Monthly Archives: February 2015

Lent Week 1: The Beginning…

Standard

This Lent we’re trying something new as a family. Today I’m going to get down a pie plate filled with sand that’s been sitting on top of my fridge and begin the Lenten journey at the beginning.  To read my first post on Ash Wednesday you can go here. For those who are doing it with us, here is today’s activity. I’d love to hear how it goes!

2/22 Lent Week 1: The Nativity and God’s Rescue Plan

Where to find it:
A Child’s First Bible: p. 10 (Adam and Eve leave the garden) p.156 (Nativity)
Jesus Storybook Bible: p.184 “The Light of the Whole World”
Bible: John 1:1-14

Reading:
Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Most things begin at the beginning. Jesus’ birth is the beginning. But there was another beginning, too. Jesus was there at the beginning of all beginnings when God created the world. And Jesus was there when Adam and Eve sinned and hid from God. They had to leave the garden. That’s when God began his rescue plan to get Adam and Eve and all their children back to him. And the plan began with Jesus becoming a little baby.

Lent box activity: Have a family member place the Christmas token in the sand, or take turns placing the token. It can be a single Christmas light, a small toy sheep, a star, or a tiny present.

Beginning questions:
How would you feel if you had to go back and be a baby again?

More questions:
Why did Jesus decide to come to Earth as a baby?

Family Question:
Is there anyone we know who needs to hear about God’s rescue plan for them?

Family Activity:
This week pray about the people in your lives that need to hear about Jesus. Have each family member write down the name of one person that they would like to tell about Jesus. Over the next six weeks pray for these people and for an opportunity to tell them about Jesus. Maybe even invite them to church on Easter.

Pray as a family:
“Father God, thank you for not letting us go. Thank you for not letting us live forever in our sin. Thank you for sending Jesus to rescue us. We pray for those in our lives that need to hear about the good news of Jesus’ coming. Help us to tell his rescue plan to all those who need to hear it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Biker Gangs and Meth Addiction…

Standard

I used to do nerve conduction velocity tests for a physical medicine clinic. You calculate a nerve conduction velocity by running electricity along the nerve and measuring the distance. So, yeah, I electrocuted people for a living. I had a lab coat, a tape measure, and a lovely two-pronged zapper. I was very official.

You’d be with a patient for half-an-hour and, often, you’d end up getting the same patients back months or years later. In this way, I made a few friends.

One was a fellow who had been in prison and gone through a Christian recovery program. He was a round jolly man, with a pasty face, and the most horrible teeth. He was kind and funny and he told me some incredible stories.

He used to be part of a biker gang, evidently, a real one, not the kind of biker gang I used to imagine when someone said “biker gang”. He was writing his biography, brought it to me to proofread once. It was twenty-or-so loose leaf pages with atrocious penmanship and nonexistent grammar telling the story of a drug pickup that turned into a pedophile ass-kicking. Oh, that kind of biker gang! Yes, the real kind.

He often lauded his ability to ass-kick a pedophile, even in prison. There was some shit you just didn’t stand for. I can’t say I disagreed with him.

I don’t remember why he had gone to prison, but I do remember that his body was messed up from getting into a meth cooking accident. The meth being cooked had gotten into his suit. It was all over him, trapped against his body like that.

He used to do drugs he told me. But he was done with that now. He had gone through recovery. I was proud of him. We prayed together. I prayed for him.

I watched him leave one day and one of the providers appeared at my shoulder.

“You know what those sores are all over his face don’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said, “They’re the sores from when the meth got in his suit.”

“No,” he said, “You get those from doing meth. You have to be currently using.”

“Oh,” I said.

All this to say, I recognized the sores today on a woman’s face in the laundromat. She was there with a paranoid old woman and an angry man. They were a frightful trio whose presence totally absorbed the corner where they were sitting.

She walked with her head down.

And I know nothing about this woman except that she’s addicted to meth.

What would it be like if I walked around wearing my weakness for everyone to see? What if every loss of temper or self-control flared out in red spots on my face? Would I be less likely to give into the temptation if I knew everyone would be able to read it there? What a horrible consequence. I deserve every single sore she had, but, oh!, how glad I was they weren’t mine to wear! How fortunate I counted myself this afternoon to carry the consequences of my sin invisible in my breast.

For, I am the leper, the sore marked meth addict, the walking unclean.

Pity used to be considered a Christian virtue. It’s sort of gotten a bad rap. “Don’t pity me!” “How dare you pity me!” I don’t know. I think there’s still a place for pity as a virtue. I pitied the ex-biker patient. I pitied the woman. And I only feel grateful that God pities me.

From Ashes to Ashes…

Standard

With one thumb they draw the dark line of ash down and say, “Remember from ashes you have come.”

And with the same thumb they draw a dark line of ash across and say, “And to ashes you shall return.”

Because really, any way you look at it, up, down, left, right, horizontal or vertical, I was nothing and will be nothing.

But then all that ash that’s condemning me to miserable remembrance ends up being a cross on my forehead. Because there is one place where I am something, at the cross.

