On the Twelfth Day of Christmas. . .

carol_editedI polled folks in the office to find out what some of their favorite Christmas Eve traditions are. So in no particular order, here are twelve traditions from folks on the LifeWay Kids team.

  • We play board games or card games–Erika Scrimpshire
  • When I was a kid, we would bake Christmas cookies each afternoon during the four Sundays of Advent. We didn’t get to eat any though; they went straight to the freezer! On Christmas eve, they were pulled from the freezer and we finally got to dig in!–Stephanie Salvatore
  • In Texas, my family always eats at Tamales for Xmas eve in honor of our Mexican heritage!–Jana Magruder
  • Several years ago we began choosing someone in the family to be the recipient of “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Twelve presents are arranged and made available in a variety of ways. This year my elderly parents are the recipients. During Thanksgiving, my daughter and daughter-in-law shopped for and hid nine presents in their home. Then I sent them a package with three more gifts along with the clues to find the others. Included on the clue for each day is a Scripture so that they not only find a small gift each day but also enjoy the joy of the season as they read about the Savior. One year we sent a box full of gifts to cousins who live in another state. The year my daughter-in-law was pregnant with the first grandchild, she received a basket full of gifts. The gifts are small, useful items and usually include at least one gift card. It is fun for those who prepare and for those who receive.– Wanda King
  • We go to see a movie together as a family. Each person opens one present at a time.– Katy Bradley
  • In our family, we always read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve. The youngest person that can read gets to read the story. –Henry Dutton
  • My dad always read the Christmas story.  My mom reads it now. –Lance Howerton
  • My family eats Chinese Food on Christmas Eve. Sixteen years ago when I first came to LifeWay, my family tried to go out and eat on Christmas Eve. All that was open were Chinese Restaurants. Since then, Chinese Food has been our choice for Christmas Eve dinner!– Jerry Vogel
  • Christmas Eve, after the last Christmas Eve service at church, we have Clam Chowder in bread bowls and watch It’s a Wonderful Life. The kids barely make it half-way through the movie without crashing. My wife and I cry…, mostly my wife. On Christmas Day we watch Christmas Story while we open presents. Afterwards we go eat at a Chinese restaurant, yes there is always one open. –Jeffrey Reed

Yes, I know there are 13, but they were all too fun not to share : )

On the Sixth Day of Christmas. . .

carol_editedCalamity came to visit. Well, at least my house anyway. Remember back on the First Day of Christmas when Bethany said some calamitous stories? Yeah, she was foreshadowing the Sixth Day of Christmas for you. My family’s holiday tradition is for someone to visit the ER. Yep, that’s right it’s not a holiday if the Tomlinson’s or someone closely related has not been to the ER. It all started with my son’s first Christmas 14 years ago and has pretty much carried on since then. So for this Sixth Day of Christmas, I share our top 6 Holiday Calamities.

1. Take my one month old son to the ER on Christmas morning leaving my daughter and husband to open gifts without us.

2. On my son’s first birthday, take him to have tubes put in his ears. It was all good by evening in time for his party.

3. New Year’s day, daughter falls while running on the outside of the trampoline (yes, we had a net) and ends up with 36 stitches in her leg. We thought we were going to make through the holidays with no ER visits. Oh, well, why break tradition?

4. Memorial day, I break a bone in my foot stepping off the stairs on our deck.

5. Two years later break the same bone in the other foot two days before Christmas. This time I stepped on a Nerf gun left at the bottom of the garage steps. (Thanks, son!)

6. Take my husband to the ER Christmas day with chest pains, turns out he just had reflux. Probably too much turkey.

That’s just the highlights of our calamitous holidays. But through it all we end up being closer to one another and have many opportunities to praise the Lord for His healing and provision. We even have a laugh or two albeit a little down the road. So no matter where the holidays find you, be of good cheer and count your blessings no matter the circumstance.

I hope you all have a safe, healthy, and blessed Christmas this year!

D3: Discover, Decide, Defend

carol_editedMost of you reading this title for this blog post are probably thinking, “Wait a minute, where’s the Agency in D3?” No, I have not forgotten or even misprinted this title. D3 is the title for Student VBS in 2014. Yes, you read that correctly. LifeWay does have Student VBS curriculum, and in fact we have Adult VBS curriculum as well. That’s right, when we say we have you covered from birth to death, that includes VBS.  We not only want kids to know how to discover, decide, and defend their faith, we want to equip students and adults to do the same.

Students are pressured on all sides to accept what teachers, professors, peers, and sometimes even family tell them about Jesus. It’s time for them to discover the facts about who Jesus is, decide what they will do with the evidence they’ve gathered, and step out in faith to defend what they believe.

