We spent a beautiful day in Toronto, Canada today with my brother and his wife and their new boy, Hayden. We went to Toronto Island Park and then Sara and I went to the rotating 360 Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower to celebrate our 17th anniversary – it was very cool! (Especially the glass floor!)
Here are some photo highlights from the day. If you see an emphasis on the Blue Jay’s Roger’s Centre, it is because my brother, Jordan Bastian, covers the team for MLB.com. (Tomorrow I’ll be going to a game with some Canadian friends!)
Reminder: Clicking on any image on my blog loads a larger view.
Luke arrives in Toronto!
Luke checking out the Canadian National Tower! (CN Tower)
Luke and Mommy on our walk to Toronto Island Park
Luke enjoys the Ferry Ride
Luke is quite used to putting up with all Daddy’s pictures!
But-cha gotta admit, this is one cute kid!
Contemplating the Vast Needs of the City
A Steeple Pointing Toward the Answers from Heaven?
Once on the island a Car Ride is discovered!
So is a high flying lift across the park!
But later Luke says his favorite ride was Uncle Jordan’s shoulders. Awwww.
Rainy weather sends us home, but soon clears up.
Soon Daddy and Mommy head out on a date!
The shadow of the Tower looms over the city!
As a Blue Jays game is played BELOW us!
They play into the evening as we eat and the restaurant rotates!
I decide on a possible side job!
The outside observatory is spectacular!
(and extremely windy!!)
Soon we are walking home. Babysitter said Luke will be put out in the hallway at midnight whether we are back or not! (Jordan!) Seriously, they were awesome, they took him to the park while we were at the top of the CN Tower. (First two pictures of this post were taken while we were up there!)
Looks like Luke had a great time with his Uncle Jordan!
And Aunt Kelly! Just for fun, here is this train yard from up above:
Yup, we were 1150 feet above them as they played below us!
And then there is one of my favorite pictures of the day. We were walking home from Toronto Island Park when I saw these giant orange letters and I said to the gang, “Hey, we have to go back! There is a giant “H” we have to pose Hayden peeking out from behind the giant “H!” We did get a good solo shot of him, but before first getting one of him with his favorite uncle:
On this Father’s Day, I’d like to give you 12 reasons you should consider adoption:
The only thing greater than being a Dad is knowing you are giving a home to a child who otherwise wouldn’t being enjoying the life you are providing.
Enjoy this video highlight from my Father’s Day, we had a great day just enjoying each other. Truly every day is Father’s Day for me, after waiting 15 years to be a dad, I am soaking in each moment with my son. But in this case, the soaking, was quite literal, as you shall see!
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, and a special greeting to my dad, who I did a blog tribute to a few years ago that is as true as ever!
But that was seven years after seeing her picture during my junior year of high school in a missionary slide show and deciding to write her a letter! Soon we were pen pals and an overseas friendship began from Chicago to Manila long before the Internet would have made it much easier to write back and forth. Each letter took two weeks to be answered so we maintained at times up to ten separate conversations as letters crisscrossed the globe. Eventually, I developed a growing love for the, uh, Filipino people, (yeah, that’s it!) and asked her father if I could come to the Philippines and be, uh, mentored by him during the summer after I graduated high school. Perhaps suspecting my ulterior motive, he requested I get a year of Bible college first before I could come as part of his mission’s summer intern program.I figured that was better than working for him for seven years and being given her ugly sister in marriage, and since she didn’t have a sister, the year of Bible college requirement seemed safe. So off to Moody Bible Institute I went. (I was going anyway, just for the record. I didn’t go to Bible college for a girl!) I did date in college, but no girl could compare to my pen pal over the sea, so I wrote to her dad again requesting a summer internship and he relented and let me come. He kept me busy! I did over 80 evangelistic programs in the 60 days I was there, discipled young men and did teacher training, but managed to sneak in some dating time (and a first kiss!) all with her parent’s blessing. (O.K. maybe not the kiss!)
A year later Sara arrived at Moody and was shocked that everyone knew her name, even the President of Moody greeted her by name and said, “You must be Sara!” She was embarrassed by her welcome. Little did she know how well known she was before she arrived. I had even hosted a birthday party for her attended by hundreds of students while she was only a senior in high school! Her picture was on a table while every one ate cake provided by the famous Rock n’ Roll McDonald’s in downtown Chicago where I was the “House Magician” and everyone signed a birthday card which we then mailed to Sara. The largest birthday party of Sara’s life, she wasn’t even at!
