Saturday, July 27, 2013

You can take the girl outta the south...

The annual McKinney Family trip down south did not disappoint! As we drive north after an amazing week, I am again reminded of how much I am truly a southern girl. (Ok, all you Midwestern friends, I hear your smirks! I honestly forget that I have an accent!) 

I love the beach! In fact, it took every tiny bit of will power I had not to buy this sign I found...
...because it is absolutely true for me!
But if I'm completely honest, it's not just any beach. It's a southern beach that does my heart good! 

Only at a southern beach will you see not only palm trees, but also crepe myrtles, pine trees, magnolias, Spanish moss, and mimosa trees. I'm not a gardener, but I swear these trees will be in heaven! I especially have sweet memories of the mimosas in our yard growing up! Momma always said the blooms were a mess and they smelled horrible, but they are reminders of childhood to me. Come to think of it, there might be an obvious spiritual lesson there. 

I also love how southern beach families dress! Even though I refuse to wear makeup and much more than my skirted (can you say 40 something year old momma) swim suit, I just can't get enough of little girls with bows bigger than their heads! Again, I can almost hear  all my dear Midwestern friends saying, "Seriously? Bigger than those monster bows you ALWAYS put in Sarah 's hair?" Yes, even bigger! Think dinner plate, on a toddler's head. Sarah's are clearly dessert plate. 

Southern mommas of little boys will not be out done though. While wearing bedazzled Yellow Box flip-flops to show off their fresh pedicures, they dress their future SEC football stars in seersucker rompers to hit the local beach restaurants! (I will neither confirm nor deny that Blake McKinney allowed Justin and Caleb to wear a few monogrammed seersucker overalls during their younger days! If only I had photos!) Of course the dads are all sporting the golf shirts featuring their beloved SEC team's logo. (Go Hogs!) If you are a true fan, your SUV or minivan has the appropriate window flag. 

And speaking of monograms, no one in the south ever loses anything important because we most definitely have a penchant for monograms on just about everything! I literally saw monogrammed shot glasses as well as monogrammed pocket toothpick holders. Actually, monogrammed toothpick holders are pretty smart. It's the south's contribution to the whole green movement. If your toothpick holder is easily identifiable then you can just put it back in your pocket and use it later. Southerners are thoughtful like that. Just trying to reduce waste and all. Wouldn't want landfills full of toothpicks.

A week at the beach means that my mother in law, sister in law, and I had to go to the grocery store a few times. I am a sucker for a great grocery store and Hyvee is actually the best, but the southern grocery stores make me smile so much. Just the names make me smile, and by the way we always put "the" in front of the name of the store: The Piggly Wiggly, The Winn Dixie, and The Publix. You can get really good fried chicken and watermelon at these stores.

Oh my! That reminds me that who needs an actual grocery store down here?! You can get fresh silver queen corn and okra at road side stands anywhere! These stands look like they could blow away in the next wind, but boy are the boiled peanuts good! Hope watermelons, Arkansas tomatoes, and Georgia peaches are so fresh and plentiful that we eat them before we leave the parking lot with juice dripping from our elbows. And come on now! Only in the south would you find the best jumbo shrimp (I'll always love that little oxymoron!) being sold out of the back of an old El Camino! Throw some potatoes and some of that silver queen corn in a big pot with the jumbo shrimp and Old Bay seasoning and it's so good you'll slap your momma. (I don't think that really happens because southern mommas will slap back!)

Undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of beach trips are the accents. You know you're from the south if you couldn't care less about ending sentences with prepositions! My favorite will always be what we hear at our favorite country restaurant in Foley. While wishing several people happy birthday, the adorable hostess invariably says something like, "We want to wish a happy birthday to Lulu! Hey Lulu and family! Where ya'll at?"  Every time I hear an accent as colorful as my own I feel at home! Its just who i am! It's where I'm from! 

But of course, the biggest reason I love the south is family! This beach trip was, most importantly, a time to make unforgettable cousin memories! Our children have been called, as a part of this ministry team, to live far from cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. We all do this willingly, but we certainly appreciate the times we can reconnect with family. Riding boogie boards, playing paddle ball, crab hunting, and playing board games together are precious times for these McKinney kids! 

Thank you, Grammy and Grampa J!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

There is no age limit on ministry!!!

