Monday, April 14, 2014

Meet Mrs. Gray- A New Adventure

Today, I launched my new blog
Confessions of a Newlywed

For a sneak peek at our wedding and to see how I feel about being Mrs. Gray be sure to hop on over! 

I'll be back later here tomorrow sharing my favorite ideas for Easter Sunday! 

Lots of love! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Breaking My Blog Silence

Today, I am breaking my blog silence.  

First of all, I am so thankful to those who have been checking in daily to see what is going on with #KidsMin Calling!  I've logged in and seen your visits and have been so appreciative.  The last day that I wrote was February 4th and since then #KidsMin Calling has been silent.  As I write tonight (Monday) Kari Jobe is streaming through my speakers and I am praying for Jesus' grace to abound deep within me.  

Today, what I write is the most personal thing I've ever shared on my blog. 

It has been over a month and a half since I resigned my full-time position as a #KidsMin.  I completed my six weeks notice a week and a half ago and have spent the last week and change unemployed for the first time since I was in high school.  

Why?  Many of you know of my upcoming marriage (on April 5th!) to the true love of my life.  When we were engaged on December 27, 2013 we committed to spending the next month in prayer and fasting as we searched for God's will and plan for our life together.  We were both open to moving and genuinely wanted God's best for our life.  Surprisingly to us, it was after much prayer, that we realized the Lord was calling us both away from the places that we called home and was sending us to a completely different area. 

I believe that it was Wednesday, January 29th that the decision was officially made for us to move and the decision was made for me to resign my position.  Talk about mixed emotions!  My heart was beyond joyful and excited to begin this new life with my future husband.  My heart was also grieved and heart broken over the thought of leaving the precious little one's who I had come to know and love as if they were my own.  Turning in my letter of resignation was quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life.  I agonized over every word and stayed up most of the night crying silent tears and rewriting and rewording just praying for the Lord's grace.  

And grace it did abound... 

"The past two years have brought more joy and fulfillment to my life than I could have ever dreamed.  I have strived to every day make a difference in the life of every child, and it is with great joy that I have seen many children to come to know Jesus as their best friend.  I have invested all that I am into reaching this generation for Jesus and I have felt God's love and grace every step of the way."  

As I wrote I truly did feel God's grace.  I also felt humbled. 

Of all of the applicants, of all of those who applied, this church saw something in me.  The new college graduate with no experience, and a heart exploding with passion and love for God's people.  

I've never been a 50% girl.  
I've never been able to give just part of myself. 
I give it all. 
1,000 % every time. 

When Jesus says jump, I don't ask how high.
I throw my body into it with all that I can and try to reach for the stars.

I've been silent because I've been processing. 
I've been working through the ups and downs of emotions. 
I've been praying that the Lord would give me the words to write. 
I've been praying for grace. 

Here I am, one week and two days after saying good bye. 
I'm all in again.  
This day, I'm giving 1,000 % again to my future husband (in 10 days). 

I am learning of trust. 
I am learning of hope.
I am learning of love. 
I am learning of grace. 

I am learning that while I may not be a #KidsMin in title, that I will always have a heart for the Lord's children in my spirit.  I'm excited to see the ways that the Lord will use my dreams and the dreams of my future husband's to make a difference in this world.  

Today, I will share my heart. 

Tomorrow... that will take care of itself. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Juggling

Is it seriously February 4th?  Wedding planning is taking over my life!  I am 60 days away from my happily ever after and I am a busy bee.  Between my usual work and #KidsMin responsibilities and planning a wedding in three months I have wavered between extreme excitement and extreme feelings of being overwhelmed.  I'm thankful for a loving fiance' who helps calm me down when I get too worked up, and for loving friends and family who are pitching in to make our wedding a special day.  The fiance' and I have been together for one year (Officially!).  I'm so thankful for God's perfect timing in bringing us together. 

On a completely unrelated note I have met 8% of my blog goal for 2014 with having published 15 out of 182 posts in January!  Only 167 to go!  

Now, back to #KidsMin from A to Z!  I hope that you all have enjoyed this series as much as I have enjoyed writing it!  Here is what we have looked at already!  It's so fun to see this list getting longer and longer! 

I may only be one person, but I can be one person who makes a difference.  

I wrote a post back in November about ways that i keep the balance in my life.  (Visit here to see the entire post)  At the time that I write it I was juggling so many things that I felt like a circus performer, and to keep it totally real I was struggling to keep all of those balls in the air.  For a period of almost a month I crawled into bed every night at midnight or later and woke up at 6:30 AM exhausted physically and emotionally!  It was tough!

The question that I get asked most often in life is, "How do you do it?"  
While I don't have all the answers, I do have things that help me.  

And let's face it, there is a lot of juggling that comes with #KidsMin.  In my opinion it is the biggest and most diverse ministry in any church.  

