Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Elementary Camp at Look Up Lodge

Well, we made it through the weekend for 3rd & 4th grade camp! We had 127 kids and about 40 leaders at Look Up Lodge for the weekend, where we learned about what it looks like to have a real relationship with God and with others. We played games and ate s'mores around a bonfire. We also saw the Exterminators save camp from being destructed and turned into a Boy Band Training Facility by the Bonus Brothers, including a redemptive heart change in both Joe and Bo Bonus. And we enjoyed the beauty of God's creation, nestled up in the mountains. We hope that your child not only had a really fun time, but also experienced God in a fresh way during his or her weekend.

Check out this video from camp, put together by Travis Runion:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Camper?

When sending your child to camp this summer, whether it is to a summer-long camp or to the Camp Grace Summer Camp for a short weekend, there are several issues to contemplate and consider with your child.

All over the United States this summer, there will be around 10 million children attending some sort of organized summer camp; either a music camp, church camp, or sports camp, etc according to the American Camp Association (ACA). No matter what the circumstances, always prepare your child, not only physically, but mentally as well. Around 4% of the 10 million campers going away this summer are currently suffering from Separation Anxiety Syndrome (SEP). SEP usually occurs at “sleep away camps” rather than just day camps. Another 95% of the campers suffer from homesickness, which is completely different than SEP in that homesickness does not interfere with a child’s social ability at camp. Homesickness only causes loneliness and thoughts of home.

Although such a large percentage of campers suffer from these different types of anxiety, there are several solutions that you as a parent can try with your child.
  1. Speak with camp directors prior to arriving to camp, so they can come alongside to help your child work through any anxiety or homesickness.
  2. Build up your child, encourage, and personally connect with your child to help them see that you understand any anxiety they may have
  3. Include your child in the decision to go to camp, and where to go.
  4. Help your child understand that worrying about camp is a chance for them to look to God for help and to depend on Him. Philippians 4:6-7 is a good reminder! "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
  5. Don’t show your personal sadness in dealing with your child leaving, which can create more anxiety for your child. It is important for you to trust in God through this time as well, especially if it is the first time your child has gone to camp!
  6. Try to avoid prolonged good-byes.
  7. Avoid constantly reassuring your child. Help them learn on their own that they will be ok because they can depend on God. Remind them of God's sovereignty, that He is always with them, and He will give them comfort if they turn to Him.
  8. When you start to see any symptoms of SEP or homesickness, intervene early in reminding your child to trust in God, in order to guarantee the best camp experience for your child.
Since our 3rd & 4th graders are heading out to Summer Camp tomorrow, please consider these tips and more, many of which I read in "Happy Camper" by Kayla Mossien on the Parent Guide News site.

- Michelle Phillips, Children's Ministry Kairos Intern

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Serving In Children's Ministry

My husband and I have had the privilege of serving together in our elementary ministry for the last few years. It has been such a blessing to our family. We are encouraged when we see God at work in each other, as we the gifts God has given us on display.

We are better parents because of the volunteers we serve with. We are all diverse in our seasons of life, and it has been a blessing to be able to share wisdom others have shared with us, and to hear stories of those ahead of us. This helps us stay the course and dream of where we're headed with our own children.

We are better leaders because we have been able to serve alongside those giving their lives away in a way that is refreshing and compelling. We've been able to hear stories from other leaders about what God is doing in our body, and how He is transforming our church family to be more like Him.

We are also able to reinforce truths with our elementary-age daughter in a way we could not if we were not a part of the elementary ministry. When we leave the campus, we have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the curriculum and truths taught that day. We are able to encourage her in these truths, and fill in the gaps where she may have missed something. We feel blessed to be equipped to lead her in this way.

Serving in Children's Ministry has been a privilege and a blessing for our family. How has serving impacted your family?

- Sara Fowler

Sara currently serves as the Camp Grace Big Group Drama Coach for the 11:15am service at Pelham Road, and her husband, Stephen, currently serves on the 11:15am drama team for Camp Grace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Time

Welcome to Vacation… my mom and dad would always say these words to us when we started vacation from school. I have continued this with my boys. I was so excited to have the boys out of school this week. They were excited too, but not as much as I was. I bet most parents felt the same way.