We finally got to date like a “normal” couple, fell in love with downtown Chicago, walking for miles along the lake shore, “parking” at romantic spots, and eventually getting engaged at the top of the Prudential Tower where my parents had their wedding dinner (as did we), got married at Moody Church with a horse and buggy ride through downtown Chicago to the tower for dinner.
While marriage isn’t always bliss, it is always a blessing to have a partner and friend to share life with through thick and thin. I have been so blessed that my pen pal has been my life pal now for seventeen years, but truly twenty-four years since she wrote me back! The day I got that first letter, August 26, 1986, I was painting a shed at a side job and my dad drove the letter to me. I put baggies over my hands to open the letter and read it. He knew I wouldn’t want to wait until I got home to read the letter from this beautiful girl overseas. Little did I know, my life would never be the same. She would one day be my wife.
I’m not sure she knew what she was getting in to when she married me – I hope she’d do it again! But as for me, I’d sure marry her again. I’m not anyone else could be as patient with me. I’m not an easy guy to keep up with or put up with. A patient and gracious wife was custom ordered for me. The story of why and how that slide show was even being showed at the church my dad was pastoring is pretty amazing, and not worth the space to type out here – but it was a fluke. Most of Sara’s dad’s supporting churches were in the upper North West of the United States, except for one lone church in Chicago because of a chance encounter that led to one church supporting them, that led to me seeing that slide show.
I think it’s because when a five year old boy starting praying for a wife – heaven went into a panic, and had to start working in overdrive to find a woman who could handle this man, and then once they found her, across the globe, they had to rearrange circumstances so that they could miraculously meet. It was a challenge, but they pulled it off. Sure, they had to use a slide projector and pens and paper and five years of letters, but eventually they met.
And seventeen years ago today, they both said, “I DO!”
Recently while in a store they had Superman Returns playing on a giant TV to encourage visitors to relax and try out their furniture. While I wasn’t too nuts about the film, my good friend Brent Peak had recent argued with me that the opening airplane sequence was one of the best cinematic scenes ever filmed, so after making sure no one was looking, I re-winded the DVD to that scene and Luke and I kicked back and watched it while mom shopped. Brent was right. Luke loved it and asked to watch it over and over!
Then yesterday, I was wearing a Superman shirt and Luke pointed at me and said, “Look, Dad, you’re a hero!”
Bursting with pride, I put my fists on my sides like the Man of Steel and puffed out my chest, standing as tall and dignified as I could and proclaimed, “Yes, I am Super Dad, flying around saving airplanes in distress!” in reference to the movie clip we’d watched since that’s all he really knows of Superman.
My four year old took one look at me and said, “Well, maybe toy airplanes Dad,” and went back to playing.
I wasn’t too crushed. It was a pretty honest assessment of my abilities and I’m sure I’m still a hero in my boy’s eyes, even if I can’t fly into the sky and save real airplanes.
But I can’t help wondering – how often do we downgrade our own Heavenly Father’s hero status? Do we ever say to God in essence when He offers His help, “Well, You can’t do THAT, but maybe you can do this.” Do we ever underestimate or doubt His abilities? Indeed He IS faster than a speeding problem and able bend any trial with His bare hands. Perhaps we need to trust Him more.
If you have ever complained about the cost of conferences, or trimmed budgets, or travel costs or any other reason why you couldn’t get quality training – well, it’s time to quit yer belly-achin’ and sign up for the 100% free CM Tele Conference where you can get TOP NOTCH training from 16 Kidmin trainers without even leavin’ your home!
Yup, I’m doing a Workshop!
My workshop is on Tuesday, June 22nd, at 11am (Eastern Standard Time) and is titled Proactive Leadership. I will be expanding on my current Children’s Ministry Magazine Professional Edition series that kicked off with this article available here. This workshop is completely NEW and not available anywhere else!
It’s June 21-22 – Registration is Required, but it’s FREE!
You do need to register, but then all you do is dial up and listen to the workshops that interest you. You’ll also have the option of purchasing the entire conference in MP3 format afterward as well.
And it gets even better! Most of the speakers are providing exclusive deals and even give aways that you can get only during the week of the CM Tele Conference, and Kidology is no exception!
