Monday, September 30, 2013

Reduce -> Reuse -> Recycle

Reduce -> Reuse -> Recycle

It's not just something that we learned in 3rd grade.
When I entered into a life of full time #kidsmin I had no idea what I was getting into.

Here's one thing that I've noticed about #kidsmin over the last 18 months.
It's one of the few ministries in a church that has ministries within a ministry.  It's not just #kidsmin.  It's Wednesday night services, Sunday morning nursery, Children's Church, Sunday school classes.  It's all of these ministries combined into one.

What does this mean?  This means that if you serve as the #kidsmin director that you have a lot of responsibilities and a lot of ministries to plan for.  For example:  I plan theme nights for my Wednesday night program, fun activities for my pre-teens, special events for Easter and Halloween, themed mornings for my Sunday school classes once every so often, summer outreaches, and VBS!  Wow!  I got tired just thinking about all of that.

I'm not going to lie the first year on the job was hard!  Creating all of my own ideas from scratch seemed like an insurmountable task.  It seemed like I had no sooner planned for one event than I had 4 more waiting for me.  However, now that I'm in my 2nd year of ministry things are so much easier (Notice I didn't say easy... I said easier.)  Why are things getting easier?  Things are getting easier because I have so many ideas and events already put down on paper.  I am a big fan of reusing ideas, materials, curriculum, etc... Just because you've used something once doesn't mean you can't use it again.

Here are my top 5 tips on how to best reduce -> reuse -> recycle your ideas for your #kidsmin.

1) After every event make sure you have a debrief. 
Make sure that you take the time after every event to talk about what worked and what didn't work.  Grab a pen/pencil and a notepad, or create a new document on your computer.  Write down what worked and what didn't work.  Make notes on what your numbers were like, how your supplies held out, etc...  When it comes time for you to plan this same event next year you will know where you need to make changes.  You will know what your budget looked like, if you need to buy more or less supplies, and what areas you need to make improvements in.

2) Make changes to your game plan every year. 
No event or ministry is perfect.  They just aren't.  Our ministries and events aren't perfect because they are planned and overseen by flawed individuals.  Always be willing to objectively look at your ministries and events and make changes where they might be needed.  Does this mean that you should completely re-invent your event?  No!  Absolutely not!  The trick is to avoid doing that.  This means that you should make changes where they are needed.  Maybe you need to work on your registration, or maybe that pumpkin game didn't work out so well at your fall festival.  Whatever it is, always be willing to find an area to improve and improve it for the next year.

3) Make sure you properly store your supplies for every event. 
What do I mean by properly store your supplies?  I mean to take the time after every event to put all of your supplies in storage containers with a label on them.  I'm currently in the middle of planning my Fall Festival this year and I am so excited about it because I have 2 beautiful boxes sitting in my resource room with a label on them that says fall festival.  I know that in that box I will have all of my decorations, themed games, registration supplies, and many other things.  At the end of the summer last year I put all of my summer supplies that I knew we wouldn't be using into a storage container.  This year, when it came time for my first summer event I was able to go straight to that box and gather all of the supplies that I needed.  Not only will this help with your budget, but it will also help with your sanity.  You won't have to wonder around looking for everything, and you won't have to run to 20 different stores for every event.

4) Create a resource room. 
This is absolutely essential.  If you don't have the space for a room find a corner in your building, a closet, or a small space in your office that you can designate as a supply area.  Again, this will save your sanity I promise.  I created a beautiful resource room for my church within my first 6 months of working there and it has been one of the best things I've ever done.  When volunteers need basic supplies like crayons, markers, or glue they know right where to look.  When I need things from past events I know where those storage containers are.  I no longer have to buy crayons every time kids want to color, and I don't have to spend an hour or more looking for things that I just can't remember where I put them.

5) Save almost everything.  
I'm not a fan of hoarding, and I'm not a fan of keeping things that I know I will never use again.  If you know that you aren't going to ever use it again then there's no use cluttering up your resource room.  If you think that there is a more than 65% chance that you will use it again than I say keep it.  I'm not just talking about supplies here either.  Make sure you save your templates and computer files as well.  I have file folders with documents neatly organized from each event and when it's time to come back to that event I'm able to open the old documents and see what I did last year.  Don't be afraid to throw away, but don't be afraid to keep either.

What are some ways that you help reduce -> reuse -> and recycle your ideas and supplies?

One thing I love about blogging is that it is a great way to spread ideas so leave your thoughts in the comments.

Today, is the 1st day to enter my October giveaway for 2 awesome resources!
You must be a resident of the USA to enter for shipping purposes.
The winners will be announced Saturday, October 5th!

Come back daily for more chances to enter.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dream Jobs


Today, I'm joining in on this week's Sunday Social.

Sunday Social

What is your dream job?
Believe it or not, I'm living my dream job.  
I have no greater joy than to teach little one's about Jesus. 
There is nothing better for me in the entire world. 


If you had just won the lottery and didn't need to work for money, what would you do with your time?
I'd teach little one's about Jesus while travelling all over the world. 
Being in missions is very costly, but it's something that I have such a heart and passion for. 
If I had all the money in the world I would travel in Africa & Asia and start my own relief foundation. 

My sweetheart actually took this when we were in Africa over 2 years ago before he was my sweetheart.  
Who knew he had his eye on me even then? 



What piece of career advice would you give to someone just starting out in your field?
It may be #KidsMin but that doesn't mean it's easy. 
There will be hard days.  There will be days when you feel like everything is going wrong. 
There will be days when your short on volunteers, when your kids didn't show up, and when the point of your lesson is no where to be found. 
It isn't always easy, but teaching children about Jesus is always worth it. 
Don't give up!  Keep your head up and keep going! 
What you are doing is important and it does matter! 



