Monday, November 30, 2015

God is With Us - My Christmas Carol for You...

Hello! Today my "Christmas Carol" for you is the song, God is With Us from Casting Crowns. This is such a beautiful song and reminds us Jesus'; Emmanuel's, reason for coming was . . . to be with us! Just look at these lyrics;

It's Time to Think about Christmas - a Nativity Set for Each Child!

The first year my husband and I were married (thirty four years ago), he got me the Precious Moments Nativity Set. I love setting up my Nativity Set each year - this year we will set it up when my grandsons are here this coming weekend. We have a bay window in our living room, which is where we put our tree; I will set the Nativity Set in the window as well with the kings traveling across the living room to the Nativity, because I want the focus to be on the Reason for the Season.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

O Come All Ye Faithful - My Christmas Carol for You...

Image result for clipart angels  and shepherds in bethlehemHello! Today my "Christmas Carol" for you is the song, "O Come All Ye Faithful". If you are looking for a song which will cause you to worship and rejoice in the reason for Christmas . . . look no further, as this is the song! 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Born is the King - My Christmas Carol for You...

Hello! Today my "Christmas Carol" for you is the song, "Born is the King" by Hillsong! I love the lyrics; "Born unto us this day a Savior, Gifted from Heaven to a manger. The Hope of the world, a Light for all mankind. All of the Earth rejoice, it's Christmas time! So lift up your voice and sing out His praise, it's Christmas! Born is the King, rejoice in the day, it's Christmas! Make a joyful sound, it's Christmas! Let His praise resound, it's Christmas!"

Friday, November 27, 2015

If We Build It, They Will Come . . .

I saw an interesting - rather amazing - photo on facebook  . . . 
(This is the turnoff from Banff to the Trans-Canada Highway. Many stretches of this highway run through wilderness areas and they found vehicle/animal collisions increased, so they built "animal crossings" - fences with one-way gates, overpasses and underpasses, so animals could have a safe way to cross where their animal trails already were. This photo actually shows a bridge for the Canadian Pacific railway, but the elk found it provided a safe way for them to cross as well - as long as a train isn't headed for them!)

 This photo made me think . . . 

a Christmas Carol for You . . . Pass it On!

     A couple years ago I thought it might be fun to "go  caroling" to each of you, each day between now and Christmas, so, I posted a song each day for you to enjoy - my "Christmas Carol of the Day"! 

I was thinking about this the other day, and thought it might be fun to "carol" you all again this year and give a "challenge" to you all to join me by sharing the "carol" with the people you know! I think it would be lots of fun to fill facebook with "caroling" - what do you think?

My first song is from Casting Crowns - I Heard the Bells - based on a poem by Longfellow. During the Civil War, his oldest son joined the Union Army, against his wishes and was wounded in a battle. This poem was written in 1863 by Longfellow, as he thought about his son and the recent death of his wife, and was first set to music in 1872 (info I found on Wikipedia).

As you listen to this song you can hear a father's despair and grief and then the peace which comes from knowing, "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful for Confident Hope and Perfect Peace!

Happy Thanksgiving! I have so much to be thankful for, but one thing I'm most thankful for is because I know I can put my confident hope in God! "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope." Romans 15:13

As you think about your family and ministry, are you able to have confident hope in God? There are so many things to do and the world is certainly filled with uncertainty, but as you pause for Thanksgiving, keep the following in mind . . .

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 . . . 

How Do You Model Genuine Appreciation & How Do You Teach Children to Appreciate?

It is oh, so easy to take people for granted and worse, to end up taking advantage of
others. While I am sure none of use want to treat others in a "shabby" way, if we are not focused on genuinely treating others with appreciation, we may find we are not treating others as we should.

So, if it matters for us to be focused on genuinely appreciating others, what do you do to do this? Especially when it comes to genuinely appreciating volunteers, as they are people who often end up feeling like they were taken for granted and/or taken advantage of in our Children's Ministries. Consider the following ideas . . . 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Your Thanksgiving Inventory

Thanksgiving is next week . . . 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 busy-ness 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 . . .

Saturday, November 14, 2015

No More "Canned" Thank-Yous

Image result for clipart for canned thank youGenuine thankfulness is not something which can really be, "faked". Oh, yes, we can smile and say thank you when we are around volunteers, but genuine thankfulness is more than just a smile and words spoken (although smiling and speaking words are an important part of showing thankfulness). But, if our, "thankfulness" stops at smiling and speaking words, at best, our thankfulness is shallow. If we are genuinely thankful it shows in every part of what we say and do. Consider the following -

Friday, November 13, 2015

How Do You Help Children Learn to be Really Thankful?

