Easter: the Ultimate Transformation
Posted: April 11, 2017
Easter is the ultimate transformation. Unexpected grace, sheer joy, a risen and living Lord. There is nothing like it - and never will be.
How can we share this Easter joy with our children (or grandchildren) and nurture their faith by this miraculous occasion? Here are a few ideas courtesy of our GodZone Sunday school leaders:
- Write a note from the Easter Bunny before going to church saying, “Just hopping by to remind you that Jesus comes first today...so I’ll be back later.”
- Put a budding branch in water and watch it come to life. Talk about the cycle of life as a miracle God provides.
- Hang paper butterflies around your house to celebrate new life.
- Watch a video together about the life of Jesus and talk about its meaning together.
For more, here is an excellent blogpost about worshiping with children on Easter.
Remember, you are creating memories. Some of them will be warm and wonderful. Others will lead to family eye-rolling stories told for years to come. All them shape lives.
Linda Sweitzer: Transformed by Compassion
Posted: March 15, 2017
This past December I had the opportunity, yes, I said opportunity, to attend the Compassionate Friends Candle Lighting Service at Shepherd of the Valley. It really opened my eyes to something I cannot even imagine in my life. These people gather together once a year to honor and remember their children who died way too soon. It was such a blessing that God purposely put me there to witness what these people are living through every single day of their lives.
Susan Ferber, the SOTV parish nurse, asked if I’d like to help by making coffee, serving treats, and helping direct people towards the service in the chapel. Thank you, Susan. I saw the grief in their faces. I watched as they lit remembrance candles and spoke the names of their loved ones…voices cracking and sometimes barely audible. The music and readings were perfect.
There was a slideshow of these children…so many, many beautiful children. These family members have buried children of all ages…babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers…so many teenagers and young adults. I am amazed at the strength and courage of these people. I am not a member of this special group...and for that, I’m truly thankful…so thankful for my three healthy children and five grandkids.
I am honored I was given this chance to feel the love and compassion of these wonderful people and to hear about their children. The parents told me about the smiles, the accomplishments, the dreams...these parents stood in front of me with teary eyes and struggling voices. The emotions of heartache and sorrow filled the room and yet, there was a sense of God’s presence, love, and peacefulness. At the end of the evening, many of these individuals gave me a hug and said thanks for helping. No, I wanted to say thank you to them for sharing such a heartbreaking and personal time of their lives. God’s blessings to these amazing people.
- Linda Sweitzer
Dealing with Conflict and Forgiveness
Posted: March 07, 2017
Transformation @Home: an ongoing series of ideas to nurture faith formation outside the church.
There is only one prerequisite to nurturing faith in the home. You must have an open heart and be willing to let the love of Christ shine through. Here are some ways to nurture faith in young ones when dealing with conflict and forgiveness:
- Respond to inappropriate behavior or choices using the phrase “Lord, have mercy” as a way to capture attention and appeal to the presence of a higher authority.
- Help your children appreciate your discipline as healthy guidelines, not final performance ratings. Encourage them to respond to your words with, “OK, I’m learning.”
- When conflicts arise, retitle your “Time Outs” to be “Begin Agains” and refocus from alienation to the goal of rejoining the family when ready.
- Learn Bible verses that promote healthy behavior and display them on your refrigerator.
- Model God’s unconditional love by teaching your children to respond to people's mistakes with the phrase, “I don’t like what you do, but I still love you!”
- Talk openly with family members in age appropriate ways about long term conflict. Be open to seeking outside support. Check with your pastor or community services to identify the help you need.
Material from "101 Faith Place" by Miriam Campbell
My Life and Faith: Maxwell Thomas Theis
Posted: October 12, 2016
My words are spoken differently. My body works in different ways. I see things in a different light and my ears hear the most amazing sounds. Many of you would say my world is small. To me, it's quite the opposite.
My Life and Faith: Julia Simms
Posted: September 28, 2016
The most prominent point in Julia Simms’ faith happened not on a Sunday morning, but in a quiet and dimly lit Sanctuary on a weekday. Julia had been encouraged to play piano during communion and was in the church to practice on the Sanctuary’s big Steinway piano. Alone in front of the piano with sunlight streaming through the windows, Julia truly felt God’s presence through the music and in the room, watching and soaring over her like a giant, heavenly eagle. She remembers it as “a feeling that could move the soul.”
VIDEO: Watch Julia eloquently describe this vibrant experience in her own words.
My Life and Faith: Andrew Thuras
Posted: September 28, 2016
Andrew Thuras has learned a great deal about faith from grandparents on both sides of his family. His maternal grandmother came from a family where many of the men were pastors and she “had the strongest faith” Andrew had ever seen. She was particularly nurturing and encouraging of Andrew’s faith, even at age six when his main concern was whether or not dogs could be in heaven. On the paternal side of his family, Andrew looked up to his grandfather the most. He taught him that it’s okay to be both a scientist and a Christian and that “not everything has to be seen” to be believed.
