A book is a friend for life. The words stay with you, even when you put the book down.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Parts of the Family

Two events happened on Sunday evening that brought home the idea of the closeness of family.

Sunday evening at church was Game Night! This time, we had chili & nachos and all wore our pajamas! I love getting together with the church family in such an informal way. It helps us get to know each other, and just be able to spend time together with these people who are such an important part of life. There was a variety of games around the room: CatchPhrase, 5 Second Rule, Apples to Apples, Sorry, Risk, Battleship, and the kids had a My Little Pony card game going on, as well as the PS3 which the hubby brought from home.

I think the highlight for me, though, was watching a couple of 9th graders and a 7th grader play Chutes and Ladders! Most of us played this game as kids growing up in the 70s and 80s. But these 3 young people played it like I've never seen before. They were really into it -- determined to win. But the best part was how much fun they were having! It was awesome to see teenagers REALLY laugh!

Later, after we'd all come home, and everyone in my house had gone to sleep, we heard crying outside the bedroom door. This was about 11:00 at night. My son was standing there outside the door, distraught because he'd forgotten a big project that was due Monday morning. So, we jumped out of bed and got to work. No scolding, or yelling; he'd already been upset enough about it. It was time to put behind the blame and get going on the project. I worked with my son on his writing project, and then we all dived in to the shoebox model of Inuit life. :) Even my daughter got up to make a clay model of a seal for the project! You know what? It only took us about a half hour to complete what might have been days' worth of work.

And here's what really got me. Both of these Sunday events were really about family. Family coming together; family working and playing together; family being there for one another, no matter whether it's fun time or work time.

♪I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God♪

Friday, March 7, 2014

Count Your Blessings

♪ Count your blessings, name them one by one,
♪ Count your many blessings, see what God has done!

So, not only did I give up my Facebook for Lent (which is harder than I imagined, thank you very much), but I also vowed to spend more time in Bible reading and prayer. Well, I have the time! You can't possibly imagine how much time I have wasted on Facebook!

Each day, I'm diving into a different book of the Bible. In the mornings, I read; in the evenings, I reread and ponder, meditate and pray, and then write. I also have a cool journaling/doodling page I found somewhere on Pinterest. (Don't judge me; I can't give up ALL my social media at once!)

Yesterday was just a regular day. No mountaintop experiences, no "valley of the shadow of death" moments. And yet, as I read I Corinthians 1 last night, I was struck by just how many blessings God had given me in the course of the day. Verse 5 practically jumped off the page and landed in my lap! I have been given so much! In speech and in knowledge, I grow every day! Even the seemingly ordinary days! After all, life is really made up of ordinary days sprinkled with extraordinary moments.

There's another old song (I'm pretty sure it's Bing Crosby) about counting blessings instead of sheep "Tonight, I'll fall asleep counting my blessings..." ♫

Yep, I certainly will!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent (or Giving Up What You Can't Live Without)

This year for Lent, I'm taking a huge leap of faith.

Yes, every year we practice the spiritual discipline of "giving up" something during Lent. And every year, I say, "I can't give up my Facebook! I need it!" Really?! Since when is Facebook something I can't live without?

At Senior MidWinter this past January, the kids listened to a great song, "Clear the Stage" by Jimmy Needham. Toward the end of the song, a refrain of sorts repeats the phrase, "Anything that comes before my God is an idol." And somehow those words finally got through.

I do NOT NEED Facebook -- or anything else, for that matter. My God will supply all my needs, according to His riches in glory. So, I can go through 40 day of Lent, focusing on God rather than the selfish things I think I "need".

I find the Lenten worship service of Ash Wednesday particularly meaningful. Maybe it's because it's quieter than most anything else we do in our church. Maybe it's just more centering. Whatever the case, last night's service was powerful, in a way I wasn't expecting.

We had usual youth group before the service. At the end of youth, right before heading into the sanctuary, we played a short video and then talked about Lent, including all the "giving up" ideas, but also how the Ash Wednesday service is different than a typical "church" service. The last thing I said to the kiddos before we walked down the hall toward the church was to "think holy thoughts". (I'm not sure what that meant, but I guess the kids did!)

We had 28 people at the service last night. 12 of those were kids. The youth walked in quietly, sat in their two rows, and whispered quietly as they looked over the bulletin. My heart was happy. They weren't misbehaving; they were acting like mini adults. (In fact, let's make this perfectly clear, they were quieter and sitting more still than many of the adults!)

There were a few announcements, then the whole room got quiet in anticipation of opening prayer by the pastor. The pastor hadn't gotten up yet, though; he seemed to be waiting for "something".

All of the sudden, two young voices from the back pew began singing. "Lord, prepare me / to be a Sanctuary / pure and holy / tried and true / with thanksgiving / I'll be a living / Sanctuary / for You"

That was a 2nd grader and a 7th grader.

It didn't take long for the rest of the youth to join in! And I've got to hand it to the adults, most of whom don't know the song, they joined in as best they could. It was all I could do to keep from breaking down in tears. Because, yep, that's what it is all about!

They got it. Some of the youngest present at the service got it. They understood what it means to "think holy thoughts". Certainly, out of the mouths of babes...

What a blessing! And what a challenge!