Category Archives: Healthy Church

Walk-to-Run for Taste of Hope!

Walk to Run Web ButtonGet ready for the Taste of Hope 5K Walk/Run in July with this 12-week Walk-to-Run training schedule! Register here, to get connected with a group of others who are going through the program, too. A great opportunity for anyone looking to get more active or introduce running into their life… all ages and activity levels welcome!

Download the weekly training schedule here


Wordless Wednesday


Scripture tells us our bodies “are the temple of the Holy Spirit.” It is our responsibility to nurture them and equip others to do the same.

We are showing our support of the Healthiest State Initiative by walking our Prayer Path and pledging to walk 1-kilometer. You can click here to join the Healthiest State Walk! And, feel free to come on out and walk our Prayer Path – just start at the Express Your Faith Worship Wall and follow the orange line!

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

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.

Pastor Mike’s Weekly E-News Message

Good morning, Hope folks!

The connection between the church and Mother’s Day as we know and celebrate it runs deep.

In the 1600s, an annual “Mothering Sunday” was celebrated in churches all over England three weeks before Easter. Centuries later, in the United States, Julia Ward Howe (who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Republic), and later Anna Jarvis, worked to institute Mother’s Day as a national holiday. Both of their efforts had strong ties to the church as well. Jarvis, in fact, established Mother’s Day at her local church by distributing carnations to every woman in the congregation.

That same tradition – handing out carnations to all the women of the church – lives on at Hope this weekend.

Of course, the connection between the family of God (church) and motherhood goes far beyond upholding a beautiful tradition. It’s also a good time for us to consider what God’s word says about “Healthy Families” – our theme this weekend at Hope. I’ll preach most of the services. Pastor Jeremy will cover the rest. And, Pastor Pat will bring you a major announcement about Hope’s new Marriage and Parenting ministry.

God established families, including church families, for good reason, and I invite you to hang out with your Hope family at worship this weekend.

Mike Housholder
Pastor. Preacher. Your brother in Christ.

P.S.- Sometimes men only read the postscript of a message like this, so allow me to offer this friendly reminder, guys: this Sunday is Mother’s Day! We’ve got the flower thing covered for you. Just come to church. You’re welcome.