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Susan Wanderer has worked with families in kids ministry for 20 years, with the last ten years serving as Kids Minister at Mount Ararat Church in Stafford. Susan and her husband Ed reside in Fredericksburg and have three amazing kids who joined their family in 2011 and who fill their days with adventure. Come join the conversation over at 

My Stomping Grounds

I have worked vocationally in kids ministry for twenty years. The majority of the days I absolutely adore my job.  Then there are some days, where I take a deep breath and hope tomorrow will be better. Any time you are in a profession that involves working with people, life is both fabulous and frustrating. Humans. We are a wonderful and worrisome bunch, aren't we? Yet, the fabulous far outweighs the frustrating. Sounds a lot like parenting, huh?

My world seems to be filtered through one primary lens: ministry. Ministry to other families and ministry to my own family. I confess, there are seasons I fear I do not do as well pouring into my own tribe of people. That plagues me a bit.

I interact with many moms and dads who are in the thick of parent-ing, spouse-ing and life-ing. They know both the weeds and the flowers of modern day family life. This life can be both messy and lovely. Throw a few kiddos in the mix and a beautiful bouquet of weeds and flowers is formed.

I see these parents with hopes and goals for their clans. My gosh, how divine and sacred it is to hear them dream of what could-be or reflect upon what-is.  Their eyes dance with wonder and awe while they talk of how their children are growing and maturing.

Then I see the dance collide with real life. 


Kid makes poor decisions.

Mom and dad regret their reactions.

Doors slam.

Feet stomp.

Tears are cried.

Silence fills the hallways of their home.


Mom begins to whisper “I’m doing the best I can.”

Dad tries to comfort.

Mom-Guilt feels stronger than her husband’s arms.


In those real-life moments, defeat feels like a beast, shaking a bony finger in the face of parents across the globe.


“See, I told you. You are a failure of a mom. You don't know what you are doing at all.”


While I have been in vocational kids ministry for 20 years, I have only been parenting for five and a half of those years. My tenure in parenthood is not long.

In these five short years I've embraced the moments of comforting, correcting, loving, snuggling, laughing, and guiding my kiddos in the weeds and the flowers of our family life.  Some days are glorious and other days are just gross. 

Christmas is a reminder to me that God sent Jesus to be in the messy and lovely parts of this life. It is a season of refreshment and of restoration. It’s a tender season of hope. It’s the season of Emmanuel, which means God with us.  

God with us. God with my family. God with my kids. God with my spouse. God with all of us.

This seasons restores my perspective and refreshes my joy.

Please allow this Kids Minister/Rookie Mom to offer a bit of hope this Christmas season in the midst of your weeds and flowers of parenting:  Sit near the twinkly lights of your tree, soak in the wonder and awe of this season and know that Emmanuel has come, God is with us.

Merry Christmas,



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Pouches' Community Corner

Trains, Planes and Automobiles Kids' Race Series


From a small beginning, Cathy Weise of the Ron Rosner YMCA has developed an ambitious three-race series for kids for this summer, with the help of The Great Train Race, Shannon Airport, Dominion Raceway & Entertainment, the Fredericksburg Area Service League and Race Timing Unlimited.

Great Train Race Director Jennifer Taylor was one of the first on board.