Student VBS can be held at the same time as your children’s VBS, as camp curriculum for Student Camp, Bible study for Sunday or Wednesday nights, or as a weekend retreat.

And if you are looking for a way to get Students excited about defending their faith, consider taking your students to see the movie God’s Not Dead that is releasing in the Spring of 2014. Watching the movie would be a great kickoff or follow-up to D3.

For those of you out there who already use Student VBS, we would love for you to share your advice, experiences, and ideas.

Marooned Without a Compass Day

carol_editedWho knew that there is day for being marooned without a compass? I love that we can find reasons to celebrate/honor odd days. I mean, who thought, “I know! November 6th should be Marooned Without a Compass Day”? Was it someone who had recently been marooned and rescued? Was it someone who had just finished watching the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway? I’m not sure what the history behind the day is, but I thought it would be fun to poll the VBS team (in honor of Wilson, the volleyball) to see what VBS item they would want to have with them if they were marooned without a compass. I, of course, would take the VBS tablecloths. You can make a lean-to, rain poncho, sleeping bag, or any number of items.

So, in no certain order, here are the responses:

Keith— The giant inflatable to use as a raft.

Rhonda—Wanted to say the inflatable, but she changed to the tablecloths. And since it only said, “No compass,” She’s thinking her pack would have duct tape etc. She would put up a temporary shelter, use them to keep things waterproof, tote the food she would find when she’s foraging, and set a fine table for whomever wanders by.

Gordon—Decided to be all spiritual on us and said The New Testament of course! But he also gave props to Survivorman, Les Stroud for teaching him all he needs to know.

Bethany—Wanted to take the Rocket Pack Jack Stand-up, so she would have a friend. (Kind of like Wilson in Castaway.)

Mary—Opted for the Special Agent Watch, which she thought had a GPS function – thus allowing someone to find her. She was just going to enjoy the scenery until they arrived, but we hated to inform her it might be a long wait since the watch doesn’t have GPS. It does, however, have a cool laser light with which she could entertain small animals and a working watch so she could keep track of just how long she was marooned.

Candace—Settled on taking the balloons, so she could tie them to something and fly away. She has her movies confused – that would have been Up.

Melita—Of course Melita is the rebel on the team, she said she would take duct tape. Because even though it’s not an official VBS accessory, you can’t do VBS without it!

So there you have it. What VBS accessory would you take if you were marooned without a compass?

Happy Fall, Y’all

carol_editedYep, it’s that time of year. Fall is upon us. The leaves are changing, the air is nippy, and the pumpkins are harvested. This is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love the crispness in the air and all those yummy pumpkin flavored treats that are now available. Speaking of, have you checked out our Pinterest board lately? Well, what are you waiting for? Check out our board that’s chock full of Fall Recipes.  And if it’s crafts you need, check out our board for Fall Craft ideas.

We have also recently added a Fall Festival board. So be sure to check us out!

fall festival

We would also love to hear from you about your Fall favorites.

Now Pinning. . .

carol-2 Decorating tips, activities for special agents and more are now being pinned to LifeWay Kids on Pinterest.

Investigate our Agency D3 board and discover tips and ideas to prepare you for VBS in 2014. It’s never too early to start planning and collecting items that you will need to make your VBS an exciting place for kids to be!

For example, find awesome disguises to create a photo booth for your VBS Kickoff or VBS Celebration event.

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Or what about some cool decorating ideas?

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And there’s even some fun activities for your special agents.

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So no matter what you need, we’ll have you covered. Keep checking the board over the next several months, we’ll be adding more fun and easy ideas!

Foto Friday–Door Decorating

carol-2We recently had a Door Decorating Contest for all of Kid’s Ministry. Of course being a member of the VBS team, I had to do a shout out to VBS. As I was working on my door, I realized that I have served in or worked on every VBS except for Good News Stampede. That was a very humbling realization that God has allowed me to be a small part of such a great ministry. Some of my favorite memories of my kids are coming home from VBS with the VBS music blaring and them singing their hearts out in the backseat. With all that said, here’s a picture of the finished project:


I used the I Heart VBS Stencils and chalk to add the theme title for my door. Then I created a “word cloud” for each theme at Tagxedo. If you look closely you can see that within the words there is an image related to the theme. The words I used were all related to the theme. Can you figure out what each theme is?

I had a lot of fun walking down memory lane as I made each theme. I truly do “heart” VBS!

