Friday, November 22, 2013

High 5 For Friday

Happy Friday! 

I am so excited for this Friday!  I'm getting to spend the evening with my best friend and this week has truly been such a phenomenal week.  So many wonderful things happened. 

I'm linking up with Lauren Elizabeth for H54F! 

Sister and I put up our Christmas tree.  This was actually two weeks ago, but I hadn't shared it on the blog yet.  Deck the halls with boughs of holly! Fa la la la la la la la la.  Yes, I am aware that it's before Thanksgiving.  It is what it is.  

I got to see my sweetheart this weekend!  Long distance relationships have it's challenges.  After nine weeks a visit with him was just what I needed. 

Wednesday was Thanksgiving Pie night in AWANA!  It was so much fun!
Visit here for a recap! 

Yesterday I got free tickets to see Hillsong United!  They were so good!  As a #KidsMin I frequently miss getting to experience the worship on Sundays because when I get to sneak into the service I often arrive after getting all of my volunteers settled 20 minutes into the service.  Spending two hours just soaking in the wonderful worship music and the presence of Jesus was again just what I needed.  Thank you Catalyst for the free tickets and for taking such wonderful care of your leaders! 

And finally, today I got to see the wonderful colors of Fall.  The trees are at their most vibrant colors this week.  Seriously, have you ever seen anything more red.  It's glorious. 

Happy Weekend, Everyone! 

Thankful- Part 3

Happy week before Thanksgiving!  No, seriously... next week is Thanksgiving!  I can't believe it.  I am realizing more than ever this month how vast the things that I am thankful for are.  I can not put into words the gratitude and gratefulness that is in my heart this year.  Today, is my third post in my #KidsMin thankful series and I'm featuring Janelle from Well Equipped Volunteer.  

Janelle is a Children’s Ministry coach from Winnipeg, MB with over 17 years’ experience in children’s ministry. She has worked in both large and small churches, directed, designed and wrote VBS material, and served in almost every capacity in children’s ministry. Janelle specializes in empowering children’s ministry volunteers. Find free tips and resources, and sign up for the free newsletter at

Read about what she has to say about why she is thankful for #KidsMin and about who she is thankful for. 

Why I’m Thankful for Children’s Ministry

I grew up in the church. My parents were in ministry, which means that I was a student in children’s ministry. I attended Sunday School and children’s church and clubs. And I confess that as a student I took children’s ministry for granted. Then when I was older, I volunteered in children’s ministry. It was a natural progression from student to teacher, but I still didn’t fully appreciate the value of children’s ministry.

As I spent more time in children’s ministry, I began to appreciate its true value. Now after nearly 20 years of professional children’s ministry experience, I’m more passionate than ever about the importance of children’s ministry: we are raising up the next generation of the Church! Tomorrow’s pastors, leaders, missionaries, and prayer warriors are wiggling in your classroom today.

The Psalmist tells us, “We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done… so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.” Psalm 78: 4&8 (NIV)

Therefore, I am most thankful for children’s ministry volunteers who faithfully show up each and every week, prepared to teach the next generation about our God and the things He has done. They sacrifice family time and sleep, their patience is tested, perhaps they even shed a few tears. They pray, they teach, they wipe noses, they discipline in love. It’s not easy work! It’s sometimes hard to immediately see the impact of their work in a child’s life.

That’s why I focus on equipping volunteers. Because what greater call is there than building up tomorrow’s church?

So here are three quick tips for all children’s ministry volunteers to make sure you are laying a strong foundation for tomorrow’s church:

·         Children love structure and routine! Create a structure in your classroom or program and stick with it every week. You will be amazed at how smoothly your classroom or program will run.
·        Identify your main point and teach that one thing during your lesson. Cut away all the extraneous material that distracts from that one thing.
            Resist the temptation to teach morals. Focus instead on teaching kids who God is and why we follow Jesus. Good morals will naturally follow.

