Saturday, November 30, 2013

Countdown-to-Christmas - The Christmas Project

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I greatly enjoyed celebrating with my family and keeping my three grandsons for a sleep-over! Yesterday was busy and filled with joy!

So, today, I am very happy to start my "Countdown-to-Christmas" where each day I'm delighted to share with you a Christmas song I enjoy! Today, I'm sharing a song from the new release - The Christmas Project from former lead singer of Petra (my all-time favorite group), John Schlitt! (Just a note on the "side", years ago when we lived in Redding, CA, my husband provided transportation and security for concerts - when Petra came to town, he took our five year old son with him to the concert - Petra was his favorite! After the concert our son rode in the van with his dad to take the band to their hotel. These guys were tired after a long day and concert, but the took time to not only answer a little boy's questions, but to engage him in conversation! This mom was touched and impressed and they have been my favorite band ever since. They not only sang songs with "spunk" and excellence, but they were genuinely nice people!)

The Christmas Project is described as: "Grammy and Dove Award winning vocalist John Schlitt, one of the most distinctive voices in Christian music, has never recorded a Christmas song--until now. Schlitt's The Christmas Project is slated to release digitally and through online retailers November 19, with a brick and mortar retail store release to follow in 2014. The full-length CD is comprised primarily of beloved traditional Christmas carols, but this doesn't mean The Christmas Project is all egg nog and holly. This album rocks with the unmistakable John Schlitt style which legions of fans have come to know and love."

The Christmas Project has ten songs - most are familiar and loved carols which you will be quick to join in and sing along - but be ready for some unique and special "touches" to these familar Christmas songs!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thankful or "Wantful"?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and today people are rushing to the stores for the "Black Friday Deals". People have turned their focus 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 . . . 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Be Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving! As we turn our focus to 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 and this 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?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Your Thanksgiving Inventory . . .

Thanksgiving is tomorrow . . . so today, this post about being thankful is for you and is for fun! Are we truly thankful people? Do we get so "caught up" in the business of life we don't spend time "taking inventory" of all  God's many, many blessings in our lives?  Take a moment to watch this skit about "Your Thanksgiving Inventory" from the skitguys - it is sure to bring a smile to your face . . .

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Surf's Up -!

logoIf you have not already discovered, I'm delighted to let you know about this excellent resource! KidzMatter is here it make an eternal impact and says, "KidzMatter partners with those who minister to kids and families in the church to make an eternal impact in the lives of those kids and families. We’re here to help you. We don’t care if you have been in the ministry for 50 years or 5 minutes. We have the tools and the know-how to help you reach kids and families. We’re all in this together."

Isn't this just what you are looking for?! And if this isn't enough, they make the following promises to you . . . 

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to say, Werner is the winner in my give-away of the book, A Faith of Their Own (you'll find the review at this link). Thank you Werner for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address so I can have your book sent to you) and thank you Beacon Hill Press for sending one for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Bible App for Kids - Download for FREE on Thanksgiving!

I'm very happy to let you know about a free app which you can download on Thanksgiving; November 28, 2013 . . . The Bible App for Kids! With this FREE app, you can help the children in your life discover God's Word through animated stories, games, challenges and more! And it is FREE!

In this day and age where children are so used to using computers and tablets, an app which allows them to get into and discover the treasures in God's Word is definitely one worth sharing with the children in your ministry and family . . . and, it is FREE!

I Have a Winner!

A Better December coverI'm happy to say, J is the winner in my give-away of the book, A Better December (you'll find the review at this link). Thank you J for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by December 2, 2013 so I can have your book sent to you) and thank you New Growth Press for sending one for me to review and for making another available for me to give away!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Some Thoughts About Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 . . .

Children's ministry matters because children matter. God gave very specific directions to parents and to His people in general about how important it was for them to love Him and then pass that love for Him to their children. I'm a grandma. There is nothing more important to me than to know my dear grandsons will grow to know and love God with their whole selves. When I look at the world around me it can be frightening as there are so many messages woven into nearly every aspect of life telling children they can believe in God or not and they can believe in anything they want because all religions are the same. Among my siblings I see the results of choosing to do whatever you want and accepting eastern religions over the truth of God's Word. It is heartbreaking. If I forget to look to God's Word I can feel anxious about the world my grandchildren will grow up in.

