When I Pray for My Kids

A few Sundays ago we made it to Ephesians 6 in which the Apostle Paul provides a bit of insight into being imitators of God as parents. As Father's Day approaches, we are reminded of the closing encouragement from Pastor Andrew's sermon "Grace in Parenting" that parents, too, need God's grace. In that vain, take a moment to peak into Pastor Andrew's prayers as a father.

When I pray for my kids, I pray not only for God to save them from their sins, but for God to save them from my own. As their father, my influence carries more weight in their lives than anyone else’s—that is, perhaps, besides mom’s, of course. Nevertheless, as their father, how I interact with my kids will shape how they perceive and respond to the Fatherhood of God.


When I think about that, I always find myself with a shortness of breath and an increased heart-rate. I am not aware of all the ways I fail to reflect the Fatherhood of God, but I am aware of a lot them. At times, such awareness threatens to sabotage any future attempts to be a better father. The temptation is to throw my hands in the air and say, “There’s no coming back from that blow up!” Yet, in those desperate moments, the Spirit of sonship dwelling within me cries out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:6). He reminds me that God fathers me even as I father my children. Our heavenly Father is the God of redeeming grace who works all things together for the good His children (Rm. 8:28). Even in my shameful shortcomings as a father, God still reveals Himself as the best Father to us all.

I often apologize to my kids and ask for their forgiveness. I do so not only for the sake of our relationship, but because I want them to know that I do not think of myself as beyond the need of mercy and grace. Essentially, I want to confirm what they already know to be true—I am not a perfect father. Before doing so, I let them know that I have already confessed my sin and asked my heavenly Father to forgive me. Although I am their dad, I am also a child of God. Like them, I also need to be fathered. Perhaps the best way I can point to the Fatherhood of God is by disclosing my incessant need for the Fatherhood of God.

2019 All-Church Retreat | What to Expect

Are you getting excited for our fourth annual All-Church Retreat yet?! Below you will find various details about the weekend and our retreat site (thefirs.org). We hope this will answer any questions you may have about our time together. Feel free to contact Kim Arthur if you have questions, and look below for what to expect, driving direction, etc.



Friday, May 24th

2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. | Arrive and Check-In (Enjoy the grounds, take a nap, or explore Bellingham on your own)

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. | Dinner

7:15 p.m. | Session #1 (Kids Ministry Provided)

9:00 p.m. | S’mores

Saturday, May 25th

8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. | Breakfast

10:00 a.m. | Session #2 (Kids Ministry Provided)

11:30 a.m. | Group Picture and Activity

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. | Lunch

1:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. | Free Time (Childcare Available 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.)

6:00 - 7:00 p.m. | Dinner

7:15 p.m. | Session # 3 (Kids Ministry Provided)

9:00 p.m. | Optional Evening Activities including S’mores, Board Games, Etc.

Sunday, May 26th

8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. | Breakfast

10:30 a.m. | Session #4 (EVERYONE can join us for this worship gathering followed by a BBQ as it will be in lieu of all regularly scheduled Hallows Sunday worship gatherings)

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. | Lunch

2:00 p.m. | Depart (Great time to grab a new and old friend and explore the city of Bellingham)



All meals will be provided at no additional charge by the retreat center. We will also have coffee, tea, and snacks available during the sessions. We will make every effort to accommodate any food allergies or preferences. Please let us know as soon as possible about any special requests by emailing maryann@hallowschurch.org.



So many options this year for our free time! Wander down to the beach area on Lake Whatcom to enjoy waterfront activities (weather dependent) including swimming, water skiing, paddle boats, and sea kayaks.

If you prefer to be on land, start up a game of volleyball, Frisbee golf, soccer or basketball. Bellingham also has many great coffee shops, local hikes and kids activities to offer!


  • Waterfront activities! Lake activities are included with no additional charge! Enjoy swimming, tubing, paddle boats, sea kayaks, playing in the sand, and more. The waterfront will be open from 1:30 pm - 6:00 pm on Saturday; lifeguards will be available during that time. Life jackets will be provided and are required while swimming or boating. No swimming or using the equipment except for scheduled times.

  • Nerf Game! Adults and kids are invited to play as they want- supplies will be provided.

  • Optional childcare available from 3:30 - 5:30 pm! Parents: Enjoy time with other adults, your spouse or even just enjoy some solitude with the Lord for a couple hours.

  • Pick-up Basketball, Volleyball and Lawn Games!

  • "The Getaway" Game Room! The Getaway will be open throughout free time. This space boasts of activities like pool, foosball and is a great place to play board games or just relax indoors.

