“Living the Sabbath” in Lent 2016 

10 02 2016

  

  
Today is Ash Wednesday. My church will observe the tradition of the Imposition of Ashes I’m worship on Sunday to begin the season of Lent. I often try to come up with a discipline. It used to be a habit I wanted to get rid of, then a habit I wanted to acquire and now some seasons I have something and some in don’t. I just decided on something for this year. 

I am  going to attempt de-cluttering one small area of my home & life each day as my Lenten practice. I remember reading that a life of sabbath includes allowing your home to be a place to practice a life of worshiping God. Family is not able to worship in a cluttered space of life because we are distracted by too many things – either acquiring or cleaning and finding space for stuff. This discipline is inspired by Norman Wirzba’s “Living the Sabbath”. While I clean I am hoping to incorporate a time of prayer. 

By the way, I’m not hoping for rest and relaxation as the cover page of the book suggests (see below) unless it is to bring peace, justice, hope, rest, and relaxation to all the rest of the world as well. 

#Lent2016 #declutter #sabbath #worship #family #wirzba  

    

 

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Bible Stories Book Review and a Giveaway Drawing – Treasury of Bible Stories: Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times by Kelly Pulley

15 09 2014

I was given opportunity to review a new a new children’s Bible stories book while it is on a blog tour for David C. Cook.

Here is a video trailer featuring Kelly Pulley’s rhyming Treasury of Bible Stories:

And here are my thoughts and impressions on the Treasury of Bible Stories by Kelly Pulley

Definitely a book for 4-8 year olds… if you have a child ready to snuggle up and read or listen to a story, you can start right in. I have a wiggly 7 year old daughter, she is just learning to read and I asked her to help review the book with me. She read the first page on her own – outloud to me – and then she said “This is good, but I think preschoolers and kindergartners who aren’t reading yet would like it better.” I think it also was the timing – if I had her attention and read it as a bed time story or as a children’s sermon story where I already have her as a captive audience then maybe she would have been more receptive.

I have to say I was surprised by how few stories are covered in this book – the author seems to have chosen quality over quantity, which is not a bad thing – making it easier to read through the book with your children. The stories are more like long poems that are very rhythmic – think Dr. Suess style and fun to read outloud. When I first received the book I had hoped to use it with our upcoming Sunday School lessons on the Jesus feeding the 5000 with a few fish and loaves shared by a young child. Sadly, the story was not in the book. I have tried to figure out if there was a pattern to the stories chosen, and I’m not sure there is – perhaps these are some of the author’s favorites or stories that were designed to follow a set of Sunday school lessons.

So who do I recommend pick up this book??

  • If you or your child like rhyming – this book is for you.
  • If you are looking for a new Bible stories book to share with your young child – give this one a try.
  • If you are wanting to read rhythmic stories to children in a nursery or preschool setting – this is a great book to engage little ears.
  • If you’re wanting to add a book to your church or Sunday school’s children’s ministry library – I’d recommend you consider this for your shelf.

WIN A COPY of TREASURY OF BIBLE STORIES by Kelly Pulley!!

If you’d like a copy of this book, I have an opportunity to give away one free Treasury of Bible Stories book to one special random drawing winner.

How to Enter (now through Sept 20th):

  1. Leave your name and reason why you’d like a copy of this book in the comments below for one entry.
  2. Share this post via Facebook, Twittter, Google+, and even pin to Pinterest and then leave a comment telling me where you’ve shared.

I’ll draw a name at 10:00 a.m  on Saturday, Sept. 20th, 2014 – get your entries in and if you think of someone else who might love this book, be sure to share this post with them so they can enter as well.

In the meantime, if you’d like to purchase the book you can find it at:

David C. Cook  | ChristianBooks.com  | Lifeway Christian Books

Family Christian Books | Barnes and NobleAmazon.com

BTW – the only compensation I receive for this post is a copy of the book to use for review and promise of a giveaway book to my readers upon review.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to comment to enter the drawing!!





Inspired by “Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church”

5 08 2014

I’ve come across an excellent post describing how one can help a person in transition when they need to leave the church. Ministry Matters™ | Helping people transition to another church. It discusses how to address a congregational community member when they leave for life changes like college, marriage, new jobs, etc.

What I hoped it would but doesn’t address, is those who are simply looking for something different in worship service or a different type of worshiping community – locally. This is where I often  have continuous conversations with parents and teens in children and youth ministry in a smaller church.