Learn more about these tips and find many more free resources at my website,

Volunteers, I am so thankful for the work you’re doing! I know sometimes it’s hard and seems unrewarding, but your impact will be felt decades from now, so press on!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Pie Night Recap

What's your favorite food at Thanksgiving?  That's the question I opened last night's AWANA list.  The answers were vast and varied.  Some kids said that there favorite was the Turkey, or corn, or stuffing.  After all those answers we finally got around to the answer that I was looking for... Pie!  And of course after one person said pie all of the other kids said pie as well as usually happens.  

After that I gave all of my little one's (I had about 45 preschoolers-4th graders) to a Thanksgiving challenge.  They were challenged to say 125 verses in our hour and a half time span.  At 7:30 we were at 97 verses total... Just 28 verses short of the goal.  By 7:50, just 20 minutes later, we had increased to a total of 167 verses!  

Their reward for blowing their challenge out of the water... Seeing Miss Mary get not one but two pies of whipped cream in my face.  I honestly couldn't tell you who loved it more... the kids or my volunteers.  Right before the whipped cream got me I looked up to see every volunteer in the room with their phones out to capture the moment on video.  It really was such a fun night! 

To all of my brave #KidsMin this is a great way to encourage your kids to say a lot of verses in one night!  Would I want to take a whipped cream pie in my face every Wednesday night... No!  But, in the spirit of Thanksgiving we had a great time last night!  It was a great way to end the night.  

What's the craziest incentive you have ever offered your kids to say their verses in AWANA?

Thanks to one of my sweet volunteers for taking these pictures! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hopping on the Thankful Band Wagon (Plus a Link Up)

Next week is Thanksgiving.  Seriously?  What happened to the month of November?

I've been posting my days of thanks on my personal social media but wanted to challenge myself to come up with my days of thanks for #KidsMin Calling.  

Here are 26 things that I am thankful for in #KidsMin from A to Z! 

What would you add to the list?  

Link up your thankful posts below! 
I'll be sure to visit, comment & follow you. 

Hop around and see what everyone else is thankful for! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Finding Balance in a Weighted World- 7 Ways I've Restored the Balance in my Life

My life is a juggling act.  No, seriously... It's a giant juggling act. 

I'm a:
Full-Time #KidsMin and Church Admin
Part-Time Retail Associate
Best Friend

There are so many pieces to the puzzle called Mary.  I've struggled over the last two months with avoiding burn out and finding a sense of balance.  Over the last two months I have felt like I was holding my two arms outstretched and the weights were just being added on.  When one arm was too full weights were just added to the other side.  I struggled with finding balance and I began to feel the effects of burn out.

Burn out in the ministry is a very honest and real feeling.  We have all felt it at one point or another, and I'm admitting it to you right now.  I've struggled with burn out.  I like to keep my blog real and I want you to see what my life in full time ministry is really like.  I've struggled with finding the balance of everything that is required of me.  

How have I done it?  How do I maintain balance at crucial times in my life.  

According to the New York Times (2010 statistic) 1,500 Pastors leave their ministry each month due to burn out, conflict, or moral failure.  75% report suffering from severe stress and anxiety.  90% work more than 50 hours each week.  45% of Pastors say that they have experienced depression or burn out to the point that they have had to take a leave of absence from the ministry.  (Source)

Those are statistics from 2010.  Burn out and stress from the ministry is real.  

What have I done?  How have I found the balance between a full-time job, a part-time job, blogging, and being the person that everyone else needs me to be (daughter, friend, sister, girlfriend)?  

It hasn't been easy.  

1) I've prioritized- I truly feel like this is one of the most crucial things that I could ever do.  At the beginning of every week, on Monday morning at 9:00 AM, I look at my calendar for the entire week.  I look at my work schedules, special events throughout the week, blog posts I would like to write, and times that I know I need to commit to my friends and family and I prioritize.  As much as I would like to, there are some days that I just can not focus on my blog.  I can't write a post every day of every week.  I prioritize my time throughout the week on the things that are most important.  If it's something that can wait, or sit in the backseat for a week, it does.  One of the most important things I have had to learn is that I can not do it all.  I have to prioritize my time. 

