Archives for August 2011

LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference

kmc.jpgWith a promotion that fun … and a line-up SO good … how could you NOT want to go to the LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference in October?

Three, power-packed days await you at LifeWay’s Kids Ministry Conference! Come soak up all you need to take your kids ministry to the next level through inspirational speakers, workshops, and showcases of the talent kids love. In 2011, we are bringing the event to Music City USA! If there’s only one conference you attend this year, make sure this is it. Your kids ministry will never be the same!

Speakers include some people I know and some I don’t know personally, but all I respect and think are awesome. Maybe my children’s minister would send me … because how much fun would it be to listen to Angie Smith, Pete Wilson, Ed Stetzer, the Duggars, Jon Acuff, and Michael Kelley, with worship by Dave Hunt, featuring Selah and Michael O’Brien?

I am excited just reading that list of names, and I hope you are, too. If you aren’t, click around to some of those great names! I’ve been privileged to know Michael Kelley and Angie Smith in "real life," and they are incredible, faith-filled people.

I hope you’ll consider clicking over and finding out more about the Kids Ministry Conference.

Back to Sports

 I really thought that I had reached the end of the line when it came to sports for our boys this past year. The school year is so long, and both boys played baseball last fall, basketball in winter, and baseball again in the spring. They had fun, but both boys happened to be on teams with the worst records for their age groups in spring baseball … yikes! So the season felt longer than usual. We were all ready for a summer break.

As always, summer went by so quickly too. It was difficult enough to get geared up for school, nonetheless another sports season. I was late getting Christopher registered for his fall baseball. Jonathan was running for his new school, so we were excited for him to start his season but all a little nervous at the new undertaking.

Jonathan had his first cross country meet on Thursday, and it was amazing! There is nothing like the start of a race. The excitement is amazing. Approximately 170 competitors all starting at once. Check out the photo just before the start! (Isn’t that about what the troops looked like in Braveheart before the beginning of a battle?)


Jonathan was a little nervous, and it was hot. Evidently it was just under the heat index max that they will even let students run. The race started downhill, which meant a lot of the kids went out too fast–Jonathan included. But we were so proud! And it doesn’t hurt that the entire race is over in under 20 minutes!

Christopher had the first game of his baseball season tonight, so it has felt like double duty this week. Got to love those 7:00 game times on a school night! The game was fun. Christopher’s team won in the last at bat –always a fun way to win!

So the sports bug has hit me again! It is always so much fun to watch and play. I’m sure around May you will hear me wishing it all to end again, but the Fall sports season has got me hooked for now!

I would love to hear how you manage sports, school, and church this time of year. I could use all the help I can get! How do you guys manage it all?

Inspired to Move by Kat of Inspired to Action

We’re very excited to tell you about Shaun Groves’ latest album, Third World Symphony. Shaun is passionate about social justice, promoting Compassion International in word and deed. The album is fan-funded and releases tomorrow, August 30th. (The Third World Symphony site will also go live then, and will contain lyrics, videos, stories, and other interactive elements.)

Shaun is known for his many trips to Compassion sites around the world. He takes bloggers along with him to spread the work of Compassion as far as he can. In May, he took a group to the Philippines, and one of those bloggers was Kat from Inspired to Action. She’s here to share her story with you today!


They were waving at me from the hotel lobby. Family I’d dreamed of meeting all my life. Aunts and Uncles who had known my mother and could tell me all about her. People who missed her just as much as I did.

I sat on the bus outside that Manila hotel waiting for Shaun to finish giving instructions for the evening. Except I’m not sure he actually finished. He may have just paused to think … or breathe. All I know is that I bolted down the aisle, out of the bus, into the lobby and tried to hold back the tears while the hotel security guards checked my bags.

I failed miserably; the tears streamed. The guards, unnerved by my watery emotions, waved me on and I ran into the arms of my family, who had been waiting to meet me for 35 years.


Going on the Compassion Bloggers trip to the Philippines wasn’t like any other trip.

