What Do We Do Now?

what-nextToday’s post is more like a public service announcement because we didn’t know six months ago what we know now. You may be in the same boat. Six months ago my mother-in-law passed away suddenly. When I got the news by phone, my first phone call was to one of my bridesmaids of life in my Emmaus Reunion Group because we knew we’d need to be covered in prayers. The next two phone calls were to our adult children. But the fourth phone call was to my pastor and boss with a cry from a place of utter grief and despair, “What do we do now?”

At 55 years old, we are the first of our peers to lose both parents AND be responsible for everything. These are a few things we have learned along the way:

  1. Get a will – Kay had her will and my father-in-law’s will along with their passports, social security cards, birth certificates, and other important papers in a safe-deposit which my husband had a key for. We went to the box the day after she passed. All important papers like car titles, home closing documents and tax returns were also in one place. She had a clear filing system. She set this up years ago. Don’t put it off. The will has protected us, guided us, directed us, and made clear much of what we needed to do next.
  2. Have personal and professional relationships – with an attorney, a pastor, and accountant/CPA, contractors, realtors, etc. We are so grateful for the wisdom and expertise of those we had built relationships with through our local church.
  3. Beneficiaries trump wills – If the will is specific to what happens next with limitations and directions, yet only names are listed as beneficiaries of investments and assets, the limits and directions within the will do not apply.
  4. Have an Emergency Fund – There will be many expenses that will need to be covered way before any paperwork can be completed at the courthouse: funeral expenses (including special wishes by family members), monthly utilities, monthly mortgages, lawn services, house cleaning supplies, groceries, paper products, clothes, traveling expenses, home repairs, and a whole lot more. Reimbursements take a long time…right now, more than six months.
  5. Have a list of accounts and passwords and update the list often – Kay did nothing online which made the paper trail easy to follow. Over the course of 45 days, every utility, investment, bank statement, and QVC order came through the mail.  We, of course, do everything online. Passwords, account numbers, vendor and utility lists should be on paper and stored in some way so to be easily located. How will anybody be able to settle your affairs and gain access to your parent’s or your assets and liabilities if nothing comes through the mail?
  6. Be gracious, no matter what people and family do and say – Everybody has questions. Everybody has opinions. Everybody grieves differently. Everybody has a different perspective. Everybody remembers a past conversation. Prayer and wise counsel are imperative.
  7. Talk through the process with your adult kids – This has been a learning experience for all of us. Clear communication with our young adult children throughout this process has equipped them and their spouses to know what to do and what to expect when our time comes. We had wills prepared when they were minors, but as adults, new wills and this learning is our responsibility to impart as part of their financial training.

The grief has been intense. The responsibility has been heavy. Ministry with families happen all throughout remarkable moments of a family’s life. When we learn new things, we figure out a way to teach them. This is one area where I now have experience. It helps the healing to pour out our lessons as a drink offering unto the Lord.

What will you do now?

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” Titus 3:1-2


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Calendaring 201

calendaring201I just picked up a 2017 calendar from the office supply store which means I just printed my own 2018 calendar. Which means I printed the two counties’ school 2017-2018 calendars. Which means I am preparing for 2017 in September of 2016. My parents and families need calendars for the next year so I can’t just throw things together and hope it fits the rhythm of my community.

The first installment of my calendaring process can be found here at Calendaring 101. But what else?

Calendaring is not planning. Calendaring is about partnering. Calendaring is putting on the calendar that which complements other ministries: Holy Week, Advent, Missions, Stewardship, Good Friday, One Service Sundays, Youth Mission Trips, etc. AND what I know about my own community: school calendars, scout calendars, band/music calendars, local festivals which happen the same time every year, etc. so when I plan special events and time specific to my families as ‘church’, I am a help to my families. We are no help to families when we are one more thing to add to their calendar nor one more thing for my families to feel guilty about because of the hard choices they make each day of what is best. Calendaring should help offer a healthy rhythm for volunteers and should give families some ‘easy wins.’

It helps that our pastor gives us the next year’s sermon schedule a few months before year-end. We calendar to partner with another ministry by piggy-backing: Missions Lunch & Easter Egg Hunt on Palm Sunday; CLUB345 Bake Sale fundraiser for camp & Youth Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday, etc.. Partnering with other ministry events/specials offer greater opportunities for intergenerational relationships and sticky memories in the hearts of minds of our little people. Always a huge win!

