September Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

In my family, it's doesn't get much better than homemade, fresh baked goodies.  And when my boys were little, it seemed like I baked a lot... and often for other people.  There was a time there when bringing some type of dessert was part of the commitment I'd made to whatever it was I was involved in. And in this one particular season, I was volunteering in several ministry areas at church, had a part-time job, was on the school parent/faculty team, volunteering in the boys' classrooms, and in a women's Bible study. And where I went, baked goodies went.  But I'll never forget the times while baking and the boys would come running into the kitchen.  (I'm sure they inherited from me that sweets detector gene!) They'd always ask "Who are you making that for?" And sometimes when I'd answer, they'd smile so big and jump around all crazy like. And all I'd say was, "You! I'm making them for you!"

You see, I often answered that question with someone else's name. And at those times, they'd just say "Oh" and go back to what they were doing. Now, making baked goods for someone is a kind gesture and in and of itself is not a bad thing. So it took a few times of their happy dances until I realized God was trying to show me something that didn't really have to do with cupcakes or cookies. It dawned on me that I was answering that it was for someone other than them way more often. Which meant I had way more things going on than just my family. Was I maybe, just maybe, a little too over-committed with other things?

The quote by Jim Burns above reads, "The soul of a family is at risk when they are over-committed. When families become over-committed, they become unconnected." God used some cookies to make me realize I was over-committed with my time and energy.

Over-commitment takes many shapes and looks different for every family. It can even be over-commitment when your kids are involved with you in something or you think you're just trying to help them have the best childhood ever. You have to define it for your own family. But if it's true that over-commitment can lead to families becoming unconnected, then my prayer for you, early on as the new school year has just begun, is this... that you will take a "cookie inventory"... or whatever it is for you ... and see where God desires to help you create some margin in your life as parents to be better connected as a family. And if you're already doing great in this area, pass on some tips to another parent. We can all use a little help.

Remember, it's just a phase ... so don't miss it.
Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director

August Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

It's coming quick ... back to school time.  As you squeeze out those last few days of family vacations, day trips, pool time, play dates, late nights, and more, be sure you take time to begin thinking ahead.  Don't be caught off guard.  Not just with making sure you have all the right school supplies stuffed into your kids' backpacks on that first day, but making plans in advance for new routines and schedules.  

There's nothing quite as jarring as waking up on that first day back to school, is there?  Even when you're expecting it, planning for it and think you're ready for it ... you usually aren't.  And I mean for parents!  That's why I loved tips like in the graphic above while raising our boys.  While spontaneity is great fun in the summer months, not so much when it comes time for the school bell.  

Whether you've been with us at FCC on Sundays this summer whenever you've been in town, or whether you've been away every weekend for adventures or just rest, we hope your family will join us for two fun opportunities -- our end of summer parties for the kids on August 12 and our fall kickoff/move up/open house for parents to join their kids on August 19!  All the info is detailed below.  Both will be a lot of fun... say goodbye to one phase (age group/grade) and hello to another phase. 


Because your kids are growing and changing ... as if you didn't notice.  Each new phase is also a discovery time for parents to learn how to help their kids grow their faith, know Jesus more, and how they fit into God's Big Story.  Kids@First is a great partner for you in the adventure called parenting.  Another new school year ... let's do this.


Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director

June Orange Slices

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School's out for summer!
 

Hi Parents!

Stash those backpacks and lunchboxes!  Bust out the swimsuits and pool noodles!  It's summer!  Not officially on the calendar until June 21st, but as far as families count, when school's out, it has begun!

I think one of the trickiest things to do as a parent in summer is to find a good balance between fun, active days and complete idleness.  I tried my best to let my kids be kids in the summer, while keeping up some routines like chores, reading, and time spent with God.  Some summers involved family road trips or plane trips, others just a few 3 day weekend excursions or several day trips.  But I sure loved the less structured, more relaxed days. Oh, and popsicles... the freezer was always stocked!