No, this one was different. I wasn’t traveling across the world to write about people different than me. I was traveling across the world to write about people more like me than any I’d ever known.

My mom, who died when I was a baby, was from the Philippines. I’d never known her or her family. But that evening in May I was welcomed as their own. And in the following days at the Compassion centers, I played with and hugged children who looked just like me but lived very, very different lives. It inspired me. It broke me.

And yet…

Even with such a personal, heart felt experience, not long after I arrived home, the memories began to fade.


I stepped off the plane from the Philippines to a summer in full throttle. We traveled, we summer camped, VBS’d, we swim lesson’d. If it could be done, it was on our calendar.

And I began to forget the unforgettable.

… what it was like in the tiny homes of those Filipino children .

… how it felt to walk through waste water and trash as children played around us.

What makes it so easy for us to forget?


This quote rang true for me. "If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy."

And was I ever busy.

But … I’d seen the massive impact we have on our Compassion children. I’d seen tears in the eyes of children talking about their sponsors. I’d seen the hope in the eyes of parents.

So I decided to start a knock down, drag out, bare-knuckled brawl with busyness. With complacency.

I realized we can’t always *feel* inspired to action, sometimes we need to fight for action. And if I came home with anything from my trip to the Philippines, it’s that those precious children are worth our fight.

So I challenge you to take a swing at complacency and set aside 5 minutes right now to pray for one of these children. Who’s ready for a throw down?

katinspired.jpgKat and her husband Jimmy have three children ages 8, 6 and 3. She loves music, running, Jesus and Tex-Mex food. Not necessarily in that order. Kat started the site Inspired to Action to help moms raise children who will change the world by offering practical tips and advice.

Vision Check-Ups for Children

Kaia's New Glasses

I will never forget 4th grade. I had the most wonderful teacher in all of Virginia, Mrs. Titus. She was a firecracker. She came to school the day after the Superbowl in full Redskins regalia. She taught me how to knit. And she told the whole class that I could be a writer.

It was also the year I just couldn’t figure out why our overhead projector was so bad. (Please tell me you remember overhead projectors so I don’t feel so old.)

A basic eye exam at school caught the fact that my vision was pretty bad. I got my first pair of glasses – the extra-large variety that skimmed cheeks, very popular in the early 90s.

Studies show one in four U.S. children have an undetected vision problem. Often, parents rely on school screenings, which can catch basic nearsightedness but neglect to discover other problems.

In between visits to the eye doctor (which should take place once a year after the child starts school), parents of school-age children should keep a watchful eye out for some signs that a child’s vision may be impaired and contact an optometrist if their child frequently:

  • Loses place while reading
  • Avoids close work
  • Tends to rub eyes
  • Has headaches
  • Turns or tilts head
  • Makes frequent reversals when reading or writing
  • Omits or confuses small words when reading                                                                  
  • Consistently performs below potential
  • Struggles to complete homework         
  • Squints while reading or watching television
  • Has behavioral problems

As Stephanie Tanner taught us on Full House (hm, dating myself again), glasses aren’t all that bad, even for a kid. Some people even look better in glasses. My husband says I do! – Jessie

Do your kids wear glasses? When were they diagnosed with vision problems?

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source. Thank you to the American Optometric Association for the information in this post.



Teeth-brushing Poem by Kristen White


You’ve probably heard the mantra of getting kids to wash their hands by singing the whole ABCs song. The same thing can work for brushing their teeth! Try rhymes or silly songs or let the toothbrush be a car or airplane to help reluctant teeth brushers. Encourage them to brush the entire length of this poem–or try creating your own with your child.

Tip your head up
To the sky,
Toothbrush will go climbing.
When he gets
Atop Teeth Mountain,
Still he needs more timing.

So down he steps
Each shiny tooth,
One, two, three, four, five
Now he curves
Round the lower deck
Zoom fast — he sure can drive!

