Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Learning from my students

This spring, we've been emphasizing different aspects of service during Tween Time, either through Bible studies focused on the subject or personal testimonies.
This week, I introduced them to Erica Hill (a former student of mine) to learn about her upcoming (and previous) mission trip to Uganda.

Because of some scheduling glitches, (and a college stats test), Erica needed to "Skype" in to the session, rather than travel to Little Rock.

Honestly, I think the kiddos listened better because she was on Skype.

They asked great questions. They were engaged.

She definitely intrigued them by her experiences. They also told her about our Lenten Challenge - to raise $ to purchase items for care bags she can take to the orphans.

Tonight is one of the reasons I'm in the ministry. I got to see their eyes open up to infinite possibilities for service - regardless of their age.

It also gave me a chance to see how a former student has grown in her faith in amazing ways.

Erica's story not only inspired the tweens tonight, she also encouraged me with her passion and enthusiasm. Her perspective on life has definitely changed because of the things she experienced last summer in Uganda. Finding that her heart desire may lead her to live there full time after graduation was well, mind blowing.

Tonight I'm thankful for Erica and her willingness to share her experiences with the tweens. Who knows maybe one of them will venture into an unexpected ministry because of this experience.

The students with Erica via Skype.
You can read more about Erica's trip here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Photo Flashback: Palmer Christmas Card 2007

Moving pics from my "photo blog" to this one....a flashback photo post...

For my friends Denni and Carl, their daughters - the 2007 Christmas pictures.

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Quotable quote: Faithfulness

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. - Mother Teresa.

I know Mother Teresa probably didn't mean the small things we give up for lent.

I'm sure she meant acts of mercy, grace and charity; along with our service to God.

But today I'm being faithful in my decision to fast from Starbucks (because my students asked) and from Cokes (and Dr Pepper) because I felt convicted that I was drinking way too much of them when stressed.

Today, I am faithful in the small things. Because honestly, I really wanted a soda today.

But instead I'll pray for my students - and hope they are being faithful in their own fasts.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Scenes of Worship

Just a few pics of today's worship:
A baptism (beautiful sacrament); amazing music (fourth grade bell choir) and watching one of my kidz diving into his "action" graphic Bible.

The service, the first Sunday in Lent engaged my "brain" AND my heart in lots of ways.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quotable Quotes: Service

Click here for source
Just something to think I work on the stuff for the spring break mission trip......

"The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." -- Albert Schweitzer

Friday, February 24, 2012

Something To Think About.....

One of the images I've been struck with from the Children's Ministry Forum is how sometimes God calls us to enter into a time of renewal or rejuvenation, especially in the face of adversity or trials.

It's kind of like how a caterpillar morphs into a cocoon. Without going through this stage, a caterpillar would just stay a "wiggly worm" crawling on sticks and leaves.

But by taking time to stop and rest, and by following God's plan for its life, the caterpillar transforms into a new and amazing creation.

Sometimes before we can move onto the next period of our lives, God calls us to enter into our own form of chrysalis.

It might just seem like we're hibernating or even pulling away from the world. But I kinda think the cocoon is like being wrapped in God's warmth and love.

This time of renewal gives us a source of strength and endurance, which we can use to get through the times of trials and struggles. So ultimately we emerge as an amazing new creation soaring in the wind.

What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly. ~ Richard Bach

"Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time." ~ Deborah Chaskin

"Everyone is like a butterfly, they start out ugly and awkward and then morph into beautiful graceful butterflies that everyone loves." ~ Drew Barrymore

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marking Ash Wednesday

Today was Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent.

It's a day of prayer and reflection.

One of the images I'm left with from today's
service is how lent is like a cocoon,

that we can wrap ourselves in it,
to emerge as a new creation on Easter.

Dear God, help me truly feel your presence,
wrapped around me like a cocoon wraps around a caterpillar,
during this Lenten Season.

Show me what you want me to learn
in this season of reflection and prayer.

Create something beautiful - just like the butterfly -
that will emerge on Easter Sunday.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fasting During Lent

So I'm putting the "gold card" away for the next 40 days and signing off of Starbucks for Lent.

