"I don't wanna talk to you..."

I know it’s not proper adult grammar, but it wasn’t the adult in me saying it. It was the child in me throwing a fit that I felt I wasn’t being listened to, and then when I was, that statement of, "I don't wanna talk to you", was the feeling that overwhelmed the moment.

I felt the situation warranted it as I felt like I was talking over an abundance of distractions. I didn’t feel that I had the attention I desired, so I ended my story prematurely and just stopped talking.  I just didn’t want to talk over it all anymore. As I sat quietly, I stewed over the whole situation without a word to anyone. As many of us do, we let the one thing we are stewing about bubble in to a frustration of all of the events of the day combined. So as I bubbled over with frustrations, I thought about the attitude my son had given me earlier when he was trying to speak to me and I abruptly interrupted with my own personal thoughts on whatever he was saying.  There it was… the exact feeling I had of choosing distraction over being heard, is where my family can find themselves all too often with me as well.

“What if the next generation needs to have their voices heard by us more than we need to be heard?” (Carlos Whittaker)

I have found that there’s a pretty tough sacrifice that we have to make as parents, as adults in general, and that’s the sacrifice of our voice.  We really want to be right. To TELL our young people what’s right and what’s wrong, and we choose not to silence our own voices long enough to hear what they are truly trying to say to us. We take their words at face value and rebut them with our own personal logics and antics and we miss the opportunity to hear what feelings might be hiding behind their words, or lack-thereof. Through the distractions we miss them asking us, "Can you hear me now?"

Danielle Strickland, an officer of the Salvation Army and Ambassador for Stop The Traffik and Compassion International,  shares a story often of a conversation that she had with a young Muslim girl on a plane once. There were two questions that forever changed the way she viewed people. The first question the girl asked her was; “would you like to see my face?”, and the second; “am I what you expected?”

How often do we, as parents, set aside our voices to really see our young people’s faces? How often do we silence the distractions to really listen to them? And when we do truly listen, is it what we expected?

As I finish up writing this, I feel rather convicted to go hug my daughter who I shrugged off earlier because I was busy writing. Or, to make my son something special to eat as I had let him fend for his own dinner in a fridge full of left-overs. (*disclaimer, he’s almost 15, so he can totally manage that). Or, to listen to my other daughters story of her day that I neglected to ask about earlier as I typed and she sat staring at me.  Even to go give my husband a kiss and shake off the old scoreboard mentality and remind myself that I am often the one making him talk through my distractions as well.

We have a great opportunity to ask their forgiveness for the times that we have let the distractions of the world drown out and become more important than their voices. We can teach them that , although we may fall short, God never fails. He sees their face and He knows their voice. He is not distracted from their words or from their heart. What an amazing opportunity for us to be an example of Christ to our kids when we set aside our distractions.

Here’s a challenge for us all this week. Let's pick a time to sit down, distraction free, with a young person and take the time to really hear their voice without them having to hear ours. Beforehand, we can pray that during that time, we see their face, let them know they are heard, and let them show us the unexpected. 



Way to rock the t-shirts, Five Oaks!


It makes me smile to see all of our Five Oaks SERVE t-shirts on the weekend during service times. Our various volunteers each received a new green SERVE t-shirt over these past few weeks. It's not mandatory to wear the shirts, but it's been great to see a sea of green on the weekend without prompting.  I thanked one of our ushers for wearing her shirt  this past weekend and she commented back, "Of course, why wouldn't I?"  She has pride in her church and how she is serving God and the rest of us as we worship each week.  That's the part that makes me smile.  

I have a second secret reason why I like seeing people serving in their shirts:  the visual impact. When you walk in our doors, you can't help but notice how many people it takes to make our church run smoothly.  I am incredibly grateful for all of our Five Oakers who serve during the week and on the weekend faithfully.  You make a big difference!

We will have a designated SERVE weekend on June 24/25 when I will ask everyone to wear their shirts to church that weekend.  In the meantime, keep rockin' the gear and serving our community!

-Jennifer Clemens
Connections Director

The Mac and Cheese Bar and The Community

I had taken in to account seconds and possibly even a few thirds, but I did not take in to account  the popularity of the fifth and sixth helpings, and so only an hour in to her grad party, I ran out of mac and cheese for the mac and cheese bar!!!! 

