By | January 8, 2013

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. – Matthew 7: 24-27

You have probably heard the old children’s Bible song that speaks about what happens when we build our lives on the teachings of Jesus, and when we are foolish and build something without a strong foundation.

A foundation built on the teachings of Jesus guarantees that what we build will not fall apart when hard circumstances come against it.

There has not been blog activity on this site for a while now. This is because Vista has been going through some restructuring.  The purpose of this restructure was to assure we were building Parent Equipping and Kids Community upon Vista’s original foundational values. Values that we believe come from the teachings of Jesus. You can find Pastor Mike Smith’s write up of these values here: KCPlaybook_2012

We asked tough questions and made significant changes to ensure our goals rested on this strong foundation, including these Vista-value elements:

  • A training ground for Vista families to disciple their children
  • A mission field for Vista members to disciple the future leaders of the church
  • A classroom utilizing age appropriate Biblical teaching by believers among us
  • A support network for all families seeking community and encouragement

2013 will continue to bring changes including these specific offerings:

  • A Gospel-based curriculum with a focus on missional living for each age group
  • A clear and consistent classroom management structure across each age group
  • A multi-generational volunteer base that includes everyone serving once a quarter
  • A structure of support, encouragement and training for parents, staff and volunteers

So many at Vista have answered the call to advise, teach, coordinate and coach during this restructure. So many have taken ownership in areas that need their gifting. We are humbly grateful to God and His work among us as we continue to build Kids Community and Parent Equipping together as a church family. See our end of the year letter here: 2012 End of year volunteer letter. We are assured that hard circumstances that develop will not destroy what we are building with His blessing and for His glory.

What are your questions? Do you have feedback for us on these foundational elements? We welcome conversation and the sharing of ideas. If you’d like to inquire about teaching or coordinating, please e-mail me directly: We look forward to this next season of values-rich, biblically-based offerings for parent equipping and children’s discipleship. Join us!

Following Jesus – Transactional Give and Take

By | April 27, 2012

This week is Family Sunday (watch for the kids worship packet on Sunday) & we will be starting a new Family Challenge that leads to Beulah on the Road

Let me tell you about our good intentions tonight. We planned on a great family night time of dinner together, devotions, sharing stories from the day then a good board game. Some one did not want pizza so we had to go to Subway also. Then a spilled cup cleared the table for us 5 minutes in to the meal. We rallied enough to have good sharing time about our day while eating and listening to the family devotion Tim prepared about “Why do we Pray at mealtimes?” Just then, I remember that this was the night Aaron had karate! Shuffling him off, I dropped Justin off to play basketball. We were all planning to reconvene at 8:30 pm for a board game before bed. During karate, I got a call that Justin had sprained or broken his ankle. Family night over. Our intentions were God-honoring and yet the night was not a success.

Is there a benefit in being intentional to following Jesus as a family? Pastor Mike started out this sermon series on Matthew 5-7 discussing the Beatitudes. He referred to them as the transactional give and take that happens when we follow Jesus. We follow and get something tangible for this life and the life to come. They are investments from which we receive dividends for our life on earth now and our eternal life.

Take the Family Challenge & learn how following Jesus can change your home. Pick up a packet at the welcome table on Sunday or linked to the blog as a pdf next week.

Worshipful: materials to help your family focus on studying and memorizing the Lord’s prayer together from Matthew 6:5-15

  • How have God’s words changed or impacted your family life?  How do you apply it in family community?
  • When you follow Jesus, value is redefined.  What do we value most as a family? What defines us?

Relational: materials to assess and  handle heart issues behind family conflict based on Matthew 5:21-48.

  • Will we want to leave behind a life of sin? (anger, lust, lying, religiosity, pride, revenge, anxiety, hypocrisy)
  • When the word of God grabs your heart you will feel a tension with this world.  How does that look in our everyday life?

