Posted in Kids Ministry

Forgotten Gifts

manger 2019

There are many gifts of Christmas. The gift of the Messiah seen by Simeon,the gift of a son to Mary and Joseph, the three gifts of the magi to Jesus. Then there are the gifts we give each other. These come in many forms: toys, clothes, books and footy pajamas, all expressions of love to our family and friends. We look at the Christmas story and say that the birth of Jesus was the greatest gift of all.

In our family, I notice that after we open our gifts on Christmas day a couple things happen. Presents that we are very excited about are immediately used or assimilated into our wardrobe, room, garage or kitchen. Some gifts just seem to linger under the tree. Sometimes, these gifts are left for days. Opened, oohed and aahed over, and finally, abandoned and forgotten under the tree.

I can’t help but feel that we often treat this gift of Christmas-the birth of Jesus-the same way. Each year we prepare to celebrate by decorating our homes, buying gifts, baking treats, gathering with friends and family, all in preparation for Christmas. And then, we hear the story. We read it together. We sing of his birth. We celebrate this amazing gift, and then we leave it under the tree. Days after Christmas the tree is down; packed away in the garage or lying unceremonioiusly in the gutter waiting to be collected.The season of Christmas is over, and so is my gratefulness for this gift. The Christmas story is packed away like a manger scene and so is my awareness of all He has done for me.

This gift, like every other one, has to be opened and used to enjoy. It is not enough to simply be aware that Jesus was born. The bigger gift, the best gift, is the one that we can receive after his death and resurrection. Forgiveness for all we have done and ever will do. Hope in a future with Him. These gifts we are told to remember. These are the gifts that Christmas has ultimately brought to us.

Ebenezer Scrooge famously says at the end of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” It’s a lovely sentiment.

1 Corinthians 5:21 & 6:1 say this, “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”

This Christmas, let’s not leave anything under the tree. Let’s not receive a marvelous gift and then ignore it.

Posted in Kids Ministry



fall family fun

In the Sacramento Valley we wait not so patiently and yearn for the arrival of Fall. Those of us who are natually optimistic wear things like boots and scarves and sweaters, and those of us who know better, see the rest of you removing them one by one as the “fall weather” soars into temperatures more suited to months like May and June. We obsessively watch the forecast as if we expect the weather girl to say, “Wow! Now that’s unusual. It’s 62 degrees outside in October. Time for heavy sweaters and hot apple cider!” Instead we get, “Today’s high is 82 which is average for this time of year.” Heavy (scarfless & bootless) sigh.

In order to fully invest in fall before Thanksgiving arrives, we have compiled a list of things we consider to be fall fun.  We hope you will find some new things to enjoy, and let us know in the comment section if you have ideas we can try. Happy Fall!

  1. Carve pumpkins
  2.  Roast pumpkin seeds
  3. Go tree shaking
  4. Go for a fall foliage walk
  5. Go to Apple Hill
  6. Pick apples
  7. Bake yummy things
  8. Light candles and put twinkle lights all over the house
  9. Decorate for fall
  10. Create something (Pinterest is loaded with craft ideas for grown ups and kids)
  11. Bake pumpkin pie
  12. Watch football (I’ve added my favorite team’s schedule-you’re welcome!!)
  13. Nap in cozy blankets
  14. Make a blanket & pillow fort
  15. Backyard bonfire
  16. Fall organization 
  17. Trick or Treat
  18. Movie marathon or watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown
  19. Make and/or eat caramel apples
  20. Plant bulbs
  21. Plan for Thanksgiving
  22. Take a flashlight walk at night
  23. Be the Great Pumpkin (anonymously gift a friend a fall treat)
  24. Set a reminder to plant pumpkin seeds next spring
  25. Attend fall festivals
  26. Celebrate Friendsgiving (a silly link, enjoy!)
  27. Eat homemade cookies by candle or firelight


Posted in Kids Ministry

Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust?

dandelionHave you ever dreamed of flying? Honestly, with money and a little planning, you can fly anytime. And, traveling by plane is one of my favorite things. To me, a plane ticket equals a departure from the usual and the possibility of new adventures and experiences. You only have to look at history to see that humans have always had a bit of a love affair with flying. This idea, the ability to fly, comes up in a popular kids move called Peter Pan. With a little “faith, trust and pixie dust” adventure awaits!

Sadly, there is a catch. This adventure is rooted in childhood dreams and impossible but exciting situations: pirates, mermaids, a giant alligator, sword fights, and ultimately, a return to reality.

God’s word offers something quite different. Rather than faith, trust and pixie dust, the Bible tells us that faith and trust lead to perfect peace. Not as whimsical as pixie dust, but imminently more valuable.

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you.” Faith, trust & perfect peace don’t quite roll off the tongue in the same rhyming sing-song way, but this peace has the advantage of being absolutely perfect. Perfect peace doesn’t look like a perfect life or perfect circumstances. Instead, perfect peace comes as that bone deep knowing that ultimately God is in control and everything is going to be all right. It may not be all right in the way we hope or dream of, but it will be released to us through the Father’s hands, accompanied by perfect peace that only comes from Him. This peace seems like a necessary ingredient to the adventure of life.

Romans 15:13 says, “I pray that God, the source of hope, fills you completely with joy and peace becasue you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So, no pixies, but instead, the Holy Spirit. A constant companion and reminder of the hope that is mine. A reminder that I can be overflowing with hope because of the joy and peace that have already filled me completely becasue I trust in God.

Faith, Trust and Perfect Peace? Adventure awaits.

Posted in Kids Ministry

Summer Bucket List

You hear about bucket lists all the time. What better season to have a bucket list than summer! My favorite sort of bucket is definitely a sand bucket, hopefully accompanying me to the beach. Our Kids Ministry team put our heads together to think of a list of mostly free, must-do summer outings and happenings. We hope that you will consider Giddy Up Gulch, this summer’s Kidtastic Adventure, to be at the top of your list!

pool ring

  1. BBQ with neighbors
  2. Play in the pool (yours or someone else’s)
  3. Go to the beach
  4. Build a sand castle (don’t forget your bucket)
  5. Have ice cream cones on the longest day of the year (June 21) we like Taylor’s in Loomis
  6. Make homemade push pops 
  7. River Cats lawn tickets
  8. Bike ride on the American River Trail
  9. Day trip to Lake Tahoe to escape the heat
  10. Visit Giddy Up Gulch at Sunrise Community Church
  11. Roast s’mores
  12. Play in the sprinklers
  13. Have a water balloon fight
  14. Hike to Lake Clementine
  15. Light sparklers on the 4th of July
  16. Go to the Drive in movies
  17. Make sidewalk art with chalk or paintbrushes and water
  18. Go to Livermore Park in Folsom
  19. Go fishing
  20. Have a backyard sleepover or campout
  21. Tie dye something
  22. Check out the Folsom Rodeo and cattle run
  23. Take a flashlight walk after dark to enjoy a perfect evening after a hot day
  24. Roast hot dogs outside
  25. Go camping
  26. Go berry picking
  27. Go to storytime at the Train Museum
  28. Go to Fairy Tale Town
  29. Check out Historic Folsom movie nights and events
  30. Attend Sunrise Summer Family Swim Night on August 2nd
Posted in Kids Ministry

Seen & Heard

A well-known phrase, “children should be seen and not heard” caught my attention recently.

According to this proverb originates in the religious ideals of medieval culture. The original meaning was that young women should not speak in the presence of adults, but later was extended to all children.

Admittedly, there have been occasions when I wished my child would be silent: when I am having conversation with a friend, when it has been an excruciatingly long day, when it has been raining for days and we are stuck in the house, or when no one has wanted my attention for hours, but now I am on the phone and there are so many things to be said!

Dwelling more on this phrase brought Matthew 19:13-15 to my mind.  It says this:  “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering Him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children”.  And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.”

I can’t imagine that the kids were quietly waiting in a line to see Jesus. They were all over the place, running, laughing, and chattering away. Notice that Jesus did not say, “I see those children, and they are too loud”. He did say, “let them come to me…don’t stop them”.

I am privileged to be a Children’s Pastor. I get to spend time with kids. Lots of kids. I get to love them, talk with them, comfort those who cry and be glad with the ones who are glad. I don’t believe that a quiet child is a good child. I do believe that noise and presumed chaos can lead to great church experiences and faith that lasts for a lifetime.

A book I was reading encouraged the reader to take a popular phrase or proverb and reverse it. I would say the opposite of “children should be seen and not heard” is this: “Jesus sees the children and he hears them.” Let them come!

Posted in Kids Ministry

Gifts of Christmas

I love all things Christmas. When people ask me how I am holding up during the holiday season my response is, “I love Christmas, what’s there to be stressed about?” That being said, it is important to note that there are times when the demands on my person and schedule can feel like too much. Besides my normal full-time job, family, and other regular commitments there are parties and gatherings, church events, decorating and Christmasifying our home, baking, and of course buying presents for the special people in my life.

christmas dog and kid

I love shopping (I would say don’t tell my husband, but he is fully aware), and for the most part I find Christmas shopping to be a fun and joyful thing. But there are times when it seems like I can’t find the right gift. There are times when finances have been tight and shopping for gifts did not fill me with joy, but with anxiety. And there are times when I look around at all of the unnecessary stuff and wonder why I am wasting time and money on things that no one needs.

However, gift giving isn’t as much about need as it is about a tangible expression of my love for someone. It’s lovely to give people things they need, but it is also worthwhile to give gifts that are meaningful. They can be hand-made, donations made on the recipients behalf, or even gifts that are based in family or friend traditions.

This year, let’s consider giving the gifts we give with a little more thought and consideration. Not the “I should give you a present” gifts, but gifts that come from our heart, given to touch the heart of another in a tangible way.

Click here for a great article from Lifetree Kids with some input on giving less or more intentionally at Christmas time. If you are ever looking for good resources for faith and family, this is one of my favorites!


Posted in Kids Ministry

Falling Together

While only kids (and those lucky school teachers) have been on actual summer holiday, the rest of us have tried to capture the mood of Summer as much as we can: backyard barbeques, pool days, lazy days at the beach, sleeping in, hiking and travel. Summer still has 24 days left, but the beginning of school signifies the end of the summer. What old patterns are you falling back into? Probably a series of alarm clocks, school and sports schedules, and a return to the weekly activities that make up the bulk of our daily lives.

Have you considered falling into new habits this year? Most people think of fall as signaling the beginning of the end of the year, or the beginning of the rush toward the holidays. But fall is a time to consider new beginnings as well.

I hope that this year you will consider joining us for a new year of Wednesday night ministry at Sunrise. We have great things planned for our elementary boys and girls clubs. This fall the boys will be learning how to make step stools and talk about fire safety while learning Biblical values and being mentored by amazing men. The girls will be learning foundational truths about faith and their identity in Christ, doing some fun crafting and build relationships with other girls and the women who are investing in their lives.

Grown-ups can participate in various activities on campus including women’s Bible studies, exercise classes and open gym, choir, and Sunrise Common (open foyer for building relationships, drinking coffee, and well, you decide). And of course, start your night off in Sunrise Café, because who wants to cook dinner on a Wednesday night anyway?

There are so many ways we can choose to spend our time, but this year, let’s go “Falling Together”!