endofseasonSuch fantastic plans I had for this summer. I had a pile of books I wanted to read to my children, topics such as our bodies, peer pressure, boys and dating, healthy eating, and the adventures of that dear fella—Winnie the Pooh. And then there were the camping trips filled with frogs and camp store licorice and ice cold lemon tea. And showing the children the delights of the garden—peonies and ants, lilies and slugs. Fantastic plans they were.

 But what I had intended for discovery and learning and fun, what I had intended for good, turned into practicality and the busyness of survival: trips to the grocery store (oh, the joy!), treks to the laundry room (ooh, not so much), and trots to the bathroom (five-year-old boy plus one roll of toilet paper equals one clogged toilet, and one unhappy dad).

 I suppose I could lament the lost time, the lost laughs, the lost experiences. I suppose I could say, “Forget it. Next summer will be ours!” But alas, I cannot regret the past, but can only move forward. A new day. A new opportunity.



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And you? Will you begrudge your past, relive it, torture yourself?

 You are guilty, yes, but Jesus has paid the penalty. He’s paid the penalty for injustices and oversights, small and big. There is nothing His blood doesn’t cover.

 So perhaps it’s about time you and I stop mourning our losses but embrace what we’ve been given. Can you believe He has left us anything, indeed?

 Thank you, Jesus, that when my plans fail, yours will succeed. Thank you that in my imperfection, your perfection is made clear. Thank you that there is still time to tend the garden of our lives and to enjoy these short, much loved summers.


Kimberly Gleason is a Grand Rapids-based personal and executive leadership coach, author, speaker, and trainer. She helps people and organizations to flourish, reach their potential, and achieve their personal, professional, and organizational goals. Her leadership development and coaching program, The Year of Leading Adventurously, and women’s life coaching program, The Year of Living Adventurously, both begin in October. Check out her free e-books, blog, resources, presentations, and programs at www.kimberlygleasoncoaching.com.



fenceI get frustrated when people try to say that this way or that way is the normal way to do something. Maybe for you it’s normal to mow your lawn when it’s about three inches high, but someone else’s standard might be two inches. Someone thinks it’s normal to buy a coffee every day while another person thinks normal is once a month. It’s normal for your friends to go somewhere on vacation four times a year and yet your normal is that you’re lucky to go anywhere once every other year.

When I heard about a new book called, The Normal Bar, I was irritated before I even read it. Someone told me about this publication because it focuses on marriage, which is something I study a lot.

This book apparently reveals new research conducted by three authors who share what is normal for couples who claim to be super happy in their marriages. The book originated when one of the authors was experiencing stress in her 15-year marriage. She described it as being in survival mode versus happy mode. She wanted to elevate her relationship from a “we’re not doing bad” existence to being extremely happy. She decided to ask couples who would describe their marriage as extremely happy about how it got that way.


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I still haven’t read the book, but just hearing some highlights from it intrigued me. Although I think hearing sound bites about a book through the media can be dangerous, in this case, I believe couples could use it as a platform for some interesting discussions. What people need to remember is that even though these authors base their research on surveying over 70,000 people worldwide, that’s still less than .001% of the entire population. I am also never quite confident that people are totally truthful in surveys, and if given the choice, they may inflate numbers rather than report them honestly. So while the authors suggest that this type of behavior in a marriage is normal, more research is needed.

In the area of sexual satisfaction, the survey revealed that extremely happy couples are having quality sex three to four times a week. Instead of comparing yourselves to those numbers, just have a conversation with your spouse about sex. What’s working for you and what is not? If something needs to be changed, how can you make that happen?

If changes revolving around intimacy need to occur, perhaps sleeping in the nude is the catalyst. Over 30% of the men and women surveyed say they sleep in their birthday suit. The lack of clothing combined with physical closeness is a springboard to bliss.

When it comes to trust, the numbers don’t look very good. Fifty-three percent of husbands trust their wives while only 39% percent of wives trust their husbands. Maybe it’s because a whopping 75% of those men say they’ve lied to their spouse but a surprising 71% of women also admitted to lying. Remember, these are the numbers from really happy couples! Is there trust in your relationship? Talk about why or why not and if there isn’t, formulate steps to build trust.

In rating the reasons for their overall happiness, survey respondents said that communication is number one. I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I chose to share some of these statistics with you. Not so that you could determine whether or not you are normal, but so that you could communicate about what is normal for you.

Mares MosesTuesdays are big for Moses Mares of Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich.     

“My whole day is wrapped up in planning for worship the following Sunday,” said Mares during a recent interview.     

“I look at the scriptures and the teaching topic, I make sure I get proper music packets together, I research stories behind the songs and plan for our weekly rehearsal that we have that night.”     

That’s eight to 10 hours of worship prep in one day alone. Mares estimates that more than half of his full-time position as worship arts director is directly connected to Sunday worship.     

