Mommy Confessions – All The Possibilities

A warm summer breeze fluttered the curtain that evening providing much needed relief to this overheated momma and red-cheeked wonder. Nursing in the summer heat is a hot mess of it and, as he’s squirming for escape, it often feels like the little guy is running a marathon rather than filling his tummy. This day though, with that breeze, I couldn’t manage to peel my eyes from his precious little self as he miraculously and peacefully rested there.

The day had been normal, fluctuating between the “I-love-you-so-deeply” and “you’re-driving-me-bonkers” moments, and I was ready for bedtime and me-time. Yet there he was so perfect and peaceful. And I began to trace my finger along his delicate features and, as I often do, I began to pray for his little life, the eighty or ninety years of it he has ahead of him.

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His toes caught my eyes first, so tiny and a touch ticklish. I began to wonder… Where will your feet take you little one? What soil will they touch in this big world? I thought of my own feet stained with red African soil at only eighteen and wondering if my own mother had prayed for the soil mine would touch never dreaming it would be across the sea someday. Will they be lovely as you bring Good News, child? And I ask for trust and peace to release him to the places God must take him.

Then his legs… They are so shaky now as he is just learning to bear weight on them. It won’t be long and he will stand on them. I wonder… What will you stand for, child? Will you stand for Truth and faith, even at a cost? Will you stand for the broken, the outcast, and the hurting? Will you bear the weight of their need? And I ask for God’s power and the boldness that comes through the Sprit for him.

His fingers wiggle and I watch his hands unfold against the warmth of my skin. They are so tiny, just learning to touch and discover the world and it’s textures and tactile wonder. Oh child, I wonder what precious lives your tiny hands will touch with love and hope? Will your hands become dirty with the mess of living grace for others? Will you touch the heart of God and know His power? Will you hold on to those things which we teach you are of worth and substance? And I pray that these little hands will become the hands of Jesus in this broken world.

His arms, just learning to embrace and to reach for the things that catch his eye. The perfect little rolls of flesh growing stronger with each day as he changes and strengthens. And I wonder… Where will these arms reach and to whom? Who will you reach out to and embrace for the Kingdom? What helpmate will you lovingly embrace for a lifetime? Will you reach for the stars, and if so, which ones – the ones that shine brightest to your earthly eyes or the ones that God has designed just for you that mark a life of profound faith and obedience? And I pray, as I must, for my own arms, the ones that carry him, hold him, and lead him. Give me wisdom, Lord, and strength to train him to reach for God and His best.

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The time stands still and I’m honestly just lost in him and the infinite possibility of all he can be. His tummy – will he stomach injustice in the world or be an advocate for change? His lips – will they speak words of life? His eyes – will be see the beauty in the broken? Will he see the potential in himself and the hand of God working in his life? His heart – will it break for what breaks the heart of God?

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His ears – will they hear the voice of God leading and directing his path and future? His mind – will he grasp how wide and deep and great is the love of God?

And although he’s been dedicated to The Lord, I consecrate him again in the simplicity of this space, this quiet nursery, this tired rocking chair, his eyes fluttering to sleep nestled close to my heart. Even when the beautiful suit and the solemnity of the ceremony are a memory, God hears my quiet momma prayers and He’s holding my whole world, this tiny bundle, in His hands. Incredibly, while I can only dream and pray for his future, God knows his days and their details before the sun rises on them. I can trust Him for all of it and I’m learning that so desperately.

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So if you’re praying for your babies, growing and grown-up, if you’re looking down into their twinkling eyes of wonder or gazing up at their tired eyes weary with living, if you’re holding their hand to cross the street or finding them slipping through your fingers, can you just rest today in knowing God still hears your momma prayers? He knows their days and you’ll always find He’s never too far from wherever they are.

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Seven Ways to be The Best Camp Chaperone

It’s that time of year friends. Pull out your sleeping bag and that old suitcase. Rest up and pray for patience. We are going to camp. A glorious week of… late night tell alls, milk shake dates, soda pop chugging, minimal sleep, intense worship services, deep prayer and tough Bible teaching. It’s the kind of week where by the end you’re almost ready to pull your hair out… But some kids life gets totally shaken by the presence of God and set on a new course. Whether its three days with kids or a week with teens, it guarantees to be wearing, wild and wonderful. I love it.