Then there’s what you want to start new.  How does it fit in the mix? First, you evaluate the ‘whipped cream’ of your ministries. Anything outside of Sunday am programming is ‘whipped cream’. Sunday is the ‘daily bread’ of Children’s Ministry and it must be done to the best of our abilities and resources.  For example, we noticed this year a lessening of enthusiasm for The Saints Book Club, so we will be taking a jubilee from that in 2017. Thus opening a spot for something I’ve been tossing around in my head for a couple of years now. The challenge comes when it’s all good, but we have limited resources in volunteers, champions, funding, and time. So let’s be intentional about offering what is best: be in prayer, talk with your parents, chat it up among your students, run it by your pastor.

Don’t forget to plan for personal time away for education, for rest, for reevaluation, and for celebration. The white space will fill quickly. Calendaring is how we offer easy wins for families, including your own. Shauna Niequist wrote in Present Over Perfect, “I fake-rested instead of real-rested, and then I found that I was real-tired.” She went on to write, “Loving one’s work is a gift. And loving one’s work makes it really easy to neglect other parts of life. People love it when you say yes, and they get used to it. But you can’t have a yes without no. If you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it.”

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.” Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation as quoted in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: It’s Impossible to be Spiritually Mature While Remaining Emotionally Immature by Peter Scazzero.

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Away at Rock On Camp

rockonrocksJust this last weekend, I and three other chaperones took students to Rock On overnight camp along with 300 other 3rd-5th grade students in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. This is our second year at Camp Glisson in the fall located in beautiful Dahlonega, Georgia.

We ate together. Table life around a huge table over Lucky Charms and the biggest cinnamon buns on the planet. Because we ate, we also served one another and cleaned up together. There was something for the pickiest eater and the students who eat anything as we ate family style, passing plates, pouring, spooning, etc.

rockonbreakfastWe laughed together. From the ‘favorites’ conversation in the van on the way home to raising our hands when we went over bridges because of ‘ancestors.’ We chatted and chuckled all over camp.

We played together. The lake excursion was the favorite of the trip, by far. The teams were separated so well that our students were able to do their ‘special’ more than once. No waiting in line to maybe get one ride. Multiple zipline rides, multiple jumps from the landings, multiple swings on the high swing (so that if you only went halfway the first time, you were going all the way to the top every time afterwards.). Lots of videos and still shots were sent home to parents.

rockoncrossWe worshipped and danced together. From sitting in the back by the fans on Friday night to serving communion in the center of the room by Sunday morning. Sacred spaces all over campus kept us on the lookout everywhere we walked. Man, did we walk. Good thing I wore my Fitbit this time!

We prayed together. Young adults who know Camp Glisson like the back of their hands escorted and presented a prayer walk all over campus. We truly got a tour of the sacred spaces and followed in the footsteps of all who had gone before us.

The first aid kit I kept in my backpack was used once by another church’s leaders to help with a spider bite, so bring the Benadryl. We were always with other students from other churches so we met new friends and recognized old ones. Conversations before breakfast over the coffee/tea table with colleagues I only knew through Facebook were precious, indeed. Watching a college student serve as one of our chaperones was both hilarious and surprisingly effective.  Rev. Debby Fox and the Connection Ministries team were aware of the developmental needs of this age group and Chuck Bell is a very gifted worship leader who engaged the students beyond singing. Our students rockonnotesparticipated in conversations with our ‘stage’ leaders because these leaders were all over the place all weekend, were completely accessible, and started conversations with my kids all weekend long.  So glad that the music didn’t ring our ears and students were in bed early. And I can’t thank enough the partnering churches who shared our cabins and rotations who’s chaperones made their presence known so our kids felt like their kids, too. One big family.

Away at camp builds relationships…memories…kindnesses…connections with other churches…independence…conversations…and a desire to come back to a place where we can stay with God, grow with God, and go with God.

“The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer…my place of safety.” Psalm 18:2


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The Bible: That’s Funny!

laughingOver the years of serving children in the local church, you would think I’d become more mature in the things that make me chuckle. Not so much. Maybe because I grew up with 4 brothers, bodily functions remain a top laugh-getter.
Anyway, I have collected over the years some bible passages that have caused me to fall in the floor laughing:

  • Luke 12:35 “Be dressed and ready for service.” (a permanent post-it-note on #1 son’s XBox during high school)
  • John 12:7a “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. (my all-time personal favorite)
  • Jeremiah 1:17 “Get yourself ready!  Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.  Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.”
  • Proverbs 10:19 “Where there are many words, Sin is not absent.” (aka “shut thee up”)
  • Leviticus 13:40 “When a man has lost his hair and is bald, he is clean.”
  • Exodus 32:24 (Aaron speaking to Moses) “So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
  • Proverbs 26:17 “Like one who seizes a dog by its ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.”  (nothing like a bite in the face to keep you in your own business)
  • Proverbs 25:24 “Better to live on a corner of the roof than to share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”  (self-explanatory, and said again in Proverbs 21:9)
  • Nehemiah 6:3 “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.”  (a Mama’s mantra through middle school)
  • 2 Timothy 4:11b “Take Mark, and bring him with thee:  for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (Baby Girl found this when she and Mark began getting serious)
  • Psalm 119:139a “My zeal wears me out.”
  • Ezekiel 44:18b “They must not wear anything that makes them sweat.” (Can I get an “AMEN!”?)

A clergy friend of mine has begun to get in on my collection and has added some of her own:

  • Jeremiah 49:32 “Their camels shall become booty, their herds of cattle a spoil.”
  • Ecclesiastes 10:1 “Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a foul odor.”
  • Ecclesiastes 10:11 “If the snake bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage to the charmer.” (duh)
  • Yep, “She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”  Proverbs 31:25

Got any you are willing to share?

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Geaux Team!

lsutigerThis blog was originally posted in January 2011. In honor of college football starting this weekend, which is the true beginning of fall, a repost is in order.

Last night, on national tv, my beloved LSU Tigers whooped up on that precious team of Aggies at the 75th Cotton Bowl. Did I mention that LSU won? Well, they did. College football brings out the fanatic in me. I am an LSU class of ’83 graduate in Political Science with a minor in Greek and Roman history (due to 4 years of college Latin and some strangely entertaining Art Appreciation classes). I paid my own way through college working at a local bank during the day and checking groceries at the A&P grocery store at night and on weekends. I gave blood to pay for my books and parked my 1970 VW beetle on the decline so as to easily start the thing by putting the car in neutral and popping the clutch. It was a dance and a challenge everyday.

Dave Ramsey, of Financial Peace fame, says, “When you are footing the bill, you WILL finish college in 4 years.” He is so right. My college years were difficult, at times lonely, financially impossible (1 student loan my senior year). But I was on a mission. I wanted the piece of paper. I believed, and still do, that education can re-program one’s future.

Now, I have to admit that although I am a fan, I may not know each player’s name, where they come from, even which team they are playing (Bob now puts this on the fridge for me in August). But I am loyal to the max. I shared a season on land and in buildings with other LSU-Baton Rouge campus students that changed the trajectory of our futures.

It reminds me of the local church. I am also a fanatic for the local church. We come in as individuals with expectations and hopes and dreams. Then we begin to share a season on land and in buildings that will set us on a course of changing our lives and transforming the world.

May I put on my purple and gold AND the love of my local church well enough to invite others to jump on board. We are supposed to be a team, right? Working, living, serving together with one goal…to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!” Philippians 4:1

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American Ninja Warrior: Bible Edition

NinjaAwardsWhat do we do after handing out a slew of new Bibles to 3rd-5th graders? We schedule a late night (6:30-9:30pm) on the following Friday for 3rd-5th graders to learn to use this new gift. Using the hugely popular tv show American Ninja Warrior as our theme, we set up bible and physical challenges that go together. Brainstorming for this event with another kidmin champion made for an awesome night.  The plan was to have it outside, but a rainstorm called for plan B – our gym.

Students were instructed to wear red, white, and blue, bring a towel (to lay on during the silence time), bring a bible (that’s why we’re here, but have some student bibles handy just in case someone forgets), bring a water bottle (the kids got thirsty quick), and use free Event Bright registration for signups (this made for quick notification emails of the change in venue and intake location).

Arrival activity: let students write names on headbands with a sharpie or a name tag for those who wore their own headbands, and lots of jump ropes.

