Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Illusion of (Parenting) Control & The Gift of Mercy: Reviewing My 2017 Verse of the Year

I am a planner. An organizer. And, we folk, generally like to feel in control. People like us because we will reliably meet goals and things will get done. We like math because A + B usually equals C. We like a syllabus because it methodically organizes time with complete awareness for what to expect. We may even organize our closet with a specified system on matching hangers to more quickly find the desired apparel…I don’t know. It’s just a guess J

If 2016 was an exercise in responding to matters no one could control, 2017 held lessons in responding to the impact others had on us when it seemingly defied logical expectation.

I chose Micah 6:8 as my Bible verse of the year. It was honestly to provide myself guiding approach to the predictability of lived life being unpredictable.  

Near the end of 2016 we’d let Hannah share her story of an asthma attack experienced in smoky air before city government and the vote at hand didn’t result as we hoped. My fear that she’d experience adults make decisions that didn’t match with lessons and values adults teach her became reality. It hurt her/us and left me at God’s feet asking how I was to respond. My gut reaction was to clamp up and be done. But, as I drove past the cemetery one morning where my father-in-law’s (who battled lung cancer) headstone was recently laid, Matt Maher’s lyric, “Let there be peace. Let it start in me” flooded my ears and settled in my heart, providing a healthier response – to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.

I (and my husband) wanted Hannah as well as our other children to know that speaking the truth in love, engaging in hard conversations so that we can all grow and be our best, and treating everyone with kindness and respect + a soft heart mattered to walk difficult situations – when people make choices we can’t understand- well. It’s a bridge to understanding, potential future change, integrity and peace. And, I’m most proud of how Hannah handled it.

The impetus for this verse was revisited (and, after further discussion healthy steps to cleaner air policy were made happy dance), however life had way of calling this verse and lesson to light more than once. I went in telling God how I was going to do life and He must’ve smiled and said, “Oh, but honey, open your eyes. There is so much more.”

No matter how much I wish I could bubble wrap our children from painful experiences, the best I can hand them is a broken world and show them how they might shine a light through the cracks. It requires a dance of letting them go enough to stand strong on their own two feet without too much space that they feel disconnected.

Though the challenge is primarily commissioned to us as her parents, there was so much more for me to learn thorugh it.

The result of this merciful living - which is so. very. difficult- when A + B does not equal C or expectation is defied and mess is made, is beauty. BEAUTY.  I can’t believe my Type-A self is saying that but my God has proven it true. This year, because of hardship, I’ve seen new fortitude and dreams be born. In not being able to be in control I’ve witnessed a village of unexpected, incredible people cheer my girl on and make her stronger. We've come to appreciate some we didn't see before and made new friendships with people we never knew. And, I’ve felt love that builds up my family greater than if I were doing it alone.

These are gifts I never imagined. 

Touché, God, I went in with a plan but You established my steps…and the story You wrote was better than I imagined.

xx Melissa

Saturday, June 3, 2017

How to Throw a Peppa Big Birthday Party

Oink! Oink!

When Ava said she wanted a Peppa Pig birthday party it came as no surprise. The girl cannot get enough of this delightful pig our other girls cannot stand😂 

Wanting a party outdoors, I went into PTA mom party planning mode because five and six year olds aren't too hard to impress.

First the girls played "Musical Mud," simply musical chairs played with Peppa Pig music and muddy puddles, which I made from paper bags. 

Peppa and her brother, George, love jumping in muddy puddles so they jumped on each spot as they circled.

Then, since Peppa's favorite food is spaghetti, or as she calls it, p'sketti, we did a noodle relay. Prior to the party we cooked the spaghetti noodles and let them cool. Then, dividing the teams in half, they raced noodles down to their bucket using a sand shovel because Peppa loves to play at the beach.

Since we had an odd number of girls my man stepped in to help. They thought he was hilarious. Charlie's such an awesome dad.

