Bulletin - Megan Swanger

New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Many of your children or grandchildren have started back to school in the last two weeks. With the start of every school year, or anything new in my household for that matter, chaos, anxiety, excitement, uncertainty and stress may be present until a routine or “normalcy” are created. (A lack of sleep is also present) Many of us as parents are experiencing that right now as we try to schedule our way through all of the new things as we begin a new year.

It is so easy when things are uncertain and somewhat chaotic, to allow ourselves to become anxious, stressed and to even worry. I have found that it is in those moments that Satan works on me and my family the most. Those moments where we are consumed with things we may not be able to change. Those moments when our focus is shifted and we try to place ourselves in control.

When you think of the words “new beginning,” what emotions or feelings are brought to your mind? Uncertainty? Anxiety? Stress? Opportunity? Success? Excitement? Some of you may view change and new beginnings very positively. Some may really dread it.

As I have thought about all of the new beginnings in my own household, I have also been drawn to think about the new beginnings in my Northside family. Individually, many of us are dealing with new circumstances. New “normals”. The death of a loved one, a cancer diagnoses, a new job. New beginnings and change come in all different forms. Northside as a body faces a new beginning as it begins to search for a new preacher. It is normal for us to be uneasy or anxious about that process. It is also normal to be excited about a new opportunity for this body.

This week I want to encourage you that no matter what “new beginning” you are facing, try to face it with positivity. Try to face it with prayer and with your focus on the only One who matters - God. He did not die for us to worry about those things we can not control. He did not die to give us all of the answers. If you are a “fixer” like me, this is especially hard. The unknown is difficult. How we choose to act in the unknown moments shows our character. Who do you represent in those moments? I’ve been reminded this week of different scriptures that I have held close.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and sound judgement. 2 Timothy 1:7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

I’m excited about the new school year for all of our kiddos, and I am so excited for the next chapter in Northside’s future. I pray that we all will choose to show Christ’s character of humility, kindness and grace throughout our “new beginnings” moving forward.


God Is So Good!

As many of you are aware, this building was “transformed” as VBS took place last week. We had a regular nightly attendance of over 120 people, both children and volunteers. We sang praises, watched skits, and traveled back in bible times! I want to personally thank each and every person who helped with this HUGE project or volunteered in any way. I also want to thank the parents for trudging through the week with me and trusting me with your children!

The week was better than I could have ever imagined, but I wanted to give you a few highlights of ways that I saw God working in this body throughout the week.

  • After last week, your children KNOW that God is always good, regardless of the circumstances. Just say to them “When life is unfair….” and listen to their response! 

  • I saw big kids helping little kids, and TONS of sharing going on - rarely any fighting.

  • I had countless volunteers step up to the plate for last minute needs.

  • Even when children were scared or uncertain or felt things were unfair, I saw the wheels in their head turning as they would say “but it’s ok Mrs. Megan…God is good and He will take care of us!”

Lastly, I want to let you know how important service work is to me. You see, I have this belief that if you can teach children habits or ways of thinking when they are young, they can carry them on through their life. I also believe that when children view us as adults doing something, they are more likely to follow suit. Service work is something that is important to me and therefore I want it to be important to our children. Some of us are better at things than others but we can all do something! If we use our God given talents and gifts for His glory and don’t “bury” them, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.

After learning about children in other countries this week, I challenged the children and their families to try to raise enough money to send one Pilipino boy to school. By the end of the week, the children and their families had raised $930, which is more than enough to send TWO children to school.  

Meet June and Christine May. 


Because of our children, they will be provided food, schooling, bible teaching, books, and uniforms for the next year. I am so very proud of our Children’s Ministry. Let the kids know how proud you are of them too!

When life is WILD, God is GOOD

"God loves me too much to answer my prayers in any other way than His way and in any other time than His time."

I've been reading a book lately that has really touched my heart. In the book "It's not suppose to be this way" by Lisa Terkeurst, she describes so many trials that she has faced recently and how our plans and ideas are not always how things turn out. She also emphasizes that even though life isn't always "good", God is ALWAYS GOOD.

It's funny how one thing can coincide with another or how things happen at the same time unintentionally. I chose our VBS theme at the end of the year last year before any changes, any books were read, or any new trials were faced. Our VBS theme for our children is "When life is WILD, God is GOOD"

I hope that you will invite all of your friends, your neighbors, and your family to join us July 14th - 17th from 6:00pm-7:30pm.

Throughout the week we will be going on a safari to discover how 'wild' life can be! We will be looking at the lives of the Israelites and Moses. We will see how when life is good, when life is unfair, when life changes or when life is scary, GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD.

 How can you help?

  • Pick up some of the flyers from the table in the lobby to hand out to your family and friends.

  • Check out the info sheet for snacks, and sign up to bring an item. Turn it back in to the table or Megan's office (Room 104)

  • Sign up to be a tribe leader and walk the kiddos around from station to station.

