Handing Over the Keys

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” – Psalm 56:3
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Key Blog 123There is nothing more frightening than adding your teenage driver to your insurance policy except for handing over the keys for that first solo drive. My oldest recently got her license and her first job all within the same week. These are two major life events that are sure to cause stress for any mother; stack them up back to back and we have the main ingredients for a nice little nervous breakdown cocktail!

There comes a point in every mother’s journey when she is no longer in control. A point where we hand our child over to the world and pray for God to be there every single second we cannot. When watching your 16-year-old driving away is a tear-blurred vision of that precious kindergartner getting on the school bus for the first time, we must allow God to hold us up. 

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me….“Psalm 28:7

After several reminders to do not text or talk on the phone while driving, be sure to let us know you have arrived and a quick prayer for safety, off she went. One of the longest half-hours of my life was waiting for her confirmation of reaching her destination safely. Focusing on anything else in the few hours she was gone was basically pointless as I knew my mind wouldn’t rest easy until she pulled back in the driveway once more. I kept silently repeating the first scripture that ever captured my heart:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:33-34

Although my worries were not about tomorrow and were very much in the here and now, I was able to settle down with the simple reminder that there is no need for me to worry. I strive daily to do what God wants of me; to do his will, and therefore I wholeheartedly believe he’s got my back. I needed a few moments to remind myself to trust in him and relax. Sure enough, my baby girl made it back home safe and sound and my prayers turned to praises.

Just another day in my journey doing my best to fully rely on God.

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I want to hear from you!

How did you feel when your teenager drove away for the first time?

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 **This blog is based on my own personal research, thoughts and opinions. If your opinions differ than mine then we can agree to disagree, no negative comments needed. If you appreciate the message in anyway, then please feel free to comment, like, and share with others. **
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Bully Blah!

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” – Matthew 7:12
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BullyingScut Farkus used to be the image that would come to mind when I heard the term, bully. You know, the redheaded, coonskin-cap wearing bully from The Christmas Story. I used to hear the word bully and immediately chuckle with the image of Ralphie, Flick and Schwartz leaving little Randy behind as they ran from Farkus and his toady. Sadly, recent events have brought new images of bullying to mind. In the past few months, I have experienced bullying from many different angles. Honestly, at first I was quite baffled that we have such an up and rising problem with bullying in the small community where I live and surrounding areas. I have heard about elementary girls being cornered, best friends of over ten years turned public enemies and even my own child has come to me in tears after being grabbed and called names.

We all know that bullying isn’t a new issue. I think about the physical and emotional bullying that  Jesus endured during his last hours on Earth.

“The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ And they said many other insulting things to him.” – Luke 22:63-65

We could even go as far back to Cain and Abel.

“Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” – Genesis 4:2-8

To me, this passage summarizes the source of bullying; feeling rejected, inferior, under par or longing to be accepted. Sometimes when folks feel so terrible about themselves or their life in general, the outlet becomes bullying. I truly believe by making others feel bad, they make themselves feel better in a small, misunderstood way.

Sadly, not long ago, it was brought to my attention that one of my own children was being a bully. Of course I was crushed that my child would behave this way. In our home, we truly do enforce treating others nicely and showing God’s love. My children know that bullying is not acceptable and so we had no choice but to show tough love and discipline him. With an offense this serious, numerous punishments were given. However, the first and foremost was that humbling and humiliating experience of calling the child who was bullied and apologizing to him and his parents. Admitting you are wrong and asking for forgiveness is tough for anyone to do and I think exceptionally so for a small child who is still trying to understand the meaning. Upon further investigation, we discovered the bullying was occurring because another child was behaving the same way and ultimately, it was a matter of picking sides. I am sure this also is a frequent circumstance; join the bully or choose to be bullied.

TracksWe all know the problem exists. We may even understand why it occurs. My question is, how can we stop it? I am sure we all have our own opinions and I am positive there are experts out there who promise to have the answers. My opinion; it begins at home. Parents, step it up and know what your child is doing. Talk to others often about how they behave when you aren’t around. It isn’t fun to hear bad things about your children, trust me, this I know, but it is better to know if something is going on and nip it in the bud! Lead by example and show God’s love. Correct bully-like behaviors in your child and don’t ignore the problem. We have all heard on the news too many times when a victim of bullying can handle no more and takes drastic measures to end the problem themselves; sadly, usually by taking their own life. The expression ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is ever so true since we all cannot be with our kids all the time. There are several sites listed below with loads of info to help with bullying no matter what side of the tracks you are on, check it out and share if you know someone who could use the help.