One thing that was always important to us as a family was making sure Sunday mornings were spent in community at church (for our kids' sake and ours), followed by a picnic lunch - sometimes at a park, sometimes in the backyard, sometimes fully made by our boys ... we had some interesting meals, especially when they decided huge ice cream sundaes were lunch!  That's what you get when you put kids in charge.

Making memories.  Making what matters most matter most.  I encourage you to start your week with us at FCC every Sunday you're in town, putting a family emphasis on praising Father God, connecting with others, and discovering ways God can direct your summer steps.  Not only will you be investing in your kids' faith, but you'll be making a deposit in yours as well. Rather than feeling depleted, you'll be ... amped!  

And don't forget ... 1 worship service on Sundays now at 10:00!  I can't wait to see your family!  


Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director

May Orange Slides

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Hi Parents!

One of my favorite Sundays of the year is happening this Sunday, May 6!  But with the new addition to it we're making it just might become my favorite favorite Sunday!  Before you think I've lost it, check this out...

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Not only are several families with babies participating in the faith milestone of dedicating their little ones to to the Lord and asking for our church's support, we're also inviting EVERY FAMILY with kids from baby through 18 years to participate in a special way ... that includes YOU!

Whether you've dedicated your child previously or not, we are planning a time for our church to literally circle around your family in prayer to remind you, and all of us, that we're for you and want to partner with you so the next generation would know Jesus. 

This Sunday will be all ages together in worship (no separate kids' environments) so that we can celebrate together God's love, faithfulness and grace extended to everyone, from younger to older and everyone in between.  For your littles you are welcome to bring a quiet toy or two for them to be comfy.  

I can't wait to see you!   


Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director

April Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

Regardless if your to-do list is written down, on your phone, or in your head, no doubt it's long. Do you have a special formula to determine what gets priority on your list?  I mean, all things on that list are important or you wouldn't have added them.  But do all things have the same value or urgency? 

Just before writing this note to you, I got every single thing crossed off my list.  Woohoo!!  That means I can freely go have fun on our FCC family hike with you on Saturday, celebrate Jesus with you on Sunday, head out with my husband Brad on vacation to visit my Mom, and having finished up all that a new month with Kids@First entails I know that everything is ready for the Sunday in April while I'm away... and wonderfully covered by our amazing Coaches and Small Group Leaders, I might add.

I almost crossed one item off my list because it was getting a little sketchy if I'd finish it all.  I knew she'd understand.  But God prompted me, and I'm so glad He reminded me to make her a priority!  I meet with a young mom in our church, mentoring her through a great book study called "Living In Jesus", laughing, praying, sharing life, and drinking way too much coffee.  If we had to wait a few weeks till I returned from my trip, it would have been ok.  But then God reminded me of the word "priority".  I chose to bump her up on the list even though there were still quite a few other things still left to do.  But it comes down to what matters most.  And you know what?  Somehow it all got done.  It. Is. Finished.

Those same words are painted across the cross in bright red ... It. Is. Finished.  Jesus paid it all... all the punishment for our sins, the stripes for our healing, the empty tomb for the reminder of our life with Him in heaven one day.  So simple. So profound. So life changing. 

Love the quote above ... "100 years from now the only thing that will matter is someone's relationship with God."  What are you placing as high priority for your to-do list as a parent that have to do with what matters most in your kids' lives?  It's not easy, but oh so worth it... because it's a matter of eternity.

Let's keep the celebration of Easter going... it wasn't just a day, it's a relationship!  Jesus is alive!

Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director

March Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

What images or words pop into your mind when you think about the word PEACE and what it means for your family in your home?  It's not a trick question and "peace in your family and home" is not an oxymoron.  I'm looking forward to March and our K-5th grade Life App ... peace!  And I'm guessing if you're the owner of an elementary kid, you will be, too!  The definition of peace we'll be helping them discover is this:  proving you care more about each other than winning an argument.  If your family is like most, the arguments often begin when a rule is broken or not followed the way you intended it to be.  Yes, rules and boundaries are necessary in parenting, but....

