Tag Archive: children

Not that I have heretofore done a lot of thinking about the growth curve. Which is precisely my point. Have any other parents actually worried about a growth curve? I was watching the Pediasure commercial where the little boy says his shirt is too big and the mother worries about his being off the growth curve. Then, after a couple of days or so with two bottles of Pediasure a day – wouldn’t you know it – he’s right back on that sucker.

Each of my four children grew differently. As did their friends at church and school. Not once did I hear, or worry about, a growth curve. I’m sure at some point we may have bought them Pediasure, but not because we thought it would right any perceived wrong. All four turned out just fine. Even J.D., who wasn’t sure for a while if he was going to get taller at all – he did.

Not that there is not a growth curve. I have seen and heard of children that grew abnormally. However, I don’t know whether their situation was caused by something specific or attributed to the growth curve.

Just saying…..

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.


Here is the video for my song, What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger). The video was filmed and produced by Marcus Belmore. The song was produced by my son, Daniel “Conner” Roark. It is the bonus song on my new cd of live songs, Peace Be With You. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel while you’re there. Also, please like my Facebook music page.

Peace be with you.

Christ Alive Band with JR Byrd 2Christ UMC Farmers Branch hosted the conference-wide Children’s and Youth Volunteer Training Event on Saturday morning, August 13. Amy Ruppersberg, Children’s Director, and David Magallanes, Student Ministries Director, welcomed the volunteers at 8:30 a.m. Amy thanked everyone for volunteering and went over the positions and the schedule. David said a prayer before the group departed to the greeting stations or the narthex for registration and giving directions.

A breakfast table had a variety of pastry options, fruit, and even homemade sausage biscuits. People from churches around the conference arrived to check in or register at 9 a.m. Worship began in the sanctuary at 9:15 with the Christ Alive Band. The keynote speaker was Joe Stobaugh, Executive Minister of Worship and Arts at Grace Avenue UMC in Frisco.

Stobaugh began by playing a praise song on ukulele, then had the congregation to join Joe Stobaugh on ukulelehim in singing. He is the leader of the ukulele choir at Grace Avenue. Joe is also a very outgoing and affable man and a practiced speaker. He shared a nice – and personal – story of not being interested at all in singing when he was growing up. A mentor saw some potential in him and talked him into playing guitar in the band, even offering to give him a very nice guitar for one dollar. Stobaugh said he could not do that. To which his mentor said he would give it to him for free with two conditions. One, he would only play music for God on the guitar. Two, when the time came, he would pass it on to another youth. Joe still has the guitar and plays it. When the time comes he will pass it on as agreed. An excellent example of the effect a volunteer can have on children and youth.

Beth McClure

Beth McClure

Appreciating and Equipping Your Volunteers was facilitated by the Children’s Minister at Grace Avenue UMC, Kristen Lane. She discussed tools of the trade and giving volunteers what they need and more. Kristen was a lively and vibrant speaker, as was Beth McClure. Beth led the Your Classroom is God’s Classroom workshop. She is the Director of the Early Development Program at Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton. McClure demonstrated the way she motivated the children to behave by using little “jingles” that let the children know was coming next.

Kelly Carpenter of the Children, Youth, and Young Adult Ministry of the North Texas

Kelly Carpenter at left corner of table

Kelly Carpenter at left corner of table

Conference, led a roundtable for Children’s Ministry in the first session and Youth Ministry in the second session. The round tables were discussions about life, ministry, balance, programming, and anything needing to be discussed. Some good ideas were shared and a few people were able to get some things off their chest as to some effects of volunteering.

Morgan Stafford

Morgan Stafford

In the second session, which pertained to youth, Morgan Stafford led the workshop on The Adventure of Youth Mentoring. As Executive Director at Christ’s Foundry, Stafford discussed the joys and challenges of youth mentoring. Bill Mauldin, Director of Family Ministries at Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton, talked to volunteers about applying principles from the book “Good to Great” to youth programs.


Working together to create a smooth handoff between Children’s and Youth Ministry was

Amy Ruppersberg on left, David Magallanes on right.

Amy Ruppersberg on left, David Magallanes on right.

the subject of The Phases of Children’s and Youth Ministry. Amy Ruppersberg and David Magallanes are well positioned to tackle the subject. For one thing, they talk often and are working toward that smooth handoff with the children at Christ UMC. The transition from one phase of life to another can be a lot for some children to absorb all at once. Knowing the youth director personally while still in elementary school goes a long way toward easing the effect of growing up.

