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).

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?

Dear Moms and Dads,

Dear-Mom-and-Dad

Moms and Dads,

I’m not a big one to write any kind of “open letter,” but I don’t know how else to say these things that are on my heart. You see, I spent the last week with some of your sons and daughters, teaching through the Old Testament. We talked about God’s love and protection and how from the beginning of time, He’s simply been calling us back to Him because of His great love for us.

We talked about how there is really nothing more loving and caring than the truth that because of God’s great love for us He has spent all of time warning us of the danger of His judgement and wrath, and showing us the way to be saved from it through our  faith in and allegiance to Jesus.

As we talked about the times of the prophets and how God sent them to His people for over 400 years, we reasoned together that it really made no sense for someone to hear a warning for their entire life and not respond to it. In fact, they thought that seemed just crazy!

They also reasoned that even if the time was 300 years, or 200 years or 50 years or 10 years, the only logical response to a warning of this magnitude was to respond, run to and stay in the care of the One who could save you from the impending danger.

And so they responded. They shared their hearts about how they were like the people of the Bible. They, too, knew these things of God, but weren’t responding. But now, they wanted to be different. They no longer wanted to be like those who knew, and did nothing.

As we shared about their lives when they returned home, a common thread could be found woven into their stories. They felt as though even though they knew God was with them, they would be humanly alone in their families.

I heard student after student share that their families were no longer following the Lord. Parents and grandparents who love their children, know God, and are connected in some way to a church have lost their way–so much so that commitment to God and His church have become an afterthought in their lives. The same parents and grandparents who sent them to church camp are not camping out with them in church!!!

Parents, hear this. Your children want to go to church. They want to be a part of what God is doing. They want lives that are different, they want to be a part of making a difference, and they want to do it with you!

Please, please, for the sake of your children, your children’s children and for yourself–I want to remind you and warn you that you will be held accountable for your actions–COME BACK TO THE LORD. Put aside your hurts, busy schedules, sins, fears or whatever it is that is keeping you from walking with the Lord TOGETHER WITH YOUR CHILDREN and start walking with them, beginning today.

Your kids hearts are breaking. They are breaking for you. Your kids need you. They want their families together with Jesus, forever. They want to be with you!

Think about it. High School students who want to go to church. With their families. They want to live for Christ. They want your help.

It seems like to not give it to them, would be, well, just crazy.

“Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not be done.” Romans 1:28 NIV

You Will Not Talk to Your Mother That Way (and Other Great Things My Husband Said to Our Kids)

FarrisFamily2014-30
I have a really great husband. We have spent almost thirty years together and have raised two pretty great sons together.

He’s not a perfect husband. . . which is just fine. I’m not a perfect wife.

I am so thankful that Tim has always set such a good example for our sons. He’s one of the quiet dads, he may not say much most of the time, but when he does, it’s generally worth listening to.

Here are ten really great things he has said through the years that are worthy of passing along to the dads out there who are working to find their way in the parenting world.

1) You will not talk to your mother that way. She is your mother.

2) Let’s help your mom clean up.

3) Keep going. Don’t quit.

4) You keep driving from your direction. I’ll start from mine. If the car breaks down again, stay where you are until I get to you. If it keeps going, we’ll meet up and caravan home.

5) Great report card.

6) Hop in the truck, let’s go for a drive.

7) We’re going for it. If we have to turn back, we will. But if we make it, we’ll have one of the best times of our lives. (By the way, they made it, and they did, indeed, have one of the best times of their lives.)

8) I’m proud of you.

9) Good effort, son.

10) This is who we are. This is what we do.

Both of our boys have an overwhelming admiration for their father. He is strong, quiet, faithful, hard working and industrious. And he loves us. We know that, not just because he says that with his words, but because he models it to us every day in the little things he does and in the examples he has set.

Dads, I’m always telling the moms, “It’s the little things that are the big things.”

Be the dad in the little things, because those will be the biggest things in your kids’ lives.

FarrisFamily2014-31
On and one more:
#11) Real Men Hold Their Wives Purses.

Thanks to Sam McGhee for allowing us some time for silly snapshots during our family photo session. To learn more about Sam’s work go to http://www.sammcghee.com

5 Things to Know About Social Media and Your Child

Today’s blog post is adapted from a parent talk my non blogging kidmin son, Trevor Farris, has put together for the church where he is a children’s pastor. I asked him if I could share it, because I believe every parent needs to be aware of what’s going on in their child’s social media world. Trevor ministers to some super amazing kids and with some even more amazing volunteers at Valley Real Life is Spokane Valley, WA. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check it out.

