Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent

Whether you are a church-goer, a Christ-follower, both or neither, you cannot deny that the Christmas season is here! Tony and I were talking a few weeks ago about what Christmas was like for us as kids. He remembered looking through the Toys R Us catalog and folding pages and circling all of the things he wanted. I remembered the year I got the red cable-knit sweater I’d been daydreaming of. Besides discovering that we had very different childhoods, we agreed that there were two prevailing questions around Christmas time…

Santa asks, "What do you want?"


Your friends ask, "What did you get?"


It occurred to me that Claire, having no idea what Christmas is, might be confused if these are the first things she learns about this special holiday. Both of these questions imply that Christmas is about “me”. It startled me to think that we could raise Claire to be self-absorbed and materialistic without even realizing it. It startled me even more to think of how hard I have to try each year to really remember what Christmas is about and not to get caught up in shopping and parties. So, Tony and I talked some more and dreamed up what we would want Christmas to look like for our family as Claire grows up. We want her to know Jesus. We want her to know why He came. We want to spend it as a family. We need our own traditions. We came up with our own plan to reflect and rejoice together, just the three of us.

Advent

In the traditional church calendar, Advent is the season to reflect and prepare our hearts for the coming King. I read what I could find about it and came across the Advent Wreath. I loved the idea, but didn’t care so much for the way it looked and couldn’t imagine having this green wreath with pink and purple candles sitting on a table in my home. I know, picky picky! But, hey, if we’re making our own traditions, I want something I can really live with. So, I designed my own.


Each bud vase is filled about half-way with sand to stabilize the candle then wrapped with red ribbon and a tag which tells us which word of the season to reflect on following the traditional Advent Calendar.


Inside our Advent Box, a recycled cigar box, are envelopes with a card inside telling us what we’ll read and which Christmas song relating to the word Tony will sing and play for us on the acoustic guitar.


So, each Sunday evening leading up to Christmas, we’ve incorporated our new tradition into Claire’s bedtime routine. We get our pajamas on, come out into the living room, and she watches while we light the candle. I'll share a short reading, Tony plays a song, we pray and then carry her off to bed.


Above is a close up of the book canvas I made to hang over our Advent display. Inspired by this blog, I chose books I've read that would reflect the heart of the season; My Utmost for His Highest, The Sacred Romance, a Bible and a Hymnal.

This how we've decided to reflect on each week of this Advent Season…
Week 1, Sunday, November 28th
We light the Hope Candle, traditionally the Prophets Candle
We read about the name Immanuel, God with us, and the promise foretold centuries before Christ was born.
We sing O Come O Come Emmanuel. Our current favorite version of this song is by Sufjan Stevens

Week 2, Sunday, December 5th
We light the Love Candle, traditionally the Bethlehem Candle
We read about Jesus as a Child, born in a manger.
We sing O Little Town of Bethlehem. Our current favorite version of this song is by Sarah McLachlan.

Week 3, Sunday, December 12th
We light the Joy Candle, traditionally the Shepherds Candle
We read about the shepherds from Luke 2:8-20.
We sing O Come all Ye Faithful. Our current favorite version of this song is by Chris Tomlin.


Week 4, Sunday, December 19th
We’ll light the Peace Candle, traditionally the Angels Candle
We’ll read about Jesus as the Prince of Peace, as the Angels declared in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth and good will toward men.”
We’ll sing O Holy Night. Our current favorite version of this song is by Michael Crawford.

Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24th
We’ll light the Noel Candle, traditionally the Christ Candle
We’ll read about Mary and the birth of Jesus from Luke 1:26 – 2:20
We’ll sing Silent Night. Our current favorite version of this song is by Phil Wickham (Thanks, Tyler!).

Our hope is that as she gets older we can add crafts and fun activities or maybe even a special meal each week that will help build these memories for us. This way we’ll have weeks of reflection before the glorious morning when she wakes us up at 5am, like we did to our parents, to open up all of the presents under the tree.



We'd love to hear the wonderful ways you've made this holiday special with your families!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jump in the Pool!


I realized as I plopped Claire down on the changing table in the family locker room after swim class that I’d forgotten to be self-conscious in my swim suit. I had spent the entire 45 minutes laughing with, and cheering for my girl. She was the cutest thing I’d ever seen in a swimming pool! She loved the splashing and kicking and the wet high-fives from the other little ones. She kicked her chubby little legs like a pro, hung on to the wall of the pool with her incredible baby strength, and jumped to me at the end of “Humpty Dumpty Sat On a Wall” without a trace of fear. She turned her wet and squirmy body several times to hug and kiss me. You know, that open-mouth-tongue-sticking-out kind of kiss… the one I cannot resist! It was absolutely the highlight of my week, until I saw us both in the mirror, hair wet and sticking to our faces, dripping with chlorine water. Ugghh… I’m still me!

I’m still the me, curvy shapes and all, that should not be allowed in public in a swimming suit. The me that hasn’t been in a pool or to a beach of any kind in the last three years because I knew I was not in the shape I should be. And yet, I had just had the time of my life with my little girl in the pool. For once I had forgotten what I looked like, self-consciousness gone, and enjoyed every moment! Despite my fears, not once did Claire roll her eyes at me or look at me in my swim suit with sheer embarrassment … It wasn’t about me!

Self-consciousness and insecurity lead to isolation. We don’t want people to know the parts of us that are inadequate, the ways we don’t measure up to our own expectations, so we avoid the situations where those things might be exposed. For me, it’s the swimming pool. And what got me into that pool had nothing to do with me. I signed us up for that class because I wanted to spend some time enjoying my daughter without other distractions. I wanted for her to learn how to be in the water without fear and to meet some other little babies. I want the very best for her in all of the little ways I can give it to her. It was then, when I stopped worrying about myself, that I came out of that place of isolation and insecurity and jumped into that pool with my little girl. And I had a blast!

We’re preparing again for the next season of Growth Groups and it occurs to me that self-consciousness and insecurity have kept a lot of people from experiencing one of my very favorite things. I hear it all the time…
“I’m not good enough to be a leader.”
“I don’t know that much about the Bible.”
“What if my idea for a group is dumb?”
“I’m not good at _____________”

We fear that we will be judged in the same way that we judge ourselves, maybe even in the same way we judge others, so we avoid it altogether. It’s safer alone, where nobody can see our frailties. It’s easier to stick to the people we already know, the people who may not challenge us, or who always agree with us… But that is no way to live!

