Packing for a Life Long Journey

My family went on our first road trip with our 5 month old son to visit my grandparents in Missouri last week for Thanksgiving. If you have ever traveled with a baby, then you know just how much preparation, packing and planning is required to make the trip a success.

I am not the “planner” in our family, so packing was a challenge for me to think ahead to what I we would all need. In fact we had to stop at H-E-B in Waco to pick up some things I forgot to bring along.

I was talking with my husband about thinking ahead and planning ahead is an area of growth for me. It reminded me of what April encouraged the new parents at baby dedication to begin with the end in mind. How many of us don’t plan or think ahead when we are packing our children’s hearts and minds for the journey of life? I know it is not something I always think about, but I know it is worth the effort because Proverbs 22:6 says ““Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.”

I can think of three things I want to pack for my son.

The first is scripture. I want to teach my son to memorize scripture. King David wrote “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”  Psalms‬ ‭119:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬
The second is worship. I want my son to know who God is and learn why and how to worship Him. Paul tells us “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans‬ ‭12:1‬ NLT

The last is prayer. I want to teach my son that he has a direct connection to his Father in Heaven. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

May I begin to open my heart to the Holy Spirit as He guides my parenting to pack my son’s heart with all he will need in this life. I am thankful for the volunteers who make GPK a great place to partner with my husband and I as our son packs his heart for his lifelong journey.

 

Alyssa Leal

Inclusion Ministry Coordinator

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Viruses or Broken Bones?

Whether it’s viruses or broken bones, the first day of kindergarten or first day of college, wondering if we’re being “too easy” or “too harsh” in discipline, or [fill in the blank], parenting worries seem endless!  It doesn’t matter if you’re the parent of a brand-new baby or of a grown adult, it seems that our minds may always be full of the what-ifs and, “Am I doing this thing right?!”

As a parent of four, I often find myself questioning my abilities as a mom and sometimes believing that I’m not good enough–don’t we all?  I wonder if I am “training my children in the way they should go,” as Proverbs leads me.  I wonder if I am giving them what they need.  I worry if I read the Bible or pray with them enough.  I fear that I am falling short.  I worry that I’m completely messing them up!

But wait, see all those doubts?  They all focus on my abilities.  Here’s the bad news: alone, I am notgood enough.  But the good news is there is hope for those of us with life in Christ!  Luckily, we have the very best parent alongside us–Father God is our strength and our guide!  When we invite Him into our day, trust His promises, and put our cares at His feet, that’s called “faith” and I’ve heard it can move mountains!  No worry is too big for Him.  When doubt sneaks in, or fear and worry grip me, I remind myself of promises from the Word that extinguish those flaming darts.  I ask myself, “Am I believing a lie? (i.e., “I’m not good enough for this!”) What is true?  What truth does the Word say about this?”  Here is some truth for us today:

  • Psalm 121:2,8 says, “My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth…The Lordwill keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”
  • Psalm 91:1-2 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.’”
  • Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Now look back at each promise.  See how they compare to my doubts?  They don’t leave me by myself; He is the bridge between every one of my worries to a perfect solution and peace.  Aren’t you glad that He cares for us enough to be that bridge?  I sure am.

Delayna WilkinsChildcare Coordinator

FACING CHALLENGES

Seven years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease. I was told that I would have to be constantly monitored by doctors and would be on medication for the rest of my life. I would have to live with pain and fatigue and I would be susceptible to infections and other diseases. On top of it all, I was raising two boys on my own. But God had a plan for me.

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness usually results in you going through the five stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. With two young boys depending on me, I had the motivation to move from denial to acceptance quickly. Denial didn’t last long because I am the kind of person that faces challenges head on. I would go through my anger and bargaining alone at night while the kids slept. Depression never felt like an option because showing I was strong kept my kids strong. Finally, I would get to acceptance that our lives would be changed forever and that was God’s plan. His plan was to make me a stronger woman of faith and for me to raise children in relationship with Him.

Challenges, big or small, are something that we all go through. The thing to remember is that we cannot face these challenges alone. Our challenges are God’s too and we have to have faith and trust in Him to get us through them. God is bigger than anything we will face in life and we are never alone. When we pull ourselves close to God, He’s going to pull close to us.

