In favor of a boring summer

I am that mom that makes my kids finish the textbooks they bring home from school. “Everyone choose one page from each workbook per day! They’ll be finished in no time! Isn’t this fun?!”

My cheery attitude has no effect on my kids, who glare at me unabashedly.

Last summer we had days –

Monday Make Something: Crafts, cooking, projects

Tuesday To Do Lists: House projects and errands

Wednesday Wet Fun: sprinklers, water balloons, city pool you name it

Thursday Thankfulness: visiting people, making things for people, showing some love

Friday Fitness Challenge: biking, hiking, obstacle courses, etc.

I can describe the whole thing at length per request, but that’s not the point of this blog. It was fun. I’m a proponent of the whole idea.

The summer before last we focused on a science and writing project each day. Before that we earned marbles for chores and workbook pages and projects completed. Before that we covered topics of the week and topics of the month.

Every summer my wild and zealous learning ideas are met with grumbles and general grouchiness. (Ooooo- alliteration!)

So here is what I am going to offer you this summer, children –

One summer of nothingness.

A summer enhanced by boredom and lethargy, a summer where you have to make up stuff for yourself and use the imaginations I know you have down deep. You can make your own snacks and find toys you forgot you had. You can spontaneously visit a friend and lay around at their house for a change of scenery. And those textbooks…I’m going to take a deep breath and pitch them, burn them, whatever. I promise you they won’t make an appearance. (All my teacher friends…try to exhale.)

Boredom is the new black. It looks good on you Goehmann’s.

Why nothing? That’s the million dollar question. It’s an attempt at giving my children the chance to have their voices heard. Believing that one summer of nothingness will not rot their brains. Subscribing and actually living out my belief that children will learn no matter what they do, especially if I step back and let them discover on their own. Most importantly…

Letting them just be. Quietly teaching them to just be.

Because that’s something I’m not very good at, and I’d like to pass down a better legacy than being just like me.

Jesus was especially good at just be-ing. While our world is technical and vast and fast paced, Jesus’s world was in no way less busy. People grew things to survive, for the love of Pete, or shopped the marketplace. I have shopped a city marketplace in a country for daily rations, and while it sounds fun, it’s a lot to take in and not so fun when your hunting down food for six…every day.

People also wanted Jesus’s attention. Crowds clamored. He was surrounded by need. He was intensely aware of every person’s value that sought him out, and every person that didn’t.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

This, really, is our summer of rest. We have done a lot, recovered from a lot, cared a lot, learned a lot, sought a lot. It’s ok to rest…a lot.

Children- may you be blessed by our summer of nothingness. Nothingness has quickly turned into library visits, Star Trek action filled play, water balloon and water bucket fights, homemade cookies, and sitting around discussing what God is doing in our lives and what we wish He was doing in our lives, and a creative venture for making a new youtube channel.

Enjoy.

Great things happen when we step back a bit, let Him work, and embrace nothingness. This isn’t an idea for every summer, every day. But for this summer- it feels just right.

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Loving on our Church Work Kids – NYG Edition

It’s almost National Youth Gathering time! Approximately 25,000 Lutheran youth and their adult chaperones, a seas of yellow shirted volunteers passionate for building up youth in our churches, another sea of orange shirted young adults passionately serving Him in New Orleans, it sounds absolutely wonderful to me. I can not wait!

This year, I get to bring my oldest daughter. If you can not tell, this mom is super pumped. I’m sure that some of you remember sharing a “first” faith milestone with a child – the first time they went up for the children’s message, the first time they could speak the Lord’s Prayer, the first time they belted out a song or hymn with the whole congregation of God. It’s exciting when God gives us these glimpses of His work in them. This milestone, my daughter’s first national youth gathering feels like a big one. I’m not sure who is more excited- her or me. 😉

One reason I am looking forward to NYG for her is that she has the opportunity to be swept up in the largeness of the Body of Christ. She gets to see the wider expanse of the people of God coming together. On any given Sunday, Macee only sees the Church from the perspective of our congregation in Northwest Ohio. It is a wonderful congregation, but I want her to understand the full diversity of the church – different sights, different sounds, different people in fellowship, in the Word, and in worship.

For all of us, but for teens in particular, this is a unique opportunity to understand the scale of the church and say,

I’m not in this alone! This walk…we’re in it together.

