Seeing Through It

One of the books I read in the mornings when I read my bible is a collection of snippets from various books by Brennan Manning.  Today, an excerpt from The Signature of Jesus was incredibly appropriate, so I thought I'd pass it on.  How many people do we encounter in a day that, while it is so easy to get frustrated with them, could in fact be children who just stopped growing up?  Further, how many times in a day do we return to Neverland and forget we're grown up? 

"The gentleness of Jesus with sinners flowed from his ability to read their hearts and to detect the sincerity and goodness there.  Behind men's grumpiest poses and most puzzling defense mechanisms, behind their arrogance and airs, behind their silence, sneers, and curses, Jesus saw little children who hadn't been loved enough and who had ceased growing because someone had stopped believing in them.  His extraordinary sensitivity and compassion caused Jesus (and later the apostles) to speak of the faithful as children no matter how tall, rich, clever, and successful they might be."

I Samuel 16:7 – But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance, or his height, for I have rejected him.  The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Look Who’s Talking

I stumbled on this today.  It highlights the importance of gesturing and speaking, and also emphasizes the importance of reading and speaking to infants.  This will enhance their ability later in life, their education, and all around brain development.

It reminds me of a project I heard about on THIS AMERICAN LIFE (a radio show) in which a community tried partnering with parents from a child's birth to integrate reading into their lives.  As the children grew up, they scored the highest in the state on standardized testing – a complete reversal from original testing scores before the program began.

Next week, we'll be having a meeting with our Journey Kidz leaders who deal specifically with our booming infant population at Journey!  We'll be discussing some ways we can begin to incorporate these ideas in our weekends.

When toddlers point a lot, more words will follow

WASHINGTON (AP) — Don't just talk to your toddler — gesture, too.
Pointing, waving bye-bye and other natural gestures seem to boost a
budding vocabulary.

Click here for the article

it blows my mind

I have seen this creep up on several blogs I read and each time, I am a sucker and watch it.  But when I think about kids ministry, and we talk about equipping people and we talk about being effective and creative…what an amazing world we live in.  So, how do we use this to for maximum impact?

How does this change what you and I do each day?  How does it impact how we approach ministering to people at Journey or to any other team we are involved with?  Let me know what you think:

Peter Pan: a fairy tale?

Jimmy's message this weekend has had several people come up to me and say, "Peter Pan expert huh?"

Let's clarify:  Expert is a loaded word.  But, I have three copies of the book, a copy of the play, the Disney animated version, a CD of music from the ballet, play, and musical versions, Micheal's Bear, and the most recent live-action version – oh and that one I ditched my family on Christmas Day to go see it in the movie theater…and then I saw it about 8 times after that at the $1 theater next to my college campus.  And I wrote something up on it in a Children's Literature class in college.  And, I researched it's author and his other works.  So…I don't know if all that makes me an expert or not.  But, I'm knowledgeable about it anyway.

The other day I was breezing by Smooth and John and they mentioned something about it being a fairy-tale.  I disagree.  It's quite clear the story of Peter Pan is a tragedy (at least for Peter Pan).

Peter Pan is the boy who doesn't grow up.  All other kids do grow up. He doesn't.  He won't.  (This is why the movie Hook is blech).  He decides not too.  Being a grown up means responsibility.  It means he has to care for other people.  Growing up means putting away games and picking up hours to work at a desk.  Growing up means that instead of killing pirates, he should listen to the great advice of adults who have been before, who are wise, who can help him grow up to reach his best potential. 

Neverland, in the book, is a place that makes you forget.  In the book (and somewhat in the movie) Peter often forgets Wendy's name, and he forgets completely about John and Michael.  He doesn't really even know how old he is either. Even Wendy finds herself forgetting her mother.  John and Michael have forgotten their parents as well.

He's quite comfortable right where he is.  Wendy recognizes the danger.  As fun and exciting as Neverland is, it is a place that she could never stay in because she is ready to grow up.  She desires to have those things and is willing to give up staying young to experience an abundant life, a full life.

In fact, the Lost Boys also desire it.  They all move back to London to be adopted by Wendy's parents.  All except Peter Pan.  He remains in Neverland.  He visits Wendy from time to time and she goes back every now and then.  But she grows up.  He stays the same.  Finally, she can't go back anymore.  She's older, wiser, and Peter, who never grew up, remains alone.

