Monday, April 21, 2014

Finish Line

I don't know that I've actually run a race since childhood, but I've seen some on TV and in the movies, and I'm pretty sure the best part is crossing the finish line.  As the music swells in intensity, the runner, red-faced and sweaty, stumbles a little from exhaustion, almost gives up, then forces herself to push just a little harder, hurtles herself forward, breaking the yellow ribbon with the last bit of energy in her soul, and smiling and cheering, she pumps her fists in the air and then...

collapses on the ground.

Now, you don't have to be a runner to know what it feels like in finish line moments. The final miles are by far the hardest. Yes, signing up for the race was an act of courage and faith itself, and getting started was slow and painful, and there were pitfalls along the way, but those last steps are doozies. It's not like you have a choice to turn back, for you know what lies behind. It's not like you have a choice to quit, for this can't all be for nothing. It's not like, once you cross the line you can just be done moving forever, for you know you still have to at least walk to the car to go home...

but for a moment, just for a moment, you think... this victory is sufficient in itself. I will celebrate by lying on the ground, and not moving, just for a moment.

*sigh*

I finished school on Friday.  I typed my final paper with only 8 fingers (that's a blog post for later), a low-grade fever, a sore throat, and I did it on my birthday... but you guys... it's done.  I have so many stories to tell about my adventures, but for now?

I will celebrate by lying here on the ground and not moving... just for a moment.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:1



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Monday, December 30, 2013

They're Olan-ly Young Once *rimshot*

I've had a blog post rattling around in my head lately, which is unusual because it's been so long since I even logged in over here, and even longer since I've had room in my head for anything but school work and- well, that's about it. I haven't been able to shake it, so I thought I'd take advantage of this little break, share a few thoughts, and see what happens:

A few weeks ago, a pastor at church said something that really struck a chord in my heart -- it's something I had heard before, but in this case, it sounded brand spankin' new-

"Worship and service and offerings aren't a burden when we really know who God is.  They're a natural response to His love and grace.  When we really realize how great He is, we can't help but offer up our best."

This immediately reminded me of a story I've been wanting to share-  

Last year sometime, my kids...

 (it's been a while, so let me remind you that all my little children have grown and grown and grown and now they're all tall, giraffe-like teenagers. The boy is 18 and the girls are 14 and I am pretty much an old lady)

... anyway, my kids had been going on and on about this YouTube dude. I was noticing that  they were becoming big fans, and had watched all his videos and were asking for merchandise from his website. Somehow because I am now the aforementioned old lady I have been kind of BUSY WITH STINKING GOING BACK TO COLLEGE FOR SOME STUPID REASON THAT I CAN'T EVEN REMEMBER NOW, I had sort of missed out on the trend. I felt like my grandparents as I heard myself asking,  "Who is this Olan Rogers fellow anyhow?" - and hoping that as they were gathered around the computer, laughing hysterically, that my negligence hadn't led to my children being corrupted by some inappropriate jackal. (oh dear, did I just use the words "fellow" and "jackal?" - old lady words for certain!)

Ashamed of both being out of the loop and neglecting my motherly filtering duties, I took some time to research that "Olan Rogers fellow"- come to find out he's just a genuinely funny aspiring director and master storyteller who keeps it relatively* clean as he spins his special style of dramatic tale. (*why relatively? Well, it just depends on your viewpoint on what is offensive. If you draw a hard line at bathroom humor or substitutionary swear words, you might be offended, so be warned.  If you are a 12 year old boy at heart, and find both hilarious, here are a couple of examples: The Ghost in the Stalls  The Midnight Claw).  More research revealed that Mr. Rogers is also open about his faith in Jesus Christ.  Even better.

I heard some chatting about the "Eat a Slice with Me" tour in July sometime, but still didn't pay attention until I was driving home on Monday (IT WAS A MONDAY) from work, and my son tells me that he'd like to drive to Los Angeles with his girlfriend and sisters to meet Olan. WHAT? (For those who don't know, our tiny little suburban town is at least an hour away from LA and filled with suburban people who are not real live city folk who are probably MURDERERS OR WORSE, and my son is used to sharing the roads with tumbleweeds and minivans not MURDERERS OR WORSE). My brain was spinning around and around, trying to figure out what to do because in order to make it to this shindig (another old lady word for you), a person would have to hit the road in no fewer than 20 minutes (I was 20 minutes from home), she would need to have a car filled with gas and enough seats for the all the people (I had that), she would have to be willing to forfeit her precious homework time (hm....), she would need to be spontaneous (yikes!), she would need to be willing to drive all the way from our town to the town filled with MURDERERS OR WORSE (ummmmm....), and she would have to realize that her kids are only going to be this age for a little bit longer, and that she had a chance to truly bless her children, and this was a one time shot.... OKAY, OKAY! TELL YOUR SISTERS TO BE WAITING OUTSIDE, WE'RE GOING TO EAT A SLICE WITH OLAN!

