An at-home Fall Retreat for Kids+Families

This weekend is the Fall Retreat, only it’s unlike any that I’ve been to at Restoration the past 11 years. I’m missing our time to scamper and explore and laugh and sing together. In case your kids are missing it, too, your family might want to use these ideas to have your own at-home Fall Retreat.

Read Psalm 104 (or even just a portion of it) then head outside to your backyard or the park or the woods. Potomac Overlook Park and Lubber Run are some great local areas to explore. 

While outside, go on a scavenger hunt to find all the different things the psalmist writes about. Move slowly. It’s not a race, but rather a chance to dwell IN and EXPERIENCE God’s word. 

I wonder what captures your attention:

In the Psalm?

In nature?

Zoom in to take a closer look at one word or phrase of the Psalm. Here is something that may help.

Zoom in to take a closer look at something in nature. Here are some suggestions about how to do that.

Zoom in to listen to a particular sound that you hear. What is it? 

As you reflect on Psalm 104, how do you see God — the creator of the universe and everything in it — taking care of you? Are there words in this psalm that you can pray back to him as you give thanks or ask for help?

Create a simple journal and write or draw some of the things you experienced today. 

What are you thankful for today?

What emotions are you feeling about today? 

Did you feel different things at different times? 

What was going on as you were feeling those things?

Is there one moment of the day that stands out? What might you say to God about it as you write or draw?

Where can you ask God for help and hope as you look forward to the rest of the day or to tomorrow?

Remember that the God of the universe knows you, is crazy about you, and goes with you EVERYWHERE!


Miss Louise

RestoKids Advent Devotional Book


September 8th at Restoration


As Summer gives way to Autumn

You’ve probably noticed that things become much quieter around here in the summertime.  People — our staff, members, volunteers — are in and out constantly, bouncing between vacations, family reunions, personal retreats…or, maybe all of the above!

On September 8th, our fall season begins and you’ll notice the activity increases around here like bubbles in a cool glass of seltzer.  We don’t want you to miss anything.  So here is what’s coming back after a brief summer hiatus:


APEX: Isaiah Brooms, our Director of Youth Ministries, has an awesome fall program planned and is looking forward to seeing your middle and high schoolers there on September 8th!  This year, high school and middle school APEX is going to happen at the same time — Sunday nights from 6:30 to 8:30. This will make it easier on parents with kids in both groups and our facility will be bubbling with energy on Sunday nights!  Your kids can’t wait.  Maybe you want to serve as an APEX volunteer?  Sunday nights will be a blast at Resto.  Email Isaiah with any questions.

Kids’ Small Groups

Kid’s small groups will also begin a new year on September 8th at the 9 and 11.  Louise has been hard at work preparing and would love for your child to join a group.  Register your child today!  Even if you have registered your child in a prior year, we ask that you would fill out a fresh form for this coming year (just like you will do for each kid on their first day of school!).  You can always shoot Louise an email with any questions you may have.

The 5pm

It’s back!!  The 5 PM service will return on September 8th.  We are grateful for the space and margin that not having the 5pm created for our staff and volunteers this summer.  Rest and elasticity returned to their souls.  Thank you!  But we are so excited to be back together with our beloved 5pm community.  If you are planning to be mostly at the 5pm this fall, would you let us know?   Have you never been to the 5?  Would you consider trying it for a couple months?  It takes some repetition to see if something new is a good fit.  And it takes a critical mass of people for a community to feel like home.  We would love for 50 households who normally attend the 9 or 11 to alternatively commit to the 5pm for this fall.  “Giving up your seat” at the 9 or 11 creates room for new folks to visit our church.  “Taking a seat” at the 5 brings your friendship, worship, and presence to a beautiful community that loves ending their week-end with the evening hues lighting the Lord’s table. Let us know if you are one of those households that will worship in Autumn at 5.

(Bonus-  if your kid is headed to APEX on Sunday nights, the 5pm is a great way to worship together before they head off to their Youth Small Groups.)

Second Sunday Suppers

That’s right.  You like to eat.  We like to eat.  Let’s eat after the 5pm on Sept 8.  We’ll keep going out on the Second Sunday of every month, after the 5 PM.  Everyone is invited!  Even if you went to the 9 or the 11!  How convenient if your kids are in APEX!  We want you there! Contact Beth for details.

Autumn begins…

We couldn’t be more excited for the fall:  Vision Night (9/10).  Baptisms (9/22).  New to Restoration Dinner (10/1).  Fall Retreat (10/12-13).  It’s all waiting for you…

We’re going to hit the ground running and we hope to see you right alongside us.


