Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reasons to Serve in Children's Ministry

Or reasons to serve anywhere.  But I'll focus on children's ministry (with a few plugs into worship ministry), since that's where I'm the most familiar.  I'll tell you my point right up front: SERVE.  Do something for the church.  Add your voice, your talent, or simply your body and manpower to something that the church is doing.

Here's the thing: we want new people who don't know the Lord to come to church, right?  Well, these new people are going to be looking for something that the church can do for them.  So the church creates all these programs to show them that we will take care of them and their children.  But some of these people are quite skittish, and look for the slightest thing to give them a reason not to come.  And shoddy programs provide exactly the excuse they are looking for.  Especially in the area of children's ministry.  If they take their children and find a place that seems unsafe, or not properly supervised, or unfun, they will not return.  Or they'll keep their kids with them in regular service, which is decidedly unfun for kids, and they won't return because who wants to spend an hour and fifteen minutes lecturing their kids about being still and quiet or being embarrassed because their kids are acting like kids?

Enter children's ministry.  I think children's ministry is the most feared ministry by believers.  They think that they have to be magic with kids or have a doctorate in Biblical Studies to serve with the kids.  Both are so untrue.  I'm a prime example.  I'm not a "kid person."  My younger sister is.  She's magic with kids.  She can relate to anyone shorter than her hip immediately.  Me?  I can hold a baby and change a diaper and try a few different things if they're getting fussy.  But I'm not magic with them.  But when we first came to our church, Pumpkin Pie was 4 months old, and I knew that the nursery was staffed with volunteers, and if I was using their services the least I could do is get in on the rotation and serve one service a month.  Fast forward to now.  I'm the nursery director.  Still not magic with kids, but I know that parents need a safe and fun place for their babies and toddlers to play so they can be free to worship and serve the Lord themselves.  And I have the ability to provide that.  So do you.

If you don't know how to teach all you have to do is ask. At our church literally anyone could do it.  Our curriculum is video based, so all we need is a facilitator.  And we have a Children's Pastor, so if a kid asks a question that you don't know the answer to, all you have to do is call Pastor Jeff!  Really we just need someone who will look kids in the eye and smile and be willing to learn along with them.

Here's the secret: kids will love you.  If you look them in the eye and smile and learn along with them, they will remember you for the rest of their life.  They love their teachers, and not because they had the entire book of 2 Thessalonians memorized.  They love all adults who aren't their parents who care about their well being and their souls enough to show up and talk to them for an hour about God.  You don't have to come up with the tools, but we do need you to hold them.

Still not sold on kids?  Fine.  Pick worship ministry.  They have non-musical holes that need filled, trust me.  Or greet and be willing to point out the bathroom to someone.  Or be the one who checks the bathrooms each weekend to make sure the paper towels are filled.  It's always the tiny details that seem to go unnoticed that make the biggest difference when they haven't been done right.

The church needs you.  You can be a blessing to others.  And in doing so, you'll be worshiping the Lord in a way that is so pleasing to Him.


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Saturday, October 18, 2014

An American Girl (Kinda)

I'm pretty low maintenance.  I do not fit the mold of the American girl, as far as grooming habits go.  Or activities.  There are just some girly things that I've never committed to.  Most of the time I'm okay with it.  It's usually a cost issue (because dang it is expensive to be a girl.)  Some of the time I feel left out, not being able to identify with the society I live in.  But honestly, even in the feeling lonely times I just don't see myself ever jumping on board with these.

Curling my eyelashes.  I think I've only done this once, maybe for a play I was in at the time.  Those eyelash curlers really freak me out.  The other day I saw a lady driving down the road while curling her eyelashes. I'm sorry, but that is just not safe, holding up a crazy metal contraption that looks like a torture device up to your eye while barreling down the road at 50 miles and hour.

