decided to go then, one less thing to think or worry about that night. We left quickly, food left on the counter, dirty clothes on the floor, lights on with only my purse and Kate's kindergarten application in hand. Kate and I have not returned home since. Oh how life changes so quickly, so unexpectedly. Entering the hospital armed with just the kindergarten application, soon we will be going home for a short period armed with a central line catheter (broviac), a wheelchair, leg brace, hand splint, a balding head and broken hearts. Only to know we won't be starting kindergarten this fall. .... So now 6 weeks after finding the tumor, we look to return home for a short period. Home to a different kind of life with broken hearts. Many mothers today are sending their children off for their first day of kindergarten with tears. Tears that their children are growing up. We are not sending Kate to kindergarten today, with tears. Tears hoping our daughter gets the chance to grow up. So please continue to pray, pray that Kate gets this chance. A chance to grow up healthy. A chance to one day go to school. Thank you!" 



How He Loves

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One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands...




Sunday, August 9, 2009

South Dakota

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The days and nights pretty much ran together, but I wanted to write about some of my takeaways from the trip.  It was a long week in many ways, but it also went by very quickly.  The trip was fairly primitive - no showers, no cells, no computers...etc.  I loved being out in the middle of nowhere without the distractions or the busyness of city life.  Having been back for a little over a month now I have realized how different ministry is here at home.  How fast paced it is and how at times perfectionism creeps into it making it more of a show than ministry. 

Over the last month life has been moving at break-neck speed.  However, I think my biggest take away has been to let things be, they don't have to be perfect ... life goes on ... ministry goes on.  It is a struggle for me to not have everything just as it should be, but I'm growing, I'm learning, I'm being stretched in ways that I have never been stretched before ... and yet I am thankful for this reminder that its about the people ... simply loving on the people, not worrying about the programs, the stuff, having it all together ... its the people who matter.  And in the past month I have at times (many times to be honest) lost focus of that - yet in the end people and relationships are all that's left.

I am thankful for these reminders that God provides to step into another culture, another place, another ministry and be refreshed, reminded, and refocused. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Camp Photos

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Here is a small (and I do mean small considering I took 500+ pictures at camp!) sampling of some of the photos from Unleashed 2009.  The rest of the photos can be viewed by clicking here

Then go to the Studio 6.7 Collection and the Unleashed 2009 Set.








Friday, August 7, 2009

Ethiopia

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I have had a heart for Africa for many years now, especially after traveling to and ministering in South Africa in 2002.  I hope one day that God will allow me to return to this amazing continent, but for now I get to walk alongside my friends who have been led to adopt a baby girl from Ethiopia!  You can follow their story and get involved here on their blog!  www.longingforafrica.blogspot.com

Here's a video from a family who recently came home from Ethiopia...




Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kate

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Please continue to pray for Kate ... you can follow her story here - www.caringbridge.org/visit/mcraekate

She is in her first round of Chemo and it has caused sores in her stomach and mouth and high blood pressure.  Her hair is also beginning to come out, which has been something that she is concerned/fearful of.  Please pray for her and her parents - Aaron and Hollie.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cycling

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It's been a busy summer and I'm beginning to pay for being stuck inside my office for most of it! So, in an effort to get back in shape and begin working out I have decided to begin cycling.  I don't think I was ever meant to be a runner, so running just doesn't work for me - but cycling does!  I love it!  However, my bike has been in terrible condition for a long time and I took it this week to a friend for a tune-up ... well it was a little beyond fixing, so for a little more than he could have fixed my old bike for I got this ...


I took it for its first ride tonight and went about 3.5 miles around the block near where I live. While riding I realized that Indiana isn't as flat as it feels when you're driving a car!  You really notice all the inclines when you're on a bike!  But, it was a good ride and one that I hope to continue on a regular basis!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Twitter

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Feeling high-tech tonight!  I just joined twitter ... look for me on there!  @shannab11