WINTER | 2019
THE MAGAZINE OF CHRIST CHURCH
Rev. Shane Bishop
Rev. Michael Wooton
For a complete listing of the Christ Church Staff visit: www.MyChristChurch.com/staff.
Mission Of The Flame
Be inspirational through biblical articles and devotions. Be informative in the announcement of future events that connect people in ministry.
On the last day of each year, I often muse over the year as it passes. It was a tough one for our family. I found myself saying, “Man, that one was a doozy! Goodbye 2018 and don’t let the screen door hit you on the way out!” But that morning I pulled out my Thanksgiving journal and “re-membered “ the goodness of God. I was up to 3,905 things I had to be thankful for over the course of several months. Reverend Shane talks about “re-membering” or, in other words, putting things back together.
I remembered how we came to Christ Church in December of 2009. We had been in full-time ministry, had some very challenging events in our ministry life and family, and came to Christ Church a bit bewildered and burned out. When we met with Reverend Shane, he said we needed to heal and rest. He knew a little of our story and no one had ever given us “permission” to rest. My husband and I are both driven in our work and ministry life, so Shane was speaking words of life to us that he didn’t even realize.
We did rest and then we knew when it was time to get busy about the Father’s business. We have gained a family in the truest sense of the word. Brothers and sisters in Christ have come alongside us and shared our sorrows and successes. We have seen one of our children come back to their faith in Christ in a big way since being here. Our family has worshiped and served together and are richer for it. We are part of a thriving Connect Group that loves and cares for each other.
We are all on a journey together at Christ Church. God has a part for each of us to play in His divine work as we connect people to Jesus Christ. He has a plan for each ministry, each Connect Group and each person that walks through the doors. If you are in a season of rest, then I pray that you will be filled with the love of God through this place called Christ Church. If you are in a season of serving, do it with all your might as we serve down the hall, around the corner and around the world. With the faithfulness of God, as we venture together in the new year, we can say to 2019, the best is yet to come!
I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds. Psalm 77:11-12
The Flame Editor
FROM THE EDITOR
Fairview Heights Campus
Sundays- 8am, 9:30am, 11am & 6pm
Wednesdays- 6:30pm (Going Deeper)
Thursdays - 6:30pm (Unstuck)
Collinsville/Maryville Campus, Millstadt Campus, & Scott Campus
Sundays at 10am
Tuesdays at 6:30pm (Going Deeper)
The Flame Online
Get The Flame Magazine online. Sign up for email reminders of new editions.
4 Twenty-One-And-A-Half Things
By Rev. Shane Bishop
5 Christ Church Fellowship
By Douglas Grohmann
6 I'm With The Band
By Carrie Schuetz
7 A Church Family Makes
All The Difference
By Theresa Cavalier
8 What God Has Done In My Life: The Impact Of Being In A Connect Group
By Vince Delgado
10 Worshiping With Full Throated Praise
By Susan J. Meister
11 Remolded By God
By Matthew LaFrance
12 Blessed Mess
By Ashley Sanders
13 Restored Identity
By Becky Olroyd
14 God Holds My Hand
By Martha McFarland
16 Finding A Home In Christ
By Dana Ross
17 The Hand Of God
By Wendy Smith
18 Finding God In The Midst Of Laundry
By Shannon Shores
19 My Faith Story
By Lorraine Schafer
20 Christ Church Blessings
By Shannon Peiffer
21 Getting To Know You
22 God At Work
The Flame Magazine is a quarterly magazine published by Christ Church. ©2018 Christ Church. Learn more about Christ Church at MyChristChurch.com.
EDITOR: Carrie Gaxiola DESIGN: Justin Aymer COVER PHOTO: Mike Creagh
Questions About The Flame?
Contact the Editor, Carrie Gaxiola, at CarrieGaxiola@MyChristChurch.com
By rev. Shane bishop
Rev. Shane Bishop
God is good all the time. This is something that you hear often at Christ Church. On December 29, 2013, I did not believe this for one second. That day I walked into Christ Church celebrating my fifth day of being divorced for a second time. I was hurt, angry and lost. To top it off, somebody was sitting in my seat. At that time, I was going to church only because I enjoyed the music and my daughter was going and I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. I had absolutely no understanding of what fellowship meant. Then Associate Pastor Troy Benton began to speak about John the Baptist and making a joyful noise. It seemed that he was preaching directly to me and at that moment I knew this place was my home. There are no words to explain the excitement and joy I felt when I heard that God had given me an instrument and that I should use it to connect people with Jesus Christ.
What was my instrument? I thought about this for a long time. Awhile later, I was approached about joining the Kid’s Ministry team as a volunteer. Of course, I was hesitant since I was immature when it came to Scripture. Little did I know that this was an easy problem to fix. Once I removed that fear, I knew that this was what I was created to do. Since the age of 12, I had coached younger kids and they seem to really be drawn to me and listed to what I would say. Imagine what could be done through me once I shared my love for Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite verses is Romans 1:12. “I want us to encourage one another in the faith we share.” As I have become more Bible literate, Paul has become someone I can relate to. Paul was saved by God even though many thought he was not worthy. Paul’s life has taught me to see the good in every situation when he wrote the Book of Philippians from prison.
When asked about how fellowship has affected my life and the life of my family, I had to look up its meaning. It was defined as a friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests. Well there is a lot of kindness here and we all share a love for our Father.
My family here consists of my daughter Kailie and a sister that does not share faith as strongly as I do. Daily, I am amazed by my new family here at Christ Church. Every Wednesday and Sunday it is like I am attending a family reunion that you want to go to. There are endless people that I am excited to see every single time I walk through those doors. I often joke that I know where I have to be at Church, but don’t know how I am going to get there because of the friends I will encounter along the way. My time can be easily spent talking to one of my kiddos, another volunteer, a Christ Church worker, or one of the parents I have gotten the pleasure of getting to know better. Plus, I have also made lifelong friends with people that I have met from just being here. As I have connected my kids to Jesus Christ, this has also helped me do the same for their parents and for myself.
Being part of the Christ Church family means that you always have a friend and someone to share Jesus Christ with. No matter if I walk in with a heart full of joy or sorrow, I know that someone will be there for me. Not only do I have people to share my faith with, but I also have people to talk to about being a single dad or just being a man in today’s fallen world. This has also helped my daughter grow as a child of God and as a young lady. She has learned to put others first and the importance of serving others.
As you are reading this now, I am spending my days making a joyful noise for others with the gifts that God has blessed me with. I am full of the knowledge that all glory goes to God and that I have been created to connect others with Jesus Christ. Now I truly understand that all the time, God is good.
“ I want us to encourage one another in the faith we share ”
BY DOUGLAS GROHMANN
On July 1, 2018 I was appointed by Bishop Frank Beard to year 21 as the senior pastor of what the Illinois Great Rivers Conference of the United Methodist Church calls "Fairview Heights Christ." Bishop Beard is my fourth bishop, and Roger Russel is my sixth district superintendent, since my arrival. I am now the senior member of the Mississippi River District in terms of length of appointment. Over these years we have welcomed 1,560 new members on profession of faith, celebrated 1,146 baptisms and grown from just over 200 to over 2,500 members. Has it been easy? Absolutely not.
