Monday, May 30, 2011

Calling all KidMin Procrastinators!

I can't imagine that I'm the only kidmin director out there who procrastinates, am I?  I tend to think of it as working better under pressure!  Well here we are, the final day before the final day to register early for KidMin 2011 and SAVE a bundle for being an early bird. :)  If you haven't signed up yet, just do it!  I'd love to meet you there!

I am a conference newbie.  There, I've admitted it.  Although I have been a kidmin director since 2004, I have attended 3 ministry conferences in that time, and been a speaker at all 3.  So I guess that means I actually haven't "attended" a conference yet.  Well, why not make this the first one? 

KidMin 2011 has me just captivated for some reason!  Actually I think there are many reasons.  But here are a few...

  •  GROUP!  If you know anything about Group, you know that they do EVERYTHING top notch!  I love Group, and will continue to promote them as long as they continue to be the excellent organization that they are.  Because their name is involved, this conference is guaranteed to be different, and in a great way!
  • CHICAGO!  Never been there, but I hear they have great pizza, and I love pizza!  It's worth the trip for that, don't you think?
  • SACK CHAIRS!  When I read the word "naps" in the brochure, I got very excited!
  • MARINATE!  I hear that's just what I'm going to do in fresh ideas and topics that really matter.  This has me interested...
  • SPEAKERS!  I am friends with many of you on Twitter and Facebook, and haven't yet met you in person.  That needs to change. :)  
In all seriousness, I am going to KidMin for two main reasons.  First, because I need to be re-fueled.  If you are a leader and you don't re-fuel, not only will your tank run dry, but so will the tanks of others in your ministry that depend on you.  This conference offers time to feed my soul, & also time to explore topics that really matter to me in my ministry.  Second, and what has me bouncing in my chair, is time to CONNECT!  Have you read about the Connect Groups?!?  Connect Groups are a time for conversation with others who have similar ministry needs.  The fact that Connect Groups take place in sack chairs is just one perk (and yes, I will save the nap for later!).  In these groups, we can be casual, dig into discussion about what matters most in our ministries, and also get to know one another on a personal level.  I plan to walk away from KidMin having learned a lot about the ministries of my new friends, AND also about their lives in general...Who likes to run like I do? Who likes to work in their garden?  Who is a world traveler?  Who has a pet iguana waiting for them back home?  Building strong relationships with one another is something God calls us to do, and I know we will do that at KidMin 2011!

I can't wait to meet so many of you! It's exciting to know that when we go back to our ministries after the conference is over, we will be bringing a piece of each other with us!  Our impact will be greater, as our relationship with Jesus will be deepened, and we will share that with others in our own ministries.  Very best of all, we will impact the lives of KIDS, all for JESUS, bigger and better than ever before! 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Be Ready ... Ask and You Shall Receive!

The Bee Hunter, Carson the Great

Yesterday, Carson the Great came out to me in the garden, his arms full of what looked like half the toy box.  As he got close, I saw that he had most every type of protective gear he could find for bike riding or skate boarding…a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards.  Also in the mix were soccer shin guards, and a golf club.  He asked if I could help him put it all on (except for the golf club), and as I did, he explained that he was going hunting for bees.  I spent a moment telling him that bees are good, and won’t sting unless we bother them, but I could see that my talk was of no interest to him; he intended to carry out his plan anyway.  So, I dressed him up for the adventure, and off he went. 

Not a minute later, he must have located bees, because he was running and screaming; not the “attack” type of scream, but the “getting attacked” type of scream.  Carson screams more than any little boy should, so I just waited until he got to me, as I’ve learned that most of the time, nothing serious is the matter.  The scream turned out to be nothing more than him running from a bee that was “chasing” him.  I told him it wasn’t necessary to run away like that, but he kept on, and spent the next hour or so hunting bees, which could be more accurately explained as “Carson running from bees while screaming”.

As this was going on, it made me think about how we ask things of God, but in many cases, we don’t want to receive the answer.  Kind of like Carson, who wanted to go bee hunting, but really didn’t want to be anywhere near bees.  We pray for things, but often the answer does not come in the form we want it to.  We pray to be drawn closer to God, to experience Him fully in our lives, to see Him working through us; but many times these answers can come through trials, difficult trials.

