So I was sitting at Burger King writing while my son was enjoying a kid’s meal and playing in the play area. He was delighted because his meal came with a cool Monster Truck! After a while, he noticed that there were two more Monster Trucks under the play area that had apparently rolled there. We discussed how some poor kids apparently lost their toys and probably left in tears. Luke said he wished we could retrieve them, but they were impossible to reach. One of them was extremely far away, and the other had broken into the two pieces it originally came in, wheel base and top shell. The space under the play area was locked and only accessible by an employee.
I said to him,“They are only impossible to get if you lack the will to accept the challenge and the ability to use the resources at your disposal.”
I replied,“Do you know what a challenge is? It’s when you decide to attempt something that appears impossible, using what you already have. Let see what we have available to us and try to get those Monster Trucks! The worst that can happen is that we’ll fail.”
Luke said, “Those kids’ dads failed; they left them here.”
I answered, “I bet they didn’t even try.” (Do you see the Life Principle here?)
Our first tool was a foldable “Wet Floor” sign that enabled us to get the top half of one car out, but that by itself was pretty useless. I knew we needed to get more creative to reach farther under the play area where the trucks had rolled. I asked Luke what we’d need if we could have anything we wanted – if we had unlimited resources. He said a stick would be perfect. So I said, “Great idea! Then let’s make a stick! I’ll be right back!”
I returned with a hand full of straws. We constructed a stick out of straws, and then from two different locations, with quite a bit of work, we were able to fish for the bottom half of the first car and then the entire second car.
We ended up with quite an audience of cheering kids and curious moms as we worked the trucks toward Luke’s eager fingers!
Finally, the quest was over. What had seemed impossible resulted in Luke having not one, not two, but THREE cool Monster Trucks to take home! But he also went home with an important lesson: When you accept a challenge and put your mind to something, using what you already have, you can do the impossible when others give up and leave good things behind. Even if we had failed in our quest, we would still have succeeded in trying! Life is all about attempting the impossible, and the worst that can happen is that you might fail. I want my son to know that trying and failing is better than not trying at all.
I want him to know that he can REACH FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE and that failure IS an option.
When he sees something he wants, I want him to go for it, using what he already has, instead of walking away making excuses because he thinks something is out of reach. If I have learned anything in life, it is that nothing is out of reach if you are willing to stretch creatively and reach for it.
And if you are willing to link a bunch of straws together!
When I was ten years old, a children’s evangelist came to our church for five days of meetings. I loved everything I saw. (I even figured out a few of his magic tricks and built them at home in our work shed.) At the end of the week, I told my mom, “That’s what I want to do when I grow up.” My mother’s response: “What’s growing up got to do with anything? You start next Wednesday.” And she put me in front of the kids at our Awana club and coached me through planning my first lesson.
I’ve been teaching kids ever since. Literally thousands. All over the world. And I’ve been equipping and encouraging those who minister to children through Kidology.org – all because of a mother who didn’t think I had to “grow up first” to get started.
My mom went to be with the Lord on Christmas Day in 1996. On her deathbed, she shared with me that in Bible College God had given her a vision for a worldwide ministry to children. Like David, who had a vision to build a temple that he would not get to build but that would be built by Solomon his son, she believed her vision was to be fulfilled and built through her son. And it pleased her.
She was the first “Kidologist.” Long before there was an Internet, she was equipping and encouraging those who minister to children, from Bethany Baptist in Chicago to Bellflower Baptist in California to Lorimer Memorial in Illinois to Moody Church in Chicago, and everywhere else in between. She was never well known, but her legacy lives on through every child I reach and every life I am able to touch. I must also include her sister, my Aunt Linda, who is pictured with her above and who was also a huge influence on me. She is now the Matriarch of our family. My mom’s ministry legacy lives on through my sister Melissa as well, who is pictured above as a kid next to mom dressed up for a pirate outreach. While she does not have an official kids ministry, she touches lives everyday by being a “big sister” to a needy girl, by befriending those going through trials, by loving every child who crosses her path, and by being the most awesome volunteer at whatever church is lucky enough to have her. I know, because I’ve had her as a volunteer in my own church, and WOW, what a volunteer she is!
I just needed to say, today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM, and thanks for making me a children’s pastor at age 10. I’m still at it! Thanks to you, your vision lives on.
This is a video I shot as the year changed from 2010 to 2011… in answer to the question, “What Matters Most?” for an online video conference I was participating in that year. I thought I’d post it again this year, since the answer hasn’t changed…
Make sure you prioritize the relationships in your life in 2013.
We still enjoy sending out a traditional Christmas Card greeting to a select list of family and friends – though it is a challenge every year! But it is a great opportunity to get updated addresses on people you know and love.
But it also forces you to make tough choices too.
Have we heard from them in while?
Do they still live there?
Are they still married?
Have they ever written to us?