“I do have a part-time assistant (Lisa Schoonveld) who helps with leadership of the vocal teams and is part of our creative team that meets regularly,” Mares added.     

Senior pastor Frank Wevers is also part of that team, and clues them in on upcoming sermon topics and scriptures as they seek to creatively enhance the message.     

"Moses combines a wonderful set of musical and creative skills along with an authentic concern for nurturing and encouraging his volunteers,” said Wevers. “He’s built a deep volunteer base of musicians and artists and they love to work with him.”

                                    ALL THINGS CREATIVE

Mares oversees all of the church’s creative arts efforts – whether stage design, video, drama or audio-technical. He also coordinates volunteers in three worship areas – technical, vocal and instrumental. (The church has a part-time media director).     

“We rotate four worship teams – weeks one to four each month,” said Mares. “There are occasionally conflicts with schedules, but we do a good job of keeping each other updated and try to schedule three months out.” Mares’ wife Tessa is one of those involved.

A typical Sunday morning “platform” team features two guitarists, bass and drums with 3 to 5 vocalists. Mares leads from the keyboard and also sings. He’s responsible for two identical Sunday morning services, which draw a combined 1,600 worshippers.     

Mares said Calvary’s worship style could be termed “modern,” but the church doesn’t shy away from doing hymns. “There are probably some people who would say they wish we would do more,” he noted.     

Some of the songs on Calvary’s “playlist” of late: “Waiting Here For You” (Jesus Culture) and “Open Up The Heavens” (Meredith Andrews/Veritcal Church Band).     

A “Kids Shout Choir” occasionally participates in worship as well as a small adult choir around the major holidays. Mares said he likes to incorporate different instrumental groupings in worship – brass, strings and other instruments.

“We like to be creative,” he smiled.

                   LIVING A LEGACY

Mares – who has both Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage – has a family history of Christian service.

His grandfather was pastor of the one of the area’s first Spanish language churches. His father was guitarist in a band that played around the country for many years. Young Moses recalls watching his dad and uncles perform.


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“I was inspired to do not only music, but had a passion for ministry as well,” he said of his Christian upbringing.

Moses learned to play largely the way his dad did - by ear. He plays guitar as well as keyboards.     

“I had someone – a mentor – who taught me how to read chords,” he said. “Once you get that and you get a working knowledge and a feel for it, you can figure out ways to get better.”     

After graduating from Holland High School he completed a theology study program at Christ For The Nations in Dallas, Tex. He planned to be a youth pastor. But music turned out to be his first calling. He was part of a traveling music group while in Texas.     

When he returned to Holland in 2006 he started a music internship at Ridge Point Community Church. That turned into a worship position which he held until three years ago when he went crosstown to Calvary CRC.

                   MORE FOR MARES

The worship leader said he has written several songs, but there are so many good worship songs out there that he simply doesn’t do a lot of songwriting. But Mares has a vision for worship that will keep his creative juices flowing.     

“When you think about worshipping the creator God and how it comes together and reflects his creativity, then the ‘crown of beauty’ will be placed on us instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). I think that’s powerful.”

Just the Facts:

Who: Moses Mares, age 30 - married, two children

What: Worship Arts Director

Where:  Calvary Christian Reformed Church, 400 Beeline Rd. Holland, www.calvarycrc.org, (616) 396-7550  

How: Leads in worship and coordinates worship music teams, oversees various creative arts including stage design, drama, and technical; is part of church creative team.

Philosophy on the role of the arts/music in worship: The creative God that has made every great and little thing made us and lives in us. And if he lives in us then everything we do in worship should reflect that creativity as much as possible. And the arts are a way of reaching people in a powerful and positive way.

Editor’s note: If you have a suggestion of an area church music leader for a profile in this column, please send the information to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Son Of God2Fortunately for the Christian, there are a lot of wonderful DVDs which have been released or are soon to be. Son of God was released on June 3, 2014, and is still ranked number four in Amazon.com’s bestseller rankings among faith and spiritual movies. It is ranked number nineteen in the drama category. It grossed nearly $60 million at the domestic box office. This is the Roma Downey and Mark Burnett film starring Diogo Morgado as Jesus and is one of the more accurate portrayals of His life.

God’s Not Dead is to be released August 5, 2014. It stars Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain. It is a compelling story as Sorbo plays a philosophy professor who begins his class by demanding that his students sign a paper stating that God is dead. One brave young pupil named Josh refuses to sign and is told by the professor that he must debate the topic in front of class and give evidence that God is not dead. Josh agrees. He later learns why the professor is bitter toward God. A subplot involves Dean Cain’s character, named Mark, a self-absorbed man who ignores his girlfriend when she needs him the most and his elderly mother who is living in a nursing home and suffering from dementia. Yet the lesson is made clear in the film: one can’t outrun God. The movie has made over $60 million at the box office thus far.

