Message Received

You all know that great writers are usually not great speakers. Those of you who know me personally recognize what a gift it is that, given time and inspiration, I can express myself coherently in the written word because I am awkward and forgetful and do this hand-wringing thing when I’m speaking in person. I get sweaty and kind of start to hyperventilate. Adorable!

But as you also know, if you’ve read my past few posts, I’m also trying hard to bring my faith to the forefront of my life. I’ve opened up to you about trying to quiet the noise in my life to truly listen to what God wants from me, and I’ve admitted my struggles in being able to hear His voice as much as I’d like.

Before Easter, when I was in at the height of my dedication to prayer and study, I would ask God for direction. What can I do? Where do you want me?

One Sunday as I sat in church with my family, I heard a call for volunteers to help with the children’s Liturgy of the Word. This is kind of a miracle in itself because sitting in a church service with my three kids isn’t the most conducive to, you know, hearing what’s being said at the pulpit. But I also felt this stirring in my heart, saying this is something I could DO! I already teach my kids about our faith – why couldn’t I teach other peoples’ kids? This is something I might be good at. Having committed to trying my best to listen closely and say yes to God (thanks Lysa TerKeurst!), I volunteered.

When they invited me to sit in on one of their services, my flight response kicked in. I realized I had no idea how this program worked. The children go with their families to church on Sunday, but after the opening prayer they are excused to participate in this special children’s service in a smaller chapel and return to their families in time for communion.  

I soon learned this  isn’t a church nursery. This isn’t Sunday school with crafts and snacks. This is a CHURCH SERVICE, created to mirror the same service the adults are participating in, only geared to inspire and make sense to children.

Realizing what I had gotten myself into, I wanted to run. I’m not qualified for this! I won’t be good at this! This is NOT something I can do! You guys, I CAN’T SING PSALMS.

But I noticed I was the only new volunteer who had showed up that day. The ladies who run the program were just so warm and welcoming. I felt like I had to at least try.

I’ve now been observing for a few weeks, and it’s finally my turn to lead today. That means I’ll be leading all the prayers, doing all the readings and songs, and even – EEK! – giving the equivalent of a homily about the gospel.

ME! I’m doing those things. Stop laughing and/or worrying about the children’s future.

So I just opened up the guide I was given, which outlines my week’s readings and some suggested activities, and saw this:

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The entire theme of this weeks’ readings, assigned to me weeks ago by very sweet church ladies who know almost nothing about me except that I’m not a convicted sex offender, is about is about LISTENING to God speaking to us through the scriptures, church community, and quiet prayer. It’s about how to hear and understand what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us, and why it’s so important to say yes and obey.

They even suggested starting the service with a LISTENING GAME in which you quiet all the noise in the room and listen closely to identify sounds made by a person you can’t see. Is there a divine coincidence emoji I could insert here?

Weeks ago, I asked what I expected by fortifying my prayer life. Did I think God was just going to smack me in the face? Will I ever get a sign?

I opened this book a few days ago and saw these words, which were written for me to use in a role I’m in because for the first time, I listened and said yes when I felt the answer stirring in my  heart.

My bushes may not be burning, and I’ll probably be sweaty and hyperventilating this morning, but for the first time in a long time, I think I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.

Wish me luck!

On Jesus and Jellybeans: Talking Easter With Littles

This past week, I sat down with my son, wrapped my arm around his shoulders and braced myself for a conversation I’d had a feeling was coming. The shamrocks had been packed away, and in their place came a stack of Easter books. Many of them were filled with images of fluffy bunnies and colorful eggs, but there was one that showed a man, almost naked and nailed to a piece of wood. And this year, my son noticed.

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