Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why We Love Trunk-or-Treat

In similar style to Kim’s previous post, I thought it was only fitting that I write something about why we, the Dugans, love Trunk-or-Treat so much.

I have to admit that for the inaugural Trunk-or-Treat (which will be referred to as T-or-T going forward), we had no idea what to expect so I just covered the car in as many spider webs as I could find. We certainly did not want to be the only trunk with no decorations, but little did we know that would be just the beginning of things to come. T-or-T #2 brought much disappointment for us as, despite our dry ice special effects, we could not compete with the Dixons and their fabulously decorated RV. However, we refused to be discouraged and figured we just needed a little more creativity… so year #3 found our blue Civic transformed into a paper mache whale complete with a very realistic Jonah. This year, we were the judges, but didn’t want to miss out on the fun so the car was transformed into an Egyptian pyramid hit with the plagues. Well, a few of the plagues- flies, locusts, frogs, hail, and eventually with the sun’s cooperation, darkness. Plus we dressed up as pharaoh and his family.

I was feeling slightly guilty, like maybe we go overboard and our time and efforts could be better spent somewhere else, but then I found out what the VBS theme is this summer… EGYPT! The pyramid, plagues, and costumes can all be used again. God is so cool don’t you think?!

Here are some other favorite things from the Trunk-or-Treat:

- Zoe Womack doing the cake walk… every single round

- Dan getting lost in the box maze and having to come back out the entrance

- Having all my Sunday School kids run up to show me their


- All the decorated trunks- seriously, there are a lot of very creative people at our church

- All the great costumes, especially the ones that went along with their trunks

- The kids’ candy taking styles… by the handful, one piece after serious contemplation, or one piece based on what mom and dad tell them to pick

- The volunteers running the games, they looked to be having as much fun as the kids playing them

- The giant slide- I saw a lot of dads that were enjoying the slide more than their kids (pure joy on dad's face, pure panic on kid's face)

What a fun evening that could not have been pulled off without the help of each and every volunteer… the cake bakers, the station watchers, the set-up and take down crew, the trunk decorators, the hospitality folks, the candy donators, and everyone in between!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Retreat Favorites

Retreats are never really retreats when you have kids. We usually sleep less than usual and our schedules get out-of-whack. Nonetheless, we enjoyed a sweet togetherness this weekend that was most definitely restorative.

Here are some of my favorites:
*Watching children engage in worship (few handraisers out there)
*Michele Mollkoy's teaching, but especially her friendship, presence, and good wit
*Competitive zeal between Zoe Womack and Sam Mollkoy as Amos' caregivers
*Parachute games with the children
*Worship in Music, especially "Mighty to Save"
*Worship in Creation: feeding squirrels, sitting on rocks, the hum of silence
*Jenna's Fargo Hat
*Pine Valley's chocolate chip cookies (dude!)
*Multigenerational Conversations
*Illuminated star-filled sky
*Children tree-climbing and engulfed in the wonder of nature and play
*Meeting gazes and words with parents in similar life seasons
*The Jappe dance
*Breathing Space
*Prayer and Reflection
*Driving home to Eli chanting every word to his memory verse!

Family Devotionals

Tom Muehleman shares this devotion from Family Life Ministries:

We will not conceal them from their children, but tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD.

Psalm 78:4

Whenever the subject of family worship comes up, you may feel guilt at your failure in this area. I understand that. Few things seem harder to pull off or easier to be put off. But when you consider the impact this one commitment could make on your own children for a lifetime, what could be more important?

It doesn’t have to be tightly preplanned. Take five or ten minutes before school to read a devotional with your children. Schedule one night a week when you’ll all be home to read a story and Scripture, sing (or make a joyful noise) and have some outrageous fun. Watch for those opportunities to practice “sandbox theology,” turning your children’s everyday events into spiritual training moments.

Don’t miss this: Dad and Mom, your ultimate assignment as parents is to introduce your children to God; His Son, Jesus Christ; and His Word. It may be hard to start and a challenge to continue, but it will make a huge difference in how they finish.


Talk about what each of you can do to be helpful and encouraging to each other in getting family worship started or in keeping it going.


Pray for priorities to firm up in your life, for incidentals to be seen for the waste of time they are and for God’s Word to recapture each of your hearts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quietly Humming

In the contemplative,
coffee-filled quiet
of mornings still and alone,
I take up your hymn of glory,
the hum of life fresh awakening.

New ideas and old favorite thoughts,
questions that beg considering,
all gather to sit for a while, all stirring
to dip their ink ready fingers
in the palette of daybreak's becoming.