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But I’ve learned in my years as a camper and as a counsellor that there’s a big difference between the chaperones who just show up and the ones who sacrificially serve the next generation for the glory of God. Those type of chaperones – by the power of the Holy Spirit – change lives. So what does it take? Here are the big seven I’ve narrowed in on.

  1. Pack snacks to share. It’s amazing how some kids will open up while you’re passing around a bag of Doritos and a pack of twizzlers. Those late night devotions and conversations are the places where you get to find out about what’s happening in a kids life and sometimes you get to speak life, hope and grace to desperate circumstances, crushed spirits and big dreams.
  2. Cheer loud. Seriously. During rec sessions or talent times, be your kids biggest fan. Cheer on your team. Clap. Shout. High five. Scream if you must. Be a positive, encouraging and fun voice that motivates kids to be involved and values their contribution to the team.                                             image
  3. Set the spiritual bar. These camps have incredible potential to impact the spiritual life of a child or young person for the rest of their lives. They are looking to their loved and respected leaders for the cue to plug in. They need to see you worship. They need to see you pray. They need to see you responding to God. They need to see you pray with students, including them. It’s how they learn to do the same. Don’t just hang out at the back as an observer. While you may feel “cool” back there, be in the middle of and a part of what God is doing. The vantage point up there, hand in hand with a kid, when God shows up is way better. Trust me.
  4. Go all in. Really. You’re going to be tired and there are going to be hard some moments – especially at three in the morning when you’ve already told them to quiet down a dozen times or that kid is crying again about missing home. But please don’t just take up space! Don’t just fill a Plan to Protect requirement. Be fully present. Put down the phone!!! Play the games. Worship. Talk to them. Swing on the swings and tell them about your embarrassing first date. Crush them at basketball and then let them tell you about the dreams God is birthing in their hearts. Listen to them. Be the godly big sister some young girl needs. Be a loving voice to the boy who’s family is breaking apart. Be Jesus for them.
  5. Don’t complain. About the late nights, the food, the camp director, the bed, the snoring of your roommate, the annoying kid that keeps following you. Don’t complain. Again, you set the bar for behaviour. If you choose to be negative, your kids will also be negative. If you look for all the awful parts, they will too.
  6. Check your pride at the door. These kids don’t need a chaperone who’s too cool. They need a down to earth, in the middle of stuff, not afraid to be silly, self sacrificing kind of chaperone. For less than a week put your own needs and pride aside so you can impact a life. image
  7. Remember yourself as a child or teenager. What were you insecure about? What were you excited by? Who had an impact on your camp life? Why? How would you have responded if these circumstances had happened to you? What did you need in a chaperone? It’s possible that if you felt that way as a teen or child, they might feel that way too. They aren’t adults and don’t process experiences the same as you or another adult may. Handle them with the same care you would have needed.

You are given an incredible privilege this summer to impact young lives for eternity. Don’t waste it! Be the best camp chaperone you can be. Give it all you have. For God’s glory!

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A Pink Toolbox

At my bridal shower a few years back the wisest lady gave me the greatest gift – a toolbox. It seemed so out of place among the plethora of pretty dishcloths and dainty dinnerware. I remember the ladies who were gathered around to watch me unwrap those little blessings exclaim, “Ah! That’s perfect! Good idea! You’re gonna need that, my dear!” It was only a few weeks later in the midst of flattened boxes, while hanging picture frames and building a Walmart book shelf that I finally understood. The pink tools in that pink toolbox were everything I needed to make our house – okay, our really tiny one bedroom basement apartment – a home.

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When I started in children’s ministry, I was just as green as the day of my bridal shower but for entirely different reasons. It was not my first time serving children or the church but the first time that I was responsible for giving leadership and vision to children’s leaders and a ministry. I remember sitting to the massive wooden desk in my new office that first day thinking, “Oh dear… what do I do?” Since then it’s been four years and, while I don’t consider myself an expert or kidmin guru, I’ve learned a few things along the way that have helped me to grow as a leader to children, a process that is ongoing everyday.

