More than a blanket

Almost 3 years ago, I received a very special gift from some very special young women.

Brandon and I had been waiting for over a year for any movement towards adopting our first child. This was only after having spent 2 years down the infertility road.

Needless to say, we were emotionally spent. But God was continuing to show himself in incredible ways.

One Sunday morning I was asked to come to the 4th & 5th grade girls small group at the end of the morning. This was a class that had always been special to me in my role as Children’s minister, but I had no idea what they had planned.

When I got there they presented me with a blanket they had worked together to knit (with the help of their awesome teachers). They had spent the entire year knitting and praying for our sweet Baby O.

Allie, Serena, Becca, Bella & Lucy (and Hannah who couldn’t make it that day!)       Can you tell I’ve been crying?

Jamie came home almost a year later and during that time I kept this blanket out and visible. It was a constant, consistent reminder that our community was praying. That they loved this child. And, most importantly, that God was working. And after we brought J home (for the past two years) it has laid on the back of his rocking chair. I love seeing it each and every day as a reminder of the community that has prayed for and loved this child.

Tomorrow Jamie turns 2. t-w-o. Truth be told, I’ve been more emotional about my baby turning 2 then I was about myself turning 30.

At bedtime tonight we followed our usual routine: books, prayer and then a song. Jamie only had two requests: First, that I sing Jesus Paid It All and, second, that I put this blanket on him.

And this Mama’s heart nearly burst with the incredible honor I have of not only raising this little boy, but what a blessing it is to be surrounded by so many that. simply. love. him.

The girls pictured above have each grown into such lovely young women. I am amazed by their faith, their talents & abilities and their capacity to care for and minister to those around them. They love others well and are just plain fun.

Jamie insisted on taking this blanket to bed with him. And I can’t think of a better way for him to wake up on his birthday.



A Lifetime

Last night I spent some time praying / journalling before falling asleep. As usual I opened my heart up to the Lord… I voiced my exhaustion over this wait for our child, my trust that his planning and his timing was perfect and ultimately began to pray for our child and their birthmom.

I have spent so much time praying for our child now. You see I believe that even now, even if our child has not been born, that God can speak to them. They are a soul who can begin to learn the voice of God (ask me sometime to tell you about the secular studies that back this up). And I have pray fervently for them right now. I pray for wisdom and peace for their birthmom. I pray that the bond between us would be strong. And suddenly it hit me. I pray very little for our future. Last night it hit me that I am going to have this precious life for a life time. There is so much to be prayed over.

And I began to pray over school, and friends and teachers. I prayed for their after school activities and for our wisdom in both making decisions and allow this precious one to make decisions. I prayed for their spouse.

And I rejoiced that I get to be their mom. That Brandon gets to be their dad.

When you spend four years working to have a child, I think it becomes easy to forget that there is so much after that initial birth or adoption. There is a lifetime of memories to be had.

And I am so thankful.

Learning to walk with the Good Shepherd

Well it’s only 2:45 p.m. but today has been quite a day for this nanny.

My day started with a lovely breakfast with my WONDERFUL husband at my favorite place… true it was his birthday, but I enjoy bacon jut as much… so fun was had by all! For those of you who don’t know, I am blessed with a wonderful man to do life with. He is compassionate, strong, wise, funny, insanely SMART, patient, passionate and just plain amazing. I love the heart he has for those around him… I love how he loves the Lord… I love how he guides our family… I am blessed by how he loves me. I have no doubt he will be a wonderful daddy… and hopefully soon! 🙂

Anyways, after breakfast I joyfully went on to see my girls (J, 3 yrs old and T, 15 mo) and then excitedly took them to the Arboretum to spend the morning with friends… for all of us! (Thanks, Annika!)

The morning started great… big girl had a great time playing and running, little girl got into all sorts of precarious positions (which is fun for her!) and I was enjoying being outside on our unseasonably warm day. And then came the tantrum… I can’t totally remember what started it and I am certain I handled it badly… but for the next 10-15 minutes (what seemed like an eternity) big girl proceeded to cry and kick and scream… I felt totally inadequate and slightly embarrassed…

Being a school morning, there were moms with young kids everywhere. Many of them looked on with sweet smiles and sympathetic looks. Otherwise showed their disapproval… and I spoke to my 3 year old charge in soft tones.