What have I learned in my twenty-one-and-a-half years?
Quite a bit, actually.
I Have Learned
1. Remember your call. Your call is all that will get you through the rough stretches of highway. If God called you, you can’t quit.
2. Have a life outside of church. This includes family and friends.
3. Stay in the Word. Preaching for me is an extension of my devotional life. I share with others what God shared with me.
4. Keep learning. You have to read and spend time every week getting better and smarter.
5. Never forget you are in the people business.
6. Don't take things personally. Change is hard. Never mistake questions for questioning or disagreements for a conflict. Is isn’t about you…or me. What we are doing is bigger than that.
7. Hold steady during turbulence. Associate frustration with silence.
8. You can’t cheat excellence or time. There may be shortcuts to success, but there are no shortcuts to significance.
9. Stay Humble. Don’t get to thinking that you are “all that and a bag of communion wafers.”
10. Keep it authentic. People relate to real people, not people who try to appear perfect.
11. Don't ignore problems. Like weeds in a garden, most problems are easily corrected if you catch them early.
12. Lead by example. Never ask people to do what you are not doing.
13. Refuse entitlement. Rule number one: Nobody owes you anything. There is no rule number two.
14. Admit your mistakes. Developing a learning curve is essential.
15. Be open and honest. Tell people the truth, not what you think they want to hear.
16. Travel. Boring preachers are boring people. Get out.
17. Have fun. If you are not having a good time, no one else will, either.
18. Know what a win looks like. I want to see attendance grow, celebrate lots of professions of faith and baptisms, and see empirical evidence of discipleship in the lives of the people God has entrusted to me.
19. Give maximum effort and attitude. These are two things always within our control.
20. Always be well prepared. Never put in a fraction of the time, effort or energy that it takes to be successful, and then wonder why God let you down.
21. If you are going to give God the credit, let God carry the stress.
21½. You can’t make everyone happy. So you just do what you think is right.
I am often asked to tell the Christ Church story at conferences, and I always include this quote: “I did not grow this church, only God can grow a church, but I have had the privilege of growing with this church.” Thank you all for this privilege. I can’t wait to see what wonderful things God has in store for us all!
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Carrie Schuetz
Attending church has been a part of my life since I was a little girl. Growing up, my family attended Park Avenue Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. We moved to Sparta when I was in the sixth grade and after a few years, my family quit attending church – dad had a falling out with someone – so when I started dating my husband, I attended the Catholic Church with him and converted to Catholicism when we got married in 1979. When we moved to Swansea in 1995, we tried every Catholic Church in St. Clair County, yet I could not find one where I felt welcome. No one talked to me, you were in and out in 50 minutes, and the Baptist in me craved Christian fellowship! Then one day a friend invited me to attend Christ United Methodist Church, now known as Christ Church, and that Sunday I went home and told my husband that I was turning Methodist.
I don’t remember when I officially joined Christ Church, but it did not take long for God to reveal why he had led me here. In October of 2005, my mom became ill and passed away on December 23, 2005. Just eleven months later, my dad passed away. I had joined a ladies group a few months before my mom got sick, and that group was a huge support to me during that difficult time. My husband remarked that he could tell how important, loving and helpful these women were to me. This group no longer exists, but I made lasting Christian friendships. At that time, my husband had been attending Christ Church with me on an irregular basis, but after he saw what a difference a church family can make, he decided to make it official and became a member himself. He recognized the importance of Christian fellowship.
Over time, we both became involved in different things at Christ Church, made new friends and felt at home and welcome. Because of this, some “old” friendships were lost. Our friends did not understand why we didn’t want to stay out late on Saturday night. Why did we want to go to church every Sunday? What do you mean you can’t go because you have Bible study? We asked ourselves if we would do anything differently so these friendships could go back to the way they were and we decided no, we were living the life God wanted us to live. We prayed – prayed for broken friendships, and prayed that someday our friends would want what we had found at Christ Church. Proving that prayer (and waiting on God!) works, now two of the couples we are friends with attend Christ Church. I know God led them there, but I would like to think we had something to do with it! Over time, other friendships have gradually been resurrected.
As the years go by, I become more aware of how important a church family is. I had open heart surgery in August, and was humbled by the prayers we received from Christ Church friends and leaders. The prayers cast a feeling of calm over the entire situation. My husband’s uncle recently passed away, and the funeral home director performed the service because they did not have a church family. I found this heartbreaking. The support you receive from a church family through prayers and friendships is invaluable.
How much longer will Christ Church be our church home? I can’t say for sure because I don’t know where we will be one year or five years from now. But my soul is fed at Christ Church by the messages I receive each week, messages that aren’t “preachy” but that speak to real life. God continues to work in my life, my husband’s life and our marriage. The future is in God’s hands – but my faith has grown, my husband’s faith has grown and our marriage is stronger because of our connection to Christ Church. We have been truly blessed.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
Flame Volunteer Writer
“I’m with the band.” It’s a phrase used by musicians to get in the door. For those of us serving on the Christ Church Praise and Worship Team, it allows us on the altar to serve God and to enter into fellowship with one another.
We walk in the footsteps of the Levites. According to Numbers 18:6, “I myself have chosen your fellow Levites from among the Israelites to be your special assistants. They are a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord for service in the Tabernacle.” Numbers 1:53b states, “The Levites are responsible to stand guard around the Tabernacle.”
The worship team has a whole group of assistants who serve to stand guard as technical Levites. They coordinate the lights with the music, mix the sound to a perfect balance, maintain equipment, prepare the set, and literally handle miles of electrical cords. They produce the sight and sounds in the sanctuary. The musicians are grateful for them in presenting their best. They are complete support artists.
In 1 Chronicles 15:16, “David also ordered the Levites leaders to appoint a choir of Levites who were singers and musicians to sing joyful songs to the accompaniment of harps, lyres, and cymbals.” We are one praise team providing services in four locations. We are almost never the same group of musicians, so we must constantly listen, move, breathe, welcome, and practice well for the next service. Our musicianship and friendship has grown by leaps and bounds by this method.
While I am writing this, our praise team this week includes members from age 17 to 71. 1 Chronicles 25:8 says, “The musicians were appointed to their term of service by means of sacred lots, without regard to whether they were young or old, teacher or student.” If you were raised in a choir robe, you can still play and sing next to someone wearing skinny jeans!
The Fairview Heights campus team serves at four services every Sunday. They sacrifice their time and their families’ time to provide music for the audience of one – God! They spend a whole lot of time together. They love, encourage, joke, play hacky sack, eat, mingle, and practice music when they are not on the altar. And, yes, they hear the sermon four times!