One of the things I learned is that every leader needs a toolbox – maybe not a pink Craftsman one – but a storage of resources that inform, inspire and equip them for the challenges and opportunities they encounter.

Questions – I decided really early in my life that I would not be afraid to ask questions. Any time I’m unsure about anything, I ask. I’ve learned that there is always someone somewhere with an answer or a clue if I’m willing to ask. That first day in my office after an overwhelming moment of panic, I turned to the only tool I had at the time, a willingness to ask questions. I started to make phone calls; I popped across the office to my senior pastor; I chatted with my momma. I asked things like, “What curriculum is best and why? How do I recruit help? Do you send out ministry newsletters and what goes in them? Etc.” I gathered all the ideas from the dozens of questions I had asked and used them as building blocks for how to move forward.

My Peers – A lot of those questions of mine got directed to my peers in ministry. I found a copy of our denominational directory and our children’s ministry lead team on Facebook, and looked to the people who had already been doing this thing long before me. Our provincial director became a source of encouragement and guidance. A lead team member helped me narrow in on a curriculum that would work for our group. A university friend stocked me with ideas for games and outreach activities. And a newly found friend in ministry emailed me copies of their program schedule that helped me to shape our own for that first year. Whenever I face an opportunity or an obstacle now I never hesitate to look to those around me – new to the ministry or old hands.

Internet Resources I know the internet is full of junk a lot of the time – I get that – but it’s also an overflowing treasure trove of free ideas, inspiration and encouragement. I’ve been using it like it’s going out of style these days and tucking away all the goodies for a time when I might need them. A few of my favorite places to explore online are:

www.childrens-ministry-deals.com
Lots of stuff for purchase but I love the free resources!

www.ministry-to-children.com
I love the content I’ve gleaned from these guys!

www.pinterest.com
Everything and anything for all areas of the ministry!

www.childrensbulletins.com
Pay for a subscription to these worship bulletins for children.

The PastI’m not a proponent of living in the past but I’m a huge fan of learning from it! One of my greatest tools has been a willingness to learn from the past and experiment with old ideas for a new generation. I’ve gleaned inspiration from…

My own experiences and memories as a child growing up in children’s ministry (like ten foot banana splits, decorating with beach finds for a sea theme, puppet ministry). PS my mom was my children’s leader and she was – and still is – a genius in kidmin).

Retired and active kidmin volunteers in the church who share their experiences of serving in the ministry (Like my rediscovery of flannel graph. Even in a world of tablets and screen time I found that kids love the tangible stuff like seeing a story unfold on flannel and being a part of telling it together.

The Church Resource Room – Seriously. That place is a gold mine! It’s stocked with leftover supplies, games, curriculum, decor and more from previous seasons of ministry that with a little love and creativity can be reused and freshened up for a new crew of kids! Like when we pulled out the music DVDs in our old VBS kits for our weekly program or when we used the leftover knick knack craft supplies to build seek and find bottles. Go exploring! You never know what you’ll find!

My Mistakes My favourite character from one of my favourite television shows will often say this classic line, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” He tends to say it mid-disaster and I have to admit I’ve been there myself. In the middle of the sanctuary with 90+ kids, shaving cream and cheesies – I’ve made a huge mistake. Dance music, lights out and 90+ kids throwing glow sticks in the sanctuary – I’ve made a huge mistake. (Note how these things always happen in the sanctuary!!!) That super boring lesson that solicited yawns from the kids – I’ve made a huge mistake. I wasn’t in kids ministry very long before I started making mistakes… Okay, it started on the first night and I’ve been doing it ever since. The great thing is I’ve learned from them. I debrief at the end of each night and consider why an idea didn’t work and how I would do things differently another time. I never waste a good mistake!

