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Category Archives: Family ideas

Activities for families to have eternal conversations with thier children

“…we will come out better.”

marriage shadow pictureI am not one to publicly comment on reality shows.  In fact, I rarely watch them.  But I have been completely captivated by a TLC reality show – Jon and Kate plus 8.  I have gotten caught up in the development of all the children, and have for a long time,and have not wanted to believe the tabloids.

What first caught my attention was the fact that Jon and Kate were quite open about their church involvement and the faith that they are teaching to their children.  To have watched the kids at the Creation play, and hearing Alexis sing praise songs to herself – made me want to applaud this family as they raise their children in Godly ways.

Yet, tonight, as I write this – they have announced that they have filed court papers to dissolve their marriage, just less than one year after they made a huge production about renewing their vows, “to show our kids that we will always be together”.  My heart is very heavy – these are not actors, the children are not living out a script – a family, a very public family – is falling apart.

I cannot begin to imagine, nor will I pass any judgement on the reasons for the dissolution of the marriage.  I have not walked in their shoes, nor do I have the ability to see inside their lives.

What bothers me most the fact that those who seek to discount faith in the God of Scripture and the Christian Church, will be able to point another finger of blame, and reason to not trust in God.

It is my prayer for this family – as well as all families – that they will (they may have already) seek Christian counsel with their pastor.  That they have bathed this decision in prayer, and that they will seek to show their children God’s love through all of this.

For all families – I know that life is hard, and can only imagine how difficult it is to be a couple and parents at the same time.  Know this – God planned designed family, and no where in scripture do we see a flawless example of parenting.  God uses our story to show the proof of His grace, and is redemption.  The family is what He uses to show the world, unconditional love.  Even when words and behaviours have hurt us deeply, we are able to move beyond it, only through showing the Grace that He first showed us.

It is also my prayer any church that has a family going through this kind of trial, will rally around them.  Too often the Church is far to quick to back away from a dissolving family, instead of supporting all the members.  That support means prayer, shoulders to cry on…whatever they need.

And that would be an Orange response to a breaking family.  For the church to come along side the family, and be the light to all the members of the family.  There will always be families in crisis among us – God calls us to love them just the same, if not more tenderly than anyone else among us.  Will you extend them the Grace He has showed you?

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How is your story being written?

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I’m home now,  after a very full 3 days at www.theorangeconference.com.  Words escape me right now, to be able to fully describe, or breakdown all that was presented to us.  The Rethink team through an A-1 conference,  provided a full experience for us.  It was quite something to spend 3 days with 3,000 like minded Children’s Pastors, Sr. Pastors, and Youth Pastors.

I brought home some ideas that can be implemented fairly easily and quickly.  Others will require much prayer and discernment for our context, but I am excited to see what God does with the seed He planted.  I was challenged by some concepts and expectations that I heard, and was deeply encouraged by a number of the speakers.  We are making a difference, even when just one family does one thing new to build into the faith of their children.

One of the most profound moments was during the opening session.  Reggie Joiner (he is the founder of Rethink and Orange), spoke to us about 2 approaches to family ministry- “the Better Picture” and the “Bigger Story”.

A “Better Picture” approach is to teach families that they alway have to strive towards the ideal family – you have probably seen their picture…in any frame you purchase.  The problem with this ideal, is – it doesn’t exist.  No family is perfect (I’ve yet to meet one, anyway).  We all have something that falls short of the “Stock” photo family.  This is very discouraging for the families that fill your pews.  They never measure up, and discouragement leads to disengagement.  Reggie challenged us to help our families rip up their “stock” pictures and to embrace the family that God made them. 

The second approach is the “Bigger Story”.  We all fit into God’s master story.  We all have our account of where God has brought us, and how He is working with and through us know.  We need to let our families find their voice in God’s story…each one is as different as we are.

It is through our brokenness, that God can tell his story of redemption and reconciliation.  Isn’t that a much better story, than fitting into a perfect mold?  I’m ripping up my picture, and looking for my storybook…will you?  Together we can find God’s master plan for us and the families we serve.