What would be your ideal "just for fun" job?
I'm going to go with travelling photo-journalist. 
Have you picked up the idea that I love to travel yet? 
I also love to take pictures... So traveling photo-journalist?  That equals 'just for fun' right?

This is one of my favorite pictures that I've ever taken on my 1st trip to Africa.  



What was your first "real" job?
My first real job was working at a sweet little cafe. 
At the time it was a Grab & Go dinner cafe.  
The customers came in and made their dinners and took it home to freeze or to eat right away. 
That's right, this girl who doesn't cook first worked at a cafe surrounded by food. 
Ironic isn't it?  

Friday, September 27, 2013

Top 5 Easy DIY Musical Instruments

Coming up this Wednesday my kids ministry will be themed around Music night. 

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.  Worship the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs."  -Psalm 100:1-2

I thought I'd put together a craft post of some easy instruments that every kid can make at home. 
Last summer, I hosted a music night and we made a lot of the instruments right there at the church.
I love music and it is very important to me that my kids learn at a young age how important it is to worship the Lord through music.  Every kid can make a joyful noise to the Lord with both their voice and an instrument.

Here are some simple musical instruments that your kids can use to sing and dance to Jesus.  

Egg Shakers
We all have old Easter eggs sitting in our closet and a bag or rice or dry beans in our kitchen. 
Scoop a small handful of rice (or the food or noise maker of your choice) in your Easter egg and you have an instant shaker. 
If you don't want rice all over your house I suggest taping or gluing your egg shakers closed.  

Shoe Box Guitars
Need an idea for all those old shoe boxes sitting in your closet?  Make shoe box guitars. 
Grab some markers, crayons, wrapping paper, etc and let your kids go to town on decorating the outside of the box. 
After your kids have decorated the box, find some string or yarn. 
Use a hole puncher to punch holes in both sides of your guitar and tightly string your yarn across. 
Make sure that your string is pulled as tightly as it can be so that it will make a noise.
If you want to have a neck on your guitar use an old paper towel roll.
Hot glue* it to the shoe box and you have a complete guitar.  

Paper Plate Tambourines
This is also another super easy do it yourself instrument.
Much like the egg shaker, all you need is a paper plate, rice or beans, and a stapler.
Let your little one's decorate the backs of their paper plates however they wish with markers, crayons, etc...
After they have finished decorating fill the plates with whatever you want (different foods make different sounds) and staple it shut.
And just like that you have a tambourine.

Drums
This is by far the easiest instrument of all to make.
Grab some pots and pans, and a few cooking spoons or spatulas and you have an instant drum set.
I do recommend grabbing some earplugs for mom & dad before using this option though.
For a more complicated drum set you can use old oatmeal (or any circle) containers.
Cover the outside with construction paper, let your kids decorate, and go to town.

Microphone
When I was growing up I was the singer of my family.
My dad always says that I learned the words to the Disney songs faster than anyone he'd ever seen.
To make a microphone for the little vocalist in your family just save those empty paper towel holders.
Gather one up and decorate it however you want.
For the little girls in your family I recommend lots of sequins and bling.
She'll go nuts over her very own bedazzled microphone that she can use to sing to her hearts content.

Do you make any instruments with your kids?

Leave your suggestions in the comments! 

*Hot glue should only be used by adults or by those with proper adult supervision!  


Happy Fall Friday!

Today, I'm linking up with Lauren Elizabeth for H54F! 
I'm also linking up with Jennie and Lindsey for Friday Favorites! 

Happy Fall Friday!  
That's right... Sunday, was the 1st day of fall and that makes today the very first fall Friday. 
Every morning for the past two days I have walked out of my house to a nice crisp air and I am on top of the moon.  
I absolutely adore fall so as you can imagine my week has been pretty spectacular.  
Here are the top 5 things that made my week so amazing. 

Homemade chicken noodle soup on a cold and rainy day. 
Gorgeous fall sunsets. 
Steaming hot cocoa on the 1st day of fall. 
Sweatshirts, Team Spirit night & Transit. 
Making my fall bucket list.  

It truly was a wonderful week during what I truly believe is the most wonderful time of the year.  

Monday will be the official start date of the first #KidsMin Calling giveaway.
I'll be giving away a copy of 2 of my favorite go-to books: The Big Book of Bible Games & The Big Book of Bible Crafts.
Check in daily next week for your chance to enter the giveaway.

I am currently looking for those who work in #KidsMin (whether as a leader or a volunteer) who would like the opportunity to guest blog for #KidsMin Calling.  If you are interested in guest blogging please e-mail me at kidsmincalling@gmail.com.  Thanks! 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

#KidsMin Calling is now on Pinterest.

#KidsMin Calling is now on Pinterest!

Hip! Hip! Hooray! 

Hop on over and follow my Pinterest boards for all things #KidsMin.
You'll find boards on AWANA, games, crafts, holidays, volunteer appreciation, etc...

Do you have your own boards for #KidsMin ideas?
Definitely follow me, and I'll be sure to follow you back. 

Together, we can share ideas and make our #KidsMin the best it can be. 