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StopBullying.gov

BullyHelp.org

Helping Kids Deal with Bulllies

Deal with a Bully and Overcome Bullying

Cyber Bully Help

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I want to hear from you!

Have you, your child or someone you know suffered from bullying or been the bully? If you feel your testimony may help others, please share it in the comments below. Please do not be specific with names and locations. Thank you!

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 **This blog is based on my own personal research, thoughts and opinions. If your opinions differ than mine then we can agree to disagree, no negative comments needed. If you appreciate the message in anyway, then please feel free to comment, like, and share with others. **
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Blessings

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”John 10:10
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529114_10150673235523740_2060332602_nI haven’t always considered myself blessed. There were many dark years where I struggled in so many areas that I couldn’t understand the point of anything. My relationships struggled and I was a financial disappointment. I felt like I failed my kids because no matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t give them what other kids had. I was living in places that were decent enough but didn’t make my heart smile. Plainly put; I was miserable with almost everything. I can’t say that I have ever hit rock bottom as God has always kept me above my safety net. As you recall from prior posts, I remember my faith in God beginning at a young age so I knew there was more to life than what I was experiencing. I knew the feelings of despair, uncertainty and being overlooked was something that I could overcome. To this day, I am still a firm believer that when God lets you feel low or hit rock bottom, he does this so we have nowhere to look except for up.

Today, I can easily say I am blessed. I have a great husband, five beautiful and healthy children, a house that has become a home, a little bit of land where we can play, plant and create family memories and so much more. Everyday I look around and my heart swells with happiness and gratitude. Some days, I am in complete awe of how much I have been blessed. Especially since I know I am a sinner deserving of nothing but made worthy only through Jesus. Ahh, that is the key isn’t it.  I know that what I have is simply a gift of love from God.  Gifts given in recognition for the love, belief and continued effort to obey the Son he sent for my redemption.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find it; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent. If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:7-11

Every once in a while, someone will come to me with a story of heartache, pain, shame, guilt or just plain unhappiness with their life. They painstakingly tell me a story that I wish I could re-write the ending to and show them how things can so easily be turned around. I generally share my own testimony with these folks in hopes they find another way to put the hard knock life behind. I let them know of my struggles and how things turned around when I gave it all to Jesus. I did not say, ‘things turned around when I started going to church.’ Again I say, my life turned around or became ‘more abundant’ when I strived to follow Jesus.

“Commit your work to the Lordand your plans will be established.” – Proverbs 16:3

282787_10150884679398740_377115721_nI went to church for a few years and life never changed for me. I went faithfully every Sunday and the occasional Wednesday evening and listened to the sermons, the lessons and testimonies. Once I left the church, life went on as it usually did. Back to my life of filthy language, drinking with friends, being quick to judge, and other disgustingly sinful behaviors I now fight against. Then one day, something clicked. I heard a sermon that challenged me. I can’t remember what the passage was or even what the theme may have been. What I do remember is that we were challenged to live what we hear in those sermons and what we read in those scriptures. We were simply asked to give an honest shot at living according to God’s word. No excuses. It was time to make changes. So I did.

Jesus came so we could have life and have life abundantly (John 10:10). Through Jesus, we become blessed. Through him all blessings flow, so I did my best to change the life I was living. I did my best to make God a priority and I was floored when I started recognizing the changes. My relationships improved, financial concerns started to drift away and I was becoming more and more content with what I had instead of wishing for the life of others. I know it sounds corny but it really is true. If you want a better life, follow Jesus. Trust him. Serve him. Obey him. When I changed my behaviors and started doing what I could to serve, things honestly just got better. There is no easier way to say it. Now sure, we all have days were satan rears his ugly head, but I can proudly say, “I’m not who I was.”

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I want to hear from you!

Please comment below: What are your biggest blessings?

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 **This blog is based on my own personal research, thoughts and opinions. If your opinions differ than mine then we can agree to disagree, no negative comments needed. If you appreciate the message in anyway, then please feel free to comment, like, and share with others. **
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Flight 666 | Dead in Dallas – Review

“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire..” – Revelation 20:15
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Flight666-36x36-Poster-web-700x700This past weekend, I got the privilege to assist with a church Youth Group field trip. I do not normally work with the teens at our little church, but was super excited to help coordinate and chaperone this trip.  

A few adults along with my husband and I loaded up our vehicles with 15 teenagers and headed to see Flight 666 | Dead in Dallas. This is what I call a sensory drama as the effects were amazing and made you feel as those you were truly experiencing what was being portrayed.

The preshow entertainment was rich in variety and set the tone for the rest of the evening. A young boy, who I later discovered was part of the show, opened with a Christian rap song that had the entire room bumpin’. The bass was thumping and the teens were clearly tuned in. The next performance was an interpretative dance to a song focusing on the grace of God. I really appreciated the variety of the opening acts, as these types of performances are not something we normally get to experience at our place of worship.

You know when a show begins with a cautionary warning stating if you have any health conditions that may be affected by loud music, screeching sounds or strobe lights, you may need to cover your ears and close your eyes, is bound to be a good one! The show began quietly with different scenes that gave us snippets of different peoples lives as they navigated through an airport and boarded a plane. There were several different ranges of people and behaviors:

~ There were teenage girls who focused on labels and putting others down.

~ There was a girl who stood up to the materialist ladies and witnessed to them even though she suffered much ridicule from it.

~ One of the pilots was a porn addict which led to dissatisfaction with his wife.

~ There was the deceitful adult trying to manipulate the airport into allowing his dog on the plane but later apologized for his behavior

~ There was the overindulgent mother who gave her daughter everything including the latest technology, birth control, alcohol and focused on being her best friend rather than a parent.

~ There was a boy who came from a rough home facing many uncertainties but decided to listen to a friend on the plane about another way of life.

~ There was the overly spoiled daughter who demanded everything from her mother and behaved in ways she knew was wrong from spending time with a Christian friend.

~ There was a lady who witnessed to the overindulgent mother using her own experiences as an example, explaining she lost a daughter due to her own lack of parenting, but turned her life around for her other two children.

~ There was the older male teacher making inappropriate advances towards certain female students.

~ There was a pilot who used to lead a sinful life but turned things around and witnessed to his co-worker about his porn problem.

~ The character that stood out the most to me, was a preacher who kept bragging about the size of his church and how many followers he had. He told the woman he sat next to how he preaches the love of Jesus and how everyone should spread the love. When confronted about preaching other biblical principals such as repentance, he confessed he avoided those tougher topics that might offend some of his congregation.

There was not an intermission during this show. Instead, in between acts, there was a gamut of heart racing special effects as the plane everyone was on went down. The room grew dark except for flashing strobe lights. The quiet conversations between the characters turned into shrilling screams and thunderous booms that resonated throughout the room as a horrific danger alarm blared over it all. It really was enough to take your breath away and I can see if you have any health concerns, why it is import to hide yourself from this dashing display. On top of the visual and auditory effects, the producers of this show didn’t leave out the physical dynamic either. Sprays of water took you by surprise and bits of confetti and sponge that represented rain from the thunderstorm and bits of debris.

Act Two started with a glorious stage change that showed The Lamb’s Book of Life on a pedestal and the beautiful gates to Heaven. In the corner was a rocky, cave-like entrance representing the gate to Hell. Throughout the second act, all of the characters from Act One stood before the angel reading the book who would let them know if their name was or was not written. The characters represented by blue font in the list above all had tearful but joyful entrances into Heaven. However, the characters represented in orange we dragged off the stage into the fiery hole.

834Once Satan’s victims were announced, they were claimed by demonic minions who crept through the audience causing quite the fright for the patrons sitting in the aisle seats. After the mock hell’s new regretful and screaming additions disappeared, Satan would walk the stage describing the sinful behavior of his new possessions and thanking those who allowed it. For example, after the overly spoiled girl was ripped from her mother’s arms and carried into hell by three or four demons, Satan proudly paced the stage thanking all the parents who befriended their children instead of teaching them and guiding them to be responsible adults. He thanked those who didn’t teach them his (God’s) word and for sending more and more souls his direction.

The experience of the show cannot be captured by words or even by a DVD representation. There is still one or two shows left and I highly recommend you go see this and take those you love with you. This show brings the reality of Heaven and Hell to the forefront of your mind and just might make you consider some changes in your own life to ensure your name is written in The Lamb’s Book of Life.

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For more information regarding this show please visit:

Flight 666 | Dead in Dallas

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I want to hear from you!

If you have watched the show, please comment below and tell us your favorite parts or add your own review!

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 **This blog is based on my own personal research, thoughts and opinions. If your opinions differ than mine then we can agree to disagree, no negative comments needed. If you appreciate the message in anyway, then please feel free to comment, like, and share with others. **
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Blackberry Pie

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:13
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Bfresh-blackberry-pie-05eautiful, delicious blackberry pie. I must admit, this is one of my weaknesses. I am typically more of a savory gal and would take a 2nd helping of meat and potatoes over desserts about 95% of the time. However, blackberry pie is the exception to my hearty eating habits and would generally take first place in order of consumption. To sum this up, I love a good blackberry pie. Unfortunately, blackberry pie and I had a nice little spat a few weeks ago that left me with a broken second molar on the upper right side of my mouth. Not fun.

I tried to deal with the annoyance of the broken tooth for as long as I could but after just a few weeks, the annoyance turned to pain and off to the dentist I went. Now I consider myself to be a pretty strong person. I gave birth easily four times, continued to type at work daily with a sprained finger and taught baton lessons to over 20 little giggling girls with a ripped tendon in my left foot; but when it comes to ear and tooth pain, I am a big baby!

Pulling a tooth is no big deal. People have it done all the time. I was good and numbed up and ready to go but for some reason, a nice dose of unexpected anxiety settled over me as the dentist began to do his thing. My heart started racing, I struggled to breath and the dentist thoughtfully took breaks every couple of minutes to help me catch my breath. This is actually very unlike me and I was disappointed in the way my body was behaving. I knew the only way to make it through at this point was to close my eyes and sing some of my favorite hymns and completely remove myself mentally from the situation; but wouldn’t you know it, my mind was a total blank. I couldn’t think of one song! Not one! So then I inwardly started to panic until I heard my favorite Christian artist come through the back of my mind reminding me ‘I can do all things, through Christ who gives me strength, and I don’t have to be…Strong Enough.’ Once that song came to mind, I repeated Philippians 4:13 over and over again until the dentist declared victory and the bad tooth was no more.

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I want to hear from you!

How do you handle those less than fun situations that you must endure?

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 **This blog is based on my own personal research, thoughts and opinions. If your opinions differ than mine then we can agree to disagree, no negative comments needed. If you appreciate the message in anyway, then please feel free to comment, like, and share with others. **
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God’s Not Dead – Movie Fun

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
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untitledMy family and I went to see the movie, God’s Not Dead yesterday afternoon. When you have a large family, something as simple as going to the movie theater can be quite the investment so we try to be sure the films we choose are family appropriate and uplifting in nature. This movie did not disappoint.

The movie is about a college student who must choose between declaring that ‘God is Dead’ for the sake of keeping peace with the professor and his chance of passing or standing firm in his faith and convince his class God does exist. Of course no good movie is without conflict, so the main character, college student, Josh Wheaton, goes against the grain and becomes a defense attorney in a classroom trial where he presents his case to prove God’s Not Dead.

Josh faces this challenge without the support of his long-time girlfriend or parents and with just a couple lines of encouragement from a campus minister. The movie continues showing Josh present his case in a well-researched and professional manner which continues to infuriate the professor more and more. Things continue to get heated but Josh doesn’t back down. There are also four other side stories (one that ties in an interview with Willie & Korie Robertson) the movie follows that will bring laughter and tears. Be prepared for a surprising and unpredictable ending. I admit, part of the ending frustrated me and literally made my jaw drop, but I still really enjoyed this movie and pray for it to have continued success.

I would love to share more about the movie but don’t want to spoil it for anyone else, so just take my word for it; this movie is worth seeing. I highly recommend this movie for families with older teens looking at going to college in the near future. The dilemma portrayed in this movie is very real and the message given is one every Christian teen should hear before heading off to a secular university.

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I am psyched to see that folks all across the country are letting others know that God’s not dead. This limited-release movie has shocked the box office with the numbers coming in and more theaters are adding the film to their lineup for next weekend. I pray that more and more people continue to stand up and support films like these and let Hollywood know that there are still those out there who enjoy good, clean entertainment. You know, the kind where everyone is dressed and they speak using words you can say in front of your grandmother without blushing or getting beat with a pancake turner (love you Granny S.)! The kind of films that leave you feeling hopeful, inspired, motivated and just plain happy. Everyone likes a good warm, fuzzy now and again.

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Side note about this memorable experience:

We were humbled by an off-screen lesson that occurred during our movie outing. We took my 60-year old aunt with us to watch and enjoy the afternoon. I found out right before the movie started that this was the first time she had ever been to a movie theater. Her child-like innocence was heartwarming as we watched her take it all in. A great reminder of how blessed we are and how easy it is to take simple things for granted. 