The cheering could be heard in other galaxies, and I swung my big ol' SUV around the cul-de-sac to see a gang of teenagers grinning ear to ear and jumping up and down waiting to jump on in.  As we merged onto the freeway, the kids explained to me that Olan Rogers had this idea of going on tour across the US, eating pizza with his fans and getting to know them. I was skeptical. How was this even going to work? I feared my kids were a little delusional in thinking they'd actually get to meet the object of their fandom, but we were already in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, so I figured we'd press forward.

We arrived to this vacant building in the middle of Los Angeles and were greeted by seriously friendly people and ushered to a tiny little courtyard filled with pizza and Jones soda and excited Olan fans (Olanmaniacs? Olanites? Olanophiles?).  We were warned that it "could be a while" because "Olan genuinely wants to hang out with each of you guys as long as it takes."  I was still a little skeptical as the line got longer and longer, but the kids were just about BURSTING OUT OF THEIR SKIN IN ANTICIPATION:

When we finally arrived at the front of the line, I was so impressed at how genuine and connect-y Olan was.  He greeted each of the kids and chatted it up with them for several unrushed minutes, signing their posters, making them feel like they were the only fans in the world.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, my son did something totally unexpected: he took off his watch (his FAVORITE STAR WARS WATCH FROM HIS CHILDHOOD) and handed it to Olan Rogers. This was stunning to me because the kid is not prone to outward displays of emotion. He was just so overcome with appreciation for how rad Olan Rogers was, he felt so connected and in awe, he just spontaneously handed over one of his favorite possessions:

It was a crummy little piece of plastic.  It probably has no earthly value at all.  But Olan got it.  He saw it for exactly what it was-







and then finally:

Now, I'm perfectly aware of the fact that Olan Rogers is not God.  He is not Jesus, not worthy of  true worship in any way.  My son is well aware of this too. But I do think that this is a great, tangible illustration of what happens as a natural consequence of getting to know someone, finding out how awesome they actually are, and spending time with them.  You WANT to give them your best- it's just wells up inside you and you can barely help yourself. It's a reaction, a response- not a burden.  And you're never, ever sorry you do it- whether it's ditching homework to drive your kids to meet a wacky YouTube guy (risking running into MURDERERS OR WORSE) or giving up your crummy plastic happy meal watch.  In the scheme of things, holding on to those things would keep us from enjoying the benefits of a deeper, real-er relationship.

And if that's true for me and my kids or my son and Olan, how much more so when it comes to a relationship with the One True God? If we make the effort to get to know Him, if we really realize how truly AWESOME He is, then we'll want to give Him our best- we'll eagerly surrender our time, our talents, our wealth, our attention- things that were once valuable to us, but now seem ridiculous to hold onto. We will give joyfully, cheerfully, and with reckless abandon.

How cool is that?

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 6:8



_________________________________________________
ps: here's a documentary about the Eat a Slice Tour:

pss: we're all pretty thrilled that he's going to be playing Walt Disney in this upcoming independent film (this is not a solicited endorsement, just thought I'd share): As Dreamers Do

Saturday, August 17, 2013

22.


This morning I woke up and looked at the person sleeping next to me. For the last 22 years, this wonderful man has been a steady constant in my life. Brave, noble, humble, strong, smart, funny, romantic- my husband is such a blessing to me. As he began to stir, he opened his eyes, smiled, and mumbled "Happy Anniversary." I lifted my hand up to his, as we did the same thing we've done every year on this date..... we've given each other a big, fat, enthusiastic high five. It may seem like an unromantic gesture, I know, but this simple tradition is special to me, and I look forward to it year after year.

We already celebrated our anniversary earlier this week with a road trip up the coast, retracing the path we took 20 years ago on our second wedding anniversary. We had a great time, laughing and chatting, and seeing the sights. Today's going to be special, too. Like always, we'll celebrate our anniversary twice- once, just the two of us- and once with the kids.  We like to include the kids because it's important for them to experience the joy of marriage- it's their celebration too. Our years of wedded bliss are a gift for them, as well. It's my prayer that they'll want this kind of marriage for themselves someday.I'm excited too because, in a new twist, instead of going out to a restaurant they're working together to cook us a fancy meal.  I can't wait to see what they come up with.

