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

holding-hands-752878_960_720

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.

The Power of Praying Hands

FullSizeRender-3

You know when you read those blog posts that have these amazingly great ideas. Then you find out that they are way out of your budget or could in no way be done in your facility.

Well, this is not one of those blog posts!

This is just one of those little things. You don’t really need any money. It should work in just about any venue.

All you need is some paper, some tape, a hand print, and some people to pray. Curious?? Read on.

Our leaders met this week to kick off HiSKidZ Wednesday night program, KidZRocK.

Each year we resolve to make prayer a bigger commitment, especially before we meet each night of our mid-week program. Then, life happens. The kids are sick, you have to work over at our job, you lock your keys in your car (Maddie!), and next thing you know that big group prayer time just isn’t happening because of last-minute craziness. Although each of us knows and believes that prayer is the, group prayer has not been attainable for our group.

This year as I was praying about that, this simple idea came to my mind. It’s so simple!! Really! It comes with a little poem that is, perhaps, a bit cheesy. However, I believe it originated from the Spirit and trust that He must like a little cheesy now and then–especially if it moves us to pray.

And it has.

On each door where our small groups and stations meet, I attached a laminated sign with a large hand print and the following poem:

On this place a hand was laid, where someone took a moment and prayed For power and grace from up above, teaching and truth that’s filled with love. To help change a life, here’s what you can do: place your hand on the hand and say a prayer, too.

As we finished our meeting up, each small group team went to their room and placed their hands on those hands and they prayed for power, for grace, for holiness, for salvation, and for a whole lot more other things that I didn’t get to hear. But we prayed. We prayed not just for our own spaces, but we went from door to door to door until each leader had prayed for every spot of our program.

Then we left the posters up–determined to stop for just a moment each night as we enter those rooms and pray. We are trusting that through the week, God will send people through our hallway who will also see those hands, and stop for a moment and pray.

It was the smallest thing, but it has sparked a flame in our group.

Maybe today you are looking for a spark, something small, but powerful, and maybe this is it. Our team thought it was worth sharing.

From our team to yours, may God move in powerful ways through your praying hands.

What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs (A VBS Story Pt. 3)

FullSizeRender-3

Sorry about the title, but it’s what keeps dancing around in my head as I think about this post.

In planning a VBS, I always begin with this question, “God, what do HiSKidZ need to hear this year?”

And then I wait.

I try to do it patiently, but I wait the best I can until I hear God’s voice leading me to what He wants to teach HiSKidZ in our little corner of His world.

This year, once the idea came that we needed to build God’s Word into their lives like never before, I went to my leadership team and begin to lay out a plan for partnering with one of my sons to write a VBS based on building blocks–a brand name of which I won’t mention here. It would be a big task, and would take a lot of time, energy and money.

Then, I asked whether or not we should do VBS this year.  Like any church, finding enough help can be a challenge, and without enough help, frustration and burnout can occur even among the strongest of Kidmin leaders.

Before I could get out my reasons for asking whether or not to do VBS, my leaders went C.R.A.Z.Y. on me! (Yeah,our children’s leadership team is awesomely like yesterday’s blog post!). Of course, we were going to do VBS! Dawn, how could you even think about not doing VBS??  There are kids to be reached and families who need to know Jesus. And it’s a VBS with building blocks of a brand name we won’t mention here!!  And so. . .

The planning and praying began, and we discussed what we wanted and needed for the week.

One of those things included Jumpstart3. (Yes, the Jumpstart3 promo week continues–Jeff, I know you are smiling as you read this!)

However, we are a small church in a small town in a small state with a small budget. But hey, no worries, because we have A BIG GOD!!

This summer, we were going to be reminded of how big.

I made the call, or two or three, to Jeff, and plans began to take shape. The problem was Jeff’s fee. His regular fee for a week is like my children’s ministry budget for a year. Yet, I knew he was supposed to come, and thankfully, so did he. He agreed to come for much less than his usual fee, and I agreed to pay him much less than his usual fee.

And our team agreed to pray that God would agree to pay his actual fee.

After talking with our church leadership, we launched our first ever investment program for VBS using an envelope system of giving. Basically, we put 100 envelopes on a wall, numbered $1-$100. People could pick an envelope, put in the corresponding amount of money and we would fund our VBS through it.

We wanted to raise enough money to cover Jeff’s fees, and to provide one Jumpstart3 CD and a t-shirt for each child who attended VBS.

What a girl wants, what a girl needs! What a mighty God we serve!!

As my friend Kate would say, “Jehovah Jirah!” The Lord Provides!

Through our investment program, God’s people generously gave in large and small amounts every penny we needed. On the Sunday of VBS, we were just $200 short of receiving all the money we needed. Yeah, you know–on that day 3 people came to me with envelopes which totaled $200, exactly enough to fund building God’s Word in HiSKidZ lives, Brick by Brick!

Jehovah Jirah! What a girl wants, what a girl needs, her God provides!

But, that’s not all. . . .there’s more. . . so stay tuned for . . .

A VBS Story Pt 4