White Noise

Have you ever stopped to try and drown out all the noise going on around us? After a while I think all of the things garnering for our attention start to sound the same and we as parents are just left with this big pile of white noise, trying to sort out what’s real and what’s not.

I don’t know about you, but as a father of 2 Amber and I have struggled lately with what do do as the deadline for school restarting quickly approaches. With every different news station we get a different story on the pandemic, family members have different opinions and it just doesn’t seem like we know what to trust. We know that many might criticize us for our choices but that has got me thinking… why?

Why do we feel the need to analyze and poke holes in others choices as parents. After all, no parenting journey is the same. With all the white noise around us, parents don’t need any more back seat parenting. So today I want to encourage those who are parents: You’re making the right decision! What ever you’ve decided regarding school, interactions with friends and family, whatever you’re doing and have done to keep your family safe is the right choice!

Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.” ~Saint Francis de Sales

Saint Francis is right! Give yourself a break! There is no manual for this, no way to know when it will end; take it day by day and know that we are praying for you!

To those that have already raised their kids, to those who don’t have kids please be encouraging. Offer hope and avoid trying to make a parent feel more anxious over a decision that is likely been very difficult. Let’s come together as a community and pray for our families as they prepare to go to school, daycare and for our teachers as they prepare to teach in a completely new environment. Let’s offer hope in a difficult time.

At First Church please know we are praying for you all!

Blessings- Pastor Joe

The Missing Chapter

When you became a parent I am sure you remember reading all the parenting books, blogs, watching how to video’s on YouTube and pretty much everything else you could do to try and convince yourself you would know what to do when you child was finally here!

Perhaps like me your wondering where on earth the chapter on global pandemics is! What on earth could ever prepare us for all that has been happening! In virtually an instant we went from struggling to find family time to having nothing but endless amounts of time locked in our houses with our families.

Many of us are just trying to find our way back to normal and that’s where I think we need to hit the brakes! Let’s take a look at normal for a second…rushing from place to place, eating on the go, kids in electronic devices and parents sprinting to the finish line just to wake up and do it all over again! Now I’m not throwing rocks because I am that parent! I rush and rush and get so tired that at the end of the day I tend to push past the important moments like dinner, story time and those things my kids long for… a quiet and focused moment with Daddy.

If I had to write that missing chapter what to do when the pandemic hits for the updated parenting books it would be the following simple steps…

1. Breathe – everything will be ok.

2. It’s ok to karate chop anyone who try’s to come to your house – just remember to sanitize afterwards

3. Be intentional with your family – you don’t have to get it right all the time.

The rest will fall into place. During a foster parent training recently Amber and I heard a quote that has stuck with us.

“You don’t have to do everything perfect but can you do 100 things 20% better the next day”

What that said to us was – give your self a break, you are a good parent and we all have those moments we wish we could take back, but instead of dwelling on those moment work to make some of them better the next day.

If I could leave you with anything it would be this! You are a good parent! Don’t be afraid to ask for help! instead of rushing back to normal let’s make more time as we wade back into life for intentional moments with our kids – that is the stuff that builds a firm family foundation.

You are…

In June 2017 Amber and My life was dramatically altered! We were just licensed to be foster parents and we received that first call! We were about to welcome two kids into our home and had no idea what we were doing… or at least I didn’t. (Amber is an early childhood education veteran and has taught little ones for years) we didn’t get that 9 month head start to worry and wonder if we were going to be good temporary care givers.

Fast forward and we are now officially parents after adopting those two scared little kiddos who showed up that late June night. I have always been a people watcher, I look and observe and just have the wiring in my brain – so when we became parents I was keenly aware of all the strange judgmental looks when ever we did something that wasn’t approved!

The world has become so social media driven that people feel the need to comment on everything they see as if they are the authority on (insert any topic here).

Don’t get me wrong I have been that person casting shade on someone else and even stated “at least that’s not my kid.” But on my short journey into parenthood, I have realized that I still have no idea what I’m doing… and you know what?…That’s ok!

Kids don’t come with manuals because if they did they would be robots! Kids are unpredictable and I think we have all been blown away by things they have done! They say the most profound things and also do the most insane things! In all the ups and downs I wouldn’t trade any of it for a moment!

