Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What is Your Ministry Really Like?

Okay, we all want to believe our church and children's ministries are places where people are affirmed, cared for, supported, encouraged and loved, but are you sure this is really the case? It is oh so easy for us to be so "caught up" in the ministry and all we do each week, we end up missing when there are people who "fall through the cracks".

Consider the following . . . 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Five Years! Thank You For Reading About the Children's Department!

I've been writing About the Children's Department for five years. In these years I've reviewed a lot of curriculum, posted about keeping our ministries safe, shared other Children's Ministry sites where you will find information and resources to help you, reviewed other resources, shared my thoughts on recruiting and on supporting and encouraging volunteers. I have had quite a bit to say about Children's Ministry!

I have also been blessed for the opportunities to get to know some of you on-line - it has been a joy! So, today while I want to look forward to the coming year, first of all, I want to thank you for reading my blog! I sincerely appreciate you all!

So, what does 2016 bring for About the Children's Department? Well . . . 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Excellent, Free Resource to Help Families Focus on Jesus this Christmas!

Recently I received an email about a resource for families, which, when I checked it out, I was so impressed, I knew I had to share it with you!

We all know how hectic Christmas time can be - especially for families . . . all the "regular" things for them to do, plus Christmas programs and concerts, parties, get-togethers, shopping, vacation from school . . . and the list goes on. Getting families to take time during this time to slow down and focus on what is truly important about Christmas - celebrating Jesus, can be a huge challenge.

But, I'm very happy to say, Crossroads Kids' Club, the kids' ministry at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, has a resource which will help families do exactly this . . . and this resource is one which takes just a few minutes a day and it is free! Crossroads Kids describes it in the following way; "Beginning December 1st, we have a free online Advent experience with daily verses, music or videos and activities for families. The goal of each day is to help families (1) focus on Jesus and (2) have fun together. Here's how the experience works: families visit each day, where they'll find a new entry. They can even sign up for reminder emails or texts. This resource will help families create daily patterns of worshiping and playing together."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Five Years & What It Is All About!

About the Children's DepartmentIn just two days I'll be celebrating the fifth "birthday/anniversary" of About the Children's Department! Yes, I've been writing this blog for almost five years! First of all, I want to thank all of you who take time out of your day to read what I write; thank you! I also want to thank you for taking time to comment and share your thoughts and experiences as well; I love to hear from you!

I thought it would be fun to go back and see what my first post was - I wrote about why children's ministry mattered to me and why I was writing About the Children's Department. After five years my reasons are still the same, so I'm sharing my first post with you again today . . .

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Thanksgiving Caution

Image result for clipart for thanksgiving cautionYou are likely similar to me; planning to enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving with family . . . and likely a tasty turkey. And, like me, you are likely to be able to point to a list of things for which you are thankful . . . whether you have much or not so much, you likely understand being thankful is not really about the number of "things" we have or the size of our bank account.

But, with all your celebrating and with all the talk at your church and in your Children's Ministry about being thankful, remember there are those who may not have a lot to be thankful for. Family, and meals with family, may not be times which bring them joy. Their families may not even be near, so Thanksgiving is just another time to miss people you love and feel lonely. There may not be a turkey dinner in their plans for Thursday. Thanksgiving may not be a time for celebrating. It may be a time to feel more acutely alone and in need.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thankful Challenge

I have as of late, become more focused on all the many ways God blesses me - big and small. He has been so generous to me! I have a family who I love with all my heart! I have opportunities to serve in ministry which I care very much about! I have His Word! He hears and answers my prayer!

These are just a few of God's many blessings. As I thought about them, I realized, I really have everything I need. No, I do not live in a huge, new, fancy house - my house is a small farmhouse which was actually built by my grandparents in the 1920's; my dad was born in this house and only my family has ever lived here! 

We have one car - and it is a used car (nice, but not new). I have a closet with more than enough clothes. I am not cold in the winter, because I have warm clothes to wear and a house with a furnace which works well. I have running water (since I live in the country, we have our own well) and no shortage of water. I have food in my freezer, refrigerator and pantry.

God has blessed me and I am very thankful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful or Wantful?

One week from today is Thanksgiving and a week from tomorrow people will be rushing to the stores for the "Black Friday Deals; unless, like me, they have been watching for the "pre-black-Friday deals" and already have most of their shopping completed. People are very quick to turn their focus from all they are thankful "for", to the things they "want" . . . and this includes the children in our ministries as they think about the things they want to receive for Christmas. 

It seems like there is so little focus given to being thankful, and while we might be quick to encourage children and families to take time to be truly thankful rather than focus on the things they want, how often do we actually do this ourselves? Consider the following . . . 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Be Truly Thankful!

One week from tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so as we focus on being thankful, I want to take a moment to encourage us all to be intentional about being thankful all year . . . not just in November. I've been talking with my grandsons about being thankful people. I tell them we love to be people who are thankful and encourage them to look for reasons to be thankful to others and to God. If the habit - or "mind-set" of being thankful is one which is encouraged and celebrated from the youngest ages, I believe it is one which will become a part of who we are!

While being thankful is part of having good manners, I think it is more than a manners "issue". Being thankful goes to the heart of who we are. It can be far too easy to be a person who just takes advantage of the kindness of others; which is something people who serve in churches need to be on guard for. We have people who volunteer their time, abilities and gifts to serve in our Children's Ministries. These people give and give and give - and we happily take what they give. Do we truly stop to let them know how very much we appreciate them and what they do? Or, do we take them for granted?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Biblical Response - Pray - Show Mercy - Be a Good Neighbor

The events in Paris this past Friday have certainly captured the attention of all of us. Our hearts and prayers go out to the people who had someone they love taken from them in this act of hate and evil. We wonder if it might happen here.

Yesterday I wrote about our, "response" to Paris. I said; "The truth is, there is evil in this world. When it shows up in such a violent way and brings such grief to so many, it is frightening. But, thankfully, we do not have to be afraid. God is our God and we can trust Him. He is the One who we can run to for safety. We can call out to Him and know He will answer because He loves us.

This does not mean we will never experience grief, but when we do, we do not have to do so alone. God is with us. He will not leave us and this gives us security and peace and is the message for our grandchildren/children and our response to Paris." and I shared a prayer from Psalm 91 for ourselves and for the children we love.

I've noticed on Facebook an increase in the posts and photos which call for us to refuse help to those who are fleeing the Middle Eastern countries. Let me say, I understand the idea if we want to keep what happened in Paris from happening here, we need to keep hate-filled, evil people out of our country. I think it would be irresponsible to just, "fling open the 'doors' and let anyone 'waltz' into our country", but I do also think it is a response of fear and yes, even evil and hate, to close our hearts to those people in need of our help. Biblically, they are our neighbors. There is no "godly" response which allows us to turn our backs on our neighbors who are in such great need.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Response to Paris

Image result for clipart for Psalms 91There is no way any of us could not have heard about the recent tragedy in Paris. When I heard about it, I felt frightened; what if terrorists come here? I thought about my family and felt deep grief for those in Paris and around the world who are now grieving the loss of family and friends. To lose someone you love in such a violent, hate-filled way just shows there is evil in this world. 

However; as I worked on completing my new book - Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Psalms Edition, God brought me to Psalms 91. It spoke to my heart, so I'm sharing it with you today. 

As you talk with your grandchildren/children about Paris, or other times when evil confronts us all, point them to Psalms 91 and make this your prayer . . .