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 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





Fun/Pun Volunteer Gifts for the Leader on a Budget

12 days of Christmas

I love our volunteers! I love how they love kids, how they sacrifice, how they let God work through them, and how they love to have fun. I love those things and so much more. And I love to let them know how much I appreciate them. However on a budget, that can often be a challenge. This year, my gifts for our teams were simple, but a lot of fun, or should I say “pun” to put together.

Awkwardly enough, this year I may have gone a bit overboard. But it’s too late now–the gift ship has sailed! Truth be told, I don’t know what really happened. It all started so innocently, and  before I knew what was happening, I was in a full-blown pun mode! Every gift needed a witty saying, kitschy tie-in or corny pun!

I’m not exactly sure what all my volunteers thought, but I know I had a good time!!! As I thought, and bought, and wrapped and taped, I smiled just knowing that leaders would roll their eyes, groan a little or whisper those 5 little words we hear so often these days from gift recipients, “I saw that on Pinterest!”

But in case haven’t seen these on Pinterest and you are looking for a few fun ideas for your volunteers or friends for your next appreciation night or holiday, here’s a sample of what I did.

My Wednesday night leaders each got a gift bag filled with gifts for the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Oh, we’ll just never mind that Christmas was more than twelve days away, it fit a theme and that was good enough for me! I was on a roll for heaven’s sake! (I’ll share what I gave to our other leaders in upcoming posts!)

I attached each item to a card, wrapped them and labeled them 1-12. My items included: Extra gum, a small scented candle, chocolate covered peppermints, individual packs of iced latte mix, lip balm, hand sanitizer, Lifesavers, hot apple cider mix, popcorn, cookies and creme Santa, Crystal Light lemonade mix, and Tootsie Rolls.

ExtraEXHIBITIONI mint itThank You for Making Jesus so

Balm-Diggity halfway Lifesaver -Owl- have to say picking you for our Popping text here Thanks for being willing to make Thanks

As you can see, none of the items cost a ton, but they were fun, and expressed my heart for this team and all they give throughout the year to help HiSKidZ know Jesus.

An extra plus– they were all done on time, and who doesn’t love being “Pun-ctual?!”

Introducing My Friend, The Scripture Lady


It’s only Tuesday, but I can’t wait til Thursday to share a great resource with you! Don’t you just love it when you make a new friend? And when your new friend is totally awesome it’s even better! And when she happens to produce great resources for kids, well that’s just the whip on the mocha!

Recently I spent a weekend in Denver, Colorado, as part of the Kidology Coaching Summit where I had the pleasure of meeting some of the greatest kidmin people EVER!

One of them was my roommate, who is just the most incredible woman. Today, I am so excited to share a little bit about her with you.  I hope as you get to know her heart you will be as excited as I am about the work she is doing for the kingdom.

Kathy Vincent, The Scripture Lady, is from California and ministers to children through music. She does school and church programs, teacher/volunteer training, and writes and performs scripture songs for the young and young at heart.

Kathy is a precious soul with a heart filled with the love of Jesus and desire to help a new generation hide God’s Word in their hearts.

Captivating-Logo-Alone-with-cross (1)

From her website you can hear and purchase her music and Bible games, singly or in bundles, and find some great object lessons and classroom helps. Kathy is available to do programs, talks, teaching and music anywhere in the country, although she keeps busy in the Orange County area where she resides.

With Christmas on the way, my friend the Scripture Lady is well worth your time to check out. When you do, be sure to put a few items in your cart and check them out from her site.

I hope my new friend Kathy will soon become one of your favorites. She is sure to put a song in your heart (and she can help you fill the stockings of the little ones you love, too.)

Here’s a little preview of some of her songs. Enjoy! 

One Happy Camper–Thankful Thursday

happy camper

So I’m going to count this as a Thankful Thursday post even though, well, technically, it’s already Friday. But, hey, when I first sat down to begin typing, it was still Thursday. But it’s a camp week, and  I’ve just returned from watching my adopted family group at our local church camp finish up a late night swim after a great night of worship, teaching, luau-ing, and cardboard regatta boat adventures.

