Say Y-E-S to Preschool V-B-S!

VBS season is in full swing & while all of you have been gearing up for VBS in your churches, all of us on the VBS team have been doing the same thing! It is so wonderful to get to experience VBS “from the trenches”… not as a job but as Kingdom work! I taught kindergartners this year… 31 of them, in fact! Out of those 31, only 7 were from my church. VBS really is an incredible outreach tool!

This year, my church tried something a little bit different. We added a second worship rally to our schedule that was specifically for preschoolers & kindergartners. The morning kicked off for 1st-6th graders with the traditional Worship Rally, but preschoolers started the morning in their respective rooms. Then at 9:40 (when all of the big kids had cleared out), we got to fly in for a worship rally designed just for us! We had a fabulous leader who basically modified the preschool music rotation teaching plans so that we could sing songs, play instruments, move around, and talk about the daily Bible stories in ways that just wouldn’t fly if preteens were in the room. But it was perfect for preschoolers! We even had time for offerings and practicing the theme song each day.

The kids’ favorite song from the week had to be one called “Always”… and it played a significant part in one of my all-time favorite VBS memories. The song lyrics are almost identical to preschool’s Day 2 verse: “Be strong. Do not be afraid. God is with you” (Joshua 1:9). On Wednesday morning one of my kindergartners came in the door and walked straight to me. “Miss Melita,” she said, “last night at bedtime I got kind of scared. But then I remembered that song. I sang it to myself probably 4-20 times. And you know what? It worked! God was with me, and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”

WOW! A 6-year-old child connected the truth of the Bible to a real life situation because she had “hidden it in her heart” through song. Wow! That’s what it’s all about!

Here’s a little video of “Always” from our preschool worship rally. And if you’re really good, you might be able to catch a glimpse of Gordon, too! Enjoy!

Always — preschool worship rally

In Honor of My Good Friend, Jeff

I’m so glad to have the honor of writing about my good friend, Jeff Slaughter. As many of you have heard, or perhaps you read the blog post here on December 1, VBS 2012 will be the last VBS with Jeff as our songwriter. Jeff and I began working together when LifeWay’s VBS was redesigned in 1996. Our first project was VBS 1997: The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede™. It was Jeff who suggested that we provide choreography videos for our customers. So, we began to produce those with VBS 1999: Mt. Extreme™. We’ve come a long way since then! When our budget would allow, we were able to shoot the choreography segments on location along with the video dramas. My favorite on-location shoot was in Israel in 2008. We shot the songs for Club VBS: Truth Trek™ and the ballad for VBS 2012: Boomerang Express™ (“Because”).

Shooting at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

We also had the great fortune of shooting the ABCs of Becoming a Christian segment at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. Very, very special.

Since the December 1 blog post shared about Jeff’s great work with our team, I thought it would be fun to let Jeff do the talking this time. So, we sat down for lunch and I asked him the following questions.

Me: What was your favorite VBS theme?

Jeff: Boomerang Express™. First of all, I got to travel to Australia! And we shot the ballad in Israel . . . in front of the Garden Tomb. I loved that the biblical content was about a relationship with Jesus and about Peter’s relationship with Him. I think it’s great that LifeWay’s VBS is all about helping kids know how to become Christians, but I especially liked that this one focused on showing kids how to go beyond that and build a friendship with Jesus.

Me: What was the most challenging song to write?

Jeff: “We Believe” (VBS 2005: Ramblin’ Road Trip™). My daddy passed away in March of ’03 and later that same year we began working on Ramblin’ Road. I couldn’t write though. Since he’d passed away, I hadn’t written anything and I just felt stifled. I couldn’t find that creative place anymore. I didn’t know how to begin. Then, I heard the Lord say to me, “Go back to the basics. What do you believe about me? If you could put the most important things you believe about me in a song, what would you write?” As I began to focus on the truths about Him that I had learned throughout my life I could feel Him gently leading me back to that sweet place of creativity. I went to the piano and began to play for the Lord . . . pouring out my sadness as I pressed into the keys. Memories of His faithfulness and love flooded my mind . . . along with memories of things my daddy had taught me about the Lord. All of a sudden I began playing the opening melody of “We Believe.” As soon as I heard it, I began to cry. I wrote the rest of the song in about 30 minutes . . . crying the whole time. “We Believe” went on to become the first VBS song to cross over into the church as an adult choir anthem. It was one of the most challenging to write, but it will always be one of my favorites!

Me: What’s a favorite video shoot memory?

