A Firm Foundation.

Even though leaving high school, for me, was more than 10 years ago now, I remember it well. Hindsight is always 20/20 and looking back, I know for a fact that I was a naive know-it-all who, in reality, knew nothing at all. 

Unlike many of my peers, I went straight from Christian school to Bible school. I skipped any form of public high school/secular college completely. By the time I finished my first semester in Bible school, I knew I had so much left to learn. Even though I had grown up in church, attended Christian school the whole way up, and was actively involved in outreach programs, my first semester of Bible school was an eye-opener about how little I truly knew about God, His Word, and what it means to live for Christ.

How sad, isn’t it? To have that much influence in my young life and yet to go into the world and feel unprepared… it blows my mind even now. This isn’t to say that I didn’t have some great mentors in my life – on the contrary, I had some of the best! But, for some reason, a lot of the teaching I received remained fairly rudimentary and superficial. 

We watched “God’s Not Dead” last night for the first time. While the premise was good and I thought the movie was well-done, it begs the question: Are the young people we are raising up in the church prepared to defend their faith by the time they graduate? 

I have a purpose statement for the kid’s min at our church and it concludes with talking about wanting to give them “a firm foundation that can be built upon” when they enter youth group. Every change I’ve made this year in the different programs centers on that premise. They must have a firm foundation – anything less simply won’t stand. 

My goal is to not just raise a generation of children in the church who are good church attenders and can win Bible drills and spout off a bunch of good verses. My goal is to help them make their faith their own. Why do we believe the Bible is true? Why is important to make good choices? Why do we want to live for God? What good is the Bible in every day life? Where did the Bible even come from? 

Kids are growing up far too passive when it comes to church and God. It’s an extra-curricular – if we make it, great! If not, no big deal, we’ll come again next week. The stories are too familiar; the verses are just rote repetitions for prizes. Where is the heart in all of this? God doesn’t care how quickly we can find a verse. He cares about deeply we apply it to our lives.

The main character in “God’s Not Dead” obviously knew his material when he defended his faith. My fear is that we’re raising an entire generation of kids who wouldn’t know the first answer if someone questioned them about the core of their faith. My fear is that they will leave the safety of the church building and succumb to the culture surrounding them because their foundation won’t be strong enough and it’ll crumble under the pressure. I fear that our kids and teens have no clue – and simply don’t care – about why they believe what they believe. 

This must change. 

We must begin to bring “church” – fellowship, community, learning – back to the forefront of our families. We must lead by example and make God number one priority in all we do with our children. Baseball practice is Wednesday night? Sorry kiddo, church is more important than being able to hit a ball in third grade. Football game Sunday morning? Well kid, let’s see how well your team does without you because you need to be in church with the family. That extra-curricular is going to interfere with church attendance for a solid month? Not worth it – your spiritual well-being is eternal.

When will we stop making church optional for our children and teens and start showing them – by example – that it’s a priority? When will we stop “living for the dot” and start “living for the line”? If you don’t know the phrase, watch the video at the end by Francis Chan. He doesn’t use that phrase – that’s one that was used in cultural training that has stuck with me – but it’s the same idea. 

The fall programs at our church begin on September 7 and I just feel burdened more than ever for the kids that will attend. I don’t want them just to come, sit in class, and go home. I want to see visible change in their lives. I want them to walk away with the full-on knowledge that God is REAL – He is NOT dead – and that their lives need to reflect this truth in all they do. 

While I somehow doubt that college freshman with no Bible school under their belt will all graduate with as much knowledge as the main guy in “God’s Not Dead”, the goal has been set before us. Their faith must be their own. Their faith must have a solid foundation. Their faith must begin while they’re young. 

Here’s the video I was talking about. Take it to heart and think it through. Priorities are what our lives revolve around, so what are yours? And how are those priorities affecting the family you’re raising? 

Celebrating Easter.

Growing up, Easter was a big deal in our house. It wasn’t because of the baskets, candy, dyed eggs, or Easter egg hunts, though. It was simply because my parents made a big deal about what happened that first Easter morning long ago. Christ arose! And that fact alone was cause enough for us to celebrate.