I  love church camp. I love it for a zillion reasons and each one of them makes me thankful for the whole church camp experience and the blessing of getting to see God up close and personal working in the lives of students of all ages. This week I was privileged to get to teach close to 70 students who will be starting their first year of high school in the fall.  Many of these students are struggling at home, in school and in the pursuit of a relationship with God in the midst of the pressures of the world. It’s often hard to process all that goes on in a week of church camp, and all the things there are to be thankful for as a week comes to a close, yet when I stop for a few minutes to do so, I know God is glorified.

For example, this week I got to see:

1) A girl who started out determined to not have fun stand before a room of people and share how her life had been changed and how she couldn’t wait to return next year.

2)  God speak to the hearts of our teaching and preaching faculty to intertwine our lessons and messages with the truth and love of God without any of us ever speaking to each other about our topics.

3)  A shy, dyslexic boy share about his constant prayer for friends being answered this week for the first time.

4) Incoming high school freshmen gain a passion and hunger for God and His Word.

5)  A team of Bible college students allowing themselves to be used by God to serve, share, play, listen, teach and learn, and do so with great humility.

6) God stir the hearts of students to give generously to help a missionary and his wife return to the states for a home visit.

7) Students praying for focus, for the spirit of God to move in the camp, and for pancakes. (Hey! Not everything is spiritual at camp!)

8)  Faculty and students singing with reckless abandon that “there’s no God like Jehovah!”

9)  A young girl share how after a Bible class, she got out her Bible and read the stories of Ruth and Boaz, David and Esther because the class made her want to know more.

10) A high school freshman ask more about attending a Bible college with a coop program because she realized she wanted to do all she could to hold on to her faith as she goes out on her own.

Ok, so that’s only ten things and not a zillion, but there’s no way I’m not going to make it to a zillion tonight! I am what we call “camp tired” and tomorrow I’ll be up early to close out our session, pack up and head home–well, after one more quick weekend session with some third graders.  But I head off to bed thankful for all God has done, all He is doing and all He will do in the lives of the students and friends I shared this week with. I’m blessed to have been part of something so special, something sacred. . .something eternal. . .something so worth it. And I get to do it all over again next summer with the next group of ninth graders, and that makes me thankful and it makes me one happy camper.








Kids Answers–Thankful Thursday

kids answers magazine

It has been reported that more than one half a million people tuned into the Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate earlier this week. I was one of those, at least for most of the time. I’m not here to debate the debate, but rather to express my thanks to Mr. Ham for his grace in sharing the gospel, his strong conviction to the Word of God, and his ministry to children.

Ham and the team at Answers to Genesis continue to do a phenomenal job at providing resources and teaching that equip people with the truth of God’s Word and the evidence of His creation. Ham’s Kids Answers Magazine is a resource I had, quite honestly, forgotten about until after the debate. In looking back at the Answers in Genesis website, I came across the online version of the magazine. There is so much great stuff for kids here: videos, puzzles, weekly articles and a variety of activities, plus a special section just for parents.

Here’s the link:

It’s simply a great resource for you and your kids–those in your home or your classroom.

Answers in Genesis also offers church curriculum, Vacation Bible School material and if you are planning a trip in your near future, be sure to consider The Creation Museum. It’s located just seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, and is within one day’s drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. When you buy your tickets they are good for two days making them a great buy. My pastor/boss/friend, his children and grandchildren spent time there last year and they are still talking about what a fabulous time they had.

So today I find myself thankful for a ministry who is willing to take the time and make the commitment to help see that kids have the answers to some of the most important questions they may ever ask, and for helping children see that God made them and loves them and that He is, indeed, the Lord of all Creation.