The Holy Spirit – None of the tools above or any others that you might have accumulated in your years of serving children even comes remotely close to the work of the Holy Spirit in the whole process. We really can’t do anything without Him! He is the true source of all inspiration and creativity. He can equip even the most unlikely to  do His work in the world. He has all the information we could ever need. I’ve said from the start of my ministry that children’s ministry is the field of ministry which most naturally lends itself to relying upon one’s personal strength and skill. It’s so easy to become so lost in perfecting the details, the flow, and the excitement of a program, missing the very reality that this is still ministry. We need the Holy Spirit to show up, to work in hearts, to lead our gathering, to transform lives by His power. We can’t do that – no matter how stacked our toolboxes. 

You won’t get it right every time in kids ministry. Sorry. You’ll face some days when you’re not sure how in the world to overcome an obstacle or fully embrace an opportunity. BUT with a toolbox stocked with these tools – and a few of your own – you’ll be just fine. I pinky promise.

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Mommy Confession: Burned Chicken

Multitask. Yes. I thought I was an expert. Then I had Buddy. Oh dear. My youth say it like this… #thestruggleisreal.

It was a Monday… it could have been any day really. And here I was… typing a blog, holding a nummy in Buddy’s mouth, and chicken cooking on the stove. It was going so well until I had to use the bathroom.

Why does it all fall apart when I sneak to the bathroom?

On the way I hear the computer beep and the blue screen of death appears, the nummy pops out and Buddy screams like it’s going out of style, and above the beeping and the screaming I hear the chicken boiling over on the stove and a faint tinge of burned chicken broth filling the air.

Why, Lord? Why?

Multitask? Yeah right. 

What’s with my need to do it all… at once? Always fighting to get ahead so I’m all the time squeezing it in at the same time when there’s really no time. And whether it’s the post-partum hair loss or not, I’m literally pulling my hair out. I’m there trying to do it all and heaven knows it’s just not happening.

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But then yesterday I had a moment. It was more than a moment actually. It was an hour. A full hour. It was almost noon and I was still wearing pajamas with a messy bun (a morning messy bun… not the cute kind you work an hour to perfect). I heard the dryer sound that a load of clothes was finished. I knew Hubby would be home soon looking for lunch. But Buddy was content after a feeding and changing. I was reading a book with him in his nursery and then I decided to read another and another. Then we sang and rocked and talked. With all the things I should have or could have been doing I decided to just be.

To be there.
To be present.
To be mom. 

And then that evening it happened again. There were so many things I could have been juggling but it was almost bath time and when I took off his little sleeper…

… the folds of his precious skin
… the curling of his little toes
… the peek-a-boo dimple in his cheek
… the gurgle behind his sneaky smile.

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I decided to just be.

To be there. 
To be present. 
To be mom. 

I grabbed his fuzzy blanket and we lay on the floor together, reading and laughing and talking some more. Hubby heard us from the other room, left what he was doing and got down there with us. There we were working for a smile and tickling a tiny tummy, and I’m thankful for the birds eye view my spirit had of that beautiful scene with the world just buzzing about and us just simply still. Just being.

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I know that every moment can’t be those moments. There’s an end to the clean undies. Everybody’s got to eat. Somebody’s got to work. I get that.

But if I’m learning anything from this new season of motherhood, it’s that it’s okay to just be sometimes. In fact, I need it. My family needs it.

And if you’re honest, you need it too. You need to leave the dishes in the sink. You need to leave the dust bunnies under the table. You need to leave the bed unmade. You need to embrace that moment… you know the one that catches you by surprise and paints a smile on your face and your heart.

Because in those moments who really cares about burnt chicken…

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Mommy Confessions: Booger Wars and Bedtime Stories

I laughed out loud the other day out of the absolute absurdity of it all. Here I was in an all out booger war with Buddy. It wasn’t a slingshot situation or anything (relax Mom…). His little nose was stuffed and he was so bothered by it I just had to do what you do. I tried to remove as much as I could to comfort him. But as expected the discomfort of being nearly naked with a tube sucking in his nose made Buddy go right into “the fits”. He began to cry and the more frantic he became the harder he sucked it all back in. He’s sucking and I’m sucking. Booger war. When I finally won (Go me!!!) and he settled back in my arms for a snuggle, I finally had a moment to think…

What have my days become?
How in the world did I get here?