2) I've committed to spending time with my family, my boyfriend, and my friends- These are the people who give me incredible joy in my life.  It's these people who know the right words to say at the right time to provide me with that little piece of encouragement.  I have found that I can't just give of myself and never have time to just let my guard down and allow others to pour back in to me.  Those phone calls to my mom every afternoon uplift my spirit.  My weekend visits with my best friends restore a sense of balance and normalcy to my life.  

3) I've learned that taking time for myself is not something to feel bad or guilty about-  I think that there are far too many times when I have felt bad for taking time for myself.  I struggled with thinking that if I wasn't on the go all of the time (at every event, every birthday party, every small group, etc...) than I couldn't possibly be doing everything that I could.  I've had to learn that it's ok to stay home on a Monday night to get caught up on laundry, read a book, have a long quiet time, and go to bed early.  There will be busy times in life and ministry where I may be out 6 of 7 nights of the week and I may only get 5 hours of sleep a night for those 6 days, but on the 7th day I'm going to make sure that I take time for myself and get 9 hours of sleep that night and take the time to rest.  Even Jesus rested- "By the 7th day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the 7th day He rested from all his work."  Genesis 2:2

4) I've learned to ask for help-  This goes back to me having to learn that I cannot possibly do everything on my own.  I've had to ask for help from trusted volunteers.  I've had to relinquish my control (which is extremely difficult for me to do) and say help me please.  

5) I've learned to say no-  This is the most important word that I have learned to say in my life, but one of the words that is the most difficult to say.  No.  It's such a little word but it can make or break you in your life.  This goes back to knowing where my priorities are.  I've also had to learn that saying no isn't the same thing as saying I don't care.  I've also learned that saying no to some requests gives other people the opportunity to plug in and find their strengths and receive blessings from the Lord for serving.  

6) I cherish the moments of joy-  Those little moments of joy far outweigh the moments of stress that I experience.  There are so many joyful moments in the ministry that touch my heart.  Those moments when I see the light bulb go off in someone heads.  That moment when a small child raises their hand to say that they've accepted Jesus into their heart.  The feel of a small hand in mine walking to the playground.  Those moments of joy touch my heart and encourage me in a way that more than makes up for the moment of stress.  I've learned that in those moments I have to be fully present and full in tune to the encouragement that Jesus is providing to me naturally right in that moment. 

7) I've found my anchor in Jesus- This is the thing that ultimately keeps me in balance no matter what.  When life gets rough, when the winds are blowing 100 miles an hour, when the storm is rough, I have learned that Jesus is my ultimate anchor.  And with Jesus as my anchor I cannot be moved despite the storm.  I have found my complete love, my complete satisfaction, my complete life in my Savior.

Burn out is very real and is very dangerous.  But, it doesn't have to be.  

If we take care of ourselves, if we learn to rest in the arms of Jesus, if we learn to say no and to ask for help we can maintain the balance in our life and not feel weighted down by our responsibilities.

How do you maintain balance in your life?

Let's talk about it below! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Ask Mary

Hi Everyone! 

I'm really interested in putting together an #AskMary blog post for you guys and gals. 

I want to answer your questions on kids ministry, blogging, relationships, my childhood, family, parenting, or even something personal. 

If you have a question that you'd like me to answer leave me a blog comment below with your question or e-mail me at:

If there is enough response and interest I'll put together an #AskMary post for next Monday, November 25.  

Don't be shy... Leave your questions below! 

Happy GiveAway!

I'm so excited to be participating in this giveaway this month! 
Check it out below!

My three bittles    A complete waste of makeup   venus trapped in mars   reagan's toy chest
Tawny's tid bits    a dose of Paige    My so called chaos   sparkling with sneakers
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thankful- Part 2

Happy Sunday, Everyone!

