This was the quietest Thanksgiving I’ve ever experienced, but I liked it! For the first time ever, neither of us had parents nearby and all our other local relatives had special plans so it was just the three of us. At first we were kinda bummed being used to big noisy family gatherings… but it was a nice change. Yesterday we dug out the Christmas stuff and got the tree up and started the always difficult task of figuring out how to arrange the furniture to accommodate Christmas. We have one of those front rooms where no matter what you do, something ends up awkward. I’d had a long nap so when Sara went to bed I was still full of energy. (Also in part due to some medicine that tends to put my metabolism into overdrive!) So I stayed up super late and got the whole front room all set up and decorated as a surprise for the wife, so she could just enjoy preparing the meal without the hassle of the dysfunctional house! Anyway, all that to say, the day started out wonderful as the little boy got to come down and see the tree, the fire place, and the new arrangement of his “car table,” media center and toy box.
I so enjoyed explaining that today was a special day called Thanksgiving. This was the first year we could explain it and know he understood. At breakfast we started by going around the circle several times to say something we were thankful for. Luke surprised and delighted us when the first thing he said was “Jesus.” Which honestly was a surprise! Obviously, Jesus is a part of our life, but we aren’t teaching him parrot answers when it comes to our faith – so for him to answer that way was a positive reflection of our family and life, and perhaps some church influence played in there as well. (we certainly hope!)
This will sound odd, but I spent the bulk of the day cleaning out the garage – with a little helper – and getting all the outdoor decorations ready to set up so that by nap time I would be ready to get it all up in that two plus hour window without little eyes. I was just putting up the final lights when he woke up! Whew!
The Thankful Bastian Family
I had offered Sara the option of us going out to a nice restaurant for Thanksgiving Dinner – maybe Cheesecake Factory or a Steakhouse (or should that be Turkeyhouse?) in order to save on cooking time since she was only feeding two men, but she loves to cook and when I tasted the turkey I was so glad we ate at home. WOW! She rolled the turkey breast in some kind of garlic salt with ground pepper and baked and sha-zam! It was the best turkey I’ve ever had. We used an alphabet puzzle to focus Luke on thinking of things that start with every letter that we are thankful for, and one of Sara’s was the Internet for finding recipes. Me too! The best thing is, there is left overs for tomorrow!
Then came the “surprise” Luke had been promised since waking up – that there was something outside for him after dinner. He was so excited. Even after he said, “A car?” and I had to break it to him that I hadn’t bought him a car. (It’s gonna be a long time until he is sixteen!) FINALLY, we bundled up and headed outside into the dark. Mom and the boy cuddled on the swing and Dad turned on the lights:
Oh if you could have seen his face! He ran around the yard beside himself with excitement! I didn’t bother with the camera then, we just wanted to enjoy the moment, so I took these pictures later after he was in bed. Then we got to introduce him to Joseph and Mary and begin the anticipation of Christmas.
On a humorous note, we got the lawn nativity set from Grandma and Grandpa who moved to California this summer and gave us some of the larger things they didn’t want to haul across America. (including the swing!) When I did my first “test” to see if everything worked, the only light that was out was baby Jesus! I quipped to Sara, “I had to change the light bulb in the Light of the World.” Just another reminder that our world is broken – the very reason He came to BRING Light into this dark world.
I can’t end this post without expressing gratitude for so many blessings from the Lord this year. Last night I asked Sara to help me make a list of things all three of us were thankful for and then I entered them in Wordle and after she went to bed I snuck over to the office and laminated four of them and made them place mats for the beautiful table arrangement she had made for our feast today.
Rather than try to express all my gratitude, here are my Wordles:
Just when I wonder if I spend too much time on Twitter or Facebook, I have an experience that makes me glad that I stay connected and accessible via the Internet. Case in point: Recently I traveled to California to speak at a Spanish conference and so I took the family along so we could introduce our son to Mickey Mouse in person while I was there. As I often do, I was posting my adventures (including my lost luggage!) via Twitter which auto-matically updates my Facebook status. Next thing I know, I hear from a Kidology user, Kristy, who’ve I met at CPC Kidology Gatherings:
Turns out, I am available on the 9th – and so got the privilege of heading up to beautiful Sierra Madre for an afternoon of teacher encouraging! Good thing I have good prayer support, as you can see, I was really suffering for Jesus that afternoon.
