Friday, 24 February 2017

What I'm Reading

I've been reading a lot this year (big surprise, right?). I've also been working a lot, and reading has helped me relax. A couple trips to Calgary for work has given me uninterrupted reading time on the way down and back (the person I go with likes to listen to her music as she drives and not talk much, and I can read in the car without getting carsick).

Anyway, here are some of the books I've been reading. Today's focus is on children/youth fiction.

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald. It's been years since I read this; it's still good.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. A friend recommended it; it's not bad. It's a pretty easy read, and somewhat predictable, but it flows well and ends well.

Your Momma Thinks Square Roots are Vegetables by Bill Amend. Actually, this is a book of Foxtrot comics. I like Foxtrot comics.

Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter. A lot of the kids are reading this series, and they convinced me to try one. It's about cats in the wild. They have tribes, fight among themselves, and eat a lot of mice (and talk a lot about biting into fresh kill). It was interesting enough to finish the one book, but not interesting enough to read more of them (also, the eating mice parts were icky).

Right now I'm reading Heidi again, and planning to borrow the sequels from a friend. And I'm working my way through Ben Hur, which is not technically for children; however, my friend's 13 year old son read it (but he reads more than I do). Now every week he asks how far I am in the book, so I need to finish it soon!

That's about if for fiction so far this year.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Church Notes

We're still trying to get the library organized. Today I managed to get the children's books in the right places (I think), and I found the rest of the "family issues" section (somehow with the "Christian living" books) and put it where it belonged. That was about all I could accomplish. There were people in and out to return and check out books (which is good), and children everywhere. The children like the library a lot as a hang out spot, but I may need to find a way to contain them or something, as they tend to get in my way when I'm working. Maybe I'll just put them all to work! I am insisting that there is no running around or wild playing in the library. Sitting and talking, playing a game, or playing on their electronic devices (as much as I would like to ban the electronic devices) is okay.

About the electronic devices: I know it makes me sound like either a Luddite or a curmudgeon when I want to ban them. My problem is that one child is playing, the others are watching him play, and there's no interaction with each other. I'd rather they played a game together where everyone is involved and doing something significantly less passive than watching someone play something.

In Sunday School, we're doing an overview of the Bible, focusing on each part. This week we were talking about the Pauline epistles. Pastor James has been preaching through 1 Corinthians, and the students were able to tell me some things that he has been talking about, so that was good. On the other hand, Pastor Mike has been preaching through Ephesians, and they remembered nothing at all about it! I let them off lightly, though, since he hasn't actually preached since the end of December.

Here is a favourite modern worship song/hymn of mine:

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Church Notes

This was the first Sunday School class in the new building. We spent some time being happy and thankful for the new room. I told them about past rooms I'd taught in since the church began:

The first Sunday with Junior Church and nursery in the same room.

The hotel where the divider between the 2 classes was a coat rack with a tablecloth thrown over it.

The classroom/overflow room in the school, where we had to pack up the tables and straighten out the chairs at the end of each class to be ready for the service (we also had to set up the tables, but usually the people who came early to open the building did that for me).

The classroom most of them remember from the school, which was divided into two classes and a library.

And the latest classrooms at the church we were renting, with no windows and poor lighting.

We were all very, very happy today!

Then we named our plants. We have 2 trees in our room, as well as a plant on the windowsill (happily enough, none of them are real, so we don't have to worry about keeping them alive). The trees are Fred and Frieda, and the other plant is Quinn.

After the service, we started to organize the library. We have the books in groups according to topic; next week we will alphabetize them properly. Then we can start entering the new books that we have acquired over the past couple years.

It was a good Sunday.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Matthew's Begats

I know it's not Christmas, but I'm pretty impressed that he can sing all of them:

Sunday, 5 February 2017

First Sunday

The first Sunday at the new church was good. We didn't have Sunday School; rather, we had coffee and cookies and a chance for everyone to explore the new building. It was nice, and next week I don't have to spend the Sunday School hour explaining to everyone where their rooms are!

The library is sort of ready to go, meaning that the books are on the shelves, but not sorted. We needed the room already for extra seating for the after-the-service luncheon, so we had to get the 40-something boxes out of the way! There are 2 students who have already chosen what books they will check out when we open for business next Sunday, and one of them alphabetized the Christian Heroes Then and Now series for us. I've already recruited him to help organize things starting next Sunday.

The sanctuary is a good size. We thought originally that we would have to have 2 services to fit everyone, but it turned out bigger than anyone thought, so we fit in with room to spare, and the plan to build 3 tiers of seating in the small balcony so we can fit in even more people.

The best part, apart from "God has blessed us with a wonderful building" is "we never have to move the church again"!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

We Need More Words

As you may know (if you read my last post), on Sunday we're moving into our own church building, after 11 years and 3 months of planning, praying, waiting, and longing. It's a big time in the life of our church.

I have two definite feelings (or sets of feelings) about this, and I tend to feel them at the same time.

First, there is the joy, excitement, and delight at moving, at the new building, and at not having to move again after this one, or set-up-and-take-down every week, or haul stuff around. I can move all the Sunday School material that has been stored in my closet to the new building and leave it there. Also, the building is beautiful. The classrooms and the library are bigger than I pictured (the building plans meant nothing to me, except to count how many rooms there are). It's all fun and exciting and happiness.

And then there's the other feeling. We had the fun and exciting and happiness 11 years and 3 months ago when we started the church. It was a good time, and everything was new, and we looked forward to this day when we'd have a building of our own. But so many of the people who were there that Sunday won't be there this Sunday. Some have died, some have moved, and others have chosen to attend other churches. Mixed with all the happy emotion is the sorrow and grief and longing for those people, an almost overwhelming desire that they could all be here with us on Sunday.

I tried to find a word that describes how I've been feeling lately, but there doesn't seem to be one, and all my attempts have uncovered inadequate words. It's not ambivalent or bittersweet, since I don't have mixed feelings about the move (I'm genuinely excited about that). It's also not melancholy, since that focuses on the sorrow side (also, it's more of "sorrow with no discernible cause" and I know the cause). It's at what is, and a longing for what was, and the knowledge that things have changed we can't go back, and excitement about the future, and so many emotions at once!

English needs more words.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

My Church

Eleven years and three months ago, we started a new church. In that time, we've met in 2 hotels, 2 schools, and are currently renting space from another church.

This is our last Sunday in someone else's space, our last Sunday of renting space. Next Sunday, we will be in our own building.

It's been a wild trip getting there. We started off as a small group of people who wanted a church where the truth is preached, and whose foundation is Christ and Him crucified. Over the years, the church has grown, and grown, and grown more (both through people joining and people having babies).

To give you some idea of growth, based on my ministry (children, of course): When we started, we had 2 Sunday School classes from preschool-grade 6 (with only a few children in each class). I'm not sure there were enough children for a junior/senior high class (and the ones we had were all siblings or cousins), and Junior Church had about 4-5 children ranging in age from 3-8.

Currently, we have 5 Sunday School classes from preschool-grade 6, with over 60 children registered. Junior/senior high has up to 15 students each week, and that doesn't count the ones who attend the adult class. Junior Church was seeing about 18 children each week, and we cut the ages back to only 4 and 5 year olds (the 3 year olds are in the nursery, and the older children are in the service). I have no idea how many children are in the nursery, only that it's a lot.

There have been some bumpy spots along the way, but God has blessed us greatly in our desire to serve Him and to bring Him glory. He has given us godly pastors and elders who teach His word faithfully (even the tough parts), and who genuinely love God and the church. We don't really have impressive programs or an exciting children's ministry; we just teach the truth from Scripture every week. Far from turning people off or boring the children (both assumed if you don't have the right program with glitter and glitz and excitement), I have watched my students grow up and get baptized, confessing Jesus and Lord, and I have rejoiced at God's faithfulness.

Don't misunderstand: we're okay with having fun. There's a lot of laughter in the classes (and it's not all me laughing at the children). Sometimes the younger children colour, and we have silly Bible quizzes (such as "What is the 7th word in the 3rd chapter of Isaiah, based on the version I am looking at right now?"), and we enjoy ourselves. Sometimes we even laugh in the service (gasp!). It's just that our goal is not to have fun or make people laugh; it's to teach them solid, biblical truths, and to become more like Christ.

Today will close another chapter in the church's life: that of renting. Next week, we move into the building that He has provided, with its lovely Sunday School rooms and a library big enough for all our books. It's an exciting time.