I came from nothing, receive eternal life, and return to nothing.

Jesus came from heaven and the beginning of creation, found condemnation and death, and returned to heaven at God’s right hand.

What a beautiful mystery is the interchanged middles of those two stories.

And what could be simpler than one line across another, touching each other at one point?

But some of the most beautiful things are simple.

Ash Wednesday…

Standard

The older I get the more I love the liturgy of the Christian calendar.

A few years ago I began exploring ways to add significance to Lent for my small children, but I wasn’t sure I really understood it myself, and then we moved, blah blah blah.

Since then I’ve been circling this idea of a tactile box for the Lenten season with accompanying lessons.

Yesterday, I actually wrote it all out! Whoop!

So, today we will begin and I’ll be posting the lessons here for your perusal or use as you so desire. There are twelve lessons. They go from Ash Wednesday, through the six Sundays of Lent and through the last five days of Holy Week.

Tonight, before we go off to Ash Wednesday service I will place a pie plate on the table and fill it with sand. I will have my son place a cross in the sand and have my daughter place a piece of ash. We will then take turns drawing a winding path from the ash to the cross as we talk about Jesus. And we will read about how Jesus knew his life would lead to death on a cross even before he became a little baby.

Here is the lesson if you want to join us! Feel free to share!

2/18 Ash Wednesday: Leaving Heaven

Where to find it:
A Child’s First Bible by Kenneth N. Taylor: p.174
Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones: p.170 “Get Ready”, p.144 “Operation ‘No More Tears’”
Bible: Philippians 2:5-11

Reading:
Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of a season on the Christian calendar that we call Lent. On Ash Wednesday all around the world adults and children go to church and get an ash cross smudged on their foreheads. When the priest or pastor draws the cross he says, “From ashes you have come and to ashes you will return.” We say this to remember that God created Adam from the dust. It also reminds us that humans die and turn back to dust. During Lent we remember the time when Jesus gave up heaven to come to Earth as a human. Jesus knew that becoming human would mean he would have to die. Even before he became a little baby, from way up in heaven he could see that his life would lead to the cross.

Lent box activity:
Place the container on the table already filled with sand. Tell your family that you are taking a Lenten journey and remembering the time when Jesus was a human man. Have someone place the cross in the sand because at the beginning of the journey Jesus already knew that’s how it would end. Have someone place the piece of ash in the sand. Take turns drawing a path with your finger from the ash to the cross.

Beginning questions:
• Where was Jesus before he was a human baby? (John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”)
• Where is Jesus now? (Hebrews 12:2 “…and is seated on the right hand of the throne of God.”)
• What sort of things in heaven do you think Jesus had to give up to come to Earth as a little baby?

More questions (for older kids!):
• Did Jesus know that if he became human he would have to die?
• Did God know when he sent his son Jesus to be a baby that he would grow and one day die?
• What choices do we have every day to do the will of the Father?

Family Question:
Just as Jesus gave up heaven to obey God and come to Earth so that we could be close to God, what do we give up to be closer to God?

Family Activity:
Think and pray until Sunday about what if any activity or behavior, you could give up or add as a family to be closer to God this Lenten season.

Pray as a family:
“Our Father in heaven, we thank you for loving us so much that you would send your son away from you in order to rescue us. Jesus, we thank you that you would love your Father and us so much that you would become a human man and rescue us. We thank you for your time on Earth and ask that you bring us closer to you during this period of Lent. Amen.”

Things My Daughter Says…

Standard

So, if you haven’t picked this up, then let me tell you that my four-year-old daughter is a force.

She said to me, “Mom, on Valentine’s Day can you say ‘yes’ to everything?”
“Ha, no, sweetie,” I said.
“Why not?”
“I’m not a good Mom if I say yes to everything.”
“Why not?”
“Well, you gotta learn how to handle ‘no’,” I said.
“Why?”
“Because you’re going to hear ‘no’ in life at some point or another.”
“No, I’m not,” she said.

This is very indicative of who she is. And I find myself wondering if it’s indicative of who she will be. She said it so firmly I actually wondered if she were right. I mean, life might say “no”, but if history is any indicator, she won’t hear the word. Ha ha.

For example, two days ago I noticed her standing in the middle of the floor on her favorite princess storybook, the binding of which is dangerously close to giving up the long hard work of keeping the pages together.

So, I said, “Honey, step off the book before you break it.”
“But I want to break it.”
“Oh, you don’t want it anymore?”
“No,” she said.
“Alright, we’ll give it to another little girl who wants it,” I said.
“Okay.”
“Great, put it by the front door on the bench so I can take it out.”
“Okay.”

A moment later, “Mom, I put the book on the bench for you.”

All of this makes her a difficult four-year-old. And, yet, all of this is going to make her an extraordinary adult.

Hear me, Mommas! There is an upside to having a strong-willed child! I’ll let you know what it is when I get there!

So, this evening, I’m clinging to the big picture. There’s an end game out there and, meantime, in my current moment there’s chocolate ice cream and a cocktail. So, we’re good.