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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Nehemiah Prayer Time

Nehemiah 8_8

Nehemiah. He’s one of my favorite characters in the Bible. To be honest, I have a lot of favorites, but really, he’s up there as one of my top 20, or 10 or maybe even 5. . .

To coin a phrase from the Fabulous Bentley Brothers, “He built the wall, y’all!” But he did so much more. He prayed, he wept, he humbled himself, he led, he worked, he encouraged, he persevered and he saw God do incredible, miraculous things in and through the people.

Nehemiah 8 is one of my favorite chapters in his book. In a few weeks, I’ll be heading  to the Northwest to speak at a camp, and  I found myself digging trough the pages  of “his-story” for inspiration and prayer.

We find Ezra, the scribe, bringing out the Book of the Law and reading it to the people. He read it from daybreak until noon, and all the people listened attentively as he read. (Yeah, from daybreak til noon! Sometimes we hope for a good 15 minutes of attention!) While he read, the people all stood. They praised the Lord and lifted their hands and responded with Amen! Amen! Then they bowed and worshiped the Lord.

Verse 8 is one of my favorite favorites, “They read from the book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read.”

Now there’s something to pray for. As we teach, may our words be clear and give meaning so those we teach can understand.

Here is a list of things we are currently praying from Nehemiah 8 for our camp and our campers:

v. 3 May our campers (and sponsors) listen attentively.
v. 6 May our campers (and sponsors) bow their hearts and worship the Lord.
v. 8 May we make the Word clear and give it meaning so that our campers can understand what is being taught.
v. 10 May we all know the joy of the Lord as our strength.
v. 12 May we celebrate with great joy because we now understand the Words made known to us.
v. 15 May we proclaim the word and spread it throughout our towns.

Nehemiah didn’t just build a wall, y’all. As we read, remember  and pray “his-story,” his life, and ours, is building believers! Let us pray. Amen! Amen!

H.O.W. I’m Praying Now

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I’ll admit it. I like a good acronym.

Recently, while praying, God put three little letters together to help me remember to pray specifically for three not-so-little qualities that are changing my heart.

H.O.W. does it work? It’s simple. (I like simple and am really just a simple girl at heart!)

Every day I take time to pray for:

H Humility

O Obedience

W Wonder

In praying for these three things each day, God is opening my heart to areas of pride that need to be removed, and my eyes to areas where I can put humility into practice.

He is showing me what a deeper level of obedience means and reminding me again that the little things are really the big things.

God is revealing to me His wonder. The sometime inconsequential things that are really meant to be appreciated and treasured. In my race to get to the next thing on my to-do list, I have been missing out on the wonder of God around me.

Simple.

Powerful.

Life-changing.

Thank you, Jesus.

“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” ~ Corrie ten Boom

 

5 Reasons I Love Easter in the Preschool Rooms

I love Easter. Love it.

Like Christmas, love it.

And so, I love to make the most of every opportunity to help our lil HiSKidZ see God’s Big Story about Jesus as we draw near to the holiday that is truly a Holy-Day.

Along with 5 reasons I love Easter in the preschool  5 (or more) ways we helped lil HiSKidZ at our church learn about and love Easter, too!

placemat

1–We share things we know they won’t completely understand.

We know preschoolers won’t completely understand everything about Easter. But y’know what? Neither did the grown men who walked with Jesus. This month we taught that Jesus loved his friends so much that He tried to explain everything that was going to happen. He told them that He was going to go to Jerusalem, He was going to die and He was going to come back to life. They didn’t really understand at the time, but they would later, and it would mean A LOT when they realized He cared enough to try to explain it them.

Our lil HiSKidZ made this place mat to use at home so that just like Jesus’ Bible friends, He would be helping them understand what Easter is all about. It was so easy for them to just glue the pieces on, and then work with our leaders to watch the laminator do the magic!! (Kids love laminating!)

 

zaccheus tree  zaccheus snack

2–We teach God loves everyone no matter how small, no matter what they’ve done.

Next, we taught about Zacchaeus. Because on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus met this now infamous man and changed his life forever. Jesus showed us again that He loves everyone–no matter how small and no matter what they’ve done–and that only He has the power to save them and forgive their sins.

We made the fun snack, (Twix bars, Rice Krispie Treats and Teddy Grahams) and our little ones made the craft! In case you needed to know one more thing you can do with a paper towel roll, try making a sycamore tree! Zacchaeus climbs up the tree to see Jesus and when Jesus stops by, down he comes.

donkey and handprint palm branches    donut hole guys

3–We celebrate Palm Sunday.

