Oh, how he loves us…

A powerful blog on adoption by Wendy Young. “As we walk through these questions of adoption and belonging with our kids we will remember that we feel the same sometimes. We question “WHY? WHY would God die for ME? Does He even know or care…” and then I think of MY kids and know.

OH! HOW HE LOVES US!”

Good Dirt Families

Easter is over… but some of our questions still remain.

All of our kids are adopted and we knew that someday they may want to know more about their story. Our daughter is 15 and very 15. She is fun loving and sensitive. She is searching and pushing. She is sad about some bad decisions. She wants and needs love. She does not want to talk to many people about her adoption. She is not embarrassed or afraid she just isn’t sure what she thinks, what she knows or what is right.

According to Websters dictionary adoption means to take by choice into relationship, to choose to embrace as one’s own. Adoption to us means family and inheritance. We have NO QUESTION that these 3 kids are our very own. They could not be more ours than if they looked like “Mini-me’s”. We do not question or wonder or doubt. We would lay our…

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Good Dirt Eastertide

Excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide.

Easter is the day our lives are changed forever. Nothing, absolutely nothing will ever be the same. But for many of us Easter is as mundane as Tuesday’s Twinkies. We put on clothes we hate, hunt eggs we will never eat, and yawn through the Easter service. It wasn’t always this way.

Easter is Christianity’s oldest celebration. It began with the day Jesus rose from death, and the celebration hasn’t stopped! Long before the church celebrated Christmas, we celebrated Easter. Easter should never play second fiddle to Christmas. We have Christmas because of Easter; Easter is the reason we celebrate Christmas. The Bread of Life conquered death—that’s the best news there is! As we’ve been journeying with Jesus this year, we have heard over and over again his teaching about the Kingdom of God. We’ve seen him claim to know God in a unique, one-of-a-kind way in the Gospel of John; we’ve watched as he heals and forgives and loves.

At Easter, we get the best news of all—this Kingdom life is the real deal! By overcoming death itself, Jesus proves that the with-God life simply cannot be held down! So as we set out to imitate his life, we can have confidence and joy that Jesus’ abundant life truly is the best life on offer. From the drab, cold winter days of Lent to the dark sadness of Holy Saturday, the question is raised—how can any joy come out of such loss and sadness?

Easter answers: God’s power and life is so strong that it can go through death and come out victorious the other side!

Till: Hallelujah! You are risen, Jesus, you are risen, indeed! Nothing can stop you from giving us new life, because you triumphed over death. Hallelujah!

Plant: John 1:1-18

Water:
Light it: Be sure to light the Christ candle.

There are so many special things going on today that there probably won’t be time to sit and have a usual activity time today. Instead, enter fully into the joy of Easter. Go party! He is risen, indeed!

Weed: What did it feel like to rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection today? What made you happy today?

Resurrecting Hope

At this writing it is Holy Week, arguably the saddest week of the year. This week, my Lord dies, hope dies and we are left with nothing but the empty space of Holy Saturday.

There is a commonality among the children at Haven House. Each time I sit with a child in spiritual direction, I first ask them to choose a picture of Jesus with children from a stash of many. This is our rhythm when they come. They choose the picture of Jesus they most need to see and then together we turn on a battery-powered candle to remind us that God is with us. Then they are invited to share their thoughts about the picture. Children who have heard Bible stories usually tell me something about Jesus’ death, even children who know little about Jesus know about his death. Some even know the gruesome details. The children at Haven House know death; they know emptiness, loneliness, and hopelessness. Often I will say, “Did you know, God brought him back to life?” Without fail, I am met with blank stares and even disagreement. Death they know, resurrection they can’t imagine.

So in the last two weeks during spiritual direction (We call it Holy Listening.) we have used a wooden play set of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus to play out the whole story—resurrection and all.

I tell the story first and then invite the children to play with the pieces and retell. They are invited to add their own twists and turns, as this is how they make His story, their story. Interestingly, this is also how they mourn their own sorrows. In the death and sadness of Christ they are able to express their own pain. We keep the candle near, to remind us that even in great pain, and great sadness, God is near.

We are careful to include Jesus’ resurrection each time. In the resurrection of Christ there is hope and joy– and as one child taught me, forgiveness. In the story he told of the resurrection—Jesus went chasing after the soldiers who were guarding the tomb. “Hey, no wait,” he said, “I forgive you, come back.”

Hope lives in Jesus’ resurrection.

The hope that says God is with you in your greatest pain.

The hope that says God is with you even if you are buried under shame, doubt and fear.

The hope that says “Hey, no wait. I forgive you, come back.”

The hope that says there is something better, unbelievably better, coming.

 

Good Dirt Palm Sunday

Excerpt taken from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide. 

Holy Week is split into two parts. The first part is Palm Sunday through Holy Wednesday, which does not take us into the suffering of Jesus; instead we look ahead to what is worth dying for. The first part is full of preparation and confirmation. As Joan Chittister says in her book The Liturgical Year,

“These first days of Holy Week confirm: there are some things worth living for, even if we find ourselves having to die for them as well.”

Welcome Home Party: Create a welcome banner for Jesus. Read the “Triumphal Entry” of Jesus (today’s reading) as a family. Enjoy special snacks; even invite the neighbors to join you in welcoming Jesus home.

Create a Blessing Banner: Part of looking ahead from death to life is found in looking ahead from winter to spring. Use poster board and construction paper to make a flower garden. On each of the flower petals write a blessing or something worth living for. Use the poster as a Holy Week reminder that life triumphs over death.