Kenny Dickson

Kenny Dickson

Pastor Kenny Dickson of Christ UMC, along with members Jerry Russell and Darren Gardner, presented the Taking It To the Streets session. Dickson explained how the title to a Doobie Brothers song became the church’s theme for the year. Which means intentionally going beyond the walls of the church into the community and actually becoming involved, not just simply being a presence. Going back to thinking of the church as the people, not just the physical building. Activities were planned with just that interaction with the community in mind. From the Easter egg hunt in a local park, to swim nights at the community pool, and delivering food to elementary children as part of Sack Summer Hunger. Mission, fellowship, and worship opportunities with the community are relatively endless. There is always a new need, a new soul to be saved, or new crises to help someone deal with. And all outside of the church building.

After the final sessions, everyone gathered in the gym for lunch. Which consisted of box Lunch 2lunches from Jason’s Deli provided by the North Texas Conference. Dot Stewart of CUMC helped set up the tables for lunch, as well as the breakfast table, and served drinks at both. Attendees and presenters alike gathered to go over what they had learned, new ideas they came up with, and general church and conference news.

Amy Ruppersberg and David Magallanes should be commended for planning the training event. The presenters should be commended for passing along the knowledge they have acquired through practical application. Amy and David thanked the volunteers from Christ UMC who helped the morning move along smoothly. The attendees should be appreciated for taking time out of their weekend to learn how to more effectively serve the children and youth. And all volunteers everywhere need to be thanked and appreciated. Since biblical times, when faithful volunteers kept house churches alive, volunteers are still keeping churches alive through ministry and mission – inside and outside of the church building.

Peace be with you.

Okay, so it’s not really a tour. But since I wrote a song for Sack Summer Hunger, I have played it at every show and talked about SSH to increase awareness and support – both volunteers and donations – before the program begins on June 11. So it is, in a way, a tour. Several of the “shows” consisted of playing “What the Lord Intends” for congregations of churches. Which included the congregation of The Norkirk Presbyterian Church Sunday morning. The tour ends this coming Sunday, June 5th, with the Sack Summer Hunger Concert.
[The video is of my show at Angela’s during the DSA Showcase. The SSH song is third.]

The Norkirk is a very friendly church. I felt welcome right away. I was looking forward to seeing Nancy Pratt, who is the Christian Education Director. Nancy and I went to high school together. I wrote for the school paper and Nancy was my first in a long line of editors throughout the years.

I wrote a music review column for the paper. I reviewed albums, books, concerts, and so forth. Since it was for school, my parents paid for most of the concerts. I saw a lot of concerts. I would write my column in the style of Hunter S. Thompson or Tom Wolfe – as a participant rather than an observer.

I never knew how much space was available in the next issue. So I would write until the column was finished. Usually on deadline day, or rather deadline hour. The newspaper office had a manual typewriter. After an hour or more of frantic typing, my fingers were sore, but I had a finished column. She would tell me she had room for 250 words. I would hand her the final copy.

“Here’s 400. You choose the 250.”

I actually think I said that to her once. I hope it was only once, but I doubt it. I wasn’t really trying to be pompous. I had written it as a complete piece and would have a hard time cutting it down. Mainly because I was covering a lot of events, depending on the month. I don’t know that she even remembers, but I will apologize when I get a chance.

I walked into the church to smiles and hellos. I set my guitar down when I spotted the restroom. On my way, Rev. Bill Parr approached me.

“You must be here for our minute for mission.”

“I am.”

“Bill Parr,” he said as he shook my hand. “ We’re glad you’re here.”

After I did what was necessary, I picked my guitar up and went into the sanctuary. I didn’t know what to do, so I set my guitar down at the rear of the sanctuary. I looked up and there was Charlotte and Bruce Gibson. I went over and hugged Charlotte and shook Bruce’s hand.

I was in a band with Bruce’s dad and Charlotte’s ex, Bruce, and Joel Nichols, named Southern Plains. Joel and I were a duo for twenty-five years, with Bruce joining in when we played in Dallas and he was able. Joel and I had a band when we made enough money to pay them. Joel died in 1999. Bruce and I played at his funeral.

I went up in the front of the sanctuary and set my guitar case down out of the way. I pulled out my guitar and quickly tuned it. Several people greeted me and thanked me for being there. Then Nancy came up and gave me a hug. She introduced other members that had gone to W.T. White.

The service was an experience in fellowship. John Reas gave me a very nice introduction. I played What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger) and the congregation appreciated it, judging from the applause.

I appreciate all of the old friends I meet, and I hope I continue to run into old friends. As well as meet new friends who will become old friends. Far too many old friends are no longer with us.

Peace be with you.