I’ve thought these things a hundred times or more since my motherhood journey officially began just two very short months ago.

… Like when we walked out of the hospital with this tiny little life and it wasn’t just a theory anymore but the very, real deal…

… Like the first time Buddy number 2’d in the bath and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or both…

… Or like every sleepless hour in the middle of the night and then again at the rising of the sun…

When the hard days seem to outweigh the good ones.

All those moments when I’ve felt way over my head in this brand new responsibility of caring for this young child. It’s such a far cry from the passing of my days just a few months ago.

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I know it’s not far (I get that – but some days feel rreeeaaalllyyy long) but thinking back to it, I felt much more accomplished in those days, both in my career and in my home. I worked hard and efficiently, and felt that I had plenty to show for it. A freezer full of frozen meals. Empty laundry baskets. Weeks of curriculum completed. Sermons tucked away. Major events planned. A well organized day planner filled with meaningful and significant tasks. I celebrated my successes and the seemingly solid grip I had on my life.

And now… I celebrate booger victories, meals without tears, smiles earned, and a full cup of coffee that miraculously managed to be consumed hot. The littlest little things that happen inside the walls of our home. It’s nothing really.

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But I’m reminded that while most evenings when I survey my day and say with defeat, “I did nothing today,” nothing could in fact be farther from the truth.

… I fed my little boy and kept him clean…
… I snuggled him close when he was frightened…
… I kissed his cheeks and ears and nose and toes…
… I tickled his tummy and sang him a lullaby…
… I played with him and told him a story about Jesus…
… I prayed with him and we read a book together…
… I danced with him and said I love you a million and one times…

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… I spent quiet time with God in prayer and His Word…
… I kissed his daddy real good
… I told that incredible husband and father that I loved him…
… I cared for our home and family needs albeit much less than perfectly…

All that action, all that living, all that being… You can’t tell me it’s nothing. I take it back.

Because somewhere between booger wars and bedtime stories is this magnificent mess we call motherhood – a profound gift and awesome responsibility where deep love meets action in the most tangible way this side of heaven.

And if I’m sure of anything, it’s that the everything of motherhood is certainly never nothing.

 

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Mommy Confessions: Breath Prayers

I’m so very grateful He’s the God of the big and the little – and I’m not talking about my waist size pre and post baby’s arrival. I’m talking about the prayers I’m firing out between changing diapers and pulling out my hair at 3am, and the ones that have me crying salty tears into a hot cup of coffee.

You see, there are days when at that ungodly hour I’m just barely hanging on to my very own sense of sanity – and, if I’m honest, to the baby that’s slowly drooping in my arms as my eyelids do the same to the soft sound of a lullaby and the steady rocking of this chair. I’m just sending out these little breath prayers

Help me, Lord.

I’m so tired God, please help him sleep.

I just can’t do this, Lord.

Are you still there?

Protect his little heart, Father.

Help him to grow to love you.

The list goes on with little more to them than that.

Just a breath prayer – the amount of words that slip through the mind with a single breath.

And I’m wondering all the while if God above is catching them while He’s keeping this whole spinning world in motion. Because, truthfully, that’s all the mind, all the space, all the thought I have to offer some days. I’m sitting more, stopping more, to feed, to rock, to hold. And yet with all the giving in those stopping moments, my mind is full and empty simultaneously and I’m not sure if much more can live there beyond the breath prayers that seem to form and fall out with the tired sighs.

Then there are the days of the big prayers – when the big stuff that’s brewing under the surface – the stuff I’ve forgotten or buried or haven’t had the space to process –  comes bubbling to the top. Worries and fears about his future and my present, questions about my purpose and value, hopes and dreams for his little life, and uncertainties about the new shape of my heart, home and relationships.

I say oh so many words to Him, hundreds of words, trying to articulate the jumble of thoughts and emotions, swirling inside my heart, my mind, every part of me.

But they all end…

Please God understand more about me than I understand about myself.
Make sense of the mess I’m feeling inside.