Toothbrush is an expert
At scuffling
Through a cave.
Move him back and forth
And round and round.
He must be very brave.

Tip your chin
Low to your chest,
Saw up and down in back,
Like a logger cutting trees,
You will have no cavities.
Now you have the knack!

Do you have any tricks for hand-washing or teeth-brushing?


Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

ParentLife Everyday: August 2011

Each month ParentLife pulls together a one-page document for preschool and children’s leaders and teachers that highlights articles that might help families they work with. But this also is a great tool for parents!

The articles below are in our current August 2011 issue of ParentLife. Read the articles that minister to your family and pass along a copy to those who might benefit from it!



A Father’s Impact – Father involvement makes a huge impact on the life of a child. Find out how and encourage the dads in your ministry to get involved in the lives of their children (p. 8).

Bible Basics – Can toddlers really learn about the Bible? Yes! Encourage parents and teachers to teach these Bible Basics (p. 13, and see our PL Online article Summer Spiritual Learning for tips).

Dangerous Drop Sides – Are the cribs in your church safe? Be aware of the new standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials and make safety a top priority (p. 11).

One Anothering – Good Samaritans are hard to find. Explore the difference your church could make in your community (and the world) if parents and teachers taught children how to love their neighbors by setting the example (pp. 20-21).

Beyond Bedtime Bible Stories – The Bible is not just something families should study on Sunday mornings; it should be an essential part of everyday life. Equip families in your church with practical ways they can incorporate Scripture into their daily routine (p. 25).

Back to School – Prepare the families in your church for this hectic season with tons of back-to-school tips (pp. 28-35).

Single-Parent Pitfalls – Help single parents in your church find God’s redemption as they face these common struggles (pp. 36-37).

23 – The number of unique blog entries you will find this month on about the topics you care about most. We blog 5 days a week, so visit us!

For a printable PDF you can give to leaders in your childrens’ ministry, click on the link below!


Cribs for the Church Nursery (and Beyond)

Collin in his Crib - 7/3/04

You may have heard that there are some new crib standards coming from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. As of June 28, all cribs sold in the US have to meet higher standards for wood strength, testing, mattress support, and hardware. Additionally, traditional drop-side cribs will no longer be manufactured.

All childcare facilities will have to have cribs that meet these new standards by December 2012. Where does your church nursery fit in here?

If your church has a paid childcare facility, they will have to comply with the new standards by December 2012, just like any other facility. If you do not have a paid center, the CPSC rules will not apply; however, it is highly recommended that you check your cribs’ durability and safety. Tighten all hardware. Buy drop-side immobilization kits if needed.

To see more about the rules and to whom they apply, you can visit The New Crib Standard: Questions and Answers and Coverage of the Crib Rule Summary.

Will your church nursery make changes to comply?




Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Special Buddies Brings the Bible to Life by Joy Fisher

specialbuddiesfall2011.jpgI love editing Bible Teaching for Kids: Special Buddies because I believe that every child is able to make the decision to become a Christian. Children with special needs cannot take this life-changing step unless the Bible is presented to them in a manner that supports their individual learning styles and specific developmental abilities.  Special Buddies provides the framework to help churches make the adaptations necessary to allow all children to participate and grow spiritually at a pace that is comfortable for them.

Quick Facts about Special Buddies:

  • A new Bible story is presented every two weeks, to allow time for extended activities or repetition of meaningful activities and concepts. Very little reading and writing is required.
  • More than 20 activities are outlined in each leader guide session, from which leaders may pick and choose in order to meet individual needs of children.
  • Learner guide pages offer visual and experiential support of biblical concepts and include parent tips to assist families in reinforcing spiritual foundations at home.

Special Buddies works well …

  • in self-contained classrooms for children in grades 1 through 6 who have special needs.
  • with an individual child who receives one-on-one care at church while parents attend Bible study.
  • for a child with special needs who attends a typical Sunday School setting but responds well to modified lessons and individualized attention.