Notice the turtleneck! Funny thing was, it was in the 60′s and I was enjoying what I thought was a beautiful warm California day and yet the kids and some adults were commenting on how “cold it was.” Ha. These poor people don’t know what cold is!
The church has several building right in a nice downtown area with the community park across the street. I learned that the “Old North Church” is called old, because across the street is the “New South Church.”
It’s “new” because it was only built 100 years ago! Across the street next to the “old” church is a new children’s ministry building. Really, truly, it is new. In fact, they had only been in it for six weeks the Sunday I visited. Now what are they going to call the “New South Church?” The “Not As New, But Still Newer Than the Really Old Church.”
After seeing the view, I immediately wondered if Kristy should consider retiring and giving me her job! Such a beautiful area, and, oh yeah, so “cold.”
Inside the “Really New, Really” building, they had Easy Risers for their seating. (I love those!) and the rooms were all creatively decorated and kid-friendly. While they are new in the building, I like a clean, neat, attractive simple look that simply communicates that this area is for children.
One of the perks of being in “cold” California, you can meet outside in the frigid weather for class!
I love visiting churches and seeing what creative things different children’s pastors have come up with. And I LOVED this idea! All the students have a personal folder that they bring every week to church. Here is a close up:
They keep their notes inside, and on the outside they go home with the verse and a challenge. (These pockets are empty because this was taken before class.) They also earn “tallents” for various things, including bringinfg their folder back, which can be spent in the store that opens monthly, which happened to be the week I was visiting.
Some things never change – “stores” are a great incentive for kids to be engaged and work toward goals so they get some tangible benefit for thier hard work. While there is a popular trend agaist extrinsic motivators, until I meet an adult that is completely intrinsicly motivated, I think there is a place for rewarding children for hard work. And I’ve seen it work in both the long and the short term. Kids form habits while they are young that remain long after they outgrow the “store” or need for the simple toys and prizes.
Here is Jordan finding out how much he has to spend in the store. He was there early and ran to the store when it was time. After hanging out with him for awhile before church, I found myself thinking ee was one of those kids you say, “I hope my son turns out like him!”
Kristy has a lot of energy and does a great job not only relating to the kids, but equipping and encouraging her volunteers too. I lost track of how many times she said something postivie about a volunteer or expressed the potential in a young helper. They’ve be blessed to have her for eight years, and it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting her job anytime soon. Besides, it’s too “cold” there!
Besides being a wonderful CP, she is teachable and committed to encouraging and equipping her volunteers. She asked me to do my favorite workshop, “Kidology 101″ and I as she introduced me I got to hear a wonderful story of how it impacted her eight years ago at her first CPC when she was a brand new children’s pastor. That’s what it’s all about. You never know who you are impacting, and sometimes you don’t find out for years. Many times, you never find out. And that’s O.K. But thanks to Facebook, I got to find out this story, and minister to some kids in children’s church and volunteers over lunch. It was a great day!
And she wasn’t “late” with the Mountain Dew, but I was looking for some caffeine to combat the frigid temperatures! A Dew in need, is a Dew indeed!
Thanks, Kristy, for the update, for connecting with others who love kids, and for a great opportunity to minister to your kids and volunteers, it was a great day. (Oh, and for the Dew too!)
Planning for Thanksgiving themed after school club session yesterday, I was reminded of a ToyBox Tale I did in 2004 called “The Dude of Gratitude.” The kids enjoyed it so much I thought I’d remind my readers in case they need something fun for this Thanksgiving holiday.
Got some encouraging feedback on over the years:
“This is your best yet. I showed this episode to my class this past Sunday and they loved it. It had us all laughing. I especially like the ending when Dude flies off and forgets his baby the 1st time and then the 2nd time and finally remembers to take the baby the last time.”
Frank Torres, CA
The kids enjoy you, but we youth workers do too! I almost wish we had a Sunday Night Live telecast for the high school and college groups featuring, of course, Toybox Tales. Thanks for allowing God to use you in such a creative and wonderful way. My favorite is the Dude of Grattitude, with take your baby to work day attached–of course.
