Feb 08

Knowing and Growing – a look in to a recent chapel lesson from our Resilience series

Dear friends and church supporters,

I thought it might be of interest to you to see an example of how I am integrating the themes of resilience building, and in particular the measures from the Children and Youth resilience Measure (CYRM-12+4), into our chapel times on campus. What appears below is part of the lesson built around the tried and true measure of resilience: can the child identify skills and abilities that are making them more independent and prepared for the world? We discussed together the fact that Jesus was a child like they were, and there were many things he had to learn before he became an adult. And, if even the perfect son of God had things to learn as a child, how much more should we

A sample of the CRYM and the types of questions the children respond to as a measure of their resilience

A sample of the CRYM and the types of questions the children respond to as a measure of their resilience

realize that there are things we are learning and ways we are growing into the person God is shaping us to be?

This effort to be more purposeful in measuring the effectiveness of the spiritual and cultural aspects of my work with the children is a direct result of my exposure to the nationwide conversation around trauma, adversity in childhood, and the ways that religious communities can be most effective in not only combatting those negative factors in the lives of our nation’s youth, but also the good we can do by intentionally building resilience in young people! If you are interested in learning and growing in these areas and making a positive difference in your community, I’d love to talk with you about the resources and support Intermountain can provide!


Chaplain Chris Haughee



Week 3: Knowing & Growing

Resilience Measure Question addressed:

“Do you have chances to show others that you are growing up and can do things by yourself?” (CRYM-11)


Key Bible passages:

  • Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and all the people” (Luke 2:52). It is also likely that Jesus learned carpentry from his earthly dad! (Mark 6:3)
  • Jesus showed a heart for learning and applying God’s Word to his life (Luke 2:41-52).



  • Students will identify three ways they are growing up and learning healthy independence.
  • Students will identify and write down three things they are good at.

Object lesson or activity: “Body Building”

[have the following items gathered together: large sheets of butcher paper, big enough to draw an outline of one of the children; markers to write on paper]

Hi boys and girls. Today we are going to be looking at a story from the Bible that talks about Jesus as a child. We don’t really know a whole lot from when Jesus was a kid, but we do know that as he grew up he would have learned from his parents what it would mean to be an adult. I am wondering… what do you think it means to be “grown up?”

[children respond]

Those are all interesting ideas! Being a “grown up” can mean a lot of different things. Luke 2:52 says that Jesus grew up in a few different ways…

He grew “in wisdom.” Wisdom is taking what you know and applying it to real life. You are wise if the things you learn in school and chapel and the cottage help you handle future problems, difficulties and opportunities better than you would have without that knowledge. Make sense? Here’s an example… you can learn math in order to do well on math tests. That is growing smarter in math. But it becomes wisdom when you use your math skills to build a house or search for the best deal on the groceries you buy.

He grew “in stature.” That means he got taller and bigger. How many of you are bigger than you were last year at this time? How many will get bigger by the time you are an adult? What things are you hoping to do when you “grow in stature” and become an adult?

[children respond]

Lastly, Jesus grew in “favor with God and man/people.” Do you know what it means to “gain favor” with someone? It doesn’t mean you become that person’s favorite, though the words are similar. It means that you leave that person with a “favorable” impression. You cause them to think you are a pretty neat girl or boy. Now, we might suppose that it would be easy for Jesus to grow in favor with God and man, because—after all—Jesus was God’s son, without sin. Jesus always did what was the good and right and just thing to do.

But, do you suppose, just maybe, that even if you always do the good and right and just thing in every circumstance that perhaps not everyone is going to appreciate that? I think you can imagine that there might be people who don’t want to be around people like that… sometimes those who appear to be perfect are hard to be around. So, Jesus must have had a very special way of being good and just. He wasn’t right and looking for ways to prove others wrong. No, if he was that sort of boy, I don’t think he could have grown “in favor with God and man.” I think Jesus was the type of boy and young man that others wanted to be around because they admired not only the way in which he behaved, but how he made others feel comfortable around him, appreciating them just as they were and seeing the best in them.

