If You Work with Kids, You’ll Love This–Erasable Colored Pens!

frixion-pens

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Colored pens that erase, they make me sing
These are a few of my favorite things”

So that’s not quite how the song goes, but I think that if Frixion pens by Pilot had been around back in the days of The Sound of Music, Julie Andrews would have been singing about them.

They aren’t fancy, but they are amazing! Because. . . well, because if you happen to be having trouble making a capital cursive “Z,” and who doesn’t?. . .  No worries. Just use the little stylus-like hard rubber eraser tip and Ta-Da! You are, in this one small way like Jesus, making all things new again!

These little gems come in assorted colors and tip widths and well, they are awesome! (Insert angels singing here!)  I personally love the fine (.7mm) size in the traditional not retractable style. My current multi-pack comes with black, brown, blue, purple, green red, orange and pink.

frixion2Ok, Ms Dawn, is there anything else that makes them awesome??

Why, yes, there is!  Did I mention they are refillable??? Because they are. Seriously, what more could a creative, Kidmin loving girl ask for? Ok, several things, but today I’m choosing to be content in all circumstances!

You, on the other hand may be right now wishing you had yourself some Frixion pens! They are available through Amazon and other major retailers. I hope they soon become one of your favorite things, too!

*Thanks to my daughter in law, Jordan, for turning me on to Frixion pens. I am forever in your debt, Jordan! 

jordan-and-dawn

Jordan and I the day she introduced me to Frixion pens last winter!! Woohoo!

Ten Ways Kids Can Show Appreciation to their Pastor(s)

pastor-appreciation2October is here and besides being the month of all things pumpkin spice, it is a month set aside for Pastor Appreciation. Although I work as a children’s pastor, this is not a plea for gifts or appreciation.  Instead, it’s just an quick help guide for parents or teachers to help practically model, lead, and teach kids to appreciate their pastors. As we teach our children to appreciate their pastors, we are teaching them to appreciate others in general, and a thankful, appreciative heart is honoring to God who placed these people in our lives.

As we teach children to appreciate their  pastors, we are teaching them to appreciate others in general.  A thankful, appreciative heart is honoring to God.

Here are 10 simple and mostly free ways kids can show appreciation to their pastors this month or any month:

  1. Tell them. Words go along way. Simply have your children tell the pastor they are thankful for him/her and why.
  2. Send or give them a card. It can be purchased or hand-made, but have your children write in it and address it (if you mail it). In doing so, you are also teaching your children the life skill of how to address and mail an envelope–a lost art.
  3. Bake something and deliver it personally. Is your child the next Bobby Flay? Then let them have at it, with your help, of course. Make something special and go with them to deliver it to your pastor. This is especially great if you know what he/she likes. Watch out for food allergies or dietary restrictions if you can. Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven and personal delivery makes it, well, personal–even better!
  4. Draw a picture. I have a file folder and a binder filled with pictures from kids in our church. It makes my heart sing when they bring me their heart-felt art.
  5. Write a poem. Some children are the best at putting their feelings into words. If that describes your child, encourage them to use their words to bless the pastor.
  6. Make up a song, or sing a favorite song and video your child singing it and then send it to your pastor. A little girl from my church once was in my office singing about me while sitting in my chair. It was the most precious thing ever. It makes me smile even today.
  7. Do an act of service. Could your pastor use some help raking leaves, setting up something in the church or washing his car? Brainstorm with your children some things they  could do to show appreciation. (Get permission from the pastor first, though!)
  8. Find a super creative idea on Pinterest, but let your child do it. Honestly, Pinterest is filled with great ideas, just be sure you don’t take over for your children and rob them of the opportunity to learn to show appreciation on their own. You can do another pastor appreciation idea yourself. Pastors need lots of appreciation!
  9. Invite them over for dinner or dessert. Having people in your home is a lost art. It not only  helps nourish someone, but it also builds community and allows us to show hospitality–a Biblical mandate. Maybe neither you nor your pastor have time for a meal, but what about a dessert night or s’mores around the fire pit? Kids need to see that pastors are people, too, and time together as families can often help make that happen.
  10. Pray for them. Every day. And let them know you are doing so. Encourage your children to commit to pray, every day, and pray with them. Our pastors spend a lot of time in the trenches doing battle on our behalf. Teaching our children to pray for pastors teaches them to not just hear the word of God, but to do what it says.