  • Show up each night and just be present. The kids see you. They love you. They appreciate you.

Thank you all for all of the love and support that you not only show this ministry, but to me personally. You touch my life in ways your will never know!


Summer Memories

When I think about summer, so many memories flood my mind. I remember the smell of the freshly cut grass. I remember catching lightning bugs in a jar and saving them for as long as I possibly could. I remember all of the late nights playing cards with my Ma. She always won. I remember FINALLY gaining the courage to jump off of the diving board. I remember the countless encouraging notes written and funny songs sung at church camp. I remember the late night praise sessions at UPLIFT. I remember choosing to follow Christ and be baptized.

All of these memories flood my mind when I think about the summers from my youth. You probably have similar ones, or maybe you have very different ones. The summer is such a fun time for so many. So many events and activities take place, and so many memories are made. Not only are the memories special to me, but who I made those memories with are even more special and important. The camp counselors who taught me and mentored me, the late nights with my grandmother, the long talks with my dad before deciding to be baptized, the moments of praise songs with hundreds of other students, those people had a huge impact on my memories and what they mean to me now. 

The people that we surround ourselves with play a role in those memories. Our youth and children will make memories this summer, and how exciting is it that we can play a huge role in those. What lasting impact will you have on those around you this summer? May I suggest some ways that you can make a lasting impact on the youth of this church this summer? In the coming weeks, our youth group and children’s ministry will be going in a million different directions, but there are ways that you can help. If you aren't able to physically help and be there for those memories, there are ways that you can make it easier for us this summer. In the upcoming weeks we would love for you to be praying for the youth of our congregation. Here are a few additional ways that you can help: 

  • Save your condiments from your fast food restaurants - they can be used at camp. 

  • Check the sign up sheets and consider walking around with the kids at VBS as a Tribe leader 

  • Check the “items needed” list located on the kids board for VBS snack items needed 

  • Provide scholarships for those who may need help attending camp (Help them make those memories!) 

  • Attend VBS 

  • Provide cookies and brownies for our girls and guys nights in June 

More than anything, we would love for you to be prayerful about our youth and children this summer. So many memories will be made this summer, and we pray that they are life changing. 

What Is Your "Word"

We’re two weeks in to the new year. Have you kept your New Year’s resolutions? Did you make any? According to surveys done at the beginning of the year, the top resolutions were to be healthier and to save money.

Some people make resolutions. Some people simply decide on one word that they want to represent areas of their life over the next year. For example, someone may choose the word “content”. They may want to strive to be content in all areas of their life over the next year. Someone may choose the word “passionate.” They may want to strive to be passionate in everything that they do. Someone may choose the word “joy.” They may pursue being joyful in every circumstance over the coming year. Choosing a word for the year has become a new favorite thing of mine!

If I could choose a word for Northside over the next year, it would be “service.” Not only are we striving to serve together in the 2020 Vision campaign, but my hope is that we serve together in regards to those around us in the community and in the everyday lives of those in this congre-gation.

One word that MANY of us would use to describe Jesus would be servant. Jesus didn’t “go to church” and leave it at that. His life was a life of service. He didn’t simply preach, but He practiced what He preached. We are commanded to serve one another, and we are called to be like Christ. Are we living a life where others are captivated by our words but our actions are far from our words? If we aren’t serving in some way, how are we striving to be more like Christ?

Do you have a word for 2019? If you could think of one word to describe the change you would like to see in different areas of your life, what would it be? 

Not goodbye- Simply lending a friendship

For those who don’t know, I grew up in Cookeville. It use to be a small town about an hour and a half from Nashville. Josh and I were married there, and all of my extended family still lives there, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. After we were married, Josh was presented with a job opportunity in Nashville that we simply could not turn down. I was blindsided. I’m not exactly sure why because I knew that a future in our fields wasn’t likely in Cookeville. Neverthe-less, I cried the entire evening. But, after much prayer and thought, we knew that there really wasn’t another choice. Some were excited, some were worried, and some were sad. We knew that we could use this as an opportunity to grow closer to each other and the Lord, but it was a difficult decision nonetheless. I can honestly say now that it was a life-changing, and for the better, decision. I can now see God’s hand at work through it all. 

We all face times in our lives where difficult decisions arise. Some-times, neither choice is right or wrong, but the decisions are hard. We are called to be His hands and feet and need to stay vigilant for ways that He can use us and our talents. 

Before becoming the children’s minister five months ago, I asked for God to send me a “burning bush” so to speak. I knew that that wasn’t likely, but I wanted to be absolutely positive and to be at peace with my decision. Whatever that may be. The outpouring of love and encour-agement from those at Northside was overwhelming. The staff and eldership were unlike any that I had seen and I had a sense of peace that I can not describe. 

