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?

Good Dirt Sunday

An excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide
Till: Jesus, you are powerful! You can defeat any evil, and drive away any enemy that would harm us. We are amazed by you!

Plant:Mark 5:1-20

Water:
Draw it: Make a drawing of part of this story that captures your imagination. Share your drawing and tell why you chose this part of the story.

Apply it: Jesus shows that he has power even over a rioting mob of evil spirits. Where do you need to see that Jesus is powerful today?

Weed: Did you see the power of Jesus today? Where? Describe what you saw. Invite Jesus’ power to stay with you and protect you tonight.

Making Space for Questions

Kids question, too.

Last night when I was putting one of my people to bed she said, “Mom, are you afraid of death?” and then she jumped right into, “How do we know, I mean really know, there is the one, true, God.”

I know these answers like the back of my hand. I have spent the better part of four decades asking them myself. Seeking the answers my heart longs for in Scripture and nature, through prayer, in the lives and writings of many who have gone before me.

My knee jerk, mothering reaction is to step in- fill the space as quickly as possible. But this is her relationship with God, these are her questions. I am reminded of Jesus’ parables, “they’re like truth burritos,” one child told me. The truth of God and the Kingdom wrapped in a story that opens when we seek it out; we have to want it. Questions can be the doorway.

Questions, even from children, come from longing and can lead to seeking and finding. Jiffy quick answers shut down longing. I don’t want that. I want her to hunger and thirst for the truth. The Spirit who loves her so much, prompts me, “Listen to her. Show her how to look for me. I will give her the answers.”

So I make a space for her to think about her questions…

1. Tell me about a time when you have felt God near. (She tells about being afraid and the comfort she felt after asking God for help.)

2. Tell me about a time when you saw something so beautiful you had to stop and look at it. (She tells about watching horses run through a field playing together.)

3. Tell me about a time when someone was so kind you couldn’t believe it. (She tells about her Grandfather teaching her to drive the tractor. Which was news to me! Grandparents!)

Then I gave her a few pointers… ways to connect.

We talk about reading the stories of Jesus and listening for God to speak. I encourage her to ask God about death. We agree to both ask and see what he has to say about it.

After an hour of laying in bed with her and listening, I realize this will be an ongoing conversation we have. The Blessed Trinity, her and myself listening, questioning and learning together.

 

Good Dirt Sunday

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

Till: Jesus, you are with us and it’s a time to celebrate. Help us learn that you are better than anything we give up.

Plant:Mark 2:18-22

Water:
Enter it: In this passage, Jesus talks about fasting—giving up food or something else in order to focus on God. While he was here, his disciples didn’t fast because it was a celebration! What would it be like if you went to a birthday party, but refused to eat cake and acted really sad? How would the birthday person feel about that?

Apply it: Talk about what you have chosen to give up during this season of Lent. How can your fast (or your cravings or habits) remind you to look for Jesus today? (Or, if you are taking Sundays off of the fast,how can enjoying this thing today remind you to rejoice in Jesus?)

Weed: How did your fast help you look for Jesus today? Or, if you are taking Sundays off of the fast, how did today remind you to rejoice in Jesus?

Ash Wednesday: Excerpt from Good Dirt

Devotional excerpt taken from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week and Eastertide 

Ash Wednesday

Till:
God, you made us, and you know: we’re made from dust, we return to dust. Thank you for being compassionate to us in our weakness, and accepting us in Jesus.

Plant:Luke 18:9-14

Water:
Play it: Encourage children to act out the parable Jesus tells in today’s reading. This will help them visualize what Jesus is teaching.

Enter it: In this story, there are two men: one whose prayer focuses on his own goodness, and one who just asks God for forgiveness. Jesus says that the second man, who asked for mercy, was made right with God, and not the other. Why do you think that is?

Apply it: God forgives us when we confess our sins. (Read 1 John 1:9). What would it look like today if you trusted God and admitted when you are wrong, instead of hiding mistakes?

 

Weed: Lead your family in a time of confession at the end of the day. Where did you fall short of loving God and loving others? Be sure to thank God for his forgiveness. Then reflect: What was it like today, admitting mistakes instead of hiding them? How was it hard? How did it change your attitude?

Good Dirt Sunday

*This devotional excerpt is taken from Good Dirt: Advent, Christmastide and Epiphany

Sunday
Till:
 Jesus, you not only taught but showed us that when we entrust our lives to you and give up everything, we don’t lose out. No, our life blossoms forth like a seed into the most beautiful flowers! Help us be reckless with love, laying down our lives as servants.
Plant: Read John 12:24-32
 
Water:
 Enter it: This reading takes place just a little before Jesus was crucified.He knows all the pain he was about to suffer for us, but he goes ahead anyway because of how much he loves us and his Father! Then God shouts from heaven, telling Jesus that he is doing the right thing. How do you think Jesus felt when he heard his Father’s voice?
Apply it: Jesus taught that our lives are like seeds: in order to bear fruit, a seed has to look like it’s gone for good, lost and buried in the ground! But then it bursts forth into wonderful fruit. Sometimes, in order to love people well, it can look like we have to lose what we need. Are there any ways that God is inviting you to love that look hard or painful? How can you trust God and love in this situation?

 
Weed:
 Was there a time today when you had the opportunity to love and it cost you something to do so? How did you do? Was it hard? What happened?

 

Good Dirt Sunday

 * This is an excerpt from Good Dirt: Lent, Holy Week, Eastertide and Pentecost
LENT
Lent is the season of the divine paradox: we must die to live. Nature echoes this paradox. Seeds must die to live. Stars die to birth galaxies. It is the way of creation, and we are created. While the other seasons of the church burst withlife, Lent brings us firmly to our deaths. As we observe Jesus’ walk toward his cross, we become aware of our own. As he said, we must die to live. Using our gardening metaphor, Lent is weed-pulling and tree-pruning. It is the decay of composted materials that will eventually enrich our soul soil. My (Lacy) gardening is a comedy of errors, except there’s not much laughing.
Two springs ago I decided I needed a strawberry garden. I hauled over goat manure to mix into the soil before planting my tiny new plants, some fifty of them. I painstakingly designed my watering system and dreamed of the mouth-watering delights that would soon be my reward.
Boy, was I wrong. The little plants did grow, but so did the hidden enemy: the not-so-decomposed alfalfa seed in the manure. My Mom always said manure was nothing but grass and water; now I knew she was right. Since the manure wasn’t fully composted, along with my precious strawberry plants I inadvertently planted alfalfa. Somewhat digested alfalfa, but alfalfa nonetheless. In an alfalfa field, alfalfa is good; in a strawberry garden, bad. I spent the remainder of the spring and summer and fall and until blessed winter came, pulling weeds. Everybody got a chance to pull weeds. Children, grandparents, visitors all took a turn in the strawberry garden. One hot summer afternoon I was pulling in this garden, which is flanked by an old St. Francis statue that  has been repainted by various children who seem to have gained their painting skills from the circus. I desperately wanted to burn the whole patch down, with fire or chemical. All this work for a few delights that I could buy from the grocery store didn’t seem worth the effort. I stared at St. Francis, giving him the stink eye, like all of this was his fault. He smiled his usual smile and continued to hold out the bread and wine.
I persistently pulled those weeds while my mind drifted to spiritual practices. The efforts that make our spirits strong and healthy are often like weed pulling. Confession, fasting, simplicity, submission are just a few that came to mind that afternoon. Eventually I began a routine of confession each time I stepped into that weedy holy ground. This confession was a conversation with God in which I could tell the truth about myself and tell the truth about God.
This is Lent.