Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Outreach Ideas for Vacation Bible School

This year for Vacation Bible School our church did a little something different. Since I'm always on the lookout for new ministry ideas, I figure there might be someone out there that could benefit from hearing what we did.

Instead of crafts this year our kids did outreach activities. Grades 1-6 participated in four activities that will benefit someone else. Our VBS theme was "What's in it for me?"...and obviously we were trying to get them to think of others instead of themselves.

Here's what we did:

Monday: The kids wrapped and boxed 2500 water bottles. We printed labels with the church information...times, programs, contact information... And plan to pass them out at a local July 4th event in our community. We finished nearly 1800 on Monday and completed the rest on Thursday. We boxed them up and took them to a man in our church who has a refrigerated truck and he's cooling them down for us before the event.

Tuesday: We painted a clay flowerpot and planted flowers in each one. The kids were challenged to give there potted plant to a neighbor, elderly person or someone who might be lonely. We heard at least a dozen reports at how people were touched by this act of kindness. Our local Lowe's ordered the pots in bulk for us, so if you need an abundance you might check to see your local stores supply ahead of time.

Wednesday: A few weeks before VBS we started collecting sample/hotel size shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, lotions, conditioners and wash clothes. A local dentist donated several hundred toothbrushes. And we used ziplock bags to assemble 1400 hygiene bags. We donated these to the local pregnancy center, our church food pantry and our local hospital.

Thursday: We closed the week out by purchasing enough fleece to make 30 fleece tie blankets. We bought various colors and patterns to appeal to boys, girls and adults. We donated these to Home Health Care who will distribute them this fall as the weather gets cooler.

The great thing about these outreach activities is that the kids understood the correlation with the lesson time and the activities and had a greater understanding of focusing on others rather than themselves. It was a great week!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Follow Up- 13 Trees

After one day of tree chopping here's the first picture of how things are shaping up....I will be glad when it's done and we can put an in ground pool in get some order to the back yard! They will be back on Thursday to finish up. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

13 Pines

When we bought our house, one of the things we loved most was the somewhat wooded lot. We had 18 pines in our backyard that provided shade in the summer, pine needles for mulch in my flowerbeds and an overall cozy feeling to our backyard.  Well, after the horrible drought of 2011, 13 of these tall pines died. Talk about sad....

So, tomorrow the tree service will start cutting them down. It's going to take a few days but by the end of the week, my backyard is sure to look nearly bare. It will definitely take some getting used to.

Dead things are dry and brittle and ugly. I've watched these trees die. It's been a slow, gradual death on the outside..but the roots have been dead for a while. In fact, before I ever knew the trees were dead...they were.

Living things are so much more appealing. They're fresh and green and provide beauty for us to enjoy.

Isn't that how we, as Christians should be. We are ALIVE. We aren't dead...except to sin and the bondage of it. We are alive in Christ. Shouldn't we be vibrant and beautiful and life-breathing? The Living Water is available to nourish our hearts and souls - to take a dead, brittle life and make a strong and powerful life.

I choose life....the beautiful life that Christ offers...abundant, full, rich and free. Thank you Jesus!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Increase

She was in my preschool class the first year I taught. From the first moment I saw her, I knew she was different. I had seen her paperwork and I knew that she came from a troubled home. Mom had abandoned her, dad was in prison and her grandparents were raising her. School started and she was the one who came in with cigarette smoke on her clothes and backpack...she was the one with the hesitant look in her eyes, but always a smile, always.

In October our church hosted a "Friend Day" and I invited all my students to come. But guess which one came? She did. She looked so pretty all dressed up in her cousin's dress that day. She went to Sunday School and Children's Church and then enjoyed a big meal in our Family Life Center. She heard more about Jesus and I wondered if any of it would stick with her.

Christmas came. For the Christmas program a few of the teachers got together to be sure she had a pretty dress for the Christmas program at school. This girl had stolen our hearts. She looked so pretty the night of the program and you could tell she felt special in her new dress.