When a Man Loves a Woman–Thankful Thursday


Tonight my husband did another thing in that long list of things that he does best. He helped me. Actually that’s an understatement. Because the truth is, he did almost all the work. I helped him. You can almost see him in the picture above. He’s sort of in the shadows behind the angel that’s behind Mary and Joseph.

Earlier this afternoon I texted him asking, “Do you think you could stop by the church after work and help me put the nativity up?”

His reply, “O.K.”

Man of few words.

Around the end of November, he helped me and our 6th graders as we lugged “the family” out of the garage and freshened them up with a coat of paint. He made us a few new camel’s ears, tightened some loose screws and went on a search for the stakes we had apparently lost–again–that would help keep Mary, Joseph and the wise guys from falling over in the wind.

So he came by after work as I was beginning to put Mary and Joseph in their places! With my wrist still healing from the summer’s VBS break, there was no way I could hammer the stakes into the partially frozen rocky ground.

But he could. And he did. In the cold. Never complaining. Mary, Joseph, three camels, two angels, and three wisemen. I have no idea what happened to the shepherds. I don’t remember that we ever had shepherds, or sheep, but we have some pretty cool camels! (Which, btw, we did not put up on “hump day”, but that would have been pretty funny!)

And that is the man I am thankful for, not just on Thursdays, but every day.

He is the man who loves me unconditionally with all my crazy ideas. Trebuchet?? No problem. Toy Story themed rehearsal dinner? How can I help, honey?! (Yeah, there’s my wedding shout out for today!) Hang fake stone wall throughout the entire church? We’ll need a ladder. Hammer the holy family into frozen ground? O.K.

Drive 7 hours for a 2 hour soccer game? Let’s go! Invite a myriad of college students into our home? No problem. Repurpose furniture for the boy? Sure! Dance, twirl and spin? He gave it a try!

Listen to me when I’m frustrated, tired, and silly? Yup. Listen to me when I still have 3,800 of my 5,000 words a day left to go? (Did I mention he’s a little hard of hearing!) Allow me to travel to speak, teach, share, and encourage, even when it’s not always convenient? Uh-huh.

He is willing to eat sandwiches for dinner, embrace the leftover (he calls them scraps) and keep quiet when I chose Christmas cookies and tea for my dinner tonight.

The truth is that this man is THE BEST! and I am overwhelmingly thankful for him. He is a little quiet, a lot strong, totally humble and faithfully mine.

Why? Because these are the things a man does when he loves a woman. It makes him live differently. He puts my needs before his, and does all he can to make me look good. He encourages me and helps me shine, and when necessary he tells me “no,” every now and then, because he cares more about what is really best for me than what may seem best or what I may want at the time.

This weekend when we were at the wedding, I heard these same thoughts shared, and I watched our son model these same traits. Traits I see in his dad and that I see our first son live out with his wife, and it made me think that this Thursday, I’m not the only Farris wife who is thankful–giving me even one more reason to be thankful!

And I hope your Thursday is filled with thankfulness as well!

mom trevor and dad
Tim, who I am always thankful for, with me and Trevor, before the wedding.

I Don’t Like Spam–A Thankful Thursday Post


Sorry, it’s nothing personal. I just don’t like Spam. Actually, I don’t like very many products where meats are combined and compressed to make another kind of meat product. Y’know things like turkey rolls, chicken nuggets, weird sausages (although I do like a good hot dog every now and then–yes, I know “good hotdog” is an oxymoron.)

But today’s Thankful Thursday post isn’t about the meat with the uni-name. It’s really about that stuff that comes through your email. Don’t like it at all, not at all.

spam 2

However, since this is a thankful post and not a “rant about things you don’t like post,”  let me just say that I do like spam filters–ALOT. This thought came to me today while I was cleaning out my emails, after getting a little bit behind in the email cleaning out department.

spam filter


I like them because a because they help keep me accountable. A spam filter greatly reduces my willingness to give into a temptation. I still use yahoo for a great deal of my email, and my little spam folder fills up at an alarmingly quick rate of speed. When it does, I simply pop that spam in the trash, much like I would a can of Spam–there’s no need to open in up, no need to try it out, no need to give it a taste. I already know it’s not something I like, need or want. In fact, no offense to the good folks who make Spam, but I already know it’s not good for me.