  • A Moderate Pine and Cedar Lakes Hike (Moderate Hike= 5 miles hike, with 1400 ft elevation gain (majority of gain in first 1.5 miles)).

  • Explore all that Bellingham has to offer! Bellingham has so many great options to explore both on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons like coffee shops, Perch and Play indoor kids playground, Whatcom Falls Park, and more!


The Firs Retreat Center is located at 4605 Cable Street, Bellingham, WA, 98229 (approximately 1.5 hours from downtown Seattle).

  • From Seattle, take I-5 N to exit 246 (North Lake Samish)

  • Turn left onto S. Samish Way; continue 2.3 miles

  • Turn right onto Yew Street Road; continue 2.1 miles

  • Continue straight onto Yew Street for 0.7 miles

  • Turn right onto Lakeway Drive; continue 1.7 miles

  • Continue straight onto Terrace Ave. N. for 0.2 miles

  • Continue straight onto Cable street for 0.3 miles; the destination will be on your left

*Please remember to adjust travel time if traveling during Friday rush hour.
**If you are interested in carpooling, please visit our Group Carpool site to sign up. You can either ADD yourself as a driver, JOIN a carpool, or JOIN the wait list (if no carpools are available).


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We are excited to offer a kids tract during the main session times! Our friends from Brazos Pointe Fellowship will be providing a wonderful, gospel-centered experience for our kids during the retreat. (Fun Fact: This group has been serving our church in this capacity every year! The members are all repeat volunteers from last year!) All volunteers are background checked by The Hallows Church, and all of our standard policies and procedures will be in place. We will also have a time of (optional) childcare on Saturday afternoon during free time. Hopefully this will allow parents to enjoy some kid-free time with other adults! If your child has allergies and other health concerns, please email mark@hallowschurch.org to ensure that we best prepare the volunteers to care for your child and to help us plan snacks accordingly.


  • Toiletries, clothing and personal items

  • Flash light

  • Board games and field games (spike ball, Frisbee, etc.)

  • Bible, pen, personal snacks and water bottle

  • Pack n plays for those who need them

  • Clothing for free time activities (swimsuits and beach towel, clothing for water activities, hiking boots, etc.)

  • What helps you sleep better away from home (e.g. your own pillow if you are particularly attached to it, ear plugs, personal-sized fan, etc.)

  • PARENTS: You may want to consider bringing things like: a baby monitor, pack-n-play if your child still sleeps in a crib, sound machine, etc.). 


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The entire retreat center is reserved for The Hallows Church and the living spaces are close together and great for all life stages! All sheets, linens and towels will be provided. Married couples and singles will be in a lodge. Families with children will have a small cabin with a private bath near the lodge (we will make sure there are enough beds for each person in your family!).


The cost for the weekend is $125 for adults and $50 for children over the age of 3, with a family max of $300. The cost includes food and housing for the weekend. You can register here or by following the event link on our homepage of hallowschurch.org. If you need financial assistance, please don’t let it hinder you from enjoying this weekend of teaching, rest, & community. For more info, or if you are willing to contribute towards a scholarship for someone else, please contact maryann@hallowschurch.org for details.


How God Can Use a Weekend Away (with His Church)

Our family is counting the days until the Hallows All-Church Retreat on Memorial Day Weekend. Last year we left the Firs Retreat Center encouraged in our faith, better connected to our church community, blessed from the generous volunteers who loved on our kids, and probably a few pounds heavier from the delicious food.

What a joy it was to see our kids get to play with kids of all ages from the three Hallows expressions. We saw our older kids connect with sweet babies and preschoolers that they still seek out at church on Sunday and our toddler was told how precious she was to Jesus by the sweetest volunteers. The kids enjoyed more freedom at the lake and in the woods then they do here in the city and loved spending time with friends from church they only see on Sunday.


We went inner tubing on the lake, had an epic Nerf war, played lots of basketball and volleyball, and even escaped for a quick date into Bellingham thanks to the amazing missions team loving on our kids. The teaching was encouraging and the worship was beautiful. We were served well by the staff and volunteers from The Hallows, the Firs, and the missions team caring for our kids. But, most of all, I was encouraged by the opportunity to have time and space to really connect with people that weekend who loved Jesus and encouraged us where we were at.

Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

You see, last year at the retreat, our family was burdened. We were in a hard season that was just about to get harder. We didn’t know how bad it would get, or what we were going to need, but God did. And He used that weekend as a time for our family to enjoy being together, to open up to people who would support us and pray for us the next several months, and point us towards Jesus as we walked through pain. It was a gift.

I am in anticipation of what God will do again this year at the retreat. Who will we meet? What will we learn? Whose burdens will we carry? And who will carry ours? Our kids can’t wait to find out what kind of sugary cereal they will have and how many s’mores they can eat before they throw up. You know, all the good stuff that happens at camp!