In the book "Parenting Beyond Your Capacity" (highly recommended - buy it here!) there is a chapter titled "Fight for the Heart".  In it, the authors give a warning about the danger of passing down rules to your kids without the context of a loving relationship.  They write, "Too often, parents think their primary goal is to get their children to follow the rules. One of the greatest gfits parents can give to their children is simply to provide that parents can be trusted over the long haul."  Trust can be broken when a parent "disciplines in anger, uses words that communicate rejections, ignore their kids' voices, don't try to understand who their kids really are, break core promises, take things too personally."  Ouch.  

I'm so thankful that Father God fights for our hearts, aren't you?  That regardless of our attitude or actions (following the rules?), while we were still sinners, He reached through time and gave us Jesus, His only Son to save the world, not condemn the world (John 3:16-17).  Love in action and a demonstration of peace with arms wide open to have a personal relationship with each and every one of us. 

Think back to the last time you fought WITH your kids.  Now think what it might look like to fight FOR your kids. 

Looking forward to celebrating Easter with your family and the peace Jesus brought for us!  I'll be praying for you and your peace.


Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director
 

February Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

No doubt you've heard of the great resource "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.  If not check it out HERE.  (By the by, it's a really good thing to discover about your kids!) What it reminds me of in this month of all things hearts and glitter and roses and chocolates is that LOVE is a verb.  It's also not involuntary, like breathing is.  We can't wait on our emotions to move us to words and action of love, but we can let our words and actions move us to follow through to feel love.  Love is more outside-in than inside-out.

I was able to hear Bob Goff speak at a conference a few years ago.  He's a quirky, amazing man of faith who is most known for his book, "Love Does".  Check out his 5 day Love Does Challenge ... subtitled "how to put love in action and change the world one person at a time". 

I find this all true in my relationship with Father God, too.  I don't always feel like singing Him a song, or talking with - and listening to - Him, or doing something for Him.  If I wait till I feel it, there will be a lot of misses. It's no different than waiting for one day in February to roll around before giving your kids a hug and letting them know you love them... you wouldn't do that.  Demonstrating our love to God and others is really Part Two, kind of like breathing out.  Part One is being open to an ongoing receiving of God's love for us... the collective "us", yes, but more importantly, personally, uniquely for us... the breathing in part of love.  In fact, it has to start there.  We can't pass on His love to our kids if we don't already possess it ourselves. 

God loved. God gave. We believe. We receive.  Love at it's best for us. 

How will you receive God's love that He has especially for you this week... and what will you do to turn that love into action?  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Sometimes it's that simple. 


Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director

January Orange Slices

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What if I told you that 2018 could be the best year yet for your family? 

When the time comes to say goodbye to one year and hello to a new one, often I'm so done with the old one, I can't wait for the new.  But sometimes I feel like tiptoeing into the new year because I don't know, and can't begin to imagine, what lies ahead.  But then I think back to some growing-up memories.

I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, so most Christmases and Januarys involved snow and lots of it.  As a kid, one of my favorite things to do right after a fresh snowfall was to bundle up (yes, I was one of those kids who waddled when they walked due to so many layers!) and head out in the yard to make footprints in the snow.  The deeper the snow, the more challenging it was.  I'd make paths and patterns as I walked around.  I could create any design because it was a clean, untouched area.  I'd stomp my boots around and make a path and then stand back and look at my progress.  And then trudge some more in a new direction.  But I struggled when the snow was up higher than my boots. It was hard going.  My brother and I would play a game where one person makes the path and the other person follows and has to step in the same footprints.  Sometimes it was fun to be the one making the path, but it was definitely much easier being the one who followed, especially when the going got tough. 

Every new year is a wide open space - fresh, untouched, with lots of possibilities. And we get to go through a new year in one of two ways... as the one making the path or the one following. 

When it comes to faith and our relationship with Father God, if we commit to Him first each day, it's like following the path He's already made for us.  He'll show us the best path, patterns and design that He created just for us.  And when the going gets hard, to know that Jesus has already made a way for us and just asks us to follow Him ... that's grace. 