I hope you all had a blessed morning in your #KidsMin and with your families!  
Today, I asked my sweet friend Marytere to guest blog for me.  Marytere and I have been best friends since literally our second day of college 6 years ago (my goodness!).  Her and her husband serve as the College Pastors at a church here in town where I live and they do a fabulous job!  Her heart and passion for college kids equals the calling that I have for kids.  I asked her to share the reasons that she is thankful for #KidsMin.  

Check it out below! 

I always knew that children ministry was not my calling. Every year I am asked to help with VBS at my church and every year I turn it down. Don’t get me wrong I think children are cute, but I prefer them in small “packs.”  My husband is a pastor on staff for college aged young adults at our church. So, it is impossible to escape the grip and presence of children ministry. It finally got me!

I would like to share with you my tiny experience with children ministry that I had about a year and a half ago. The church was in the process of finding a transition for the children who had already been to children’s church during the first service but whose parents had stayed for Sunday School during the Second Service time period. So, they asked the college ministry to help out…and we did.

The first time I helped I thought I was going to have a panic attack! So many children in one room!  I mean they were everywhere. I vividly remember a child sneezing and snot going everywhere! Ew!  But little did I know that the Lord was going to teach me how precious His children are. Their sweet little voices asking me to play with them slowly begin to melt me within. I played “don’t touch the lava” by jumping on ONLY the black tiles. I played board games breaking all the rules because the children had their own idea on how to play the game. But what I loved most was what they would share with me about what they had learned in children’s church that day. I heard children say they had given their lives to Christ and children that were excited to retell the Bible stories they had just heard as well as the many crafts that taught them the love of Christ. I began to understand why children ministry is so awesome! I am thankful that there are people called to children’s ministry to teach them the love of Christ. These children are our future and with people like Mary who are willing to clean up snotty noses, heal “BooBoos” and hurt feelings, not to mention passing out snacks, all while teaching these children the knowledge and love of Christ, there is hope. I mean, I have even heard she prays for imaginary friends, now that shows children that God cares!

Though Young adult ministry has its own set of challenges, I am so thankful college aged kids don’t have runny noses that I have to wipe up; I am glad someone else has that calling. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Parents Night Recap

I love Thursdays for so many reasons.  Thursdays are basically my Friday because it's my last day in my church office (my weekend is considered Friday and Saturday), and because I get to share what I did the night before in my Wednesday night program with all of my wonderful blogging friends.  The highlight of my Thursday morning is sitting down to write about what we did the night before.  

With that being said last night was Parents night!  Parents night is one of my favorite theme nights and we have it on our schedule twice during the AWANA year (once in the fall and once in the spring).  Last night was our fall parents night and we had this highest percentage of parents in attendance that we have had since I started parents night a year and a half ago.  We had roughly 70 % of our parents there last night participating with our kids. 

This is the postcard that I sent home the week before and uploaded to our social media pages to remind everyone of what we had coming up.  This has got to be one of my favorite postcards that I've made yet.  I love the look of the chalkboard and the simplicity of the whole design.  (It says tomorrow because I changed it the day before to upload to our social media pages.)

One of the reasons that I host parents night is to give parents who don't usually attend our church the opportunity to connect with our workers, myself, and our church staff.  I hosted a cupcake party early to give parents the opportunity to connect with our Pastor and play with their kids in our pre-service activities.  

Parents are encouraged to participate in every activity that we do.  When we say our pledges I have kids come up with mom & dad to lead the pledges.  Parents play on their kids team during game time, listen to their verses, and sit in on their council time.  The kids absolutely LOVE having their mom and dad there participating with them!  

At the close of the night I give some highlights of what we have coming up the rest of the semester, and I invite a member of our Leadership Team to talk to the parents and invite them to our services on Sunday.  

