“Giving Away CHRISTmas! Part 2”

Hello All,
 
I just got back yesterday from an event (a CHRISTmas party) with my company’s UK partner in Cardiff, Wales.  It was such a blessing that Tanya was able to come with me and we even slipped in a bit of time at the big shopping mall near our hotel.  Wow, it was like one foot back in the USA as this mall was not like the Swiss “malls” around Zug….or even Zurich.  While impressive and full of people as this place was only a few days before Christmas, it was a clear reminder again of what the world around us thinks Christmas (or X-mas as most of the signs indicated) is all about; shopping for gifts and the guy in the red suit named Santa.  We even saw several Santa’s around, one in particular giving away the “ISSUE” newspaper to all that walked by.  I’m not a Santa hater nor am I one who would desire to boycott Christmas, but I am definately one who’s passionate about reminding the world around me in a loving way that CHRISTmas is about THE ORIGINAL GIFT, that God blessed creation in a special way with His Son Jesus on that original Christmas day! 
 
Here’s THE ORIGINAL GIFT’s birth announcement as recorded in Luke 2:10-14
 
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
 

In continuation from the last LIFT update regarding “Giving Away CHRISTmas”, I thank the many that sent their great insight and ideas in how you or your family can also try to seek ways to bless others this time of year versus being focused on a gift under the tree with your name on it. Below in blue font is a selection of many of these responses with some minor editing (denoted with an *) to keep the focus on the ideas and not the people.   
 
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Hey man this was awesome.  We have three children* and we are going to have each one pick out a gift, wrap it, and try to deliver it to a family in need, or give it to a charity toy drop off.

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What a wonderful message! It did me good reading it. Two weeks ago we had a discussion about the chidren’s* “old” toys and instead of selling them on the internet* and getting money for it, we would like to give them to the Gemeinde  Sozialabteilung (local village’s social welfare office*).  We’re also discussing the food matter as we are sure that here in (our village*) there are families who have no chance to celebrate Christmas with some good food and to enjoy Christmas because they are struggeling with everything.

 
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We absolutely love and look forward to Christmas because it’s all about giving although the world has turned it the other way around. Our child recently celebrated with a birthday party with friends from his/her* current & former school. For the party, instead of having presents and all, our child* had all the guests make a donation to the school’s Ghana charity fund, which funds the running of a school in Ghana. I hope this will not end here, as I will create albums & info sites and send it with a thank you to those who came, so they can continue to be updated by the progress of the Ghana school and perhaps support it again in the future.

Being a child once myself, I can understand how important presents are to kids and as parent’s* were very pleased to see our child* give instead of take, and use the birthday party as a way to raise awareness & funds for those who need it. God is indeed great and church has played a great role in shaping our child* as well. My grandma raised me with a thought – “To be able to give – that’s the greatest blessing.” So I hope that this is passed on to my child*.

The other idea which we all had was to have a birthday party at an orphanage, where all the guests bring gifts for the kids at the orphanage instead of the birthday child. That doesn’t just stop there as the kids would be encouraged to continue their friendship and to really be a friend to the kids at the orphanage, so like writing to each other and all that. This too can be used for a Christmas party, where we can share the real Gift – Jesus.

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I used to work for a Greek shipping company and every Christmas, we send out Christmas greetings to all our partners, clients, suppliers and friends, and tell them we have donated to charities the money which we would have used to buy the cards & pay for the postage. That was quite a bit which would have been spent on cards and postage, so it was good to see that the money went to children’s homes and cancer charities instead… and the cost for sending out the thousands of greetings out – zilch. :) … oh yeah… less trees cut down too, so also protecting God’s creation.

 
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I love your words “giving away”.  I often hear our child* say these words.  As a matter of fact, she wrote a paper about a famous person* and in her opening paragraph she wrote something like this “this person* loved peace and gave it away….”
 
