Monday, December 26, 2011

Star or Cross?

The cross hanging on the church wall
A few years ago my husband and I were driving home one winter night when we spotted a beautiful, bright star, hanging low in the dark evening sky. It made us think of the star that the wise men saw all those years ago. But as we kept our eyes on that star and drew closer to it, we realized that this was not a star at all. It was a cross, lit from behind, hanging on the wall of a church.
How symbolic and prophetic is that? In the star associated with the birth of Jesus, we also saw the cross, associated with his death. And what a great reminder to us, that as we celebrate the glitz and glamor of Christmas, we also celebrate the Alpha and the Omega...the beginning and the end. From cradle to crucifixion, from Christmas to Calvary..the more we keep our eyes on Jesus and the closer we draw to Him, the more He allows us to see.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Internal Life...

A re-post from Christmas 2010...


Translated into over 1100 languages from Afrikaans to Zulu, John 3:16 must surely be the most memorized verse in the Bible. Martin Luther called it 'the Gospel in miniature'- just 26 words that summarize God's entire purpose for sending Jesus into the world: 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Recently, I was teaching a 3rd Grade Bible class and had challenged the students to memorize John 3:16. A cute little girl raised her hand and recited the verse perfectly until she got to the next to the last word:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have internal life.
Her mom and I smiled as we automatically started to correct her, but then we stopped. That little girl was not wrong. In fact, she was absolutely right! We who believe in Jesus, along with eternal life, can claim 'internal' life too. As we celebrate the birth of Christ this season, let's remember that we have Jesus living inside us, with all the peace, joy and hope that He alone can bring. No matter what may rage externally, we can hold on to internal life- life 'in all its fullness.' This Christmas, let's sow the message of internal life deep into the hearts of the children we nurture.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10: 10

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Down, Down, Down..

Last year when my husband and I flew back to England to visit our families, we went to see Lord Horatio Nelson's flagship- the HMS Victory. Now lying in a dry dock, the Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and fought in the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars. One of the Victory's most impressive features was an enormous anchor, weighing an incredible 2 tons! I stood on deck and imagined that huge anchor plummeting down, down, down, to the murky depths of the ocean below in order to hold that ship safely in place. And it made me think of Jesus.
Weighing probably less than 10 pounds, that tiny baby came... down, down, down, to the murky depths of humanity below in order to hold us close to Him. Friends... you and I are anchored in heaven by Jesus Christ. Storms may blow and seas may rage around us, but He is holding us safely to Him- a firm anchor that will never let us go. What an incredible message to teach our children this Christmas!
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Captivating Moment

I witnessed a beautiful little scene today. Returning home from my morning walk, I heard the sounds of laughter coming from a neighbor's driveway. A grandpa was playing hide and seek with his young grandson. The little boy covered his eyes and began to count whilst Grandpa hid behind the car. When the little boy reached 10, he ran and immediately found his grandpa, who took off running. The little guy squealed in delight and followed in hot pursuit. I stopped to watch this little scene. It was captivating. It made me smile.
I am convinced that God stops to watch us when we are bringing joy to His children. I am convinced that he is captivated by those little moments and wants to share them with us. And I am convinced that when He sees us serving His little ones in ministry, it makes Him smile. Imagine that.We can make the creator of the universe smile. How awesome is that?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Great Rescue

My son and his wife were landscaping their front yard. They rented a very loud and very powerful stump grinder to remove some deep roots. Not long after beginning to use the machine, they noticed a little squirrel running down the tree behind them, carrying what seemed to be a small mouse in her mouth. A few minutes later, she appeared again, this time scurrying down the trunk with something wrapped tightly around her neck. Fascinated, my son and his wife stopped to watch and realized that the squirrel was rescuing her babies from her nest in the tree above. She was frightened by the noise, and was carrying her children to safety. I guess that little squirrel would do just about anything to rescue her little ones.
As we begin this Advent season, I am reminded that we are waiting for a great Rescuer too...One who would do just about anything to rescue His little ones. And I am reminded also of the awesome privilege we have to teach our children about Him. 
Watch This True Amazing Rescue 
Question: What are you reminded of this Advent?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just a Little Frost...

