Press Pause


Life is so full and somedays you may feel like you just can’t keep up. When you have a baby or toddler at home, you’re so sleep deprived you often don’t know which way is up. Many days you may feel like you’re just surviving.

Then the kids start preschool and elementary. Homework, friends, and sports begin to rule the day. Maybe you feel more like a taxi driver than a parent?

At this point, life doesn’t slow down, does it?! Middle school and high school sneak up fast. Tougher classes, more homework, demanding sports schedules, peer pressure, hormones gone wild, learning to drive, graduation requirements, college tours, and scholarship applications.

Oh, man.

Where’s the easy button like in the commercials?!

I’ve been thinking about all this a lot. Life can be busy and overwhelming, but I don’t want to miss the moments. I don’t want to just survive. I want more for my kids, my family, and the families I serve. After all, at the end of the day, – busy is not an honor badge.

So instead of pressing an easy button, maybe I need to press pause.

What if I create space in the middle of the busy, in the middle of the fullness of life, to intentionally connect with my kids. In doing so, what if that is teaching them a much-needed skill: that it’s okay to pause in life. To breath. To slow down. To think. To recognize and reconnect with each other and our creator.

And as we remind ourselves and teach our own families to pause, maybe we’re setting an example for those around us.

Press Pause.
Eat together. Play together. Pray together. Savor the moments.

Do you need some help doing this? Some guidance on how to press pause? Join me at the NW Ministry Conference on March 24 & 25. I’ll be leading a workshop on Friday where we’ll discuss why a rhythm of pause is vital for families. Together, we’ll explore ways to model this in our own families as well as for those we serve.

Life is full and it’s not always easy.

But when we pause we can find rest and renewal.

Together, let’s pursue the pause.






The past few weeks we’ve been learning a Remember Verse with the students I teach. It’s one of my favorites at Christmas time. “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.

One of the things I have loved the most in teaching this is helping the kids grasp the enormity of God’s plan as he revealed this. Not just pieces of his plan, but seeing the fullness of his plan. We look at the beginning of the verse to understand it’s God the Father sending his son, Jesus. It’s such a great verse to ponder over during the Christmas season. Then we pause and look at where this verse is found. Isaiah. I then ask the kids if that’s Old or New Testament. They now recognize this is in the Old Testament which means this verse was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

It shows me that God had a plan. He had a good plan that included his son. You see, God Created. In the beginning, God created all and said it was GOOD. And Jesus was part of it.

The opening verses of John remind me of this:

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (1:1-5)

v:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him… v:14 The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, FULL of grace and truth.”

He didn’t have to come to earth. He had a plan though. God revealed himself to the Israelites. He gave the law, not to provide law itself, but to show his love. So that we would know him, honor him, love him, desire to be with him.

We made a choice, as his creation, to turn from him way back in the garden. We were separated from him because of our choice. But he had a plan. A plan to love us. A plan to restore us. A plan to redeem us.

And we didn’t choose his plan.

We kept doing things our way. In our time. AND he still loved us. Still revealed himself to us; out of His abundance of love.

He is slow to anger, slow to judgement, giving us time to know him, time to love him.

He was silent for a moment. There was 400 years of silence where he didn’t speak through any prophets or reveal any miracles.

Then God quietly began to reveal his plan. On a hillside, out away from the crowds, away from the affluent, away from the “religious” leaders.


God didn’t just give a piece of his love. He didn’t just give a little of Himself. He poured all his power and majesty and love into this world through his son Jesus. Fully contained in the human form so he would know. So he could sympathize not just in part, but in whole.

Even though that human body died on a cross, love did not. Love conquered death. Love rose stronger. Love remains. Not in pieces, but in whole. And it’s here for us today. WE can still choose to turn from the wrong things we do, we can ask for forgiveness, we can ask to know him. Not just with part of our lives, not just with pieces, but with all our lives. We can love with not just part of our love, but with all our love.

Because He doesn’t give us just part of his heart. He doesn’t give us his leftover pieces.

