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!
This is part of a series called 24 Days of Thankfulness. These posts are in RANDOM order, NOT priority order. Each is something I am thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving.
DAY #19: True Friends
There is an old saying, true friends run toward you when everyone else is running away. I’ve been there. I’m thankful for true friends. I’m not going to list names in this post, because that is a dangerous task indeed! But they know who they are!
Some are employees, board members, some are all over the country from past ministries, but all share a kindred spirit of fellowship with me over the years, though a few are newer since I moved to Colorado.
They are the ones who have stuck by me during the challenging times or just share life with me through the ups and downs of normal life. (Not to say my life is normal!) Because life is challenging, and without friends, it’s even tougher! They are the ones who have held me up when I couldn’t stand. They are the ones who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. They are the ones now who know the real me – not the public me – and love me anyway. I’m a real guy. There is a guy named Karl behind the Kidologist. It’s not that I’m fake or a hypocrite, it’s just that I’m a real person, and there is a lot more to me than kids ministry. And I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. I struggle. I have other interests. (really!) And I need people who can see me as a normal person and as a regular guy. (and who aren’t intimidated by me, and who aren’t impressed at all) Friends who don’t even care about kids ministry or who I am publicly. Some who don’t even know about all that. Those are the best. They don’t even know I have a blog or websites and probably won’t even see this post! (Nice.) Because there are days I just want to be Karl and hang up the Kidologist and just have some friends who don’t care about that or kidmin friends who can see me outside of kidmin. Those are the awesomest friends. And I am thankful for them today.
Kidmin is great, but it isn’t everything.
When I teach on friendship, I tell the kids A True Friend C.A.R.E.S.
C = Challenges You (to be a better person)
A = Accepts You (just the way you are)
R = Respects You (don’t tear you down)
E = Encourages You (builds you up, makes you like yourself better)
S = Sticks By You (no matter what)
Thanking God today for my friends and employees and board members who live this out in my life. And I pray I am this kind of friend in return.
It’s really just something I need to DO MYSELF – but I thought maybe others might want to join me, and I’d enjoy reading/seeing what others are thankful for. So you are welcome to use the Word doc, or just post in the forum what YOU are thankful for! So let me begin today, with my first post. These are NOT going to be in priority order, otherwise I’d have to go God, Family, etc. and then later on, people might judge me for putting one thing “above” or “before” another – so right out of the gate let me say, these posts will be in RANDOM ORDER of things I am THANKFUL FOR!
That’s what this weekend is all about. It’s about the Grace God showed us by looking past our short-comings, our failures, and our imperfections… and loving us anyway.
It’s about wanting us to be Family in spite of us. It’s about Him DYING to make us Family, even though we were wrapped up in ourselves and our needs.
We’ve all got people in our lives (and families) and drive us nuts and who are wrapped up in themselves. People who have let us down. People who don’t deserve a second chance. People who don’t deserve forgiveness. People who are a “lost cause.”
Christ was demonstrating for us what He expects of us by what He did for us. While WE were a lost cause, beyond hope, undeserving, selfish and wrapped up in OURselves – He died for us, and then did the biggest “come back” in His-Story to redeem us.
We have no excuse to hold anyone at arm’s length or hold a grudge. Those who have truly experienced Grace, find it so much easier and natural to extend Grace – for they have been to the foot of the Cross and begged for it.
This Easter, look around for who you can be Jesus to… someone perhaps you’ve overlooked, forgotten, or even given a cold shoulder too… and welcome them back.