I stood back to admire the pretty pansies I had planted in the window box. How amazing that I could be planting flowers in the middle of November, when back in my hometown in Michigan, we would soon be getting ready for snow. But today I was in sunny North Carolina, where the temperature was in the 70's. Beautiful! The next morning though, my pretty pansies looked dead. They hung their heads, limp and lifeless as the frosty air surrounded them. But during the course of the day, those same flowers came back to life! As they felt the warmth of the sun, they turned to it, picked up their heads and began to dance in the wind again. With relief, I remembered that my little flowers can survive a little bit of frost.
Have you ever planted seeds of God's love in a child and then thought those seeds had died? Have you ever watched as a child you nurtured turned their back on God? Don't despair. There is nothing that can destroy those seeds. One day, that child will feel the warmth of God's love again and just like my pansies, they will turn and respond to Him. God's love can endure the harshest of winters. And it will surely survive a little bit of frost.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Baby Shoes

It is 11pm. The house is quiet. For the moment, my 8 month old grandson is sleeping peacefully in bed but his little shoes sitting on the fireplace remind me that I can expect another action packed day tomorrow. Tomorrow will bring another busy round of exploring, crawling, climbing, and learning new things. Tomorrow, little Xander will fill those shoes, and one day soon, he will be ready to walk in them...one step at a time.
Are you ready to fill your shoes tomorrow? How wonderful that no matter who has served in ministry before us, we do not have to worry about filling their shoes- we just need to fill our own. Are you ready to walk wherever God leads? Step out in faith...He will lead us one step at a time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Umbrella on the Roof

Several years ago, despite being advised that in the event of a tornado, the safest place for us to go would be the basement, my husband, our four young sons and I stood in sheer amazement, watching the storm outside our living room window. In the front yard, our thin little scarecrow hung on for dear life as the wind tried to wrench him from the ground. The tornado was over in seconds...but it took several months to clean up our town. We were surrounded by fallen trees, wrecked cars and debris. On the back deck of our home, our patio table lay on its side, the chairs were strewn around the yard, and our fancy red umbrella was on the roof. We all set to work and soon, our table, chairs and umbrella were put back, our little scarecrow had his hair combed and was set upright again...and everything was back to normal. It must be part of our human condition...to put everything back just as it was.
But it made me think...if the power of the Holy Spirit blew through our ministry, like that 'violent' wind at Pentecost- what sort of things would He want to move? What changes would He want to make? And if we truly invited that to happen, would we be ready to change, or would we want to put everything back to normal, just the way it was? There is power in the Holy Spirit, and if we truly want to feel His presence, we might find our umbrellas on the roof. The question is...are we brave enough to leave them there?

Monday, October 31, 2011

And then Came the Fall...

One of the reasons why my husband and I fell in love with our home was because of the trees.

We bought our home in the spring and watched in delight as all the maples, oaks and lilacs in both our front and back yards sprouted different colored buds, blossoms and leaves.

Our delight continued throughout the summer, as those same trees brought much needed shade to our deck. And then came the fall...

The trees are still beautiful, the colors still breathtaking, the sight of the golden carpet that adorns our driveway still brings a smile to my face, but the raking is endless.


After another back breaking trip to the compost heap, hauling a tarp full of leaves that must have weighed almost as much as myself, I found myself wondering...how could it possibly be that those single, tiny, insignificant leaves, with an individual weight of almost nothing, could combine together to weigh so much?

When I'm tempted to feel insignificant, and I find myself wondering if my efforts in children's ministry will ever amount to anything, I'm going to remember those tiny, weightless leaves and the tremendous weight of them when combined together.
We are not in ministry alone.
Together, you and I can make a huge difference.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Making Connections

 
 It is 4.30 pm on a Monday afternoon.

In our classroom, several little boys and girls are quietly reading. Some are lying down, some are sitting. All are surrounded by books.

Suddenly, the peace is shattered by an excited cry. 'I made a connection! I made a connection!' The other kids smile as little Johnny bookmarks his page so that he can share what he has found with the whole class later.

All these kids know that 'Making Connections'- to ourselves, another text, or the world in which we live is an important skill in learning to read. And learning to read is something that every child needs.

As we serve in children's ministry, each one of us is making a connection.