I fully understand that some churches target their ministry toward certain ages.  Some churches unapologetically attempt to appeal to 20 somethings or 50 somethings or even 80 somethings.  I get that.  I'm not judging anyone's ministry methodology, I'm just here to say that Blake and I have never been called to minister in that way.  We thrive best in a multigenerational church!  We believe our children learn best in a multigenerational church.  We believe that submission is learned best and modeled most in a multigenerational church.

Let's just be honest.  It's not natural for teens and 70 somethings to enjoy the same approach to worship music.  It's not "normal" for stay at home moms to minister alongside young single girls.  It's completely hilarious to watch this 40 something try to be "cool" enough to teach preteen kids in bible study.  It's even less likely to see retired great grandmothers encouraging elementary kids to dance (yes I'm Baptist and I said the "d" word) during VBS worship rally, much less to see them doing it themselves!

A multigenerational approach to church requires submission on everyone's part.  (Yes, I also just used the "s" word.  Wait, isn't that what you call it at your house too?  When McKinney's refer to the "s" word, we really mean submission.  That's how much we LOVE that word!)

I've experienced many sweet moments of multigenerational church in my 23 years of ministry, but none sweeter than what I was a part of this week.  This past week was Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church in Lee's Summit and I was allowed to direct the preteen class.  It was my third year to direct this class, and as director I get to pick who works with me.  Every year I pick the same two people...Thorville Rygaard and Joan Glowa.

Here's part of our group with Thorville...

And here's part of the group with Joan on the front left...

Thorville is 84 years old, a retired engineer!  I've decided that he's pretty much always been brilliant! And get this, he tells the students to call him "THOR"!  Is that awesome or what?   Joan is 77 years old.  She is a retired teacher, loves to study the bible and travel, and is passionate about leading people to Christ!  She is a spit fire if I've ever known one! Both Joan and Thorville (who are not married to each other!) have traveled to over 100 countries, mostly on mission trips!

I also get to have at least one teenager with the preteens.  This year I was so blessed to have Alyssa Gann!  Alyssa is 15.  She is the best soccer player I've ever known and she is drop dead gorgeous!  She's hilarious and I adore her!  She's learning more and more about the bible every day and it's so exciting to watch! 

Here's Alyssa (in the center) with her friend Sara (who Alyssa brought 2 days this week) with one of our students!

On Tuesday THOR taught the kids about how Paul had to be rescued from Caesarea by being lowered out of the city wall in a basket.  He brought maps and talked history and the students ATE IT UP!!!  On Thursday, Joan will share about Paul and I absolutely guarantee that she will have a story about having traveled to wherever Paul was in her part of the study.  In fact, both she and THOR told the students about how they had both walked on Straight Street on the way to Damascus where Paul's blinding conversion took place.  That kind of experience and wisdom and first person excitement happens only because these multiple generations do life together at FBCLS!  Alyssa and I sat in amazement as we watched 12 year olds talk bible with these older saints!  I'm still over the moon about it!

Not only do we have a boat load of senior adults at FBCLS who, just like THOR and Joan, haven't retired from hands on ministry, we also have tons of adults and teenagers who dive into full on kids' ministry!  We are definitely not a huge church, as these numbers will show, but check out the note Blake passed me yesterday afternoon.

This is a breakdown of our numbers for VBS for the week.  Now obviously we weren't too high tech with this, and again we aren't a mega church, but do you see the leader to kid ratio?!  We had 110 workers and 165 kids!  That's astounding to me!  It's one more reason I love my church, and I'm convinced Jesus is pleased with how we are serving Him together!  Besides, VBS is so much fun, who wants to miss it??

Here are a few more examples of how my church thrives in the middle of multigenerational ministry.

This is Hannah!  I am so privileged to get to hang with Hannah and mentor her!  She has so many talents and is the sweetest teenage girl I know.  She loves Jesus and can play some mean volleyball and cello!  She's also an amazing hair braider!  She texted me Friday to see if Sarah would like for her to braid her hair! Sarah and I arrived a little early and Hannah braided her hair in Dad's office! In this way, Sarah is learning from Hannah!  That's multigenerational!

This is one of my favorite college students, Davis!  He is a serious quarterback who played for the Razorbacks for the past two years and is about to transfer to SBU in Bolivar!  He spent the entire week teaching 3rd graders!  And please check out Joan photobombing!!

