The Back Story
I never planned to leave my position as the Children’s Pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. My husband, Craig, was worried about this — after 25 years, I was still having too much fun.
But God moved us.
In 2003, Craig suffered a massive stroke, forcing him to instantly retire. He was quite bored watching me go off to church every day. So, during our vacation at a rented waterfront home, he said, “Move.” Craig lost his speech as a result of his stroke — so I pay attention to those single words. My first thought was, "You have ruined my vacation." My second thought was, "This is what God wants for him, for me, and for us."
So we moved. At first, I remained active in my role as a Children’s Pastor, flying back and forth for important meetings and events. Then I consulted by phone while the staff adjusted. And then I passed the baton and let go. Not long after that, other churches found me and requested consulting for their Children’s Ministries programs. I was surprised by how fun and fulfilling it was to come alongside a church team for a season. I have loved crossing denominational lines and seeing every church, mission, and ministry as part of the Kingdom.
In 2012, Walt Gerber, the Senior Pastor I had served with for 20 years, was in the hospital with a very serious illness. I wanted to do something besides send flowers. I thought of all the children's sermons* (the visual came out of a blue box) that I had written from his adult messages AND I knew what I could do. I printed off the illustrations of one of those children's sermons on full page sticky labels and attached them to a children's board book I bought at the store. I was just about to send it when Walt took a wonderful turn for the better and I paused mailing it long enough to show the little book to a publisher. He loved it and by Christmas the first three Blue Box Books were published! And yes, I did mail the prototype Blue Box Book, If We Could See Prayer, to Walt.
One of the things we were surprised by is that the books reach people of all ages. Hearing stories of how people were touched, my pastor's heart was stirred and with the help of our first large grant we published a coloring book, The Jesus Comfort Quilt, to help kid's in grief, and three more Blue Box Books.
With the immense success of the books, another grant followed and six more Blue Box Books came out in time for Christmas 2014. With 12 books, people could now subscribe to our discipleship Book-A-Month Club. Kids were running to get a package in the mail the first week of each month. Each Blue Box book is very different in how it presents its Biblical truth — some are interactive, some have flaps, some are stories, some capture the imagination and others dig into a single truth from many angles. All of them have whimsical and delightful illustrations conveying the joy and love of our God.
In July 2017, Beyond the Blue Ministries celebrated 7 years of ministry. We are thankful for all the churches and families we get to love and serve as we remain faithful to our call to spread the good news of Jesus' love.
*Some of the best of these children's sermons and their corresponding small group activities are available to churches, schools and missions for download here.