Introduce the gathering attention chant with a leader saying, “The B-I-B-L-E” and the students respond “that’s the book for me.”

NinjaStudyUsing a Rainbow Bookmark – As followers of Jesus, we are people of THE BOOK…the Bible. 2 sections, 66 books. Testament – covenant – promise. Asking the question: What is the Bible? We pre-made 1/4 inch ribbon bookmarks knotted at the top to be placed in different places in their bibles as a large group:

  • black=Table of Contents;
  • red=Genesis, the first book in the Old Testament;
  • orange=Joshua, the first history book in the Old Testament;
  • yellow=Psalms, the 2nd poetry book in our Bible;
  • green=Isaiah, the first prophet book in our Bible;
  • blue=Matthew, the first Gospel book in our Bible;
  • purple=to mark Romans, the first letter book in our Bible.

NinjaQuadstepsQuintuple Steps – Discussion and overview of the Bible. How did the Bible come to be? Play the telephone game (oral tradition).  The story of the Bible is about God and how God acted in people’s lives then and now.   Run the Quintuple side steps without touching the ground.

Agility Ladder – Creation – Genesis 1…We serve a God of order & systems. We made a creation trail mix to save for later for snack and used an agility ladder to run through the 7 days of creation in order. Joke: Where does the Bible talk about baseball? Genesis 1:1 “In the big-inning.” Then back to the bible study tables.

NinjaTiresFlip the Tire – The Torah is the first 5 books of the Bible. Was originally written on scrolls (rolled up paper). Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Flip the tire 5 times and say the books that make up the Torah.

Over Under PVC Hurdles – God gave His people the 10 Commandments to live well with one another. Look up in Exodus 20 & Deuteronomy 5. Run under the pvc hurdles for the ‘do’ commandments and over the pvc hurdles for the ‘don’t’ commandments. Then speak loudly reading the commandments from a 10 commandment poster taped to the wall.

NinjaStumpsKing of the Mountain – Look up the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Step from stump to stump without falling off.

Hula Hoops – Look up Matthew 10:2-4 and discover the 12 disciples. 4 stations of hula hoops. Jump through each hoop 3 times each saying the disciples/apostle’s names.

Bean Bag Toss – Look up Matthew 22:36-40 to discover The Greatest Commandment. Toss a bean bag into a Rubbermaid bin saying, “YOU shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,with all your soul, and with all your might. YOU shall love the Lord with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself, UMPH!”

NinjaLaddersPass the Torch – Gotta have some water, right? Look up 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and discover the relationship between Paul and Timothy. Pass or carry a halved pool noodle with a cup taped to the end filled with water to another bucket. (We were not able to do this being inside, but the plan was there.)

Walking the Plank – Look up  Luke 11:1-4 The Lord’s Prayer. We’ll discuss the many aspects of prayer using a gift from Mark Burrows, the Children’s Ministry Lead at FUMC of Ft Worth, WITH (Wow, God….I’m sorry, God….Thank you, God…Help me/another, God), then a 10 minute NinjaBalanceperiod of silence. Walking raised lengths of wood for balance beams.

SilenceAt some point on the course have a rest time for a period of silence (10-15 minutes, depending on time) to eat the trail mix and a cold Powerade on their towels spread throughout the space.

Drag A Tire – Look up the Parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 and discuss who is my neighbor. Drag a tire with a rim by rope across a long space.

NinjaTirePerform Sword Drills for a whole host of things. (We did not have time for this, but we were ready just in case we did.)

Closed out the evening with awards of “Take 5” candy bars on 1/4 inch ribbons as we discuss taking 5 minutes each day to read the bible and pray.

My kidmin brainstorming partner’s husband came to pick up at night’s end. They have scheduled their American Ninja Warrior: Bible Edition late night at her local church in two weeks. With the help of NinjaTrailMixparents and some gracious 5th grade boys, we had everything except the largest quad step packed in the van and ready to go within 20 minutes.  Most everything will be returned for next year’s event, because this turned out even better than I imagined. When parents arrived for pickup, they were able to watch their students ‘run the course.’

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

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Throwing In The Towel

towelI grieve the loss of colleagues who have thrown in the towel and decided to leave professional ministry. Seven colleagues in the last 6 months. Five colleagues in the last 2 weeks. Each one led fruitful, effective ministry. All but two served in multiple local churches. One went through the process and was ordained.  Understanding that some are called for a season and life changes make for priority shifts, I still grieve the loss of their leadership.