Social Media is big, but think about it—it’s the smallest that it is ever going to be.

Every day, more videos, tweets, pictures, and blogs are being uploaded onto the Internet than ever before. This chart from domo.com gives some pretty convincing evidence that social media is big–every minute of every day. Go ahead, take a second and check it out really quick.

every minute of every day

Those are some insane statistics! As more and more websites and apps are being created, it’s nearly impossible for adults to keep up . . . but. . . it’s not for your kids.

So here are 5 things you need to know about Social Media, your child, and what you can do to be more informed about it.

1. Your Kids Probably Know More Than You About Social Media
This is by no means an insult. They simply have the time to learn! With texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, KiK, AskFM, Omegle, and a million other options, they can absorb more budding technology than we can dream of. And they use it for everything! So what do you do?

2. Ask Them to Teach You
You don’t know if your child is ready for SnapChat? Ask them about it! Are you not sure how Instagram works? Ask your son/daughter! You need to know what your kids are doing, because there is so much that they are able to do on their iPods and phones. But please understand this—you don’t need to know more about technology than them…just being aware is a huge step.

3. Remember ANYONE Can Use Social Media
Speaking of being aware…it is really easy to lie about who you are on the Internet. Your children may not be sharing information with the person that they think they are. Make sure that your kids are using appropriate social media (Honoring age restrictions is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), and are familiar your rules on Internet etiquette.

4. Community in Isolation
Kids and teens today have hundreds and thousands of friends. And if they are anything like me, they don’t know who most of them are! If someone sends me a friend request on Facebook, and I have a mutual friend…BAM! we’re friends now. And they can have all these friends at their fingertips while they sit in their bedroom alone. They don’t have to go out and have conversations. Be sure to have “Tech-free” times in your home when personal interaction is required to keep your kids checked in to reality.

5. #Hashtags
For those of you who still don’t understand hashtags, you are not alone. Hashtags are sort of like little file folder tabs that help you created to help you find what you are looking for on a certain topic. Let’s say you and your family go on a short vacation to Six Flags St. Louis for Spring Break. Your daughter posts a selfie from the line of the Batman ride. And the caption says, “I LOVE SIX FLAGS! #RollerCoasters #Family #SpringBreak.” But you need to realize that when she clicks on the “#SpringBreak,” she has access to ANYONE’S pictures that have that same tag. Think about that. I’m assuming there are pictures from Spring Break Cancun on the Internet that you’d love for your kids to never see. Know what hashtags your kids are using, because they can have access to all sorts of things they probably shouldn’t.

In short, talk to your kids about what they’re doing online and on their phones. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to have a different set of family rules than other families you know (or don’t know). Give them rules and guidelines that keep them safe, and as you expand those guidelines as they get older continue to have conversations with them. *

Prayer Time Shouldn’t Be a Rare Time—Helping Kids Grow in Their Prayer Life through Prayer Posters

prayer photo
This month HiSKidZ at our church are learning about prayer. It seems that while we pray a lot, we haven’t done the best job of teaching about prayer, and since even the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, it’s something we should be giving some thought to as we disciple our children in their faith walks with God.

We are loosely using Discpletown’s How to Pray curriculum and tweaking it to fit our own format and structure. Each week this month we are looking at different aspects of prayer connected to the word pray—Praise, Repentance, Asking and Yielding. It’s nothing new, but it’s definitely worth bringing out to a new generation to help them grow in their conversations with the Lord.

This week, HiSKidZ in our Discovery/Sunday School hour will be making these prayer posters to help them understand each of the 4 aspects of prayer that we are teaching.

The idea is so simple.

All you need is four envelopes, a piece of poster board, some tape, some markers or crayons, a hole punch and a piece of yarn.

Tape the envelopes to the poster board. On each one write one of the aspects of prayer. Punch holes in the top corners and string some yarn through them so they can hang their poster up at home.

The idea is that children and their family can write out prayers and put them in the envelopes. Writing out prayers, even simple prayers helps us to focus and think about things like praise, repentance, what we are asking for and yielding to what God is asking us to do.