Christmas went. And she didn't show back up for school. One week and I called her grandparents. No answer. Two answer. Then one day the grandma showed up at the school. Mom was back in the picture and wanted her back. I was devastated. Grandma knew this was a bad idea, but the girl wanted her momma and after all momma's are important. The girl moved back in with mom a few towns away.

Living in a small town you run into people at the grocery store, gas station, hair salon. I saw Grandma a few weeks after and not to my surprise the girl was back with her. I was so glad. I knew this was the safest place for her. She didn't come back to school but started kindergarten in public school and finished the year in May.

She was walking down the hall at church yesterday when I spotted her. I had to look twice. Was that really her? I saw one of the bus workers walking with her and then, she spotted me. It was like a scene from a movie...we were running towards each other with arms opened wide. This little bit of a girl had been recruited to ride our bus for church. She had even brought her cousin. We took a few minutes to catch up about how kindergarten had gone and how excited she was about first grade and then she went to class. Smiling.

I walked down the hall with a stray tear or two streaming down my face. One more opportunity to minister to a little girl who has had a rough start. One more chance for this body of Christ to embrace a wounded family. One more time to share love with the fatherless. One more story about Jesus for her to hear. One more answered prayer...

I'm thankful for the bus workers who brought her in, for the Sunday School teachers who always have something for the children to eat in class so they aren't hungry, for the Caraway workers who have their lessons prepared and for Jesus, most of all, for Jesus who welcomes little children to come to Him. In a world where there is so much rejection and family heartache, it's good to see God's family reaching out in Jesus' name. Some plant, some water, but God gets the increase.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I like this...

God doesn't waste anything. Every experience that He gives us is a chance for us to grow closer to Him, to experience more of Him and to hold tightly to Him. That's what I've been learning.

Yesterday Bruce accepted the call to become the pastor of the church we've been working at for the last three years. Six months ago our pastor announced his plans to retire/resign by the end of June. He's served faithfully for 29 years. He leaves quite a legacy. 

Six months ago when we began earnestly seeking God regarding our purpose in this town God began to make it clear to us that Bruce was to submit a resume for the pastorate. He had pastored before for 14 years and we began wondering if that was what God was preparing us for now.With lots of nervous energy and midnight prayers Bruce and I committed to take this one small step towards what we believed God was asking us to do. What we learned...small steps can be hard steps too. But, God doesn't waste anything. For four months the search committee met, sorted through resumes, checked references, narrowed down the list of many to a list of a few, and in that waiting, we learned a lot about ourselves, each other and God. 

To make a very long 5 month story much shorter, I'll just tell you that yesterday Bruce accepted the call to become the next pastor of our church...the church where as a sixteen year old young man he came to know Christ, the church he surrendered to ministry at, the church that supported us in our very young ministry days in SE Texas. 

There's lots of very cool details that I'll be blogging about at a later date, but I know some of you didn't even know this was in the making and I wanted to let you know sooner rather than later....God hasn't wasted our last three years ...he wastes nothing. We've grown in ways that we didn't even know we needed to, we've learned to serve God and love people in a way that was refreshing and rewarding and risky and in the end, we hope has brought honor to God. And we know we've got lots more learning and growing and stretching ahead. Hopefully I'll hold tight to what I've come to know as Truth. 

Someone told me last night when she walked through the line to greet us after church "I like this, I like this a lot". Yes, me too.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Beautiful Day

Yesterday the weather was uncharacteristically cool and a little overcast....really beautiful considering we are already experiencing the typical Texas summer heat. We had previously arranged a short trip to Winnsboro to pick fruits and veggies and feed the chickens for a family in our church who are cruising the Alaskan shoreline. We enjoyed the beautiful property and the gorgeous fruits of their labor. Here are a few pics I snagged while there:

Tucker enjoyed throwing seed and bread.
This tree had 100s of plums on it.

Savannah enjoyed the taste of her first plum,
Tucker liked that the branches we overloaded....that way he could reach the plums.
We dug up potatoes...and picked black eyed peas and tomatoes, onion, squash and zuchini
Fun Day!