Skinny jeans and boots.  This is mostly a cost thing.  But since I've never really dressed in style, I can't see myself participating in this one.  Oh, I love the look.  But by the time I save the money to get the appropriate outfit I'm sure I'll be about two years too late.

Highlighting my hair.  This is a cost thing once again.  My blonde hair has lost it's youthful lightness, but I'm not at a time in my life where we can afford the upkeep on highlighted hair.  Maybe someday.  And confession: sometimes I do spend many minutes in front of the boxes of hair dye at the store, dreaming of what it would be like to go dark or red (the upkeep and my blonde eyebrows always give the deciding vote against buying any.)

Lipstick.  Or lip gloss. It's the small children that prevent me from lip gloss.  I don't want it to smear all over their cheeks when I kiss them all day!  So Chapstick it is.

Wine.  It seems to be a mommy rite of passage to have a glass of wine at the end of the day, or to have girls night out involving wine.  But I just don't like it.  In the words of Sheldon Cooper, "Mmmm!  Grape juice that burns!"  Plus, it seems like it would cost quite a bit of money to "acquire" the taste, so no wine for me.

Women's conferences.  I generally stay away from any conference of any kind, because I really dislike crowds.  But women's conferences have the extra level of crying and all that, and that's just not me.  I don't want to go cry with a bunch of ladies, especially ladies I don't know.  I'll catch the info on a podcast, thank you very much.

Hmm.  I really could go on for 31 days about this.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

My Someday List

I have a Someday List.  Conventional American wisdom tells me the time is now and that there is never a perfect time so you have to act, but Sweetie Pie still needs room time in the morning, nap time in the afternoon and bedtime at 6:30.  And constant supervision when she's awake and roaming.  So I put things on my Someday List and hope that someday I'll get to learn more about them.

Someday I'd like to be an expert in gardening and composting.  This is a big stretch, because I'll have to get over my dislike of having dirt on my hands.  And of bugs.  But I do love the thought of producing enough food for my family and for us to give to our neighbors and friends.  And composting makes sense, but seems really really difficult.  Nitrogen and turning and heat and worms and who knows what else.  The Renkins on Curious George make it look easy, but they ARE cartoon characters.

Someday I'd like to bake my own bread.  The blogs make it sound like it's no big deal.  But do I need one of those fancy Kitchen Aid mixers?  Do I need a bread machine?  Is yeast and flour really that much cheaper?  Will the bread come out how we're used to or will it take us a few months to get used to the consistency?  Is the time commitment worth it or not so much? 

Someday I'd like to repaint my kitchen table.  It's just such a big project, and I'll need a time when my children don't need my time so much.

Someday I'd like to learn more about essential oils.  It seems like it would require a ton of research and maybe many more dollars than I have, but the very idea of them intrigue me.

Someday I'd like to play my violin on a regular basis.  I can play a basic violin, and a few years ago I played often on the worship team.  I loved that so much, but I had to give it up to be the nursery director.  Plus, who has time to put in the proper amount of practice with tiny children running around?  But I know they won't always need my constant supervision, and I hope to be able to have time to put in at least a half an hour a day so I can do basic violin things.  I'd also like to learn how to fiddle.  My brother plays the banjo, and it would be fun to know how to fiddle to go along with that.   Someday.

What's on yours?  Maybe I'll add it to mine.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Things I've Tried But Don't Feel the Need to Try Again

I'm not very adventurous.  I'm the first to admit it, and I'm really okay with that.  But when the situation calls for it, I will try something new.  Sometimes, though, I'm glad I tried it but I hope to never have to again.  Such as:

Seriously, what is the deal with this?  I will never understand the craze.  It's just gross.  I've tried it on multiple occasions at different places, and now I'm to the point where I'm always sad that I've tried it.  Maybe we just don't eat out often enough, so when we do go out, I want it to be a place where I know I'll like it.

Honestly, the food list is the longest: kale, cheesecake, wine, capers, liver, walnuts and raisins in my cookies...

