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,

Dear-Mom-and-Dad

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

Don’t Let the Turkeys Get You Down (or What to Do When People Don’t Like the Decisions You Make)

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Anyone else remember the saying, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down,” from somewhere in their past. Truth is, I hadn’t thought of it since, well, since somewhere in my past, until Thursday morning when I came out of our laundry room in a rush to get off to work.

Needless to say I was a bit surprised when the two little guys pictured above startled the kajeebers out of me! That wonderful man of mine was getting ready for turkey season and left his “supplies” sitting out in the open without any warning to me, his unsuspecting wife.

After regaining my composure, into my mind popped the phrase, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down!”  I took that to be a  little good-natured Holy Spirit advice, and went on about my way–after taking a picture for a blog post, of course! After all,

“When life gives you turkeys, write a blog post.”

Why a blog post? Because those turkeys reminded me of several conversations I’ve had lately with people dealing with stressful situations in their jobs, relationships, and circles of influence. It also reminded me of some great advice that turkey hunting husband of mine gave me when I started out in children’s ministry.

You know, seriously, what do you do when you’ve made some decision or said something or done something that some people don’t like?

I mean, c’mon, you’re sincerely trying to do your best. You’re not purposefully trying to irritate people or make bad decisions. Yet, some people just can’t seem to be pleased, and they seem to want to roost in your territory! (I know, I know!)

So what are you gonna do?

Don’t let the turkeys get you down. Instead, you might gobble up these two plans of action: (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)

1) Consider that the person may be right. They are not a turkey at all; they are actually trying to help keep you from looking like a turkey. If this is the case, you will probably need to try one of these ideas:

  • Humble Yourself.
  • Admit you are wrong.
  • Make things right.
  • Be thankful someone helped you realize your mistake.
  • Press on.

2) Reconsider your position and why you made the decision/statement/policy you did. If after going to God, you still feel confident that your decision was the best choice for the time, then try one of these ideas:

  • Stay Humble–don’t gloat about being right
  • Stay the course, good leaders often have to make hard decisions.
  • Be thankful for the opportunity to be sure of your decision.
  • Keep focused on God.
  • Press On with confidence in your decision.

No one is ever going to please every one all of the time, and just because someone doesn’t agree with your decisions doesn’t make them a turkey. God can use even the most stressful people and situations as opportunities to show us where we are wrong, and remind us of where we are right.

Make it a policy to continually inquire of the Lord and wait on Him as you lead. Let Him guide your words, decisions, policies and practices as you humbly rely on Him so that even if people don’t agree with you, they will respect you.

They who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength and soar with wings like eagles — far above the turkeys!

Catfish in Your Staff Meetings and Other Joys of Small Town Ministry

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This morning we were in our staff meeting when a guy from the church came in with a cooler.

As Jim stepped into the office, he said something about how he’s always talking about fishing, so he thought he’d bring in a sample of his morning catch.

Haha! Out came the little guy above–well, he wasn’t really  all that little.

Awesome!

I mean how often are you interrupted in your staff meetings by a catfish!

Of course, I snapped a quick picture and tweeted it out.   Every time I thought about it throughout the day, I had to smile.

When you do ministry in a small town, you are blessed with all kind of bounty. For example,

1)  Eggs. We have several families who have chickens and so that means they have eggs–lots of eggs–and that means we get lots of eggs. I love it when we get eggs!

2) Treats. From time to time people drop in with treats. This Christmas a group of older women who refer to themselves as “Heaven’s Seven,” brought our staff one of the biggest baskets of treats I have ever seen–and it was awesome!

3)  Essential oils. One of my mom’s sells EO’s, and during the height of sickness this year brought me some oils to help keep me on the road to health.

4)  Popcorn machines. Recently a gal from our church brought me a mini popcorn machine. It looks like a movie theater machine only much smaller. It was new, it had never been used and it is soooo cool, and the kids think it’s sooo cool, too.

5) Deer Sausage. We live in the land of hunters, so it’s not uncommon for someone to bring in some homemade deer sausage or jerky. In fact, sometimes we are the ones to bring it in!

There are so many more things people bring in–but ultimately what makes these things so special is not the things, but the people who bring things in. Each person is bringing in parts of themselves. They are bringing in their hearts, their hobbies, their appreciation and their love.

It’s one of the great things about small town ministry.

It’s sharing. It’s community. It’s giving. It’s appreciation. It’s caring.

It characterized the early church, and it’s a privilege to serve where it still characterizes the church today. It inspires me to want to do the same–to share, to give, to show appreciation and to care about the people around me in the same way.

Ha! And a catfish came to staff today. . . .I’m still smilin’ about that one!