And this is Jillian!  Jillian is a 5th grader who played the part of the cool, courageous, Colossal Coaster Kid in worship rally this week!  Sarah adores her and she is loves to be her friend!  Even kids can minister to kids!

So there is absolutely no age limit to ministry! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This is why PK's are the way they are...

I'm finally getting a chance to post something from last week...I wrote this about a week ago but thought it was just so insightful. (Not really but it's so indicative of us!) Pretend its last week!

So VBS has been going on this week at FBC Lee's Summit.  I point that fact out simply because it should tell you the frame of mind as well as the level of energy we have at our house this week.  Keep that in mind as you read...

Honestly, have you ever wondered why pastor's kids are usually THE WORST kids? 

Now to be honest, I have many friends from college who grew up as pastor's kids and turned out great!  My college suite mate, Robin, was a perfect pastor's daughter.  She was always kind and sweet, Godly, passionate about serving others, and only stayed out past curfew one time that I can recall!  (I love you Robin, but surely you remember that night!)  She did marry that guy anyway!  Robin is probably the reason I, against all PK odds, have higher expectations for my kids.

Something happened today that might explain this "pastor's kid = wild child" phenomenon.

As Blake and I were driving with Sarah on our way back to church from lunch at Jason's Deli after a particularly spiritually charged morning of VBS (because you evidently CAN come to know Jesus on a roller coaster), she asked a profound question.

"How did people get the bible?"

I thought DR. McKinney was about sprout angel wings!  He got that look in his eye that only preachers get when they sense someone in the vicinity has an honest spiritual question. He looked as though his very reason for living had just been identified! I swear I heard the Chariots of Fire theme as I almost literally saw the wheels of his brain turning as to how to explain the divine process of how we have God's very words in our hands!

There was this elaborate explanation of canonization and transmission. He may have even mentioned the Dead Sea scrolls at one point. Sarah, at the tender age of 5 years old, was fortunate enough to get at least 2 weeks worth of Biblical Survey notes in less than 5 minutes! 

Finally I noticed the glazed look in her eyes. Then I realized she was so me! 

"But Dad, where did my teacher buy the pretty Bible she reads from?"

It was a shopping question!!!  Not a theological question!

"Probably Mardel, Honey."

I actually felt sorry for Dr. McKinney.

And I believe that might partially explain why preacher's kids have issues. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Something just fell into our laps!

I love my church for about a MILLION different reasons.  Here are just a few!

1.  We have the best and cutest pastor!
2.  There is zero ugliness, even when we disagree.
3.  We are not stiff or stuffy!  We don't take ourselves too seriously, but we do make Jesus relevant in everything!
4.  The most amazing youth group is full of unique and friendly kids who let me hang out with them every now and then...and Justin and Caleb have a home there!
5.  For some crazy reason, they let me live out my calling to lead Bible study.  For that matter, they let me just be me!
6.  Most of all, we are a body of believers who don't judge, but really do accept the fact that we are all sinners who've been redeemed.

And in light of that last one, we are getting the ministry opportunity of a lifetime about which I'm stoked.  (See, I've been hanging out with the youth group long enough to pick up some groovy language.  They still use words like "stoked" and "groovy" right?)

FBCLS is getting the opportunity to provide free childcare for the teenage mother's who attend LSR7's Summit Ridge Academy!  That's huge, folks!

We talk about being pro life.  We agonize over how our public schools don't respect Christian beliefs (which we've not necessarily experienced here in LSR7...).  Now we've been given this amazing opportunity to literally BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF JESUS to girls in our public school system who've chosen life!  It's like God just teed it up for us!

Let's just be honest.  Most "christians" would immediately judge these girls and their families.  Most would attempt to disassociate themselves lest Jesus' name be tarnished.  At the very least, most would silently say something like, "What a shame!" and leave it at that.  Not FBCLS!

We will greet these girls every morning at 7:30am when they drop of their precious little ones at the church with a smile!  We will ask them how it's going?  We will pray for them as they have a test or a project due!  We will love on these babies like they are our very own flesh and blood!  We will sing Jesus songs to them and rock them.  Then when those moms come back at 2:30pm, we will give them their clean and rested and safe baby.  We will be a solid and gracious link in their support system.  Eventually we will celebrate with them as they graduate and move on to make the best life for their little family.  We will make sure they know about Jesus and that He's the reason any of us have real life.