So I just get rid of it. (Don’t hate me, it’s not like I buy it and throw it away. I don’t buy it. It’s just an example.)

It’s pretty much a Biblical principle.

Romans 6:11 reminds me I am dead to sin. In order to be dead to sin, I need to be alive in Christ and so my Spirit must be fed and my flesh starved out. Feeding my flesh on Spam is feeding the wrong thing for sure, for sure.

Or how about. . .

Matthew 18 where we are reminded that if our eye causes us to sin to gouge it out, or if our hand causes us to sin to chop it off. Well, it’s a much easier road to hoe to just not look at the spam.

Need a partner. . . .I already have a partner, thank you, and I intend to be faithful to him.

Enhancements. . . .maybe in the areas of giving, prayer, study, grace

Making millions. . . .I think I’ll keep storing up treasures in heaven

Drugs. . . No thanks, I’ve got Jesus, and chocolate

Whatever they are sellin’, I’m not buyin’.

And so that I’m not even tempted to shop, I choose not to stop by the store on my way home.

And when I remember that heading home isn’t just about the place I live with my husband, but the place my father is preparing for me, it makes the choice a whole lot easier.

So while I don’t like spam in any variety, I am thankful this Thursday for a God who continually gives us ways to avoid giving into temptation so that we will be ready when it’s time to go home–to a place with no spam of any kind!




Thursday Night Football and the Game of Second Chances–Thankful Thursday


Tonight rain is finally falling. There is some thunder rumbling in the background as I watch a little Thursday Night Football. Chiefs and Eagles. Although neither team is really one of my favorites, it’s still a pretty good game–at least so far. Watching a game you have no stake in while listening to the rain is pretty therapeutic. Who knew?

I have my eye on the Chiefs this year. I’ve always felt a little bad for Alex Smith. Smith, in case you don’t know, is actually a pretty stellar quarterback who happened to suffer a concussion last year when he played for San Francisco. In pops Colin Kaepernick and the rest is history. Smith is now on the bench and Kaepernick is the new golden boy. Although it has worked out very well for the 49ers and for Kaepernick, it still seemed a bit unfair to me, especially since Smith hadn’t done anything wrong but get conked on the head.

Alex Smith is doing a pretty fine job as a Chief. There’s hope again in Kansas City, and they haven’t felt hope on the football field in some time. Alex Smith has been given a second chance, he’s using it well, and it’s making a difference in the spirit of an entire community.

Then there’s Michael Vick. Vick also lost his job, although for entirely different reasons. Vick has also been given a second chance, and he is also using it well, and it, too, has brought some hope back to people. Not at this moment, while he has only hit one of his last six passes, but still, it’s good to see that people can change. I think his humble words to former Eagles coach, current Chiefs’ coach and Vick’s mentor, Andy Reid, are proof that Vick is a winner in the game of second chances.

What does all this have to do with a thankful Thursday? Well, I, too, am a player in the game of second chances. Only it’s not just a game. It’s so much more. Because of Christ, I’ve been given a second chance. I’m not who I used to be–not where I used to be–not how I used to be. That second chance has given me a hope and a future and the chance to share them both with others.

Tonight, while sitting on the couch, listening to the rain, watching the game, God reminded me of that. . . again, and for that, I am very, very thankful.

Being Thankful for Difficult People–Thankful Thursday

Let’s just say from the get-go that I DO NOT, repeat DO NOT, have this one down.