Now, we’re going to do an activity in small groups of three or four. Someone in the group will need to lie down on the piece of butcher paper I give the group while the others carefully trace the shape of their body. After you do that as a group, I’ll give further instructions.


Click to see what the children in McTaggart Cottage came up with as ways that they are “Knowing and Growing!”

[divide the group into smaller groups of three or four each, pass out butcher paper sheets and markers. Let children complete the first set of instructions]

Now that you have your outline of a person, I want you to write the following on your paper:

  • By the head, write WISDOM
  • On the body, around the chest or tummy, write STATURE
  • On the arms, because with our arms we shake hands and give hugs, write FAVOR WITH GOD and FAVOR WITH PEOPLE, each phrase on a different arm.

[give children time to complete that portion of the instructions]

Finally, discuss as a group, and take turns with each of you writing ways you can see yourself growing up in each of these ways.

  • For WISDOM, write down the things you want to learn more about and the ways you can think about other people and the world that would make you a wise person (examples: learn how to drive a car, learn how to bake, think of people I don’t know as friends I have yet to make acquaintance with, etc.)
  • For STATURE, write down things you hope to do when you are bigger, taller, stronger and more able. (examples: dunk a basketball, reach the top of the shelves, play football, become a mom or dad, etc.)
  • For FAVOR WITH GOD, write down ways that you are learning about God and finding out about what God hopes for you and your life. (examples: being kind, generous, loving others, etc.)
  • For FAVOR WITH PEOPLE, write down ways that you are learning to treat others with respect and how you are making friends. (examples: showing respect, sharing, looking for ways to include everyone in the group)

I’ll be coming around to each group to see how you are doing. If there is time when our groups are done, we’ll share with one another what we came up with, okay?


Click to see what the children in Sunrise Cottage came up with as ways that they are “Knowing and Growing!”

[give children time to write ideas and decorate their butcher paper outline of a person]

Now that we’ve had a chance to think about how we are growing up just as Jesus did, I’d like you to pause and write some of what you have learned in your handbooks as we discuss three questions to wrap up this activity.

[ask kids to grab their handbooks and turn to the “what I learned” page for lesson 3. They can write in their answers as you discuss.]


  • How would you describe Jesus as a boy? How does the Bible describe the way Jesus was showing others that he was becoming more mature and grown up?
  • What are three things you do well that show you are growing up and becoming more responsible and wise?
  • What might you still need to learn in order to become a healthy, independent adult? If you look in your handbook, you’ll see some ideas if you get stuck! After you select three things you are still learning, write down how you might learn those things and who could teach you.

Jan 29

FREE object lessons for Lent & Easter!

In preparation for Lent, I have written seven free lessons for your use! My hope is that you will find this resource helpful for you as you interpret the “Change for Children” campaign to the young people of your church. While written primarily for a Children’s Sermon format, these object lessons could be used in a Sunday school setting, youth CFC-logogroup, or even as sermon illustrations.

7 Object Lessons for Change for Children- Lent 2018

2018 marks the twenty-second year I’ve been in children’s and youth ministry, and I have found that the object lessons I have used for children’s sermon times have been a very effective way of communicating the truth of God’s Word. Many of the adults in the congregations I’ve served have told me they preferred my children’s sermons to my “regular” sermons.  Jesus taught in object lessons and word pictures, too, so it should be no surprise to us that this method is highly effective—surely Jesus knew what he was doing and set an example for us to follow!

These lessons have been carefully crafted around the stories of the Lenten season (Year B), how the Easter story impacts our hearts and lives, and the ways in which your church can connect to the ministry of Intermountain. I hope this resource blesses you, saves you time in preparation, and makes your workload a little lighter. It is my hope that our relationship will truly be a partnership of mutual benefit. As Intermountain’s chaplain, I want to be a resource to you and an encouragement in your work with children and families.

If you haven’t visited the resource page to see what is there, I encourage you to do so. And, if you or your congregation would like to make use of any of the videos we have produced, make sure you check out the video page as well!

[click here to jump to one of Chris’ favorites… “What If?”]

Jan 15

Moving towards completion of Van Orsdel Commons!