Into the morning of sleep heavy stars,
into the clamor of being and doing,
let me walk full ready for wonder
at the spectrum of what I will see and smell,
feel, touch, and hear

so that now and then, in a moment
of unforeseen gossamer hush,
on a wing, on a petal, on a shell,
on a leaf, should I catch a color winking
sun brilliant, rain glossy, waiting

for me to remember
your love for me,
our time together,
I may answer by
quietly humming.

--Kimberly M. King, RSCJ

Friday, May 15, 2009

Brimming with Thanks

Philippians 1:3-6
I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with you because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now....

This Sunday, May 17th, is our day of recognition for volunteers at church.  It felt both odd and very right that while preparing small tokens of appreciation for my volunteers this Sunday, a couple of volunteers helped me complete my plans. Those whom the gift was for, helped me prepare the gift.  

A younger me would have felt guilty about this, or maybe inadequate. But now I'm just grateful that I am part of a community bigger than myself. I am grateful that even my expressions of thanks are supplemented by those who invite and contribute to the appreciation. Paul knows this. Gospel partnership drips down into every crevice of our lives from sharing Jesus with our words to encouraging one another when we're likely to doubt or give up altogether. Who are the people in your life that every time you think of them conjure up a wellspring of thanks and goodness in you? People who have shared in life with you in the simple and complicated. People who have poured over ministry with you, lived out faith next to you, shepherded your kid alongside you, picked up the pieces during hard times for you.  

Even Jesus, God himself, knew and empowered the significance of partnership and friendship. God has always chose to be in relationship with and work alongside humans, even on our worst days.  So who am I to go at life alone?  I welcome the help in tangible and intangible gifts that cross my path each day.  

So here's to the volunteers, more accurately the partners and friends, who aid my own faith and ministry.  Those that believe in me and God's leadership through me, and also fill in all the gaps and areas of giftedness that I lack.  We share a big love, and I am honored to join it and receive it.  

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Releasing Rights & Jesus' Way

Zoo parking was fierce today.  It didn't occur to us that it is Spring Break and sunny and a Saturday.  After a lovely visit at the zoo, we were blocked in by two cars equally convinced they were first waiting for our spot.  We were at the end of the row and they both crawled close until our three vehicles were inches from one another.  Sharp words were spoken.  We stayed out of it and anticipated a battle, but alas one party gave in and angrily drove away.  

I've been thinking about rights lately.  What rights do I feel I have?  A right to be treated a certain away?  To opportunities or freedoms? To being happy? To the parking spot I called?  How does our country and context present us a new philosophy, spoken or unspoken, about rights.  Are these from God?

It's Palm Sunday weekend and I've been a little excitedly fixated by having a live donkey joining us at church in the morning. "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her.  Untie them and bring them to me" (Matthew 21:2). How striking, and embarrassing even, to imagine the King of kings trotting into Jerusalem on a baby donkey.  Certainly not the anticipate political king bringing judgement and warfare.  this was an act of peace; this was the ultimate release of rights.  This was love.   

It was hectic and emotionally-charged over the days of Passover under Roman rule. Jews gathered to celebrate the ancient story of their people's rescue by Yahweh.  It is in this time that Jesus enters.  A King who comes in peace, not war.  Common people threw down
their cloaks, bringing tree scraps and heartfuls of hope to spread on the ground he would trot over. Hosanna.  Save us Son of David.  Hosanna.  And He would save.  He would give up his right to live, the only human unmarred by sin with legitimate a claim.

It is with this sacrifice in mind that I consider our society, and my everyday life.  Certainly we have things to fight for -- justice, love, peace, life.  And we have much to surrender.  It's not only aspects of morality or speech, it's the invisible deities of control and independence and time that I struggle to lay down.  The concept of releasing rights or surrender gives Christ-followers a bad rap a lot of times. Of course, these criticisms point to a right's based agenda which permeates our culture.  Yet what is often unpacked is all that releasing rights to God invites: salvation beyond soul-saving, truth, inner peace, hospitality, clear-mindedness, rest, relational possibilities, clarity, hope, transformation, goodness, full and extraordinary living.  It's good but hard.  Right but hard.  Life-giving but hard.  We need Jesus to help us live in his Way.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is using a child's imagination to teach the Bible harmful?

Parents & Christian Educators: I'd love your perspective on this issue!  This article addresses the use of imagination as we impart knowledge to our young ones. The author is a strong advocate for using a child's natural creativity and propensity toward fantasy within the framework of Christian teaching, while others are not.