According to an ongoing Lifeway survey, the average term of a children’s pastor is 3.6 years. The #1 catalyst which offers a longer term of service in the professional call into ministry: connection outside your own local church.

In a conversation several years ago with a preschool director involved in weekday ministry with children, I asked why she didn’t come to the monthly preschool director networking lunch. She replied, “I don’t need anything.” The way I saw it?  She had so much to share! Within 18 months of that conversation, she, too, left professional ministry. I don’t even know if she’s worshiping anywhere or using her gifts within a local church anymore.  Sigh…

Hebrews 3:12 reads in the NIV “See to it, brothers (and sisters) that none of you (y’all = a statement meant for the group of us) has an unbelieving heart (our tendency to discouragement, unbelieving, needing something more, and disillusionment) that turns away from the living God (because without one another, we drift.)”

Without one another, we drift. How far we drift depends on the relationships we build face to face, not Facebook to Facebook, or Instagram to Instagram, nor blog to blog. Social media is not enough. Building connection is time consuming, intentional, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. But O the value of sharing table life, a meal, a trauma, losses, disappointments, gains, ideas, celebrations, words of truth and encouragement with one another face to face .  I mean truth like what was shared with me a few years back, “I don’t know why in the world you are letting that situation take up so much space in your head. Let it go, girl, let it go!”  I let it go.

I challenge each of you reading this to make building professional relationships outside your own house (local church) a priority where throwing in the towel is not even an option. Network with others regularly in face-to-face gatherings. Join professional organizations not for what you can get out of them, but for what you can bring to the table. Make gathering for lunch or breakfast a priority in your continuing education. Linked-in doesn’t count, social networking doesn’t count, face-to-face counts. If there isn’t a gathering in your area, call the church down the road a piece and ask to speak to their children’s ministry lead. Invite him/her to lunch, or tea, or coffee, or breakfast….share some table life. Start one. Go ahead….you can do this!

“Leadership is the most complicated thing you will ever do in your life, why do you think you can do it alone?” Simon Sinek

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Grow Day Camp And More

GrowDayCampThe last week of the summer at Wesley Chapel was hopping, singing, playing, and laughing because of the efforts of a whole host of planning, praying, and commitment from the Camping & Retreat Ministry arm of the North Georgia United Methodist Conference. All of this in the faces and from the hands and feet of two amazingly organized college-age site directors and six fabulously energetic high-school-age (rising junior and senior) counselors who have ‘applied and interviewed for and been accepted to Grow Day Camp’s sibling ministry, the Experiential Leadership Institute.’ All this to bring faith-based camp to our kids so they experience the week in living groups of 3-10 campers with 2 counselors focused on building Christian community. Bringing a week of summer camp to our house!

‘Counselors plan each day’s activities with the theme of the day and week in mind. Each summer’s theme is based on professionally developed camp ministry curriculum that is age-appropriate, based on scripture, and respectful of God’s creation.’ Activities at our site included chapel, archery (love the sense of danger), group games, bible stories, drama skits (Grow Factor talent show happens on the last day of the week with our kids drawing houses, counting to 20 in Chinese, playing a game, dribbling a basketball, a Civil War monologue, etc.), arts & crafts, and the most amazing day trip to Camp Glisson. Such a fabulous day trip that parents were quick to sign up kids for the fall 3rd-6th graders retreat in September just to get their feet on Camp Glisson soil again. Sweetness!

growarcheryI will admit that I have been an obnoxious begger to get the program at WC ever since the program began just a couple of years ago. Perseverance paid off when another church had to back out and we were blessed to get the week before school started….everyone is back in town not to miss Meet & Greet…and the parents who reported to pre-planning had a great place for their kids to go. Needless to say the followup survey is completed and I will commence to begging for the same week next year.

The coordinating leadership from Camp Glisson provided banners, marketing materials and paperwork to be completed for the site (do we have fire extinguishers, closest hospital number, showers, etc.) FAR in advance. They were very clear on their expectations of us and what we could expect from them.  We don’t have showers, so they bring a trailer with an outside shower that fit our water connections. If we don’t hit the minimum of campers, we have to pay for the difference.