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another....
– Hebrews 10:23-25


As much as there is risk, there is so much joy and vitality of life when we choose to look beyond our selves and get around other people. How very much life I would miss out on, especially with Claire, if I never jumped in the pool.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sick of it!

Can't Do It All, Part 3

I don’t know if it’s flu season or cold season or why there needs to be an entire season where it is normal to be sick – but I’m sick of it! Tony pinched a nerve in his back at the beginning of October that was so bad, the only way he could participate in our weekly staff meeting was to lie down flat in the middle of the floor. Then, both Tony and Claire had the nastiest stomach flu just a week later. Watching a baby projectile vomit has to be up there with the saddest and scariest things ever! Poor little thing was so confused and so weak, it was awful! Now there’s the constant coughing and runny noses between the two of them, thank God for the women that invented Boogie Wipes. It’s hard to remember a time when we all felt healthy.


One thing that has become clear in these past couple of months is that I am not a nurse! I can take a day, maybe two days, of constantly caring for the people I love the most in the world before I feel completely spent and exhausted myself. I can’t begin to understand how people do this as a profession, day in and day out, for near strangers. That takes more patience and more compassion than I think I will ever be capable of. It is a disappointing new discovery about myself, but if I’m honest, I know I do not have what it takes to be the mom Claire needs or the wife Tony needs when they need it most.


If it weren’t for the blessing of true and compassionate friends, I might have run away from home at some point in the last month. In fact, I can point to the exact moments where I felt refreshed enough to do another load of laundry and change the crib sheets for the third time in a day.



Prayer & Care

I am fortunate enough to have friends that I can be transparent with. When they ask me how I am, I have the freedom to say, “Exhausted! Everyone in my house is sick!” I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me to have people pray for me and encourage me by relating. The other overwhelming blessing is the tangible ways people have cared for me and my family during this time. One afternoon, my friend Holly came over just to be with Claire for a few hours while I escaped and finally took advantage of a gift certificate I’d received for a facial months earlier. I felt so cared for and so relieved, I might have cried… maybe. Then there was the morning my friend Brenda called to check on me and then offered to bring me a few essentials from the store so I wouldn’t have to pack up my sick baby and make the errand run myself. Or the afternoon that Tony encouraged me to lie down and take a nap and when I awoke the kitchen was clean and the baby was happily playing. It was in these moments and others like them that I was able to escape the loneliness that comes with being a care taker and remember that, in fact, I am not alone.

What they really did was remind me how much God cares for me. They reminded me that the Holy Spirit Himself is praying for me…

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God's own will. – Romans 8:26 & 27

It has also reminded me that, if I didn’t have these times of weakness, I might become prideful and forget my true need for Him, that strength comes from Him…

"My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
– 2 Corinthians 12:9

And, with God’s help, I hope to become the caring and compassionate mother and wife that Claire and Tony need. Because, I’m sure, this isn’t the last time we’ll experience the dreaded cold and flu season in our house.



P.S. If you know someone who needs a little TLC, this is a great website that can help make it easier on a community of friends who want to care for someone: http://www.takethemameal.com/

Friday, November 5, 2010

High Water Jeans

Can't Do It All, Part 2

Babysitting is different than parenting. Renting is different than paying a mortgage. If you call your church a plant, a launch, or a campus you know that there are a different set of obstacles your community faces than the challenges of being an established church.

Great Lakes Church first met at Mahone Middle School in October of 2008 utilizing their auditorium, gym and hallways for our adults & kids programs. Knowing that situation was temporary, we moved to Nash Elementary school where we grew to over 300 in attendance by the end of January 2009. This is not normal, and an elementary school is not equipped to handle that amount of traffic. Because of a mailer, we lost our lease at Nash on a Thursday and by Sunday we were setting up church on the back side of the Brat Stop – which is exactly what it sounds like, a bar that serves bratwurst & cheese! That Brat Stop service was out of control, and by the following week we’d secured a lease at Tinseltown, a local movie theater. At that service, the second week of February 2009, there were over 600 who joined us at Great Lakes Church. How exciting and problematic all at the same time. Where were we going to put all of these people?

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would take you school shopping for fall clothes? The main thing was to get some jeans that actually went past your ankles, since the jeans you got last year were making you look like Steve Urkel. Now, when you bought those jeans last year, they were just right. But, you’ve grown since then and they haven’t yet invented jeans that grow at the same rate as elementary school kids, so you go shopping again.

I guess you could say that we are at that awkward “growing-out-of-our-jeans-stage” at Great Lakes Church. This last Sunday, we had over 1,000 in attendance again, filling up our auditoriums, lobby, & kids rooms. But it’s just not as easy as going out and getting into a building that fits, so we are making it work with what we have right now.

I have to tell you about John and Gordon. When GLC decided our only option to continue opening our doors to the community was to open another auditorium, these two guys stepped up and committed to help out in a big way. John leads our band every Sunday in our biggest auditorium that seats about 300. Gordon leads our band every Sunday our band in our second largest auditorium which seats 240. Both of them lead for 2 services each. I have stepped over to the new Acoustic Auditorium where I lead a musical worship set alone… so yeah… that’s THREE auditoriums that GLC has live music in every Sunday, and a fourth “Family Auditorium” for parents who choose to keep their kids with them. THANK GOD for Gordon and John! THANK GOD for the whole team… the truth is, we don’t actually have enough musicians to fill three bands and give everyone a weekend off… we have to compromise with that right now until the team grows a little bigger.

Aside from not physically being able to lead in three different places at once, it’s a monster of a job trying to manage schedules, set lists, transitions, arrangements, and practices for that many musicians. The truth is, it was getting difficult months and months ago (atop my other expectations and responsibilities)…

So I sat down with my friend John Gustin and mentioned this to him. My hope was that he might be able to spare enough time to help schedule people. But this guy… he basically took over… and I can’t tell you how much help that’s been. I’ll finally get a small enough break in the dailies to tackle a small Music Team task, so I open up our scheduling tool called Planning Center… DONE! It’s already done! John has already scheduled people out a couple of months in advance… oh, and the setlists are all taken care of… oh, and he’s rehearsing with the team which I had no hand in assisting. I seriously cannot thank John enough for the support he’s given, and the care he’s shown for the GLC Music Team.