Team Spirit Night

I love, love, love my Team Spirit night theme.  Well, let's face it you'll probably find me saying that about almost all of our themes.
 I especially love team spirit night.  Being the only University of South Carolina fan amid a sea of UGA Bulldawgs leaves me with lots of fun times.  Team Spirit night is the only day of the year that I can get away with wearing my USC gear.  To top it all off, Wednesday morning I woke up to a perfect cold and rainy fall day.  This meant that I could immediately throw on my USC t-shirt and sweatshirt and be out the door.  It was marvelous.



Team Spirit night is such an easy theme night.  
More importantly, it cost ZERO dollars.  That's right, I said $0.  
As #KidsMin volunteers and workers we all know how important those budgets are so a no cost event is right up our alley. 

Here's my promo that I send home with all my kids the week before. 
I generally pick some cool fonts and leave it at that, because with a theme every week I just don't have 3 hours to sit and design a super snazzy post-card, but I'm happy with it the way it is. 

For a copy of the promo that you can customize with your own information please e-mail: kidsmincalling@gmail.com.
I love to share!  


I let my kids show their support for whatever team they want.  While many of them do wear lots of UGA or college football gear I've had kids show up in t-shirts for their elementary schools, soccer teams, or little league.  I've also had kids show up in t-shirts showing support for big brothers and sisters who play sports in middle or high school. 

I also give my kids the option of wearing colors to support their team if they don't have a t-shirt with their logo on it.  

I like to plan this theme night right at the very beginning of fall because college football is starting and it's such a big deal in the south.  My kids love to get on me about being a USC fan in the midst of the Bulldawgs.  

Team Spirit Night is such an easy theme night that I think it should be on everyone's schedule. 

For lessons you can talk about having endurance in our relationship with Jesus, running the race, training to be strong Christians, etc... There are so many ways to tie in sports with Jesus so just get creative.

In what seemed like a whole other world Transit (our preteen ministry) had a fabulous night!
They had record numbers again for their pizza & craft party as they learned about self-perception.
Here's my craft that I made!  I can't wait to see it sitting on my desk when I go into work today.


Monday will be the official start date of the first #KidsMin Calling giveaway.
I'll be giving away a copy of 2 of my favorite go-to books: The Big Book of Bible Games & The Big Book of Bible Crafts.
Check in daily next week for your chance to enter the giveaway.

Come back next Wednesday for a recap of my Music Night.


I am currently looking for those who work in #KidsMin (whether as a leader or a volunteer) who would like the opportunity to guest blog for #KidsMin Calling.  If you are interested in guest blogging please e-mail me at kidsmincalling@gmail.com.  Thanks! 


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Bucket List

Happy Fall, Ya'll! 
I am so excited for my favorite time of year that I wanted to share with all my readers my 2013 Fall Bucket list.  
Take a look at all the things I hope to do this fall.


The great thing about this list is that with the exception of the 1st one all the other items can be done with your kids whether at church or home!  Fall is a wonderful time for family time!

A corn maze could be a great thing to take your whole family too, and painting pumpkins can be done on a Wednesday night class time.  Get creative and find ways to incorporate your kids into the fun and wonder of the fall season.

Whats on your bucket list for Fall 2013?

I am currently looking for those who work in #KidsMin (whether as a leader or a volunteer) who would like the opportunity to guest blog for #KidsMin Calling.  If you are interested in guest blogging please e-mail me at kidsmincalling@gmail.com.  Thanks! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Never Ever Ever


It's Never Ever Ever Tuesday. 

I'm linking up again with NeeleySteph, and Shelley for a list of 7 things that I would never ever ever do.  
The top 5 will be things I never ever ever do personally and my last 2 will be things I never ever ever do in ministry.

Never Ever Ever...

Will I not get excited about fall fashion.  I seriously love it all.  From the boots with tights and dressings to the simple sweatshirt paired with denim.  I love every part of the fall fashion spectrum.

Will I not love my family.  I know this seems obvious to many, but I have found that there are some who don't love their family.  I absolutely adore my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc... I love them all.

Will I go to Wal-Mart in my pajamas.  I don't know how or why people do that, but you won't catch me in my pajamas in public in a million years.

Will I not drink hot cocoa the 1st day of fall.  It could be 100 degrees outside and I'd still be sipping on my cocoa as happy as a clam on the 1st day of fall.

Will I settle for less than my best.  I'm trying hard to let go of being a perfectionist because I've learned that it's pretty much impossible.  However, my parents and my family taught me to always do my best and to be the best that I can be.  Being my best is important to me, and I don't think that's something I'll ever be able to let go of.

Will I stop recruiting volunteers.  Even when I think I have enough volunteers for any ministry I constantly have my eyes open.  Every Sunday and Wednesday I am looking around at those in attendance and seeing who would be great fits for my ministry.  I mentally file away their names and remember them for the next time that I have a hole to fill.

Will I stop promoting my ministry.  Promotion is so important.  This year I have seen some amazing growth in my #KidsMin programs and I am so pleased with the direction that all of my ministries are moving in.  I am so thankful for the kids that we are reaching, but I am always reminded of the many who are  yet to be reached.  The only way to reach them is to get out there and invite them.

Thanks for stopping by for this week's Never Ever Ever!

I am currently looking for those who work in #KidsMin (whether as a leader or a volunteer) who would like the opportunity to guest blog for #KidsMin Calling.  If you are interested in guest blogging please e-mail me at kidsmincalling@gmail.com.  Thanks! 



Monday, September 23, 2013

Life Threads

Today, I'm guest blogging for AWANA.

You can read my list of 10 things a Director should do to prepare for a meeting at Life Threads: The DNA of AWANA.  

If you've stopped over from Life Threads thank you for visiting #KidsMin Calling!