In our church a few things might cause people to want to try  something else (at the same time, these might draw people in!):

  • We don’t have the exciting thrills of the mega-churches around us in the Seattle area when it comes to children, youth, or adults.
  • Our children’s and youth minsitry various from 1 to 20 children/teens on any given Sunday.
  • We have women in leadership – the pastor and myself (whom the church has chosen to call in to these positions).
  • Much of the staff and much of the congregation is (not officially) affirming to LGBTQ parishioners and families – our pastor will perform same sex marriages.
  • We are trying to figure out the best use of our large, beautiful building that we can’t afford to keep to ourselves.
  • Staff salaries have been cut recently including hours of availalbility which affects programs and plans.
  • For now church polity requires that in order to be an elder or deacon you must be an official ‘member’ of the church – and some people are not keen on membership to anything really hindering some excellent folks from holding various leadership roles in the church.
  • We have and use an organ (among other instruments) and sing songs from hymnals (among other types of music)

These and other concerns are reasons I’m continually having conversations beginning with “We are trying out some other churches…” . In a smaller church you really notice when someone or some family is missing for any number of weekends. Other parishioners get nervous and constantly ask “Where are they? do you know if they are coming back? What can you/we do different to bring them back?” . I sometimes know the answer to the first question and usually have nothing for the other two.

To be honest, I decided several years ago that people are going to make their choices, we can do the best we can to involve them in the life of the church and then it is up to them and God’s holy spirit to figure out the rest. My brain will get tired trying to keep track, but it isn’t up to me to decide whether they will stay or go. It is up to me not to let my heart be jealous and angry at people for making their own choices.  We all have seasons in our lives where we need to try something a little different or experience something for ourselves to see to even know if where we are at is what we want and need. I’m of the opinion that we pray for folks and give our blessing to let them wander and try new things and let them know should they choose to come back and stay we are here and have a place for them. I will be sad if it is a person or family that has been a “pillar” of sorts in the congregation community, but it isn’t fair to make people feel guilty or hold them back from something God is calling them to do for themselves and their families.

I have the same opinion when it comes to working with volunteers. Sometimes volunteers want to try something else and they feel stuck in having made a commitment to a particular ministry. I love my volunteers and generally it is few and far between with children and youth ministry – but again we need to let the Spirit lead. If they have gifts and talents and interests they want to try somewhere else for a period of time or they simply are having some tough times in life  – release them, give them permission, and trust that God will work within the ‘gap’ seemingly left in your ministry. We have to trust that God isn’t just working in the life of that one person, but yours as well.

We are called to be people of the spirit – the one Jesus’ sent to work in and through and with us. That means it is important having the tough conversations and giving permission and blessing to allow God’s spirit to work in all people – even if it stings our heart a bit.





One Small Step for Equality, One Bold Post on my Blog

28 03 2013

I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about my views on homosexuality. Maybe because of fear, maybe because I’m not certain that I can come to a conclusion about what I really believe. Maybe I simply don’t want to be wrapped up in political and theological backlash or create the opportunity for others to fight about it. Well, here goes. I’ve been praying about it and I know so many others are doing the same but for some reason my heart is telling me it is time to ‘come out’ with my opinions

 

Today I posted this picture on my Facebook page profile

People of Faith 4 Equality

 

Many others have been posting equality pics because of a major case currently held in the Supreme Court of the United States having to do with marriage and whether or not it is constitutional for two people of the same sex to be married have equal legal rights as a man and woman who are married. So I very much simplified everything that is being looked at, but this is the idea.

Because I am not gay, I don’t think I can make a determination as to how a person ‘becomes’ gay – the current argument is biology vs choice (or nature vs nurture). So I’m choosing not to make an opinion one way or the other. I am a Christian, I believe the Bible was fully inspired by God through the Holy Spirit. I also believe that each author of each book and letter in the Bible has their own biases from their experiences wrapped around the words that are written. Just as this blog post stems out of my experiences (not at all saying my blog posts are to be taken as scripture though!). I also believe that the Old Testament scripture is as valid as the New Testament scriptures – but that the Gospel of Jesus brings mercy and grace to those who were condemned by the law of the Old Testament.

I’ll be honest and say I grew up in a very conservative home, I even received a college scholarship from the Women Republican’s Guild of my hometown (Mainly because I quite often volunteered alongside my mother). I used to think homosexuality was a sin – and I used to think it was probably a choice they made because they were somehow abused. For instance – a mother was awful to her son so he turned to men for love or a father or other male figure raped a girl and so she turned to women for love. Then I met a few folks who were openly gay and my mind begin to change as I got to know them better – of course, I had to allow myself to get to know them better. Some of them still haven’t let me fully in to their lives – but I realize now, I didn’t ask and so it stays that way. Also, there are quite a few folks from my childhood and college student days who are gay, and I had absolutely no idea until we were friends on Facebook. And I have to say, if there is any such thing as “gay-dar”, I definitely do not possess such a skill. I’m certain that several of these friends – definitely not all – did not have turbulent childhoods throwing them into their gay lifestyles. So, that is quashing my theory of abuse causing homosexuality.

Anyhow, my main reason for posting that I am a “Person of Faith for Equality” is that I am saddened to know there are same-gendered people who are companions, who love and care for each other as deeply as a married man and woman who do not get to share the same legal rights. Pure and simple as that (of course, the politics are not). I want a companion to be able to be with a loved one at their death bed, to be able to share benefits if that is the desire in a shared income household, to raise children together (Random thought – what about all those orphans raised by nuns and nurses, do you think of them turned out fine without being raise by men?).

