Silent Night… Holy Night… All is calm… Draw near to gaze… Come and Worship… Saints before the alter bending… Rejoice, with heart and soul and voice… O tidings of comfort and joy… this Holy tide of Christmas doth bring redeeming grace… the world in solemn stillness lay… O hush the noise, ye men of strife… O rest beside the weary road… How still we see thee lie… deep and dreamless sleep… Fall on your knees… the Spirit felt its worth… one seems to hear words of good cheer from everywhere filling the air… (all these words are from Christmas Carols)
DO THESE PHRASES DESCRIBE YOUR CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION?
December used to be the busiest month of the year for me. From church events to personal parties and performing at other people’s events to… I don’t know what all. But by News Years Day I was so exhausted “Peace on Earth” seemed a distant memory.
This year I am slowing December down. My calendar is mostly empty and I will be keeping close to home and just relaxing and taking it much slower. We are planning to have a Christmas Hour every day where we do just a little something as a family to enjoy the celebration of Jesus. Read a story, play a game, or just sit in front of the fireplace and watch the lights on the tree flicker. I’ve turned down a bunch of speaking engagements despite the financial need to do them and postponed several projects to January and expect to get very behind on e-mail.
Why? Because I want to experience a December where my family is truly really FIRST like it never has been before.
All I want for Christmas this year is some peace and quiet.
Enjoy this video:
Let me encourage you to not overbook this month… leave some blank days on the calendar. Have some days where all you do is enjoy the day. Put off anything that can be put off. Before every urgent thing ask yourself, “Come June, will it matter whether I did this in December or January?” You might just find yourself doing some GODLY PROCRASTINATION!
My Blog Readers always get the inside scoop! So you can be the first to know that I have written an Order of the Ancient Short Story called: Josiah and the Mysterious Child. (A Christmas Special!) I get lots of requests for “Book 2″ – so this is my way to try and answer the calls for the further adventures of Brent Camdon.
This 12 page mini-novelette will be released on Kidology.org as a PDF download early in December. (I will update this post when it is live) It is currently being reviewed by a few select readers (several are expert kids!) and edited… and will be available soon!
The unedited teaser has been removed. The complete story is now available on Kidology.org:
It was a real treat to get to spend this Thanksgiving in Williamsburg, VA. I know that was last week – but after posting about leaving, arriving, meeting up with friends, and more friends, and about an awesome kids pastor, matching sweaters, and even trash cans I took a break from my computer from Wednesday through Sunday and it was wonderful to be off line for several days in a row. Now that I am caught up on the hundreds of e-mails I got behind on… I thought I’d finally post about Thanksgiving.
It was like traveling back in time! Except for all the people wearing weird clothes… referring to myself and the other tourists. I actually thought it would be an interesting idea to have an area where you had to be in period costume to get in, that would be fun. (But then the digital camera would still be a give away!)
I tied Luke to a horse post as I explained to him what it was. Seconds later, a carriage came by and the driver called out that Luke was tied where he was going to be shortly!
Luke watching the horse and carriage.
Mom and Luke in front of one of the fruit wreaths, one of Sara’s favorite things in Williamsburg.
We tried on the hats but decided a picture was less expensive than spending over $40 for two hats. I’ll wait until he is older and can enjoy the dressing up. (I can’t wait actually, it was fun seeing the little boys in hats with guns and swords strapped to their belts.)
Luke’s cousins joined us for Thanksgiving Day, but I had to sentence them to the stocks for being too sweet.
I tried to put Luke in the baby stocks, but he wasn’t too thrilled about the idea!
I enjoyed seeing the recreated buildings and imagining what life must have been like for those who forged this New World for us. But not everything was re-created.
This church has been here for a very long time… here is the sign:
I bet your church hasn’t had continual services since 1715! (wow) I’d like to get a perfect attendance button for that!
The next time we come here, I want to come with an outfit like this. There were a lot of people just walking around in period costumes. It really brought the town to life.
It made it easy to imagine you were there when our country was being born.
Even George Washington showed up and gave a stirring speech. He seemed uneffected by all the strange looking people who had traveled through time to hear him.
There was even a colonial marching band that went down the street:
I would HIGHLY recommend this as a vacation spot, especially for families with kids ages 1st – 4th grade. We will probably wait 3-4 years and then definitely be back so that we can do more with Luke.
The PERFECT THANKSGIVING DINNER! (as with all images, click for a larger image!) Yes, that is turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and corn… and pizza, pretzels, mac & cheese and a rice krispie treat laced with chocolate. Best Thanksgiving Dinner ever!