However; thank God, His Word gives us the blue-print to follow so we can raise our children to know and love Him! We need to know the Lord is our God and He is the One and Only God. As parents, grandparents and believers we need to teach our children, grandchildren and the children in our ministries despite what they hear from the world around them they do need to know the Lord is our God and He is the One and Only God. God goes on to tell us to be sure we love Him with our whole selves. If our children see we aren't serious about loving God with our whole selves, then why should they? We need to model what it looks like to live a life where God really does have first place in our life. Intentionally plan to model this in the coming year by involving your children in at least one service project.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Faithfulness is Essential for Effective Ministry

God is Faithful! He does what He says He will do and He does not quit! God is Faithful and I am so thankful He is! Just look at these verses which talk about our amazing, faithful God . . . 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Special Short Story by Steve Estes: Coleen's Story

Earlier this week I posted my review of A Better December, and announced a give-away of
this book (see it at this link). I also shared a special short story written by the author, Steve Estes, which you will only find on About the Children's Department. Unfortunately, my link wasn't working - my husband who works in IT fixed it for me, but I decided to go ahead and also post the story here . . . enjoy!

Cultivate and Model a Heart of Thankfulness!

Every year in November we talk about and focus on Thanksgiving; for good reason, but this year make the commitment to modeling and encouraging a heart of thankfulness all year long! Consider the following . . . 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's Christmas; a Christmas Family Experience - I'm Giving One Away!

While your thoughts may be on the many blessings God has lavished on you (and He does lavish many, many blessings, big and small on us all the time) and you may be looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner with your family and/or friends, Christmas is really just a little over a month away. If you are looking for a resource which you can use in your ministry to help families celebrate on Christmas Eve; take a look at this Family Christmas Experience from NextGen4Christ . . . and stay tuned after the review, because I'm giving one away!

Do You Know How History, Community & Culture Impact Your Children's Ministry?

Too often we tend to think children's ministry is just comprised of churches and children, which, technically, it is; but our churches . . . and our children . . . are not identical.  Our communities are different.  Our people are different.  Our histories are different.  Our cultures are different.What works in one church, may or may not work in another.  And, while there are components which are essential for every children’s ministry to be effective, there is no “secret recipe” where if you are certain to include each ingredient, you will be guaranteed an effective children’s ministry.  
So, what do you do to help your church’s children’s ministry be as effective as possible?  Well, while we can’t all follow the exact, same recipe, use the exact same cookie-cutter and expect our ministries to all be successful, we can discover our own unique "recipe" tailored to "fit" our unique community and people and then set about to implement our own, uniquely effective ministry which impacts the children and families in our own church and community!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

True Effectiveness Requires Thankfulness - I'm Thankful God Hears & Answers Prayer!

Thanksgiving is just a week from tomorrow! I've been writing this week about being thankful because I fully believe we can not be genuinely effective in our ministries if we are not thankful people. If we are not thankful to God, how can we help the children and families in our ministries learn to be people who are thankful and who praise God for His incredible grace and goodness which He lavishes upon us?

I've said I was thankful for God and shared the song, Life of Praise by Casting Crowns, and I'm thankful for the truth God forgives and shared one of my favorite songs; Before the Throne of God Above by Go Fish! Today, I'm thankful our God hears and answers our prayers! 

Just stop and think about this for a moment. Our God; the Creator of the universe, hears us when we pray! We all have had the experience of having a person not listen to us because they were too busy, or just didn't care to listen. If anyone is certainly busy, it has to be God, yet, He hears us when we pray and answers our prayers! Look at these verses . . . 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Theo: God's Heart DVD Review - and Give-Away!

God's Heart (Volume 3) Home Edition - DVDWe want children to come to know God, understand His Word and grow to love and walk with Him throughout their lives; this is why we serve in children's ministry. We can plan effective ministry at church, choose the curriculum which is our best "fit", plan special events which will engage children and help them learn and live God's Word, but, even with all these things, we really only have children in our ministries a few hours a week. This is why along with doing all these things, we also need to equip parents so they are able to do as Deuteronomy 6 says and teach their children in their day-in-day-out lives.

Part of doing this involves providing resources for families to use at home. This can be a challenge because, while there is no shortage of resources for families to use at home, the ones which are available are not all well written and designed to engage families and help them really learn to know God, understand His Word and grow to love and walk with Him throughout their lives. Happily a resource which does these things is available; Theo Presents Home Edition!

I was recently invited to share a new Theo Presents DVD with you; one copy was sent to me for free to review and an additional copy is available for me to give away! I am so delighted to share this with you!

I Have a Winner!