After all, it’s what Jesus did for you and me on the first Good Friday and Easter not so long ago. (In God’s eternal timing)
Once again it is time to post the Bastian Christmas Letter! We hope you are in the midst of enjoying a wonderful Christmas Season! As usual we are getting our letter out the week of Christmas! (Ahhhhhh!) We mail it to family and some friends, but to save on postage I also post it here on my blog so anyone interested can also download the PDF and enjoy it, just click on the image here:
Then, in February, I went on a personal solo sabbatical to experience “Yosemite in Winter” snowshoeing the valley. It was incredible. I didn’t blog about it, as it was a personal time between me and God. But I did make this highlight video:
March saw anotherCPC – I’ve lost track how many I’ve been to, but I’ve been to every single once since 1995, so I’ve been to over 35 of them with all their locations, some years there being three! (See Why You Should Go to CPC)
In April I hiked Devil’s Backbone with some friends as the beginning of Hiking Group I’m trying to start in Colorado.
In May, I went on my third Yosemite Summit. This has become the highpoint of my year, as I unplug (quite literally!) from everything and spend almost a week disconnected from normal life with God and some other children’s ministers.
June was a real treat, as I finally got to go to Toronto to see my brothers town, just before the G4 riots and before he moved to Ohio! I also spoke in at the KidBuilders conference while I was there.
In October, I decided to become a rat, and we lauched our Family Pit Stops, which have become a highlight of our family – and are mentioned in the Christmas Letter. (My dad says that reference in the Christmas Letter needs explanation and sounds like we all head to the restroom together. If so, read this link.)
One thing I do realize, as I reflect on my blog, is how much Facebook and Twitter has trumped my blog. There are so many events that in the past that I would have blogged, but that I didn’t because I was updating Facebook along the way or Tweeting pics and comments. The only problem is – those posts are long gone, and difficult, if not impossible to link to, which is why as much as I surrender to the advent of Facebook, I really don’t like it. I would much prefer that every had a blog and Facebook only aggregated feeds from them. But that’s a post for another day! (on my blog, not Facebook!)
I do plan to do some re-thinking of how to integrate all my online data collection in the New Year… its tricky! But I do know, I much prefer things on my blog, as they are “safer” and better preserved than Facebook, but things are read more on Facebook.
Yup. It’s official. I’m gonna be a rat in an upcoming animated video from Timbuktoons… that according to their KickStart fundraising site!
Todd Hampson and Sean Copley are two of the most creative guys I know. You may not recognize their names – but you see their work all over the Kidology and the Kidmin world. Todd was the artist for my novel Order of the Ancient and Sean designed this blog theme and all my matching stationery, business cards, brochures, etc.
They are also the creative guys behind a LOT of the stuff you see walking through the exhibit hall at the Children’s Pastor’s Conference. (Though I’m not making the list, as I’m not sure I have permission to disclose all that they are behind?) But if it looks sharp, there is a good chance Todd and Sean are behind it! And I’d like to think I was one of the first to discover Todd. Though I’m sure others may make that claim too. He is fought over! And since adding Sean, they are the artistic dynamic duo!
So when I saw an opportunity to support them in fund raising for a new creative project I couldn’t whip out my credit card fast enough!
They have been doing excellent work for others (even being featured on JellyTelly.com!) but now they are trying to create their own animated series but it is a very costly undertaking. If you have enjoyed their work, help them out now.
Even just $5 would go a long way if a bunch of people stepped up and helped them out. They need to raise $3700 through this KickStarter website to get funded.
I recently was blessed to spend a week with Pastor Todd McKeever, a true champion of children’s ministry, ministering at a kids crusade at his church in Arkansas.
I appreciate Todd for a variety of reasons, and not just because he has been a member and supporter of Kidology.org nearly since the beginning both as a member and Champion and CP Team Captain, but because he a great leader.
What makes Todd a great leader?
He always pushes for excellence. Nothing Todd does is half-baked and nothing frustrates him more than settling for the minimum. He is always asking how it can be done better, look sharper, and be more effective. After our first Sunday at his church his first questions were, “What was your experience? First impressions? What was difficult? What could we do better?” Next I found a survey in my email. Everything Todd touches can’t help but improve, and that is a mark of a leader.