It’s been fifty years since there was a dedicated chapel space for the children in care at Intermountain’s residential campus. In fact, the last place dedicated for worship and learning about God was the Helen Piper memorial chapel in Mills Hall, which once stood on 11th Avenue across from the Capital Mall. So, as I get set to move into the new Van Orsdel Commons, the overwhelming feeling I have is gratitude.

Progress is being made on Van Orsdel Commons! (click for larger, clearer image)

Progress is being made on Van Orsdel Commons! (click for larger, clearer image)

I am grateful for each and every gift and prayer that pushed this project to completion. Coupled with hundreds of donor gifts both large and small, grants from local and statewide agencies have made it possible for construction to begin this month on Van Orsdel Commons. Named for Intermountain’s founder, Brother William Wesley Van Orsdel, and incorporating design elements that will honor the historical contribution of the Methodist Deaconesses, the Commons will serve as a place of worship, rest, and spiritual comfort for children, families and staff.

It’s my hope that it will be like a student commons on a university campus or the living room space in a family home. It is important to all of us at Intermountain that the design of this new space on campus be welcoming to all and perfect for everything from tea parties and movie gatherings to cultural education and much more. We envision the Van Orsdel Commons to serve many more purposes than to simply provide a space for worship and chapel activities and we hope to welcome our community supporters into the space very soon.

The excitement among staff and our children is building! Can you sense it? I hope you and your church community take the opportunity to visit in 2018 and see the new space fifty years in the making, and while you are here in Helena you can build a stronger and more meaningful connection to the ministry and work that goes on every day!



Dec 30

Make 2018 a year of positive change in your community… be an advocate!

2018 is here, and it’s the season when most of us consider New Year’s resolutions and even the most cynical among us dares to think that with a little will power we might do any number of things: lose weight, eat healthier, watch less TV, get that promotion, or repair damaged relationships. 2017 was a year that saw a number of social movements precipitated by what national leaders did as well as the misbehavior of those in government and media in regards to sexual harassment. Whether or not the news that hit our headlines in 2017 motivated you to march in the streets or donate to a particular cause, I might suggest that a better approach for affecting and sustaining meaningful societal change rests in how we view ourselves and our social activism. This year, since we’re considering resolutions, I’d ask you to consider one that will make the world a better place and will give you a sense of purpose in 2018: be an advocate.

An advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of someone or something that they feel strongly about. It’s a willingness to put some “skin in the game,” affecting change in a system, situation, or society through personal effort. It involves speaking out, speaking for, and being there for someone or something outside yourself. It is, ideally, a purely selfless act. It’s also a recognition that, while we can’t do everything, we can do something. And, that something just might make the world brighter and more beautiful. An advocate does more than curse the darkness, she lights the way to a better tomorrow. An advocate joins with others, like those engaged in ChildWise Affiliates throughout Montana to better the lives of children in our communities (see video for more on this exciting movement)!

So, what should you advocate for? How should you go about becoming an advocate?

Where would you start in considering advocacy in 2018? I have a few suggestions for you, based on my own experience. I trust that if you follow these guidelines, you’ll find yourself connected to a cause and to a group of people that will help make this an amazing year of fulfillment, hope and promise.

First, examine what you do for most of your waking hours. If it is employment outside the home, what is your line of work? What causes might be connected to your place of employment? If you work in the home, maybe you’ll connect best to a cause that resonates for your passion for raising healthy children or supporting other families? I currently work at Intermountain, an agency dedicated to “caring solutions, strong families, and healthy communities” in Montana since 1909. I am passionate about what I do, so it is easy to advocate for the children and families we serve. If you can find someone or something to advocate for that connects to your vocation, you’ll go a long way towards making that job a calling!

Secondly, consider what issues or personal hardships have you endured. If you are here to celebrate the New Year, you are a survivor! Who helped you along the way? Answering this question can help you find people and organizations that will help you “pay it forward.” For instance, my older brother had Muscular Dystrophy and was helped by both the MDA (Jerry’s Kids) and benefitted from having a wish granted by Make-A-Wish many years ago. So, my act of “paying it forward” is to support MDA and volunteer as a Wish Granter with Montana Make-A-Wish! By mining your personal history, you are bound to find something you can advocate for, even redeeming something from your past that was difficult or troubling.

The great thing is, when you take your past pain and put it into service in the present, you are able to connect with those you are helping in a much more profound and compassionate way. As you have been comforted by God, family and friends, you can comfort others (2 Cor. 1:4).

Lastly, ask around at the groups you participate in to discover new avenues for advocacy. Maybe your Rotary or Lions group is passionate about clean water or education? Maybe that booster club you joined is more than you assumed it was and is doing some great work to help students on and off the field? Communities of faith are great places for advocacy… have you considered getting involved in a cause your church or fellowship is invested in? My home church is Headwaters Covenant Church, and in 2018 we are purposefully focusing on making our church a more trauma sensitive space by including a sensory-break room where those that are overwhelmed, regardless of age, can take the opportunity to regulate their mind, bodies, and spirits in order to better connect with the worshipping experience.

So, whether it springs forth from your occupation or vocation, connects to a piece of your personal history, or allows you to connect in a deeper way with your church or community, be an advocate in 2018. You can help our world become a better place and that is a resolution worth making. Happy New Year!

[Note: A version of this article originally appeared in the Helena Independent Record, print edition, Dec 31, 2016]

Dec 18

ICYMI: Alizajane Sark blesses the kids of Intermountain

In case you missed it, there was a wonderful story on KTVH in Helena about Alizajane Sark and the Festival of Trees donor that paid $800 so her tree could be donated back to the children of Intermountain. Here’s the story that ran on the news last week:



We wish you a blessed Christmas and hope your heart is filled with joy and generosity, just like young Alizajane’s!

Dec 13

Happy Chanukah!

Chanukah is an eight day holiday that begins on the 25th day of Kislev, on the Jewish calendar, each year.  This year, Chanukah started on December 12th at sunset, and the whole campus was able to assemble in the multi-purpose room to observe the holiday.

Through fun songs (like the one above) and entertaining videos, we recounted the victorious story of a small group of Jews, including the Maccabee family, who fought off the Assyrian-Greeks in a battle that lasted three years ( 168-165 B.C.E.), in order to retain their Jewish identity and practices. This was the first time, in recorded history, that a people stood up for their rights, and it is a cause to celebrate, even today!

Where does the connection to “light” come in? Well, when the Jews returned to their Temple, in Jerusalem, that had been trashed and defiled by the Assyrians, they could only find one small crucible of oil to light the menorah that was lit each day in the Temple. As our children learned, one of the miracles of the Chanukah story is that this little bit of oil lasted eight days ~ the exact time needed to prepare, purify and bless a new batch of oil.  Accordingly, Chanukah is celebrated by lighting a nine-branched chanukiyah ( candelabra).  Each night, an additional candle is lit, adding more light to the darkening days.

During our special chapel service, the children heard Chanukah stories, learned a couple of Chanukah songs and prayers, played the dreidel (a spinning top that tells the story of Chanukah) game and enjoyed sufganiyot ( jelly doughnuts) which is also part of the traditional celebration of Chanukah.

Also known as The Festival of Lights, Chanukah is a time to celebrate with family and friends.  It is a joyous holiday. We hope you have a wonderful celebration, as well… whatever, whomever, and however you choose to recognize this special time of year!chanukkah-image


Dec 06

“Guess Who?” an object lesson for the 2nd week of Advent

guess-whoObject lesson for Week 2 of Advent: “Guess Who?”

Objects needed:

A copy of the children’s game “Guess Who?” if you can find one.

Theme/Main Idea:

With Jesus’ birth, God entered into human history and gave God a face! In knowing Jesus, we have a chance to know God. In living our lives with Jesus, we can know true hope no matter what happens.


“Have you ever had to describe a good friend to someone who hasn’t met them? What sort of things did you say to describe them?

[Take time for children’s answers. They are likely going to mention personality traits as well as physical traits.]

These are all great descriptions. I noticed that people mentioned physical characteristics—how tall, what color hair, etc.—as well as personality traits—nice, funny, etc.—when describing their friends. Now, for a stranger who hasn’t met our friend, it might be easier for them to recognize our friend if we just stuck to physical traits.

[Take out “Guess Who?” game]

Do you guys know what this is? Yes. It is a game. Has anyone here ever played this game? Yes? Well how do you play? That’s right, you try and guess the other player’s mystery person before they guess yours. And, it is all about asking questions like, ‘Is it a boy? Does he have a mustache? Does he wear glasses?’ And, as you go… it narrows things down until you can guess who the mystery person is.

Now… I kind of have a silly question for you. If you were going to play this game and God was your mystery person, how would you describe God? Would you use physical characteristics to describe God like in this game [hold Guess Who? Game up], or would you use personality characteristics—sticking to what God is like… gentle, kind, powerful?

[Give children time to respond]

Yes. We might think about pictures we have seen of Jesus when we describe God, but even those pictures… well, we can’t be sure exactly what Jesus looked like. So, more often than not, I think I would describe Jesus or God like some of you did: Loving, kind, peaceful… those kind of things.

Until God came to earth as Jesus, we had a hard time knowing Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus is a perfect representation of God—He shows us exactly what God is like because he is God. So, after Jesus came, people could know God better than they ever had before!

Even now, after Jesus has been born, lived, died, rose from the grave and has returned to heaven, we can still know God well by knowing Jesus. We can know Jesus by reading the Bible, by talking to Jesus in prayer, and through worship—what we are doing right now! Yes, he might not be here physically. We might not be able to reach out and touch Jesus, but Jesus is here and we can still know him in our hearts, minds, and souls. And, just like our best friends, we’ll find that the words we use to describe our friend Jesus will not focus on how Jesus looks, but on the traits that really make a difference to us. The hope of the whole earth—to know God and be loved by God—this hope was met when Jesus was born.

Let’s pray:

“God, thank you for the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Because Jesus came to us we don’t have to guess about who you are and how you feel about us. You love us, care for us, and want us to love you in return. Thank you, God for this season of hope and for the joy you have placed in our hearts. Amen.”

Key Text:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)


© Chaplain Chris Haughee, 2017 www.intermountainministry.org

Nov 26

Van Orsdel United Methodist Youth visit Intermountain in Helena

group w posterHelena’s Community Service Center and Residential campus were bless to have a visit from Intermountain Presidential Council member Pat Floyd, youth leader Tina, and 15 amazing youth from Van Orsdel United Methodist Church in Havre, Montana earlier this month.

The group started out at the Community Service Center with Terry Chaney, who fed them lunch and gave a program on the history of Intermountain and answered a lot of questions about Intermountain’s mission and ministry. It was a wonderful place to start the visit and gave the group insight into the interventions and activities that our community-based programs engage in, reaching hundreds of children and families every day.

signing posterNext, the group traveled up the hill to join me for a quick explanation and tour of the Residential campus, visiting McTaggart cottage as well as getting to see the construction going on in the former Bridger cottage. That cottage is being transformed into Van Orsdel Commons, a place where chapel activities, Jewish mentoring, and cultural activities will take place for our children.

Additionally, the Commons will include a café and study lounge space for both children and staff, extra room for special cultural projects and artistic creations, house our puppet stage, and allow for additional occupational therapy activities for children and wellness programs for staff.

I was especially touched to have the group write prayers on the 2×4 studs in the walls… words of blessing and encouragement that will surround those that will use the Van Orsdel Commons for years to come.

In between small groups touring the Van Orsdel Commons, the group helped Heather Rae, our donations manager, down in the “Treasure Chest.” The Treasure Chest is our donations room, and there is almost always lots of work to be done in that space. It is set up like a small store with items of clothing, school supplies, shoes, jackets, and some toys and games. When individuals or groups donate items (perhaps in response to the “Wish List“) they come down prayers on studs1to our donations room and need to be sorted and placed out in the Treasure Chest so staff can take children there to select items as needed for their care and for special celebrations like birthdays and Christmas.

