Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkin Picking

We all know what a Halloween Grinch I am.  I just hate it.  I have reasons that I don't care to mention here.  They won't be received well and that's okay; I'll just keep them to myself.  Anyway, because of that, I don't spend all month decorating and planning.  I even try to spend as little as possible on costumes simply to avoid giving this ridiculous excuse for a holiday more of our money than necessary. 

Between all of that and this being our first fall in this area, we just didn't make it to an official pumpkin patch this year.  It's all good though; we noticed a mini patch, if you will, just a few minutes away and took advantage of that yesterday. 

Prissy loved trying to lift every single pumpkin.  Bless her.  She tried so hard.  She finally settled on a tiny little pumpkin that was just her size (not pictured). 

The Boy was a different story though.  He was checking them all out, but he wouldn't pose willingly.  I snagged this one with the *actual* pumpkin he brought home.  I've got to figure out how to use this massive amount of pumpkin!  There's too much here just to throw out and decorate.  The last photo here is just a posed shot.  Once again, he's getting to that age where he thinks mom taking pictures of everything is a little lame.  He'll thank me for it one day.  ;) 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pictures

It's no secret that Prissy and The Boy both love to paint.  Here's a peek at our project for this week.  It's not Van Gogh-worthy, but it still made it to the fridge.  The Boy would also like all of you to know that he was unhappy with his final product; because of that, there are no finished photos.  Turkey. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

KidMin Reflection

We've been back from Group's KidMin Conference for a few days now, but it's just now slow enough to reflect on what we heard.  James and I were beyond blessed to attend and be filled, equipped, and affirmed through so many wonderful children's ministry leaders.  Here are two of the major points that resonated with me over our time in Columbus. 

1.  "You never know what segment of their story God is inviting you to help write."  ~Larry Acosta

You're more than just a Sunday School teacher, nursery worker, children's church leader, etc.  Whether you work with children in our church (or yours) weekly, during VBS, or show up on the rotations from time to time, what you do for kids matters greatly.  From babies in diapers to preteens trying to navigate a new social world, every child has a story and having the chance to pour into them is a tremendous privilege.  We were reminded by KIDWORKS co-founder Larry Acosta that every child has a story.  Sometimes you know glimpses of that story and sometimes you'd be stunned to know what the kids in your church see and hear when they leave your class.  I certainly didn't have the worst childhood ever, but there was plenty of dysfunction.  I've said it a thousand times before and I'll never stop saying it: church was a refuge for me.  It was never just a place to go.  My home church is the reason I am who I am.  There were people there who invested in me and it saved me in so many ways. 

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.  ~Ezekiel 22:30

If God has placed a child in your life, you can stand in the gap.  The concept of standing in the gap is becoming a sacred echo for me.  We've got to be intentional with our relationships with these kids God has entrusted to us.  As Larry pointed out, we've got to "speak life and vision and hope into kids' lives." 

2.  The D6 Movement-Now is the time! 

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." ~Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Being a good Baptist girl, I was completely unaware that this passage is known as the Shema.  I'm just learning the significance of this passage in Jewish homes now and in the past, but I've become increasingly compelled by it and its commands over the last few years.  It's something very dear to James and me as parents. We've been actively involved in ministry for 10+ years now and we've both seen something crucial that seems to be missing from children's and youth ministry.  As children's and youth workers, we can pour into kids and give all we've got, but no one can make the difference parents make. 

According to The Barna Group, a person's spiritual foundation will be in place before he or she turns 13 years-old.  We've got to do more for our kids than have them in church for two or three hours a week.  We've got to be intentional and we've got to take charge of our own kids; it's up to us to shape their worldview before someone or something else does.  We've got to talk about God and his love for us.  With love, we've got to talk openly about discipline too.  We've got to talk to our kids about why we're different from the world.  Church isn't enough.  We've got to talk about God when we wake, as we're going to sleep, when we're in the car, when we're doing all the things we do each day. 

We've been believers of this mindset for years now, but it was good to have that affirmation during the conference.  Where does that leave those of us working with kids though?  That leaves us with the job of loving on these kids when they're with us and equipping the parents to take the wheel for the rest of the time.  It's more than just giving parents devotion ideas to use as a family; it's equipping parents to talk to their kids about the hard stuff from a biblical perspective.  It's giving parents the confidence to talk about things their parents didn't talk to them about:  sex, pornography, drugs, alcohol, and the other hard things that come up.