I know that from my journey to healthy discipleship and following Christ requires more than that. I confess I’ve thought often that I haven’t given Him enough, I’m not doing enough, I’m not enough. There are many days I scold myself that I know better and I must be better than the barely “breath” prayers or the overwhelmingly big messy prayers that comprise the bulk of my spiritual practice these sleep deprived early days of mommy-hood. I want more for me, more for the Lord and more for my son who will learn what it means to love and serve Christ by watching my example.

And then my own momma’s words, the spoken word of the Spirit, the words of a been-there-before friend remind me…

Have grace for yourself – God has grace for you.

God hears your prayers – the breath prayers – and the big prayers – the ones whispered in private, too messy to share with anyone else.

You’ll get through this.

He’s as close as He’s ever been.

So I breathe a sigh of relief. I brew another cup of joe – decaf this time. I pick up the cooing little bundle from the swing. I sing a little about the sunshine. I whisper, “I love you”. And while I mean it all for this beautiful baby boy I’ve been entrusted with, He whispers it back in the deep and quiet place in me…

You never know, dear how much I love you.

And I wonder if God the Father sings us lullabies…or if I need an extra hour of sleep tonight.

Either way, I think I’ll make it.

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The Memory Verse Lady

This was a final piece I wrote for A Brewed Life before my pregnancy break began. It’s a summary of a new initiative we implemented in our weekly kids ministry at my local church in the fall of 2015. I’m sharing it at the close of this ministry season as a seed thought for fellow pastors and children’s leaders for the fall. As you debrief from a busy year of serving kids, take a break first and then write a few notes that will guide your fall planning. Perhaps this idea will help! 


The longer I serve in Children’s ministry the more clearly I am able to define what I like to call my “non-negotiables”. These are essentially the beliefs or practices that I refuse to sacrifice; I refuse to let go of no matter the pressure of those around me or popular trends in my field. These things can’t be lost or traded. I’ve been, perhaps for a couple of years, wrestling with the tension between the apparent gain of contemporary outreach children’s programs and the obvious loss of traditional Sunday School programs that, I’ve been told and have come to believe, defined and shaped the Biblical foundation of the children of our provinces’ religious history.

One quick walk through of any outreach program today will undoubtedly leave any Christian stunned and overwhelmed at the obvious Biblical illiteracy in our children. Indeed we are reaping the harvest of a post-Christian society when prayer, Bible reading and Christian spiritual development are no longer first and foremost in our schools or even our homes.  But hear me! I refuse to dwell there or dwell on how dreadful the world has become. I offer instead that I choose to be one of a generation who will study our world and it’s changes, and then fight with ferocity to see us regain a fresh, new healthy spirituality for our children.

Part of that fight is clearly defining those things most worth fighting for as it relates to ministry to children in the church context. There are only so many hours to each day, only so many teachable moments for a Children’s pastor, and with those limitations in mind, I must find the most valuable beliefs or practices and efficiently, strategically and effectively teach them.

I came to realize while serving one Sunday in our morning children’s program that while we taught scripture, and in fact promoted memory verses in all of our programs, I had not effectively put structures in place so that children would in fact follow through with learning their verses, reciting them publicly and therein hiding the Word of God in their hearts. We were so close. We had the belief in its importance; we were teaching it but it wasn’t sticking. So close and yet so far away.

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As with many of my honest God moments, I was watching YouTube during our summer season. I was flicking through short videos of Phil Vischer’s series Buck Denver asks What’s in the Bible when a small segment with the Sunday School Lady came on. She was describing the Pentateuch. It occurred to me while listening to the relatively irritating voice of a grey haired elderly puppet that we needed a Memory Verse Lady. A small light went on- spiritual or vegetable, I don’t know.

Here’s what my mind processed:

Biblical memorization is pivotally important to the spiritual development of our children.

With a program that reaches approximately 90-100 kids each week, and an already stretched thin group of amazing small group leaders, there is no way to organize and maintain the information of students and their work in an effective and efficient way.

I need someone specific who’s only job is to listen to kids, record their successes with Biblical memory and organize a clear reward system that will adequately motivate and encourage the involvement and participation of our children.

We need a Memory Verse Lady (or gentlemen… I’m not sexist!)!

