Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Do you EVER feel totally safe...

Throughout my journey of being a children's pastor at our church I know God has been working in my relationships. He sent me some people who have been just blowing me away with how much they love the Lord, how much they understand kids and ministering to kids and how much they have the gift of teaching. The first person he sent me was my friend Ben. Now... Ben is HUGE... and when I say huge I mean huge, like ultimate fighting martial arts kind of huge. But just as huge as Ben is... his heart is just as big. One of the first times Ben and I had talked when I started at the church a year ago, a man came into my office and was telling me a story about how he was taking care of his brother who had a neck injury and was very very sick. As the man was telling me the story, I looked over and these huge tears were rolling down Ben's cheeks. The man telling the story stopped, startled a little I think because Ben was crying... but that's just how Ben is. He truly sees the heart of situations. He is compassionate and an incredible listener and friend... and he served for many years ministering to kids who were going through crisis and divorce. So when it comes to ministering to kids. Ben has lots and lots of wisdom.

Which brings me to my next person. Her name is Beth... Beth is a leader Ben served with in Chicago at a Willow Creek church there. Beth has her masters, she has taught in schools, she is wise beyond wise and she too seeks to understand and truly be Jesus to people. She understands pain, but moreso she understands God's grace in the midst of it all. Which brings me to the workshop and the concept of "safety" Ben and Beth are teaching me.

Having not come from a "tradional" Christian background I feel like my perspective on riverKIDS is a clean slate. I know I don't want to develp a "traditional" children's ministry. I know I want a ministry that is first and foremost based on relationships with Jesus first and relationships with kids. If the kids don't feel safe and loved in the relationships they have at church why would they ever believe a Bible story we tell them? If they think the only reason we are in the class to teach them is because we have to run through curriculum, then why have a class at all. I want this ministry to be a place where kids feel SO safe, So loved and SO TRULY known... that they begin to reveal the truth of their hearts to us. That they begin to confess to us the things that are hurting them most. That they are able to say to us... I need to be healed by jesus, will you pray with me and believe with all of their hearts it is the same thing their teachers want. I don't want a show... I don't want a party, I want ministry. I want kids to learn the things of the Bible but to first and foremost know that I am not there fixing, judging and joking about their problems. I want them to know that every team member I have is someone who can sit with them in their pain. Can ask them questions that do not make them feel like they have to defend their emotions or justify how they feel. I want to hear that kids have been healed at a very young age from fear and anger. I want God to do a mighty work in my teacher's hearts so they too begin to understand that what we seek to do for these kids is what Jesus has done for us all along. He doesn't fix, He doesn't judge, He doesn't make jokes. He just sits with us in our yuck and says... "Yep... I am SO SORRY you feel that way." He sits with us in our yuck and says, "Tell me more about what your feeling..." He sits with us in our yuck and says, "I noticed you today and I hear what your saying and it's so important to me that you share with me... oh and by the way Jen... I love you no matter what is happening in your life."

Ben and Beth talk about creating a "safe place" in the church for kids to not only learn Biblical truths, but a place where they actually experience what Jesus would have been like in real relationships with teachers and people who love them and want to help them be healed by Jesus. And yes... young children need Jesus' healing. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking they don't carry stress, difficulty and pain. I haven't even been in children's ministry that long and I know the pain of a child. They have parents who are divorced, they experience deaths, they know what bullying is, they have been betrayed, they help their addicted parents, brothers,sisters and families and some of them have parents who have committed serious crimes. Some of them have been exposed to sex younger than they ever should be. Some of them have been molested and abused. This ministry is not something I will take lightly. Yes, right now we are concerned with paint and esthetics and the 90 second first impression. But we will be communicating what a safe place looks like regularly. I'm so excited for this. And as I begin to uncover and look at this type of thing in my own life, I am feeling a huge conviction that I am seeking forgiveness for. A conviction where I know I have not been safe in communicating with many people who matter most to me. I have tried to fix them, I have tried to joke with them, I have tried to tell them a story that is simliar. I haven't just sat with them in their circumstances and tried to get their perspective. So I'm praying today that God reveal those things to me a little bit more clearly. I am completely trusting Jesus that he will take this ministry to the next level. Thank you God for Ben and Beth. Two people who have been Jesus to me.

Here is Beth's company's website. www.envision-innovation.com. You want a fresh perspective on your relationships, talk to Beth see what she has to say.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Letter of Intent... and stuff

I wasn't going to post anything because my camera is still broken (discouraging) so for some reason I feel like my posts are much less fun to read without cool pictures. Yes... I am a dork.

So I will write my next letter of Intent. Read on...

Letter of Intent

Dear said Family vehicle (my dear sweet Honda Odyssey),

I am writing to thank you. To thank you for once again releasing my keys back to me so I don't have to hook and unhook my battery every day I drive you. I have already been on my knees praising God for fixing you for me. He knows my every desire and hope and that was a big one weighing on my mind.

I know God is working in our life because he has brought finances when there were none... and when I say none. I mean NONE. So Mr. Odyssey you too should be thanking Jesus for the beautiful miracle he worked in your ignition casing.