We would anxiously await Easter morning – my sister’s and my new dresses hanging up in the front of our closet, new shoes at the ready by the door, Easter hat hanging by my bed. We’d dress while it was still dark outside, shivering in the spring chill that would invade our Vermont home. The house would be dark and quiet; normally my father was already at church before we awoke. Each of us would receive one chocolate bunny that would be sitting on top of the TV stand, waiting for our return from church that afternoon.

Once we were dressed in our new Easter best … and then bundled up into winter coats (it was Vermont in the spring after all), we’d head off to church. In the chilly, still morning, we’d huddle with a small crowd out behind our church, overlooking beautiful mountains, the sun barely peeping its head out – and we’d sing, “He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today!”

The (short) sunrise service would end and we’d hurry inside, throwing the blankets aside once we hit the warmth of the church building. The church ladies would hastily set out the Easter breakfast – the special “Jesus” Easter breads, cinnamon rolls, dyed hard-boiled eggs, sausages, maple syrup (again, it was Vermont!), and fruit. We children would have free reign of the church building, helping ourselves to as much Easter food as we could stomach, enjoying every minute we had together as friends.

Sunday School would be full of laughter and fun as we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord. And then we’d be off to “big church.” I was a trumpet player when I was younger and my favorite Easter involved hiding in the balcony above the congregation with my trumpet teacher. When the chorus began, “Up from the grave He arose!”, we jumped up and joined in with our trumpets! I’m pretty sure the older crowd thought the rapture was finally happening!

After a glorious morning celebrating the resurrection, we’d head home, exhausted and starving. Mom would have a beautiful Easter meal ready – one year in particular we enjoyed lamb! – and then we’d crash.

No baskets. No egg hunts. No Easter bunny pictures. Yet, perfectly satisfied.

Now, I have children of my own and my husband and I are racking our brains trying to figure out how to “be in the world, but not of it.” We want to celebrate this holiday that truly is the pinnacle of our faith and the very reason we have a faith at all. But, we also understand that our children are heavily influenced by the world and the culture of today. So, do you neglect everything the world has to offer and solely focus on Christ? Or do you embrace the world and, in the process, get distracted from the purpose of this weekend? How do you balance? Can you balance?

My husband comes from a background of no religion. His family thrives on Easter bunnies and Easter egg hunts and Easter baskets and Easter candy… So, we know they will call Sunday with the questions for my daughter of, “Did you meet the Easter bunny? What’d he bring you in your basket?” This is mixed with my side of the family who will look at us like we’re insane if we let them hunt eggs or receive a basket. Balance seems like a pipe dream right now.

We are far from perfect and we have a long ways to go before we “perfect” our Easter family traditions. But, in our attempts to make Jesus central, yet live successfully in this world, here are some strategies we have come up with. They will be tailored as time goes on, I’m sure. I know better, more creative ideas are out there, but you’re reading a post from someone so creatively-challenged that glue and scissors is the extent of my arts ‘n’ crafts supplies. But, for what it’s worth, here are our Easter activities:

  • We begin talking about Easter weeks in advance. We don’t save the Easter story until the week of; we begin in advance with stories before bed from Jesus’ life and conversations throughout the day of what Jesus did for them.
  • In the evenings before bed, I read from their children’s Bible the stories beginning at Palm Sunday and ending with the ascension. I try to do this daily during Holy Week, with an emphasis on a different part of the story each day.
  • I have a few crafts we’re doing this year. We did one just now that involved making three crosses and putting them on a hill. Tomorrow, I’m going to do this one which is making a sunrise with food coloring and a coffee filter. I’d also like to try this one this weekend, if we have time – an egg that opens up to a cross.
  • Last year, I made resurrection rolls with E for the first time. It’s so simple, yet such a vivid, tactile activity to help them get a glimpse of what happened over Easter. We’re going to do that after lunch this afternoon, this year with baby brother.
  • We’re prioritizing church services – making it a lifestyle, not an extracurricular. Thursday evening was a worship/communion service at church and we found a sitter so both of us could go, but the children knew where we were going and we talked about it with them when we got home.
  • Sunday morning is the sunrise service and even if the kids are still in pj’s when we go, we’re going! We’re making it a priority for the entire family. Yes, they will be exhausted, hungry, and grumpy by the time church is over around noon, but it’ll be worth it to instill in them the importance of this holiday.
  • After naps on Sunday, we’re going to have an egg hunt, but just for a few specific eggs that will help tell the Easter story. This blog has a good plan for making this happen. After they find the eggs, we will gather them together and have them open the eggs and pull the item out so we can go through the Easter story with them. I might skip the last egg; that’ll depend on what my husband thinks we should do. I’m okay with the last egg being empty being the “big surprise” of Easter, but we’ll see what he thinks.
  • Sunday evening is our family meal with my parents who live close by.

I firmly believe the extraneous things the world has added to Easter are completely unnecessary. What God did for us so many years ago is sufficient for a giant celebration, year-round! We have hope for the future, a reason for living, and a Savior Who loves us. What more could you ask for? Seriously, how does a giant, creepy bunny with colored hard-boiled eggs even begin to compare with eternal life and completely forgiveness? Let’s change the next generation’s expectations of Easter. They certainly don’t need a reason to accumulate more “stuff”. Let’s teach them the true meaning and get them excited about Jesus! For without Him, Easter wouldn’t exist anyway.

Issues and how to deal with them.

“You can tell a person with a true servant’s heart by the way he responds when he is treated like a servant.”

This was a quote I heard during our Sunday sermon this week and it really resonated with me. Our church has been going through a series on Division (you can listen to it here) and this was the last week of the topic. It hit home and I wanted to share some principles here as it pertains to children’s ministry.

As with every ministry – or any area of life when you have to deal with people – conflicts and “issues” arise. Lately, I’ve had a number of “issues” crop up in our ministry, some way bigger than others, and some blown out of proportion by others! This is the case with pretty much anything, though, and is to be expected. The question, though, is how do we as leaders respond when conflict – “issues” – arise?

  • We need to remember who we are. We may be the “leaders”, but as such, we are still servants – and not even upper class servants. The Apostle Paul’s usage of the term “servant” in 1 Corinthians 4 refers to one who is the under-rower of a ship – literally the lowest of the low for servants. Even as “leaders,” we must keep in mind that we are, above all else, servants of others. If I can view myself as my volunteers’ servant as opposed to their authority, I will relate to them – and the issue – differently. Perspective. It’s important.
  • We need to remember Who ultimately has the final say. One thing I enjoy about working in a church is that when issues arise that seem bigger than me and I’m not sure what to do with them, I can go right to Scripture and find the real answer. I don’t need to know everything, but I need to be in touch with the One Who does. I need to refer my volunteers back to Scripture as the final authority on controversial topics. God gets the final say on a matter, not me. It’s not my opinion that I’m touting – it’s God’s Word.
  • We need to remember that we are to be examples. We are servants. We are not better than anyone else. We are to be an example. One of the main sessions in the teacher training material I use talks about being Models – we need to “be” who we want them to “become.” Are we modeling out what we want our staff and our students to be? How do we act when no one is around? What do post on Facebook or talk about with our friends? Are we gossips? Crude? Rude? Vulgar? Or do we show forth the light of Christ in every area of our lives and live lives of integrity?
  • We need to remember to be gentle. Oh, the unfortunate frequency with which others are approached through harsh, insensitive words! Just last week, I was pulled aside so someone could merely “share” something with me and it threw off my whole night. There was nothing I could do about the situation in the moment (the timing was horrid to hear this news) and the news was given so tactlessly, I had to inwardly cringe, sigh, and give it back to God with a shrug of the shoulders and an, “Okay, God, this is bigger me. Handle it for me, will You?” When we, as leadership, need to ever approach anyone on any issue, gentleness and respect need to be at the forefront. Even if the topic is controversial, difficult to handle, with no easy solution in sight, and even when bluntness seems to be the best way to “get the job done” — we are still dealing with people. People who are not less than us, people who are not below us, and people with feelings and emotions the same as us. Those that are insecure in their leadership skills tend to come across as imposing their way and flaunting their authority. If you are secure in your leadership role, your goal should be evident: to bring out the best in others. Seek unity at all costs.