Our situation being what it is, we know we are not the coolest church in town. Would we rather be in one large venue with one live band and a live speaking pastor? Of course! Would that probably be a better experience for everyone? No doubt! We could have actually had that option, but we would have been telling people not to invite their friends and family because there just wasn’t any place to put them. But we didn’t start Great Lakes Church so that it would become a “Members Only Club” – we started this church, and hundreds have given their time and energy to this church, all for people who have yet to walk through the doors. People have given financially, people have prayed, people have stood outside in the bitter cold Wisconsin winters to wave at people coming in the doors in hopes that we might actually reach the people God has called us to reach.

We were hoping we might reach someone like Anthony…



And people are still getting on board, because we know we absolutely cannot do this alone! ... even if we don't look very cool doing it...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Worship Night Failure


Can't Do it All, Part 1

I think we (as humans) are set on being self-sufficient. I think we fight tooth-and-nail anyone who wants to lend a helping hand… perhaps in fear of the appearance of weakness? This is a dangerous tendency I know I have to fight every day. God did not create us to be alone. God did not stop with Adam and say “There… I’m done”. In fact He says “it is not good for man to be alone” and “support one another” and “love one another” and “motivate one another” and “encourage one another” and “submit to one another”. None of these things we can do alone, but we try to… I try to.

Worship Night was this past Sunday for Great Lakes Church. It’s the ONLY time we get together as a church whole, and worship God as a family (Remember, Sunday mornings we’re split into 4 adult auditoriums). We play music for over an hour, we take communion, and best of all, we celebrate with those who have decided to publically announce their faith in Jesus through water baptism. Here is a promo video I made leading up to the night, hoping to get everyone else as pumped about it as I was.



The PLAN was to have Gordon, one of our music team leaders, open the night in leading. Then John, another leader, would cover the middle set of songs. I was going to close out the set and the evening. Only, I got sick! Still dealing with flu symptoms that kicked in a few days before Worship Night, I knew it was going to be a challenge for me to make it through the night. Sure enough… during the first song I was singing, I started to cough. I couldn’t even make it through a single song without choking… and I had five more to sing. I was sweating and nauseous and I was sure I was ruining the experience for everyone else. On a huge, unfamiliar stage, in front of an auditorium full of my church family, in the middle of a song, I looked over at John. He knew exactly what that look was about, and stepped up and lead the remainder of the set. He didn’t hesitate.

In the past I’ve tried to accomplish things alone only to bring those things to a quick demise. I can count 5 bands that I was a part of in my teens that broke up because of my unwillingness to budge on an issue that NEEDED to be done MY way. Even recently, I have dealt with things in a know-it-all fashion, demanding my control over things that I know (even in the moment) would be better in the end if I let it play out to 80% of my satisfaction. But, I’m prideful, and stubborn, and blunt, and holding-my-tongue doesn’t seem an option. I’m wrong! Holding my tongue is an option. Submitting to the ideas and direction of others can be an option. Letting people help me should always be an option.

We are grateful we get to be a part of a community – people that choose to be together, supporting one another, rather than a group of individuals living independent lives. It is because of this community, people like John and Gordon and many others, that we get to be a part of what God is doing here. It is because people sacrifice their time and resources (and by “resources”, I do mean “money”) that we get to know people like Chuck and Kathy Hassel who were brave enough to share their story for us to show at Worship Night. See for yourself…



I could have easily considered Worship Night a failure. If it weren’t for community, I would have had no choice but to walk off the stage in the middle of that song, ending the experience with a bad taste in people’s mouths. But that didn’t happen. Because we are meant to support one another and because I am a part of this amazing group of people, this most recent Worship Night was the best we’ve ever had! Over 460 showed up to worship God together, receive communion as a family, and witness 58 individuals identify themselves as Christ Followers publicly through water baptism. We can’t do these things on our own, and I am grateful that we are not supposed to.






From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does it's work.

Ephesians 4:16

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Reports

We blog, on average, once per month. We were just about to bring that average down, and then I looked at the calendar. This is why I’ve always been bad at keeping a journal and why my “journal” is a combination of checklists, meeting notes, prayers and ideas… a more true reflection of my day-to-day life.

I got to thinking that if I disappeared (let’s not say died) and all that was left was my journal, what would people know of me? Fortunately there’s Facebook and my mess of a closet to give more clues, but that still wouldn’t be the entire picture, would it?

I read Margaret Feinberg’s The Organic God earlier this summer. One of my favorite things she said was this:

“The gift of a book is a tangible effort to take the relationship to a new intensity – so it becomes deeper, richer, and broader than ever before.”

Ahh… so much good stuff in just one sentence! It resonates with me as I think of books people have given me and the impact they have made on my life and in my relationships with them.

Long before I attended church regularly, I got together with some girlfriends to read What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. Changed my life – helped me better understand that, not only was I forgiven, I had a responsibility to forgive and that grace I had received would give me the strength and courage to do it.

Then came The Sacred Romance and Captivating, teaching me about a God who loved me – not just in the “For God so loved the world…” kind of way, but in the “I love you, Michelle” kind of way. Revolutionary! I caught a glimpse of the privilege it is to have been created a woman, the strength and beauty that comes with femininity, the image of God I hope to reflect, the relationship with Him that I have the honor of living in. Such good books.

Meanwhile, Proverbs taught me practical wisdom, and 1st and 2nd Samuel taught me about true friendship, dependence on and devotion to God, including failures of character and seemingly hopeless situations. 1st and 2nd Timothy along with Galatians and Ephesians taught me about living in community with other believers, what it is to lead and what it is to follow.

I’ve read more books this summer than I read during all of high school, and I’m not the only book worm in the house. Just last night, I came home from hanging out with some girlfriends expecting to see Tony playing video games or working on his computer. Instead, he was on the couch finishing The Hobbit, excited to tell me it had a great ending! Ahh… books.



I recently finished Mark Driscoll’s On Church Leadership and On the Old Testament and then read Rob Bell’s Sex God. From what I hear, those two authors don’t exactly see eye-to-eye, but what do I care? Seems to me they both love Jesus, and we all know how much trouble God’s children have with unity as evidenced by the hundreds of denominations of churches in this country alone. Besides, I don’t necessarily read to agree with the author, I read to ask questions and see new perspectives. I read hoping that God will show me more of who he is and who I am in this world. I read hoping I'll catch a thought like one of these... and let it sink in...

