Message of Grace
January 2018 | Vol 11 Issue 1
Articles are due the 15th of the
month preceding publication.
Welcome to Grace Lutheran's eNewsletter!
Happy New Year! Click on the links at the right to view or print the calendar and volunteer schedule , plus you can go directly to our website, Facebook and sites in the ELCA family. If you have anything you would like put in the newsletter, send an email to me at dreamstar_00@msn.com.
 Quick Links
A Word from Pastor Andy
Pastor Andy
New Year, New You?
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."
- Isaiah 43:19  

2018 brings a fresh start for many people. A way to look ahead and rethink about old patterns. We often consider what we are doing with our lives. Is it working? Should I be doing something different? But what is the motivation behind these questions? Are we trying to make our lives better? Make ourselves happier or healthier? Understanding the motivation is just as important as the question itself.

As we move forward into a new year, both as individuals and as a church, there is one perspective we must have. We should not be about making our own plans. God already has a plan, both for our church and our lives. We shouldn't be driven by the question, “What do I want?” but instead “What does God want?” When we reframe our primary motivation it takes the focus off us and puts it back on God. This also allows us to get on board with something bigger and better than ourselves. As we look towards a new year we should first and foremost look to God. Putting our trust that what He desires for us is better than we can imagine.

In Christ,
Pastor Andy

Bits and Pieces from the Church Mouse 
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Hello friends,

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you and your family will have a blessed New Year for 2018. May the New Year be fulfilling and bountiful.

 A “big thank you” to Dean and Tina Peterson and “their crew” who used their time and talents for the Outreach Café for this past year. By supporting the Outreach Café whether you worked or you came for breakfast, you supported many missions, such as PADS, Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity and Haiti. The Outreach Café receives some funds from Thrivent too. (As you can guess, I picked up all of the crumbs and loved every one of ‘em.)

  Another “big thank you” to everyone who participated or volunteered for the Giving Tree for the Salvation Army and/or the Angel Tree Prison Ministry. It was extremely successful. Without your assistance, Christmas for these people would not have been the same. You provided gifts for over 100 children!

One night I was scurrying around outside. I noticed that it seemed brighter out there. Later I heard that there were new lights installed in the parking lot. No wonder it seemed brighter. It's so nice to be able to see better. This project was completed through the Capital Improvement Program.

Talk to you next month and stay warm. Now where did I put that sweater of mine??? 
Upcoming Events, How You Can Participate
2017-2018 Capital Campaign Update - What's Next?
Because of your generous contributions, the parking lot was well lit with the newly installed LED lights for the Christmas Eve services! 

The next phase of this initiative will be the cement work and paving the parking lot. Early in December, we contacted several contractors to get estimates for this work. These companies are all anxious to line up work now for the start of spring. We received six bids ranging from $81,000 to $120,000 and are in the process of analyzing them to determine the best option for Grace. 

As of December 28th $95,995 has been given for the improvements with $76,600 remaining after the lights were completed. 

We need you to make the remaining projects a reality! Can you help? All gifts given through the Building Fund and Capital Improvements Campaign envelopes will go toward the improvements. 

Your ongoing support of Grace Lutheran Church is deeply appreciated. 

The committee can be reached by phone or email: Ron Erdmann: 815-861-9925, ronerdmann5@gmail.com or Sandy Yoder: 815-581-3202, syoder40@msn.com .
Save the Date - January 28th - Annual Congregational Meeting
Sunday, January 28th at 10:30 we will hold our annual Congregational meeting for the purpose of reviewing the proposed budget for 2018/2019 . You will also receive reports of our many ministries. It's very important that all members try to attend this meeting.
REMINDER - Reports for January Meeting Needed by January 9th
If you led a ministry or activity at Grace in 2017, please write a brief summary highlighting the ministry and activities in 2017 for the Year-end report. Be sure to include contact information in case anyone wants to learn more or get involved in the ministry.

Summaries are needed by January 9th, preferably by email (syoder40@msn.com). If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sandy Yoder.

If you have questions please contact Sandy Yoder (815-581-3202; syoder40@msn.com).
Opportunities
Invest Your 'Talents' with Habitat for Humanity
The sermon from one of our Sundays in November really resonated with me. It was the parable about the master who gave 3 servants talents – two of the servants invested and increased the talents while the 3rd just buried his. I never really “got” this but suddenly it was like a light bulb going on. The servant who buried the talents was SO afraid to make a move that he did nothing and maybe there’s a bit of that fear within all of us - being afraid to try something new for fear of poor results or failure. 

SO … if you’ve been thinking of volunteering with Habitat but are concerned that you won’t be knowledgeable enough or strong enough, let go of the results and focus on the work . It is truly faithful and important work. God won’t criticize your results – they belong to Him. Sometimes even just another set of hands to carry things or helping to clean up during the different phases of the construction are truly valuable! 

Nancy Kepple of our congregation has been a long-time volunteer and I asked her to provide her background and some words of encouragement: 

“I don't remember which year I started to build with Habitat, I went with our church one time and really liked it, so I inquired if you needed to be "invited" or could you just come back? Needless to say I went back and met several other women who also built on Saturdays. We became Saturday Habitat friends and I built every Saturday I could for several years. You don't have to have a lot of skills because you learn, and you don't have to be super strong either. You can even be scared of really tall ladders like I am. Over time it's amazing how much you learn, and how many fears go away, I have now been up pretty high on a ladder or scaffolding. No one asks you to do what you are not comfortable with. There are jobs for all skill levels. Now I have granddaughters and that often limits the Saturdays I can go to Habitat. I still go as often as I can, and sometimes after a long work week, it feels pretty good to pound on some nails!” 

I’m still hoping to get a list of potential volunteers to contact when there’s a date / opportunity for us to help out. I promise this will be a “ No Guilt ” zone – if you provide your name / email / phone info and I contact you to ask if you can help, you’re not obligated if the timing isn’t right for you for any reason.

Other ways to support Habitat causes include supporting their Restores – locations in McHenry and Woodstock. If you’re doing any remodeling which may include removing cabinetry, windows, etc. that could be re-purposed, donate them to the Restore and likewise check them out for shopping bargains. For hours and directions, check the website at www.habitatmchenry.org . 

For any questions or suggestions, please contact Rose McGuire at springgrove.rose@gmail.com or 815.245.0566
Outreach Cafe January 28th
Our next Outreach Café will be on Sunday, January 28th  from 8:30-9:30. All funds raised will be donated to PADS, Habitat for Humanity, Richmond Food Pantry and our Haiti Mission. Thanks to Thrivent Financial for their support to purchase food and supplies. To help out or donate food, see Tina Peterson. Live Generously!
Outreach Café Contact: Tina Peterson, tinap59@hotmail.com,
Bible Study Opportunities
Women's Friendship & Faith Monthly Bible Study
Won't you join us for a once-monthly Bible Study, open to all women who want to grow in faith and share fellowship with other amazing women.
When: Second Monday of the month at 7pm at the church. Cost: $6 for the book. We are using Max Lucado’s Life Lessons Series to study the Book of Acts. Our next session is January 8th. We will read about how the earliest Christians were transformed by their faith. We will also look at our own lives and see how knowing Christ can transform us.

Please contact the church office or Thorey Ellis at (815)276-2456 to sign up so we have enough materials.

New Divorce Care Sessions Begin Feb 1st
We will start up a new Divorce Care series February 1st at 6:30pm. Watch for more information in the newsletter and bulletin. If anyone is interested in becoming a leader, please call the office. Contact: Linda Davis 815-347-5982

Divorce Care Recovery Support Groups -  More information
Women of the ELCA - WELCA
As we bid farewell to 2017 the cold-snowy weather follows us into the new year even worse than this last week. Staying home and keeping warm and safe are priorities during this blast of arctic weather. 

- The WELCA ladies and friends joined us in our December Christmas luncheon held on Saturday, December 9th at Crandall’s restaurant in Hebron. About 20 women attended, some of whom were friends or family members of the WELCA ladies. Instead of an individual grab bag, we voted to each bring an item for PADS which we did and brought to our November meeting and gave to Curt Bjorklund who is in charge of PADS. 

 -- Our next meeting will be hosted at the lovely home of Rita Popenhagen on Monday, January 8th at 1:00pm . It will not be necessary for you to bring any food. That will be provided by our hostess. All are welcome, just let Sandy Messick or Rita know. If you need a ride to Rita’s, you can meet at the church at 12:30pm and carpooling will be provided. Discussions and finalizing our plans for our Vendor/Craft Fair to be held at the church on Saturday, April 21st will be the main focus. The women have tried and confirmed that the BBQ beef used for sloppy Joe’s would be the main luncheon item along with hot dogs, etc. More on the menu next month. Vendors have already been reserving spaces since last year – that’s a plus. 

- we wish all our new officers of WELCA a successful term in office. 

- the Northern Illinois WELCA Convention will be held at Harvard Trinity Church on Saturday, September 22, 2018. Contact Carol Heuer for further information.
Remember –
- PADS is continuing to collect warm winter clothes for men and women in size LARGE. Gloves, hats, scarves and socks are in demand because they are small and are often left behind and lost. Gift cards from Dunkin Donuts, Burger King and McDonalds help to feed and offer a place for homeless to get out of the elements and warm up for a while. Curt Bjorklund, who is heading the PADS program, said he is grateful for the amount of clothing and gift cards received. Please continue to support and donate to PADS.
- Thanks to all who donated and made the Angel Tree and Christmas Gift List a huge success. For many, you have made their day and put a smile on their face.
- we are slowly reaching our goal to support our Building Fund Campaign which was started to fund several very urgent repairs needed in and around our church. The outside lights, which are now using LED lights should brighten our roadway into and out of our church and parking areas. A needed and most welcome change.
- continue to put your extra change into the jar on the Welcome Counter. Coins collected help fund our Richmond food pantry to purchase food and staples.
 - Volunteers are always needed to help. If you have talent in a particular field and can offer your advice, help or time, please let the Property Committee or the church know.
- adjust your driving speed in this cold-snowy and icy weather. Also, be extra careful walking. Falling causes most physical injuries. Remember, people in crosswalks have the right-of-way. Dress appropriately. WATCH FOR SCHOOL BUSES AND CHILDREN CROSSING THE STREET.
- the new church directories are in and ready for pickup.

Thanks –
  - to all who give to the free will offerings at the coffee service and the Breakfast Cafe. Your support and generosity are greatly appreciated. If you are wondering why there has not been coffee or sweets offered between services, it is because no one has signed up to take a turn at serving this most welcome service. The same volunteers have been doing this regularly and additional volunteers are needed in order for the Coffee Service to continue. You will be trained, you will not be alone and the more volunteers we have, you may only have to serve once every two months. For further information contact Jan Heynis at 1/815-678-2162.
 - to our armed services men and women who are serving today to keep our country safe and free to enjoy the freedoms we enjoy today. Many are away from home and loved ones during this Holiday Season. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice.

REMEMBER OUR SERVICEMEN, WOMEN AND VETS. GOD BLESS AMERICA!
November Giving: $17,782; Average Attendance per Sunday: 134