this post is part two in the “pausing to pray” series.  you can find part 1 here.


Day 1 – Praise
Written by: Kristen Torres

A Psalm of Praise

image[3]The book of Psalms has always been an irreplaceable devotional guide, prayer book, and hymnal of the people of God. The Hebrew title is “the book of praises,” but Psalm 145 is the only psalm actually called “A Psalm of Praise.”  Spend time praising God for who He is. Begin by reading Psalm 145.  (Pause to read this passage) David mentioned several attributes of God. Who could not praise a God with these wonderful characteristics? Take a moment to meditate on them—maybe even choose a posture of reverence to read the passage again.  David not only tells why we should praise the Lord, but when we should praise Him:

• Praise God from Day to Day (v. 1-2)

• Praise God from Generation to Generation (v. 3-7)

• Praise God from Nation to Nation (v. 8-13a)

• Praise God from Need to Need (v. 13b-16)

• Praise God from Prayer to Prayer (v. 17-21)

Dawson Investor and volunteer, (fill-in-this-blank with your name), thank you for being found faithful as a servant of Jesus Christ by teaching the next generation the truth about God. Whether we admit it or not, every local church is one generation short of extinction. My prayer for you for this coming year is Psalm 34:11, “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”

Psalm 145 A psalm of praise. Of David.

1 I will exalt you, my God the King;

    I will praise your name for ever and ever.

2 Every day I will praise you

    and extol your name for ever and ever.

3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;

    his greatness no one can fathom.

4 One generation commends your works to another;

    they tell of your mighty acts.

5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—

    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.

6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—

    and I will proclaim your great deeds.

7 They celebrate your abundant goodness

    and joyfully sing of your righteousness.

8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,

    slow to anger and rich in love.

9 The Lord is good to all;

    he has compassion on all he has made.

10 All your works praise you, Lord;

    your faithful people extol you.

11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom

    and speak of your might,

12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts

    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,

    and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises

    and faithful in all he does.

14 The Lord upholds all who fall

    and lifts up all who are bowed down.

15 The eyes of all look to you,

    and you give them their food at the proper time.

16 You open your hand

    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways

    and faithful in all he does.

18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,

    to all who call on him in truth.

19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;

    he hears their cry and saves them.

20 The Lord watches over all who love him,

    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.

    Let every creature praise his holy name

    for ever and ever.

kristenKristen Torres has been a member of the Dawson Family of Faith her entire life.  She began serving on staff full time as the Associate Children and Preteen Minister in 2007. Kristen has experienced many spiritual milestones with her Dawson family including: baptism, youth mission, teaching as a young adult, marriage and the dedication of her son. She holds an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Berry College in Rome, Georgia and a Master’s in Education Administration from Samford University. Prior to becoming a minister, Kristen taught in the Homewood School System for 10 years.  As a disciple and follower of Jesus Christ, Kristen’s prayer is that the Spiritual Development Ministry reflects that life in Christ is truly life to the fullest. (John 10:10).

it is old news that us southerners experienced some eventful snow days recently.  wanting to fully experience these rare snowy moments, i rushed out the other evening to take pictures as the snow began to fall.

photo 1

i live right beside my church in the sweet “mayberryesque” town of homewood.  so as the much talked about snow (not ice, that’s what we usually get.) began to fall, i couldn’t wait to get outside and experience it.  there may have been snowmen and snowball fights, but my first priority was to take some pictures. i crossed the street to the church and quickly snapped a picture of the front of our sanctuary.  when looking at it later i thought, hey that’s not half bad.  i mean i don’t need to quit my day job, but i thought i captured the whole scene quite nicely. (even if it was taken with my phone.)

photo 2


then later that evening i saw a picture that my friend and coworker, andy cartee, had taken and shared on our church’s facebook page. same night, same building, and same snow, but i was blown away by how much more beautiful his picture was.  i kept saying to myself, “danielle, you should have stepped back to really see the whole picture.”  how did i miss those incredible snow-covered oaks? while my close up was just a glimpse of what surrounded me, andy captured the bigger, more beautiful picture. his is boldly framed with glorious oaks. (i sound like my mother as i go on and on about trees.)

