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A Peek Into My Small Group

11 Apr
I have had a few people as me what small group looks like for me in our children’s ministry. I lead a small group of girls in third through fifth grade.
Here is a peek into my small group.

We are dismissed from large group time to break out into our small groups. One of my girls will grab our small group bucket which contains our activities and supplies. As we gather in our circle, I will ask how everyone’s week was and if anyone has something about it that they would like to share. Now in a group of girls this could take some time, so I usually limit it to just a couple of stories.

I ask everyone to open their Bibles so that we can read our Bible verse together and talk more about it. For example, this past weekend our Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5, so I first asked if Proverbs was in the Old or New Testament. As the girls were looking up the Bible verse, I told them about Solomon and how he asked God for wisdom and that Proverbs was written to share that wisdom. We will then read the verse aloud a few times as not everyone has the same translation and the girls enjoy reading how it is worded in their Bibles. Then I asked the girls what they think it means to trust God with all of their heart. Then I asked the girls if we should only trust God for some things and not others. Then I asked what it means to them when the verse tells us not to depend on our own understanding. We listened to everyone’s answers and discussed each of them. We do this on a regular basis with our weekly Bible verses.

At this time we will move on to our activity provided with our curriculum. Sometimes I will add a craft to our activities which the girls can take home as a reminder of what they have learned and a way to share with their families. This past week we made beaded bracelets with a heart on them to remind us of our Bible verse. This activity time is when my girls are most talkative. They share about what is happening in their lives, talk about our Bible story, and really connect with each other. 
I guide the conversation by asking questions, but for the most part I am listening more than talking during this time.

Towards the end of our time together, I ask the girls if they have any prayer requests. We listen as each one shares. I repeat each one and remind the girls to be praying for each other through the week. The girls will also share any answered prayers during this time. Then we pray together. I ask the girls if they would like to pray out loud and explain that no one has to do so. We do “tap a knee” circle praying. Once a girl is done praying, she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. If someone doesn’t want to pray aloud, then she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. This goes on until the circle comes back to me and then I will close the prayer.

Most times the girls are released to their families from our small group. If we happen to have time left before pick up, then I usually break out playing cards (Uno is our favorite right now) or blank paper and colored pencils (I get lots of artwork to hang on my fridge this way). We continue our conversations in the extra time.

Although I am a big believer in planning and preparing for each week, there have been times when the Holy Spirit has prompted me to put all plans aside in our time together. This happened once when one of my girls shared that they were being bullied in school. We spent our time in group discussing this issue and I watched these girls encourage and love on each other. You can’t plan those moments.

I love these sweet girls and am so very blessed to be part of their lives. They are smart and funny and sassy and so very precious. In this circle, I have watched them grow in their faith, love on each other, and become a tribe.


What does small group look like for you?

Blessings, 

What I’m Reading – Bread & Wine

6 Apr
My Thoughts

Many of the most sacred moments in my life, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place around the table. Something extraordinary happens when we slow down, open our homes, look into one another’s faces, and listen to one another’s stories around the table.

Bread & Wine is an invitation to join Shauna at the table. To this place where people come to eat, but holds so much more than just a meal. Delightfully written, she combines wonderful storytelling with some of her favorite recipes.

I can’t imagine life without a table between us.

I so loved reading about the group of women she gathers around the table with – The Cooking Club. What began as a group coming together over a meal became a community of families doing life together.

I want my kids to taste and smell and experience the biggest possible world, because every bite of it, every taste and texture and flavor, is delicious.

I also loved reading about her adventures in traveling with her father which she is now experiencing with her own children. How she challenges them to learn and love differences along the way. How she encourages them to grab hold of life in every way possible.

Bread & Wine is a beautiful book that encouraged me to be a little braver in cooking and fed my soul with stories of the sacred space around the table.
I loved it and I know you will too.


You can purchase this book here:

About the Book

Bread & Wine is a collection of stories about life around the table–about family, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. It’s about Bacon-Wrapped Dates and Mango Chicken Curry and Blueberry Crisp. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes us as we nourish the people around us. It’s about recipes, entertaining ideas, and meals to share with friends and family, made by hand and with love.

About the Author

Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron Niequist, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek Community Church and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God. 
You can find out more about Shauna and read her blog at www.shaunaniequist.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Mommas are my tribe…my people.

2 Apr
When Holley asked us to share the “why” behind our God-sized dream, I thought I would share about my experience gathering mommas and loving on them. 
Then I realized it really all comes down to one thing.

Mommas touch something deep inside my heart.
I know them. I see them. I am them.
Mommas are my tribe…my people.
Stay at home or work outside the home.
Single or married.
Tinies or teens.
Expecting or empty nesters.
Potty training or teaching to drive.
Mommas in all stages of the journey.
They are my people.

I long to reach out to each one in every and any way possible to say,
“Me too. You are not alone.”

Sometimes that means gathering around a table leading a Bible study.
Sometimes that means sitting across the table over coffee.
Sometimes that means reaching through the screen and touching a heart.
All of it comes down to this dream of gathering mommas. 
The mommas who hide behind the busy and get lost in the laundry. 
The mommas who feel alone and long for community.
To grab hold of a hand and say,
“Me too.”
That’s my why.
God-Sized Dreams

My friend Holley Gerth invited me to join a group of dreamers that she affectionately calls her God Sized Dream Team. What a blessing to be part of this group. 
We will be gathering each week on Tuesdays at Holley’s to encourage each other to dream those God sized dreams.

Won’t you join us?
What is your God-sized dream?