St. Nick's entrance

St. Nick’s entrance

Every year, for a number of years now, due to the efforts of Debbie Darland, her family, and volunteers, St. Nick/Santa has arrived at Christ UMC in Farmers Branch on a Saturday in December. This year it was December 12th. As Santa was still making his way there, the morning began with a sing-a-long led by Youth Director David Magallanes with Jaime Boenig and Jack Texada.

After the sing-a-long, Debbie announced that Mrs. Claus was sick and would not read the Christmas story this year. And since Santa was “still stuck in traffic,” Katheryn Taylor would read to the children. Which she did, quite well. Since she helps with the children on a regular basis, they were very receptive to her.

Then Santa arrived, preceded by a penguin. Why the penguin led him in is still a mystery. Since Mrs. Claus was ill did a penguin fill in? Why wasn’t an elf taking her place? Do people prefer penguins over elves? And why make us choose between elves and penguins anyway?

Regardless of the penguin/elf debate, Santa took his seat and began to call the children to him. Which Jamie Boenig, David Magallanes, Jack Texadasounds like someone else we know who is associated with Christmas. The children wanted to see Santa Claus. But they also spent time at the manger scene to the right of the stage, looking at baby Jesus.

A list was posted of the order in which the children would be called to see Santa. The families who were further down the list went to get breakfast so they could eat before their child/children’s names were called. Those at the first of the list would eat after talking to Santa and having their picture taken. Members of the Pathfinders Sunday school class cheerfully cooked and served the breakfast.

Rachel Meier and Carly ImthurnSanta finally made his way through all the children and headed on to the next stop. The youth helped to clean up the gym and the Pathfinders class cleaned the kitchen. The children headed home with their parents. Some of the children would be asleep before too long. But all left excited and happy. Thanks to Debbie Darland and family, the youth, Pathfinders class, and all other volunteers not named here for another successful Breakfast with St. Nick, with 80 children this year.

Peace be with you.

Mom and Dad1I was talking to my mom on the phone the other day. We talked about how the aunts and cousins were getting along – the only husband left among Mom and her surviving siblings is Dad. Aunt Stella Joe passed away a week or so ago after falling, breaking her hip and shoulder. She was in hospice for several weeks.

We talked about the journeys my cousins, Scott, Sue, and David had to travel while she was in hospice. Especially with Scott’s wife having brain cancer. The waiting and hoping, yet not sure what to pray for. Our family went through the same type of situation with my Aunt Juanita on my father’s side. Cyndy and I also went through the same situation with her Aunt Gee.

Mom and I talked about her two remaining sisters, Edna and Clara. We talked about our immediate family, the situations our four children are dealing with, the recent rain, and other things. I would give my opinion and Mom would reply, “that’s what Dad said.” It occurred several times during the conversation.

Which surprised, and slightly amused me. When I was in my twenties, and thirties for that matter, it would have severely irritated me to be told I sounded like my dad. He and I are so much alike that the few differences were magnified. He and I did not always talk directly. A lot of the time it was through Mom.

Over the years though, I have learned to appreciate the ways we are alike and also the ways in which we are different. We are closer now than we ever were back then. Having your own children changes how you previously viewed your father and fatherhood. First Jennifer, then the three boys, Conner, Cameron and J.D. I began to find myself saying certain things to them and then thinking “holy crap, I sound like my dad!”

In high school, a few friends and I decided to make a list of all the things that we would do differently with our children than our parents did. We would put the list in a safety deposit box and open it after we all had children and see how we did. Then we decided we would save ourselves the grief of not only having done things like our parents, but of not doing the things we were going to do differently. Even though we disagreed with our parents – still do on some things – overall they were probably right and we knew it even then.

I was talking with Dad a short while back and he was telling me about my grandparents when he was young. And the last part of the last paragraph?

That’s what Dad said.

Peace be with you.

I attended the funeral of an old family friend yesterday morning. She lived across the street from my parents. I went to school with her two sons and daughter. She and my mom have been close for years. Carolyn was cremated, so it was a memorial service – a very nice and appropriate service.

At some point during the service, as the pastor was talking, the sound of children talking and laughing came through the wall as they went out the door from the hallway into the playground. My first thought was how interruptive it was. But then I began to think that it was rather fitting. A festive counterpoint to the somber proceedings on the other side of the wall.

Carolyn’s grandchildren were beginning to fidget from having to sit still so long. Hearing the children in the hallway did not help. It was as if God was illustrating that as one life ends, another begins. Reassuring those assembled that Carolyn is still with us in a spiritual sense.

It is odd to me that funerals can seem like reunions. But then, funerals are, after all, more for the living than the departed. Which makes the interruption of the children more poignant. The cycle continues. Love comes into the world, even as the loved depart from it. And all will meet again.

God speaks in many ways. We just need to listen.

Peace be with you.

%d bloggers like this: