S PRING 2012
A Highrock Church Publication
Family Newsletter A Word from the Lead Pastor
In This Issue: page 1
A Word From the Lead Pastor
Milestones Year 1 in Review
Highrock: The Beginning
One of the big changes since the publication of our last newsletter has been the completion of the new Sunday School rooms in the ministry center, which have allowed for much better learning environments for our children and teachers. Thank you for your patience when that work was being done.
Walk Thru the Bible
Of course, what really makes those classes wonderful is not the facility, but the teachers in them. We are so blessed to have so many parents, young couples and young adults who volunteer every Sunday to teach and live out God’s grace and truth. My own children’s retention for what is taught on any given Sunday can vary, but the impression made by the teachers who model godly love is unforgettable, and they talk much more about the teachers than the lesson itself. I am so thankful for the servant-teachers, including many of you parents who are among them!
CONT. ON PAGE 2
PASTOR DAVID SWAIM
PASTOR BRIAN DIETZ
PASTOR BRIAN DIETZ
Calling all DADS! ANDY NOH
What Kids think about Highrock Kids!
Highrock Parents Share about Marriage and Parenting
Get to Know our Newest Pastors! Learn more about Highrock’s newest pastors and their families on page 8!
735 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476 www.highrock.org 781.652.9859
CONT. FROM PAGE 1
A Word from the Lead Pastor NOW THAT SPRING HAS ARRIVED, MICHELLE AND I ARE making summer plans. When I was a newer parent, and sometimes even now, I admit that my goal was essentially to keep my children distracted and happy so that they would not be too much of a disruption. We tried packing the summer with all kinds of activities to keep everyone busy. But as my children have matured and, more importantly perhaps, as we have matured as parents, our emphasis has changed. Michelle was always better at this, but now I too am less eager to find ways to distract my kids, and more interested in ways to interact with them. In the rush from one activity to the next, and the hustle and bustle of work and school during the year, sometimes survival feels like an admirable goal, and the intentionality of parenting can be forgotten. As you can see in Pastor Brian’s article and have heard in the Milestones classes this past year, our entire Milestones initiative is built around Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
THE SWAIM FAMILY I will only be ready for those conversations if I am also making time to spend with God. Sometimes those “conversations” with Him also seem light and trivial, but if I show up regularly, then at times they become unexpectedly holy and profound. So this summer, I want to create opportunities to be with my kids, and commit to being truly present as a full person; not just looking for recreation, but looking for relationship. I want to talk about life and love and sex and success and the future and our fears, and all this can happen if I am fully present and engaged with them. I also plan to spend time with God this summer. I have to be deliberate about this, because in the summer, so many of my regular spiritual rhythms seem to go out the window! But I can only be the father and husband I want to be when those holy moments come, if I am also being the son I want to be to the Lord, even when it doesn’t feel all that holy. That’s my dream for the summer, and as you make plans, perhaps that might be part of yours too.
Our best parenting usually happens through unplanned conversations at unplanned moments. But those unplanned conversations can only happen if we plan to spend time with our kids, and make the effort to initiate relaxed conversation about whatever we experience together “along the road.” Sometimes those are light and trivial, but other times they become unexpectedly holy and profound. And
Highrock Contacts Lead Pastor DAVE SWAIM - firstname.lastname@example.org Executive Pastor EUGENE KIM - email@example.com
Dave Swaim LEAD PASTOR HIGHROCK CHURCH
Family Newsletter Team Youth and Family Pastor BRIAN DIETZ - firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor in Chief LAIFONG LEE
Director of Children’s Programming SOO JIN HAN - email@example.com
Assistant Editor GREGORY MANTELL
Layout Editor PHILIP CHAO
Milestones Year 1 in Review
about managing their calendars in a way that makes space for God as a number one priority.
PASTOR BRIAN DIETZ
To be honest, we weren’t sure how these milestones would be received or if we would have the bandwidth to do anything beyond them. But after enjoying the initial three and getting good feedback, we decided to continue on with three more this winter and spring. For new parents, we recorded three audio messages on marriage and parenting during the early years that will be on the web hopefully right around the time this newsletter comes out. We then offered a seminar for older elementary school kids and their parents to come find out about how they can start reading the Bible, memorizing the books of the Bible, and memorizing some verses in preparation for a Bible Presentation Ceremony in May. Finally, we have scheduled an overnight experience for our high school juniors and seniors that will focus on preparing them for life after high school, looking at what their calling is, and maintaining a healthy faith after they leave home.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN AROUND Children’s or Youth Ministry in the past seven months, I’m hopeful that you have at least heard about and experienced one of the seven Milestones we have marked this year. Last fall we started out with a vision to develop a curriculum that would mark seven key transitions in the life of a child from infancy through the teenage years. We began by teaching middle school students about their roles as part of the Church and began inviting them to attend worship with the adults each Sunday. We then invited the parents of preschoolers to learn about a biblical model for blessing their children with unconditional love and acceptance. We concluded the fall Milestones by holding a seminar for elementary school parents
I was inspired to develop these six milestones after a couple of years of leading confirmation
and baptism classes and realizing that for those classes to go well, some preludes and postludes that engaged parents and kids before and after were needed. So adding these six milestones to the confirmation and baptism class for 9th graders has rounded out our Christian formation curriculum. We are thrilled about all the opportunities offered by these seven Milestones to equip and celebrate the formation of kids at Highrock. After these initial seven milestones wrap up this year, we look forward to improving upon them for next year as well as adding a few more. It has been a joy-filled journey walking with families through these transitions and considering how together we can raise a Jesusloving generation. If you haven’t experienced a Milestone yet, keep your ears open for the next opportunity. And if you are able, come celebrate with us on May 20th when we baptize and confirm our teens and have our Bible Presentation Ceremony for the older elementary school kids!
