Move over adults… Youth are taking over the church.

We are in awe of ALL God did at our Fruit of the Roots youth event last weekend!! Youth from Vineyard churches all over Oregon and Vancouver, gathered at our church to worship and seek God together. They connected with one another, old friends and new, deepening community. They had loads of fun, ran around like loons, drank liters of gatorade and ate tons of food… And they worshipped. They prayed. And they served.

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Together the youth made care packages for the Police officers in our community, they gave Hope packs out to people at the hospital and prayed in the emergency room, they made shoes for children in Africa suffering from jiggers thru the ministry Sole Hope, they made meals and gave them to our homeless community, and they prayed for and gave money to various people God led them to.

Personally for our family, God met us with His kindness and faithfulness. Here are a few stories… Selah (6yo) prayed after hearing testimony of eyes being healed on Saturday… “God You are the only God, the One True God. You are the Healer, not the sicker, You are the Healer.” I loved how she prayed “not the sicker”  🙂 The Truth of who God is has been sealed upon her heart. Salem (10 yo) was battling some discouragement when we came to the church. I asked him to come and listen to the service Saturday night, as testimonies were being shared from outreaches the youth participated in on Saturday afternoon. As he listened to the testimonies, he was reminded of the Truth of Who GOD IS. Immediately, the discouragement lifted and he returned to his joyful silly self! This year was Soleil’s (12yo) first time to participate in Fruit of the Roots as part of the youth group. She has been sharing stories of her outreach group going out into the community and serving people God led them to with us all week. She is growing with a burning passion for Jesus that is evident in her joy and Worship!!

Sunday morning, we had an overflow of joy in worship as our church community gathered for our service. There was freedom to dance and shout as we all proclaimed “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a Child of God!” Across all of the generations represented in our church, from babies to 80 years young, we proclaimed and sang out “We are the Children of God! We know Whose we are, we are the Children of God!” After the worship time, Adam called for prayer over those in need of healing, addiction and for an increase of Joy. He asked the youth to pray and God moved powerfully over those who responded. We sang again “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”. This time, I asked one of our 8th graders to lead out on the song … hesitantly she started singing (since I put her on the spot!) but WOW, God gave her courage and she sang boldly and beautifully as He used her to lead us!

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Sunday evening, we had our Harvest Party. Families from the church and community gathered and our little building was filled with everyone enjoying LOTS of candy, chili, games and FUN!!!

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Adults, be aware – THIS is what happens when young people are in the church. And it is GOOD!  Thanks for reading… our story continues… In Him, LRB

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I {Heart} Sleep….. but now I have a “REAL JOB”.

A few months ago, this fabulous article was posted.

I need one of these desks.

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This year I began working outside the home and church again. I’m teaching Elementary Art and working as a Teachers Aide. I now have a “real” job… Besides being a Mom and a Worship Leader and Pastor…..

My school job is taking up a lot of time. I’m exhausted when we come home. After helping the kids with their homework, talking thru their days, cooking dinner and clean up, all I want to do is sleep. And I need rest. Or I’m cranky. When I am awake past 8pm, I long to use this time to be creative, but instead we are in a season of house hunting. This is practically another part-time job in itself. And it steals away from any extra moments we might have for creativity… We were created by a creative God. Created from the breath of God. We were designed to be creative. And we were designed for rest. We need time for both. I’m reminding myself. We need time for both. It is essential to make space for both.

In this season of house hunting, new school year and new job responsibilities, creating has taken a back seat most days to sleep. Because we’re so tired. I love sleep, so this isn’t a huge problem… except that it is a huge problem. I can rarely stay up late anymore! It’s like a part of me has died. The creative part of me… which comes alive at 2am. With this piece of me so dormant now, I have grown frustrated. Occasionally, I take a nap from 8pm-12am and then stay up until 3am creating. I come alive again. This is probably sounding super dramatic. But I am a dramatic person. I was created this way. If I am not creating, I am empty. When a creative person does not have moments to create, they might as well be sleeping all day long…

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*The following was one of my first posts after I began this blog nearly 4 years ago. Enjoy!

I can fall asleep anywhere, in nearly any position, and under almost any condition.
I can drink espresso in the evening, and fall asleep with in minutes of the last gulp.
I can fall asleep in the middle of a conversation.
I can fall asleep while reading out loud to my children.
I have fallen asleep in school.
I have fallen asleep on the job.
Against a wall. At my desk. In the car. On a subway.
Almost Anywhere.
At times, I would watch our cat sleep and long for that ability to curl up at anytime, anywhere and nap.

