Friday, June 10, 2005

Families Get Involved!

This past weekend we focused on Families and how Parents can/should be/are the major spiritual leaders and teachers for their kids. This is something that even Brian and I are working to become better at with Micah and Hannah. As with everything else in life, I don't think we will ever stop learning how to be better parents and better spiritual leaders for our kids.
Of course the biggest question is How do I do this? What tools are available for me, as a parent, to assist me in teaching my kids about God? In a recent conversation with a friend who has two kids under 6, she said "I've seen a lot of devotionals and stuff for families, but it seems to be geared mostly towards older kids." We have had that same experience. I bought a really cool family devotional book that had a Bible reading, a story, questions to discuss, and even some activities to do. However, the stories are more about older kids. Our 6 year old mostly listens. Our 3 year old is usually off in her own world.

There may be an answer, however. One of the great things about blogging is that you start to get info from people who aren't in your area. I've got to admit that I didn't think anyone would be reading my blog really. However I do have the good fortune to be linked from several "famous" bloggers: Pete Bishop and Brian Glass (my husband). So, at least one other person is reading my blog! She sent me this info in an email:

I would like to pass along something that has really helped my husband and I feel equipped in spiritually nurturing our 10-year-old son. It's a tool called the Family Times Virtue Pack, produced by FamilyWise Inc. It is patterned after the verse in Deuteronomy 6 that talks about teaching and speaking with your children about spiritual things while doing the days' activities. It focuses on one virture per month's packet and all the facets of the packet highlight that virtue.

We have really found it helpful because it makes the work of nurturing our child spiritually possible and practical. Although our son is 10 and I worked in the children's department at our church, my husband and I did not feel we could equip him with the tools to make his faith real, and so we were doing what our parents had done: passing our son off to the church and hoping he'd get what he needed there. All the while though, we were feeling that time was slipping away and that we were not seeing what we wanted to see in his growth. But we felt helpless to do anything different than had been done with us: give him to the "professionals".

When we discovered the FamilyTimes, we felt empowered immediately. It is so simple to use! It gives us something to talk about over dinner (a short 5-10 min. discussion starter), something to read at bedti (i.e. a Scripture story), a cd that has a radio drama for our son, encouraging tips for us as parents and a song about the virtue of the month for us all to worship God with, as well as encouragement cards to write on to affirm when we see our son is grasping and integrating what he's learning into his everyday life.

Although we've only been using these for 2 months, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of spiritual discussions this material is sparking in our home, even when we're not using the specific material. We now engaging our son in discussions about thethings that really matter in life. It's not overwhelming, so he doesn't feel he's getting "preached at" and it hits him where he lives. Amazingly, it also hits us where we live too, providing us with opportunities to practice what we're teaching our son in our own livesIf you go to, you can go to their online store to purchase them. We get ours delivered directly to our house each month!"

The exciting thing is that we gave away several of these Family Packs at our Festival of Families. I bought one for myself, and although we haven't started using it yet, I definitely intend to try it, even more so now from this great testimony!
If you're interested in a great resource for your family, check out the family packs at the FamilyWise Store!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Plastic cups and 3000 hours

So, what do red plastic cups and 3ooo hours have in common? Well, if you were at the Festival of Families at Crossroads yesterday (June 5) you know! If you weren't let me tell you...
We learned this really cool statistic during a conference session presented by Reggie Joiner of North Point Community Church in Atlanta. CM volunteers have on average 40 hours each year to influence a kids life. Parents, on the other hand, have an average of 3000 hours a year to influence their kids' lives. That's a pretty HUGE difference and we wanted to make that HUGE impact on Crossroads families. So we made two cup towers - pyramids actually, one of 4o red plastic cups and one of 3000 plastic cups. Now let me tell you, the theory is good. The reality was a whole beast unto itself. I tried several ways to hold the cups together, so they wouldn't fall apart when moved, and the most stable way was to hot glue each cup. In the end the 3000 cup pyramid was made out of 3 sections, each with 7 layers (think like a snowman). (And yes if you do the math it was a few more than 3000 cups.) It took a total of 16 hours, only 3 of those I did not have a hot glue gun in my hand, and approximately 30 man hours, to build. The thing ended up being 7 feet square and 9 feet tall! That created the whole issue of how to get it out to the front of the stage (trying to get around 3 seperate sets). Finally we had about 6 people carry it behind two sets and out between 2 sets, with the top layer being added at the end by the Jester. I was behind the stage, but it was fun to hear the gasps as people started to see it come out! I've got to say it made a HUGE impact! You can see pictures on the Crossroads website photo gallery.
But what really made the whole building experience worth it, was seeing the guys jump off the stage and into the pyramid after everything was over. (I saved the top layer as a souvenier.) I've laughed more in this last week than I have for a very long time.

