Friday, May 27, 2011

Music To Love...For Kids and Parents!

We're big music fans at our house. You can almost guarantee that music will be playing somewhere in our home most waking hours of the day. Many memories of seasons or experience in the life of our family are associated with music. I've even got a list of songs that would be on the "soundtrack of my life"...if ever I were to need that someday. One CD in particular has been a staple in our child-raising years, and has provided a backdrop to many great parenting moments and memories. It is the "Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies" record by Andrew Peterson and Randall Goodgame.

If you're a parent with younger kids (or an adult who is trying desperately to hang onto your youthful spirit), then you will love this CD. I highly recommend it to all families wanting something different to set the stage for the average day in their home. It will lead you to love music, love life, love kids, and love Jesus more every time you listen.

Take heart, this is not your typical children's CD with a kids choir and the same 12 contemporary worship songs. I promise you won't want to throw the CD out the car window onto the interstate the 15th time you hear it. Each one of the 18 tracks are unique, fun, original, and packed with everything a kid needs in a song. Some are fast and fun; some are soft and slow. Some make you want to sleep; some make you want to run. Most will make you laugh with delight; a few will make you cry. But everything on this record will bless your family in a unique and wonderful way. As with everything Andrew Peterson writes, the stories told in these songs will make you feel like they were written specifically for you. Mix in Randall Goodgame's unique blend of artistry and creative talent, and you've got a music masterpiece. One that will last for years with your kids and with their parents!

You can get this record (and you should) directly from their website, or download it on iTunes. There is a new "Slugs & Bugs" Christmas record as well! Have fun out there, and tell your kids they can thank me for changing their minds about beans. Just go get the CD, you'll figure out what I mean.

- Ed Sweeny, Pastor to Families

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Countdown...Rejoice and Be Glad

As another school year comes to an end, there are countdowns being kept by many: students who are anxiously awaiting sleeping in, no more homework, and days spent by the pool; parents who are also anxiously awaiting sleeping in, no more homework, and days spent by the pool; and let’s not forget the teachers who are equally excited about the chance to sleep in, no more grading of homework and tests, and of course, the pool. As I see all of the different countdowns, I am reminded of a few things:

  • Every day is a gift, and I need to be careful not to overlook the gift of today while waiting on something bigger or “better” in days to come. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24
  • As I countdown, am I focusing on what I am losing or what is to come? Our family is entering a transition phase as we come to an end of many years of homeschooling and feel God leading us in a new direction. As a result, I have been asked repeatedly “Am I grieving the change?”  “Am I sad to see it end?” Certainly, there are changes coming and the time we have spent together learning, laughing and growing together has been precious. I am grateful for every opportunity over the past years, but I look forward to the next season, knowing my role is to press on towards the goal. It raises the question, what is our goal? In the role of our parenting, Wes and I have kept the purpose of raising mature, Christ-loving and focused adults as the goal of our parenting. We desire more than good kids and a happy family. We desire sold-out disciples of Christ, and they need to move, mature and pursue to reach that goal. For me to hold onto any season too tight makes me an obstacle, rather than a help and source of strength.
  • For myself, I am convicted of my lack of countdown and anticipation. I can get caught up in the daily countdown and forget the greatest gift that is still to come. No one knows the hour of our Savior’s return, so am I living as if it will not occur, or rather in anticipation that today could be the day? Am I living in a “T-minus” stance? Am I living with great anticipation, knowing today could be the last day of ________? Am I living with a thankful heart...taking the time to appreciate those around me and tell them so? Am I telling others about Christ? These are all things I would do if I knew today was my last day of……… What would you do? What will you do?

- Lee Anne Cavin, Children's Ministry Director

Monday, May 23, 2011

3rd & 4th Grade Camp - Registration Deadline Extended!

The deadline to register for Camp has been extended to Tuesday, May 31st!  Make sure to get your current 3rd or 4th grader's registration form and payment in by then! Sign up through our website, bring your form and payment to church this weekend, mail it into the office (address below), or drop it off at the office - however is most convenient for you, just make sure to get it done! We are so excited about camp this year, and hope your child will join us!

Grace Church
Attn: Nicky Darling
2801 Pelham Rd
Greenville, SC 29615


Summer is almost here, so if you are like me, one of the first thing's you think about is "When can we go to the pool, lake, or beach?" Or how about all three??! Since I have had children, I have cherished the time in the summer that we are able to take off from work and the busyness of life to relax somewhere - ANYwhere - on vacation. My wife and I usually try to get out of town so we aren't pulled in the million directions our every day life as a family can pull know: jobs, roles we play at church, the community or in the neighborhood. Not to mention all the chores around the house - laundry, grocery store, yard work, etc. My wife says as soon as I get behind the wheel and pull out of the driveway, I am a different person. We leave the cares behind and pretend we have no outside responsibility for a week.

Well, this year we are going to try out what has been termed a "staycation."  In order to save money and travel tim,e you take time off and simply stay at home. At first I thought it was ridiculous...what are we going to do in Greenville all week long?? And are we really going to be able to shut the world out while staying in town?? Then, we started looking into all the things we could do within an hour or two driving distance (the rule was we had to be able to get back to our house at a reasonable bedtime for the children). I became PUMPED with the idea!! So, we are doing it, with a couple of ground rules, such as limited cell phone usage and limited household chores - those things can wait for a week!! I truly believe there are few things more important than taking a week in the summer and getting QUANTITY time together as a family.

So, be intentional. Hurry up - the children will be going back to school before you know it. Plan out that summer family vacation! And consider joining us on the "STAYCATION" craze!

- Will Bouton, Downtown Children's Ministry Director

Sunday, May 22, 2011

3rd & 4th Grade Camp - Registration Deadline Monday!

Calling all current 3rd & 4th graders! We will be going to camp June 24-26, 2011 at Look Up Lodge, and we want you to join us! The theme for camp is "Are You 4 Real?" We will be learning about Real Faith, Real Family, Real Friends, and Real Life, and learn how God has created us to be in relationship with Him and with others. You don't want to miss out!

The deadline to register for Camp is this Monday, May 23rd. Sign up now! You can pay online through the Camp page on our website, or pay by check, and make sure to also get a registration packet filled out and turned in (available on our website).

Questions? Contact Nicky Darling.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Being Carried By God

I just want to share a little of my life with you. I cannot remember a time that I have felt so carried by God as I do right now. There are many many things going on... some up and some down but in the midst of it all, I can only SHOUT PRAISES TO GOD!!! I want to share a little about a medical situation I have been dealing with for over 10 years that I have been HEALED of. For the past 10 years, I have been dealing with episodes of stroke-like effects, which come in the form of slurred speech, numbing on the right side of my body, being disoriented, and needing to just lay down quickly. I have been diagnosed with complicated migraines. Ten years ago, when it happened once or twice a year, it was not that enabling, but the past few years have been much different. The last two years, they have come on every month and last for several days, or even the whole month, overlapping to the next episode happening. It has really been hard to function as a wife, mother, friend, co worker, and such because I am often needing to lay down and am out of commission. I must admit, I have been quite frustrated and asking God, “Is this the new normal, am I just going to have to learn to live like this?” I was angry about the fact that I wanted to be so much more to my family and others, but my body would not allow me to. I would push through it, often dragging my leg around trying to keep up with what “I” thought needed to get done. My favorite verse ever is Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” I have been clinging to this verse, knowing that I need to have hope in a God who does heal, be patient in HIS time, and pray with confidence that one day I would not be suffering from complicated migraines.

Well... last month a friend of mine told me about a new Neurologist that I should go see. If you know me at all, you know I do not like to go to doctors and have pretty much given up on them. This time, in my heart, I was excited about seeing this doctor, which I truly could not explain. I had the Holy Spirit heart beating fast feeling that this time it was going to be different, and it was. He put me on a Magnesium compound, changed my diet a little, and within 24 hours I WAS HEALED!!!!!! I have not been able to really feel the right side of my cheek for almost 3 years now, and within 24 hours that came back. Hormones, stressful situations, and lack of sleep would bring on an episode quickly, and during the last 6 weeks I have dealt with all three of those and no episode. I want to shout from the mountain top that I have been healed, and I want all to rejoice with me the power of God!!  I did have an MRI and an Echo last week, just for my doctor to have a clean slate for me. The MRI came back great, but the Echo showed a hole in my heart. Normally that would freak me out a little, but because God is carrying me in so many ways right now, I am rejoicing that they found it and excited about it getting fixed. I do see this not as a stumbling block, but as another step in my healing process!! To be honest, this has been an awesome 6 weeks, not just because I feel healed but just because I see God working in me and through me in so many ways. I know that I have walked through this for the past ten years to fully experience this season of truly seeing God’s hand at work in my life. He has given me more strength lately than I ever knew I had. He has allowed me to confront things that I NEVER would have before. My fears have turned to trust, and I just have faith in a way that I have not experienced in a long time.

I thank You God for who You are, and for loving me in ways I will never understand. Thank You for Your hands that continue to carry me, and for Your power that continues to give me strength.

- Ivy White, Preschool Development Coordinator

Friday, May 13, 2011

This Is Not About Me

I love to be in control. I thrive in situations that I can easily and quickly fix. And I get a rush out of completing tasks. This is not always a good thing, especially considering my two jobs are roles in ministry: raising 3 children to love and fear the Lord, and supporting volunteers in Children’s Ministry here at Grace. Neither of my jobs lend themselves to having projects with a beginning and an end, making it difficult for me to feel like I am accomplishing anything. I often lose sight of God’s purpose and begin to place on others my own standards, sympathies and expectations. Sometimes, with my bent for control in order to maintain comfort and ease, I can treat my children, volunteers, my husband, friends and family like projects to be fixed and completed. I do not keep God’s best for them my top goal and desire.

I know this way of treating others and not depending on God is sinful, and God in His grace has gently reminded me of another way. Two weekends ago, our Pastor of Group Life, Scott Mozingo, began a new series on being Culturally Engaged in our adult worship services. Through God’s word, Scott reminded me that the message I must convey is Jesus. And the message is Jesus’ message, not my own. Whether I am talking with one of my children about obedience or trying not to panic about volunteer needs and force someone to serve, my responsibility is to present, not persuade. I am not in control, nor should I be, of winning them over.

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, put it this way: “It is impossible for us to have living and vital intercession unless we are perfectly and completely sure of God. And the greatest destroyer of that confident relationship to God, so necessary for intercession, is our own personal sympathy and preconceived bias. Identification with God is the key to intercession. God gives us discernment in the lives of others to call us to intercession for them, never so that we may find fault with them.” (May 3)

What a comfort this is to me! Remembering God’s truth, I now have the freedom to let Him lead others instead of trying to fix what I think is broken. I have the privilege of praying for them and coming alongside them, instead of trying to force them into a mold they were never meant to go in. And I can perform my jobs with joy and patience, knowing that I do not have to fix anything, but that God will provide a way and answer as He sees fit.

- Molly Burns, Saturday Night Coordinator

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hold Your Horses

For those of you that don't know, I am getting married in 4 weeks to an amazing, Godly man. It is such an exciting time, and I cannot wait to start our lives together! If you have ever been married, you know how fun it is to plan a wedding, but you also know how time consuming and stressful it can be. In case that wasn't enough already, let's add the factor of not knowing what city you will be starting your life together in! My future husband is a high school math teacher, currently working at a school in the Rock Hill area, but we would like to live in Greenville. So, for the past 6-8 months, our future has been undetermined.