We have the privilege of being able to connect a child with God....and as we pray for them and share God's word with them; as we love them and lead by example, we are making that connection stronger.

And a strong connection with God is something that every child needs.

I am the vine; you are the branches. John 15:5

Question: Who connected you with
God?






Monday, October 17, 2011

Hide The Bible

I recently came across a rather sad website called 'Hide The Bible.' Its purpose is to share stories and photographs of the ingenious ways that people have found to hide one of the Gideons' Bibles, which are placed in hotel rooms. In this bizarre game, people have hidden the Bible in the closet, in the ironing board, between the curtains and curtain rail, behind the artwork or TV, under the sink, inbetween adjoining room doors, and even behind the toilet. Ingenious, but sad.
And it prompts me to ask: What extraordinary power is there in the Bible that causes people to want to hide it and then advertise that fact on the WORLD WIDE WEB?? You can even follow this site on Twitter! What a great irony that in their efforts to hide the Bible, they are inadvertently drawing the attention of the world to it??
Friends- you and I are involved in hiding the Bible too.... but it is no game for us. Thank God that we are called to encourage children to hide His word in their hearts, where no-one will ever be able to take it away from them. Now that is powerful.
I have hidden your word in my heart. Psalm 119: 11
Question: What would you say is the most powerful Bible verse that we could teach our children?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Look up!

I was out walking around our neighborhood the other day. I looked down as I walked and saw soggy, wet leaves; the occasional piece of trash; the cracks in the sidewalk, and the dark stains of chewing gum, discarded long ago. Then I looked up. I saw the beauty of a blue October sky; the autumn trees tipped with gold as the sunlight bounced off them; birds flying high on the wing, and delicate leaves dancing in the breeze. What a contrast!
As we minister to our children, we have a daily choice. We can focus on the cracks, or focus on the creativity. We can look at the trash, or look at the treasure.  We can be aware of the stains, or be aware of the solutions. In other words, we can choose to look down and focus on our problems, or we can choose to look up and focus on our possibilities. I know which one I will try to choose this week...do you?
Read about being transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Question: What effective way have you found of turning negative thoughts or situations into positive ones?

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Persistent Woodpecker

I was just sitting down for a quiet cup of tea when I was disturbed by a loud 'tap-a-tap-tap' sound, coming from the back of the house. It didn't take me long to find a Hairy Woodpecker, happily hammering away on the wood outside our family room. It was cute at first, but after several days hammering, my husband and I decided it had to go. We stood, leaning over the deck and loudly clapped our hands. The woodpecker merely turned its head to look at us. We shouted at it. It just stared back. Our research on the internet said that woodpeckers have an aversion to shiny objects. We spent an hour devising an elaborate device consisting mainly of a tube of silver foil and yarn. Together, we managed to string it high across the back of the house. The next day, our clever device had been pecked apart and was lying on the floor under the tree. The hammering began again. Next we purchased a 20 foot ladder and filled in the large hole with expanding foam. The woodpecker drilled it all out. Finally, my husband nailed a metal panel over the hole....success! We do not hear hammering from the back of the house any more- but now I hear it at the front. That little guy just refuses to give up.
As annoying as that Hairy Woodpecker is, I think I have learned a lesson from him. Persistence attracts attention. What dreams do you have for your ministry that you refuse to give up on? Be persistent in prayer. Be persistent in faithfulness. Be persistent in ministry. God hears our hammering and like that persistent woodpecker, we will attract His attention.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Giant 'M' in the Sky

It was late. The road was dark. We still had many miles to go. Suddenly, I spotted what we had been searching for- the luminous giant 'M' in the sky...the golden arches of McDonald's. We pulled off the highway and headed for that bright welcoming sign where we knew we could get a great cup of coffee. When I consider the astonishing fact that there are more United Methodist churches then there are McDonald's restaurants, it makes me wonder....what could we do to attract families toward the bright M of the United Methodist church? Could we:
  • be just as effective in our advertising as McDonald's are?
  • make our children's ministry spaces as welcoming, colorful and fun as their PlayPlaces are?
  • change our 'menu' frequently, to keep interest high?
  • offer fun 'freebies' like kids get in their Happy Meals?
  • make Sunday school a place that kids want to come to more then once a week?
Maybe then we could advertise, along with McDonald's, 'Billions and billions served' -except that we might be able to say 'Billions and billions saved'....
I'm lovin' it.
Read the Expanded Article Here