Proverbs 3:5-6 says " Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

Can 2018 be your best year yet?  Come join us on Sundays in January and place your family on the path with us.   Recharge, make a commitment, and watch this!  (I just told you 3 of our Sunday morning environment themes ... keep reading below!)


Praying for you and cheering you on,
Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director

December Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

Merry Almost Christmas!  The countdown is on. And if you're like most parents, your stress level is already rising. Can I share something with you  that I discovered as a parent at Christmas time? I didn't hear this until my youngest son was in middle school, but I still do it every year. 

Here it is: Even though your kids might have a Christmas wish list longer than their Christmas stocking, what they really want most for Christmas is... YOU. Your time, your attention, your focus. 

While we didn't have Pinterest or Facebook when I was parenting, as a Mom there was still plenty of pressure to make Christmas "perfect". I thought my job was to make the Christmas season the most fun, the most memorable, the most decorated, the most exciting... and in the midst of all that we often lost our tempers, our joy, our family, and more importantly, we lost Jesus. 

The game changer for me was reading a book called "Unplug the Christmas Machine". Just the name alone might make you say "Yes!!" Here's a synopsis of the book which centers around unplugging from the commercial, extravagant "Christmas" and instead plugging in to the right Source... Jesus and why we celebrate in the first place.

Here's my biggest take away and tip, something I still do every Christmas.... Ask each family member this question: If we could only have/do ONE tradition this year (old or new) what would you choose? And then ONLY do those... but they have to be done together as family!  We find that for some it's the same favorite every year and for some they think up something new every year! It's not easy the first year. You have to be willing to let go of some things and embrace others. But it's so worth it.  You'll find there are things you've been doing for years that nobody misses! And you'll maybe even find some new family traditions. 

Another great resource is Advent Conspiracy. There's a whole section of resources for families on how to take back Christmas for Jesus... to worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. 

I've included a bunch more resources below... pick and choose what's of interest to you, share them with friends, and experiment this year. Share back with me what works for you, because it can help others too!

By exchanging the worldview of the perfect Christmas with focusing on the truth of the Gospel and why and how Jesus came as God's greatest gift to us - the best given we've been given even though we didn't even know we needed Him - your family can have a MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

Join us on December 3, 10 & 17 for our regular 8:45/10:30 services and kids' environments.  Then December 24 let's celebrate together the newborn King!  Because in the words of my buddy, Linus, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!"          
   
Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director                     

November Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

Poor November.  In a way, it seems like the forgotten month.  Halloween and mega sugar rushes are over and all the shelves in the stores are already filled up with all things Christmas.  But if you're not ready to decorate with lights and candy canes just yet (and if you are we need to talk!), why not use the full month of November to help instill something oh so important in your kids lives. Hey, probably in your own life too.  It's called GRATITUDE. 

In fact, I wanted to share a link (see below) to a great article from Parent Cue called "A Gratitude Adjustment".  Need one?  We probably all do.  In fact, by taking the time each year to focus on others rather than ourselves, you'll be helping your kids focus on what matters most.  By why stop at just once a year?  Why not make it a monthly thing?  Or weekly?  Or daily?   I'd love for you to share your ideas too!

There's an exciting way that your family can extend gratitude to God for what He's done for you by partnering with the whole FCC family in November and December to make a big difference in the lives of our Napa neighbors.  If you join us on Sunday, November 19 at 8:45 or 10:30 for FCC's 160th anniversary intergenerational celebration (details below), you'll hear all about it!  If you can't make it, the following Sundays you'll hear about it too.  But you really should come on the 19th because that in itself will be a big 'ole celebration of gratitude to God for His faithfulness to our church.  

We even think gratitude is so important for kids to experience at all ages that we're spending every November Sunday having fun discovering more about it!  You'll find a sneak peek below!

A gratitude adjustment ... read it and I promise that you won't want to leave November in the dust. 

And parents, thank YOU for entrusting Kids@First with the partnership we have with you in helping your kids know Jesus and their part in God's Big Story! See you Sunday!
 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director
                      

October Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

It's that time of year.....  colored leaves and lots of delicious fall flavored coffees and teas. And the color ORANGE everywhere!  A perfect time for me to remind you why we love orange at FCC!

