What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs (A VBS Story Pt. 3)

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Sorry about the title, but it’s what keeps dancing around in my head as I think about this post.

In planning a VBS, I always begin with this question, “God, what do HiSKidZ need to hear this year?”

And then I wait.

I try to do it patiently, but I wait the best I can until I hear God’s voice leading me to what He wants to teach HiSKidZ in our little corner of His world.

This year, once the idea came that we needed to build God’s Word into their lives like never before, I went to my leadership team and begin to lay out a plan for partnering with one of my sons to write a VBS based on building blocks–a brand name of which I won’t mention here. It would be a big task, and would take a lot of time, energy and money.

Then, I asked whether or not we should do VBS this year.  Like any church, finding enough help can be a challenge, and without enough help, frustration and burnout can occur even among the strongest of Kidmin leaders.

Before I could get out my reasons for asking whether or not to do VBS, my leaders went C.R.A.Z.Y. on me! (Yeah,our children’s leadership team is awesomely like yesterday’s blog post!). Of course, we were going to do VBS! Dawn, how could you even think about not doing VBS??  There are kids to be reached and families who need to know Jesus. And it’s a VBS with building blocks of a brand name we won’t mention here!!  And so. . .

The planning and praying began, and we discussed what we wanted and needed for the week.

One of those things included Jumpstart3. (Yes, the Jumpstart3 promo week continues–Jeff, I know you are smiling as you read this!)

However, we are a small church in a small town in a small state with a small budget. But hey, no worries, because we have A BIG GOD!!

This summer, we were going to be reminded of how big.

I made the call, or two or three, to Jeff, and plans began to take shape. The problem was Jeff’s fee. His regular fee for a week is like my children’s ministry budget for a year. Yet, I knew he was supposed to come, and thankfully, so did he. He agreed to come for much less than his usual fee, and I agreed to pay him much less than his usual fee.

And our team agreed to pray that God would agree to pay his actual fee.

After talking with our church leadership, we launched our first ever investment program for VBS using an envelope system of giving. Basically, we put 100 envelopes on a wall, numbered $1-$100. People could pick an envelope, put in the corresponding amount of money and we would fund our VBS through it.

We wanted to raise enough money to cover Jeff’s fees, and to provide one Jumpstart3 CD and a t-shirt for each child who attended VBS.

What a girl wants, what a girl needs! What a mighty God we serve!!

As my friend Kate would say, “Jehovah Jirah!” The Lord Provides!

Through our investment program, God’s people generously gave in large and small amounts every penny we needed. On the Sunday of VBS, we were just $200 short of receiving all the money we needed. Yeah, you know–on that day 3 people came to me with envelopes which totaled $200, exactly enough to fund building God’s Word in HiSKidZ lives, Brick by Brick!

Jehovah Jirah! What a girl wants, what a girl needs, her God provides!

But, that’s not all. . . .there’s more. . . so stay tuned for . . .

A VBS Story Pt 4

Are You C.R.A.Z.Y.?

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Are you C.R.A.Z.Y.? 

I hope so!

Whether it’s VBS, KidZChurch, Mid Week programs or specialized ministries, there are those of us out there who are crazy for helping kids to find and follow Jesus.

How do you know if you are C.R.A.Z.Y. for kidmin? Just answer the following questions:

1) Are you Committed to seeing kids know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him?

2) Are you Relational, Reliable, and Ready to jump in and get to know kids where they are?

3) Are you Available to meet needs, teach classes, prepare crafts or snacks, clean nursery toys and pray, pray, pray for the hearts, minds, and lives of today’s kids?

4) Are you Zealous enough to do whatever it takes to help kids grow in Christ?

5) Are you willing to Yield to God’s leading and God’s way to get things done?

If so, then you are CRAZY, too! Crazy enough to give up time, energy, finances, and more to help kids live the kingdom life God has planned for them.

Welcome to the club!! It’s a CRAZY good time!

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Here’s my “crazy” mohawk on the last night of VBS. Thanks to my good friend, Chris, for the new do! Who knew that craft paint was good for hair???