I jumped in to action and hit the kitchen with another large batch of the homemade stuff. Luckily, I had a time period where whenever I would head to the grocery store I would think I was out of macaroni and add it to my cart, only to get home and find out I wasn't.  That mistake week after week was now a blessing since I had an overabundance of it in my pantry, and we are also never short of cheese in my house either, even though I am lactose intolerant.

In between noodles boiling and sauce thickening, I would wander outside to greet people and share the story of needing to rush back in quick to get another batch out. On my third round of extra mac and cheese, I looked out my kitchen window and my heart was full. 

In my last blog I wrote about how we should all want for others kids, what we want for our own. What we have always wanted for our kids is for them to work hard to achieve their dreams and for a community of people to come alongside them, in the adventure of life. 

As I looked out the window at every face in our very full back yard, I could see how every single person had come alongside our kids, and in particular to the days celebration, our daughter.  There weren't just people showing up to congratulate her on finishing high school. Even on this day, they were pouring in to her life. The one thing that touched me in particular was the multi-generational influence. There was a handful of young people, but there were also young families with kids and older couples who have "adopted" her as an honorary grandchild. I could see how each and every person out my window has impacted our daughter... and many of them I could also see how she has impacted them.

When we engage in multi-generational influence, young people KNOW they are part of a community. The community had shown up and our daughter had no doubt in her mind that she was a part of it! 

Standing in the kitchen that day challenged me even more to want to come alongside young people and families the way that this community has come around ours. To want for the kids playing in the yard, the same influence and care that our daughter, and our other two kids, have received. 

As I polished off my last bit of noodles and cheese, I may have whispered a bit of a fishes and loaves of the mac and cheese prayer, but I also said a prayer of gratitude for all of those who have come alongside our daughter and our family. A prayer of gratitude for the multi- generational influence that has changed our kids and family. A prayer that our kids would know that the community that surrounds them changes us in beautiful ways and that they would live their life in a way that beautifully changes others. A prayer that I could respond to young people in just as an impactful way as this community has impacted mine. 

Is there a young person who God has laid on you heart to come alongside with in this adventure of life? Is there a young person that you could reach out to as you hope for them what you would hope for your own? Is there a young person that you would be willing to open up your heart to so that not only you could change them, but they could change you as well? Is there a young person that you could come alongside so that they know that they are absolutely part of the community?  

Here's an idea to get started; take them out for some mac and cheese! :) 





Purpose in the desert

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.
In their wandering, they became so focused on themselves and their circumstances, 
they forgot that God was with them. 
God’s chosen people forgot who they were and they forgot who God was.
Though the Israelites wandering would eventually lead them to their freedom,
there was purpose in the desert that went beyond their destination.

Our deserts have purpose too. Our wilderness wandering isn’t wasted.
We don’t have to know where it will lead to know that God is working.
He is for us. He is faithful. We can trust in his goodness and his plan.
Sometimes in our hurry to get to the relief of the rescue, 
we miss the sweetness of his whispers while we wait. 

When we lift our hands and our eyes in worship, 
we are reminded of who he is and who we are in him.
As we worship, our focus is shifted from self to the One who satisfies. 
He is our all sufficient sustainer. 
He remains our Savior regardless of the climate or season we find ourselves in.


When you've been in the desert, you feel it.
Dry, thirsty, and dusty from the lack of water
there is no mistaking your location.

Here in the desert, patience is difficult and the enemy is real.
Whispered lies of defeat are amplified because what you hear around you is empty.

Hope is swiftly hollowed out by the weight that brought you to this wasteland.
How did you get here? What are you doing here? 
Did you take a wrong turn?
Does it matter?

You're here. 
You can choose to close your eyes when the wind picks up
and the grains of sand are beating against your fragile skin. 
You can choose to lay down in defeat and despair

when the thirst is killing you and the heat is too much, 
but pretending you are somewhere else
doesn't ever make it so.

The only way out of this desert is through it, 
and you're not getting out of here alone. 
Lift up your eyes. Lift up your hands. 

The rain is coming. 
You have already been rescued. 
Let him pull you out.

He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.  Hosea 6:3

-Aimee Thornton
Worship Associate

Editor's note:  In addition to leading our weekend worship, Aimee also creates the liturgy for our weekend services.