We ate at the Great Wolf Lodge buffet – Sara enjoyed having no cooking and I enjoyed no clean up! And we may stay here next time, check out the indoor water park:
and this is only ONE view… it is massive!
The only bummer of the trip was saying goodbye to our nephew and niece (and their parents) who we don’t get to see often enough.
A mother who loved Jesus and her children and teaching children about Jesus. (this is my mom with Sara back when we were dating)
A dad who loved serving God but always had time to take his son on adventures. And on these adventures he took the time to teach me life lessons that I still remember today.
My other mom by marriage who demonstrates by her loving attitude grace and hospitality wherever she goes. It is no secret where my wife’s gentle and quiet spirit and forgiving heart comes from.
Another dad by marriage whose love for the lost is an inspiring example and who loves retelling any story that shows how God can change lives.
A wife who loves her husband and little boy the way Jesus loves us – with grace and kindness and lots of patience.
A little boy who made me a Dad overnight and changed my life forever.
And who looks up to me no matter what. The love of a child is a precious undeserved gift. I now know what it meant for God to give his only begotten son… for me!
OK, WHAT DO ALL THESE HAVE IN COMMON?
They are what I am most thankful for on Thanksgiving Day. Of course, there are many other things I’m thankful for as well – but parents, wife, and my little boy top the list. There are other family I am thankful for, friends that have modeled Christlike friendship, staff that I don’t know what I’d do without, and so much more.
But mostly I am thankful for the Cross
and to Jesus my Savior, Forgiver and Friend.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
This has been a fantastic trip for getting to see and meet some fellow children’s pastors. (I say fellow CP’s as they share my heart, even though I am not currently a CP). I blogged about Todd and Mark earlier, and but there were two more on this trip!
The first was Tom Bump – thought I feel like a such a bum (not to be confused with Bump) because I spent several hours with Tom at the Kidology To Go and then at Chili’s enjoying dinner and fellowship and never once took a picture to blog! It would not be dishonest to say that the conversation was so engrossing that snappin’ a picture just never crossed my mind! I think Tom and I will become great friends. The next time I see him will be at Yosemite Summit since he is one of the first to sign up for the Unconference for Children’s Pastors! We have shared many similar ministry experiences and enjoys hours of sharing those stories and lessons God is teaching us both on this journey of life and ministry. The picture below is from his CP Team application, and includes his wife April who kept calling and hearing, “I’ll be heading home soon, really” over and over. I finally told her her name will probably be May by the time he gets home. (he drove several hours to come the conference)
I also got to meet another cool Kids Pastor today who I have come to know recently through his blog! (where he beat me to blogging about this evening!) Alan Phillips has been encouraging his parents to read my novel, Order of the Ancient, to their kids and then he has been blogging about it. (Here and here and here and here and here.)
When I blogged that I was coming to Williamsburg, he posted a comment that he lives near here, and so I e-mailed him and suggested our families get together for a meal. He ended up influencing THREE of our vacation meals!
#1 He mentioned that his wife works for Chick-Fil-A, so we went there first as soon as we landed:
#2 – As we discussed where to meet for dinner, he jokingly suggested SONIC they like it and don’t have one near them and know there is one in Williamsburg. After we got off the phone, I had SONIC on the brain, so we headed there for dinner!
#3 – But finally, we did actually eat at the same restaurant, and at the same time, at Giuseppe’s Italian Cafe upon a recommendation that it was voted the st restaurant in Williamsburg by the “locals.” Turns out it was pretty good after all. (Gotta love those locals!)
What I didn’t realize is that Alan’s wife, Rebecca must be a Higher-Up at Chick-Fil-A because she came with a goodie bag of Chick-Fil-A treats:
A calendar, flying disc, lanyard, carabeaner, Coke holder (which will hold Dew!) a window sticker and two stuff’s cows beggin’ you to eat Chicken! Most of these are destined for the Kidology Headquarters!
It was great to meet the whole family and get to know Alan and his wife and kids better! By the end both of our youngest were pretty much falling over asleep. (Well, I guess my oldest was too, since I only have one!) We could have talked much longer, and I’m sure we will again. These three kids were a delight to meet, and its always fun to meet fans of ToyBoxTales and hear what their favorites are and what questions they have about them and my novel. Thanks Allan for bringing the whole family on a long drive to enjoy some good food and fellowship. We had a great time!
As mentioned earlier, I was in town for a Kidology To Go last Saturday at Todd McKeever’s Church. (he blogged about it already) He asked me for some feedback on what I observed on Sunday, so I thought I’d just go ahead and blab it all here on my blog! (no worries, Todd, it’s all good!)
