Monthly Archives: May 2013

From Pastor Mike

Good morning, Hope folks!

I’m really looking forward to the weekend at Hope… here’s just some of what’s happening:

+ At the heart of it all, we’ll gather to worship the Lord. This weekend, we’ll focus on Bible-based (Galatians 5) Healthy Habits – how to acquire, sustain and live them out. I’ll preach at most of our weekend services and Pastor Jeremy will cover the rest. Holy Communion will be offered at all services, too.

Summer Kingdom Quest (KQ) for kids (age 3 – grade 5) kicks off during the Saturday 5:00 pm and Sunday 9:15 & 11:00 am services. Please show up a few minutes early to check in.

Summer Ignition for high school students happens Sunday at 5:00 pm. Come as you are – all students from any high school are welcome.

+ Hope will also host the ELCA Southeastern Iowa Synod Assembly today (Friday) and Saturday. Church leaders from about 150 Lutheran congregations come together for worship, prayer, fellowship and theological conversation. It’s a great opportunity for us to love and support the wider church (outside the walls of Hope).

In addition to these many wonderful things, there’s a full list of recovery groups, classes and Bible studies available throughout the weekend and into next week. I’d list everything, but I like to keep these weekly messages snappy! You get enough long emails – I just like to check in with you for a minute or two on Fridays. Thanks for reading.

Mike Housholder
Pastor. Preacher. Snappy e-mailer (not dresser).

Pastor’s Corner: Breaking old habits. Breathing new life.

At the dawn of the 20th century, Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov published new findings of some research that he had discovered.

In his research, Pavlov would ring a bell every time he fed a dog. He would ring the bell and feed the dog. Every time the dog was given food it followed the ringing of this bell.

What Pavlov discovered was that this rhythm created a response in the dog. As soon as the dog would hear the bell the dog would begin to salivate, expecting to receive something to eat. The dogs had been conditioned to link the sound with the experience. He developed a habit in the dogs and that habitual response was a powerful thing…

We all have habits – conditioned responses to the experiences we have and encounter throughout our days.

We do them subconsciously – we don’t even have to think about them.

We do them automatically – it takes more effort to not do our habits than it takes to do them.

The scary thing is that sometimes our habits begin to define us and lead us. They become the structure that dictates what we are going to do. We structure our lives around them (even when we know that they aren’t good for us).

Some could say we even become enslaved by them.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he reminds the people that they are free; they are no longer confined to the old way of doing things.

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ they had been set free! It is this freedom that will allow them to live the life that God had created them to live.

Paul reminds them to not be controlled by the things of this world, for the things of this world – when they begin to control us – don’t lead us to life.

They are to be guided by the fruit of the Spirit. The Spirit that creates new life – that breaks old habits – that sets us free.

In another one of his letters, Paul encourages the people in Rome to not be conformed by the things of this world, but to be transformed by the power of God.

This new life brings in new habits – life-giving habits – into our lives. Habits, or disciplines, that create space for us to come to know the God who loves us in a greater and more intimate way.

Pastor Jeremy

A new dad’s perspective on fatherhood

Ivory AnnIt was about six months ago that my wife, Brenna, gave birth to our first child; a little girl named Ivory.

Since then, we have learned to love every minute of our time together as a new family (even the ones that fall between midnight & 5:00 am).

Each new day has been filled with opportunities to grow in our faith, and God has blessed us with a whole new perspective on life. We have learned so much about ourselves, but most importantly, how to trust God and his unconditional love.

Let me explain…

Ivory currently spends the majority of her days eating, sleeping and playing. Sounds nice, right? On a typical day, she eats about once every three to four hours, and the process usually goes a little something like this:

Our sweet little girl is fast asleep (hopefully dreaming about how much she loves her mommy & daddy) when all of a sudden she wakes up, only to realize that she’s hungry. And, I mean right now!

This is our cue as parents to get her bottle ready.

Ivory CryingWe have learned that her feeding does not go well if the milk is cold. So, unfortunately, we have to wait about 10 minutes for her bottle to warm up. During this time, a wonderful conversation begins to take place with our little girl. With all the might in her lungs, Ivory begins to cry out that she must be fed (at once), while at the same time, Brenna and I do our very best to calm her down.

We try everything from singing & dancing to “shushing” & rocking. At times we have even tried talking common sense into her with a calm & quiet voice. All in hopes that she will begin to trust that we have her best interest at heart. We can see the big picture.

However, most of the time she doesn’t see it from our point of view and she becomes even more hysterical. We go back and forth – for what can seem like forever – until finally the bottle is ready. She takes her first drink and immediately all is well.

Finally, there is peace.