Brian Dietz YOUTH & FAMILY PASTOR HIGHROCK CHURCH
Visit o ur we learn bsite to more!
Highrock: The Beginning DAVID KWON
“The essence of Christian spirituality is following Christ on a journey of personal transformation. The distant land to which we are called is not heaven. Nor is it some external, physical space. The distant land is the new creature into which Christ wishes to fashion us – the whole and holy person that finds his or her uniqueness, identity and calling in Christ. Spiritual friends accompany each other on that journey.” -From Sacred Companions by David Benner
“WHERE ARE WE GOING TO WORSHIP NEXT SUNDAY?” This was the seminal question facing the founding members of Highrock Church over twelve years ago. Just weeks before, we had been serving in various leadership roles in family, young adult and children’s ministries at a prominent Korean United Methodist church in Boston. Some of us were on the pastoral staff or the worship team. In my case, I had just been asked to be a deacon and within what seemed like an instant, was thrust into another side of church I had never experienced before: church politics and the firestorms that can arise. Gone were the comfortable pews, ample parking, and lovely fellowship hall, not to mention playgrounds
ALL CHURCH RETREAT 2007
and many classrooms for the children. Instead, we were facing one another on the floor of the Kings’ home on High Rock Street wondering how God may have spoken to us individually. Would we take the easy way out, disband, find other churches to attend on our own and be done with it? We came from different backgrounds; some of us just familiar with one another by name only, but strangely brought together by the extenuating circumstance. Those who gathered on High Rock Street that evening agreed to share how God had been speaking to their hearts after going to Him in prayer for several weeks. During that time of sharing, it became evident that we were there for a purpose. As Jesus had done with his disciples, we were being asked, “Follow me.” It was an invitation to go on a life-transforming journey and leave our security blankets behind, to envision worshiping in a multiethnic church with others the way it will be for eternity, and to help and welcome those seeking Christ along the way. It was the beginning of what Highrock now calls prayer month, when the church collectively prays for the major issues at hand in the life of the church. The results of that first prayer month were unanimous as one by one, we all had the same calling in our hearts. We would stick together and obey, though we knew not where the journey would take us. Paraphrasing from the Benner book I happen to be reading currently for preparation with Highrock’s Spiritual Guides, it would have been too easy for God to have delivered the Israelites out of Egypt and plopped them into the land of milk and honey. Instead, He took them on a 40-year journey of deliverance, not just from the Egyptians, but deliverance from themselves. We too would be going on a similar journey of transformation, slowly being molded through triumphs and trials along the way, with iron sharpening iron.
ARLINGTON MOVE-IN DAY Our first worship service as a new church was on a glorious, sunny day in June 1999. We met on the floor of a living room in Harvard housing just off of Memorial Drive. The entire church fitted into that space and we listened to Peter Sung, our first pastor, who was newly minted from Gordon Conwell. He was so new, I am not sure he had even had his graduation ceremonies by that time, but he too faced his insecurities and relied on being available to God for His purposes. My wife Jennifer and Hee Jin Kim, the spouse of another former deacon, made egg salad sandwiches to feed us after service. The first Soul Food lunch had been served and would continue from that point on. The basement of our first home served as Friday Night Fellowship for an entire year. Our entire church from all life stages met to have Bible study and fellowship each Friday in Sudbury, Massachusetts. I am forever grateful that we had not decided to meet there first as ‘Morse Road’ just doesn’t have the same catchiness as ‘High Rock’ as a church name! I am also proud to say it may be the only time in my life when I did not miss a single Friday Night Fellowship.
AN EARLY EXTRAVAMANZA
Our members became closer to one another through those shared moments. Where we had once been mere acquaintances, we were now becoming family. Our first Christmas concert was held that first year in that basement as we sang traditional Christmas hymns, led by Jae Lee, who is now a pastor on the west coast. These are but a few experiences that we as founders of Highrock have been blessed to have been a part of. By availing ourselves to God and trusting in Him, we have witnessed how He has taken this church further than any of us could have imagined. Many may not experience the blessing of being able to reap what had been sown in their lifetime. For a few of us, it continues to give back each day, and for that we are grateful.
THE KWON FAMILY AT DAUGHTER CAROLYN’S CONFIRMATION
AN EARLY SISTERS APPRECIATION NIGHT
Calling All DADS! ANDY NOH
Walk Thru the Bible BRIAN DIETZ ON MARCH 10, 2012, TW0 hundred Highrockers gathered for a day of ‘Walking Thru the Bible.’ This internationally known experience has been teaching people the overarching story of scripture for over 30 years. We had decided to try out the Old Testament seminar and were blessed by learning 77 key points, along with hand signs to ingrain the stories in our minds. Head knowledge was not all that we received, thankfully, because all along the way we were made aware of the wonderful connections between God’s Story and our own. We saw God’s desire for a relationship with us and were called to be fully-committed followers. We were challenged with passing on our faith to the next generation as we recognized the pitfalls of past generations who failed in this calling. Overall, we were blessed by a day of being together as God’s People focusing on God’s Word!
