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Archive for July 2013

Do Not Be Discouraged! – Part III

Part III of this blog is meant to specifically encourage those of you who are ministry leaders for kids.  Sometimes after a Sunday morning, I feel harried like I went through a whirlwind and wonder what just happened here.  Did anything that happened this morning make an impact on anyone?

Recently, I asked a leader who had been off a few weeks and stepped back in to teach, how the morning went.  She proceeded to say that “Wow, how the boy dynamic has changed” in our little group.   Having taught the previously block of lessons to the same group, I knew exactly what she meant –these kids tended to be squirrely, in each other’s personal space, and at times downright obnoxious.  Many times it seemed like I wasn’t getting through to them.  My husband and son happened to be in the room with her that morning as she led the kids.   At lunch I asked how the Remember and Celebrate morning went.  My son said it was “good” (more than 1 word would be revealing way too much!)   When I asked my husband if they played the review game, he said yes.   When I asked him if they knew the answers, he said, “Oh yeah, they knew every one of them!”   Okay so maybe they were paying attention.

This story from really encouraged me and I’d like to share it with you:

“Do you want to see my treasure?”

God’s grand story had been shared. And the children had moved to tables around the room to create treasure boxes. Each set of hands carefully selected colored jewels and tape to decorate the tops and sides of the wooden boxes. When the final jewels were put into place the children began grabbing up all the extra items stuffing them into their boxes as their greatest treasures.

Treasure boxes filling up with plastic jewels acting as fillers, replacing things absent in these children’s lives: siblings, moms, dads, friends, homes, and love. They grabbed up everything in their reach as if they were able to fill the deep cracks that required more than pretty tape and sparkles.

All but one, girl.

The box fully sparkling and decorated the girl closed the lid waiting patiently. An adult sitting nearby watching the other children greedily filling their boxes asked the young girl, “Don’t you want to fill your box with treasures?” Pulling the box closer to her she said it was already filled with treasure. Then in a hushed whisper she asked the woman,

“Would you like to see what is inside?”

More than curious as she had not seen the young girl place one item in the box the woman responded, “Yes.” Slowly the young girl raised the lid and both heads peered over the edge into the box to see what was inside. A simple piece of paper with a word scrawled in purple marker was lying in the bottom.  A backwards “J” followed with “e-s-e-s”.

Can you imagine the leader’s surprise!  The one child she thought wasn’t engaging and probably didn’t understand was the one who “got it”.   We can never underestimate what God is doing in the hearts and minds of those around us.   All we can do is make ourselves available for Him to use.

Written by Darla Bair

Don’t be discouraged! Part 2

As parents and/or ministry leaders for kids it’s easy to get discouraged and wonder if we are really making a difference.  This part 2 of a 3-part blog series is meant to encourage you as you interact with your own kids, or serve as a ministry leader for kids.

As a parent who is a control freak, I can understand how we jump in and try to fix things and plan the course for our kids without first asking God.  Maybe it’s okay if our very talented son doesn’t have the best soccer skills coach, but the coach he does have models family values.  Do our kids need to have the best piano teacher on the other side of town, or maybe the Christian piano teacher in the neighborhood that’s not rated as highly, is just what God intended for our child.  And when it doesn’t work out when there’s no spot with the teacher we want, do we trust what our child might learn from that other teacher, is God’s plan, or do we moan about it before God and our child?  Many times the conditions we think ideal for our children, are not what God intends to teach them about life, relationships, and Himself.

And on another note, when our kids get really embarrassing, how often do we want to shout “stop that ugly behavior!”   Michelle Anthony, in her Spiritual Parenting series talks about what happens if we respond with what she calls “shock and appall, too often.  “You WHAT??” – that is shock and appall.  This reaction causes children to believe that what they did is shameful.  Children can soon learn that any sin may be met with disapproval, so they hide it.  The result is that the child doesn’t deal with the sin or heal it, but instead “stuffs’ it.  And what is dangerous is that we have a tendency to carry this habit into our relationship with God.  And just like God, don’t we want our children to run to us – straight to us – so we can help them and bring them to restoration?

Often as parents it’s easy to get in the way of what God is doing.  Michelle also talks in her series about how we need to slow down before we “react”, and ask God and the Spirit to guide us so we can come alongside of what He wants to do.   I believe one of the most important things we can do is remind our children of who they are and whose they are.  Michelle says that part of our children’s journey centers on what we believe about them. They need to believe they are the person Christ identified them to be.  Often we make identity statements without realizing it.  Things such as “She is shy” or  “He’s not very athletic” when instead we could be giving them life by saying “she tends to be quick to listen, taking in her environment” or “He’s gifted in the arts.”  In this world, our children are offered many counter-identities every day.  It’s a normal process for preteens and teenagers to experiment with several identities, like trying on outfits to see which fits best.   But be encouraged that those who have been granted a new identity in Christ are sealed by God’s Spirit.   And remember Philippians 1:6 which says “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”   Lastly, always pray for your child’s heart, knowing that even though the enemy is seeking to devour whatever faith they have, Jesus intercedes for them every day.   He is continuing a work in them and let’s not forget that we too, are children of God who bears the mark of His identity.

Written by Darla Bair, with parts adapted from Spiritual Parenting by Michelle Anthony