Do we do that to him? Do we just offer back our leftover pieces? Do we wait to come to him at some point when we have all of our pieces fixed and figured out? Do we get so busy or feel so broken that we remain in pieces, keeping them to ourselves? Or do we think that somehow we must put ourselves together perfectly before we come to him?

He loves all your pieces. He’s the one who wants to step in and put your pieces together, perfectly, and love all of you, with his fullness.

So let us remember this Christmas, as we recall the birth of Jesus long ago, he came as love, as light, in full. And he satisfied our debt, in full.  And now, when Jesus looks on us, he doesn’t love just parts of us. Pieces of us. He loves all of us. All the time. We can trust in that.

Don’t let what feels like broken pieces in you hold you back from the one who longs to restore, renew, and pour in full love.

To VBS or Not To VBS

vbsWe just got done with our Vacation Bible School for the year. I counted them up. I’ve done seven on my own, and led key parts of five others. I make notes at the end of each year of what to do differently next time. I know that as I prepare there will be moments filled with anxiety. There will also be moments I have to stop controlling and rely on the Holy Spirit.

This year has been different for me. I have had a very unsettled feeling through the whole process. I’ve been evaluating a bit differently. I would love to start a conversation around these thoughts.

First, what is the why? Why are we doing this? Of course it’s for Jesus and to share the Good News. That should be the driving force of all we do. But why is a Vacation Bible School the best way to do this? Is it still relevant to our culture? These programs have become bigger and bigger productions that cost more and more. Is this the best stewardship of funds? Is it meeting our goals of connecting families? Why do we continue?

The next question I’ve been asking is who? Who are we doing this for? Traditionally this is a huge outreach to unchurched children and families. Is that happening? Do we have children who have never heard about Jesus attending? In the past I have experienced very few children in this category. I find a lot of children who attend other churches regularly and church hop VBS programs in the summer. It’s something inexpensive for them to do. Or is this a big program / celebration to motivate and encourage the kids currently in our ministry? What is the rate of attendance to VBS compared to kids in our ministry? Are we leading them to something? Are we engaging them in a new, fresh way? Or are we just putting on a show and entertaining them? One Pastor told me the who for his VBS was the teen helpers. It was a time to train and equip them to be servants. That was his whole goal of VBS. Interesting approach.

The when has been a topic of consideration the last few years for me as well. When is the best time? Many of my years have been spent with a traditional five day morning program. I’m not a morning person and by day four neither are the kids or volunteers. I was quite intrigued at my current church to learn they have done an evening program for only four days. The data showed there were more dads able to help out. My first year showed great involvement. The second year–not so much. I also heard many younger families say it was too hard for them. What’s the right answer? A middle of the day program, somewhere between lunch and nap time? Three days? Earlier in the summer before everyone is on vacation? Later in the summer when they’ve all returned?

As I’m evaluating I’m also going to consider the how. How is the best way to run a VBS? The onsite rotational model has become the norm. I find that there is not a lot of deep interaction. Are the mentors (guides) really building a relationship in this style? What do we really want that to look like? Is it enough to just know a child’s name after the week? Do kids have time to really apply the lesson each day to their life? Do they have time to learn each memory verse? Are they connecting what they’ve learned at church with what they do at home?

If we’re really going to shake things up, then I have to consider the where. Where is the best place to hold a VBS? Is it still best to have an onsite program? I’m completely intrigued by the smaller scale offsite programs. That just takes a different level of volunteer support. Is it going to be a rotational model that we’ve just taken outside? Where are people already gathering? A park? A small town center area? A local library? Can we engage new kids and families in an offsite setting? Will our current families join us there?

I don’t claim to have the answers to any of these questions. I’m wrestling with all of them. I have made very intentional changes over the last several years that can be considered a “success”. Are we measuring success with the right tools? Are we viewing it with the correct lenses? I am not feeling at peace with the status quo. I feel a great tension that something needs to change. I know with certainty we can not stay where we’ve been. I’m dreaming of what the future may hold for our families.

I would love to hear what has worked well for you. Or have you been feeling the tension too? Please leave a comment with your wins, dreams, experiences or suggestions. Let’s keep the conversation going!