On July 22, 2014, the vastly popular Heaven is For Real makes its way to DVD. It is based on the true story of Rev. Todd Burpo and his family. When their young son, Colton, is taken ill, he is rushed to the hospital for surgery. He visits Heaven and experiences a conversation with Jesus. Colton talks about this experience later and although some wonder about the reality of his experience, the things he tells others are too amazing to ignore. And talk about a faith-based movie making a profit—the icing on the cake is that it was produced for an estimated $12 million, and has made over $90 million at the box office.

In the Name of God was released July 8. It stars Eric Roberts, a support group leader, who boldly uses the Ten Commandments as guidelines in showing respect to others. It tells the story of a pastor’s daughter who bullied others with text messages before the group helps her. It features a character named Mason, a teen who has been bounced around in the foster care system until a young man named Nate refuses to give up on Mason. The movie features themes of respect and putting others before one’s self, in addition to the idea of never giving up on someone. It splendidly executes the idea that change is possible.


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Other recent releases include the wildly popular Hallmark Channel episodes of When Calls The Heart, the Janette Oke creation which is produced by Michael Landon Jr. Three volumes of this series are now available, each with two episodes. The titles of the DVDs are When Calls The Heart: Lost and Found, When Calls The Heart: A Telling Silence, and the latest release, When Calls The Heart: The Dance. This series has been renewed by the Hallmark Channel for a second season and is due to begin filming new episodes in August. Faith in God is a foundation for this family series.

These are a few of the popular faith-based DVD releases that can be picked up now or very soon at your local store. Watch for several others that are forthcoming.

exodusThe upcoming movie, Exodus: Gods and Kings, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale as Moses, looks promising according to The Dove Foundation’s CEO Dick Rolfe, The movie is scheduled to be released on December 14 this year. After he recently viewed a trailer for the picture that just hit the internet and movie screens, we spoke with Mr. Rolfe about the film.

When asked about his expectations and hopes regarding the movie, he replied, “I am looking forward to watching the re-telling of The Ten Commandments. From the just-released trailer, it appears to be a well-made epic-scale motion picture. The special effects are much more impressive than the 1956 version, benefitting from technological advances in filmmaking.

“I hope that 20th Century Fox learned something from Paramount’s epic debacle, Noah, which has not yet recovered its production costs in gross domestic box office. That’s what you get by turning a Bible story over to a director who’s an avowed atheist. Fox has a chance to redeem the studio system by making certain that Exodus: Gods and Kings accurately tells the story of Moses and the Hebrews’ escape from Egyptian tyranny. My guess is they will succeed.”

The trailer does indeed show an incredible clip of the raised Red Sea which is held up by God in order that the Hebrews might cross over to the other side as they flee Pharaoh and his henchmen.


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When asked about the current trend in several faith-based films being released, Mr. Rolfe said, “Movie themes run in trends. We are just coming off a Comic Book Hero trend and entering into a Bible Hero phase. I believe this is a wonderful time for believers to use these movies to share Christ with their un-churched friends and relatives. It’s easier to start up a spiritual conversation using a motion picture. Will this trend in inspirational movie-making last for long? Only as long as the films are high quality, well-attended, and financially successful. One encouraging sign that faith-friendly films will be around for a while is God’s Not Dead, which cost $1.7 million to make, and has so far made over $60 million at the box office alone.” In addition, Heaven is for Real, the New York Times #1 bestseller, has made over $90 million at the box office. The Kendrick brothers, Alex and Stephen, are responsible for successful box office faith-based films such as Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. They are in the process of developing anther movie.

The time could be ripe for the new Exodus film, with other faith-based films performing well at the box office, and with its holiday release window. Besides Bale, it stars Sigourney Weaver, Joel Edgerton, and Ben Kingsley.

Watch the trailer

  KariSinger-songwriter-worship leader Kari Jobe is coming Nov. 1   West Michigan’s Christian concert schedule for the remainder of 2014 is dotted with music artists of all stripes.
     There’s diverse, uplifting entertainment, with many of the events carrying a worship theme.
   And you don’t have to wait for autumn: Hillsong Worship (formerly Hillsong Live) comes to Resurrection Life Church in Grandville on Sun. Aug. 31.
    Hillsong – the giant Hillsong Church in Australia – has developed a group of worship leaders responsible for such modern worship standards as “Shout To the Lord” and “Mighty to Save.” Their new album is “No Other Name.”
     Tickets are $26 general admission, discount rate for groups of 10 or more; available at the church’s Word Shop bookstore or at www.premierproductions.com.
     Also with music in the worship vein is Rend Collective, coming Sept. 25 to Sunshine Community Church on E. Beltline NE.
     The Irish band’s music has been described as a combination of “Worship/Folk/Rock/Pop/Electronic” and includes a variety of modern and traditional instruments. Singer Gareth Gilkeson calls it “organic worship.” Their signature song is the upbeat but prayerful “Build Your Kingdom Here.”
     Rend Collective heads the bill which includes Urban Rescue and Moriah Peters.
     Tickets are $15 general admission, and $30 for a “deluxe” pass which includes a meeting with band members, available at http://ticketf.ly/1jb9qhR