They start Sunday on their knees. Nehemiah 13:22 says, “Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and guard the gates in order to preserve the holiness of the Sabbath.” The team may appear light hearted in person and heavy handed on their instruments, but they are dedicated to their appointments. They are completely serious about conveying only God’s Word to others. They worship God, lead in song, and sing over those who come to the altar to pray.
I have performed with this band as a piano player for nineteen years, and there was a time when I struggled with confidence. I could not play an eight-measure introduction at practice. My bandmates could have given the part to someone else, but they kept it for me. They laid hands on me and prayed, and on Sunday that introduction was just fine. Numbers 8:10 reads, “When you present the Levities before the Lord, the people of Israel must lay their hands on them.”That is true confidence in the Lord and fellowship from my bandmates.
I look forward to every practice and service to play the piano with this crazy bunch. I cannot wait to see what each individual has to bring to the music. I learned a long time ago that something very special happens when you move, play, and breathe together in worship. I am still glad to “play”with the talented and dedicated musicians on this team, and I thank God I am able to say, “I’m with the band.”
A Church family makes
all the difference
I'm With The Band
By Theresa Cavalier
Flame Volunteer Writer
Flame Volunteer Writer
What God Has Done in My Life: The Impact of Being
in a Connect Group
I get asked all the time what I like most about attending Christ Church. My answer is always the same: it’s the people! The welcoming and loving feeling that you get when you arrive to Christ Church every week is amazing (but you probably already know that). My second answer is that Christ Church follows its mission statement by doing everything possible to “connect people with Jesus Christ.” I just love that everything we do as a church is directed to achieving the goal of helping each person who visits, and all of the members of our multi-site congregation, to grow in our faith and have a personal relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Sure, we have an incredible pastoral team. Every Sunday Rev. Shane does an amazing job making sure that the Word of God is delivered and made relevant to our lives today. Our Praise and Worship Team is truthfully second to none. Since joining Christ Church, I have visited several other churches, large and small, all over the Midwest, while traveling for work and youth/college soccer, and I can tell you that we are so blessed to have such talented, dedicated and faithfully connected individuals pouring into our lives each week.
But Sunday is just one day of the week. If we truly want to grow and have a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ, then spending one hour, one day a week with Him is simply not enough for that to take place. At least it wasn’t for me.
I have been consistently involved in different sports ministries since arriving at Christ Church back in 2001, but about six years ago I finally said “yes” to some friends who had been encouraging me (for more than a few years) to go on a “No Greater Love” mission trip to New Orleans. Wow! That trip changed my life and my relationship with Christ forever. I’m not big on using the expression of being “saved,” but I can honestly tell you that God spoke to me through the men that were there in camp with me, and through the people that we encountered on the street. It was more than amazing. Words truly can’t describe it. The Lord actually spoke to me, and I discovered my own personal relationship with Him. Even though I had been a “Christian” all my life and attended church services at Christ Church for several years, I didn’t really know my Savior. My salvation through Jesus Christ was finally revealed to me during that trip.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love to talk. I always have. The simple truth is that I just enjoy talking to people. Not just with my wife, my kids, a friend or a co-worker, but sometimes with a person that I just met. Honestly, before that trip I would be happy to talk to just about anyone about any sport, especially baseball, football and soccer; or about home improvements, or work stuff, or shared hobbies, history, vacations, etc. Anything, as long as it is not too deep or too personal, is fair game; you kno,w typical “guy stuff.” But definitely not deeper, more personal life and relationship-based stuff. I would be very careful to avoid any serious topics like health and family issues. I would never even consider talking with anyone about their faith and relationship with God. It’s not that I didn’t care about those things or the people I was talking to, but I just felt like I wasn’t prepared to help them with their challenges.
You see, before that trip I had never sat down in a small group of men and talked openly about my past, my sins, my worries and my regrets. But those men, whom I gratefully call brothers today, sat there and listened to me share my burdens. They didn’t judge me. In fact, many of them expressed that they had some of the very same issues in their own lives, either now or in the past. They reminded me that our God is a forgiving and loving God. They prayed “for me and with me” each day. By the end of the trip, all of my burdens, guilt and shame were gone. I couldn’t believe it. These were just normal guys like me. They weren’t pastors or even counselors of any kind. How could they possibly be so well equipped to help me with the things I was dealing with? But through our discussions and their prayers, they taught me about the importance of being in a regular small group.
What I didn’t realize until after I went on that trip was that God “connects” Himself to each of us through other believers. Finding a small group of friends that you can trust and turn to when facing one of the many storms that we each face in our daily lives is critical to our walk and relationship with Christ. Someone who will be there to give an encouraging word or text when things go crazy. Someone who will listen and pray with you. We can’t become the person that God created us to be all by ourselves. For me, it was my own selfish pride that kept me from admitting that I needed help to resolve the challenges I was facing. Once I got rid of my pride and openly shared my problems to God, through the support of the brothers in my small group, I received God’s grace and felt a peace like none other in my life.
I give thanks to God for putting so many faithful men into my life. I can’t imagine where I would be without them.
By Vince Delgado
By Susan J. Meister
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Matthew LaFrance
Susan J. Meister
Flame Volunteer Writer
Full Throated Praise
When my youngest daughter was in early elementary school, she really liked to play basketball. Chicago Bull superstar Michael Jordan was her hero.
As hard as we tried, her dad and I could not convince Shana that Jordan practiced his game. Shana was sure that Jordan could shoot, defend, dribble and dunk without any additional time in the gym. She extrapolated that to herself and simply would not work to improve her skills outside of scheduled practices or games.
While watching Jordan and anyone else who has achieved great success in any field, it can be tempting to think that they are achieving high performance on the basis of raw talent alone. And unless you are a professional yourself, you have no conception of the time and effort it has taken to get to their level.
When I come into the Christ Church sanctuary on Sunday morning, it is similarly tempting to forget the amount of time and effort the worship team has invested to bring the congregation an outstanding worship experience. The songs are effortless; the preaching is compelling and natural. The lights are beautifully synchronized, the sound system works, and the slides change at just the right time.
I have no distraction to lifting my voice in full-throated praise of God.
When I do take time to reflect on the preparation needed,, I remember my own experience. In the 25 plus years that I’ve been married to my spouse, a retired United Methodist pastor, I was on the front line of worship design and preparation. I selected and led music, participated in choir, designed slides and helped with serving communion. I fretted over whether the computer system would boot properly for slides and video support. I prayed that the sound system would have the proper settings to work without any feedback. I begged my audiovisual technician to pay attention and change the slides at the right time.
Granted, the churches where my husband was appointed were much smaller and did not have the budgets for audiovisual support that Christ Church enjoys. Nor did we have the pool of talented musicians and singers. But we did have two things – an excellent preacher and the insistence upon preparation. Our goal was to create a time where the congregation could simply and powerfully praise God. Worship was never a performance – it was always our best effort to create an experience of praise in community, with God as our only audience.
Did we always hit a home run (to switch up the sports metaphor)? No, but we always went to bat prepared and alert.