Missional: materials to build your home on a firm foundation and share it with your community at Beulah on the Road June 12-15

  • The gospel is a threat to the world. How is it a threat in your family? Do people look at you and say, “Why would you do that?”
  • Where is it in your lives that you do not want to be disrupted?
  • The Word of God, which changes our families, is not necessarily for our personal good but for His corporate good, His kingdom.  How does that sit with you?  Do you understand that?



Intentional Celebration

By | April 5, 2012

From the First Sunday of Lent blog:

“It is always so comforting to know that even if our best laid plans go awry, God honors our intentional focus on Him. As you move through the next 40 days as a family, how will you intentionally prepare for Resurrection Sunday? What will be the family devotion success stories and the failures? How will God meet each member of your family with a small shift in focus here, small changes in perspective there, and all of the laughter in between?

Pastor Mike has asked Vista to press in during this season: press into new habits, press into new perspectives, press into intentional devotion. “We hope to help you, encourage you, and laugh with you as every member of the family presses into that intentional devotion together.”

So how did it go? Was your intentional Lent focus everything your family hoped it would be? How did your efforts to develop new habits and new perspectives help you press in for 40 days? Did the Holy Spirit reveal God in a new way to your family?

Our family had some successes and some failures. We made it through about 20 Lent devotionals together and engaged in some good discussions. We attempted to fast from screen time for a couple weeks with various levels of success. We talked about some service opportunities but never really executed them. I am still hoping our “Alleluia Eggs” will be in the same places we hid them come Sunday morning. We have a seder feast planned for Thursday night with friends. We plan on attending the Dublin Crosswalk on Friday. We will serve together on Resurrection Sunday morning, and celebrate the empty tomb with “Resurrection biscuits“. All in all, our intentions have reaped some good results that we hope will continue.

As we have shared from the beginning, God honors our intentional focus on Him. Pastor Mike has been pushing us to look for the work of the Holy Spirit around us this Lenten season. Francis Chan encourages us in this manner:

“Even as the Spirit works in us to make us more like Christ, to transform us, His is also patient. This work will not be complete until His Kingdom comes in full, though this does not deter Him from working now.” p. 146 Forgotten God

We have tried not to focus on the success of the Lent journey, but on the small victories of obedience along the way. We made goals and asked the Holy Spirit to cover the rest. We are praying that He will continue to guide us forward for our family’s “common good.” We will read Ephesians 1 & 2 this week to celebrate why we intentionally engage in this life and what we can expect from God for our intentions. We are not called to be perfect or perform perfectly, yet we are able to offer what we can through His Spirit.

My prayer for you is that you celebrate Sunday as a family in the common good brought by the Spirit. Paul in Ephesians portrays the peace, rest and assurance we can have because we have the Spirit of the risen Lord in us.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spiritf of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.                                           Ephesians 1:14-23


Click here to view One of our favorite Easter traditions

Intentional Recognition

By | April 1, 2012

As we near the end of the Lent journey, we celebrate Palm Sunday. Do you recognize this story? Do you recognize the Jesus in this story? Church tradition dictates in this celebration. Some of my favorite church hymns were sung on Palm Sunday. We have given palm branches to Vista kids for Palm Sunday before. To be honest, it often became nothing but a carnage of Palm branch sword fights. I don’t know if I ever understood why it was recognized as a celebration, but I loved it because it was one of those rare church traditions were children took a significant role.

How does our recognition change if we actually read about it from the Bible? Matthew 21:1-10, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-18 all give accounts of this Triumphal entry.

  • Who: These people were in Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They quoted from Psalm 118:25 so they knew the Jewish scriptures.
  • What: Jesus asked his disciples to make preparations for Passover in Jerusalem. He had been anointed by Mary as for burial just before this. A crowd gathered as he entered singing in Hebrew “save us” or translated into Greek “Hosanna”. The crowd rejoiced, the Jewish leaders were angry and Jesus cried when He saw the city.
  • Why: They had heard  that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem for Feast of Unleavened Bread referred to as Passover (Deuteronomy 16: 1-8). Their plan was to honor an amazing Jewish rabbi in great Jewish Tradition who might save them from trouble and Roman occupation. They laid their coats before him  (2 King 9:13) . They waved palm branches (Leviticus 23:40). Yet God’s plan was to fulfill prophecy in His way and point toward the cross (Zechariah 9:9 & Revelation 7:9).