I hate dealing with “issues” and confrontation is so far from my list of things that I enjoy doing that I will shake and cry for hours (literally) before I handle anything. I probably apologize too often and take the blame more than I should. But, I hate disunity. To see my team divided is like seeing my family divided and I refuse to stand for it.

As much as it depends on me, I will live in harmony with my team and seek to bring unity to the team. Will you?

Student Needs.

This coming week, I will be teaching at a children’s ministry training seminar, so I’ve been working on my presentation, which is not material I have written, but material from our mission board. This is a course I haven’t taught yet, so I’m busy practicing, but looking forward to the day.

The course I’m set to teach is “Knowing and Meeting Student Needs.” As I was practicing the other day, I was struck by not only how critical this information is, but how relevant it is to my own children’s ministries.

In another post, I talked about being all here and reaching the children in this area and focusing on them more. Their needs are great and truly do threaten to overwhelm my team at times. We have children:

  • …from single parent homes.
  • …from homes in the middle of nasty divorces.
  • …from abusive situations.
  • …whose home has been foreclosed on.
  • ….whose father is in jail.
  • …who have never held a Bible before.
  • …who have no idea what “prayer” is.
  • …who come from such chaos, they aren’t sure what “order” and “rules” are.
  • …who are relying on their parents’ faith to get by.
  • …who have loads of head knowledge and not an ounce of heart faith.
  • …who can answer every question correctly, but act like the world.
  • …who normally attend Catholic catechism classes and Seventh Day Adventist church services.

The needs are staggering in our relatively small group of children.

If you’re involved in children’s ministry and know your children at all, you are probably faced with some of the same needs we are. Are you overwhelmed? Here’s some help, taken from BCM’s program In Step with the Master Teacher:

  • Don’t try to meet their needs – that’s impossible.
  • Instead, identify their needs and then teach to the need and introduce them to the One Who CAN meet all their needs.
  • Show you care: Even in our marriage, I tell my man frequently, “I don’t want you to fix the problem. I don’t even want advice. I just want you to listen to me and show you care!” Kids need that, too. Someone they can trust, someone who truly cares about what is going on in their lives. You may not be able to fix a thing – but you cared enough to listen.
  • Adapt to the needs you can: Learning disability? Teach differently. Inattentive children? Shorter, more active lessons. Hearing or sight problem? Move them closer, speak louder, use larger visuals. No man in their home? Recruit male leaders. Do what you can to adapt. Again, it’s not about fixing.
  • Know your students so you can teach appropriately. Lately, we’ve had to nix our curriculum and start over in some areas. For example, our older students were not memorizing their verses – or even caring if they did or not. The younger ones were memorizing out of necessity, not because they knew what they were doing or cared they were doing it. So, we nixed the idea of a verse per week and decided to do one collective verse per month. We use this verse in our materials as often as we can, we memorize it together – including the leaders – and we refer to it often. We are showing them how it applies to every area of their life and praying this will make a big enough difference that memorization will become more of a priority in the years to come. In the same token, if you see a specific need or theme in your class, but your curriculum doesn’t touch it – ditch the curriculum! Write your own and teach to your audience. You know them better than the book you bought does. Teach to their needs and let Jesus meet the needs.
  • Pray for them. I ask my volunteers to come at least 15 minutes early so we have time to pray. It’s crucial. Vital. The only way we can continue. If I talk with a student and they share something with me, I ask if I can pray for them right at that moment. They have yet to turn me down. 🙂 If they mention something during a lesson, stop and pray for them. Show them that prayer is important and rejoice with them – make a BIG deal out of it – when God answers prayers for them. Prayer works. 