Jeff: The trip to Israel. Habakkuk 2:2-3 was Scripture that meant so much to me as a child and as a teenager. I know some people have heard me tell the story about being an outcast at school because I was overweight, I wore funny glasses, and I was in the band. But, that Scripture helped me know that God had a plan for me, and it would be revealed to me in His time. When we were in Israel, some of the crew and I got to visit The Shrine of the Book. [That’s where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed.] We all were walking around on our own, looking at everything. I stopped to read an ancient manuscript that was on display. I couldn’t believe it! It was an original handwritten manuscript of Habakkuk chapter 2! When I shared it with you, you told me that this particular exhibit was on display only that year in celebration of Israel’s 60th anniversary! It was amazing.

Me: I remember that. It was amazing. That was a great experience.

Me: Is the rumor true that you’re a good cook?

Jeff: Yes! I am a good cook!

Me: Any dishes you’re known for?

Jeff: One time I fixed this dish called “Pistachio Crusted Chicken with Coconut Ginger Chili Sauce.” It was awesome!

Me: Tell us where kids can connect with you at CentriKid camps this summer.

Jeff with a fan

Jeff: I’ll be at Lee University and at Ridgecrest Conference Center. You can find the dates on my web page: http://www.jeffslaughter.com/. Camp has been such a vital part of my life for 26 years and I still love it! I’m looking forward to seeing everybody and seeing what the Lord has in store for us!

 

Can I Buy That Scarf?

That was the question of the day at each of the Preview locations we visited. If you were able to join us at one of our events, you probably had your picture made in the Expo area. It was a ton of fun taking everyone’s pictures and posting them to Facebook.

Jeff and Friends Ready for Takeoff

Each person who had their picture made received a free pair of VBS 2012 Pilot Goggles and got to wear an amazing scarf with the VBS logo. Many people asked if the scarves were a product we sell. Unfortunately, the answer is, “No.” However, with an iron and a VBS 2012 Logo Iron-On, you can create your own fabulous scarves.

We purchased fleece scarves at a local store, and used the iron-ons to place the logo on one end of each scarf. Because our scarves were fleece, we set the iron temperature just a little lower than instructed to keep the fleece from scorching. Other than that, just follow the instructions on the package.

Now for the exciting part! Leave a comment on this post by next Thursday, March 1 and you may win your very own set of scarves. Three lucky folks will be selected randomly to receive a set of 2 scarves. Can it get any better than that?

Foto Friday. . .Preview Photos!

Wow! I can’t believe we have already finished 2 VBS Preview events (Ridgecrest & Ft. Worth)! We (the VBS Team) actually have a week off. . .not from work though. . .we are working on VBS 2013 right now! I can’t say what it is yet. :P

We have a week to rest up before setting up and hosting the Nashville VBS Preview. There is still a little room for the Thursday/Friday Preview (Jan 27-28).

We also have room for the Kissimmee, FL Preview (Feb 17-18), SO COME ON DOWN! Or come on up. . .if you live south of Kissimmee! lol! It should be nice and sunny! (actually I don’t know that) :P

If you come down to Kissimmee, I’ll tell you a joke that my 4 year old daughter told me! It’s funny!

Today on Foto Friday, I wanted to share just some random photos from the Ridgecrest and Ft. Worth events.

I just flew in and. . .(my arms are not tired!) :P

Great Bible overview Melita!

I don't remember their names but they had me laughing SO HARD!

GREAT t-shirt! ! !

Um, I think the flight is full! :P

These kids were great! Love the hats!

I’ve had people ask and yes, you CAN purchase our Super Sized Hangar Backdrop artwork and then send it to a sign company to print larger!

There's always one on the flight! :D

Gordon is flying Stand-By!

Jerry delivering the message. Thanks Jerry!

***We have several people about the “how-to” instructions for the foam airplane in the photos. We created that for the events, so the instructions are not readily available but we are going to work up a blog post on the “how-to” instructions and get them to you!***

Foto Friday. . .EXPO (behind the scenes)!

Well, it’s Friday again and that means. . .Foto Friday! ! ! We are currently in Ft. Worth, Texas getting ready for EXPO to open today at the Ft Worth VBS Preview (Travis Avenue Baptist Church). Come on down!

We have been busy trying to get everything ready.

Here are some “behind the scenes” photos!

Does anyone have a napkin?

I think it was Jeff Slaughter’s idea for the napkin! lol!

Does anyone have a hammer?

Does this helmet make my head look big?