So it seems like children may or may not have been involved. What is clear is that these people were recognizing this entry as a big deal. It made them join together and celebrate. Yet it is traditionally understood that Jesus was entering Jerusalem at or near the time when the Paschal lambs were being slaughtered for Passover (14th of Nisan on the Jewish calendar). His recognition of this event was different from theirs.

Events and feelings from Passion Week are hard for us to understand and even more difficult to help children understand –  so much suffering, brutality and hate. It is easier to focus on the fun Palm Sunday celebration to protect our children. Often times we desire to protect our children from their own suffering and the suffering of others. The recognition that God chooses to let events like passion week happen is too hard, too uncomfortable and too messy.

Questions families can discuss and think about regarding Palm Sunday & Passion Week:

  • Why was it easy for these people to celebrate?
  • Do you think they understood what was going on here?
  • Why was Jesus crying?
  • Why is it important to work, talk and think through the tough times of life?
  • What kind of savior do we recognize  – one that we want to see or one that He really is?
  • Do I want God to do things my way and in my timing or do I trust His way and his timing?
  • Do we trust that the Holy Spirit works in us through hard, scary or confusing Bible stories as well as the fun ones?
  • Are we quick to join popular bandwagons or do take time to think about what they really mean?
  • Are we faithful to the things, people, issues God has put on our hearts everyday or only when it’s easy?
  • How does faith become something deep and meaningful instead of something trite? Can it be simple without being easy?
  • Does our family embrace or ignore hard questions about life and faith? Why? Why not?
Passion Weeks activities:
  1. Family Lent Challenge: A Passover Haggadah Use this activity with family, life-group or with neighbors and adapt it to your needs or time frame.
  2. Stations of the cross: a traditional Roman Catholic Church tradition focusing on the journey of Christ to the cross. Some of the stations used are traditional in nature and not part of the text found in the Bible. Sometimes it is used to focus on our own actions not the grace and mercy of God, but we have found it to be a powerful discussion starter in our home. Stations-of-the-Cross-for-Teens is a PDF especially for Teens.
  3. A helpful video from youtube that maybe be helpful for understanding significance of Palm Sunday
  4. Music for Palm Sunday and Passion week: song 1, song 2, song 3




Intentional Exercise

By | March 16, 2012

The March issue of Columbus Parent Magazine came out last week. Included in this issue are all the summer camps, classes and activities available around Central Ohio. Have you thought through your summer plans yet? Where and how will your family spend their time?

My kids were practicing piano the other day. We have made time in our weekly schedule in order for them to take piano lessons. Subsequently this means that we also have scheduled times for them to practice the piano in order to exercise their skill. Realistically our yearly family schedule revolves around practicing or exercising many different skills: school work and projects, church programs and events, sports, music, housekeeping projects.

A couple weeks ago in Parent Equipping class, parents discussed how to view their child as a whole person with 5 distinct parts: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social. Very rarely do we as parents remember to structure our personal schedule to allow equal exercise for each of our parts. This become even harder when nurturing our children. Do your family activities and involvements reflect exercise  in all parts of life? Most of our lives skew to one part and very few of us think through how to exercise all parts.

How have you scheduled your summer? What activities will make up your time: sports camps, tutoring, lawn work and beach vacations? As we walk the road to the Cross for Lent, we encourage one another to be intentional. How would your spring or summer change if your calendar reflected equal intentional physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social exercise? How would it change if you were intentional together?