Summer time is a challenge. We need to stay on a schedule, but also relax and have fun at the same time. I cherish the moments that we get to have as a family. Each day is full of possibilities. I know that some of our days will be rushed, and they have been already. But I know that if we take the time to be in the moment, God will reward us with precious memories. This can be hard with many things that need our attention, but what is more important than reaching, connecting, and loving our families?

We need to stay grounded and firm in our faith to continue to speak truth to our children. Some days are a lot harder, and other days are full of joy. 

Just because we are on vacation doesn’t mean that all other responsibilities are put aside. I praise God for Summer time. I look forward to seeing Him work. May we find blessing at the end of summer and not regret.

- Kathryn Sanders, Powdersville Campus Children's Director

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meet Our Kairos Interns!

This summer, we have almost 20 college students taking part in the Kairos internship at Grace. Three of those students are helping us in Children's Ministry. Michelle Phillips is our full-time intern, and Caleb Phillips and Katie Horton are shared between Children's Ministry and Student Ministry. Over the summer, you will probably see each of them serving in various areas, so make sure to welcome them into Children's Ministry!

Michelle Phillips
My name is Michelle Phillips, I am twenty years old and have just begun my journey interning here at Grace Church, working primarily with the Children’s Ministry. I am originally from Rochester, New York, and my family, including my mother’s parents, moved down here to Greenville in 1992. I was raised by my amazing mother and father, Keith and Linda Phillips, who are members here at Grace Church and mostly attend the Pelham Road campus. I also have one older brother, who is 23 and is a computer science major at USC Upstate, named Tom Phillips. My family started going to Grace Church when I was in seventh grade and have been ecstatic and so happy with our experiences so far!
Since I mainly grew up here in Greenville, I attended the local schools. I went to Mitchell Road Christian Academy from K-5 all the way up through eighth grade. Following that influential education, I attended Eastside High School, where I was involved with volleyball and soccer. Now, I am currently a junior at Clemson University studying Elementary Education. I have always had a huge passion and love for children, helping to shape their lives and observing their life transitions, spiritually and in the classroom. Living with such a passion for children has led me to want a career involving them. Ideally, I hope to have my own second or third grade classroom where I can touch the lives of many types of children. Also, I have been praying about whether or not to do mission work with my degree. For example, possibly teaching in Allendale, SC or a city of that sort with low test scores and teachers in need of a fresh perspective!
All of this information about me and my life pointed me straight to the Kairos internship here at Grace this summer. I joined Kairos because I could feel God tugging at my heart and telling me, this is where I need to me. It matched up perfectly with where I am in my life. I have been given the opportunity to be humbled and to love on all the kids at Grace, and grow in my walk with Christ. Also, I am super excited about working alongside all of the staff here. Being able to freely interact with the pastoral staff and the general staff members is something that truly excites me, not only in getting to know them, but getting to see how God has placed them in my life to change me.
This just being my first full week with Kairos, I have a few expectations. I have a huge desire to see God work in my life. I am so in love with my God and I cannot wait to see what He has in store for me and the other interns! Also, I hope to develop more skills and gain knowledge about dealing with children and how to effectively work in their lives! All in all I am so excited to see what this summer has in store for me and how it will change my life!

Caleb Phillips
My name is Caleb Phillips and I am from Garden City Beach, South Carolina. I will be a junior at North Greenville University where I will major in Christian Studies. After college, I plan on attending seminary and serving in a church leadership position working with children and students. I was born in Jackson, Mississippi on April 17,1991 to Gary and Keri Phillips. I lived in Quitman, Mississippi through elementary school then moved to the South Carolina coast. My dad, Gary, is the Administrator at the Garden City Chapel and Retreat in Garden City Beach. My mom is the Director of the Special Education Department at St. James High School in Murrells Inlet. 
I joined the Kairos internship program because I was searching for a place to serve where I could determine my strengths and weaknesses and discern to which area of ministry God is calling me. This internship will allow me a great opportunity to achieve those goals. This summer I am excited about being able to disciple students and children while being led and directed by pastors with far greater wisdom and experience than I possess. I am excited about the teaching I will be receiving throughout the summer and how I will be challenged by it. I am looking forward to a great summer and can’t wait to see what God has in store for my life and Grace Church.