Here are my areas of responsibility as it relates to kids: 
Sunday School
K-3rd Kids Church
Preschool Kids Church
Summer Outreach
Summer Events

That is a big list (and I'm sure there are other things that I'm not thinking about)!  Kids are different in that you can't just stick babies-6th graders in one big room and preach one big sermon.  But, we are just one person so how do we juggle all of these different ministries without something winding up on the floor.  Let's face it, we never want to be the person who "drops the ball" in ministry.  We want to be the person who has it all together.  

One way I do this is by delegating.  While I am in charge of every ministry I don't have to be in control of it.  For example, I have a nursery coordinator who coordinates our nursery.  I am available to help with various issues, and to problem solve as needed, but for the most part I just peek my head in every morning to thank my volunteers for serving and move along.  I have people who help coordinate VBS.  I am not the lead teacher for our Children's Church.  Why?  Simply because I cannot be everywhere at once.  Do I teach?  Absolutely, but I don't lead teach every week simply because I can't.  

I've learned to let my volunteers take ownership of their classes.  They know that i am always available should they need me, but I give them opportunities to serve.  I want them to experience the same joy and excitement that I do from #KidsMin.  I try to be as aware as possible what is going on and what my kids are learning by having my teachers submit their lessons to me via e-mail.  

If I sense that one area of ministry is in trouble or is struggling then I will take a couple of days and focus all of my energy on that one ministry.  I'll get it built back up, and then just help maintain it.  When it's time for VBS most of my other ministries get put on the back burner so to speak and I give a lot of time to VBS.  The biggest thing that I've had to learn is that it's about priorities!  

I am but one person with two arms and two legs.  I can only be one place at a time, but I can be one person who does everything that I can to make a difference.  

This is a topic that I want to hear from you on!

How do you juggle all of your ministries?  Do you have any tips for us? 
Leave them in the comments!  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day 2014

Snow!  Yes, that's right... yesterday we had one to two inches of white winter goodness fall in my corner of the world.  Today, I'll be doing all of my favorite snow activities.  I'll be drinking hot chocolate, eating cereal (the snow meal of champions), and laying around watching Gilmore Girls and catching up on my DVR!  Oh, I'll also be eating my last little bit of snow cream!  

Sweet Snow Bliss! 

Happy Snow Day!

P.S. If you are looking for ideas to keep your little one's busy check out Miss Mary's list of Top 10 ideas for cold weather fun!  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Ice Cream

I Scream!  You Scream!  We all scream for... Snow? 

That's right folks.  My literal corner of the world is currently estimated to get 3 inches of snow over the next 24 hours.  I'm a little bit partially still in disbelief, partially dreading it, and partially excited about the idea of hibernating with a good book and my wedding plans.  Who else is getting snow?  If you're getting ready to be home bound with some little one's check out my list of top 10 ideas for cold-weather fun

And ironically... the day that the snow is supposed to start falling my letter for today is I! 

That's right... on one of the coldest days of the year, right before the Snow hibernation of 2014 I'm talking about Ice Cream!  I'm telling you that #KidsMin has some of the best perks of any job ever!  (I'm sorry for shouting I just get so excited!)  What other job do you get to have snacks on a daily basis and one of my favorite snacks to give my little one's is Ice Cream! 

Who gets snacks on a regular basis?
Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers
This age group receives a snack at every class.  Our nurseries are always stocked with a big supply of goldfish and animal crackers and they receive a small handful at every service.  They are growing and they need that little extra nourishment before they go home for lunch or dinner.  

And Miss Mary... I also get snacks.  I can not count the number of Sundays that I've rushed out of the house without breakfast and ended up sneaking into the nursery for some goldfish to get me through the morning.  Can I get an 'Amen' or an 'I'm With You' from my fellow #KidsMin?  

All of my other snacks are done on a spontaneous basis.  My kids don't expect them at every class, but they love it when they are brought as a surprise.  I like to surprise my 3rd-5th graders with donuts on Sunday mornings for Connections.  I like to surprise my Kindergartners with the random cookie or pudding pack.  During those long summer months I'll bring ice cream treats and during these epically cold winters I bring hot chocolate with marshmallows (I add ice to the cup so there is no chance of burning!

Here are a few rules that I always follow when it comes to snacks!

I have a very strict NO PEANUT policy in my #KidsMin.  Peanut allergies are too highly common and they are very serious.  If you serve items with nuts please use extreme caution!

I know what my kids are allergic too and I simply don't serve it.  

I serve sweets in moderation.  I can't pass out ice cream and chocolate candy in the same service.  I want to be liked by my parents.  

If I'm serving something unusual I place a sign at check-in and ask parents to inform volunteers if they have any objection to what we are serving that day.  Here's an example of one that I used over the summer. 