I encourage you to Like us on Facebook to keep up with what I'm doing on a daily basis and to follow my blog for e-mail updates of posts.

If you are a fellow blogger I would love to guest blog for you or have you guest blog for me about your experiences in #KidsMin.

I love getting mail from new friends so please e-mail me at kidsmincalling@gmail.com for more information.

Friday, September 20, 2013

High Five for Friday

Happy Friday, Folks!

Today, I'm linking up with Lauren Elizabeth again for High Five For Friday.

Here's the 5 things that made my week extra fabulous!

Being a temporary parent for a whole week.  Sister and I kept 3 little ones for the last week and we had such a blast!  As a #KidsMin I get told all the time that I should have my own kids and this week I actually did.  I had 3 living little human beings that I was responsible for taking care of and I loved every minute of it.

Taking the little one's to Lego Land!  Seriously, it was the best thing ever.  They had an absolute ball and loved every minute of it.  They are super into the new lego land Chima and they loved seeing all of the Chima related activities!  I must have heard the words 'For Chima' a million times while they were there!

Having record attendance in my #KidsMin on Wednesday night!  I had 66 kids this week which ties with 2 weeks ago for the highest attendance since I've been there.  I can't wait to break 70 one week.  I feel it coming really soon.

Taking my little one's bowling this week!  The littlest guy couldn't even carry his bowling ball.  Every time it was his turn we had to carry his ball over to his ramp and he would push it down the ramp.  He got so excited.

Celebrating my mom's 50th birthday!  See this post for all the reasons that I think she's fabulous!

What made your week extra special?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Light the Night

Happy Wednesday Rewind- on Thursday!

Today, I'm talking all about our Light the Night theme.
This is one of the kids favorite themes and is so simple and easy to plan.

Last Wednesday, we passed out these little postcards to all the kids.
While I give everyone a calendar, I always pass out a little card to hand to parents that they can stick on the refrigerator to remind them of what we have going on this week.

If you would like a copy of my template please e-mail me at kidsmincalling@gmail.com and I will be glad to share with you!  

Last year, I had quite an elaborate set-up with a strobe light and smoke machine.  This year, my day slipped away from me so the set-up wasn't quite elaborate but the kids still loved it!  All I did was cover the windows in the doors with black fabric, and place led candles (battery operated) around the game time circle.  In order to keep the room from getting too dark I also leave my stage lights on low to help illuminate the room just a bit.  

All the kids bring a flashlight, but I also have a box of about 20 flashlights that I bought for $1.00 each that I save and put out for kids who may have forgotten their flashlight.  Kids get to use their flashlights during the opening ceremony, council time (if their teachers choose) and during game time. 

I leave the lights on during all times of transition and turn the lights back off for game time only after everyone is on their color line.  This is a great, fun, and inexpensive theme to use for your kids.  This year, it cost me $0 because I saved all of my flashlights and candles from last year.  

As always, safety should be your number 1 goal.  Make sure you know where your kids are at all times and that you play games during game time that are safe to play in low light.  This is our 2nd year using this theme and we haven't had any injuries minus your usual game time bumps and scrapes.  It is always best though to exercise caution at all times. 

This is a great night to talk about how Jesus is the light of the world, walking in the light/truth, and shining our light for Jesus to all our friends and family.  

Have you ever used a light the night theme?  
What worked or didn't work for you?  

Let me know in the comments!  

Come back next Thursday for a break-down of Team Spirit Night!  

For questions about Light the Night or any theme idea please e-mail kidsmincalling@gmail.com.  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

Ya'll today is a special day!

It's my wonderful mommy's birthday!  Yes, I'm 24.  Yes, I still say mommy.
I think it's endearing.

Here's hoping she doesn't get me for saying this...
Actually, I probably shouldn't tell you this.
Let's just say that from this day forward she will forever be 50 49 years young.

She is a JEWEL!

I have never met a lady who I love and adore more than her.
They say that a pictures is worth a 1,000 years.
Here are 8,000 reasons that she is phenomenal!

There are so many more reasons, these are just my most favorite!

She sewed these ruffles by hand!  Who does that? 
Not to mention the fact that she created 3 cute children.  


She likes to take selfies!  Or whatever you call it when it's more than 1 person.  
She is hip with social media.  Facebook and Instagram are her jam. 
I'm trying to convince her to get a twitter, but I don't see her wanting to tweet anytime soon.  


She snuggles... Constantly. 
It doesn't matter what age we get.  
I always know I'll find a place in mommy's arms. 


She spends time with her children.  
Whether she is sitting at endless basketball games for her son or taking her girls to get pedicures or go shopping.  
She gives of her time constantly.  


She cried when I got back from my 3 month long internship. 
We had never been apart for that long.
I'll admit it, I cried too.  
She met me in the airport with posters and flyers.  


She's been my biggest supporter. 
From 5th grade book reports on Pocahontas to graduating from college. 
She has been my biggest cheerleader and my number 1 fan. 


She's always got my back. 
Seriously, she recently met my boyfriend for the 1st time and she grilled him. 
Why?  Because according to her I'm precious cargo. 
She's my best friend. 
She loves her daughters and son like it is her number 1 job.
She is there for us in a flash. 



People always say, I have a laugh like my mother days. 
I guess that makes sense, she taught me how to smile when thing's get rough. 
I've got her spirit.  She's always got my back. 
When I look at her I think, I wanna be just like that. 
When I love, I give it all I've got like my mother does. 
When I'm scared, I bow my head and pray like my mother does. 
When I'm weak and unpretty, I know I'm beautiful and strong. 
Because, I see myself like my mother does. 
-Lauren Alaina: "Like My Mother Does"

Happy Birthday, Mommy!
I LOVE YOU! 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Never Ever Ever


It's Never Ever Ever Tuesday. 