I wasn't even thinking about doing this, until last Wednesday when I had the following conversation with my Tweens (third, fourth and fifth graders) during the Lenten lesson.

Tweens: Miz Kaylea, what are you giving up for Lent?
Me: I don't know....what should I give up? (more as an afterthought).
Tweens: Well, what do you like?
Me: x, y, z, starbucks.....
Tweens: In a large unified chant: Give up Starbucks, Give up Starbucks. 
(Me feeling like the prey of circling vultures)......Um.....really?

Honestly, I wasn't thinking about Starbucks. I really intended to "give up" drinking soda again - but more for health than spiritual reasons. I'm just drinking way too much regular soda each day - especially when I'm slightly stressed. (Diet soda gives me a headache, so I tend to do the "full" stuff.)

But the more I considered their request, the more I thought, about the message it would send to my students.

This won't be easy. I'll freely admit, if I'm having a rough morning, or need a "pick me up", I will subconsciously turn out of the driveway of my apartment and pull into the shopping center with Starbucks.

I tend to blow through about $10 a paycheck - not a lot, but I'd hate to think about how much I've spent (including gift cards) since moving literally almost next door to the Bux in July.

In "Still: Notes On A Mid-Faith Crisis" Lauren F.Winner writes that during Lent we "try to devote ourselves for forty days, as the prayer book puts it, to 'self-examination and repentance...prayer, fasting, and self denial, and ...reading and meditating on God's holy Word.'"

She continues explaining how "some of us, as a token of this self-denial, will abstain from something during Lent."

To abstain means:to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from ): to abstain from eating meat.

So I'm going to voluntarily stop going to Starbucks for the next 40 days. There's nothing inherently wrong with going there. I'm just going to stop because tweens are watching.

I told them that you can either "subtract" or "add' something during Lent - because both actions become a way to thank Jesus' for what took place in the days leading up to Easter.

I'm not only going to try to give up Starbucks, but I'm going ot also try to add something into my life - that will help me find a way to rest (my word for 2012).

In fact, I'm going to start by exploring praying in color - it's a book that's in my "pile" to purchase tomorrow at the conference

You can learn more about it here:

I guess my prayer from this entire process is that I will feel closer to God.

So, are you adding or subtracting anything in your life during Lent?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Quote of the Day: Moving Forward

"From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. 
That is the point that must be reached."
 Franz Kafka


"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant;
 if we did not taste of adversity,
prosperity would not be so welcome."
— Anne Bradstreet

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blog Tour: The Loom (Review)

Sometimes the truth is not always black and white.

Lydia dreams of another life - and she discovers a way  to obtain it through a series of choices.

But she soon learns that sometimes a dream can turn into a nightmare.

The Loom, set prior the Civil War, highlights the story of Lydia, a slave, who decides to "pass" as a white woman.

It also shows what life was like for the slaves who worked in the Loom room - the last stop along life's journey on a plantation.

I found this book interesting - but sometimes hard to follow as it jumps between two different story lines. But for a freshman novel, The Loom provides an interesting picture of life in the South. I think if you like southern lit you will find this a good read.

However, I'll be honest, the ending left me with several questions. I'm not sure if it's a stand-alone novel, or the first book in a new series.

On the scale of one to five, I give it a solid three. For a first novel, it's written well. I'll be interested in looking at what the author comes up with next.

More About The Book
A slave is torn between the love she has and the life she doesn’t.

Lydia was a common slave with a common life until the day she entered a world no slave had gone before. 

Pale skin and deceit opened the door to wealth and a power she had only dreamed of. But what she didn’t count on was falling in love. What she didn’t realize was life was not always black or white.

More About The Author
Shella Gillus fell in love with the arts as a child. By age 10, she wrote her first chapter book, a three-act play and performed in several theatrical shows.  During her teenage years, she penned and performed in plays for her local church and organized a series of summer self-esteem workshops for underprivileged youth in South Tucson.