This week we will reenact Palm Sunday complete with Jesus in, not on, a donkey and our own interpretation of “palm” branches! You can make a million kinds of animals out of boxes, and be sure to hit up your local home stores for paint sticks–they are great for so many fun things.

My favorite thing this month has been our snack for this week. I saw this idea made with real rocks, (but not for a snack, obviously) which made me think of the verse from the Palm Sunday story where Jesus says that if the people stop praising the rocks will cry out. So, donut holes, candy eyes, some toothpicks, little flags and Hosanna! We are rocking the snack this week!!

palm branches

4–We get to have real Palm Branches.

As part of Palm Sunday, we always buy Palm Branches! And, yes, I think they should be capitalized. We get them for HiSKidZ of all ages, and they all love them. Several years ago, I almost stopped. I’m not sure why. Maybe they seemed old-fashioned, maybe I wasn’t sure if the kids liked them.

But, then, one of our 5th grade boys commented the week before Palm Sunday, “Next week is Palm Sunday! I love Palm Sunday! We always get those Palm Branches and we get to act like we were there.” ‘Nuff said. I’ve been buying them ever since. When a 5th grade boy tells you that Palm Branches have become a spiritual marker in his life, you buy them forever!

We live in midwest, and our palms aren’t always the best, but this year they are so green, I can’t wait for the kids to see them.

angel owl   IMG_3057

5–The angel rolled the stone away, and Jesus is alive!

Like I said, I love Easter Sunday. I love saying, “He is Risen. He is Risen, Indeed!” I love singing Celebrate, Jesus, Celebrate, Rise and Sing, and Jesus is Alive Right Now with our bigs and Hosanna, 1-2-3 and Jesus is Alive with our littles. I love the power of the day, and the reason we celebrate. I love how God moves as we share who He is and what He has done.

One of the above angel bags will be our craft on Easter Sunday. I’ll let you guess which one!

The picture on the left represents one attempt at an angel bag. I know it looks like a bird–a very surprised bird, but it is an angel. The bag on the right, thankfully, was created by one of our amazing volunteers so our kids don’t think angels are owls, and so their parents will let the come back to church with us!!

What do you love about Easter in your preschool rooms?

 

 

 

5 Things to Consider About God’s Plans for Your Life

He-who-fails-to-plan-is

When I go on a trip, I like to know where I’m staying. There ya go.I said it. I’m one of those people.  I search for my hotel online, try to get the best deal and make sure the GPS on my phone knows how to get me there. For better or for worse, I want to know there is room at the inn when I get tired.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a compulsive planner, but I do like a little structure in my day-to-days.

Currently, in our Sunday morning children’s services we are teaching through the life of Moses. (Thank you Brian Dollar and High Voltage Kids!)

The series begins with an important reminder that God has a plan for us. Ultimately, His plan is for our salvation, and a life filled with worship and faithfulness, walking with Him in love and obedience.

But, we want “the big picture.” We want to know the “big”thing God wants us to do (or that we want to do for God). In focusing on that big thing, we can unknowingly walk out of the boundaries of His plan for us. It’s like trying to put together a puzzle without all the pieces.

Here are 5 truths that have helped me see the big picture:

  1. God’s plan is for us to be reconciled to Him. Is there anything keeping you from Jesus?
  2. God’s plan is for us to know Him. How can you use your time to get to know God more deeply?
  3. God’s plan is for us to share His plan with others. Who can you tell about Jesus?
  4. God’s plan is for us to love, forgive and show others the grace we have been shown. Who do you need to love? Who do you need to forgive?
  5. God’s plan is for us to serve others. How can you use your resources, gifts, talents and heart to help someone else?

This year let’s plan to know God, follow Him, share Jesus, love and serve others as part of God’s plan for us all. As we focus on the little pieces, I can’t wait to see the big picture emerge!

 

 

Jesus Doesn’t Care How You Spell His Name

i love geses

Last week one of the precious children at my church handed me the picture above in the most beautiful, hand decorated envelope.

I knew from the start whatever was inside was going to be great, because of the love that was written all over the outside. But, oh no, as you can tell, it was better than great! I mean, seriously, how cute is the spelling of Jesus’ name.  A friend of mine was standing next to me when I received the letter and the word, “Awwwwww,” came out of us in unison as we read it. 

I kept my treasure close by all day, showing it with pride. My heart was overwhelmed with love for the One it was written about as well as the one who wrote it.

Someone I showed it to commented, “I don’t think Jesus cares how His name is spelled.”

Truer words have rarely been spoken.

Jesus doesn’t care how you spell His name when it’s spelled with love. He cares that we know His name. He cares that we take the time to tell Him. He cares that we share that love with others. He cares about our hearts, he cares about us–his children who love Him.

“I love Geses.”

I hope you do, too.