It’s time again for another VBS Geek of the Week! I’d like you to meet two fabulous ladies who most certainly are not geeks… but they are crazy about VBS! Venita LaGrassa and Susan DeLong have been involved in VBS for about 15 years as teachers, helpers, and decorators in their local churches. For the past 4 years they’ve also been involved at the associational level as conference leaders. You might know them as "decorators par excellence" whose incredible displays have been featured at LifeWay’s VBS Preview events in Fort Worth, TX. (Remember the awesome horse from Saddle Ridge Ranch or this incredible Statue of Liberty from Big Apple Adventure?) I asked Venita and Susan to share a little about why they were selected as “VBS Geek(s) of the Week” and here’s what they had to say…
What has been your favorite theme? Why?
Our favorite theme was Outrigger Island. This was the first year that we learned about using Insulation Board and a hot wire or hot knife for creating VBS props. Special thanks to the LifeWay decorating staff for giving us tips and pointers on how to work with it. Our props that year included a surfboard hut and surfboards. We especially enjoyed teaching our decorating class that year and providing surfboard and palm leaf patterns for the class to trace and take home with them. We had a lot of fun working with the theme that year!
What is something funny that has happened while getting ready for VBS?
We thought it would be great to have some real tumbleweeds the year we did Saddle Ridge Ranch. So we looked online and found a place that sells tumbleweeds but they were a bit pricey for our budget. Susan’s family had planned a trip to Arizona and on their way home they would be driving through West Texas—the perfect place to find tumbling tumbleweeds! As West Texas started to come into view, Susan was in the back of the minivan, eyes peeled and ready to spot those dried up, brushy, round balls of sticks. The four other family members in the van with her were not nearly as enthusiastic about the idea… but she was on a mission for VBS! After all, these tumbleweeds were for Jesus, by golly! After spotting the first cluster, she hollered from the backseat for her husband to stop the van. “I found some!” With a big sigh and eyes rolling, he obliged. She found 5 really good ones of various sizes. They were a lot larger than they looked from the side of the road. But as her family sat in the van watching and waiting, she managed to get all five tumbleweeds on top of the van and tied them all SECURELY to the luggage rack.
Susan was of course very pleased with herself. As they started their journey home again, she sat thinking about how good the stage was going to look with those real tumbleweeds. She could see her husband’s eyes in the rearview mirror looking back at her and she knew he was thinking she was crazy. Then she saw him glance in his side mirror and suddenly say, “Some of your tumbleweeds just blew off!” Mortified, she looked back and sure enough they were tumbling across the road. “Pull over, pull over! I need to check the others and find some more!”
To sum up this long story… she found more, tied them up, lost more, found more, tied them up, and lost some more. All kinds of onlookers passed their van wondering what in the world anyone would want with those things. They even had to stop at a highway checkpoint… and when her husband rolled down his window, the officer asked, “Do you know you have tumbleweeds on top of your car?” “Aaaa, yes sir I do,” her husband said. “They belong to my wife.”
We ended up with 3 tumbleweeds… none of the originals, but 3 nonetheless. And they did make our Saddle Ridge Ranch stage look great!
What makes you keep doing VBS year after year?
It’s a blessing to both of us to be a part of reaching children and their families for Christ during our churches’ yearly VBS. Now, since we’ve become members of both the Tarrant Baptist Association and the Collin Baptist Association VBS Training Teams, we’ve been able to share the creativity that God has given us on a wider scale by teaching classes on decorating including our favorite class that we teach called "Decorating in a Box." This is a class that simplifies the decorations down to a smaller scale. All of the decorations for a room (Crafts, Missions, Bible Study, Music, etc.) will fit neatly into a box for easy transportation and storage.
What is your Number 1 piece of advice about decorating for VBS?
Our number 1 piece of advice, especially if you’re going to loan out your decorations to other churches is to go light. We remember the year of making mountains out of plywood and hauling them to about 8 different churches to use. Needless to say, our husbands were not too happy with us because the mountains weighed about a ton! We found out why God is the only one that can move mountains! We started using insulation boards cut with a hot knife and a hot wire. Everything we made from that point on was lightweight and easily transported and moved from our churches, to our association, to other churches, and then back to our churches for storage.
Will you be making something special to feature at the VBS Preview in Fort Worth this year?
Yes, but we can’t tell you what it is or we’ll have to kill you… LOL.
Looks like we’ll just have to wait and see… if you haven’t secured your spot, then do so today! Sounds like these ladies will be bringing something you certainly don’t want to miss!