God designed parents to be their kids spiritual leaders, primarily because of the relationship factor. No one has more influence in a kid's life than their parents.  We assign FAMILY a RED HEART because it reminds us of love... unconditional parental love.  And God's plan is for parents to share His love and His character with their kids.  But let's face it, it's easier said than done.

God also has a plan for the church.  So we assign CHURCH a YELLOW LIGHT, shining the light of Jesus in our church, in our community and in the world.  It's a light that highlights community and belonging.  We've got the resources and tools for parents ready and waiting.

RED + YELLOW = ORANGE ... it's family and church together making an impact in the lives of the next generation. If we're on parallel paths, doing our own thing but not partnering together, it also means we're not combining our influences in kids' lives.  And that's a miss.

We provide high quality environments and fun activities every Sunday morning for kids - from babies to preschool to elementary grades.  The best resources we have though are the 50+ volunteers who have said YES to the next generation.  These are adults and teens who love Jesus and care about kids. And they want to partner with you by beginning a conversation on Sunday that you can, with the take-home cues we provide, continue the conversation during the week.  Because what happens at home is more important than what happens at church.  Yes, you read that right. 

In order for kids to grow an every day authentic faith, parents have to be intentional at home in conversations with matching actions.  Is it always easy?  Well, no!  That's why it's important to decide to consistently provide a community of faith for your kids, and yourself, to get the conversation started and the tools you need. 

We know you have a lot of options of things to do on Sunday mornings.  And many of them are good options. Is that decision easier or harder than which fall flavored coffee or tea to order?!  Because that can be a tough one!  Make choices to widen the circle of influence in your kids' lives.  We hope to be part of your faith community and growing relationship with God this Sunday!

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director                     

September Orange Slices

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Hi Parents!

I remember the theme song of the mornings that you're probably going through this week... The New School Year Shuffle.  And it doesn't always end on a happy note, right?  Trying to get your kids awake, dressed, breakfasted, with all the right supplies out the door on time for school is a dance that you've yet to master.  And then the second verse happens when they're back home and it's time for dinner, homework and new bedtime routines. If your kid would just stop dawdling, or asking for an extra bowl of cereal, or misplacing their shoes, or, or, or ... then you wouldn't be singing that tune with such a growl or that high pitched tone, right?!  Hey, don't be too hard on yourself ... you still have 9 more months to practice! 

One of the five important principles we encourage parents to lean into is this .... "Fight for the Heart".  The quote above says it all ... sometimes it's easy to forget that you can win the argument and force the right behavior but lose the heart in the process.

So what if they go to school just this once in their jeans and PJ top because it has a picture of Batman?  Does it matter much if the only lunch they agree to take without a meltdown today includes only foods that are yellow? Can your kid leave their lightsaber on the dining room table so they're on time this once?  And if you don't notice their hair isn't brushed till you look at them in the rearview mirror, and they don't allow you to do the lick and stick pat down before they jump out of the car, is that ok? 

Use that quote as a filter and you'll know the answer every time. Fight for their heart and watch the new dance you boogie to in the morning and sway to at night.

By the way... as I think about our son Cody -- who is now 26 and getting married next month! -- I'm so thankful to Father God that I let him wear his PJ top to school on occasion, tried my best to not to fight it when he requested only yellow food for a season, learned to not stress when he left his lightsaber on the table, and just smiled when he ducked at every Mom-spit attempt to make his hair stay down.  Because Brad and I fought for his heart, he's ready to pour into his bride-to-be Ashley's heart now ... and we get to be part of the next chapter in their journey.

Parenting isn't easy, but it's so worth it when you fight right.  Fight for their hearts.

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director                     

August Orange Slices

Hi Parents!

Isn't it funny how just going out to buy school supplies, getting your kids to try on clothes from last year to see if they'll still fit, beginning to plan the coordinating of drop off and pick up all signal a new rhythm is about to begin.  Just when your family probably got into the rhythm and routines of summer... here comes the start of school and different rhythms you'll need to reinstate or begin new. 

