iCKids: Cheering for Them

Registration for the 2014-2015 Upward Basketball season is now open. Upward, for children in first through sixth grades, aims at developing the winner in EVERY child, not just a few. With this goal in mind, the league teaches the love of God while promoting character and self-esteem in all who participate. Register here by clicking on Upward Basketball. 

by Scott Ward, Immanuel attendee

So if there is one thing I know, it is this: I am not the best dad in the world.

There have just been too many days of bad parenting to count, days when my favorite time starts right after kids’ bedtime.

To be brutally honest, sometimes I am amazed my kids still love me at all.

But as I sit here with these gloomy thoughts on a gloomy night, I can also recognize there is good in our home. I do still laugh with and love on my kids, and I take pride when I see them learning and remembering what I have taught them. And I think a great many of those times happen directly because I am interested in what they are interested in. I forget about the endless list of adult things which consume me – job, electric bills, home repair, politics, education, email, Facebook – and I engage with them face to face.

One of the easiest, most consistent ways has been through Upward basketball.

The program is simple and well-laid out for me to act as their coach for 12 practices, eight games and one awards ceremony roughly three hours a week. But it is three hours that I can really relate to my little girls.  (Relating to little girls is not the gift of many men in their 30s). Even when the “game plan” for them means “who will bring the snack” I know they hear me, teaching, coaching, cheering. For them. We have a tangible, common goal which we work toward together. And each week I can point out the progress they have made. They can still get a taste of good parenting, in spite of all my imperfections.

So as I struggle with the daily grind, the daily challenge to put myself aside and my hopes in Jesus, I have a reminder of the joys that hope can bring: smiling faces, asking, “Hey dad, can we go play some basketball outside?”

“Sure, honey. I think my work can wait for me a bit longer this time. Let’s go have fun together.”

World Outreach: Sharing the Love of Christ in the Midst of Tragedy

Thank you for your generous support to Accelerate, our one-fund. Because of your generosity and God’s goodness, we are able to share stories from our missionaries like the one below. If you would like to give, please visit our giving page. Thank you for investing in the work of Christ both locally and globally. 

by Mike Bicket, missionary and aircraft mechanic with United Indian Missions Aviation

Soraida, a 7-month-old Tarahumaran girl living in the remote mountains of Mexico, was being held by her 14-year-old aunt when they were both accidentally shot by their 10-year-old relative.

Bicketblogpic August 2014The bullet pierced Soraida and continued through to her aunt, killing her and leaving Soraida severely injured. The missionaries living there quickly went into action, providing medical attention to the two girls and calling UIM Aviation for a medical evacuation (med-evac) flight.

United Indian Missions Aviation was able to quickly launch a pilot and airplane, arriving in the remote mountain village in less than an hour and a half after being called. The plane was able to take Soraida and her parents to a nearby mission hospital run by Mexico Medical Missions. There, the baby was able to receive oxygen and two doctors were then able to accompany Soraida and her parents to the capital city of Chihuahua for further medical treatment. Soraida is currently still in the hospital and is slowly starting to gain strength. Please pray for her as she still has a long way to go to get out of the ICU. And pray for her parents, that God would comfort them, sustain them and provide for all their family’s needs through this time.

Soraida’s parents are young Christians who are still growing in their faith. Actually, all of the believers in this village are young Christians as there have only been missionaries working there for a few years. Medical evacuations (Med-evacs) like the one UIM Aviation was able to provide is an excellent way to show Christ’s love for these new believers and for the un-believers living in this village.
Bicket blog pic August 2014 2Soraida’s parents are seeing the global Church displaying Christ’s love to them though the many believers in Mexico — from the pilot of the aircraft to the doctors and nurses at the mission hospital to the mission guest house workers where the parents are staying during their time in Chihuahua and many more.
The missionaries that work in Soraida’s village have had a challenging time in this village as many of the new believers continue to turn back to heavy alcoholism and have not taken their faith seriously.
We are praying that by showing care for these young believers, Soraida’s parents as well as their village, will see Christ’s love for them in a real way through this event and desire to continue to grow in their relationship with God and continue to make Him known among their own people.
Bicket FamilyMike and Kelli work with United Indian Missions Aviation in taking the gospel message to the people in the Sierra Mountains in Mexico.
Mike is an aircraft mechanic; their family lives in Tucson, Arizona. 


The Monday After: Worship {Hyacynth}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling. 

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} is our attempt to carry the Sunday message into Monday mornings by walking together and sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, August 17, 2014 {Listen to the message HERE!}

By Hyacynth Worth

This is our broken hallelujah.

The kind that doesn’t understand how life is unfolding but trusts that there is purpose in the pain, that there is a gift wrapped in the waiting and unfolding of the plan we did not plan.

This past Friday, we received confusing and hard news; the child we hoped to adopt no longer wishes to be adopted. This child has been in our home for three entire months during the past eight, and she has been in our hearts when she has not been in our home.

We have no answers as to why she suddenly decided this, and communication has been flawed and ignored, at best.

To be clear, we know that we are her people. We know that she can forever and ever say yes to us and still simultaneously say no to adoption because her “yes” doesn’t just mean becoming a part of our family; and indeed she already is a part of our hearts. Saying yes to adoption also means saying yes to a new school, a new culture, a new language, a new way of life. It’s not an easy, slam-dunk answer.

She has loved and been loved during this whole hosting and adoption process. We have stood by, in tears of gratitude, as God has provided all that we need — support, encouragement, approvals from our governments, financial resources, schooling provision, offers of extra in-school help from professionals.

Our community has rallied around us as we have hemmed this child into love without even being able to share with her just how much stitching has gone into that hem.

And now, while it seems as though the hemming is coming undone, we ask The Lord to hold it tight.

We ask him to sew up the frayed ends like only he can.

And in our asking, we engage in emptying our hands, our hearts our praise to Him. He reminds us of Psalm 27.

Do not fear. Sing our praise to The Lord. Stand in the Hope of The Lord. Wait on The Lord.

So we love in the face of fear. We sing praise in the midst of tears. We stand in the hope of The Lord who binds up the broken-hearted and sets the captives free and places the lonely in families.

And we wait, uncomfortably and gratefully and longingly, in great expectation of a great Father.

“Worship is bringing all we truly are — good bad and ugly– into intimate contact with all that God truly is.” -Pastor Kelly Davis

So this is our worship, Father.

This is our broken hallelujah.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” John 4:23


IMG_2528Hyacynth Worth is grateful daughter to the Perfect Father, wife to John and mother to two little boys and three souls she will one day meet in Heaven. In between mothering and coordinating online communication for Immanuel, she writes about grace, motherhood and living a healthy lifestyle at Undercover Mother.

Mothers of Preschoolers: “Learning to Be Myself Bravely”

by Sarah Wittkamp, MOPS attendee
At a time in my life when I could not see into the next moment, there was a very bright light.
Just when I thought I might remain alone in the darkness and pain of losing our oldest son and that my younger children would be stuck with a lowly mess of a mom … God then told me “no.”
mops-logoWhere deep covers deep, God handed me an instrument — an instrument designed by Him to save moms from believing they can’t.
This life and faith-saving instrument is made up of many remarkable, gifted, loving and lovable women — MOPS, an acronym that God surely has inscribed on the palm of His hand!
During just the one year that I have been blessed to be a part of Immanuel’s Mothers of Preschoolers group, I have learned that there are no perfect moms.
What a relief!  This world would have us believe otherwise, causing us to hold ourselves hostage to the ideal of perfection. Knowing our lives and families are perfectly imperfect is more liberating than mere words could ever define.
The overall message for me was that we are enough, even on our worst days.  There is not only hope for tomorrow but for the time in between.  MOPS has shown me motherhood and acceptance. It was a message, among many given, that I desperately needed to hear; to realize that I am not messing up my other children by grieving the loss of our oldest son, brings me to my knees in praise to our amazing Father and His graceful ways.
I thank God daily for building this beautiful community of women, moms and friends, who have held me in prayer and surely in their hearts. MOPS has given me the opportunity to see outside of my own tragedy and to focus on the needs of other moms, be it in prayer or in deed.
I feel free from the façade of being the perfect mom and from the notion that we should really have it all together! It is a beautiful mess, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Be you bravely MOPSInstead of fearing that what I am doing isn’t the right way, I can now embrace each moment, right in the middle of this beautiful mess, where God would have me.
We are together on the front lines, raising our amazing children and becoming the moms and women that God has so lovingly created us to be while forming friendships, nurturing one another in every way, hand in hand. By this instrument of grace, faith and love we are held, and as this next year of MOPS draws nearer, I can hear Him whisper, ”Be you bravely.”


MOPs begins September 2014! Learn more about or register for Immanuel MOPs here!

The Monday After: Churchy Words: Devotions {Gracie}

You know that Sunday feeling, right?

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement on Sundays … and somewhere along the course of the week, pieces of the message tend to fade and we often lose that Sunday feeling.

The Monday After {the Sunday Sermon} carries the Sunday message into Monday mornings by sharing how what we’ve heard on Sunday morning is making a difference in our Mondays, our weeks, our lives. Because of your generosity to Accelerate, we are able to share these stories! Thank you!

The Monday After Sunday, July 13, 2014: Habits of Happiness: Know Contentment Through Generosity {Listen HERE!}

by Gracie Adamek

When I think of doing devotions, I think of a few things: I think of retreats and I think of waking up early, sitting at a desk with a cup of coffee, my bible, journal and pen. I also start feeling really badly because I very rarely do my devotions.

When I said I associate devos with retreats, that’s because I basically only do devotions when they’re laid out for me in a neat little booklet, as they so often are on retreats.

In that booklet, there are all the Bible verses you need to read for the day and a short passage that essentially explains the verses and helps you to form an opinion.


But the kind of devotions that are not easy is the other kind I mentioned. I have never really been an early riser so getting up to read and write and just sit there is so unappealing to me. Traditional devotions have never been up my ally.

That is why I really resonated with Pastor Josh’s message yesterday. There has always been a little voice in the back of my mind telling me that because I don’t read my Bible everyday and because I don’t journal regularly I am a bad Christian.

But what I learned from Josh is that, yes, it’s very important to be in the Word everyday and quiet time with God is vital so we should make time for those things, there isn’t a set of steps in the Bible telling us how to do devotions.

It doesn’t make us better Christians to wake up at the crack of dawn to spend time with Him instead of at 10:00 at night. God doesn’t care about when or how we do it. He cares that we make a sacrifice for Him.

Maybe we do end up losing an hour of sleep or we don’t watch that half hour of TV before bed or we wait to go to our friends house but it’s all worth it because we are strengthening our relationship with God.

“Devotions are about a friendship, not a formula.”

Forget about getting a “formula” right. Focus on keeping your relationship with God right!

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a recent graduate of Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!.