New Downloadable Format
Need just one Bible story lesson plan to use as supplemental material with any curriculum? Want find out what Special Buddies is all about? A new undated single session format is now available for online purchase and download. For $4.95 per session, you get six pages of leader guide session plans as well as four or more learner guide pages in full color.

Ten Special Buddies sessions are available now, with more to come in future months:
Jesus Read the Scroll (Free Sample)
God Created the World
David and Goliath
God Protected Daniel from the Lions
Jesus Is Born
The Model Prayer
The Good Samaritan
Parable of the Lost Son
Jesus Healed a Man Born Blind
Jesus Walked on Water
Paul and Silas in Prison

Ordering Information
Ready to learn more? Follow these links for ordering information on the site and a free sample session download on the Ning site:

Order current dated curriculum and undated single-session downloads

FacebookIcon.jpgLifeWay Special Needs Ministry Special Needs
Interact with other special needs leaders


NingLogo B&W.jpgSpecial Buddies Teachers
Find a free downloadable Special Buddies session


Joy Fisher has been a ParentLife contributor since before her children were born; her oldest is inching ever closer to his 13th birthday. She edits Special Buddies, LifeWay’s Bible study curriculum for children with intellectual and developmental special needs.

Events and Happenings: August and September

ParentLife Events and Happenings


Some tidbits we’ve gathered that we thought you might be interested in:

  • From now until September 30, Sprite is giving community members the chance to help their local school win a $25,000 grant to fund refurbishing playground equipment and athletic fields. The Sprite Spark Parks program has 25 grants to give away. The winners will be selected by community members donating MyCokeRewards points off specially marked Sprite products. A list of eligible schools can be found at
  • The creators of Fireproof and Facing the Giants release another family-friendly film September 30: Courageous. Courageous is the story of four law enforcement officers who struggle with the balance of their work with fatherhood and family. Can’t we all relate to that? What Fireproof did for marriages, Courageous promises to do for father-children relationships.
  • As the 10-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks approaches, you may be looking for an event to attend, perhaps to help your children understand the significance of that time. This site has a list of submitted Healing and Remembrance Events; if you are planning something in your city, you can submit it as well.

What’s happening in your neck of the woods in the next few weeks?

A Family-Friendly Field Trip

Passages, a non-sectarian, worldwide traveling exhibition of The Green Collection, tells the dramatic story of how the Bible came to be. This 14,000-square-foot, interactive display of rare biblical texts and artifacts and was designed to engage people of all ages and interests in the history and impact of the Bible. Passages invites visitors behind the scenes of the most-banned, most-debated, best-selling book of all time to discover the surprising story of Bible history and is currently open at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

The exhibition allows children and adults alike to see, touch, feel, and experience thousands of years of history through priceless artifacts and interactive features more readily associated with science museums. Along with some 300 priceless biblical artifacts from ancient papyri to dead sea scrolls to beautifully ornate gold Bibles, the exhibit draws in children with:

  • A hidden riddle scavenger hunt hosted by Louie — a talking lion whose images appear throughout the exhibition to explain to young visitors the history and importance of each area;
  • Hands-on activities such as writing by candlelight with a quill pen, setting block letters on a printing press, and creating an original page to adorn a Bible;
  • Adult and children’s versions of virtual guided tours via an iPod Touch
  • Two working replicas of a Gutenberg and King James printing press that children get to manipulate;
  • Animatronic historical characters including St. Jerome, Anne Boleyn, William Tyndale, and John Knox, which engage visitors with stories of human life and sacrifice that went into making the Bible available today; and
  • Life-like galleries set in historical scenes including an ancient synagogue and a modern excavation site.


Reformation Theatre

Passages is in Oklahoma City through October 16 and will then tour soon-to-be announced cities and locations worldwide. Tickets are $19 for adults and include the exhibit, the rest of the museum’s holdings plus the use of an iPod touch audio guide. Discount coupons are available at Hobby Lobby and Mardel.