He has an insatiable appetitive for learning and growing. Todd is the personification of “leaders are readers.” His idea of a family outing is a trip to Barnes and Noble to read together. The latest books are open on his desk with bookmarkers sticking out of the places he doesn’t want to forget and his twitter account flows with quotes he want to remember and share. Twice when I dropped by his office last week training recordings were playing on his computer. Here is a guy with a lot to offer who hasn’t stopped learning, and that is a mark of a leader.
He is humble. For Todd, it’s never about Todd. Eager to serve and sleeves rolled up, Todd is as likely to be the guy who helps clean up afterward as he is to be the guy who came up with the grand idea in the first place. Realizing that he is there to serve and not be served is a mark of a leader.
He pours into the lives of others. When Todd talks about the ministry, he talks about people. I talk to a lot of leaders who are eager to show me this program or this facility or that aspect of the ministry, but once I was coming to his church, Todd had people he was eager for me to meet. Realizing that the ministry is made up of people is a mark of a leader.
He encourages others to go to the next level. And this is probably what I appreciate the most about Todd. He isn’t just trying to build himself or his ministry, he desires to build into his friends and colleagues. He gently but persistently challenges those he knows to improve, to push ahead, to tackle that next thing. Knowing that we all rise best when we rise together is a mark of a leader.
Todd, me and Charley
(They want you to know I’m up on a step!)
Thanks, Todd, for a great week of ministry together, and for your encouragement and investment in me as a friend and brother. The world needs more friends like Todd McKeever!
I know I’m supposed to be taking it easy and recovering from near death and all that, but today we planned a whirlwind fun day that was relaxing and enjoyable – both because of the people we hooked up with and the sights we saw! We started out in Colorado Springs (where we are staying) and went up to Littleton to have breakfast with ToddLiebenow, the Top Puppeteer and El Presidente of One Way Street, and #1 puppet and creative ministry supplier in the world. (for real) I’ve long wanted to see the OWS headquarters, and finally got to!
Todd Liebenow and Karl
The extra treat was that I had Sara and Luke with me and my little boy (who adores all my puppets) got to see “where puppets come from” with a tour of the factory. I could not photograph much out of fear of compromising industry secrets, but here is Lukey with some eyeless lambs:
Luke among the Lambs
After One Way Street we headed up to Loveland to the Group Publishing headquarters where I had a meeting with Christine Yount who, besides being executive editor of CM Mag, has a new official title I love: Children’s Ministry Champion. (I guess there is room for another!)
Group’s Lobby has a TALKING moose head!
I also got to finally meet CM Mags managing editor, Jennifer Hooks who I’ve known only via e-mail as she has edited some of my writing for Group such as The New Deal article in the Jan/Feb ’09 issue. Why was I meeting with these ladies? (I also met with a business guy about a deal on CM Mag for Kidology.org members that should be in place soon, just another perk for Kidology.org members!)
Ever wonder where the other end of the moose was?
ANYWAY, I was there to finalize the details for a column in Children’s Ministry Magazine. That’s all I can say at this time, but I’m very excited to be a regular contributor to the magazine now. More details soon! (I’m so sorry I forgot to get a picture with the Groupies – but I got the moose!)
After I left Group we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park hoping to see some live animals as well as some spectacular mountain scenes. I wasn’t disappointed! On the way out I caught this Mountain Goat on film:
It really is a mountain goat!
O.K., so that picture isn’t that great, but I had to turn on the camera and point fast! (And no, I was not driving, Sara was driving so I could enjoy the view and take pictures)
As you can see, the driving was a LOT of fun!
If I ever came to this park as a child, I don’t remember it, and I was very much impressed with how beautiful it is! Not quite Yosemite, but it’ll do!
Snow covered peaks above Rocky Mountain National Park
Lots of variety from the mountains to the landscapes and an abundance of roaming animals!
Unfortunately, Luke slept through most of the animal sightings – but we’ll be back! He just woke up when we got to Bear Lake and went for a short hike to see the snow covered frozen lake:
The Bastians on Bear Lake! (luckily, no bears!)