Sarah Young reminded me of this in her devotional Jesus Calling on March 10th. She wrote

“knowing that your future is assured can free you to live abundantly today. I have prepared this day for you with the most tender concern and attention to  detail. Instead of approaching the day as a blank page that you need to fill up, try living it in a responsive mode: being on the look out for all that I am doing. “

How often is my family just filling up a page? Do we really believe in living life abundantly? What if we were as intentional as Jesus is in creating every detail of our day? What if we created intentional exercise opportunities for each part God created in us? What if our calendars and commitments exemplified practice in physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social exercise? Surely it would bring delight to God’s heart.

3 0pportunities for intentional spiritual exercise as a family:

Vista Family Lent Challenge – spend some time spiritually together as a family this Lent. In addition to family activities on the blog, Parent Equipping team has made a special Family Challenge packet for Lent. Complete this challenge with your family or other neighbors, friends, relatives or life group members and report back about your project during the next Family Sunday service  Get it here:  A Passover Haggadah or it is available on the resource table at both sites.

Beulah on the roadJune 12-15 with Vista! Bring your friends or volunteer to help this local outreach in the Columbus area!

We want to bring the Beulah Beach experience to you! Kids who have completed kindergarten through 6th grade are invited to at tend camp from 9:00 AM th rough 4:00 PM, Tuesday through Friday.  This week will be packed with activities and fun such as: dunk tanks, crazy songs, sports, hilarious skits, blow up toys, and Beulah Beach’s ROCKwall! Our staf f is dedicated to providing a safe and encouraging environment for every camper. Every part of camp is  programmed and supervised by our energetic and responsible college-aged counselors and activities staff! (from their website)

Beulah Beach – Vermillion, OH Family camp June 29-July 3 or July 4-8. Single Parent Family Camp July 13-15, Father & Son camp August 24-26

Family camp is an experience that will enrich your family and provide some great opportunities for building relationships, playing together, and relaxing in a Christian atmosphere without pressure or demands. It’s no secret that in our day and age, the family is struggling. It is apparent that one of the greatest problems is a lack of quality time spent together. We want you to spend time with your family, that’s the priority of Family Camp.  Family activities are all planned for your family to have fun and interact together each day. The motto of Family camp, “everything is optional” couldn’t be more true. (from their website)

More Christian Camps in the area: Spend time on your vacation growing closer by exercising each part equally or volunteer to work at some Christian camps as a family service project this summer.


Intentional Hands – edited this time

By | March 5, 2012

I read John 13: 1-20 today during a meeting. This is when Jesus washes the feet of his followers. I struggled to disengage mentally from my culture of tennis shoes and ODOT in order to visualize a world of sandals and dusty roads.

I found myself thinking about hand washing. This is something I can relate to, especially in March. Everywhere we are washing, rewashing while we sing the alphabet and applying lots of hand sanitizer every time we are out.

Washing someones hands or feet can be a great reminder of  humility & serving one another. It teaches me to put less emphasis on my desires, my needs, my perspective, my agenda and my goals. The focus becomes others.

Verses about others in the Bible discussing washing or actually washing feet to exemplify humility, honor or hospitality: 1 Timothy 5:10, 1 Samuel 25:41, Judges 19:31 (would not recommend this story for kids), Luke 7:44, Genesis 24:32

Washing goes even deeper in the Bible as symbol of what Jesus death will do for our sin forever. Ritual washing was a big part of Jewish tradition in the tabernacle and temple. Exodus 30:17-21 – Aaron and his sons or priests cannot come before the altar without washing their hands and feet in a specific bronze laver. Being not washed separates them from God. It keeps them unclean and unable to enter his presence. They have to go through this washing every time so they will not die in God’s presence. It is called a “perpetual state” for them. Their washing is not once and complete – the washing done by the blood of Jesus is once and complete. He says in John 13: 8 “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” He was speaking of a deeper washing.

