The Children’s Ministry Magazine Interview

I have been quiet these past few months here on my blog.  I have been busy writing in my book.  I am excited to say I have finished writing ALL chapters!  Now it’s on to editing and adding/taking out anything the Lord wants.  After that, the fun begins of trying to find someone to publish it.  But, I’m leaving all that in God’s hands.  I trust He will lead me to someone out there who will take an interest in my book and want to publish it.  I’m excited to see where that will lead.

But…I also have some other cool news!  The Children’s Ministry Magazine at Group Publishing has featured me in their magazine!  Every issue they have a Viewpoint page where they feature a Children’s Minister.  Thviewpointey ask them questions about themselves and also questions about children’s ministry.  For the May/June issue they decided to feature me!  I am so honored by this and wanted to share this article with my fellow readers.  Thanks to Jennifer Hooks and Christine Yount Jones for asking me to be a part of the Viewpoint page in this issue.

I promise I will be back to blogging consistently soon!  One major change I see coming is the merging of my two blogs (this one and KidMin Days).  I will be using this blog address to write about faith, family, and ministry.  I hope you will stay tuned for more!

I Want the World to Know: Lessons from a 21-Day Fast

For the past 21 days I have been fasting.  No, I’m not talking about a fasting from food (which would be so hard).  This fast was from that which distracts me from seeking the Lord and doing what He has called me to do.

For me, the distraction comes in the form of social media and television.  I can really waste some time sitting on Facebook reading everyone’s posts and looking at all their pictures. And television is a distraction because for the past few months I have been binge watching some Blue Bloods.  I love a good cop drama and I guess I secretly like Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg!

So, I gave up all social media and tv for 21 days.  And believe me when I say that this fast was difficult.  The urge to jump on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter was very much alive and it took all I had not to do it.  And well, Blue Bloods had to be put on hold.  I’m sure I’ll catch up on the NYC cop drama soon.

So why did I do this fast?  If you read my last post, then you’ll see that after listening to a Louie Giglio sermon (The Pinata and the Iceberg), I felt convicted and decided to accept his challenge to fast for 21 days of that which distracts us from the Lord.  I have not been faithful to the Lord and doing what I know He wants me to do.

What does He want you to do, you ask?

He wants me to write a book.

Not a big task at all…said no one ever.

I have procrastinated and dreamed about writing it.  But I have failed to actually be consistent in my writing.  I’ll let months go by before I ever open the file on my computer and start writing.  I want to, but I just don’t.  And I can’t drop any good excuses on the table for it.  All I can say is that I have been lazy.

But, I have been so amazed at how God has spoken to me these past 21 days.  I dove into the Scripture and found the one and only true God speaking to me from those pages. Even from stories that I have read many times.  Why have I never caught that verse before?  I love how I can feel His Presence through His breath on a page.

One of the hardest things to do when you write a book is to get started writing a chapter. You need a good outline before you begin.  For chapter 8 of my book I was struggling to get started.  Then God led me to the story of Abram’s calling and as I read Genesis 12 and dissected it, God showed me the outline for chapter 8.  And friends, the words for that chapter flowed easily from the outline He gave.  I finished that chapter in two weeks! That’s by far the fastest I have been able to write a chapter.

The completion of that chapter so motivated me to begin a good outline for chapter 9. The outline is formed and I already have begun writing in this chapter. It feels so good to do what God asks of me.  Why did I ever let laziness and procrastination get in the way?  Am I unwilling to follow the calling He has placed on my heart?  Will I continue to let those two things get in my way?

My answer…No Way.

I am reading Beth Moore’s latest book called Audacious.  In this book she talks about having an audacious love for the Lord and fully serving Him.  Do we love Him audaciously? Do we have the audaciousness to be obedient to His will?  I love this quote from her:

“Audacious love leads to audacious obedience.  And sooner or later, audacious obedience leads to blessing.”  (Moore, p. 65)

I want to be a woman who loves the Lord audaciously.  I want to be a woman who follows the Lord without question.  I want to be a woman who has the boldness to step out in faith and go where God leads and do what God calls me to do.  I want to be that audaciously, obedient woman.