The day culminated with the kids joining us to demonstrate how they had learned all 77 hand motions just like we had. The highlight for parents came in the subsequent weeks when kids ‘connected the dots’ in the stories they were reading during family devotions or wanted to review God’s story at the bus stop before school! We all came away excited about the story of God and the privilege of having access to that story through the Bible!!
STORIES. I LOVE STORIES ABOUT MY dad; stories from him, from my mom, and from his friends. Stories from when he was a kid growing up in North Korea, and when he had to go to the South just before the brink of war. Stories about his faith and serving as an elder in the church, going on missions, one time defending his pastor (even against his lifelong friends), and another time speaking up against a different pastor to the point of being arrested for disturbing the peace. I hope to pass on these stories about my dad to my kids his grandkids. I also want stories about myself to be passed on to my kids. I want my friends from high school and
college, and mostly my friends from church to tell my kids all kinds of stories about their dad me. Most of all I want to tell them stories about me. I want to know my kids and I want my kids to know me. I want to spend time with them, in ways only a father can. Don’t get me wrong; I love our family vacation trips, family movie nights and game nights, but I think doing things and sharing memories and stories with just my kids is something I’d like to have for myself. Hopefully it’ll be memorable for them as well. I guess that’s the heart behind D.A.D.S. (Dudes And their Daughters and Sons). I know it’s corny, but I think it captures the spirit of what I hope God will do. It is about you just being a DAD to your kids. My hope is that a bunch of fathers at Highrock will get together with our kids to have some ‘Dad-and-kid time’ - a time to do things and share things, but also a time to pray for our kids. So the two things that we’ll ALWAYS do are: PLAY with our kids and PRAY with/for our kids. This past February, we had our first Daddy/Daughter Valentine Dance. Fourteen dads and their daughters came out to
eat spaghetti and meatballs, decorate a picture frame [we then took a picture of each dad and daughter(s) to place inside the frame], and played Red Rover and Duck, Duck, Goose. We also prayed for our daughters and had a final dance with them before the end of the evening. I hope to do this every year! I hope to do a lot more for the spring and summer for both sons and daughters. I am planning a Lowell Spinners baseball outing, a camping trip, a fishing trip, and maybe a water balloon/water gun fight followed by ice cream. My hope is that these events will help Highrock dads and their kids make lasting memories. I also hope that these memories will be only a part of many shared memories you will have with your kids, whether created during or outside these DADS events. Another goal of D.A.D.S. is that I would love to meet up with other Highrock dads who are new to the church or not well connected, or dads who just want to hang out with other dads. It seems like the only other times I see or talk to other fathers (outside of cell group) is at kids’ birthday parties. Come on, MAN!! So for anyone interested, I would like to meet up on the 2nd Sunday of each month at the 5 p.m. service. My
very long-term hope for this is that on every 2nd Sunday, Highrock dads will be serving in all areas of Sunday Worship Service! I believe our kids would benefit immensely from seeing us serve others as a way of worshiping God. It would be even better if they could serve together with you. I’m all about playing and praying and telling stories. My hope and my gauge of success is not in the number of people coming to these events, but in how many stories your kids can tell me about their DADS and how many stories my kids can tell you about me. If you would like to join me, please send me an e-mail at andynoh@ gmail.com
d their Dudes An ns rs and So Daughte For more on, informati ontact c please h: Andy No om @gmail.c h andyno
Youth Retreat HAEIN KANG As I stepped into the Highrock ministry center for the first time on a Friday night for youth group, the first thought that popped into my head was, “wow, there are a lot of girls here.” The thought made me a bit uneasy because, for a girl to become really good friends with another girl, they need to do a lot of…I guess what Highrockers would call “soul talk” (soul talk, soul food, soul cafe… what’s up with all the “souls” at Highrock, by the way?) Guys only need the first name and a good football game before they are best
Getting to Know the Mury Family John and Aimee, please tell us a little about yourselves and your family. We met out in Illinois, where Aimee is from and where John had attended Wheaton College. John was a police officer at the time and we were both going to Willow Creek Community Church. We met on a retreat for young adults. The rest is history...well, not exactly! We dated for 4 years, during which Aimee worked as a training manager while John served as a director of that same young adult ministry. We moved to the Boston area in 1998 to help Beacon Community Church, a church plant that started in Newton
buddies. Girls however need time and a lot of “opening up” to build that mutual “good feeling.” That was why I was very thankful when Pastor Brian said there was a retreat coming up in a couple of weeks. What could be better than a whole weekend of food, games, small group, and worship with the same people out in the middle of New Hampshire for me to get to know them and for them to get to know me? No, I didn’t become best friends with Anne-Milda or Nancy or Olivia or Marissa or any other girl as soon as we got back from the retreat. However, the retreat was the first experience we had shared together and it allowed us
and later relocated to Natick. During our time in Massachusetts, we moved 4 times, bought 3 houses, and had 3 kids and 2 dogs. Oh, and Aimee went through 10 surgeries (another story, another time), John’s brother unexpectedly died of untreated diabetes, and our youngest child was diagnosed with autism. John continued to work as a pastor at Beacon, but found the task especially challenging when many on the team took on other start-up ventures. Although we had a very loving and supportive church family at Beacon, the trials in our lives were too much for our small church since John was the only pastor. Beacon closed its doors this past October. However, that sad day opened up the door for us to join Highrock, for which we feel incredibly blessed.