In the times when Peter and I have visited other churches where the worship was (shall we say) “less than excellent,” we sink into critique and criticism. Lamentably, we could tell when the musicians weren’t prepared and the preacher was winging it. We winced when the slides had a typo and the microphones squealed.
But that’s not to say that the full responsibility for excellence in worship is all on the Christ Church staff and volunteers. It is my individual obligation to come to the worship service with my heart and mind prepared to receive the Word and act upon it through my prayers, presence, gifts and service.
And there’s more good news! Christ Church invites me to participate in the worship experience through involvement in hospitality and serving Holy Communion. I love singing with the Chamber Choir and being a greeter. Serving communion is truly a holy moment.
I’ll admit that it’s been hard to step back from worship leadership. In the early days of attending Christ Church, I let my ego creep in, especially when the praise team sang a song that I had led, not long before. I came to understand that God had me at Christ Church to knock those prideful thoughts out of me, and to heal some pretty significant hurt. After all, not everyone at Peter’s appointments loved our worship design or music selections.
There is one habit I’ve found hard to break, though, and that is my tendency to sit in the front of the sanctuary. Won’t you join me in raising our hands in praise and singing at the top of our lungs?
God is good! All the time!
REMOLDED BY GOD
One of the first articles I’d ever written for The Flame told the story of how God worked in my life, answering two of my prayers and compelling me into service. The abridged version is as follows:
For years, I’d prayed God would let me use my writing to serve him, and if not, that he would provide some other means for me to be of service to him. One day, while I was working on some writing in the church foyer before services began, Rev. Shane approached me about volunteering as a greeter, which, admittedly, I didn’t want to do and had quickly decided not to do. Until I realized that God was providing me an opportunity to serve him without my writing. The following week, I told Shane I’d volunteer as a greeter. That same night, they ran an advertisement during the offering collection about how they needed new writers for The Flame. One act of obedience led to the opportunity I was looking for.
That was roughly two years ago, if memory serves right. Two years of greeting, two years of writing for The Flame … What has the impact been to me, personally?
My willingness to follow God’s beckoning to me to serve in these two areas has led me into many great experiences. I’ve developed new relationships with people as a result of my involvement in the two aforementioned ministries, and I feel as though I’ve grown as a person and a Christian because of it. Greeting has placed me in a position where I’m directly interacting with people, which runs contradictory to my usual secluded lifestyle. And The Flame articles that I’ve written thus far have forced me to take an introspective look at myself, seeing aspects of my being that I hadn’t previously been aware of. And, having been made aware of them, I’ve been able to strive to better myself by improving them. But God isn’t done with me yet. In fact, I fear he’s just getting started.
Several months ago, I was offered a promotion at work. I was not interested in it in the slightest. Sure, the pay increase would be keen, but … I knew how outrageously stressful the position was, and, furthermore, I would be moved to working evenings, which would isolate me from my friends and family. I didn’t wanted it; no way, no how.
Long story short, I took it.
A mistake? Maybe. The jury is still out on that one. But one thing has become abundantly clear to me; this job is a test. God is using it to shape me; to alter my mindset on a multitude of things, and increase my psychological stamina to aid me in fighting through stressful situations. It feels like every day is an opportunity to crash and burn, and yet, somehow I don’t. I realize now that it’s been the result of the reshaping that God has done in me, through my service through greeting and my introspective analysis that came from writing. One act of obedience led to the opportunity I was looking for. And both together served to help shape me into the employee I needed to be for this new position at work. And this new position at work? Who knows what it’s preparing me for! But I know that every challenge, every obstacle, every time I drive home at eleven o’clock at night, exhausted from some of the craziness that transpired on my shift … it’s all a test.
It’s fire, purifying some unseen, unsavory quality out of my spirit. It’s a whetstone, sharpening the blade of my mind and preparing me for some new challenge approaching on the horizon.
What has serving God done for me? It’s led me forward in life to places I may not have wanted to go. And it’s led me forward in life to places I’d only dreamed of going. But most importantly, it’s shaped and remolded me into the Christian I am today -- and it is continuing to shape and remold me into the Christian that I’ll be tomorrow.
The question is, consider the place that you’re at in your life right now -- What’s it doing to you? What part of you is God trying to change? Or strengthen? Or make you aware of? What is God trying to say to you right now? And are you willing to boldly take actions in His will -- perhaps against your own -- to find out?
Flame Volunteer Writer
When Samuel went searching for Saul’s replacement, he was stunned when God refused Jesse’s first seven sons. Samuel inquired, “‘Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered”. (1 Samuel 16:11) Although David would be anointed king, in Jesse’s eyes, it seemed that he had very little identity. No name -- merely “the youngest.”
I was blessed to share nearly fifty years of my life in marriage with an amazing man. He was a physician, respected and loved by many, and I worked with him during his entire professional career. Jim and I were proud parents to four incredible children who excelled in so many ways. Those years have left me with enough wonderful memories to fill volumes; and I cherish, to this day, being “Dr. Olroyd’s wife” and (insert child’s name)’s mother. That is where I derived my identity. That is who I was. But often I felt as though Becky Olroyd got lost in that identity.
2013 found me struggling to reinvent myself and become my own person. My husband had died the year prior, and my kids were all adults and on their own. It was becoming far too comfortable to stay within the confines of my home, only venturing out for an occasional Taco Bell lunch on Saturday, or holed up in my office writing grief laden entries in a journal.
And then an amazing thing happened! I visited Christ Church. I wish I could recall what precipitated my decision to take that step. I cannot. (Could it have been the work of God?) I presumed that I could waltz in, take a back row seat, be anonymous and inconspicuous, worship and leave. Well, as all Christ Church folks know, that’s just not the way it works. I continued to attend Sunday services and, several months later, found myself pledging to support the church with my attendance, my service and my gifts. We call that “Worship + 2 and a Tithe.”
Little by little I stepped from the comfort zone in which I surrounded myself in as a safety net. I found myself volunteering to greet and usher. Every handshake, every tentative smile, served to bolster me, bringing the Holy Spirit alive. I joined the wedding ministry and a birthday card ministry. Both introduced me to new people, new experiences, new ways of reaching out to others while helping me find MY self. I amped it up to become a communion steward and started attending Going Deeper services on Wednesday evenings. Here, my faith became stronger as I came to understand how the depths of a meaningful life in Christ can be transformative.
And then I did the unthinkable! I agreed to lead a small group where my comfort zone took a huge hit, and Philippians 4:13 became my mantra. But God swept me up and surrounded me with the most astounding group of women - my sisters in Christ. We learn from each other. We glean from one another. We pray together. They look to me for leadership. I look to them, through God, for validation, strength and courage.
Looking back, I see that the Lord, working mightily through Christ Church, has given me a network of friends who have become like family to me. I meet with several each Monday for dinner at a local restaurant and count many others among my closest. I have grown in ways that defy logic at my age. I no longer fear Bible study Tuesdays. Bible reading has become as integral part of my day. Sunday morning worship is the highlight of my week. I look ahead more often than I look behind.