There are a few things I think we all need to here and they are as follows:

  • You are exactly what your child needs
  • You are your child’s favorite (even if they don’t always act excited to see you all the time.)
  • You are your child’s hero – they are always watching!
  • You are a great parent – one moment doesn’t define you as a parent!
  • You don’t need to spend money to make a memory.
  • Don’t worry about what others say or comment about – they obviously haven’t met your kid!
  • You can let your kids have screen time and still be a good parent!
  • If you don’t let your kid have screen time you’re still a good parent! (your kid may not always agree…)
  • If you don’t keep up with the laundry your still a good parent

You see, we have to get passed this baseless judgmental phase we are in and start supporting each other! No one is standing in your weeds but you!

Remember: You are a good parent!

Be Intentional

I recently saw a post on Facebook that said something that made so much sense. It was a quote by Lawrence Cohen that stated “A child won’t say I’ve had a bad day, can we talk? They say will you come play with me?”  Sometimes we forget that our children have a limited vocabulary to explain the complex things that are going on inside their ever developing brain.  I think the problem is that we get so bogged down in the never ending barrage of “I want this”, “I want that”, “where are we going?”, and my daughter’s personal favorite, “why?”  It all can certainly be overwhelming…. so overwhelming that we can sometimes become a little blind to it after a while.

As most of you know, Amber and I have been fostering for a few years now and we have to constantly take classes designed around helping kids from hard places. We learn how to meet basic needs in order to re-wire the brain. We have learned that being intentional with our kiddos plays a huge role. Sometimes its so easy to get stuck in the routine that we miss the simple questions, “Will you come play with me”.

In our last blog post we talked about slowing down, and taking time to spend as a family as well as time for you as parents, and all of that is still very important but I think the next step is being intentional. What will we do with that time? I think it starts by taking a moment to listen and asking how we can make the most out of what we have. If we don’t get in the habit of being intentional now, before we know it life can spiral out of control.

Start somewhere and with what you have. If you have a park close by, start by spending time there one day a week, have a picnic this summer, have a play date with a friend from school.  Being intentional doesn’t have to cost any money, sometimes it is as easy and rolling a ball on the floor.

Here are some great simple ideas to some intentional time:

  • snuggles first thing in the morning
  • talking while eating breakfast together
  • a 20 minute playtime with their choice of activity
  • conversation at the supper table
  • play a fun game
  • color
  • reading a book on the couch
  • conversation and a story before bed
  • a dance party
  • make dinner together
  • play a simple game while driving them to school / extra-curricular activities (i.e. I-Spy, Would You Rather, etc.)
  • talk about their day while cleaning up the dishes from supper
  • go out for hot chocolate or ice cream
  • visit the library and read aloud a book or two
  • paint your child’s fingernails and toenails
  • play at the park
  • have a picnic
  • take a nature walk

Very little of these take more than a few minutes, or cost any money, the important part is that you are spending dedicated time with your kiddos! Lets commit to being intentional this Summer with our kids. Pick one thing each day and spend a few moments with your family, I think you’ll find that in just a short time it can really make a huge impact!



Slowing Down

Stephen Covey tells the story of a man who was walking through a forest when he came across a frustrated lumberjack.

The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree and was swearing and cursing as he labored in vain.

“What’s the problem?” the man asked.

“My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly,” the lumberjack responded.

“Why don’t you just sharpen it?”

“Because then I would have to stop sawing,” said the lumberjack.

“But if you sharpened your saw, you could cut more efficiently and effectively than before.”

“But I don’t have time to stop!” The lumberjack retorted, getting more frustrated.

The man shook his head and kept on walking, leaving the lumberjack to his pointless frustration.

I think life can be just like this story.  There are so many things to do and so little time. You wake up and have to get your family ready for the day, get them to school, get to work on time, hope you remembered to put on two of the same shoes on.  I’ll be honest, I feel accomplished as long as there are two socks on both kids’ feet even if they don’t match!  Kassie also makes sure to tell Amber that I never have matching socks for her! (Thanks Kassie)

Life is already so hectic and busy before adding the stress of the holiday season. Sometimes we have to remember to take time to recharge.  It’s so easy to get into the mentality that there is no time to stop and we just have to power through until everything is done.  The problem with that, is that life always throws us a curve, and we may go months or years without taking some time to sharpen our blade.

