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)