Next it was time for food, and each girl made their own Peppa cupcake.

Giving each one a plain cupcake, they frosted it with pink frosting, added two triangle pieces of pink wafer crackers for the ears, candy eyes from Target, and half of a large marshmallow for the nose with pink icing for the nostrils, they were cuteness. 

The pink cups with nostrils were used for drinking and princess napkins highlighted Peppa's love of dressing up.

Based on the bubbles episode, we had a "who can make the biggest bubble" contest, and we carried that fun through in their take home treats with Peppa printables

Inside was sidewalk chalk  (after the episode where Peppa's mom draws a crown and wings around her), bubbles, and a pool ball (since Peppa loves playing with balls) inside a sand bucket and shovel container so these girls can enjoy the beach themselves. It made for a perfect welcome to summer.

And now our baby is six. 

We had so much fun celebrating her!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Milestone Memento Balls: Remembering Whose You Are

Recently the fifth graders in our congregation celebrated their 5th grade milestone. In our congregation this is public recognition of Holy Communion, though they may partake in the meal before that time.

Because this marked the rounding out of their Children's Ministry milestones, I wanted to design a special conversation piece for families that would unite them around their church dinner table in meaningful discussion while creating a permanent memento the students could forever enjoy.

And I came up with these milestone memento balls.

I cannot tell you how much fun families had with them. Inside of these fillable ornament balls, simple to open and snap close + spacious enough to fill with items, I selected one symbol for each faith milestone they've celebrated along the way. Then, at the dinner, I named each milestone and what it means for us in our Christian walk along with a discussion question. When they finished sharing their answers as a family, the student added that symbol to their ornament.

Families opened up to each other with questions like What is one thing you are lifting up to God right now in prayer? (for the Lord's Prayer and adding a candle), laughed together with What is one rule in your life - commandments, home, church, school, that is hardest for you to follow but you know is for your good? (10 Commandments and adding a stone), and celebrated God's incredible Word with What is your favorite Bible verse? (Bibles and adding a cross + paper with their verse written on it).

After the Bible milestone discussion I asked the students in the group if any of them wanted to share their favorite verse or story and the room came alive. I was running around the space with the microphone from student to student. One's sister even spontaneously sang an entire song around her brother's verse! It was amazing. I totally should've opted for practical shoes over trendy, but there is no better problem for a Director of Faith Formation to have :)

The evening was, without question, one of my favorite moments in my ministry since joining staff so I had to share because this engaging activity is easily adaptable for milestone celebrations of all seasons and spaces in life.

Children are so incredible. To celebrate this night with my own 5th grader and witness the depth of these students' faith was truly a gift. They will add so much to youth group next year!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Why I Love Good Friday

“Please take this cup of suffering away from me.” Luke 22:42

This is a Jesus I can relate to.

Turns out adulting can be over rated. In addition to added responsibility and schedule juggling there is all the extra “stuff.”

There will be an empty chair this Easter where someone we loved once sat. When I look at my husband during Good Friday service, his chin is in his hands. His eyes moist with hurt.

We need Sunday for hope. But we sit in the Friday pain and Saturday ache resonating with our Jesus friend who understands.

Two steps through a door and I’m wishing differently. A tsunami of tears threaten and I hold my breath because somehow it feels safer than letting them go. To sit is to dwell in the hurt and deal with what is. But, love for another draws stronger than running away.

Sometimes the very bravest thing we do is take the next step.

Hear the next piece of news.

Life this side of Glory is predictably unpredictable. In the midst of laughter and sarcasm and fun there are honest whisperings of brokenness. Sudden loss. Unanswered prayers to become a parent. Children making wayward choices for those who are. Job dissatisfaction. Marriages gasping for breath. Disease. Hurts. Debilitations. Waits…

Struggle is a tie that binds.

Hanging in hurt is a feeling we all know and understand.