 

The innocence of Children

 

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Jeff and I were standing at the kiosk of the passport office on Monday.  It’s our day off, and we have had to plan for a Monday when it didn’t matter how long we were having to wait.  Turns out, we were done before 1:00p.m. that day.  Not nearly as bad as we had expected.  While we were at the kiosk, and the lady was making sure all of our documents were in order, I watched a truly moving and remarkable moment.

It all happened so naturally, and neither party realized any one was noticing.  Across the room from us, there were 2 families, each with a toddler, at adjacent kiosks.  These 2 children were behaving and not a peep was heard from either.  They weren’t fidgety, just sitting on the counter, and waiting for mom and dad to be done with the officials.

As I watched, (because as a children’s pastor I just notice kids), the youngest boy stretched out his hand.   The neighbouring child watched for a few moments and then stretched out his own.  He poked the center of the younger boys hand, and the instant response was for the younger child to close his hand around the protruding finger.  Then, the next moment, I watched as the two boys held hands around the partition.  These boys were from 2 cultures that would not normally interact, or even get along.  Yet, here they were, waiting to go home, just calmly holding hands.  At one point, they weren’t even looking at each other, just holding the other’s hand.  They were connected – while all of us in the building were trying very hard to not notice anyone else (except me, who was dying to take a picture – but thought the better of it).

It got me thinking, we all long to be connected.  In the confusion or even the anonymity of life, we need to know that other people are near us, and are experiencing the same thing that we are.  The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12 that, “11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
(from New International Version)

We were designed and gifted to build the body of Christ until we ALL reach unity in the faith…what a cool picture.  God, in His perfect plan, gave each of us gifts to be shared with the others in the Body so that we can reach unity and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.   We can’t reach that unity alone, we need to be connected just as the body is joined and held together by every supporting ligament , (that’s us).  Without ligaments supporting us, we cannot function strongly.

I need you so I can stand tall in challenges, and I in turn will support you when you face your own issues.  We need each other – not to share secrets, or to talk behind the others back, but to support – prayerfully, physically, emotionally – until we are strong again.  Our congregation has as it motto/logo the following:connect500

Without connecting, we cannot ever grow (personally), and a lack of growth will prohibit us from impacting those around us so that they can continue the cycle.  Like those two boys at the passport office, I need your hand to hold.  We don’t have to say much, just know that the other is there.  In this way, the world will see us for Whose we are.

 

Orange – it’s the colour I want us to be…

Recently, my husband noticed the scarf I had recently added to my winter wardrobe. It’s colour is …Orange. It is quite bright, and goes lovely with my orange bible, wallet, and a variety of other things that have found their way into my wardrobe. When Jeff noticed the scarf, his first reaction was, “don’t you have enough of that colour.” My answer was -“at the moment, yes, but we’ll see”.

I try to wear orange, somehow, when I am involved in church activities. For me, orange is not just a colour, but a way to look at decisions I am making in our Children’s Ministries.

Orange understands that the impact of 2 forces coming together is far greater than the 2 things separately. Reggie Joiner and the team at Rethink, work diligently to see that resources and encouragement are available for churches who want to go “Orange”. The easiest analogy to understand this is to see it this way:
Red and yellow are bright and vibrant colours all on their own, but when we combine them, Orange is even more brilliant. So, when we take the home (the heart = red) and the Church (the light of Christ = yellow), and we partner together,  what results is a ministry that is Orange. 

Orange recognizes that the parents are the primary stakeholders in seeing that their children develop a relationship with Jesus, and the church’s job is to encourage, and equip, and reinforce that.  This year, I want to leak vision all over the place, and I want to have everyone who is involved, or encouraging in Children’s Ministry where I serve, is thinking Orange. Our children are important, and Jesus longs to walk closely to them. Parents need to have the tools, and the foundations to encourage them in that walk. It only makes sense that we try not to do this separately.

In April, I will again be attending, with a number of friends who are either in Pastoral Ministry, or are Children’s Pastors, the Orange conference (theorangeconference.com), in Atlanta, Georgia.  Here the brightest minds in Preschool, Children’s and Student ministries gather together to share learned experiences.  Affiliated with NorthPoint Church, it is one of the finest conferences I have ever attended.

