The Greatest Indepence Day of All

What is not to love about Independence Day? Parades! Hot dogs! A day at the lake with family and friends! Fireworks! Oh, the fireworks! The older I get the better the fireworks get! Thankfully the joy of some things never tire or grow old. And all of this wrapped in awe-inspiring red, white, and blue.

As a Believer blessed to live in the United States of America, I have the privilege and honor of commemorating and celebrating two unmerited days of FREEDOM each year.

Both days are undeserved and unearned. Both days were purchased at a price I could never earn enough to repay. Both resulted in the shedding of human blood. Both were made possible because someone loved me so much he willingly gave his life that I might live mine.

One day I celebrate with John Philip Sousa’s great march, “Stars and Stripes Forever”. The other I celebrate with Keith Getty’s moving hymn, “The Power of the Cross”

Oh, to see my name

Written in the wounds,

For through Your suffering I am free.

Death is crushed to death;

Life is mine to live,

Won through Your selfless love.

Indoor Theme Park Fun

My adult son recently visited an indoor amusement park somewhere in the United States.

Some might even say that it is the world’s largest indoor theme park. He said that the entire time he was there, he was wishing he had visited this park as a child, even though I don’t think it was even there then.

I can’t imagine an indoor theme park, but he said it was great! Have any of you ever been to an indoor theme park?

Check out these pictures. (Sorry they’re so tiny!  Maybe that’ll add to the mystery!)

The coaster

The carousel

The Ferris wheel

Can you figure out where he went? See if you can guess.

The Joy of VBS

Being able to work on VBS all year long is such a great job! But the even better part is being able to teach VBS in my local church and watch the kids enjoy the products that I have spent many hours working on! I teach VBX each year, and I love my preteens. This year we averaged about 22 preteens, so we had a great group. When you teach VBS, you never know who will be in your class because people come from all over the community.

This year we had a very sweet girl come everyday, but she was not a member of our church. One day during Bible study I asked several different kids to look up Scripture passages, and she was one of the ones I asked. She looked up at me and said, “Miss Candace, I don’t know how to use a Bible, I’ve never used one before.” How often do we assume that all the children we come in contact with just know how to use a Bible? I was so glad that she wasn’t embarrassed to tell me, and then I got the privilege of showing her how to find verses in her Bible. Isn’t that what VBS is really all about? Sharing God’s word with those who come in the church?

We had a great rest of the week. The kids had fun in rec, ate lots of snacks, and made crafts. Friday night was Family Night and the kids did a great job performing the musical. Thankfully, the following Sunday, that same sweet girl came to Sunday School. We never know when we are going to minister to those we come in contact with, but VBS this year will always remind me to never take for granted the joy that comes with teaching children about Jesus.

Worship Rally Set

Worship Rally with planes flying in the background!

Victoria Falls

Counting My Blessings

I’ll admit it. As our church’s VBS dates approached I felt a combination of panic and uncertainty. I didn’t think I was doing a very good job of juggling a job with major responsibilities, family needs, church responsibilities, being the pastor’s wife, and the role of VBS director very well. The Enemy was whispering furiously in my ear, “What if you do all this and NO ONE comes!” But one of the sweet lessons God has taught me over and over again is, “Be faithful. God will bless.” As we soared through the week of Amazing Wonders Aviation VBS, I found myself counting the blessings!

Blessing 1: I have a job that allows me to adjust my schedule so I can be a part of this amazing outreach to kids and their families.




Blessing 2: Not only did I get to have a blast teaching the preschool music rotation, but my four-year-old granddaughter, Carly, (in the green sandals) was in my class!



Blessing 3: God impressed my heart to provide a special needs Bible study for a young man at our church. I thought I did it for him, but it turns out I was the one who was blessed. On family night when he got to share what he learned at VBS, he proudly announced, “Jesus loves you!”


Blessing 4: Even though I didn’t teach a children’s Bible study class, God blessed me with the privilege of talking with Emmy and being present when she became a Christian.



Blessing 5: The sweet folks at the church where my husband pastors really stepped up to the plate. We had several couples who worked together at VBS, a fact that many of our visitors commented about.

Blessing 6: (Gratuitous Nana moment) Our grandson, Noah, got to come for a visit on family night.

Well, I could go on counting, but I have stacks of work to do for VBS 2013 scattered all over my desk! Lots to do… and more blessings to come!

Geek of the Week – Gina McKean

To date I have left the naming of Geek of the Week to the VBS Publishing Team. They have done a phenomenal job of locating and honoring 20 people from as near as a few miles down the road from Nashville to as far away as South Korea. Watching the reaction of those honored as been great fun, especially as many proudly wore their exclusive Geek of the Week t-shirts to one of our VBS 2012 Previews in January and February.

For my first voyage into the expansive ocean of VBS Geeks I have journeyed to the Great State of Oklahoma where I have found two people worthy of this esteem honor. The first – Gina McKean – I will tell you about this week. For the second, I will let the suspense grow by waiting to reveal next Wednesday.

Gina is the Children’s Minister at Portland Avenue Baptist Church in Oklahoma City where she leads a large group of volunteers to completely transform the church campus to fit the VBS theme. I have heard that the church actually becomes a tourist stop during VBS week as people from the surrounding area stop in to see this amazing transformation.

Gina’s commitment to VBS goes far beyond great decorations. In addition to directing a morning VBS at Portland Avenue, she takes a group of volunteers to lead an evening VBS for a smaller inner city church in the Oklahoma City area.

For Gina, VBS is not a ministry that ends at the church campus, city limits, or even the borders of Oklahoma. Each year she coordinates a VBS for the Capital City Baptist Association mission trip, and has taken VBS to to both Branson and St. Louis, Missouri.

Gina shares her passion and love for reaching people for Christ through the ministry of VBS with others by serving on the Capital City Baptist Association VBS Training Team as well as the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma VBS Team.

Gina, we salute you as an honored VBS Geek of the Week! Thank you for all you do to promote the evangelistic vision and ministry of VBS.

The Work of Our Hands

As we approach June 4 – historically one of the busiest weeks for VBS – it is time to take a deep breath, relax for just a moment, and remember that it is truly God who is in charge. He is aware of your need of workers, resources, and time. He is aware of your abilities and inabilities. He is aware of your desires and disappointments. He is aware!

My prayer for you comes from Psalm 90:17.

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands – establish the work of our hands!”

Now, once again, take a deep breath, relax for just a moment, and let Him establish the work of your hands.