While we like to think we are thankful people, most of us do not actually live like we are thankful. Oh, yes, we talk about being thankful; especially in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and when we pray we typically thank God for something, but are we truly thankful people? Consider the following questions . . . 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

True Effectiveness Requires Thankfulness - I'm Thankful for the Grace and Blessings God Gives!

When we think about thanking God, we often think about singing. There is good reason for this as a thankful heart is a happy heart and a happy heart often is one which sings! Look at Psalm 95:2 -
Let us come to him and give him thanks. Let us praise him with music and song. (NIrV)
Thankfulness and singing go together. One way for us to help the children in our ministries learn to be thankful, is to help them become people who sing praises to God. There are some really wonderful new songs being written today; songs which will "stand the test of time" and be songs future generations will continue to sing. But, there are songs which were written hundreds of years ago which have also stood the test of time; songs which speak to us today as they have spoken to believers for many, many years. As you think about the songs you teach the children in your ministry, don't forget some of the old "classics" as they can not only give children an opportunity to, "Praise Him with music and song", but they can also teach children truth.

Look at the lyrics for once such song which calls us to focus on God's blessings, mercy and grace; and are not these the things we do when we are being thankful? It is an old song (written in 1757), but definitely a good one!

Join the Fun - Special Month of Christmas Giveaways - Grandparent's Goodies Giftpack!

On my other blog, grandma's cookie jar, I'm busy giving away lots of things for
my annual Special Month of Christmas Giveaways (November)! Over the month of November I'm giving away 24 items . . . possibly a couple more as well!

Science, the Bible & Fun!My next giveaway is tomorrow, on November 13, 2015 . . . I'm giving away the Grandparent's Goodies Giftpack. (It Is Impossible to Spoil Grandchildren: and Other Important Facts for Grandparents and Parents, too!Deeper In 4 Grandparents & Parents, Too! Praying the Scriptures for the Children You Love - Old Testament Editioand Science, the Bible & Fun!)

You'll find my full review along with all the specifics for entering this giveaway at the following link. Please share this with the people you know and enter yourself as well . . . who knows??? Maybe you will win!!!  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

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

Thanksgiving is just two weeks from Thursday! 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 I'm thankful for the truth God forgives! 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 . . . 

Save on Manners That Matter for Moms!

Maralee McKee is a dear, sweet lady and I'm very happy to say she is a wonderful friend! I've had the joy of getting to know Maralee as I worked on a project for her and then remained friends . . . once you meet Maralee, how could you do anything other than remain friends???!!!

Well, Maralee is known as the, "Manner's Mentor" and wrote a book designed to help moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas learn all about manners . . . which is really all about learning to be, "you at your best" and teach the children they love to be the same. Maralee's book; "Manners that Matter For Moms" is available until 6am (EST) on November 13, 2015 at an amazing sale of 40 - 70% off . . . think Christmas gifts!!! Maralee describes it in the following way . . . 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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 coming up, 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 for which I'm thankful.

Yesterday I said I was thankful for God. Today I'm thankful for God's amazing mercy and grace which He so generously gives to me! A guest pastor from Australia spoke at my church about 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.

Monday, November 9, 2015

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 couple weeks away I thought it would be a good time to encourage us all to take time to always be thankful people. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Are We Actually Unthankful Children?

Thanksgiving is just a couple weeks away, so many of us are thinking about all the people and things we are thankful for. This is a good thing to do, but is it something we typically only do during the month of November? Oh, we likely say, "Thank You", to God in our prayers on a regular basis, but is this anything more than just words we say without really thinking about them, as we move on to asking God for more things?

Don't get me wrong; yes, we can, and should, ask God for things. He tells us throughout Scripture to bring our requests to Him. But, do we really spend anywhere near as much time genuinely thanking God as we do asking Him for things? Do we sound like unthankful children who always ask for more and who do not really stop to genuinely express our thanks?

God has showered His love, mercy, grace and goodness upon us; we have so much to thank Him for! I thank God for . . . 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

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 . . . 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Be Thankful! Let Your Life Show Thankfulness!

A couple days ago, I wrote about being thankful; I said, "Being thankful is more than just something we think about in November; it should characterize our lives every day!" I also said I was going to share some of the things I'm thankful for, so . . . while I could write all day about this, I'm going to share just a few of the many blessings for which I am thankful . . . 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Be Thankful - It's a Heart Attitude!

Yes, I know Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and so of course, we tend to think about being thankful this time of year, but being thankful is more than just something we think about in November; it should characterize our lives every day! In 1 Thessalonians 5 we read:

"16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

These verses are talking about a heart attitude; not just a focus for November each year. So, what are those attitudes which damage or diminish this heart attitude in us; particularly as we serve in children's ministry? Consider the following . . .