I'd strongly encourage everyone to have some form or type of parents night on their schedule.  I have learned that I can't ignore the family aspect of children's ministry.  I have to find ways and events to combine both and this is one way that I can invite the whole family in and give everyone an opportunity to hear about Jesus. 

If you host a parents night I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

Yesterday, I hosted a link-up of all of your Thanksgiving ideas and if you didn't get to link up you can still go here and share your Thanksgiving crafts, recipes, traditions, etc... 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thanksgiving Ideas- Plus a Link Up!

I am so excited about Christmas this year.  Something about the holiday is just producing this sense of awe, wonder, magic, and a twinkle in my eye.  However, I also realize the importance of not skipping over Thanksgiving because there is equally something magical about this holiday.  There is something about taking the time to truly be thankful for the things that we have, the things that so many of us take for granted, that places my heart in such feelings of gratitude that I am sometimes left with tears in my eyes.  Just last night, on the coldest night of the year (a chilly 26 degrees) I became so incredibly thankful for my house to keep me out of the wind and for my warm bed and blankets to sleep under.  I looked up the statistic and it's estimated that approximately 100 million people in the world are currently homeless.  That means that last night approximately 100 people may have slept in the cold.

There is truly always something to be thankful for. 

Today, I'm hosting my first ever link-up because I want to see what you guys and gals are up to for Thanksgiving!  Link up your family friendly blogs below with your posts on your Thanksgiving traditions, crafts, food, family, etc... If it relates to Thanksgiving link it up!  I'll be sure to check them all out!  

I want to share with you some of my favorite crafts, activities, and devotions that I have found via Pinterest to help your family have a fantastic Thanksgiving!  

Kids Thanksgiving Tree: Source

If you are searching for the perfect lesson for your #KidsMin this one is only $15 on CMD!  

This Thanksgiving banner will look cute and stylish in any home and comes with a free pattern to download plus a full tutorial: Source

Take your family on a nature walk and as your walking talk about all the things that you are Thankful for in God's creation.  It's a great time for kids to talk about all their favorite bugs and animals, grass, trees, and falling leaves.  

After your nature walk check out this adorable Turkey craft made from real leaves picked up along the walk.  This is a great activity for Thanksgiving morning while mom or dad is in the kitchen cooking, the kids can be sitting at the table working on their own project. 

Here's a great and most importantly FREE object lesson using candy corn from!

Check out this cute Turkey craft perfect for your Wednesday night service before Turkey day.
Be sure to be sensitive to kids with allergies! 

Also, don't forget the simple activity of sitting around with your family at the table after your Turkey dinner and give a chance for everyone to say what they are thankful for.  We have been doing this in my family for as long as I remember and it is still my best and favorite memory of my childhood.  

For more Thanksgiving ideas be sure to follow my Pinterest boards here

Don't forget to link up your own Thanksgiving ideas or even something you are thankful for! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

10 Reasons You Need a Team

Happy November 12th.  That's right, November 12th.  Show of hands for anyone who thinks this year should just slow down just a little bit.  Two hands up from this girl right here. 

#KidsMin Calling has a lot of exciting things going on!
If your interested in a weekly link up to share your #KidsMin ideas (crafts, themes, lessons, costumes, music, etc) please e-mail me ( with "Weekly Link Up" in the subject line.  
If I have enough interest I'll also be looking for co-hosts every week so include your information if you'd like to co-host as well.  
Thanks again so much for your patience in my blogging!  You all are awesome. 
I'm excited to be back on a schedule and sharing my #KidsMin ideas with you all.  
Speaking of you all, today I'm taking about the all of people that surround me in my #KidsMin.
Today, I'm talking all about teams and about how important that they are to any ministry.
A team is not just important, it's absolutely vital to the success of any ministry. 

10 reasons you need a team:

1) You are just one person.  That's right, I said it.  You are one person with two hands and two feet just like everyone else.  You cannot do it all.  Trust me, I'm speaking to the choir here because I have this massive tendency to think that I can do it all.  Ask any member of our church staff how often I ask for help and they will all tell you it's a rarity, but I should ask for help more often.  

