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! 

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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).

Finding the One in Wonder

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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.

 

 

 

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!

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!

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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?

 

 

 

The Interrupt Rule-Teaching Our Children to Honor Others by Waiting

 

“One of the most important ways I can love my children is by refusing to let them interrupt my wife and me when we are talking.”

This morning I ran across this quote in my twitter feed, and it reminded me of one of the most valuable principles Tim and I learned when we were raising our boys:

Our children can learn to wait.

Even more, it’s important they learn to wait. It’s part of life. It’s respectful. It’s self-control. It’s patience. It’s loving. It’s about others.

When we were raising our boys, we had the opportunity to both take and lead parenting classes where we could learn and pass on valuable tools and heart principles. One of those tools was “the interrupt rule.”

We then taught our children that if they needed to speak with us and we were in another conversation, they should simply place their hand on our arm and wait patiently.  In placing their hand on our arm, we would know that they needed us, and we would take a break in our conversation as soon as possible without being rude to the person we were talking to.

This worked whether we were in person or on the phone, and it helped us teach and train our children that their thoughts and needs were important to us, but so were the thoughts and needs of others.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:10

When we specifically applied this principle to our marriage, our boys learned that our marriage relationship was our priority. They were not the center of our world, but rather a valuable part of it. Knowing mom and dad loved each other and put each other first added to their sense of security. They grew in patience and respect for us and others as they realized that they could wait and still be heard, and that others needed to have their chance to be heard as well.

I’d love to know:

What tools have you used to help your children learn to wait without interrupting?

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.

Are You C.R.A.Z.Y.?

NYC

Are you C.R.A.Z.Y.? 

I hope so!

Whether it’s VBS, KidZChurch, Mid Week programs or specialized ministries, there are those of us out there who are crazy for helping kids to find and follow Jesus.

How do you know if you are C.R.A.Z.Y. for kidmin? Just answer the following questions:

1) Are you Committed to seeing kids know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him?

2) Are you Relational, Reliable, and Ready to jump in and get to know kids where they are?

3) Are you Available to meet needs, teach classes, prepare crafts or snacks, clean nursery toys and pray, pray, pray for the hearts, minds, and lives of today’s kids?

4) Are you Zealous enough to do whatever it takes to help kids grow in Christ?

5) Are you willing to Yield to God’s leading and God’s way to get things done?

If so, then you are CRAZY, too! Crazy enough to give up time, energy, finances, and more to help kids live the kingdom life God has planned for them.

Welcome to the club!! It’s a CRAZY good time!

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Here’s my “crazy” mohawk on the last night of VBS. Thanks to my good friend, Chris, for the new do! Who knew that craft paint was good for hair???

The Wise Woman Built Her VBS With Insulation Board (A VBS Story Pt 2)

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Last week was VBS. When Jeff and Alan from Jumpstart3 arrived, I loved that they loved our decorations. I also loved that they reminded me that I am one lucky girl. I guess not every church gets to put their VBS decor up the week before VBS.

I remember the days when we put decorations up at the last-minute and am incredibly thankful that we can now showcase our week, build a little more excitement and pace ourselves a little better by having almost everything in place before our 1st service begins.

We are a small-medium sized church in a small town that was just given the distinction of being the poorest city in our state. So while finances may not always abound, God in His infinite creativity does.

IMG_3303 It’s time to build!

This is how we became such a big fan of insulation board. In our town, there is no Lowes, no Home Depot and no Menards. There are two small lumber yards, and we are thankful for them because not only do they carry insulation board, they deliver it for free, and we get to choose our delivery guy. (Yea, Taylor!!)

  _MG_4054offering contest bricks

Our 1st tie ever! Girls won, btw!

This year as we learned about building our lives and our spiritual homes on Christ, we built most of our VBS out of this wonderful pink and blue foam. I wouldn’t want to build my house on it, or with it, but since it’s not meant to frame a house, just insulate it, I think we are good.

lego

Another craft tie in to help kids remember how to build their lives on Jesus

It’s inexpensive, lightweight, easily manipulated, and paintable. And paint we did. Our teams cut and painted bricks, signs, Jeff McCullough, and barricades. We used it for our first aid and guests centers, a giant clock and left over pieces as tallies for our offering contest. We even used it to make a sign for outside the front of our church. When the rains came down and the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that sign (multiple times) it did not fall, fade or crash!

vbs yard sign

Working on the yard sign. Sherwin Williams color to go quarts are also our VBS friend!

IMG_3761 Guest signage–oops forgot to paint that side!

Total cost for the week was about $80. Even better, each and every item we made can be used again making the deal even sweeter. We discovered this year that if we made paper lettering and attached it with spray adhesive, we could remove it without marring or marking.

IMG_4100 Insul-Board bricks frame the doorways

Whether you are from a small church or a large one, or you have a tight budget or financial freedom, it’s just good stewardship to find ways to put Kingdom money to Kingdom use the best ways possible, and insulation board is a wise way to do that.

IMG_3160 Group pics that doubled for a craft later.

I’m curious how you have use insulation board in your churches. If you have a creative idea, please share. If you have more questions about how to use this amazing stuff, just let me know.

Until then, be wise and keep building.

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Our insul-board prayer cross.

Why I’m Still Jumping for Jumpstart3! (A VBS Story)

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Last week we had the privilege to host Vacation Bible School at our church. Many of you reading this understand that VBS is a crazy, exhausting, wonderful, glorious week–most of the time.

There are, of course, the years when all goes right, and the years when all goes wrong. Then there are the years like this one, when God does the things you could “never ask for or imagine.”

We invited Jeff McCullough of Jumpstart3 Scripture Memory Ministry to our VBS this year because we believed with all our heart that we need to get kids and families excited about the Word of God. Although Jeff and I had talked about the structure of our VBS, I think he was still a little shocked at the intensity of what we do and how we do it.

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Each morning we host our preschoolers (3 yr-K) for a morning VBS. Jeff led the music sessions for 4 groups of preschoolers each day. Each group ranged in size from 6-14 children. Each evening we host our “Big Kids VBS,” where Jeff led 3 groups of children in grades 1-6.

In just 2 days our preschoolers were saying their verses. SAYING THEM–not just singing them. As the teacher for the week, I got to review with them as part of our lesson the words of Matthew 7:24. They would speak to me the words,

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rains came down. The streams rose. The winds blew and beat against that house. Yet it did not fall.”

Not only could they sing the words, and say the words our littlest HiSKidZ were grasping the meaning as we taught that these words weren’t about houses or rains or rocks or sand, but about us, and Jesus.

And our big kids were crazy for Jumpstart. Jeff helped us to be able to give each child who attended a CD of the songs we would use at VBS. In fact, we gave them one and offered them one to use to invite a friend. So, the kids in our town were blasting Jumpstart from minivans and pickup trucks all around town! Our “bigs” learned at least 5 verses this week, and could also not just sing them, but say them!

Jumpstart3 literally gave our children the Jumpstart on putting more than God’s Words into their lives. Jumpstart helped give our kids a passion for God’s Word.

God was at work in so many amazing ways this past week, and I’m looking forward to sharing them in the days ahead. If you have any questions about how Jumpstart3 could benefit your ministry, feel free to message me, or get ahold of Jeff through Jumpstart3’s webpage.

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Kids and parents at our closing night family experience with Jumpstart3. Can you tell what song they are singing? (Hint–They are pointing to their ears, the next motions are to make a Bible with your hands and to cover your face.)