Verses about washing of priests and others as means to cleanse from sin: 1 Kings 7, leviticus 8:21, Job 29:6, Exodus 29:17, Psalm 108:9, Psalm 60:8  – some of these are kind of gross so preview before reading with your family. Our kids liked the gross ones – just saying

Family Activities: wash and pray over each family members hands. Pray that they will know that Jesus washes them clean, that their work will be pleasing to Him and they will seek to use their hands for good in this world. You can even anoint their hands with oil for added emphasis of them being called by God to serve him in this world.

For younger kids, memorize Psalm 51:10 together by saying it every time you wash hands or use hand sanitizer. You can even post it in your bathroom by writing it on the mirror with sharpie markers – they wash off mirrors with water. Let your little one have fun writing on the mirror. Caveat – you may need to instruct them it is only for the mirror right now and not a license to write on walls whenever they want.

Lent Service Project: Vista partners with Better Way ministries in Columbus. They are always in need of hygiene products for the people to whom they minister. Details can be found on the vista website under Local Impact. This is a great concrete way to tie Jesus washing of us to our prayers for others to know the freedom of being washed in Him.

Digging Deeper – Fascinating teachings that explain the Tabernacle  and its furnishings pointing to Christ’s death can be found in most commentaries, student Bibles or by major Christian authors and speakers. If your family likes history and deeper bible study, you might consider studying it together. A 12 lesson study with activities can be found at Digging Deeper ministries, or an intro to the tabernacle for younger kids at The Tabernacle Place. There is some great stuff on youtube or godtube as well. This was one of my favorite women’s bible studies from Beth Moore and one of the coolest Sunday school lessons I remember from the elementary grades.

Intentional Eyes

By | March 1, 2012

Pastor Mike has challenged Vista to read through Forgotten God by Francis Chan. I love the way God will bring several thoughts on one theme together for me. He is so kind and patient in His instruction because I have a hard time seeing it initially. Chan’s introduction talks about “being astonished” by how we can see the Holy Spirit work in our lives everyday. Pastor Mike recently taught a series describing thankfulness as choosing to see the daily provision of God. Intentionally practicing thankfulness helps focus our hearts on Him. He referenced Romans 1:21. How can we as a family be astonished or thankful if we are not looking for Him all around us? We need to become more intentional with our eyes.

Those thoughts dove-tailed with a book I am reading along with Kim Patch (Worthington) and Barbara Weisenberger (Dublin) called Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge. This week we discussed the humorous or playfulness that God exhibits around us everyday. It is evident only if we are watching. Then Dara Huber (Dublin) recommended a blog about Family Lent ideas authored by Ann Voskamp who is the author of the book one thousand Gifts. I read that book because Karen Slivestri (Dublin) lead a group of Vista women through it last month. This best selling book revolves around actively looking to small things around us to be thankfully astonished by God’s goodness everyday.

So it seems like God is showing me where to start the Lent blog – Intentional Eyes. How can we help each other open our eyes to what God is doing around us and to where to Holy Spirit is leading this Lent season. The Eisel family is spending the next 7 days actively looking and recording 7 of God’s little gifts to us. Some things from tonight: the smile of a new friend, a waterfall, clouds. This booklet idea comes from Ann Voskamp and can be printed off from the resources below. We would love to hear how your family in encouraging one another to adopt more intentional eyes.

Family Ideas for encouraging Intentional Eyes

Thankful for baby – Pray thanksgiving over every part of your baby as you are changing, feeding or bathing  – include each little toe. Tim’s uncle used to call them “sweet little peas.”

Once a day toddler play – Say with them “I see the tree that God made. Thank you God for the tree”. Insert anything into the blank that a young one can point to. Gets a little dicey with buildings and made objects, but we would say when they got older “I see the building that was made by the people God made.”

Family booklet for thanksgiving7 days of 7 things available here on a holy experience blog by Jan Voskamp

Teen tangible – Remember that they still need to hear encouragement even if they don’t show it. Think of one thing you saw in them that reminded you of how thankful you are for them (about their character – not just their behavior) Commit to text, tweet or write one on a slip of paper for under their pillow for 7 days.