Once you have looked the list over together, sit down with your family and decide if one of these ideas will work for you. Maybe this list is just the catalyst for another idea or maybe you already have an idea, and this is the reminder to put it into action. (James 1:22)

Then, set a completion date and commit to doing whatever it is you chose before that date. I know late is better than never, but on time teaches our children to be responsible! One of the main reasons people fail to feel appreciated isn’t that they aren’t appreciated, it’s that we just don’t get around to telling them they are.

One of the main reasons people fail to feel appreciated isn’t that they aren’t appreciated, it’s that we don’t get around to telling them they are.

I hope you and your children find great joy in showing appreciation and blessing to the pastor(s) in your life this fall.

“And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love”  I Thessalonians 5:12-13 (The Message).

When You Want to be Called Mara, but Your Name is Naomi–Finding Hope When You’re Feeling Empty

naomi-blog-post

Naomi

I’m  not arguing. Her life was hard. Her husband died, leaving her a widow. Her sons died, leaving her broken. There was famine in the land, leaving her hungry and destitute with two daughter-in-laws to care for.

Her name, Naomi, meant “pleasant,” and I believe at one time she was. The devotion of her daughter-in-laws lends itself to that conclusion. But then, the hard times hit. Then, she returned to Israel holding onto but a trace of hope.

When Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem, the whole town got excited because of them, and the women asked, “Could this be Naomi?”

Had she changed that much? Did the years of hardship and heartache changes her appearance so that her friends didn’t recognize her? We don’t know. We can only imagine as Naomi responds:

 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. The Lord has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”

There’s a lot of speculation that could be made at this point. But this we know. Naomi was not a happy camper. Her life had been flipped upside down, and no doubt, she had felt lonely, alone, and abandoned. She created a new identity, complete with a new name, to represent how she was feeling.

But here’s the thing:

Her feelings weren’t the truth. She may have felt lonely and alone, but God was still there. She may have felt abandoned, but God was by her side. She may have felt like her life wasn’t destined for bitterness. But she was wrong. In God’s eyes, she was still pleasant Naomi, not bitter Mara.

How did I come up with this? Because the only time in the book of Ruth where we see anyone calling her Mara is when she calls herself that.

Immediately after she proclaims her new name to the women of town–Can you imagine their faces at her proclamation? I have to wonder if even Ruth didn’t roll her eyes and think, “Really, mom?” (She called her mom, don’t you think?)

Immediately after her proclamation, the writer of Ruth starts the very next sentence with, “So Naomi. . . ”

“So Naomi. . . “

Those are two powerful words.

Because those two words remind us that even when we may temporarily lose sight of our identity in Christ. He does not.

And throughout the rest of the story we see words like, “So Naomi,” “Now, Naomi,” “Naomi said.”

As the story comes to a close, we see the women of the town speaking to their friend Naomi, not to a bitter woman named Mara.

Their words were filled with celebration and hope, “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. . . ”

Are you facing some hard days? Have you been tempted to let that change who you are and how you see yourself? Take heart and remember that the LORD has not left you. Hold on. Don’t give up. There is hope. The One who filled the empty Naomi with joy can do the same for you.

 

My Thursday Morning Muffin Top Experience Or “When God Speaks Through the Muffins”

muffinsMoses was on a mountain. I was in the kitchen.

I’ve shared recently that I’m living with my dad right for the time being, taking care of him after my mom’s death. He needs to be a healthier eater, but at 82, really has no interest whatsoever in doing so. I’m sure, if given the chance, he would live on Oreos and ice cream for the rest of his days.