This fast has stirred my blood.  It has got me on fire.  It makes me want to speak out more about His love and faithfulness to us.  Why keep inside what God has done for me?  Others need to hear.  I can only pray that each day God will open doors for me to share Him with others and that I will not miss the opportunity to spread His love.

I can’t help but sing the hymn, Pass It On, as I think about being audacious.

“I’ll shout it from the mountaintop…PRAISE GOD!  I want the world to know.  The Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.”

Pass it on, my friends.  Be bold.  Be audacious.  Go tell the world about God’s great love and continue to seek the Lord each and every day.  Blessings will abound when we are obedient and seek God, our Heavenly Father.

21 Days of Seeking the Lord

I have declared 2016 to be a year of obedience for me.  It’s a year where I want to focus on obeying the Lord in all that He asks of me.  I want to allow my heart to follow the Lord wherever He leads and not allow my mind to take the controls and push me off the clear path which He shows me.  I want to follow Christ and not get distracted by everything the world throws my way.

It has started off ok.  I’ve actually listened to most of the little nudgings from the Holy Spirit.  Some things are small and some take a little more faith and trust.  Some are a lot easier to do than others, too.  Step by step I am trying my best to stay on the path He has chosen for me.  It’s not easy and I really want to be better at this.

I am currently listening to a sermon series called “Habit” by Louie Giglio.  (To hear this series, go to this link:  http://passioncitychurch.com/watch/).  In the first sermon in this series titled “The Pinata and the Iceberg”, Louie talks about how he wants this year for us to be a year of seeking the Lord.  And that requires good spiritual disciplines or habits.  It means that we need to have a deep relationship with Jesus so that we can hear the Lord speaking to us.

Louie challenges us to do a 21-day fast.  This should be a fast from whatever is keeping us from hearing from God and having that deep relationship with Him. Anything that we are doing more of than listening to the Lord is a distraction and not a good habit.

About a year and a half ago, I heard God tell me to write my story.  So, I started writing a book about the fears I have had over the last 15 years of serving God in the ministry.  It has been awesome to write about how God has worked through my life and helped me realize that I should not fear.

And now you are probably saying…“What’s your problem? Shouldn’t you be done by now?”  And the answer is yes!  My problem, though, is that I get easily distracted.  I put other things ahead of writing that book, which is what I know I am supposed to be doing. However, I think of other things to do during the free time I have.  Those are my distractions.

And I have had enough of them.

I am ready to finish writing that book.

I want to have a deeper relationship with God.  I want to hear from the Lord so that I can obey Him and do all that He asks of me (like finishing writing that book).  I want God to use me in whatever way He wants.  It’s Your will, Your way, Lord.

I love this verse from Hosea 10:12:

Sow for  yourselves righteousness, reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you.

It is TIME!  It’s time to seek the Lord!

I am ready, Lord.  May these next 21 days draw me closer to you so that I can be the woman you created me to be.  I desire to hear from you, God.  Open my ears and heart so that I can listen.

Do you want to hear from God?  Do you desire that deep relationship with Him?

Join me and do a 21-Day Fast.  I can promise that at the end of those 21 days, you will come out with a heart on fire for the Lord and an understanding of the calling He has for you.

And the Winner Is…

Congratulations to Kristin Goodson!  You are the winner of the copy of Little Love Letters from God by Glenys Nellist!!

If you didn’t win, make sure to get a copy of this awesome book.  Here is a link to it on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Little-Love-Letters-God-Stories/dp/0310750474/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452607012&sr=8-1&keywords=little+love+letters+from+god

Also, check out Glenys’ website (the amazing author):      http://www.glenysnellist.com/ 

Thanks to everyone for entering this giveaway.  May God richly bless each of you!

Using Love Letters in your Children’s Ministry…Plus a Great Giveaway!