I'm linking up again with NeeleySteph, and Shelley for a list of 7 things that I would never ever ever do.  
The top 5 will be things I never ever ever do personally and my last 2 will be things I never ever ever do in ministry.

I Never Ever Ever...

Get tired of watching little people sleep.  Seriously, I'm currently looking at the closed eyelids of a 3 year old.  His peaceful face is absolutely breathtaking.

Will change my mind about wanting lots of babies of my own.

Think I'll learn how to cook.  It's sad.  Really it is.

Want to be a runner.  I'm all about other people who run, but for me it's insanely boring.  Give me a good class of Zumba or Spinning and I'm a happy girl.

Edit my blog posts.  I write, spell check, and publish.  I want my blogs to be real and to be me and I don't want to go back and make things flowery.  I want the words to be how I originally intended them without lots of fuss.

Get tired of filling in in the nursery.  I so rarely get time with the littlest of babies and when I do, I soak it up.

Pass up a chance to pray over a little one or tell them how special they are.  Anytime I have the chance to pray over a little one I take it.  I remind them that they are special and how much Jesus loves them.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Social: All about the Blog

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

I know my blog has been quiet the last couple of days.
Family comes first and I've been spending my days soaked up in family.

I was able to slip away for a few minutes to answer this week's Sunday Social questions.
Sunday Social


What is the name of your blog? 
#KidsMin Calling

What do you love most about blogging?  
I love just being able to write about something that I'm passionate.  Children's Ministry is so important and I love being able to share my own ideas.  I'm praying that my blog can give someone an extra piece of encouragement or that extra idea that helps us bring little one's closer to Jesus.  

Why did you start blogging? 
I hear so many times how creative and neat my ideas are.  One of my volunteers suggested that I start blogging and putting them out there for everyone else and next thing I knew I was starting a blog.

What is something you'd want to tell someone just starting out in blog world?  
Who am I kidding?  I am someone just starting out in the blogging world. 
I'd love to hear your advice.

Biggest blogging learning experience you've had. 
Interact, interact, interact!  
I love making new blogging friends and discovering new blogs by interacting with others.  

What are 3 blogs you love?


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Butcher Paper

My Wednesday night program begins at 6:30 PM.  My registration opens at 6:00 PM.  This leaves me with 30 minutes of time to occupy my early birds with.  And arrive early they do.  By 6:10 I have anywhere from 15-20 little ones already running around my sanctuary.

This leaves me with a slight problem.

What to do with those 30 minutes.  We all know that if we leave that many little ones with nothing organized to do that the sanctuary will quickly erupt into chaos.  And many nights, that can be exactly what happens.  However, I try my best to make sure that we have organized activities waiting on the kids from 6:00-6:30 PM.  This year on the 1st Wednesday of every month we are going to have Butcher Paper night!

If you work with kids butcher paper should be your new best friend.

This was a super simple and easy pre-service activity to set up.  I literally rolled out 3 long sheets of butcher paper, put crayons in bins, and let the kids have at it!  Kids love to color and express themselves and something about coloring on paper on the floor just makes everyone happy.

I usually greet kids and parents on arrival at our check-in point so when I walked into the sanctuary at 6:28 last night to get ready for the opening I saw happy kids and volunteers calmly coloring on the floor.

I'd call that a #KidsMin win.







Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Never Ever Ever



It's Never Ever Ever Tuesday. 

I'm linking up again with Neeley, Steph, and Shelley for a list of 7 things that I would never ever ever do.  
The top 5 will be things I never ever ever do personally and my last 2 will be things I never ever ever do in ministry.  

I Never Ever Ever...

Do laundry on a regular basis.  I try to get it done every other week at least but I have to confess sometimes it piles up for 3 weeks before I get around to it.  I don't know how those people do it who get theirs done on a schedule. 

Drink caffeine.  I discovered about 2 years ago through trial & error that drinking caffeine gave me terrible headaches and since then I have cut it out completely.  

Buy wallets.  I have tons and tons of purses, but I've used the same wallet for the last year at least. 

Pick tennis shoes over flip-flops.  If it's warm outside the only time you'll find me wearing tennis shoes will be if I'm at work on Wednesday nights when tennis shoes are a requirement.  The rest of the time, I like my toes to be free. 

Cook dinner.  I know, I'm terrible.  You try living with someone who went to culinary school and getting time by yourself in the kitchen.  Sister is a good cook and she knows it.  

Stop planning ahead.  My ministry calendar is usually planned out on a general basis about 6 months in advance.  It's September but my theme nights are planned out through May and I have a general idea of all my special events.  

Walk away from a little one who is trying to talk to me.  It doesn't matter if they are telling me about their pet goldfish or what they had for breakfast.  I want them to know that they are the most important things to me and that they have my undivided attention when they want it. 

What is something that you will Never Ever Ever do? 






Monday, September 9, 2013

Summer Outreach

Today is the fourth and final week of my Summer Event series here at #KidsMin Calling.

Week 1 was all about Splash night.
Week 2 was all about the Summer Olympics.
Week 3 was all about VBS.
Week 4 is going to be all about Outreach.