One of the workshops I attended was about dealing with hot topics. Our instructor Steve Alley, a ministry professor and children's pastor in California, pointed out how important it is to be the first voice our kids hear. The topics listed above are just a short list of taboo words in church.  By keeping them taboo in church, we've not given parents the tools they need to fight society's cries for serving self and living in the moment regardless of consequences.  In a world so saturated with media, our kids are bombarded with constant messages about hot topics that completely contradict God's Word.  When the world talks first, our message of dying to self and serving God instead ourselves gets labeled as hate.  Stopping that label requires attention and intention.  This requires us standing next to parents and doing all we can to help them lead their families.

 I could write about this stuff all day, but there's just not enough time.  Prissy's nap has been over for a good 30 minutes now; blog time is coming to a close for today.  We talked, we listened, we praised, and we prayed and we're so incredibly grateful for our time at KidMin 13.  Can't wait to do it again! 

Above the Clouds

To many folks, being above the clouds isn't a big deal.  Some people walk the terminals and board planes every day.  Clouds are probably just clouds to them.  I've always loved clouds.  Something about them takes my breath away.  They're just a little stamp of God's awesomeness for me to see every day.  I constantly notice them. 

James and I had mentioned several times before our trip to Columbus that it was going to be really cool being in the sky.  At that point, we had done our fair share of traveling.  We've even been out of the country, but we've never flown before this. There's no specific reason behind this; it's just that we usually drive when we take trips.  This time was different though. 

These pictures may not be anything special to most folks.  To us though, a chance to watch sunset from above the clouds was indescribable. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdowns, and Opinions, and Hatefulness, Oh my!

There's so much swirling around today amidst this government shutdown. So much nastiness. So much snarkiness. So many folks spouting off who is to blame. So many fingers being pointed at this political party or that one. As I read my social media feeds, I'm getting a mental image of that scene in Ghostbusters when NYC is in complete chaos and the Stay Puft  Marshmallow Man is roaming the streets. That's Ghostbusters, right? Either way, that's the feel of my feeds right now.

I've been tempted -multiple times- to join in and provide a doubly snarky remark to some of these "remember this when the next election rolls around" posts. There have been too many of them. I've not been short at all on responses to "Where are all the _______ voters now?" Oh boy, it's so easy to get nasty when politics is on the table.

I'm glad I haven't let my fingers get ahead of my brain today. I'm not generally a confrontational person, but it's been tough avoiding debates today. I had a moment early this morning -like 3 AM-ish (not to be confused with Amish)- where I stopped and let God quiet my spirit. I let him wash over me and give me the reasons *not* to respond to the ugly remarks.

First, it was definitely a Psalm 46 thing. I was feeling the words "be still and know that I am God" hush me. Being still in this case really meant being quiet. I know it's hard to believe there was that much fuss at 3 AM, but there was. I was only reading so I could keep myself awake long enough to get Prissy back to sleep. (Note: if I'm on any kind of social media at 3 AM, it's because I'm getting Prissy back to sleep.) I was stunned by how many other people were up...and so worked up! There was already plenty to respond to, but the Lord told me to be still.

He also brought to mind that my responses wouldn't have helped anything. Witty and perhaps more cutting than the initial posts, my comments wouldn't change a thing for those with different political views. Why bother "setting the record straight" when it would do nothing more than cause a greater divide? I think we can all agree that there's a gigantic divide among all political parties right now and anyone claiming affiliation with them.

I say all of that to say this: God is still on the throne. Our God is greater than this nation he gave us and has always been greater than this nation. Even though this country seems to turn away from him a little more every day, our God is still on the throne. He knows his people and he's here. I certainly don't mean to compare us to the physically enslaved Israelites, but my personal Bible reading has been in Exodus and Leviticus lately. Although we are not actual Israelites, we are still his children and this is all going to be okay. Just maybe we're seeing that the government itself had become a bit of an idol. Just maybe he's "letting" this happen because we told him to stay out of our government years ago. There's no better time for us to run back to his loving arms, tell him how sorry we are, and ask for the forgiveness and guidance that's been waiting for us this whole time. The time is now to take your country back.

"The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."
~Zephaniah 3:17