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I want to hear from you!

If you have watched the movie, please comment below and tell us your favorite parts or add your own review!

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 **This blog is based on my own personal research, thoughts and opinions. If your opinions differ than mine then we can agree to disagree, no negative comments needed. If you appreciate the message in anyway, then please feel free to comment, like, and share with others. **
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Let’s Mingle!

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” – I Corinthians 12:27
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bodyofChrist4I often see that people do what is familiar and that is fine to a point. Most people attend worship services in a location convenient for them and I get that. In fact, the church building my family attends is only five miles from our home. We can be in a house of worship and fellowship in just a short 10-15 minute drive.

Although we say things like, ‘We are going to church, we attend church, there is an event at the church,’ I feel it is important to point out that is simply a shortened slang way of speaking the true intention, such as: ‘We are going to the place of worship, we attend a church service, there is an event at the church building.’ The fact is, the church is not a location, not a building, not an event, etc. The church is the people. It doesn’t matter where you meet. You could meet in a barn, outdoors, a restaurant, etc., and still  have church (services).

In fact, Jesus himself said, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” – Matthew 18:20

My point is, I feel it is important to go beyond the boundaries of the church building you attend and meet other Christians. Fellowship with other members of the body. Show your children they are not alone in their faith but that there are others like them all over.

Nothing makes me happier than to hear my teenager talk about how she cannot wait to see a friend who attends church services at a different location. I try to take advantage of every fellowship opportunity I can find so my children can grow up knowing Christian children from outside our locale. Teenage and children events and activities are generally easy to find and many other church locations are usually willing and eager to participate. Some of our favorites have been:

    • Teen Youth Rallies – An event where teens from several church locations gather in one place (rotating hosts) for an evening of fellowship and fun; generally once a month throughout the school season. This event usually includes a special theme, games, challenges, tasty treats, a guest speaker or musician and a large amount of goofiness!
    • Local Christian Concerts – Many church locations host free or low-cost concerts with modern genre music styles that reinforce scripture. My family attends as many concerts as possible because it is an affordable way to spend time with each other, fellowship with other Christians, and reinforce God’s word. Our favorites have been the ‘Live the Difference’ concert in Pomeroy, OH, Winter Jam in Columbus, OH, and anywhere 64 to Grayson plays!
    • Bible Bowl – This is a bible knowledge quiz team that meets to compete with other churches once a month throughout the school year. My daughter has developed friendships with teens from other church locations through this program, not to mention the amazing amount of scripture that is instilled in her throughout the season.
    • Ohio Teens for Christ – This is basically a state-wide youth rally with a few extras thrown in such as a singing competition, preaching competition, a state-wide bible bowl competition, big concerts, workshops and more. I encourage you to visit their website to find out more about this amazing event at http://www.ohioteensforchrist.com/2014/
    • Church Camp – Usually a week long summer camp with a common theme, lots of good food, outdoor activities, crafts, contests, games, and more. There are several church camps available, check with your local church (location) for one nearest you. Southeastern Ohio folks can check out the Ohio Valley Christian Assembly for more information at http://www.ovcacamp.com/.
    • Retreats & Lockins – Overnight Youth Rallies or Mini-Camps.
  • Vacation Bible School – A week long program geared toward younger school-aged children. Children usually gather for a few hours each evening to explore a common theme through skits, songs, snacks, games and a lesson while raising funds for a local charity or Christian mission.

The kids are not the only ones who can gather to learn and have fun in the name of Jesus. There are always plenty of events for adults as well, such as:

  • Concerts
  • Retreats
  • Rallies
  • Bible Conferences
  • Ladies Aid
  • Workshops
  • Revivals

untitledI truly feel it is important that Christians understand we are all one part of the complete body of Christ. When attending these events, we should not just huddle within the same group of believers. Get out there, meet others and make new friends; meet other Christians, fellowship with them and understand we are not so and so from Church A or Church B, but rather we are ONE Church. We are all part of the SAME body. We are all working toward the SAME goal; and we are all called to be disciples and work for the SAME savior.

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-21 

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I want to hear from you!

Please comment below with what things you like to do to fellowship with other members of Christ’s body!

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 **This blog is based on my own personal research, thoughts and opinions. If your opinions differ than mine then we can agree to disagree, no negative comments needed. If you appreciate the message in anyway, then please feel free to comment, like, and share with others. **
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