I'm so excited about this opportunity I could bust!  You see, my sweet Sarah will start to kindergarten this year and I will be able to help on Fridays!  If you live in Lee's Summit or the surrounding area and want to join me, please contact Trish Frevert at to sign up!  The church will pay for you to have a background check.  We are still looking for 3 people to provide care from 7:30am to 11:30am and 9 people to provide care from 11:30am to 2:30pm.  We start August 14th!

But Jesus called the children to Him and said "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these..."  
Luke 18:16

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A few blogs I'm reading lately...

I rarely read actual books lately.  Actually I've never been much more than a beach reader anyway.  I will occasionally get on a kick and read an entire series of books during the summer, but it's not looking promising for the summer of 2013!  I'd like to blame my schedule, because as you know it's hard to read and drive or read and cook or read and do laundry.  Those are the things I do most when I'm not working on LifeWay stuff or selling oil and vinegar or at the pool with Sarah or crafting with Sarah.  And if you believe I'm crafting with Sarah I have some beachfront property right here in the KC metro area I'll sell you before you read my last post.

I digress...

The point is that I'm not much of a reader.  However, I do find time to catch up on my favorite blogs from time to time.  I'd love to start sharing a few of my favorites every week and hear some of yours.  Blogs are such a fun, quick way to keep up with everything from friends and family to trends in fashion or new recipes. I read several blogs weekly, but many I just read whenever the mood strikes or I have an extra minute or two.  Tonight I'll share just a few of my regular reads.

If you are a Southern gal or you know one, please do yourself a favor and check out  Boomama is Sophie Hudson from Alabama, and she's a riot.  I do not know Sophie personally, but I swear she's lived my life. She's one of the best storytellers I've ever read, and her tales of life in the south are just simple hilarity. In fact, her brand new book, A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet, came out this summer.  I read it in two nights.  My best friend and I must have called or texted each other 50 times in that 48 hour period just to say, "I swear that's us!".  If you aren't southern, then you might not totally get it, and you might be even more convinced that all us southern gals are out of control after you read it.  Then again, you might just understand me a little better if you check out Sophie's blog.

A local blog that I keep up with is by Angie Wilkinson.  I count Angie as a personal friend even though we rarely see each other.  She is a fellow mom, women's minister, lover of Jesus and Bible study, and KC suburbanite.  I appreciate Angie's honesty and biblical perspective on everyday life as a mom, friend, daughter, and wife.  Angie has helped me with a couple of LifeWay events and I wholeheartedly believe that she will have a great book of her own out soon!  For encouragement in this crazy mom life, head over to Angie's blog!

I can't write about my favorite blogs without mentioning the ONE blog I read EVERY DAY.  If you are involved in any kind of women's ministry at all, you have to subscribe to My friends at LifeWay Women update that blog daily with fresh encouragement for your walk with Christ as well as resources for your ministry.  A variety of folks guest blog for them, and I've even written a few things myself.  I retweet, share, text, and email this blog to poor Natalie (my church' s women's team leader) far more than she would like simply because it's so good!  Natalie would probably appreciate it if you all would check out the blog, and tell them Gayla sent you, simply in hopes that I'll stop bugging her!  The funny thing is that I'm pretty sure she subscribes to it but I just keep sending it to her...just in case she missed it.

And lastly, though this isn't a blog, I couldn't end this post without screaming from the rooftops about the best book I've seen in forever.  My brilliant, humble, Godly husband and pastor just had his first book released last week.  Refresh, A Moment with God in the Middle of Your Day, was released on Amazon ( and Barnes and Noble ( Blake's dreamed of writing a book, and we've prayed for this for 20 years.  These devotions have been written brilliantly for the purpose of refocusing you on God's love, mercy, grace, and specific direction during your everyday routine.  I know I'm biased, but it's a great addition to your devotional library.  It's actually trending on Barnes and Noble as one of the hottest moving books so maybe I'm not the only one who thinks it's worth the read!

I'd love to hear what you are reading!  What books or blogs not only entertain you but also make you think or bring you encouragement?  Let me know if you have a blog of your own!