the joy of receiving

As Christians, we’re taught to give and serve… and I believe with all my heart that God blesses us so that we can bless others.  I’ve often been a recipient of many people’s generosity.  In fact, I’ve blogged in the past about not living a life of being indebted but graciously accepting people’s generosity.  Well, when you’re on a service/missions trip, it’s hard to receive because you go with the mentality of giving and serving the less fortunate.  Two weeks ago, a team of 29 Americans went to the Dominican Republic to serve the children of Compassion International projects.  We went with the mission of sharing the love of Jesus with the kids… and to pass out 2,000 Operation Kid-2-Kid backpacks and bookmarks decorated by children all over the US and Canada along with Nuevo Testamento en español.  We visited total of eight projects over four days.  With each project we visited, we were greeted with a special program they had prepared for us.  We were told that they rarely get a huge number of visitors all at once, and it’s a big treat for them.  The special programs usually consisted of songs, body worship (is this just a Korean-American term?  if it is, it’s dance to praise worship.  see below), drama, and one project even gifted us souvenirs to remember DR by.  At each project, we felt that we were given the special treat and blessings!  We shared many hugs, photos, conversations in broken Spanish, and laughs!

This is my fourth OK2K trip, and each one has taken a huge piece of my heart!  It just never gets old… Well, as I started to think about how blessed we were by the special treatment we got from these children and projects, there was a tinge of guilt… wait, we came to give and serve, but we feel like we’re being given and served so much more!!!  What is wrong with this picture?  Well, what IS wrong is that by feeling guilty, I was robbing the joy of the project leaders and kids who had prepared so hard to share their expression of worship and gratitude.

I love finding the prefect gifts for the people in my life… but if they don’t receive it with joy, then my feelings are hurt.  In the same way, I realized that there is so much joy and blessing in giving/serving out of generosity… and when the recipient doesn’t receive this gift with joy, that giver is robbed of their joy.  The kids at the projects couldn’t bless us with material things, but they gave us their hearts and shared the love of Christ with us… the greatest gift!

I think pride gets in the way of receiving with joy… We talk about how we need to give and serve… and don’t get me wrong.. I think we can all do better in that area.  However, we rarely talk about receiving with joy and allowing others to experience the joy of serving!  On a related note, I think we also lack in receiving God’s grace with joy… but I realize that this topic is for another blog.  Soooo… this is one of my big lessons from my trip to the Dominican Republic.  There are a lot more… and those blogs will follow (trust me!)

Coincidentally (actually it’s God’s timing… total God Sighting!), my devotional on the day I left the DR spoke right into my heart:

Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed.  This is nonsense-thinking because no one deserves anything from Me.  My Kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving.  When a child of Mine balks at accepting My gifts, I am deeply grieved.  When you receive My abundant blessings with a grateful heart, I rejoice.

I may not have a lot of money but I consider myself one of the richest and blessed person in the world!  Gracias a Dios!

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KidMin Conference Sounds Cool…

I was at a ministry conference last weekend, and I had the privilege of leading two workshops.  I have led these workshops before, and I’m always interested in the responses I get.  One thing I noticed with this group was that while they all participated, they were for the most part a quiet bunch.  I wondered if they were even getting anything out of my workshops (that’s my insecurity talking…)

Well, once my workshops were over… I had 4-8 people that came up and just wanted to talk with me.  In fact, one  person even helped me pack up and walked back to the exhibit hall back with me, and we probably talked about ministry for good 30 minutes.  When I talked to my friends, they also had similar experiences.  And a week later, I’ve had about 5 e-mails from people that had attended my workshops, and we have continued on the ministry conversation.

When I think back to the conferences I have attended, I realized that my true highlights are not attending workshops.  Rather, it’s connecting with people who I can share with and learn from.  How many times have I wanted to talk to continue the conversation with the speakers?  How many times have I wanted to ask them more in depth questions?

This is precisely why Group’s KidMin Conference is really appealing to me.  I believe that visions and practices are caught more than taught… and for me, it’s through the time I spend with people that I really get to know their heart and passion.  Yes, that can be communicated from the speaker at the front of the room, but it’s just not the same as when you get to interact with them in person… And for this reason alone, I think KidMin Conference stands out because that is one of the values at this conference… The speakers and workshops leaders are there to hang out with you, connect with you, talk with you, and pray with you!!!  How cool is that???

and check this video out!

KidMin Conference: why I’m excited for this one!

I have been to MANY children’s ministry conferences since I started in kidmin 16 years ago.   Most of them were good, and I have learned something from each one.  However, I have always felt couple frustrations from each one:

1.  I always came back overwhelmed because speakers would talk about things that were unreachable for me.  See, I grew up in a mega-church, and because I tend to react to the way I grew up, I have loved serving in a small church.  There are definitely things I miss about a large church–namely, the resources and facility.  But what I love about small church ministry is that I can actually get to know every single one of my volunteers and at least know every child’s name.  Often times, I would attend conferences with speakers that are well known from mega-churches.  They would talk about having a team to write and act out in a different skit every week, putting together professional looking media clips each week, etc.   It sounds like every ministry’s dream, and I get all pumped up.  But when I come back to my small church, I would feel deflated because I don’t have the paid staff to pull off the things they talked about.   When I saw that KidMin Conference was offering 4-hour track on Children’s Ministry in Small Churches, I was thrilled.  It’s not just a 1-hour workshop, but it’s a half-track, something you can dig deeper with others that are in the same boat!  Afterall, statistics tell us that 85% of all protestant churches in America has attendance of 200 or less.  That’s A LOT of small churches out there!  KidMin also has Small Church Connect Group!  This is too cool!

2.  I rarely have time to process everything, and before I know it, I’m back in my church running full-speed.  I’m a process person.  It’s very important for me to sit, think, and talk about what I have learned and have a strategy on implementation.  In my earlier years, I was most concerned with getting as much information as possible.  Now that I’ve been doing this for awhile, I’m more interested in getting information that’s relevant and useful to me, and to be able to implement in my ministry.  I’ve been known to “ditch” workshops because I go into information overload, and I just can’t handle it anymore.  I like that KidMin offers casual and open Connect Groups where we can network and just talk and process ministry together!  Not to mention, the speakers are available to connect with people in a casual, kick-back environment!   When I do workshops, I love connecting with people afterwards.  I make it a point to make myself accessible because that’s when I get most pumped up–when I connect with people!  I’ve been to conferences where the speakers were like rockstars–they do their thing, and they disappear.  How AWESOME that KidMin allows time for the speaker and attendees to connect, talk, process, and network!!!  and you can connect on comfy Sack Chair Pods, and even take naps when you’re tired!!!  gotta love that “Relate & Relax” is one of the values of this conference!!!

As KidMin unveils more info, I’m sure I’ll get even more excited… but for now, these two reasons alone have me jumping up and down!!!   (it’s just ironic that this conference is happening right after I stepped down from my church… but I’m 100% kidmin person, and who knows where God will have me serve next!)