As I reflect upon all the joys and challenges of being a new father, I can’t help but wonder if God views his relationship with me the same way I view my relationship with Ivory?

I would do anything for her – but, most importantly, I want to give her what she needs (a warm bottle) not just what she wants (something right now).

God knows what I need even before I ask. However, I have to ask myself, do I trust that He can see the big picture in a way that I cannot? Do I lose all faith when things don’t seem to go my way?

Stoffa Family

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

God gives us the freedom to choose when it comes to making the decisions in our life…will we react out of faith or fear?

From a father’s perspective, I’m reminded that God will always take care of us, especially when we cry out.  We can trust that He has our best interest at heart, and live our life with faith that our next bottle is just being warmed up…

Justin Stoffa
Connections Coordinator
Lutheran Church of Hope

Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-News

Good morning, Hope folks!

Here’s a quick update on what’s happening at this weekend’s services …

Our Healthy Church sermon series continues with a closer look at what the Bible says about our bodies, and the relationship between physical and spiritual health. You’ll hear a message from either Pastor Jeremy or me, depending on the service you attend, focusing on Bible-based healthy living. These are sermons we’ve both been looking forward to for a long time, and I pray God’s word spoken through us will bless you and your health.

Summer ministries at Hope start soon, but this weekend marks the conclusion of a fantastic school year of ministries for children, students and adults. At the start of each service, we’ll thank and honor those of you who have served so faithfully as teachers, mentors and leaders at Hope over the past 9 months. Your love for God and his church has richly blessed thousands of hearts – thank you!

Finally, I hope many of you will be able to help out with  Hope’s Spring Clean-Up Event tomorrow (Saturday, May 18) from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. If you’ve got them, bring your rakes, shovels, or other gardening tools. If not, just bring yourself. Come when you can. Leave whenever you want. Many hands make light work and it’s a great way to meet new friends at church. Let’s spruce up the grounds around Hope, and make it an even more inviting place for people to come and meet Jesus!

Mike Housholder
Pastor. Preacher. Praying for your good health.

P.S.- Congratulations to all in our church family who are graduating soon. May God use what you have learned to reflect the light of his love more brightly to the world around you!

Pastor’s Corner: An update from the Woodley household

In the spirit of our Healthy Church sermon series, our household – Grant, Nicole, Dietrich (6), Samuel (5) and Junia (4) – greets you as healthy churches have greeted each other since the day of Jesus:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!

If by chance you haven’t been following along with our story, you can catch up here, or by listening to Hope’s April 7 or April 14 sermons.

It’s no coincidence that the first two weeks of our Healthy Church series are “Healthy Faith” and “Healthy Families.”

It’s been almost two full months now since we received the phone call from the radiologist confirming that, indeed, Nicole has breast cancer. Life changed for all of us very quickly in that moment.

Without a doubt, the health of both our faith and our family has been tested – and continues to be – throughout this process.

It seems that with each step of this journey that passes, the tests get harder and harder:

First, Nicole found a lump (well more like an egg). She was told it could be cancer, but mostly likely it was just a cyst.

Then, we were told it’s not a cyst. It could be cancer, but, it’s more likely just calcifications. Nothing to worry about.

Then, we were told it was cancer for sure. But, good news, the cancer seems to be all contained in the breast, nothing invasive. Three different tests were taken to know for sure and all three confirmed no invasive cancer (meaning surgery was all that was required to treat the cancer). Almost all the way out of the woods! The final pathology report following surgery would confirm for sure…

In the meantime, when we prayed with our kids throughout those six weeks from the time of Nicole’s diagnosis, we prayed thanksgiving for all the amazing ways God was taking care of Mommy and all of us, and we prayed for positive test results and that Mommy wouldn’t need any chemotherapy.

It was quite a beautiful sight hearing the kids pray with loud enthusiasm, “…and dear God, please NO CHEMO for Mommy.”

And, as the husband and father, I was sure God would honor such pure prayer coming from the innocent and bold faith of such sweet children.

Then, the pathology report was delayed a day. Then another. And another. Finally, it came. Invasive cancer was indeed present outside of the breast in the lymph nodes.

Now, to keep this in perspective, the oncologist said the remaining cancer, even though it’s invasive in the lymph node, is so small it’s barely measurable. Yet, a full and aggressive chemo treatment was necessary to give Nicole the very best chance to avoid recurrence for the many many years of full and happy life yet to come.

But, here’s the hard part. At nightly bedtime prayers, the kids pray like we have been, “no chemo,” but then we have to explain, “well, kids, actually mommy is going to need chemo so we can make sure she gets all the way better.” Then it comes – the question. Sam asks, “But, mommy, we prayed no chemo, why didn’t God listen to us?”