You get the picture.
I need a lot of sleep, or I’m cranky.
It has been nearly 8 years since I’ve “slept in”. I am a mom.
I have responsibilities. I can’t sleep whenever I want to.
But I used to.
When I was in college, I was employed at the University in the HR department doing grunt work – filing, stuffing envelopes, data entry, etc…
This was not a glamorous job, but it paid the bills.
I would faithfully do my job, but still had idle time to fill.
I worked in a small dark room, with no windows, one table, one chair, minimal supplies and a phone.
So, I wrote letters to my best friend (then fiancé) Adam, and slept.
Yep, a few times I curled up under the table and slept.
Occasionally, my supervisor would come in to the room to hand me more tasks, check on my progress, or my finished work.
Though I only napped a few times while working,
Adam asked me if I ever worried about my supervisor walking in on me sleeping?
For some reason I never did.
But then again, it’s possible she saw me sleeping and never said anything.
I probably looked too peaceful to wake.
I inherited this gift of “falling asleep anywhere, anytime, anyplace” from my parents & have passed it onto my daughter, Soleil.

I also inherited a good work ethic from my parents.
Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, I can fall asleep on the job. I can take naps.
Sometimes we all have a chance to nap – even Adam.

Even though I nap, I am still a hard working mom. Naps do not affect my work ethic. If I am up late procrastinating, or woken up in the night by one of the wee Bab’s, I hope the next day for a nap.
I {heart} napping.

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Feel free to share and join us by following halfwrittenrecords! In Him, Leslie

Pastor Appreciation Month >>> O C T O B E R

Did you know October is ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’? Well. It is. And. Now you know. So, along with halloween and fall leaves turning colors, among other important things, October is a time to celebrate your local Pastor. However, the truth is – You might not care to know this information unless:

  1. You are a Pastor
  2. You like Pastors
  3. You like church

If you find yourself falling into one of the above 3 categories, please. Read On. Otherwise, this post means nothing to you.

We are Pastors. So we happen to be in-the-know that ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’ exists. We also met and started dating while working together in a Christian book store, when we were babies. Every October we sold thoughtful cards and fine gifts for church members to shower upon their Pastors, with love and care.

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Here we are (as babies) selling Jesus Junk to all of our Christian customers 🙂

Every October ‘Pastor Appreciation’ appears on the calendar, and we are reminded it’s our month to be appreciated! It can be an awkward month for us, as Pastors. What if we are not being appreciated this month? Do we remind our congregation? Don’t forget – set your clocks – this is the month we need to be appreciated! It’s a lot of pressure.

To be honest, it can be a weird month for Pastors, because:

  1. Pastors and church people are weird
  2. Pastors and church people are sensitive
  3. Pastors are uncomfortable with drawing attention to themselves….. although yes. there are some exceptions to this rule. But, really it’s like our job to draw attention to Jesus.

So Pastors have few options in October:

  1. Slip hints slyly to “remind” their congregation they need appreciating
  2. Pretend they don’t care and it won’t hurt their feelings if Pastor Appreciation month is forgotten altogether
  3. Avoid all eye contact with the congregation for the entire month

Pastors can develop anxiety from ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’. I’ve seen it happen. Well. not really, but still it might happen and we just don’t know about it. So for us, we don’t mention Pastor Appreciation Month. It feels strange to say “Hey. Hey you guys. Hey all you peeps who go to our church. Yeah. You. It’s time to appreciate us….. Or else.”

Or else what? I don’t know. It just sounds demanding.

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But we are not demanding people….. or Pastors. Of course, we appreciate being appreciated. But to devote a whole month to the cause…..? hmmm, whose idea was this, anyway? Probably a Pastors idea.

The truth is – October can be a stressful time for churches trying to show sincere appreciation for their Pastors. Seriously. There is an entire list of suggestions on how to appreciate your Pastor. I am thankful our church was not hysterically stressing out and having a panic attack to show us appreciation and love this month. At least I don’t think they were stressed… hmmm?

We were SO LOVED last Sunday by our beautiful congregation. We were overwhelmed by the appreciation they showered on us ~ Words of love and encouragement. An amazing slide show of pictures and memories captured in the past year, set to beautiful Worship. A coupon book ~ because they know we LOVE using coupons! Money for an overnight get-away and gift cards to our favorite coffee shop ~ Longbottom Coffee!!! All we could say was WOW. Seriously Wow. We were blown away by the love and appreciation they lavished upon us.

To our congregation:

  1. Thank you for loving us and showing your appreciation this month and year round.
  2. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
  3. Thank you for knowing US and for being YOU!!!

So – boys and girls – make sure to appreciate your Pastors this month so they won’t be depressed (and next month, and the next)! And don’t stress yourself out over finding the perfect gift! That’s not helpful to anyone. But act fast >>> Today is the last Sunday in October, to appreciate your Pastor. And Hope Vineyard Church ~ thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you, and we know we are loved and appreciated this month and beyond!!!

To conclude this lovely post I wanted to share a blessing our church prayed over us for our Pastor Appreciation last Sunday ~

A blessing of what God is already doing in and through you as pastors of Hope Vineyard:
May you be blessed to be adventurous in spirit, and submitted to God’s voice.
May you be blessed to hold a grievous heart for the lost and broken, and faithfully preach God’s Truth.
May you be blessed to desire and accept collaboration and the voice of those trusted, but never sit aside your God-given authority to lead.
May you be blessed to desire God’s excellence, and not afraid to promote other’s ideas, leadership, and dreams.
May you be blessed to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind; serve His church all the days of your life; and love, serve, and care-taking your family well.