Who are they, again? LOL
Often you see a name and such fond memories come back. A smile appears on your face as you remember years of ministry together. Once in awhile you crack up laughing over something that happened. Sometimes sadness sinks in. They’re divorced. You were at their wedding. What went wrong? Other times you wonder, why haven’t we heard from them? What’s changed in their life? You hope they are doing OK. Life happens. Other people’s addresses change and their cards come back. You wonder if you’ll ever reconnect. Then there are those who pass away. Memories are all you’ll ever have. Until heaven, of course!
Relationships and networks have only grown with the Internet, e-mail, and facebook and Twitter! (I suppose I should include circles on Google, though I only dabble there.) It’s hard to manage them all! Life is too short and too busy to keep up with everyone we have ever worked with, played with, laughed with, liked, loved, or been related to!
But at Christmas we try to catch up… even if it’s just a card, or letter or a blog post or a video or even just a quick e-mail.
That’s one comforting thing about being a Christian and belonging to the Family of God. We will have all of eternity to catch up with all the people we feel behind on here on earth. A new heaven and new earth without the pressures of work and deadlines and a calendar that reminds us we are getting older and no hurry that pushes relationships aside because of things we tell ourselves are more pressing. (When they probably really aren’t most of the time.)
We won’t need Christmas to play catch up. We’ll be able to walk and talk and catch up all the time. I’m looking forward to it. But in the mean time… I’ve got to get some Christmas Cards in the mail. If you don’t get one, don’t be offended. I’ll be posting a video and blog post as well soon, but “catch all” strategy. And no worries, I take no offense at those who ‘forget’ or skip me. I’m planning to spend some quality time with all of you Someday. Let’s make a point of it!
Tonight was the night for our annual family pumpkin carving. Which means, I carve two pumpkins and Sara carves out hers. (I’m not letting Luke handle a sharp knife just yet!) But we did let him design his pumpkin on paper first.
It was fun looking at pumpkin designs online first – and boy oh boy are there some amazing pumpkin designs out there! So much potential in a simple pumpkin! You start with this plain ol’ pumpkin, and yet it can become anything you want it to be. It all depends on how creative you are willing to be, how patient you are willing to be, how careful you are willing to cut away at it, how much time you willing to spend on it, and how unique you want it to be. You can settle for something like everyone else – or you can decide to be different and unique. And of course, practice helps you improve over time. My least favorite part is cleaning out the insides – but it is a necessary evil if you want the light inside to shine out!
It kind of reminds me of how we build our ministries. There is so much potential! And how effective we are all depends on the same factors. Are we willing to look at others to see what they have done? There is lots of help online available too! From Kidology.org and other great websites. And if you are willing to be creative, patient, and carefully cut away at it, and put time and effort into it – you can build a pretty amazing ministry! Are you just going to build a basic one like every other church? Or do something unique and different that will draw kids and families? And of course, practice will help you improve over time. And don’t forget, if you really want God’s Light to shine through you and your ministry, you must be willing to get rid of the junk that that distracts. The good news is – inside that junk, are seeds that can result in spiritual growth!
So how did our pumpkin carving go?
I went with a SCARY pumpkin!
Sara was much more creative and artistic with hers….
Luke made his throwing up…. (totally his idea!)
If we were having a contest, I think Sara won!!
Pumpkins won’t last… but your ministry will have eternal results! If we can put this much time and energy and fun into something so fleeting… what are you doing to make your ministry creative and lasting?
It’s not a contest… but it does matter! BE CREATIVE!
And Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Children are free from so much.
Unlike adults, their default is play not work, imagination not reality, exploration not explanation, curiosity not cautiousness, and best of all they worry about nothing other than their immediate needs and loved ones.
No thoughts are weighed down by the future or world affairs.
They can swing for an hour with no thought to the things still undone on a task list.
They accept complete dependance on those who care for them without question.
Perhaps these are a few of the reasons Jesus asked us to come to Him as children.
Just had to share this YouTube video that my sister made. She may not be a children’s pastor – but she has to be one of THE most awesome volunteers in kids ministry I have ever known. (And, of course, we both had the same mom!) Every church she is at, is blessed to have her, as are the kids she always pours into. While she may never have a kidmin website or blog – she is living out what I write about on Kidology and my blog with her life. And not always in a church setting, she invests in the kids in her community and in the families of those she knows, raising funds for a bike for a kid that got beat up and his bike stolen, to countless other stories.
And so I just wanted to brag on my little sister a bit and show you the Pastor Appreciation video she made for her pastor with the kids in her Sunday School Class. It made my day!
If you enjoyed it, post a comment her that she can read, or comment on the video on YouTube!
I’ve been going through some childhood papers, sorting, filing, (pitching!) and it’s been very special (and funny) to get these glimpses into the “young Karl.” Many things I remember, others come as a surprise to me.
I was very touched to discover a very simple piece of paper that I had written and colored just a year after my little sister, Blessing Faith, was born…and died. I didn’t want to forget her.
She lived only 5 days due to a very rare birth condition where her brain did not finish developing. I got to hold her, and my parents later told me that my strength and trust in the Lord at age 12 helped them through it. It was something amazing for me to grasp at that time, not understanding the simple faith of children and how it can often help us more complicated adults!
Anyway, here is a close-up of what I wrote, and a PDF of the entire sheet is linked below. I wanted to make sure I never forgot that day, and here, 30 years after making this simple piece of paper on Blessing’s birthday, I am getting my wish. I am remembering.
(Click to View Larger)
Some might ask why my parents named her Blessing Faith. Well, the answer is quite simple. Right away when she was born, it was clear her life would be very short. In fact, the doctors predicted only hours at first, and yet she held on for several days.
My dad was the senior pastor of our church, and people would say things like, “How terrible” or “What a tragedy” or “How unfortunate,” etc. I remember my parents explaining to me that her life was a Blessing, and it was their Faith in God that helped them trust Him through difficult times like this. And that we too, as her siblings, should see her as a Blessing to our Faith.
I will always remember holding her and holding back my tears so I could be strong for my dad, and silently thanking God for my Blessing and asking Him to give me Faith like my parents.
Blessing Faith did a work in many people’s lives in our church. In fact, I remember my mom saying that she led more people to Jesus in five days than some Christians do in their entire life. Those words have always stuck with me.
Now, 31 years later, I remember her still. And I look forward to meeting my sister, the Blessing, someday. Because that’s what Faith is.
Recently while I was in Canada speaking at a conference my wife posted on facebook that the pressure was on her to be “as fun as daddy” while I was away. Well. She pulled out the stops and took Luke to a Monster Truck Rally! Something even I have never done, and it’s all Luke’s been talking about every ten minutes for days on end! I may have trouble getting back on the “funnest parent pedestal.” Go Mom!
One of the highlights of the Monster Jam was the Mega-Saurus. This mechanical beast that came out breathing fire and literally chewed a car in half! It was almost more than my six year old’s brain could handle!
He came home saying, “Daddy, I wish you had a Mega-Saurus for my toy cars.” So, I answered. “Why, of course I have a Mega-Saurus! Every self-respecting dad has a Mega-Saurus! What kind of father would I be, if I didn’t have a Mega-Saurus in the garage?”
His eyes about popped out of his head! “YOU h-h-h-have a Mega-Saurus?” He stuttered?
“Of course I have a Mega-Saurus. Do you have some cars you would like to cut in half?” (Perhaps I could regain my funnest parent status after all!)
I headed toward the garage with my six year old in tow; he was practically stepping on my heels he was so eager to see my Mega-Saurus! I grabbed my Mega-Saurus, and also the Vice so that we could flatten some cars for his new Monster Trucks to drive and jump over, and headed up to his play room.
Once at this Car Table (Luke has a Car Table instead of a train table) my Mega-Saurus came out from under the table breathing fire and proceeded to chew through two of his older cars. He was beside himself with delight.
We next used the vice to squish six cars (I had to set a limit or he’d have had to flatten ‘em all this week!) so his Monster Trucks could drive over some destroyed cars!
Never once in the entire process did Luke mention that my “Mega-Saurus” was anything less than the real thing. Why? Because I was pretending with him. Of course it was real. His cars are real, the crashes are real, the noises he is making from the engines are real – the dirt he sees flying off the wheels (that isn’t there) is real. Just as real as my “Mega-Saurus.” After all, my Mega-Sauraus did come up from under the table making monstrous noises before it devoured those two poor cars!
When you join your kids in their imaginative play, you enter their world and you create a love bond that is beyond description. They know it is play – but they see that you are joining them, and it is more powerful and effective that a hundred “I love you’s” because it is how they want to be shown love.
I know all too soon Luke will be too old for toy cars… he’ll just want the keys to my car. But by then there will be things I’ll want to share with him, warnings and instructions and I want to have a foundation of Mega-Love. And it starts today with not being too busy to chew some toy cars in half.
What Mega-Saurus can you bring to life? The result will be a some Mega-Love shown to your kid.
If they are willing to be the rear end of a cow with you!
This is Sara and me practicing in my Cow Costume (which I still have 20 years later!) eight months before we were married.
I got it for a Christmas Play where Hark, from the Herald, traveled through time to interview different characters from the Christmas Story (shepherds, wise men, innkeeper, etc.) in order to discover the “True Meaning of Christmas.” However, I thought it was too sacrilegious to have “Hark” interview Mary or Joseph in the Nativity, so I had him interview a cow off to the side instead.
I was very excited when I got my two-man, er, one man – one fiance cow costume, and Sara was happy to help me figure it out and practice with it while were on a Thanksgiving retreat with my family that winter.
Cow or no cow, we’ve made quite a team over the last twenty years!
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