Since he loves sweets, I do my best to invest in his caloric bank account by making things that allow him to think he is doing what he wants–grazing sweets all day, while he is actually doing what I want, grazing on healthy treats all day. OK, perhaps, I am that woman.

Today, I found a recipe from Whitney McNutt’s website wholelifestylenutrition.com for “The Easiest Gluten-free and Grain Gree Muffin Recipe Ever.” That is actually the name, and there is true in that there title.

Now, I’m all about easy, and I’m making gluten adjustments in my own diet, so I thought, “Why not?”

Off to the pantry I went set on my mission.

Bananas. . . nut butter. . . eggs. . . honey. . .  I got my things together and into the mini blender they went. Holy Cow! It made the most terrible sound. (Note: I would not recommend using a mini blender with 1 cup of any nut butter!) But even worse than the sound was the look of the stuff.

As a children’s pastor I’ve seen my fair share of baby diaper deposits, and I’m not making this up when I say the resemblance was uncanny.

Don’t get me wrong, the ingredients were all good things–unconventional maybe, where was the flour?–but good. I just couldn’t quite see how this baby diaper goo was going to become a muffin or twelve muffins for that matter. Yet, being the courageous woman of God I am,  I stuck my finger in the batter and gave it a try. Low and behold! I heard the angels sing!

So I dipped my finger in again–I even did the Naaman and dipped 7 times–just kidding, I don’t know how many times, but more than a couple!! Soooo good!

Here’s the thing:

Sometimes God gives us instructions that seem like a good idea at first. We are so excited to follow and obey.  But when we get going, things start to look a little, well, let’s call it messy. OK, maybe just plain poopy! It may appear like there’s no way this thing He’s asked you to do is going to work out.

This is when God gives us little encouragements to keep going, to trust, to try, to commit and to see it through to the end. When we do, it’s so worth it! It’s cause for celebration! You smile, you tell your friends,  you give God praise!  You are in awe of Him.  We don’t necessarily have to even understand it, we just get to be thankful for the experience of knowing His faithfulness and wisdom.

Maybe you are in that messy place right now. It may be in your ministry, job or relationships. You know God is asking you to press on, trust, try, commit and see it through to the end. I pray you will. Because when you do, you will know it was worth it, and then maybe, just maybe, you’ll think of this post and celebrate with a friend, some coffee and of course, some muffins!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8

 

 

 

 

Finding the One in Wonder

my-fair-lady

My husband and I ran across this beauty in my hometown of O’Fallon, MO.

Isn’t she something???

Honestly, best scarecrow EVER!! I love everything about her. I love her hat, hair, her skirt, and of course her skirt!! What??? She has a skirt made of flowers!!!!  Every time I drive by her, I smile and think, “Amazing!” She leaves me with a sense of wonder.

In teaching and leading children, few things make a lesson great the way a sense of wonder does.

When we teach in ways that leave children with “ooo’s,” ahhhh’s,” “woad’s,” and wow’s,” we know we are doing something right.

Wonder causes children to want to explore, question and dig deeper. Wonder is a catalyst for greater learning.

Wonder may come in the form of a story or an object, an experiment or an experience. It may come from seeing, touching, hearing or smelling. Whatever form it takes, it’s desperately needed in our teaching and lessons in order to leave our children hungry for more. Because when used effectively, the sense of wonder a child experiences in our classrooms unveils a wonder for the One who made it possible.

God is the One in their Wonder.

God is the One who made the colors, made the smells, made the flowers, and caused the reaction in an experiment. God is the One we point our children to in moments of wonder.

Whether you are teaching in church, school, home school or you are just hanging out with your kids, take the time to find those moments of wonder together and find the One who makes them possible.

 

Photo Credit: My amazing husband, Tim Farris. Checkout his pictures on flickr.

 

 

 

Ten Truths I Found Watching Old War Movies with My Dad

john-wayne

Due to the circumstances of life and death, I am currently living with my father. We’ve gotten ourselves a little routine going, and part of it includes watching old movies together at night. Thanks to Amazon Prime, we have a veritable plethora of old films to choose from. Our favorites are westerns and war movies from the 1940’s and 50’s. I say they are “our” favorites because although they were his favorites first, they are now becoming some of my favorites, too.

