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Category Archives: family ministry

Carefully Crafting…

father holidng childThis summer was one of significant change.  I left a job I loved, but realized it was not where God was truly calling me to be.  It was one of those seasonal change things…I had stepped away from Children and Family Ministries, but apparently no forever.

God began to unfold all of this late last winter.  A Facebook group I’m part of had advertised a diploma program for Kidmin and through a “contest”, we had an opportunity to be given a scholarship towards the tuition.  So, I completed the steps, but was sure that this Canadian wouldn’t hear anymore.  I put it out of my mind, until April Fool’s day (really!!).  Someone hadn’t claimed the scholarship offered to them, and when a name was drawn to be offered that space – it was mine!  We Prayed about it, and said “Yes”.

Fast forward to a lovely trip with friends into our local wine country, and a conversation about the dream of change that their church was having for an impactful Family Ministry.  He asked lots of questions, and I gave just as many answers.  We said our goodbyes and I carried on – but the conversation just wouldn’t let my spirit rest.  Later that week, I asked, “What if it was me who came and worked with you?”  to which is response was “Wouldn’t that be fun?”

So here we are – 3 months into a 6 month contract and we’ve begun to lay the foundations for what could change an entire community.  A ministry focused on empowering families as they influence their children for Jesus.

The leadership believes that Psalm 78 and Deuteronomy 6 are the foundations we must build our ministry upon.  We know that our time with kids is so limited through Sundays only, but it we pour into the time that families have together, we can exponentially  increase that leverage.

By flipping the order in which children encounter the Word of God, we give the opportunity to parents to watch the first steps of their children into God encounters and faith.  Just as a parent loves to be the ones who watch the first tentative steps, so to with first tentative steps of being a Jesus follower.  Our times of ministry will be a reinforcement of the times at home.

Through the intentional building of the child’s “hearing from God” muscles, the family will, together, make God the centre of their decisions and interactions.  We then, will support that with resourcing, serving opportunities and times of learning – together and separately.

Our community gatherings on Sundays will be ones of support and learning – all with each one discussing the same Scripture focus in an age appropriate way.  This will give the entire family a common experience and intentional conversation starting points.

We will further put building blocks for community into place, and beginning on Thanksgiving Sunday – we will host a breakfast that will lead directly into Worship.  A safe, welcoming setting to bring guests and those who are put-off by the formality of traditional worship settings.  This will encourage those who have been around forever to interact, through the fellowship that food creates, with those who are new to the gathering.

By modelling that our relationship with Jesus is an integral part to all aspects of life we can begin to effect real transformation in the lives of our church community, and the community around us – all for the building of the Kingdom

I can’t believe that I get to be a part of this journey! It’s one I never expected to find myself on again, and to be in a community who is excited at what God can and has already started to do is humbling beyond words.worship-child-arms-out

 

 

 

A review of Miracles From Heaven – Sony Pictures

Miracles from heaven now playing

I am the first person to admit to being a skeptic when it comes to movies and books about heavenly revelations.  I have been heard to say – “if God wanted us to know what heaven looked like, I’m pretty sure Jesus would have shared that when He was here.”

I have heard some press about this movie, with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah – it definitely had my attention.  Based on a true story, the movie follows the sickness and investigative treatments of Anna Beam and her mother’s, Christy Beam, crisis of faith in the midst of it.  And now that my eyes have dried having watched it, and my suspicions quieted – I’m happy to share my impressions of it.

The movie begins with a of a very normal family living life.  They live on a farm in Texas, where Dad is expanding his vet practice.  The Beams and their 3 daughters love each other, pray in their home and attend a very refreshingly normal church.  Although, I’ve gotta say – it would be pretty fantastic having Mac Powell lead your Worship Team!

An evening bout of stomach sickness for Anna begins a long and exhausting journey of questions and desperation as she is misdiagnosed over and over again.  When a doctor finally realizes the true cause – an incurable disease of the intestines that prevent the digestive system from functioning at all – Christy takes measures to have her treated at all costs.