On my bookshelf and in my ears.


Below is a collection of some of my favorite places to land — books, websites, and podcasts — as I think about kids, families, and the Bible. It is my right-now, but ever-fluid list of some of my go-tos.

Engaging in all these things — especially reading — is about doing it together. Hearing. Wondering. Sitting. Being. Together. It is often the relationship that surrounds the “thing” that influences how and what we get from the “thing”. A Bible story read snuggled up together with someone you love is imprinting more than just words. Reading is about relationship. And it is out of that relationship that questions can be asked and ideas explored — together.

I’d love to hear about YOUR favorites, too!



Nursery (0-2 years old)

The Look and Point Bible is fun because it is interactive; inviting the reader to, well, look  and point!  🙂

The Rhyme Bible is great for developing language skills.

A Child’s First Bible is short and sweet with a question at the end of each story.

The New Bible in Pictures For Little Eyes is a sweet classic.

The Read and Rhyme Storybook looks fun!

Lift the Flap Bible is also interactive.

The Toddler Adventure Bible Storybook looks good, too.

Found is so lovely!

Preschool (2-6 years old)

God’s Story For Me is a good collection of many stories that will enhance children’s biblical literacy.

The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible has beautiful illustrations

Jesus Calling Bible Storybook is good for a short devotional and a good way to practice listening for Jesus’ voice.

Day by Day Bible takes kids through the Bible in one year with a short story for each day.

Early Elementary (6-8 years old)

The Jesus Storybook Bible captures God’s plan for Jesus as our redeemer from the beginning and weaves it into every story.

Shine On: A Story Bible has great wondering-type questions and a variety of illustrators

The NIV or NIrV Adventure Bible is a full text Bible written in slightly modified language for early readers and listeners

The ESV Big Picture Bible is a full text Bible with illustrations scattered throughout

Jesus Calling For Kids is a sweet devotional with Scripture references making a full text Bible easier to navigate

Upper Elementary (8-11 years old)

The Action Bible has a format that kids find captivating and it can cover a lot of material, although not in depth

Wondrous Works of God and Mighty Acts of God are good companion books to one another 

The ESV Big Picture Bible is a full text Bible with illustrations scattered throughout


Teach Us to Pray is a great book of Scripture-centered family worship through the year 

Good Dirt a three volume set that takes you through the church year 

Long Story Short and Old Story New 


The Ology is a good resource for elementary kids to read with an adult or for adult study as a way to help you explain things to kids

The Bible Story Handbook is like a mini-commentary on teaching Bible stories to kids

Young Children and Worship is the first of the Godly Play books

Following Jesus is the second of the Godly Play books

I Wonder is a good book that has great questions to get you thinking and practical tools to get you “doing”


This site has an array of hands-on ways of praying and responding to Bible stories.

This site has some of my favorite ways to do art with kids which I then adapt and interpret for responses to Bible stories.


This interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones is inspiring.

This talk by Rebecca Nye is helpful in talking about the spiritual development and nurturing of children’s spirituality.


Abigail Westbrook has joined our team!

Abigail Westbrook, a long-time member of Restoration, has joined our staff team as the Sunday Coordinator of Kids’ Small Groups. Here’s a glimpse of her heart which will help you understand why we are all so happy she’s here loving and shepherding those in our nursery.


Teach me work 

Teach me work that honors thy work,

the true economies of goods and words,

to make my arts compatible

with the songs of the local birds.

Teach me patience beyond work –

and, beyond patience, the blest

Sabbath of thy unresting love

which lights all things and gives rest.

-Wendell Berry- 

I love this prayerful poem in which Berry asks the Lord to “teach him work,” specifically the kind of labor that honors His work.

Remember your first job ever? I bet you do! It was likely the first in a series of jobs, each one that brought some kind of lesson or experience. Work can be a great teacher.

My first job was Sundown Gardens, a landscaping business where I grew up in Carmel, Indiana. Great first job. Hard (and hot) work.

Much of my work in recent years has been with elementary children, but these days I’m teaching much smaller scholars, particularly toddler types. I’m grateful for this new role working alongside Louise at Restoration. I am beginning my acquaintance with these precious “local birds.” I am meeting families at Restoration as well as leading and working alongside a beautiful team of women who faithfully show up each Sunday to care for our kids.

Berry’s poem is my prayer for you, too, in your work. Lord, may our work honor your handiwork: your creation, our fellow image-bearers. May we learn to recognize the songs of our “local birds” so that we can better serve them and sing along. We seek your shalom, “the blest Sabbath of thy unresting love.”

May you walk in this truth: we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do. 