In our home country*, we, as a family always tried to do some kind of little family fundraiser and pass the money onto the orphanages in Russia.  This always was a big deal for us, but last year here, I had a tough time trying to figure out what to do and let our little family tradition go past us.  The last year we were in our homeland*, we had an art show.  one of our children* is a very good artist, but other made a bunch of pictures, too.  I put borders on all of them and hung them in our dining room.  We invited lots of neighbors and friends and collected donations for each “piece” of art.  We donated all the money to an organization that builds playgrounds in orphanages in Russia.  Now, our second year, here, and I’m still thinking about this and maybe will try to do something in the New year. 

 
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Cool message!   For several years in a row my siblings* and I were buying Christmas gifts for each other, and for each our spouses.  There are 6 of us in total.  We all attend the same church in our homeland*, and they often have various organizations in need around Christmas time.  About 5 years ago we decided we truly didn’t need anything material for Christmas, and that we would much prefer to take all of the money we would spend on each other (+ some extra), and we sponsor a family that is in need.  While I was there last we all* took a day and went and did all the shopping together.  We really enjoyed spending the time together, and we were so happy to do something that would make someone else’s Christmas morning special.  Obviously, I am now just a monetary contributor, but the “tradition” remains.  Our kids visibly see that we don’t have gifts from each other, and it a good opportunity to explain to them what we are doing and why.  We certainly aren’t “special” for doing this – as lots of people all over the world do it – but I have to say I don’t miss the gifts under the tree at all, and it is such a peaceful feeling to know someone else is having a special day.
 
That said we have struggled to find a way to really instill it in our kids – so I love the ideas you have!  Can’t wait to see the others.

 
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This year compassion international has a “what I want for christmas” program.  They send you a child that needs a sponser (at the end of NOv) for you to pray for during the holidays and try to find a sponser for.  We are doing that and the kids are really praying for (*our child we sponsor).  Also we do one of the toy programs for kids that wouldn’t get anything, each child fills a shoebox.  Also we have some Christmas books we read

 
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Working with and helping the mentally and physically challenged is a real blessing because they really appreciate the love. I use to volunteer with the Special Olympics * and continue to help out a workshop/day center.

Another things is to give to the Messianic Congregations in Eretz Israel. They have Arab, Jewish and others that have paid dearly to become believers in the Messiah. As you know both the Arabs and Jews families write their family members off when they put their faith in Jesus.

Recently some congregations have been firebombed, vandalized and have had the anti-missionary groups riot in front of their places of worship. They really need our prayer and physical support (even visits). Consider standing with them as they need to know that other believers care about them in their time of need. Especially now..

Keeping the light(s) in this world,

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A cool idea that we have used in the past is to give specific gifts from the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog, in someone else’s name, as an honorary gift to them (SP sends an honor or memory card explaining the gift). This works well for grandkids to give to their grandparents, for example. See https://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/Giving/gift_catalog/
 
e.g. 
$4 for milk for a child for a week
$9 to feed a hungry baby for a week
$10 for a mosquito net to prevent malaria
$14 for a dozen baby chicks
 
It’s also available in British pounds here: http://www.giftcatalogue.org.uk

 
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We’ve done Operation Christmas Child via ISZL for the past two years (isn’t that cool that the international schools sponsor such a Christian thing!? I wonder whether they realize!), and we also were able to do it through our homeland* as well. Have been blessed to sponsor Compassion children for 20 years this year. 
 
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Dad just came back from some ministry* outreaches where he was telling Hindu Indians about what Christmas is all about. Sharing our “Dad time” over the Christmas break is one way that we give Christmas away. Another way is that we’ve always had a stocking for Jesus. So there are 7 stockings at our fireplace: one for every family member, plus one for Jesus. We kids grew up putting poems for Jesus, letters for Jesus, and money for Jesus in the stocking. We then take the money to church as offering, or give the money to missions/the poor. We also bake traditional Swiss Christmas cookies for all of our neighbors. Some of them wait all year for our cookie bags! Most of these neighbors don’t yet know the Lord, but they all know that we are Christians, and they respect us for it… I think they’re glad we take Christmas so seriously because it means they get yummy cookies (hehe), but it’s also a nice way of reaching out to them and going to their homes to deliver the cookies… We have interesting conversations with them each time.
 
What amazing insight into “being CHRISTmas” and a blessing to others at CHRISTmas time! 
 
There are still a few days left, what might you do to still “Give Away CHRISTmas yourself this year? Taking gifts to others?  Serving at a food distribution place?  Adding “Jesus is the reason to the season” to your (work) e-mails instead of X-Mas?  Inviting someone to a Christmas Eve service (which LIFT is having one)?  Connecting with a long ago family member or friend that you need reconciliation with? Bringing a guest to your Christmas meal, even if they aren’t family?  (Contact the Eales if you want to join with the growing “Christmas Day meal with the Eales” for families/individuals around LIFT that don’t have extended family around!
 
In His grip and grace…..because He first gave me the real gift of Christmas!
Corey

“Giving Away CHRISTmas!”

Hello All,

A few nights ago we had some friends over for dinner and they asked my son a question in which his answer made me smile.  The question was, “What is your family tradition? Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?”  His answer was a quiet, simple (but profound), “Actually, this year we are giving away Christmas.”  It was a memorable moment for me  because his answer gave evidence that he’s getting an important value in life at Christmas that Tanya and I are being very intentional to try and pass on to our children. 

As a family we’ve been having an internal discussion for weeks now (in continuation from last Christmas’ discussions) on how we should try to focus on others at Christmas, versus a “me attitude” of what presents under the tree have my name on it.  Clearly, we’re not the perfect family (even if our last name is Best) and we will have one family gift that’s not exactly inexpensive under our tree, but overall, we are trying to figure out real tangible ways to “give away Christmas” with focus on others. 

It’s not that it all started last year for our family with such a topic since we downplayed Santa Claus with our kids from birth and “up played” Jesus as the real gift at Christmas.  However,  last year we were challenged by another who went out of her way to do something for other families in our community who may not have a lot of means to really celebrate Christmas as a family, even in such a wealthy nation as Switzerland.  I hesitate to share details of some of the ways our family is “giving away Christmas” this year, but at the same time, I hope and pray you may be challenged as well to look outward away from the presents with your name on them under your tree and think of others during Christmas.

First, it’s simply been an open conversation with our kids and seeking their input in practical ways we can “give away Christmas”.   One way is that we will buy food baskets and take to our village’s social service office for them to give to families in need.  We found out last year that there are a few (very local) families that are in need and they can anonymously take these baskets too.   A catch in this is that we (each of us in the family) are finding ways together to set aside funds (giving up something) so we can purchase these gifts for others.  There are a lot of creative ways to do this and we’re putting the saved money  in a “Giving Away Christmas” box.  There are a few other things involved in this family savings box, but you get the idea. 

Another thing we did this year in particular was to sponsor a COMPASSION CHILD.  This first month’s sponsorship is again a family thing that our kids have been involved with in setting aside support for it.  Years ago we sponsored a child from Brazil while we still lived in the USA, and we are honored and excited to share in another’s life, this time in Togo.   By the way, Ken N at LIFT is a Compassion “Advocate” who can provide you with more information on how you too can “sponsor” a Compassion Child somewhere in the world.  Personally, I strongly endorse and have seen first hand the integrity of how Compassion International operates in a wonderful way of ensuring the sponsor’s finances truly makes it to those involved in a transparent and effective manner.

AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO SHARE ON WAY’S TO GIVE CHRISTMAS AWAY:
The world around us has made CHRISTmas into a spending frenzy and commercial business called X-Mas and I’m not one who desires for my kids to only know that kind of a world and the world of the fat guy in a red suit or only the Swiss version of Samichlaus and his cohorts “Schmutzli” from the “Waldhuus” (cabin in the woods).  Jesus IS the reason for the season and CHRISTmas is called CHRISTMAS for a reason.

Again, my family isn’t “the model” family and we’re imperfect in many ways but I hope to challenge others to also be intentional to “GIVE AWAY CHRISTMAS”, just as God gave His Son as the original CHRISTmas gift to the world…..knowing Jesus would live His life to die for us, and GIVE us life through His death and resurrection! 
I have a favor to ask of you and a challenge all at the same time.  Since our family is still trying to seek practical ways to “GIVE AWAY CHRISTMAS” (this year and future years).  If you, as a family, couple or single have found your own way of “giving away Christmas”, please click reply and share it with me?  Preferably by next Wednesday.  I intend to keep the names confidential, but would like to share various ideas that others out there may have found in giving away Christmas on next week’s LIFT update.

In His grip and grace…..because He first gave me the real gift of Christmas!
Corey

PS- A great friend of ours sent this link about couple days ago about “Giving This Christmas Away”- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2ulYpoNXC0

“A Father's Prayer”!

Hello All,
 
Like normal, when my business travel hits, it often hits all at once!  Over the last two weeks, I’ve been to Amsterdam, Cardiff (Wales), Milan, Dusseldorf and Wuppertal (Germany) and Helsinki via 7 planes, 8 trains, 7 taxis, 6 buses and 5 different beds that don’t quite have the comfort of my very own pillow under my head!  Fortunately, alongside my work meeting schedules I was blessed to have met with a couple of church planters in various places along the way and had a divine conversation on the final plane ride back home last Friday with another who lives the world of business and business travel, while sharing Jesus along the way..even in board rooms!  And the trip to Milan was over the weekend with Silas to have our first ever live Rugby experience, so it wasn’t all business! Needless to say, it’s been a wonderful week back home getting back into my “normal busy life” of 3 kids, a great dog, a wonderful church and plenty of face to face coffee (or kitchen) conversations with my best friend in life (and wife) Tanya! 
 
Although I didn’t get a chance to sit down and do my LIFT update for several days now, I had written this one “in my head and heart” last Thursday and Friday while looking forward to being home with my family. Of course, while traveling I don’t check out in life from my family, but stay engaged as much as possible.  Great technology with a smart phone (voice, SMS and internet) helps a lot and skype with video from a hotel room can “almost” allow me to sit at the dinner table with the family and see and hear how their day went.  Aside of technology, a far better way of staying connected (and the real point of this LIFT update) is the blessing and gift of God called PRAYER!  It’s not out of date, it’s not irrelevant and it works beyond our expectations….even when we don’t think so!  Somehow trying to grasp the magnitude of what prayer, in connecting to the God of the Universe from within my own soul and then realizing He enables my prayer of intersession (prayer on behalf of others) to touch other’s souls and lifes, gives me great joy and hope…….wherever I may find myself far from home!  Prayer is not just intercession or asking God for things, but much much more (ie. praise, adoration, worship, confession, thanksgiving, song, meditation, to name a few)!
 
Back on Father’s Day of this year I read a devotion from a well known pastor from the USA (Rick Warren) about a father’s necessity to pray fervently for his children .  I was inspired and challenged enough to print it and put it in my carry on computer case that I always take with me wherever I go.  From time to time as I reach for my passport or plane tickets, I grap that piece of paper instead and take a moment to re-read it and of course pray for my three children.  Often I continue on praying for Tanya (and for LIFT and others that the Lord puts on my heart as well). So while preparing my bags last Thursday night ready to be home, I found myself holding this paper and praying for my children.  Although I was near the Artic Circle in Finland and far, far from Edlibach, Switzerland, the Lord comforted my soul as he connected me to my 3 children who were fast asleep with their heads on their own pillows, almost just as if I walked into their rooms and put my hand gently on their cheek! (Below is the clip from this Father’s Prayer devotional.)
 
In His grip and grace,
Corey

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FATHERS: PRAY FERVENTLY FOR YOUR CHILDREN 

Jesus reflected the father heart of God when He prayed for the disciples. As a father, or mother, you can pray that your children will focus on the five purposes of God.

God’s five purposes for your children are the same as God’s five purposes for your life, and the same as the five purposes for the church. Jesus prayed for all five purposes in the lives of those He was leading.

Jesus said, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given me, for they are Yours” (John 17:9 NIV).

We can pray that our children will live for Christ joyfully: “I say these things while I’m still in the world so that they will have the same joy that I have” (John 17:13 GWT).

We can pray that our children will grow strong spiritually: “I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one” (John 17:15 NLT).

We can pray that our children will serve Christ effectively: “Make them ready for Your service through Your truth; Your teaching is truth” (John 17:17 NCV).

We can pray that our children will experience fellowship personally: “My prayer . . . is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are one, Father . . . and the world will believe You sent me” (John 17:21 LB).

We can pray that our children will bring others to Christ regularly: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me because of their message” (John 17:20 TEV).

Even if you are not a father, or a mother, you will help others move toward the heart of God by praying for them and the purposes God has planned for their lives.

“The Journey Continues”!

Hello All,
 
As announced this past Sunday at LIFT by the Servants Leaders (and I), there is  a  new era for LIFT in the months ahead in going and growing forward in faith with the Lord……..just as LIFT has done from the beginning.  On behalf of my family and our church I want to thank the Servant Leaders for their wonderful hearts, encouragement, insight, wisdom and prayers during our discussions over the past months in preparation for the year ahead of 2010 and beyond!  The following is the announcement that was shared to LIFT and over the next weeks, I intend to continue the conversation together via the LIFT updates!  Oh yes guys…..the journey of faith and the journey of LIFT continues and I look forward to seeing the Lord continue His blessings upon LIFT beyond our expectations!  

Beginning in January 2010, the Best family, after 5 years of “tentmaking” missionary work at LIFT, is taking a “sabbatical” for 2010 and turning over the active LIFT church leadership to LIFT’s Servant Leaders and LIFT. Although it is often that a missionary family takes a furlough year after 4 or 5 years in the field, it usually means the family returns to their homeland and home church. In this case, however, the Best’s (2nd) homeland is Switzerland and their “home church” is LIFT, thus we’ll all be seeing them around quite a bit.  For their family, 2010 will also be a year of pursuing passions that God has placed within them regarding a broader Kingdom vision of connecting other church plants from around Switzerland and Europe for mutual encouragement and synergies.  
 
So folks, I first want to underline the part about “we’ll all be seeing them (the Best’s) around quite a bit” at LIFT. Aside of taking several weeks away from January to the end of February, we are so thankful that for the rest of the year we have a home church within our (2nd) homeland to be refreshed by and blessed to belong to such a wonderful body of believers and friends.  As we are turning over the daily active leadership of LIFT and also the various ministries both Tanya and I are involved with, we totally look forward to enjoying the freed up time to be able to follow the Lord’s leading and pursue passions the Lord has placed within us, all the while doing more things as a family of five as well, many of which will also include being with families of LIFT that we just haven’t had the time to fellowship with. 
 
Part of our DNA at LIFT is “Serving Together- ALL of us!”. It’s been mentioned every single week for the last 5 years since LIFT began……you know, right after “The Bible is our source, living our faith and giving it away and  being counter culturally friendly”.  Although Tanya and I are involved with numerous ministries, LIFT isn’t Corey’s church, nor is it Ken or Bedros’ church, but LIFT is (put your name here)’s church…..or actually LIFT is all us together as part of Jesus’ church! 
 
Furthermore, one of our 5 core values of LIFT called “BODY”- Ministry and Service (formerly known as the Element of Wood) again reminds us that we are all in this together with Jesus, the Head of the church!  Together, as many individual parts of one body, of course with many stepping up a bit more in serving one another at LIFT, we will continue our wonderful journey…….the journey of living our faith and giving it away, first right here in Zug and unto the nations around us and beyond!  Here’s some of the Scriptural background to this core value:
 
Romans 12:4-7
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
 

Matthew 20:28
“Just as the Son of Man (JESUS) did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

I encourage you to do three things:

    1) Pray for our church LIFT and for one another!
    2) Talk about it, meaning don’t hesitate to ask me, or the Servant Leaders what it means that the Best’s are turning over the leadership to LIFT, or what broader Kingdom vision means, or any other questions you may have.
    3) Consider your calling and what ministry you can serve in as a stronger part of the BODY!

 
In closing, Tanya shared this verse with me a couple days ago in how during this week in particular and the months ahead, it is a great Word of encouragement in faith in the One who endured the cross for us!
 
Hebrew 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
 

Yes, the journey continues………
 
In His grip and grace, 
Corey

“A Time To Dance!”

Hello All,

I’ve always liked the beginning of Ecclesiastes 3 where the Bible gives us such a broad glimpse into the reality of one’s life; there is a time for everything!  Verse 4 in particular says, “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”. 

So why would I be writing about dancing this week? Is it because David also danced in the Bible as in 2 Samuel 6:14 where it is written, “David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might”? Is it because I personally am a good dancer?  I can answer the good dancer question easily with an honest; “not really!”  Actually I was brought up following the end of a generation that somewhat probably considered dancing not really a church thing at all, and even most “good church folks” would have called dancing a sin!  Today, perhaps there is a lot of dancing that crosses the line of indecency and is sinful, but dancing in and of itself is an act of creativeness that can be used for many things, even good things and even worship (yes worship, just like David)!  But it still doesn’t change the fact that I’m just not very good at it!  Back in my day in 6th grade I remember learning a few moves when the words “popping” and “break dancing” we’re new and trendy terms, which today’s generation (and probably even more so with an international readership) would just say that break dancing should really mean, “Corey, take a break from trying to dance and what in the world are you talking about with popping? (some might call that part electricity)”. 

So why am I writing about dancing?

O.k. I’ll get to the point, this Saturday, from 7:30-10:00pm, is LIFT’s “Community Outreach Family Dance Evening” and I and my family are looking forward to going, even inviting others to come check it out too.  Katherine Fedor and family have blessed LIFT with leading/teaching two prior Dance Evenings that have been a cool experience for all that have come!  It has nothing to do with “popping” and really, I pray nobody “breaks” anything dancing.  Actually, it’s a whole different type of dancing versus that which was around back in my early days. It’s actually from a couple hundred years back when dancing was “rather proper” in form when done amongst the good folks of Britain such as you might have seen in Jane Austen movies like Pride and Prejudice. 

O.k., now I’ve crossed the line for most of the men out there who already think I’m crazy to admit I’m going dancing with my family in a fashion that was inspired by a chick flick like Pride and Prejudice, especially since most know I’m into American Football (Go Broncos!) and even watched a live Rugby match (All Blacks) a few weeks ago in Italy.  But hang on, I’m being honest and it’s really a worthwhile and extremely fun experience, even for a manly man like some of you out there!  I too remember when I went to the first one earlier in the year, I a bit “shy” (nicer than saying embarrassed) to admit I was going to go to an 18th Century dance night.  In fact I really only went because I enjoy doing things with my family and we are all in it together…..and I like hanging out with the Fedor’s as well!  But now with two dance night’s under my belt, I’m even writing about it publicly!  No experience needed, cause Katherine & Co are great teachers.  
Whether young (over 7), old (no limit), single (more than welcome), couples or family we look forward to enjoying a wonderful night of fellowship, fun and dance together!  Bring someone with you! 

In His grip and grace, 
Corey