2) Everyone has different gifts and talents that make them uniquely qualified for different ministries.  My gifts and talents are no where near the gifts and talents that our youth ministry staff and volunteers have and their talents are not the same one's that I have in Kids Ministry.  Those who work with our littlest babies have different talents than those who work with our Pre-Teens.  

3) Kids relate to different people.  I wish that every child in my ministry immediately attached to me and related to me the minute they walk in the door.  I do have a large number of kids who relate to me immediately, but I also have some kids who don't relate to me right away.  These kids may relate differently or even better (gasp) to another volunteer... and that's OK! 

4) More people means more creativity.  The biggest things that all #KidsMin need is creativity, and I only have so much creative spirit in me.  However, when I'm surrounded by a team of people I have found that as a whole we have better, more creative, and more unique ideas to help reach the kids in our ministry. 

5) Teams help recruit bigger teams.  One of the biggest problems I have found in my ministry is needing more people all the time.  It took me about one year and three months of trying to recruit every volunteer by myself before I realized that my biggest tool in recruiting more volunteers was the team that I already had.

6) By trying to do everything myself I rob everyone else of the joy and blessing that I have found in children's ministry.  I'm not the only one who is blessed by what I do, but when I don't allow others to help I am taking away their opportunity to experience the same joy, happiness and passion that I have.  

7) Teams help create a high-energy environment.  Let's face it, there are going to be days when Miss Mary is tired, or when Miss Mary just isn't feeling it, and in those times I can't just cancel my children's ministry.  I have found that it's in those times where my team can really come together to bring lots of energy when I'm the one who needs the energy boost. 

8) Having a team invites more people to hold onto the vision of your kids ministry.  Often times as leaders we know exactly where we are going and what our vision is for our ministries, but we often feel as if we are dragging people behind us.  If you have a team of people to grab hold of the vision than they are able to help get you there and to help share that vision with your entire church. 

9) Teams decrease the work load for everyone.  Let's be honest, kids ministry is a lot of work and it isn't always easy work.  My favorite saying for all of my volunteers is that many hands make light work.  The more  people who are committed to your ministry the easier it is to clean up, set up, pass out snacks, organize costumes, and whatever else it might be. 

10) Your team will be your encouragement when you are running on empty.  We all have those days where we just don't have a lot to give.  It is in those days when I am frustrated where I have a few trusted people on my team to help push me through.  Just this Sunday, I was feeling particularly frustrated and one of my most trusted volunteers was able to help me take a step back and take a deep breath and keep going.  Without this person, I probably would have sat down on the steps and cried, but my team pulled me through.

Monday, November 11, 2013

#KidsMin Catch Up Post

Happy Monday, Friends!

I realized over the weekend that #KidsMin Calling had been super neglected lately.  I have found myself caught up in just this whirlwind of business that has left me with very little time to do basic things like sleep and keeping up with my blog has seemed like a nearly impossible task.  Thank you to those of you who are still checking in to see what I have been up to with my kids lately.  I thought I'd catch up with you guys and gals today and get back on my schedule tomorrow. 

Life in #KidsMin has been crazy lately.  I know I feel like every season of the year is busy and busier, but from the beginning of October until about halfway through December my schedule is just slammed.  Between planning for my Fall Festival (recap here), planning for my kids to sing in church this past Sunday (they did fabulous by the way), planning my Christmas parties (kids & volunteer), and the usual weekly maintenance on all of my departments I've stayed pretty non-stop lately.  

What's new and exciting in my life?

The Starbuck's red cup is out and I'm obsessed.  I'm not even kidding you over the course of this weekend I think I had 2 3 no 4 red cups coffees.  When my friend Audra reads this she is going to have a heart attack.  I've always been obsessed with coffee but I think it's been taken to a whole new level.  The creme brulee latte is I promise you what I think heaven is going to taste like if heaven has a taste. 