The Wise Woman Built Her VBS With Insulation Board (A VBS Story Pt 2)

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Last week was VBS. When Jeff and Alan from Jumpstart3 arrived, I loved that they loved our decorations. I also loved that they reminded me that I am one lucky girl. I guess not every church gets to put their VBS decor up the week before VBS.

I remember the days when we put decorations up at the last-minute and am incredibly thankful that we can now showcase our week, build a little more excitement and pace ourselves a little better by having almost everything in place before our 1st service begins.

We are a small-medium sized church in a small town that was just given the distinction of being the poorest city in our state. So while finances may not always abound, God in His infinite creativity does.

IMG_3303 It’s time to build!

This is how we became such a big fan of insulation board. In our town, there is no Lowes, no Home Depot and no Menards. There are two small lumber yards, and we are thankful for them because not only do they carry insulation board, they deliver it for free, and we get to choose our delivery guy. (Yea, Taylor!!)

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Our 1st tie ever! Girls won, btw!

This year as we learned about building our lives and our spiritual homes on Christ, we built most of our VBS out of this wonderful pink and blue foam. I wouldn’t want to build my house on it, or with it, but since it’s not meant to frame a house, just insulate it, I think we are good.

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Another craft tie in to help kids remember how to build their lives on Jesus

It’s inexpensive, lightweight, easily manipulated, and paintable. And paint we did. Our teams cut and painted bricks, signs, Jeff McCullough, and barricades. We used it for our first aid and guests centers, a giant clock and left over pieces as tallies for our offering contest. We even used it to make a sign for outside the front of our church. When the rains came down and the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that sign (multiple times) it did not fall, fade or crash!

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Working on the yard sign. Sherwin Williams color to go quarts are also our VBS friend!

IMG_3761 Guest signage–oops forgot to paint that side!

Total cost for the week was about $80. Even better, each and every item we made can be used again making the deal even sweeter. We discovered this year that if we made paper lettering and attached it with spray adhesive, we could remove it without marring or marking.

IMG_4100 Insul-Board bricks frame the doorways

Whether you are from a small church or a large one, or you have a tight budget or financial freedom, it’s just good stewardship to find ways to put Kingdom money to Kingdom use the best ways possible, and insulation board is a wise way to do that.

IMG_3160 Group pics that doubled for a craft later.

I’m curious how you have use insulation board in your churches. If you have a creative idea, please share. If you have more questions about how to use this amazing stuff, just let me know.

Until then, be wise and keep building.

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Our insul-board prayer cross.

Why I’m Still Jumping for Jumpstart3! (A VBS Story)

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Last week we had the privilege to host Vacation Bible School at our church. Many of you reading this understand that VBS is a crazy, exhausting, wonderful, glorious week–most of the time.

There are, of course, the years when all goes right, and the years when all goes wrong. Then there are the years like this one, when God does the things you could “never ask for or imagine.”

We invited Jeff McCullough of Jumpstart3 Scripture Memory Ministry to our VBS this year because we believed with all our heart that we need to get kids and families excited about the Word of God. Although Jeff and I had talked about the structure of our VBS, I think he was still a little shocked at the intensity of what we do and how we do it.

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Each morning we host our preschoolers (3 yr-K) for a morning VBS. Jeff led the music sessions for 4 groups of preschoolers each day. Each group ranged in size from 6-14 children. Each evening we host our “Big Kids VBS,” where Jeff led 3 groups of children in grades 1-6.

In just 2 days our preschoolers were saying their verses. SAYING THEM–not just singing them. As the teacher for the week, I got to review with them as part of our lesson the words of Matthew 7:24. They would speak to me the words,

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rains came down. The streams rose. The winds blew and beat against that house. Yet it did not fall.”

Not only could they sing the words, and say the words our littlest HiSKidZ were grasping the meaning as we taught that these words weren’t about houses or rains or rocks or sand, but about us, and Jesus.