We just HAD to pass the toy department to get some supplies!

 Rhonda was a very good girl, so she gets an ice cream cone!

Seriously, we are about to have a busy but fun day. . .come see us if you are in the area!

Be sure to check out our Facebook page for more photos from EXPO!

 

Jeff Slaughter – A VBS Legend!

For the past 17 years, millions of children and families through VBS have benefited from a talented and enthusiastic music minister whose name is synonymous with VBS.

Jeff Slaughter, the songwriter for LifeWay Christian Resources’ Vacation Bible School team, has decided 2012 will be his last season writing, traveling, performing and teaching with our VBS team.

God has given Jeff new dreams and new visions. We will miss him and pray that God continues to use him. We want you to join us as we celebrate Jeff and his years of creative ministry at all the upcoming 2012 VBS preview events.

At each event, Jeff’s contributions, creativity and career highlights will be celebrated with a video tribute connected to the performance of the Amazing Wonders Aviation musical.

Jeff was originally enlisted in 1997 to create high-energy music written specifically for each year’s VBS theme. With the introduction of The Wild and Wonderful Good News Stampede, Jeff and LifeWay’s VBS became synonymous. Since then, Jeff has produced 22 VBS themes and 133 songs (including 30 songs specifically for preschoolers) for both the mainline and Club VBS.


Jeff’s contribution has helped shape VBS as it is known today. His music has reached into the hearts of kids and the motions he choreographed have helped the lyrics become personal and the message of Christ memorable.

Jeff has also been a highlight of these events, where he shares the stories behind the songs and teaches the accompanying motions firsthand.

The VBS team appreciates Jeff and his creative contributions. We’ve had a tremendous relationship with him. God has not only used Jeff to impact the lives of millions but he has impacted each of us here at LifeWay.

For most of us, the relationship extends beyond “work” to personal, everyday friendship.
We look forward to continued ministry with him throughout the 2012 VBS season and honoring him at the preview events.

Jeff will continue to be a vital part of LifeWay’s CentriKid Camps.

As part of our tribute to Jeff, the VBS team is creating a book of memories, photos, and letters. We would like to invite you to help by sending a note of thanks and best wishes or a story about your favorite VBS song.

Send your message to kidsministry101@lifeway.com. If you would like to send a photo (no larger than 5×7), send it to me, Jerry Wooley, MSN 182, LifeWay Christian Resources, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, Tennessee 37234. Messages and photos must be received by Friday, December 30.

Love you Jeff.

VBS Geek of the Week

I can’t remember the first time I met Clyde. As the Leadership Development and Church Growth Ministries Director for the Hawai’i Pacific Baptist Convention, he’s been a part of LifeWay’s VBS training for several years. One thing I love about Clyde and his team is the fact that they always (and I do mean ALWAYS) bring gifts from Hawai’i for their conference leaders! Chocolate covered macadamia nuts . . . Kona coffee . . . yum! Sharing the Aloha!

I have a fun Clyde story to tell before I turn this over to him. When we were preparing VBS 2008, Outrigger Island™, Clyde agreed to appear in a video we shot to help explain that Outrigger Island was not a Hawaiian theme, but an island theme in general. He did such a great job, and we had so much fun putting that together!

Shooting "Wiki Wiki"

After we finished shooting that clip, we asked Clyde to stay and participate in our choreography shoot with Jeff. During what is one of my favorite ABC songs, “Wiki Wiki,” Clyde is the person who caught the ukelele each time Jeff tossed it offscreen! Then, Clyde had to toss it back to Jeff with perfect timing (and perfect aim) as well!

This year, as we were shooting the Amazing Wonders Aviation™ Worship Rally DVD in Hawai’i, Clyde and his team were there to help—ready to assist in any way needed. They helped us find bicycles; provided us with a cooler, a generator, bottled water, and A TRUCK!

Keeping the radiator full!

(I was a bit concerned when Clyde offered the truck and then said, “The gas gauge doesn’t work, but I’m pretty sure it’s full. Also, you’ll have to stop every once in a while and fill the radiator with water.”)

And now, I turn this over to a great friend of the VBS Team, Clyde Kakiuchi.

1. What are your VBS roles (state, association, church, etc.)?  

I take our State team for VBS training, host a state VBS clinic, assist with church VBS, VBS training with summer missionaries.

2. What is your “geekiest” VBS moment?  

Boomerang Express theme – During a training event I threw the sponge/nerf boomerang out toward the audience while commenting that “It All Comes Back to Jesus.” Well, I missed the boomerang and it hit me in the head. The boomerang actually worked. I’m counting my blessings that the boomerang was made of sponge.