 

Till: We thank you, Jesus, for showing us how to live a humble and good life. Help us today to prepare for your coming. Show us how to celebrate your arrival!

Plant:Matt. 21:1-16

Water:
Watch it: Watch for the love and life of Jesus today.

Visit the Altar: In the sand, draw a picture of your favorite thing about Jesus.

Weed: How did you celebrate today? How can you carry this celebration through to Good Friday?

What’s up with Holy Week?

Excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide.

Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday and ends just as we launch into the celebration of Eastertide. Holy Week places the divine/cosmic paradox we observe during Lent—death to life—under the microscope. We take a good look, with our hearts and minds, at how Jesus himself lived this paradox.

As parents we may wonder how to explain the Christian mystery of death becoming life to our children. The blessing of ritual shows us the way. The small rituals already set in place during Lent and in each additional activity for Holy Week have a miraculous ability to impart understanding to children.

Year after year these rituals teach the paradox of death to life. Their theology will not be complex, but children will know that out of death comes life. When children are young they relate best to the life part of the paradox. Spring is the breaking from the death of winter. Consistently pointing out all the signs of spring is a powerful reminder. Older children can enter in and participate in the death to life paradox. Always bring discussions back to the fact: “Life wins.” Older children can benefit and will mature from time spent practicing dying to their own wills, and in sincere, thoughtful meditation on the last week of Christ in which he moved from life to death, and back to life everlasting.

In what ways are you living the paradox right now?

God Lives on a Disney Cruise Ship in the Caribbean

Being present to God is portable! Thank you for reminding us Weyel Family. “I know the God who helps me with my children and joins me while doing laundry. I know the God who exists in San Luis Obispo and that He loves the people here. But it is so easy to forget that “my god” is the very same God who loves rich people on Disney cruises. And He is the same God who loves people barely scraping by with servant jobs on Caribbean islands. “

Good Dirt Families

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We don’t travel long distances very much–partly because we’ve had young kids for the last 8 years, partly because we’re definite homebodies, and partly because we already live in the most beautiful place in the world. But this past week we spent on a Disney cruise in the Caribbean, thanks to some very generous grandparents and a willingness to venture out of our comfort zone. And you know what I discovered? My view of God is so very small.

I like to take classes, read books, do family devotions like Good Dirt–all things that help expand my definition of who God is. I learn about God’s character, and I remind myself often that the God I serve is loving and generous and trustworthy and good. And yet every time I travel, I realize “my god” is still so very small. I know the God who travels back and forth…

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Good Dirt Sunday

The following excerpt is from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 

Till: Jesus, your ways aren’t our ways. We have such a hard time with self-sacrifice, serving, and letting go of things we want even when they aren’t good for us. Help us to trust you more. Help us to release control and follow you, even in hard situations.

Plant: Mark 8:31–9:1

Water:

Imagine it: When Jesus told his disciples that his path was leading to suffering and death, they couldn’t believe it! Peter even told Jesus to stop being so gloomy! Why do you think they reacted that way? How do you think you would have reacted?

Enter it: Jesus’ way leads through suffering and loss. We have to follow him through it too so that we let go of the things that keep us from God. Tell about a time when you had to do something hard that you didn’t like, but it turned out to be good for you.

Apply it: Is there an area in your life where you need to give control to Jesus? What is one small step you could take today?

Weed: What was hard today? How did you feel about it? What was easy today?

A Life That’s Cruciform

Thank you Brenda for reminding us that, “The mystery of God, the cries of our suffering Servant, and the untidiness of me–they’re things my kids need to see. And that image of the cross, I hope it comes to mind every time I’m spent and need to share just a little more of myself.”

Good Dirt Families

© JD Warrick, used under Creative Common License. © JD Warrick, used under Creative Common License.

It’s those bedtime questions that can require the very most we have to give.

I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll say one time that for parents, it’s those moments we’re tucking them in when kids are the most talkative. Don’t rush through bedtime with your kids, he encouraged. They’ll do anything to delay switching off the light. Talk to them. Listen to them. Take advantage of their open hearts and listening ears no matter how tired you are and no matter how ready you are to be done with parenting for the day.

Austin, my 11-year-old, asked this one as I was giving him a final kiss at the end of a trying day, to put it mildly. Our 8-year-old had been through two meltdowns, our high schooler had been home sick from school and then had gotten his braces tightened. We’d been…

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Good Dirt Sunday

An excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 
Till: Lord, help us! We are so quick to try to do life on our own, to think we know everything, and to miss what you are doing because we are focused on what we are doing. Please clear out our pride and help us rely on you!

Plant: Mark 8:11-21

Water: Create it: Today Jesus warns the disciples against the “contaminating yeast” of the Pharisees. To help kids understand this point, fill a clear glass with water, then put in just a drop or two of food coloring. Allow it to stand for a day, and observe what happens—all the water changes color!

Apply it: The disciples don’t seem to understand that they can rely on Jesus for every need! They are in the boat, squabbling about bread, when he’s just miraculously divided bread for thousands of people! Are there times when you tend to forget to rely on God, and focus only on what you can do without him?

Live it: Today, take “pause” moments to invite God to provide for you throughout the day. A “pause” might be every time you take a drink. Say a short “Thank you” to God.

Weed:When did you rely on God today? How did that feel? When did you try to do it on your own? How did that feel?