Don't be afraid to enforce an object lesson with a creative snack.  And those holidays we talked about yesterday, snacks go great with those too.  

Snacks are fun so don't be afraid to mix it up and surprise your little one with an extra special treat!  For some fun and unique snack ideas feel free to visit my Tasty Treats Pinterest board here!  

Tomorrow I'm talking about Juggling and how I manage to get it all done.  

Monday, January 27, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Holidays

Hello, Friends!  I have missed you all.  
Here is the truth... Work and wedding planning has literally taken over my life.
Literally when I am not working I'm sitting with my laptop in my lap researching wedding info.  
Everyone wants answers about every decision right then. 
As a result, my blogging has been pretty spotty.  But, I'm determined to reach my goal of 182 blog posts this year and I with this post (#13) I am 7% of the way there.  Not bad.  

Today I'm covering the letter H in my #KidsMin from A to Z series! 

I absolutely adore holidays!  I think it comes from growing up with a mom who did everything that she could to make holidays be something that was treasured.  Whether it was Christmas or Valentine's Day she always had something up her sleeve to make it special for us.  And let's not forget that this was all before Pinterest.  She had to come up with her ideas on her own.

How do I incorporate holidays into my #KidsMin?  Sometimes it is in the simplest of ways!  The Sunday after Valentine's day I host a Valentine's day party for my connections classes.  We read a book talking about God's love, eat tasty donuts, and I give out Valentine's to everyone.  I host a Christmas party for my kids every year on the last Wednesday night of the year.  

The biggest holidays for us are obviously Christmas & Easter.  It's very important to me that I make the celebrations for these as big as possible.  Why?  Because I want for my kids to truly celebrate the birth, death, and life of the Savior of our world!  If it takes an Easter egg hunt to remind kids that Jesus is their Savior then let's do it. 

Another reason that I love to celebrate holidays is because we tend to have a lot of visitors during those times.  More people come to church on Christmas and Easter than they do at any other time!  If that doesn't make us want to put our best foot forward, I don't know what will.  Holidays are a great time for outreach.  Figure out a way that you can draw people into your church and make it fun and exciting for their kids.  Parents will go where their kids are happy and where they know that their kids are loved and cared for.  Sometimes all it takes to make that happen is a Valentine's from their favorite #KidsMin volunteer.  Or maybe you hand out goody bags at Christmas.  Who knows?  That might be the only gift your little one's receive. 

I also love to coordinate my lessons with holidays.  It not only gives the kids something new and different a couple of Sundays out of the year, but it's also great for when you need to catch up or you are ahead of your normal lessons.  The great news is that there are literally tons of resources online to find lessons related to a holiday.  Literally all that you have to do is web search for the holiday and kids ministry lesson and you will see tons of options.  

For some great ideas on how to celebrate Holidays be sure to visit and follow my Pinterest boards here.  

Tomorrow I'll be back talking about Ice Cream!  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#KidsMin from A to Z: Games

Did anyone else enjoy their 3 day weekend?  Can I also just say that I love that Friday is our staff off day leaving me with essentially a 4 day weekend!  Can I get a Hallelujah!  What did I do over the weekend?  I soaked up all the love that I can get!  I was surrounded by my family that loves me and I soaked it up like water.  I also watched movies on Monday.  Lots and lots of movies.  And did wedding planning.  Lots and lots of wedding planning!

Speaking of wedding planning... Guess which girl found her dress over the weekend?  
This girl did!  And on the 3rd try too!  Thank you Lord for favor! 

Today, I've got a short but fun post for #KidsMin from A to Z! 

Here's a recap of what we have done so far:

I'm not sure who has more fun with #KidsMin my little one's or Miss Mary!  I LOVE to play games!  No seriously, I love to play games.  One of my favorite things to do on AWANA nights are to rock out during the scooter races.  I'm not even kidding.  So, how do we do game time and when do we play games. 

Let me just throw this out there: I'm so ready for the polar vortex to be over so that we can go outside again!  Anyone else with me?  We do lots of organized games with our little one's!  They love AWANA game time first of all!  Some of their other favorites include: dodge ball, Simon Say's, musical chairs, etc... They love the classics!  

I love to play games with my kids because I want them to see that Miss Mary doesn't just get on to them all the time.  I want them to see that Miss Mary loves them and wants to have fun with them.  I push kids on the swing set, I participate in dodge ball, I throw the bean bags if they want me to.  I keep our games simple with instructions that are easy to follow.  

When I need a game to match one of my lessons I pop on Pinterest and find lots of cute and easy to assemble ideas!  I try to switch it up and teach them one new game every month.  For some game ideas feel free to visit my Pinterest board here

See you tomorrow where I'm covering one of my favorites!  Holidays! 

Happy Tuesday!