Undefeated–Worship by Elevation Kids (EKids) Worship

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Undefeated, Elevation Kids Worship’s new CD for children’s ministry is coming out on iTunes any day (like, probably tomorrow) , and I have to say I’m just a little excited.

Leading kids to worship through music is one of my all time top favorite things to do, and so I’m continually on the look out for great song of all kinds. HiSKidZ at our church sing old songs, new songs, fast songs, slow songs, silly songs, hymns, choruses and yes, even a little country, because we know that not every kid connects to the same kind of music.

We have a saying that goes something like,

“Everybody might not like every song, but there is a song for everybody to like.”

Elevation Kids has given us a sneak peek at two of their songs “I Am Yours” and  “Undefeated”,  with lyrics that say things like:

“Cuz I know who you say I am, and You say I am Yours.

It doesn’t matter what I feel in You I am secure

I will trust in You

Don’t have to worry anymore cuz I am Yours, I am Yours, I am Yours.”

Focusing kids on God, who He is, reminding us that we live by His truth over our feelings is a very rare song these days, and it makes my heart want to sing it out!

If your kids, leaders and parents are anything like mine, I think they will love these new songs. So spread the word and enjoy singing to the Lord a new song! (Psalm 96:1)

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation to Elevation Kids and was not compensated for this review in any way. I just like their songs!

I Don’t Like to Eat Bananas In Public (One of Many Things You Learn When You Work With Kids)

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Each year at our church my husband, the incredible Mr Tim, and I disciple a group of 6th graders. Recently, we were planning an end of the year activity with our group. In order to get a better idea of what they might like to do, we used a little reverse logic and asked, “What don’t you like to do?”

Trust me when I say we were not at all prepared when one of them said with all sincerity, “I don’t like to eat bananas in public.”

Well, ok, now.

The rest of us sort of looked at each other with one of those, “Well, where in the world did that come from?” looks when she, obviously noting our confusion, went on to say, “Well, I don’t. I don’t know why, but I just don’t.”

Readily reassuring her that nowhere in our planning was a day of public banana eating, we all had a good chuckle about it and continued our planning concluding with a plan to camp out on the church property–bananas not included.

Silly as it was, through that conversation I was reminded of a few important things about working with kids:

1) Never assume you know what is going on in a child’s life or mind.

2)  Do your best to make time to listen to the children you serve.

3) Don’t forget to ask them what they like and what they think about things.

4) Laugh. Have fun. Make adventures and memories–they build trust and relationship.

5) Accept them where they are, while helping them move forward in their walk with Christ.

This week as you or your volunteers lead in your small group or Bible study times, I pray that you will learn something new about your kids, their hearts, lives, likes or dislikes and that your time together will be as sweet and refreshing as a banana (eaten at home, in private, of course!)

**On an added note, this student arrived this week to tell me that she has overcome her fear of public banana eating because of our talk in our small group time last week. Apparently, they had bananas at school and she had forgotten her lunch and was very hungry so she decided to take the chance!!  Gotta love it!

Need An “Eggceptional” Post-Easter Game Idea? Look No Further!

plastic-eggs opened

It’s not that I needed a new game idea, it’s that I needed 3,000 Easter eggs from our church egg hunt put back together from the aftermath of HiSKidZ opening them to find their prizes.

So at our Wednesday night program following the Easter Sunday’s Egg Hunt, we created this game, adding a Biblical application.

This is what you need:

1) All your left over separated eggs

2)  Some boxes or containers

This is how ya do it:

1) Throw all those eggs around your space–we were indoors because weather didn’t allow going outside, but you could do this inside or out.

2) Put kids into teams and give each team a large container for their eggs. (We used random boxes from the church).

3) Instruct kids to pick up and reassemble as many eggs as they can in the allotted time. Eggs must be a correct color match.

4) Play some crazy fun music and go!

5) Have teams count up their eggs when the game is over. The team with the most eggs collected wins a prize–ours was snack for the following week. (See preceding post about cheese balls!)

HiSKidZ went crazy for this game! They loved it, and so did our leaders. Did I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer getting the kids in town to white wash his fence? Perhaps. . . but in deciding whether it was the laziest game I ever created or the most genius, our team decided it was genius!

But here’s the best part. After the kids finished collecting all the eggs, we sat down for just a minute and talked about how we are like those eggs. Here was our application:

We have been broken and separated from God, but in Jesus coming, dying and rising again, we are put back together and made new in Him. We are also now called by Him to go and find others who need His saving touch to put their lives back together. HiSKidZ got a glimpse at what could happen if we would look for the lost like we looked for those eggs!

So if you still have boxes of egg halves lying around your church, this post may be “eggz-actly” what you need!