I have decided that this is particularly important for a PK or other church work kid. There is an ugly factor in the church that these kids see, no matter what protection factors we put into place. There are also occasionally weird expectations for these kids within their home congregations, that they can shake free of at a mass event or program at NYG, in a way they may not be able to at home. For this time, they get to be one of the crowd.

And the crowd…it may seem like a small thing, but it isn’t. At our small church, sometimes Macee is the only one at youth night or her Sunday School class. The crowd is a gift that I can’t give her within our normal life. Even this, this is a blessing for us.

And so, I’m setting out to love on some PKs, DCEKs, DeaconessKs, LutheranTeacherKs, any church work k’s at the National Youth Gathering. It’s part of my mission in life to love on our PKs and encourage them. This builds up our church work families and also builds up our churches. I do not know the statistics, but I personally know countless stories of church work kids walking away from the church or at least the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and if I can do one tiny thing to help them to stay, to share with them the beauty of this Body together, as broken as we all are, to share with them that they are loved and valued members of the body of Christ, I’ll do it, however I can.

Church work kids – find me at NYG! This should be a challenge, given the other 25,000 people traveling the streets together, but I think you are up for it! I will have a giant orange sunhat to identify me. Inside my backpack I have a thank you gift for you from myself and Grace Place Wellness Ministries. This is what we do – support and build up church work families, helping to keep vitality and joy in ministry.

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What’s the present??? Hmmmm….should I tell? I can’t decide. My daughter assures me it’s cool. It is consumable and substantial, but easy to carry. Any guesses? 😉

I can’t wait to see you at NYG. I can’t wait to say thank you and take a minute to acknowledge that we’re in this together – all for His glory. Visit me! Pass the word around, otherwise, no one will know I have treats. 😉 If you’d like to be involved in loving on some church work kids this summer, give me a holler.

See you in July!

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Just show up

My friend Rachel started a small book group at a local coffee shop. We met for the first time to talk about Christmas books. It was a random choice and I truly believed it would be just her and me, chatting at the coffee shop, but then something wonderful happened…

People showed up.

I went home excited and came back the next month with my book in tow, But I steeled myself, again ready for a chat session between just her and I. I mean, once was nice, but surely no one would show up a second time??? That would be crazy talk, right?

Then it happened, again. People showed up.

It sounds like such a small thing. Showing up. In this giant universe, me showing up is relatively insignificant, don’t you think? But it isn’t it does matter.

I’m not saying you need to fill your calendars with social engagements and wear yourself down trying to show up for everything and anything. I’ve walked that road. It’s not fun and it’s definitely not doable for long.

In fact, last night, I was the person who didn’t show up. I skipped book group. I needed a moment. My husband needed a moment. My family needed a moment. And that’s ok.

But, I want you to know that showing up really does matter.

I have rarely felt so encouraged as when I left those book groups. It’s that satisfying sense of knowing that someone else thought something mattered as much as you did. Someone valued time with you, with the community that gathered, and the thoughts that were shared. Time has value and when we give it to people, we say,

You matter. You are valued.

Let’s take this conversation to church. Showing up.

Tiny, seemingly insignificant, but the most powerful thing you can do in the Body of Christ.

Show up.

Amazing things happen in the act of showing up.

  • You ignite and grow relationships. You are fed, you are loved, you leave ready to love on others.
  • You say to the person sitting next to you in the pew -“Jesus is worth my time. You, my friend, are worth my time.” Who else in their life is saying that to them? Maybe no one. Don’t ever take that for granted.
  • You encourage your pastor in the very best way. Words of affirmation are nice, gift cards and thank you notes are wonderful, but if you really, really want to encourage your pastor, be there to hear the Word. It tells him that he did not prepare in vain. It shows him that God is at work. It reminds Him that the Word does not return empty and God called him to this work for a real reason and purpose- namely, you.
  • In real relationship, we get life together. Need help with your moving van? Call on the body of Christ! Is someone in your family struggling with mental illness? Call on the body of Christ! Lost your job? Call on the body of Christ! Cancer, weddings, graduations. Life torn to shreds and life flourishing. This is real life together. You do not know what you are missing until you experience it. No one should every go through any of it alone. God created us for more. He created us for one another.

    God has called you to your own arena of showing up. Showing up for your kids, showing up for your spouse, showing up for your neighbors, showing up for your church, showing up in the hard, and showing up in the magnificent.

But just do it, in His grace. Just show up.