Work on one need at a time. If you tackle everything all at once, you’ll get overwhelmed.

Love on these kids. You might be the only one who does.

If you think your children’s ministry could benefit from some training, contact me – we’d love to help you out! Check this out for more information.

Leading.

Being a leader is new for me. I have never had to lead a team before, at least not in this capacity. This is a constant learning experience with a major learning curve! I keep messing up and I constantly don’t feel like I’m the right person for this job. But, I know this is from the Lord, so I’m pressing on.

Brian is my biggest encourager. He has been a leader before and he has lots of insight for me. He keeps telling me to learn from his mistakes and be a better leader than he was. We read a leadership devotional together each evening and he is the first one I go to for advice. 

When I was telling him how difficult it is sometimes to work with my team, he told me something that I have taken to heart:

Your team is your first ministry.

I know I will continue to grow and progress through this year and the following years. But, these are a few things I’ve been doing and some of the things I’ve been learning as I’ve put into practice the fact that my team – not necessarily the children we’re trying to reach – is my first ministry.

  1. Build relationships: I’m purposefully taking the time to drop them messages, ask them how their week was, follow up on things they tell me, and pray for them. You know, normal things you do when you want to build a relationship with someone!
  2. Utilize their strengths: As I get to know them, I am able to place them where I feel their strengths are, or where they share with me that their strengths are. For example – I have one lady who is a real sweetheart, but she is convinced she can’t do anything well. I have been struggling to find a place for her – somewhere where she is useful and doesn’t need me to be there constantly redirecting and advising. A few weeks ago, we had a cooking session on Wednesday night and the whole concept of having 18 children under the age of 9 trying to cook breadsticks simultaneously just completely freaked me out. This lady, however, jumped to the challenge. She did the entire activity – set-up, instruction, baking, and clean-up. It was awesome! And afterwards, she was beaming from ear to ear because she had found her niche. I told her how that activity was stressful for me and not enjoyable at all and she said, “What?! This was so much fun! I love stuff like this! Maybe this is what I’m actually good at.” She will never be my main Bible teacher, but if she can lead every cooking activity we ever do, that is perfectly fine with me… and her.
  3. Praise them for their work: Everyone likes hearing a “thank you” and most people like being told they and their work are appreciated. I try to take time after every program to thank the people who helped out, no matter how much they actually did. We put on a Fall Party last week and I made sure I gave them all handwritten thank yous this week. It’s a small thing, but I know that I, personally, function better if I know I’m appreciated.
  4. Delegate: The lady who had my position before me is a wonderful lady, but I have been told numerous times that she did not delegate. Her weakness – which she admitted readily to me in person – was that she honestly did not know how to delegate. What I have noticed is that the more I delegate and trust my volunteers to complete a task, the more they own the ministry themselves. This is not my ministry; this is our ministry. But, they have to own it as much as I do for that to become real.
  5. Listen: Everyone has an opinion and everyone wants to be heard. During our meetings, I take time to just sit and listen. I will throw out a question or an idea and then let them talk, discuss, and brainstorm, sometimes without me even interjecting. I glean from them and see what I learn and can implement. Just because someone has an opinion or an idea does not mean I have to use it. The point is not that I implement every little idea or whim that my volunteers have; the point is that I listen to them, validate their thoughts and opinions, and implement what I can. Sometimes, people just want to be heard. And I have learned so much for my team! Without them, the Fall Party last week would have been a complete disaster on so many levels! Their opinions and help are invaluable.

I have a lot more to learn, but it’s a start at least! I am coming into my own as a leader. I don’t always enjoy it and there are more days when I want to quit than days that I’m ecstatic about being here. But, hopefully, with God’s help, that will change over time. The more I learn, the more I can grow and become a better leader. 

Helpers?