     The thoughtful pop-rockers Switchfoot invade Calvin College’s Hoogenboom Center on Sat. Sept. 20, with special guest Gungor (featuring former Resurrection Life Church worship/music leader Michael Gungor).
     The multiple Grammy and Dove Award-winning Switchfoot has played Calvin College several times - most recently last year traveling with their film and CD “Fading West.”
     Tickets are $30 general admission, available at the Calvin box office or at
     Everfound, a vocal group of Russian brothers, comes Sept. 27 to Community Reformed Church on Felch St. in Zeeland. Their self-titled debut CD released this summer.
     Another new group – About A Mile – is the opening act. The gathering is in connection with the annual See You At The Pole. There will be a minimal cost, if any, payable at the door.

               AND OCTOBER BRINGS….

     There’s more worship music to highlight on Thurs. Oct. 16 with the Passion Worship Band, featuring Kristian Stanfill, at Ridge Point Community Church on 104th Ave. east of Holland.
Stanfill is the writer of the popular worship anthem “One Thing Remains.”
     Tickets are $20 general admission, available at
www.itickets.com or 800-965-9324.
     Do you like Southern gospel music? You can see The Triumphant Quartet along with the local Skylight Quartet Oct. 24 at Fellowship Reformed Church on 36th Ave. in Hudsonville. Tickets are $18 and are available at
www.itickets.com or 800-965-9324
   For fans of faith-inspired hip-hop and rap there’s Lecrae and several special guests Andy Mineo and DJ Promote Oct. 30 in the DeltaPlex on Turner Ave. NW in Walker.
     Lecrae’s “Anomoly” CD is set for release in September. He last appeared in Grand Rapids in January as part of the Winter Jam tour at Van Andel Arena.
     Tickets are $29.50 general admission, with $24.50 for groups of 10 or more.Visit


     Singer-songwriter-worship leader Kari Jobe kicks off November with her “Majestic” tour Sat. Nov. 1 at Sunshine Community Church. Warren Barfield is also on the program. Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 for 10 or more. More info at
     There are two top flight concerts on the same night: Nov. 8 is the date for Michael W. Smith at Community Reformed Church in Zeeland and Newsboys at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon.
     Earlier this year the inspirational pop veteran Smith released “Sovereign,” his first worship album in five years and which includes the song “You Won’t Let Go.” His 30-year recording history is packed with inspirational pop hits and worship favorites. (Ticket info. at http://www.itickets.com/events/325001/Zeeland_MI/Michael_W._Smith.html or at the church).


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     The pop-rockers Newsboys is also a veteran band and a perennial West Michigan favorite. They were featured in the surprising hit film “God’s Not Dead,” in which they performed the title song on-screen.
     On the bill with Newsboys are Family Force 5 and 7eventh Time Down. Tickets are $30 and $25 floor and lower level, and $20 and $15 upper level. VIP tickets may also be available. Visit http://startickets.com/events/item/newsboys-we-believe-tour.
     Grammy-winner TobyMac comes to DeVos Performance Hall Nov. 23 for a “Worship, Stories and Songs” tour with fellow artists Matt Maher and Ryan Stevenson. Tickets range from $20.50 to $45.50. Visit http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/08004CE79F0D1B61?REFERRAL_ID=tmfeedbuyat97249&wt.mc_id=aff_BUYAT_97249&camefrom=CFC_BUYAT_97249


Dec. 11 - Collingsworth Family, Covenant Fine Arts Center, Calvin College. Tickets $20. http://www.calvin.edu/boxoffice/tickets/ 616-526-6282

Dec. 12 - “Christmas With Selah” - Van Singel Fine Arts Auditorium in Byron Center www.vsfac.org
Dec. 18 - Point of Grace – Sunshine Community Church
Dec. 23 - Sandi Patty in a Christmas “Yultide Joy” pops concert with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, DeVos Performance Hall. Tickets from $32 to $90. www.grsymphony.org

crcgThe Soul'd Out Quartet performs in the tent at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds   The Christian Reformed Conference Grounds (CRCG) in Grand Haven Township was broadsided by both fire and ice earlier this year.

     But the staff and supporters of the non-profit Christian campground/recreation area have rallied and this summer’s program is going full tilt – albeit with a somewhat different look.

     “Yes, everything is still happening,” beamed Dawn Bouman, musical director of the grounds just south of Grand Haven along Lake Michigan.
                                       A LOOK BACK
     It was on Feb. 6 that a fire did around $90,000 in damages to their beach-bathhouse facility. Director Mike Perton and the staff were dealing with that loss when something else unexpected occurred.
    “Sunday, Feb. 16 - that’s the day the auditorium came down,” said Bouman of the collapse of their huge, rustic auditorium. The multi-use facility was used throughout the busy summer season – Saturday night concerts, two Sunday worship services, and kids and other activities during the week.