I am so blessed to serve at a church that understands and emphasizes the importance of evangelism and outreach.  My heartbeat is to reach out to every child that I can and share with them the love of Christ.  (Visit here to learn more about my calling to #KidsMin.)  I am a firm believer in missions.  Throughout my life I have been on several missions trips and even completed a 3 month long internship to Africa and Asia as part of my Senior year at College.  When I came back home from that trip my goal was to look at everything around me as missions.  There are far too many times that we get too caught up in the belief that for something to be considered missions it must happen somewhere far away with people who don't speak our language.  While that is certainly important we cannot as Christians ever forget that we can serve in missions every day.

Right now I spend the majority of my time in a small town in the South and I have realized that my missions field is my own backyard.  While there are lots of definitions for missions I like to make things simple... To me, missions simply means service.  Last year I attended the Catalyst conference in the ATL with the staff from my church.  During the conference we heard a speaker who spoke specifically about #KidsMin.  I remember being pleasantly surprised when he started speaking because #KidsMin is absolutely vital yet so quickly forgotten or downplayed.  I wish I could give you the exact quote but I didn't think to write it down at the time.  The speaker said that it was our responsibility to get out from the 4 walls of our church and go to save the kids in our neighborhood, and that if we didn't go out and save them who would.  I have to tell you, that pierced my heart like it hadn't been pierced in  a while.

That night as I was reflecting over everything I had heard that day I knew that the Lord was still speaking to me about this.  Once I get an idea in my head I tend to want to throw myself into it, plant my feet, and make it happen.  However, the Lord was very clear.  He wanted me to wait and pray.  Catalyst happens at the beginning of October.  I waited and prayed all through December and still the words I kept hearing were wait and pray.  It wasn't until I was planning my summer schedule at the beginning of April that I got the green light to make it happen.

I'm so thankful that this summer my #KidsMin got out from behind the 4 walls of our church and made an impact in our community.  For us this looked like grabbing a water hose, sprinklers, a few games, and popsicles and heading into our local community for a night of water fun.  We went out twice during the summer and had a blast both times.  We played simple games, sang easy songs with lyrics that could be quickly memorized, had short devotions and times of prayer, and ate popsicles.  Each time that we left, despite the simplicity of our events we had kids wanting to know when we would be back.

If I could give you one piece of advice with regards to outreach it's this:  Don't get caught up in creating a complicated event.  So many times with kids simple is best.  Kids don't care about how flashy your equipment is, or that you have the latest media, or best music.  Kids care about your heart.  They care that while you are there that you are playing games with them, telling jokes, sharing Christ's love.

Outreach wraps up how we spent our summer in my #KidsMin.

What did you do in your #KidsMin this summer?

For questions about anything from our Summer Event series feel free to e-mail me at kidsmincalling@gmail.com.  I love hearing from Blog readers and from fellow #KidsMin workers!





Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Social: All about Fall

Sunday Social
It's time for another week of Sunday Social and today we are talking all about fall!
Fall is quite possibly my favorite season.  
I'll be saying that again at winter, spring, and summer because let's face it I love every season.  
When the seasons change I'm reminded constantly of God's goodness and faithfulness. 
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."  -Ecclesiastes 3:1
With that, let's get social. 
1. What is your favorite fall activity?
What isn't my favorite fall activity?  I love them all from the simplest crunch of walking through leaves to steaming mugs of hot chocolate in my hands.  I love the pumpkin picking and painting (I don't carve... I'm not into messy) and Friday night football.  I like walking out of my house in the morning to feel crisp air on my face and yet still being able to walk out of the house at night in tights and a cardigan.  Pretty much every fall activity- they are all my favorite.  

2. Do you follow a football team? If so, which one and why?
My blood runs garnet and black!  I'm a Carolina Gamecock and proud of it. 
Why?  It's a Stewart family thing.  
Why is the sky blue?  It just is.  
Here's Sister and I sporting our Gamecock pride yesterday. 
Yes, we know USC lost.  You can't win them all. 

3. What is something fun about fall in your area?
Festivals!  I absolutely love fall festivals!
As a Children's Director I planned our Fall Fest last year and loved every minute of it. 
Check back in October to see what I am planning for this year!

4. What are your favorite fall staple outfits?
Fall fashion is my favorite!  I love getting up on crisp and cool mornings and layering on my tights, boots, cardigans, and scarves.  Throwing on a tunic/dress with skinny jeans and some dark boots puts me in a happy place.  I love a classic fall look that is actually really comfortable too.  

5. What things are you looking forward to most about this coming fall season?
Experiencing sweet holidays with my boy.  

6. What is your favorite fall holiday? Tradition?
Thanksgiving.  It is such a special time in my family and I have so many memories of my precious family during a holiday where we all have had so many things to be thankful for.  The family all gathers around the table to eat a wonderful meal cooked by Mom & Sister.  After the meal we all stay put because we know what's coming.  Everyone from the youngest to the oldest gets to say everything that they are thankful for this year.  With close to 20 people around the table you have moments of laughter, and moments of true thankfulness.  Every year at least 3 people cry as we thank the Lord for his faithfulness to our family again and again.  It's a beautiful picture of life.  

Friday, September 6, 2013

High Five 4 Friday

Happy Friday, Ya'll!

Today, I'm linking up with Lauren Elizabeth for High Five 4 Friday.
I'm also linking up for the first time with Jennie for Friday Favorites.

This has been one of the greatest weeks ever!
I spent all day Monday being completely lazy with my sweet boy.
Because let's face it, we all need a day where we don't have anything to do.
Here's a look at the rest of the things that made my week High Five worthy!