It was a short visit, but I considered it a teaser and plan to be back here many times in the not so distant future! I feel like I’m home here – as my earliest memories are from when I lived in Colorado as a boy.
Here’s a few more pictures from our special day (as we called it for Luke)
Mommy and Luke
Daddy and Luke
Sunset over the Rocky Mountains
Dusk in the Valley
Luke in his favorite spot – Dad in his.
I love Colorado. I am praying that God might enable me to raise my son here. I love the climate, the scenery, the culture, the people, the opportunities to explore God’s creation, and the presence of God I feel when I am here. Pray with me that my family might be able to call this home some day.
Yes, I was twittering (which updated facebook) during the whole thing, and live blogged to give more detail than you can in status updates. It was really quite amazing that due to today’s technology I literally had more people praying for me probably than your average church prayer line – for those scratching their heads that I would twitter while having a heart attack, let me first say,
A) I didn’t technically have a heart attack (explained in blog post)
B) I was never in great pain, just enough pain in my chest to know something was wrong and decided the smart thing was to go straight to ER and
C) I really truly believe in the power of prayer and wanted to get the word out so that I’d have prayer for myself and family during the critical hours when it mattered most. I never really felt dread or fear, though I had a sober understanding that this was indeed serious – and yet really felt peace that I was in God’s hands and that He was walking me through the steps to address this.
Did you know if you hold your breath the
white line on the monitor will go flat?
If I were to add a D) it is that a big part of me is wired to want to encourage others and remind others that God is in control – thats easy to say when everything is going hunky dorey – (good) – but I wanted to show that even when our life is in danger (literally) there is always reason to laugh, enjoy life and savor the moments – even if our time to say so could be soon over. My twitter updates were intended to show that there can be moments of joy and reasons to smile even in the midst of hard times. You can’t say it if you don’t live it!
I asked not to be “put under” during the procedure because this is my LIFE and as long as I am alive – i want to LIVE every moment of it, even those moments that should be scary. I gotta tell you, its very sobering when they have you remove everything you own and you watch them put it all in plastic bags. (I hid my iPhone under my leg, I wanted to take it in with me – my link to all my friends and family!)
It was amazing to watch on a screen what the surgeon was doing inside my heart! The funny thing was later, even though I was never “out” or asleep, I couldn’t remember the journey from the surgery room to ICU. I finally asked my nurse if I had indeed been out because there were some details of the day I couldn’t remember and she said that they did give me a drug that caused short term memory loss! Wow! I asked if I can get that at Walgreens, that could come in handy in life! In fact, that might come in handy in pastoral counseling too! “Just take this, and soon you’ll forget all about it.” I’ll have to look into that. (My wife probably thinks I already take that it on a daily basis!)
One of the cool things was getting to meet a fellow Twittering in person, @scotthodge who I was hoping to meet today anyway, since I was doing the children’s services at this church at 3,5 and 7pm after the massive egg hunt this morning. Well, I did get to meet him, but not as I planned; he visited me in the hospital! It meant a lot since I was too far away for most friends/family to come visit, and I know he’s in the midst of Easter weekend! Even a pastor enjoys a pastoral visit! (Our pastor from our previous church did call too and offer to come, but we told him it was too far from Easter-eve, but that was very nice too!) Of course, my wife DID come while my awesome sister took Luke for the entire day!
I am now staying over night but it looks like I’ll get to go home tomorrow. Please pray for my sweet wife, I know this is harder on her than me!
I was able to get my friend, Jonny Magic, to take the shows I had the rest of today as he was in town to perform with me tomorrow, but pray for the church I was supposed to be at tomorrow – they’ve got a lot of entertainers, so they should be fine, but I was doing their preschool program so they’ve got to make adjustments. I have a pretty good excuse, but I still feel bad!
Going to sleep now – just wanted to let some friends and prayer partners know the scoop.
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!)
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