My suffering will never match the pain my Jesus chose to endure for me. But, begging God for a way out, finding relationship a worthy sacrifice for pain, and residing in agony? These are things both my Jesus and I understand.

Friday is good because it is reminder that we are not alone.

Saturday we hold vigil like so many of the situations we experience that don’t quickly resolve.

Sunday there is new life.

Tomorrow promises balloons and brass and Easter dresses with sparkly shoes, yet that is for the future. I’m okay with not being there yet and I don’t rush it. I actually find incredible solace here. 

This moment overflows with profound appreciation for a Lord who didn’t do all things supernatural.

Jesus, in his humanity, gave us freedom to cry out, to ask the questions, to believe that eventually new life will emerge from the dead spaces, and, when that doesn’t happen immediately, rest in the normalcy of wait, too.

This Lord, who WILL restore all that is broken this side of heaven, gifts us a Friday and Saturday to provide peace in despair and a Knowing Friend through all our days.

I hear your cry.

I know your pain.

I will love you through it.

And one day you will smile again.

This is a Jesus I can confidently trust my life to.

xx Melissa

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Business of Living, and How We Do So, is a Constant Choice of Priority

When I realized I hadn’t posted since the end of January my hubby suggested I write on the benefits of keeping your Christmas tree up year round. While I gave him the “aren’t you hilarious” ha-ha, his words have point. The Christmas tree is still up. Life has been full.

This past week Hannah’s teacher won the Sioux Falls Teacher of the Year award. As if the joy of nominating her wasn’t enough, being invited to attend the banquet with her and hear her name made my eyes glisten. This is an educator who never rests with what is, but is always asking what could make school better and finds way to make it possible. This is also a dear friend who put her hands in soapy water to clean dishes alongside me in silent support on a tough day and loved me in moments I didn’t particularly love myself.

I also spent time at hospice with one of my besties and her family. Yesterday she had to say a “goodbye” I know all too well. I wished I could take her pain from her, but I couldn’t. So, I did what we’ve always done for each other – show up. We ate, cried, hugged, felt the gamut of big feelings and threw in a little innate sarcasm with gentle awareness that even when it feels like the ground is falling out from underneath our people catch us and carry us through. Hard, holy, precious moments in heartbreak.

And, in between, of course, has been all of the normal. Work is crazy busy with huge events and summer prep yet God fuels me with a smile and affirmation that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Unique volunteer opportunities in my girls’ school keeps me present for landmark events in their elementary education. Dance and volleyball and helping the girls study fit in between family games of UNO and HORSE in the driveway and bike rides through the neighborhood.

The business of living, and how we do so, is a constant choice of priority.

I found myself telling somebody, “Just love ____ the best you know how right now. That might look different now than it does five hours from now but if you do this moment in the way that feels right you won’t have regret.”

I left chewing on my own words. I think I’ve, at times, struggled with what success looks like. I don’t think I’m alone, as I think most of us would desire the perfectly clean house, accomplished work in our home and/or the business world, time with the people we love, and some sort of defining greatness.

Doing all of that is pretty unrealistic.

But maybe greatness comes through a series of small moments.

If I’ve felt anything this week, it is what an honor it is to break from the routine to see an extraordinary friend’s “extra” acknowledged and wipe tears in shared brokenness. The gift of witnessing a parent steady their child’s hand to paint the outline of a cross, affirming my girl’s smarts in prepping for a Revolutionary War test, and laughing in the driveway at my man who insists on taking silly shots between the garbage cans in family basketball games like the child who never grew up.

God shows up in these moments.

So, if you come to my house, the Christmas tree will probably still be up. It’s already April, after all, and I like it out in November anyway. 😊 The benefit is I’ll be choosing my minutes well. And, on that note, I’m off to bump the ball with my girls.

Please know I haven’t forgotten you, I’ve just been busy making life rich with meaning.

I hope you’ll choose to do the same.

The day is full of potential.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...