to start that bond of “good feeling.” It has been five months since the retreat, and I like to think that I am good friends with these girls now (I mean, we’re all Facebook friends at least.) As I said, it takes time to build strong relationships amongst girls, but I have faith that we’ll get there. I’m not very good at talking about how important God is to me, or about how much God has done in my life, but I am so very thankful to God for allowing me to discover Highrock with all its “souls” because it has been such a blessing to be one of the souls at Highrock.
Does the Mury family have any unique or interesting traditions? We try to have one family member either have a surgery or a hospital stay each year. Ha-ha! One of our most memorable traditions is an annual family trip to Lake Delavan in Wisconsin, something Aimee has been doing since she was 6! Family and old friends all gather together and rent cottages in what was once a church camp. It’s like stepping back in time! There’s a small beach, an assembly hall with Bingo, and a Thursday night dance for the kids. The playgrounds throughout the park still have many of the same slides and see-saws from when Aimee was a little child. Families gather to play cards, go boating, eat out at “Aunt Millie’s,” and just live like they were back in the ‘50s.
adulthood is a test of our faith! We also have a 9 year-olddaughter (Jazzie) and 11 year-old-son (Xander) entering the “tween” years, which is a challenge for any parent. At the same time, we are now able to enjoy richer conversations with our children as we strive to help them understand and delight in who THE MURY FAMILY God made them to be. Through it all, we have seen We also celebrate the traditional God make our marriage stronger Korean Chute Dol (first birthday) as we become a better parenting with each of our kids because team. We also love family nights John’s mom is Korean. She cooks up at home, playing board games delicious, traditional Korean meals. or watching the various talent At Christmas we always watch competitions. It’s a Wonderful Life (though John would rather watch A Christmas How did you first come to Highrock? Story). On Thanksgiving morning, What was your initial impression? we always turn on the Macy’s Day Pam and Art Kinzinger, Highrock parade... at Aimee’s insistence. In regulars, were our first connection. the end, however, it is John who Paul and Virginia Friesen, who run ends up being the only one actually Home Improvement Ministries (HIM), watching it even though he is the have been mentors and counselors one least interested. Either he loves to us and they are also part of his wife or he just can’t help but Highrock. Despite the 30-minute watch TV when it’s on. drive from Natick, we decided to Share with us about the joys and start visiting Highrock in November challenges of raising a family? 2011. Aimee was delighted in the quality of teaching and we were It would be very easy to focus both pleased to see the ethnic only on the challenges! Our diversity. John was excited about youngest, Eliza (7), has autism, is the value placed on outreach. We non-verbal and goes to a special were initially concerned about how school. She’s both a real sweetie well Highrock could accommodate and a real handful. It’s a struggle Eliza but we have been impressed to prevent her needs from driving with the loving support Highrock has every other aspect of our lives. It’s provided for Eliza. a constant battle to pursue so many medical appointments, school district meetings and contention for adequate service; to manage her challenging behaviors and to try to help her progress, which is happening very slowly. The uncertainty of her trajectory toward
You’ve been at Highrock for five months now. What were some of the highlights or memorable moments? In just the past five months, we’ve experienced so much at Highrock!
John and our daughter Jazzie had a great time skiing and boarding at Okemo with the young adults. Aimee was initially a little nervous about attending the Women’s Retreat, but she ended up making some great new connections. Finally, not a highlight but certainly a memorable moment was when Aimee dropped Eliza (7) off in the 3-4 year-old class one Sunday because she did not realize that Eliza’s kindergarten class had switched classrooms. No wonder all those kids looked so tiny that Sunday! Any words of encouragement to new families who are considering making Highrock their home church? Find Pastor Chris [Gredenius] as he will make you feel right at home and knows all the right connections to make! Also, give it some time because it’s hard to meet people on a busy Sunday morning. The SoulFood dinner on Sunday evening is a much easier place to connect with new friends. Try to take that sometimes difficult first step of signing up for an event or seminar because it will provide opportunities for deeper conversations with other Highrockers. Highrock has a useful and active website with a lot of information too. We recommend signing-up online for the weekly newsletter that keeps you upto-date with what’s happening. Oh, and send a request on the website to become a member of Cobblestone, Highrock’s online community; it will give you a much better sense of everything that’s available for you and your family. Lastly, we see God’s hand and heart so evidently here and we believe that your time at Highrock will fill you with a sense of God’s wonder and purpose.