The ALL-church retreat (for all ages, life stages and expressions) is just around the corner and the sign up deadline is in less than two weeks — May 10th! Sign up today, and if cost is an issue—please don’t let it be, we can subsidize as needed to allow everyone to participate in this life-giving time away in gospel community.

Written by Emilie in The Hallows North Expression. She’s a writer, fundraiser, FUNraiser, mom, wife, entrepreneur, organizer, and most importantly one who has been deeply impacted by the gospel of Jesus.

Who Am I?

When asked to share about exploring, communicating, and even wrestling with her journey of ethnic identity, our friend, Ashley, eagerly agreed to the opportunity because as she shares below, she hadn't had much opportunity nor even resources previously to explore the gospel and ethnic identity. Our church's desire is that the Gospel Clarity Study Series that kickstarts this Saturday night with the topic of "The Gospel and Ethnic Identity" will help us all understand better how the gospel speaks into, reclaims and even redeems every aspect of the way we see ourselves and one another as we journey in a world prone to confusion, hurt and division around this topic. Ultimately, may God get the glory as we be catalysts for more healthy and gospel-centered dialogue on ethnic identity in our city and around the world.

I grew up not knowing color. It wasn’t that I was taught to ignore it nor that I didn’t see the differences, but I simply didn’t recognize why the differences mattered. I said “Te Quiero” to one family and “I Love You” to the other not realizing they were different languages and I called one set of grandparents “grandparents” while the others “abuelos.”

It wasn’t until seventh grade when someone pointed at me and said “You’re too pale to be Mexican” did I come to know the value of the difference. I still didn’t understand why it mattered but a fire was lit inside to prove my existence. I put my hair in pin curls every night knowing I’d wake up with curly hair. I wore hoop earrings and let my Spanish accent be more pronounced when speaking English. And I incessantly found ways to bring up my Mexican culture. But despite all the extra fluff, I was still outcasted. And even those who thought I was Mexican then didn’t understand how I could also be Caucasian. When did biology get so difficult for people?

Ashley, second from right, with her family.

Ashley, second from right, with her family.

“You can’t be Mexican, you have freckles.” “Your last name is Martinez, that’s not a white name.” “You can’t speak Spanish, you’re White.” “A Spanish speaking white girl?” “That’s your dad???” “I didn’t know how a Mexican could be so pale until I met your mom.” (Side note: my mom isn’t Mexican but the person who said this thought she was).

Worse yet, every accomplishment I made was quickly downgraded by my race especially by those who wouldn’t accept I was Mexican to begin with. Their responses quickly turned from “You can’t be Mexican” to “She only got it because she’s Mexican.”

And it was bad on both sides. Every event for minorities I got invited to, I was made to feel like an imposter. People would stare at me questioning why I was there, whose spot had I taken. It became a daunting mental exercise to ignore the eyes. If you don’t make eye contact, maybe you won’t be discovered.

In the church, it was no different. People often stared at us and I never really felt we were welcome as a full family anywhere. We were always the only interracial family or one of the very few. And race was never discussed. I always wanted to know how race fit into the picture but no one would dare bring it up or even acknowledge it. We never did anything to celebrate other cultures and I always wondered what that meant.

I became disheartened with the church, feeling as though I never belonged to the “family” I visited every Sunday. Despite my efforts to get involved, I felt more and more isolated. More and more misunderstood. More and more confused. I had been to so many churches since childhood that by the time I began looking for my own in college, I felt like an imposter there too. I felt like the acquaintance in the hallway you say hi to because of formalities and invite to things only when they happen to overhear an invitation.

In college, I hit my breaking point. As part of my scholarship offer, I was forced to take an undergraduate preparation program for minorities. The class was incredibly demeaning and basically assumed minority students couldn’t write a basic paper or uphold a steady argument. Though this frustrated me, this did not break me. What broke me was when this same course required all students (who didn’t have a class conflict) to participate in a bus boycott where we would ride the campus buses and not get off to “show the white man that we’re there.”

At that exact moment, I felt conflicted. I felt broken. I felt defeated. I was being asked to pick between two sides of myself and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pick between my Caucasian family and my Hispanic family. I went home and cried realizing I had been trying to be something the world wanted me to be for so long. I had spent my childhood trying to prove my existence, shoving my Caucasian identity to the side in order to amplify my Mexican self. But I couldn’t do it anymore. I asked God for help that night, to give me the strength to be myself always. And he answered that prayer by reminding me that I am perfect just as I am—only God can define me.

Written by Ashley Martinez