Thursday, May 31, 2012

Another Subway Art: Trust

Another subway art made featuring one of my favorite verses - Proverbs 3:5-6.
(I'm really loving this new style of art.....)

Not sure what's next.... hum.....now to print them out and figure out a way to display them!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Words: Seeing Clearly Now

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” – Hebrews 4:16.

It started out like a migraine. As I drove home from a Sunday school party, I really thought a nap and pain meds would take care of the headache and funny “ink blob” floating in the bottom corner of my right eye.

Little did I know, less than 24 hours later, I would have emergency surgery to repair a “micro tear” in my retina. Suddenly my world began to spin out of my control.

Instead of focusing on a new job and organizing a cluttered apartment, I found myself spending the next week recovering at the home of a new-to-me co-worker. Unable to see, drive or even be by myself, I felt quite dependant on others. Not exactly a comfortable experience for a self-sufficient, type-A gal.

It was like looking through a Vaseline coated window. Nothing was in focus. I was terrified my vision would remain distorted. I cried. I begged. I prayed. It became clear that the peace I sought would come when I completely surrendered the entire situation to God.

Was it easy? No. I continually laid my worries and fears at the “throne of God” and then quickly picked them back up. But when I finally surrendered, God’s mercy and grace began to pour into my soul. Right when I needed it the most. Slowly, I began to see - not physically – but through the actions and care of new co-workers and acquaintances. God healed from the inside out.

Now months after the surgery, I am amazed at how God continues to work in my life. I’m constantly reminded when I drop my baggage, God is there to carry it for me. God’s grace and mercy is there when I need it most.

Action Step: Pick up a rock. Imagine it’s the situation you need to give to God. Squeeze it tight in your hand. Say a prayer, release your grip and put it down for good – along with your anxieties. If all else fails, go outside to a clear spot and toss the rock (and worries) away as far as you can throw it!

Editor's Note: I originally wrote this for the possible submission into a book of devos. It didn't "make" the cut, but I still wanted to share the thoughts behind it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Finding Rest: Makin' Subway Art

It may seem strange, but I found a way to rest this weekend.....while being creative and working through the steps of the "self-directed" "Make Your Own Subway Art" class at Jessica Sprague's website.

I fell in love with Subway art a few years ago, when I saw some "wall sized" posters in a friend's loft apartment. I LOVED how she used them as focal points in her living room.

Flash forward to this weekend. I know, I know, I'm on the computer a lot for my job, but let's face it, it's more "business" related, than "creative."

So Sunday evening, after a fabulous service project with the tweens (see Sunday's post), I sat down and started watching the videos for the class. Finishing it up mid-evening last night, after a side trip to the water park.

Instead of using dates (like the class sample), I decided to use the verse that I've been repeating over and over again this spring with the MAD+ kids - Galatians 5:22-23.

I thought it would be cool to have a unique way to display the Fruits of the Spirit in my office - or at least in my living room.

In the class, Jessica warned that creating these things are a wee bit addicting.

Wow. she is right! Today, as I listened and/or read a variety of posts on Facebook, I realized a lot of people in my "circle of influence" are going through some tough times.


The verse from Philippians 4:6-7. kept running through my mind. I posted it on Facebook (Yes, I memorized this verse in King James... so that's how I copied it down). 

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

So tonight, as kind of an act of creative prayer, I created this sign. Maybe creating this - and eventually printing it out for my wall - will help me imprint this message into my brain.

I am really glad that I splurged on this class. It's a strange way to find rest - but that's truly what I did.

Creative Rest.

For that I'm grateful. This was a well spent $12.99.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Honoring Memorial Day

Photo Source: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1285084
Feeling gratitude and not expressing 
it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. 
~William Arthur Ward

Thank you
to those who 
currently serve
or have served
in the military.

I'm especially grateful
for the men and women
I know 
who serve as 
military chaplains.

Thank you.
 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tweens In Service

How did you spend part of your Memorial Day weekend? 