Gillus earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona and Screen Actor’s Guild membership while working in the film industry in Los Angeles. Under the tutelage of a skilled playwright, she honed her skills as a writer before becoming a professional actress for Childsplay, an award-winning theatre company.

She was crowned Miss Black Heritage, 1st runner-up Miss Black Arizona, Miss Congeniality, Copper Bowl Princess and University of Arizona Homecoming Royalty. She has made two appearances on the Oprah Winfrey show. The Loom is her fiction debut.

Gillus lives with her husband, Stacey, and their two children, Spencer and Staci, in Dallas.

Online Resources
Visit the author's website:
Read a sample chapter:
Buy The Loom @ Amazon
Find it at Barnes & Noble

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book the publisher, Guidepost. This review was not influenced by a free book, just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Thoughts: Grace

As found on Facebook this week, author/photographer unknown.
How do you view Grace?

Is it a way to live?

Or is it just a prayer learned during childhood.

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. ~ Anne Lamott

Dear God. May I understand grace not just as simple words, but as a way of life that makes my actions speak louder than words.

Take note: While I was unable to find who started the photo, I found the quote, stated a bit differently.

Grace isn't a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It's a way to live.  ~Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blog Tour: When The Smoke Clears (Review)

High school reunions can be deadly.

Or at least the ones that take place when Lynette Eason is in a creative mode.

In her second trilogy of suspense novels, published by Revell Books, Eason captures the lives of three high school friends, Alexia Allen, Jillian Carter and Serena Hopkins, and their connection to a desperate senator - who will do anything to protect his image and career.

With the first installment of the series, When The Smoke Clears, Eason unpacks Alexia's story. As things unfold, we learn why Alexia ran away from her hometown following high school graduation, why her relationship with her mother is strained, what happened on a fateful day when her world and family exploded. We also struggle, along with Alexia to determine who wants her dead.

This series follows on the heals of Eason's Women of Justice novels. Like that series, Deadly Reunions center around strong female lead characters. And like the Women of Justice series, the suspense and intrigue take center stage, with the romantic storyline a secondary aspect.

Eason's writing is solid. Her character development is superb The book hooked me from the start. (Actually I was hooked as soon as I opened the package and it fell out in my hands.)

The book left me wanting more - I assume the second book will follow Serena's story based upon how the first novel ended. I also hope it reveals more of how the three women are connected to the senator.

On a scale of one to five I give this novel a solid four. .If you are looking for a great novel (and series) to dive into this spring, I would highly recommend Deadly Reunions and When The Smoke Clears. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

More About The Book
After a brush with death due to equipment failure, smoke jumper Alexia Allen is ordered to take time off while the incident is under investigation. She makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. 

Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she is confronted with murder, arson--and a handsome detective.

But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she struggles to accept and forgive her family's past, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.

Chock-full of the suspense and romantic tension you've come to expect from Lynette Eason, When the Smoke Clears is the explosive first book in the Deadly Reunions series.

About The Author
Lynette Eason is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, and A Killer Among Us.

She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

Online Resources
Buy When The Smoke Clears @ Amazon
Check out Lynette Eason's website
Find the Reader's Group Guide here

Past Reviews of Eason's Books
Too Close To Home (Review)
Don't Look Back (Review & Interview) 
A Killer Among Us (Review) 

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Revell Publishing, a division of Baker Books. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Funnies: True Love

Happy Valentine's Week....
May you find someone to love you, warts and all!

Just something funny I stumbled across on

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blog Tour: Beyond Molasses Creek (Review)

"Three lives... bound by a single book .... and the cleansing waters of Molasses Creek."

I love this opening description of Beyond Molasses Creek, the newest southern lit release by Nicole Seitz.

Beyond Molasses Creek is a slow read that Chronicles the lives of Ally Green, Vesey Washington and Sunila Kunari.

What links the three lives together is a sketchbook.

Through a variety of twists and turns, Seitz unpacks the relationship Ally had with Vesey, as well as Ally's connection to Sunila.

While the book starts out a little slow (for me), my interest grew as Ally follows her father's directions (left before he died) and Sunila discovers who she was after escaping from the rock quarries.