The “demands” of my church have given me an identity and defined who I am. Through my commitment to Christ and my involvement with MY Christ Church, I have totally reinvented myself to become the person I am meant to be. I have become far more than my OWN person. I have become a child of God with my identity planted firmly in Christ.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:26,27)
All Scripture References taken from the New International Version
Usually we see blessings as circumstances that are easy, comfortable, and feel good. Contrary to this thought, I have learned that trials are a blessing as well. When we’re in a difficult season, all things fall into the right perspective. That list of things to do or whatever temporary problem we once fixated on doesn’t matter so much anymore when troubles come our way. During this last year and a half, I have miscarried one of my twin boys, witnessed my son go through a bone marrow transplant, chemo, frequent hospitalizations, and watched my husband lose his two younger siblings. I mention these things not for pity but for perspective. Hearing these events out loud sounds like a mess to me.
I would be lying if I said these months have been easy. All that I mentioned above has been more difficult that words can express. There have been times where my gaze has been off of God and on my circumstances. Hardship and pain is something that has been what feels like a constant in our lives. Our days have been messy at times. Feelings of anger, sadness, and fear have swept in. In today's society, there is a fear of making mistakes. It could be the cause of the increased desire for perfection. We must remember that we are fallen people and will never have it all figured out or get it right every time. When it comes to God, He judges our hearts. Stepping out in obedience and getting it wrong is better than not stepping out at all. Making mistakes provides an opportunity for us to learn. I’ve learned to not discredit myself because of my “mess”. God can use all of us in spite of our faults or shortcomings. He can even use us after we didn’t listen the first, second or even third time. He exists outside of space and time.
The series of events that have transpired have not only pushed my family closer to God but have allowed me to realize that family is not always blood related. Our Christ Church family has been the hands and feet of Jesus for my family since the beginning but especially in this last year and a half. During this season of sorrow, I have seen God’s love through His people. I’ve always loved Christ Church but have never felt as loved by the church so tangibly as we have over these months. Watching God speak and work through individuals has been beautifully overwhelming.
It’s beyond people being nice. It’s been specific things I’ve prayed about and then received a phone call for that very request known only to God in minutes. It’s been monetary donations or friends giving up their time to watch our baby so I can have a date night with my husband. You can’t help but be in awe of that level of sacrifice and generosity. God instructs us to have our minds set on the things of heaven. Many times we set our minds on the troubles and trials in front of us and completely forget that worrying about these things does not work towards a solution.
This year I have learned that God must be at the beginning, center, and end of our everything. Trials will always be there, just in different portions. There’s a beautiful rest in the turmoil that can only be found when you lean on God. It’s an unending peace that doesn’t seek its own will but the will of a faithful God. In spite of our lack of faith, God is faithful. Sometimes we think if we only do this or that then we can be closer to God. BUT GOD is with us regardless of our feelings and actions! He’s constant and He really does look out for our best interests.
Life throws events at us that are unexpected; things we wouldn’t choose and don’t understand. We have absolutely no control over these events but we do have control over how we react to them. We have the choice to learn and grow or be stagnant and let these events overcome us. Today, if your gaze has been on your problem, fix your eyes on Jesus. There aren’t magic words you have to say but have a real talk with God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, open up your eyes to Him, and allow Him to take over. Life isn’t and won’t ever be perfect, but it can be beautiful even in the blessed mess of our lives.
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Becky Olroyd
By Ashley Sanders
Flame Volunteer Writer
“God often visits us, but most of the time we are not home.” -- Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest
I have started this revelation with the above quote because I think that perhaps it describes my life from 1946 until 1998. I grew up going to church, doing all the “right things,” married and had four wonderful sons. Church was always important in our lives, but not as much as it should have been. The boys all went to Sunday School and were baptized and confirmed in the church, but I feel I could have done so much more as a mother and parent to emphasize the importance of God in their lives.
Perhaps that is why I received such a wake-up call in January of 1998. I can remember discussing Christmas presents for the boys with my husband one day, and we started talking about how lucky we were to have such a great family. The boys were all good kids, didn’t give us trouble, did well in school and were popular. I think we took our lives for granted. I’m sure God had tried to get our attention many times, but we simply didn’t see it or understand, or we simply “weren’t home.”
One of the hardest wake-up calls came on the evening of Jan. 17, 1998. Gary, my husband, and I had been out with friends for dinner and a movie. Our youngest son, barely 16, had asked to go to his girlfriend’s house while we were gone. She had received her driver’s license in October, and she wanted to come and get him. We gave him permission to go.
When we got home, we were still in the garage when a car came slowly down our drive. I thought it was the kids, and commented that they were right on time. Well, as the car got closer to the house, we noticed that it was a police car. The policeman verified our names and our son’s name, and then told us there had been a bad car accident, and that we should call Saint Louis University Hospital. He gave us the number to call, but he did not know (or would not tell) us anything, other than that it was very serious.
We immediately called the hospital, only to be told that there was no one there by that name. My husband relayed our story, and then the nurse said, “Oh, wait! You’d better come. He sounds like a John Doe we have.” Well, needless to say, we couldn’t leave fast enough.
When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse met us and questioned us about our son’s looks. We described him, and she said it sounded like their John Doe. We went with her to the ICU. On the elevator, I asked her about him. She said he was unconscious. I asked if she knew who was with him. She couldn’t remember the name.
“Give me a name,” she said. When I did, she said, “Yes. That’s it.”
“What happened to her?” I asked.
“She didn’t make it.”
My heart fell to my shoes. How could this be? They took us into Marcus’s room, but only for a very brief time. They would not let us stay, because as soon as we entered, his brain pressure rose. They told us his brain could sense or recognize smells. This was the only time he “knew” we were there, and even then, his conscious self did not.
What had happened? Anna, his girlfriend, had picked him up at our house, and they were headed back to hers. It was only about a mile from our home. For some reason, she threw on her brakes and rolled the car. Neither of them were wearing seat belts, and both were thrown from the car. Marcus flew quite a little distance, only to land on totally frozen ground. He suffered multiple brain injuries, including one to the brain stem. Of course, he also had many “fixable” problems -- a punctured lung, broken jaw, broken or displaced shoulder, cuts, scrapes, and the like. The brain, however, was not “fixable.”
We waited with Marcus at the hospital for a week, and on Jan. 24, 1998, at 7:31 p.m., he was pronounced brain dead. Our lives had turned totally upside down.
“Death closes a door that is almost impossible to open. There is only one key. The key is faith.”
Why had this happened? How could God let this happen? I was angry. I was hurt. I was devastated. He was only a child. I had millions of questions. When we lose a child, we can no longer escape the question of what we believe or what we don’t believe. We are desperate for answers. We must either rely on faith to open the door, or we shut God out. I chose faith. My faith offered me the promise of extending life forever -- life not in the form as we know it now, but one which has no pain, no tears, no suffering. God promises life everlasting, and I want that more than anything. I want to see my son again. I want to hold him, hug him, and kiss him once again. To me, Easter is more important than any other holiday. Why? Because it promises life after death.
