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Weeds and Nerf darts

Ministry, Wife and Mom life… bring it on.

Month

October 2014

If God is a dude…

Created in the image of God!
Created in the image of God!

“Our father in heaven…” If you are someone who grew up in a church I’ll bet you couldn’t even stop yourself from finishing the Lord’s prayer in your head. And to be honest, before I started in Seminary, I hadn’t really thought much about the gender of God. I mean, we say the Lord’s prayer and it says Father and there are a whole lot of “He” in the Bible in reference to God, so it becomes natural for one to think of the creator in a masculine form.

However, the first time the question “Is God male?” was asked of me, my immediate reaction was “well… no”. If I am reasoning this out, God the Creator is neither Male or Female, and is not subject to time or the size and scope of human beings. As I continued in my seminary studies I found that we would spend a lot of time talking about this. We would argue about it, write papers about it, and talk about how our churches need to understand it.

Then one day in Sunday school a very profound statement came out of a 6th grader. I love middle schoolers, always have. They are silly and awkward and have moments so profound they astound you. We were discussing attributes of God shown in the Old Testament vs attributes in the New Testament and I posed the question “Does God change?” This question was pretty hard for 6th through 12th graders to answer but the consensus was that No, God does not change, but our understanding of God changes because we are human and He is God.

So I said “God is hard for our brains to understand, because we live in a place constrained by time, but God is bigger than time, God is bigger than gender…”

“What?” Shouted one of my boys. “What do you mean God is bigger than gender?”

I wasn’t really prepared for this conversation, but if you’ve opened the can of worms might as well go fishing, so I asked the group, “Alright, this wasn’t our topic for the day but since we are here… Is God male?”

I got a mix of answers, ranging from “Yes, why else do we call him Father?” to “I guess God is whatever he wants to be” to “I don’t even know what you are talking about”

Before I could address any of these answers one of my 6th grade girls said, in a quiet voice “I’ve always wondered about this, because if we are created in God’s image, and if God is a dude… then what does that mean for me?”

Everyone in the room got silent, as they processed what this meant for women, and the students began to understand God in a different way. All I had said before had set a stage for this profound question from an 11 year old, and taught the class more than I ever could. I love it when God works that way.

Games for Youth Ministry

I love games. Card games, sports, board games, silly messy games, love all of them. Growing up we played mother may I, red rover, freeze tag, and anything with a jump rope. As I grew older I can still remember late nights with my youth group friends playing card games, trivial pursuit, and even a crazy round of hide and go seek when we were snowed in Sophomores in college!

Games are sort of a universal language. I used to teach children who spoke languages other than English, and one of our favorite games was silent ball. There was not one kid, from those who were born in America, to those who were just of the plane from Iraq that didn’t love playing silent ball. Games transcend language and cultural barriers and create atmospheres of cooperation and joviality. I’ve watched students become best friends, with no common language, over a game of checkers.

Games are a huge part of what I do in ministry. Some people probably see my job as only games, especially the people who see the broken doors and muddy footprints that occasionally follow some of our more rowdy escapades. But games are important for ministry, not because we see our jobs as youth ministers as only ensuring our students are being entertained, but because games are a way in which we learn. Games can illustrate a theme for a lesson, set a mood for an event, or change a person’s perspective on a topic. They can also serve the purpose of creating community where we least expect it.

Recently, at an all church inter-generational event, I was asked to come up with a game for all of the attendees, which can be hard with limited space and a crowd of people all sitting at dinner tables, so I decided we would play a quick game of heads or tails. For those unfamiliar with the game it is about the easiest thing ever. Everyone in the room stands up at their seats, and one person is designated as the coin tosser. Before the coin is tossed, everyone in the room either puts their hands on their heads, or on their rear ends, signifying on which side the coin will land. All those who were correct keep standing, and the rounds continue until there is but one person still standing.

For my group of youth and their younger siblings, who don’t always interact with the adults of the church, it was great for them to see adults laugh and just enjoy playing a game. It created an atmosphere where everyone was in something together, breaking down some of that youth vs adults mentality.