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reigning on High

My sisters & I,
ready to spot the eagles
My two sisters were visiting from England and had never seen a bald eagle before. We set out on the two hour journey to a small lake in Northern Michigan, hoping to spot the eagles that my husband and I had seen just a few weeks before. We were not disappointed. Not only did we see these beautiful birds soaring high above our heads, but we also watched as the male eagle came in to land in its huge platform nest. There he sat, supreme and proud, looking out over his kingdom, his huge beady eyes surveying everything in sight. Several hundred feet below the nest, a kayaker drifted lazily by, totally unaware of the majestic being above.
Friends, so many children are drifting by, totally unaware of the One who reigns on high from above. This is our calling. How can we make them aware of Him this week?
You are the God who sees. Genesis 16:13

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hand Sanitizer

It is estimated that in the USA alone, we spend a whopping $80 million every year on hand sanitizer. It is probably money well spent. No one can argue with the fact that hand sanitizer is a necessary product...it protects us from disease, it cleans up our messy hands, it prevents germs from spreading. Hand sanitizer is indispensable in hospitals, clinics, schools, churches, and restaurants- wherever crowds gather, there we will find hand sanitizer. 
But in our 'sanitized' and clinical world, it is easy to forget that sometimes, ministry might require us to get our hands messy, or hold the hand of a dirty child, or reach out and touch something we would rather not hold. We are here to represent Jesus- and without our hands He cannot reach out and touch the lives of others. Are you ready to be vunerable? Whose hand will you hold this week?
Josh Wilson: I Refuse

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Changes

When my son was younger he used to keep discus fish in a large aquarium in his room. These beautiful tropical fish are extremely sensitive, easily flustered, and require meticulous care. They especially need to be kept in clean water and require regular water changes. The trouble was...our fish hated that process. One day, as I drained the old water from the tank and started to move the rocks around, those sensitive fish became so fearful! They scurried around frantically from one side of the tank to the other, so nervous about what was happening. I looked at them through the glass and wished that I could communicate with them. If only I could tell them that I was changing the water for their own good..but of course, that was impossible. They simply needed to trust me.
Do you fear changes in your ministry? Maybe we are like those sensitive discus fish... scurrying around in our own little world, worrying about what's happening, when all along, the changes might be for our good. When all along, all we need to do is simply trust God.
Look at these beautiful discus fish...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Eagle or Hummingbird?

From our vantage point in the boat below, I kept the binoculars steady as the enormous bald eagle came into view. I watched, spellbound, as he soared toward his giant nest where the female and juvenile were waiting. The whole tree shook as he extended his legs and clutched the branch with his talons. It reminded me of the landing gear coming down from an airplane. Unbelievable!  One hour later, we were back in the cottage, watching tiny hummingbirds as they hovered around the feeders. Up, down, forwards, and backwards they flew, their incredible little bills dipping in and out as they came to perch on tiny mounts with their miniature feet. Amazing! Which bird was my favorite? I could not choose. Both were equally beautiful.
God does not have favorites either. Whether we minister to one child, or one hundred; whether we serve in a big church, or small church; eagle, or hummingbird… we are equally beautiful to Him.
 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Layer Upon Layer

Our newly painted deck
It seemed like such a good idea. The video on YouTube made it look easy....we would strip the paint off our deck and restore the natural beauty of the wood. We got to work with rollers, brushes, rubber gloves, face masks, and one can of industrial paint stripper that boasted 'easily removes multiple layers of paint.' Just what we needed! After coating the entire deck we optimistically turned on the power washer, just like the video had shown us. The result? Nothing. A few flakes lifted here and there, but that was all. Maybe the electric sander would work....but that was ineffective too. We made yet another trip to the store to buy a paint scraper, but that didn't work either. That paint was far too deeply ingrained in the wood. No stripper, power washer or sander would ever be able to remove those layers. We gave in and simply repainted it.
As we teach the Bible to our children, we are creating layer upon layer, truth upon truth that no amount of worldly power can ever strip away. What they learn from God's Word will be sealed and deely ingrained - a firm foundation that can never be removed. 
God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are His." 
2 Timothy 2:19
Day After Day: Kristian Stanfill