God has been with me every day, and I have become much more aware of the ways He talks to me. I am sure I miss things, and there are still times when I “am not at home,” but I talk with Him daily and ask for His forgiveness, His guidance and His love. He is what keeps me going.
Now, God has presented us with another challenge. As the old saying goes, “I sometimes wish He didn’t trust me so much!” Anyway, just recently we learned that Gary, my husband, has incurable cancer of the small intestine. He was not even sick, until he was, and then it was this bad. The doctors are planning to treat him with chemotherapy, but surgery will not help.
This has been another game changer for our lives. I face losing him and living alone. I have not ever lived alone, having gotten married at 20. I have many questions, many fears, but oddly enough, each day, I can almost feel God helping me cope. It’s like he is saying, “Yes, he’s sick, but we’re not going to worry about that right now. Let’s just make the most of each day.”
I recently listened to an old song “Where No One Stands Alone”. If you are an Elvis lover, perhaps you have also listened to it. I’d like to share some of the lyrics…
Once I stood in the night with my head bowed low
In the darkness as black as the sea
And my heart was alone, and I cried “Oh Lord
Don’t hide your face from me.”
Hold my hand, all the way, every hour, every day
From here to the great unknown
Take my hand, let me stand, where no one stands alone …
God has been very influential in writing my life story. My faith has been the key. When we joined Christ Church, it was one of the best decisions we have made. Every Sunday, I truly feel God’s presence, and I know He is there for me. I believe, and I trust in Him to hold my hand and see me through. Thank you, Rev. Shane. God does indeed use you as an instrument to help His people. God Bless!
Do we have your correct email address?
Update your information by filling out a Connect Card at worship, or email
Kelly Costello at KellyCostello@mychristchurch.com
God Holds My Hand
BY Martha McFarland
The Hand Of God
By Wendy Smith
By Dana Ross
Looking in the rear view mirror, I can see how God’s hand has actively sculpted my life. There are many examples I could offer, but one in particular has had a profound ripple effect. As a teenager I was blessed to have a couple take me into their home in Rome, Georgia, which was 2000 miles from my home. They helped me succeed. Thirty-five years later, God pinged my heart as I stood in a meeting at Lindenwood University, Belleville, IL and urged me to talk to a young man from Antigua, the small island I call home. It was his first time away from Antigua, and we formed a special connection.
Now, four years later, he lives with us full-time as he transitions to graduate school in 2019. Adding one to our family did not seem too overwhelming, right? But then one of my son’s friends was kicked out of his home at 17 and asked if he could live with us. In his words, “I was lost, completely lost, and did not know where to go. Having been to your home many times and being treated like a member of the family, I felt like you were a safe place.“ We met as a family, again hearing God’s ping, we said yes. Why?
Hospitality is a gift and comes in many forms. We have been blessed. In the words of my daughter, “We have this big house; we cannot turn him away”. Scripture tells us “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9
Sharing bathrooms and the washing machine, figuring out who cooks what nights, creating a chore list -- those items yield fertile ground for Satan to create a wellspring of resentment that goes way beyond grumbling! Rev. Shane’s teaching throughout our 15 years at Christ Church has allowed us to focus (and refocus) on blessings. There is so much joy in our midst that can easily be lost if we focus on negatives.
I talked with the two young men living with us for this article to gain their important insights:
Togetherness. Eating dinner together a few nights a week, playing card games and corn hole: There is comfort in being together. We operate as a family, and they feel they are part of our family.
Pass it on. One of the two would like to be able to do this when he is older. The other young man thought it was almost “too generous” and felt he should be paying his way now that he has a job. (While the gesture is appreciated, the message is save so you can be independent!)
Boundaries. We have discussed their eventual moving out -- the when, how, etc. This is a hand up, not a hand out. Generosity comes in many forms. It can be messy, and it often takes sacrifice, but it is worth it. “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11
Additionally here are a few of the wonderful things these young men have taught us:
Patience is a rare commodity and requires wisdom. Most days we fall woefully short. These young men remind us that the togetherness is what matters, not being perfect. “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11
Take Action. Often we think we must hear an absolute calling from God so we sit and wait. As Shane says, “There was only one burning bush.” Perhaps all the options layed out are biblically sound so God is letting you choose. Try an option. If that does not work, redirect. Always be in prayer with Him: Please let my life be interrupted, so God’s goodness can be received.
Love is a choice - not simply a feeling. Choose to love your neighbor as yourself. Choose to give of yourself to someone. Choose to do something nice for someone else. It is not always easy but so worth it. It is for times such as these you were made. “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
We are blessed with a God whose hand is always reaching for ours. His path is not necessarily the easy one, but we have found it to be incredibly rewarding.
Scripture References are taken from the New International Version
Flame Volunteer Writer
Finding A Home In Christ
Flame Volunteer Writer
I am a member of Christ Church and specifically the Christ Church Millstadt Campus. I am so thankful to call this campus my church home and have this wonderful church family! The love and care of the body of Christ has changed my life.
I was raised in the Catholic Church and always had a belief in God; however, looking back, I realize that much of my spirituality was based on memorizing prayers, commandments, and having a set of rules to live by while fearing damnation if I didn’t follow them. I was missing the heart in my spiritual journey and had no real connection to Jesus Christ.
As a teenager, I began to struggle with depression and anxiety. I had a supportive family but didn’t feel enough of a connection with my faith to turn that direction for help.
Over the years I wandered on this difficult journey. I met my husband and we married when I was 24 years old. Here we were, two young adults trying to figure out life together. I was a wavering Catholic and my husband was a man of little religious background. We were young and not very concerned with finding a church family until a year later with the birth of our son. We visited several churches with no success of finding a church we were both comfortable attending. We had our son baptized but didn’t feel a true connection at that church.
During our search for a church that would fulfill our needs, our newborn never slept, cried almost nonstop, and threw up 24/7. Both of us were working full-time and the pressure of being first time parents sent me back into a state of depression and anxiety. It reared its ugly head in full force. It became so bad, that it earned me my only ambulance ride. Was taking that final ¼ bottle of pills a suicide attempt or just a pathetic cry for help? I was needing trust in God and struggling to find it.
About two years later we were trying to get pregnant. After a few months of trying, we were pregnant and on Cloud Nine, only to be left heartbroken by a miscarriage early in the pregnancy. It was incredibly hard on both of us. I was physically and emotionally trying to deal with it. My husband was burying his own heartache to be strong for me. Both of us desperately wanted to know why. Without a church family at this time, we couldn’t grasp that a loving God could do this.
We did get pregnant again and had a daughter. Once again, wanting to have our child baptized, we turned back to the Catholic Church for her baptism. Still not feeling comfortable, we continued to search. The search ended with an invite to Christ Church, Fairview Heights. My husband and I began to discover our faith together as a couple. Finding this faith is what helped us navigate the struggles that were ahead of us.
