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Kidztown Teacher Feature -- Darlene LeVault


Okay, Darlene’s not actually a Kidztown Teacher, but she’s the inspiration for Sunday’s upcoming It Takes a Family Challenge, so this is a good time to give her a spotlight.

Here’s the story behind the Family Challenge. A couple years ago, Darlene’s son’s elementary school was having a Mother-Son Challenge. Darlene took on the challenge of planning the games. She started watching “Minute to Win It” and trying out ideas – and it was a huge success! The mothers and sons had a great time all around. She did it again the next year, and it was so much fun, she was asked to plan it again this year, even though her son is no longer in elementary school.

Darlene had so much fun planning the games, she invited Erin Krotz, our children’s director, to see them carried out. Erin realized this is something we have to do at Gateway – and that’s what’s happening Sunday after church. The games are goofy and silly and fun to watch, like the “Face the Cookie” game that was recently demonstrated before the service – getting a cookie from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands.

Lunch is included and teams don’t have to, actually, be related. You can also sign up to help run the games – a prime opportunity to laugh at, I mean with, the participants. Come for some fellowship at its funniest.

Besides the Family Challenge, Darlene’s someone people at Gateway should know. She’s been around since the beginning – she attended First Baptist Alexandria, which sponsored Gateway’s church plant.

Darlene and our other friend, Kathe Barsotti, are the reason I moved to Virginia. I’ve known both of them since 3rd grade in California. Darlene and I went to elementary school and high school together and attended the same church in California. Darlene moved to Virginia when she got a job after college with the FSLIC, and connected with Kathe, who’d moved here at the start of high school.

Darlene’s wedding was when I met Ed and Diane. I attended Sunday service at Gateway and was envious of Darlene and Kathe having such a great church. When I moved here years later, Darlene let my two sons and me live in her basement for six weeks while we were waiting for our household goods to arrive.

But besides being a great friend, Darlene is a walking, talking answer to prayer! Ten years ago this month, Darlene had an episode where her throat swelled up in the night and she stopped breathing. By the time they got her breathing again, she was in a coma. I was living in Germany at the time, and Kathe forwarded me emails about the situation, including a sensitive email from Ed sent on a Friday saying that the doctors didn’t believe Darlene was there any more and how on Monday, her husband Matt was going to have to make the decision whether to turn off the life support machines.

People all over the globe were praying for her, but especially Gateway folks. Then the next day, she woke up.

Her healing journey wasn’t easy. Lots of hospital time, memory problems, and years with a breathing tube. And Gateway folks were there for her. Darlene’s mother-in-law, Donna, told me she’d never seen a church come together the way Gateway did for Darlene when she was in the hospital.

So yes, Gateway, Darlene’s life, and the fact that her wonderful children have grown up with a Mom – is an answer to your prayers.

And now she’s giving back with some creative games to entertain you! Come and enjoy it!

It Takes a Family Challenge, Sunday June 7, 12:00-1:30. $5 per family. Lunch is included.


How to Deal with How You Feel - Depression

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This Sunday, Pastor Ed continued his series "How to Deal with How You Feel," looking at the topic of Depression.

Over 9 million Americans have depression, so this is an important topic.

We looked at Psalm 42-43, not a psalm about depression, but a psalm written in and from depression.

Three Epic, Liberating Truths:

1)  Depression affects our spirits.

It affects our ability to detect God's presence.  In Psalm 42:1, this is the thirst of the desert.

Depression is an emotional disorder, but it affects us physically and spiritually, too.  There's no great wall separating our emotions from the rest of us.

-- If you're depressed, reject the thinking that you are actually distant from God.  (Don't allow your feelings to be omnipotent.)  Your nearness to God doesn't depend on your sense of his presence.

Don't surrender spiritual ground in the midst of depression.

-- Spiritual problems require spiritual solutions.

You must do spiritual work to adequately deal with depression.

Also do physical work to combat it, and emotional work.

2)  Circumstances often aggravate depression.

The psalmist has a wonderful memory of worshiping at Jerusalem, but he's now far to the north.  He's overwhelmed, and he's surrounded by a pack of skeptics.

-- When you experience depression, examine your circumstances and change what you can.

Possibly change your physical regimen.

Lean more completely into your support network.  (Don't worry!  This is what we're here for!)

*Be careful about making major life changes when depressed.*

-- Pray for either a change in circumstances or the ability to weather the circumstances.  (43:3)

3)  Depression is not a form of unfaithfulness and does not have to result in unfaithfulness.

The psalmist holds onto his faith.

-- You can battle depression!

Do some spiritual work!

*Pray!  (42:3)

We hear three voices -- our voice, God's voice, and the voice of the enemy.  We can battle that third voice.

*Rehearse what you know to be true.

*Remember past times with God and what God has done.

-- Be realistic about your happiness.

The world is tough, but tough times can drive us to God.


We finished the service with prayer and Communion.

What do you think about these ideas?  What helps you when you're down?

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