i know these are simple snow pictures, but i keep thinking about how i all too often approach life, ministry, and God’s story like i did my photograph.  i zoom in and fixate on one or two issues. depending on what i perceive in my small frame, i can feel complacent, worried, prideful, scared, angry, or sad. when focused on my tiny view, i can miss an opportunity to see the greater picture.  i miss the oaks.

since that snowy night last week, these are the lessons i have been continually repeating to myself:

when the lens of life’s journey captures moments that don’t seem fair or make sense… step back.  what is unfocused to me, my great God sees clearly.

instead of allowing ministry challenges/successes to frame the way i serve… step back.  maybe it is time to broaden my view and remember God holds the landscape in His hands.

when things don’t go my way…step back.  i am constantly in need of the humble reminder that God is the main subject of the story, not me.

because i didn’t step back, my picture is void of the oaks. may that not be the case for my life.

“they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” isaiah 61:3

photo 1

i have been blessed, challenged, encouraged, and stretched in many ways in my new ministry position. i am grateful to serve alongside a supervisor/friend that gets ministry and me! she gently guides, patiently listens (bless her heart), thoughtfully instructs, holds me accountable, and personally prays for and with me!  i am a recipient of her many gifts of leadership and am grateful. then, she took it to the next level with the gift of sabbath. 

i am not surprising anyone in service when i say how emotionally exhausting and spiritually depleting ministry can be.  maybe she saw that on our faces as we sat in an ed staff meeting on the edge of summer with to-do lists a mile long.  my idea of help would have been an effective way to get more done or at least three more paid assistants. 😉  i was so wrong. instead of talking new methods, more people, and longer hours, we were challenged with the ironic response of rest! we were taught from and gifted with a copy of 24/6 written by matthew sleuth, md.  that would have been plenty, but then we were handed an accountability card that required action on our part. for the three months of summer, busy months in kidmin, we were to pick one work day a month for a personal sabbath.  we were instructed to not schedule anything on that day except for time with Jesus.  no meetings, no “work”, no email, and no office time until late in the afternoon.  best. gift. ever.

my days of sabbath have challenged me to slow down, sit, and just be with Jesus instead of constantly “doing” for Him.  i experienced extended quiet andphoto 2 prayer times.  i literally stopped and smelled the flowers (hydrangeas, my favorite).  sermon downloads were listened to and Bible study times were unhurried.  i knew i appreciated this time, but not until my last scheduled sabbath was interrupted by unforeseeable circumstances did i know how greatly these  days ministered to me. my three month challenged will now be extended to year round so that i can truly be the Christ-centered leader i am called to be.

i don’t know where this blog post finds you. if you are in ministry i can only imagine how weary, stretched, or worn you may be. maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop doing and begin stopping. the thing your heart may need most is not more trying, but sweet sabbath rest.

*i would love to hear about your personal sabbath experiences. 

TradingCards19 copyover 15 years ago, when i was just beginning in the kidmin world, i had such a burden for children to be given the opportunity to participate in an event that was intentional about Bible study and discipleship.  i knew their youth world would be scattered with “disciple now” type events, but why not provide a one night event for children where they are brought together to:

– study God’s Word in a interactive way
– worship God in a kid-friendly setting
– be poured into by passionate adults and youth
– build relationships with their peers in a safe environment
and more.

so, from this vision came 24 Hours 4 Him – a spring discipleship event that begins at 6p.m. on a friday night and ends at 6p.m. on 24hours07logosaturday night.  yes, the kids sleep.  we even put them to bed in order of their age.  no, we don’t sleep in family homes.  we nestle down right in church classrooms so we don’t lose anytime driving back and forth to the church.