Veggie Tale's has come out with a 4 week Sunday School curriculum done by Group and I LOVE it!  It's absolutely perfect for my preschoolers and is just the type of curriculum I have been looking for.  It's short and sweet and captures their attention perfectly all while including the favorite Veggie Tale's characters which we know and love.

Speaking of Veggie Tale's characters... I met LARRY BOY!  I know... #KidsMin dream come true right!  

I preached at my Alma Mater last Thursday and I took snacks!  That's right, I passed out tiny bags of goldfish to the college students.  Why?  You can take me out of #KidsMin, but you can't take the #KidsMin out of me.  I spoke about the challenges of ministry, and how our love for people and Jesus has to be real, and about how Jesus has to be our ultimate anchor or we will never make it.  I think Jesus knew that after I preached that sermon I would have the most challenging weekend of my life.  After sitting on my bed at 7:15 AM on Sunday and crying for 10 minutes (just keeping it real and honest here) I remembered who my anchor was, determined that Satan wasn't going to get the best of me, got up and ready for church, and headed out to do what I know God has called me to do.  Was it my best Sunday ever?  No, and let's be honest we all have those Sunday's where everything isn't great.  It wasn't my best Sunday ever, but I didn't let Satan win.  

Come back and visit me this week and see my favorite Thanksgiving devotions for families, read about why you need a team, and see my recap of my AWANA parent's night this Wednesday. 

Have a GREAT week! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Month to be Thankful- 1

We've all seen it on our social media sites... it's November and that means it's time to be thankful.  
All over social media I am reminded daily of all the things that people are thankful for and I think it's absolutely fabulous.  
I love seeing people sharing their gratitude instead of sharing their complaints. 
I thought I'd mix it up a little bit for my blog and invite some of my friends and fellow bloggers to share the reasons that they are thankful for Children's Ministry. 

I still have room for a few guest's to share why their thankful so e-mail me at: if you'd like to share. 

Today, we're hearing from my friend and fellow #KidsMin Ashlyn Holland.  Ashlyn is truly fabulous at what she does.  She has such a heart and passion for children and we love to keep up with what the other is doing.  Ashlyn and I went to high school together and then found ourselves at the same college so we've known each other such a long time.  Ashlyn not only serves as a fantastic #KidsMin, but she teaches school during the week as well so she is constantly pouring into kid's lives and I love seeing the ways that the Lord is using her to make an impact on this generation.  Check out what Ashlyn has to say about why she is thankful for #KidsMin. 