For people like me who like to have a plan, this has been frustrating and a real struggle. There have been multiple times when God has told me, "Hold your horses!" This has been a great reminder that God is in control and knows what the plan is for our lives. We just need to trust Him, hand over the reigns, and be patient.

It was not until a couple of months ago that I became "OK" with not knowing. I have been able to release my desire for control. I know that wherever we end up, we will be just fine! (Nathan (my fiance) and I have prayed many many times for God to use us and show us His will. Yes, we would LOVE to be in Greenville, but if that's not where we are supposed to be right now then that's ok. Our situation has led us to grow closer to God and closer to each other in our walk in faith.

Nathan's principal has been very kind and understanding, willing to help out in any way. We could not have asked for anything better. There has been some interest from the Greenville area, but nothing confirmed yet. Until then, we are just waiting it out to see what God has in store for us.

- Nicole Snyder, Children's Ministry Administrative Assistant

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Role Models, Examples, and Mentors

This is a job that we all have, whether we want it or not. We are role models, examples, and mentors. We have the opportunity to mold, change, encourage, and inspire people.

I went on a date with my youngest son, who is six, this past weekend. I love having those precious moments. He acts all grown up. He wants to pay for our meal. He remembers all of his manners, even opening my car door. I always get overwhelmed with love in these moments. It is easy for me to be focused on setting the right example for him on our date, because I am thinking specifically of modeling what I hope that he will look for when he is ready for the step of marriage (not anytime soon!) This is just a moment in time.

There are so many other times (basically all day) that I am still being a role model, example, and mentor. How do I react to my boys when I am trying to work on a project and they are arguing? Do I use my words to encourage others when I am tired. Do I put my husband before other things? Do I give freedom to fail? How do I handle disappointment and frustration? Do I serve others or do I want to be waited on? These are just a few questions that are answered everyday.

I all of these examples, my boys are watching me. They are looking to see how I will react. What am I showing them? Do my actions match what my words say about God?

I know that I fail in so many ways, but I also know that God has given me a job. Train up my children. Training isn't just changing their actions. Training involves sharing my heart with them. I need to be honest with them. I need to apologize a lot. I want them to know that I need forgiveness. I need to share with them when I am disappointed and angry. I need to share what God is teaching me. I need to listen...Be still...Allow God to work through me.

Proverbs 31:26, "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." Lord, I need Your wisdom. I need You to speak through me because there is nothing good in me. Lord, help me to be faithful in my instruction. I need Your strength, because many days, I just don't have the strength to correct and instruct anymore.

There are so many different stages and seasons of life, so each stage and season will look differently in being a role model, example, and mentor. Ask your mentors and those in your community how you are doing in the stage that you are in.

- Kathryn Sanders, Powdersville Campus Children's Director

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How Do You Celebrate Mother's Day?

"Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs... since the payment is pure love."  - Mildred B. Vermont

Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend! A holiday meant to recognize and celebrate motherhood, it is generally showered with gifts and cards for mom, as well as Sunday brunch with the family in honor of mom.

Have you ever wondered how our annual celebration of Mom’s began?

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood have been going on throughout the world, tracing back to ancient festivals thousands of years ago. However, our modern United States celebration of Mother’s Day has only took root within the past few centuries.

The “Mother’s Day Proclamation” was written by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, as a reaction to the Civil War and the responsibility mother’s had to rally for peace. She proposed converting July 4th into Mother’s Day, however it was later decided that June 2nd would be the designated day of celebration for mother’s throughout the country. Over time, the holiday died out, but Howe planted the seed that would eventually turn into our annual Mother’s Day.

Anna M. Jarvis campaigned to have an official Mother’s Day holiday, in remembrance of her mother and in honor of peace. On May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebration took place at Andrew’s Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia and a church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother’s Day as a national holiday, taking place the second Sunday of May each year.

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day? What kinds of traditions do you have in honor of Mother’s Day? Leave a comment - we would love to hear from you!

(Information from Wikipedia,, and Mothers Day Central)