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Finding peace in the chaos

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

Can you believe it’s already September? The summer flew right by, actually this entire year has been a blur! The ease of summer is now gone and with it comes the busyness of fall. Starting school, the beginning of harvest, sports, raking leaves…the list of things on our plate is endless.

In my family, this was always an anxious time of year. Growing up on a farm in western North Dakota, there were always worries about harvest time. How would the harvest turn out? Did it rain enough? Too much? Will the market go up? Mostly things we couldn’t control. I remember listening to my dad and other farmers sitting around coffee talking about the weather and the markets; all the worries on their minds. It’s hard not to think about everything that could go wrong.

When something is constantly on your mind, Paul calls on us to talk to God about it. In Philippians 4:6, it says “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Ask God to bear that particular burden for you. Worry doesn’t do anything but suck the life out of today. I can’t say it’s easy not to worry, in fact I’ll be the first to admit that this is a daily challenge for me.

While this fall might bring anxious times, I pray that you also find peace. Whether it be in a literal harvest of crops or the abundance of life around you, may you experience the assurance of God’s grace and love in your life. Hear this blessing – “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

Take Jesus with you this summer

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

Summer is a hard time to stay connected to church. School is out, families take vacations, the weather is too nice…the list goes on and on.

This summer, we want you to stay connected by joining our Flat Jesus project!

Flat Jesus is inspired by a national school project called Flat Stanley, based off a book written by Jeff Brown. Just as Flat Stanley has helped children with literacy and geography, Flat Jesus helps children stay plugged into the biblical message you’ve been sharing with them all year.

How it works:

  • Everyone gets their own paper cutout of Jesus to take with them on their summer adventures.
  • Get one at the welcome center or print your own from blog.wearesparkhouse.org/flat-jesus-coming
  • Bring Flat Jesus with you on your adventures—to the park, your camping trip, and even the pool!
  • Take photos and share them on your favorite social media platform! Make sure to check-in at St. John’s Lutheran Church and use the hashtags #FlatJesus and #sjkkids to connect with others!

Where will your journeys take you and your Flat Jesus?

Changing seasons and signs of God

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

After what seems like an endless winter, it looks like we’re finally turning a corner to spring. The sun is shining brighter and there are new shoots of green peeking out from the formerly snow-covered ground. The skies are starting to fill with the sweet sound of robins returning to their summer homes. And as the air warms up around us many people are starting to take advantage of the beautiful change of seasons. God surrounds us with new things in creation each and every day.

I find myself with a renewed sense of wonder as there are new things to see and experience. And as I watch out our living room window and see people taking advantage of the beautiful weather, I wonder if others are experiencing the same. This is a common time of year to take notice of the new things you experience. Whether you hear the first-morning song of the birds or find a patch of colorful wildflowers, there are always new things to be found.

During this Lenten season, I have found myself dwelling on Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.” In spite of everything going on in our world, God calls us to “be still.” For me, this means to slow down and take notice of where I see God working in the world. In spring, I see God in the renewal of creation. I see God taking what was dead and creating new life in the form of flowers, grass, and grains. I see God in the new life of animals, continuing the cycle of life which we live in.

I hope you will find time this spring to spend in God’s creation; that you might experience the renewal of life around us. Where will you see God?

Self-care in the New Year

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

It’s a new year — what are you planning to do with your next 365 days??

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, “Love your neighbor, as you love yourself.”

Maybe you’ve heard that before, but have you thought about what it actually means? Sure it means to be kind and respectful to your neighbor; it also means to be kind and respectful to yourself. I mean, how can you treat others kindly if you don’t do the same for yourself? Today, you might think about kindness toward yourself as self-care.

As someone who lives with seasonal affective disorder, this time of year can be hard. It’s hard to be motivated, to connect with others, and even to focus on caring for myself. I have found a few things that work well for me and thought maybe they could work for you too.

  • Keeping a regular schedule: go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. For me, this also means that I need to schedule something every day so that I connect with other people.
  • Do something that brings you joy: even if it’s just drinking a good cup of coffee. What’s something you love to do? Coloring, playing piano, snowshoeing, and a million other things are just some ideas for you.
  • Try meditation: whether you sit in a cozy place in your house and meditate on scripture, read a daily devotion, or pray, taking a moment out of your day can reduce anxiety.

You might think of other self-care ideas that work for you. Feel free to share with me or others. We will be featuring self-care ideas throughout the month of January, your idea could be featured too!

Where will you find peace this holiday season?

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Coordinator

Crisp air, falling leaves, apple cider…if you haven’t noticed it’s definitely autumn!

I’m probably not alone in thinking that the holiday season can be quite stressful. The last weekend in October, we held an event at St. John’s called “Self Care – In Real Life.” Our speaker, Anna Rendell, walked us through some ideas to care for ourselves every day and especially during the holidays.

Here are some that stuck out to me:

  • When you take out things to decorate if you aren’t in love with it anymore and it doesn’t bring you happiness get rid of it. Donate items that you don’t use anymore and help another family to create new holiday memories!
  • You don’t have to do everything. Do things that are meaningful to you and your family.