My husband had an accident and broke his neck. I had cancer scares, several biopsies and surgeries. My husband has battled an alcohol addiction. In the course of his recovery, we have lost several friendships because people oftentimes don’t understand the importance of his sobriety. Jobs have taken my husband away from our family to travel for work. These are just some of the larger bumps in the road.
Because of the blessing of having a church home, we have been able to weather these storms with a loving church family. We have had an amazing couple that mentored us, prayed with and for us and have become part of our family.
I have learned that the connection I have to Jesus Christ and what I feel in my heart matters more than how many Bible verses I have memorized. You can read it, but you have to believe it! I continue to struggle with anxiety, but I now realize and believe that God guides this anxiety to pull me closer to Him. God’s got this and as a result, so do I!
Seasons in our lives are always changing. Christ Church Fairview Heights was just what my family needed then and our home, here, at the Millstadt campus, is just what we need now.
It is because of my connection to Jesus Christ and the relationships God has given me as part of the Christ Church family, that I can now step out of my comfort zone to accept God’s “pings”. I know that struggles will continue to arise, but I trust that those struggles are actually God’s blessings in disguise.
By Lorraine Schafer
The only time I remember my father attending church was the day my two brothers, my sister, and I were baptized. My mother would bring us to church, but we did not attend every week. I was familiar with the Bible, but only the parts we studied in Sunday school. For a brief time after high school, I attended a non-denominational Spirit-filled church. They opened my eyes to things I never knew existed. People were speaking in tongues, prophesying, and giving personal testimonies of how God had acted in their lives. It was not unusual for people to faint during worship because they were overcome by the Holy Spirit. For the first time, I heard about the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” They testified that speaking in tongues was the proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At 17, it was easy to get caught up in this type of worship; but I was not sure if this was real or some type of group brainwashing. I felt guilty for thinking this, and worried my doubt might be a sin. I wondered if God was real, or if religion was just being used by men to control other people. I did not think there was a way that anyone could ever know for sure, at least not while they were still alive. I stopped attending church, but I started reading the Bible on my own.
I usually started my Bible reading with a prayer that the Holy Spirit would open my mind so that I could understand the scriptures. When I was 19 years old, I was reading the Gospel of Mark in the King James Version. Mark 3:28-30 says, “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said He hath an unclean spirit.” This passage pierced me to my very soul, because I was afraid that I had committed this eternal sin. I was afraid that I was damned for taking part in the “Holy Roller” type of worship in the Spirit-filled church that I had attended a couple of years before I wondered if we were all self-delusional or damned for leaving the church, if it was all genuine. I cried so many tears that I felt completely emptied. I was afraid that I was completely lost, that there was no hope for me. I remember thinking that even if I was guilty of this unforgivable sin, I wanted to be forgiven. I knew that when I died, I wanted to be with Jesus.
Then, something incredible happened which changed my life forever. I was aware of a pressure on my chest; all thoughts and fears were pushed out of my mind, and I was overcome by a feeling of intense love, joy, and peace. This feeling lasted for a long time, and then the pressure lifted from my chest, and I was alone again. Somehow I knew that this was the “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” I was in awe that Jesus loved me enough to reveal Himself to me. The Bible says that Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. The thought that He came to me when I was at my lowest point blew my mind. I realized that if He loved me, He loved everybody. All we have to do is ask Him to come into our hearts, and He can be trusted to come into us. We can know, for sure, that our sins have been forgiven and that we will be with Jesus forever.
I now attend Christ Church regularly, because I want to. I enjoy worshipping the Lord, and I know that He is happy that I have made worship a priority in my life. I also read the Bible almost every day. I enjoy communing with the Lord in this way. It seems that I get new insights into the Word every time I read the scriptures, depending on what I am going through in my life at the time. It is such a comfort knowing that I can go to the Lord at any time, and He will always be there to listen. There have been many times over the years when I have felt a tangible presence during prayer and worship. These are the times when I know, for sure, that God is real.
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Shannon Shores
Finding God In The
Midst Of Laundry
Sometimes I wonder what kind of story God is writing for me. Is it a comedy? Maybe my story is a romance. I have had my struggles with relationships. I come from a family who has battled alcoholism, and the research says children of alcoholics tend to become co-dependent. I am not all that keen on following statistics but I did develop this idea that I could love someone enough to “fix” them. My story has been a mystery; it wasn’t until I developed a relationship with God that I was able to trust Him to lead me through the beautiful story of my life.
I met “B” when I was 13. We rode the bus together. We took driver’s education together because our birthdays were only two weeks apart. He had a smile that was warm and comforting. We were friends. We knew each other during the awkward teenage years. We went to our school dance together. We just connected.
Just as life happens, our paths drifted apart as we left high school. I was in my early 30’s. I had a career. I was established. I was happy. One day when I was at work, I got a call. When I answered the phone, I was so surprised to hear the voice of my old high school friend. We chatted, met for dinner and connected like we were teenagers again. Our relationship grew. We got married and had a son. Life seemed good-ish ...
Shortly after our son was born, life started to change. He started coming home late from work and at times not at all. We had many weird financial things happen that I couldn’t explain. There were situations with other women but I just convinced myself that I was paranoid.
It wasn’t only my paranoia that I was allowing to control me. My husband had an addiction. The addiction didn’t like me. It would manipulate me in any way to convince me that I was the problem. I was the crazy one. I was paranoid. I needed help. Was it true? I turned to my old toolbox of coping skills and thought if only I love him more, I could convince him to stop.
We separated because denial was strong and it wasn’t healthy for our family. I was broken and didn’t know what to do. I had attended Christ Church upon an invitation from a friend and had enjoyed the message. I grew up in church but had drifted away.
One morning I woke up to take my son to daycare and I was overwhelmed with sadness. After I dropped him off, I had this overwhelming sense to drive to church. I followed my instinct and I walked in the office of the church and requested to speak with the pastor. The receptionist kindly reminded me that Christ Church is large and usually it takes an appointment to meet with the pastor.
As she was speaking, it was like God was erasing the calendar clean. She looked down and with surprise said, “Can you come back in an hour?” I came back to have my meeting. The pastor was kind and open to my situation. He connected me with several great people in the church who became part of my support system.
I continued to attend Christ Church because I felt God was moving in my heart. Many days were tough and I knew I needed more. One day in particular I was doing laundry to keep my mind busy. I was walking upstairs with a basket full of clean clothes. As I was walking upstairs, my young son was crying loudly and I just felt alone. Out of sadness, anger, desperation, I threw the laundry basket to the ground. Clean laundry went everywhere. I buried my face in the laundry, crying out to God. I was begging Him to come into my life and save me from this hurt. I didn’t hear God’s voice that day, but I felt an immediate sense of relief and love. It was almost like He was saying, “I have been waiting for you.”