I am a mother of two daughters and I am also a Children’s Minister.  These two very important roles in my life have something in common:  sharing God’s Word with children.  In doing this, I’m always looking for resources that will help tell the stories from the Bible in fun and creative ways so that children truly grasp the love of Jesus.

One amazing resource I have found is a book called “Love Letters from God“.  This book is written by Glenys Nellist (a writer friend and a fellow United Methodist Children’s Ministry leader).  This book contains 18 Bible stories followed by 18 lift-the-flap letters from God. When I first received this book, I read it to my own children, inserting their names into the letter from God.  Then, my youngest daughter wanted to read one of the stories.  When it came time to read the letter from God, she inserted my name in there.  It was a precious and powerful moment to hear my name spoken in that letter, especially hearing my own daughter read that letter to me from God.  A wonderful book to share both with my children and the children at church.

Now, a new book in the Love Letters series has been released for toddlers & preschoolers called “Little Love Letters from God“. This board book is filled with 8 stories from the Bible along with a letter from God.  It’s a perfect book for your little one and they will especially love lifting the flap to hear the letter from God.

I’m excited to share that Zonderkidz is giving away a copy of Little Love Letters from God here on my blog!  To be eligible for this giveaway, you must live in the U.S. (no PO Boxes though).  The winner will be announced on January 12th here on my blog.  This is a great book so if you are a parent or Children’s Minister, you will love a copy of it!

**I was having issues with Rafflecopter so here’s a new way to enter this giveaway.  You may do one of these things to enter:

1.  Subscribe to receive my blog via e-mail.  Just enter your e-mail address in the subscription box on the side of the home page

OR

2.  Leave a comment on this blog post along with your e-mail address.

OR

3.  Send me an email at:  vanessamyers99@gmail.com saying you want to be entered into the giveaway.

If you are a Children’s Minister, how can you use Love Letters from God in your ministry?  Below is a guest post from the author, Glenys Nellist, on the best way to do this:

Five Ways to Use Love Letters in your Children’s Ministry

There is nothing quite as wonderful as reading your very own words to a group of children.

It was Sunday morning. Here I was, in a lovely little church, holding my first book, Love Letters from God. I was ready to read the story of The Lions Who Lost Their Lunch to a group of expectant youngsters who trooped out to the front for the Children’s Message. Actually, it wasn’t just little ones who came forward—a whole bunch of smiling teenagers accompanied them, and plopped onto the carpet at my feet (another reason to love this little village church).

And after I read, there came the best part…. I handed out little love letters, copied from the book, one for each child. It was the pastor’s innovative idea. She was using one story per week from Love Letters from God for her Children’s Message series. She even made a bulletin board to explain to parents how it would work, and gave folders to each child where they could keep their precious letters from God.

They are precious, because each one begins: Dear ___________, and the child writes their own name on the liCrucifixion Letter (2)ne—just as if God was speaking directly to them.

There is power in God’s Word. There is power in God’s words. Who knows what God will do in the heart of a little one as they read and absorb God’s message to them?

Here are 5 ways that you might use Love Letters from God in your children’s ministry:

  1. Read one Bible story per week as part of an 18 week Children’s Message or Sermon series—during worship, Sunday school or mid-week.
  1. After reading, hand out that story’s letter to each child, so they can insert their own name and keep it in a special folder or envelope. (Contact Author Glenys Nellist to obtain copyright permission.)
  1. Ask children to write their own letters to God—you will be moved by their contents.
  1. Make use of the 8 free, downloadable Color-a-Story sheets that are available from the book. Here’s In the Very Beginning. (Contact Author Glenys Nellist for 7 more.)
  1. Use Little Love Letters from God, the newly released, board book version for toddlers, in your church nursery or preschool for an eight week Bible story series.

Thanks for reading, and for sharing God’s wonderful love with our children!