Trying to make the “perfect Pinterest Christmas” won’t always bring you joy, it might just drive you nuts. (I took a little liberty with that one!)
Overall, make sure the things you do this holiday season bring you life!!

During Advent, we’ll be hosting a book study called Advent Conspiracy: Making Christmas Meaningful (Again). We’ll be re-focusing on what the season is truly about. For many of us, there is a struggle to find the connection between our Christmas to-do lists and the story of Jesus’ birth. An overwhelming stress has overtaken worship and celebration. This time of year when focusing on Christ should be the easiest is often the hardest. Somehow, this had become the new normal. It is our hope that you might create new patterns of celebrating the season! You can join us on Sundays during Advent starting on December 2 at 9:10 am in the Youth Room.

Lastly, this month we celebrated 3-year-olds as they received a prayer pillow from the congregation. They will all receive prayers every month from December to October 2019. Prayer Pillows were given out on November 4 and 7 at all services. Keep these young ones in your prayers as we support them in learning the power of prayer in their lives.

Gearing up for fall

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

The leaves have been turning new colors and we all know that means! Fall is just around the corner!

Still time to register for fall
We’re gearing up to start Sunday School and Oasis Programming the week of September 13. Families are still able to register online at stjohnkasson.org/lifelong-learning or in the office.

Volunteers still needed
We are still looking for volunteers to help out by teaching Sunday School or Oasis classes. We wouldn’t be able to do these ministries without our fabulous volunteers. Please consider helping to pass on the stories of our faith to our students. You can contact me (Amanda) for more info: (507) 634-7110 ext 14 or amanda@stjohnskasson.org. You can also sign up on the Youth Bulletin Board in the Narthex.

Fall Fest
On September 15, the Education Commission will be hosting our first annual Fall Fest! All are welcome as we share a meal of hotdogs, chips and lemonade. There will be lawn games, inflatables, cotton candy, and even a campfire with s’mores! We hope you will join us for this fun fall celebration. Opportunities to volunteer lend us some items are available here.

Be still this summer

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
CYF Ministry Development Director

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all Faith Formation volunteers and staff this past year! From our Sunday and Oasis teachers to our adult education leaders, and confirmation guides we could not have made it through the year without your support and dedication to the faith life of our congregation and its visitors. Thank you also to Country Pleasures and the confirmation groups for your work with the Oasis Meals. We have been truly blessed by your service!

School’s out for the summer! But as you know schedules are still going to be crazy. Between t-ball, gardening, work, and other summer fun I’m sure summer is still quite stressful for us all!

In Psalm 46, King David writes “Be still and know that I am God.” For me being still means to put away my phone and laptop, to sit with a cup of French pressed coffee and take in God’s creation. For you it might be something entirely different – realizing that your to-do list can wait, taking time to spend with the important people in your life, or maybe taking a nap. No matter what helps you to be still and relish in the presence of God, go ahead and do it. God wants to have a relationship with you and sometimes that requires us to slow down and find space to listen. What will you do this summer to be still and know God?

Serving our community

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
Children, Youth, & Family Development Director

Happy Easter! The resurrection of Jesus was no joke! The promise of forgiveness and everlasting life is what we live into this Easter Season. In First Communion classes during March, we talked about our responsibility to serve others. In the sacrament of Holy Communion, we are strengthened to serve and share our gifts with others. How do you use your gifts to serve your neighbors and community?

Since summer is just around the corner we want to make sure you know about our annual Vacation Bible School in June. You can register online at www.stjohnskasson.org/vbs or grab a form from the office. Please register by May 18 to be guaranteed a t-shirt.

Super Hero VBS

St. John’s Lutheran, Kasson MN
June 18-22 | 8:30 – 11:30 am
Ages 3 through 4th grade
(2017-2018 school year)
We are offering early drop-off (7:00-8:15 am), late pick-up (11:45 am-12:30 pm, and transportation to Just Like Home or Project Kids in Kasson. For questions, contact Deacon Amanda at amanda@stjohnskasson.org or (507)634-7110 ext. 14.

New opportunities

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
CYF Ministry Development Director

Wow – it feels like we were just here a few months ago! Another new year, full of anticipation! Which will probably fly by 🙂

This January there are a few changes taking place for Faith Formation at St. John’s.

First – we are going to be taking a new approach to our Faith Milestones. From January through April we will be using one lesson time each month to talk about a particular building block of faith. First through fourth grade students will learn about the Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, the Bible, and the sacrament of Holy Communion. Club 56 students will be concentrating on the Apostle’s Creed. Next year, we will implement a year-long program to delve deeper with all Preschool – 6th grades.

Second – Our confirmation large group learning times will be on Sundays 1-3 pm. During these learning opportunities, we are encouraging any and all community members to participate as well. The learning times will focus on learning the Bible and catechism. Click here for the full schedule.

Each of these new learning opportunities is meant to help you grow in your faith and build a closer relationship with God. Please join us!