Screen Shot 2012-01-30 at 10.40.07 AMour themes come from great sources like northpoint’s superheroes curriculum, children desiring God backyard Bible club lessons, orange’s past vbs curriculums, and more.  the entire 24 hours revolves around the theme in hopes of not only helping children understand these truths with their head, but to grasp them with their hearts and then apply them to their lives.

the schedule usually looks something like this:GodWins3.C


  •  children arrive, report to BIble study rooms, and play a get-to-know-you game
  • dinner
  • Bible study (by grade)
  • worship
  • 1st & 2nd graders go to bed while 3rd-5th graders participate in special areas (i.e. cooking, crafts, drama, puppets, secret service, etc.)
  • 3rd & 4th graders go to bed while *5th graders have a special late night event.
  • bedtime


  • wake up
  • breakfast
  • morning celebration
  • quiet time
  • Bible study
  • lunch
  • BIble study
  • recreation
  • Bible studyWisdom3
  • clean-up, pack-up (kids help put the church back together for sunday morning.)
  • closing worship (parents are invited to attend with their children.)
  • go home

24truthlogonoverseadditional information

  • Bible study leaders are parents, college students, or older youth.
  • parents come and help serve meals and also make goody buckets for each of the Bible study leaders.
  • we have a designated first-aid/meds person that handles any medicine brought by parents for their children during the weekend.
  • we bring in a special speaker and worship leader for the worship sessions.  (children also get the chance to lead in worship.)
  • children receive a t-shirt from the weekend and we encourage them to wear it to school the next week.
  • parents receive an immediate email after dropping their children off that shares with them what the children are studying that weekend and ways to continue the learning at home.
  • *the late night 5th grade activity is fun activity where children make bridges out of various random supplies. (i.e. straws, legos, rubber bands, paperclips, etc.) then, we talk through how Jesus alone is the bridge between our sinful selves and our Holy God.  children then fill out a questionnaire about where they are spiritually, so that we can more effectively minister to them in their remaining months in kids ministry.

i have been blessed at both of the churches i have served at with pastors that understand the importance of children’s ministry and take time to promote andScreen shot 2011-03-09 at 11.02.28 AM share the vision with others.  below is an excerpt of what my current pastor, dr. gary fenton, is sharing in next week’s church newsletter about dawson kids first ever 24 Hours 4 Him.

“Speaking of children… as we do frequently at Dawson, because ministry to children, preschool, middle and high school students are a priority… this Friday, March 01 6:00 pm to Saturday 6 p.m. will be one of the more important 24 hour periods in the church this year. We will host “24 hours 4 Him.” This is an intentional step toward healthy Christian discipleship that involves interactive Bible Study, age appropriate worship and teaching for grades 1-5. In the last several years several books including You Lost Me and Almost Christian have documented that a large number young adults 18 to 30 indicate that their faith is not relevant to the issues they face in life. Many of them have not totally abandoned their faith in God; but they are unsure if and how it relates to their daily life. The Christian faith is unfortunately too often seen as a ticket to heaven, rather than a way of life. Some who drop out may have had experiences with God but have never learned about a daily walk with God. Others may have just heard enough to be confused. During 24 Hours 4 Him children will learn about heroes of the Old and New Testament as the Bible stories will be taught in an age appropriate ways. This is not a child evangelism program but an opportunity for spiritual preparation. 

Still speaking of children…If you sense excitement on my part, you are right. The first time I heard of 24 Hours 4 Him I thought it was probably a children’s version of a lock-in during which exhausted kids would be manipulated into some type of emotional decision. Then my first grade grandson participated in one in another state and I saw how helpful and healthy it was for him to hear Bible stories. I learned sleep and rest were built into the program. It was like spending the night at Christian friend’s house that involved healthy Christian teaching. I invite you to be praying this wonderful foundational discipleship event.”

i so look forward to what next weekend will be and what God will do at dawson kids first 24 Hours 4 Him.  for those of you who want more info, i have provided some links to some promotional and leader information from our present 24 Hours 4 Him.  

24 Hours 4 Him registration 2013
24 Hours 4 Him leader guidelines

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