The only thing better than football season is football post-season!  Marty swallowed his disappointment in the Broncos’ demise and donned the jersey of the 4-time NFL MVP, and on Saturday we invited our relatives, friends and neighbors to help us root for the Horse.  My sister even invited a displaced Colts fan from her office to come cheer with us.  It was great to meet some new people, get to know our neighbors better, and eat good food.  Oh, and of course, it was great that the right team won.  One step closer to the Big Dance.  Believe in Blue!

-Jaclyn

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La iglesia española ha comenzado!  (The Spanish church has begun!)

Several weeks ago, I wrote about our passion to reach the spanish speaking population here in Aurora with a Spanish MiniChurch.  Friday night was their first official gathering!  It was a beautifully small, intimate group of family and friends.  We shared our life and faith stories of the past as well as our hopes and dreams for the future.  There was a wonderful spirit of openness and honesty, a shared desire to spread the good news of Jesus, and delicious food – of course.  It was a great start.  Naturally, life is difficult and no one is without sin, but sharing our struggles and bearing one another’s burdens is a real blessing.

I want to give God all the glory for speaking to Gloria to start this MiniChurch.  It is the third in TreasureField and has a ton of potential for reaching the spiritually lost, demonstrating God’s love to others in tangible ways, and reproducing disciples.  Praise Him from whom all blessings flow!

A couple weeks ago, God gave us the idea for Paul’s Toy Drive.  Yesterday, we saw the dream become a reality.  Between CCWC, CCLC, Independence, and TreasureField, we collected around 600 toys and board games as well as over 75 boxes of food.  Based on need, families were invited to shop for gifts for their children and take home food.  There were joy and tears as we helped family after family.  By the end of the weekend, the Lord had used us to bless 103 kids!  Our prayer is that people felt loved by us and by God.

I want to give credit where it is due.  First, Jesus came up with this idea and clearly blessed the entire project.  So all praise and glory to God our Father.  Second, Crystal Stone put in tons of hours leading, organizing, and pulling this off… all with a big, happy smile.

Special thanks to the leadership, volunteers, and generous giving of those at Independence Elementary School, Cherry Creek Wesleyan Church, and Centennial Christian Learning Center.  Without this three-way partnership we couldn’t have helped nearly so many people.

Seeing so many families in need reminded us of how very blessed we are.  This Christmas we want to say thank you once again to all of you who make it financially possible for us to be here, following God’s call on our lives.  We know we can never repay you, but please know how much we love and appreciate you!

After cleaning up everything leftover from Paul’s Toy Drive, we were pretty tired; but not too tired to set up for and enjoy TreasureField’s second reunion.

We ate a Christmas potluck dinner together: ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole…oh, and some Little Caesar’s pizza, too.  (I did tell Rochelle to bring whatever she liked.)  After dessert we played a goofy game with teams dressing up a team member as a Christmas tree.  Then most of the group went caroling while the chillophobics stayed inside to sing.  We came back together to hear Marty read the Christmas story from Luke.  Then he talked about the ways that we are like the shepherds that first Christmas–ordinary people who’ve been given some extraordinary news.  They went on their way rejoicing and telling everyone what they had seen and heard.  What are we doing with it?

Then we had a fun surprise: a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus!  The kids each received a candy cane and peppermint-looking water bottle from Santa’s sack, and the little ones posed for pictures.  Strangely, Raya keeps insisting that Santa and his wife were really her Nana and Papa.

Regardless, a merry time was had by all.

-Jaclyn

Time.com published THIS ARTICLE yesterday.  I encourage you to read it and consider joining the cause of Advent Conspiracy.

“Over the past four years, churches that support Advent Conspiracy have donated millions of dollars to dig wells in developing countries through Living Water International and other organizations. McKinley likes to point out that a fraction of the money Americans spend at retailers in the month of December could supply the entire world with clean water. If more Christians changed how they thought about giving at Christmas, he says, the holiday could be transformative in a religious and practical sense.” – Time.com

Our mother church, CCWC, has been on the Advent Conspiracy bandwagon for a couple years now.  This year they’ve highlighted Paul’s Toy Drive as their primary local cause to donate to and as a result, 50 families in our area will have food and toys for Christmas!  We’ve also received tons of donations from Independence Elementary School to make this possible.  More on that in a few days.

Imagine being a kid, waking up Christmas morning and sneaking downstairs only to see nothing under the Christmas tree… again.  Sorry for laying on the guilt so thick, but that’s exactly what about 50 kids will experience this Christmas at an elementary school near us if we don’t do something.  So we’re following the Lord in Paul’s Toy Drive.

Currently, we have enough toys for about 10-15 families.  We’d like to help 50.  If you’d like to donate toys or money, please READ THIS.  In addition to toys, we could really use some volunteers to help set up, serve, and tear down the “store” for the underprivileged families.  If you can volunteer either Friday or Saturday, Dec. 18th or 19th, please leave a comment and I will get back to you.  Thank you and Merry Christmas!

This Saturday evening at 5:3o, our MiniChurches (and anyone else that would like to join us) will be gathering at CCWC for a nostalgic Christmas dinner, caroling, a reading of the Christmas story, and maybe a special appearance from Santa and Mrs. Clause.  Everyone is welcome, but if you’ve been involved in our MiniChurches or are one of our many generous financial supporters, you are extended a special invitation.  Hope to see you there.

This kiddo is incredible!  Watch this video and if you’d like to get involved, click here to find out how to donate or volunteer.

Do you remember our first baptism, Gus?  He’s a daddy now!  His wife, Jeri, gave birth this weekend to a beautiful, healthy baby girl, Jayleen.  We are giving God praise for “knitting her together” and can’t wait to see the “good works He has prepared in advance for her to do“.

Leave a comment, praise, or prayer as a blessing to Jayleen, Jeri, and Gus.

Last week I had the privilege of handing out food boxes to needy families in our area at a local elementary school.  Afterwards, I was asked to deliver a few boxes to families who couldn’t make it to pick them up.  As I visited the second house, it was basically empty… virtually no furniture, no pictures on the wall, and three grade-school-aged boys who immediately began digging through the food boxes as I set them down.  As I left the last box and began to leave I overheard one boy excitedly shout, “I got toothpaste!”

I think we’ll spend less on our kids this Christmas and give more away.

A huge “Thank You” is due to all those generous families at CCWC that donated food boxes from Food Share America.  We combined those 40 boxes with food donations at the local elementary and high school  to bless neighbors for Thanksgiving.  Give praise to God for everything he’s doing through his people.