Holley had written a love letter to dreamers. Her book You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream is full of words of encouragement and will speak to your heart.

Blessings,

Around the Tables Again

25 Jan
Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.
This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking.
I love this community.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word AGAIN here.

Five Minute Friday

We are gathered around the tables again. 
This group of women. This group of mommas.
My friends. My sisters.
We bow our heads in prayer together.
Inviting Him into this space we share. 
We open our Bibles and read aloud the Word.
Seeking Him.
Wanting to know more of Him.
Together.
We talk of things that are usually held inside.
And know that we aren’t alone.
We are sharing the deepest parts of our hearts.
And know that we are loved.
Around the tables again.
We end our time together bowing once again in prayer.
For each other. For our families.
Bringing to Him all things.
We hesitate to leave this place.
A sacred place.
On the way home, I weep.
Thanking Him for the gift of you all.
Thanking Him.
For our time around the tables again.

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
I always pray for you, and I make my requests
with a heart full of joy.
Philippians 1:3-4 

Blessings,

My Sweet #FMFParty Sisters

12 Oct

Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.
This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking.
I love this community.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word RACE here.

Five Minute Friday

Each Thursday night I race to my computer to join this delightful crazy community of women. These sweet friends with open arms that make me laugh. Make me cry. Make me think. They encourage and empower me to write each week. It is them I think of as I hit publish. That deep breath getting a little less each time.
We chat about everything from popcorn to prayer requests and all things in between.

And oh the words they share in the span of five minutes. There is such beauty found there. I see Him through these incredible women every week.

I think of all those who say that community online isn’t possible and say emphatically…
 “You’ve never been to an #FMFParty!”

Tonight I am thankful for each and every one of you.

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
Philippians 1:3

You Are Welcome Here

5 Oct

Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.
This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking.
I love this community.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word WELCOME here.

Five Minute Friday

You are welcome here.
Something deep down inside our souls longs to hear those words.
No matter how we come to the door.
Hungry for community.
Wanting so much for someone to say 
“I totally get that. You aren’t as crazy as you feel.”
We might come broken.
We might come afraid.
But we come.
Seeking. Longing.
For someone. For something.
More.
You are welcome here.
How powerful those words are.
They say…
No matter what.
The door is open.
Arms are open.
You can be you here.
Let us love you.
Right where you are.
How you are.
Who you are.

Therefore welcome one another 
as Christ has welcomed you, 
for the glory of God.
Romans 15:7

God Made Her Strong

4 Sep
 
God has knit my heart together with my cousin Amie’s heart. 
We are both passionate about our family, Jesus, 
and mentoring among many other things.
I recently asked her to share about her passion for mentoring.
I’d like you to meet my cousin, Amie, and hear her heart today.
 
 
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 40:29

God made me strong!

I’m not only talking the kind of strong that you learn from growing up with cousins on a farm. I am strong like that and can do heavy lifting, but it’s more than that. I’m strong headed.  I like to think that He created me to do heavy lifting with my brain as well. Now, if you ask my parents or the Jolly German (my husband), they will probably tell you about the downside to this, but I know it is a gift from the Lord.

Over five years ago, the Lord called me out of a strong position in the secular world to do full time ministry. My strong brain told me this wasn’t logical. I couldn’t go back to the salary I made when I graduated college and still make ends meet. There wouldn’t be enough money. I wouldn’t be challenged enough. But the reality is, the Lord’s ways aren’t always logical. My best friend showed me a video of the vision of the North Charleston DreamCenter and I couldn’t ignore it. North Charleston was 7th in the nation for violent crime per capita and it was only 15 minutes away from my house. I couldn’t sit back and ignore it.

I had no idea at that time what the Lord had in store. I stepped up to volunteer for 6 months and found myself leading Children’s Ministry. The funny thing about this is that I have no children. Here I am learning and teaching others about how to bring up a child in the ways of the Lord – yet I have never done it myself. Just another way the Lord uses the least of these and He sure did. The ministry grew from ground floor to just at 100 kids in 3 years before stepping aside to allow others the room to step into ministry.

I took a year off of Children’s Ministry to help establish the fundraising strategy of the Dream Center and in this time found my heart bending towards our e3 mentoring program. e3 (educate, elevate and empower) is a youth mentoring program that matches at-risk kids in middle and high school with professional and community mentors on a one-on-one basis. The mission is to help the youth become productive citizens who make positive contributions, good choices and love God.

The program was established in August 2009 to address the needs of the youth in our community and in 4 years, we have mentored an average of 35 students each year. By targeting issues such as staying in school, finding part time work, developing character and teaching students how to set goals we have been able to effect the community for generations.

The Impact

  • 100% of the Seniors enrolled in 2011 Program Graduated – 12 Students
  • · Graduation Rates at Local High School are Rising
2008-2009 @ 36.2%
2009-2010 @ 40.2%
2010-2011 @ 45.1%
  • Increased Student Exposure with Trips: Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Cape Canaveral and Washington, DC
  • Lives Forever Changed by Relationships Centered in Christ
I have played a background role in the mentoring program for the past 4 years,
but I am excited about stepping up and growing this program. There are more than 400 kids in the Lowcountry area that don’t graduate each year in our local high schools. I feel like God has given us a vision to reach 400 students through the e3 mentoring program in the next 4 years and hope that you will pray alongside us for the resources to make this happen.
If you’re interested in the e3 program, sponsoring a child, or taking the step of mentoring, you can contact me at amieheath@seacoast.org or call 843.375.1099 x1703.