I was trained when I was 12 on how to be a helper during children’s ministry activities. That training, and the rest of the training I have received in subsequent years, has been vital to my life and ministry. But, I’m finding more and more that the training I received growing up is not something that is commonplace anymore. One of the main issues I have in children’s ministry isn’t even the children; it’s the helpers! Or, lack thereof. I train children’s ministry workers, but I feel like there should be a manual specifically written to the helpers in a classroom. So, here’s my basic manual on how to be a helper at any children’s ministry event. These are things that I expect from myself and the people I work with:

  • Participate with the children! If you expect them to play a game or sing a song or do an activity, you better be doing it right along with them and not off having a conversation with your friends instead.
  • Sit with them! Sit in the middle of the kids, especially the ones that tend to talk or cause problems. Be actively engaged with them during class times. There should be no “back row” of helpers in a classroom; they should be spread throughout the room.
  • Be attentive! Even though it’s a good thing to model behavior like listening to the teacher, don’t get so engrossed in the teaching that you forget the children sitting around you who may be acting out. Be constantly watching around you and keeping an eye on those sneaky children.
  • Whisper when you need to correct someone during a Lesson! There is nothing worse than a helper who’s trying to help, but ends up being louder than the teacher and distracting from the Lesson that they’re trying to keep the kids from distracting from! If you must correct a child during class, do so quietly and with as little intrusion to the class as possible.
  • Catch the child before the teacher has to step in! Helpers should be attentive enough that they see – and stop – a discipline problem before the teacher even notices it is happening and certainly before the teacher needs to step in and correct it themselves.
  • Be on time! I, personally, like to go over the event with my helpers and pray with them before we begin. I cannot do that if my helpers don’t arrive on time – or early, preferably! Once the kids are in the room and the program has begun, it’s really too late to lay out the game plan to the helper and then the teacher just feels like they’re running the event alone.
  • Build relationships with the kids! Many times the helper has an “in” with the kids that the teacher simply will not have. Use this opportunity to get to know them, talk with them, build a relationship with them. Relationships are normally the biggest key to leading a child to Christ and to discipling them to grow to become like Christ.
  • Be who you want the children to become! If you want them to grow up unselfish, friendly, attentive, and respectful, then model those attributes in front of them.
  • Be helpful! Do your best to help lighten the load of the teacher. You have no idea how much time goes into prepping a good lesson or developing a good program. We just genuinely need people who are willing to jump in and be helpful. When we have to give loads of direction or basically do your tasks for you, that’s not helpful.
  • Be all there! If you are totally distracted or over-tired or just don’t want to be helping out one night, it might be best to consider not even coming. Kids recognize faster than adults when someone does not want to be there. Again, it goes back to modeling. Do we enjoy teaching children that make it obvious they don’t want to be in our class? No. So, we shouldn’t act that way in front of them, either.

I believe it all goes back to one key phrase:

“Be who you want your students to become.”

And… can I say this here without getting blasted? Please don’t complain unless you’re willing to be part of the solution to the problem. If you notice an issue in a ministry, be part of the solution! That’s far more helpful than merely pointing out faults that we probably already know exist… but normally can do nothing about without help.

Last of all: love on those kids. Kids these days just want to be heard, accepted, and loved. Be all there. Be Jesus to these precious children. Be who you want them to become. Love them like Jesus does.

Introduce them now.

I am a children’s ministry director at our church and I have worked with children since I WAS a kid, so it’s been a good 18 years of teaching (arrrg that makes me sound so old!). To me, introducing children to Christ is fairly simple and even somewhat of a “no-brainer.” I don’t say that to sound condescending; only to say that when you’ve been doing it for so long, you forget that it’s not “the norm” for everyone else.

This past week, I got an email from an old friend who wanted to know how best to introduce her 16 month old son to God. I began thinking that if she asked for advice, others might want the same. So, here’s some simple ways you can introduce your young preschooler (or older toddler) to God because honestly, it’s never too young for them to meet!

–Pray with them before meals. If they’re speaking, they can repeat after you simple thank you prayers. When they start really talking more, have them thank Jesus for things as well.
–Pray with them before bed – same idea.
–There are preschool devotions out there that are wonderful. CBD online has good resources for good preschool devos. We have one book that has short devotionals that are age-appropriate for E. that we use.
–Read a children’s Bible to them as often as possible. The ones with beautiful pictures keep their attention really well.
–Talk to them about things like, “Who made that bird? Who made you? Where does God live? God loves you so much more than that dog! God made you so special! Let’s thank Jesus for that beautiful sunset.” Throw it into the every-day living that you do.
–Sunday School is never too early. E. will be 3 the end of this month and children’s church has been HUGE in teaching her that Jesus loves her, that He created her, and then taught her simple songs, too, like “Jesus Loves Me.”
–Christian videos, like Veggie Tales, and then talk with them afterwards.
–Have them see you and your spouse do devotions together. We try to do devotions as a family each evening during dinner and the kids sit and listen.
–When you get upset or you have an issue with your child, take time to pray with them before continuing on with the rest of the day. I’m learning that it makes a big difference after we fight to stop, apologize, then have E. sit with me while I pray out loud and ask for forgiveness and for Jesus to help us the rest of the day.
–When they’re naughty, take time to explain to them (before or after the punishment) that it makes Jesus sad when we’re disobedient. Even take the time with them to pray and ask Jesus for forgiveness. They won’t understand, but it’s a good practice to begin now. There are many times where, when the punishment is over, I’ll have E. say, “I’m sorry, Jesus,” before we move on. I try to help her understand that sin isn’t just bad to mommy and daddy – it’s bad to God, too, and that’s a bigger deal.
–Pinterest is a great place to get ideas for how to celebrate Christian holidays in an age-appropriate, simple teaching way. Coloring pages, activities, conversation starters, etc.

The most important thing I’ve learned is to seize every opportunity, big or small, and put God into it. Are you facing a big family decision? Be sure they knows that you’re trust God for it. Did God supply something for you unexpectedly? Be sure they knows where it came from. Do they LOVE some animal or some view from the car window? Talk to them about how God created it, but that even though that animal is really cool, God loves them even more.

Keep in mind that God purposefully made the Gospel simple enough for a child. They are also observant and will mimic what you do, so if you make God priority in your life, they will want to make Him a priority in theirs. If you are constantly late for church or skipping church for things like sporting events, then they will pick up the queu that learning about God in church is not important for them, either. If you want them to read their Bibles, let them see you doing it now. Introduce them now so God can save them later. You cannot force them to accept Christ as Savior, but you can provide them with enough info to make an informed decision as soon as they are able. Never discount how much they understand and never think that what you’re doing is in vain. God’s Word will never return void, even if it falls on young ears.

“Some People’s Kids.”

The title is one of my father-in-law’s favorite sayings. He says it all the time when somebody does something foolish. I wish you could hear him. He says, “Ah, some people’s kids” and then shakes his head like, “stupid people.” It’s hilarious! But, when my brothers-in-law do foolish things, I normally turn to him and say, “Ah, some people’s PARENTS!” He just smiles. 🙂

Friday evening, Brian and I went on an overnight retreat as chaperones. There were 4 other adults going… and 19 3rd-6th graders! Fifteen of which were girls. Brian definitely had it easy. Our church does a Word of Life program called Olympians. I help out Sunday evenings, but Brian isn’t able to right now. But, he was able to chaperone, so that was fun. I wish I could’ve gotten pictures, but didn’t realize the special battery for our camera was dead. Sorry! The weekend went something like this:

  • Leave church at 6pm Friday for the 45 minute drive up into the mountains to the campground.
  • Stop at 7:15 on a backroad and discuss how bad the internet directions are.
  • Stop at 7:30 and are led to a different road (after backtracking the last few minutes) by another chaperone’s boyfriend.
  • Stop at 7:45 and turn around again.
  • Arrive around 8 (check in was between 7 and 7:30).
  • Snack at 8:30, during which time the children discover the cappuccino machine in the cafeteria. I quote a 4th grade girl, “This hot chocolate tastes funny.” Me: “Did you take the one labeled ‘French Vanilla’?” Her: “Yes. It tastes like coffee.” Me: “That’s because it IS coffee. You took capuccino!” Her: “Oh. Yum!” (big fake smile)
  • Chapel around 9.
  • Crazy scavenger hunt outside, in the dark, with one flashlight (that worked more like a strobe light in the hands of a 5th grade boy), all over the campground for close to an hour.
  • “Lights Out” at 11. And again at 11:30. Flashlights out around 1am. Flashlights out again at 1:45. Talking loudly stopped around 12:30am. Whispering stopped around 2am. Then began snoring and talking in their sleep. The funniest was one little girl saying, “Mommy!” really loud and another girl saying, “Hi” (in a really cute, sing-song voice), then another girl who was actually awake saying really loudly, “Who are they talking to??”
  • Awake at 6. Three of us lady chaperones decided to shower in the morning and were planning on waking the girls up at 7:15. But, on the way to the bathroom, we got passed by a 4th grader running as fast as she can down the hill, yelling “GOOD MORNING!” Needless to say, we didn’t have to wake anybody up.
  • Breakfast at 8, followed by activities. We did a craft and a giant game of Dodgeball in the morning. I have not played Dodgeball for years. It was… scary. Have you seen the movie “Dodgeball”? I don’t recommend it, but it would give you an idea of how it went. When it came to Leaders vs. Children, we lost. But, we lost after I looked around and realized I was the only one left on my side, holding one ball, facing 20 kids (we played with another church), holding six balls. I think they all felt sorry for me because I just stood there and said, “Wait – seriously??”
  • Chapel. Then, lunch. Followed by two more activities: a hayride and a hike (which all four female chaperones skipped out on. Going on less than three hours of sleep was rough, to say the very least!).
  • Finally – HOME! What took us 2 hours Friday evening took us 30 minutes Saturday afternoon.

By far, the night was the most interesting part of the whole trip. I’m relatively new to a bunch of the children, so my authority was pretty much null Friday night. I did, however, hear a lot of stuff. Two 6th grade girls took up residence on the bunk next to mine and began chatting away. Other conversations floated around me as well. Here is just a sampling of what I know now:

  • If Barack Obama becomes president, we will have to write letters to him asking if we can go to the store.
  • If Barack Obama becomes president, we will have to write letters asking if we can go to a non-Satan-worshiping church. Unless Congress doesn’t let him. But, they weren’t sure what power Congress had over the President.
  • Hillary Clinton should not be running for presidency because her husband already did that. And women are lesser than men, anyway.
  • You know you’re pregnant when the skin on your back gets really tight.
  • It’s impossible to get pregnant in 5th grade. [*Note: the sad thing is that there IS a girl in 5th grade in one of the school districts who is pregnant. Unbelievable!]

What got me, though, was the two girls started talking about all their “friends.” It was like they had a mental list and were just checking them off. I heard them say during a pause, “Well, now who should we talk about?” Most of what they said was mean and rude, even if some of it was true. The worst statement was, “I don’t know if it’s true, but have you heard…?”

Since I knew their information on politics was obviously warped from whatever their parents said at home, I wondered where they were learning how to gossip like that? I know gossip is rampant among women, not excluding myself, but seriously – how young does this start?? Terrifying. We’re going through a Beth Moore study right now and one of the things she said was that if you want your kids to be different, then YOU be different now. Man, the last thing I want is my girls gossiping like that about their friends and acquaintances! Talk about a conviction for me to cut it out now, even if I know things to be true. I’m not saying I’m a chronic gossiper, but we all do it. It’s really easy to talk about other people’s issues, right? I hope my girls never learn to gossip from me!

[And yes, I know I should have stepped in and said something while this was going on. I’m kicking myself for not doing it, so don’t write me and tell me what an awful chaperone I was! 🙂 If I get a chance, I’m planning on talking to the two girls another time about it.]

March 2017
S M T W T F S
« Feb    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  
%d bloggers like this: