Posts Tagged ‘VBS’

Our church promotes our school-age classes at the beginning of June each year.  Simultaneously we launch an all-summer rotational VBS-style program for our Kindergarten through 5th graders.  This is our third year to offer our “Summer Bible Vacation” series, and my third year to take the lead role in coordinating it. All of it. From January to June, a team meets and develops the lessons for each rotation (arts, story, movie, singing, games and  history).  I recruit teachers and guides and hold work days to build sets and prepare for it.  Finally, in late May, we black out our classrooms and transform six rooms into an art studio, bookstore, movie theater, radio station, arcade/game show set and museum/discovery center.

It is like a hurricane: a whirlwind of activity that starts out slow and picks up speed and intensity as you get pulled in deeper.  By the time we launch, I have lived-and-breathed-and dreamed all the minutiae and details imaginable.  Juggling last minute personnel changes, creating and acquiring specified props, costumes and supplies, making sure kids have guides, guides have rosters, the DVD players work, and popcorn bags are on hand and ready.  Got a question?  I willingly put myself in the role of “go-to-girl.”  Why do I do it?  Mainly because it’s fun and gratifying.  I have dim but fun memories of VBS as a kid, and I’m passionate about the importance of grabbing kids’ hearts and minds while they are willing and eager learners, and helping them develop an unshakable faith that God is, was and always will be, and that He has always had this amazing plan that includes each of us.  And so I pour myself into this effort.  In return I get a huge reward from seeing a few words scribbled on paper come to life in the eyes of many talented and creative individuals who volunteer to help.  And hearing kids beg their parents to bring them back for the next lesson.

Unsurprisingly, it is equal parts exhilaration and exhaustion.   The laundry, cooking and cleaning fairy tend to get less reliable as we get closer to the kickoff (lack of supervision, I’m sure); they flat-out go AWOL the last week or two of May.  They reappear in early June, as does my creative muse.

Speaking of which, this coming week I have plans that don’t involve acrylic paint, hot glue guns or construction paper.  These plans entail some TLC work on our front porch seating, sprucing up the back deck patio set and/or painting the upstairs bathroom and adding some storage.  (These are all high-priority projects, so prioritizing them is my first order of business.)  I’m also looking forward to figuring out how to display some new (vintage) Fiestaware I snagged while we were in Oklahoma.  So stay tuned…good things are coming this summer.

But before that starts, I gave myself Sunday afternoon off to do nothing more energetic than water the front plants.  After we got everything launched yesterday morning, it was time for quiet rest for every man and beast in our family.  And I have the pictures to prove it.

It was a much-needed afternoon to do nothing, guilt-free.  I hope your Sunday was just what you needed, too – whether highly productive or laid back and quiet…or even downright lazy.  (And for those of you who know I try to make our Sundays a day of rest from consumerism, I *almost* succeeded.  We needed hamburgers to grill out…and I didn’t realize it until late Saturday night.  So I made a quick pass through Kroger and a promise to myself to plan better for next week.)
Happy Monday,

P.S., This morning the Pirtle family is preparing to welcome a new baby/grandbaby into this world.  I send my prayers for a safe and easy delivery for mom and baby and congratulations to dad, grandparents, aunts and a super-cute new big sister.

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Ready or not, here we go!

Last year, our church did a first-ever all summer VBS, which we call SBV (Summer Bible Vacation.) Twelve weeks, six grades (K-5th grades) and four big lessons taught in six different ways: art, history, games, story, music, and skits/movie clips. It was a hit with the kids, their parents and the volunteer teachers and guides who escorted them each Sunday and Wednesday.

It takes a tremendous amount of creative juice and elbow grease to pull it together and pull it off, but we have a highly dedicated core group of volunteers that I am blessed to work with. Today is the eve of our kickoff weekend. Every spare minute of the past few weeks have been spent running here and there, wrapping up last-minute errands and to-do’s for this, along with getting the house ready to paint and of course, making sure I get my real job done.

Ready or not, tomorrow’s “sneak preview” day heralds the beginning of an exciting summer for the kids, and the end of the frantic pre-work for those of us that have been working feverishly behind the scenes.

Which is good because every non-essential part of my usual life has been on hold during this time: my hair desperately needs a cut and color, my toenails are chipped beyond belief, my car needs an oil change (and a massive cleaning); the dog looks like a yeti and my muscles are atrophying from lack of exercise.

So after tomorrow’s kickoff, my plan is to repeat last year’s post-kickoff afternoon with swimmer girl: happy hour at Sonic, then to a pedicure salon, then home – maybe for a nap this time. Then I can let my life start rolling at its normal breakneck pace once again.

Happy Friday!

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Around here, summer is generally bookended in by Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.  If we’re lucky, July 4th lands on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday and creates a tri-fected mid-summer long weekend. (The odds are in our favor on that one.)

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As of this weekend, we can now officially herald the beginning of true summer weather here in middle Tennessee, and most of the U.S. (But not Chicago and the entire state of Colorado – I’ve seen enough cold temps and even snow in late May in those areas to exclude them from that sweeping generalization.)

And for places farther south of here, summer begins much earlier as this popular list declares:

Mr. Official and I typically spend the summer holiday weekends grinding away on one or more projects that we are eager to tackle.  This year, we have a plethora of projects to choose from:  fences, moving stuff, and setting up for our all-summer VBS (aka SBV) at church. Or all of the above.

Amid the hustle and bustle, I hope we all take some time to pause and remember and honor those for whom this weekend is specifically dedicated.  Our country is so richly blessed with freedoms and liberties that other nations don’t dare dream of having.  I fear familiarity breeds contempt and our personal freedoms are being traded for the illusion of security, which – as Ben Franklin put it, if you sacrifice one for the other, you deserve neither.  (Smart man, that Mr. Franklin.  We could use a few more like him these days.)

I pray for all our troops actively serving in foreign lands.  A few of you I know, most of you I do not.  But I do deeply appreciate the job you do and the dangers you face with courage and conviction.  May God bless you and your families, and keep you safe while you keep us safe.

Now, if I can just make sure I don’t blink and miss summer as it revs up into high gear and speeds along toward Labor Day weekend, pausing just long enough to celebrate the 4th of July in between.

Happy weekend and happy summer!

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Out of commission

For the past several years, I have taken off a week in July to go on a domestic mission campaign with our youth group.  It’s an exhilarating and exhausting week, filled with miles of walking to knock on doors and invite families to bring or send their children to VBS.  Most campaigns also involve daily activities such as free car washes, hair cuts, health screenings, and handing out food to families in need.  The adults in the group usually help prepare meals for our youth workers and then participate in the VBS skits and teach classes for the kids that attend.  As chaperones, we also administer first aid, impromptu counseling, do late-night laundry, and offer exhortations to “clean up your room and make your bed!” to the peeps put in our care.  Each of those years I’ve gone, one or two of my own chiildren have been among the hard-working youth group.  If you’ve never been on a mission trip, I highly recommend it – it’s a fantastic way to put faith into action and carry out the Great Commission

It’s also a bit of a social experiment.  We operate on about 6 hours of shut-eye each night, with every day and night crammed full of physical and mental activity.  After a few days, it’s interesting to observe how the usual posturing and social hierarchy that defines and delineates us drops away and everyone begins to draw strength from one another.  It works a certain kind of magic:  eyerolling and snarky comments become less frequent, replaced by hugs and friendly back pats; quick offers to help one another become the norm.  I guess utter exhaustion is what it takes to break down our natural barriers and become truly “close-knit” brothers and sisters.

This year I already knew I wasn’t going because of prior commitments here at home.  But the youngest was eagerly looking forward to the campaign (and I had several moms lined up to keep a motherly eye out for her.)  But today we confirmed she has contracted mono/Epstein-Barr Virus and that has sidelined us both.  So instead of being there to help, we’ll spend a quiet week, with her regaining her strength, and both of us sending good thoughts and prayers for our group in Owensboro.  We hope their efforts are successful and bring some new families into contact with the local congregation there, but to tell the truth, it’s not much fun being a bench warmer!

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Today is oldest son’s birthday and it was also his first week in a new job.  Hooray for both of these milestones!  It’s definitely time to celebrate!

He had other plans for this evening, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a celebratory meal of  Chicken Bryan (just like Carrabba’s, but a word to the wise if you try the recipe:  ease up on the sun-dried tomatoes and amount of goat cheese, and layer the basil on the chicken instead of sauteing it.)  I served it with a side of parmesan-garlic noodles, a fresh garden salad, garlic toast, and a honeybun cake.  Even sweeter: we were able to dine on the deck tonight, since it’s now finished and sealed for the season.  See whatcha missed, birthday boy?

He turns 25 today.  Or put another way, he’s a quarter of a century old (insert evil chuckling here.)  When I was just a few years older than he is now, he made me feel ancient by comparing my age to his freshly minted Kindergarten teacher, Miss Beeson.  (He loved Miss Beeson and everything about Miss Beeson was simply amazing.)  When she celebrated her 24th birthday that year, he rushed home to tell me all about her party (they had cupcakes), and he asked me my age and then looked up at me with his huge brown eyes and said – with complete sincerity – “Wow, mama.  You are REALLY old!”  I’ve fought the urge to park myself in a rocker ever since.

The isolated thunderstorms were isolated to other parts of the midstate; no rain here today.  Just sultry.  Again.  While my better half and the pooch toiled away on the landscape, I escaped to the air-conditioned indoors and made sure all the classrooms are ready for the start of the third lesson (the flood), which begins tomorrow morning.  Our Summer Bible Vacation (aka all-summer VBS) is now at the halfway point – just 6 more weeks and we’ll be wrapping it up.  Wow – it has really flown by quickly! When I got home this afternoon, I ventured out long enough to stain the bench, so it’s ready to be parked next to the hot tub and hold our towels once again.

If the weather holds out, tomorrow afternoon will involve another pass through the daylily bed, pulling out the depleted stalks, fertilizing, weeding and mulching as I go.  I made a crockpot of brisket this afternoon, so tomorrow’s lunch or dinner is “in the bag,” so to speak.

Happy birthday to my “Baby Shea”  (You’ll never be too old for me to still call you that, you know!)

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A bowl of cherries

Life may not be the proverbial bowl of cherries, but June does bring the opportunity to enjoy a bowl of them.  Savor the fruit, spit out the pits.  Kind of sums up a lot of things in life, doesn’t it?

Today was the second hurdle for our new Summer Bible Vacation program – a “sneak preview” day, where we invited friends and neighbors from the community to join us and see what we’re up to this summer.  A guarded success:  we had just over 100 in attendance, we stayed pretty close to the set schedule, and the “Harvest Hut” had a big crowd for its grand-opening.  Lots of wide-eyed children, clutching their first few blue Bible Bucks in their hands, eager to buy something.  Anything.  When the last child finally scampered out, proudly holding a handful of cherry Twizzlers, the remaining crowd quickly dwindled down until it was just a few of us finishing up and comparing notes on how things went.  All in all, the day was very smooth, thanks in large part to the number of adults in attendance.

As pleased as I am about how well today went, it confirmed why I’m not a big fan of one-day VBS. For starters, it’s totally hit-or-miss on everyone’s schedules.  Today there were many rain-out ballgames competing for space on everyone’s refrigerator calendar.  As it is nearing the end of the season for most youth teams, games won out for many families and I hope they all did great!  But had this been our only opportunity to reach out to the children of our community this year, our efforts would not yield much fruit, mainly due to simple mathematics:  it amounts to only a tiny fraction (1/365ths, to be precise) of the year.  I don’t know if we’ll reach more families as the summer progresses, but I pray we do.  At least we stand a better chance of reaching them if we offer them 25 more opportunities to see our sign out front or spot our listing in the Rutherford Parents magazine, or get a postcard from a friend or neighbor and decide to come check us out.

After I left the building mid-afternoon, I hit Sonic for a celebratory diet cherry coke, and ducked into my favorite little place for a quick cure (a pedicure, that is), then came home and cleaned off my desk.  (Hey, there’s my desk calendar again..guess I should change it to June, huh?) and snacked on that bowl of cherries as I cleaned and tidied all the way down to the desk’s surface.

Before dark, I grabbed the leash and took the pooch for a walk, which she loved.  On our way back, we stopped and chatted with the neighbors sitting on their front porch, then ambled home and snacked on some pizza for dinner.  Bedtime will come early tonight, I predict.

Tomorrow is the third hurdle – the first actual class for the SBV program.  After Wednesday night, we’ll know if everything is indeed working as planned.  If so, then we can shift into maintenance mode:  making sure vacationing teachers and guides have a substitute, getting attendance and visitor information to send out postcards every few weeks, and making sure the classrooms are stocked up on everything they need for all four lessons.  That also means it’s time to gear up for our 2nd annual school supply drive.  And get a jumpstart on some curriculum design work, so our fall-spring classes are every bit as up-to-date and cohesive as the summer “vacation” classes.

Now that the biggest push is over, it’s back to other domestic dalliances…I might even try my hand at making a cherry pie, or at least a cheesecake with a fresh cherry glaze.  Might as well enjoy them while they last!

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Now THAT’S a rain storm

Daughter and I headed to Smyrna about 6:20, thinking we’d catch a quick bite at Sonic, then head to Highland Heights for the Summer Bible Vacation open house.  As we headed north, the sky looked really dark…even though it was clear and sunny no less than half an hour before that, when I came FROM Smyrna, after spending a day putting the finishing touches on things.

But we are plucky girls and we plowed ahead.  Before our exit, the wind kicked up..a sign of things to come.  Just as we exited I-24, the rain began pelting us.  Big drops.  Bad sign.  But still, forward we went.  I decided we wouldn’t stop at the Sonic off the interstate, but go around to the on the other side of town, hoping to beat the rain.  Bad idea.

A mile down the road, the rain was so heavy that it became difficult to see the road.  A minute later, it was literally impossible to see the road.  It was like being in a demon-possessed car-wash with hail thrown in for good measure.  Cars slowed to a crawl, then stopped.  On the road.  In their tracks.  We crept to the side of the road, hoping we wouldn’t run off said road in the process, flipped on the emergency blinkers and waited it out.  I called my husband to let him know where we were.  (You know, just in case we pulled a “Wizard of Oz” meets “Twister” move or something.) I could barely hear him over the rain beating the car.   In all my years of driving, I’ve pulled over a few times, because of heavy rain, but I’d have to say I’ve never had to pull over because I absolutely could not see the road for the rain.  It’s a scary thing to drive blindly and hope you don’t hit anything.

Five minutes later, it was still raining hard, but at least there was enough visibility to make out the lines on the road as the wipers cleared the windshield.

We slowly made our way to the other Sonic, placed our order and then listened to the second wave of the storm pound the roof overhead.  Wow.  By the time we woofed down our food and made our way to the church building, the rain had almost stopped.  Several people mentioned another front was approaching but we never heard it inside, if it did rain again.

What was I saying earlier this week about spring rains being a thing of the past?  Apparently my prognostication skills are as accurate as ever.  Four out of the last five days have brought showers – or storms. Tomorrow has a 40% chance of precip.  I don’t think I’ll take up meteorology as a new avocation.

But the open house went smashingly well.  People were overheard arguing over which room is their favorite. Teens and adults were bemoaning the fact they are no longer age-eligible to participate in VBS.  Our teachers were glowing with pride, and our guides were grinning like possums, because they know they’re in for a  real treat this summer.  I’m hoping that doesn’t mean we’ll have too many volunteers next year…but it might.  (Then again, my prognostication skills are…well, sketchy at best.)

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