And our big kids were crazy for Jumpstart. Jeff helped us to be able to give each child who attended a CD of the songs we would use at VBS. In fact, we gave them one and offered them one to use to invite a friend. So, the kids in our town were blasting Jumpstart from minivans and pickup trucks all around town! Our “bigs” learned at least 5 verses this week, and could also not just sing them, but say them!

Jumpstart3 literally gave our children the Jumpstart on putting more than God’s Words into their lives. Jumpstart helped give our kids a passion for God’s Word.

God was at work in so many amazing ways this past week, and I’m looking forward to sharing them in the days ahead. If you have any questions about how Jumpstart3 could benefit your ministry, feel free to message me, or get ahold of Jeff through Jumpstart3’s webpage.

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Kids and parents at our closing night family experience with Jumpstart3. Can you tell what song they are singing? (Hint–They are pointing to their ears, the next motions are to make a Bible with your hands and to cover your face.)

Why I’m So Excited About Jumpstart3

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So, why am I so excited about Jumpstart3??

Because they are coming to my town. In just 2 weeks. Wow! Just 2 more weeks!

That fact, in and of itself, is more than enough reason to be excited, and we are excited to be hosting Jeff McCullough of Jumpstart3 for our upcoming week of VBS. But, there’s more!

This past February, I met Jeff at the Children’s Pastors Conference in California. We actually just “passed” each other and that was about it. I was walking into the vendor room to meet up with the crew from Kidology while Jeff was setting up his booth for Jumpstart. We shook hands, I asked him if he had seen Karl Bastian, and then I didn’t really see him again to talk. Although, I did get to watch him lead some super fun worship at CPC one night!

Jeff seemed to be everywhere and wherever that everywhere was there were people around getting excited about Jumpstart3’s Scripture memory songs. I have to admit I never really made it to his booth, but I’d already downloaded some of the songs on iTunes before and liked them. However, it is just recently that I’ve really began to love them.

This spring, God put it on my heart while planning VBS to invite Jeff to come to Iowa to share with HiSKidZ here. We have had some fun conversations and quite a bit of phone tag as we have planned and prayed about the week. He has gone out of his way to make sure that this week will be one our families will never forget.

Last Friday and Saturday, we used the “Matthew 7:24” song with a group of 3rd graders at our church camp’s Overnighter Camp and, well, words just can’t express what we experienced. Not only did our 65+ 3rd graders learn the verse by song, they learned to say it, and they loved it.

Requests to play it again and sing it again and again and again resonated through the camp. When parents came to pick up their kids and saw them singing Scripture with all their hearts–it was a beautiful thing! Volunteers are still texting me lyrics and breaking into song when they see me! (Ok, that’s not super unusual for me, but I LOVE IT!!!!)

Kids were singing with reckless abandon, eyes closed, motions movin’ and groovin’ as we sang together, “Therefore anyone who hears these words of Mine is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

It didn’t hurt that it rained like a big dog most of the session!! So that when we sang, “The rains came down; the streams rose, the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, yet it did not fall, yet it did not fall. –Because it had it’s foundation on the ROCK!” with the rains coming down in full force on a metal roof with the winds blowin’ and beating against our building, we all knew we wanted to be like wise men who built our houses on the rock!

If you haven’t discovered Jumpstart3 yet, I can’t encourage you enough to check them out and begin to let the Word of God soak into the hearts and minds of your kids.

If you happen to be around my neck of the woods in Southeast, Iowa, we’re inviting area pastors, children’s pastors and volunteers to a meet and greet with Jeff on Tuesday, July 28 anytime between 1 and 3pm. We’d love to have you stop in for some encouragement, blessing and to learn a little more about what Jumpstart3 is all about!!  Got kids? Consider joining us for VBS at New Testament Christian Church.

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Everything’s Just Ducky. . . Or Is It? (A Lesson Learned From a Day With a Decoy)

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My husband, the amazing Mr Tim and I both had the day off today! That’s pretty big stuff considering my job for a church involves working on Sundays, and he works the other six days of the week as an engineer.

