Serving with your kids… help or hassle?

I am passionate about serving with my kids.  I want them to understand, as best as they can, that there are people in our world and in our city who need our help.  And not just our resources but also our time.  I want them to have a compassionate heart to help people in need.

That being said, that doesn’t mean they will always understand it and enjoy it in the moment.  This past Sunday, after serving for about 10 minutes Abbey turned to me and said, “I am tired of doing this.  When am I going to go to Grammy’s?”  Ugg.  I wanted them to have fun!  I wanted us to serve together!

I will never forget taking Elijah last summer to the waiting room of  Crisis Assistance Ministries, a place where people wait for hours in hopes that they will find help to pay their bills and provide for their families.  We were there to give out books to kids and read with them while they were there waiting.  Elijah was discontent the entire time… what are we doing here?  how long are we going to be here?  Mommy, I’m thirsty.  when are we going to leave?  Towards the end of our visit, I was talking with the director of the organization, Carol.  She told me that all her life her parents drug her to places like this to serve people.  She told me she never really liked it as a child, but then one day, as a young adult, she realized she had such a passion to help people in need.  She now gives her life every day to it.

When we go to an event, I try and prep my kids- This is what we are doing, this is why we are doing it.  It is going to be hot.  We will stay until our task is finished… even then there are times where they just don’t get it, or they can’t stay engaged.  I have to remember that I planted a seed of generosity and a seed of compassion in their heart, and trust that God will bring it to fruition in His time.


All that being said, here are a few family friendly events you can be a part of this LOVE Week…



1. Birdhouse Making

It’s summertime and your family is spending a lot of time playing outside.  Share the beauty of the great outdoors with the residents of Agape Senior & Assisted Living by building bird houses.  Start building on July 29 from 1-3:30 pm by signing up HERE.


2. Free Store

Do you or your kids like to shop?  Did you know you could volunteer at a free store for LOVE Week? Free Store is a large-scale resource for donated clothing and household items that are given to families in need at no charge. Our teams need your help inspecting, sorting and stocking donated items in the Free Store to go out to local families in need. Shop till you drop on July 30 from 9-11 am HERE.


3. Healthy Family Fun Day

Join us for a community hot dog social and health expo at the Community Health Services of Monroe Diabetic Clinic. This free clinic serves over 7,800 patients in Union County with Diabetes. Many of these patients are unemployed and have no health insurance. The Clinic provides these patients with all the tools to help them lead a healthier life.  Join families from the Monroe area on July 31 from 9-1: 30 pm to enjoy food and have fun as they gain valuable health information. Register HERE.


4. Summer Block Party

What better way to celebrate summer than with a fun outdoor block party? We will be celebrating with the residents of Agape, their families, and community on July 31 at 6:00 pm. Sign up to celebrate HERE.


5. Family Game Night

What is more fun that a family game night? Play Bingo, cook dinner, and make dessert with the residents at Inreach on July 30 from 4:30-7 pm.  You win just by signing up HERE.


TORONTO, CALIFORNIA AND ROANOKE – LOVE Week is going on at all our locations and our extension sites. Here are a couple of our favorites there.


6. Back to School Centerpieces

Do you and your kids like to make arts and crafts? Then this project is for you. The Yonge Street Mission in Mississauga, an organization that supports at risk youth and families in Toronto, is holding a “Back to School Fundraiser” to raise money for school supplies for dozens of children this fall, and we get to create the centerpieces! We will provide all the supplies and instructions for you.  This is a perfect event to do at home with your family, or get some friends together and make 2 or 3! You will be able to pick up and drop off all supplies at church on the weekends. Start creating by clicking HERE.


7. Ronald McDonald House

This event is a favorite of our volunteers every year. We will be cleaning inside and outside landscaping at Ronald McDonald House Roanoke. July 31 from 6:3-8:30 pm. Register HERE.


8. Food Drive

Bring your family with you to the grocery store and pick out items for the Sacramento Food Bank. Bring by your cans between 8am and 7pm on Wednesday July 30.  Accepted items include: fresh produce, canned & dry goods, USDA certified perishable food items (meat, eggs, dairy), unexpired baby food & formula, clothing, diapers & baby supplies, bags, backpacks, purses, books, toys, unopened toiletries, computers, TVs and bicycles. To donate and find out more, click HERE.