I spent part of Sunday serving with the tweens at Stone Soup, 
a weekly meal served out of Quapaw Quarter UMC 
for the homeless and working poor. 

We got there at 1 p.m. and prepped the food 
- getting everything ready to open "Stone Soup" right at 3 p.m.

We made Sloppy Joes and Three-Bean Salad 
(FYI that's a lot of beans). 
Dessert was pound cake, donated by a local store. 
Someone we didn't know brought in fresh bread at 3 p.m. 
- so we sliced it for people in line.

We expected at least 125 people to come through the line.

Within 18 minutes of opening the door 
we served more than 160 individuals, 
including at least one young boy.

It went amazing, insanely fast.
We completely ran out of food within 20 minutes.

It was an interesting experience. 
One of the tweens was kinda shook up
to see a boy approx. the same age come through the line. 

One of the things I loved about the project, 
is how tweens and adults worked side by side.

Ministering to people in need together.

I loved how this became an inter-generational project. 

I'm grateful for  DK and Rosemary
("regulars" at Stone Soup)
who helped direct our project.

 I'm also thankful for the parents
(Annie, Martin and Blake)

Who came with their kids
to help them learn about being in ministry.

It was a good day. 
We learned a lot and know
a few things we'll do differently 
when we do this project again.

Something to think about
 The highest form of worship 
is the worship 
of unselfish Christian service. 
The greatest form of praise 
is the sound 
of consecrated feet 
seeking out the lost and helpless.
- Billy Graham

FYI - photo collages made using
My new favorite online photo editing site.
(I totally love this site)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Words: Gimme Me E!

I love this image. I stumbled across it online
and it truly represents TEAM to me.
Source of imag
This devo, written in honor of the support I've seen rally around a ministry colleague and friend, as she's battled cancer. May we all have this kind of support in our lives.

“So encourage each other and build each other up.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11a

I live and work in the midst of a fan-crazy football community. You know when game day is happening because everyone – ok, it seems like everyone - regardless of age or gender becomes part of event by wearing the school’s colors or flying its flags.

I may not be a sporty gal, but I can appreciate how this attitude not only unifies the fans, but provides a huge source of encouragement for the community, school and ultimately, the team.

Recently, I saw this same spirit of support surround a friend undergoing cancer treatment. Through notes, crazy care packages and the creation of a “Team Pat” bracelet, people rallied to provide her with encouragement during the many weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. It’s almost as if she was given her own pep squad to stand with her, cheering her on, championing her cause.

What I’ve learned from this outpouring of support, is how encouragement can and should be an ordinary part of daily life. Rather than wait for a special event, I challenge myself to look for ways to encourage or provide little “happies” to the people who cross my path.

Maybe it’s the store clerk who checks me out without grumbling, or the waitress tops off my ice tea with a smile – even as the people at the next table give her a hard time. Rather than breeze through to my next task, I challenge myself to remember to thank them for the service or action they’ve provided me. And for those who have gone above and beyond, I try to find a way to let someone know either verbally or in a short note, what a great employee they have on their staff.

I personally think my world would be a better place if I did a bit more encouraging and a wee bit less complaining.

Action Step: Stop right now and think of one person you can encourage – either in person, by email or thru social media. Why not thank them for something they’ve done to make a difference in your life.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Excitement

I'll admit it. This email arriving in my "inbox" today (Friday) caused me to have a reaction that can only be described as, well, by this image.....

A few weeks ago, a writing friend posted a note on her Facebook page, letting people know they were looking for a few devotions (devos) as I call them for a couple of upcoming books.

The catch - the first deadline was in just a few days.

I could have said "it's too late to try" and ignored the inner nudge.

Instead, I tried.

Flash forward a few late nights, and a couple of friends being "editing" soundboards (thank you!) I submitted three devos.

Five weeks later, I found out that while they didn't fit the first book's scope and sequence - there was a chance that one, Rest, was back in the "hopper" for the second book.

Five more weeks. It made it out of the consideration pile!

It will be included in the book, produced by Group Publishing.