Kids’ and APEX Small Group Leader Conversations

Sign up for a conversation below.  You won’t regret it!



Restoration is a place that connects people to God, to others, and to the needs of the world. We are a church that seeks to support those most vulnerable who live both locally and globally. Yet, most of our outreach opportunities are for older teens and adults.


So how do we grow kids into adults who are chomping at the bit to serve others?


We are mindful of the opportunities we have with our RestoKids to both talk about and model what it means to serve others. The stories we study in kids’ small groups often highlight examples of others in the Bible who serve. The compliments we give to kids are specific about ways we observe their kindness in sharing markers or encouraging someone on the margin to join in a game. The annual packing of snack bags and writing notes to give to kids at AFAC is a hands-on way to help grow their hearts to love others.


This Christmas we have two opportunities for even the littlest among us to get involved in caring for folks outside of our immediate Restoration family:


Navidad para Niños. In the lower narthex at Restoration, there is a tree that contains photos of the children from Niños con Valor, one of the groups our 2016 Bolivia team got to hang out with while visiting last summer. Niños con Valor (NCV) is a family model of caring for Bolivian children who have been orphaned, abandoned, or removed from high-risk situations. Consider selecting a photo ornament from the tree to support our friends in Cochabamba, Bolivia. There are several ways you – and those little hands and hearts around you – can get involved:


  • Pray for the children of Niños con Valor as they learn and grow. Sign up to receive prayer newsletters. Then pray for the children and encourage the children in your life to lead those prayers. You will be amazed by what you hear!


  • Write to the children via email. The children in your life can even draw a picture to be photographed and included in the email to a sponsored child.



Doorways for Women and Children. Each year, on Christmas Eve, Restoration has given gifts to Doorways, a safe place where women and families can receive help. This year Restoration has been invited to bring in bedroom items. Here is a list of specific items most useful to the women and families Doorways supports. Bring your gifts to the Restoration Christmas Eve services at 3pm, 5pm, or 9pm. You’ll have a chance to bring them forward during the offering part of the service.


So, talk to kids and shop with kids and pray with kids. They will follow your example about how one loves and serves those among us who are most vulnerable – and their hearts will be the better for it.


The cost (and benefit) of discipleship

At Restoration, we have a passion for discipling our kids. And the only way this happens is through an amazing community of adults who devote their time and energy to our kids. Did you know that there are 44 adults at Restoration who’ve made a weekly commitment for 10-months to invest in the lives of our kids? Ten-months of a weekly commitment is a huge cost. But the investment pays great dividends. Take a look:

Spending time with the kids/youth at Restoration is a highlight of my week. It brings me so much joy to laugh with them, have good (and often silly) conversations with them, and to run around and play together. They are just so dear and so fun. Being with them helps me grasp the love and delight that Jesus has for each of His children. I hope that their experience at Restoration helps them understand Jesus’ love for and delight in them as well.

Kat (an APEX leader)


I’ve seen God helping middle schoolers get through the daily challenges that they face at school.

Andrew (an APEX leader)


Working with the middle school girls of Restoration via APEX has been a wonderful and growing experience. I get glimpses into their fears, their hurts, their triumphs and, overall, witness how they infuse their walks with Christ into their life in every-day situations, which is inspiration for my own life. It’s a humble gift and I truly look forward to Sunday evenings each week to hang with my girls.

Ashley (an APEX leader)


As a kids’ small group leader for five years, I’ve grown to appreciate my time with our adorable Restoration kids as just another form of Sunday worship: fellowship (with adults and kids), reading of Scripture and thinking through applications, singing. But as a bonus, we get to laugh out loud and jump around. I appreciate the opportunity on Sunday mornings to interweave service with worship — hmm, worship service??

Susie (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)


When I started volunteering back in our little church on Quincy St. I probably thought I would see God work through me all the time, but he’s actually worked within me much more (which is definitely cooler — way to go God). I didn’t realize I needed to look at the Gospel like a 3- or 4-year-old, but that was exactly what I was supposed to be doing. He has made my heart gentle. I am ALWAYS welcome downstairs. Those kids have shown me what I *should* be like in how I interact with others in the church and how open and teachable my heart should be. There’s never an expectation or judgment; for them, I never feel like I’m putting on a mask to look good on Sunday or I have to say the right thing. Their reaction when they come through that door is: “Awesome. My day just got better simply because you’re here, and now we’re going to have fun and be silly together.” And if all of community was like that, that would be pretty sweet.

Sara (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)


God has shown me through the eyes of these kids that no matter how many times I encounter a story from the Word, it can always be exciting, new, and insightful. For example, did you know that when [kids read the story of the fall they see that when] Eve gave Adam the apple, she put it an inch from his nose? Or that [as a leader helping kids see and touch the story of God parting the Red Sea that] the Red Sea could be made of Russian coins? You could learn all that and more by being a Restoration kids small group leader!

Leigh (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)


When I said yes to leading a Restoration Kids’ Small Group, I expected adventure and a little bit of drama, but never expected the joy and the fun we had this year in the K-1 group. Whether we were burning paper with our sins written on it and turning it into ashes, or building a Jenga-inspired Tower of Babel, the kiddos were always eager to learn more about the characteristics of God. I’m so blessed to be on this adventure as we learn and laugh together!

Phyllis (a Kids’ Small Group Leader)


Would you consider making this kind of investment in discipling our kids? You, too, will see not only how our kids grow, but also experience how God will grow you to be more and more like Jesus.

-Louise and Clay-

Giving thanks

Saying “Yes!” makes such a difference.  That day in May — before our building was finished — when I asked Jesus how He wanted us to use our building, was the day I got the phone call from Operation Christmas Child:  “Operation Christmas Child has been praying for a church in Arlington to be a Relay Center during National Collection Week; a place where people from your area can drop off their filled shoebox gifts.  Would Restoration be interested?”
So, we said “Yes!” in faith.  Faith that our building would be done in time.  Faith that we could find the volunteers to help serve.  Faith that people would come.  Faith that we could manage all that we didn’t even know to expect.  Faith that our space would be another link in furthering the good news of the Gospel.  Here’s how our prayers were answered and our faith strengthened:  We received 2,420 shoeboxes.  Packed them into 134 cartons.  Filled 3/4 of a 26′ truck and drove it to Alexandria. All of this with the help of  51 Restoration folks volunteering around 110 hours.  There are numerous stories of people we met who are the whole reason we did all this in the first place.  Pray for those folks who got to experience giving in this way and those who may have stepped foot in a church for the first time in a long time and  those who are so young, yet seem to hear and know more than the grownups do.  Thank you, Restoration, for participating and serving; for modeling for your children and family and friends what it is like to be part of a community that desires to see broken people, restored by grace, living God’s story.

Kids’ Small Groups @ Restoration


Hey, friends!


I am so looking forward to being in our new space together and, like you, am eagerly awaiting news about the building and our first Sunday back on Quincy Street.  David will keep us informed via a CCB email blast, website update, and Facebook update later today as soon as we hear.  Do check in as you are making your weekend plans.


There is much to tell you about our kids’ small groups that will help as we transition into the new building!


Please register your kids.

We ask that parents register each of their children — nursery-5th grade — every year so that we know how best to care for our kids.  You can register your kids here.  Please complete a separate registration form for each child.


Preschool (those who are 3 by September 30) thru 5th grade kids’ small groups will start September 21.

We made the decision to delay the start of kids’ small groups until September 21.  This is the best way for us to prepare for a safe kick-off.  The “summer” worship bags will be available, along with a worship guide geared toward preschool-5th grade kids.


Nursery WILL be open on our first Sunday.

We will have the three nursery rooms ready for our first Sunday — babies (non-walkers), toddlers, and those who are 2 by September 30. You will find a nursery check in station mid-way down the hallway on the ground level.  The check-in system will be similar to the system we had at Little Falls.  There will be a shepherd there to assist you.


Join us for a “put IKEA furniture together” party!

During the day tomorrow (September 6) beginning around 9:30 AM, we will be downstairs with screwdrivers and Allen wrenches putting tables and chairs and storage units together.  Join us if you can, and bring tools, too!  We’ll have some to share, but not enough to go around.


There are still opportunities to be a kids’ small group leader.

We had a lovely evening of training with the 30 kids’ small group leaders who’ve already said “YES!” to serving our kids.  There are still opportunities to get in on the fun:


9 AM — 1 person to join Nan Swift and Megan Westmoreland to teach 4th-5th graders


11 AM — 1 person to join Simon Gray and Jerry Greenlaw to teach 2nd-3rd graders

11 AM — 2 people to join Eric/Erin Owen to teach 4th-5th graders


5 PM — 2 people to join Sara Gast to teach preschoolers

5 PM — 1 person to join Nate Brennan and Liz Brennan to teach K-1st graders

5 PM — 2 people to join Stef Winston to teach 2nd-3rd graders

5 PM — 3 people to teach 4th-5th graders


Let me know if you are interested in serving, or if you know someone who would be a great encourager and teacher!


Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions!


I am so grateful for God’s good gifts to us!



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