But don't miss the bottom line here: The 40 hours we, as children's ministry workers, have a year with kids is a big deal. But.... the 3000 hours we, as parents, have with our kids will make the REAL difference!

We DID it!

It's official, the Festival of Families was a HUGE success. First and foremost I have to give thanks and credit to God, for the inspiration, the guidance, the people, and the protection (I've never prayed so hard in my life about plastic cups!) Secondly I have to say THANKS to all the staff and volunteers who put an incredible amount of hours and effort into making the Festival the incredible event that it was! Pete Bishop, our tech guy, was amazing, remixing music, writing raps, creating video, etc. We couldn't have done it without him. Then there was the stage crew who began setting up the auditorium Friday night, until midnight, and then were back again at 8 AM Saturday and they worked most of the day. Of course then there were all the people who handled those red plastic cups and glue guys have my thanks from the bottom of my heart. If you don't know what I'm talking about, read the plastic cup blog entry! My children's ministry volunteers who actually presented the service did a fine job! All the work Amanda Iott, the other Kid Crossing director put into making it a great day, and my friend and great helper Annette Armentrout who kept me from going too insane, and doubled as my personal secretary for a few days. Ben Mitchell, is a great guy, who humbled himself enough to wear a Jester costume, complete with green tights, while parading about on the stage, both in video and real time! Music, skits, kids parts, all happened to praise God and lead families to work towards a deeper spiritual commitment together. I keep thinking of more people I could add, but then I'd be at this all day! Just rest assured I appreciate each and everyone of you from those who helped for hours, to those who helped for 30 minutes! Each piece fit together to create a successful day!
It was a truely AWESOME day! There are pictures on our web site gallery. You won't want to miss them. We received a lot of great comments. One from an older gentleman who said it was the best children's service he'd ever seen. My personal favorite was from one of the little girls in my 3 year - pre-K Wednesday class who ran up to me and said "I liked you on stage!"

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Festival of Families

Hey Everyone! This coming Sunday, June 5, we (Kid Crossing) are taking over the auditorium and main stage where we'll be presenting a Festival of Families. And if you don't already know, it has been quite a ride to get here! There's been a whole slew of people working to get this service ready, from Kid Crossing volunteers, to main stage crews, to rappers, and our ever faithful tech guru - Pete Bishop. Between us we have designed sets, written scripts and raps, choreographed music, advertised to the community, etc. etc. etc. If you're in the Adrian area this is one Sunday you will NOT want to miss!
We (the Kid Crossing Leadership team) have been challenged several times lately about how we can better incorporate the family into Kid Crossing and parents into the lives of their kids. It often seems that parents leave their kids' spiritual development to the church. We want to re-educate parents and families so that they become the spiritual leaders and teachers of their kids. Kid Crossing wants to be a partner with families to help parents' efforts in laying down a spiritual foundation for their children. We are going to be working over the next year to incorporate more tools and information for families to assist them in taking more of an active roll in their kids development.
Let us know if you are a parent/guardian and would like some specific info. Or if you have any great ideas that have been useful to you in your family share that with us so we can pass it on!
(And if this is a little jumbled today it's because I had 4 hours of sleep last night and a gazillion interuptions writing it - so my apologies:) ).