Yes, I'm a pastor's wife, but I suspect not all of my readers are Christian. I won't hold back on my beliefs, but I also won't shove religion at you. I try not to accept things just because they're told to me but read and research in order to make up my own mind. You'll find a random mix of stuff here, depending on what interests me at the moment. I like to read others' opinions, whether they agree with me or not, which means I love comments on my posts!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Marriage Advice: Arguing

My husband does marriage advising occasionally, and he likes me to join him to have a woman's perspective. We advised a couple recently who has problems with arguing. DH and I don't get into heated yelling matches so I've never given this particular problem much thought. However during the session, DH said something that really stuck with me (hopefully it stuck with the couple, too!):

Arguments are not competitions.

Arguments are not to be competitions to see who can yell the loudest or push their point the most. There is never actually a "winner." Instead, feelings often get hurt and one person finally concedes to the other because they're tired of it. The purpose of an argument (or discussion if you prefer a calmer term) should be to express your own feelings so your spouse may understand more about you. They will never understand WHY you feel that way, but they'll at least understand more of what's important to you.

So what's your take on arguments? What do you seem to argue about the most?

For more advice, check out my article on Yahoo Voices about How to Argue Without Damaging Your Relationhips.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What I Learned (VBS part 3)

I've helped at VBS at a couple of different churches for almost 7 years, but this was my first year taking over as the director. It was fun, stressful, and a complete learning experience. There was positive feedback for the most part, but I already know some things I will do differently IF I'm the director again next year. As tired as I am right now though, that's a big IF.

1. If we do water games, the buckets of water will be dumped AS SOON AS THE GAMES ARE FINISHED! Otherwise, things get a little out of hand when a kid or teen suddenly decides it would be funny to drench me with water. Stopping to change clothes was not supposed to be part of my tight schedule.

2. If anything is done outside, the kids will be moved back inside BEFORE IT GETS DARK. By the time the water games were done, it was starting to get dark and was harder to see if a child wandered off or which child was which.

3. Consider having a 13-14 (or maybe even 15) year old group. We tried using this group as helpers to the adults and older teens, but they just weren't quite mature enough for that. I felt like I spent too much of my time telling the 13 and 14 year olds what they were supposed to be doing to help out. They had just as much fun with the games and stuff, so they may as well participate as a group.

4. Have a better dismissal/check-out procedure. Fortunately, we didn't have any new kids just dropped off by parents and left, so we knew who was suppose to go home with who. However, we did have one who's parent came an hour early one night, and the young man in charge of him just took him to the car without letting any of the adults in charge know the kid was leaving. If I hadn't personally seen the car come up at a distance, this could've proved to be quite a scare as we searched for the "lost" kid.

5. Have a WORKERS' MEETING before VBS. Job descriptions need to be addressed so each person knows exactly what they are supposed to do. I tried just telling them briefly once they arrived, but that wasn't enough time for them to fully grasp it. The workers also need to know what others' are doing so they know who to turn to with various questions or issues.

6. If anything is done outside, get a bull-horn. I just can't yell quite loud enough.

7. When beginning VBS preparations, form a committee. It was too stressful to try to do it all on my own, delegating things after I figured them out. I need help with the planning, not just the execution.

8. Set a time for the workers to eat. This will likely have to be done in shifts, but they're volunteering their time and shouldn't be neglected.

What we'll do again:
1. Postcards for advertising. It was something simple that church members could take with them to give to their neighbors, friends, etc. I created the image in Photoshop and used to print them.

2. Serve dinner instead of snacks. If it starts at 6:30, it's hard for many parents to come home from work, feed their kids, and get them to VBS on time. Some kids did eat a little late - Friday in particular - but I'd rather have a late meal than give a bunch of sugary Debbie cakes or caffeinated sodas to them at night.

WATER! (VBS part 2)

Friday's games deserve their own separate post just because of how much I enjoyed watching them. The kids looked like they had a blast with them, though a few did forget to bring towels. There were 6 stations of games with teen workers at each station. Pizza, chips, watermelon, and cookies were served outside in shifts. That left around 40 minutes for water games and 20 minutes to eat.

For my own personal reference so I can see next year what we did, here was our schedule for Friday:
6:30 Opening session in gym. Youth praise band led praise and worship.
7:00 Lesson in the gym for everyone
7:20 Alter call and sign banner
7:40 Dismiss by groups to go outside. 5-7 year olds eat dinner while the rest go to water games.
8:00 8-9 year olds ate
8:20 10-12 year olds ate
8:40 SLIME the loser of the offering
8:50 Everyone inside to change clothes and dry off
9:10 Outside for popsicles and fireworks
9:30 Dismissed

