Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I love Thanksgiving.  I love the time with my family, the good food, the warmth of an easy chair as I drift into a satisfying tryptophanic coma.

Yet a quiet day of family and giving thanks has been jarred by the retailers who want to push Black Friday into Thanksgiving Thursday.  So between advertisements announcing fantastic "doorbuster" specials and the voices of Christians and conservatives decrying this "war against families," my peaceful holiday is shaping up to be not so relaxing.

So where do I stand on this?  I'm glad you asked.

I will NOT be shopping on Thanksgiving Day.  I will NOT recommend or encourage anyone to shop on Thanksgiving Day. My heart goes out to the employees who have to work on Thanksgiving Day.

However, I do feel compelled to point out a somewhat obvious truth:

No one is forcing anyone to shop on Thanksgiving Day.

For all the rhetoric about how retailers are destroying family values, the fact is, taking advantage of a sale is totally voluntary.  A family makes a CHOICE to abandon the dirty dishes and push, shove, and squirm their way through a crowd of determined bargain hunters. Messy? Yes.  Not very family friendly? Sure.  Mandatory? No.

You see, while I agree in spirit with the outcry against retailers opening up on Thanksgiving, I have a problem with what the outcry says about our values as a family.  If our family values are 1) only manifested one day out the year and 2) easily disrupted by a "doorbuster" ad, then we've got a bigger problem then retailers hoping to turn a profit.  Maybe it's time to re-examine just what "family values" and "giving thanks" mean in our own lives.

Retailers are driven by profit.  So stopping the "Thanksgiving shopping" movement is simple (in theory anyway): if enough people feel strongly about the family Thanksgiving that they will stay home, then it will cease being worth the retailer's time and expense of being open.

Yeah, I know it's a simple solution to a big problem.  But I've got to start somewhere.

Meanwhile, while folks scoop up the last of the gravy, get on their coats, and head out to find some bargains, I'm going to seek out that one comfortable chair and "rest my eyes for just a couple of minutes," while my daughters make fun of me as I start to snore.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


One question I'm often asked is, "What have you been doing with yourself, now that you're not longer in children's ministries?" That's an excellent question. Of course, I'm still busy. I do a lot of "behind-the-scenes" work in the church office. I still fill the pulpit at my church and in other churches. I even occasionally lend a hand with a local child care center.
     But there are three things that summarize what I've been doing while I'm waiting for the next phase, level, assignment, or calling.

1. Resting
     I never realized how much of my mind and body went into children's ministry until I wasn't doing it anymore. It's not that the work was bad or anything.  Like a lot of folks in kidmin, I thrived on it. The first Saturday after my resignation took effect, I kept thinking I needed to finish up the music mix and power point presentation for Sunday morning. But reality hit and I realized I had nothing to do for the first time in many years.
     Since then, I've learned to enjoy the rest. My mind is free to concentrate on other things. When the worship service is over, I can leave and go home instead of staying an extra hour for take down. If I'm sick or not feeling well, I can stay home and rest. It took a while, but my mind doesn't drift to "the back room" during the service anymore. It's very liberating.

2. Re-equipping
     Just because I'm physically out of kidmin doesn't mean I'm done with kidmin.  I don't know what the Lord has planned for me in the future, but I still have a heart for children's ministry and, therefore, I want to stay sharp. I'm continuing to read the literature, explore the websites, and listen to the recordings of dozens of children's ministry experts. I made a list of all the workshops and seminars I've attended over the years and have started to review the notes I took.
     When I worked at a child care center, we were mandated to have 15 hours of continuing education each year. In a way, my current regimen of review serves as continuing education in the world of children's ministry, training me for whatever the next phase will be.

3.  Re-inventing.
     I've always been a student at heart, but during this current season, I'm taking it to the next level. Finances and time are always problematic, but I have always wanted to return to school and finish some advanced degrees. I'm not sure when that will happen, but I'm on the lookout for some good extension programs that will allow me to do most of the courses on line.
     But in the meantime, since I've been out of a formal classroom for awhile, I've created my own course of study, utilizing text books, online lectures, and syllabi.  The purpose is to discipline myself to regular, systematic study for when the door opens to a more formal program.  There are no tests, of course, and I'm moving at my own pace, but it's amazingly stretching to sit and take organized notes on a two hour lecture (okay, no smirking comments from you doctoral students!)

If you find yourself in a transition period, an interim time, a "between seasons" phase, then take advantage of the change to re-charge your soul, mind, and body, so that whatever the next level is, you'll be ready.