From left to right & top to bottom:

1) Hey, Jack!  It was Crazy Hair night at AWANA this week!  I showed my Duck Commander pride with a Duck Dynasty theme!  I was happy, happy, happy when the night was over.  (For a complete look at Crazy Hair night visit here.)  P.S. For anyone who wants to know when the Duck Dynasty obsession is going to end...  I have no idea!

2) I walked into Hobby Lobby this week and discovered not only the aisles completely devoted to fall, but the Christmas aisles as well.  December is so close I can reach out and grab it.  Oh, Christmas tree.  Oh, Christmas tree.  How lovely are your branches.

3) Sister and I are about to keep our boys in a week and we have been getting ready.  This is the beginning of our games section just for them.  P.S.  Isn't that shopping basket to die for?  Sister found me that basket at a local thrift shop and turned it into my Easter basket this year.

4) I got to spend my Labor Day weekend with some super special family members!  It was one of the best weekends ever!

5) When I was browsing the fall aisles at Hobby Lobby I found these delightful gems for mine and Sister's walkway.  Their going to be a beautiful placeholder until it's time to put out the official fall decor.

That's what made my week so lovely!
What would you give a High Five to this week?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wednesday Rewind-On Thursday: Crazy Hair Night

One of my favorite theme nights of the year has come and gone faster than I can blink.

Crazy Hair night is by far one of the most popular theme nights that we do in my #KidsMin.  The ideas that my kids and their parents come up with are absolutely hysterical and amazing!  Beyond that, I have a fabulous time coming up with creative themes for my own Crazy Hair and the little one's just love to see Miss Mary looking wacky, wild & crazy

Crazy Hair night is a great night to have a little fun, but there are also some great teaching moments.  I like to use this night as a night to remind everyone how much God loves all of us no matter what we look like.  We never know what our little one's hear throughout the week, and it is so important to take advantage of every opportunity to remind them that they are treasured and loved.  It doesn't matter what they look like, it doesn't matter how athletic or sporty they are, it doesn't matter how well they do in school because God treasures all of them.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  -Psalm 139:14

This year, I decided to take my own theme from a popular television show.
Here's a hint... Quack!  Quack!

That's right, Jack!  I chose Duck Dynasty as the theme for my crazy hair.
I have to admit that I was more than a little skeptical about this show but after seeing this interview from the patriarch of the Robertson family, Phil I was completely hooked.  Seeing a family who lives out their faith during prime-time is absolutely amazing.  Yes, they have their quirky and hilarious moments but they end every episode sitting around a table, eating dinner, and talking to Jesus and for me that's a win for the Kingdom.

Prepping for Crazy Hair night can be really simple.  I gather up all my old barettes, bows, and bobby pins and just start hot gluing.  This is what I started with this year.  My sister found all of the butterflies, leaves, roosters, and the duck at our local craft store.


This is how I ended up...

If making crazy hair styles could be a career I think that sister could be a professional because she rocks at this!  


Yes, I realize it looks rough, but check out that rooster!
It had its own nest and everything.  


I think that giant butterflies should be a new fashion statement. 


Duck Commander Pride! 


Hey, Jack!  I was happy, happy, happy with my Duck Dynasty look! 
And that's a fact, Jack! 


Take a look at the final product! 
 And this is what I looked like after I took everything out at the end of the night. 
Let's not even talk about the 20 minutes  1 hour that it took to brush that out. 
That face... It's the face of someone who loves her job and her little one's.  


We love crazy hair night so much that it is our only theme night that happens twice in one year!
And believe it or not, I'm already brainstorming my ideas for the spring.

Do you have a Crazy Hair night/day in your Children's Ministry?  What do you do to make your hair wacky!

For a list of all of my theme nights please visit here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

VBS Recap

V-B-S!

3 little letters that are sure to send any Children's Director into a tail-spin.  This year, I was no exception.

I absolutely loved the VBS that I prepared for our kids this year, but it was a lot of work.
I'm talking a lot of work.

When thinking in how to recap this event for everyone I've decided to share with you my Top 10 tips/tricks for planning your own VBS.  This was the first year that I ever planned a VBS from start to finish and I learned so much.  We had a fabulous VBS averaging 108 kids every night!  Jesus literally blew my socks off.  As I was preparing and praying for VBS my personal goal was to have at least 1 night of 100 kids.  If I could reach 100 kids just one night I knew that I was going to call our VBS a success.  When we had 110 kids on the first night I knew that Jesus was up to something big! 

*Throughout the rest of the post you will see pictures and tips as to how we decorated on a budget to make our VBS pop.  I threw these in just for fun! :) 

In no particular order, here are the 10 things that helped make my VBS:

1) I stayed flexible-  

I used a wonderful curriculum to plan my VBS and it helped me out so much.  However, I was still flexible to things that might or might not work in my particular church, with my particular volunteers, and my particular kids.  The curriculum was not my Bible for the event.  It was merely a map to help guide me in the right direction.  As I was poring over curriculum, making schedules, dividing rotations, etc I allowed myself room to make changes as I saw the need for.
     *Here's a great example:  On the 1st night of our VBS we had 110 kids and I had only prepped for 100 kids for crafts, snacks, etc...  My thoughts- No problem.  Let's grab some of our supplies for Day 2 and use them for Day 1 we can make it up tomorrow.  Did the crafts exactly match up with the lesson for the day? No.  Did the kids notice or care?  No.  They were having a great time regardless.
Being flexible was the key not only in planning VBS but in operating it the week of as well.  


Our snacks area was easily decorated with crepe paper from the ceiling.  