The 6 water stations:
1. Water slide - the favorite by far. A large tarp, a water hose, and a few bottles of dish detergent to make it more slippery. Need I say more?
2. Water balloon toss - At the end, I gave prizes to the ones in each age group who backed up the farthest. 5 year olds couldn't really grasp the concept of a water balloon toss.
3. Dry, Dry, Wet - It's just like duck, duck, goose, but whoever is "it" has a cup of water. They tap the other kids' heads while saying "Dry...dry...dry..." When they get to the one they want to be "it" next, they say "Wet!" and dump the cup of water on their head before running around the circle. It surprised me how much even the 10-12 year olds liked this one.
4. Raindrops on my Head - The group at this station was divided into 2 teams, who each formed a line. At one end of the line was a bucket of water. At the other end was a large empty bowl. The person at the beginning of each line was given a Ziploc bag with holes poked in it. They had to fill it with water and pass it over their head to the next person in line. It continued being passed over their heads until it was dumped in the empty bowl at the end of the line. The team to fill the bowl first won. To avoid kids trying to plug the holes with their hands, I cut the tops of the bags off. This meant they had to hold the tops of the bags with both hands to prevent them from spilling over.
5. Wet T-Shirt relay - Once again, the group formed 2 teams. A bucket a water and t-shirts was at the start of the relay. The first player had to put on a wet t-shirt, run to a chair that was a ways in front of them, take off the wet t-shirt, and drop it on the chair. They had to run back to the next person in line who did the same thing. We learned 2 things about this game...5-7 year olds can't really put on wet t-shirts. It worked better for them to just hold the shirt over their heads and run while it dripped on them. Secondly, someone needed to be at the empty chairs in case shirts needed to be held down while the wet t-shirt was pulled off. Otherwise, you could get flashed.
6. Bursting Lungs - This was more for the 10-12 year olds, but anyone could do it. Basically, a large trash can was filled with water, and the kids (1 at a time) were timed to see how long they could dunk their head underwater. An adult had to be at this station just to make sure no one tried to hold each others' head under water.

Everything's More Fun in the Dark (VBS 2011)

Vacation Bible School is over, thank you God! It was fun but stressful, and I'm ready for a break. As I said earlier, the theme was Light of the World, based off of John 8:12 that reads Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” Here's the postcard I had printed up, though I did grey-out the personal info:

After the initial opening session, the kids were divided into 3 groups - ages 5-7, 8-9, and 10-12. From there, they alternately went to the lesson, games, or dinner. The lessons were taught in a room lit by only blacklights, so the kids thought that was really cool. The gym was the main room where we had opening and closing sessions and ate dinner. The overhead lights were off except 2 dim lights so the lit decorations showed up well. White christmas lights crisscrossed along the ceiling of the hallway entrance as "stars," a cross made of white Christmas lights was on one wall, and the stage was lit by another string of white lights. 2 huge black fabric panels were donated, so we painted Light of the World on one with yellow and white. On the other, I painted a cross and crown. Those 2 flanked the projector screen.

My awesome husband took care of the lessons, so I honestly don't know much about what he talked about...

Day 1: The verse for this lesson was Psalm 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. To go along with this, we built a maze for the game. Tables were set up in 1 of the Sunday School rooms, and boxes were taped underneath to create a maze with a few dead ends. Kids went through it first with the lights on. The 2nd time, they began at the exit of the maze and the lights were off. Going backwards prevented them from memorizing too much of the maze. Even the teenage workers had a blast with the maze, especially in the dark. The point, though, was that it's a whole lot easier to see where you're going when you have light. Without Jesus, we're just feeling around in the dark, hitting a few dead ends along the way. We may find the end goal, but it'll take much longer. Prizes were given to the fastest in each age group.

Day 2: For the lesson, the scripture was John 8:12 (the basis for VBS). DH taught about how Jesus is the light in you, so He's always there. You can talk to him about anything, even those deep dark secrets because He already knows them and still loves you. The game was hide & seek in the dark. Whoever was "it" used a flashlight to shine on people when they found them. As a filler, we also played musical chairs. Glow sticks were taped to every other chair, and prizes were given for the last player of musical chairs and the last one found in hide & seek. They might typically be kid games, but even the older group enjoyed's all more fun in the dark.

Day 3: Final day! It was also Water Day for the games, so for the sake of time and convenience, the kids all stayed in the gym to be taught the lesson at the same time. The verse for the lesson was Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. We talked about how to portray Christ-like behavior so that we could be the light of the world. An altar call was given each night, but this one was made out to be a bigger deal. After the altar call, I talked a little about being brothers and sisters in Christ. I had used a paint pen to sign my name to the banner with the cross and crown and invited anyone who would confess that Jesus is their Savior to sign the banner as well. It was to be a Family Banner as well as a public declaration of faith in Jesus. DH got permission to leave the banner hanging in the gym for awhile, which is also where the youth group has service on Wednesday nights and DH preaches the Contemporary Service on Sunday mornings. We'll give the teens who didn't help at VBS a chance to sign it on Wednesday.

We also took up an offering each day to pay for VBS. I'll be fundraising before next summer so that we actually have a VBS fund. To turn the offering into a competition, 2 of the teen helpers were good enough sports to participate in a sliming. If the girls brought in the most money, the male helper would be slimed. If the boys brought in the most, the female helper would be slimed. Girls won by a long shot :)