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

catfish2

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

elevation kids worship cd

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)

Happy-banana-lrg

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!

Cheeseballs–Just another fun and easy way to get kids excited about the Bible

cheese balls

As the director of the children’s ministry at our church, I generally lead the Wednesday night program. This year, I have several other amazing volunteers filling in our large group spots and allowing me the privilege to get back into leading a small group of 6th graders. I love the chance to spend some time in small groups because serving as a small group leader allows me to:

1)  Gain a better perspective of what it is like to be a small group volunteer

2)  Connect with kids on a different level

3) Rediscover the simplest things to connect kids to Jesus and His Word.

Things, for example, like cheese balls.

Personally, not my favorite snack. You might as well eat styrofoam covered in popcorn cheese. I tend to use them for games, but this week they were a reward for the small groups that won last week’s game of “Reverse Egg Hunt.” (See Future Blog Post)

Our small group happened to be one of the winners and so as the kids practiced tossing cheese balls into their own and each others mouths while enjoying what they decided was one of the best prizes ever, an idea came to mind. Still having plenty left (because there are like a million cheese balls in a container), we decided to use them as an incentive for a Bible search time.

We are studying Psalm 23, and as part of our small group time, we were looking up verses that referenced God as a good shepherd.

We divided up into groups of two, pairing a stronger skilled student with a newer student, and set the following rule. First group to find the verse got 3 cheese balls, 2nd place got 2 cheese balls, and 3rd place got 1 cheese ball.

Win – Win – Win

I mean, kind of. They are after all, just cheese balls, right?

Obviously not. Because I completely underestimated how excited they would be to win cheese balls. From our least to our most experienced, every student was looking up verses. There did not appear to be any insecurity, fear, or timidity. Just a reckless abandon to find that verse and get some cheese balls!!

We laughed as they raced to find these precious nuggets of truth as well as some (well, to them, anyway) precious nuggets of cheesy goodness.

At the end of the night a team of boys beat out one of the girls groups by one verse, thus winning the remaining bag of cheese balls!! Joy unspeakable!!

Cheese balls? Who knew?

My co-leader, Heather, and I went away reminded again that God often uses the simplest things to draw us to Him and His Word.

So if you’ve been on the lookout for something to spark your kids interest in God’s Word, consider grabbing a buck fifty for some cheese balls and see if your kids love this idea as much as ours did!

HiSKidZ Top Twelve Favorite Easter Songs

Our God is  risen and reigning and we're
It’s three weeks until Easter, and we are bustin’ out the Easter songs! Ok, to be completely honest with you, I’ve been singing them for awhile now, but this week we brought it to church!

HiSKidZ did an awesome job singing their hearts out to Fee’s “Rise and Sing” and as we finished, I mentioned how much I loved that song and considered it one of my favorite Easter songs.

“Easter songs?”

Their words and their faces both told me they had no idea what I was talking about, and it was then that I realized that although we had been singing Easter songs for years, we didn’t really talk about the fact that we were singing Easter songs.

Seein’ that Easter is a pretty big deal to Christians, and that we start singing Christmas songs in October, it’s really only fitting that we begin preparing the hearts and minds of the children of God for the celebration of the resurrection of our King, Jesus!

So, in case you are ready to jump on the Easter Carols bandwagon with me. Here are 12 of HiSKidZ favorite Easter songs:

1) Lord I Lift Your Name on High (Go Fish Guys)
2) Jesus is Alive Right Now (Kids on the Move)
3) Rise and Sing (Fee)
4) Take it All (Hillsong Kids)
5) Hosanna Rock (Yancy)
6) God So Loved (Hillsong Kids)
7) Celebrate Jesus (Jeff Moody)
8) Tell the World (Hillsong Kids)
9) Happy Day (reThink-Amber Sky Records)
10) Jesus is Alive (Promiseland Kids)
11) My God (Go Fish Guys)
12) My Redeemer Lives (Hillsong Kids)

What are your kids favorite Easter songs? I hope you will share, because your favorite may become our next favorite!

The above created art contains lyrics to Fee’s “Rise and Sing.”

Four Things I Want to Ask God

Four Thing

Lately as I’ve been reading God’s Word, I’ve found myself simplifying Scripture by breaking it down into instructions or commands. Today as I was reading Psalm 139, God stopped me at David’s “instructions” to Him in verses 23-24. Since I’ve never been super comfortable telling God what I want Him to do, (I’m not saying David was wrong there, I’m just sayin’ it’s not some place I’m goin’ at this stage in my life), I figured I would turn them into questions.

So here they are.

Four things I want to ask God every day:

1) Lord, will you search me and show me my heart? I need to know what it’s really like. Don’t let me fool myself or let pride overtake me.

2) Lord, will you test me and show me my anxious thoughts? I need to know where I’m not trusting so my faith can grow.

3) Lord, will you see if there is any offensive way in me? I’m often blind to my own faults, and I need you to open my eyes.

4) Lord, will you lead me in the way that leads to life forever with You? I never want to be without you again.

I love these. Because I know without a doubt that as I stop and ask these questions that He will always answer, “Yes.” Even if the truth may hurt a little.

Because He loves me like that–and as I sit here on my couch writing, that thought gets me smiling.

Here’s another thought that gets me smiling.

He loves you like that, too. Just ask Him!

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14