“The person who sees the difficulties so clearly that he does not discern the possibilities cannot inspire a vision in others.” - J. Oswald Sanders

“In prayer, Jesus slows us down, teaches us to count how few days we have, and gifts us with wisdom. He reveals to us that we are so caught up in what is urgent that we have overlooked what is essential.” - Brennan Manning

“If a man's wife believes in him, he can conquer the world - or at least his corner of it.” - Shaunti Feldhahn

“Often freedom is seen as the ability to do whatever you want. But freedom isn't being able to have whatever we crave. Freedom is going without whatever we crave and being fine with it.” - Rob Bell

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - Jesus, son of David


These books really are gifts. Of course some were given to me by friends and family, and some I purchased for myself, but they are all gifts nonetheless. They are gifts from the authors who wrote them and the editors who edited and publishers who published. True gifts, revealing humanity, unveiling inner thoughts.



Ms. Feinberg’s words bring me back to the greatest gift of a book I own, my Bible. Even as I write that sentence, I’m fighting against the critic inside that would roll her eyes and say, “Oh, how trite! How cliché! Of course, ‘the Bible’…” But I mean it! What a gift that in all of the ways of creation that God has revealed Himself to us and continues to reveal himself, that he would give us a book! Like a diary, a journal, his thoughts and narratives and poetry and lyrics. A way that we can take our relationship with Him to a new intensity – so it becomes deeper, richer, and broader than ever before. I think about the miracle it is that we even have access to it – thanks in part to people like Johannes Gutenberg and Martin Luther and Zondervan… I treasure it.

So we read every day, for ourselves and for Claire. It really doesn’t seem to matter to her which book we choose. As soon as either of us takes her in our lap in the rocking chair and pulls a book in front of her, she kicks her feet with excitement, smiles, and “helps” to turn the pages. She loves the touch and feel books, running her fingers over the soft bunny fur or the feather down on the yellow chick. We love it! Now that I think of it, I don't ever remember seeing my own mom without a book. I hope Claire has those memories of Tony and I as she gets older.



So here are some of the Peterson Faves…
Tony:
Screwtape Letters
Purpose Driven Life
Heart of the Artist
Harry Potter – pick one
Currently reading: Fellowship of the Ring

Michelle:
Spiritual Leadership
Crazy Love
The Speed of Trust
Sheet Music
Currently reading: How People Grow

Claire:
Mr. Brown can Moo! Can You?
The Going to Bed Book
Baby Bunny
My Shoes Take Me Where I Want To Go
Currently reading: Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see?

What are you reading?

Monday, August 16, 2010

How To Be Rich

Generosity… I think it’s a characteristic we’d all like to be known by. Yet, going from a lifestyle of giving nothing away to giving something away can sometimes be a big leap. We have to hurdle such obstacles as trusting the organization or person we are giving to. We hear so much about abuse and mismanagement, it can make a person justifiably leery. Or, we get blocked by the discouragement that our gifts, whatever they might be, would be too small or insignificant to make any real difference. Another high wall to climb is our own financial situation. How can we give to others when we are barely paying our own bills or are buried in interest rates and debt? Still, we see generosity as noble and honorable, and definitely something that “rich people” should practice.



You’re right, rich people should definitely practice generosity. Did you know that you are rich? Go ahead, see for yourself. Click on this link to find out how your income compares with the rest of the world. Global Rich List Surprised? Are you in the top 5% or higher? Phenomenal perspective, isn’t it? So, how does your personal generosity (the way you give of your time, talent, and resources) reflect your wealthy position in the world?

Now before you start getting nervous, I have no intention of making anyone feel guilty. Rather, I believe one of the biggest reasons people don’t give more often to more worthy causes is simply that they don’t know where to begin. I have seen first-hand how hard it can be to volunteer at a local shelter or even the library. I have personally called local non-profit agencies and left multiple messages letting them know I had a group of people willing to come and give their time for whatever they needed, only to have my phone calls go unreturned. It can make you feel like they might not really need your help after all. So, what’s a person to do? Push hard, look deeper, and cut through that red tape!

For as many organizations that unknowingly make it difficult to participate in their cause, there are just as many making it easy. At Great Lakes, we encourage our Growth Groups to organize their own service projects and we’ve seen amazing results! Everything from care packages to soldiers, to Easter baskets for local families in need, to simple food drives. Just this weekend I had the opportunity to participate in one of the most fun service projects yet. A few of our women's groups pulled together to have ourselves a party. We called it “Ladies Night: A Benefit for Care Net” where we chose to support a local organization, hoping to raise funds and supplies they need to help support women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Here is the story we shared at the party as a part of learning more about this great program…



All it took was one Evite, one planning meeting with my friends Eden & AnnaLisa, and a little initiative, and we had all we needed. We just did what women do best, socialize, eat great food and have some drinks and somehow, with less than 30 of us, we were able to raise roughly $2,000 worth of supplies and cash to hand directly to Care Net and their Earn While You Learn program.





These women generously gave everything from cribs and bassinets, to diapers and baby wash, to brand new clothes and gently used hand-me-downs. More than that, we were all inspired and many of the women have expressed even greater desire and creativity for ways we can do more! Amazing!



We know one thing for certain… it is easier to give when we know what we have received. The pursuit of “more” is an elusive mirage, and the reality is that we very likely have all we need.

Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. – 1 Timothy 6:17-18

With that perspective, I dare you to invest yourself in just one of thousands of worthy causes. Why don’t you spend your coffee money this week on a new CD that could result in lowering the global poverty rate?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taking A Day Off

We just got back from a wonderful 10 day vacation home to Seattle. It was great to spend time with friends and family, it didn’t rain even once, and Claire did relatively well on the long flights. I did not check my work email at all for the duration of the trip. Some of you might think, “Of course not! You were on vacation!” The rest of you can identify what a huge accomplishment this really was for me. It was the first time in 5 years that I have taken a trip of any kind without checking in for work. It felt amazing!



Before we left, Pastor Dave had been covering a series of talks on Sundays at Great Lakes Church on The 10 Commandments. It was not the "Summer Bummer" it might sound like, each week was surprisingly relevant and applicable. Especially the week he talked about the fourth commandment, reminding us about keeping the Sabbath. In other words…

TAKE A DAY OFF!