Foundations of faith for all ages

Amanda Sabelko, Deacon
CYF Ministry Development Director

You know it’s fall when we take our annual two week faith formation break for MEA & our lutefisk dinner! Our first couple months have been going great, stop by sometime to see all the smiling faces on Sunday mornings or Wednesday afternoons.

This year, we are taking more of an initiative to have all ages learning foundational pieces of our faith. Some are focusing on learning the books of the Bible, some are memorizing the Lord’s Prayer, and some are even going to learn all about the Small Catechism! In September, all of our 4-year-olds and 3rd graders received Bibles as part of the promises we made to their families in Holy Baptism — to place in their hands the Holy Scriptures. This month we are celebrating 3-year-olds as they receive a prayer pillow from the congregation. They will all receive prayers every month from December to October 2018. Prayer Pillows will be given out on November 12 and 15 at all services.

Thank you for your commitment to the faith life of our students and others within our congregation.

Recommitting to Prayer

Amanda Sabelko
Children, Youth, & Family Ministry Director

Labor Day weekend again marked the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year at St. John’s!

We’ll be getting back into the groove of things for Sunday School, Oasis, and Club 56 starting the week of September 17. Registration forms are available in the office or at www.stjohnskasson.org/lifelong-learning

This year I am working on different ways to strengthen my own prayer life. In the coming weeks, I plan to start a daily prayer practice. It will be open to others who are looking for a place to listen to God and the world around us. If we truly believe prayer is meant to be a conversation with God we must take time to center ourselves on Godís Word and just listen. As you finish your summer out, I pray that youíll take a little time to be still.

Thank You

amandasabelko2016-1Deacon Amanda Sabelko
CYF Ministry Development Coordinator

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of our Faith Formation volunteers and staff this past year! From our Sunday and Oasis teachers to our adult education leaders, and confirmation guides we could not have gotten through this whole year without your support and dedication to the faith life of our congregation and its visitors. Thank you also to Country Pleasures & the Confirmation groups for your work with the Oasis Meals. We have been truly blessed by your service!

Vacation Bible School

This June 19-23 at St. John’s we will be learning about God’s love through the stories of Dr. Seuss! From 8:30-11:30 am each day we will learn how God helps us to care for creation and each other!

Sign up today, it’s free!

3 years – 4th grade (2016-2017)

For questions or to volunteer contact Amanda at (507) 634-7110 or
amanda@stjohnkasson.org

A Dr. Seuss VBS

Miss Amanda’s Musings

amandasabelko2016-1Amanda Sabelko
Children, Youth, and Family Ministry Development Director

Faith Formation Ministries
On November 2, Oasis kids will be packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child. We are looking for more donations of toys, school and health supplies – more information in this newsletter.

We will be giving out Prayer Pillows to 3-year-olds November 13 & 16. Anyone is welcome to receive this special gift. Three-year-olds will receive prayers to put in their pillows throughout the year!

This year’s Advent Festival will be November 29, 3:00–5:00 pm. Please join us for games and fellowship!! This will also be the kick off for the Christmas Tree Silent Auction put on by our Confirmation Classes. We are looking for different groups to provide an activity or craft during the event too! If your bible study group, commission, or even family would like to host an activity please reach out to me or another member of the Education Commission!

An easy way to pray & bless each day

Amanda Sabelko CYF Ministry Development Director

Amanda Sabelko
CYF Ministry Development Director

Amanda Sabelko, AIM
CYF Ministry Development Coordinator

Over the past few months Lindsay and I have been walking through the Faith 5. We’ve learning about sharing highs and lows, reading a Bible verse or story and talking about the Bible reading as it relates to our highs and lows.

This month we’ll be looking at the last two steps of Faith 5 – prayer and blessing.

Pray. Take your highs and lows to God in prayer: 1) Thank and praise Jesus for the highs; 2) Ask the Holy Spirit’s help with the lows; 3) Close in Jesus’ name.

Bless. Close your evening with a simple blessing. Trace a cross on each other’s foreheads while saying – “You are a blessed Child of God.”

Even if your family was to do these last two steps each day, imagine how it might change your perspective.  Taking our excitement and worries to God calms the soul. And the daily reminder that you belong to God can empower you and your children to live like Jesus every day!

Learn more at www.faith5.org and on the bookmarks at the Welcome Center or in the office.

 

Miss Amanda’s Musings – January 2016

Amanda Sabelko CYF Ministry Development DirectorAmanda Sabelko
CYF Ministry Development Coordinator

Thank you so much to all of our teachers, parents, and students for helping to share the wonder of the Christmas Story through the Christmas Program! The Children’s Christmas service is such a blessing to our families and community.

As we look forward to a new year, I’m reminded of new beginnings. We are given so many opportunities to start over – again and again.

What are you planning to begin again this year? Often times we start with a focus on ourselves, however I challenge you to keep your focus on serving others and being a light in our community. Still have clutter around your home? Give away one thing for every gift you got at Christmas. How about all that extra food you have “just in-case”? Go ahead and donate it. Why not start this year with a generous spirit?

Continue to bless others out of the abundance you’ve been given!

Click on the image to view more pictures from the Christmas program.

Click on the image to view more pictures from the Christmas program.