Dawn Farris is the Director of Children’s Ministries at New Testament Christian Church, Keokuk, IA. You can find out more about her at her blog http://www.whosthefarris.com or follow her on twitter @whosthefarris

Be Strong and Do The Work–Dadderday

dowork-1

Wow! I can’t believe how long it has been since I’ve had/made the time to blog. Thoughts are continually swirling in my head, but the tyranny of the urgent often takes over before I get them into print. I think that’s how it is in parenting sometimes. Little things keep popping up that keep us from other things that really need to get done.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not in any way saying that writing down some thoughts in a blog is equivalent to the task of parenting children. Yet the principle still holds true that we often let things that seem bigger trump things that seem smaller, and as my small group and I are discovering this summer, the small things often are the big things, we just don’t always realize it.

So Dads, (and the moms who read blogs for dads!) today I want to give you a small reminder of the importance of parenting your children and “doing the work” that needs to be done. It comes from a couple of small verses of Scripture tucked away inside of the book of I Chronicles–yeah, I know, it’s not the normal source of our Bible verse  of the day–but it should be! Anyway, here’s what one dad said to his son:

Any you, my son, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with a wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”  I Chronicles 28:9-10

And then he continues a few verses later with:

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” I Chronicles 28:20

David was talking to Solomon when he was about to become king about building the permanent temple which would include the place where God would reside. As believers, we are now the place where God resides, and the task of training up our children to know the Lord, follow Him, and to live as His dwelling place can be a daunting task.

But don’t be discouraged. God will not fail you. He will not leave you. You’ve got the this.  Simply remember the words of David and acknowledge God, serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; seek Him; be strong and courageous and do the work. And have a great Dadderday doing it!!

Use Your Words. . . Tiny Tot Tuesday

love

“Use your words.”

This is a phrase I often hear moms use with their children. As young children learn to speak, it’s often hard for them to find the right words from their limited vocabulary, and so they can easily get frustrated. With frustration, comes whining, crying and yes, even sometimes the occasional temper tantrum–from both child and parent! Learning to use our words helps communicate our thoughts and our heart, and although some might say love needs to be shown rather than said, I suppose I’ve always been a believer that it’s a combination of both.

Since it’s February and almost Valentine’s Day I’ve been thinking about love. When it comes to teaching our children about love, I mean really teaching them about love, using our words can be a huge asset.

This month in our children’s department at church we are teaching our children I Corinthians 13:4-8 which says,

“Love is patient; love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast.
It is not proud. It isn’t rude.
It’s not self seeking. It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.
Love never fails.”

Using this Scripture as a model, we can begin to use our words to teach our children about love.

For example:
1) You are going to the grocery store. You know there is a great probability that you will have to wait in line to check out and they/you will begin to get impatient, angry, you may want to say something that is just a little rude or you may find yourself a little jealous of the line next to you that is going a little faster.

You can begin to use your words before you ever enter the store, and so you can say, “Before we go into the store, let’s choose to show love. We are going to be patient if our line is slow. Let’s think of something kind we can say to the worker, because love is kind.”

2) Starting to get angry? (Not at me, at our imaginary trip to the store!) You can simply say, “Let’s look around what do we have to be thankful for. We don’t want to start getting angry, because love is not easily angered.” Then refocus that energy by counting candy bars or playing thumb wars or saying a little prayer for the people around you and yourselves.

3) When your child tells the truth about something–and not just when they have been in trouble–Rejoice!! Tell them you are rejoicing. Tell them why you are rejoicing. Because love rejoices with the truth, and truth is good and you want to honor that.

4) Your children are bickering (yes it will still happen) and tattling about current or past offenses. Have your child make a list of positive things about the person they are upset with to replace their “record of wrongs” list. Use your words to remind them that “love does not keep a record of wrongs.”

I’m sure you get the idea. There are so many ways that we can speak love into our children’s lives as it relates to how they treat others. Sometimes it just comes down to staying intentional and remembering to make the most of those teaching able moments.

Because aren’t you thankful that God is patient with us? I am so thankful that He is not easily angered and keeps no record of our wrongs. He is not a God who delights in evil, but rather He rejoices with the truth, and He protects us, is kind to us and He will endure beyond forever.

These are great words to use with our tiny tots.

Disclaimer–I was going to share some fun Valentine craft for you to do with your children, but decided to “use my words” instead. For great Valentine craft ideas, feel welcome to kindly check out Pinterest! I’m sure you’ll find something you love!