Ok, maybe when God sent these commands to Moses he did not use all caps and an exclamation point. Or, maybe we should read all of them with exclamation points. Either way, I paraphrase that way because it’s the one commandment that makes me reply to God (in my head, of course) and say, “Aw, that’s sweet. Thank you for thinking of me, but that’s not necessary.”
Anyone else?
Nobody?
Just me?

Now, imagine if I replied to the other commandments the same way…
God: Thou shall have no other gods before me.
Michelle: Aw, that’s sweet.
God: Thou shalt not murder.
Michelle: Thanks for thinking of me, but that’s not necessary.
See the problem? When God speaks, it is not meant to be sweet. Though he is loving, I should not respond to the things that are important to Him as though it’s a Hallmark greeting card. But, I just can’t help it when it comes to this idea of taking a day off.

In a typical American work week, most people put in approximately 40 hours and take two days off… If you read that last statement and said, “Yeah right, my boss has me working 60 hours and I rarely get a day off!” you might have boundary issues, which is your problem and not your bosses. If you are your own boss, then you might have boundary issues, which is just one of your many problems, and mine. But, even if you are neither of the above, you still might find it very difficult to observe this seemingly optional commandment.

Here are a few reasons I find it hard to take a day off:
1. I love my job!
It’s really true. Right now, I work for Great Lakes Church and love everything I get to be a part of. To top that, I haven’t had a job I didn’t love in a very long time. I have been lucky to work with great teams for great causes with great results. What’s not to love? So, since I love my job so much, it is hard to actually want day off. I have always been unbalanced in this area of work & play and always wanted more time to just relax, but I’ve never made it a priority. This could also be because, for the most part, since I’ve loved my jobs, I’ve found it energizing to be productive and helpful.

2. Being a part-time employee + a full-time wife and mother are tricky to balance.
Practically speaking, I do work part-time from home and do not have a set day off. Desiring to focus the majority of my attention on Claire, I try to get work done while she is sleeping or otherwise occupied. This means that, for the most part, I do a few hours of work each day, some days I get even a few more in and work still spills into the next day and the day after that. This leads me to feel guilty thinking of taking an entire day off, not checking emails, not planning, etc. since the time I am able to work around my little girl already feels so limited.

3. Most moms don’t get a day off from motherhood.
The other practical thing to consider is that my home and family is also my full-time job. I have to confess that while Dave was speaking on this topic at Great Lakes, I was sitting next to a friend of mine who is also a mother. I leaned over and rhetorically asked her, “Could everyone not make a mess, or use dishes on my Sabbath? Could Claire make her own bottles and change her own diapers on that day?” Snarky, I know. But, I don’t think I’m alone in sincerely wondering how it’s possible to take an entire day each week to rest from the demands of parenthood.

The idea of a day of rest is definitely the root of some tension in the Peterson home. You see, Tony has always been very good at this one. I remember the first year I knew him, I tried to give him a call at work to wish him a Happy Birthday. No answer, no big deal. Only to find out the next day that he always takes a day off for his birthday. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. I asked him if he had any special traditions, like going to a theme park or hanging with his family for that day… Nope. Even if he stayed in his pajamas and played video games all by himself, he was not going to work on his birthday. I, on the other hand, once attempted to make it into work even though I had just been in a car accident and needed to be at the hospital while they used 14 stitches to mend the cuts from my face hitting the windshield of my car. (That's a story for another day, folks) So, you see, we have very different approaches to what warrants a day off of work.

As much as it annoys me, Tony’s idea is much closer to God’s than mine. Would you believe he never checks his email and rarely even answers his cell phone on Mondays, his one day off? He is quite strict. He sleeps in, snuggles with his girls, watches movies, plays video games, reads a book, goes to the zoo, takes a long drive, and eats meals with friends. He does whatever he wants to do except work. In general, I haven’t felt like I needed much “me time”. And that, right there, is the lie.

“Me time” is not what the Sabbath is about. The Sabbath is about taking time to rest, refocus and reconnect in my relationship with God, acknowledge my need and dependence on Him, and thank Him for His faithfulness to me. Observing a Sabbath would help me remember that, even if there were more hours in a day or days in a week, I still could not get it all done. I need to remember that God is the provider of my needs and the needs of those who might be depending on me. It is ok and even acceptable to say “no” once in a while. As a wise person once said to me, “Sometimes you need to say ‘no’ to good things so that you can say ‘yes’ to great things”. One of the greatest things I can say yes to is putting time into my relationship with God, who is simply not impressed by how much I might accomplish in a day.

So, while I work that out, I have developed a new habit. I call it “Sabbath Moments”, but since saying that out loud sounds super cheesy to me, you can call it whatever you want.



You see, I know that Claire will need me throughout the day, that I will have meetings with people I serve with, that I will check my email, and return voice mails all day long. Since I can’t see a way around any of these things, I am now in the habit of purposefully getting up out of bed long before Claire wakes up and my day officially begins. Lately she’ll sleep until 7:30am or even 8:00am. I know that if I get up at 6:30am, I can make myself some coffee and sit and read in the quietest moments my home will be all day. I know that I meet Jesus there, whether I choose to read the Bible or browse the Pottery Barn Catalog (although, I have made it a rule not to pick up my phone or open the laptop). It’s quiet, I can hear my own voice in my head and I always hope to hear the voice of the Lord. The mornings that I actually do this, I am that much more thrilled when Claire wakes up and I feel extra excited to see her! On a good week, I can make it happen 4 out of the 7 mornings. This also means that I go nuts trying to straighten up the house and the kitchen when she goes to sleep the night before, in anticipation of a peaceful early morning.

Another Sabbath Moment I get to enjoy now and then is at a coffee shop by myself. I just work it out with Tony when a good time for me to take off will be and then I go and sit for a couple of hours by myself! I realize for some of you, the idea of reading a book sounds much more like work than rest. But, for me, it is the essence of peace.

Thankfully, because Tony is so strict about his day off, I am usually forced to get out of the house and have some fun with him, whether it's a trip to Ikea or a breakfast date. He takes family time seriously, and his approach really keeps me in check.

I’m curious how you’ve found to take time to stop working and rest? Have you?

So, coming off of 10 days of rest, I’ll share with you some of the pictures of our time in Seattle. Enjoy!



