Sunday, June 17, 2007

Teaching Sunday School

I had a chance to teach Sunday School this morning. The mother who was going to teach second grade had to stay home with a sick child so I stepped in.

I love teaching second grade. This particular class is very busy. It is a complete challenge to give directions or change activities. At the same time, they have such great hearts. I always learn more than I teach when I spend the Sunday School hour with kids.

It was pretty hard to get everyone on the same page before the story so I waited just a moment to let them know I didn't want to roar over their voices. Then I started talking pretty quietly and even the most wiggly among them was instantly involved.

When I was done I asked them if they could ask God anything at all, was there anything more they would like to know about the story. This is my favorite part of every lesson. Often there is not something profound, but if there is going to be something for me to chew on later, it will be here. They haven't learned yet what is 'OK' and what is not so they will ask anything. Sometimes they dialog about what answers they think God would have for them. Sometimes we all agree that we wish we knew more.

Someday I want to get back out of committee work so that I can teach every week again. I love this stuff.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Difficult decisions

He has shown you, O man, what is good,
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God
rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6:6

Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Matt. 9:13

Who are my mother and my brothers?...Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother. Mark 3:33, 35

We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 3:3-5

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. II Cor. 4:16-18

These are all readings from my devotions last week while we were awaiting placing my son in a level 6 residential facility for his anger and threatening behavior. I follow a devotional guide so I'm not just choosing the hard passages because I'm a glutton for punishment. All week I have wondered if God is saying to not do this, to show mercy by not doing this.

I won't try to describe what life has been like here the last few months. I will admit that not agreeing to level 6 could have meant a very difficult summer. But is saying that 'losing heart'? Where is my perseverance? If I don't persevere will my character not develop as it should and will I not be able to move on toward hope? Jesus didn't come to take care of people who were easy to be around. Jesus came to show love to those who most have difficulty receiving it. That is my son.

But the placement is temporary...hopefully he will be home again before summer is over and will be back in school as though nothing had happened. The placement is close to home and we can keep a strong and loving relationship. I will be back to showing mercy and love to someone who has difficulty receiving it. The staff are committed to building a healthier and stronger relationship in our family and to his successful return home and are encouraging lots of nurture and contact from us with him.

No easy answers. My peace comes from knowing that God continues to work even if I may have missed the cue. Or maybe I did not miss the cue and my guilt was overactive and God is giving me a brief rest to strengthen me for the next leg. No matter what, I have not been abandoned and neither has my son.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

the least of these

More Dorothy Day combined with other thoughts from my devotions.

Some of Day's writings are nearly like a journal, full of her current emotions and struggles. There are days when she finds herself drained by the demands. There are people she finds it difficult to love. She writes about this plainly with no glossing over it with religious jargon.

And then she goes to prayer. The demands don't end. The people don't change. But somehow Dorothy can see a bigger picture. She has chosen to relate to people as though they are Christ, based on the words of Christ. "Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, my brothers, you have done it unto me."

Yesterday I was in an irrational conflict that would usually send me over the edge. Just before I spoke in anger, I remembered that verse. I gritted my teeth and thought to myself, see Jesus in him, see Jesus in him... I was mad and my teeth were gritted, but I managed a cheerful two word response instead of a scolding. At the end of the day there was one less regret to feel bad about.