God gets His greatest victories out of apparent defeats.   Often times the enemy seems to triumph for a little while in our trials, but then God comes in and upsets the work of the enemy, giving a much larger victory than we would have known if He had not allowed the enemy in to, seemingly, triumph in the first place.  There is a story in the Bible (Daniel 3) about 3 Hebrew guys… Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego…who were thrown into a fiery furnace because they wouldn’t worship a giant gold statue built by the King.  It looked as if there would be total defeat as they fell down into the flames, but God protected them, and soon the King asked them to come out of the fire.  When they did, not even a hair on their heads was singed.  Their situation turned into a marvelous victory, and God was glorified.

There is such an awesome lesson in that story!  If there is a huge trial in your life today, don’t own it as a defeat, but continue, by faith, to claim victory through Him who is able to make you more than a conqueror, and soon you’ll see a glorious victory!  We need to remember that in all the hard places God brings us to, He is making opportunities for us to exercise our faith in Him, and this will surely bring about amazing results and greatly glorify His name.  So keep on praying in a BIG way, and when God answers, you can courageously move ahead, knowing that He loves you and His good and perfect plans will be accomplished!

 The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. –George Mueller

Monday, May 16, 2011

Chemo and a Sunburn

If you’ve read my Ranch Boss tab, you know by now that Keith was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare form of vasculitis, in March.  This past Thursday, we spent the day at Swedish Hospital in Seattle for his first outpatient chemotherapy infusion. 

There are 2 Bible verses that have become my personal “theme” verses since Keith was first admitted to the hospital in March.  The first is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, a verse I taught our 3 boys on the way home from the hospital one night.  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  When people hear the word chemo, they cringe.  I used to do that.  But our new experience has led me to a completely different thought: how about giving thanks for chemo?  Right now, it is an essential component in the road to wellness for Keith.  Why not give thanks for it?  Thanks for the access to awesome medical care… thanks for knowledgeable doctors… and thanks for the hope that comes with  treatment, including chemo.  There couldn’t be a better time to apply this verse… to be joyful, pray, and give thanks…in each circumstance that comes our way!

The second verse is Hebrews 12:1: “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  I wrote this on the chalkboards in each of Keith’s hospital rooms.  I loved that every doctor, nurse, and visitor would see that verse when they came to see Keith!  That verse sticks with me because I like to run.  Which leads me to the sunburn part…

I bring my running clothes everywhere I go these days, especially on trips to the doctor or hospital, because you just never can tell when there will be a bit of extra time!  The down side is that the trunk of the car pretty much smells like a yucky locker room.  The sun was out and Keith wanted to take a nap during his infusion, so off I ran.  An hour and a half later, I came back, exhausted and sporting a dandy sunburn.  By the time chemo was over, I was the one limping to the car…it seemed a little ironic to me that, as we left the hospital, I was in worse shape than the patient! 

Chemo had more side effects on Keith this time than his first round last month did.  The following day was rough on him, but we know it’s one step closer to wellness, and there’s plenty to be thankful for in that! 

And I’ve thrown some sunscreen into the trunk of the car; now at least it smells like a locker room in the Bahamas!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Very First Blog Post...YAY!

Spring Skiing in May, Crystal Mountain

First Ski Lesson for Carson the Great

Yah, it was worth skipping school for this!
Parenting makes us capable of so much more than we ever imagined we could do.  I got a great taste of that lesson this past winter on the mountain with my boys. 

Cole (8) was following me down a run.  As we started, I said, “Cole, you’ve got this!  Piece of cake!”  In my mind, I was thinking, “I hope even I can do this, let alone Cole who is on snow skis for the 4th time in his life.”  We came to a steep spot; I got there first, and when I looked down, my first thought was, “Uh-oh…”.  Cole skied up alongside me, looked down, and said, “Mom, I don’t like you.”  He continued muttering, but I had already started down the hill, yelling at the top of my lungs in my most positive voice, “You can do it!  You’re an awesome skier!  Dad will be so proud of you!” 

What Cole didn’t know was that those words of encouragement were more for me than him.  Had I hit that slope (which felt completely vertical to me) on my own, I probably would have cried, sat down, and attempted a sled ride down on my skis.  But because my sweet boy was following me, I mustered up the courage to stick it out, encouraging him (and myself) all the way. 

Being a mom pushed me past my own fear.  And we both made it down, crash-free.  Cole doesn’t know it, but my confidence was built just as much as his that afternoon.

What an awesome year of skiing the boys and I shared together!  Lots of laughs, a few cries, our fair share of arguments, Cole falling off the chair lift (more than once...), a couple of dandy wipeouts, flying poles, skis, and bodies, but it was so worth it! I already can't wait for the next ski season!