PS Claire had a lot of firsts while we were gone…
1st time meeting her relatives (except for her great-aunt Nancy who stopped by our place in Wisconsin in May)
1st time Riding the Ducks
1st time clapping her hands together (Thank you Joshua Davies)
1st time eating foods that were not pureed (We tried bread & rice noodles, and we liked them!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tech Church

It’s hard to believe that there was a time, not too long ago, when messages were communicated to “the people” via radio and print only. Now we live in a time where even books are being replaced with a digital paperless option… Print isn’t yet dead, but his kids have definitely moved him into the retirement home. People used to tune in and hang out around the radio to “listen” to their favorite shows… if they liked westerns it was “Have Gun Will Travel”, or if detective mystery was your thing then “Philip Marlowe”.

Today, we have televisions being made with better resolution than the human eye. We have video game consoles that allow you to view things in 3D without wearing glasses, and control the system with body and hand movements, no controller needed. We carry around in our pockets mini-computers that can view HD video on our command. These mini-computers can locate you on the planet within inches, control all the other high-tech equipment in your house, allow you to speak face-to-face with anyone else, live, and connect you to everyone else in the world at wireless speeds faster than humanly imaginable only a few years ago.

In my lifetime, I’ve been privy to witness a pre-computer and post-computer educational system. I started learning DOS programming at age 9 from my mother on our “laptop” computer (which was actually about 40lbs. and had a black and green 6-inch monitor). I’ve witnessed the birth of the biggest technological leap the world has ever known, the internet. And now I work in a field that I get to be a part of utilizing and creating content for this new information-thirsty culture.


My job is to leverage the use of modern methods to accurately and effectively communicate the message of Jesus Christ to the masses. I think my official title is “Church Computer and Video Dude”. Really, I have three jobs, but two of them are pretty closely related… video creation, graphic design, and worship pastor (which really means band leader). Let me tell you a little about my day-to-day.

I work for a growing church called Great Lakes Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Before GLC, I had a similar job with EastLake Church in Bothell, Washington. Before that I was a “Web Development Assistant” for a small web conferencing company which is now extinct. And before that, I was a “Customer Service Representative” for DHL (the freight delivery company). I always loved design and constantly found myself tinkering around with different programs, but never did it “professionally” until I was at EastLake.

As you walk into Great Lakes Church, you begin to notice a certain style. But even before you set foot into our lobby, you most likely received one of the 75,000 mailers we send out two to three times a year. Then you decide to show up. First, you’ll navigate your way through our halls via the interior signage. Then as you enter our Adult Auditorium, you’ll be handed a program which tells you who we are and what to expect.


You’ll take your seat (in a movie theater since that’s where we currently meet) and thumb through the program, all the while, the huge 60 foot screen in front of you is creating an upbeat atmosphere with motion graphics and video footage. After a video countdown, the band plays three songs and you’re invited to follow along. After the band is done, you’re invited to take your seat again, and the room goes dark allowing for three more videos to be played (all before you even see the pastor). The first is what I call the “interlude”… it’s the background music and motion graphic that transitions you to situate and sit down without an awkward silence. Next is what I call the “roll-in”… our speaking schedule is designed around a topical series, and the roll-in is the intro for that topic… kind of like a sitcom theme intro. And last is what I call the “setup clip”. This is a short video clip from a movie or TV show that pertains to the weekends topic, and transitions our pastor in with humor. I'm responsible for your experience from your invitation all the way up to the pastor speaking (if he botches it, that's not my fault).



Our target is the 30 year old male who’s never been to church or hasn’t been in a really long time. Right now you’re probably thinking “shouldn’t your target be everyone?” Well, we do want everyone to know Jesus yes, but we know that stylistically we cannot reach/please EVERYONE. Even if you’re a church that has no target or says your target is everyone… the style of music you play, the way your leaders dress, the color of paint on your walls, the humor (or lack thereof) reaches a certain demographic of people and turns away other demographics… like it or not. There are all types of churches cuz there are all types of people. Our music is loud and rockin, our pastor wears jeans and t-shirts, we meet in a movie theater, and our humor is sarcastic and plentiful… we reach 30 year old men.

So, with that in mind, I create videos that emphasize that. I create graphics that appeal to the non-Christians. The non-Christian sees a dove, or a crown of thorns, or Jesus hanging bloody on a cross, and they are intimidated by the imagery and turned off… therefore, I NEVER use those “standard” religious images. Not out of disrespect, but instead to be relevant and sensitive and helpful to those people outside our Christian “club” (at least, that's how they see it). It is my job to make the message of Christ “Easy and Accessible” and to allow those people to come check out the claims of Christ as He accepts them... exactly as they are.

Another thing I need to be aware of is the community and its residents. I was born and raised in the Seattle area, so I’m used to white collar America. In a city where getting ahead means putting off having a family until your thirties so that you can climb the business ladder and get a bigger cubical at your next review, that’s what my path was. But out here it’s so different. People get married at 19 and 20, and then have their first, second, and third kids by the time they're 25. Our target works in a factory (of which I have no experience) or has a construction type job (also, no experience). My work needs to connect to those guys. I can’t be using Dilbert type humor when office humor doesn’t mean having an idiot boss and a wasteful meeting. Office humor is more like “I forgot to put the parking brake on the dozer and it rolled into our new frame and demolished half the work site”.

I like what I do… a lot. My week is spent in Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver. The things I used to do for fun, I now get paid for. My newest love is what’s called “open source” software. It’s free software that the designers give freedom to anyone and everyone to change how they see fit. One of my favorite new programs is Blender 3D. Similar programs are in the thousands of dollars range, but Blender is free. I use it to animate and create graphics in 3D space.



Man! I’ve got so much to talk about but I know I’ll bore then heck out of you if I continue and go into the details of my art. Or maybe it won’t bore you. Tell you what… if you’re interested in hearing more, leave me a comment and maybe I’ll expand in a part 2.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Human Hearts

I get home sick. Though I grew up in El Paso, Texas until I was thirteen, I actually get homesick for Seattle. I wake up sometimes and feel like going to get a coffee near Juanita Beach, or driving across the 520 bridge and back – yes, even in traffic – just for the incredible view. Though the internet helps me feel connected to friends and family and life there in Washington, I still get that far away feeling once in a while.