Plastic Babies in Cinnamon Rolls

By | February 22, 2012

It is that time of year again – Lent begins today. There are several churches around town that have great Ash Wednesday services that are family friendly. Our family usually celebrates at another church in our community with friends and neighbors. Some years we have done a special service by ourselves at home, but never before has our Lent observance started so ominously.

In 2010 Vista Parents put out a 40 days of Lent activity and devotion guide for families with preschoolers,elementary students, and teenagers. I think we have a few of those lying around the office if you want one – watch out for the typos. Last year we went high tech using the blog to spend 40 days contemplating wisdom. We dedicated one blog post to examining Lent,and why Vista chooses to encourage families to observe these 40 days before Resurrection Sunday in a more intentional manner. You can find those entires and ideas in our archive under Lent. We will not reblog that info, but this year we will blog even more great ideas and inspiration for families.

As I stated before, the Eisel family started our Lent devotions in a less than worshipful manner.  We only have 3 or 4 nights home together each week at this time of year so we started earlier than Ash Wednesday. It was great timing as we just finished up our Christmas devotion focus a couple weeks ago. (Remember: as we say in Parent Equipping classes, these are goals-not absolutes – no judgments please.) We are using the Lenten Tree devotional by Dean Meador Smith (It is fairly traditional so if that is not your family’s thing – you might want to avoid it).

Day four of our devotions celebrated God among us as a baby and the Man of God by reading John 1:14. We enjoyed a great story along with discussion on Simeon and Anna’s presence at the temple to celebrate who Jesus really was (Luke 2: 21-40). Then the bottom fell out of our spiritual maturity. Horror illuminated our eyes as the page turned to announced that days activity. Silence hung heavy first only to be shyly broken by hesitant snickering. It continued with chuckling that lead to cackle and finally gave way to guffaw – the ending you might have guessed was a lot of rofl.

Mind you, our family has engaged in many Lenten activities over the years  = hot cross buns, prayer pretzels, Resurrection biscuits, Lenten trees, Seder Feasts, and even the alleluia egg. This activity seemed innocent at first but then incredulousness hit us like the cold February wind in Central Ohio: They wanted us buy several small plastic babies and cook them in cinnamon rolls to remind us that God is with us. Message not received – my family could not stop laughing – we chose not to do the activity. I am happy to report that it did spark great conversation about King Cake, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, church history and cultural anthropology.

It is always so comforting to know that even if our best laid plans go awry, God honors our intentional focus on Him. As you move through the next 40 days as a family, how will you intentionally prepare for Resurrection Sunday? What will be the family devotion success stories and the failures? How will God meet each member of your family with a small shift in focus here, small changes in perspective there, and all the laughter in between?

Pastor Mike has asked Vista to press in during this season: press into new habits, press into new perspectives, press into intentional devotion. We hope to help you, encourage you and laugh with you as every member of the family presses into that intentional devotion together. Join us with your questions, comments and ideas – we promise no cinnamon rolls containing plastic babies.

“They were so wealthy with so little…”

By | February 2, 2012

Kristy and Jason Pinschenat live in the Worthington Hills neighborhood and are very active in the Worthington Community. They have 3 children Brynlee, Jackson, and Weston, and attend Vista Worthington. Kristy is passionate about stewardship of resources as well as furthering the Gospel message here and abroad. She runs a blog with money saving tips and opportunities called: Here is what Jesus revealed to her regarding saving money, giving & Vista’s involvement in Africa:

“They were so wealthy with so little…”

These seven little words mentioned recently in a sermon by Pastor Mike resonated with me in a powerful way. “They were so wealthy with so little.” In context he was referring to his team’s mission trip to Kenya. The Kenyan pastor’s family embraced the team and fed them like kings. The entire week the Vista team couldn’t get past the fact that this Kenyan family was sacrificing weeks of “food budget” to host them. Pastor Mike explained that he wanted to pay them somehow to make up for it. What he said next was a paradigm shift for me.