She and Anna head to Boston to insist and wait on an appointment with the country’s top specialist.  While waiting, Christy and Anna meet Angela, a caring and very friendly waitress who becomes their tour guide around Boston.  When the call for the appointment finally comes, Dr. Nurko believes he can treat Anna.  What seems quite insignificant, yet touching – is an interaction with Dr. Nurko’s Elmo tie.  He admits that his wife doesn’t like it, but that he’s promised to remove it when he has a patient get well.

During her stay in the hospital, we see Anna make an impact on a roommate, while not getting any better.  When she if finally stabilized, she and the family head home.  She heads out to play with her sisters, and becomes involved in a very serious accident on the farm.

It is after her recovery from this that Christy begins to learn just how present miracles and the God who still performs them are.  Anna tells her story and encounter in heaven- and this is where my skeptical expectations stopped.

So many heaven movies try to share all the details of what heaven looks like, who the person met, and the message for mankind that God had for them to take back.  I’ve never been convinced.  Yet, in this account, Anna says that she and God were able to talk without ever seeing each other, and that He promised her she’d be okay when she went back.  She doesn’t meet any people from her past or have details that no one can ever verify.  Just a little girl who was assured of her safety by the God she knows loves her.

I found the most touching moment was the last time we encounter Dr. Nurko.  Christy shares her story poignantly in church and the reminds us of all the places during the journey with Anna where they saw miracles happen.

I was impressed.  This is a high quality Christian movie – so refreshing in the Christian film movie world – and I am pleased to be able to fully recommend this as a family movie.

Movie link has been provided courtesy of Sony Pictures and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Train Up a Child

I fought it for a long time – this knowing who I resembled, but it’s truer today than I ever thought possible…I am my mother’s daughter.

I am truly a product of my parents – I have some of the best (and not so great) traits of each of my parents, but there are things in my being that are truly my mom.  I love to welcome people into my home, just like her.  I love to cook for those I love, just like her.  My laugh has been described as contagious, and unmistakable, just like her.  I cry at the sappiest of movies and commercials, just like her.  Helping little ones to know how important they are to their Creator, just like her.  Creativity just flows once an inspiration hits, just like her.  I can’t resist Christmas, no matter what time of year it is, just like her. I can’t make a big meal without using all the pots in the kitchen, just like her.

Proverbs tells us to “train up a child in the way that (they) should go”, and mom – sometimes not really knowing – did just that.  And from the way that she lives her life, I know that her mom and grandmom lived the same way.  I come from a very long line of strong, outspoken, devoted to family, deeply in love with Jesus women.

My faith doesn’t always look like my mom’s, but I know it’s a faith in the same Jesus.  We don’t always agree on some of the ways we express matters of faith, but the big picture and the knowledge of Who we walk with is.

I have done so much that is different from how my mom chose to live her life, but I have always believed that I could find my heart’s desire because she cheered me on, and believed in me too, probably more than I believed in myself.

A faith that develops in a child comes from watching proof that God is important to their parents.  A faith that comes alive in a child comes from knowing that their parents live out that faith daily.  I watched as mom cried with hurting people, cared for people who couldn’t care for themselves.  Mom’s house was always open to people (even when they really didn’t want the invitation – ask me some time about Sept 2, 1972!), and all of this was because she knew that they needed to meet Jesus, and it was through her that they could.  She carries this on to this very day, and because I watched her do this so well – I love to do the same.  Just like her.

 

When you’re tired of not being noticed…

Today, the woman whose blog inspires me the most – Ann Voskamp – has done it again. And what is such a God-thing this is, we just focused our whole contemporary service on this very thought last Sunday! I know there are times where I feel completely invisible, (although there’s a post in Pinterest that says “thanks for making me invisible – I’ve always wanted a superpower!).
You have the power to change someone’s day, month and life without even knowing that you’ve done it…especially if you’re doing it because you love Jesus.
Read her oh, so eloquent encouragement at http://www.aholyexperience.com/ – moms, daughters, pastors, labourers…whoever you are, and in whatever role life finds you – you do matter, and God notices!

holy experience

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2012 in family ministry

 

Are you for real? – Encouragement for moms

I love to watch people I love be moms.  I love to watch as they respond to their child’s needs, to be in harmony with what is going on in this life they nurture.  I think being a mom is the hardest job in the world – with the least amount of thanks or recognition (dad’s come a close second…)

I follow Ann Voskamp’s blog at www.aholyexperience.com, and today she has linked her post to one she has at the Dayspring daily blog.  It’s about the desire to be a Velveteen mom.  You know the story – the velvelteen rabbit became real because the boy loved him.  Let this post encourage you, and know my prayer for you today and in the coming days, as you parent your littles – is that you will become a velveteen mom.

