Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun!

      Kids just wanna have fun! They love to laugh and play with their family and friends. Fun is an important ingredient in the recipe for a successful children's ministry. Be careful that you don't leave it out or add too much. A pinch of sugar in the tomato sauce takes the sauce to the next level. A cup of sugar in a cake makes the cake delicious. Understanding when to add a little and when to add more is an often overlooked skill in children's ministry. 
     I don't know about your kids, but in spite of my best efforts my kids always preferred junk food over nutritious foods. I always searched for great tasting recipes that were nourishing, but if I wasn't careful, they would fill up on cookies or puddings. I wanted them to enjoy desserts, just never make the desserts the main course. That is my caution for children's pastors and classroom teachers or leaders--enjoy the fun, but don't make it the main course. Be sure they always leave with a clear message that touches them where they live. Keep the main thing--the main thing!
     Whenever possible use a game to teach a biblical truth. Use a game to evaluate how well they understood the lesson or to re-emphasize  it. A game is a fun way to break the ice and crack barriers. Group and Gospel Light Publishing have tons of books filled with fun games. I love the games from the TV program "Minute to Win It". You can see the videos of the games on line and they also have a Holiday Guide that you can download for free. Here's the link. http://www.nbc.com/minute-to-win-it/M2WI_Holiday_Activity_Guide.pdf
     Don't limit these fun games to service time; have a family fun night with games and snacks. Money is tight and families are looking for inexpensive things to do as a family. Seize this season to build relationships that are vital for healthy families, children and churches. 
     I'd love to hear how you used the games and the response you got from the players.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm so thankful for you! 
 I want to thank you for the difference
you have made in so many lives.
Thank you for your
faithfulness when it wasn’t convenient…
for your sacrifice when no one was looking…
for your love when it wasn’t returned…
for living a life that glorifies God.
Thank you for reading my blog and attending my workshops. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak into your life. I pray that God will bless you and use you more powerfully than ever before. I love you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Thanks Giver Menu

I love to cook almost as much as I love to eat. The hardest part is the clean-up afterwards; which often influences my cooking. The second most difficult part of cooking is deciding what to cook, which also influences and limits my cooking to a few favorite recipes. From time to time, I try something new. I get a new recipe from my mother-in-law, what a great cook she is, or I actually use one of those recipes from the cooking channel that I love so much. Still, far to often, I hear myself ask the question that I already know the answer, "What do you want to eat dear?"...and if you cook you know the answer, "I don't know. What do you want?"

But Thanksgiving dinner is different. I start getting hungry for cornbread dressing in October, but I resist the temptation so by Thanksgiving my mouth is watering in anticipation.  I make really good dressing, not stuffing; good southern style dressing like my Mother used to make. What a great cook she was! 

I've tried to razzle-dazzle the meal with new favorites, but I personally prefer the traditional fare: turkey, my husband smokes it for hours and it is so delicious; mashed potatoes; sweet potato casserole, my mother-in-laws recipe, but I have to leave out the coconut because both my son and daughter-in-law won't eat it. I just can't imagine anyone not liking coconut--it's one of my favorite things to eat, but then there's not too many things I won't eat. I have noticed chicken feet at the grocery store, but I've never tried them. It might help me lose some weight after the holiday to add them to my menu. I must mention Wayne, has put a pack of them ,as well as other interesting items from the meat counter, in my buggy from time to time.Not gonna happen! My son-in-law looks forward to the green bean casserole. And everyone's favorite is the homemade cheese bread. I try to bring the bread, with slivers of melted cheese throughout, hot  from the oven to the table. 

Thanksgiving is a special time around the Holland house. We'll laugh a lot, eat a lot and sleep a little. And, it's all possible because God has blessed us so much. I'm thankful, so very thankful, for my husband, my family, good food and so much more. I've learned and continue to deliberately remind myself that Thanksgiving is a holiday, but giving thanks makes every day a holy day. 

I shared my menu for eating, but more important, I want to share my menu for  living.

Menu for a Thanks Giver.

Lettuce: Let us give thanks
Squash- squash ingratitude and greed
Tater- par-tic-i- tater- participate in giving thanks
Meat- Meet God with an offering of thankfulness
Rolls- Roll all your cares on Him
Beet- Beet greed by being thankful
Thyme- Give Him your precious thyme (time)
Dressing- Dress in a garment of praise- give Him praise

Every good cook knows the secret ingredient is love—
            Love the Lord with all your heart…

Again this year, we'll all be together. I can't wait for kisses from my Princess, Joybell, Smiley and Jedediah. I'm so thankful to be a grandma!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

After Thanksgiving, Continue Giving Thanks!

     Even if you taught on Thanksgiving last week, you may want to use this illustration the Sunday after Thanksgiving or really anytime you want to talk turkey, ah, I mean about being thankful. You could turn each segment of this short illustration into a prayer as a guided prayer time.
     Ask the children to trace the outline of their hand in their church notebook. Show them how with your hand, stretching and curling the thumb to form the head of the turkey. If your children don't normally take notes (I encourage you to train them to take notes from each service. Remember, the shortest pencil is better than the longest memory), then provide each child with paper and crayon or pencil. Have each child trace around their hand to make the turkey hand print. Let them add legs, eyes and decorations as time permits. Talk to them as they draw. 

     I need your help today. I need you to draw the visual for today's lesson. I want you to draw around you're hand. Look at your hand. What you do with your hands is very important. With your hands you can do good things or you can do bad things. You can hurt people or you can help people. You can encourage people or you can discourage them just by how you touch them with your hand. Your kind touch can bring joy or your hard fist can bring hurt. If your deepest desire is not to lift and encourage others, then you have a heart problem. When you love God, you will love others. Yes, sometimes we need an attitude adjustment and God can handle that for you, if you'll ask. Draw a heart in the center of the hand print. Maybe you've never asked Jesus to forgive you of your sins and come into your life. He wants to. Ask Him. Maybe you've asked Him, but you're mad and sad inside. He wants to give you a loving, joy filled heart. Ask Him. Let's do that right now.

     I'm sure you've done this before, I want you to make a turkey out of your hand print. Maybe you're thinking Thanksgiving's over and you're right and wrong. You're right that Thanksgiving day is over, but you're very wrong if you think giving thanks is over. Giving thanks is more than a holiday. Giving thanks must be a way of life if you want the best life. Today, let's talk about how to use your hand to express love by expressing thankfulness. 

     Have them write GOD on the index finger of the turkey. (Fold your fingers so only the index finger is extended.) In everything we do, we must keep Him first. He is the giver or every good and perfect gift, so first of all, let's thank God for His goodness. We can thank Him with words. Be careful to never forget they are only words unless you mean them from your heart. Thankfulness is not thankfulness until it is expressed. You can thank God by lifting your hands or by clapping your hands.  Let's thank God right now.

     You have three more fingers or feathers on your turkey. Each is a reminder of something or someone to be thankful for. Before you write anything down, I want you to think for just a minute. On the remaining fingers write the names of three you are people you are thankful for. Is there someone that helps you that you have never said thank you to? Someone like the cafeteria lady, the bus driver or your pastor? Ask God to give you three names that you need to thank.  Write their names on your turkey, one name on each finger/feather. Everyday this week pray for the three names on your hand. Find a creative way to say thank-you. Make them a card, a little gift or write them a letter. Is there a way you can give them a hand? Let's ask God right now to give you the name of someone. You can write it down as we pray.

Gratefulness builds you up, It makes you feel happy! Grumbling deflates you! It sucks and steals all your joy! Gratefulness is expressed by thankfulness.