GlenysGlenys

 

 

My Favorite Books of 2015

For me, 2015 was a year of seeking God.  At the beginning of the year I had this strong desire to listen and soak up everything I could from the Lord.  I wanted to hear and feel God.  I wanted to experience His Presence every single day.  I wanted to just be with God.

One of the ways I did this was through reading.  Aside from reading the Bible (which I did and is the number one way to hear God speak to you), I dove into every Bible study and every book I could manage to read.

Here are the books I read in 2015, all of which were excellent and I highly recommend if you are a woman desiring to serve the Lord.

battlefield of the mind by joyce meyerBattlefield of the Mind       By:  Joyce Meyer

I began the year reading “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer. I joined in with other women from my church in doing this Bible study. And all I can say is “Wow”. This book opened my eyes to see how much Satan attacks our minds. As a person who has dealt with anxiety, worry, and fear, I learned those are all tactics Satan uses to distract us from what we are to do: worship, serve, and obey God. Using Scripture and personal experiences, Joyce provides ways to conquer the battle in your mind and break free from the lies that Satan feeds us.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“God has given us His Word, use it!  Learn Scriptures like this one (Philippians 4:6) and when the enemy attacks, counter his attack with the same weapon that Jesus used:  the Word!”

“We can choose to be peaceful by choosing to think on things that promote peace rather than things that open a door for worry and anxiety.”

“I had no revelation that Satan could inject thoughts into my mind.  Much of what was in my head was either lies that Satan was telling me or just plain nonsense – things that really were not worth spending my time thinking about.  The devil was controlling my life because he was controlling my thoughts.”  

 

The Best Yes     By:  Lysa TerKeurst

book 4

If you are a woman who loves to please other people and hates to disappoint anyone, then this book is for you. When I first heard about this book, I knew that I fit this description perfectly. I want to say yes to everything because I want everyone to be happy. I don’t want to make anyone upset because I don’t do something they ask of me. This includes my kids, spouse, co-workers, family members; anyone that wanted me to do something, I made sure to find a way to do it.

Well, I learned that I couldn’t do that anymore because I was overwhelmed. Lysa takes us on a journey through her experience of pleasing others. She helps us to see how we need to “not let the awkward disappointment of others keep us from our Best Yes appointments with God.”

Other favorite quotes:

“Saying yes all the time won’t make me Wonder Woman. It will make me a worn-out woman.”

“From that cracked-open-heart place, a God breathed strength will rise. Rise. Rise. And help you spit on Satan’s face as you declare: ‘You picked the wrong woman to mess with!”

 

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith        By:  Lysa TerKeurst

This is the firWhat Happens When Women Walk in Faithst book I did in the Online Bible Studies (OBS) that Proverbs 31 Ministries hosts (which I highly recommend doing any of their studies).  What a joy this book was!  Lysa shows us that when we walk in faith, we go through five different phases:  Leaving, Famine, Believing, Death, and Resurrection.  This is a great book for any woman who is struggling with God’s call on your life.  It helped me see that I must boldly step out and trust Him in everything.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book:

“Jesus taught us that we must walk according to God’s will.  When we are doing that, we have nothing to fear.  It is better to walk in obedience than to live in fear of stumbling.”

“We must remember that our bitterness turns people away.  Being filled with God’s sweet fragrance of acceptance will attract and bless and, most importantly, draw people to God.”

“Don’t try to make your whole dream come true at once.  Just fulfill the small part of the mission He’s asking you to do today.  Just carry that one rock.  Ask God, ‘What is my assignment for today?’  Do that part and be satisfied that God is pleased.  Be encouraged and continue to press on!”

 

Taming the To-Do List      By:  Glynnis WhitwerTaming the To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer

I was feeling overwhelmed at everything I had to do in my life.  When I heard about this Proverbs 31 OBS, I quickly jumped in because I felt like my to-do list needed taming for sure. Glynnis writes about procrastination, perfectionism, fears, and organizing our time.  What I liked most about this book was at the end of every chapter, she included a practical application.  This was identifying a regular task and a personal goal in your life and working on them.  I enjoyed this book and recommend for any woman who is sinking in the waves of your to-do list demands.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Don’t worry about the results.  Just leave those to God.  I’m convinced God will be pleased with your obedience.”