Use this link, and be inspired…http://www.incourage.me/2011/10/tiger-mothers-or-the-making-of-velveteen-mothers.html

 
 

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Making the most of 60 minutes

One of my favourite blogs is Enjoying the Small Things, by Kelle Hampton.  The way she writes just makes my day…and her posts brighten my week – the fact that her girls are too cute for their own good doesn’t hurt either.

Today’s post is perfect for this blog.  A mom who is busy, but knows how to carve out real quality time for her girls – this is the stuff memories are made of!

If I was smarter – I’d bring her whole post over to here, but alas, I am not…so here’s the link http://www.kellehampton.com/

Enjoy and be inspired! 

 

 

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Learning through different eyes

My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful, but all too short trip.  We had the joy of visiting with our friends who now reside in Nassau, Bahamas.  We were able to enjoy the company of a mutual set of friends, and soak up some sun (our peeling arms are proof of that), take in some of the local sites and flavours – just generally being tourists.  We saw things that were breath-taking;  both in their beauty, and in their alarming contrast to that beauty.

On the surface – we saw all that one sees in the tour books…but the experiences our friends introduced us to were so much richer and will hold a longer impact.  We were taken to a community outreach center that the church our friend pastors supports.  We saw the Nassau that will never show up in the list of places to be – door and plumbing-less houses, just in behind the opulence of the downtown area.    We had the joy of watching a ball hockey league play – and for the first time, watch our host show off his skills…he’s really pretty good!  This is a league of about 50 guys, most of whom are former Canadians, with a few NHL players thrown in.  It was a great evening, but you’d never see that in the tour books either.

We were taken to a couple of stores that highlight the creative talents of folks that live on the Island, but are nowhere near the beaten path – and were able to bring home some Island beauty with us.

We were also privileged to attend a lecture sponsored by the Bahamas National Trust.  In an amazing setting that was once private lands, we saw the most diverse collection of Palm trees, while hearing (and watching) the cartoonist who creates “Sherman’s Lagoon”.  You see, the BNT is petitioning the government of The Bahamas to outlaw the harvesting of sharks.  We learned that one of the reasons that the waters of the Bahamas are so pristine and clear – and of a shade of blue that can only be appreciated in person – are that way because the delicate eco-system is in almost perfect balance.  Shark harvesting threatens to throw that out of whack, and then the water cease to be the wonder-filled place that it is.

Without our hosts letting us experience life on the Island the way they do…we would have only seen the “surface” of the island.  The view that the tourist trade wants you to see.  But there is so much more, and it’s full of life and wonder and celebration and learning.

If you are one who attends Worship at a local church, but never opens your Bible through the week, nor spends time with those you see on Sunday outside of that gathering – you really are seeing just the surface of what the Church is called to look like.  If you want your children, spouse or loved ones to know Jesus, you need to take them deeper in the journey with you.  You need to see beyond the hymns, lights and happy gathered people, and well adorned sanctuaries.  Or, are you one who is curious about the man, Jesus, and what makes his followers different.  Spend time with someone who’s life you admire – not because of who they are or their occupation, but because of how they approach life.  Learn from them and ask questions – seek to see the world through their eyes  – cause you can all most be sure they are looking through their Jesus’ eyes.

Faith is a journey that should get our hands dirty with living among His people.  Reading and studying what God says to us in His Word fuels that.  Helping those who are in need – be it money, food, prayer or just a hug.  Being Jesus to others, is not easy, nor is it glamorous.  But it is when we are truly in that space that we experience the richness, the wonder and learning of truly being a Jesus follower.

The Body of Christ is called to do life – together.  And that’s with those who call us out of our comfort zone – who challenge us to be there with them.  Read Act 2-4…does that look like a church you know?  I haven’t found one yet…but here is the account of the early church, sharing, caring and prayer together.  How awesome that must have been.  Certainly not “touristy”, but real. 