Home sickness is not a condition that is easily treated. I found nothing for it on Web MD or Mayo Clinic’s website. I have prayed about it, only to be reminded of what Jesus says in the book of Luke:

“If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”

I suppose, since Jesus gave up his own life, I can give up some time with my friends and family… I suppose…

I think part of the weariness comes from not really feeling “called” or “qualified” to do this kind of work. I mean, who on earth ever would have thought I would be involved in launching a new church in the Mid-West? Certainly not me. I never even finished college, let alone one minute of seminary training. But, again, God is faithful to answer me using Scripture. I’ve been reading in 2 Corinthians and mulling over one section in particular. The apostle Paul is writing to the church in Corinth talking about this very idea of being qualified. He says:

“Are we like others, who need to bring you letters of recommendation, or who ask you to write such letters on their behalf? Surely not! The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves. Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This ‘letter’ is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.”

So, rather than share my version of what God is doing here in Kenosha, I’ll let another young lady speak for herself. This is Brittany’s story…


About a year ago, I made the first time decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior. Growing up, I never had much exposure to religion, going to church, I didn't know the first thing about the Bible, or the difference between God and Jesus Christ (Truthfully, I didn't even know there was a difference). My cousins started talking to me about Great Lakes Church, for those who hate church. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try one Sunday last summer and it will remain one of the best decisions I've made in my life. Weeks went on and while I started to attend regularly, made the first time decision, I knew something was missing in my life, the pieces of the puzzle hadn't quite added up. That Fall, I went through a difficult time. The only way to truly describe the second half of 2009 is feelings of complete loneliness. Although I was surrounded by people, I've honestly never felt so separated from the rest of the world. This was all going on around the same time that I started attending church. I started learning more and became completely captivated by the idea that there's someone, with more power than any of the people I was letting control my emotions, that would love me unconditionally regardless of my story, what I've been through, or the decisions I've made. In October, I decided after several months of learning the Word that I would get baptized.



It was time for me to really begin this journey I was on and expand my faith and not be afraid to let this wall, that I've put up with everyone, down and simply, grow. Since I started attending Great Lakes Church, I've served on multiple teams and I'm currently apart of my second Growth Group. During my first Growth Group, the leaders and members of the group made a permanent mark in my heart and helped me learn and expand so much. Being that it was a class especially designed for first-time Christians, I learned about the first right steps and I couldn't be more grateful that that class was my first one.

Next week, myself and several other individuals will be traveling to Virginia to help a previous GLC member launch a new church and I could not be more excited about this. I know that there are several other individuals who are in the stage I was in just one year ago, lost and completely caught up with the wrong perspective on the ways things are vs. the way they should be. When the doors open for that church, I pray that at least one person out there will take a chance like I did because it's the best one I could have taken.


I still struggle with sin and know that I'm nowhere near the point in my faith that I have the potential to be, but I have found a community of people who understand and accept me for where I am and this is something I always thought I had to strive for in the past and now it comes effortlessly. I believe the reason it took 20 years for me to become a Christian is just the way that God works with everything and everyone. Nothing happens over night, I wouldn't have understood or appreciated church or God for that matter at any other point in my life because I was too stubborn and thought I was the only person in control. I realize now, we weren't put on this earth to walk through life alone and as long as I believe in God, I'll never be alone again.


The trip to help launch a new church in Virginia that Brittany is talking about is being led by a guy named Jason. Jason has a story of his own… Watch this video for a glimpse…



Want a peek at the church they are traveling to help launch? Scott Obenchain and his family were members at Great Lakes Church just a few short months ago. Check out his Pastor’s Welcome Video that Tony helped create…




I think about Great Lakes Church and am refreshed. I don’t want to imagine how empty my life might feel if I didn’t have the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing here in Kenosha. I am thankful for these tablets of human hearts and the difference they are making in the lives of those around them. It helps me remember that my true home is not a place. My true home is found in my relationship with God.

P.S. Yes, both of those videos, and many many others, were shot in our living room. Who needs a studio?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Balancing Act

I watched a documentary once on a guy, Philippe Petit, who was a tight rope walker. I think it’s an impressive talent to be able to walk along a rope high up off the ground. Really, all gymnasts & acrobats impress me. It clearly takes a lot of physical stamina and discipline to be able to do these things, let alone to do them well.

So, this tight-rope-walker-guy… It would have been impressive enough had he performed his talent only in a circus or at a carnival. But, for him, this was not enough. He had a team of friends that set up rigs so that he could walk his tight rope between buildings. High above the ground, as passers-by looked on in astonishment; he would walk the air from one building to the next – no net. In 1974, he was arrested for his stunt walking between The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City – his highest accomplishment. The story focused on a man with a passion for his dream, and in a strange way, I could relate.

Since 2006, I have put my passion and energy toward helping create places where people could encounter the living God in a real and authentic way. I was privileged to be on staff at EastLake Community Church, and have been blessed to move across the country to Wisconsin to help launch Great Lakes Church. In both places, and in countless Growth Groups, I have passionately pursued creating environments where people could come and know they were wanted. I love it more than any other job or volunteer work I have ever been a part of.

I love hearing about people connecting, with each other and with Jesus Christ. I love when people start conversations with me like this: “You know, I was just talking with someone the other day about the next group I’d like to lead. What do you think?” Groups are up there with my very favorite things to talk about. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of work to make sure there are enough groups for everyone to have a chance to participate. It takes a lot of selfless leaders and hosts to open up their homes and their schedules. It takes a lot of emailing, researching group topics, and getting to know people on an individual level. It consumes a large part of my mental and physical energy, and I love it!

The reality is, even aside from Groups, I really love everything I get to be a part of at Great Lakes Church. This past weekend, we hosted 20+ church planters here in Kenosha for a Networking Meeting. We gathered together to exchange materials, ideas, & inspiration. All of these church leaders have planted within the last 3 years, and some of them have not yet even launched their churches. I was so excited about the potential for this meeting that I went into overdrive preparing for the event.

Those are just a couple of things I can easily get swept away in the details of. I cling to details and lists. I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t. They give me the sense that something tangible is being accomplished, that my time is not idle. Dare I admit that I find a lot of who I am in the items on the lists that I have checked off?

The danger I am discovering recently is that I have been relying on these To Do Lists, and lots of checked off boxes, for peace and satisfaction. Peace. Satisfaction.