“Jesus finished the assingment God gave Him.”

“Without addressing the issues of procrastination, my days can be filled with busy work and not my best work.”

 

For the Love       By:  Jen Hatmaker

For the Love by Jen HatmakerWhat an awesome book.  Jen made me laugh and cry so much.  Her openness and honesty about her life made me feel free.  It was like she was saying things that I felt, but maybe never wanted to share.  In some of her chapters I felt like she was writing about me.   Her chapters centered around herself, family, friends, and church.  Her writing is just amazing and I cannot recommend this book enough.

I had many favorite quotes from this book, but here are just a few:

“Every song I love ends up being on a Kidz Bop CD.”   (So true!!)

“Most pastors live with a chronic sense of disappointing people.”    (I would say this could be true for anyone who works in a church).

“We forget that no is an acceptable answer to our kids in a world of the unbridled yes.”   (Boy, isn’t that the truth.)

 

What Happens When Women Say Yes To God         By:  Lysa TerKeurst

Can you tell I love books by Lysa TerKeurst?  She is an excellent writer and this has probably been my favorite book of hers so far.  I just
finished this one last week.  I picked this book because I want to be a woman with a heart sold out What Happens When Women Say Yes to God By Lysa TerKeurstfor God.  I want to say “Yes” to anything thing He asks of me, but sometimes I fear the things He wants me to do.  She shows us that when we are radically obedient, God will radically bless us.  I learned to not be afraid, to let go of those fears, to say yes to God no matter what, and to be ready for an abundance of blessings when I do.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Radical obedience is hearing from God, feeling His nudges, participating in His activity, and experiencing His blessings in ways few people do.”

“No longer is your day just one humdrum task after another, but rather a string of divine appointments and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.”

“If you’ve settled in your heart to say yes to God and completely trust Him, then you don’t have to worry about the future.”

These are my favorite books from 2015.  What have been your favorite reads this year?  Please share with us below.

God’s blessings to all of you in 2016!

Video The Gift That Changed My Life

I have decided to follow Jesus.

That is the gift that changed my life when I was a child.  A gift in the form of a baby born in the town of Bethlehem. A gift that was freely given, not by man, but by God.  A gift that I decided to accept and receive when I was 12 years old.

I even marked that day in my Bible:  October 23, 1988.  I didn’t want to ever forget the day I gave my life to Jesus.  I didn’t want to forget the day that I chose to accept this gift from God.

Making a decision to follow Christ was easy as a child.  I grew up with parents and grandparents who raised me in a Christian home.  I knew God loved me and I knew that Jesus died for my sins so that everyone who believed in Him would live forever with Him in heaven. I went to church, read my Bible, prayed, went to church camp, was a devout member of my youth group, and loved God with everything I had.

Little did I know that on that day in October of 1988, God would be calling me to live a life of complete surrender, a life of radical obedience, a life devoted to Him, a life where my eyes are focused on Him, a life where I have to let go of control, a life of ulitmate trust in Him, a life committed to serving Him by sharing Jesus with others, a life of putting the cross before me and the world behind me.

Would I change my mind if I knew all that back then?

No way.

As a 39-year old woman who has seen happiness and heartache, I would NOT choose to live my life any other way. Jesus is my everything.  He is enough for me.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, I pray that you will accept the gift of Jesus; that you will give your life to Him.  I pray that you will surrender everything to Him; that you will give up all that you hold so tightly.  Christ is all you need.  May you realize that the only gift you need this Christmas comes wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

 

This song “Christ is Enough” by Hillsong is one of my favorites.  I know it’s not a Christmas song, but it reminded me tonight of the gift God gave us in Jesus.  It reminded me of the day I decided to accept this gift and follow Jesus.  May you give your life to Jesus and know that He will richly bless those who follow Him.