I loved our trip, and true to instruction, we “got sand in my shoes”, so we’ll be back.  I saw colours that were more vibrant than anything I’ve ever experience, but I was enchanted by the Island because I saw it through the eyes of my friends who love it so much.  May it be that way as others look to see this Christian life through us – may they be drawn in to Him, because of our love for Him.

 

Sun, heat and Jesus

My husband and I are through our Vacation Bible School part of our Summer.  Our churches scheduled things so that I could be at both schools.  It was a great 2 weeks – I’m really tired, but it really was fantastic to spend so much time with the littles we serve.

I start planning my VBS for the following year about 2 weeks after the current year’s program is over.  It’s 11 1/2 months of planning, and it’s over in the blink of an eye.  But really, it’s my favourite time of my year.  It is such a pleasure to work with teams of people who have come together just to be Jesus to a gathered bunch of kids.

The curriculum may differ, and the dynamics of the week are never the same, but the goal of both of our week-long events are identical – to teach children (and hopefully their parents) how much Jesus loves them.  More than half of the children at either Camp are not regular church attenders, with some having never been in a Christ-focused setting.

It was important at both schools that we presented the Bible truths in a way that didn’t assume that our guests knew anything about God’s Word – as one young man illustrated when he asked me “What makes Jesus so special?”  I could have responded with a pat answer, but instead we had a great conversation about who Jesus was and why He was so special…

It was a beautiful thing at the Adventure Camp at SGK to watch the kids worship with the leadership of Nikki Fletcher.  She has such a great way with the kids, and became our own in-house rock star.  Children are natural worshippers  – raised voices and hands, and love to learn new songs that are engaging.  At one point, they brough tears to my eyes as they praised God singing “Mighty to save”…that song will never be the same for me again – and I will cherish that.

At St. Paul’s, I had the joy to spend the week being one of the leaders with the grade 3-4 group of kids.  I love this age group…they have questions, and are hungry for the answer – and they just want to “Get it”.  We had a ton of fun, and it warmed my heart to see them hiding God’s Word in their hearts as they proudly recited all 5 memory verses (complete with addresses).

My concern and passion for these kids is finding a way to have the learning that took place during our week(s) together not be lost after the following Monday.  To that end, I make a commitment to my families that I will have follow-up activities for them to engage in with their kids.  It’s not just me.  Recently my blog was mentioned in the May/June issue of Group Publishing’s Children’s Ministry Magazine: http://www.childrensministry.com/article.asp?ID=2418.  The article has great suggestions for being intentional with family follow-up from a Vacation Bible School program.

They and their children were engaged for a week at your church, don’t let that engagement go stale.  Encourage them, help the children remember what they talked about during the week.  Pray for them, and let them know that you are.  That is a summer church program with an Orange focus…equipping families to “water the seeds” that were planted during your week with their children.

Jeff and I are getting our follow ups ready to go, and we will continue to pray – for the children we had the honour of spending our time with.  For the parents who want to know that their children’s eternities are in order, and for the families that seek to make their walk with Jesus more significant for all their members.

 

Lifted out of the Can

Yesterday, in light of the text of our message at church, I told the following story.  Our scripture focus was the parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15: 3-7).

The story is true…I know the little girl very well, although I never knew her as a little girl…

There once was a little girl, who lived out the truth of her redheaded-ness.  She was mischievous and had a definite mind of her own.  She lived in the city of London, many years ago.  On this particular day, it was a hot summer day in 1936, and she was about 7.  She had decided that she was not happy with something that had happened at home, and determined to take matters into her own hands.  So she ran away.

Her family noticed that she was gone, and began to look for her.  After a considerable time had passed, her daddy started to get worried, and knew he needed help to find her.  Remember that this was not long after the Great Depression, and money was not readily available.  Her daddy knew that if he called the police and fire departments, he would have to pay.

But his daughter was very important to him, and that’s just what he did.  He paid $200 for the assistance (that’s about $3200 in today’s money). It was much more money than he could afford, but she was special enough that he had no other choice.   So, with the additional people looking for her, the search intensified.  The little girl could hear the people calling her name, and the whole time she was thinking, ” how powerful am I?”  What the searchers did not know, was that the little girl was hiding in a garbage can in a park, not very far from the little girl’s home.