That day I realized that God was there the whole time. I needed to call to Him. I needed to trust Him. During that time of my life, I poured myself into God and the church. He kept us safe. My life continues to be a mystery, but I wake up each day excited to see what God is going to do.
Flame Volunteer Writer
What made you decide to attend this church?
When we moved to Illinois we were looking for a way to meet people and get the kids involved in an activity. We were told about Christ Church from a couple of people and initially came for the Awana program. Soon after that we fell in love with the church and started attending regularly. This is the first church that I have ever attended and it has changed my life.
When you think about God – what is the first thing that comes to mind?
How thankful I am for all my blessings.
Do you feel you have a purpose or calling in life?
I believe that my calling in life is being a mother. It has always been something I wanted and it brings me so much joy.
How did you meet your spouse?
My husband and I met working at Burger King in Destin, Fl.
Were you named for anyone?
My mom was a big Bewitched fan so she named me after Samantha Stevens.
What do you think the secret to a good life is?
I think the secret to a good life is contentment. Just have a grateful heart and accept where you are in your journey.
How did you come to know God?
I would say that God found me at a difficult time. I felt called to church, so I went, and I’ve been amazed at what God has done in my life since then.
What school subjects were you the best at and what subjects did you struggle with?
I was very good at math, not so good at sports.
Where are you from?
I am originally from California, and then lived in Florida from 2000-2012.
What is your motto?
My kids often hear me say, be kind or be quiet.
What jobs have you done?
I have cleaned condos, worked fast food, and taught in Creation Corner.
Are you a task oriented person or a people oriented person?
A people oriented person.
Name one thing you miss about being a kid.
I miss being around my siblings so much.
If you had a time machine that could take you back in time–what year would you go to and why?
I would go back to 2012, that was the last year I got to spend with my sister.
What are your hobbies?
Sewing and crocheting.
What drives you every day?
My kids, I want to provide a good life for them and be a good example.
Where do you like to vacation?
Who plays the most influential role in your life?
I have been blessed with an incredible mother-in-law. She is kind, generous, positive, and encouraging. I know I can talk to her about anything and she will help me through it.
Have you ever appeared on television?
Yes, my high school show choir was on tv a few times.
What’s the tallest building you’ve been in?
The Space Needle
What dream have you yet to fulfill?
Eventually I would love to go back to school.
What advice would you offer to a newlywed couple?
Always make time for your spouse and communicate.
Most hated chore on the household chore list?
Putting laundry away.
Wonderfully Made Coordinator
Support individuals with special needs, coordinate the curriculum for the sensory and special needs room and assist in planning Wonderfully Made Ministry events.
Flame Volunteer Writer
By Shannon Peiffer
My family and I started attending Christ Church due to its fantastic children’s program. At the time we had two young sons, whom we wished to raise in the ways of the Lord. We wanted a Church that supported our beliefs and taught the whole of the Bible, digging deep into the Word of the Lord. We also longed for something more cutting edge, that kept up with the culture and changed with the times. Our hope was that this would be a place where our kids would learn and enjoy the love of the Lord. We got all that and more.
In the eight years that we have attended Christ Church, we have added one more to our boy brood and have watched our sons grow tremendously in the Lord. Christ Church has taught them the “hard stuff” of the Bible, tackling not only scripture but the cultural battle and hard topics that so badly need to be addressed. From infancy to adulthood, Christ Church provides sound Christian edification that would strike some educational facilities with envy.
Our boys started out in Creation Corner, learning God’s word in work and song, too soon graduating to Kid’s Connection where they begin to grasp a relational association to our Lord. The next group is the in-betweeners, called Highway 252, where kids are introduced to teenage concepts in a safe environment, before engaging with the more controversial teen world. They then transition into the teens, tackling even deeper concepts that do more than just scratch the surface of the battles teenagers and even adults face in 2018.
Our youngest comes home singing Christian songs and quoting scripture, while our teenagers bring conversation of some highly difficult topics that expand not only their worlds but our own. The special needs ministry has many times worked with me to help mold and shape my quite energetic 7 year old, so that he, and everyone else, can have a good experience in the classroom. The youth pastor and several volunteers for the youth have taken time out of their schedules to speak personally with my son and invest in his spiritual growth. Christ Church has become not only a tradition, but a piece of our hearts and a part of our family.
Missing a service means an argument with my oldest, negotiating rides with friends so he may find a way to still attend. The fact that our boys not only love going, but are able to get involved through volunteering, sincerely warms our hearts and is beyond what we hoped or expected for our boys. My 13 year old volunteers in Creation Corner with the 3 year olds and absolutely loves it! The 15 year old gets up at 6:00 am on a Sunday morning so that he can be there by 7:30 to help with greeting.
For my husband and I, Christ Church has provided in-depth Bible study and fellowship that has deepened our relationships and growth. Its teachers have provided lessons that often remind me of my years in college studying religion. They pull out not only scripture, but the meaning of the original Hebrew, Latin, and Aramaic and that gets me excited for learning old verses in a new light. They pull out visuals with maps, videos, and pictures that help ingrain the lessons in my mind. The Spirit of the Lord dwells in this place. You can feel it when you walk through the door. The worship is bold and exciting. The passion of the leaders is evident in their living and their work, and the people are just down right loving. Everyone wears a smile, because they are spirit-filled Christians and they “are not in a bad mood about it”, as our Pastor often states.
We are truly grateful for Christ Church, its ministers, volunteers, staff, and congregation. They have served our family far beyond expectation and blessed us more than we ever imagined. Thank you for your service and faithfulness. It will not return to you empty handed. Many blessings to you as you have blessed us so richly. We are sincerely thankful! Luke 6:38 “give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Getting To Know You
October Average Worship: 2498
October Average Connection: 502
November Average Worship: 2289
November Average Connection: 281
December Average Worship: 3396*
December Average Connection: 325
*Includes Christmas Total
Would you like to advertise in the Flame?
Contact Carrie Gaxiola at CarrieGaxiola@mychristchurch.com
John R. Farnen
Caprice D. Mann
Douglas D. Matzenbacher
Elaine A. Matzenbacher
Michael E. Robinson
Nancy Gail Robinson
Harvey E. Taylor, Jr.
Lacqweda Q. Taylor
Jennifer E. Brown
Mark S. Brown
Pamela M. Neary
William “Will” Richardson
No membership class in December
Mary Becker – October 4
Norman Rains – October 9
Donna L. Frame – December 28
No baptisms in November
Austin J. Bequette
Isaiah Lee Bland
Tyler David Carr
Hunter James Costello
Maeven Glen Drury
Willa Margaret Drury
Bentley Chase Fickinger
Avril Lynne Gowen
Bodhi River Harper
Adalyn Rose Knigge
McKinley R Maschhoff
Morrison S Maschhoff
Sebastian Ilex Mays
Dylan Pafford – Hosier
Braylee Merritt Torres
Help Mackenzie send babies home from the NICU with what they need "Whatever you've done for the least of these, you've done for Me" - Matthew 25:40
God At Work
October 2018 - December 2018