When they do arrive back in London- the window they find is opened.  It always had been opened.  It was always there waiting for them to come back home.  Wendy's parents were very insistent that it should never be closed, ever, in chance they should return and think themselves unwanted.  (Our loving Father is the same – He keeps His windows open for us too!)

In this way, he is a tragedy.  So, the story is not so much a great tale about imagination and adventure, and "How sad we lose it as we grow up!"  It's quite the opposite.  How sad for those who don't grow up!

PS – if you need to get the whole story, I reccommend the book (by J.M. Barrie).  Or if you have less time to read, then watch the 2003 film with Jason Isaacs and Jeremy Sumpter. 

Environment Leader: Meggan Hennebry

One of things we strive to do amongst our Journey Serve Teams is to build community.  Jimmy spoke on the importance of community last week in his third message of One Thing I Need To Change. So, I thought it might be a good idea to highlight some people on Ye Olde Blog who have joined the JourneyKidz Team.

Meggan Hennebry is serves in TheBLOCK at Journey NW.  She loves our 1-2 year old kids.  What's great is that Meggan joined up with Journey just a littlie bit before our NW launch.  She plugged into small groups and asked, "Where can I serve?!" 

This past week, there was a big joke about her at NW.  Despite the fact that she has been at NW since day one, and has been serving there since week two, so many people still do not know her!  In fact, she was telling me about how each week she is asked, "Are you new here?  You should think about serving in our kids ministry!" 

So, I'd like everyone to meet Meggan!


24 Hours ago…

Just 24 hours ago I was at Journey NW.  It feels that more time has passed than that.  I don't know if you are like me, but it is easy for me to forget things.  I misplace my keys, phone, license, ipod, etc. all the time.  I start one thing, then move on to the next before I've finished the first because when I start Project A, it's the most important.  But, while I am doing that, my brain reminds me of Project B and I realize that Project B really should take priority over Project A.  Then, Project B triggers the same effect for Project C.
At some point, I realize – "I never finished Project A" and I go back to do that.  I'm not sure if that's ADD or not.  I took an informal test on that…but eh.
So, anyway, because of the way my brain works (see how I just got sidetracked in writing this? I mean, in my mind the dots connected…but looking back now, I'm not sure…) I lose my stuff a lot and time goes by fast – exponentially – oh I remember now – because time goes by fast for me, and because I move from one thing to the next so quickly, it's easy for me to forget where I put things and very difficult for me to remember very recent events.
Some people can handle it.  Some people can't.
Because I am prone to move from one thing to the next, I often do not stop to think about what just happened.  I don't take the time to celebrate the little things that were accomplished.  I'm trying to get better at it.  A few weeks ago, Deanna had to stop me and say, "Stop.  Don't move on to the next thing yet.  Stop everything for one minute.  Think about what we just accomplished.  Tha'ts a BIG deal!"  So, now her voice runs through my head a lot, like today.  (Thanks Deanna).
Honestly, there are many things to celebrate, but I'll pick one for now.  This past weekend, preschoolers learned that Jesus loves them.  That is a BIG deal!  That is a SUCCESS story!  If a three year old can grasp the concept that Jesus is a king, and he wants to be friends with me forever, that is HUGE!  Granted, some wanted to be friends with their Webkins forever (and time will tell) but they understood very well that JESUS LOVES ME and wants to be MY FRIEND forever!
What kind of impact will that have on them later in life?  I guess I mean, how many kids go through life never hearing that?  How many kids in the world yesterday did not hear that Jesus loved them?  In Raleigh, I know 200 kids that heard that and more.
I know of a bunch of 2nd-3rd graders who will be thinking to work like ants, not slugs.
That is worth a celebration!  I know kids who have recognized problems with their behavior and want to correct it.  I know kids with big hearts who are reaching out to other kids who are going through hard times.
God is a BiG GOD and He is moving through Journey, through an amazing community of Kidz Leaders, and through families to reach kids and the people around them.  The role we play is far – reaching.  So, thanks for celebrating that with me while you read this.
It reshapes the value of stuffing bags full of heart shapes and styrofoam balls!
And for a peek at what that looks like…and my brain..