Zip Line
I love roller coasters, but I do not love jumping off of something harnessed by a single rope.  Zip lines are something that everyone should probably try once in their lifetime, but once you have that badge of honor I see no need to repeat unless that's your thing. 

The Speed Slide at Water World
I tried this because I love water parks, and I love roller coasters, and speed slides seem to be the roller coasters of water parks.  But they are too painful, both on the way down and when you hit the bottom.  And I feel awkward enough walking around in a swimming suit that I don't need the added stress of trying to look cool while extracting an atomic wedgie.  Give me the rides that you use an inner tube on all day, thank you.  

Maybe the lesson is to just keep trying with the freedom to say that you won't do that again, if it is at all in your power.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Things I've Never Done (Or Don't Envision Myself Doing)

At our very first MOPS meeting for the year we played Never Have I Ever.  It was fun, although I had quite the brain cramp trying to think of things I've never done.  And about 20 minutes after I left, I was flooded with tons of ideas.  Here are a few:

Spare me the lecture, because I know.  I am one who was born and raised in Colorado and still lives here, yet I've never been skiing.  The story goes that my parents weren't really into it, and we didn't have a lot of money when I was a kid, so naturally we just never went.  I'm sure money played into why I never made it on a youth group ski trip either (did we even have those?)  And now that I am a stay-at-home-mom, money still plays into why we don't go.  But also, I am not an outdoorsy, athletic person.  I'm not sure I'd like it, even if I did find the money to go.  If I ever try it someday, it will be to just get everyone off my back.

Order coffee at Starbucks
I have never ordered coffee at Starbucks, or any coffee shop for that matter.  I don't like coffee.  I worked at a coffee shop in college, and it smelled so amazing that I tried it on multiple occasions.  I spit it out every time.  When I go to Starbucks I choose a raspberry hot chocolate.  With whip, if I'm feeling fancy.  Now there is a delicious drink.

Own a Kitchen Aid mixer
This falls under the I Don't Envision Myself Doing category.  I really don't bake that often, so why would I get to have one of these?  And I certainly don't have the counter space.  But maybe I would bake more often if I had one.  Maybe I'd even get into baking bread.  But maybes aren't a good enough reason to invest in that kind of thing.  First world problem, right?

Run a marathon
Or half.  Or 5k.  I'm just not a runner.  I ran in college to complete the required phys ed credits, but I did NOT enjoy it.  The people who love it kind of baffle me.  Of course, so do the people who love exercise in general.  But I do not plan to ever run any kind of organized race. If I'm running I'm probably in trouble, so be kind and jump in to help out, would you?

I'm a homebody.  There is plenty more that I've never done.  But right now I don't feel burdened to do much else.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ways I Think I'm Screwing Up My Children

Behind every great kid is a mom who's pretty sure she's screwing it up.
My kids ARE pretty great.

This is one of the downsides of so much information at our fingertips.  It's hard to remember that the people (and doctors!) who have written all the parenting articles and advice definitively telling you how you should be raising your children did so with zero knowledge of your actual life and circumstances.  I agree there are some basics we should all follow: don't shake a baby, feed your children, make sure they sleep at some point.  But most of it is up for debate and really needs context.  All that to say, I know I get quite a bit of this parenting thing wrong.  Here are a few ways:

Today is Honey Pie's 4th birthday.  I don't think I've ever done birthdays right.  The over-the-top parties are out of the question, but I'm not talking about those.  I just want them to be celebrated, but I've never found the line of what is not enough and what is too much.  The old advice of "You don't need things to make them feel special on their birthday" doesn't help me.  Do I need to always invite our family over for their parties?  Now that I've done it for a few years, do I have to stick to it lest they feel shorted?  Can I really do one thing for one girl but not for the other?  Anyway, I've never really felt good about how we celebrate birthdays, but it's one of those things that I'll just have to keep trying and hope that the girls aren't scarred for life.