I can thank my mother for my love of games as part of education. She was a public elementary school teacher for 25 years, and taught middle school math for the following five. She has always valued games, both for recreation (she was the kickball pitcher at recess my whole third grade year) and for retaining information. Her students played the games the children in early America played to learn about life in the colonies. They played around the world to practice math facts, and played set or 24 challenge to work on other math skills.

I am forever grateful to the people who taught me how to play, and I hope to be a youth minister  who allows space for play. Below are instructions to some of our favorite games we play in our youth group. I hope you find a new favorite, or if you have a different favorite, I’d love to hear about it. We are always on the lookout for new games!

 

Eye Tag

Ninja

The Question Game

Psychiatrist

King of the Lily Pad

Human Bowling

Four on a Couch

Duct Tape Hockey Mask

Scatter Ball

Family

SPUD

Crazy Kick Ball (messy game)

Paint Twister

 

 

Making friends after undergrad

As I began my master’s degree program last year, I felt really old. I was turning 30 and many of the people entering the program were just out of undergrad, at that awesome age of 22, where nobody tells you how hard it is to make friends after college.

Well hear me now all of you just-about-to-graduate-college folks, it is extremely difficult to make friends after college. In college you were in a pool of potential friendships, you had neighbors in your dorms to hang out with, fraternity brothers and sorority sisters. You were all in the same place in life with similar interests, and life was pretty good for most of us.

Then graduation, job and real world happens. All of a sudden you work different schedules from your friends, move away, or start families. All of these life situations will make it hard to make friends, especially the moving away or starting a family. I graduated college with a toddler, and the lives of my friends did not match my own married life. However as I follow those old friends on social media, I am seeing now that they are in similar spaces, we just didn’t reach them at the same time.

Now so far this whole post has seemed like a downer. I’m not solely the bearer of bad news, I am also hear to tell you that while it is hard, it isn’t impossible. I have also moved from MD to TN to AZ to MO and back to TN, and I have had friends in each location. My message is that it might be time to reevaluate the word friend and what it means to you.

  1. Quality over Quantity. – As I began a new life as a wife and mother in 2006 my need for a wide circle of friends gradually diminished. It is OK not to have a huge circle of friends, many of us thrive on having a small group of friends. It is easier to maintain a few close friendships when you have a family that takes precedence in your time. Make sure those friendships that you do maintain are uplifting and spiritually nourishing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try something new. As I said before, in college it was easy to meet people and make friends, but out in the real world it might be really difficult for you, especially if you are not accustomed to trying new things. If a local church has a young adult group, go try it out. As many of my acquaintances are church workers, sometimes we need to look for groups outside of the churches in which we work for friendships. My dear friend J is also a youth director and put herself in the very uncomfortable position of attending a young adult Bible Study at a larger church in the city where she works. She was new to the area and her only friends were those of us in the master’s degree program, most of whom were not close enough to maintain face to face friendships. Since joining the group she participates in a weekly bible study, trivia night and has numerous opportunities to just hang out with new friends.
  3. Patience is a virtue. OK I know that line is pretty trite, but it really is true. I lived in St Louis for almost 9 months before having a real friend. That’s a long time to hang out with your two year old, but it was worth it. She is still what I consider a great friend, even though we have both moved away, and I will always value my time with her. I lived in my current town for a full year before being invited to do something with people my age, but those friendships were worth the wait.
  4. Work hard at maintaining lasting friendships. I’m sure many of you have experienced the ending of a friendship. Maybe it was sudden, or maybe it just gradually faded away and two people grew apart. However I’m sure we can all identify friendships worth maintaining. My oldest friend, going on almost 18 years of friendship now, is extremely important to me. I make sure to visit once every few years, and he makes sure to call, or message me frequently. We live very different lives, but when two people know the value of real friendship they both need to work at maintaining that relationship.

The reality is that we are created to be in community with one another, and there are some growing pains associated with the transition from college to the big scary world of adulthood. Find solace in this, God created you to be in community so go and find it, you might be surprised who God sends your way!

Why Weeds and Nerf Darts?

I have a box of Nerf guns by my front door. No kidding. We had to move the love seat over to accommodate the overflowing amount of Nerf guns, Rebelle crossbows and the box full of darts. The box has become the ubiquitous part of my life, as have the darts I run over with the lawn mower.

Continue reading “Why Weeds and Nerf Darts.”

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