Katie Horton
My name is Katie Horton, and I am one of the Kairos Children’s ministry interns for the summer! While I am new to Grace Church, I have lived in Greenville my entire life. I am one of three children, and live at home with my parents during the summer. My dad, Pepper, is an accountant and my mom, Lori, is an administrator at a local Christian school. My brothers, Chris (17) and Noah (12) keep things at home very interesting, and I enjoy hanging out with them! I am a rising Junior Early Childhood Education major at Clemson University and absolutely LOVE my tigers! After school I hope to either teach, do mission work or work in a church. I’m hoping that I’ll narrow down some of those options this summer!
My aunt, a member at Grace, sent me an email about the Kairos program and what an answer to prayer it was! I had been praying about community for this summer through a local church, and also had a strong desire not only grow, but to disciple others in their walk with Christ. Kairos answered all of these prayers in so many ways, and I am so thankful that the Lord has blessed me with this opportunity. He has made it very evident that this is exactly where He wants me to be, and that He has a lot in store for me for this summer. My internship is split between Children’s ministry and the youth ministry at Powdersville, and I am so excited to get to hang out with youth of all ages. I have a feeling that the Lord will humble me through this summer, and I am looking forward to seeing the growth and heart change that will occur. I am so grateful to Grace Church for providing this opportunity and for taking time to pour into all of us.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Preschool Bin Stocking

We have our next preschool bin stocking in several weeks, June 28-30 (Tues-Thurs), from 9am-12pm each. We will be stocking curriculum bins for all three campuses, and are in need of people from each campus to help that week. Childcare will be provided each day.

In addition to our bin stocking event, we also have take-home cutting projects that will need to be completed and turned into the office by Thursday, June 23rd.

If you are interested in helping in any capacity, please contact Nicole Snyder.

*** For this bin stocking event, we are in need of toilet paper and paper towel cardboard tubes! Please save these over the next few weeks and drop them off at our office (Pelham Rd campus). Thanks!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Than Words

Now that you are singing that awesome Extreme song from the 90s in your head, pause it for just a moment and consider this. Here are the most frequent words out of my mouth: “Come back here and….”, “How many times have I said…”, “Stop that!”, “Quit it!”, and my personal favorite, “Stop the flow!” (see Proverbs 10:19). I grow weary of myself by the end of the day, with my nagging and fussiness and rushing to move our crew from here to there and back, so I am sure my kids grow weary of it as well. I have wondered often lately, how can I move from herding to shepherding my kids.

Over the past few weeks, God has aligned people, circumstances and Scripture to reveal one huge change I can make that will love my kids, honor Him and allow His peace to permeate our home instead of my nagging. I am currently reading The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. She uses Christ’s example to reach the heart of her children, and writes about the different gifts, or spiritual goals, we as parents can give them. One of these gifts is that of grace. If you read my last post, you know I like to be in control and control others, so it’s easy to deduce that grace and mercy are about as low on my “gifts” spectrum as it gets. I’m talking low like “I may enjoy paying for toilet paper before I extend grace to someone” low. Which brings me to a point: I cannot give my children the gift of grace unless I have experienced it myself.

In Part 5 of our Culturally Engaged series, this past weekend Bill White focused on John 9, about Jesus giving sight to the blind man. He begged the question, in light of telling others about Jesus, what has Jesus done for me? And how can I share that? At first I was struck, because I couldn’t come up with some amazing, pulled-from-the-pit experience. All I could think of, what first came to mind, was that Jesus saved me from myself. And because He did, I have a story to tell and the ability to tell it, through His grace.

This brings me back to extending grace to my children, as painful as the fight against my flesh is sometimes. In Chapter 3, Sally Clarkson says, “We must balance our correction with words of encouragement and affirmation,” not to make them feel good about themselves, but to strengthen them to righteousness. To breathe life-giving words into their hearts, one so they can hear it, and two so they can learn to do the same for others. So this morning, instead of “Take your vitamins!” and “Close the door!”, I first tried, “You wiped the table really well last night after dinner, thanks!” and “Thank you for those flowers by my bedside. They made my morning!” It set a much sweeter tone for our home this morning as we began another day. I am hopeful that extending grace instead of nagging, keeping Christ’s example and love in front instead of my agenda, will be one more way we can shepherd our children to have a relationship with Christ one day. And maybe I won’t feel as tired either? I’ll keep you posted on that one…

- Molly Burns, Saturday Night Coordinator