GrowThe ELI leader-students slept over at the church, debriefed each day, and planned for the next as they were able to make their own meals in the church kitchen. Another kidmin champion provided dinner one night (her son was our representative for the Experiential Leadership Institute), we provided dinner one night, and I picked up Starbucks love one morning for every leader.

Camp Glisson did an amazing job of training the students. At the end of the week, they provided a slide show, gave it to me on a flashdrive, gave me a framed group photo, and a precious thank you note at the communion (led by our senior pastor) and celebration ceremony at the end of the week. Their training, energy, compassion, kindness, and faith exceeded my expectations. They cleaned up so well it looked as if they weren’t even here…made me kinda sad.

growbustripAt the end of each day my kids were exhausted, sweaty, and challenged to go outside their comfort zone which resulted in confidence and powerful memories. A week of sacred moments developmentally appropriate with great joy and energy. This I know: the rising juniors and seniors who served on this their 3rd, 4th, or 5th week of their summer were gracious, kind, creative, helpful, and totally confident in their roles as leaders in ministry with children. Gosh, I wish this program was around when my kids were juniors and seniors in high school!

Both programs going on simultaneously, Grow Day Camp for littles and Experiential Leadership Institute for bigs. A true partnership. Can’t have one without the other. My campers want the ELI’s jobs when they grow up.

Henrietta Mears had a definite philosophy about camping ministry that could be summed up in one word: decision. “If Sunday School was the place where people were built up in the faith, then camp was where they made their decisions about following the Lord.”

This last week of the summer, our kids got to see what it looks like, smells like, sounds like, moves like, tastes like, feels like to be a young person who is sold out for Jesus and the local church in the faces of our site leaders and ELI students. Their home churches have done well. Man….I can’t wait until next year!

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Blessing of the Backpacks

backpackEach year on the Sunday before one of our school systems begins, we hold a Blessing of the Backpacks. We invite anyone with a backpack, rollercart, lunchbox, briefcase, etc. (and those who use them) to come forward to the communion rails to receive and participate in a blessing. The liturgy is simple and it takes only 3-4 minutes of the Sunday service. The liturgy was originally shared with us by the gracious folks at Covington First United Methodist Church in Covington, Georgia.

Liturgy for the Blessing of the Backpacks

Leader: We are gathered together today in thanksgiving for the gift of education – a gift that we respond to in different ways. Some of us find the following from Ecclesiastes to be true:  Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. (12.12). For others, the excitement of  Proverbs sums it up better: Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding. (3.13)

Leader: In our weariness, and in our excitement; for those of us continuing, and those just beginning; for all who prepare for another school year, let us abide by this scripture above all:  Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.

Leader: Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6.4-9)

Leaders: Today these people bring forward their backpacks, book bags, lunch boxes, pencil boxes, briefcases and other carriers that they might be blessed and dedicated to the glory of God.  Come, children and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

 All:  Teach me, O Lord, your ways.

Leader:  I will bless the Lord at all time; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

All:  Teach me, O Lord, your ways.

Leader:  I will glory in the Lord;  let the humble hear and rejoice.

All:  Teach me, O Lord, your ways.

Students and Educators:  We dedicate these items, our work, and ourselves to the glory of God. We thank you, God, for the opportunity to learn, to teach and to serve, so that your work may be done in the world.

Leader:  May God, the maker of all things, bless these things for the kingdom, and may their use be a blessing to all!

Congregation:  O God, source of all goodness: We give you thanks for the gift of reason and the opportunity for education. Bless our schools, that they may be places of learning and safety where teachers challenge the minds and nurture the hearts of students.

Grant that teacher, students, administrators, coaches and support staff may work together in mutual respect and find joy in the challenges of academic life; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

BlessingOfTheBackpackAfter the service, these same folks are invited to meet on the front lawn to pick up a carabineer and a tag as a reminder of this blessing and God’s call and challenge for them in this new season. I order the tags and carabineers from Share-It Tags.com. 2016 tags read “1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Ordered online last Sunday. Approved a proof received by email on Monday. Had them in my hands on Thursday. Be aware: They come in strips of three. If you place an ScriptureTagD74order for one, you will get three. Of course the more you order, the cheaper they are, but they really look nice and we’ll add others throughout the year for special events.

