Why I Don’t Want to Change the World

At the completion of my high school education I was fairly certain that I would in fact change the world. Yes. Me. Little me in rural Newfoundland and from the tucked away Northern Peninsula, no less. I had a vision of what I thought God had intended me to do; I had my sights set internationally and I pictured big stages, cross cultural environments and fascinating stories that would awe and inspire others to also embark on their own world changing, life altering journeys.

It’s hard to blame me really. In Junior High we sang worship songs like “History Makers” and well-meaning youth leaders spoke words over my life like…

You’re going to do GREAT things.

You’re going to CHANGE THE WORLD. 

God has BIG PLANS for you.

And I wanted every one of them to become reality. If I’m honest, it was that very promise of God’s big plans that saved me from making a few monumentally disastrous choices during high school – thank the gracious Lord for that. Beyond that, however, it made me brave and unrelenting in my pursuit of God and greatness. I prayed big prayers.

Lord, wherever you want me to go, I’ll go.
Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do.
Here I am, send me.

I was pretty holy, huh?

Fast forward to today. I’m fairly certain that junior-high-me would be gravely disappointed with 2017 me (although my hair is a slight improvement – thank heavens and the invention of the straightener). There are barely the faint remnants of that world changing, history maker in the milky mess of mothering and the tedious task of church scheduling. There have been days when, in waiting for the coffee to brew at the dawning of another daily grind, I have wondered silently where I so extravagantly missed the mark.

How did that ambitious, aim-for-the-extraordinary, girl get swallowed up in ordinary living “back home”? 

I’d like to say that the thoughts dissipate like the sugar that swirls in the steaming cup of joe but the truth is that those questions taunted me for several years. I wrestled with the tension of what I’d been told, what I’d pursued and the place the Lord saw fit to settle me. How in the world does one reconcile all of that?

It’s been a journey and a humbling one at that. A break-me-down-to-the-bare-bones and build-me-back-up journey where I have rediscovered the upside down and inside reality of the Kingdom of God, and what’s truly important.

Sometimes it infuriates me but today I am so saddened to see it wreak havoc on those around me. I see my own peers – in ministry and otherwise – still pursuing world changer status, devastatingly disappointed and discontent at the ordinary job God has given them in an ordinary place. They never seem to find joy or fulfillment. They are disillusioned, as I have been, by those grandiose ideas about the future, and afraid that they will be insignificant in the world, in history, to people and to God. And so we all fight and scratch for position, let envy and jealousy consume us, make choices out of our selfishness instead of God’s leading, all the while grumbling and whining like children denied candy at the local convenience store. All of it is robbing and stealing from us the good, the peace, the joy and the hope God longs to lavish on us as His children.

I know. I’ve heard myself say the words to our own teens and I wish I could take them back, those big-plans and great-things words spoken with the best of intentions. I’ve been part of perpetuating the problem myself in another generation. I wish instead I had said…

Be faithful. Be constant.

Serve humbly. Give generously.

Love so profoundly it alters the atmosphere.

Be present to the people who matter most.

Let your life and your body – literally everything about you – be an open vessel that God pours into and out of to the broken, hurting and oppressed right in front of you – whether their skin is midnight black or milky white, whether their pay check triples yours or makes you look like a millionaire, and whether the stain of poor choices lines their faces or poisons their hearts.

If you do that, you won’t change the world – at least it won’t seem that way. Because those things, those little, tiny, insignificant things happen when no one else is watching, when no one else is around. There aren’t big stages to highlight people who are unwaveringly faithful. There aren’t big awards for people who serve humbly. Most of the time, those are just ordinary people from ordinary places living ordinary, Kingdom of God lives here on earth.

In a world where teens, and even children, are just aching and literally dying to be known and valuable, when a person’s worth is so questioned, can we just stop with the over-inflated ideas about life purpose and the will of God!?! Can we stop pressuring them to be world changers when Jesus just invites them to follow Him and be like Him?

I haven’t lived thirty years yet, and I don’t know what my next ten, twenty or more will hold. I still dream and I still pray big prayers but I don’t want to change the world anymore. I want to be deeply faithful, truly excellent and overflowing with the unconditional love of God. Right here. Right now. In this place. In this season.

God will take care of the rest and I’m okay with that. I’ll leave the world changing to Him – and just maybe He’ll take me along for the ride. 

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.


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!

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.

memory verse1

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.

memory verse

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! 

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.


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.


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.