So I set to work with that end goal in mind.

I needed someone organized to handle so much information. Someone dedicated who would be consistent every week in being available for the kids.Someone warm and kind that would endear children to themselves and offer grace for their struggling. Hmmm… I went looking and found just the person tucked away in pew ten on the right side of our church. She agreed and I got really excited about the potential.

I equipped her with the names of the children in our program, a list of all the memory verses for the semester and the basic plan. We would send home memory verses with the kids each week – as we had always done – but would ensure kids knew that this time we were looking for response. On our first night of the program during the memory verse component of the lesson I introduced the memory verse lady and explained that the following week, and every week subsequent, she would have a booth in our church foyer. Kids would go to her as they came in, recite their memory verses, and she would award them a bible buck that they could use later in the year for small prizes in our Bible Bucks store.

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We prepared that we might be months getting kids and parents on board with this new idea. We set up the booth the next week with fancy colours, a flashy sign and even stickers as instant rewards. And we waited when the doors opened that night. We were shocked when 32 kids knew their memory verses! 0 to 32 in one week! Wow – isn’t that exciting! What potential one little change made for our kids. I felt like we laid 32 bricks in the spiritual foundation that night and we were, and still are, excited to keep laying bricks til Kingdom come.

So, why share this story? Certainly not to brag. I could write pages about the things I’ve tried that have failed – maybe that will be next weeks’ post. What I’m hoping to offer my fellow pastors is this – a method that large children’s ministries can use to emphasize and implement Biblical memorization into their hectic and sometimes overwhelming programs. I’ve served in many children’s programs of varying sizes in varying communities over my short years. Each one had unique needs and assets that allowed for intentional training of children. I hadn’t, however, any experience in a program of this size and I’ve been learning the hard way how to accomplish some of these important things on this level. It’s taking some time and a lot of creativity, but it’s so worth it. My hope is that by sharing my ideas, some of you awesome superhero kids leaders can skip the frustration I’ve been working through and get right to the good stuff of loving and serving kids, and effectively and efficiently building strong spiritual foundations in their young and hope filled lives.

Let’s keep at it team!


How are you creatively implementing a memory verse program in your children’s ministry?

What are some of the challenges you’re facing in your children’s ministry – large or small? Perhaps it’s something we can tackle together!

Share your thoughts below! 

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Counting Blessings

I sighed out loud as I scrolled through my newsfeed. Another post of another great thing happening in another person’s life.

A new vehicle.

A fantastic vacation.

A beautiful bouquet of roses.

A super romantic date night.

A successful career.

It seemed like everybody everywhere was living this full and overflowing life, while it was sitting in my saggy couch with a chipped cup of no name coffee.

Why do they have all the good stuff?

Why do I have the leftovers?

Oh heavens. I’m almost ashamed to admit it – save for the fact that perhaps you’re thinking it too. We all get trapped there some days, don’t we? We see the apparent plenty of others and then, disheartened, we scan the scene around ourselves and, regardless of what fills the space, we see wreckage, second best, and the emptiness of the things we don’t have.

We end up discouraged, sad, discontent and perhaps even angry at the injustice of it all. To be honest, I got sick of it all. I got sick of envying the blessings and successes of others. I got tired of seeing my glass half empty. I got so fed up with the absolute ludicrous emptiness and bitterness that had gripped my heart. It was stealing my joy, my peace and my contentment.

I challenged myself to start counting the blessings of my life, unwrapping the gifts that I’ve been given and relishing in the joys both big and small. Ann Voskamp’s challenge to find 1000 gifts in the everyday ordinary of life seemed perfect and so I began to number them.

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1. Gentle kicks from baby

2. Cuddles with hubby

3. A quiet morning alone

4. Memories on my Christmas tree

5. Hot coffee steaming in the cup

It was difficult at first, to shake off the weight of the wanting, even for a brief moment. I really had to stop, think, look around me and in me. And with each day my gratitude grew…

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34. This prayer chair

35. People who believe in me

36. Recognizing spiritual growth in my own life

I began to feel so full, so thankful, so blessed. As I numbered them, recorded them, I found gratitude growing in me and contentment settling in fresh.