In all, this is an interesting read. This review introduced me to a new writer. I enjoyed Seitz's writing style and plan to look into her other novels. I give this book a solid three on a scale of one to five.

About the book:
Three lives are bound by a single book . . . and the cleansing waters of Molasses Creek.

Having traveled to the ends of the earth as a flight attendant, Ally Green has finally returned to the Lowcountry to bury her father as well as the past. But Vesey Washington is still living across the creek, and theirs is a complicated relationship—he was once her best friend . . . and also part of the reason she’s stayed away so long. When Ally discovers a message her father left behind asking her to quit running, it seems her past isn’t through with her yet.

As Ally’s wandering spirit wrestles with a deep longing to flee again, a young woman on the other side of the world escapes her life of slavery in the rock quarries of Nepal. A mysterious sketchbook leads Sunila Kunari to believe there’s more to her story than she’s ever been told, and she’s determined to follow the truth wherever it leads her.

A deep current intertwines the lives of these three souls, and a destiny of freedom, faith, and friendship awaits them all on the banks of Molasses Creek.

About The Author 
Nicole Seitz is the author of several critically acclaimed novels - The Inheritance of Beauty, Saving Cicadas, A Hundred Years of Happiness, Trouble the Water, and The Spirit of Sweetgrass.

She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, and also has a degree in Illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design.

Her paintings are featured on the covers of her books. Visit her at @NicoleSeitz, Facebook and for more information.

Online Resources
Blog Tour Schedule: (to see what others thought) 
Buy Beyond Molasses Creek
"Like" Nicole On Facebook
Follow her tweets here!
Visit her website for more info!

About the party: 
Nicole is celebrating the release of Beyond Molasses Creek with a fabulous "Friendship" Facebook party! She'll be giving away a ton of great stuff (KINDLE TOUCH, some of her own beautiful artwork, a Book Club Prize Pack (10 copies of the book for your small group/book club and a Live Skype Chat with Nicole), and more!

CLICK the button (below) to RSVP for the party - then join us on February 16 for a book chat, story sharing and prizes! Hope to see you there!

Save the Date! 2/16!

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group.. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Twelve on the Twelfth: February 2012

For the second month in a row, I jumped on the "Take 12 on the 12th" bandwagon, and set out on Sunday to take 12 photos that represented a typical Sunday.

Since I am a children's pastor, I thought it would be kind of fun to take "representative" photos of my day.

Well you can look at the results in two ways - 1) I was really busy and took a lot of photos or 2) I really "failed" the assignment because I took 32 photos (and since several are collabs, the number is actually closer to 50).

Lots of photos. I could probably "cut" a few, but since I wanted to document my day....well.... this is me, glitches and all.

As my dad would say, morning comes "awfully' early" on Sunday.
I actually got up at 6:30 a.m.
 - but wasn't awake enough for a few minutes. it's cold outside. The prediction of the "s" word (snow)
means the kiddos are a wee bit crazy.
A February Self Portrait
What I put in the mail to mom today - no, it's not a Valentine
I found a "missing" Mother's Day Card in my car....
I really thought I mailed this....oh well.
Yes mom, it's in the mail.....surprise! 
Look what arrived in my box -  yea, a new book by a writing friend.
I find it ironic that tonight's MAD+ lesson on Patient revolves around
the story of Sarah and Abraham.
A new sign above my office door. Sometime in the last few days,
this appeared above my door - Wahoo!
One of my Sunday duties includes putting the attendance folders
in each classroom - and moving the carts into the
younger elementary classes (preschool to first grade). 
My first Valentine of 2012: From Gabi and Micah.
Micah didn't want to be in the picture. Gabi made me a trinket box,
and the both gave me a "share of trees" through Heifer International.
Through the looking glass: A glimpse of the fourth grade class.
the last two weeks, we've had a "helper":but no teacher - so the
students have decided they can lead the lesson. It's worked so well,
I've "scheduled" pairs of girls for the next two weeks.
(the boys were offered a chance to teach,
but they don't want the responsibility).

I'm kind of excited to see how this continues. I'm excited that the kids
take initiative and be part of their learning experience.
Organizing the lesson for MAD+. I'm keeping the main lesson, but
changed some of the activities to be "Valentine's related."

I'm learning how to "step out of the box" and try to make the
lesson fit the "DNA" of my students. Maybe it's not so much
"learning" as giving myself permission to try other things.
Shopping the closet to find supplies for MAD+'s lesson.
I wish the closet was organized. It was...but people keep "cleaning"
other closets and putting the excess in my closet. I'm now calling it
the abyss because it's sooooo cluttered. 
Two of the girls who make me smile, Emily and Katlyn.
Each of these girls have qualities that make my  heart sing.
I'm so blessed to have them be part of my life and my ministry.
Poor Philip. I exercised my privilege as a children's pastor
to "embarrass" him - and sing Happy Birthday to him in
front of his class.  I told the other kiddos that I freely
reserve the right to embarrass them at least once a year.
Passing out fliers of upcoming activities. Trying to not only
email or post info about events, but also going a bit "old school"
and passing out fliers in each Sunday School class.
Worship. I went to VE and ended up in the sound booth for a moment
and caught a glimpse of Katie dancing with Spencer on the monitor.
Lunch: I have a love/hate relationship with Mexican food.
I love it, but it doesn't always love me. Took a chance - it will
be a while before I eat it again. Oh well.
Had to pick up a few things for MAD+ and realized I hadn't thought
about Valentines for my kiddos. Bought Muppet cards for MAD+
and candy (to go with the iPhone treats I printed off) for Tween Time.
A few treats for the special kiddos in my life.
You can't see it well - but I sent home and watched Netflix while
I worked on Valentines and watched TV. It was a brief "rest" in
the middle of my busy day.
Scratch Off Valentines. Decided to make cards in MAD+.
Since it was Valentine's, we had silver, red or pink paint
to choose from. Why stop with just silver?
Playing the HA HA Game - because Sarah laughed in our story.
It didn't work quite like I remembered from
my own youth group days. Oh well. The kids had fun. 
Can you unwrap a Hershey Kiss with one hand? Micah, Landon
and Rachel were the first to show it is possible.

A fun lesson in Patience. They had to be patient and keep working
to open the "kiss".... but the reward was getting to eat chocolate!
Another lesson in patience. Playing Cupid's Arrow.
(A fuller post will follow outlining the game).

Found the idea on line, and let the kids play.
(You have to have patience to try to hit the baskets
with your arrows - the Qtips!)
A quick Facebook update before heading home.
Everyone is predicting bad weather tomorrow.
The church mouse got fed. Ran by to ask Marcia a
question at youth snack supper and they had left overs...
So I ate! Yum Yum.
My second home. I really meant to take a pic of the church during
the daytime, but I got busy and forgot - so here's a snap
on my way out of the parking lot.
The forecast that caused the kids to be CRAZY tonight
at MAD+ and Choir. 
Stopping to get gas on the way home.
Yes, my mom will see this and say "you aren't keeping the
top half of your tank full."

I look at it and remember, that at one point in life, this would have just cost me $11.42. Oh to have gas below $3 (or $2) again.
Making a cup of hot tea after a long day.
I realized today, that I probably use this at least once a day.
I'll either use tea bags or k-cups, but regardless, it's the
Christmas present I told my family I didn't want, and the
present I use almost every day. So I guess they were right
to ignore what I said and get it for me anyway.
Updating the kidz ministry blog from home, to let Upward basketball
families know the "plan" should we have a snow day on Monday.
Updating my own blog. So far this year, I've managed to
have a post per day. Some are blog tour reviews, but others are
just my ramblings. It's making me write - or at least be creative.

Maybe this is a way to rest - because it makes me
stop and  do something I enjoy!
Updating my "Project 365" photos for February.
I've figured out how to edit the text - so when I print off the
photobook pdf thru the app.

This is just a fun way to document my day - and again
make me stop and rest through a creative outlet. 
Last thing for the day - trying to read from the Bible
using the YouVersion app. I'm taking the 21 day challenge
trying to read each day.
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