3. What makes you continue to do VBS year after year?  

Two things: 1) Seeing how excited the people are when attending the VBS training. It’s a fun way to share Jesus.  2) It translates into salvation decisions, Sunday School prospects, follow-up discipleship, and more trained leaders.

4. What is your favorite VBS theme to date?  

Ocean Odyssey. The songs are still in my head. We can relate with an ocean theme since we’re on an island.

5. You might be a VBS Geek if . . .

A. You know all the VBS themes from the last 10 years in order

B. You still have all the VBS T-shirts and music CDs from the last 10 years

C. You check the VBS web site every day to see if there’s something new

D. You give Lifeway suggestions for improving different aspects of VBS (like different craft ideas….)

E. You have a countdown till the next VBS

F. You wear a VBS T-shirt every day of the week (even to work)

G. You burst into your hip-hop routine of “Yes to VBS!” when someone merely mentions VBS

H. You buy out Walmart’s stock of craft supplies or decorations

I. You buy out Lifeway’s supplies at the training clinic

J.  You “want” to sign a 10-year contract with the State office to be on the VBS training and traveling team

K. You dream about VBS

6. Will we see you at one of the VBS Previews in January or February? (Which one?)

Yes. January in Ft. Worth.

MAHALO NUI LOA!!!

VBS Sightings at KMC Week!

It’s been a great week so far as our buildings have been filled with lots of Kids’ Ministry friends. You never know who you might meet on the elevator! As folks started to arrive on Monday, I wandered around to see some of the fun things that were happening. 

People were scurrying to early bird conferences and trying to decipher our challenging floor plan here at LifeWay. But, it’s always a pleasure to help point someone in the right direction. Lots of folks found Jeff Slaughter’s VBS music conference. I think I heard rumors about a Flash Mob being organized.

Jerry Wooley introduces Jeff Slaughter at KMC.

The LifeWay bookstore display was almost set up when I went by, and look what I found! VBS 2012 things already for sale!

VBS 2012 is here!

I love our Giant Inflatable Globe. I have tons of ideas for ways to use it. Come to think of it, I may need several!

Gotta have one of these! Or more!

The exhibits were in progress. Here are a few of our hard working friends getting the LifeWay Kids display picture perfect.

Getting it just right!

If you missed this year, you really missed a blessing, and we missed seeing you. :(

Hope to see you next year!

VBS Geek of the Week! Alaska!

Hey Gordon! We need photos of a mother elk walking down a snowy road and a baby elk following close behind. Oh—and we also need photos of all the VBS rotation locations in Alaska, someone ice fishing and that rare flower, oh, what’s it called? The one that only grows in the Arctic?

Welcome for a brief moment to the world of the VBS graphic designer. It was 2005. The VBS team was working fast and furiously on VBS 2006 and we needed pictures of elk and puffins and all sorts of other Alaska-related things. Since elk are not commonly seen walking around downtown Nashville, we wondered, “Who ‘ya gonna call?”

How about the Alaska Chamber of Commerce?

So, I called and a nice lady answered, “Oh sure. We have all sorts of photos! I’d be glad to help!” Jack pot! I started rambling through the list of photos we needed. “What’s this for anyway?” she asked. “Well,” I said, “I’m a graphic designer at LifeWay on the VBS team and…” The lady quickly interrupted, “VBS! I’m the VBS director at my church here in Alaska!” College Heights Baptist Church, Soldotna, AK.

You know, the older I get the less surprised I am when God does those “even though I’m running the entire universe I still make time just for you” kind of things. That phone call started a friendship that spread through the whole team and continues to this day.

So, without further ado, allow me to officially introduce (drum roll please) our Honorary VBS Team Member at Large and VBS Geek of Week, Diane Somers!

On a rather serious note, in 2008 Diane experienced some serious health/neurological issues (a rare version of encephalitis) and stepped down as VBS Director.  Diane says: “This happened just before I bought a ticket for a mission trip to London to do VBS there again…but couldn’t. I haven’t been able to work until this year. I’m trying to just decorate instead of being the Director (which I loved)…so, maybe God is giving me permission to go after it again!” It just goes to show, you can’t keep a VBS Geek down for long! God bless you Diane! We’ll keep praying for you too!