It would be easy to walk around pridefully today- our marriage is succeeding in a society which seems to value vows, commitment, faithfulness, and hard work less and less. We are seeing married couples struggle all around us.  If we've learned anything, though, it's that nobody is immune to the viruses of discontent, selfishness, temptation, and discord. As soon as you let your guard down, any one of those can sneak right in your front door and take up permanent residence in  your home. Having a long-lasting marriage is actually more humbling than you'd think. Each passing year is a reminder that we are powerless all by ourselves. It is truly the equipping we get from Christ alone that gives us the strength and love it takes to protect this marriage from ending up in a heap of flames. Our high five is less a touchdown dance and more a indicator of gratitude. We are thankful that, despite the odds, God has given us enough grace to allow us another year of marriage to celebrate, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. We hope that our anniversary will be an encouragement to others- including our children- and a testament to what He can do with two dumb sinners who love Him and each other very much.  How wonderful and mighty is our God!

Let us hold tightly, without wavering, to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
Hebrews 10:23-24 NLT



ps: if you're interested, here are the posts from anniversaries past:


Sunday, June 02, 2013

youth.

When we were looking for a new church for our family, one of the things I prayed for was that we would find a church with a youth group that would take good care of my kids.  After a rough exit from the only church they had ever known, I feared they would be soured on Sunday worship forever if we jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.  The good news is that our prayers were answered.  My kids willingly go to church/youth group each week, interact well with the volunteers there, and even invite their friends to come with us.  whew.

We're at a satellite campus which meets in a pretty middle school in a town that's a little closer to our home than the main campus. The congregation is a little smaller, which really worked out well for my socially awkward discerning children. One  thing that happens at this campus is that the kids and youth learn on their own their during the adult sermon. That way, the teens are able to have more discussion and interaction with the youth leaders and one another, and learn how to really live the lessons they're learning instead of hear and forget.  But in the beginning of service, we all worship together. Selfishly, I am especially thankful for this tradition because listening to my children sing with their whole hearts to Jesus makes me all squishy and happified inside, you know?

Today, the youth stayed in main service the whole time because our youth pastor, Tim, was teaching from the pulpit. It's the the final week of the sermon series about investing in children. We've talked about investing in children with prayer, time, and this week we covered that uncomfortable subject-- money.  It's true, that where our treasure is, our heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:21) We always care about the things we put our hard in dollars more than the things that we don't.  The rest of that story is that things we invest our money in are a great indicator of what's important to us, too. 

A glance through my 'checkbook' (though I don't really have one of those anymore) will show you that I really like me a lot.  I spend money on things to make me pretty and happy and entertained. All those things, however, are temporary.  My beauty is rapidly declining on a daily basis fading, my happiness is terribly fickle, my attention span is insatiable. 

That's why my husband and I made the decision all those years ago to invest more in our kids than we do in stuff.  The bulk of our paychecks are spent to feed, house, transport, educate, entertain, and equip our children. It's our hope that this investment will pay out into the future. We hope that not only will our children care for US in the future, but also, that they will care for their families well, the people in their lives, that they will invest in the generation that follows theirs. It's pay-it-forward in a spiritual sense, and I can't think of another, better way to spend our moneys. 

If money spent on our crazy three is a good investment, and is considered to be so well spent, how much more is investing in the youth at our church? My husband this year is taking a week of his vacation pay to be a camp counselor for the school age kids even though our own children are too old to attend. His logic? We can't afford to sponsor a kid to go this year, but he has well over 10 years experience going to camp with the kids, this is something he can do. I'm so humbled by his act of generosity (which Pastor Tim so correctly distinguished from giving- which anyone can do for any reason. True generosity comes from the heart) that I am inspired to take some action too.

Tonight, I'm going to talk to my kids about the possibility of collecting our recyclables to be put in a fund so we can sponsor a kid to go to church camp next year.  I love the effects of church camp on kids, and I love the idea of how that kind of eternal investment can keep on giving to generation after generation, and I triple love the idea of teaching my children how important it is that the church works together to care for it's kids. I'm thankful to be part of a church who inspires this kind of action in me and in my husband... and I'm glad to see that the youth staff is investing in my children this way. It's good junk, indeed.

