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A Peek Into My Small Group

11 Apr
I have had a few people as me what small group looks like for me in our children’s ministry. I lead a small group of girls in third through fifth grade.
Here is a peek into my small group.

We are dismissed from large group time to break out into our small groups. One of my girls will grab our small group bucket which contains our activities and supplies. As we gather in our circle, I will ask how everyone’s week was and if anyone has something about it that they would like to share. Now in a group of girls this could take some time, so I usually limit it to just a couple of stories.

I ask everyone to open their Bibles so that we can read our Bible verse together and talk more about it. For example, this past weekend our Bible verse was Proverbs 3:5, so I first asked if Proverbs was in the Old or New Testament. As the girls were looking up the Bible verse, I told them about Solomon and how he asked God for wisdom and that Proverbs was written to share that wisdom. We will then read the verse aloud a few times as not everyone has the same translation and the girls enjoy reading how it is worded in their Bibles. Then I asked the girls what they think it means to trust God with all of their heart. Then I asked the girls if we should only trust God for some things and not others. Then I asked what it means to them when the verse tells us not to depend on our own understanding. We listened to everyone’s answers and discussed each of them. We do this on a regular basis with our weekly Bible verses.

At this time we will move on to our activity provided with our curriculum. Sometimes I will add a craft to our activities which the girls can take home as a reminder of what they have learned and a way to share with their families. This past week we made beaded bracelets with a heart on them to remind us of our Bible verse. This activity time is when my girls are most talkative. They share about what is happening in their lives, talk about our Bible story, and really connect with each other. 
I guide the conversation by asking questions, but for the most part I am listening more than talking during this time.

Towards the end of our time together, I ask the girls if they have any prayer requests. We listen as each one shares. I repeat each one and remind the girls to be praying for each other through the week. The girls will also share any answered prayers during this time. Then we pray together. I ask the girls if they would like to pray out loud and explain that no one has to do so. We do “tap a knee” circle praying. Once a girl is done praying, she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. If someone doesn’t want to pray aloud, then she will tap the knee of the girl beside her. This goes on until the circle comes back to me and then I will close the prayer.

Most times the girls are released to their families from our small group. If we happen to have time left before pick up, then I usually break out playing cards (Uno is our favorite right now) or blank paper and colored pencils (I get lots of artwork to hang on my fridge this way). We continue our conversations in the extra time.

Although I am a big believer in planning and preparing for each week, there have been times when the Holy Spirit has prompted me to put all plans aside in our time together. This happened once when one of my girls shared that they were being bullied in school. We spent our time in group discussing this issue and I watched these girls encourage and love on each other. You can’t plan those moments.

I love these sweet girls and am so very blessed to be part of their lives. They are smart and funny and sassy and so very precious. In this circle, I have watched them grow in their faith, love on each other, and become a tribe.

What does small group look like for you?


Standing On The Edge

11 Jan

Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.

This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking.
I love this community.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word DIVE here.

Five Minute Friday

So tonight at Bible study it started out just like every other time we gather. We were talking about familial sin. Not the easiest topic to discuss. The sins of parents handed down from generation to generation. We talked about the positive and negative traits of our parents and those that we have taken on as our own. We read the stories of Abram and Issac and Jacob and Esau. How history repeated itself and those it effected. We talked about how Jesus took on those sins and gave us freedom. That we are made new in Him.

Then it happened. I went a bit off track and followed His lead. I have to tell you that it felt a bit like standing on the edge of the diving board. Not the little one, but the high one. My heart beat a little faster and my hands started talking with me as I shared something a bit more.

I shared that though we are made new, we have a hard time seeing the new garments we wear…the righteousness. We see the dirty rags where He sees a brand new dress. That it is due to the old tape playing in our heads. The one that says that we aren’t worthy. That it couldn’t be possible that the old is gone. And we have to replace those thoughts. We have a choice to make…to believe what He says or what the enemy says. It all comes down to shutting that tape off in our heads and replacing it with what is good. His Word.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Philippians 4:8


My God Sized Dream

8 Jan
I have sat down at the computer about a thousand times in the last week to write this post about my dream. I wouldn’t have guessed how hard it would be to actually put it into words, but I have to admit that it has been a struggle.

I have been serving in Children’s Ministry for some years now and I absolutely LOVE it. I have the privilege of loving on and sharing Jesus with an amazing group of kids each week. There is nothing like it. Or so I thought.

A few months ago God opened a door for me to lead a Bible study for moms. To say that I was scared is definitely putting it lightly. I am more than comfortable leading a small group of 4th and 5th grade girls, but to lead a group of women was totally out of my comfort zone. 
So I did it scared.

Something happened those first couple of weeks that I just can’t find the words to explain. Sitting around this table with these moms…God broke my heart. Not just for them, but for the moms of our church and the moms of our community.
The moms who hide behind the busy and get lost in the laundry.
The moms who feel discouraged and alone.
The moms who are seeking God and long for community.

My God sized dream is to be part of making that happen. 
A community of moms doing life together.

I don’t know what that looks like or how it will happen, but I know that He does.
I am trusting Him to lead the way.