I continue to practice it each day in some way. 

I don’t want to miss the good stuff of my life while I’m waiting for it to show up.

So if you’re aching from the e  mpty and need a new perspective, join me in counting the gifts and watch as gratitude grows like a tulip in the spring’s warm sun.

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97. Adventuring into new simple things with Rowan

98. Talking about our faith with my husband

99. Sensing peace when it should not be

My list goes on…


What is one thing you are grateful for today?
Add it to my list and let’s keep counting our blessings.

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Two Hearts

I wrote this piece during my pregnancy shortly after we discovered the gender of our soon to arrive bundle of joy. A baby boy. We were both ecstatic. At our ultrasound we purchased a bear with a recording of the baby’s heartbeat as a memento. After arriving home a few days later, this was my reflection on the experience. 


And as I lay in bed that evening replaying the short recording of the steady thumping of our tiny growing treasure’s little heart I wondered if really two hearts had been beating in me for much longer than I’d ever known.

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You see as a follower of Christ, as one who’s chosen to walk the way of faith and relationship with Jesus, not only does my fleshly earthly heart beat within the walls of my chest as a gift from creator God but so too ought the beating and compassionate heart of Christ find it’s rhythm in my life. His heart beats for the lost, the hurting, the broken, the outcast, the unlikely, unlovely and unworthy. Its steady rhythm is grace and love, the systolic and diastolic. Grace for your brokenness, love for your possible wholeness.

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There are days my fleshy heart with my own selfish ambitions, sins and hurt beats a drum line I’m not proud to march. Truthfully and shamefully I admit, I can feel the dissonance between the hearts. I feel the moment when I pass my hurting neighbour- my own heart beats me on pass them with vain distractions I call busyness, responsibilities, and “getting ahead”. His heart nearly breaks the flesh within me with its loud and overwhelming message to stop, offer grace and demonstrate love. Oh the dissonance. The tension between the tugging of hearts.

And there’s this little one with a heart barely big enough to survive, beating twice as fast as mine, growing, ever growing in the warmth of me. I realize with tears pooling and spilling, that if I want this little heart to beat in the rhythm of Christ’s heart, he ought to see and know how my own heart does the same.

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So, I’ll listen one more time today – as I do nearly everyday because I want to be reminded. I want to be closer to this blossoming life in me, to express the love I already know for this precious possibility.

As I do God my Father whispers gently:

“Listen to my heart again, listen every moment of every day.
I want to be closer to you,
I long for you to know the love I’ve already shown.
Your life is a precious possibility.
Listen to my heart and steady your own
to find the peace, joy, love, grace and mercy that comes when our two hearts beat as one”.

Amen.

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A Fresh Cup

Grab a cup! We need to catch up. So much has happened in the precious months I’ve been absent from the blogging world.

Surprise! My husband and I welcomed into the world a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. Our little one arrived – in his very own time – on March 19th late in the evening at a healthy 8lbs 14oz and 19 3/4 inches long. And he immediately became our greatest treasure.

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We named him Rowan and he’s been affectionately nicknamed Buddy by his wonderfully loving daddy, my remarkable husband, who keeps surprising me with his patience, love, maturity and growth in this new season full of challenges and blessings.

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So, these days we newbie parents are neck deep in this brave new world of diaper genies, strap on baby carriers, snap up sleepers, and multicoloured nummies. It’s exciting and scary, overwhelming and beautiful. And we are doing it together. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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In the mean time – the stolen time during naps and daddy duty – I’m getting back to my new normal self and finally putting my pen back to paper – rather, my fingers to the touch screen -writing again and this time with a growing new perspective on life and ministry. And, as expected, a deeper than ever love for coffee. Hey! I need it after that two hour morning shift I just pulled with Buddy at 3am!

I invite you to join me again – be it sporadically – as I share a little of life and coffee with you. The site is new – mainly because in the chaos of pregnancy and a new baby we lost track of a renewal on A Brewed Life. But a fresh start is as good as a new pair of stretchy jeans and a steaming Americano.

You just know this is gonna be fun.

Love!

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