Why I Will No Longer Accept Your Child’s Facebook Friend Request–Mama Mia Monday

like-us-on-facebook

Got another one–

Last week I received another facebook friend request from a child I know, and I just can’t click confirm.

I will admit I have accepted requests in the past. I talked with some friends about it, read some articles and finally relented with the belief that since their parents were allowing it, it was still a chance for me to connect with them and even to keep up with what’s going on in their lives.

But I was wrong.

Because in doing so, I affirmed to them that it’s okay to lie, that it’s okay to lie with your parents’ permission, and that I, as their children’s ministry leader, think a little lying must be okay.

Yet, that’s not what I believe at all.

I’ve been a part in putting them in danger of identity theft, bullying (from either side), child predators, negative self image (both physical and mental) and entrance to an adult world they weren’t meant to join until they were, well, adults.

Yet, I could never imagine doing that intentionally.

Children are not yet capable of fully understanding the consequences to some of their actions or the concept of marketing. Facebook is designed to target those who sign up for it. So when a child registers with a false age beyond their years, they are now targeted with ads for someone “beyond their years.” This includes sites about drinking, gambling, meeting singles and more.

In the United States it is illegal to collect information on people under the age of thirteen–one of the reasons facebook doesn’t allow children under the age of thirteen to have an account. I find it ironic how often we get upset when the government lies or acts unethically, yet now we are enabling that process. In fact, we have become the very thing we say we abhor.

And why?

I’m not sure. Some of the reasons I hear are so that our children can have friends, have fun or be like everyone else. Some parents have admitted they just didn’t want to tell their children, “No.” They didn’t want the fight. Others have said they felt like the lie wasn’t really a big thing because they are monitoring what their kids are doing on their pages.

We, as the adults in their lives, are supposed to help our kids navigate the waters of character and integrity. We are supposed to model for them virtues like truth, honesty, patience and self control. These underage users–Wow! That’s a startling term considering the addictive nature of social media– aren’t quite yet capable to understand the whole “when it’s okay to lie and when it’s not okay to lie” thing isn’t really supposed to be a thing. Apparently we, as adults, aren’t either.

Mama Mia!

**In 2011, ABC news reported that it was estimated that almost 7.5 million facebook accounts were used by underage children who were using facebook with their parents’ permission. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/underage-facebook-members-75-million-users-age-13/story?id=13565619

Ten Signs You You Need to Slow Down to Parent–Dadderdays

ten-things
One of my all time favorite movies is Spielberg’s Hook starring Robin Williams. In this classic film, Williams portrays Peter Panning, the grown up Peter Pan. Although Peter started out with a healthy motivation to work to provide for Wendy and the kids, he became overly entrenched in the grown up world. So much so that Wendy has to warn him, “You’re missing it, Peter, you’re missing it.”

Ever feel like you are missing it? You might be. Here are few warning signs that you might need to slow down to get your parenting adventures back on track.

1. You are reading this blog post or your wife is reading it to you.
2. Work is your life. Hobbies are your life. TV is your life. Your kids’ events are your life.
3. You don’t have time to stop and evaluate what you’re doing, or you’ve stopped looking forward to the end goal in your parenting.
4. You are never home on the weekends.
5. McDonald’s is the place where everybody knows your name.
6. You are skipping church because you are worn out from work and your kids extra curriculars or sports.
7. You’re not really sure what the term “date night” means because it’s been so long since you had one.
8. You haven’t talked to your kids since, well, since. . . .hmmm, when did you last really talk to your kids?
9. You aren’t growing in your knowledge of God and His Word.
10. Love, Laughter and Kindness are not words your children would use to characterize you.

Remember…the time we have with our children in our homes is short. Our goal is never to be busy parents, but we do need to be busy parenting. We want to be effective in all we do.

As Christian parents, we are raising little “Christ followers.” In our home our main parenting goals were to help our kids know Christ, follow Christ and share Christ with the world. But there were times when we got way too busy to do that well, or to do it at all. Taking time to reevaluate where we are on the journey, and then making the necessary adjustments to get back on track is a great tool to keeping the end in mind.

When we do, great adventures await.

Bangarang!

Hook

(If you’ve never seen it or haven’t seen it in awhile, a “Hook” family movie night could be a really great idea for some quality time with the family!)