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Under The Trees

Our shady home
It was a sweltering 92 degrees outside. No wonder no one else was out walking! Most sane people were safely inside their air conditioned homes. But not my husband and I. We had decided to walk down to the local lake...after all, it was only 20 minutes away. Bad idea!The heat of the noonday sun was relentless. The only thing that saved us was the canopy of the trees along the way. We found ourselves almost sprinting for cover from one shady spot to the next. On our way back, what a relief it was to finally be in sight of our own shady home! On this hot Michigan day, under those trees was the only place I wanted to be.
When the pressure of ministry seems relentless to me, I'm going to seek out the shade that God offers. It is constant, comfortable, and it's the only place I want to be.
The Lord is your shade. Psalm 121:5
You Are My Refuge: Maranatha

Monday, July 25, 2011

Something Missing?

The Snap, ready to sail...
It should have been a perfect evening...sunshine, blue sky, beautiful lake. The mast was finished. The sail was up. Our very first sailing adventure was about to begin! My husband and I were ready to go places! But there was something missing. There was no wind. We drifted around peacefully in the middle of the lake. We still enjoyed ourselves, but there was no excitement, no challenge, no energy, no purpose. Without the power of the wind to drive us, we were going nowhere. 
Are you drifting by or sailing along in your ministry? Are you going places or going nowhere? Pray for God's almighty power to drive your ministry. When it does, your days will be filled with excitement, challenge, energy and purpose.
Watch the beauty and power of one of the world's largest sailing ships.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Beauty of an Oscillating Fan

I sat in the hot, stuffy church and wished, for the umpteenth time during the service, that this beautiful old building had modern air conditioning. In a moment of silence during the prayer time I heard the soft whirring of an oscillating fan nearby. I knew that other people were feeling the benefit of its presence but I could not feel it. I yearned for it to turn and blow on me. And suddenly, there it was- a wonderful breeze blowing right on me- so refreshing, so cool, so welcome! It made all the difference.
That oscillating fan reminded me of the Holy Spirit. We know it is there. We know that other people are affected by its presence, but we might not always feel it ourselves. 
Friends...the Holy Spirit is always ready to turn and blow on you. When we yearn for its presence and feel it moving within us, our ministry will be refreshed. Seek out the Holy Spirit- its presence and power in our lives will make all the difference.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Acts 1: 8
Holy Spirit Rain Down: Hillsong United

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Secret to Being Content

Click on the photo to see 
my 87 year old dad,
in Times Square, New York
Yesterday I returned from a 1,750 mile road trip that spanned five states and took us across to the east coast of the USA. Accompanying us as we traveled was my 87 year old father, who enjoyed every minute of this busy adventure. On our travels we experienced two extremes of American life. One day we spent our time in the Amish city of Lancaster, where my dad loved the beauty of the calm, unhurried, peaceful lifestyle. Two days later we were flying in a yellow taxi cab through the crazy streets of New York, where my dad loved all the noise and excitement, the hustle and bustle of the big city. My dad has the amazing capacity to enjoy life wherever he is and to see the best in everything- whether it be a place, a person, or a situaton. It is his secret to being content. Of all the many lessons that he has taught me, this has to be one of the finest- to deliberately see the best in everything, to focus on the positives and choose to appreciate life wherever we are. If we can do that in our ministry, we might just find the secret to being content.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Philippians 4:12

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Beautiful Work in Progress...

 
Two and a half years ago I stood at our garage door, looking doubtfully at the simple skeleton frame of the wooden boat that my husband was building. He showed me the detailed plans he was working from. He produced a picture of what it would look like one day. I was still doubtful. Could these bare wooden bones really become a boat? Last month my husband and I rowed our beautiful boat on Reeds Lake...exactly as my husband had purposed. One day, she will have a sail and a motor- she is not quite finished yet.
Do you ever doubt your calling into ministry? Do you ever doubt that you can complete the work that God intended? You are a beautiful work in progress. You are fully able to become exactly what God has purposed. He's just not finished with you yet.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. Phil 1:6
Wait and See: Brandon Heath






Monday, June 20, 2011

Nine Years Old...

