Monday, November 1, 2010

Mixed messages

Did you ever see a horse fly? Yes or No? Your answer will depend upon how you read the question. If your answer is yes, then you most likely interpreted to mean a horse fly like the bug. but if you answered no you may have read it to mean an actual horse (black beauty style) that flie

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Just say "NO" to MiSseD OppOrTuNiTieS

Missed Opportunities
Have you ever felt like you were a day late and a dollar short? I have said this about myself many times. Sometimes it was because I missed a huge sale at the local department store and sometimes it was because I was the last to find out about a sold-out show. Either way I have had my share of missed opportunities but none quite as disturbing as the one I had with my daughter Gabi. This opportunity I will never get back.
She was away at a Christian Camp one summer and this was one of the few I was not a staff member at. She was 9 years old and very spunky. I remember that week she had already had a few issues as she forgot to bring her fan (a rugged camp with no air-conditioning and 95degree temps) She also had lost her towels so I had been contacted by the camp twice to see if I could get her the supplies she needed. So when I received the third call from the camp I was sure she had either lost some other item or started a food fight in the mess hall. I answered the call and it was the camp dean. He told me Gabi had something to tell me. Well you can imagine where my mind went. I was thinking this must be really serious. It was!! Gabi picked up the phone and through tear filled words she told me, “Mom, I just accepted Jesus as my Lord”. Pause I was filled with completely mixed emotions. The first emotion was utter JOY that my daughter had made a decision to become a Christ follower. The second emotion was one of sadness because I was not there to share this moment with her. I wanted to be there when she accepted Jesus I even wanted to be the one to lead her to the Lord. I am her parent and it seems only right that I or her father should be her spiritual leader in these matters. But it wasn’t us it was, well……. a stranger.
Now please don’t misunderstand, I am so grateful to that stranger. They were there at the moment they needed to be and they led my sweet precious girl into the most important relationship she will ever have. But yet I am sad because it wasn’t me or her father.
So why wasn’t it us? Is it because we expected the church to be her spiritual leader? Is it because these matters are better left to the professionals? Or maybe it’s because we (if I ‘m being totally honest) were not engaging her in regular Christ-centered discussions at home? I think the answer is obvious. We were simply not being the parents God had called us to be. We did not spend much time in family prayer and we certainty didn’t do anything close to a family devotion and forget about family worship time. We missed this opportunity. BIG!!
Now please understand, I’m not saying that if you are not around when your child accepts Christ then you are a bad parent. Not at all! I’m saying that we simply missed the boat on this one. I wanted to teach her who Jesus is, but didn’t, I wanted to show her what it means to be a Christian, but didn’t. And I wanted to lead her into a relationship with Christ, but didn’t.
Like every experience in life I think there is a huge lesson here. As a children’s director, I believe I should make sure our programming offers intentional and consistent salvation messages as well as opportunities for children to accept Christ. But I don’t want any parent to ever feel like I did with Gabi. So I want to invite parents to join us every time we have an entire children’s service centered on salvation. Then we will give parents the opportunity to “close the deal” so to speak. God has given parents a charge, a mission. And it’s not to sit on the sidelines and watch the “experts” lead their children in matters of the Lord, but it’s rather for them to be the lead players in the game. Let’s work together so that these missed opportunities are a thing of the past.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

SMILE

OK, I'm going to be completely honest here. I love a good prank. I'm sorry, but for whatever reason a good, well planned prank can give me hours of enjoyment. Call it a twisted sense of humor if you want but I can't help it, the heart wants what the heart wants.

We used to have a great show on tv called candid camera (yep, I'm that old) This was one of my favorite shows. I think what made me laugh the most was not necessarily the prank itself but rather the reaction of the "mark". If they responded with laughter right away, then the prank was ruined, but if they got angry, then confused, then turned it over to a great big belly laugh of embarrassment...........I was completely amused. You see it was the chain reaction of emotions that made the whole experience worth while.

Working with children can recreate this source of joy for me. Only in this scenario I'm the target and the kids are Peter Funt. You see, on any given Sunday I go through similar moments of feeling like any minute someone will point out the hidden camera to me and say "SMILE". It is all worth it, in the skeem of things, because at the end of the day I let out that great big belly laugh, not of embarrassment but of complete and utter joy realizing I have the greatest job in the world and wouldn't trade one moment of this experience for anything.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Do not be afraid

NO FEAR
video


As I have written before I have three amazing daughters. Each one could not be more different than the next. I have talked most recently about Anabelle, the baby of the family, but today I want to focus on Gabi, the middle child. She is without a doubt a very lovable and unique individual with too many amazing qualities to mention. (I know, I sound like a gushing mother so sue me) She is now 13 and becoming a young woman with loads of potential, but what is most amazing about this child is her fearless attitude. She lives her life unafraid of danger and unafraid of what someone might think of her. Because of Gabi’s outlook on life we have had to deal more harshly with things like consequences of careless actions and she has spent her fair share of time in the “think about it” chair but underneath all the seemingly careless acts is, I believe, pure motives. She asks herself “what’s the worst that could happen?” then she acts on the impulse. On the surface this sounds like a very ungodly approach to life, but I have to disagree.
It is my belief that this is how we as Christians should be living out our walk with the Lord.
“What’s the worst that could happen if I share my faith with my neighbor”,
“what’s the worst that could happen if I jam out to worship music at the beach”,
“what is the worst that could happen if I went on the mission trip with the church group”
“what’s the worst that could happen if I lay my life down for my savior”