9. Coat Drive

Growing families outgrow clothing.  Clean out your closets and donate your coats to bless local, underprivileged families in the Roanoke area. Bring all your jackets to church on Sunday, August 3. Find out more HERE.

A generation of generosity

Teaching kids kids to be generous is not easy.  It is against human nature to share.  Adults don’t like to share either, we just learn how to hide it better.

My husband and I teach our kids tithing like it isn’t an option.  It is just a matter of fact.  You give back to God 10% of everything He gives you.  But to get our kids to go beyond tithing and into generosity is not an easy task. Back this past winter, my sister’s oldest two kids had a joint birthday party and instead of receiving gifts, they collected items for kids in Africa.  I thought this was a great idea to rip off.

So when Elijah’s birthday rolled around this July,  I asked him if he would like to collect something at his birthday party instead of gifts.  He immediately said no.  I let it go and tried again a few days later.  This time I told him that he would still be getting gifts.  His dad and I as well as his grandparents, cousins, etc… would still give him gifts, just not the kids invited to his party.

He agreed and we selected Beds 4 Kids as his charity.  We thought it would be cool to have a huge pile of bedding to load up after his party.

Then this past September, Graham followed suit.  Graham collected stuffed animals for the kids at Levine Children’s Hospital.

I was so proud of my boys.  Once they made the decision, they never complained.  And they were still blessed with gifts and money from those closest to them.

I am not a perfect parent.  I do not seize every teachable moment and share bible verses with my kids daily.  And I don’t know that we will make this a birthday tradition.  (I hope we do but I want it to be their choice).  But I hope their generosity will inspire their friends to be generous (as their cousins did for my boys), and that maybe my kid’s generation will grow up to generous givers.

LOVE Week Opportunities to serve from your home

Yesterday the boys and I served at Bright Blessings.  Bright Blessings is an organization that provides gifts and birthday parties for homeless kids and it is a cool place.  We had the best time decorating wrapping paper, packaging goodie bags, and wrapping books.  It was such a fun place to serve with my kids.  All of the events are full for LOVE Week but Bright Blessings is always collecting items for kids that range from new toys and books to hygiene items and juice boxes (see here for their wish list) and they also have ongoing opportunities for serving with your kids.  Check out their site for more information.

Here are three ways you can serve at home…
Clean out your closet and donate your new and gently used in season clothing to the Crisis Assistance Ministry Free Store to be redistributed to people in need from our own community.  The Crisis Assistance Ministry Free Store allows people in need of clothing to still get the items they need while allowing them to reallocate funds to pay essential bills, food, and shelter. The entire stores turns over in only 2-days. So that means that your clothing will likely be on someone within a week. Men’s clothing comes in and goes out much quicker. Donations for men will be on someone within two days.
Create a welcome basket of essential items for families who have moved into the Ronald McDonald House while their child is being treated at an area hospital.  Families often leave in a hurry to get to the hospital to get help for a sick or injured child.  Most often leaving without basic essentials for themselves. These welcome baskets fulfill a need for families while encouraging them and helping them rest, relax, and find hope.
Take the opportunity to bless a new mother by creating a new baby basket full of diapers, onesies and other baby items. These baskets are a way you can bless a young family with basic items needed to care for newborns.


You can drop these items off at the actual organization OR at the orange tent of your campus this weekend.  Just make sure you label your items for the correct location.

My boys (and I) cleaned out their closet.  Here they are stuffing the truck at our Matthews location which is open every day this week for donations.

Gotta keep em separated?

Amanda left this comment on my blog this weekend…

Hey Holly!  My husband and I are starting a church near Atlanta Ga and our grand opening Is 3.3.2013. The church is called ThreeLife… We have been seeing great things our last preview service we had 200 people and we haven’t even started yet. Our next preview service is this Sunday. We are super pumped about it. What I wanted to ask is….how do you separate church and family? I am horrible at it. I mean I have a 3 year old and realize I cannot be at the church constantly and want him to have as normal as a life as possible without being stuck at church day in and day out while I work and focus on church business. It is just so hard to separate it even when leaving the building. I see how you always post pics of you and your kids…which shows me you are mom first then Preachers wife. Anyways, I just wondered if you have any advice. We have been a part of a large church before now and very demanding, but since this is our deal it seems so much more weighty on me. I guess I will just have to MAKE myself separate it. My husband and I talk about having a day of no church talk…haha and we are like so, what do you want to talk about?? : )… Praying blessing and more to keep coming your way.