And now, a few more words from Diane Somers – VBS Geek of the Week:

What have been or currently are your VBS roles (state, association, church, director, etc.)?
First of all, I’m flattered that you and the team remembered me for this blog. VBS work is the only thing I miss from my passed abilities! I wish my new brain could be in charge of VBS again, but for now, I can decorate again! I love it too…thank You, Lord. I was able to decorate this year and had a wonderful time.

What is your “geekiest” VBS moment?
Allow me to add to this one, Diane. Some of us on the VBS team had the chance to meet Diane face to face in January 2007 at the VBS Preview event in Glorieta, NM. Every time we turned around Diane was there! Short of bringing her sleeping bag to the EXPO room she was with us 24/7… and we loved every minute of it! Diane, along with her State Associate, were able to convince Jeff Slaughter to come to Alaska and do a training conference with the Alaska Team. Diane made it happen! There’s a great story about an extremely deep snow drift and a snowmobile you’ll have to ask Jeff about someday. Priceless. Back to you Diane! (I’ve always wanted to say that!)

Here’s a pretty geeky moment! I’m still around these kids
and they remember VBS with me! Cool!

Below are a couple pictures from this year’s VBS here in Soldotna!
My husband build the taxi ramp!

What is your favorite VBS theme to date?
My favorite VBS? Arctic Edge of course!

What makes you continue to do VBS year after year?
I love meeting people and seeing the group get larger and larger. I also love to see kids learn at an early age about the God and what He means to us. It’s a great way for the whole family to live and learn about God. I enjoy every minute of it!

Sincerely, Diane

VBS Preview is just around the corner! Hope to see you there!

First Official Geek of the Week – Debbie Muller

I am so excited that I get to introduce one of my Illinois friends as the First Official VBS Geek of the WeekDebbie Muller works for the Illinois Baptist State Association in Springfield, Illinois and is a MEGA VBS FAN. She got our team’s attention at previews with her custom designed VBS jewelry. (Check out that subway token bling on her ears! Debbie is the one on the right.)

Debbie's VBS Bling!

Illinois hosts one of our earliest early bird conferences and Debbie volunteers every year to get things ready… in a BIG WAY!! Jerry Wooley often comes “back to the ranch” with tales about how they outdid themselves again this year. Here’s evidence of one of his IL trips! According to Debbie, this fully operational bull ride was given to one of the IL cowboy churches after Saddle Ridge Ranch was over. I guess VBS rides again!

Ride 'em, Jerry!

I asked Debbie some questions about her passion for VBS. Here’s part of our interview:

Me: What has been your “geekiest” VBS moment?

Debbie: For Arctic Edge we borrowed a moose head and hauled it all the way across town in the back of a pick-up truck. Oh, the looks we got!! We had to work to hang the thing with moving straps, then carefully suggest that folks might not want to stand under it… just in case!

(She also had great stories about big foam medical boxes she got for free, but covered up so much of the windshield, she could hardly see out. Or driving all over Illinois with a car filled with surfboards… think about that one for a minute and it’ll hit you! Or driving down the interstate with a Ramblin’ Road Trip travel trailer in the bed of her pickup truck! She had me laughing so hard I think I disturbed all my hallway office neighbors!)

Me: What is your favorite VBS theme to date?

Debbie: That’s hard because I like them all. But, I really like Ramblin’ Road Trip because I had actually been to all those places and had pictures and stories to share.

Me: What makes you continue to do VBS year after year?

Debbie: I just love it. It’s hard to explain – it’s like chocolate, you just gotta have it! I just have that much fun with it.

Me: How would you complete this sentence? You might be a VBS Geek if …

Debbie: You can sing ALL the VBS songs. My knees still hurt when I sing “Jehovah Jireh.” I don’t do rap, but I rapped John 3:16!

Love that VBS music!

Me: Will we see you at one of the VBS Previews?

Debbie: I’m bringing a van full to Nashville! I’m helping as a volunteer in Expo! Woo hoo!

Debbie (on the right) loves takin' it to the streets!!


Debbie’s enthusiasm was contagious as she talked about past VBS experiences and the “it’ll do everything but fly” airplane her husband is building for Amazing Wonders Aviation next year. But, what really impressed me the most was her true spirit of what VBS is all about – telling kids about Jesus. Debbie not only volunteers to help with state and local training of workers, but she works!! Debbie volunteers at 3 or 4 VBS’s every summer in addition to working in her own church’s VBS. Now THAT’S passion!

Thanks, Debbie, for all you do for the Kingdom! And for saying, “Yeh-yeh-yeh-yeh- yes! to Vuh-vuh-vuh-VBS!!”