The quote above is a great reminder .... what parents choose to include as a rhythm (or a repetitive routine) in their family is what kids see as what is valued and important.  What are some of the rhythms of your family that are nonnegotiable?  Dinner with the whole family around the table each night?  Vacation to visit grandparents every summer?  Wipe your feet before you come in the house?  No games/TV/computer till homework is done?

What about the things that help both you and your kids know God more... what's part of your regular family rhythm ... Reading the Bible or a Bible storybook together before bedtime?  Praying together, and not just before meals?  Spending time thanking God for the big and small things of life?  Serving God by helping others?  Helping your kids regularly connect in their Sunday small groups?  

The exact opposite is true, too, you know.  The negative rhythms that are hard to break and the things you know you should but don't put into your family rhythm are just as telling to kids. 

The start of a new school year is an opportunity to press the restart button.  Before the rush of school begins this year, I encourage you to take a little time out, and imagine what you want the end of the school year to look like -- both with general family rhythms and those related to your kids' (and your) faith.  What new rhythms -  or old rhythms that you may have let slip - can you include in this new school year. All it takes is one new thing, one modified thing, one little step to make a big difference.

Need ideas?  I'd love to connect with you ... call or email and let's chat!  Oh, and be sure to come to Orange Day with your kids on August 20 at 8:45 or 10:30!  We can get the conversation started there!  You can do this, parents! 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director
                        
                       

July Orange Slices

Hi Parents!

We're quickly approaching the halfway point of summer... How did that happen?  I'm not sure if you're an "I love summer!" kind of parent or a "Can't wait till summer's over" kind of parent, but either way... It is what it is! There are ways you can make summer work for you, especially when it comes to being a faith leader to your kids. 

In fact, below I've included some links to some faith based parenting blogs that you might want to click and read. If you're like I was when I was raising my sons, you want all the resources you can get, and then prayerfully sift through what works for your family.  There are enough Pinterest fails out there... why set yourself up for a faith family fail?!  Do what works.  But try something.  Don't let summer slip by without being intentional when it comes to what matters most.  

Be sure to join us this Sunday, July 2 for Intergenerational Worship... The whole family together for worship!  And then check out the other stuff below for what's going on, coming up and ways to spur on your family's faith at FCC!

You know, every Sunday it's my honor and joy to watch the connections made with your kids and people who love Jesus, care about kids and want to provide a place for them to belong.  It's a big deal to us... Because it's a big deal to Jesus!  So we partner with parents to build faith in the next generation. See you Sunday?

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director  

June Orange Slices

Hi Parents!

Ready or not ... it's almost summer!  And there's so much summerific goodness happening for Kids@First, I can't wait!  Here's just a few things ...

FamNite Live is this Sunday night, June 4!  Looking forward to flinging the doors open for you and lots of community families for fun and connecting and all things Gadgets & Gizmos!  If you haven't registered and want to join us, do it quick!  It's a free event (see info below) but because we're serving you pizza, we need a head count. And if you're coming, don't forget:  DOORS OPEN/CHECK IN AT 4:45 AND SHOW STARTS AT 5 SHARP!

And this Sunday morning kicks off our summer series for both elementary and preschoolers of Gadgets & Gizmos... Uniquely Wired & Wonderfully Made!  Can't wait for your kids' Small Group Leaders to help your kids see that they are creative because our God who made them and loves them is creative. Yes, we are made in His image... mind boggling, isn't it?!  

But wait, there's more!  Check out all the info below for you and your family!

Hey, can I treat you to an iced coffee or tea or ice cream and connect with you this summer?  I'd love to learn more about you and your family, and how FCC can best help your kids, and you, in your next steps of faith!  I can hear that iced mocha calling my name!  Join me?

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director                       

May Orange Slices

Hi Parents!

Grand faith adventures ... did you catch that in the quote above?  Even though I like adventures, I prefer to know how the plan will unfold.  Like where I'm going, what the journey will be like, how to avoid any pitfalls along the way, how long it will take to arrive ... you get the point. 