VIDEO: Hear what Andrew’s grandmother said about dogs in heaven.
My Life and Faith: Sam Lindemann
Posted: September 28, 2016
Sam Lindemann was transformed at his first camp experience in 8th grade. Thanks to the mentorship of a camp counselor, and encouragement from friends, Sam was willing to give his life to serving God. He continues to be transformed by talking about faith with fellow Christians he meets through school and new campers having their first camp experiences. These connections, Sam says, are important because “you know they’ll be there for you.”
VIDEO: Hear Sam’s story in his own words
My Life and Faith: Jacqueline Anderson
Posted: September 28, 2016
Jacqueline Anderson was given a bear from her father in kindergarten as he was leaving to fight in the Afghanistan war. Inside the bear’s pocket was a note that talked about God, and her father’s faith. The bear provided a source of care and comfort while her father was gone, and was instrumental to helping Jacqueline form her own faith. To this day, Jacqueline has the bear sitting on her desk to remind her that God continues to work in her life.
VIDEO: Hear how Jacqueline’s bear gave her comfort
Adrian Laffitte: Financial Peace University
Posted: September 14, 2016
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Financial Peace University (FPU) was the first time we took a class at SOTV. We stopped in for Christmas Eve Family Worship last year, but we are not regular attendees. We have lived in Lakeville for about two years and we attend church in Golden Valley where we used to live. We have 4 children, and we are a very active family who is always looking for guidance and assistance with spiritual growth and parenting.
2. What was your transformational experience at SOTV? SOTV hosting FPU allowed us to attend a church near our home that provided child care for our children. It gave us the opportunity to gain knowledge on finances and budgeting that we have implemented in our lives. An added benefit of attending this class was that we have been able to connect with other people going through the same experiences we are going through with their money as well as being introduced to SOTV and the generous facilitators that make the class happen.
3. How has this changed you? Dave Ramsey and FPU has changed everything for us as a family, as a couple, and as parents. We have been able to see the error of our ways when it comes to money and have seen our path reflected in the lessons modeled by our parents. We want better for our children, we want to improve their legacy and provide them the future they deserve. This journey has allowed us to gain the strength to tackle the financial issues that we imposed on ourselves and grow as people and as parents. We recommend FPU to anyone that we talk to and are so thankful to SOTV for hosting this transformative class.
4. What are some ways that people who have already taken FPU could continue to be involved? I have volunteered to help teach the FPU class starting in September. I want to learn their Best Practices concerning this course and how it changes the lives of the members of their congregation. Perhaps another way of connecting newcomers to the effectiveness of the class would be to have recent graduates come back and speak about their experiences. This would allow relatable moments to occur and would encourage further conversation. In addition, having a follow-up meeting with FPU graduates would enable people to stay connected to the process and encourage them along their journey.
The next FPU class begins September 22. See full details
Steve & Ann Genrich: Lutheran Marriage Encounter
Posted: September 12, 2016
We are Steve and Ann Genrich. We live here in Apple Valley and have been members of SOTV for about fifteen years. We had both belonged to the UCC church in Minneapolis that I grew up in. Our transformational experience has to do with Connect.
AG: One day I explained to Steve that I really wanted to return to the Lutheran church and that there was one in Apple Valley a friend of mine belonged to. After joining we really didn’t see much of each other on Sunday mornings. Once in awhile I brought home pamphlets from SOTV about one class or group or another. They would pile up on Steve’s desk and eventually get tossed into the circular file.
SG: One morning, while waking up and checking email, I actually looked through one of the fliers. It was from something called Lutheran Marriage Encounter. Unbeknownst to me Ann
had spoken with an SOTV member about these weekends and the person gave her the flier. It sounded interesting. Before I knew it my hands were at the computer keyboard and I was
typing in the web address. It was as if God had placed them there. Just like that we were registered. Taking initiative like that was not normal behavior for me! Fast-forward to the Marriage Encounter weekend…
AG: We started learning a lot about us as a couple and also as individuals.
SG: I discovered that I have feelings! And that they are important! We were taught how to listen to each other too.
AG: The transformation we made as a couple on that weekend was apparent as there were observable changes when we were seen together. Our marriage went from “me and you” to “Us.”
SG: Our lives and marriage became more Christ-like after learning that marriage is a covenant and needs God intertwined within it. Our enthusiasm following the weekend nudged us to become Presenters. We developed relationships with the local LME community through monthly small-group meetings at other couples’ homes. This local community of friends we have now is exactly what was missing. We all share this common bond of being what we call “encountered.”
AG: We help with supplies for each weekend and are now part of the Minnesota/Wisconsin Board of Directors.
SG: I would suggest that couples who might be interested to just speak with us. Call Ann’s cell at 952-220-4064 or e-mail email@example.com.