Category Archives: Children’s Ministry

I feel pretty . . .

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The next topic on my blog challenge was to write about the best compliment I ever received and why it meant so much. Contrary to the title of this post, my favorite compliments have nothing to do with being pretty.

For those of you that don’t know, my first love was theatre.  In fact, my undergrad degree is in theatre, with a minor in vocal performance.  Back in college I walked off stage after performing a monologue in “The Good Doctor” and a fellow cast member told me “You inspire me.”  I’m not gonna lie, it felt pretty dang good.  Partly because that cast member was a professional actor who’d been being paid to act for years.  But if we’re being real, it probably had a lot more to do with the fact that I had a massive crush on him.  So maybe that’s not really the best compliment I ever received.

Then there was this time about six years ago I asked a parent I knew to write a reference for me.  I was applying to work as a nanny and I needed to have several written references.  Within her letter she wrote, “I believe Amanda would sacrifice her life and take a bullet for my kids.”  Awe.  It was awesome . . . and it really is true.  I fall in love with every kid I am blessed to work with and I’m so thankful that not only the kids, but also the parents, feel that love.

But probably my favorite complement came one day in college when someone came up to me.  I’m not really sure how she knew me.  Honestly, I can’t even remember who it was.  But she looked at me with a slightly curious look on her face.  Then she said, “I see Jesus in you.”  And that was amazing.  That’s my life goal right there.  For people to look at me and not see my occupation or IQ, not my dress size or faults, but to see the love of Jesus through me.

What about you?  What kind of compliment has made your day?

First Round of Sketches

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In case I haven’t mentioned it, I’m doing a musical theatre camp for kids this summer.  I’m really excited about it–it’s a great chance to help kids develop their talents, have fun, and build confidence.  Anyway, we’ll be doing The Little Mermaid–not the Disney version, but a pretty cool one.  I just finished the first round of costume sketches/paintings.

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Now . . . who wants to sew construct these for me?

Goodbyes are not always forever.

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Last week I wrote about saying goodbye to the child I had tutored this year.  I wondered if I would ever get the chance to see her again.  Today I did!

I tutor at an inner city school through a program organized by a literacy coach who attends my church.  When we created the tutoring program we introduced the 4th graders at the school to an incentive program.  At the end of the school year every child who had raised their Lexile score by 100 points would be invited to a party where they would be entered in a drawing.  Ten lucky kids would receive new pairs of sneakers.  When this program was started and the incentive plan mapped out, I wasn’t yet on staff at my church, so I didn’t really know anything about it.  Last week I got the opportunity to jump in and help make it happen.

So today I had an ice cream party with 35 kids who had raised their Lexile scores by 100 points or more.  And my amazing girl was one of them!  If a child raised their score 200 points or more they got two entries in the drawing.  And she was one of those kids!  I’m so proud of her!  And so happy that I got to see her again.  I then headed over to our local Sports Authority to purchase the sneakers the kids chose, where a team of four staff bent over backwards to make sure every kid got an awesome pair of shoes.  It’s great to know that ten lucky kids will be smiling brighter tomorrow!  I’m so happy that I’m a part of a church that makes awesome things like this happen and believes in the value of supporting our city schools!

It’s also nice to know that goodbyes are not always forever.  I’m sure that’s a hope I’ll hold onto as a foster parent.

On the Merry Go Round of Cazy

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It’s been a crazy busy weekend for me! On Thursday I went to an info meeting for foster parenting. Which is a little backwards, since that is supposed to be the first step, and I’ve actually done steps two through four already. But it was great for me to get a chance to meet the voice behind the phone. We discovered we have lots of mutual acquaintances. They got to ask me some questions they normally wouldn’t because for the first 30 minutes I was the only prospective foster parent there.

There were a few awkward moments when I thought, “maybe I shouldn’t have shared that just yet?” For example, I wanted to ask if childcare vouchers could be used for nannies instead of facilities. I’ve heard the stories of foster kids having six appointments a week between family visits, caseworker and lawyer visits, doctor appointments, and early intervention evals. That’s a lot of running around, and for a working parent it seems like a job better suited to a nanny than a daycare. Plus, I’ve been a nanny and have tons of friends who currently are nannies. I believe they can be the best choice for kids and parents (not to mention incredibly helpful for kids who really need one-on-one attention).

Anyway, I asked the question and he looked at me like I might be trying to work the system. He then explained that childcare vouchers go directly to the daycare, not the foster parent. I would not be getting the money. I wanted to laugh. Part of the reason I waited so long to become a foster parent is that I wanted to be more financially stable, because I will spend far more on my kids than the state will ever give me. Heck, I’ve already spent about $250 starting to set up the kids’ room and I don’t even have a kid yet!

Which was the other thing. I may or may not have mentioned that I already bought a bed. They looked at me like I was crazy. Clearly they’re not used to people as gung-ho about fostering as I am.

In other news, Friday night we had our Family Worship Experience and it was amazing. Here are a few shots of the evening.

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Petunias anyone?

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I’m great at ideas. Big, grand, elaborate, super-cool, fun ideas. I can come up with dozens of ’em in a single sitting. The execution–that I’m not so great at.