And eventually we calmed down, ate our snack and proceeded to share very sweetly with those around her. She spoke very sweetly to me, and very willingly got into the car later to go home. And just 5 minutes on the road… and BOTH girls were passed out. It was wonderful. We arrived home, ate some lunch and now both are down for nap / quite time. True there were a few more time-outs between lunch and quiet time, but it came!

And I’m a little bit tired… but I also find myself very thankful. My time since the tantrum has been wonderful. Big girl has shared sweetly with her sister, has been eager to cuddle and ate all of her lunch without much complaint.

And we got to do one of my favorite activities. A few weeks ago i became newly excited about the possibility of combining my “research” with my nanny job. What is my research? My specialty is in Spiritual Formation with kids.. specifically how theology fits into the picture. I have had the chance to speak to a few different groups and even write a few articles on the subject. And I am frequently allowed the opportunity to see how this works with larger groups of kids and to engage in this beautiful thing…And this is definitely my primary responsibility at the church… and it’s one of my favorite things.

Well lately I have been introducing J (the 3 year old) to the parable of the good Shepherd from Young Children and Worship. Those of you who know this curriculum will share my excitement. Those of you unfamiliar… basically this is a contemplative approach to ministry with children. The story is told with simple materials in a very soft, very slow and very reverent way. The materials are pictured to the right. And research and personal experience has shown that young children seem to identify in a very special way with this particular parable of the Good Shepherd. I have also found the telling of this story to be particularly good for me… it has become a wonderful ministry to my heart!

So I’ve been doing this story with J just before her quiet time and it has been such a blessing. Immediately she began to ask for it more regularly and I find her saying many of the parts of the story in her own play with her toys. When I began to work with the materials, she will respond just as I do with soft, careful touches… soft whispers…

And after a tough day, I need this sweet, reverent time with my young charge.  And what a beautiful story to remind us that our Good Shepherd walks with us to the good green grass, to the still, quiet waters and to the dark spots… J and I both needed this. What beauty is found as we are guided by the Good Shepherd. What true joy.

Thanks for reading.

Meeting God

This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to give the Children’s Message during our service! This one of my favorite parts of my job. We began by lighting the Christ candle that we light downstairs during Children and Worship. Here’s some of what I said:

Without the presence of Christ, we cannot know God in his full glory. Without the presence of Christ in us, we cannot understand Scripture, the Bible, God’s word. Without the presence of Christ in us, we cannot Worship God. And without the presence of Christ, we cannot love the people around us fully.

Without Christ, we are simply a bunch of people who come together to sing some songs, hear a guy speak some words and go home. Doesn’t really make much sense.

But when Christ is welcomed into our heart, into our lives, into our church service… wow! When Christ is presence in us, we suddenly see how great, how big, how majestic our God, the Father God, is. When Jesus Christ is present in us, we are able to understand by the Holy Spirit (who is God himself) the Bible, God’s own written word. When Christ is present with us we can engage in Joyful worship… worshipping God in Spirit and Truth. And when Christ is present in us and with us, we can love those around us more fully.

And this means that what we are doing here this morning is meaningful… it has meaning. Here we are coming to meet God, because we recognize that without God, we have nothing.

And we light these candles to remind us that it is only through Christ, through his life, death and resurrection and his presence with us today… It is only through Christ that we can know God. Now, I want you to know that these candles don’t have any special power… but what they remind us of, the presence of Christ, hte light of the world… does.

Now before I extinguish the flame of this candle, I have one more question for you. Can one of you tell me why when we sing Be Still and Know downstairs?

Each Communion Sunday, we sing this song before we read God’s word… because we believe it is an important reminder to our congregation that God is with us… that it is only through his power that we read his word.

This morning I am going to ask you to help me lead the congregation in this song. Many of them don’t know the motions like you do, many of them might not know the song as well as you do. So after we extinguish this candle, we are going to lead them and then go back to our seats.

But first, just as this flame reminds us that Christ is present with us right here, and right now… when we extinguish this flame we are reminded that Christ’s presence does not stay here but goes with us wherever we go… just as this smoke filters throughout the room, Christ goes with us.

This morning Christ wants to meet you. You may not understand all of the words the pastor or even I say… you may not like all of the songs we will sing… but Christ wants to meet you, he wants to share with you his love this morning.

It’s a joy and a privilege to worship with you today. Now join me in leading the congregation.

It truly is a joy, an honor and a privilege to worship with children in the service. They continually teach me and guide me… i LOVE it! Happy Sunday everyone.