To celebrate, we decided to grab our kayaks and head to the river near our house for a little cruise along the banks of the mighty Mississippi. In the back of Tim’s truck is an old duck decoy, and we decided it would be fun to tie it onto the back of my kayak, letting the little guy experience the water again.

Not long after we had taken off, some kids were near the river bank and they shouted to us, “Is that a real duck?” I didn’t tell them yes or no, but instead responded with, “He’s our little pet.” I mean, he is, kind of–kind of like a tamagotchi or a pet rock.

Next, a dog followed along the bank longingly looking at my newly acquired friend. . . .like it might be his lunch. He obviously didn’t realize his potential lunch was made of plastic.

Then later that evening, we went back out when a co-worker of Tim’s came by on his motorcycle and asked, “Is that duck real?” Tim laughed and told him, “Yeah, we’ve got him trained to follow us, now.” Of course, he told the guy the truth that he was a little decoy and we were just having some fun.

But it sure made me think.

How often are we fooled by a decoy instead believing in the real thing?

How often does the deceiver allow us to think what is untrue is true?  How quick are we to buy into lies?

If today’s society is any indication, pretty often.

So let our little duck remind you to look a little more closely at things. Don’t be so quick to buy into what looks real. Investigate, ask questions, and see for yourself. Don’t just trust the words of others.

I mean after all, the real purpose of the decoy is not fun. It’s to lure in the hunter’s prey, resulting in its death. So be careful little eyes what you see, or everything won’t be “just ducky” after all.

(I can’t wait to make this an object lesson for KidZChurch!! Feel free to use it with the kids you are influencing!)

19209679218_e114957d4b_o-2 He looks so real. . . .but he’s not.

19208527488_ba089f0393_m  Be careful, at times, deception can seem fun.

Dear Moms and Dads,

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Moms and Dads,

I’m not a big one to write any kind of “open letter,” but I don’t know how else to say these things that are on my heart. You see, I spent the last week with some of your sons and daughters, teaching through the Old Testament. We talked about God’s love and protection and how from the beginning of time, He’s simply been calling us back to Him because of His great love for us.

We talked about how there is really nothing more loving and caring than the truth that because of God’s great love for us He has spent all of time warning us of the danger of His judgement and wrath, and showing us the way to be saved from it through our  faith in and allegiance to Jesus.

As we talked about the times of the prophets and how God sent them to His people for over 400 years, we reasoned together that it really made no sense for someone to hear a warning for their entire life and not respond to it. In fact, they thought that seemed just crazy!

They also reasoned that even if the time was 300 years, or 200 years or 50 years or 10 years, the only logical response to a warning of this magnitude was to respond, run to and stay in the care of the One who could save you from the impending danger.

And so they responded. They shared their hearts about how they were like the people of the Bible. They, too, knew these things of God, but weren’t responding. But now, they wanted to be different. They no longer wanted to be like those who knew, and did nothing.

As we shared about their lives when they returned home, a common thread could be found woven into their stories. They felt as though even though they knew God was with them, they would be humanly alone in their families.

I heard student after student share that their families were no longer following the Lord. Parents and grandparents who love their children, know God, and are connected in some way to a church have lost their way–so much so that commitment to God and His church have become an afterthought in their lives. The same parents and grandparents who sent them to church camp are not camping out with them in church!!!

Parents, hear this. Your children want to go to church. They want to be a part of what God is doing. They want lives that are different, they want to be a part of making a difference, and they want to do it with you!

Please, please, for the sake of your children, your children’s children and for yourself–I want to remind you and warn you that you will be held accountable for your actions–COME BACK TO THE LORD. Put aside your hurts, busy schedules, sins, fears or whatever it is that is keeping you from walking with the Lord TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN and start walking with them, beginning today.

Your kids hearts are breaking. They are breaking for you. Your kids need you. They want their families together with Jesus, forever. They want to be with you!

Think about it. High School students who want to go to church. With their families. They want to live for Christ. They want your help.

It seems like to not give it to them, would be, well, just crazy.

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not be done.” Romans 1:28 NIV