Blessings,
His Girl


Don't store up treasure here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal
Matthew 6:19-20 (NLT)
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Reflections on the other sermons from this series:

Week 1: Kids

Week 2: One
Week 2b: Risk
Other sermon reflections:
In which I let go of hatred: Release
In which I let the sermon do work in my heart: Weeds
In which the pastor rudely singles me out in church: Refugee
In which I admitted I was not okay: Fine


Friday, May 31, 2013

risk.

I think I've admitted here online that I'm kind of  totally a chicken baby. So, it might surprise you to know that I actually L-O-V-E rollercoasters.  I love every bit of it - starting about 5 seconds after takeoff.  The previous 30 seconds are torture for me. I am all excited about riding right until the minute I realize I'm next.  As I climb in and buckle up, I get a sheer panic- is my buckle on tight? is the bar going to be able to hold me? can I trust this piece of metal and foam?!? OH NO! What was I thinking? I AM A MOTHER! MY CHILDREN NEED ME! GET ME OFF OF THIS THING!!!! IT'S NOT WORTH THE RISK!!!! WHAT IF WE DIE? WHAT IF THE BAR FLIES OPEN? WHAT IF I FALL OUT OF THIS THING? WHAT IF????

....and then, the cars start to move, and I am in absolute ecstasy.  As we fly around corners and loops and upside down, I cannot believe I ever resisted in the first place. What freedom! What joy! What a RUSH! At the end of the ride, I hesitantly get off, and can't wait to get in another line to go again. I'm always amazed at the difference from my demeanor at the first ride of the day and that of the ones that follow:

On the first ride, I am holding on for dear life, as though hurtling through the atmosphere at that speed could possibly be affected by my weak hand strength on the bar across my chest.  My desperate attempts at self-protection are laughable at best. I can no more ensure that I can keep my own self in the seat than I can fly around the track on my own power.  By the end of the day, however, my hands are up in the air as soon as the car starts moving! I have somehow build a sense of trust and security with the engineers, the equipment, and the laws of inertia and I am having a blast!

That gets me thinking about the last few weeks. Spiritually, I have a pretty low-risk life right now.  It's that way by design, I must admit.  I have purposely not been putting my neck out because I am still licking my wounds from the last year. I am holding back from investing all the way in the people and ministries because, frankly, WHAT IF?!?! What if I trust in a leadership, and they disappoint me? What if I make friends and they hurt me? (spoiler alert: they totally will) What if I get involved in ministry and find myself with too much on my plate, too much drama, too much.... bluckitude?

As I was chatting this over with God last week as I prayed for other people's kids every day for a week, (that post is here, in case you missed it) I noticed that my prayers have changed over the last few months. A while ago, I was praying prayers that would indicate that I wasn't serving in children's ministry because I was still healing, and wasn't called. Now, however, my prayers sounded more like I am .... scared.

If I am perfectly honest... and I may as well be at this point... for me at this juncture, my fear is mainly rooted deeply in a lack of trust.  The true thought I'm thinking is: "What if I risk and God doesn't protect me?"

*deep sigh*

I should know better by now, really. I have been protected through much bigger things than volunteering to do something that I love to do for a God that I love in a church that I am growing to really love. My self-protection is not fooling anyone, and it's unnecessary. It's time to do what I'm called to do.  This is nothing but a little, teensy leap of faith, and by hiding out, I am doing nobody any good. Furthermore, I am going to miss the thrill of the ride.

So, this week, I did it.  I braved up, I sat in the seat, and I pulled the safety bar of God's grace and goodness down over my head (much less risky than those man-made safety bars on non-metaphorical roller coasters).  I sent an email to the person in charge of Children's Ministry and made an appointment to chat with her a little bit to see what God might be up to with using me back in CM after a very long break. We're all set for Monday afternoon.

I get it. It's just a conversation. It's just a chance to see if I can be used in any way. It's just a tiny little risk... but it's a good start, I think. A way to remind myself that God can be trusted- especially to take care of us when He calls.

It's been a long time since I risked anything spiritually  so I anticipate that there will be a little terror to be had. However, I do think I'm just about ready to throw my hands up and fly around a few loops and re-experience the joy of what it feels like to risk even small things for Jesus..... WHOOOOOO HOOOOOO!

I will say of the Lord“He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

I'll keep you posted!

His Girl,
Amber



Monday, May 27, 2013

one.