This morning, Eli's "Bob the Builder" team got into an argument.  Muck was not being kind to the others, especially Scoop.  Perhaps some may regard this as a 3-year-old having silly fun with their imagination.  And I agree.  I just also happen to believe that these are the life moments-no doubt based on imagination moreso in the early years, and reality as a child grows older-that invite critical lessons about God's love and following Him.  So did we have a theological discussion about these inanimate objects? Yes we did. I asked Eli to tell me the problem (which he had fabricated), and he shared all about the conflict in this group of friends, who started it, who was sad because of it.  We then talked about God, the kind of behavior God expects, and what options these friends have as a result. He determined the results in his play. Today, Eli shared that apologies were given and everyone was being kind together.  We've had similar situations where, sadly, Mater or Bob or even a cuddly teddy bear needed a time out and faced the consequences for their behavior.  Sometimes I bring biblical stories right up into these scenarios.  What is the penguin's name that was on the ark?  Oh, and their wife's name?  Oh, they had trouble walking up to the ark?  Who helped them?  Really, the dogs did?  That was kind.  Some educators find this dangerous territory.

"There is a group of teachers who feel quite strongly that children who are young and just hearing about the stories of the Bible should not simultaneously be exposed to fantasy characters...[They believe that] by mixing truth of the Bible with imaginary characters or stories a child runs the risk of thinking the Bible stories are therefore not true."

So this means Santa at Christmastime?  Moreover, this means that sweet book we have from the donkey's perspective, as he carried pregnant Mary into Bethlehem?  At FHPC, we utilize an evangelical, relevant, bible-based, experiential curriculum called FaithWeaver.  And it was our curriculum that came up recently in this very discussion!  Sunday School teachers (especially 1st/2nd) - you will recall teaching this story last month and the controversy it stirred. 

Here are some following excerpts for further thought, or just click on the link below and read the entire article.  Does the author go too far?  Is he right on?  Please comment on your perspective!

"FaithWeaver Sunday school curriculum...seeks to immerse children into the bible through the use of active and interactive methods. It contained a story the other Sunday that has sparked several heated exchanges with me and a variety of Sunday school teachers over a character named Freddie the Fish. The story of Jesus calling the disciples and telling them that he will make them “Fishers of men” is itself a very true and remarkable story. It contains, however, a metaphor of fishing that is apt for those who heard Jesus speak to them—they were after all fishermen. But to tell the story with some sense of identification for a young child, our editors have seen fit to include a made-up character named Freddie the fish. A teacher yesterday felt that to include this character in a real story was, and I quote, “to confuse what is real and true about the bible and is a first-step in an evil direction.” 

"The reality is, we CONSTANTLY introduce imagination during the study of scripture…it is just a slippery slope that often we do not recognize because we’ve always done it. Take, for instance, the ubiquitous flannel-graph board. We “picture” Jesus but clearly it is a paper representation of Christ, not the “real” thing! So are children thus deceived into thinking that Jesus is not “real?” Or take Veggie Tales characters (which proponents of the reality of scripture would avoid with young children) or the old Lutheran show, Davey and Goliath or even Adventures In Odyssey or the McGee & Me series. These all portray unreal characters to help illuminate the bible. But you don’t have to stop there. Throughout history, art has been attacked for it’s idolatry since it is a “graven image” and therefore Jews didn’t use animals or people in their mosaics, only plants and vegetables. During the Renaissance there was a clear uproar over the Sistine Chapel’s art that Michelangelo painstakingly created."

"...I find that children are highly elastic in their imagination! They can stride comfortably between the real and the make believe. It is only with children who’ve been traumatized by what is REAL who revert to seclusion within fantasy that is pathological. But this is not the norm! It is the exception. And candidly, do we think that the REALITY of scripture, it’s TRUTHFULNESS alone causes people to wholly accept it as real? To state that fiction or make-believe is so harmful it to open ourselves up to the opposite and equal contradiction…that the whole truth convinces!"

"...If Jesus spoke in parables which themselves were fiction, what does that say about the Bible? It is truth, but it is not ALL REAL. It is a representation of what is real and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, instruction and correction in righteousness, certainly. And it contains truth. But to think that the stories of scripture—in order to be accepted–have to be literally true finds deep contradiction in those pesky parables which clearly are FICTIONAL STORIES!!!"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Never Stop Growing

We constantly talk about our children's growth, but what about ours?  How are we being ever-transformed by God and inwardly changed?  This article by Keri Wyatt Kent addresses our need to grow and be filled by God so we may pour into the lives entrusted to us.  