When it comes to guiding our kids in a grand faith adventure, it means going through things together with them that may not be what we planned.  But it's also when and how we can best demonstrate our trust in God.  His plans for our kids are way bigger than anything we can even imagine.  God designated parents to be kids' spiritual leaders, to help them navigate life, phase by phase, so they can discover their purpose and place in God's Big Story and, as the quote says, have fulfillment so they can truly live. 

Parents, the good news is you're not alone.  Our Kids@First volunteers love Jesus and care about kids. We call them Small Group Leaders for a purpose.  They're not "teaching" your kids the Bible.  They're partnering with you, creating relationships with your kids and saying the same things you are.  Two combined influences in kids' lives, with one end in mind, leading them into a growing relationship with Jesus ... a grand faith adventure.

Be sure to check out what we have planned for your family coming up.  Join us in May on Sunday mornings for our parenting sermon series -- invite another parent who might need some encouragement and direction.  Bring your kids to our summer kickoff on June 4, a shared family experience calledFamNite Live for dinner and lots of laughs together, all free.  Again, bring along another family to join you!  And if your 5th grader will be heading off to middle school in the fall, don't miss Family Cafe to help make it a great transition.

The grand faith adventure can be a great group experience.  Whatcha think?!

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director                       

April Orange Slices

Hi Parents!

Next steps.  When you have a little one who is just learning to walk, it's amazing to watch their discovery process.  They quickly learn that if they put one chubby little foot in front of the next, over and over, it propels them forward into a whole new world, all through baby steps.  Sometimes, they see how far away Mom or Dad is and think they can't get from here to there and they give up, plop down and shed a few tears.  Sometimes they think they can make it in a few steps really fast, but then take a tumble head first. But then they climb back up and begin again. And have you seen how fast and sure they go when they're holding your hand!  Learning to walk at first takes a while to get to where they want to be.  But forward motion will happen by taking one next step, and a next, and a next.  And one day they go from toddler to walker!  And then, look out - a runner!

As Christians, our relationship with Jesus is often called our "faith walk".  And like most people, you've probably done some one step at a time trusting in God.  And some falling down. You get back up, and put one chubby foot in front of another. Maybe you want to be further along but you're not.  And maybe there are tears.  Maybe you've stopped walking.  Or gotten off the path for one reason or another.  You might have no idea what the next step is or how to take it.  And your next step is most likely not what someone else's is, so don't be looking at them, comparing.

Want some good news? Any time is a great time to take a next step.

I recently heard this:  progress = effort + direction. If you desire progress in your relationship with Jesus, but you're not sure what your next step is, or know what it is but not sure how to take it... would you like a little help?  How about for your kids and their walk with Jesus?  How about beginning with a conversation.... coffee, lunch or another time, or even just by email.  Let me know.  I enjoy watching your family go from learning to walk to running into the open arms of Father God... on e step at a time.

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
Kids & Families Director
     

March Orange Slices

 
 
 
 
 

Hi Parents!

Daily routines can be great for kids, helping to form good habits.  Routines also help kids know what to expect and creates security.  Doing the same things in the same order and way can be beneficial with a lot of things ... from getting ready for school in the morning, to doing homework, to bedtime. 

But for parents, it's easy to get lost in the monotonous day to day routines with kids. Sometimes it feels like you just hit the pillow at night and it's time to get up and rolling again.  Making sure your kids eat their veggies, brush their teeth, set up good study habits, have playtime with friends... and on and on. It's hard to not wonder sometimes, "Am I doing this right?  Is it making a difference? Is anything I'm saying or doing helping my child grow?", especially if you can't see the growth or change.  And especially when it comes to their relationship with God and their faith life.

Many years ago, when I knew even less about growing flowers in my yard than I do now, I had one plant that no matter what I did to care for it, it never grew.  It came with the house when we moved in.  I didn't know what it was let alone what the flowers would look like. The plant was alive - it was green and healthy looking, but no flowers, no new growth.  I watered it and it soaked it up.  I added some plant food.  But it never got any taller, never budded.  I wondered if I should keep tending it or just stop.  It was a little frustrating.  But I kept at it.  All of a sudden one day... boom!  I went outside and there were bright red flowers exploding all over that little plant.  It wasn't until later I learned that flowers bloom at different times in different parts of the country.  Who knew?