Marnie is on the right. To her left is
 her new friend who lives in this 
Kentucky home.
When I was nine years old my days were filled with climbing trees, riding my bike, and bouncing around precariously on my Pogo stick. I had no clue what a chisel was, I had never heard of a pry bar, and the only paintbrush I had ever held was the one in my Painting By Numbers set. Marnie, on the other hand, knows exactly what a chisel is, can efficiently use a pry bar, and is not afraid to climb a ladder to help paint the soffits at the back of a house. Marnie and I just returned from a Family Mission Trip in the rolling hills of Red Bird, Kentucky- an area of absolute beauty but also abject poverty. As she painted alongside her new found friend who lives in this poor Kentucky home, Marnie learned far more than how to use tools. She learned what a privilege it is, at nine years old, to be in ministry with the poor. And that is far more rewarding than bouncing around on a Pogo stick ever could be.
Ministry With the Poor
Read the Expanded Article Here

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Staring At The Words

Click on this photo to see
Xander enjoying his Baby Bible
My beautiful little grandson is barely 3 months old, but already he has been introduced to the magical world of books and reading. A recent text from my son read, 'Mom, Xander is loving books right now. He is enthralled by the pictures and is really staring at the words.' The book that James was reading to his baby son was the Bible. The power of God's Word is already at work in his little life.
Friends- we are never too young or too old to be enthralled by pictures of God and to stare in awe at His Word. We just need to be introduced to that magical world. Where can you bring the Bible into a child's life this week?
Basic
Information
Before
Leaving
Earth
Amy Grant: Thy Word

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

In The River

Me, canoeing on the Hersey River
If you had been standing on the banks of the Hersey River in Reeds City, Michigan on Monday morning, you would have seen several colorful canoes and kayaks as they meandered lazily downstream. My husband and I were in one of them, enjoying the different sights of the river as it twisted and turned. Even though it was easy canoeing, we had a guide at the front of our party, and a guide at the back, just to make sure that everyone was safe. As we came around one of the bends in the river, we had to steer our canoe in between two large rocks. We successfully avoided one, but became grounded on the other. Thankfully, standing right there in the middle of that freezing cold water was one of the guides, waiting to help us.
As we meander through the twists and turns of our lives and ministries, God is like one of those guides- He is ahead, and behind, and everywhere in between. He is waiting to help us, right there in the river.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. Isaiah 43:2

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Worthy of Imitation

'Hands together, eyes closed.' All the children who had been listening to the pastor's message dutifully bowed their heads, brought their hands together, closed their eyes, and in unison began to echo the pastor's prayer. All except one. Last Sunday morning was only the second time that five year old Lucita had been in our church. She did not know what 'hands together, eyes closed' meant. She did not know how to pray or even what it was. So Lucita looked at the child on her right. She looked at the child on her left. She looked at the pastor. Then she put her hands together, bowed her head and followed along in unison. Lucita is learning to pray.
Who is looking at you this week? All around us, there are children who are looking, listening, and learning. Let's be ready to be worthy of imitation.
Be imitators of God. Ephesians 5:1
Listen to this 2 year old sing The Lord's Prayer






Monday, May 16, 2011

On My Team

A young mom told me a wonderful story about her three year old son who was singing the hymn 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty'. His version though was slightly different to the one that most of us know. As that little boy played with his toys, he opened his mouth and sang at the top of his lungs, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God on my team'. I think I prefer his version!
Imagine how these words are going to impact his young life! When the day comes for this little guy to join a baseball, soccer, or football team, he will be able to march out onto that field, knowing that God is on his side. Imagine the confidence that this knowledge will bring to his game!
Friends- you and I can march out onto that field of children's ministry with confidence, knowing without a doubt, that God is on our side. And if God is on my team, I know I will be a winner.
Chris Tomlin: Our God

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Amazing Journey of the Plastic Ducks....

On 10th January 1992, somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 29,000 plastic ducks, turtles, and frogs destined for children's bath tubs in the USA were spilled overboard from their cargo ship and began an amazing journey. So far, they have travelled over 17,000 miles; found their very own North-West Passage to the Atlantic; have been sighted bobbing in the waters of Alaska, Japan, Maine, the Arctic and Hawaii and are now on course to invade the British beaches of Southern England later this summer, where they will undoubtedly bring joy to the children who discover them. How incredible is that!!
As we journey in our ministry, we never quite know where that adventure may take us. We never quite know how our course may be altered. But one thing we do know, like those little plastic ducks, we are destined to bring joy into the lives of children. How incredible is that?
Read The Amazing Story

Monday, May 2, 2011

Planted with Pride

The daffodils & tulips that we
planted with pride
It seems ridiculous that despite having been married for almost 30 years, and having tended 6 different gardens, my husband and I have never planted bulbs before. So it was with great anticipation that we watched our front border, waiting patiently for the first signs of the daffodils that we planted just a few months ago. One week ago our patience was rewarded! Now, every time I look out of my front window, or pull on to my driveway, I smile with pride at my dancing daffodils. They bring me joy.
You and I are planted by God, with pride, and with a purpose. As we grow, He watches us with patience and with great anticipation. And as we bloom, He rejoices. Just like my daffodils, we are bringing Him joy.
Chris Tomlin: Take My Life & Let It Be

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Dresses

We decorated the cross with flowers
& put it outside after worship.
Yesterday morning I joined with my church family to celebrate Easter Sunday. Part of our celebrations involved decorating a cross with beautiful, sweet smelling flowers....daffodils, irises, tulips and roses  adorned the cross, and transformed it from a symbol of suffering to a symbol of hope. Sitting wide eyed and curious were two little girls that I had brought to worship that day. If you were part of our congregation yesterday morning, it would have been easy for you to spot Romana and Lucita...they were the only little girls not wearing pretty Easter dresses. Romana and Lucita do not own pretty dresses; they have never been on an Easter egg hunt; they have never been to church before; they have never seen a beautiful cross decorated with flowers; they have never been met by so much love...and they have never heard of a man called Jesus. Friends...this is the incredible opportunity that is before us to witness! When we bring a new child to our church, we are bringing them to Christ. Who will you bring this week?
Hillsong Kids: Let the Children Come

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sitting on Hope

Click on this photo to see the goose
hiding at Reeds Lake.
Yesterday, as my husband and I strolled along a boardwalk on the banks of Reeds Lake, we were met by a loud honking. A large goose was complaining about our company and warning us in no uncertain terms to stay away. Sure enough, as we stopped to investigate, we saw what he was protecting. Hiding in the trees, a female goose was perched on top of a beautiful round nest and as she moved, we saw that she was sitting on a large, cream colored egg. Its name was Hope.
For the next few weeks, that scene will be re-enacted down by the lake. With every new passer-by, that male goose will honk loudly while the female will dutifully sit on that egg named Hope. One day, her patience will be rewarded, she will have a beautiful little baby gosling and all her efforts will have been worth it.
Have you ever thought that as you serve in ministry, you are Jesus' Hope? You are His precious nest egg... guarded, protected and nurtured with unending patience, so that you can fulfill your purpose. If you can do that, then what He did for us at the cross will all have been worth it.
A Child's View of Easter

Monday, April 11, 2011

April Showers....

When I was a litle girl, I never understood the purpose of rain. To me, rain was always a nuisance and accomplished nothing more than dishevelled hair and soggy clothing. Of course growing up in England, rainy days were as perennial as the grass. Never did I dare to venture outdoors without my trusty umbrella.
And yet as I listen to the April rain bouncing off the skylights in our home, I am reminded that rain absolutely has a purpose. Rain will replenish and renew our brown grass. Rain will water and feed the bulbs that are hiding under the dark soil. Rain will wash away the dirt from our driveway. Most importantly, rain will be the source of life itself for those living in a dry land.
God's Word has a purpose too. As we share that Word with children, in some mysterious way, and usually in ways that we will never get to see, it will accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. Just like the rain, God's Word will replenish and renew, it will water and cleanse. Most importantly, it may be the source of life itself to a child living in a dry land.
As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and makng it bud and flourish....so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 9-11
God's Healing Rain: Michael W. Smith

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Inevitability of Spring...