Getting to Know the Gredenius Family Chris and Sara, please tell us a little about yourselves and your family. Chris was born and primarily raised in the Midwest, although he lived in Sweden with his family for one year when he was a child. His father was born in Sweden and immigrated to the United States as a young adult, so the Swedish heritage is important to Chris and his family. Sara was born and raised on the West Coast, and only left when she went to college at North Park University in Chicago, where she met Chris. Her father was a youth pastor, making her current life as part of a pastor’s family an easy transition. We have been married for 16 years and have three girls: Morgan (11), Trinity (8), and Ryder (5). Our family enjoys being active – Sara is a mom first, but has also been a personal trainer for 12 years. She primarily enjoys running. Chris has long been a mountain biker. He also took up surfing six years ago when he and his family moved back to
the East Coast. Morgan and Trinity enjoy skateboarding and outdoor adventure. Trinity and Ryder both enjoy gymnastics. Our whole family skis together every winter (when there’s snow)! While staying active is important to our family, we favor good old being-together-time the most, just relaxing. Does the Gredenius family have any unique or interesting traditions? Traditions in the Gredenius household include coffee at any
THE GREDENIUS FAMILY
What Kids Think about Highrock Kids! What I like about going to church is that we get to do crafts and play games. – Chelsea H., 2nd grade
Listening to the Bible stories. – Katie N., 5th grade
Making crafts. – Benjamin G., Kindergarten
I like that unlike my last church, my teachers strive to show us how to apply what we learn. I also like that we learn about different things, instead of ‘learning’ the same things. – Julia L-P., 5th grade You learn something new about God. – Sam W., 2nd grade
What do you like best about church?
The best thing about church is learning about God’s good doings. – Nathan K., 3rd grade
time of the day (just the adults of course), pajama days (during which no one is allowed to change out of their pajamas the whole day), the luge (a 9-foothigh structure complete with ramp and a snow track that Chris builds and everyone sleds down every winter), and our Christmas cookie baking day in the weeks before Christmas (during which we bake approximately eight dozen different kinds of cookies from morning till night).
I like the games and teachers. – Micah B., 4th grade
Hearing stories. – Elyse W., Kindergarten
Share with us about the joys and challenges of raising a family. Our girls are our number one source of (earthly) joy. They keep us young, active, and laughing out loud on a regular basis. However, raising three girls can sometimes also be very challenging. Emotions can run high and sibling rivalry can become a bit crazy at times. Learning how to manage conflicts, enforce family rules, spend some one-on-one time with each child, encourage positive behavior, and keep everyone on task while remaining calm, compassionate, patient, and loving is a constant educational experience for us. Most importantly, in all of this we want our girls to see and feel God’s personal love for each of them. As parents we do our best, while knowing that God will do what we cannot. How did you first come to Highrock? What was your initial impression? Our family first came to Highrock after making the decision to leave the New Hampshire church Chris had been working for and where
God’s people live like Jesus. – Stephen M., Kindergarten God loves everyone. – Clara R., Kindergarten
we had been attending. As the situation there had become hurtful and strenuous for us all, we began visiting many other churches in hopes of finding a place where we could feel safe and truly accepted. Chris had recently taken a class where he met Pastors Michelle and Brian and this was the launching ground for our first visit to Highrock. On our first Sunday at Highrock, we instantly felt we had come to a place where the people were genuine, and where we felt welcomed and included. We knew Highrock was the church for us. You’ve been at Highrock for four months now. What were some of the highlights or memorable moments? Every single Sunday is a highlight for our family. The worship music at the beginning and end of each service is so inspiring and the Holy Spirit is so present. For Sara, there was one particular sermon Pastor Dave preached that was a highlight for her – it was one of those moments when you just feel like standing up and clapping. For
David and Goliath. – Everett U., 3rd grade
What have you learned in Sunday School? Songs about God. – Xander M., 5th grade
God gives good things after bad things happen -- like when Queen Ranavalona II replaced Queen Ranavalona I. – Cayla K., Kindergarten
Trinity and Ryder, there is never a week when they don’t thoroughly enjoy their time in Sunday school. For Morgan, Highrock has been the first church where she has sat through the entire service. Often, she will later recall something she had learned from a sermon on any given Sunday. One of the most memorable moments for Chris was when Pastor Dave asked him to preach at Highrock after he had only been going to the church for a handful of Sundays. He was both terrified and deeply honored. Any words of encouragement to new families who are considering making Highrock their home church? Do it! This is the most real church we’ve ever been a part of. This is the most important thing we’ve ever been a part of. God has changed our lives through this church in a period of four months. He will change yours too.
Something I have learned is the story of Tabitha. – Tessa D., 5th grade
How Ruth became queen. – Sam H., 4th grade
We learn about God. – Abby S., Kindergarten
Getting to Know the Sharkey Family
Share with us about the joys and
wanted to check it out. It was really
challenges of raising a family.
exciting to see what God was doing
Steve and Kathleen, please tell us
Little boys are so much fun. Their
know that we would be back here
hugs, hearing their little laughs -
years later to join Highrock in church-
especially when they are laughing
a little about yourselves and your family. We have been married for almost 8 years and are the proud parents of Tyler (3 1/2) and David (16 months). We met in college in Chicago and were married a few years after graduation. Stephen then went through seminary while Kathleen continued to work at an assisted living retirement home. After working for six
through Highrock. Little did we
together is the BEST sound in the world. On the flipside, the crying,
You’ve been at Highrock for almost
hitting, and tantrums are what wear
a year now. What were some of the
on the nerves. They are not perfect
highlights or memorable moments?
children, and we are not perfect parents. Thankfully, Highrock offers
Highlights or memorable moments
a community to help us love our
include the Christmas concert,
children, become better parents,
Kathleen picking up the bass again
and together survive and enjoy this
for the first time in five years to play
journey called ‘parenthood’. We are
on the worship team, staff retreats,
especially thankful to those people
and the women’s weekend.
years at a church
Any words of
that Stephen had
helped to plant,
new families who
Stephen was called
to New Jersey to
be on staff at Metro
their home church?