I'm sure you have heard the story about the man who happened upon a boy on the beach among thousands of stranded starfish. As the boy is carefully returning each of the beautiful creatures to the ocean, one at a time, the man says to the boy "Why are you doing this? There are more starfish than you can possibly save. You won't even make a difference." The boy looks at the starfish in his hand, shifts his gaze to the man and gently tosses the starfish into the water.  "It made a difference to that one."

It's an old, overused story, but I think the reason it's stuck around for such a long time is that it resonates inside our hearts as a fundamental truth.  We can't save everyone, but we can make a difference in the lives of the people in our circles. Those of us who have had the honor of escorting a starfish or two back to the deep can testify to that- and even more so, those of us who have been a starfish can shout a hearty, AMEN!

 Too often, we look at a shore littered with lives that seem hopeless and we think that nothing can be done. "This world is going to hell in a handbasket!" (not really sure what the implication is there- is going to hell in a handbasket faster, rougher, fancier?) "Kids these days!" "We are losing the battle"

It's true- as we discussed in church this week- there is always a possibility that an entire generation can be lost. (It's happened before- check out Judges 2:10) Between our generations' apathy/helicoptering, busyness/laziness, selfishness/overindulgences, permissiveness/legalism, and our own sinful natures, we are faced with statistics which are horribly frightening- most kids will walk away from church and from faith as soon as they leave our homes.

Part of me wants to formulate a plan. I want to move in and try to figure out how to affect the most change possible. But when I think about how much time and energy and money I have at the end of the week, I get stalled out of all those big plans because frankly... I feel like I don't have enough left over for one.more.thing.

So yesterday, as Pastor Matt was talking about how it's our calling to reach the next generation (Isaiah 38:19), how God nearly always uses people to reach people, how there is hope for the next generation as long as this one takes the time to tell them about His goodness (Psalm 100:5, 145:4, 78:4), and as he was encouraging us to pray about which move to make- I did just that. I prayed.

God? What's my role here? How can I help? How do we save all these kids?

And that's when God put in my head the picture of that starfish story.  I pictured talking to my kids, one at a time, about things that really matter. I recalled the times I've been super real with them and prayed with them and for them. I heard myself saying many times over the years,  "I get that you want to sleep in, but this family goes to church every week. Get up and get dressed anyway." I realized that building the relationships and habits with the children who are right in my home is a wonderful place to start- and a step that can't be skipped. It is a constant priority for me to keep picking my little starfishies back up and directing them back to the sea. This isn't about extra time- it's about using the time I already have been given.

I thought about the kids that I call "bonus kids."  I imagined the opportunities I have had when my kids' friends come over for a meal or a weekend, and then when we get to bring them to church with us.  I think about the times I've sat with crying teenagers and prayed for them, and pointed them to Jesus.  One at a time, I've had the honor of placing these little starfish back in the water at least for a while. This isn't about extra energy, it's about caring about the people placed right in front of me.

Then, I noticed a common thread-bringing the kids to church. It's really the equivalent of putting the starfish from the parable back into the ocean- where they can get what they need.

It was about that time that I heard our pastor talking about the uniqueness of the opportunities we have within a church to really minister to kids. In the public forum, we have to be careful- don't want to offend, don't want to push, don't know how cautious we have to be. In church, however, we are allowed to be "unapologetically clear"- it is expected that we will say some of the harder, true-er, more straightforward-y truths from the Bible. We don't have to mince words or be "politically correct."

This sunk deep into my  heart.  It reminded me why it's important to make sure my children come to church even when they push back. It reminded me why it's important to bring "extra" kids to church whenever they are willing. It reminded me that I need to be sure that I am supporting the children's/youth ministers at our church.

this is how we make a difference to the one, and then the next, and then the next.
this is how we make sure that the entire generation isn't lost...


Here's my challenge to you guys today- if you have been thinking about serving in some capacity with kids in your church but you keep coming up with excuses why you can't- let today be your last day to do that. Go! Sign up! Do it! Be the people who are standing in the ocean welcoming the starfish!

If you are thinking that helping in children's or youth ministry will exacerbate your allergy to kids- then, do something else! Support those who are serving by praying for them, encouraging them, seeing if you can bring something in that they need- pouring into the one can absolutely make a difference to many, many others.  Then, find somewhere else you can serve so that those volunteers don't have to come out of the classroom from teaching, then pass the plate, run the sound board, and stack the chairs after. Be a part of the family who cares for its people.