“I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:23

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Deep and Wide Day Retreat: A True Blue Friend

2016deep4Last year was our first day away retreat for rising 4th-6th graders and that info is here. Our first retreat is a faith milestone and this we do once a year for rising 4th-6th graders.  This year offered several movie themes to jump from and the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) proved to be the most applicable to our group in attendance with the theme of “A True Blue Friend.” This is the rundown:

Location: At my house along with other CLUB345 adults, 10am-9pm….I live so far away from the church, it’s a very special treat to come and spend the day at my house for my students.

What the kids bring: A bag to carry everything in, swim suit, sunscreen, refillable water bottle, towel, pen, Bible, walking shoes (for the hike to the reservoir), flipflops (shoes for the pool), bag of favorite candy for popcorn bar.

2016DeepLesson 1: A Heart That Chooses Friends Wisely (Jonathan & David)…Spiritual Gifts Inventory from Credo …A True Blue Friend (Naomi & Ruth). This spiritual gifts inventory relates to body parts and makes the ‘gifts’ more relative to students. It was a great encouragement for the students to hear about the best parts of them which are gifts of the Holy Spirit truly from the Lord.

Students made sub sandwiches and we hiked to the local reservoir for a picnic lunch.

To the neighborhood pool! Then to the movies. Debriefed the movie and lesson #2 which is a trifold I prepared years ago for a scout event on friendship. This is the info on the trifold:

2016Deep2Advice on selection of a friend


A righteous one is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26


  • Gossips (Proverbs 20:19)
  • Short-tempered (Proverbs 22:24-25)
  • Those given to obsession (Proverbs 23:20-21)
  • The rebellious (Proverbs 24:2122)
  • Liars and those untrustworthy (Proverbs 25:18-20)
  • Those inconsiderate and those unfaithful
  • The violent


  • Those who display wise choices (Proverbs 13:20)
  • Those whose love is constant (Proverbs 17:17)
  • Those who are loyal (Proverbs 18:24)
  • Those who aren’t afraid to help you be the greatest YOU that you can be (Proverbs 27:6)

2016deep1Solving problems with your friends

  1. Be slow to anger. Proverbs 15:18 A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension but a patient man calms a quarrel.
  2. Be slow to respond by not interrupting Proverbs 18:13 She who answers before listening that is her folly and her shame.
  3. Avoid quarreling. Proverbs 20:3 It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.
  4. Speak gently. Proverbs 15:1 gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up more anger.
  5. Speak briefly. Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but she who holds her tongue is wise.
  6. Be quick to show love. Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
  7. But if necessary, rebuke rather than flatter. Proverbs 28:23 He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.

10 Commandments of Friendship

  1. Speak to people
  2. Smile at people
  3. Call people by name
  4. Be friendly and helpful
  5. Be cordial (speak and act as if everything you do is a real pleasure)
  6. Be genuinely interested in people – you can like everyone if you try
  7. Be generous with praise and cautious with criticism
  8. Be considerate of the feelings of others
  9. Be thoughtful of the opinions of others
  10. Be alert to give service – what counts most is what we do for others!

Things to avoid, which can disrupt a good friendship

  1. Don’t repeat everything you hear (Proverbs 17:9)
  2. Avoid senseless arguments (Proverbs 17:14)
  3. Don’t overstay your welcome (Proverbs 25:17)
  4. Don’t meddle in affairs not your own (Proverbs 26:17)
  5. Don’t play bad jokes (Proverbs 26:18-19)
  6. Don’t be contentious (Proverbs 26:21)

And if you get lonely, God has provided friendships for you:

First, you have a friend in _____JESUS_________

Jesus said in John 15:15, “I have called you friends.”

Second, you have friends in your __PARENTS_____

They are God’s gift to you and believe me, no one loves you more or cares for you more deeply and genuinely than your very own mother and father.

And third, you have friends in your  ___FAMILY__& CHURCH___ (This was especially important for us to cover since all of our students who attended the retreat go to different schools.)

2016deep3We prepared dinner of fruit salad and deep dish pizza and enjoyed fruit sorbet for dessert. After several heated games of Pit, laughter, sharks & minnows, line tag, and popcorn fun, we are already planning next year’s event. Of course we wear our tshirts to church the following Sunday.

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Christ.” Romans 8:39

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