 These Africans have the gall to believe what God says is the truth. The more we give, the more we are given. As we give, God will see to our needs and meet them in abundance. Instead of storing up and gathering, these people with seemingly so little had so much. “They were so wealthy with so little”. It’s not about what we have but it’s about what we give away. Until we free ourselves up enough to see that everything we have is indeed the Lord’s, we can’t freely give.


 This is why I am so passionate about couponing and saving money, essentially being a good steward of given resources. The more we can save, the more we can give. The more we can give, the more we can bless others. The more we bless others, the more we are blessed. Who doesn’t want blessing? Whether we have a little or a lot, we are blessed when we give. May we be wealthy with so little.

 Want to learn how to be wealthy with a little more? Consider pursing one way to cut your budget; Restaurants, grocery stores, shopping or $4 coffees. Pick one and stick with it. Once you’ve mastered that one, move on to another money saving discipline. Want to learn even more? Stop by 4our2cents. We’ll show you how to save more so that you can give, bless and be blessed.

 Today may we follow the example of these Kenyans who have so little. May we give freely knowing that the God of the universe will see to our needs, just as He meets the needs of the flowers of the field and the birds of the air.


 (Matthew 6:25-34)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Why Holiday Traditions? – Cindy Eisel

By | December 16, 2011

Why do we use Grandma’s china plates for Thanksgiving dinner? Why do we make a Gingerbread house every Christmas? Why do we visit the cemetery on Memorial day?

A couple of Sundays ago, Vista parents of 5 -year -olds got together to discuss family holiday traditions along with developmental changes. This resulted in some great conversation regarding Advent, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Santa. No one condemned or supported any one outlook for holiday seasons; the Parent Equipping team’s purpose was to encourage parents to intentionally think through the “why” of family traditions.

In her book Treasuring God in Our Traditions, Noel Piper defines an heirloom as “something of special value handed down from generation to generation.” Her premise is that since children generally learn through repeated experiences, family traditions become the heirlooms that define value in their lives. She writes that traditions are a “vital way of displaying our greatest treasure.”

These are the questions we discussed in class:

  1. What is my greatest treasure?
  2. What is most precious to me?
  3. How do I reflect and express that treasure in my life?
  4. How can I pass that treasure on to my children and others within my circle?

Noel Piper states: “We do not know exactly what our children’s strongest, lasting memories will be. But we do want to make sure that our daily, weekly, yearly activities occur in a God-filled context-that we recognize him in all of our life and show him everywhere to our children.” In Exodus 12:26-27 Moses tells the Israelites to prepare for “when their children ask why” they celebrate Passover. Moses knew that children watch and question why we do things or why things are important. He says “when” not “if”. If we are not intentional about processing what we treasure, then we cannot establish traditions that pass our treasure to our children. We will not know what to say when they ask “why.”

My daughter Elisabeth helped the Parent Equipping team teach the 5’s class. She showed the families all of the traditions we have used for major holidays. I did not have to prep her for this – she knew why we did these things. She may or may not choose to hand theses things down to her family, but she has caught what we treasure through these heirlooms and traditions.

So what does that Advent calendar, that Easter Egg hunt, that visit to the cemetery mean to your kids? What heirloom are you passing on by the traditions you set up? Have you thought about what was passed on to you and what you desire to pass on to the next generation? Whether old or new traditions, we need to be prepared for the “why” that will come.

Resources we like:    Treasuring God in Our Traditions by Noel Piper , Bringing God Home by James L. Evans

Family App: Thriving Family has an app download for Advent activities for the whole family this season and other activities for holidays throughout the year.

Tradition ideas from Vista Families: Veterans Day, Birthday celebrationsThanksgiving or any holiday dinner, Christmas: birthday cake for Jesus, Jesus Stocking, Operation Christmas Child, Family gift for the World, Three gifts

Some resources we use: Nativity Set from Family Life Today, Resurrection Eggs Activity for Easter, Thanksgiving activity bundle

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