I'm happy to say, Marc Daniel Rivera is the winner in my Planetshakers Kids Nothing Is Impossible CD/DVD give-away (you'll find the review at this link). Thank you Marc for reading About the Children's Department (please message me your address by November 16, 2013 so I can have it sent to you) and thank you Integrity for making a copy avaialble for me to review and another for me to give away!

Monday, November 18, 2013

True Effectiveness Requires Thankfulness - I'm Thankful for God's Grace & Forgiveness!

Yesterday I said, "I firmly believe if we are going to be effective in our ministries to the children and families in our churches and communities, we have to be people who know and walk with God. Knowing and walking with God involves several things, but one is being thankful. We have so very much to be thankful for, but far too often our lives do not look like the lives of people who are thankful." With Thanksgiving just a week and a half away I thought it would be a good time to encourage us all to take time to always be thankful people; each day until Thanksgiving I'm going to share something I'm thankful for and a song which expresses thankfulness to God.

Yesterday I said I was thankful for God and shared the song, Life of Praise by Casting Crowns. Today I'm thankful for God's amazing mercy and grace which He so generously gives to me! In church yesterday we were able to listen to a guest pastor from Australia. He spoke of how Jesus said He came to call sinners. He said, "Jesus called 'dodgie' people and ate with them,  because a sick person needs a doctor. (Matthew 9)" When we get saved, it is all too easy for us to judge others, but, "grace means loathing legalism and living grace means loving others". I needed; and continue to need every day, Gods great grace.

A Better December - A Give-Away & A Special Short Story from Steve Estes!

A Better December coverAs of this writing, I mostly work from my home. I get up each morning and fix breakfast for my husband then pack his lunch. We chat a bit and he goes to work. Then I get to work checking my email; responding to any which need immediate attention, and then write my posts for the day for this blog and grandma's cookie jar. From there I work on writing, cleaning, laundry, and at this time of year, I also work on projects for family for Christmas (I've made Perry the Platypus hats for my grandsons - and their parents :-) - and Minion hats and am now working on blankets!)

However; on Wednesdays this schedule is very different. I go with my husband to work, drop him off and take the car to pick up my grandson Josiah and drive him to school. Then I return home to do my writing. At 12:30 I go and pick him up (sometimes we go get his younger brother Caleb) and then we hang out and do special things . . . such as visit a candy store, or go to a bakery for a cookie and cocoa or a pet store to get a surprise for their new puppy! When it is time we pick up Poppa from work, get some supper and then take Josiah to Kids 'n Action (the mid-week children's ministry at my church). It is a busy, but very fun day for this grandma to spend time with my sweet grandsons!

On Wednesdays I spend time in the car so I listen to the radio. I'm already hearing "debate" as to if it is too early to decorate for Christmas, begin Christmas shopping and hear Christmas songs on the radio! There is a "debate" about these things because some people think it is too early for Christmas and others are ready for it.

Whether you think it is too early, or are ready to begin celebrating, you will identify, enjoy and be challenged by a new book by Steven Estes which I'm delighted to share with you today: and announce a give-away as well! A Better December takes us all somewhere we may not have ventured previously in December; the Book of Proverbs.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

True Effectiveness Requires Thankfulness - I'm Thankful for God!

I firmly believe if we are going to be effective in our ministries to the children and families in our churches and communities, we have to be people who know and walk with God. Knowing and walking with God involves several things, but one is being thankful. 

We have so very much to be thankful for, but far too often our lives do not look like the lives of people who are thankful. With Thanksgiving just a week and a half away I thought it would be a good time to encourage us all to take time to always be thankful people. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Busy Time of Year . . . and My 2014 VBS Reviews are Only a Month and a Half Away!

What are you thinking about and planning for today? Is it the children's service and classes tomorrow? Are you thinking about your Thanksgiving dinner; counting the number of people who will be there, determining how much food you will need, planning the recipes, figuring out when to put the turkey in the refrigerator to thaw? Have your thoughts gone to Christmas: when to put up the tree, wondering if you need new or more lights this year, thinking through your gift list, planning any get-togethers and parties you will be hosting and/or attending? Are you double-checking your to-do list for the holidays and your children's ministry? Any special events, choir rehersals, parties, the Christmas lesson? There are so mny things to think about and plan for this time of year for sure!

Well, my answer is yes! I'm thinking about many of these things and Vacation Bible School! VBS, you ask? Why would I be thinking about VBS? Well, the answer is because the UPS driver should be delivering many 2014 VBS kits to my house over the next few weeks! Along with all the aforementioned things, I also review VBS and get ready for my month of VBS reviews; January!