Thank you for reading… and sharing… and appreciating Pastors! In Him, Leslie

The Gift within The Grief {The grief of losing a child and the gift of a receiving a church}

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On October 22nd, 2008 we lost our lives. We lost our lives as they had been... As we had planned them… As we had hoped for them to be… 7 years ago, our world turned upside down and we walked down a path we never anticipated. We said yes to things we would never have chosen. And we said goodbye to dreams we never wanted to let go of. Sometimes when you can tell the story, the full healing comes.

7 years ago we lost a child. 7 years ago we gained a church.

In 2008 we were on staff at a beautiful church in Ohio, in a suburb outside of Columbus. We had been on staff since 2005, and for many reasons finances were tight and we were being let go. We were pregnant with our third child.

Our dreams were coming true in a way we did not anticipate. We had hoped to eventually church plant in the Northwest. We were at complete peace and rest to leave Ohio and go… somewhere… heading in the direction of the Northwest. We weren’t sure exactly where, and we pursued the possibility of other church jobs in the Ohio area as well. Prepared to leave, we shared with our church the Trust we knew was holding us, and the Confidence we had in Christ caring for us thru all time. We prepared to say goodbye.

On the evening of October 22nd, I began experiencing cramping and bleeding. A friend came over and took communion with me, and prayed with me. I spoke with another friend on the phone as she talked me thru the very painful process of losing our child.

A few days prior, we had been to the Dr and she said there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I didn’t believe the news. We were praying for healing and revival of the baby and over my body. I was praying it would not happen, but I was having a miscarriage.

The same evening, we received a call from our Pastor and he wanted to meet with Adam. Although we were in the middle of a terrible loss, I told him to go. I sensed very strongly he was to go. The timing was awful. Our life circumstances were in turmoil. We had no job and we were losing our baby. Our Pastor had no idea what we were experiencing in those moments. But I knew. I knew God would be my strength thru the loss. I knew the Holy Spirit would be my comforter. And I knew Adam should go and meet with our Pastor.

It is not by chance we experienced a great loss and a great gain on the same day.

That evening our Pastor offered the gift of our church. He and his wife made the decision to step down and he was recommending Adam and I to now lead the church. We were prepared to leave, and grieve our church and our child. But that evening we said Yes and accepted a gift we never expected.

We spent the next 6 years Pastoring our beautiful church in Ohio. It was a grand adventure. In this season I heard the Lord speak many words. One was “You will have another baby … I will bless you with twins.” My heart soared with great hope when He spoke those words. December 31, 2009 ~ we had a Selah. 

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We never had twins, so doubt has stirred in my heart and mind about half of the word my Father spoke to me… but I know the doubt is not from Him. There is grief surrounding the desire for more children. There will always be a loss or someone missing in our family. But we Trust. The past 7 years have been a journey of unexpected joy and sorrow. We don’t know what the future holds, but we trust there will be a season of more to come…..

Thank you for reading and sharing. In Him, Leslie

*October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. If you have grieved your own loss or stood with someone who has, you understand the pain. 

Singing my least favorite Worship Song

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This Sunday, we sang my least favorite worship song in church. I wasn’t leading the worship set, so I didn’t choose the song. In fact, my husband –the Pastor– chose the song. He acts like he runs the church or something. He gets to do that ‘choosing songs’  thing every now and then, since he’s the Pastor and all. 😉

When Adam told me he had asked Dean to include this song in the set, I rolled my eyes. Adam smiled at me, “I know you don’t care for this song very much, but it fits really well with our ‘Serve Sunday’ service.”

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this worship song. It glorifies God. It sings of His Truth. It has a nice melody and sound… but it has always been one of my least favorite worship songs. I would still engage in worship when we sang it, but I would only choose this song if Adam asked me to add it into a set.

So, I’m a worship leader who doesn’t like a worship song? …Shouldn’t I like all worship songs? …Shouldn’t I be able to lead any worship song, if it speaks truth and brings glory to God? …Shouldn’t I be able to worship without an attitude, regardless of the song we’re singing? Yes. I should.

But I’m weird. I know. So I pick and choose preferred worship songs. I would guess, most worship leaders do.

And then Dean asked me to lead the chorus of the song.

WHAT?! I think God was laughing at me….. 😉

But God… He’s so funny.

When we began the worship set, my heart changed. As we entered into “God of this City”, the Holy Spirit breathed new life on this song for me. I cried in response to His mercy and kindness. I looked into the congregation and my eight year old son was worshipping, hands raised, fully engaged. My heart swelled with joy. As we left church, Salem exclaimed, “I loved that song we sang, Mom!”

Since Sunday, I have cried every time I have heard this song. God changed my heart and now, this is one of my favorite worship songs. He is God of this City and Greater things have yet to come!

Do you have a difficult time worshipping to certain songs? What worship songs do you prefer? Have you ever experienced a change in your worship song preferences? Please share your experiences… our stories are only half written… In Him, Leslie