This last Sunday evening my wife called me out to the patio to talk. Now, I knew what that meant - something was bothering her and it was probably something I had, or had not done that needed discussing.
We had just finished a busy weekend with my parents in town, a Little League baseball game and team pool party at our house, Sunday church responsibilities, and a soccer tournament that required an all afternoon trip down to Yucaipa. Needless to say it had been quite a busy weekend, but not exactly unusual for us, with three kids who each have their own activities they are involved in. I can’t imagine what we’d do if we didn’t have our synced family calendars!
What she wanted to talk about was our schedule. Not how much was on it, but rather what wasn’t - us. A quick look at our calendar last month showed only 3 days that didn’t have multiple events scheduled, and that’s because we were out of town for Memorial weekend! It’s not that the activities themselves are bad, we want our kids to be active, and we enjoy our commitments to church, but we hadn’t scheduled any time just for ourselves. We were neglecting the one thing that is most vital to the success of our family - each other. This was exactly the point Jeremy had made a few months ago during the Seasons series and his sermon on Raising Children. We are the primary example of a marriage relationship for our kids, and what are we teaching them if we’re constantly on the run, never making time for each other?
Matthew 7:26 says, “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who has built his house on the sand.” That was us! We knew what we needed to build a strong foundation, but we were letting everything else on our schedule take its place. On the outside, it might have looked as if everything was “perfect”, but the foundation was starting to crack. If we continued to neglect each other, the whole thing could come toppling down.
After some tense moments and some shed tears, we agreed that we needed to schedule time together, and not just say it, but actually make a plan and carry it out. We decided to meet every morning at seven to share a cup of coffee and do a devotional together. This way we could spend time together, and grow together spiritually. Often the conversation drifts from the devotional to other areas, and includes what’s happening later in the day, but that’s okay. It’s just been nice having that time to connect with each other and with God. When we’re done, we pray together, which is actually really cool. Awhile ago, in our small group, we talked about praying with our spouses and few of us actually did, even some commenting that it would feel “weird”. Sure, we prayed for dinner, with our kids, and individually, but not together. It’s really been encouraging to lift up each other and our family together in prayer.
This stage of life is hectic, and without scheduling time for each other, the schedule can take over our lives. I'd heard the phrase from divorcing couples, “we just grew apart” and I always wondered how that could happen, but with three kids and a crazy schedule, it’s easy to see how that can happen if we don’t plan to “grow together”. It may seem odd to have to schedule time with your spouse, but what we noticed is that if it’s not on the schedule, it doesn’t get done!
As Wednesday and Thursday came, we continued serving the people of Tucson and enjoying a little down time. We spent part of Wednesday at a waterpark called Breakers as we prepared for a night of VBS. VBS brought many families within the community to Westside church for food, bounce house fun and to learn about the Armor of God.
On Thursday, we had the opportunity to paint a great deal of the interior at Westside church to give it a fresh new look. We also finished putting the baptistry in place in preparation for the contractor to come and pour cement. A few of us went to Gap Ministries (they provide food and clothes for many churches who support hundreds of families in Tucson) where we sorted various items for departure to dozens of churches in Tucson.
The students have been having fun while working hard and though we are all very tired, the trip thus far has been extremely rewarding. It's amazing that our intention was to come here and bless people, which is indeed happening, but we are ourselves being blessed in such a huge way. Please continue to pray for a safe and successful trip. Thank you for all of your support.
The youth mission trip to Tucson, AZ has been a great experience so far. We have had the opportunity to work at a couple of different sites serving a variety of ministries.
We have started a construction project at Westside Church of Christ to put in a baptistry, meanwhile some of our kids were able to wash the feet of homeless people and give them new shoes, and some of us have been able to serve a ministry that supports many refugees from Nepal.
The stories that I have been able to hear so far point to an already awesome experience and we are looking forward to serving the less fortunate throughout the week. Tucson is an area where only 4%-7% of the population are religious. They need to experience the love of Christ and so far we have been able to share the gospel with several people who do not yet belong to a church community. Thank you so much for supporting us through your prayers and those of you who contributed financially. I believe that this experience will change the lives of people in Tucson as well as our students who are serving. Please keep praying.....we have done a lot but there is still more to do.
Check back later this week for more updates from the trip!
Technical Arts Pastor
Every kid grows up looking forward to summer. I certainly remember counting down those final days of school and looking forward to...um... the blazing heat of summer in the High Desert? Actually, I don't really remember what I was looking forward to back then except that I wouldn't have to get up and go to school each morning. So jump to the past couple weeks when as a parent I got to witness the build up of excitement as my kids approached the end of their school year and the start of their summer break. It's been fun to witness this anticipation of summer at home, and just as much fun to witness it taking place in various ministries at Victor Valley. Having the pleasure of being on staff means that these last few weeks I've been witness to an ever-increasing stream of preparations as we head into summer at the church.
Summer at VVCC really kicked off a couple of weeks ago with Promotion Sunday and watching as wide-eyed and newly-minted "First Graders" walk into BASECAMP for the first time. Seeing these little one's approach the climbing wall for the first time is one of those experiences that makes being a part of the BASECAMP team extra awesome (or so I hear). Equally awesome is the thrill experienced by former "sixth graders" who on that Sunday begin their Junior High journey and experience worship with a live band and hearing the occasionally odd-ball, often funny and always challenging weekly message from Bryan and the team over in Pathway.
From Promotion Sunday it's full steam ahead into Summer Jam, which as I write this blog post, we are smack dab in the midst of. Formerly referred to as VBS, this is the week that Victor Valley plays host to over 175 preschool and elementary aged children. These kids schedules are full as they will sing, play, snack, craft and actively participate in discovering valuable lessons from God's Word over the course of this week. This year's theme sees kids heading to the Summer Jam CIRCUS where under the watchful eye of our ringmaster and 90 volunteer team members they will discover what the Bible has to teach them about strength, courage, peace, direction and finding a place with God. The team has been hard at work creating an awesome environment for kids to have an awesome summer experience and I'm confident it is going to have a huge impact in the lives of our kids.
Almost as soon as Summer Jam ends, we'll be right into the next major summer event as Bryan leads a team of youth and youth sponsors on a missions trip to Tucson, Arizona. The team leaves at 8 AM this coming Sunday (June 15th) and will spend the week ministering to refugees from Nepal and presenting the gospel to local children in a one day Summer Jam like event they will be leading while there. Stay tuned to this blog as beginning Tuesday and continuing through the week as we will be working with Bryan to post trip updates, sharing the experience the team is having and how you can be supporting the team in prayer.
We haven't even begun to hit on the various Summer Camp for 4th-6th graders, the MIX conference for Junior Highers, and the Move conference for High Schoolers, all of which we'll be posting updates about here on the blog. I'm particularly excited about the upcoming teaching series in which we'll be exploring what the book of Ephesians has to say about a person's identity in Christ, so we'll have a bit of a sneak preview of that as it gets closer. We'll also have some exciting news on cool new online "stuff" coming for the VVCC community, and a few more things that I think I'll keep a surprise for the time being (because aren't surprises part of the fun of summer?)
We're looking forward to a great summer at Victor Valley and hope you are excited to be a part of it!
It has been my pleasure and privilege of serving, teaching and loving the children of Victor Valley Christian Church. In the past 20 years (15 on staff and 5 as a volunteer), it has been my joy to worship with the children, introduce them to Jesus and watch as their faith became their own and they made decisions to be followers of Jesus. I have also been so very fortunate to be able to work with an awesome team of volunteers who have greatly enriched my life as well as the lives of our children. I am forever grateful for the hundreds of people who have served along side me and had a heart for children.
The past few years have been a time in which many life changes have occurred and milestones reached for my family. I have felt God's nudging me to move into other areas of ministry. It has been a long and prayerful journey but I am excited about the new opportunity that has opened up for me. In the weeks to come I will be transitioning from Children's Pastor to Community Pastor. I am looking forward to the challenge of helping the people of VVCC connect with one another through Life Groups and Volunteering. I am also looking forward to helping our visitors feel welcome and connected. This a a new area of ministry for me and I am looking forward to working with and building up the teams already in place at VVCC.
VVCC has been a home for our family for over 20 years and we love the people here. I will always have a special place in my heart for the children here, and am confident that Shane will do an awesome job leading our BASECAMP Team. Thank you for the privilege of serving with you.
From upcoming events to random thoughts, each week this is the place to hear from a staff member or guest writer.