Lynne M. Thompson, Modesto, CA
So, enjoy this FLASH BACK: The Dude of Gratitude
If you want to download it to show in children’s church, be sure to visit the original post page. If you use it, let me know, it’s always encouraging!
I never win anything. Ever. Until today when I got a package from Mountain Dew! (actually New Media Strategies) They teamed up with BevReview.com for a Win Dew Stuff contest – all I had to do was comment on a post about Mountain Dew. (not too difficult!)
Next thing I know, I’ve won a hat, a flash drive and a cool light up pen.
One of the highlights of our trip to California was getting to take our little boy to Disneyland for the first time. He has a Disneyland Sing-along DVD that his Aunt Meepa gave him, so he’s known where we were going as the days got closer. As I’m sure millions of other parents have experienced, the real joy of a Disney park is getting to watch a young child experience it.
The first “ride” was the shuttle from the parking garage and already Luke was all smiles and excited! His joy kept us going all day long.
Here we are at the first Photo-Op. I grew up close to Disneyland, so even though Walt Disney World is bigger and in some ways better, I still like Disneyland in California the best.
What fun to be showing my son around a place I came countless times as a child. Oh, the memories I have in this magical place, and its surprised me how much it looked exactly as I remembered it.
We had silly fun everywhere, even in the stores.
Of course, Mommy found the Tea Cups!
There are so many little things to explore. Walt sure knew kids.
One of our main goals was to meet Mickey Mouse. So when we found his house, Luke was beside himself with excitement!
Soon we were heading in to Mickey’s Mouse’s House!!
AND FINALLY, WE MET THE MAN! Er, THE MOUSE HIMSELF!!
But Mickey wouldn’t be so friendly if he found out that his dear Minnie had a thing for Luke! We got pictures with a bunch of the Disney characters, but I think the highlight for Luke was discovering Mickey’s car which he pointed out to me all by himself, “Mickey Mouse Car Daddy! Mickey Mouse Car!” as he ran over.
Luke spent more time in Mickey’s car than he did with the Mouse himself!
Turns out there are lots of things to drive at Disneyland! Soon Luke was pointing out all the cars, and he went on Autopia over and over. (We had almost no lines the two days we went)
Finally, Luke got to be the driver and daddy the passenger. (Who helped a little)
This truly is the Happiest Place on Earth!
No where else can a two year old get to actually drive so many different types of vehicles. He was in heaven!
There’s just something about being behind the wheel for a boy of any age.
Luke was filled with gratitude and kisses all day long!
I’ve always enjoyed amusement parks but it’s such an incredible joy to experience Disneyland as a parent taking a child. I loved every second of it, even though my wallet and feet were sore by the end of the day, it was worth it. We’ll definitely be back in February! (When I go to CPC in San Diego)
First of all, congratulations to President-Elect Barack Obama.
I won’t even pretend to imagine the significance and impact of Obama’s election to my African American friends and all those who never thought they’d see the election of an African American to the highest political office in world. It is a great testimony to the progress of America and especially to the color blindness of young Americans who, if they do consider race, lean more toward supporting minorities than fearing or resisting the progress of fellow Americans who are different than they are. I sincerely am happy for our nation in the sense that the election of Barack Obama proves that indeed any one can become President of the United States no matter their race or background, and that, in and of itself, is a good thing – and I am proud to live in a country where the People choose their leader and the transfer of power, even in a fiercely fought election, is peaceful. America continues to be the grandest experiment in human history.
Indeed, Obama was unstopable in this election. While I never gave up hope, and did my little part to support Senator McCain, I felt in my gut that Obama’s election was inevitable. His combination of his political skill, the nations appetite for “change” and the fear brought on by the financial crisis came together to bring about not only a historic election because of his race, but an incredible rise to power of a very unknown man whose many weakness were largely considered irrelvant by a nation blinded by a message they wanted to hear. The reasons Obama won are varied. On one hand, I think race was a huge factor. For a some what positive reason: America was eager to ease its collective conscience by electing a black president. On the negative side, Obama out-spent McCain and that was possible in large part due to him breaking his promise to accept public funds, but I’m not sure that really made the difference. There are many reasons and explanations, but I think at the end Obama won for ONE REASON: His Message of Change. That message was more important than the facts. The concept of “Change” was more important than even the details of what kind of change he would bring. Our nation wanted change at any cost. No one knows what they cost will be, or whether it will be a welcome cost or not.
