Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Growing up church of Christ, Ash Wednesday was not really a part of my vocabulary, let alone the yearly calendar. After Bob and I married however, we started trying to practice Lent, quietly and within our new family. We liked the idea of a yearly rhythm with God. Making Easter less about chocolate bunnies and egg hunts and more about our faith appealed to us. I think each year we've benefited from whatever small sacrifices we chose to make, but it has been challenging since it was something we did, for the most part, alone, and not as part of our faith community.

Bob's job as a hospital chaplain this year involved providing an Ash Wednesday service, along with the other resident chaplains, to anyone at the hospital - patient or employee- who desired to participate. I decided to show up, along with Miriam, for one of the services. Despite the whispers of the nearly-three year old beside me, it was a really meaningful experience. Scripture reading, singing, prayer, and then the opportunity to come forward and be marked on the forehead with ashes. "This is to remind you that from ashes you come, and to ashes you will return", is (I think) the phrase Bob spoke as he made a cross on my head with ashes. There on my head was a tangible reminder of my mortality, my humanity, my sinfulness. As I wore the ashes down the corridors of the hospital, as I saw people glance at the "smudge" on my head, I was very aware of God's presence and God's plan for myself and all of His lost creation.

I am prayerful these days. They are pretty uncertain ones for our family! I am pregnant. I am facing the end of my time as youth/children's minister at Contact. Bob and I are completely unsure as to where he will work after May, where we may need to move, what major changes our expanding family may have to face. I am hopeful though. As we enter the Lenten season, I feel sure that just as God has always had a plan for humanity, He has a plan for us - for me, for our family, for our new baby, for all the kids and families we love here in Tulsa. And for you too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Saying goodbye

Today I went to a funeral for the grandmother of several of our Contact kids and teens. She was only 54, but at the time of her death she was living in a nursing home. Two strokes and stolen her ability to communicate or do much for herself. I honestly had no idea she was so young. The last time I saw her was when the choir sang at the nursing home where she lived. She could have easily passed for a woman several decades older. When I received word of her death last week, I was sad for her family, and so glad that the choir had chosen to sing there first. If we had waited even a month it would have been too late. You could tell, just be watching her, that she loved seeing her granddaughters sing.
Please pray for this family as they say goodbye to their grandma.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Choir lock-in

Our annual lock-in is over... and everyone seems to have survived! Lock-ins are one of those events loved by teens and dreaded by adults. Staying up all (or nearly all) night loses its appeal sometime after 18, I think. So I am especially grateful to the three ladies that did the hard work of chaperoning this event: Kaytie Jo Stinson, Devin Dupre, and Dalene Lawrence. The lock-in was for all our choir girls - 3rd grade through high school. Eight of our girls were able to make it, an equal mix of both elementary and older girls. We planned this event with the idea that our girls needed some time to have fun together and perhaps develop a greater unity as a singing group. I showed up for a little while in the evening, and then came back in the morning with doughnuts to take the girls home. From what I saw, it was a really positive evening. We took the girls to Cici's and filled them up with pizza, then on to a late movie ("Hotel for Dogs"). By the time they got back to Contact it was late, but the girls were still energized enough to stay up most of the night doing hair and nails, singing karaoke, eating snacks, and enjoying the free reign of the building. I'll attach a few pictures of this event soon. Thanks for lifting up these special girls in your prayers!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A new perspective on old stories

In the fall, our girls' Bible study group began studying women of the Bible. It seemed like up until this point we had done more topical studies, so I thought it was time to just start with basic Bible studies of women and see where it would lead us each week. I hoped the girls would benefit from it, but I honestly never expected how much I would enjoy it! Most of our girls have such weak Bible knowledge, so almost every story was new to them. We started with Eve, which they knew pretty well. But from there it was all new territory. Miriam, singing and leading Isreal, then struck with leprosy. Deborah, the judge and prophet, leading Israel with the courage the men of that time couldn't match. Jaal, the gutsy woman who killed a king. Hannah, the prayerful woman of God, waiting for her son, then giving him back to God. Esther, an obscure Jewish girl made queen, who prayerfully risked her life to save her people. Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah who was seduced by David, lost her husband and child, but went on to mother Solomon, the wisest person ever. Wow! When you haven't heard the stories before, they are full of surprises. Every week I heard the girls gasp in wonder, surprise, bewilderment, horror...just from straight readings of the word. I look at all these women of the Bible with fresh eyes now too. And I look at our girls with a new perspective too. I can't dismiss them, or any teens, as not caring about the Bible. Given a chance, they'll eat it up - and teach me a lot along the way too.