Kidology Teleseminar Special
The Kidology Training Bundle provides essential children’s ministry training at an affordable price. It includes…
Recently I got this comment on my blog on the YOU page, and wanted to answer her here on my blog for others to read as well:
I am Rachel. I am a children’s ministry major and a missions minor at central bible college in Springfield, MO. I have heard wonderful things about your website and your material. I am currently doing an internship and my pastor is having me subscribe to several blogs, yours now being one of them. I am planning on being a part of a church planting team in Seattle, WA next summer. I will be the kids pastor.
Any advice on how to get started from the ground up?
Well, Rachel – where to begin?! First of all, thanks for droppin’ by my blog and kuddos to your pastor for him having you subscribe to my blog! He is a wise and sage senior pastor! If you are not a member of my mega-site, Kidology.org, be sure to jump over there ASAP where you will find a wealth of help that has been growing since before there were any blogs! (since 1994) If you can’t afford the modest membership fee, note the scholarship link on the membership sign up page – we give the site free to anyone just for the asking. (especially students, missionaries and small churches) There will will find the largest collection of creative ideas, articles, curriculum and interactive help for children’s ministry anywhere on the Internet, plus an online store that features resources often found no where else, job center, resource directory, personal coaching, online training, and so much more. People often are hesitant at the membership fee failing to realize that it is ridiculously low for all that it grants access to. Many members report that several years into their membership they are still finding things worth the entire membership fee. (indeed there are two complete three year curriculums, one you don’t even have to be a paying member for – that’s how generous we are!)
But to speed you on your way – I’d recommend you check out these articles to get started:
Then, I’d HIGHLY recommend you invest in Kidology’s Online Training. If you are a member, you can at least watch the Training Videos, but you should really consider the Download Kits for the full experience as you will get a hefty training PDF that really goes into depth for each of the following topics. This will really lay a foundation for you that will be priceless:
Lastly, my entire Philosophy of Ministry and Teacher Training materials are provided in this incredible resource: The Kidology Handbook This nearly 150 page resource is JAM PACKED with helpful training. I’ve lost track of how many children’s pastors have told me over the years this single book has served as their “blue print” for ministry. One of our board members, Dan Huffman, was a computer programmer turned children’s pastor, came to the first Kid U conference, picked up my very first Kidology Handbook spiral bound edition and said it was his manual for ministry in the beginning. Today he is one of those “Super CPs” who is training others. (Created Star of Christmas and founded Tadpole Tails) I’m proud the Kidology Handbook helped give him a solid start!
But don’t stop there!
While these resources and links will help – they are just the beginning! Be sure to use the Kidology Forum to ask specific questions as different situations come up in ministry. While there are many forums on the Internet in children’s ministry, and its great to use several, one of the strengths of Kidology’s is that you can subscribe to the threads you want or even entire forums - and read the answers you get right in your e-mail without having to go back to the site to read them. That gives you extra control and saves you time.
And, here’s the best part. The Kidology.org forum is STAFFED by a team of experts that are there to help you! No question ever goes unanswered, and usually you’ll get multiple answers from a wide variety of people, often within hours, and always within days, both from our team and from other members just like you! Often I go to answer, and find that the questions have been answered already so well, there is no need for me to chime in! So even if you can’t find what you are looking for among the thousands of posts and articles already on Kidology – a custom answer will be provided by others, men and women from different nationalities and denominations, who share my passion for equipping and encouraging those who minister to children.
So how do you get started in Kids Ministry?
Get on Kidology.org! And get learning. But get on others sites too, they’ll all be linked on Kidology, especially in the CM BlogWatch Forum! Where the BEST of the blog world is featured each week! Read books, and check out the Kidology Book Reviews of the CM books that matter most. See? Kidology is just a huge help every time you turn around!
I’m glad you found my blog – I hope you’ll discover just how awesome Kidology.org is too! Too see me walk out on your computer screen and tell you about it, click here!
It’s that time of year again – you may be evaluating your curriculum and determining whether you want to make a change. Let me suggest of ways you SHOULD NOT choose what curriculum to use in your children’s ministry:
Use what you have always used.
Traditions might be great at Christmas time, but using a curriculum “because you’ve always used it” is a terrible reason – unless you can explain its scope and sequence and the strategy for why it was put in place. But if it is “just there” because Moses brought it down from Mt. Sinai, or some other long gone leader who is kickin’ back with Jesus by now… it is time to re-evaluate!
Let your teachers each pick their own.