Bernice Torres

1st-5th grade Teacher Coordinator

Discern the Distraction

One year ago, my life looked entirely different. I was a happily retired, stay at home wife and mom. I enjoyed mid-morning coffee or afternoon playdates with friends, random trips to visit family, and picnic lunches with my favorite little man. I didn’t have much of a schedule; had the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted.

Today, I am a single mom, full time employee, in part time ministry, both mom and dad, financial provider, spiritual leader, chef, housekeeper, soccer mom and teacher. I’m overwhelmed.

In a world of instant gratification, social media, Netflix, internet, fast food restaurants, meetings, obligations, deadlines, commitments, what we don’t take in is just as important as what we do take in. We have a wealth of information, and a poverty of attention. Is multitasking beneficial, or do we lose efficiency?

Similar to the ancient forms of European torture tactics, I feel like I’m pulled in four different directions, all at the same time. But what gets the attention? How do we choose what is urgent verses what is immediate when we have divided obligations?

That’s where I’m beginning to understand we have to discern the distraction. In order to keep my sanity, and be the best version of me for my son, my boss, my ministry, my friends, myself; I’ve adapted a “less is more” mentality, by choice. What I’m learning is the demands of the world will forever pull us in many different directions, but in efforts to be whole, we must first make a place for peace. A peace that passes all understanding. A peace that only comes by spending time in silence with God and listening. 1 Cor 14:33 states, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”

Too often we find ourselves identifying with Martha, caught up in the details of life, stressed, worried, unable to relax. But Mary understands when to pursue the pull, to take the time to be still, to refresh in Jesus’ presence. I challenge all of us to do the same.

Jessyca Hilar

1st-5th Grade Shepherd Coordinator

God’s Plan

This past weekend we heard a great message by Pastor Ryan about how we go through different seasons in our life.  Some of those seasons we look back on and say, “Wow that was fun, I miss that” (like being newly married and no kids).  And some seasons we might look back on and say, “Ouch, that was a doozy” (like when two of our children broke bones within weeks of each other). 
The more of these seasons that I go through the more I feel like God is teaching and showing me His heart so that I may move and grow with Him.  
There is one season that I look back on where I see God’s hands so clearly.  When Grace Point west first opened, I was asked to coordinate the birth through fifth grade Kids Ministry.  I was unsure in myself and my abilities but I felt that God had a plan.   I did not know what that plan was but I began the task at hand to fill our volunteer charts, I looked at my service to the ministry as something that I had to do and I was in control of and very quickly God began to show me that it was His plan and His to control that I was just invited to come along side and be His hands and feet. 
To this day, when I have to look at the Sunday Morning Schedule, I will pray  “God this is your schedule, who shall you invite to join us.”  
-Debbie Rice 
Birth – Kinder Shepherd and Teacher Coordinator

God Provides

About a month and a half ago I received a phone call from Grace Point asking me to lead GLS 2017 Registration at Medical. I asked what it entailed and what I would be responsible for. Seemed pretty easy and straight-forward. There were already some volunteers in place that had done this in years past, so I thought to myself, yeah I can totally do this and said , Yes!

There were a total of 3 leader meetings, one which I had already missed because it was before I took on the task and another that was scheduled while I was on vacation. The Event Coordinator said not to worry and that she would fill me in so I was like okay cool, I got this.

I read the material I was given but being that I had never done GLS before I was a little confused. I sent out emails & texts to my team and only 2 people out of the team responded. I will admit I was getting discouraged a bit because here I was doing something I’d never done before and my team was not communicating back with me.

I kept saying Lord what now? Fast forward to the week of GLS, I had a lady come to the Kids Building Sunday Morning so I could do a real quick training with her. It was chaotic!! Not the training but my Sunday mornings are usually crazy- in a good way. I went over the app and what to do with this lady and she went her way. Wednesday was prep day for GLS. I had 2 people trained with the app and still hadn’t heard from the others. I needed atleast 5 people to scan the QR code and 5 to hand out the book/name tag plus. At this point I was freaking out! A LOT!! I was feeling overwhelmed and felt like quitting. I stepped out the building to call my husband and he said to me You aren’t a quitter so put your big girl panties on and get on with it. I said I know I won’t quit cause that’s not me but Jayme might fire me from my volunteer position. We laughed & I prayed. In that moment the verse found in Joshua 1: 9 came to mind– “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and

courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. “

Not even 10 minutes later I had all the help I was needing and then some. God is amazing!!

