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By the time Leslie Housman joined Christ Church in 2016, she had already coached tennis for nearly a decade, served as a children’s minister for 15 years, and taught 1 st grade for eight years. Litte did she know that within seven months of moving to Plano from Alabama, Fr. Paul would offer her a new ministry role; one that she had not given much consideration to in the past.
Why not? Soon after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College, Leslie enrolled in a master’s degree in early childhood education at the University of Montevallo. Already teaching but eager to sharpen her skills, she invited Dr. Constance Kamii, who studied under famed psychologist Jean Piaget, to observe her in her classroom. Leslie said, “I had a choice: I could play it safe or I could take a risk by asking a world renown expert in child development to critique me.” Dr. Kamii and Leslie would later coauthor a book titled Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: Implications of Piaget’s Theory .
By every measure, Leslie was set for a successful career as a school teacher.
But to know how Leslie became Christ Church’s Women’s Minister, you’d need look beyond her education and teaching experience—you’d have to unpack what she describes as “flunking discerning the voice of God.” Leslie explains:
"Seven months after we came to Christ Church, I found that every day while I was doing housework or running errands, I had this compelling urge to call Fr. Paul. This lasted for an entire week. Every time I felt the urge, I would think, 'Why on earth would I bother that poor man?' So I never called. At the end of the week, I received a call asking me to accept a meeting with Fr. Paul. That meeting is when he asked me to serve as Women's Minister."
Now in her second year as Women’s Minister, Leslie remains happy to have accepted Fr. Paul’s offer. She loves proclaiming the Gospel! Yet she knows her limitations. She was quick to confess that she doesn't have it all together. "I lean on the Lord and then I forget and I lean on me and then I fall and then I remember to lean all over again," she said. "That's why I get those Israelites in the wilderness so well!"
Asked how she keeps committed to her ministry, especially in times of uncertainty, she answered, “I remember who He is and what He has done in my life, and throughout history. We serve an amazing God.”
Leslie, Kevin, and their three sons
“Several years ago, the Lord really impressed upon me the HUGE difference between can and should, ” she explained. “There are so very many things I can do—good things, helpful things, edifying things. But that doesn’t mean I should do them? I rely on His direction in making those choices.” Leslie says this dependence upon the Lord also helps her keep a healthly balance between her ministry and personal life with her huband Kevin and their three children.
Let us rejoice in the Lord for calling Leslie to women’s ministry at Christ Church. And may we always pray for her. That she will continue following the Lord’s direction in her life; that she never loses sight of her path to ministry.
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Angela Rotello, Director of Children's Ministry
For most of us, when we think about being surrounded by children—especially other people's children—we think of the noise, the messes, and the "Whoa whoa whoa! How did you get so sticky so fast?"
Not Angela Rotello, whose responsibilities as Director of Children's Ministry include the oversight of curriculum, special programs, and collaborating with Family Ministry.
Even as Christ Church approaches Vacation Bible School, when some 300 children will flood our campus, Angela still isn't thinking like most of us. Angela's sincere and humble way of speaking about her ministry brings to mind what we admire so much about celebrated servant-leaders who spend the better part of their lives emptying themselves for the sake of others.
Angela loves recognizing the Lord's work in everything that happens through Children's Ministry. Not surprising, Angela asked that I avoid including images which only show the fun VBS preparations such as painting and crafts. To Angela, not all preparation is equal. What's most important to her is the ministry preparation; after all, it's the children's spiritual formation she cares about most.
Angela Rotello (left) and Dawn Luft (right) preparing for VBS
During the time we spent together for this story, Angela was clear that in the midst of her leadership role, the Lord is still teaching her about who she is. She says she depends on it. "Remembering that God has called me to be His child first helps me order my life around my calling."
Angela maintains a childlike faith even after ten years as Director of Children's Ministry.
Asked how Christ Church can pray for her, she answered, "That all the glory be given to God. That the children, volunteers, and staff are transformed into His image." No doubt she would welcome your prayers for rest and patience, but Angela really isn't here for herself. Instead, she is here for the children. More than that, she is here at Christ Church Plano in obedience to God's will for her life.
Lead by Angela, Children's Ministry interns praying and reading Scripture together.
Every year people make new Bible reading commitments, and every year, statistically, many of those commitments are abandoned within a few weeks. One of the main reasons this happens year after year is due to missed days and the backlog of missed readings that results. So, let me suggest an alternative approach to Bible reading. An Undated Bible Reading Plan.
Now, if you have spent any time shopping for paper journals you already know that there is one major choice you need to make (beyond choosing your style of moleskin): dated or undated. I always choose undated, for the same reason that I have designed a Bible reading plan that is undated: because I will on occasion miss a day or two.
Before you give up on this blog post as a poorly veiled excuse for my lack of discipline in journaling and Bible reading, my wife and friends can report that I am comparatively quite strong in the discipline department. (Fear not, I fall down in many other ways that you likely excel in.) But disciplined or not, we are all human—which means we get sick, we get tired, we get distracted, and we cannot control what may come our way in the next 24 hours. Those with young children or those in pastoral ministry know exactly what I’m talking about. We miss days in our Bible reading plans.
But here is my main concern with dated Bible reading plans—what do I do when I miss a day or two or more? There are two typical answers offered: carry it forward or leave it behind.
For those who say “carry it forward,” they are telling us to find a bit of extra time to catch up. Extra time!? Unfortunately, this was my approach for many years. Yet I found that the backlog, like some people’s email inboxes, can quickly get out of control. I remember once going on a desperately needed 24-hour retreat at the same time as I was severely backlogged in my reading plan. I started into my backlogged readings immediately and by lunch I was caught up. But this frantic catch-up exercise left me exhausted, and I ended up sleeping off a migraine for the rest of the retreat. As I drove home, rather annoyed at myself and certainly not refreshed, I felt the Lord saying to me, “Paul, today was supposed to be about you and me talking together leisurely, and instead you chose to catch up on your self-imposed reading plan.” Epic fail.
For those who say “leave it behind” in the face of missed days, they are telling us to just skip that day and those chapters and move ahead to the next entry. I admit that this is a much more sensible approach to missed days. However, if the goal of a reading plan is to read the whole Bible—all of which is "breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16)—then this strategy undercuts the original intent. So, if I really want to make sure I read each and every chapter, do I have to return to backlogging? Thankfully, no.
Instead, I commend this undated daily plan. And yes, friends, this is truly intended to be a daily plan—just a daily plan that recognizes that life happens.
Here’s What You Need
A Bible. I’m a big fan of finding a good translation and sticking with it for a long time as this assists in Bible memory.
Three bookmarks. I use little love notes and pictures my daughters have written me—so if you steal my Bible, I am coming after you.
A place where you like reading. This plan is as mobile as your Bible, but I am a fan of building habits/rituals by reading at the same place and ideally at the same time.
Here’s What You Do Each Day:
Place your bookmarks. On the first day, start by putting in your bookmarks at Psalm 1, Genesis 1, and Matthew 1.
Read 1 Psalm. Read only one Psalm to focus your reading. Nothing compares to the Psalter in centering our hearts and minds on the Lord.
Pause. Pause here and pray briefly, or longer if the Spirit moves you, in response to this psalm.
Read 3 chapters in the Old Testament. Your first day will be Genesis 1-3, the Creation to the Fall.
Read 2 chapters in the New Testament. Your first day will be Matthew 1-2, Genealogy to the return to Nazareth.
Pray. Now move into prayer in response to what you have read, and don’t forget to put your bookmarks back in.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Why this particular number of readings each day?
A. Though this is undated the goal is still to read daily and to accomplish at least one full reading of the whole Bible each year. As there are 150 Psalms, 779 Old Testament chapters, and 260 New Testament chapters. With 1 Psalm, 3 chapters of Old Testament, and 2 chapters of New Testament per day, in one year you will read though the Psalter 2.5 times (2.4 for those of you checking my math), the Old Testament 1.5 times (1.4 to be exact) and the New Testament almost three full times (precisely 2.8). Again, the point is that with the inevitability of missed readings, unless you miss the equivalent of 3 months, you will more than achieve your Bible-in-a-Year goal.
Q. How long will this take?
A. Each person reads at a different speed and each book reads at a different speed (Leviticus!), but in general the full set of readings will take approximately 30 minutes. And by the way, my suggestion is when you come to Psalm 119 that you read it as a whole—it was written as a whole and it is amazing to behold it as a whole.
Q. How does this fit with the Anglican Daily Office ?
A. Anglicans read The Daily Office (Morning & Evening Prayer), as the title indicates, daily. And though the Anglican Prayer Book provides a lectionary, another lectionary (like this one) can certainly be used when praying The Office privately. I know that some will be prepping a pyre for me for saying so, but I believe this position is reasonable for several reasons:
The intention of The Daily Office is to get the reader through the whole Bible in a year. But, the provided lectionaries ( BCP 1662 , Canadian BCP 1962 , American BCP 1979 , etc.) do not completely achieve this goal. Some texts get skipped—sometimes for reasons of repetition, sometimes to avoid long genealogies, sometimes because a Saint Day will trump the flow of readings, but sometimes in recent years to avoid hard passages. Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s lectionary was my first crack at using a plan that would have me read everything, and I know Anglican Archbishops who use his for their daily devotions!
I recognize that this Undated Bible Reading Plan has no connection with the liturgical calendar. Therefore, for those who wish for a connection, I suggest supplementing your reading on High Feast days (or postponing this Undated Bible Reading Plan for that one day) with the seasonal lections the Prayer Book suggests.
I am only suggesting this for private use with The Daily Office . When leading it with others, I would use the provided Prayer Book lectionary.
For those who care— I know not everyone reading will, and if that is you, I suggest you skip to the next question if you are confused by the “Anglican-Speak” that follows —I use this Undated Bible Reading Plan with The Daily Office as follows: at Morning Prayer the Psalm goes in its usual place after the Venite , followed by the three OT chapters, followed by the Te Deum , followed by the two NT chapters, followed by the Benedictus . At Evening Prayer, I will either skip the psalm or just read the next in order, and then read one of the short lessons printed in the Compline liturgy, then the Magnificat , then the Comfortable Words from the Communion Liturgy, and then the Nunc Dimittis .
Phew! Now that I’ve made my apologia that this Undated Bible Reading Plan doesn’t undo my Anglicanism, one final question.
Q. What if I like this idea, but this is simply too much to read in one sitting for me right now?
A. Daily Bible Reading is like exercise, the more you do it, the more you grow in your daily reading capacity. But also like exercise, if you go too hard too soon, you’ll hurt yourself and give up (thus the yearly millions that gyms make from unused memberships). If this is too much to start, try this: 1 Psalm, 2 OT chapters, and 1 NT chapter. You’ll still get much of the OT done in one year and you’ll get through the Psalter 2.4 times and the NT 1.4 times.
Let me close by encouraging us all with a fabulous Anglican prayer:
Blessed Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Prayer is important in our lives and something we want to encourage in our children. But how do we teach it to them without feeling like we're checking off a box in our busy schedule?
We might picture a beautiful and peaceful scene, filled with the Holy Spirit, where our family is gathered holding hands to pray together at the end of each day, giving thanks and praise for God’s goodness. But what if our reality includes tired kiddos who are melting down because brother isn’t sharing with sister? Or preteens who are less excited than we are with the idea of gathering in the first place?
Fr. Paul and Monika addressed some of these very challenges in the recent Parent Seminar on creating a habit of prayer in our families. They shared their experiences in helping their own children grow in a life of prayer. They reminded attendees that there is no single solution for all families, but they gave some practical places to begin experimenting.
Start with prayers of song for little ones Select pieces of Compline from the Book of Common Prayer Gently remind them that they are speaking with our loving and amazing Father.
If you feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin with family prayer, start a habit of prayer yourself. Ask for His guidance and begin with small steps. Invite your family to join, even the youngest members, and be consistent.
It won’t be perfect and it isn’t supposed to be…but it will help your children learn to speak to Jesus and strengthen their relationships with Him.
“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’ (Matthew 25:35). Proper honor must be shown to all.”
St. Benedict of Nursia wrote these words in the 6th century. With the sacking of Rome in 455 and the deposition of the last emperor in 476, civilization as he knew had collapsed around him. Amidst the confusion, many were tempted to hunker down and protect themselves from ‘the other.’ After all, it was the alien Vandals who had invaded Italy and threatened to forever change Latin Christian culture.
But instead of rejecting the outsider, St. Benedict urged Christians to practice hospitality. The Greek word for hospitality, philoxenia , literally means ‘love of the stranger.’ This word is the exact opposite of our English word xenophobia . St. Benedict took seriously the teaching of Christ in Matthew 25: Christians will be judged by how we welcomed and cared for the least of these.
Because of St. Benedict and his example, Christians became known as people who welcomed the stranger, even at great cost to themselves.
While we may feel like our own civilization is falling apart, it is nowhere near as bad as 6th century Rome. Yet how much more should we, Christ Church Plano, seek to practice Christian hospitality like St. Benedict and his followers? This is why we host Gateway, our newcomer’s luncheon. This is why we serve as greeters and ushers at every worship service. This is why we brought on Trog Trogdon to serve as our Welcome & Local Mission Minister.
But true hospitality is not a ‘top-down’ thing. The staff of Christ Church can create a hospitable space, but it begins with you. When was the last time you invited a neighbor or friend to Christ Church? How often do you introduce yourself to those in the pew next to you? Do you ever welcome those who are alone in the Fellowship Hall after service?
My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would empower us to practice deeper hospitality in this new season.
We have a sweet confession to make. We have been quietly teaching your children about serving others over here in Sunday School.
You might remember our chalkwall gave hints about our teaching in August and September: The Hands and Feet of Jesus. We prayed over each child and wrote their names on a hand or a foot and lined our hallways with them.
What does it mean to be the hands and feet of Christ? I believe it means showing love and compassion, meeting the needs of others, forgiving, and sharing grace and mercy.
As parents, we see firsthand how children can be naturally self-focused. We try to shape their view of the world into one where they are not the center of the universe, but God is. When children are taught to serve, they learn to focus on Jesus and put others before themselves. And if they do it often enough, service becomes a “holy habit” even into adulthood.
Check out our recent Children's Ministry service projects on our Facebook page and see the article below for information about our new way of teaching about service. We are grateful to partner with parents in your child’s faith education and pray for you as you also teach them to serve in your own family and community.
Despite an ominous forecast, this past Saturday was a beautiful day at Christ Church where over 200 women chose to come away with Jesus for a day of teaching, worship, silent prayer, and reflection.
Dr. Erika Moore, Academic Dean and Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Trinity School for Ministry, gave a talk in two parts titled Jesus in the Old Testament: Expectations Frustrated, Promises Fulfilled. Dr. Moore emphasized that the Old Testament is a book about Jesus that we must be careful not to merely moralize. She exhorted those gathered to be comprehensive in their study of Scripture, stressing that the entirety of God’s Word tells the narrative of our salvation story through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
Following Morning Prayer and Dr. Moore’s first talk, the women scattered around the campus, each finding a space to pray, reflect, and study the Bible—to absorb the teaching of our speaker, to savor the lyrics to favorite hymns, to be still and listen for the voice of the One who called her to come away this weekend.
One retreat attendee told us, “I love how this retreat was about deeper meaning in the Scriptures…. It set my soul on fire, hungering for more.” Thanks be to God!
This event would not have been possible without the committed service of many volunteers and staff who played vital roles in prayer, support, organization, and execution of such a large scale event. I am so thankful to each of you for your part in making this day the gift that it was to so many.
When we think of the challenges in rearing children, St. Augustine and his mother St. Monica come to my mind. Augustine was most difficult in his formative years. His behavior troubled his tender-hearted mother greatly, and as he became an adult, Monica saw her son reject much of her instruction, especially when it came to faith in the Lord.
But her faith was not swayed by the situations she faced with her son or his unbelieving friends. In a dream, the Lord told this faithful mother that one day her son would join her as a Christian and follower of Jesus. How encouraging it must have been for her to hear in that dream, “Where you are, he [Augustine] is.”
Many of us have mothers who loved us even when we were hardest to love. Our mothers serve as great witnesses of faith and forgiveness. Today, we give thanks for them and we celebrate the gift they are as those who carried us—in their wombs, in their hands, and in their hearts.
We also give thanks for those moms in our world that represent the heart of St. Monica, those who served maternal roles of encouragement, provision, and presence, who gave a warm hug when it was needed along the way. How important a mother’s heart is during those seasons when life seems most challenging. The voice of a mother near us can calm the storms of life.
After his mother’s death, St. Augustine wrote of how she continually prayed for him and fellow believers:
“O Lord ... she took good care of us all when we had received the grace of your baptism and were living as companions before she fell asleep in you. She took good care of us, as though she had been the mother of us all, and served each one as though she had been his daughter” (Confessions, Book IX, Section 9).
Let us all give thanks today for the witness of Christ found in our mothers and those who love us like His own.
I’ve decided to put a new twist on Father’s Day this year. Inspired by the way Hobbits celebrate their birthdays—giving gifts, rather than simply receiving them—I am choosing to put the focus on my children, and not on myself as their father.
For my youngest, Madison, our Father’s Day celebration will be delayed for a few weeks until he and I head off to Wyoming, in August, to engage in one of our favorite activities. We hope to climb to the summit of Grand Teton—one of America’s grandest, indeed! A true mountaineering adventure.
For my middle, Ian, we are spending the day on mission in Guatemala, serving the impoverished people of the Highland villages, providing them with something simple yet profoundly life-changing: wood-burning stoves and water-purification systems. An adventure of a different type.
And, finally, for my oldest, Story, I am standing with her in her fight against cancer—her own, and that of others who face genetically-increased risk. She started a campaign to raise money for an organization that is pioneering research in hereditary cancers. Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) gives us hope that she, and our granddaughters, will be around for many years to come. FORCE has my support; and I am encouraging others to join me. An adventure I never wanted to have.
Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “Anyone can be a father; but it takes someone special to be a Dad.” I make no claims here—I know I have sometimes failed miserably—yet my hope is that the love of God our Father has shown through me, in spite of my deficiencies, and made me worthy of being called “Dad.” May the Lord grant the Apostle Paul’s prayer in Ephesians for me and every Dad: “I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:14-16).
Last week, we welcomed 360 children and 160 teen and adult volunteers for an amazing time of learning, connecting, and fun!
The children learned that God created them, loves them, and is always with them wherever they go. They talked to God each day, spent time in His Word, and were encouraged in their efforts to share Christ-like character with others.
Here are just a couple of stories we heard from the week.
I'm pretty sure David enjoyed every minute of it. His stories each afternoon of what he ate, who he played with, jumping on the bounce house, and singing songs certainly indicate that he did. I have been reliably informed that in Guatemala they don't have ovens or clean water. And I am thrilled to hear that thanks to a money munching robot we are all helping to sort these problems out! What a joy it is to see these things through the eyes of a three year old.
My boy really had a good time and this week was a special time of renewal for him. He has had some serious behavioral issues in the past 6 months and God placed him exactly where he needed to be with the message he needed to hear and the people he needed to love on him. Thanking God for Christ Church and VBS!
We praise God for these stories and so many others. If you would like to share your family's story with VBS Maker Fun Factory, send us an email to AngelaR@ChristChurchPlano.org .
God calls us and blesses us and shapes our hearts. Our Children’s Ministry team feels so very blessed by this week and would like to extend a huge thank you to all who worked so hard to make it possible. The honor and glory are His.
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