When we go through our days without taking the time to regroup and recharge, we start to get stuck in a routine and begin missing all that is happening around us.  Time with our spouse and kids can become knocking things off a checklist until we can go to sleep, and then we wake up and do it all over again.  The deeper we fall into this way of life, the more we miss going on around us.

So what is the solution?  How do we get around this pitfall?  We have to learn to take time to stop, even when life is busier than we expected, and slow down.  Have a family movie night, get a babysitter and go out to dinner, take time each week to just spend time as a family.  You’ll find that even a small amount of time will help you recharge!  Amber and I have found this to be vital in our life.  As many of you know we began fostering back in June 2017.  We had no real idea how busy life could be until we, on what was a normal Monday night for us, suddenly went from D.I.N.K’s (Dual Income No Kids) to having two kids in a matter of hours.  We didn’t any on-ramp and these kids needed us more than ever.  We have learned the hard way that if we don’t take the time to slow down, life can begin to get the better of us.  We try to take time each week to do something as a family and make sure we have time for date night as well.

Dont be afraid to take time for you!  It will mean more to your family in the long run than you know.

Each Friday on our Church Facebook Page we will be posting a #FamilyLifeFriday moment.  This is just a simple way for us to take a moment each week to do something with our families.

We also will be starting a new Family Life Series called “Connecting to Whole and Happy” in October!  Join us as we discuss Marriage, Finances and Kids.  Join us October 7th for Family Communion Sunday, October 14th for Marriage, 21st for Finances and 28th for Kids. You wont want to miss this great opportunity.  On the 14th, 21st and 28th we will have giveaways!





Connecting the Dots

We’ve all seen those connect the dots, you know the ones that start at #1 and you draw a line all the way to the end. When you finally reach the end you are left with this great picture. This is a great image of life sometimes, we have so many different things going on (dots) that we are just trying to figure out how to get them all done and keep a little sanity in the end.


I think some of the most important dots our families face today are marriage, finances and raising our families. We all want our marriages to work, have the money to feel secure and enjoy life and to raise our children in a loving environment and set them up for success in the future. Connecting these dots sounds so much simpler than it is sometimes, well if we are being honest, most of the time it sounds easier than it really is. The real question is what do we do when the dots in our life don’t seem to line up like they are supposed to…

I have been fortunate to spend the last 7 years (in September) married to my high school sweetheart and best friend, we have enjoyed life together and have what we consider an incredible life together. We, just like everyone else, launched into the world ready to take on life together. We went through all the firsts, new cars, jobs, moving, eventually buying a house, and the list goes on. We felt blessed in so many ways except our dots began to shift. We, like most married couples, dreamed of starting our family…and as time went on and we were not able to do so, we began to struggle.  (You can read more about our Story in Amber’s Blog ) Life was not turning out quite like we had planned. We had two choices, we could have imploded or do the hard work and push through the trial. We chose the latter and are still doing the hard work of working through this journey everyday.

We have found so much healing in community with others, through our church family and in our relationships with our friends in the Sonshine Learning Center. Our hope is that we can encourage others who may be going through difficulties when the dots of life just dont quite seem to line up.

The good news is we dont have to go though life’s difficult moments alone! The Sonshine community is rich with love and support. As the Family Life Pastor and also a parent of two kids in Sonshine I am proud to be apart of that community, and am always available to any family in need.

Starting in September I will be hosting a morning mixer in the fellowship hall on the 3rd Friday of each month. Stop by from 6:30-9 for free snacks and just a few moments to unwind before you start your day. I hope to be able to get to know each of you better during this time.

In addition we will be planning some family fun events for you and your children! (Who doesn’t love free stuff that tires your kids out)

Tune in to our upcoming events page for exciting news on whats coming around the corner.

If you or any one you know are in need of prayer please send any and all Prayer Requests to: familylife.1stchurch@gmail.com

Business Cards with additional contact information available outside SLC office that include my direct cellphone number!


Joe Watson

Family Life Pastor