Years ago, in preparation for the 20th anniversary of The Family of Faith in 2011, the congregation decided to beautify the church property by planting a flower garden around the sign in the front yard of the church. The gardeners in the congregation selected the flowers, planted them, and cared for them. This legacy of generosity welcomes all who enter our property for today (7 years later) the initial plantings have grown tremendously. Rich colors of green, red, pink, and periwinkle blue, welcome our guests like nature’s own version of fireworks.

Flowers are part of God’s good creation. Jesus used flowers as a visional aid when teaching his disciples: “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like on of these” (Matthew 6:28-29).

Similarly, to how God cares for the flowers, He also cares for children. In 19th century Germany a man named Froebel wanted to help the children in his area receive excellent care, so he started something called a “Kindergarten” (i.e. a children’s garden). Children from 2 to 6 years old attended this garden for children. Our summer camp program, and preschool program, and before-and-after-school program imparts a similar work to our 21st century community. Our excellent staff cares for the children in our community with the same nurture and care that our gardeners provided to our beautiful flowers. May God bring our little children to grow and bloom to the glory of God.

-Pastor Doug                                                                                                

The 2017-2018 academic year of The Family of Faith Preschool is now finished. The preschool students received their diplomas in an exciting graduation service which included the class processing in cap and gown. Starting next week, The Family of Faith Summer Camp program will begin. This program serves children who are 18 months old through those children who are in 5th grade. Vacation Bible School will be offered in the middle of the Summer Camp schedule starting July 16.

What does the early childhood program have in common with the summer camp program? And what does the summer camp program have in common with the VBS program? And what do all of these have in common with the before-and-after school program? They all celebrate children’s innate desire to play.

Children’s play, while filled with silliness, and fun, is extremely important to their overall development. Actually, when we adult-type people watch children playing we are seeing children learn right before our very eyes. Social, emotional, physical, intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual development are all greatly affected by children’s play.

Jerome W. Berryman realized how important play was for the spiritual development of children. Therefore, Berryman created a support organization called Godly Play. You can learn more about Godly Play by visiting www.godlyplayfoundation.org. There you will find an abundance of books, articles, and resources to help you see how significant play is in the lives of our children.

At The Family of Faith we understand the developmental benefits of play for children. This is why we recently updated the playground at The Family of Faith – Copperfield. It is also the reason we are building a beautiful new playground at The Family of Faith – Miramesa (set to open this August). This knowledge regarding the importance of play is also why our daily chapel offerings are filled with puppets, and silly songs, and age appropriate games. May God bless our summer as we learn more about him as we play.

– Pastor Doug

This time of the year at The Family of Faith is lots of fun. It is lots of fun because we have the opportunity to celebrate. For example, this last Saturday, we celebrated the graduation of our preschool students. The children wore white caps and gowns as they processed into the sanctuary for the preschool graduation service. The children led the congregation in prayer, and song, and the pledges. Parents energetically took pictures as their child received their diploma from the preschool directors and myself.

In addition to the preschool graduation, we celebrated six confirmation students on Sunday in the Rite of Confirmation. Each of these children joined me each Sunday after church for at least a year in order to study the Bible carefully in preparation for their first communion. Each confirmand approached the altar for Holy Communion with their families. And each student presented a confirmation project in order to express their faith. One student created an artistic painting that was displayed on the bulletin. Another student crafted a wood cross and decorated it in such a way that it displayed an iridescent shine.

Finally, on Sunday, we also celebrated Pentecost Day. This is the day God poured out the Holy Spirit upon the church. The Spirit moved the church to speak God’s Word of salvation to many, as well as moving the church to baptize 3,000 souls in one day. May God continue to gather us as His family, as The Family of Faith, to celebrate His great goodness to us all.

-Pastor Doug

Yesterday was a day of appreciation at The Family of Faith Preschool. The preschool staff showed their appreciation of the mothers of our preschool children by providing an early Mother’s Day celebration. Just hours later several mothers reciprocated by watching the children while the staff enjoyed lunch together as part of Teacher Appreciation Week.

All of this celebrating, volunteering, helping, and appreciating accumulates to make for a wonderfully positive culture within The Family. What a joy it is as a pastor to see all of this generosity at work in our children’s learning environment. If there are such things as emotional “vibes” then there are certainly good vibes at The Family of Faith Preschool.