Notably- Leslie made me feel extremely welcome and a part of the team. Les has known my father in law and family for years, but the thought of working with him myself was exciting and helped me to feel even more secure in my decision. Les has helped me, like so many of you, personally, spiritually, and relationally. I would not trade the last five months for anything, nor would I change any decisions that were made. 

I know that Les will be missed. Personally, I have cried many tears and was devastated by the news. I know how precious he and Mrs. June are. The impact that they have had at Northside and on my life is immeasurable. I also personally know the congregation that they are going to, so I know how much potential and greatness that they bring. God is going to use them to work in the hearts of so many, and I truly feel like this was a “burning bush” opportunity for them. They saw the potential and are using their gifts to further His kingdom. 

I want to personally thank Les and June for their support, their love for my family, their teaching, and most of all for their friendship. It is a cherished friendship that I will never lose. It is not goodbye. I like to look at it as I am simply lending them to others so that they may bene-fit from the same friendship and teaching that I have. 

Love you both immensely and praying for your new journey and influence. -- Megan

Lions, Teams, Battles, Oh My! 

My Rowland loves animals! National Geographic, all of those beautiful yet boring Netflix nature shows, all of them can keep his attention for hours. Animals are his thing. The only person who could match him with his animal facts may be Eli Gannon with his dinosaur facts. We watched a lion show the other day on the couch together, and I couldn't help but watch his reactions. The lion was in hiding. The lion was quiet. The prey had no idea the lion was there. The sounds in the bushes that lured the prey didn't phase the prey and it thought nothing of it. No preparation. No knowledge. My Row wasn't scared because he knew what was coming. He also wasn't scared because he knew that the lion couldn't touch him personally. 

Have you ever felt like no matter where you turned, another problem, issue, or confrontation arose? If you don't feel that way now, it is likely you have felt that way or will soon. The last few months in the world around me all of this has been evident. I have watched friends struggle and family members try to start over. There has been world chaos and destruction one event after another. Satan is alive, and he is so real. He always has been. I think sometimes we believe that if we don't see a little guy with a pitchfork or experience a huge travesty, that he isn't active in our lives. The Bible tells us that our enemy is crouching around just like a lion looking for someone to devour. Just like that nature show, we are the prey. He's quiet and stealthy. 

But it isn't all doom and gloom! Just as the ladies have been talking about on Wednesday night, understanding that our battle isn't against each other but against Satan is key. Sometimes we lose sight of that and reconciliation and peace are more difficult. And understand, just as we all are reminded as Easter approaches, God wins! We shouldn't be scared because we have assurance of the end result. We must understand that Satan is active and be prepared and on guard. We must pray for each other and we must lift one another up. 

Our children at church know the real reason for Easter. They are so very smart! When I asked them why Jesus had to die, the answers varied. I got every-thing from "to save us" "to win the battle" "so that we can live with Him forever" "because we had sinned". All of this is true. But rejoice and take courage that the battle has been won. He did rise on the third day and astonished the world. Satan has no hold on Him. We are all on the same team, and what a blessing to know that we have won! 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wicked-ness in high places.
— Ephesians 6:12

Listening = Loving 

It’s a special holiday today that is centered around love. All of the focus centers around red hearts, flowers, candy, dinners, but what does it mean to show true love. What does that look like? 

Recently, Josh and I took a Myers Briggs personality test. While we are similar in many areas, we couldn’t be more different when it comes to the area of being extroverted and introverted. I’ll let you decide who was who, but let’s just say that I love to be around people and I love to talk. While I thought about the upcoming holiday, I stumbled upon a quote. “When the two ears are put side by side, it forms a heart. Interestingly, the word ‘ear’ sits right in the middle of the word ‘heart’ (h-ear-t). The ear is the way to the heart, so if you want someone’s heart, learn to listen to them. If you want God’s heart, learn to listen to Him” 

Many times, we are quick to give our opinion, our excuses, our advice, when instead we should be listening. Listening to what the other person is struggling with. Listening to what the other person likes. Listening to how the other person feels. The bible tells us to be slow to speak and slow to anger. The bible also teaches us to watch our tongue. I’ve often regretted things that I have said because I didn’t listen and think before I spoke. 

Every relationship, not only your spouse, requires listening. We have recently noticed outbursts of frustration and bouts of screaming from our boys when they feel that no one is listening to them. They feel alone. They feel undervalued. They feel unimportant. One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what the other person has to say. There are few greater feelings than to feel loved by those that you respect the most. One of the ways that we feel loved is when we feel listened to and when we feel that our opinion and voice matters. 

There are many times where I know that God has tried to show me something or speak to me and I have simply talked my way around or out of it. I know that I matter to God. How do I show Him that He matters to me? How do I show love to God? We can show it through many ways, but many times I feel we should just listen. Simply be still. 

Josh and I will be celebrating 10 years of marriage this year, and while we still get frustrated, we have come a long way with this listening love. I would challenge you this week to look at your relationships and your relationship with God. Are you showing love? Are you showing respect? Are you truly listening?