I want to be one too!!!

While he was still talking with them,
Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherd.
Genesis 29:9

12_Sheep

When I hear the story of Jacob and Rachel meeting – I forget how charmed I am by it.  I forget that Rachel was a shepherd.  A shepherdess – like in the hymn “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God” an old favorite for so many – young and old.  As you can imagine, whenever I hear about Rachel I hum or sing the song!

I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and true,
who toiled and fought and lived and died for the Lord they loved and knew.
And one was a doctor, and one was a queen,
and one was a shepherdess on the green;
they were all of them saints of God, and I mean,
God helping, to be one too.

And as you can imagine, tears come to my eyes whenever I hear this song.  Good tears.  Joyful tears.  The tears that come when you have a longing for doing God’s will and work in the world.  Like Rachel!  Like Saints!!  Like you!!!

Rachel’s work was being a shepherdess.   And what a cool job really!!!  She was able to work outside, care for animals, help her family out.  I imagine she had a satisfaction that comes with doing something that lets you work really hard and use your gifts.  Isn’t that funny to think that her job, her work, her vocation gave her so much???

In Christianity we call work – vocation.  A vocation is something someone just has to do for God that uses their special gifts and talents.  Some people are doctors, lawyers, priests, farmers, ranchers, engineers, teachers, baristas, grocery store clerks, mechanics, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, granparents and on and on and on the list goes…

The beauty of calling your work a vocation is that you know it is special.  Our work is a blessing from God.  Our work allows us to use all of our giftedness.  Our work, our vocation allows us to use our unique qualities and super-wonderful-awesomeness for God.  People all around us can come to know and love God through us and our work!!!

Think about it – If you are a teacher, you are helping others learn and gain knowledge so they can make the world a better place.  If you are a doctor, you are healing people and making them feel better and find peace.  If you are a barista, you are helping people wake up and notice the beautiful world around them.  If you are an engineer, you are helping our city work efficiently so people can be kind towards one another.  And on and on the list goes…

Well, those are all grown up jobs – what about kids you might be asking?

Do you have a vocation?

Yes. You do.
Your work, your job, your vocation is to keep learning so you can help teach adults.  Kids have a special gift from God.  You are imaginative and creative and curious.  You need to share all of that with the adults around you.  I fear that some of us have forgotten that part of who we are – we get so busy.  So we need  you to remind us about loving animals, caring for the environment, and treating one another fairly.  We need you to remind us to create games, stories, and art.  We need you to remind us to laugh and hug and get messy playing.  We need you to remind us that we were kids once too.  We need you to remind us that we can be saints just like you.

Free, Fun, and Full of Love!!!

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth,
with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
Genesis 28:12

11_Jacob's ladder final

I am curious – have you ever seen a baby or a toddler so happy and full of joy that you wanted to be just like them?

There was a time when I was watching a toddler.  He was about 18 months old.  Now toddlers are funny little people – they can talk just a little bit and waddle and toddle around.  They are not very steady on their feet and make all kinds of strange and funny noises!!!  Well this little guy loved to dance and hop around.  He would sit and play with giant blocks building a great big tower.  Every  5 or 10 minutes he would get up, dance around the living room, kick his feet from side to side, hop and skip, clap his hands and laugh hysterically.  He did this over and over again all afternoon.  He was too little for me to ask him what he was doing but I really wanted to know!  He was obviously excited.  Was he having a funny conversation with himself?  Was he playing with the angels that only he could see?  Was he praying and laughing with God?  Whatever it was, he seemed like he was in heaven – his laughter and dancing were free, fun, and full of love!

I’ll just bet that when Jacob woke up from his dream  he wanted to laugh and dance.  Jacob left his home and set out to find a wife.  He wasn’t leaving under the best of circumstances – his brother was pretty mad at him.  You can read about it here or here.  On the first night of Jacob’s travels he found a rock to use as his pillow and fell asleep.  He had a dream where he saw angels going up to heaven and down to earth on a ladder.  God was at the bottom of the ladder reminding Jacob that He would always be there for him and take care of him.

Now really, wouldn’t you be dancing and singing and laughing with joy if God said that to you!?!?!?  I would!  Actually come to think of it, God does say that to us!!!   Throughout the Bible there are scriptures and stories that remind us that we are God’s children and God loves us.  There are far too many to name here but one that comes to mind is 1 John 4:19 – we love because God loved us first.  I think the goodness and love that we feel and share comes from God.  You know the time when you are feeling so full of joy you can’t even contain yourself – that’s God.  That is God’s goodness filling us up until we overflow.  So today, my dear friend, I pray that you will be overcome  with God’s Joy and Love.  I pray that you will be as giddy, toddly, and silly as a toddler playing with God and the angels.  I pray that you will be free, fun and full of love!!!

