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)

turkeys

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

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!