The American Robin...
a sure sign of Spring.
The other day I went for a walk and despite the cool 37 degree temperature, it was a beautiful Michigan day! The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue. With every squirrel I passed and with every robin I heard, I sensed that a change was coming. I filled my lungs with the cold, crisp air and tasted spring. Even though there were still some pathetic mounds of snow unwilling to relinquish their place on the ground, even though the trees were still bleak and bare, even though the grass was not yet green...I know for sure that one day, spring will make her appearance. On that we can depend. Nothing can stop it. One day, the snow will be gone, the trees will be covered with leaves, flowers will bloom, the grass will be green....and spring will be here. Just like God's promises to us, these things will happen.
What promises has God made to you as you faithfully serve in ministry? Like the inevitabiliy of spring, one day, He will bring them to pass. On that we can depend.
Vivaldi: Spring

Monday, March 28, 2011

Without My Shoes

I recently had an interesting experience in church.....it was communion Sunday and the pastor encouraged us to think about the fact that we were standing on 'holy ground'. She invited us to take off our shoes as we came forward for communion. As I did so it was remarkable to me how the absence of my shoes made me feel.
Without my shoes I felt awkward, unsure and uncomfortable; my feet felt distinctly cold on the uncarpeted floor; my height was diminished and as a result, I felt less important and vulnerable. As I scrambed back to my seat and hurriedly replaced my shoes, I immediately felt more secure, more important, more safe, more relaxed.
But suppose I was meant to feel less important when I stood on that holy ground? Suppose instead of focusing on my own feelings and my own comfort, I was supposed instead to focus on Christ? Suppose as we serve in ministry, the times when we feel unsure, unimportant or uncomfortable are the times when Christ can work through us the most?
This week as we step into our classrooms, our ministry spaces, our playgrounds -wherever it may be that we meet with our children... let's put all our energy into focusing on Christ- because with or without our shoes, we are standing on holy ground.
Chris Tomlin: We Fall Down

Monday, March 21, 2011

Potholes

March in Michigan heralds the season of potholes! In fact, The Detroit Press last week labeled Michigan as 'pothole paradise'. No surprise then, to hear on the radio that MITA- Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association- have sponsored an online registry whereby Michigan drivers can report the location of potholes. In a period of just two weeks, there have been over 650 potholes reported on this statewide registry, along with photos and comments from drivers. However, although this information is useful, MITA is powerless to actually repair these potholes-
the problem lies with state legislators who need to allocate the necessary funding to fill them in. 
Potholes are always best avoided in our ministry- but if we do find one, how fortunate for us that we can report it to One who is all powerful, One who will already be at work to fill it in...
after all, He is mightier than MITA.
Power and might are in your hand. 2 Chronicles 20:6

Monday, March 14, 2011

For The World?

Beautiful Baby Xander
This week a beautiful baby boy was born and I became a grandma. What a precious gift! What a privilege! I held my first grandson; I watched him sleeping peacefully in my arms; I marveled at this miracle of new life and with a heart full of love, I looked at him and thought, 'I would not give this up for the world.'
2000 years ago, in much the same way, another beautiful baby boy was born. Another precious gift! Another privilege! Another miracle of new life! The only difference here was that when this little boy was born, with a heart full of love, God looked at Him and thought, 'I can give Him up for the world'. And that is just what He did. What a powerful reminder for me, and what a powerful message we bring....
for the world.
Mary Did You Know?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Followers...

It is so interesting to me that a little phrase, first used by Jesus over 2,000 years ago, has now become one of the most powerful phrases in social networking. Everywhere we turn, we are met with pleas to 'follow me'! 'Follow me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, follow me on my blog'. Even as you read this article, if you look to the right, you will see my own plea for you to 'become a follower'. When I first began my blog, I was so excited to check how many followers I had. Yet maybe what should really excite me is how many people would be inspired to follow me, or my example, when I have gone. And so I ask myself- who have I nurtured, mentored, encouraged or inspired to be as passionate about Children's Ministry as I am?
In this world of followers, ducklings follow ducks, people follow leaders, Christians follow Christ. Who will follow me? Who will follow you?