get done was more often won-over by the gummy smile and two big, brown eyes that captivated my heart, attention, and time. My time and attention were focused exactly where they needed to be. Needless to say, the garden was quite neglected, and I didn’t get to prune my roses, tend to the other plants, or rake the leaves and pine needles before the early snow flew. I didn’t think much of it over the winter. You know: out of sight, out of mind.
Then, Spring rolled around. I was looking out our kitchen window at my rose garden, wondering when I would begin to see the revival of our roses. Much to my disappointment, as the yard began to green and buds appeared on some of our other plants, there was still nothing from the roses. Tiny leaves began to form on my hydrangea. One of our bigger trees began to pop with little white flowers. Finally, about a week ago, I began to see the change and growth on some of my roses. I wasn’t feeling much patience for my roses, and I almost pulled them out. They began to grow on a timing all their own. I thought to myself, “Isn’t it funny how we place expectations on things that we truly have little control over?”
I often think our lives are much the same. While I may hold expectations for how or when I think our lives should be blooming, I’ve found much comfort and reassurance to realize that I’m a small piece of something bigger. God has a plan for my life, greater than the scope of what I can see or even understand, and on timing I don’t get to choose. I just have to say, “Yes, God,” with an open mind and an open heart. When I think about seasons where I’ve experienced tangible growth, it’s been after seasons of change and challenges. I hope that whatever season you find yourself in, you give yourself grace and patience and lean into God’s plan, because you will grow and bloom in His perfect time!
It’s graduation season, and I’ve been thinking a lot about that time in my own life, and how it was one of those seasons full of change and growth. It’s been a joy to walk with our seniors as they navigate this challenging and exciting season. I hope you will join us this weekend as we hear reflections from three seniors and that you’ll be encouraged and inspired by their testimonies. Let’s pour out our Love1st mission on our students, especially those about to begin new adventures! See you Sunday!
In His Name, Kierstie
First question: Why did the Children and Family Committee design this position?
The deep and wide answer to that question is: Continuity. Providing continuity to our children, families, and volunteers is a key element to the success of the Children and Family Ministry Vision Statement:
A staffed teacher provides the thread of continuity through all the components of the program, including the procedures for presenting curriculum and the more vital aspect of relationship building. When children (and volunteers) can trust the routines and teaching structures to be consistent, they can relax and be more open to engaging with content and discussions, thereby enjoying and learning more. Teaching the stories and lessons of Jesus Christ to our children is certainly a worthy goal for Sunday School, but sharing the love and grace of Jesus Christ through caring and authentic relationships is the primary intention for creating an employed position. Good, supportive relationships are built on trust and grow in a reliable environment. The continuity of a staffed teacher offers the foundation for such a trust be established for our children, their parents and our valued volunteers.
Second question: Why did I feel called to apply?
Early Childhood Education was the career from which I retired three years ago, so my lifelong endeavor points me toward placing a high value on children’s first instructional experiences. I was employed with NIC Head Start for 27 years; serving children and parents as a pre-K teacher and home visitor for 13 years, and then moving into administration, where my role was to oversee the educational services which included providing direct support to the teaching teams. I share this background information so that our parents of Pre-K to 1st grade children can feel confident in my teaching experience and skills.
Yet, what I truly hope they come to learn about me is that I find it is a joy to use and share God’s gifts to connect around Christ’s abundantly crazy love with our FPC children, their families and those who volunteer for this amazing ministry.
Other things to know about me:
Third question: How could an interested volunteer get in on this action?
There are a couple ways to learn more about the children’s ministry or how to connect to volunteer:
working in social services: the gang kids, the addicts, the homeless, the mentally ill – all sorts of labels, but much more importantly, all sorts of people – each of them a child of God.
When Pastor McLane asked that I consider leading the Community Outreach Committee, I didn’t hesitate, as I really wanted to use my experience working in the nonprofit world to help raise awareness in our church about the different issues that our community members face. I truly believe that if you get to know the person and can move past the label, you can reach out to them in love – Love First.
Out of this calling, our committee created “Coffeehouse Conversations.” A gathering that helps to facilitate the whole getting-to-know-a-person-as-a-person thing. Designed to shine a light on those (perhaps less fortunate), this series of events will give people a chance to tell their stories, educate our congregation about issues in our town, and allow for conversations to be held. Our first Conversation was held on May 1st. It featured a presentation on mental health, followed by a panel of locals, each with “skin in the game.” It was a great success!