As for me? I think I know what God told me to do next.  I'm fixin' to make a bold move. I'll fill you all in on how it turns out :)

keep your eye out for starfish...


We will not hide these truths from our children;

We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about His power and His mighty wonders.
PSALM 78:4 NLT

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kids.

Over the next few weeks, my family is getting ready for a bunch of transitions. Today, my son attended orientation for his summer post-high school college program.  Tuesday, I'll gather up my daughters and head to Freshman Orientation. Never in my life have I been so compelled to pray for my people. There's just nothing like watching your little people get big-- it heightens your awareness of your complete ineptitude to actually teach a child everything they need to know in only 18 years, your inability to protect them every second of every day, your helplessness to ensure they make only great decisions all the time. 

And, it's not just my own people that take up the pages in my prayer journal. Along the way, even though I joke that I only like other people's kids on a "case-by-case basis," I have gotten to know and love an awful lot of children.  Yesterday, I got to attend the wedding of a boy who served in children's ministry when he was just a young teenager. I gasped for air when he appeared at the top of the aisle, looking all grown-uppy and hopeful. I cried like a baby when I saw him tear up when he saw his bride. I prayed with all my heart for  this new little family- for this boy who has been in my prayers for years and years.

This month is the month of graduation announcements, too. One after another have trickled in, beautiful portraits of amazing children who have grown up right before my very eyes. I feel so proud of these kids, as if they were my own, when I read about their accomplishments, when they share with me their plans for college and career, when they confess to me that they are a little scared about the future. I've been working on their graduation gifts, and the notes that tell them that God's put them on my heart to pray for them all this time, and remind them that God's got big plans for them.

At church this week, Pastor Andrew urged us in the importance of investing in the children of our community in addition to the ones who live in our homes. He challenged us to pray for a different thing each day this week:
Monday- that our kids will remain safe from evil
Tuesday- that they would follow the Truth
Wednesday that Sandals (our church) would be a place where kids are loved
Thursday- that our kids would always keep God first
Friday- for those who currently lead and care for the kids,
Saturday- that God would reveal to us what our role should be in caring for God's kids.

The former children's ministry leader in me loves this simple but sweet challenge. The idea of an entire church community agreeing in prayer that children are worth an investment is a beautiful thing. I love that we are taking time to acknowledge the value of children's ministry in any form, and the importance of taking it seriously. 

The mother in me loves it, too. I love that there are people (who are not me) who also care about what becomes of my children.  Do you know that the campus youth pastor, Tim, has- on more than one occasion- driven clear across the county to the podunk town where my son attends high school just to take the kid to lunch? That's investing, my friends. The simple act means more than we can even understand right now.  

Pastor Andrew gave us a reminder that it really just takes one significant adult relationship to make a difference in a child's life, something I've seen with my own two eyes. Yet,I'm currently holding back a little these days. I have kind of stalled out with taking the time/making the effort to invest in new children for whom I haven't already developed a bond. 

I confess- I can give you a laundry list of excuses of why I would rather "focus on my own family right now" -- my plate is fuller than full these days, my heart is still healing from the trauma of last year, my energies are spent during the week now that I'm back to working at a school again, my patience is waning with old age, I don't have as many opportunities as I used to, I'm tired.

The hard fact is that  these excuses are just that- excuses.  Truth is, we always find time/money/energy for the things we value. If I want to claim that I value the same things that are valuable to Jesus, then I must make an effort to see children as valuable, too. That means looking beyond myself, my hurts, my limitations, and honestly asking God what my current role should be.

Is this to imply I have to go back into full-time children's ministry? Does that mean I need to go in a classroom where I am convinced I am not being called at this time?  I don't think so.  It does, however, mean that I need to be in prayer so that I am aware of the opportunities to invest in children when God points them out to me. It doesn't have to be a big production, it can be a simple, little thing:
  
And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded. Matthew 10:42 NLT

Will you consider joining me in prayer for the children in your church/community this week?  I would certainly enjoy the company. Also, will you sincerely ask God what your role should be in the lives of children not your own when we get to Saturday? I know that when I ask Jesus on Saturday "What would You have me to do with the time, energy, skills, and experience that I have to invest in a single child or a group of children?"- I will sure love your prayers that I'll hear His answer louder than I can hear all the reasons why I can't. I'll be praying for you, too.


Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, Your mighty miracles to all who come after me. 
Psalm 71:18 NLT



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