Amanda, here is my answer.  DON’T SEPARATE THEM!  They cannot be separated.  If my husband was an NFL quarter back, my family would eat, sleep and breath football.  We would wear team apparel.  We would travel to away games as much as we could.  We would hang out with other football families.

I do not try to separate church and family, I do everything I can to integrate them.  We want our kids to see all that God is doing at our church.  They are at church a lot but I try to keep it fun and special.  Of course, they cannot be at church 100% of the time.  Often times I will bring them to part of a special event and then let them go home with a sitter or have special activities for them to do while they are waiting on us.  I want them to grow up thinking church was their life and that they love church.  I want their closest relationships to be within our church and church staff.

I also do not try to separate it with my husband.  I offer an encouragement for him that no one else can give.  Just like we can’t not talk about our kids, we can’t not talk about our church because church is a part of who we are.

I know that there are a lot of other families in ministry who take a totally different approach to this topic.  And I don’t think they are wrong.  But this is what we feel is best for our family right now.  And it makes me so happy when my kids want to go to church each weekend.

Amanda, I am praying for you as you get closer and closer to your launch date.  I am praying protection and provision and God’s favor over your familiy and your new church.

(If anyone else would like to ask a ministry related questions, feel free to leave a comment any time, I will do my best to answer you.)



4 ways, 12 locations to serve this summer with kids

This year, I’ve enjoyed more than ever the opportunity to serve our community with my children.  Elijah and Graham are getting old enough to understand the importance of service, and Abbey’s getting easier to bring along wherever we go.  As we’re now halfway through summer, I wanted to share with you some of our Elevation Outreach team’s best opportunities to serve with your children before they head back to school.


GIVE A GIFT::  When you’re shopping for your child’s school supplies grab extra items for a homeless child served through A Child’s Place.  Lace up some shoes and bring an extra new pair or two to share with our partner Samaritan’s Feet.  This is my current favorite for my boys because they’ve got specific tasks they can complete.  They get to sort, tie, count, and drop shoes in big boxes in a big warehouse where nobody cares how loud they are, and running between tasks is actually encouraged.  Any time of year you can pack a shoebox full of gifts for a child through Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse.  This is a favorite of Elevation staff mom Kelly Hubatka for her four girls and Elevation Providence mom Dana Ramsey who says, “My kids (Christian, 8 and Caroline, 13) love helping other children and take ownership of the process.”


FEED SOMEBODY::  One of the easiest ways to relate the importance of service to kids is through food.  They understand that everybody needs to eat.  And they can be a part of feeding somebody in so many ways.  Elevation Blakeney mom Erin Proctor says her two kids (Tamarah, 12 and Ty, 8) get up at 5:30am once a month with no complaints to serve breakfast as a family at Charlotte Rescue Mission.  Proctor says the kids feel empowered to truly serve as they say good morning and bring breakfast plates out to the men’s tables.  At Samaritan House, you and your eGroup can serve and share dinner together with homeless neighbors recovering from surgery.  Our church has scheduled, regular opportunities with these two partners so you won’t have to serve alone – seasoned volunteers will be there with you to show you how everything works.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, you can pick up an extra bag full for Matthews Help Center or Hope Cancer Ministries.  Both these organizations are experiencing a shortage in their food pantries and would really appreciate your help.  The kids can help put the groceries on the shelf at drop off if you have time as you help them understand the importance of sharing.  And everybody loves the smell of freshly baked cookies.  You can whip up your favorites on site to share with patient families at Ronald McDonald House.


CLOTHE SOMEBODY::  When you’re cleaning out your closets for new fall fashions, take your outgrown clothing to our partners at Crisis Assistance Ministry, Project 658, or Camino Community Center.  The operation at Crisis is huge.  Thousands of items of clothing circulate through there every day and kids age five and up are a big help.