As you are all aware, Sunday is Mother’s Day. And in kid’s ministry world, that means doing something nice for all those moms. Usually our church gives out single carnations. But this year I’m on the team, and that idea seemed way too easy to me. (Besides, everyone knows carnations are the losers of the flower world.) So I decided we’d pick a different flower; and instead of presenting a cut blossom, we’d give a planted seedling. And then we’d doll it up with ribbon and a cute card. Better for the planet and adorable, right?

Yeah, not so much. This project involves about 10 steps. Per flower. My hands are currently filthy from transplanting the seedlings, despite washing them about 25 times. My OCD tendencies are not happy. But the trade off should be about 850 happy mommas. Plus, I got to work with a 16 year old who was sentenced to community service. Building a relationship with him was the best part of the day. I don’t think he has many adults he can talk to.

Strangest thing of all . . . thinking about Mother’s Day and realizing next year I may have a kiddo of my own.

Were Adam and Eve cave people?

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Were Adam and Eve cave people?

That’s what I was asked by a kid at church recently.  Let me back up.  At Kid Connect we believe it’s important to involve kids in the learning process, so we encourage them to ask questions.  We don’t want to be that teacher calling out the standard fill-in-the-blank questions looking for “Sunday School answers.”  So, throughout the worship experience kids have the opportunity to write down questions.  We take those questions and the inspiration leaders (our large group teachers) address those questions in the teach time.  As you can imagine we get some awesome questions.  Teachers have three options when they read a question–they can answer it themselves, challenge the kids to come up with the answer, or they can put it in the “Expert Box” for me to answer later.

As you can imagine, I get some very interesting questions.  And so it was that last weekend during one of our venues our inspiration leader pulled out a question and read “Were Adam and Eve cave people?”  There was a moment of awkward silence.  Then she looked up, smirked at me, and laughed “Well, that one’s going in the Expert Box.”

Thanks a lot.

Here are some of the other questions I’ve been asked:

  • Did God know Santa?
  • How do we love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, when we’ve never met him?
  • How was the “big bang” made?
  • How many people die from hunger in 24 hours?
  • Why did the women not get treated fairly?
  • Why are people mean?
  • Can I beat up people?
  • What does God look like?
  • How do I get people to stop hitting me?
  • How does hope spread?
  • Can God stop school?
  • Why didn’t God just wipe out sin instead of making Jesus die?
  • Why are some churches so big and fancy and some don’t have a playground?
  • What do you do when there are a lot of people annoying you?
  • When you get baptized is it like falling back into Jesus’ arms?
  • How do you tell someone you are afraid of about Jesus?
  • Why do people think it’s all about money?
  • Why do people bully?
  • Does God have a Holy Spirit in himself

Wow!  Right?

So, it’s time for you to get involved!   What questions have kids asked you?  Or, what questions do you have that you’ve been too afraid to ask?  And how would you answer these questions?

Hunger Games, Nanny Diaries, and a Father’s Love

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Tonight I enjoyed an awesome girls night watching The Hunger Games.  We tried to go last night at midnight, but apparently even in a small town like Fredericksburg, all ten showings were sold out days in advance.  One person in our group hadn’t read the book, so everything was fresh for her.  Afterwards I asked her what she thought and she told me that she wasn’t too emotional until the famous scene with Rue and Katniss.  (Just in case any of you haven’t read the book or watched the movie yet, I’ll leave out which scene.  But for those of you that have, you’ll know what I’m talking about.) Anyway, she told me that when it got to that scene she was OK until she looked over at me and thought about me and my kids.  (As I affectionately call all the children who I am blessed to minister to.)  What would I do if it were one of my kids?

It is a really powerful thought– what would you do to protect the kids that you love?  I remember a time when I was working as a nanny.  Little Zach, who was about two and a half, was supposed to be taking a nap.  But he didn’t want to sleep–there were monsters lurking in his closet.  Or maybe he just wanted to play, and the monsters were his fall guys.  At any rate, I lay down next to him and began to sing him lullabies until he fell asleep.  And as he lay there, curled in my arms, I realized just how powerfully I loved him.  I thought about all those mothers whose baby boys were taken from them and slaughtered back in Egypt at the time of Moses’ birth and again in Palestine at Jesus’ birth.  What would I do if someone broke down my door demanding Zach?  All my strongly held pacifist beliefs were getting a run for their money.

And I wonder, what if that same fierce, protective love is the way my Heavenly Father feels about me?  About all of us.  Surely my love for Zach is not stronger than the Father’s love for him . . . or for me–as baffling and hard to believe as that may be.

So today, for Poetry Friday, I offer up this poem for everyone who offers a fierce love to their children.  Whether as a parent, a pastor, a nanny, or a Father.  And I offer this poem to all the children in our world — may you always be aware that there is someone who fiercely loves you.

 

I Hold You

I hold you
sweet child
in my arms
I hold you
whispering lullabies
in your ear
I hold you
in my steady arm
fighting off
the monsters that lurk
in your nighttime

Fear not
sweet child
in my arms
Fear not
I watch over you
wreathing flowers
in your hair
Fear not
you are not alone
in the shadows of this pain

Take heart
sweet child
in my arms
Take heart
I cradle you
singing peace
into your soul
Take heart
there is a hope
stronger than fear

Fly away
sweet child
in my arms
Fly away
you are secure
in my embrace
which breathes new life
into your brokenness
Fly away
into the freedom
that breaks all chains
and births creation anew