The small group I share in is currently studying ourselves a little Mary and Martha. Since I’m pretty sure someone will ask, I’ll go ahead and tell you that we are using the book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life, by Joanna Weaver.

mary heart

This week as we were studying, we talked a lot about the cure for worry, part of which is thankfulness. And our friend, Missy, shared with us about a little thing she did a while back called “Count 1000 Gifts.” Basically, from a given list . . . for a month . . . you record . . . either by word or picture . . three things a day that you are thankful for. These three things are like little gifts given to us by God.

Little gifts that we may often overlook.

Little gifts that remind you of how blessed you are.

Little gifts like Day One: “Gifts tasted.” That’s pretty easy: chocolate, enchiladas, and a Snickers meal bar!

And Day Two: “Gifts flat.” Okay, I had to think about this one for a bit. So. . . cardstock, note cards, and those little make up removing baby wipes for your face that hotels give you sometimes! I love those!

Then came today. Day Three: Three Gifts Found in Difficult People. Ummmmmmmmm. Ohhhh Kayyyyy. Wellllllll. Yeah!

Here’s the thing. Like, here’s the thing about difficult people. They are people. Sometime they are me. Sometimes I don’t like to be reminded that I can be difficult. I have a couple of difficult people in my life right now–which isn’t always the case, and so, after at first being completely, like, I just want to skip this day go back to day one (I think there are left over enchiladas in the fridge and I KNOW there are brownies on the stove), I can’t.

I can’t skip today. You see, I have to be thankful for difficult people. In part, because God says so. In part, because I want to be a thankful person. In part, because I don’t want to lose joy. And in yet another part, because learning to be thankful for the gifts in difficult people helps to keep me from being a difficult person.

Then hopefully, when I am the difficult person, someone will choose to be thankful for the gifts in me. If for no other reason than I, like them, am God’s child.

So for today here are three “gifts” I am thankful for in difficult people.

Number 1–Difficult people open my eyes to people’s needs. I don’t even have to know their need, but it’s a pretty good assumption that when you are having a difficult person day–or week–or month–or life–something is going on, and I need to show a little compassion.

This, of course, leads to #2

Number 2–Difficult people help me to be a little more compassionate. (After I get done being really frustrated!) Again, if the difficult person helps me to learn to respond to them and to others with love rather than by myself being difficult, that really is a gift.


Number 3–Difficult people remind me to pray. I don’t just mean for them, but just to pray. I am reminded to pray and to praise and to be really thankful for those people, things and situations in my life that aren’t difficult, but also for those things that are. The good and the bad combined shape me and mold me to take on the character of Christ and to grow in His love.

So I’m now looking forward to the rest of the month, the journey and the gifts that God will help me see that He has given me to help me be a gift to those around me!

I’d never heard of the “One Thousand Gifts”. Maybe you haven’t either. You can learn more about this adventure in thankfulness from Ann Voskamp, in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.”


Why VBS Is Still A Very Good Thing–Thankful Thursday


There’s a lot of talk these days about whether or not to continue with Vacation Bible Schools. Our church, for one, has taken a couple of VBS breaks recently. Yet, this year, we chose to once again invest our resources into a great week of ministry within our community. Here are some of the reasons why we believe VBS is still a very good thing:

1–Kids get to hear about Jesus

2–Grownups get to hear about Jesus

3–The church is unified

4–Excitement is created

5–Great cookies

6–Kids learn about missions like never before

7–Generational ministry happens in a powerful way

8–New people connect; old people do, too

9–Lives are changed; people are saved

10–Passion is stirred

Granted not all these things may happen in every church. But, that doesn’t negate the fact that these things do happen and when they do, God is glorified and the kingdom is strengthened. And that, is still, and will always be, a very good thing! I’m thankful for that truth, and for the people who use their gifts and talents to serve Christ through VBS’s around the world. And on this Thursday, that makes me very thankful. (That and the fact that clean up is just about done!)

Oh! And one other reason . . . who doesn’t like slime???!!

Andrew the Guard getting slimed at VBS

VBS team members and me at closing night.

You may have some other great reasons why your church still does VBS or why your kids love VBS. Feel free to share!