Love your teachers, support your teachers, but DO NOT let them each pick what they want to teach in their classroom. This is a formula for educational disaster! Why? Your students may end up learning about Joseph and Jesus six times to Sunday and never even find out who Moses or Abraham are! You need a comprehensive strategy for what content you want covered throughout the entire range of your educational program, so you need a curriculum strategy that encompasses all your classes.
Look at tons of samples and pick based on what appeals to you.
This is a popular method – but I it appeals to the eyes and the company with the slickest marketing budget wins, not necessarily the company with the best materials. Slickness is not the goal, biblical content that covers the most of the Bible, while addressing as many of your educational goals as possible is your goal. So leave the samples aside until you have determined what you are looking for.
Depend on curriculum promotions.
We all want a good deal, but the best deal is a Disciple of Jesus Christ who makes it through the snares of this world without the high cost of sin! Don’t fall for promotions – be objective enough to know what you are looking for and hunt for it. If it’s on sale, or you can find a way to get it at discount, more power to ya. If not, and its the best – pay top dollar for it. It’s probably worth it.
Use what some other great church uses.
If such and such church or some well know CP uses it, it must be the best, right? The best for that church, sure – but that doesn’t always translate to your church. It could be a disaster in your church, or not worth the time and effort to modify. More important that WHAT curriculum another church uses is WHY do they use that curriculum. That will better lead you to WHY you should choose your curriculum.
Lay a SOLID Foundation!
Don’t under estimate the importance of the curriculum you choose. Everything else hinges from and is built upon the foundation laid by your teaching material. How high and how deep and how broad your educational ministry will be is greatly determined by curriculum. What you TEACH your children will ultimately determine the long-term impact of your ministry.
It won’t matter how many kids you reached, how many prayers they prayed, how many prizes you awarded, how much fun they had, or how happy the parents were – the measure of your ministry is what they learned and applied to their life in the years after they left you and that is greatly determined by the curriculum you choose.
…the measure of your ministry is what they learned and applied to their life in the years after they left you and that is greatly determined by the curriculum you choose…
So how do you choose a curriculum? (I thought you’d never ask!)
Determine what YOU would like to accomplish in your educational program – what are you trying to accomplish?
List your educational goals – put it in writing before you ever look at publisher’s samples!
List the weaknesses you see with the current material you are using.
Make a list of what you are looking for and would like to see in the future. This is important so that if the curriculum you choose doesn’t have it, you know what you will need to supplement. (Using Kidology.org!)
THEN look at published materials to see if any match your criteria.
Choose the one that best fits what God showed you He is asking you to accomplish with the children He has brought to you. If none of them fit, you may need to write you own, or adapt something like Open Source.
Too many churches START by looking at curriculum assuming they have the answers, letting the curriculum determine the goals of their ministry. It is your ministry, they are your children, entrusted to your care by God – the curriculum is to serve you. Take some ownership and let the curriculum serve you, not the other way around. Have the confidence in the Holy Spirit’s ability to show you what HE wants to accomplish through you and your team in your ministry. The curriculum becomes a tool in your hand toward that goal.
Next Time: Find out why I recommend DiscipleLand Core Bible Curriculum for Sunday School and how my previous ministry went through this process, what was on our list of goals, and how DiscipleLand fit the bill.
I suppose the best I can use is awe-inspiring. Awe at the sheer size, and height, and depth, and distance, and beauty, and splendor that hits your eyes all at once. And no matter how many pictures you take (and I take a lot) you can’t contain it. You can’t get your mind around it. You have to be there and just experience it. But what is the “it” – “it” is not Yosemite, it is GOD. His Bigness, His Majesty, His Beauty, His Greatness, His Power, His Creative ability, – I do not worship Yosemite – I love Yosemite because it draws out of me a depth of worship I can only experience there. It’s like somehow God is more there than anywhere else. While I know theologically that isn’t true, this broken spiritual vessel is somehow healed there – even if only temporarily – and able to feel God’s presence like no other time. All doubts, All worries, All concerns, All pressures, All temptations, All guilt, All my earthly distractions vanish there – and I get a taste of what heaven will be like. Not necessarily what I see the outside there – but what happens to me on the inside there. And I beg God to let me take Yosemite (His peace and presence) back with me when I return to my normal life. May I not forget those mountains, those waterfalls, those trees and those vistas are all still there – even as I hurry about my busy life – to remind me the HE is still there too, quietly, patiently waiting for me to STOP and ponder Him, worship Him, and return to that place of Awe wherever I may be.
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