My choices of workshops this year (7 plus 5 main sessions), are all concentrated on how to more effectively partner with parents.  I’m excited to bring home some of the methods, and begin to better serve where God has placed me.

What is the best way you, as a parent, can imagine the church partnering with you, as you seek to help your child grow in their relationship with Jesus?  I’d love to hear from you.  Until then, I’ll be drinking that tall glass of Orange juice, and pondering…

 

Getting a gift the giver wasn’t aware of…

As I write this, all of my prepartations for Christmas are accomplished.  And if they are not, they won’t get done…

 Tonight, I attended our church’s Christmas Eve Service.  It was wonderful to see so many people, including a good number of those from our Contemporary Service too.  We had so many children that i almost ran out of the 36 activity books I had prepared for them.  The music was great, and the message superb and challenging ( take a listen at reformedtheology.ca for a sample).

Christmas greetings were exchanged, and as folks were exiting out, I was greeted, by 2 different families.  Each one of them gave me, the one who oversees the Christian Education for their children, gifts unmeasurable.

The first mom shared that their family’s thanks for the Christmas Party in a Bag that I had sent home last week.  The family had make the cupcakes, and the accompanying devotional.  She then went on to say that they needed to share the party with some cousins, so off they went to a family celebration. I love that, they were so excited about having a party for Jesus, that they just had to share.

It’s kind of like the shepherds.  When the they had found the baby Jesus, just as the angels had said they would, they didn’t just go back to the flocks they were tending.  No, they went and told what they had seen…Good News is just too much to hold to yourself.

The next mom gave me a big hug and told me that as the night’s scripture  (Luke 2) was being read, he turned to her and said, “I know this part mom, we’ve been learning that in Quench” (The Well’s Children’s Ministry).  You know, as a teacher of very active children, you always wonder if anything is getting through.  Yet, last Sunday, we talked about the shepherds, and how excited they were to be able to tell about their experience.  This young boy had not only heard the story, he remembered it, and knows why it’s important.

So, with a very warm heart, and reminder about why I do what I do, I have already had a wonderful Christmas, and the day’s celebrations are still a sleep away.

Merry Christmas to you all, and let me ask you – how will you share the News like the shepherds on their way home from the manger?  I, for one, don’t want to keep The Good News to myself.

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2008 in Family ideas, News and Updates

 

Happy Birthday

This past Sunday, I sent the families of SGK home with a gift bag.  Inside were all the necessary ingredients to have a Birthday Party.  Cupcake mix and papers, streamers, icing, candles, and more were included with a letter and a 4 part devotion.

I love to do this with the families I serve.  It allows me to provide some tools for a great discussion about the Biblical importance of what we are celebrating.   Without having yet another event that families need to attend, they are able to find the time to have a time of learning together, while having fun at the same time.

I see myself as a partner in the job of giving kids the “tool box” they need for a faith that will carry them through their lives.  It’s a partnership I take very seriously, and get excited when parents actually engage with the resources we can provide.

I get 1 hour/week (actually it’s about 25-30 minutes in light of our Sunday morning routine), to reach them with the foundations of trusting in Jesus as their Saviour.  We (the teacher’s and I) seek to make the hour as condusive to faith imprintin as we can.  Contrast that to the hours each day that a family has to make the same impact. 

I know that a child’s life is just as busy as mom and dad’s.  But when you take into account the soccer, sleeping, meetings, school, work, travel, etc., etc., there is still more than 30 minutes each week for a family to have significant conversations.

This is why I like to partner with parents to give them tools that will help open discussions on eternal matters.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear that one of the tools provided has made a difference.

Just last week, I was having a discussion with one of the moms in our Sunday School.  The very first week back, the kids and I made a craft that had a prayer on it.  He took it home, and it was placed in his room.  Mom just told me that they memorized it, and it is part of his prayer every night…I almost cried.  That is what partnership with parents can do.  I can provide all the tools, but until it is placed in the hands of the parents and made to be part of “everyday”, it is just another thing to take up room.

On days when I think that people just don’t get the priority our children need to be, God sends stories like this to my ears.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2008 in Family ideas