I, myself, was appreciative of the mothers who joined us for chapel. Three moms even volunteered to help me present the chapel message while using bird puppets. Thank you, ladies. One point of our puppet extravaganza (e.g. a penguin, a chicken, an owl, and an ostrich) was that all of these very different creatures are all birds. Some can run fast. Some can swim well. Some can cockle-doodle-doo. And some can see well at night.

In addition to sharing unity within their diversity, all of these birds also shared something else in common. God provides for them all just as He also provides for us all. Who really provided the tea for the mothers? Who really provided the lunch for the teachers? Who really provided the positive vibes in our children’s learning environment? Our Lord Jesus Christ, that’s who.

Here is how Jesus put it himself: “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into a barn, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they” (Matthew 6:26)? Yes, you, dear reader, are valuable to God. Yes, the children in our care are valuable to God. Yes, the Lord himself appreciates us all for we are all His children.

-Pastor Doug

“A Crown and Kids”

 

It is my pleasure to serve as the Senior Pastor at The Family of Faith Lutheran Church. One reason working at The Family is such a pleasure has to do with the energy and excitement that the preschool children and preschool staff members bring with them every day.

For example, today, in celebration of my 53rd birthday on Saturday, the staff presented me with a lovely birthday crown. This lovely craft was handmade by Ms. Tara. How much fun is that! Of course, I proudly wore my birthday crown as I greeted the children and their families at the door. As we celebrated the Lord’s goodness to us at our daily chapel time, I proudly wore my new birthday crown throughout the service. The children and staff members even sang the birthday song to me at the end of our time together in the sanctuary.

After all this extra attention, it occurred to me that I was receiving a small taste of the care and support that our children receive from our staff members every day. Celebrating birthdays is something our staff makes a priority in their classrooms. Actually, the staff finds something to celebrate with the children on a daily basis. It may be a birthday. It may be a rainbow in the sky. It may be a new game. Somehow each day the staff direct the children towards God’s goodness to them while inviting the children to join the joy.

I pray that each of you, parents, and grandparents, may share in the culture of joy found in the hallways, classrooms, playground, gym, and chapel of The Family of Faith Lutheran Church and Preschool whether it is your birthday, or not. May the Lord generously give to you eyes to see his generosity and a heart to respond to his repeated goodness.

-Pastor Doug

Jesus Is My Best Friend?

Thank you to all the parents and staff members who helped the preschool children sing in church last Sunday, April 22. Your generosity is very much appreciated by myself and our congregation. While early childhood education and care are offered at The Family 60 hours per week, those large efforts are not always apparent to the congregant in the pew. Thank you for sharing a little taste of our wonderful preschool with those who worshiped last Sunday.

One of the songs the children sang was called “Jesus Is My Best Friend.” Not only are these the words in the title, but they also serve as most of the words of the song itself. Repeatedly, the children reminded us that Jesus is our best friend.

Dear reader, you may find yourself cracking a little wise as you think to yourself, “Jesus is not really my best friend. My best friend is my fishing buddy.” Or, “My best friend is my shopping partner.” Of course, it is wonderful, dear reader, that you have such a special person in your life; however, I suggest that we can have Jesus as our best friend AND keep our other friends too.

Jesus shows himself to be our best friend by traveling with us wherever we go. No matter what the situation is. No matter the location. The children learn in chapel that our Lord Jesus goes with us on the playground, and in the gym, and during nap-time, and snack-time. Actually, at any time and place the resurrected Jesus can and does go with us to strengthen, encourage, forgive, love, and support us in our Christian faith.

What about on an off-shore oil rig? What about on a military base? What about in a hospital room? What about in a university classroom? Yes, our Lord Jesus can and does go with us adult-type people into our adult-type places and situations. While Jesus loves the little children, he is not a little child.

As you go about your work-life, your home-life, and your life in general, go with your best friend. Go with the only person who loves you with absolute, perfect, and unconditional love. Go with the Lord as you join the children in singing, “Jesus is my best friend.”

Pastor Doug

Helping the Next Family

On Saturday, April 14, twenty-four volunteers assembled in the gym at The Family of Faith – Copperfield to lift and load box upon box of furnishings for The Family of Faith – Miramesa. Some of these volunteers were parents who have students in our preschool currently. Some were parents who previously had children attending the preschool. Some were members of The Family of Faith Lutheran Church who had never had a child in the care of the preschool.

One thing that all these volunteers had in common was a hope for good things to happen at The Family of Faith – Miramesa. These generous people were thinking of other children. They were helping the next family who God will send into the care of The Family of Faith Preschool.

After paying tuition, it is understandable that parents of preschool children may think they have fulfilled their responsibilities to the preschool. And in some ways, that is true. It is also true that the preschool program at The Family of Faith is generously supplemented by the worshiping population at the church. Those who worship at The Family of Faith Lutheran Church are giving generously in order to help the next families who will attend.

You can help the next families too. On Saturday, April 28, at The Family of Faith – Miramesa we need volunteers to assemble the furniture that was previously moved. If you can possibly spare an hour, or two, to help with the major project, I, for one, would appreciate your generosity and kindness. In the end, offering our community excellent preschool services as a Christian community does take extra effort. Please keep The Family of Faith Preschool in your prayers, and if you can help put together a desk, or two, that would be great.

If you cannot help on April 28, please consider helping the next families by referring people to The Family of Faith -Copperfield, or The Family of Faith – Miramesa. We pray your child has been well served. Perhaps you have a friend, or a neighbor, or a coworker who has a young child in their care. We would very much appreciate you encouraging your friend to give The Family of Faith a look.

Finally, this coming Sunday, April 22, at 10 AM, the preschool children will have an opportunity to sing during the worship service. By allowing your child to join his/her peers in worship you will also be allowing the congregation to hear the voices of our preschool children – voices that help keep us all motivated to serve their developmental needs now, as well as helping the next family.

Thank you in advance.

 

A Comeback Story

At The Family of Faith Preschool, we gather for daily chapel services. As we gather, we like to sing. Since most of our congregation is somewhere between 18 months old and 5 years old, we like to sing simple songs. One of those songs goes like this:

The itsy-bitsy spider went up the waterspout.

Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

Up came the sun and dried up all the rain.

And the itsy-bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

All the children can, and do, join in singing this simple song. After all, it is fun.

While small children are often interested in exploring their world, including bugs, adult-type people can see that this song is about more than a spider. The grown-ups can see that this song has another meaning than its literal meaning. The big world out there can make even adults feel “itsy-bitsy.” As we attempt to make progress in our lives (compare with the climb), there are many challenges we face (compare with the wash of rain down the spout). However, when God offers us a new day (compare with the rising sun) we are enabled by the Lord to take on our challenges again (compare with trying to climb up the waterspout a second time).

At The Family of Faith Lutheran Preschool, we know how the spider in the song feels. There was a time, not long ago, when our preschool enrollment was 115. It then dropped within a few years to 55. The Lord intervened. God sent us the Son to dry-up the rain and we began to climb again. Today we have over 90 students enrolled at The Family of Faith -Copperfield and will open a second ministry location in June.

Likewise, at The Family of Faith Lutheran Church there was a time, not long ago, when our Easter worship service served 264 souls. Attendance then dropped within a few years to 147. The Lord intervened. God sent us the Son to dry-up all the rain and we began to climb again. Thanks be to God for the 186 souls that joined us in worship as we celebrated Christ’s resurrection a few weeks ago.

Actually, the entire message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a comeback story. The itsy-bitsy person of Jesus confronted the powerful political and religious leaders of his day. These leaders appeared to have be successful in washing Jesus’ ministry out as Jesus died on the cross. However, the Son rose from the dead on the third day.

Our sins apply a force down on us – a force that goes against God’s wisdom. Sometimes our sins wash us out. But there is still hope. God in Christ forgives us our sins for free by grace. This enables us to start climbing up, to start living by God’s counsel, again. Finally, by God’s grace in Christ, we will someday get to the top of that waterspout as we enter heaven. The Lord wants to make The Family of Faith Lutheran Church and Preschool part of his comeback story. God wants to make each family, and each individual, part of his comeback story. See the Son and join the climb.

-Pastor Doug

Thank God for His Easter Blessings

 

Thank God! Specifically, thank God for His generous gift of joy found in the celebration of Easter this year. Here at The Family of Faith Preschool, we like to play the game “I spy” before we start chapel. “I spy with my eagle-eye something gold,” I will say.  Next, the children point to something in the sanctuary that is gold in color. I then praise the children for being so very observant. The children appear to be very proud of themselves and their ability to find objects in the room. Let’s play a game of Easter “I Spy” right now. However, instead of saying, “I spy,” I will note “I witnessed.”

This Easter I witnessed the Holy Spirit motivating 39 more souls to join us in this year’s Easter celebration than were present in last year’s celebration. In addition, I witnessed the Youth Group volunteer to prepare a fine Easter breakfast for the church. I witnessed the church accept the youth’s invitation, as well as generously donating to the youth’s goal of attending the state youth conference this summer. I witnessed dozens of children skipping across the church-yard to pick up colorful Easter eggs with their parents. I witnessed numerous vocalists and musicians leading our Easter worship celebration with joyous offerings of praise. I witnessed mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, friends and neighbors joining together to come before the Lord’s altar to receive the Lord’s Supper. I witnessed God at work amongst us this Easter Sunday. Thanks be to God!

What did you witness? Was God’s grace and mercy evident to you as the church spoke the Easter cheer “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”? Was the generosity of the Lord obvious to you as the hand-made art work painted in gold surrounded you in our sanctuary? Was Easter joy evident to you and your family this Easter as you gathered to enjoy of meal of celebration? I hope so. I pray so.

If you did not witness such things this Easter, it is not too late. The Easter Gospel is available to you and your family every day. The joy of knowing that Christ Jesus has paid for our sins in full is always free for you to enjoy. The hope of everlasting life in heaven by grace through faith is constantly offered to you by our most loving God. For Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

 

-Pastor Doug

A Year in Review

 

You may have heard of the phrase, “She was smiling EAR TO EAR.” Here at The Family of Faith we might say that we have been so blessed that our ministry is smiling YEAR TO YEAR. Join me in recalling some of our blessings as we prepare to celebrate the greatest blessing of all – the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Day.

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, just a couple of weeks before Easter, many of us gathered to worship God for the first time at our new second location on Fry Road. While there was just dirt at that location, we brought our music, and the American flag, and the flag of the cross, and the processional cross from our established location in Copperfield to our second location next to the Miramesa subdivision. Songs were sung. Prayers were prayed. Pictures were made. All of those gathered then drove down the street and enjoyed a meal of celebration at a local pizza parlor.

Later that same month, on Sunday, April 30, 2017, many of us again gathered to dig the first ceremonial shovels of dirt on our new construction site. For various legal reasons this ceremony was not possible on April 2. Families from both church and preschool took turns digging away at the rock-hard soil. After some effort, the shape of a small cross was made in the top-soil symbolizing that this ground was being set aside to serve the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

On August 21, 2017, the preschool staff was assembled for a training day. During a break, the whole staff went out to look at a wonder of nature in the sky – a solar eclipse. This wonder of nature astounded us. Who knew that just five days later another wonder of nature would visit us – Hurricane Harvey. God motivated The Family of Faith Lutheran Church and Preschool to coordinate relief efforts for our neighbors who were affected by the storm. The gymnasium housed 36 families and 13 dogs during a three-day period. The comfort dogs visited the preschool children when school was able to start. Some preschool teachers and their families received generous grants to help them rebuild their homes.

On October 31, 2017, The Family of Faith celebrated another storm – a religious storm. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther spoke out again the tyranny of his age. He did so as he was inspired by the clear message of Holy Scripture. By Scripture alone, by grace alone, and by faith alone are souls saved. Five Hundred years of Reformation history was celebrated at The Family of Faith and throughout the Houston area.

On April 1, 2018, it will be time to gather for Easter again. The dirt on Fry Road now serves as the foundation for our new second location for ministry. Many new students, teachers, and aids have joined The Family of Faith community. Join us this Sunday as we present our heartfelt thanks to the resurrected Christ at the 10 AM worship service. Join us as we shout “Alleluia!” to the Lord of Life. Take your place in one of the pews as we together sing God’s praises for all of His goodness to us. Join us and experience what it feels like to smile from YEAR TO YEAR.

Pastor Doug