Thursday morning bright and early I had 15 volunteers ready to work. The entire check-in process and registration solutions ran smoothly. My team was awesome and they all pulled together to get things done.

At the end of the day, one of my volunteers came up to me and said, Thank you for allowing me to be on your team and said I was a great Lead and that she wants to be on my team next year again. She let me know that she was impressed by how I handled the “craziness” of Sunday morning yet still was able to give her the training and undivided attention she needed. Those words from this lady meant so much to me because I truly felt like I was all over the place. God tested my patience and reminded me that I needed to just put everything in HIS hands and that HE would provide & HE did just that.

Jessica S. Knott

Birth – Kinder Shepherd & Rotation Teacher Coordinator

Back to School

Back to School is upon us! For Grace Point Kids Ministry that means we are starting a new school year, too. Kids will move into new classes with new leaders, and we’ll set goals for kids spiritual next steps. Kids will grow in their walk with Christ and some kids will take steps to begin a relationship with God. It’s fun to imagine what God will do in the life of kids during this next year. These are the reasons we do Kids ministry!

This life change doesn’t just happen. God has given us amazing leaders who build relationships with kids and show them what Jesus looks like. I’m so grateful for a team that passionately serves and gives of their time and energy to carry out the mission.

Back to school is when many families begin to get back to church, and we meet a lot of new families who are looking for a church home. More volunteers will be needed to lead these families. If you’ve been feeling God calling you to get involved, say yes! We would love to help you find the right place where your gifts can be used to lead common kids to uncommon life in Jesus! If you have questions about serving, you can email april.rhines@gracepoint.org or you can fill out the serving form here.

 

April Rhines

Children’s Pastor

Countdown

9 weeks

1 day

10 hours

15 minutes

53 seconds

 

It seems like just yesterday I brought my first baby girl home from the hospital. Now, she is ready to embark on her first day as a senior in highschool and in just a few months turn the big “18.” I have known this day was coming for quite some time, but after watching her become so adult-like over the summer with a new job, driving and inclination toward being responsible and making wise decisions, I am reminded of God’s favor in making me her mother.

 

As I reflect my on both of my daughters’ childhood, I recall all the emotions that come with celebrating the firsts and mourning the lasts. Parenthood is just as exhausting as it is rewarding. All the loads of laundry, making meals, chaffering to this activity and to that event seemed never ending.  During their younger years it could be quite a task to get them to church on time and in their classroom so that I could serve and then attempt to attend service as a family.

 

I am amazingly blessed to have served in Grace Point Kids children’s ministry for almost 8 years and gifted the opportunity to experience firsts and lasts with families. As we prepare to move our little kindergartners to “big church” and upstairs with the big kids, I hear the excitement from the children about different classrooms and going to service with their new journals they received at kinder graduation.

 

Looking back, having my littles in “big church” with me provided challenges of keeping them occupied while trying to hear and really absorb the sermon. Activity pages, coloring sheets and even some screen time playing a game on mom’s cell phone were part of service. (I fondly remember my youngest starting a video and forgetting to turn down the volume in the middle of service! Oops!) As they grew older, I realized that even though they seemed like they were not paying attention, they heard and understood plenty. They watched me worship, sang with me, scribbled on paper while I took notes and even would smile when a joke came from the stage. Soon, they were asking questions, reading on their own and applying Biblical principles in their own social circles.

 

The countdown continues until my oldest is 18 and soon off on her own. I truly treasure each giggle, tear, decision and trial. God has been faithful is using life lessons to grow them closer to him and I am grateful to Him for the wonderful young ladies they have become. Even though the future holds new life adventures and challenges, I am comforted that my Heavenly Father loves them even more than I do.  

 

If you’re exhausted, questioning your decisions or wondering about your child’s spiritual welfare, I want to encourage you. Stay strong, God’s got this!