Community Church. After three years
there, we moved to
Boston so Stephen
families who are
could do a church
Highrock their home
at Highrock. Now
church to really do
as you know, we
the hard work of
have joined the
getting plugged into
Highrock family. Does the Sharkey family have any unique or interesting traditions? I think we are still creating traditions in our own family; some things that we inherited from our own families we are passing on. For example, in Stephen’s family, when they sing “Happy Birthday”, everyone sings it as loudly and horribly as they possibly can. In Kathleen’s family, Christmas Eve is the most important part of the Christmas celebration, complete with a Swedish Smorgasbord and gift exchange.
THE SHARKEY FAMILY
the church family. It’s too easy to
who don’t have children who have
expect the church to do all the work
taken the time to love on our kids - it
for you, only to be discouraged when
means the world to us and we know
you realize that community doesn’t
what a difference it will make in their
‘just happen’. Both of us love being
lives even at this young age.
a part of the church, and Highrock’s community has been a huge blessing
How did you first come to Highrock?
to us, but neither of us feels like we
What was your initial impression?
can just fit in automatically or get pulled in by some overly friendly
We actually visited Highrock 6 years
church people. We know that it takes
ago when we were on vacation on
work, but we know that it’s worth
the South Shore visiting Kathleen’s
it. It has been so far, and we’re so
parents. We had heard a little bit
grateful to have a community to
about this new Covenant Church
which we can give our lives.
at the East Coast Conference and
Highrockers Share about Parenting and Marriage WHAT IS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT PARENTING? It’s hard to give up control. Having kids changes life significantly. Letting go of our expectations and idealistic dreams and embracing God’s plan for our family and future has been the hardest part of parenting. Realizing our children are a gift from God, not an extension of us, can be challenging. All three of our kids arrived with unique temperaments, learning styles, and interests. At times, each child can be difficult for one or both of us to understand or relate to. Like us, our children are sinful, and require grace and firm limit-setting. Our children are individuals who are precious and deeply loved by God, entrusted into our care only for a time. Really, they belong to God. God knew our children before they were born. He has given us these specific children in accordance with His plan. When parenting is challenging, we have learned that God wants us to ardently seek Him and to rely on Him for guidance in new and deeper ways. He wants to grow us as believers through parenting, not just to grow our kids. That’s the hardest part. Amy & Keith Hinrichs The hardest part about parenting for us is the realization that it is a sacrificial journey that requires trust in God’s sovereignty. Thankfully, the early sacrifice of lack of sleep has faded, but the demand for new sacrifice continues to emerge. Helping with homework after a long day, car shuttling, school conferences, watching games, listening without judging, and a new kind of sleep deprivation have taken its place. There are so many times we worry about our children’s safety or future or have tried too hard to control the world around them instead of turning towards God and trusting in His love for our children. Ultimately, we are continually reminded that we need to accept that God is in control and He has
given us the privilege and role to actively participate in the character formation of our children while trusting in Him. Jean Sicurella & Dave Upton Constantly being on demand for the kids, while finding the time to spend with each other alone. Maintaining patience is also a struggle, so we have to understand that God is in control, not us. Patricia & Paul Mantell What isn’t hard? We survived the physical exhaustion of the early years and are now seeing the shift to more emotional parenting. Time is starting to go by faster. We remember when the kids were little and people would say how quickly time flies. We would smile and think to ourselves - are you kidding?!? Everyday is the same and it feels like an eternity until both of them are in school. Well, that happened this year and now we are just beginning to experience what those parents meant. I (Pam) struggle with my anger when the kids ignore me, when they don’t do what I ask, or when they are in a whiny, uncooperative mood. I also wrestle with the balance of letting them express and experience negative feelings versus having them obey and just do what we ask. It takes time to get to the underlying heart issues and we don’t always feel like giving them the time. In addition to these challenges, I (Art) try to balance making the most of the time that I have with our children, since I’m at work most of the week, while also working on the never-ending house project list. I try to incorporate our children in age-appropriate chores and projects, and then spend time playing soccer or board games together. Pam & Art Kinzinger We probably would say it’s in the area of discernment as to how we as parents should be mindful of our children’s needs while trying not to ‘over-parent’ them. There seems to be a delicate balance between serving them as God’s children and trusting in God to work in their lives, as well as teaching them to trust that God is leading their lives. In other words, it is discerning whether we are to be in prayer for God’s unmediated presence in their lives or we are to be the embodiment (or media) of God’s
