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Category Archives: orange thoughts

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.

 

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.

 

Summer boredom buster

So, it’s almost mid-August…how did that happen?…and the heat in our part of the world is stifling.  The kids don’t want to be outside, and you certainly don’t have the energy to entertain them every waking hour.  What to do?

It’s so easy to just have the kids go to the computer to play games, but face it, most computer games are either so trivial that the kids bore easily, or they are so violent that no child should be playing them.  Want a solution to meet both your concern about content, and your children’s need for excitement?  Then let me introduce you to YAHERO…

Developed by friends of my beloved’s and I, it is an action based online multi-player game.  And the best part of all – it’s very purposefully created with a Biblical worldview, without being preachy.

Yahero invited children into a safe environment – only after they have registered your e-mail as well.  And then they head into quests as they discover that:

YAHERO isAn exciting online virtual world where kids become heroes of Yahweh and His Word 

…taking the Bible outside the walls of the church to meet kids where they are online

…inspiring a love for Scripture and improving Biblical literacy for today’s virtual explorers

Another bonus is, with all the quests your child completes, you will receive an email about what happened during the quest; the connected scriptures; and discussion tips for you to have with your child.

http://www.yahero.com is the link to some new and exciting fun.

 

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.

 

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.

 

The Cradle Calls Each of Us

I have a book by the singer Michael Card, called “Come to the Cradle”.  It was written to accompany his recording of the same name.  One of my favourite  quotes is contained on the first page:

                “The cradle call us to come away from the busyness of the world – to rediscover the holy, unhurried life of a child, and to discover that as we pour ourselves into the lives of our little ones, life overflows in return.  For the cry of a baby in the middle of the night is not simply a summons to change a diaper – it contains within it more than our ears can hear.  It is a call to leave the cozy self-interest of our warm beds; to come, saying no to a thousand voices that tell us to remain where we are comfortable.  It is a call to come away from ourselves.  No one who has ever heeded this call will tell you it was in vain”

Michael’s words were meant to describe the experience of being a parent…but they ring so true for us all, and they come to mind each year as I get ready to celebrate Jesus birth.  The night God broke into history to show us how much He loves us, He didn’t arrive as the scholars had all thought.  There was no white stallion – it was a lowly donkey, being ridden by a young, unwed mother and her fiance.  There were no servants, or handmaids to assist, just a safe place where the animals were kept.  No one to hand out birth announcements,  but there were angels – an army of angels the Scriptures tell us – to invite all of God’s creation, to come to the cradle.

I don’t think that the song, as lovely as it is, Silent Night quite gets the picture of the stable right.  Jesus was born fully human, be assured that he was a “real” baby…that means crying.  I imagine that as one who help create the vastness of the stars, he had a full cry, and I’m sure he used it.  But, just as Mary will have had to respond to her Son’s call – so must we.

Jesus, still today, ask us to leave our cozy self-interest, and to say no to the thousand voices telling us not to go.  He does call us away from ourselves, and calls us to be closer to Him.  When we answer that call – nothing stays the same.  We are able to see the world through His eyes, to care with His heart and to serve with His hands.   As you celebrate the Christmas, listen for the call from the cradle, and answer with “I’m right here”, and hear Him answer, “I’ve been waiting – just for you”.

May your Christmas be blessed.

 

“…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?

 

What are you fighting for?

I love getting an opportunity to spend time listening to Reggie Joiner share his passion for the Orange Strategy.  I did just that this afternoon. I popped in the DVD “What If” and  spent 78 minutes with him teaching leaders to answer that question.

I took many notes, and often nodded in agreement to concepts I have heard him present in other gatherings.  He told a story that particularly caught my attention today.

Reggie shares the account of a time he was having a very loud discussion with his daughter.  Without giving specifics, he described the exchange as one of getting louder and more intense.  Then something happened that he hadn’t seen coming.  His daughter, in a way that only a daughter can do, lobbed a statement that took his breath away.  It was a wounding statement, and Reggie reacted.

He did not yell, he didn’t ground her – he simply turned, walked out of the room and went out to the garage.  Then he got in the car, and drove away.  After about 15 minutes of driving, his daughter called him to apologize, and then made this statement:  “Why did you walk away?  I need to know I’m worth fighting for.”

What stuck me about this, was that our families need to know the same thing.  When ministry gets tough, we tend to pull back on the things that seem to run themselves – or don’t show up as crisis driven things.  I fear that in many churches, we figure that the family will still be there “tomorrow”.  But statistics show us that they just walk away – not angry, or loudly – just quitely go because no one is fighting for them.

In the Old Testament we find the book of Nehemiah.  He was the king’s cup-bearer – this was the man chosen and trusted to bring the wine (after tasting it) to the king.  The job of  cupbearer was one of highest honour, and truly fitting of Nehemiah.  Although he was one of the most trusted men in Persia – his heart was in Jerusalem.  When he learned that the Temple was being rebuilt, he grew concerned because he knew there were no walls left to protect it.

Nehemiah, trusting God’s direction, asked the king for leave of his post to go and help rebuild the wall.  Many people were against this, including those who sought to take over Jerusalem for their own purposes.  But Nehemiah followed his instinct and did what they told him to do.  So, in Neh 4:13, we read his solution to keep the situation safe.

So I put people behind the lowest places along the wall – the open places – and I put families together with their swords, spears, and bows.  Then I looked around and stood up and said to the important men, the leaders, and the rest of the people: ‘Don’t be afraid for them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and powerful.  Fight for your brothers, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes“.

Wow, if ever a passage of scripture jumped out from a message for me – it was this.  I constantly stand in awe at how God’s Word speaks to situations today.  Our children are being attacked by the Enemy in the open places – at school, through T.V. ads, competition for their time on all fronts – to keep their focus off meeting the Living, Loving God of Creation.   If we don’t stand in the gap, by strengthening families – we will lose this generation.

The Body of Christ, must together position ourselves to show families that they are worth fighting for.  Nehemiah reminded the faithful in Jerusalem to trust the Lord, because He is great and powerful.  We, too, must do the same thing.  Sometimes it feels like it’s a losing battle, but the victory will be God’s – if we truly trust Him to do so.

Churches for too long have thought that if we “allow” families to just be among us, encourage them to be busy for Christ, and let the Children’s Ministry instruct their children – all will be fine, and we will produce Christ followers out of the children who come through our doors.

We are now seeing just how wrong we are.  Church, we were never given that job…standing guard nowhere instructs the Children’s Pastor to teach the foundations of faith.  It was designed to be done in the family setting.  To be passed from generation to generation.   Oops!  We have generations who have never been taught the stories of our Faith.  To see the power and tenderness of the God of the Universe.  We have generations who don’t know the touch of the Father who gave His only Son to pay our penalty,  all just to bring us into relationship with Him.

Who am I fighting for?  Every family who is trying to see that their lives matter, that their child’s eternity is at stake, and don’t know where to find the answer.  The Church needs to fight – through prayer, resources and love – to come alongside our families and outfit them to stand at the gap for their children and protect the generation from destruction.  Are you willing to stand with me?

 

How is your story being written?

blank_book

ripped-family

 

 

 

 

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.