What I do know is: 

I believe God has created and called me to love and encourage 
children and moms through shepherding, teaching, and writing.

God-Sized Dreams

My friend Holley Gerth invited me to join a group of dreamers that she affectionately calls her God Sized Dream Team. What a blessing to be part of this group. 

We will be gathering each week on Tuesdays at Holley’s to encourage each other and you to dream those God sized dreams.

Won’t you join us?
What is your God sized dream?


A Lesson in Confidence

25 Oct

God had me facing my biggest fear this past week. 
I shared about the beginning of it as I did it scared.

Sunday morning I learned that He wasn’t done with me in this lesson yet. Our Family Ministry director asked me just before the first service if I would teach at our 6pm service that night. At the mere question, my heart rate raced and those butterflies the size of cows awoke and went all aflutter. She gripped my hands, knowing full well what was happening inside me, and said these powerful words…
“You can do this.”

So I once again said “yes” to what I knew He has been calling me to do and had been resisting. I would so love to tell you that immediately the fear went away, but that wouldn’t be true. I will tell you that something happened to me on that stage. Something that is still making me a little weepy.

As I shared with these beautiful kids that I love deep down in my soul about Gideon, I realized that the message He had given me to share with them wasn’t just for them, but it was Him speaking to my heart.

I started telling them about Gideon. How he was the weakest of the weak, yet God chose him to lead an army of 300 into battle. Yes Gideon was afraid, but he obeyed God. He did it anyway and placed his confidence in God who promised victory.
Then I heard myself say, 
“Sometimes stepping onto the battlefield in obedience and placing full confidence in God is the victory of the battle.”

That was Him speaking to me.
In that moment as I stood on a stage which had become the battlefield where I would fight my fear, God spoke to me in the message I had prepared for our kids. It was like He was saying to me, “All I wanted was for you to do what I’ve been asking you to do and trust me in it. And here we are, daughter…”

The rest of the lesson was having the kids act out on stage with me the battle that God fought for Gideon without him having to even lift his sword. Watching them act out each part of the story from the angel’s visit to the smashing of clay pots and horns sounding was beauty in motion.
Fitting right into the moment was our Bible verse for the week:
So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear.”
Hebrews 13:6
I don’t know exactly what God has in store for me in all this. I just know that He is asking me to say “yes” when He asks even if I have to do it scared. He is asking me to trust Him and stand on His promises.

I am thankful today for a God who is bigger than my biggest fear.

What is God asking you to do today?

I Did It Scared

18 Oct

This is the promise that I have been holding on to for the past few weeks as I have been preparing to lead a Bible study for moms at our church.

One of the fears I have been struggling with is speaking in public. I am talking butterflies the size of cows even thinking about it let alone actually doing it. When my mentor asked me to lead, I thought of a million reasons to give her for why I should not do it and then heard a small voice coming from deep inside that said, “yes.” 
And I immediately thought to myself, “You have just lost your mind.”

So over the past weeks of preparation I looked up every Bible verse that said “do not fear” in every translation. I thought if I could just get rid of the fear…

But the reality for me was that I just had to do it scared. 
I had to turn it over to Him and say that this is beyond me and I needed Him. The fear didn’t go away. I stood on Tuesday morning in front of a group of women and taught (flipboard, notecards, markers, and all). My heart was beating a mile a minute the whole time and the last thing I prayed before I began was “I need You Lord. Please…”

When I was done I sat down and let out a huge sigh. 
All I kept saying in my head over and over again was “Thank you Lord.”

Here is a little of what I shared…

In order to learn how to be a better mom to our children, we need to learn more about how our Father parents us. What better way to begin than
In the beginning…

God our Father is the Creator of everything. At the very beginning of Genesis we hear how everything came to be. From light to darkness to stars and oceans. At the end of each day, God looked over everything He had made and said it was good. But something changed after He created human beings in His image. God looked over ALL He had made and said it was VERY good.

That ALL is you. You are His creation and you are VERY good in His eyes.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
Psalm 139:14
There are so many times as moms that we don’t really feel so marvelous. Maybe it’s a bad hair day. Maybe it’s a day that we don’t get everything done on our to-do list. Maybe we are short in patience with our kids.
But how we feel isn’t the truth.
The truth in His Word says that we are marvelously 
made in His image and we are very good in His eyes.

That truth isn’t just for us though.
It is also true about our children.
There are some days that it is a challenge to remember that they too are very good. (You know…one of those days where there is constant bickering.)
But their behavior doesn’t define them.
God does.
They too are marvelously made.

When we focus on the positive, the negative is harder to see.

So for the next week I want to challenge you to write down 
5 things that you find marvelous about your children.

Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin

10 Oct

Wednesdays with Women in Kidmin is about bringing together some of the leading 
women in children’s ministry to share their knowledge and passion. 
For us to gather and learn from each other…to sharpen each other.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27:17

What I Wish I Knew
– Sarah Pickering

Wendy asked me to tell you something I wish I had known or someone had told me when I started out in kids ministry. There are two things that I want to share, the first is find what you were made to do and do it and the second is take time to rest!