I look forward to a couple more years with you. Keep on trucking little van. Thanks for all you have done!

Love, Jen and family

Bloggy friends, I will post another day about our financial blessings and miracle. It is post for a memorial box monday. A post that will glorify Him, and build other people's faith by the things Jesus is doing in my life. Right when I needed Him most.

Peace to you all!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A work in progress

A sustainable pace....
It is what I am focusing on in all areas of my life. I have not really blogged much about the day to day stuff that is happening in this family of mine. BK and I are focusing heavily on our budgetary scenario. Finances are a top priority for this family of mine. God and BK have had some pretty heavy duty conversations about us getting everything in order. Stewarding finances well and is teaching Bill and I to work TOGETHER in it. For the past two pay periods we have been doing really well. Sunday afternoons after naps, we spend about a half an hour talking about money. I was telling my friend Jill the other day that converstaions about money are not always just about money... they are about much more than that and that's why sometimes I think couples have a hard time talking about it. Money effects people in different ways depending upon how you have grown up, how your parents treated money how your parents discussed money and how and why it was spent. BK and I have been learning a lot about our selves in this process. And I have to say... some of it was painful to learn but to cool thing that is happening is that BK and I are working together and trying to teach the kiddos in the process.

Day to day life has been good but different. In an effort to save I have been bringing my two big kids to work with me. What a cool thing that I have a boss who understands the need for flexibility in this life with kiddos so this will be my last week with them before they go off to school next week. We have a big party this Sunday for our kickoff of the new ministry. I have a lot to do and it is interesting while doing all the work I need to accomplish I know that God will take care of the details. I love my job. I am challenged. Not just by what we are trying to accomplished but by what I am learning about myself and my church in the process. My favorite part? The ministry. My favorite part is when a child needs prayer, my favorite part is when a Mom brings her daughter to church who brings a friend who needs prayer. My favorite part is when I get to teach a class and pray for the kids. My favorite part is talking with them one on one. Getting to know the kids lives. Getting to know the parents and their life circumstances and walking with them through the good the bad and the ugly. We still need to build a team so I can focus more on those things, but I am convinced God will take us there. In His timing.

I am a work in progress. This year will be a year of thinking and dreaming with God about what's next. Adoption? Buying or building a house? a 10 year anniversary trip? Who knows. I sit in anticipation of what's next. Thank you God for this life you give me. It will be my legacy someday and please let it be something that honors and glorifies you in all of it. lv, jen

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Overwhelmed by it all...

Please let me preface this post by saying I am not overwhelmed by my life, my family or even my own personal circumstances. I am overwhelmed by the crisis happening in our families and the lives of kids today. What has happened?

I have been serving in youth ministry on and off for the past 41/2 years. In this time I have heard from kids as young as 14 years old, " I think I am pregnant," " I cut myself," "I'm trying to help my Mom(Dad) through their depression and chaos," "My parents are getting a divorce," "My Dad(Mom) hits me and verbally abuses me and my family." "My Mom(Dad) is sick." "I am addicted to drugs." The stories I hear from these young people are so sad to me. I am so burdened by it.

Here I am planning curriculum worried about checkin systems, determining paintcolors for the hallways of our church... concerned about crafts and attendance and statistics and the real problem lies in crisis and pain around us. What can we do God? What do I do? Will another VBS solve the crisis in our children? Will more crafts and pipe cleaners heal parents hearts and help them to understand marriage and sacrificial love? Will our kids ever get to be kids again. I think there was a time when all kids had to worry about were pipe cleaners and googly eyes. I think there was a time when they could truly enjoy a craft and think all about how the glue felt in their little sticky fingers. But I think the minute they are done... they are faced with much more. More than we could ever know about.

I was also thinking about this because although my kids don't experience the pain that some of these kids in crisis are going through, they are going to be faced with it because many of these kids are their peers. Many of these kids are looking for other kids who have supportive families to help them along, to love them despite their circumstances, will my kids be ready? Will they have what it takes? Will they see God in it all?

On my way home from youth group I prayed so hard. God has put an intercessory gifting in my life. When I become burdened to pray I begin to weep. It just comes in a huge wave. Like I am feeling like I am crying God's tears. I am so sad...as I pray I cry out to God. It's loud and it comes from the depth of my spirit...I pray in my prayer language and it is like I am praying away the sin... I don't know what I am saying but I know that God knows. It doesn't happpen too often but when it does it comes like a thunderstorm. (thank goodness I am in the car!lol)

So last night, in my overwhelmed state, I just cried and prayed. I was so overwhelmed by the challenge that faces us as Christians. By the town we live in and by the hurt and pain all around me. I felt like all I could do was call upon our big huge amazing miracle working God to do what he does best and heal us.

Not because we deserve it, but because he knew we were going to be this way and he loves us despite ourselves. So, I am asking my bloggy friends to pray along with me. Pray for our families, pray for relationships, pray for kids and that they stay kids. Pray that God does a miracle today in the lives of kids. Pray for his protection. Thank you so much. lv, Jen