Under Construction…

One of the things we strive to do at Journey Kidz is transform our rooms into environments.  Rooms are too common and too familiar.  We've been in rooms all week.  Who wants to go to a place on the weekend and sit in another room for an hour?  I don't.  Kids don't.  Adults don't.
Even in the WAREHOUSE, adults worship in an environment.  It's not really a room.
Our STUDIO environment is always changing.  Some months, it's really good.  Some months it's really lame.  This month, it is neither.  It's just plain awesome.
When you walk into an environment, you are walking into an experience.  Experiencing something is more memorable than being told about something.  I've been to the Grand Canyon.  I can tell you all about it, but if you haven't been there yourself, you don't have the same memory.  I can tell you about Pittsburgh, but if you haven't been there, you really don't care.  (If you have been there, and several of you have – then you understand how completely incredible it is despite popular opinion.  :)
For our kids, we want each room to be radically transformed.  This is a project we are always tweaking and working on.  (Shameless plug: If you have a creative mind, think about jumping into our Kidz Community!)
I could write a lot more (and will one day) but for now, enjoy the pics…or better yet – swing in and see it for yourself! It's much cooler in person, I promise!
Jen thanks maybe too much orange...

Flash Forward

2008 is leaving.  It has packed it's bags and is sitting at the bus stop waiting for the CAT to take it to wherever it's going.  2009 is already in route (probably already here, just hiding in a corner somewhere).
The past year has been a great one.  For me personally, just seven months ago I was wrapping up a year of teaching high school english.  I was packing up my classroom into boxes, filing things away, and saying goodbye to students who were saying, "See you next year."  Except they didn't.  (In passing only.)
It was seven months ago that I jumped from teaching into this new great experiment.  Crazy?
Ever seen Back to the Future Part II?  Marty (Michael J. Fox) gets the chance to see his future, what he will be when finally gets old.  It's not a great picture.  It's actually the opposite of everything he hoped for and his dreams of being a rockstar are instead met with his failure as a businessman.
"What are you saying?"
I'm saying that life doesn't quite turn out like you think it will when you are young.  If you had asked me seven years ago when I left for college if I had any intention of moving back to Raleigh, I would have said no.  If you had asked me five years ago what I wanted to do for a living, I would have given a long-winded philosophical answer which is a college student's way of saying, "I have no idea, but I hope it pays for these loans."  If you had come across me in June of 2005, and and asked where I would be in a few months, I would have said, Kentucky or Pennsylvania.  A year later I would have said, Pennsylvania, or Raleigh.  Another year later I would have said maybe Texas too.
I'm still in Raleigh.  And I'm glad I am.  I'm glad to be here at this time for these moments, to be on the edge of my seat where God is doing something miraculous all around me and in me, as He constatnly teaches me about redemption, about fixing broken people, about strengthening what He's already put in us.
I'm excited for the year ahead.  We have so much to do, and we are going to have so much fun doing it.  We are going to develop new ways to help families reach out and grow up in Christ.  We are providing new ways for people to get involved.  TheBLOCK and MiNi CiTy are going to get some booster shots in the forms of large group teams, and some awesome environment face-lifts.  (Booster shots and face-lifts in the same phrase…see?  The generational gap is closing…. :)
Our teams in the Kidz GIG STUDIO are doing a great job and are poised to go the next level.  Our kids are getting it, and are seeking God in their every day lives.  It's incredible.
We have some good stuff coming, and we are thankful for what has been done, and I can't wait to see what's next.
Great Scott!

The Stocking is Stuffed

I'll be honest. I haven't posted anything fun about toys because quite frankly, I finished my shopping and I'm done.
I'm done with the crazy mall traffic, the crazy customers who run you over, and literally push you out of the way so can get their 20% off of a toe-nail clipper fun-pack.
This past week we discussed in KidzGIG how we can be generous without necessarily giving money or giving items to people. They were quite clever, coming up with ways we can use our words, or our time to show people how valuable they are to us. One girl said that at the park she could spend time with her sister and play with her rather than doing her own thing.
In the book "A Prayer for Owen Meany", John Irving, through the narrator, writes that sometimes "the so-called spirit of giving can be just as greedy as receiving."
I think that can be very true. Is our motivation for giving out of greed for what we expect in return? Or is it because we truly want to show value to the people around us?
Christ showed us how valuable we are to Him by His sacrifice. The Father showed us how valuable we are to Him by the gift of His Son.
What are some ways we can show how valuable people are to us without a tangible, monetary gift?
I received a Christmas card from each of two brothers this past weekend. I loved that! What a simple way to show appreciation to not only me, but they also gave one to their small group leaders as well. Generosity comes in many forms.
I hope you have a calm few days before Christmas. Rest in the Greatest Gift amongst the hustle.