While kids and flowers are very different, they're also kinda the same.  In parenting, some days are hard.  Other days are really hard.  You can't always see results to know if what you're tending in your kids' lives is making a difference.  Routines, while good, can get in the way of being able to step back, watch and wait, really look. I love the quote above ... "Being a good parent is hard. In the short term, there's not a lot of glory to it. But if anything is worth the effort, it's your children."  

Keep at it, parents!  Keep planting seeds of faith, watering them, caring for them.  We're here every Sunday to partner with you.  And get ready.... there will be those days when... boom!  You'll get to experience something amazing in the lives of your kids!

 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

                                             Jan Hanson
                                 Kids & Families Director                       

 


                       

February Orange Slices

 

                         

Hi Parents!

It's February already ... the month of LOVE!  Try walking into any store and not bump into pink & red hearts, candy, flowers and giant stuffed animals.  Where did we go off course thinking that buying things = love.  Or that one particular day out of 365 is "the" day to show love.  And why do we toss around the word love so freely, as in "I love chocolate!"   Hmmmm. 

I may not know the answers to those questions, but I do know this.... God was the first to show us love. If we say we love God, it's only because He said first that He loved us.  His love was demonstrated when He sent His Son Jesus to the cross ... for us.  If you doubt God's love for you, just think about the cross. 

When we say we love God, then we should also love others... because God loves us.  When my kids were little I remember singing with them a fun song that went "God's love is like a boomerang... you give it away, it comes back again!"  It's also kind of like a game of tag, but love has to include tag backs! 

Here's another incredible truth.... God IS love!  In other words, His character is love, it's who He is.  He can't not extend His love to us.  Regardless.  We can't do anything to make Him love us any less... or any more.  Amazing. 

Your day (or your week or month) might not be going the way you had hoped.  But there's one thing you can count on.  God loves you.  And He loves your kids even more than you do.  Take some time this month to read 1 John 4:7-21.  Then go play a game of tag with your kids to explain God's love... with tag backs!
 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

                                             Jan Hanson
                                 Kids & Families Director
                        


January Orange Slices

 

                         

Hi Parents!

And just like that, it's a new year!  Time is a funny thing, isn't it?  We tend to move through our lives measuring various things based on how much or little time we have allotted to it.  Some days we want time to speed up and other days we want it to slow down. There are days we can't wait till they're over, and others that we want to last forever.  But we each get 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (sorry, next leap year isn't till 2020!).

So at the start of a new year, maybe you're assessing... what will you do with your days in 2017?  As a parent, it's hard.  There are no doubt ways you want to invest in and develop your own physical, emotional and spiritual self in the new year.  And you know it's important to help your kids do that as well. With only so many hours in a day and days in a year, what comes first? What do you drop? What's best to focus on? 

May I suggest.... start with your spiritual life.  And even more specific, gratitude for Father God's never-ending love for you and His presence.  There's a saying: "What if you awoke tomorrow morning with only the things you thanked God for today? Would that change how you prayed today?"

One of the easiest ways to pray, and to teach your kids to pray, is to go throughout the regular rhythm of your days -- the ups and downs, the ordinary and the extraordinary -- with a heart and mind focused on gratitude to God.  In fact, it's His idea for parents to teach and impress His love and character on their children in this way ...


"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Deuteronomy 6:4-7

When you're at home eating dinner, playing a game, or bathing the kids.  When you're walking the dog, walking to school, or riding in the car.  When you're getting your kids all snuggled in at bedtime.  When the alarm clock goes off and you're prodding them out of bed in the morning.  The regular rhythms of a family's life. 

May God's daily provision, protection and favor for your family in the new year become daily prayers of gratitude as time marches on. 

 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

                                             Jan Hanson
                                 Kids & Families Director