While my head knows it's just one, out of many to be included in the book, my heart keeps doing the Snoopy Dance. Writing for the church is the main reason I went to Seminary. I fell - nudged by God - into children's and youth ministry along the way, but have never given up the desire for my writing to have a greater meaning.

I'm thankful for the nudge God gave me as I read my friend's Facebook post.

I guess I just need to be open to hearing more of them - and not letting fear keep me from trying something new.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lessons from Kidlets

I love that my office at church is near the Learning Center.

In fact, I've joked that I've learned lots of preschool songs this year, because music class is across the hall.

Often I get into conversations with the kidlets who attend the school as I walk to my car (past the playground) and as they walk down the hall to their various classes.

I had a few "God moments" this week thanks to some of the kidlets in my life.


The first came thanks to a "playground" conversation. The little girl looked at me, and said "why don't we have chapel anymore?"

I (along with an occasional staff volunteer), lead a weekly 15 minute chapel service (think two songs, a scripture, story and prayer) for the 3's and 4's every Wednesday. We've stopped at the beginning of May, as we began to "wrap" up the school year - but will resume during the Summer session.


It melted my heart that she missed chapel - because she missed the songs and story.


The other came, as I was having a random conversation with a teacher, and these four popped their heads out of the room (think baby birds chirping at a nest...lol).

One asked what color my hair will be this summer. I said "probably orange."
(Last summer, I started at St. James on the first day of Vacation Bible School. My crazy, help them remember me idea was that if they raised "x" for missions, I would "color my hair blue" and eat brussel sprouts.)

I still have kids coming up to me to say "you had blue hair." .... while some have voted for "rainbow" hair this year, I think it will be orange - to match Ocho, the Octopus mascot for Cokesbury's VBS.

Another kidlet (not pictured) keeps asking me questions about my visit with Ronald McDonald. Come to find out, he saw this picture on a poster, talking about our 2012 school year tab collection for the Ronald McDonald House. (For the record, we've been collecting tabs since late fall - eight pounds on the collection date - and we've started again for the April 2013 collection date.)


I love interacting with kids. I love the questions they ask and the things they see. I love being part of their growing and amazing lives.

Frankly, the interaction I had with them this week, helps me remember why I love children's  ministry. - Just another "nudge" from God..

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Funny: Pool's open

This cartoon makes me laugh, every time I drive past the pool at my apartment complex and as I plan a couple of water park trips/swimming outings for the tweens this summer.

Just wanted to share the laugh!

Fyi - edited with http://www.picmonkey.com/ a fabulous new online photo editing program - if you liked http://www.picnik.com (which has closed), you'll really like this new site!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Words: A Look At Destination: Mission

Editor's Note: This column, entitled "Grade Schoolers Ready, Eager For Mission Work." Appeared in the May 2012 issue of the Arkansas United Methodist Newspaper. You can see the original article online here, and download the pdf here.

Spring Break 2012 - Destination; Fort Smith's team.

Five years and six trips ago, I had an idea.

It was simple. Take older elementary and middle school students out of their “comfort zone” and help them explore what it means to serve God.

What started as a single-church project has grown into a ministry that has involved students from 10 churches within the Arkansas Conference. We call it Destination: Mission.

Destination: Mission trips have a simple rhythm, which includes two days of “kid-friendly” mission projects, such as working in a thrift store, preparing and/or serving a meal, sorting items at a food pantry or even doing yard work.

At each project, students have a chance to learn about the sponsoring ministry through a brief educational offering and a question-and-answer session.

The ultimate goal: Students will experience projects they can do not only on the trip, but in their home community as well.

Other activities during the four-day, three-night trip involve group building (especially as we’ve expanded to include multiple churches), worship and, of course, a lot of fun.

For people who question whether younger students—especially those in third, fourth and fifth grades—can benefit from this type of experience, I unequivocally say yes.

In the last five years, I’ve watched as students have had all kinds of amazing experiences while doing ordinary tasks.

One year, the project involved sorting cans of food at the Arkansas Rice Depot—simple, right? But thanks to a volunteer coordinator who went above and beyond to share the organization’s story and mission, those students still talk in amazement about what the Rice Depot does for people in need.