For all the things that concern me about Obama, what he did best was set himself up as the American Hero – the Right Man at the Right Time. He was eloquent. His sweeping themes and wonderful sounding generalities were music to American ears. Unfortunately, he was never specific, but ironically, even when he was, no one cared. When he slipped and alluded to “spreading the wealth” people didn’t care. When he admitted he wants energy costs to “skyrocket” people didn’t care. When his associations and mentors were shown to be radical and even anti-American, people didn’t care. They liked the Message of Change without little consideration of what that “change” would be. It’s actually quite puzzling or impressive depending on how you look at it.
What I like about Barack Obama is his claim to be open to new ideas and to working with both parties to find solutions. I will pray it is true. I live in his home state of Illinois which is riddled with coruption. Our last goverenor is in jail, and our current one appears to be headed toward being in the next cell over. Obama has never even spoken against Illinois coruption, let alone done anything about it. He has never gone “across the aisle” to accomplish anything, and voted “present” often when a bill was contraversial. He has no executive experience, and now has the highest executive office in the country. It’s really rather amazing. I have to admit, as a campaign “executive”, he got it done. But I do hope that he has painted himself into a corner where he has to live up to the retoric and perhaps he actually will do some of the things he has so eloquently promised. If he does, he’ll earn my respect as a leader. Right now, my respect is limited to what he accomplished for his race and his party. As President, there is much more to accomplish.
One of the things that concerns me about Obama is that no one seems to know this guy. Even Democratic political pundits are now saying they have no idea how he will lead. Will he lead as the most liberal President ever? (He was the most liberal senator.) Will he lead center-left since he has a democratic majority who will want to finally push its agenda. Or will he lead center-right, which is how he campaigned stealing many Repiblican themes – many of which he and his party were against before he was a presidential candidate. I find it amazing that even those who supported him, don’t know how he will lead. Yet they voted for him. Even Obama, in his own book, described himself as a “blank page” upon which people can write whatever they want to believe about him. You got to hand it to him, he is a master of being, not whatever he thinks people want to be, but being vague enough that you can think of him being whatever YOU want. Only time will tell what he actually does. You can’t vote “present” when you are President. He will have to take some stands.
Another thing I do like about him, is that he does seem to move slowly. Hopefully very slowly. But he has really painted himself as a centralist while his opponents have created a lot of fear around him. (and I think the fear is fair) I already think he is smart, if he is wise he will realize that his opponents are eager for some “I told you so” moments, and the best thing he can do for long term success is rob them of those moments, and live up to his retoric and promises to work together, to lower taxes, to reduce energy dependance, to win the war in Iraq, etc. If he does that, it will be good for America. If those were campaign talk and he leads as he used to vote (or not vote) and as his Democratic party used to vote, it will hurt our country.
Obama revealed a lot about America. His election shows just how badly our country wants change – and a lot of that desired change is change away from Christian ideals. How are we going to deal with that? In a godly way? I think this election, and how we deal with defeat, will tell a lot about us to a watching world.
Let’s be godly in how we handle the fears that Obama stirs up in Christians. Let’s be honest, when we’ve had Presidents we liked, it has never helped the cause of Christ as much as we hoped or thought it would. Lives are only changed when they encounter Jesus Christ, and that can happen in any country, in any political climate, and under any President. Amen?
SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN?
A lot of people “believe” in Obama… or believe in the “Change” he promises to bring. My biggest concern with Obama is not his belief babies born alive in a failed abortion should be killed or left to die. (and he does, don’t buy the rewriting of history going on). It isn’t his economic philosophies, though they are scary. It isn’t his anti-American statements and associations. (I think being President will cure him of his anti-American setiments.) It isn’t higher taxes, even though they are coming. (I won’t enjoy saying ‘I told you so’ but its inevitable now.)