SHARE YOUR TIME::  One of the sweetest new opportunities this summer is at Charlotte Family Housing’s Hawthorne Place.  Elevation University campus pastor Larry Brey spent the night there this month with his son Corbin (age 6).  Our service Sunday through Thursday nights once a month allows CFH to save thousands of dollars.  “We’d been there less than an hour and Corbin was already asking when we were coming back,” said Brey.  You arrive at 8:30pm, play with kids getting ready for bed, visit with parents transitioning out of homelessness, and tuck yourself into a private little room with your own bathroom and bunk bed.

You can also go Here to see a few events that we are already doing this summer.  You can sign up and jump in!

You can find out more about any of these outreach opportunities by emailing our outreach team, or follow them on the Elevation Outreach blog.

Easters past and present

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Happy Good Friday!  I just love the Easter season!  These are pictures from our staff Easter party, we had such a great time. 

The anticipation of this weekend is so exciting.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to preview our worship experience at Elevation and it is going to be spectacular.  I am so proud of our team.  I cannot wait for tonight.

Today I thought I would link a few blogs I have posted from Easters past…

Posted 4/9/09, in this post I talk about raising kids in the ministry (there may or may not be pictures from my childhood)
Who says you have to hunt eggs on Sunday?

Posted on 4/2/09, here I talk about praying against attacks from the Enemy.
Put up your dukes

Posted on 3/31/10, it's an oldie but a goodie!  4 year old Elijah tells the Easter story with props (man he is growing up fast!)
Elijah Furtick presents the Easter Story

Posted on 3/30/10, I share one of the Easter activities we like to do with our kids.
Celebrating Easter

Posted on 4/1/10, more the seriousness of the Enemy that we face and our need to fight back.
Keep your dukes up

Raising Kids In The Ministry

Hubatka Family PicHolly asked me if I would guest post on her blog this week about raising kids in the ministry. I was honored that she would ask, as this is something that I am definitely passionate about. I'm Kelly and my husband Larry (Creative Pastor here at Elevation) and I have 4 daughters-ages 4, 6, 8 and 10. Yes, there is a lot of hair, talking, nail polish, tears and a little drama, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. They really are great little ladies. I tell him he is so blessed that he gets to come home to 5 women who think he is absolutely the greatest guy ever. It takes a special man to have a chatty wife and 4 daughters!

When it comes to raising a family in the ministry of Elevation Church, we are so fortunate that Pastor Steven is passionate about staff families being healthy and our kids not being left behind. Our girls get a front row seat to the movement we are part of just as much as we do, and I’m extremely thankful for that.

As our girls grow and seasons in our family change, I know the way we do certain things  as it relates to ministry will change as well. But there are a few core values that we have established as a family in ministry that I believe will really help us go the distance and keep a strong family unit along the way.

We keep our calling and the vision of our church in front of our kids.

It is so important to us that our girls know why we do what we do. We talk to them about the calling on our family, not just saying it’s “Daddy’s job.” They also know that Elevation has a vision to see people far from God filled with life in Christ. We talk to them about life change stories that we are getting to be part of – people coming to know Jesus, marriages being restored, families being put back together. I love that they will always be able to say they have seen God move first-hand!

We don’t blame anything on the church.

This one is huge because perspective is everything. I often hear from families in ministry, “we don’t have time…”. There is never enough time, let’s be honest. Prioritizing time well can be one of the hardest things in ministry. You’ve got to make time for what matters to you, and sacrifice other things. But none of it is the church’s fault. In certain seasons of our time on staff, we have had to get real creative with our family time, but we make it work. We rally around each other and Larry in our busy times. We even decided that home educating was the best option for us right now so we can have a flexible schedule as a family. You’ve got to do your best to make your family successful where you are at-it is not the church’s job to do it for you!

We are intentional

We try to be very intentional with our kids. In conversation, in time. Ask them questions about what they are learning and how they are doing. One of the practical ways we do this is that Larry takes one of them out on a small date each Monday night-nothing fancy most of the time, but just a time for him to connect with his daughters and speak life into them so that they would know he is invested in them and wants to know them. Being intentional takes effort but the payoff is well worth it!