     Record snowfall had piled high on the roughly 60-year old structure causing the roof to give way.
      “Some people had just walked by 10 minutes earlier. They heard a ‘woosh,’ and suddenly it was down,” Bouman reported.
       Inside the auditorium, stored for the winter season were 40 trailers, a boat, and a vintage Corvette sportscar. And on the front stage/platform was the baby grand piano used for music programs throughout the summer.
      “That piano is priceless to me, because I play it,” said Bouman. “And I begged for a valiant rescue effort.”
      Over the next number of days the collapsed building continued to settle. At least one of the walls had been completely leveled by the buckling roof. Slowly workers began salvage operations.
     All of the trailer-campers but one were total losses. More than half of the facility’s hundreds of folding chairs were damaged beyond repair. Remarkably, the Corvette came out unscathed.
     And the piano?    
   “It was slowly being pushed toward the edge of the stage,” Bouman noted of the settling of the collapsed structure’s contents. “But it was not smashed - a couple of picnic tables had kind of protected it. Just one beam had fallen right on the edge.”
    The baby grand was carefully moved to storage with just a bit of visible damage – it will be a reminder of God’s faithfulness when they move it into their new facility, according to Bouman.                                
     Yes, the CRCG has plans to replace the auditorium. But first there was the 2014 program to worry about.
    Initially some long-time campers were worried that most of the summer activities would have to be canceled, given the loss of prime programming space.
     But the ministry continued.

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    With help from their insurance carriers, the conference grounds rented a large (60 x 150ft) pole tent to take them through the entire summer.
     “That’s almost the same size as the old auditorium,” noted Bouman, now in her tenth year as music director.
    After some initial issues with rainwater runoff, the tent has worked quite well for worship, concerts and other activities. An audience of more than 800 enjoyed the music of Soul’d Out Quartet on a recent Saturday evening “under the big top.”
   “Actually, the acoustics there have been phenomenal and it still has some of the feeling of the old place,” she said.
   Bouman was concerned about space for the three concerts for which she expected the largest audiences. She arranged to use Grand Haven High School’s performance center (17001 Ferris St.) barely a mile away.
    The first of those was June 28 featuring the gospel singing group The Crist Family. Some regulars were leery of the location change. And the rental fee for the performance center required an $8 or $10 admission price for concerts that normally would be on a free-will offering basis.
    “But they have air conditioning and cushy seats, which people are loving,” Bouman noted of the school facility. And an advance-purchase ticket price for a combination dinner on the grounds and concert at the high school is just $25 per couple.
    Other concerts scheduled for Grand Haven High School are Tim Zimmerman & The Kings Brass (July 26) and The Browns (Aug. 23). (All concerts start at 7 p.m).
                                        LOOKING AHEAD
     The Christian Reformed Conference Grounds (despite the name it is not denominationally-owned, operated or supported and has its own board of directors) recently completed a new family center building and staff cottage. Next on the schedule to renovate-replace was their kitchen/dining facility, which now is the oldest structure on the campus.
  But this winter’s crumbled walls and flattened roof changed that plan. Currently a fund-drive is underway to construct a year-round worship center on the same spot as the old auditorium (see details at www.crcgworshipcenter.org). Traditionally, financial supporters have been individuals, businesses and church congregations.
    “If we can raise enough funds by October, we can start building with a target completion date of Memorial Day next year,” said a hopeful Bouman. “If not, we will use a tent again next summer.”
    Either way, Bouman is quite sure the new worship center will have air conditioning. And maybe some cushy seats.    
The end of summer concert schedule:

Christian Reformed Conference Grounds, 12253 Lakeshore Dr. Grand Haven. Concerts are 7 p.m, www.crcg.org, 616-842-4478

Aug. 9 – Burgess Brothers
Aug. 26 – The Allen Family
Aug. 23 – The Browns (at Grand Haven High School)
Sept. 6 – Faithful Journey Quartet and The Hope Heralds

LysaTerKeurstLysa TerKeurst is author of the bestselling books “Made to Crave” and “Unglued,” and is founder and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She talks to West Michigan Christian News about her new book “The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands,” available in bookstores in August.

WMCN: What prompted you to write “The Best Yes?”

Lysa TerKeurst: For a couple of years I’ve been praying that God would “unrush” me. I had realized that either I was going to set and run my schedule, or it was going to run me. How I set my schedule determines how I run my life, and how I run my life determines how I spend my soul. I kept getting the sinking sense that I wasn’t spending my soul well.

WMCN: What happens when we live with the stress of being overscheduled?

LTK: When a woman lives with the stress of an overscheduled life, she lives with the stress of an underwhelmed soul. I’ve really failed at this a lot; I wrote the book from the place of my weakness.

WMCN: So you struggle with this personally?

LTK: It’s not like I used to struggle with this five years ago and not anymore. Today I have to open my own book to learn how to underwhelm my schedule. There are so many ministry opportunities that at the time seem wonderful and that I think I can squeeze into my schedule. But every time I violate that deep “no” or the sense that that one thing will put me in that overstressed place, it becomes a problem.

WMCN: How does an overwhelmed mom affect the whole family?

LTK: The biggest thing that happens when my schedule is overwhelming is that I forget to smile and laugh. I cut conversations short, rush out door and sit in the car honking the horn. I don’t want my kids to remember me looking like a rushed, worn out woman. But when a mom makes a choice to unrush herself and makes decisions to unrush her family, it’s a beautiful thing.

WMCN: Why do so many women seem to cave in to all the demands?

LTK: All people are susceptible, but women seem to have the greatest confusion between the command to love and the disease to please. Every assignment is not my assignment; saying yes to everything doesn’t make me Wonder Woman. It makes me a worn out woman.

WMCN: What advice do you offer women in “The Best Yes?”

LTK: I share a lot of my failures. I want women to breathe a deep sigh as they read this and say, “Wow, Lysa really understands.” I hope lots of women will learn for the first time that it’s OK to say no. It’s OK to disappoint some people so you don’t disappoint everyone. I also teach women scripts: very practical ways to say yes and no. If they are able to grasp how to say no, in a couple of years they can say, “I’m finally heading in the direction that I want to go.”

habitat and FHHMichael Hyacinthe, far left, works with local volunteers and veterans to build a Habitat for Humanity home.Michael Hyacinthe has a heart for veterans, especially our nation’s wounded warriors. A former Nave SeaBee himself, Hyacinthe knows what it’s like to come home after serving his country.

That heart for veterans and his Christian faith have guided him into two roles that have veterans at the center. First is the non-profit Fashion Has Heart, which utilizes the power of creativity to help wounded veterans rehabilitate and helps them reintegrate into the broader society.

“We give them an outlet to express themselves,” said Hyacinthe, who lives with his family in Grand Rapids Township. “Veterans tend to be mute about who they are and what they did. Having a creative outlet makes them comfortable and begin to express themselves.”

Fashion Has Heart has paired wounded veterans with boot designers from Rockford-based Wolverine World Wide and t-shirt designers from around the country to create both boots and t-shirts that reflect their thoughts and heart. The shirts and boots have been on display at ArtPrize for the last two years.

This year saw five more veterans participating in the program—two from the Grand Rapids area and three from out of state. Wolverine World Wide designers and footwear designers from Kendall College of Art and Design participated with the veterans, as did t-shirt designers both local and national.

Boots and shirts will again be displayed at ArtPrize 2014. “We’ll be in the Veterans Memorial Park—the small building and outside—and all five vets will be there,” Hyacinthe said.

Hyacinthe and Fashion Has Heart were also accepted into the Macy’s Workshop. About 1,000 people or groups applied, with the top 50 invited to Macy’s headquarters in New York City to pitch their brands for possible sale in Macy’s stores. The top eight were selected for consideration, with Fashion Has Heart among those eight.


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Hyacinthe spent a week in May in New York City at the Macy’s offices in Herald Square, a familiar place to him because he was raised in the Bronx. “We went downtown to the Thanksgiving Day parade and to shop at Macy’s when I was a kid,” he said. “I was at the Macy’s offices from 8 am to 5 pm, then took the train home to the Bronx to stay with my family when I was there.”

Macy’s will make a decision later this year or in early 2015 about which of the eight clothing lines will become available in stores.

The second role Hyacinthe plays to help veterans is with the local Habitat for Humanity. They tapped his expertise to start a program called Veterans Build, which helps provide home ownership to local veterans.

“I help recruit vets that fit the criterion Habitat is looking for, and tell the Habitat story in the veteran community,” he said. “Habitat is focused on vets returning from Afghanistan and Iraq who are looking for home ownership. This is an initiative that gets vets and civilians working side by side on veteran-related projects such as home repair, building homes, and mentoring.”

The Veterans Build program started in Fall 2013 and has built five homes so far in Kent County. They are currently working on another.

Hyacinthe and family—wife Sarah, children Mia, Lucas and Blake—attend Madison Square CRC North, which meets at Kent Hills Elementary School. Hyacinthe also has a daughter, Nia, living in New York City.

“As a Christian we’re asked to act through community service,” said Hyacinthe. “My military career strengthened that ability to give back to people because we do work in the military never expecting to get anything back. My faith confirms that. It seems logical to move from being a veteran and person of faith into this sort of service.”