Cinderellie-Cinderellie!!!

Before he had finished praying,
Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.
Genesis 24:15

10_Water Jug

Abraham sent one of his servants to go and find a wife for his beloved son Isaac.  The servant prayed to God for help – when the girls come to get water, I will ask one for a drink.  If she offers some to the camels too – I will know she is the one.  It is quite a lovely story really – full of faithful servants.

Servant is another word Christians talk about.  Abraham sent his servant and he prayed to God that a girl with the heart of a servant and actions that matched would come so he would know who would be the right choice for Isaac.  The story says that Rebecca was very beautiful.  I can’t help but wonder if part of what makes her so beautiful is her willingness to serve and be helpful.  A servant is someone who spends time to help another person.  A servant for God is someone who sacrifices (gives up) their time to help other people come to know God.  A servant for God is someone who goes out of their way to share the Love of God.

Sometimes when I think about the word servant I am reminded of the story Cinderella.  When I was a little girl – about 6 years old – Cinderella was one of my favorite movies.  I loved Cinderella – she was so kind to the animals.  She was so kind in fact, they worked on her behalf through the entire movie!!!  Cinderella was humble but also tried to stand up for herself which really was quite hard considering that her situation was so unjust.  But somehow she still managed to be kind and serve others – she was kind to the king’s servants, she was patient with her yicky stepsisters, and loved the animals.

I loved the movie and story so much, my sister and I used to play Cinderella.  My sister would say “Cinderllie-Cinderellie, tie my shoes, fix my hair, clean my room, get me a snack…” Now that I think of it we played Cinderella quite a bit.  And come to think of it, I was always Cinderella!Hmmmm…. that wasn’t so fair!!!  But, I guess it was good training.  Playing Cinderella made me want to be like her – kind, loving, patient, and humble.  Who knew playing could make you a better Christian?

I am curious.  What games do you play that help you to be a Christian?  Do you take turns on swings – waiting patiently and sharing?  Do you have tea parties with your favorite stuffed animal lovies and serve them and chat with them?  Do you build cities out of legos and make sure that all of the lego people are treated fairly and kind to one another?  I bet your play teaches you a lot about how to love like Jesus.  I have to go and play now.  But first I am going to find my sister and tell her it’s her turn to be Cinderella!!!

 

 

Sacrifice!

So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.
And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:14

I am curious.
Have you ever given something away and you didn’t think you would have the strength to do it?  Maybe you let your best friend have your very first slice of birthday cake?  Maybe your bike was too small and you gave it to your little brother?  Maybe you finished playing with your barbie or TMNT toys and it was time to give them away?

The story today is about Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son to God.  You can read a version for kids here.  Abraham was prepared to give up his son but knew that God would provide a lamb for him.  But seriously, can you imagine having to give up someone or something that you have wanted most of your life???  It would be like if you were asked to give up your most favorite lovie-stuffed animal before you were finished playing with it.  That is so hard!!!

You know, God did provide a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of Isaac.  He didn’t have to give up his son after all.  I always wonder if this story is told to show us Abraham’s faith in God.  It also reminds me of God giving up his son Jesus for the whole world.  If you think about it, Christians talk about sacrifice a lot.  We hear often that God loved the world so much he gave up (sacrificed) his only son.  Jesus loves us so much he gave his life for us.

Do you ever wonder about the word sacrificeSacrifice is another fancy schmancy word.  When we make a sacrifice it means we are giving something up that is precious to us.  When you think about it, Jesus giving his life for us is a humongo sacrifice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Making a sacrifice is not easy!  Sometimes when we give things away it hurts.  We know giving our toys or our time or our love away is a good thing but it is a very, very hard thing too.  I am sure it must have been hard for Abraham, for Jesus, for anyone who is willing to give their precious treasures away.  But I can’t help but think that through the action of giving something away God’s love can be known.

One time when I was very, very, veeeery sick I had a friend come over tomy house.  She made me dinner (which took a sacrifice of time and money) and made sure that I was okay.  She was very busy and didn’t have much time but she did it anyway!  She even risked getting sick herself!!! Can you believe that???  I felt super loved that day.  She shared her time, food, and the love of God with me on that very special day.

I am curious.  What are you willing to give up (sacrifice) to show someone the love of God?  Has someone made a sacrifice for you so you know God?

 

Dancing!