Throughout this post, you can see pictures from the visit, including a mother and son that attended and wrote prayers of blessing on the walls of the chaplain’s office as well as the hand of Intermountain Presidential Council Member Pat Floyd signing the poster the youth created to encourage our children. The poster reads: “To the children of Intermountain, we are praying for you!” Pat signed the poster, writing: “Lots of love, from Van Orsdel United Methodist Youth.” The poster is hanging in the space we now use for chapel activities, the MPR (Multi-purpose room), in the Bob Wix Building.

I am excited to see how the relationship between Van Orsdel UMC and Intermountain will continue to grow. Tina, the leader who attended with 15 of her amazing youth, expressed interest in possibly coming back in 2018 to participate in our yearly VBS Day Camp! It was amazing and inspiring to see a group of young people that were truly engaged and ready to assist in Intermountain’s mission of “healing through healthy relationships” any way they could!

Sincerely, Chaplain Chris Haughee

Pat signs poster

Nov 21

Happy Thanksgiving and Thank you!

We have spent a lot of time this month focusing on thankfulness, gratitude, and recognizing how richly we have been blessed. It started with Operation Christmas Child, and a special chapel service in which each cottage sent a child up (one at a time) to select items for a gift they prepared together for a child in Mexico. In addition to writing notes of

A sample of our children's notes in our Operation Christmas Child gifts

A sample of our children’s notes in our Operation Christmas Child gifts

encouragement, each child had to come back to their cottage with an item and explain why they had selected it to go in the gift. This interpretive step emphasized the role of empathy and “putting others above ourselves” (Philippians 2:3) when giving a gift. The children really seemed to respond to this lesson and had some wonderful insights when we discussed what made a good gift around the holidays!

The following week in chapel we spent time thinking about all the people that come around us and support us when times are hard. We discussed thankfulness and gratitude as key components in building the “team” that God has placed in our lives. Children drew pictures and wrote notes of thanks to donors to Intermountain and also wrote on a

Each leaf on the tree has something our children are thankful for.

Each leaf on the tree has something our children are thankful for.

fall leaf something they were thankful for. The leaves each attached to a tree on the wall with a small Velcro dot, and when each child had giving thanks, we had a beautiful fall tree to decorate our space for our upcoming holidays!

At Intermountain, we are tremendously thankful for the support we receive from our donors and supporting churches. We simply could not carry on the work on behalf of children and their families without the love, prayers, and financial support of so many throughout Montana and the country! So, as we gather to give thanks, each of you are on our hearts and minds, and we wish you a happy Thanksgiving and a blessed holiday season.


Chaplain Chris Haughee and the children of Intermountain

Give Thanks good-good-rewards

Nov 08

Reflections on Veteran’s Day 2017

As we remember those who have served in our armed forces this Veteran’s Day, Intermountain and the Chaplain’s Department wants all our supporters–but especially veterans–to know that we recognize ALL the sacrifices you have made to make a better future for the children and families we serve! Beyond just those who served, we are grateful for those who “served too” through keeping the family going despite deployments, drill weekends, multiple moves, and much more. We are grateful for the example of hard work and sacrifice that the veterans in our midst provide for all of us.


“Old Glory” drawn by one of the children

Hard work and sacrifice are key ingredients in the healing work that goes on through Intermountain’s many services. Our children in residential care, as well as the many children Intermountain serves through its community based services, are working hard for freedom from shame, negative self-image, substance abuse, and darkness in their past.

It’s a difficult work, but they are doing it with God’s help and the care of parents, foster parents, case workers, therapists, counselors, and more. We are free to do this work because we live in a country that values and fights for all its citizens to experience “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”


“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13


Just as our veterans have been willing to lay down their lives and sacrifice their comforts in order to fight for the freedoms all Americans enjoy, we at Intermountain endeavor to sacrifice what we must in order to redeem the hearts, minds, and souls of children. As God has blessed us and blessed America, we are working together to make that blessing a reality for EVERY child in our midst.

Thank you,

Chaplain Chris Haughee

Older posts «