Enter Claire. Our sweet baby is now 3 ½ months old, which means I have been a mother for the first quarter of this year. Checking things off my lists has gone from being a great way to keep organized to an insatiable obsession. Now, along with my lists, I have laundry, dishes, diapers, laundry, feeding, and laundry to keep up with. How can I keep up?

No. Seriously. How? Is there something I’m missing? Is there some strategy you learn at mother school on how to organize your life and your home for your family and still be involved in all of the things in life that meant so much before the baby came along?

Lately, as I pray, there is only one thing I know for sure. No, it’s not the magic strategy. (So, if you have it, please pass it along.) The one thing I know is that I am loved.

I am loved.

I am loved by God, the creator of the universe, in the most precious and personal way. Nothing on my lists will earn me favor with God. None of the piles of dirty laundry or dishes are keeping me from being loved either. I am loved and that is that.

Now, I look at my own tight rope and see all I am trying to keep balanced… Growth Groups, Sundays, baby clothes, To Do Lists, dishes, catching up with friends, diapers, calling family… It is a balancing act that will never bring me peace or fully satisfy. Peace. Satisfaction.

If I am truly loved, which I am, then all of my striving is for myself. I am learning, or at least desiring to learn, that the only lasting peace I will ever have is in my relationship with Jesus Christ. The most important “phone call” I can make each day is the one to my Lord and Savior and Friend. I would like to step off of my own tight rope and fall into the net of grace that God has offered me.

I am working on it.

Jesus said, ”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon your selves and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Friday, April 23, 2010

My Claire, 3 months

My baby girl is three months old! I never thought of myself as an "attached" personality type, but I love to be around her. She smiles when I smile... we talk about things (mostly I ask her what she's saying, and she just repeats "Ay ay ay")... she's grabbing my face... she loves to play rambunctious games with me.



It's crazy to watch her grow so fast. She's out of 0 - 3 month clothes already and fitting into her 3 - 6 month clothes very nicely. When I'm feeding her from a bottle, she's eating between 7 & 8 oz. and we've had to move the straps on her car seat twice already.



She enjoys being out. We'll go on our regular Target or Sams Club trip and she behaves pretty much the whole time. We have to be creative about when to go out however... it needs to be far enough from a feeding that she's not going to spit-up all over herself, but soon enough before her next feeding so she doesn't get grumpy while we're out. Mostly, she just looks around or stares at us as we push her in her cart... a pleasure I never knew I would have... just watching her be content is a joy to me.



I never was a kid person. I was one of those types that shy'd away from little people like they were going to explode if I got too close. And babies... that's a whole different kind of fear. It became a bit of a joke trying to get me to hold a baby.



I remember the first time Michelle forced me into holding a baby x 2. We were just hanging out with our friends the Denham's back in Kirkland WA. I was relaxing in the recliner when all of a sudden, a pair of twins were dropped on my lap from behind. Michelle thought this was great... I thought I was stuck. She called Heidi (their mother) over and of course she thought it was great to. Ignoring my plea for them to remove the tiny people from my space, they went and grabbed the camera and solidified the memory.

I wanted a boy. I have had my boy's name picked out for most of my life, so I was ready for him. When I learned it was a girl (a week before Michelle knew), I had some thinking to do. As it turns out, to overcome my fear of babies, I think God knew that only a girl would do this for me. You see, if I had a boy first, I imagine myself being one of those rough dads... one of those "hey tiger" and punch him in the arm type of dads... even as a baby I think I would have found ways to be rough and non-affectionate with him... that's just me. But Claire changed me. She's so beautiful and small and sweet, I know I can't rough her up, or get her dirty, or call her "tiger". With Claire I have to kiss on her, and hold her close, and buy her ponies, and treat her like a princess... that's a 180 from what I instinctively want to do around babies.

I think having a boy first would have cemented in me my tendency to be distant and cold. Imagine being second born girl to that daddy. I thank God for Claire and I thank Claire for changing my heart. I hear her in the next room wrapping up a feeding, so now it's my turn to go and love on her.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Claire


Did you think we had abandoned this blog? In a sense, I thought so myself. This is definitely the longest we've gone without posting, so I thank you for your patience with us as we adjust to life as new parents.

Since I can't come up with a better way to fill you in, you get bullet points for this post. Here are some highlights of the last couple of months:
  • Claire Elaine Peterson* was born on January 22nd, 2010 at 2:28am... two weeks after her due date.

  • Katy (Pratt) Wogsland arrived just in time from Seattle to help us at home for the first 10 days. THANK GOD!

  • We were blessed beyond belief with countless meals and notes for Claire's first 3 weeks at home. Don't know how we would have survived (or eaten) otherwise.

  • Tony finished designing another mailer for Great Lakes Church, inviting 70,000 families in the area to come check us out.

  • We launched another season of Growth Groups with an incredible number of sign ups, and our weekend attendance at GLC grew to just over 1,000.

  • We had just over 60 people at our most recent 101 Class make a commitment to partner with GLC as members! Love welcoming more people into this family of faith!

  • We baptized just over 40 people at our most recent Worship Night! (That same night, I left Claire with the provided childcare for the first time. She did great! I was a nervous wreck!)

  • Because of the incredible amount of people (and KIDS) we are seeing at GLC, we brought on another staff member, Matt Stennett. Matt, along with his wife Crystal and their little son, Jace, moved across the country from Seattle (although both of their families live here in the Chicago area) a couple of weeks ago. Great additions to the team!

  • Tony and I made the tough decision for me to "stay home" and quit my job in Racine. This means the three of us are now home together full time. I'm excited for this opportunity and my new job as Claire's mom. Definitely eating crow, as I told many many friends before I had her that staying at home with her was just not something I'd ever be interested in. What the heck did I know?

  • Claire is really good at being a baby, growing every day, sleeping more than I'm comfortable sharing with other new moms, smiling, and "talking" to us.
And now, for our feature presentation, Claire!

Claire Elaine Peterson from Tony Peterson on Vimeo.



*We named our sweet girl, Claire, after the song Clair de Lune by Debussy. This is a song Tony introduced me to when we first began dating 6 years ago... said it reminded him of me. He insisted I walk down the aisle at our wedding to this song, it meant so much to us both. It is the song playing in the background of this video. Her middle name, Elaine, is my middle name and a family name on both sides. We pray she knows how much we cherish her.