We were a military family. My dad served over twenty years in the U.S. Navy so I know a little about military life. But military life as a military kid in peaceful times is not at all the same as military life in a unit during combat.

I have a new appreciation for actors like John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum–such grown men! They were gallant, chivalrous, tough, strong and loyal, and if you watch enough of their films a few basic themes will quickly make themselves evident.

Here are my top 10 favorites:

Truth #1: You did what you were told even if the commanding officer was wrong.

Truth #2: You held your tongue out of respect for the office, and you spoke only when you had permission to speak.

Truth #3: You gave 100% all of the time even if those around you did not.

Truth #4: You did what you could for the best outcome, yet realized you are not  responsible for the outcome.

Truth #5: You dug the foxhole together and you were in the foxhole together.

Truth #6:You took time to laugh. (And smoke alot of cigarettes!)

Truth #7: You kept your word.

Truth #8: When you fell down, you got back up. When someone else fell down, you helped them back up.

Truth #9: You cared for those you served with even at the expense of your own life.

Truth #10: You never gave up.

My dad was an example of many of these truths. I am thankful for his influence in my life, for the things he has taught me and for our time together.  Being the strong, silent type himself, I doubt he would ever sit me down and tell me these things over his cup of coffee and my Diet Coke. But in nightly choosing movies that have resonated with the traits he has valued in his lifetime, he is, in essence doing that very thing–for which I am grateful and humbled.

dad-and-me

My dad and I while stationed in Hawaii in the early 1970’s.

Go Pack Go! (A Real Life Kids Camp Lesson)

Go Pack Go

Recently I was privileged to speak at a kids camp across country.  Seahawks part of the country. Interestingly enough, of the 5 camp directors, at least three of them were Packers fans. I’m not sure any were Seahawks fans, which led to some good spirited conversations about whose team was best.

Most of the 275 kids in attendance seemed pretty set on being die-hard Seahawks fans too, or so I thought.

During the first part of the week, we taught about Jacob and Esau and how Esau had given up his birthright for a bowl of stew. Everyone agreed that was just a dumb thing to do. We understood that you shouldn’t give up something you want right now for something more important.

Until. . . Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night, the camp directors had a contest for the four sections of kids. The section that cheered the loudest would be dismissed first for the night. First for what, you might ask? First to go get ready for bed!

Honestly, I think I would have been quiet. When I was a kid, getting to stay up later was the real prize. But on this night, I think everyone just got caught up in the frenzy of who could be loudest and who would be FIRST!!!!

Because we all know going first is most important!

So when the directors gave the instructions that each group was to yell as loud as they could, “Go Pack Go!” I thought for sure they would be greeted with near silence, or at least cheers of “Let’s Go Seahawks!”or something similar.

But no, I was wrong! So wrong.

These little Seahawk fans began shouting at the top of their lungs, “Go Pack Go!” over and over. Each section determined not to be outdone by the other. Seriously, I didn’t see it coming.

Later that night I sat in on devotions with girls from one of the cabins and the question was asked, “What did God teach you today?”

When it came my turn to share, I commented that I thought God taught me to be careful not to give up something important for something I wanted right now. I then told the girls about what I had witnessed and how it touched my heart.

Immediately they began to explain how they only mouthed the words, or that they didn’t yell at all. One or two friends ratted the others out saying, “Yes, you did! You were yelling, too!”

The next day at large group teaching we broke that down a little bit, allowing the kids to see how our lives can sometimes be more like a Bible story than we realize. We discussed how our favorite team isn’t exactly the same as our family’s inheritance, yet, we have to be on guard of the power of the crowd and our own flesh to want what we want now rather than hold on to our convictions.

It was a good lesson for us all to experience and one that would impact the campers for at least a day–until it was time for Real Life Lesson Part 2:The Discount Double Check.

Stay tuned for the rest of the story coming soon.