Visit these websites to learn more about Fashion Has Heart and Habitat for Humanity:



Jake Downs and Ghost ShipWest Michigan singer-songwriter Jake Down (aka Jacob Pauwels) and his band Midwest Mess have a new acoustic-based four-song collection – “Ghost Ship.”
It’s a follow up to their release of last year, “Shipwreck.”
In fact, one of the new songs is a thematic carry-over from the earlier project. “Shipwreck Pt. 3: Ghost Ship” is an occasionally haunting reminder that in a world of confusion, storms and tattered sails, “what should have sunk…spirit gives life.”
The CD’s opening “Debt” uses a banjo-fueled rhythm and melody to get to its point that the ultimate debt in life was paid with blood on the cross.
There are some nice harmonies in the song that echo the nature of the supreme sacrifice that was made as a gift.
Down turns up his vocal range on several of the selections. Arrangements include harmonica and strings.
“Autumnal Equinox” references Michigan’s fall season, where falling leaves and breaking hearts somehow lead to new life. The uptempo song has a nice percussion offering in the bridge. (You can listen to it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P_vieNUDt4)
Also included is “Seed Sown” which expands the metaphor of a growing plant, producing shade in the summer and yielding fruit.
The strength and imagery in Down’s lyrics is evident. And it’s wondrous to think the artist didn’t even pick up a guitar until five years ago. He has put his words to music in interesting ways.
The CD is available on iTunes and Spotify, and you can get a 7inch vinyl copy at http://preorder.jakedown.com
Just The Facts:
Artist: Jake Down & The Midwest Mess
Title: “Ghost Ship”
Connect: www.jakedown.com

q and a2Baker Book House, the largest Christian bookstore in West Michigan, has invited two well-known spokesmen for the gay, Christian community to take part in a discussion and Q&A session on the topic of gay marriage in the church.

The Church & Homosexuality: A Model Dialogue takes place on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at 7 pm at the bookstore, 2768 East Paris Ave. in Grand Rapids. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are required.

“We know the church is talking about this topic, and we want to provide a safe place to have a discussion about it,” said Louis McBride, event organizer and employee at Baker Book House. “Though we may vehemently disagree on whether gay marriage is allowed in the church, we can still have a dialogue without all the drama and heat.”

Speakers for the event are Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network and author of “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate,” and Wesley Hill, assistant professor at Trinity School for Ministry and author of “Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.”

Both men are gay and Christian. Lee espouses the view that the Bible says it’s acceptable to be gay and marry; Hill believes the Bible says it is wrong and is, therefore, living a life of celibacy.

Each will speak for 20 minutes on their views, then participate in a Q&A session during which they will field questions submitted in writing that evening or in advance via the Baker Book House Facebook page or at the store.


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“It’s important to have both sides addressed. We need to learn how to have a discussion with someone we disagree with,” said McBride. “This isn’t a debate, but a dialogue, and a dialogue can be civil, tempered and patient. We want to model how to have such conversations well.”

Sue Smith, manager at Baker Book House, sees an even bigger picture. Millennials, she said, are leaving the church and, in turn, millennials are leaving our stores. This issue is a pertinent example of why that is happening.

“On the issue of homosexuality, we have a growing number of Christians that land in various places biblically,” she said. “As a church, we don’t know how to have a healthy conversation with a member of the gay community. We quote Scripture, argue, debate and cast blame. We don’t know how to be Jesus to them or each other.

“I’m hoping these gentlemen can help us. How can the church show the gay community grace? How does the gay community show the church grace? Can we grow and learn from each other?” said Smith.

Call Baker Book House at 616-957-3110 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to reserve tickets, and look for more information on the Baker Book House Facebook page. Questions may be submitted via the Facebook page, email, or in the store. Both participants’ books will be for sale during the event.

The Facts:

The Church & Homosexuality: A Model Dialogue

When: 7 pm Tuesday, Aug. 12

Where: Baker Book House, 2768 East Paris Ave., Grand Rapids

Details: Tickets required for free event

Contact: 616-957-3110, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Baker Book House Facebook page

collenFor Colleen Geisel, new executive director of Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids, this is a revisioning time at the center. She and the staff are narrowing their vision to not duplicate services available at other organizations, adding services not being offered elsewhere, and discovering which things they do well.

“We’re in a position to grow exponentially thanks to our facility and our location,” said Geisel, who has been director for three months. She and her family returned to Grand Rapids after 12 years working and serving in Asia.

“I had no intention of taking the job, but I walked into the building and the Spirit of God was in this place. I could not leave,” she said. “God called me into ministry in 1991 at Calvary Church and he won’t let me do anything else.”

Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids, located in a former funeral home at 1725 Division Ave. South in Grand Rapids, boasts nearly 18,000 square feet of usable space including basement storage and a three-stall garage used for storing donated supplies. Its high ceilings, good-sized rooms, cheerful colors and ample sunlight welcome clients and volunteers alike.