Remember that I said it was a hot summer day?  That little girl, despite all her plans, could not help but be affected by the odors that the hot, rotting garbage were creating, and she got sick to her stomach not something that could be done quietly. Her daddy stood very quietly and listened – and it was by her reaction to the smells – that he was able to find her.

As I told that story, it occurred to me – how much like our Heavenly father is that?  When we decide that we need to hide from him (we really are descendants of Adam and Eve), we often find a spot where we are sure He will never find us.  And that usually involves garbage.  That garbage can be all kinds of addictions: drug, sex, shopping, social networking, alcohol, gambling, etc…), or we seek out self-damaging situations, or dabble in “enlightened” paths that lead us away from God (occult, Eastern spirituality). We kid ourselves into thinking that we are “powerful”, and don’t need God in our life.   Being so immersed in this garbage, will eventually make us sick – not always physically (although that can happen), but emotionally, and spiritually.  So, what does God do?

He continues to find us, and the extra help comes in the form of everyday people like you and me.  People who know Jesus, and want to bring you back to safety. And the cost?  God gave us everything He has – His first-born Son.  Jesus, that baby born so long ago, was born crucified.  His first day as fully human, began the countdown to the greatest rescue ever.  He died to pay the price for you and me.  It cost him everything, and he did it willingly.  Just because we are that special to Him.

When we know this, we need to share that good news with other who haven’t met Him yet.  Listen to the heart cries of your friends and family from inside their personal “garbage cans”.  Introduce them, through your love and care, to the One who came to lift us out…

 

 
 

Needles – creative or destructive?

I love to do needlework – sewing, cross-stitching, needlepoint,  knitting – they all are active in my pass time lists.  With a small needle pictures can be brought to life, gifts can be made.  The needle brings things together and permanently joins things that were once very separate entities, and their coming together brings the one creating and the one receiving joy.  That’s my favourite part of crafting, is the giving of the final product, and to watch the joy it brings to the recipient.  I love that I am able to pray over each stitch of a gift, and know that a small part of me will be in the home I have intended it for. 

But needles have another side – a destructive side.  It punches holes into the receiving material, ones that are hard to close back up.  If the receiver of a needle is a body part – it’s quite painful too…trust me, I have much experience with this. 

Have you ever thought how you use words is your personal needle?  How we speak to those in our lives can either create something beautiful, or punch holes that are difficult to close?  I know I have been the deliverer of both kinds of words, and don’t like what I see when I have sent out the latter.  I have also been the receiver, and I would much rather be hearing the uplifting words. 

 Our children, whether our own or those in our community, are sensitive to both kinds of words as well.  Watch how tall a child stands when they are being encouraged about something they have done well, or are able to share their thoughts on a topic – and not be told they don’t understand.  See how that same child shrinks when they are “put in their place”.

 2 Timothy 3:16 teaches that ,  “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” NIV

During our Children’s Ministry time, we have been encouraging the kids to engage with the Scripture focus that day.  It is the teaching team’s prayer that they will be able to see that God’s Word is alive, and applies to their lives just as much as it applied to the first listeners.   We have imagined what Mary must have been thinking when Gabriel showed up in her house, we have talked about God’s promises being true and trustworthy. We have watched as David wrote is inner-most feelings through the Psalms.   This coming quarter we are following Jesus life, as he calls his disciples and begins his ministry.  We will make jars of clay, expecting miracles in our own lives, we will see how God can provide bounteously – just as He fed 5000 with a couple fish and a few loaves.  And we will learn what it means to have an Easter Faith, all year round.

It is a privilege to watch these young minds have “light bulb moments”, as they engage with the passage of the day.

 Wanting to invite the community to share in our engaging moments, we are excited to be planning an all ages event in March.  “How the West World Was Won” will be an afternoon where families can preview our upcoming KAC Theme (Saddle Ridge Ranch ), and our church family can have an environment that is easy to invite their friends and family members to.  We will be meeting on March 27, between 2 and 3 in the afternoon.  There will a time of music, teaching (kids and adults on their own), and fellowship.  We will be providing much more information in the coming weeks, but be sure to mark your calendar.