Our Concierge Team is Welcoming Newcomers to Five Oaks!

If you’ve been at Five Oaks over the past few months, you’ve heard the weekend hosts say ‘We know how difficult finding a new church can be…’ during our welcome time. The part that you might not know is how much this is resonating with our new visitors! We’ve heard story after story of how much people appreciate that we’re acknowledging how hard it can be, and how we’re trying to make that process easier for them.

Enter the Five Oaks Concierge Team! This is a new team in the Connections Ministry, whose main purpose is to help new people feel more comfortable as they come to Five Oaks for the first time.

Here’s how it works - our Concierge Team meets new families in the Treehouse, helps them check their kids in, shows them to their classrooms, and connects them with their teachers. Once the kiddos are comfortable, the Concierge walks with the grown-ups down to the worship center, connects them with an Usher, who helps get them seated. On the way, the Concierge engages our guest in a bit of conversation about who they are, lets them know about our newcomers’ Discovery Class, and gives them an Acorn Café token for a beverage on us.

It’s a simple process, but it’s having a big impact on those who have gone through it. More than once, we’ve had people tell us how grateful they were to have someone personally connect with them as they visited our church for the first time!

We have a fantastic Concierge Team, and I want to send out a thank you to these folks for stepping into this new role – Brent & Carie Jorgenson, Jay & Laurie Dorenkamp, Jordan & Morgan Whitney, Amy Evans, Scott Erickson, Mark DuVal, Nicole Gustafson & Brian Burquest.  

However – even though they’re an awesome group – we can always use more of you helping welcome our guests! If you enjoy hospitality or meeting new people, or if you remember what it’s like to be that new person and want to help others in that same boat, we’d love to have you. Give me a shout at phawley@fiveoakschurch.org, and let’s talk about getting you involved in the Concierge Team!

Until next time…

Pam Hawley, 

Associate Director of Connections

It changes us!

I am going to break from the normal blog posts of what we have been studying in the children's wing, to tell you about what I (Rhiannon) have been studying. 

A few weeks ago, some of our Family and Discipleship team had to privilege to attend the Orange Conference in Atlanta. We had the opportunity to spend time together as a team and talk vision, as well as time to laugh well together and share stories. Our guest list of speakers included, only to name a few, Andy Stanley, Bob Goff, Reggie Joiner, and none other than Bernice King (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter) herself. The speakers were amazing and break out sessions were great, but there was one speaker and breakout session that tugged at my heart, and something that God has been stirring in my heart already, received a big old push! 

The speakers name was Kara Powell. She is a co-author of the books Sticky Faith and Growing Young. The breakout was a quick brain download of the book Growing Young. The very quick gist of the book is that it helps pastors and ministry leaders to position their churches to engage younger generations in a way that brings life to the whole church. 

When I first started my job here at Five Oaks, I began as the nursery coordinator. I asked God many times, why this position, after all, Children's Ministry was never a title I thought that I would see attached to my name. It was months before God whispered to me, "Faith is heavy. Adults have a lot of burdens within their faith, and I wanted you to see the refreshment of faith like a child!" 

Weekend after weekend I stand at my hostess stand and watch the child like faith of your kids here at Five Oaks and it inspires me to love my faith in a whole new way. It's a breath of fresh air every weekend.

Recently I asked God if this is still where He wanted me. I want to strive to always be in the place that He leads. I have a passions for healthy marriages, leading and coming alongside families, but is this the still the place that God wants me to be? The answer came during that workshop with Kara Powell. 

She made a statement that has haunted my heart and thoughts since the minute she spoke it; "We should want for all kids, as if they were our own. It doesn't just change them. It changes us!" 

It changes us! I haven't fully decompressed how or why, but that statement makes my heart so excited that my face can't help but smile. What refreshing breath we breathe when we reach our and truly love kids as if they were our own. Not just a face in the classroom, or just a student teach, but truly hope for them what I would hope for my own children.

I want to spend a few weeks writing and sharing with you a bit of what God has unpacked in my heart through this statement. I hope it will be as exciting for you as it is for me. In wrapping up this blog, I wanted to share the prayer card that I received from her breakout.

Dear Jesus. Help me see young people with your eyes. I pray that they would find IDENTITY in you, BELONGING in your church & PURPOSE in your mission. Amen!