grace and His presence in their lives. Christine & Steve Kang IN WHAT WAYS HAVE BEING A PARENT HELPED YOU TO GROW SPIRITUALLY? Realizing that God loves us even more than we love our kids has given us a much deeper understanding of God. Parenting gives new meaning to having God as our Father. We get so much enjoyment from time spent with our kids, just hanging out together. That helps us to understand why God wants to be with us, really just hang out with us, in prayer and quiet. God wants to hear from us, just as we long to hear about things from the perspective of our kids. Sometimes we get such a kick out of the way the kids describe something, or how they make up their minds to do something. I’m sure God chuckles lovingly at our limited understanding and determination too. And as parents we have a much better understanding of why God’s love sometimes requires His discipline, because we see how important it has been for us to discipline our own kids. We can see how much more smoothly everything goes when our kids obey, and it makes us realize God has our best in mind when He asks for our obedience. Parenting makes us keenly aware of our own shortcomings and our need for God’s forgiveness, wisdom, guidance and love. How can anyone as sinful as me hope to parent well without God? Amy & Keith Hinrichs Prayer is about the only way to stay sane as a parent. We have had to draw upon God so many times for wisdom and discernment in how to handle situations with our children and also each other as we navigate our way through parenting. Also, because we need to spiritually guide our children, we are always learning at the same time. Jean Sicurella & Dave Upton When we had children, we could not believe how much we loved them. We realized that it was evidence of how much God loved us. Patricia & Paul Mantell From the outset of our children’s lives, we committed ourselves to be their brother and sister in the Lord even as we are called to be their parents. As
much as we were able, we have tried to treat them with respect and God’s love, believing that the same Holy Spirit who resides in us is constantly at work in their lives as well. In the process we were not only able to learn more about God, but we also learned much about how God was at work in their lives and how they were able to embrace and live in the spiritual reality we would have missed as “adults.” The simplicity and purity of their faith in God have and continue to inspire us. Christine & Steve Kang HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE VITAL AFTER YOU HAVE KIDS? Becoming parents changed our marriage so much, beginning when we had our first infant. After some unnecessarily angry arguments about baby-related details, it became clear that we needed to be much more patient and gracious with one another. We were both struggling with the immense learning curve of first-time parenting amidst sleep deprivation. We found that we were taking our frustrations out on each other. We learned to laugh and cut each other slack. We agreed to assume best intentions, and tried to appreciate aloud our spouse’s growing parental abilities. We both agreed to make an effort to listen to each other. When it came to the toddler years, disciplining strategies became the hot-button issue. We found that we needed to make it a priority to choose discipline strategies together and to back each other up. We tried to present a united front and help our kids have firm boundaries they could rely on. Now that all our kids are school aged, the tricky part is making it a priority to spend time together, rather than pursuing separate personal interests. We stay connected by sitting together each night after the kids go to bed. Sometimes we read Christian books or devotionals together at night. Sometimes we rent movies and cuddle on the couch. For the last few years we have tried to get away for a kid-free weekend once a year, to recharge and reflect and fall in love again. Our relationship is something we continue to work on. Amy & Keith Hinrichs
Date nights are critical. We felt that we needed to be very disciplined about that. We make sure to make time for one another in the midst of our busy schedules. Patricia & Paul Mantell As we look back to their earlier years, our lives were full of various demands and commitments that we had to fulfill. However, we were able to learn to be satisfied as a family, growing together and sharing our lives together in the Lord. Sure, we wished we had more time together just between us, but playing “Christian” house as a family was quite worthwhile in the scheme of things that we wanted our family to be. Christine & Steve Kang HOW MUCH SCREEN TIME DO YOU ALLOW YOUR KIDS TO HAVE AND HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHICH MOVIES YOUR KIDS CAN WATCH? When our children were toddlers, they didn’t have any screen time. Once our youngest turned 3, we began slowly introducing screen time as a family activity, a shared experience we could watch and discuss together. The kids don’t watch TV or have phones, tablets or game systems. Their screen time consists of children’s websites on our family computer in the kitchen or children’s DVDs viewed together in the living room. They never have screen time in their rooms. We try to keep our total recreational screen time below three hours per week. We borrow children’s DVDs from the library and occasionally see family movies in the theater. If we are unsure about a movie, we’ll check online reviews, especially Focus on the Family’s Plugged In website. Sometimes we do a “parent preview” to decide if something is appropriate. Our kids range in age from 7- 12, so we choose movies rated G or PG. Amy & Keith Hinrichs We have always been very stingy with TV and movies, and most often our children don’t watch any TV or movies. The exception is with sports. However, the ability to watch is a privilege and can only be done if all other responsibilities have been completed (great leverage). We also screen all movies that our children watch. Especially with our
older children, we try to steer them toward choices that are honoring to God. Many of the movies today (especially teen ones) depict characters that are very unkind, materialistic and selfish. Although we and our children deviate toward these shows/movies sometimes, we continue to encourage them to make discerning choices. The goal is to help them to make good choices, so when we are not around they are still making choices that would honor God. We also try to live out what we ask of them in what we choose. Jean Sicurella & Dave Upton Our goal is to limit screen time after school to 60 minutes a day - 30 minutes Wii and 30 minutes TV or computer. Weekends, we don’t have a set time but keep an eye on it. We use screen time to reward and encourage good behavior and we take it away as consequences for bad behavior. There are also times we use the Wii to occupy the kids for longer periods of time; especially if there are things we have to get done around the house. However, whiny and wired children remind us not to do that too often! Our children (ages 8 and 6) are not big movie watchers. Our focus has been on the books they read. Reading is a big part of our lives. Our challenge is to find books that aren’t negative toward school, use mean language about other children, or have children that are sassy with their parents! Unfortunately there aren’t many books with characters growing in their faith or turning to God in challenging circumstances in the public library. There are a couple of resources that have helped us. One is a book called “What Stories Does my Son Need” by Michael Gurian that lists by age books and movies that build character in boys and girls (thank you, Changs, for the recommendation). Focus on the Family has a website called “Thriving Family” that has a book review section and media review. What we appreciate about that site is that it doesn’t tell you whether or not something is appropriate for your child, but instead speaks to different themes so you can make your own decision. The most encouraging book I (Pam) have read recently is called “Looking