As a pastor, I’ve answered this kind of question thousands of times, whether in theological debate or for other people and families suffering hard issues. Thousands of times, I’ve offered true, biblical, compassionate and reassuring answers.

But, my ten years of training to be a pastor, and the thousands of chances to practice before, didn’t give me what I needed to answer my five-year old son, tears in his eyes, heartbroken, feeling the free-fall of being let down by God.

I still don’t have an answer.

And, perhaps the years of training and practice did provide me the wisdom not to try to push on Sam some cheap and worn out cliché.

I do know, and I’m filled with the most confident hope, that God is good and faithful. And, at the same time, I also know for sure that cancer sucks. Plain and simple. I hate that this is happening. Not that any of us should be surprised: Jesus himself said this is how it would be.

And, this is exactly why, as a church, we’re doing this Healthy Church series. Only a living, vibrant, Jesus-at-the-center type of faith can see us through the reality of this life.

And, although this journey of ours is hard, we experience (every day) God’s answer to prayer through this “Healthy Family” called Lutheran Church of Hope.

From the depths of our hearts, we know it’s no small thing. And, it changes the world. Thank you all for your prayers, your encouragement, and a hope that will not quit, because of a child-like faith, that Jesus is risen from the dead, and lives as King of all that there is.

Thank you for being our healthy and faithful family.


Pastor Grant and the Woodley family


Please feel free to continue to follow along on Pastor Nicole’s journey through her CaringBridge site.

Get Cookin’ with Hope: Fried Bananas

Spring is in the air and we have a great recipe to share with you (straight from Hope’s kitchen) that’s a perfect compliment to all of those outdoor barbeques you’ll be hosting. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you have to give this one a shot. Let us know what you think!

Fried Bananas


Fried bananas – drizzled with honey and served with ice cream

What you need:

  • 2 tablespoons Olive or Canola Oil
  • 2 bananas cut in half
  • 2 cups oatmeal, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Honey
  • Ice cream


  1. Wet bananas with milk
  2. Mix oatmeal, flour and sugar together
  3. Roll bananas in mixture, pressing on bananas
  4. Pour oil into pan
  5. Place bananas in pan with hot oil and fry until brown
  6. Drizzle with honey
  7. Serve with ice cream
  8. Eat and enjoy!

Have recipes you want to share with your Hope family? Email them to us for a chance to have them featured here!

All In

It seems like just yesterday that Pastor Mike and I were huddled together, ramping up to fight what we believe is one of the greatest battles this church has ever faced…

The world’s attack on the family unit. 

wedding rings-iStock_000007796386MediumEmail after email was coming in of families reaching out – in crisis.

People stopping by “to chat” after worship…

My counseling calendar filling with marriages in crisis…

Mike asked me to jump in and build a vision for YOUR FAMILIES.  I was all in. 

The time is now. More now than any other time in our history because our families are under attack.

Marriages are hurting, people are walking away and families are in crisis. Not one of our families is ‘out of the woods’ – it takes one road bump to set us down a path we never thought we’d find ourselves.

It’s in this space that HOPE and LOVE can take shape to be in place today and for generations ahead of us – radically transforming families and marriages as we know them today. Not just in the walls here at Hope – but it’s our prayer that it will be in the hearts of each of you as well! From there – we will go out and help to bring HOPE and LOVE to hurting families wherever God takes us. If you can’t tell – we are fired up and so excited for this.

Here’s what I can tell you: my wife, Missy, and I, along with Mike, Sally, and the rest of the staff here at Hope, are ALL IN. Boxing gloves are on – and we are standing in your corner.

Our commitment to you and your families is that we will celebrate marriages and parents  – equipped to be rooted, growing, and persevering – modeled in Christ Jesus.

Celebrate – Bringing couples and renewing families through worship, spiritual intimacy and recommitment.

“Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.”  Malachi 3:15

Rooted – Married couples have a biblical foundation for marriage and parenting, and are supported in Christian community.

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power;   together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ.”   Ephesians 3:17-18

Growing – Training married couples and families how to develop relationships based on the experience of a living, intimate relationship with God.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest command. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”    Matthew 22: 37-38

Persevering – Equipping couples and families with love and endurance to endure the struggles and tough times by receiving God’s power, responding with God’s truth and grace, and serving each other selflessly.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  2 Corinthians 4:7-8

Stay tuned to this blog to be challenged and fed as this ministry takes shape. We can’t wait to meet each of you and be your champions for what’s possible when we put God back into the family and build it his way!  Watch for more information soon!

Pastor Pat

PS: Sign up here to be added to the Marriage ministry email list or here to be added to the Parenting ministry email list.