Our next event will be May 23rd, when our gym will turn into a poverty simulation. The following is from Bev Moss, who went through this experience last year: “I thought I understood the challenges of the ALICE population here in Coeur d’Alene. I thought I understood that people live paycheck to paycheck and any unexpected expense is a challenge. I thought I had developed empathy for this population. But all that went out the window when I tried to live a week in someone else’s shoes and experience the frustration, angst, and desperation when I couldn’t make things work, no matter how hard I tried!!
I lived a week in the life of a single person with no dependents who had been laid off from a hospitality job, was going to NIC to get some new skills, and was receiving unemployment compensation. I had a hard time cashing my unemployment check (who knew a bank wouldn’t cash your check unless you open a checking account?). I could only pay part of my rent. I found out I hadn’t registered correctly at NIC and, when I finally did, the class I wanted was full. I pawned my computer for a meager amount to help pay the rent and then couldn’t afford to get it back. I forgot to pay my electrical bill, and my lights were shut off. At the end of the 5-day simulation, I was practically in tears, and this was not even my own life!”
We still need participants for our Poverty Simulation – so please sign up if you have not already. There will be sheets available after services on Sunday. This is a national program being hosted by one of our Mission Partners, Community Action Partnership.
Other Coffeehouse Conversation activities will include: a July event which will feature disability awareness, where you will have the opportunity to navigate through a portable obstacle course in a wheelchair to see what it’s like for those without a choice; an August presentation on homelessness; and a series of suicide awareness activities, including having the very first “First Pres Team” to do the Suicide Awareness walk in September.
I really believe that if those who feel stigmatized in our community are given the chance to feel God’s love from our congregation, it will be transformative for all involved. I am thankful every day for our church and the wonderful, accepting people I have met here. I have yet to meet anyone in our church who feels differently. I am honored to be an Elder, and I am driven to use my passion and life experiences to reach those in need.
Let brotherly love continue.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
In His Name, Donna
welcomed me, demonstrated love, kindness, and patience, all while showing strength and humility. These women are the mothers of my life and will be on my mind and in my heart this Mother’s Day.
While searching for inspiration, I found a blog that spoke to celebrating Mother’s Day, which focused on other mothers — casual mother figures: “People in our lives that don’t fit the mum role but come through for us with support, advice, and love when we need it most. Some are blood-related, some are assigned to us, and others happen to just find themselves in our lives at the right place and right time.”
The blog goes on to say: “It’s impossible to categorize and pinpoint all the people that have 'mothered' us over the years. There is the friend that brings you food when you’re sick, the neighbor who watched you as a kid, a friend’s mom who embraces her kid’s friends as her own. These women hold special places in our lives and hearts for whatever selfless acts they perform to make us feel cared for and cherished.”
I like to think of these women as angels, assigned by God, knowingly or not. I want to thank and honor these women not just on Mother’s Day but every day. They helped me become the woman, sister, friend, wife, mother that I am today.
1 Corinthians 16:14 — Let all that you do be done in love.
In His Name, Janet
When I was younger, I thought it was morbid for folks to read obituaries. And I could see no reason why anyone would go to a funeral. My rationale was that I’d just as soon remember them when they were still alive. Why did old people do that?
Well, now that I’m classified as one of the “old people,” I think I understand. We’re at that time of our lives when we think about God’s plan for our eternal life and reflect on what contributions, if any, we’ve left in this path we’ve trod. Have we created any lasting legacies? Did we do some good things for our little piece of the world? Have we lived a life of which our families can be proud?
Recently, longtime church member Larry Penney passed away. I thought I knew Larry, sometimes directly from interactions with him and sometimes from his wife, Jane. But, in his obituary, I learned much more about him. In addition to his medical career, he loved visiting national parks across the country. I also learned that he was a master gardener for orchards. At his funeral, I heard his sons tell how they would complain when they were young that he’d let people pay him for his services in eggs, bread, and produce, thinking they were ripping-off their dad. It wasn’t until later in life that the sons realized that this was one of Larry’s ways of treating his patients respectfully, knowing they were paying for his medical services with what they were able. It was also his way of living-out his Christian faith.
Obituaries and funerals often teach or reaffirm for me what kind of life I should be living so that Christ is seen through my behavior and actions. And, of course, these rites of passage are a way to pay honor to the deceased: yes, they were loved on Earth and made a difference here. Reading about their lives and hearing their stories helps spread an understanding to those of us who may not have even known them that they impacted the world, even if in just a small corner of it.
As a broken, sinful person, I pray that I continue learning lessons from those who have passed into God’s kingdom and that I can leave this world having positively contributed to it.
Your friend in Christ,
Our staff is voluntold each week and with grace they share their thoughts.