for God in Harry Potter” by John Granger. Our 8-year-old just got into Harry this year and we were initially a little wary of the books. We had not yet read them ourselves and heard negative perspectives regarding the wizards and magic. I was so excited to learn about all of the Christian themes and theological references in the Potter series in this book! We look forward to continuing the series and having spiritual discussions about Harry with our kids and their friends. Pam & Art Kinzinger We don’t recall imposing a certain time limit regarding their screen time. What we did instead was for at least one of us to be near them when they had any kind of screen on. Yet, it wasn’t necessarily for us to “monitor” what they were doing, but to actually take interest in what they were doing, learning about it, and having conversations about it. One of the benefits of maintaining such a relationship with our children has been that we got to know our children’s friends well as they constantly communicated with one another via microphones and onscreen chats. We really didn’t have a policy in deciding which movies our kids could watch. Instead of curtailing a certain genre or rating of movies, we were intentional in introducing movies that we thought were wholesome and life-giving. Again, one important thing we were able to do since they were little was to do our very best to watch with them whatever they wanted to watch, conversing with one another during and after the time together. As we look back, perhaps we communicated to our children that we enjoyed spending time with them and talking about what they deemed were important. Even till this day, our children routinely want to go see a movie together or want us to come and watch when they are using screen for whatever they are doing (with their friends). Christine & Steve Kang HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE YOUR KIDS TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS? We first try to model our relationship with Christ through our own convictions and living out our beliefs.
We also work hard to have our faith be a part of the fabric of our lives. One way we try to accomplish this is through our morning devotions. Each weekday morning we eat breakfast together at 7 a.m. and spend that time learning and talking about ways we can live out our faith. We also hold our church time on Sunday mornings sacred and almost never let events or things get in the way. It is through these two things that we hope our children will take responsibility for their faith in such a way that they could never imagine living without it. Jean Sicurella & Dave Upton We tried to model the behavior of regular quiet times, regular prayer times and just by talking about our faith with our kids. We found that maintaining our discipline in these areas served as a great example for them. Patricia & Paul Mantell Having a spiritual conversation or building it into a regular rhythm of family life was not something we were exposed to growing up in our respective “Christian” families. Yet, by God’s grace, we were committed to having spiritual conversations in our family. We did our best to read the Bible and other Christian books together, prayed with them, and sang hymns/praise songs with them daily or a few times throughout the day. While all of those activities served as a foundation for their relationship with God, we believe it has been the habit of having spiritual conversations as a family that really helped them to have conversations with God, growing in their relationship with Him. However, it is not so much that we were somehow more spiritual or intentional in parenting than other Christian parents. It is truly by God’s grace we realized early on that “our” children were not our own but were precious gifts He has entrusted to us as fellow Christian brother and sister. Besides, we knew from the very outset of their lives that we were so ill-equipped as Christian parents and genuinely in need of God’s grace and mercy at all times. Christine & Steve Kang
I did not know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Had I known him my parenting skills would have been much better. Bertha Holmes Do not sweat the small stuff. There were so many things that we were anxious about in the past. The worry starts in pregnancy and continues on. We worried about their development, the right activities, the right sports teams, the right teachers, the right schools, etc. Looking back, we would not have let the anxiety rob us of the joy of just being with our children. We should have spent more time in prayer and God’s Word, learning how to trust that God is in control. Patricia & Paul Mantell WHAT WORKED OUT WELL? To my knowledge, all my children have a good reputation in the communities in which they live and in the work place. I believe this is because of their work ethic and moral upbringing. Bertha Holmes Since we weren’t sure how to answer this question, we asked our children. They responded with “knowing they were loved.” That seemed to be the most important thing. We learned so much about God’s love from being a parent, we are glad that we were able to share it with them. Being together as a family is also very important, especially having a set meal time and being at church every Sunday. We also enjoyed doing a lot of activities with our children. Patricia & Paul Mantell
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR PARENTING EXPERIENCE, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WISH YOU KNEW EARLIER?
Dates to Mark on Your Calender May 11
YOUTH GROUP SENIOR BANQUET
YOUTH CONFIRMATION & BAPTISM SERVICE
2ND-5TH GRADE BIBLE PRESENTATION CEREMONY
SUMMER FRIDAY NIGHT FELLOWSHIP
SUMMER BLAST! (VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL)
CHIC HIGH SCHOOL CONFERENCE
MIDDLE SCHOOL BOSTON SERVICE PROJECT
BEREA FAMILY CAMP
KICK-OFF PICNIC ALL CHURCH EVENT
Youth and Family Contacts: SOO JIN HAN
Youth & Family Pastor
735 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02476
Director of Children’s Programming firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn about what has been happening in our Family and Youth Ministries! Also, learn about our new pastors and their families!