We are in it together

I said this previously, but we make sure our girls know that this isn’t just a job-but a calling on our family. Each Sunday morning we meet together in the auditorium of the Uptown location and pray for the day-that people would respond to God’s word & that He would use our girls to make an impact in their classrooms. We truly enjoy doing ministry together-whether that be serving on Sunday at Uptown, doing an outreach project together, reaching out to a neighbor, praying together etc. We want our kids to own their faith and feel like they can serve in ministry as well.

Can kids fast?

My husband has done several extended fasts.  Currently he is on day 8 of an 11 day juice only fast (read more about that here).  Since our boys are now able to understand so much of what we do, and since we invited our staff and many volunteers to join my husband for 5 of the 11 days, we decided to involve our kids too. 

We talked about how daddy is fasting from food and how that means he would only drink juice for 11 days.  We talked about how fasting means you are giving up something important to you in order draw closer to God.  We suggested that they give up desserts for the last 5 days of the fast and they agreed.

Then this past Sunday Elijah had a huge crying episode over his video game.  These episodes seemed to be happening too often for my liking.  So I suggested to him that maybe he should fast from all video games as well.  He was not very receptive to this suggestion, at first.  Then my husband and Elijah prayed about it and afterwards, Elijah agreed that he thought God would want him to include video games in his fast.

We have now completed day two of the no desserts or video games fast.  I was surprised today when Elijah refused a lollipop at the office (totally unsolicited) because it was dessert.  We did not have any qualifying conversations about our definition of dessert.  I have also not heard one mention of his DSi or Playstation.

I am not sure what their little minds understand about God and the purpose of a fast but I do believe that God honors their obedient hearts to their parents.  After all God asked us to simply have faith like a child.

Refreshing Conversations: Tiffany Cooper, Julie Richard, and Jessica Cornelius

We continue our series, Refreshing Conversations.  For the past several Fridays, I have been playing back videos recorded from a pastors' wives retreat that I hosted called Refresh.  I couldn't help but take advantage of all the wisdom that was present.  I called in my good friend, Tonia Bendickson, to interview some of the leading Christian women in this nation.  You will hear about a full range of topics from ministry to family to leadership. 

Today we will hear from 3 of my friends, all discussing family and raising kids. 

First up is Tiffany Cooper.  Tiffany and her husband, Herbert, lead People's Church in Oklahoma City, OK.  Tiffany and Herbert planted their church about 7 years ago.  They also have 4 very young children.  Hear Tiffany speak about raising a young family while planting a growing church.

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Julie Richard is married to Mac.  Together they pastor Lake Hills Church in Austin, TX.  Julie is the life of every party, a truly hilarious individual to be around.  She and Mac have two teenagers.  Hear Julie talk about raising teenagers and ministering to their friends.


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Finally we will hear from my good friend, Jessica Cornelius.  Jessica is married to Bil.  Together they pastor Bay Area Fellowship in Corpus Christi Texas.  Jessica and Bil have three children.  Recently their oldest turned 13.  Listen to Jessica tell about the unique rite of passage they created for their son and how it impacted his life.



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The Holy Ghost Offering

This weekend we are taking up a special offering at Elevation, the Holy Ghost Offering.  Because our finace team plans so well, Elevation will be able to take the entire offering given this weekend and put it towards expansion (and of course giving 12% to our outreach). 

We are asking everyone to give big.  To be generous.  For some people, this will mean giving 10% of their monthly income for the first time.  For others, it will be finishing their Kingdom Come commitment.  Still others, who did not have the opportunity to participate in Kindgom Come, will be giving a generous gift above and beyond their regular committment .

My husband and I try really hard to teach our children to be generous.  This is no exception.  For the past few weeks Elijah and Graham have been earning stickers.  We are still working on our Spirit Tree so recently, everytime they display one of the fruits of the Spirit (kind to their brother, patient while waiting for a toy, joyful instead of whining, etc…), they put a sticker on their picture.

On Saturday we will count up all the stickers.  Each sticker represents 1 dime and 1 M&M.  The money will go in the offering, the candy in their tummy.  My husband and I will be giving big too.

I am praying for all of the Elevators that they would be able to experience the joy and the blessings of generosity and that it would begin with the Holy Ghost Offering.