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                        

December Orange Slices

Hi Parents!

     It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  And my prayer this year is that you find ways to sloooooow things down a bit for your family and intentionally find ways to help your kids - and you - focus on the reason we celebrate... Father God's gift to us in Jesus, Emmanuel.... God with us. 
     Pinterest, Facebook, TV commercials, and even friends and family will tell you how to pull off the perfect holiday this year. Not that there's anything wrong with putting a little merry in your Christmas. But don't let the outside pressures define your family celebration of the Greatest Gift ever. 
     Any Sunday in December that your kids join us in Kids@First, we have a special FAMILY GIZMO for you to take home... a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party-in-a-bag!  That's what's in the photo above.   It's just one way to put the focus on Jesus instead of ____________ (fill in the blank) this Christmas. 
     Now is a great time to begin to pray for your friends who might be far from God... and invite them to join you at FCC.  Whether it's a Sunday morning, our Christmas Eve family service, or our exciting "New Year's Eve - Family Style"!  Choose one, or more, and invite another family to join you (maybe even offer to pick them up on your way!) and watch what God will do!
     God gave us the greatest gift in His Son because He loves us that much.  Go share His love this Christmas!
 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

                                             Jan Hanson
                                 Kids & Families Director
                        
                       

November Orange Slices

 

Hi Parents!

    Here we go.  We're creeping into that time of year.  Christmas decorations lining the store shelves, invitations to holiday parties already arriving, the start of planning menus and family visits, trying to think up creative ideas to keep kids occupied during school breaks, and that one word on every parent's lips... busy.  If you want this year to be different, to step out from under what presses in and demands your focus of energy and time, you have to have a plan in place.  We'd like to help you with that through one word.  SERVING.
    The dictionary definition of serving is this: to render assistance; be of use; help.  I like the part that says "be of use".  What if we looked at serving as divine appointments created by God for us to be of use by Him in someone else's life.  It can make it exciting as you begin to be on the lookout for ways to be used by God!  And when you're leading your kids by serving alongside them, it's a bonus burst!  Not only are you helping your family shift the focus off yourselves and onto someone else, but it's one of the best ways to help your kids develop an authentic faith that includes loving others. 
     Usually families spend Thanksgiving sharing what they're thankful for.... as we should!  There are so many reasons to be thankful to Father God!  But what if... you also spent some time with your kids making plans to be used by God by serving together this Christmas season.  And why just this time of year?  Why not make some plans for 2017 while you're at it.
     Look for the resources we will have for your family on Sunday mornings in November for a "Countdown to Christmas" with serving ideas to get you started.  We'll also be including invitations for you to share with your friends to invite them to our family Christmas Eve service and our "New Year's Eve - Family Style!" big event coming up!  Because inviting people to hear more about God's love for them is always a great way to "be of use" to Him! 
     Jesus said, "... the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)  And that's what Christmas really is all about.
   
 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

Jan Hanson
    Kids & Families Director   

Orange Slices

Hi Parents!

     I'm not sure what I'm most thankful for now that fall is here... pumpkin flavors, leaves turning gorgeous colors, cooler air on the way, or just a few moments to catch my breath.  How about you?  Maybe you're just thankful you have new school routines almost worked out.  Or you're looking forward to our Kids Night In/Parents Night Out coming up... woo hoo!  
     Fall always seems like a waiting season for me.  As a parent, fall feels a bit like pushing your kid off on their bike for their first solo ride... and then you run after them for a bit, and then ... you stand back and wait. Similarly, school has started, you make sure your kids gets rolling, and then you step back (don't forget to breathe!) and then wait... until the next thing.  Because if you're like most parents, you live life jumping from one peak moment or event to the next. And don't look now, but there have already been Christmas items appearing on store shelves!
     But what if.  What if while we're waiting for the next big thing for your family, you intentionally put yourself in a time out. No, not the lock yourself in the bathroom kind of time out.  We have not one, but TWO time outs for parents coming up! 
     One is a Parents Night Out!  You need that, don't you?  We encourage you to work on a relationship.. with your spouse, other adult family members, your friends... or just a quiet evening working on your relationship with Father God.  You choose, we take care of your kids, and everybody wins.  See below for all the details!
     The second time out is one in which you can connect with other parents, pray with and for each other, discover exactly what is going on in the phase of life your kids are in, learn more about making every week count, and hear our hopes and dreams for this next generation and our plans to partner with you.  It's called Parent Cafe.  If you have an elementary age kid - or a younger age kid and you want to discover what's coming up in the next phase - check out the info below and then come join me.  I promise the coffee will be hot, the conversation will be lively, and the company will be exceptional... because you'll be there!  (And watch for the Parent Cafe: Preschool Phase coming up in January!)
     Now, go plan your time out!
 

Praying for you and cheering you on,

                                             Jan Hanson
                                 Kids & Families Director