National Ice Cream Sandwich Day




It’s National Ice Cream Sandwich Day and we on the VBS team decided it should not go by unnoticed. So I made my famous Ice Cream Sandwich Cake (And yes, we ate it for breakfast!).  As you can see by the picture, we love VBS and ice cream sandwiches.




I polled the team to find out what type of ice cream sandwich is there favorite. Here are the results. . .

Rhonda had a list depending on her day & her mood. We almost had to do an intervention, but she went with Mint Chocolate Chip.

Rhonda had a list depending on her day & her mood. We almost had to do an intervention, but she went with Mint Chocolate Chip.

Bethany can’t eat ice cream, but she’s heard they make ice cream sandwiches with frozen yogurt. If anybody can hook her up, she’d be your best friend.

Gordon is a classic vanilla ice cream sandwich and of course the Klondike Bar  ...what would you dohoohoo, for a Klondike!

Gordon is a classic vanilla ice cream sandwich and of course the Klondike Bar
…what would you dohoohoo, for a Klondike!

Candace is our simple eater she likes vanilla ice cream and vanilla wafers.

Candace is our simple eater she likes vanilla ice cream and vanilla wafers.

Melita likes the classic ice cream sandwich.

Melita likes the classic ice cream sandwich.










Debbie says: "The vanilla ice cream sandwich works for me. But if I were picking, it would be fudge bars!"

Debbie says: “The vanilla ice cream sandwich works for me. But if I were picking, it would be fudge bars!”


Mary has never meet an ice cream sandwich that she didn't like!

Mary has never meet an ice cream sandwich that she didn’t like!









Keith is lactose intolerant, but said for vanilla ice cream and Ruffles, he'd suffer!

Keith is lactose intolerant, but said for vanilla ice cream and Ruffles, he’d suffer!





Three Simple Statements

carol-2Three simple statements, yet they are key to helping you be successful in leading VBS. Have you noticed them? Take a look in your Bible Study Leader Guide, they are right there on the first page of each session. Right along with the Bible story information and the life application. See them now? Good.

Allow me to explain, these three simple statements will help you know if the kids you are leading have made the connection during your lesson. Think of them as objectives, if you will. These statements let you know exactly what you want kids to know when they walk out the door each day. As you are teaching, you can use these statements as a check point to be sure you are reinforcing the main ideas of the day with the kids.

Generally the first statement will be a recall or reminder of information found in the Bible story. The second statement will move kids into applying what they have learned to their own lives. And the third statement generally involves the daily challenge. Each age-group Bible Study Leader Guide includes these statements in leader guides for grades 1-6 they are called “Connection Points” and in the preschool guides they are titled, “What Kids Need to Know.”

All the activities and discussion have been written with these three objectives in mind. By staying focused on the objectives throughout each session, you can maximize the limited time you have to reach kids for Christ!

Crafting with a Crowd


For some of us crafting makes our day. We love it, the more glue (or for me glue dots) the better. We see an empty box, a scrap piece of paper, or some leftover fabric, and think, “What can I turn that into?” However, not everyone shares our love of all things crafty. Hand them the Crafts Rotation Leader Guide and tell them they will be leading the crafts rotation, and they break out into hives.  It’s one thing to sit down and complete a craft project on our own, but something else entirely different to sit down with 15-20 kids and complete the project. But never fear (Isn’t that the whole point of VBS 2013? Facing our fears.), you can successfully craft with a crowd. Here are a few pointers to help you when crafting with a crowd:


  1. Plan Your Time:  You may look at a craft and think, “Well, this will take about 5 seconds to do,” but rarely will a child be able to complete their project in the short amount of time that an adult will. You also need to factor in the time it will take to distribute supplies, give instructions, and transition.
  2. Prep Your Supplies: By prepping your supplies before hand, you can keep the session moving at an easy comfortable pace. Think about asking older youth and Sunday School classes to help you prep before VBS starts. They can cut materials, gather items, and sort them into individual ziplock bags. Then once VBS starts all you need to do is give each child a bag of materials and get started.
  3. Prepare Your Samples: The best way to be confident in teaching someone else to do something is to do it yourself. Once you have selected the crafts you want to do, make samples of each one. Note anything you think will need further explanation or changes that can be made that will work better for your group.
  4. Pace Your Lesson: Figure out exactly how much time you have with each rotation. Plan how much time you will spend introducing the project and relating it to the Bible content, giving instructions, and so forth. When working with children it will be best to give one set of instructions at a time. The leader guide shows each craft with step-by-step instructions to help you know how to transition from one step to the next.


Crafting with a crowd can be fearful at times, but when we trust God and are obedient to Him, the blessing will be immeasurable.