In my travels I’ve been blessed to see more children’s ministries than I can count… here are just some of the things that impressed me about what Todd is doing at Jubilee Christian Center:
1) The room is kid friendly – with a creative set and even a slime machine!
2) Not one, not two, but THREE inflatables make kids know the room is for them!
3) This is the typical expression on the kids faces! (a good sign)
4) Even separate play things for the little tots so they don’t get clobbered by the Big Kids!
5) Nothing says “we love kids” like a video game wall.
6) Kids have to come early to enjoy the giant fun stuff, helped encourage being on time.
7) Todd is available and eager to help his volunteers all morning.
(Just my artsy picture out the stairwell window as I snuck around)
9) Creative and informative parent and volunteer information is great!
Todd’s daughter has NBA dreams!
10) Cool games that show planning ahead!
Frozen pancakes… yum yum!
11) Kids get to play fun and messy games with a point!
12) The lesson was filled with fun stories and scripture that was relevant to the needs of kids.
13) Todd did a great job of delegating – volunteers ran the computer, lead games, and chose kids to produce instant dramas to illustrate the lesson.
14) Todd’s lesson had one main point that everything else reinforced: Never Give Up Doing Good.
15) Todd’s humor was on target and his presence commanded attention without being overbearing.
16) Todd included kids in the teaching – not only in the skits, but in using their feedback throughout the lesson to illustrate his lesson.
17) They have recently implemented a new sign in process to increase security and no adults were allowed into the gym (other than volunteers… and, oh yeah, me!) until all the kids had been picked up or accounted for and parents in charge.
18) Classrooms were painted creatively, bright, but not too much.
19) Kids ran to greet Todd with hugs… a sign that know they are known and loved at church.
20) Todd (and Rachel’s) kids were the best examples of kids who love Jesus I’ve seen in quite a while. As mentioned in a previous post, their attitudes and spirit toward each other in many situations was a huge testimony to me that Todd not only teaches Christ’s love, but he lives it, and it is “caught as well as taught” by his two kids.
Oh, did I say FIVE THINGS? Oh, well, I guess I got carried away! Keep up the great work, Todd!
BONUS: Video of the Pancake Game!
(Trying to flip frozen pancakes into tins on top of partners head!)
One of mommy’s ways to have fun is to dress up her husband and little boy in matching outfits. (And only true love would put up with the snickers and smiles I get from all the passer-byers who see me and Luke on these matching days!) But on this day, he looks so adorable, I decided to risk e-snickers or iSmiles by actually posting some pictures of Lukie and Me playing “matchy-matchy” (as we call it) here in Williamsburg, VA.
Of all the things I have done or acquired or accomplished in life, nothing has come close to the joy and deep satisfaction of being a father to this little boy. When I walk around with Luke holding my hand, when he curls up in a ball in my lap to sleep, when he runs over to give me a hug and kiss out of the blue, when I pick him up and he rests his head on my shoulder, when he is scared and clings to my leg, when he smiles at me from across the room, when he squeals with delight when I come home, when he brings me a toy and holds it up asking me to bring it to life, when he whimpers in the dark and I say, “It’s O.K., Daddy’s here” and he immediately goes back to sleep. There simply is nothing better in life than being a dad, and nothing is more important to me than being the dad he needs me to be. (Except being the child my heavenly Father wants me to be, and the husband my wife needs me to be.) I have learned so much about my Heavenly Dad from being a dad myself now. This little boy has changed me in ways I don’t think anything else could have. It’s a daily delight and adventure and I am so enjoying it!
At the Kidology To Go conference yesterday, as usual, I had people bummed I didn’t bring Luke to the event and then asking to see pictures and videos of him. I realized that I have not made a “Luke Video” since Easter 2006, and when I showed that one on screen during a break, I had to say, “Well, that’s when he was a baby… he’s almost two now.” I’ve posted lots of short videos of him on my blog, but it was time for an update!
Since I’m alone this evening and missing my little boy (and Sara too!) I took a walk through iPhoto selecting some of my favorite pictures of Luke – and was amazed at how much he has grown up, just since he turned one, and one and a half….
So here is a video update of Luke from after his birthday to this month… all pictures in order of age, so you can see him growing up… all too fast.
Mommy and Lukie: I MISS YOU!
I’ll see you soon!
UPDATE: Here is a picture of Luke a few days later… watching the video of himself, he loves to watch it!
I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.
~ Stephen R. Covey