Some even returned to their home church and encouraged the congregation to take a deeper interest in this hunger ministry.

During this year’s spring break trip in Fort Smith, one third-grader listened intently to testimonies of how the Salvation Army ministry had been used to change lives.

The nine-year-old felt moved to do something. Without telling anyone, she quietly gave all of her allowance to the ministry.

Later, she had a chance to talk about her decision with her mom, who served as a chaperone on the trip. She said, “I will never look at things the same way again.”

How many adults can say that?

Honestly, I’ll never look at taking students on a mission trip the same way again.

To critics who say we should wait until students are older and at least in high school, I say “Why?”

Elementary students want to serve. They want to make a difference. They want help others. By providing them with opportunities to serve, we also help them grow as Christians.

I’ve watched as some of my first students “graduated” from the short trips to longer ones, and stepped into leadership roles with experiences like Ozark Mission Project, or returned to help on a Destination trip so younger students can have the same experiences they encountered.

I’ve also seen adults, unsure of what to expect, look on in amazement as their students dive into the mission projects without complaint or hesitation.

This summer will mark the fifth year—and seventh trip—for Destination: Mission. Our plans include staying at First UMC Pine Bluff and working with two local ministries: Neighbor 2 Neighbor and the Salvation Army.

The planning team has already begun making plans for 2013’s spring break and summer trips. We plan announce dates and locations for the two trips in late summer or early fall of 2012.

Want to keep up with our students during the summer trip to Pine Bluff? Follow our antics on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Destination.Mission.

Hutson serves as director of children’s ministries for St. James UMC Little Rock. For information on Destination: Mission trips in 2013, contact her at kaylea.hutson@gmail.com.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Blog Tour: Wish You Were Here (Review)

The debut novel by Beth K. Vogt, "Wish You Were Here," managed to do something most novels cannot do.

She managed to surprise me by her "non-traditional" storyline.

Vogt took a little bit of romance - you know, boy meets girl, boy and girl decide they are in love, boy and girl decide to marry - and then shakes things up a bit, by having girl have second thoughts, because of the boy's older brother.

Sounds trashy. But honestly, it's not. In all honesty, Vogt has created a novel that showcases the heroine's need for control and the perils of doing things because it's what is "expected."

This novel is different. It's not necessarily a "happy sappy" romance. It is however, a novel that will catch you off guard and maybe even make you think about a few different things in life.

On the scale of one to five, I give it a solid three and a half. It's a solid work by a non-fiction author turned novelist. I'm excited to see what might come from her pen next.

More About The Book!
(From The Publisher)
Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.

Still, kissing the groom's brother in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison's life is nothing but mistakes at this point.

And pulling a "Runaway Bride" complete with stealing, er, borrowing her best friend's car doesn't seem to solve her problems. Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Maybe she just needs to stop orchestrating everything.

Allison prefers being the one in control, and giving it up is not going to be easy. But to find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her and find the strength to let Him lead.

About The Author
Beth K. Vogt provides her readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God's lavish grace. She's a non-fiction author and editor who said she'd never write fiction.

She's the wife of an Air Force physician (now in solo practice) who said she'd never marry a doctor-or anyone in the military. She's a mom of four who said she'd never have kids. Beth has discovered that God's best often waits behind the doors marked "Never." She writes contemporary romance because she believes there's more to happily ever after than the fairy tales tell us.

Beth earned a journalism degree from San Jose State University and met her husband Rob when he knocked her down at a karate studio. They've been married for 31 years. They have four children, ranging in ages from 28, 25, 23 and - thanks to a funny thing happening on their way to the empty nest-a 10-year-old.

The Vogt Team, which now includes a "daughter-in-love" and "son-in-love," enjoys hiking and camping in Colorado. Read more about Beth at her website:http://bethvogt.com

Online Resources
Follow the blog tour: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/13480251

Buy It Online at Amazon

It's A Contest
Win an iPad2 from @BethVogt!