I have the answer, the worst that could happen is that someone might never come to know Jesus as Lord. That is the worst. Wow, seems so simple right? I know it's not though. Fear has kept me from sharing my faith and fear has kept me silent when my faith was being made fun of. And fear has kept me from being the kind of Christian who proclaims the name of God from the rooftops. That emotion (fear) is ridiculous if you call Jesus Lord.

The best lessons I’m taught come from children. Gabi has no fear in life, and she will have no fear in death. That is a promise that God has given to all of his children. My prayer is that everyone would have that security and hope and live their life a little more like Gabi.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What's standing in the WAY?

A couple of weeks ago, Pastor Jim, started his series on the Open Arms Project. Of course as the children's director I have been looking forward to the messages with great anticipation. Anything that has to do with children...I'm in!! So as he started two weeks ago I was thinking about the verse he is centering the messages on. I was studying this verse and decided to look in another translation and I loved the way that the message put it.

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

"Don't ever get between them and me" Jesus was warning the disciples and us that we should never prevent a child from coming to Him, truly coming to Him. You might say "of course not, we would never do that!" I believe that sometimes, however well intended, we do that exact thing. We (or religion) stand in the way. We tell children all the rules and regulations, all the do's and don'ts all the laws and all the consequences of breaking those laws but sometimes we forget the most important lesson. If we fail to teach children the very thing that Jesus was trying to teach the disciples then we are STANDING in the WAY. Kids need to know that above all the rules and all the knowledge it is simply the relationship that they have with Jesus that is the most important.

As a child, I was taught rule after rule after rule in the faith that I was raised in. I learned the basics and I certainly learned the consequences of sin.
Someone, or maybe it was a lot of "someones" and their rules stood in the WAY of my relationship with Jesus. You might say I was "hindered" from coming to Jesus. Then at the moment I needed that relationship the most (I'll get to that in a later blog) all I had to fall back on was the rules. The rules told me that if you break them, you are destined for Hell. The rules told me that if you break them their is condemnation. The rules told me that if you break them their is no redemption. You see I had the rules down, I just didn't have the relationship. Because the relationship with an amazing loving forgiving God would have told me that nothing I could do could keep Him from loving me. NOTHING!

Something was standing in the Way. RULES!! Thank you God, for breaking me free of the rules.

I guess I should say that rules are not bad, in fact they are good. They are there for our own good. But let's be honest, they will be broken at some point by all of us. So the bottom line is.....Rules without Relationship are nothing but a waste of paper.
I wish I would have understood this verse as a child, I didn't and it almost cost me eternity.........Because of this I will now make very sure that every child that I have a opportunity to teach will know, really know that Jesus wants a relationship with them. Whether they are 1 or 100. Don't get in the WAY of that.

Jesus answered, I am the WAY and the truth and the life, NO ONE comes to the Father except through me.
video

Monday, May 31, 2010

Wonderfully Made


The human body is an amazing thing. I have always been fascinated with how it works. (you would never know this if you looked at my high-school science grade) I questioned everything. why do we hiccup? Why do they call that spot on your elbow a funny bone? What would happen if you didn't close your eyes when you sneezed? (I heard your eyeball might pop out) All of these questions and so many more would keep my mind spinning when I was a kid. But not this generation, you see they have this wonderful tool, the internet, and all of mans questions about this universe can be answered in moments.


The other day I was wasting time asking "Wikipedia" some of the above questions (there is an answer for everyone) and I stumbled onto this one amazing fact that I never knew. The human body regenerates itself every seven years. The cells in your body and mine are not the same cells they were when we were 7 years younger. They are new. This got me asking the question why did God design us this way? Guess what? Wikipedia didn't have an answer. I don't think it's an accident that it happens every 7 years. That number is significant to God. So why are we made new every 7 years and what is God trying to teach us? I don't know the answer to this one yet, maybe I never will but this intersting fact reminds me of the following verse. I will now look at it in a new way.


2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Does God speak to you?




I had often heard people say things like......"The Lord told me......" or "God spoke to me and said......" or "Jesus said for me to......". This used to bother me because I was never sure what people meant. Did they mean that the actual voice of God spoke in an audible tone? Maybe they just meant through God's word the Bible they received some significant direction in their life. Or did God send an actual messenger to speak to them. I was always confused and admittedly upset by words such as these. I guess I was sorta jealous and judgemental and felt like if it didn't happen to me than these people must be crazy. I must not be spiritual enough or maybe I just wasn't worth His time. But what did these people have that I didn't and if this is real, how could I get God to speak to me? So I tried to figure out, for a long time. I started taking informal polls of people asking them How they really knew if God was speaking to them. Some of the peoples answers surprised me. Some actually told me they heard a voice. Some said God speaks to them through the Bible. Some even said that God will lay it on someones heart(friends, family even strangers) to deliver His message to them. Well all of this sounded great, but there was no tried and true formula. Everyone had a different scenario of how God spoke to them. So I began to understand something for the first time. God is personal!!! He speaks to all of us on our own level and understanding if we are His.
There was one common bond between all the people who claimed that God spoke to them.............They were all listening.

God spoke to me for the FIRST time, not long after that. He sent a message to me in a very strange way. He used a torn piece of a laffy taffy wrapper. Who said God doesn't have a sense of humor? Yes God spoke to me, not in the conventional way, but make no mistake.... He was talking and I was listening. Now if someone asks me the question of "How does God speak to you?" I have to tell the "laffy taffy" story and trust that they won't laugh. Sometimes we are to quick to pass judgement on someone else and their relationship with the ALMIGHTY ONE. God can speak to you in an infinite number of ways, and I believe He wants to.
"Are you listening to me, really listening" Matthew 11:15 the message

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sometimes I'm wrong


Sometimes I will hold to a belief even if it seems completely ridiculous. I don't usually share my thoughts with others, because of moments like this one. A few days ago I engaged in a debate about Penguins and their ability to fly. I took the affirmative. I insisted that they could, and persisted a while before a moment of clarity overcame me and I was completely embarrassed. Blame it on a blond moment or whatever you will but the fact of the matter was I persisted because I BELIEVED I was correct.

This situation reminded me of a dark time in my life when (before I realized the truth) I persisted in my own way of thinking because I BELIEVED I was right. For many years in my life I "believed" I was going to Hell. Yep you caught that right, Fire and brimstone, the whole nine yards. This wasn't just a passing thought, I really believed it. I was sure that I had went to far, that I had made to many poor choices and that If God was a just God, a Holy God, a Perfect God, He would want nothing to do with me. I believed that a person had to earn their way to Heaven and I was a few bucks short. This made sense to me so I believed it and I lived like it. I figured if I am destined for an eternity in flames (like I had heard so many preachers say) than what was the point of life? If I continue to live, than I am just prolonging the inevitable. The only problem with this scenario is that I WAS WRONG!! Thankfully, I had a friend who shared something with me that I had never understood before. GRACE This meant that even though I deserved every bit of what I thought I had coming to me, God had a different plan in mind for me and for you. You see, I did deserve Hell, and still do. But Grace is a funny thing, a concept that was hard to believe, but absolutely TRUE. (Why is always easier to believe a lie?) God wanted to make a way for me, so He sent someone who was Holy and who was Perfect and who didn't deserve Hell to take my punishment. Why??? Because He loves me. And He used Laffy Taffy (the candy) to teach me this. I'll get to that at a later time.

Bottom line:
Penguins can't fly
God loves me, a sinner

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From the mouth of Belle





This is my youngest daughter, Anabelle. She is 4 going on 35 and quite a challenge. She likes to give advice on life, even when you don't ask her. I have heard her telling other little girls things like "when you wear a hat it makes you taller and it will keep you from getting brain freeze." Great advice from a great girl. She has a BIG personality and keeps us smiling quite a bit of the time but the moments I cherish the most are right before bedtime when she talks to Jesus. She is so honest, as most children her age are and she doesn't hesitate to tell Him just how she feels. The other night this was her prayer...........

"Dear Jesus,
I wish you didn't die on the cross. It makes me sad that you did that. I know that you did that for me, but I wish you didn't have to. Thank you for doing that. I love you Jesus, goodnight."

"oh and thank you for the ice cream you are going to give me because it's so yummy and healthy."


Isaiah 10:6
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What is a laffy taffy moment

So this is my first official blog and I have no choice but to explain my title. Laffy Taffy? Yep. Of all the topics in the world why would I start there? Well, this particular candy and me have a connection. You see to me it's more than a candy it serves as a reminder of the moment when my life was transformed forever. I will over the course of time explain myself further, but for now I will simply say that a "Laffy Taffy" moment is when you realize that you are not an accident and that there is a God who loves you to much to leave you where you are.

My name is Michelle and I happen to work for the creator of the universe. Although I consider myself His servant, I am one..... by choice. (He wouldn't have it any other way) I am a director of children's ministry at a fantastic church. Kids are important to me, because they are important to my master. I believe there are three fundamental things that kids need

1. To know that they have a Perfect Father in Heaven who loves them unconditionally

2. To know that they are here on earth for a purpose and not just to suck up oxygen

3. To have parents, grandparents, and/or legal guardians that love Jesus all week long not just on Sunday.

Other things are great too, like food....shelter....clothing but somewhere way down on list.