My greatest concern is actually a secret hope. The concern is that too many people are looking to government to solve their personal issues so they will give too much power and control to the government that in turn will end up choking our economy and undermining our freedom even as it sincerely tries to help Americans. In the end, Democratic policies tend to hurt the very ones they are seeking to help by creating dependency, stiffling freedom, frustrating entrepreneurial spirit, burdening small business, and growing bureaucracy and with it taxes.
Why is this concern also a secret hope? Because I hope that more and more people (Christians included) will finally realize that our hope can’t be in government, it must be in God. Government can’t create the security it so often promises, God can. Govenment can’t create opportunity, God can. Govenment can’t solve the problems that ail our world, God can. Government can’t meet our needs, God can. Government can’t provide our financial needs, God can. Government can’t give us purpose, God can. Government can’t give us Hope, but God can.
And finally, no government or president can bring Real Change, or “Change you can Believe in” but God can.
While I still believe that Christians MUST stay engaged and ought to be the voice of Truth, morality and for the unborn, our energies most be primarily engaged in building the Kingdom, not our nation. Christians ought to vote – and I know many did. Now we must vote with our feet by going where God calls us to go. Vote with are hands by helping our neighbors. Vote with our mouths by sharing the Gospel. Vote with our wallets by financially supporting our church, missionaries and any ministry we can that is helping to reach the lost or further the Cause of Christ.
Best case scenario – Obama surprises those of us who opposed him, and things get better and the resulting econompic growth will help churches and the Great Commission.
Worst case scenario – things get worse, but as a result more people turn to God. After all, the Church has always grown more during times of distress and persecution.
Anything in the middle – keep your main focus on your walk with God, your family, being a light for Truth in our world, and praying for our nation.
Obama will soon be walking into the White House. As Christians we will need to stay engaged to seek to protect our freedom and help keep America a place where God is honored and glorified and where “In God we Trust” still rings true.
But more important is who sits in the ‘Oval Office’ our our heart and our homes.
Does OUR LIFE reflect, “In God We Trust?” Does our life honor God, honor life, and reflect the Truth we claim to believe in?
Let’s pray for our nation and pray for President Obama. He certainly needs it.
May God Bless America… but may we bless God in how we live for Him.
According to All-Things-Disney-Expert, Steve Tanner, while the movie Cars made nearly 500 million at the box office, by summer 2007 it had grossed over 2 billion in merchandise sales! (source) We certainly can relate! We have Cars toys, clothes, sippy cups, band-aids, towel, blanket, snacks, even an ice packet to help put ice on owwies.
And now, the Halloween costume!
Lightening McQueen? More like Lukie McQueen with his Pit Chief!
Lukie McQueen with Mommy.
Now that’s one good lookin’ kid! It was fun to go Trick or Treating… starting at Grandma and Grandpa’ and then going with cousins. Luke enjoyed the walking and seeing the lights and cars at various houses. The candy wasn’t that big a deal.
After thirty minutes he said he didn’t want any more candy. “Enough,” he says. We didn’t argue. So we headed over to a church outreach that had thousands of visitors. They had game rooms, live music, petting farm, food, pumpkin patch, a cake walk, and so much more. But Luke’s favorite (of course) was the cars on display!
A Sheriff Hummer! (your tax dollars at work)
Lukie McQueen always manages to find a cool car! No matter what we were doing, Luke kept saying, “Go see cars? Go see cars?” He absolutely loves cars.
A highlight (pun) was getting to see a spotlight up close!
I, of course, saw a chance for some photography.
I suggested they add a Bat Symbol! Got a bunch of cool shots, but figure most of you would rather not have to look at too many!
It was a great evening of candy and cars! After over fifteen years of organizing or planning Halloween outreaches, it was so nice to just attend one as a dad. It felt weird, but it was really nice to just be focused on one child… my own.
Hanging out in California for a few weeks. I’m here because I’m speaking at Nino Mania, a Spanish Childrens Ministry conference hosted at the beautiful Crystal Catheral in Garden Grove, CA. This is such a beautiful church, here are a few iPhone pictures. I’ll add an update to this post later. Doing a general session and then a bunch of Speed Stacks workshops proving I am bi-lingual; I can Stack in any language!
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