Being Thankful for Children’s Ministry—a perspective of a Children’s Pastor
When I think about the many aspects of children’s ministry, there are a lot of factors that shape and mold what I would consider a kingdom-driven ministry. As a children’s pastor, the sole purpose of ministry for me, is to equip, nurture and mature children so that they are confident in “taking on” the world that surrounds them as a believer of Jesus Christ. Though there are many things that go into equipping, nurturing and maturing a child, one thing has to be evident at all times; (genuine) LOVE. The Bible tells us to love God and to love people. It sounds so simple, yet can be so difficult at times. Let’s take a situation that I recently found myself in and use it as a learning opportunity to illustrate to you what I really mean by genuinely loving those around you.
I was in the middle of teaching a lesson during children’s church and there was a child who would not stop talking, distracting others or keep their hands (or any other body part for that matter) to themselves. In that moment while I was preaching my heart out to this room full of children, I just stopped. I looked at the child and a part of me wanted to flat out ask, “Do you even care that I am up here trying to teach you?!” But instead I politely said, “I would like to speak with you in the other room.” I found myself face to face with this child and as I was getting ready to give my “normal talk” I found myself asking a very simple four-word question: “What is going on?” The reaction I got was totally not what I expected. The child began to cry and then proceeded to pour their heart out to me. They expressed how they couldn’t help it, they just feel pushed to the side at home, they are worried about what will happen next with some of the people that are living in their home; as the list went on and on, I just sat there in amazement. I had known and interacted with this child regularly for three years and did not have a clue. The teacher in me just thought, they must lack self-control in some areas and don’t know how to behave at times. How wrong I was. That saying you may hear from time to time, ‘you never know what someone could be going through,’ became reality to me as I sat there looking at a child who was broken and in need of someone to show them the love of Jesus. That was an ah-ha moment for me (I tend to have them often). The moment I realized that there is more to just standing up on Sundays and teaching children about the different stories you can find in the Bible and how we can apply the lessons learned to our lives. It goes back to two things so many of us lack; creating meaningful relationships and showing the love of Jesus. In order to create meaningful relationships and show the love of Jesus, we first have to LOVE (just as He first loved us). We are all sinners who fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but we are also sinners saved by amazing grace from God alone. (Ephesians 2:8). If it were not for God’s grace, I would not be where I am today. Just as He has shown love and grace and so many other things to me daily, I should do the same to the children that I interact with daily. It’s not a one-time thing. Just as the love of Christ is constant in our lives, I have grown to realize that loving and showing love to others should be approached in the same way. What in the world do I want you to take from all this? There are a two simple things:
1.) Children are not just the future, they are the NOW and it is OUR responsibility to equip them to go out and show the love of Christ to others. 
2.) We cannot equip children to show the love of Christ to others, if we, ourselves do not show the same to them.
I am thankful not only that God has given me the amazing opportunity and responsibility to lead children as their pastor, but also because He continuously gives me opportunities to minister to children and their families. He also gives me the opportunity to create new meaningful relationships with others and show the love of Jesus to them. Whether you are a children’s pastor/minister or a volunteer/helper, always be mindful of the little things and never take for granted the opportunities God gives you to love on (minister to) these precious children and their families. Every opportunity is something to be thankful for, for this is the time you get to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. Don’t take it lightly and above all else, no matter what; LOVE just as He has loved you.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

#KidsMin Happiness in 100 words

What is happiness?  

My happiness and my joy is found in the kids who I have the incredible privilege to minister to.  
Yes, serving God's children is an incredible privilege and it is not a job to be grumbled about.  

Here's what I consider happiness in 100 words...

Swing sets, children accepting Jesus, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, air guitars, listening to Bible verses, babies who learn to say Mary, painting parties, pre-teen talk, small hands clasped in mine, little tugs on my leg, arms reaching out to be picked up, shy smiles, little clapping hands, animal crackers and goldfish snacks, VBS music, small voices with big Hallelujahs, kids tables, crafts, sprinklers and water balloons, temporary hair dye, Veggie Tales, picture books, lullabies, baptisms, laughter, tight hugs, holidays and doughnut parties, nature walks, ice cream, twinkling eyes, seeing the wonder they find in Jesus, child-like faith and open loving hearts.  

I'm reminded of this quote by Andy Stanley:

Where do you find your happy and your joy?  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Fear Not 2013

This year's Fear Not was absolutely amazing.  Fear Not is the annual Fall Festival that I organize for my church every year on October 31st.  It is always wildly successful and we absolutely love that our church is a safe haven for our community on that evening.  Over the course of two and a half hours we have anywhere from 750 to 1,000 people come through our doors and experience the love of Jesus in action.  

Here's a look at what we had going on last week.  

First, take a look at my amazing costume that my sister created by hand!  By hand people!  I promise you, she could make costumes for a living.  

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."  Ephesians 6:10-11

Last week I put on the full armor of God in the most epic costume ever!

Check out Ephesians 6:10-20 to understand all the pieces.  

And now for a look at our games!

Pin the nose on the Pumpkin, Face Painting, Treasure Hunt

Pumpkin Race, Balloons, Pumpkin Ring Toss

Guessing station and Photo Booth

We also had a hay-ride, a bounce house, a bounce slide, basketball and soccer, a free hot dog dinner, and a cake walk!  
A great time was had by all.  

What did your ministry do for October 31st?