Never Stop Growing
Keri Wyatt Kent 
posted 2/06/2009Never Stop Growing

My neighbor to the east has at least a dozen ancient fir trees on his property. They're taller than the house, though still not as tall as the willows along the fence line. While their quiet dark green blends in with the other trees in summer, they are conspicuous in winter, especially in the early morning, silhouetted black against the lightening sky.

I sip coffee and look out my kitchen window at their familiar, imposing outlines. How many years have I stood in this kitchen, sipping coffee early in the morning, looking out at those same trees? It feels comforting and yet it brings a certain restlessness. When does routine turn into rut?

My son, who it seems yesterday was the baby on my hip, folds his lanky frame into a chair to eat his breakfast. The view from my window is the same, but here in my house my children are changing before my eyes into teenagers. This keeps things interesting.

As they grow and change, I wonder—am I? Am I growing and shifting, learning enough to keep up with them? I see parenting as a complex arrangement, at least part of which is the spiritual discipling of my son and daughter. I cannot give away what I don't have. Am I filled up enough to pour into them? Though they have grown taller than me, I realize I must be mindful to nurture and notice the changes.

As we do ministry, it sometimes feels like the same scene is played out again and again. We may become weary of doing the good work that God has called us to do. We may feel we are wearing a rut in the floor of the nursery, having walked that same path for so long. We may tire of bounding hormones and interpersonal drama that marks junior high ministry. Our steadfastness can begin to feel like stuckness.

And yet, we get to witness the unfolding of persons and to play a role in that. We see these children growing, learning. Sometimes we watch as they make mistakes or seem to wander from the truth we've so diligently taught them. While this is painful, we must remember our limitations and that God is ultimately in control.

We are called to help children grow closer to God. But our effectiveness is limited when we attend only to their growth and ignore our own progress. While we may not be changing as dramatically as the children we lead, God did not create us to stagnate. That's the reason for this column: to encourage you to care for your own soul, to take time to nurture your relationship with God so that you can continue to grow. Our change may not be as dramatic, but we must continue to seek God, to allow him to transform our spirits. When we stop growing, we die.

The pines are not going anywhere and yet they are very much alive. If they weren't, they would no longer be here. In the ten years I've been living in this house, those trees have grown taller—so slowly that I haven't noticed it. They've provided shade, oxygen, beauty, and of course shelter for squirrels and birds. While I cannot see it, there is plenty of activity—sap flowing, photosynthesis, and so on—that keeps the trees green and vibrant even in the coldest winter. The trees are steadfast, yet growing. Although I take them for granted, I'm blessed by their presence.

The children you minister to or are raising in your home are counting on you to remain steadfast, to be dependable. They are blessed by your presence—even if they don't say so. If you're to continue to minister to them, you must stay alive and continue to grow. The activity may be mostly on the inside. Any time you invest in your own spiritual growth—times of prayer, of study, of solitude, of rest—will benefit not just you but the people you lead. This is what will keep you steadfast and growing.

Keri Wyatt Kent is a speaker, freelance writer and author of six books, including Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friends Forever

I was five and ill-prepared for Kindergarten.  I was the kid that had a special desk by the teacher. It was a desk of sympathy and solitude because I cried so much and was painfully frightened to be around the other children. Except Christine. Christine befriended me day one. She held my hand when my mother had to leave, and she did not stop.  

Over two decades later (and then some), she is still a beloved and treasured soulmate. I am so grateful for the longevity, depth and benevolence bred in our long friendship.  It is with great tenderness that I watch our kiddos, just a few months apart in age, learn to share, care, and be friends too.  

Tomorrow I will enjoy high tea with Stine for her birthday.  I remember when we would remark in birthday cards in high school how amazing it was we had been friends, for like, 11 years.  We've stopped counting now.  We're just so glad to be together.  Proverbs says that a friend loves at all times and sticks closer than a brother (or in my case, sister). Now that I have children of my own, I pray for the friendships that will enter their lives.  I know there will be many formative people in their lives and I pray our children are influenced by nurturing, constant, kind friends who journey with them though thick and thin, showing them first hand Jesus' love. And I pray they become these kinds of friends too.

Here's to the Stines!  

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Next Sunday, January 25th is the last Sunday of the month, which means FAMJAM time! FAMJAM will now be at 9am in the Fellowship Hall.  At 8:30am however, for you earlier risers, there will be supervised playground time for kids, as well as nursery care, and coffee & bagels for adults in FH.  Also, kids PreK-5th will enjoy the monthly Celebration Sunday during our 10am service.  We are excited to connect with you in 2009, and enjoy family life together.