2) I threw a craft prep party-

Crafts can be a simple, easy, and inexpensive rotation to add onto your VBS schedule.  I purchased all of my craft supplies 3 weeks before my VBS was set to begin and hosted a craft prep party.  Two weeks before VBS I invited volunteers to come in during the day and help prep all of the crafts.  Everything that kids needed to complete their crafts was put into a small sandwich bag and was waiting for them every night during VBS.  This made our craft rotation easy and simple.

One of our crafts room decorated with plastic table cloths that only cost $1.00. 
An inexpensive but cute and colorful way to decorate. 

3) I hosted a volunteer training day- 

This was absolutely 100% necessary to have a successful VBS.  This provided an opportunity for myself, as the Director, to cast vision, go over policies, hand out materials, etc.  This also provided a great time for my volunteers to ask questions about their responsibilities.  What was the result?  On the first night of VBS instead of having to answer 75 questions I only had to answer about 10.  Everyone was clear as to what our purpose was and how we were planning on making it happen.

Volunteer training was a great time to make sure that everyone knew our theme, verse, and motto.
I made these posters myself using publisher and my local office supply store to get them printed.  

4) I held all of my VBS inside- 

While I realize that this may not work for everyone due to space and size issues, it worked for us and it was miraculous.  If you've ever been in the south in the middle of July you know that it gets HOT and HUMID.  I'm talking can't breathe, covered in sweat after 5 minutes hot.  This year, I made the decision to host all of my VBS (games included) inside.  Which meant that on the nights that it rained or was simply too hot to go outside we didn't break a sweat.  We stayed cool, comfortable, and stress-free knowing that we could still carry-on as planned.
VBS Set!  I was blessed with an amazing props team! 
5) I had a security system-

Absolutely nothing is more important to me in #KidsMin than making sure that the kids who come into my ministry are safe at all times.  With an average of 108 kids every night we knew that we needed a system in place to make sure that everyone made it home with the right person.  Having a system and a plan for this helped cut down on chaos at registration and dismissal as well as helped us feel confident at the end of the night that we had done everything we could to keep our kids safe.

We put together our lobby with decorations that we found in our attic. 
A great tip for decorating on a budget is to go treasure hunting in your church. 
Look in those dark closets that no one uses anymore and recycle what you can.  


6) I took time to experience the magic-

VBS can be a very stressful event to put on and being in charge can be a lot to handle.  I spent my week running around like a chicken with its head cut off and could have easily been tired, run-down and frustrated by day 3 and still have two more days to go.  How did I avoid this?  I took 15 minutes every night to just look around at what I created with Jesus' help.  Some nights these 15 minutes were spent standing on the stage and just looking around at the glow in kids eyes.  Some nights I spent these 15 minutes with a small hand tucked in mine.  Some nights I spent those 15 minutes dancing for Jesus at Worship Rally.  The point is to give yourself time, as the Director or volunteer, to truly be in the moment.  Take time to experience the excitement and wonder of what you created.

One night I experienced the magic by eating popcorn with one of our younger visitors. 
They loved having Miss Mary eat popcorn with their crew.  

7) I divided kids into crews by their school grade-

This helped tremendously.  We had 8 different crews divided by Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade.  If we saw someone who had slipped away from their crew we were easily able to figure out what crew they were in and where they were supposed to be.  Well-defined ages for our crews also helped with getting everyone registered quickly.  This was a simple and easy way to cut down on the chaos.

8) I had a clean up day after VBS- 

We ended our VBS on a Friday night and at the end of the night all of my volunteers were left completely tired.  We decided that instead of staying until 12:00 PM on Friday to clean up that we would come in on Saturday morning at 10:00 AM to help clean up from VBS.  This enabled us to leave the church completely clean and put back together.  It's important to remember in all ministry that we share spaces with one another so I always abide by the rule to leave a space better than you found it.  Hosting a clean up day also gave an opportunity for people to serve who couldn't serve during the week because of conflicts.  Its a win-win for everyone!

9) I had a plan for promotion-

They key to my kids ministry was promotion, promotion, promotion!  I promoted my VBS in lots of different ways.  I sent postcards to people who attended last year as well as everyone who attends my Wednesday night program.  I placed an ad in the newspaper that ran the two weeks before VBS.  I promoted our VBS almost daily on my ministry's social media and website.  (My volunteers were probably tired of seeing status' about VBS.)  I had flyers for our church family and volunteers to fill out.  I had a banner outside of our church property, and I had posters made for our volunteers to put up at their work and businesses.  I really believe that this is the one reason that our VBS was so big this year.  Our goal was to make sure that everyone in our community knew what was happening.

One of my many social media posts reminding everyone of how long until VBS.  

10) I had a plan for follow up- 

VBS is a great opportunity to reach out into your community.  We had a huge portion of visitors to our VBS.  If I had to guess at a percentage I would say that about 40% of our kids this year were visitors and this was huge.  This is an extra 40 people who we had the opportunity to reach out to Jesus.  We had 50+ kids accept Jesus into their hearts on Wednesday.  On Thursday we had the opportunity to meet with all of them and to talk to them about what it means to have Jesus in your life.  On Sunday, we hosted our VBS celebration in our morning service.  After VBS, I sent postcards to everyone who attended thanking them for coming and giving them the dates of our upcoming events and Wednesday night kick-off.  As a result, we are experiencing record numbers in our Wednesday night ministry.  Having a plan for follow-up is absolutely crucial.  You want everyone who attends your church to know that they are loved, welcome, and cared about at all times, and not just during VBS.

This is what I did to make my VBS successful.  Most importantly, I stayed calm and stayed open to the Lord's leading and guidance my the very beginning to the very end.