I have worked in children’s ministry since my first year in college, many moons ago now. As soon as the church I joined started Sunday morning services and a kids ministry to go with it I was in. It was fun to start something new and be in from the ground up. I served in many capacities within the children’s ministry from helping anywhere and everywhere, to leading an age group, to leading a worship team of youth and children and running a youth drama team and I loved it all. I did this alongside university and then teaching elementary aged kids in London, England. It was busy! I worked in school all week and in kids on a Sunday, often playing bass in the band for the grown ups and then literally running from there and switching guitars so I could lead worship with the kids through the sermon time and then running back so I could be on stage for the song during ministry time at the end. Looking back at that time it was insane, I was insane, but I loved it.

During the craziest of all seasons doing this we had a new worship pastor who made me choose – kids or adults. I could be in the worship band with the adults or continue with the kids worship but he would not agree to both. It was such a bummer to have to choose, I loved playing bass in the grown ups, and if I actually ran I had time to do it all but still he made me choose and I chose the kids.

I am so glad I decided on the kids. I was made to help children connect with God. There is nothing better than seeing little people worship Jesus wholeheartedly. There are not many kids who will fake worshiping Jesus. They are either in it or punching their neighbor. They don’t behave like adults who have learnt the protocol and know when to raise their hands, close their eyes and do the worship thing. Kids don’t act, they either worship or they don’t, they give it their all or they don’t give it at all.

So that is my first piece of advice and I am glad I was forced to choose: 
Find the thing you were made to do and do it.
A few years after I realized that kids really was the thing I was made to do I joined the staff of another church as children’s pastor. I did this alongside teaching for four years. It was hard work. Bi-vocational life works better on paper than in practice. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either never done it or has forgotten how hard it was. Both teaching and pastoring are full time jobs, even when you are doing them part time, and it is not possible to provide two lots of 100%, which both jobs demand if you want to do them well. Neither teaching or pastoring are ever completed, there is always more that can be done and this was my biggest issue. I have trouble knowing when to stop. I am a lot like a horse with a nosebag when it comes to work, if you don’t take the bag away from the horse it will eat itself to death and if you don’t make me stop work I will do likewise.

I needed to learn to stop. I needed to learn when enough was enough. After three and a half years of this crazy pace I came to a standstill because I ran out of things to teach. I asked God what he wanted me to teach the children next and all I heard in reply was nothing. After seriously seeking God for a few weeks asking that he’d let me in on the plan for the next year in kids ministry I figured it must be time for me to be done and to 
hand it over to someone else and so I quit. It was either full out running or nothing. I knew there must be a happy medium but hadn’t discovered it yet. So I had some time of doing nothing.

God’s adventure package had me move to BC, Canada and I didn’t work for nine months after arriving and it was wonderful. I volunteered in the children’s ministry at the church I started to attend but had no responsibility, it was glorious. It was also frustrating, as I could see things that needed to be done, but it was glorious nonetheless. After nine months I joined the staff of a newly forming church, a split from the one I was attending, and work began in earnest. We had 550 people on the first Sunday and nowhere to meet for the second week and, in my department, no toys, nothing. We hit the ground running, and running really fast. This was six years ago and I ran for five solid years. I went from nothing to full out sprinting. The pace we took off at is hard to maintain. To start a church with 5 children would have been challenging but to start with 150 kids was fierce. There was a ton to be done, all the time, and it was never finished.
So here comes my second piece of advice: 
Sabbath is not a nice add on, it is essential, take it.
I wish someone had told me that at the start of this church, even way back in London and maybe they did, and if so, I wish I had listened.  Exodus 31:15 says, if you don’t observe the Sabbath you will be put to death and I think I was slowly putting myself to death by not keeping it. I was not made for that pace. I was not made to keep running. I need rest. Jesus says, ‘The Sabbath was made for people’ (Mark 2:27) The Sabbath is God’s gift to me so that I make it through next week too. So I have learned and am still learning to stop, renew, reconnect with God and with myself, create something just for fun not just for a kids lesson and pause long enough to look up, to get my head out of the nose bag and breathe. Currently my Sabbath pattern is to stop work on Thursday after dinner, turn off all my electronic communication devices, and separate myself from work and social media for a whole 24hr period. It took a little while to not itch to check Facebook on that day but it has become a very precious time in the week for me. It is a day for family, friends and fun, it is a day where I create and am recreated, it is a day of rest and I now know it is essential and when it is done I have the energy to go again.
So to sum up. 
First, find what you were made to do and do it and then second, take the time to stop doing it regularly so that you can go the distance that God has planned out for you.
So what were you made to do and how do you keep the Sabbath?

Sarah is kids pastor at the Bridge Church in Abbotsford, BC. She loves kids (that helps) and Jesus (that’s essential). She has been in kids ministry for longer than she hasn’t. She is Aunty Sarah to Ben, Tom, Finley and Connor which is a delight. She loves to paint, write, create, tell stories, be silly and is often seen with Ben’s stuffed leopard, Lenny, out on an adventure which is then turned into a photo book that Ben (13yo) still delights to receive. Her socks never match, although they do coordinate and, truth be told, she is a bit of a geek. She would like to be known as one who was simple but effective.