There were 3,400 client visits in 2013, which Geisel forecasts could double by 2015 if funding and volunteer help increases.

“We have 100 volunteers a month, including 20 mentors and other client advocates. I’d like to double the number of mentors, and we especially need bilingual, Spanish speaking mentors,” said Geisel, who is one of 10 paid employees.

She’s sees the pregnancy care center as unique in that they believe in empowering the whole woman. Their target client is a single woman in a low-income environment who has no support system. More than 40 percent of clients are Hispanic.

“Our niche is to empower women in desperate situations to embrace their brokenness and find Christ there,” said Geisel. “I think this work can explode and really change this community.”

The Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids offers a variety of pregnancy-related services including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, mentoring, home economics classes, parenting classes, a hair salon, baby and maternity clothing, and baby items such as portable cribs, diapers, formula and baby food. The center also offers prenatal and birthing classes, a Bible study in Spanish, GED and ESL classes.


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“We are the biggest distributor of diapers in West Michigan for a non-profit,” said Geisel. Clients earn points for attending mentoring sessions or other classes, which they can redeem for maternity or baby items.

Geisel is looking for area churches “to partner with us in the truest sense of the word. Yes, we need financial donations; but we’re hoping churches send volunteers, mention us from the pulpit, and pray for us,” Geisel said. “I guarantee there is someplace to serve that any volunteer will love.”

She describes the days at Alpha Women’s Center of Grand Rapids. Waiting rooms can be full; clients are searching for baby clothes; abortion-minded women come in for ultrasounds but decide to choose life. Geisel herself is busy greeting clients, talking with volunteers, and preparing to speak at women’s groups and churches. She’s also dreaming about what’s next: perhaps a fatherhood initiative, perhaps an exercise class, perhaps a new paint job for a repurposed room or office.

“All this can only come about by the local church being authentic and embracing people where they’re at,” Geisel said. “We model a lot of things here, from cleanliness to a contented spirit. We want people to want to be here.”

EVENTS*At The Foot of the Cross – The day-long Christian music event returns for a second year – from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sat. Aug. 3 at Easton United Methodist Church, 4970 Potters Rd., Ionia. West and Central Michigan artists perform a variety of styles of worship music. Among the participating bands - Ejection Seat, Guitar Glory Band and praise teams from several area churches. The event takes place outdoors at the base of the huge 40 foot cross on the church grounds (indoors in case of rain). No admission charge, bringing seating is encouraged. Visit online for more information.
*Jim Worthing – The gospel vocalist performs at 6 p.m. Sun. Aug. 10 “under the tent” at Pine Grove Community Church, 8775 88th St. (M-82) (at the corner of Beech Ave.) west of Howard City. Worthing sang for many years with The Cumberland Boys, the gospel quartet of Opryland in Nashville. As a solo artist he had produced six albums and performed all over the world. The event is part of the Pine Grove’s summer concert series. No tickets are necessary, a free-will offering will be received. For more information online or 231-937-5250.
*Gold City Quartet – The veteran Southern gospel ensemble performs at 3 p.m. Sun. Aug. 24 in Grace Fellowship Church, 735 Buth Dr. NE, Comstock Park. The singing group is led by long time bass vocalist Ted Riley, who last year was inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Gold City has a 35 year history with top gospel hits such as “Midnight Cry” and “There Rose A Lamb.” Their most recent CD is “Somebody’s Coming.” Tickets are $15. Seating is limited: there may be tickets at the door. Contact 616-942-0143, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or online.

Local Section

The Summer of Our Lives
08/18/2014 | Kimberly Gleason
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Such fantastic plans I had for this summer. I had a pile of books I wanted to read to my children, topics such as our bodies, peer pressure, boys and dating, healthy eating, and the adventures of that [ ... ]

The Normal Bar Isn't Normal
08/16/2014 | Dan Seaborn
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I get frustrated when people try to say that this way or that way is the normal way to do something. Maybe for you it’s normal to mow your lawn when it’s about three inches high, but someone else [ ... ]

Author Lysa TerKeurst talks about new book “The Best Yes”
08/16/2014 | Ann Byle
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Lysa TerKeurst is author of the bestselling books “Made to Crave” and “Unglued,” and is founder and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She talks to West Michigan Christian News about her new [ ... ]

A Look Behind the Leader: Moses Mares of Calvary CRC, Holland
08/16/2014 | Terry DeBoer
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Tuesdays are big for Moses Mares of Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich.      “My whole day is wrapped up in planning for worship the following Sunday,” said M [ ... ]

Veteran Turns Heart and Hands to Helping Fellow Vets
08/10/2014 | Ann Byle
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Michael Hyacinthe, far left, works with local volunteers and veterans to build a Habitat for Humanity home.Michael Hyacinthe has a heart for veterans, especially our nation’s wounded warriors. A for [ ... ]

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