 

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

 

Victoria Shipley

1- 5th Grade Shepherd and Teacher Coordinator

The Big Change

Two months ago my life changed drastically, I got married, I moved Cities, I changed jobs, I changed church, and I left my calling and faith back home. Looking 3 months back I thought I was mentally and emotionally prepared for all that was to come, I thought about it constantly since I was asked by just about everyone who knew the big day was coming up. It wasn’t until one week after the move happened that I thought to myself oh no what did I do. I became accustomed to the same city and home life that I had been in for about 24 years and now it was time for change. That week came with a mind of its own thinking the worst of situations and entertaining the thought process that this wasn’t what God wanted for me.

Between attending and working I was involved with the same church for a total of 8 years. I grew spiritually because of who I had become in that church and the support I had around me. I was called to work with children, I can relate to them in just about any way I was called to love and comfort them and most importantly tell them about Jesus. However I felt burned out and I felt like it was time for a different season In my life, I dealt with so much I was tired and when I left work/church I didn’t have any energy to speak life into children outside of my work place. I didn’t understand I thought maybe my calling was being taken away.

Before moving my only worry was that My fiance and myself at the time had not found a home church yet.  At times I even thought that I had left God there and He hadn’t followed me, leaving the fact that everything that had happened in the last 6 months had been all the work of God. Becoming the administrative assistant to Childhood Ministry at GracePoint was all work of God, with His perfect timing I was sent at just the right time. How could I think that all of this was not orchestrated by God, I was and am a child of God why would the enemy put that in my head.

God has given us an amazing home church, I got a job at this great church. God has given us great counsel but it worried me that I wasn’t going to have that connection with children. I started noticing that my love for them started rising again, whenever I am asked to watch someone’s little ones I do it with joy. I see children at the grocery store and I want to speak life into them and comfort them. I started seeing God’s plan again, I love that I still get to work in children’s ministry in some way because I still feel like I am making a difference, but I am also super motivated to be involved with children not only at work.

Now I see what God’s plan was He took me out of what I always knew to make me uncomfortable my trust in Him has grown so much in the past year, my husband and I are getting more and more involved and I see the calling God had for both of us at GracePoint. I am thankful that God knows how to make us uncomfortable before shifting us into a different season. I am glad I went through the transition I did because now I trust God not the place I am in. I am so full of joy to be a part of such a great community of people that are making a difference in the lives of others.

 

Angie Marks

Administrative Assistant to Childhood Ministry

Balance

Balance

As the end of summer is now in sight, I find myself looking back and wondering where the time went. Like every year I found myself looking forward to summer with anticipation that the busyness of the school year will come to an end. Summer brings the promise of pool parties, relaxing, and finally getting caught up on all those things that I didn’t have time for during the school year. Somehow this summer, like each summer before it, has failed to deliver the precious balance that my heart desires.

Anyone who knows me, understands that I try to stay organized. As a wife and mother of three it’s a matter of necessity. I have a planner that I keep up to date with everything from homework projects, school assemblies, ball practices, tournaments, PTA events, you name it. It’s all in my planner and to the casual observer it may seem a bit ridiculous.

School may be over, and summer is here, yet I’m just as busy as ever. Work continues, meals still need to be made, laundry seems to multiply, and then you throw in all the summer activities that have replaced the school year ones. Now my days are full with family visits, trips to the zoo, play dates, company picnics, more family visiting, amusement parks, and the list goes on.

But what does God say about balance? Surely he wants me to have it, right? Throughout scripture there are references to work, patience, and rest. There aren’t any verses that actually talk about balance. This brought me to the realization that my idea of balance was not the same as God’s. What IS found in Scripture is the idea of seasons. Some seasons require work, some of them require less work but more patience. Some seasons require taking on more and some seasons we are required to let go. In these different seasons, God brings His balance to all things.

As a mom, I may never find the balance that I think I need. But I can find joy in the season of being a mom. I know the day is coming when my planner will no longer be filled with doctor appointments, recitals, sleepovers, and classroom holiday parties. I will move into the season that requires me to watch as my children go off and make their own lives. This current season will be over and I know I will miss it. Rather than chasing the dream of balance, I will rejoice in the season that God has given me. He has given me a family that needs me and that is a wonderful feeling.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV

 

Kelly LaJoie

Special Events Director