The only extracurricular activity we've ever done is Awana and the two-week swimming lesson session in the summer.  This is a money issue.  Pumpkin Pie actually won a free uniform and a month of Tae-Kwon-Do lessons (lessons?) and I thought this might be a great way to try it.  But I've held off, because I don't know what would happen at the end of the month.  Do I want to give her the month to try it, and just stop if we can't continue paying for it, or do we not even start things at all?

To date, only my older two have ever seen a fireworks show in person.  And only my oldest has seen more than one.  When Honey Pie was about 8 months old we did the Independence Day thing.  Then it took us over an hour to get home that night.  Pumpkin Pie has also seen a fireworks show that my in-law's town does the day before Thanksgiving.  I actually like that one because it's not late at night, thanks to early darkness at that time of year.  But it's just been too easy to just stay home and put them to bed, rather than battle the crowds AND the Way Past Bedtime crazies.  They might need therapy for this one.

Using "no" as my reflex answer.
I confess.  I do.  I automatically say no.  Every time.  It's like I can't help it.  I know I shouldn't, but it just pops out of my mouth.  My first goal is to count to 10 before saying no.  Maybe if I can conquer that, then I'll be able to stop saying it so often.  I want to train myself to stop thinking of the mess or the interruption it's caused to my day and say yes when it's really not that big a deal.  I can just pray that this is something that will be lost in the haze of early childhood when they think back to this time of their lives.

No neat little bow to tie up this one.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Dumb Ideas I Used to Have

Age is a wonderful thing.  With age comes wisdom (generally).  Unfortunately it also brings regret, having to own up to the dumb ideas you once had.  I'm the kind of person who holds pretty tightly to her ideas, so acknowledging they are dumb is quite painful, knowing how hard I held to them in the past.  Need some examples?

Fish pants.  My first big regret about the fish pants is that I wore fish pants.  In seventh grade.  They were a white romper number and had very large tropical fish all over them.  It was during my "I Don't Care What People Think" phase, which we all know is junior high code for "I Don't Want People To Know That I Care What They Think And I Hope They Think I'm Cool Because They Think I Don't Care."  My second big regret about the fish pants is that I don't have a picture of them.  Why don't I have a picture??

Yelling at people for using the word "awesome." My poor first college roommate got the brunt of this one.  (I'm so sorry, Mel!)  My freshman year of college I got on this soapbox that the word awesome should be used only in reference to God, because He is the only One deserving of our awe.  Like most college kids, my classmates used it for everything.  And for whatever reason, I thought it was my purpose in life to point out the error of their ways.  You can probably guess how that went over.

Potty training Pumpkin Pie before the age of 3.  Actually, more like potty training her before she was ready. She was my first, and I succumbed to the peer pressure of moms who love to talk about how their kids were potty trained before two or at 18 months or before the age of one or by three months.  Potty training is such a trial, and those moms do deserve to celebrate, but I should never have pushed my daughter the way I did.  We had quite a few months that I would like to forget, because let's just say I broke every single Do Not rule in how I related to her.  She's fine.  She's a normal first grader and doesn't remember it, for which I am eternally grateful.  But I will always remember it and battle the shame.  My new rule is to not even start potty training until the age of 3, unless they choose to potty train themselves before then.  Honey Pie actually did.  It wasn't without messes, but she initiated at about 2 years 8 months, and the whole process was like night and day compared to the first time.

Boycotting Halloween.  This one is still very raw.  I've had my reasons.  I've made my arguments.  But clearly I have been outvoted on this one.  I'm tired of dealing with the fight and the angst I go through this month every year.  I'm not going to go out of my way to participate, but if my husband wants to do something with my girls, then fine.  If the girls want to dress up at school, then my husband can find something for them to wear.  If the church wants to hand out candy for Jesus, then the girls can reap the benefits.  Whatever.  Congratulations, World.  You win.

I'm sure there are more.

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