I also want there to not be depression and suicide and disowning of family members because someone thinks they might be gay — I want families to be able to talk and be real and honest. No doubt there are family, friends, and ministry colleagues of mine who may happen upon this blog post with shock and not know what to do with me. Take it as it is and you decide. I’ll be alright and I hope you will too.

I want people to be loved – and yes there is need for  holding one another accountable but really – is this life threatening to the rest of us to know that someone else is gay?? It is currently life threatening to them, that makes my heart hurt. I hurt for anyone who is an outcast (in their minds and hearts and communities)… and I long for healing. I long for equality – that it isn’t an “us and them” but all of us simply trying to get to know one another and share our deepest selves with one another.

Does this make any sense?





Teaching children about Peace at Advent – a real life experience

10 12 2012
Our home Advent Wreath

Our home Advent Wreath

 

So I came up with an original idea for a children’s sermon yesterday. So often I am   pressed for time and drained of creativity that I lean on the inspiration and wisdom of others for a 3-5 minute children’s sermon. I’ll share my fave resources later in this post. It was the second Sunday in advent and I live to educate the children (and congregation) about the happenings of the liturgical church year. The second candle in the advent wreath is often a symbol of peace – the first candle symbolizing hope.

I have a lot of “quirky” favorite hymns/songs for Advent and Christmas and one particularly beautiful song was running through my mind. I realized it would be PERFECT for talking about Peace. Looking at the words of “Before the Marvel of this Night” I read it as a poem describing God’s commissioning of his angels before they visited the shepherds and the world with their message of “Jesus is born! To God be the glory!”. Is also read it as a commissioning for believers to go and tell our world about the gift of peace that comes to all of us through Jesus. So I crafted a children’s talk where I asked the kiddos to imagine they were Angels on a mission and to hear God’s instructions to them before going to the world.
I was so excited, it was awesome and beautiful all at the same time.

Fast forward to real time and actual giving of children’s sermon – I start up and their are a few usual distractions – of other people’s children – just the littlest ones getting used to coming up for a talk, etc (which by the way – if the parents are reading this – does not bother me at all!!).

Then I read the poem.

As I am reading I look down at my feet and see my two daughters (one is 5 years old and one is 8 years old) fighting over a pencil. I finish reading and as I am commissioning the children and adults to go out into the world as agents of peace, I calmly reach down and pluck the pencil out of their hands, and keep talking. I’m puzzled because my 8 yr old is still very frustrated squealing in a whisper “mommy she won’t give it back” over and over. I can see there is something my 5 yr old is guarding with her life but I don’t know what it is. They keep playing keep-away while I continue to talk about being agents of peace. My girls clearly are not getting what wisdom their mother was attempting to impart to them (perhaps God feels this way often?). So to make sure they are listening I stress ways we can bring peace – including to our brothers and SISTERS and PARENTS. (Insert congregational giggle here) and they keep on fighting. I swear they were oblivious. So I wrap it up with a prayer and sending children off to class — and then, in the hallway, help my daughters make peace with one another over a satsuma orange one swiped from the other.

I’ll have to introduce them to the musical version of “Before the Marvel of this Night”, maybe they’ll finally understand peace??
Read the rest of this entry »





Pure Growth: Clean Dirt

29 10 2012

Especially with the changing Autumn colors and weather in Seattle area, I am always pondering seasons of life and the cycle of change.

Susan Lawrence shares excellent thoughts when it comes to recognizing God’s presence and love in all seasons of our lives .

Take a peek and see if you agree:

Pure Growth: Clean Dirt.





So If I Keep Asking God, Then He’ll Give Me an iPod??

10 08 2012

I taught a Bible lesson about praying and asking and trusting that God will provide – to 2nd and 3rd grade children today.

My daughter, Ellie, was in the group and asked, “So if I keep asking God for an iPod touch then I’ll get one?”. I answered something along the lines of ‘not necessarily, and even though those kids if things are really cool, it is not something we absolutely need to live. God provides what we need to live – food,water, shelter, and love from other people.”

I was re-telling this story to one of our young adult team members and said ” and of course it was MY child who asked this”. Saying that may have Insinuated that I couldn’t believe my daughter, as the daughter of and children/youth minister asked this question. I kind of joked about it in that sense. For some reason I just realized what I could have been saying in that moment – “my kid doesn’t get it” or “I’m so embarrassed she asked that question”.

In actuality, I love the question because it helped me realize their reality and put this lesson into perspective for them.

What I’m realizing is I re- told this story to someone who is a pastor’s daughter. It made me wonder if she has heard her parents make a similar comment about her childhood faith questions. In wonder what their response was when she has asked such questions. My hope is that they didn’t say “Can you believe MY kid asked that question about God?” with embarrassment as it may seem I responded. My hope is they responded the way I need/ed to, “that’s an excellent question” and telling others “I love the question my child asked – because it means she’s questioning and figuring out what it means to believe in and follow Jesus”.

I may owe my daughter an apology and an assurance that her questions are not dumb. In fact they are very timely and helpful.








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