Celebrate with Beth by entering her Wish You Were Here Giveaway!



One "happy" winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad with Wi-Fi (The must-have, do-everything gadget!)
  • Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt (Swoon worthy.)
  • $15 iTunes Gift Card (Music, books, apps, & more.)
Hurry, the giveaway ends on 6/4/12. The winner will be announced 6/6/12 on Beth's website!

Just click one of the icons below to enter! Tell your friends about Beth's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.


Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Few Scenes From My Weekend

From Created by God, to a Fishing Derby for younger students, it was a busy weekend in the life of St. James Kidz.

Here's a few of my favorite pictures from the weekend.

Created By God
You Should Have Seen My Face.
On the first night of Created by God, the students
"drew" pictures of what their faces looked like when 
their parents said "you're going to go to Created by God"


Our Creations
During the weekend, one of the activities
gives the students a chance to "create" something...
just like God created them.....

Working in Small Groups

Cell Phone Jail....
I took custody of the cell phones during the weekend,
so students could focus on the event....

The Fishing Derby
The Central District Fishing Derby
@ Pinnacle Mountain Educational Pond




Saturday, May 19, 2012

Blog Tour: Hiking Through (Review)

When Paul Stuzman's wife died of cancer, he made a decision to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Sounds simple.

But in reality, Stutzman found that the trip was not only more difficult than he anticipated, he found himself changed from the experience.

In his book, Hiking Through, Stutzman mixes memories of his journey with his spiritual discoveries - creating a spiritual memoir that is both unique and interesting.

I really like spiritual memoirs. I like how "normal" people find spiritual insight in their everyday lives.

I thought this was an authentic journey of self discovery. I really enjoyed reading it. In fact, Stuzman's stories really brought the trail alive.

I think this is a book that you could give to a guy in your life - but also enjoy it for yourself.

On the scale of one to five, it's definitely a solid three and a half, maybe even a four. It may not be a "traditional" trail journal, but it truly is authentic and honest. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you take time to read this book.


More About The Book
(From The Publisher)
A life-changing journey begins with a single step

After Paul Stutzman lost his wife to breast cancer, he sensed a tug on his heart--the call to a challenge, the call to pursue a dream. With a mixture of dread and determination, Paul left his job, traveled to Georgia, and took his first steps on the Appalachian Trail. What he learned during the next four and a half months changed his life--and can change yours as well.

In Hiking Through, you'll join Paul on his remarkable 2,176-mile trip through fourteen states in search of peace and a renewed sense of purpose. Along the way, you'll meet fascinating and funny people, experience trail magic, and discover that every choice we make on the path has consequences for the journey. More than that, you'll come away with a new understanding of God's grace and guidance--even in the smallest things.


About The Author
Paul Stutzman is a former restaurant manager who left his career after his wife's death from breast cancer. He hiked the Appalachian Trail in search of peace, healing, and freedom. His passion and mission is to share what he learned on that remarkable journey. Paul grew up in the Mennonite church. When he is not hiking or on a cross-country bike ride he makes his home in Berlin, Ohio.

Online Resources
Read excerpts from the book here:
http://www.hikingthrough.com/excerptspictures.html
or here (from the publisher)

Read the author's trip journal (from 2008)
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=220189

Read more about the book here:
http://www.hikingthrough.com/behindthebook.html

Buy it online
@ Amazon
@ Barnes & Noble

Check out the author's website here:
http://www.hikingthrough.com/index.html

About Revell, The Publisher
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet. For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.

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

Friday, May 18, 2012

Photo Flashback: 2008 - October - Elm Springs Craft Festival

Photo Flashback: Scenes from the 2008 - October - Elm Springs Craft Festival. (Moving pics from my photo blog to this one.)


Gi and Ki

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Gi and Ki
Dressed in their Yester Daze Costumes
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Ki Who?
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Photo Booth Photos

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Ki and a Friend
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Missy's kids

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Abigail

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David being goofy....

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Another little one....
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Family with twins

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Beverly's Granddaughters

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