December 9, 2012

…because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven…
Luke 1:78

 When I was a little girl my dad and I would celebrate the end of the day together.
First we would turn on some beautiful music. Second we would light two very tall and skinny candles that were in very fancy candle holders attached to the wall.  Next we would turn off the lights.  Last we would decide if we were going to dance to the music or sit on the couch across from the candles and watch the light from the candles flicker and the shadow and light dance together on the wall.  Sometimes we danced, sometimes we sat and watched the flames from the candles dance.  But no matter what we decided, the light from the candles always found a way to dance to the music.

I loved this ritual (do I even need to say it – another big word! This means something special done over and over and over again) of ours.  It made me feel so safe, cozy, warm and Loved.  Rituals can do that for a person!

I think the part that I really liked was that the feelings and memory of our time together stayed with me.  When it was time for bed I still had the image of the lights from the candles dancing to the music.  I just knew that in the morning I would wake up to the sun rising and dancing.  I knew that the candles flickered at night and the sun danced in the day.

Every time the sun rises we are invited into a dance.  A dance with God.   Just like Zechariah (the man who was singing the song to God) was telling about his son (John) who was going to show God’s glory and lead the way for people to know Jesus.

Here is part of Zechariah’s song –

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace…

I think the sun lights the way for us to follow Jesus the Son of God.  The sun reminds us in the morning that we are dancing, flickering, shimmering lights for God.  I don’t know about you, but I am not going to sit on the couch today.  I am going to go dance and share the warm, safe, cozy, Love of Jesus that I am feeling today.

Happy Sunday dear friend!

Friends!

Abraham quickly went to his tent and said to Sarah,
“Hurry! Get a large sack of flour and make some bread.”
Genesis 18:6

I am curious –
What is your favorite thing to do at the park?
Do you love to swing way up high on the swings?
Slide down really fast on the slides?
Climb and act like a monkey on the jungle gym?
Run and play chase in the grass?

I love sitting on the sidewalk and drawing with chalk.

All of these activities are fun!
But they are even better when you do them with brand new friends.

That is why I love the story from today.
Abraham and his wife Sarah made brand new friends.  Abraham was sitting near his tent and saw three strangers nearby in the hot sun.  Abraham offered his hospitality – yikes! Another big word!!!  Hospitality means that Abraham was kind, gave the strangers food and drink, and was friendly to them.

The part I love, love, LOVE the best is that Abraham didn’t wait for the strangers to come to him.  He ran out to them, hurried around and gathered others to help too!  His wife Sarah made yummy cakes, the servant provided the meat, and Abraham served them.

Can you imagine that?

Running out to meet someone and being super friendly and kind?  Can you imagine sharing your snacks and drinks with them and making sure they are having a good time?  It would be like if you went to the park, looked around, and ran out to meet a new friend.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think it is easier to wait for a friend to come and find me.  But today, the story shows me something different.  Abraham and Sarah show me how to be kind first.  Abraham and Sarah show me how to run out to meet someone and make a new friend.

Hmmmm….
Come to think of it, that sounds like a really good idea!
I need to go.
I am going to go make a new friend today.
Hope you do too!!!

You are a Blessing!!!

I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous
as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore…
Genesis 22:17

God really loved Abraham.
God told Abraham he was going to be a blessing to God and the world.
Abraham was going to have children.
Abraham’s children would have children.
and their children would have children.
and those children would have children.
and then those children would have even more children
and on and on and on
until there are so many descendants (fancy way of saying family members)
that they would  be as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand at the beach.

That, my friend, is a lot of family!!!
And family – gigantamous like Abraham’s or small (like yours and mine) is a blessing.
And family – in all its variety – church-family, school-family, family-family, friend-family, pet-family, stuffed animal-family is a blessing!

Blessing – another word we use a lot.
A blessing is something said, or something done or someone who shows the goodness of God.

Sometimes we say a blessing (a grace, or an exclamation of the goodness of God) at meals.  Maybe you say this one with your family –

Dear God,
Thank You for the world so sweet,
Thank You for the food we eat,
Thank You for the birds that sing,
Thank You God for everything!
Amen.

When we say this blessing we are saying thank you to God for giving us all of the goodness around us.

Maybe someone has said that you are a blessing from God?
I think you are!!!
You are part of the blessing (the very wonderful goodness of God) that began with Abraham and continues to this day! You are part of the family of God that began sooooo long ago with Abraham.  You are a blessing to me, to the world and to God!

I bet there are many, many, many blessings (things that show God’s goodness) in your life.  I am curious, maybe  you could make a list and try counting them?

Here is the start of my list…
Thank you God for all these blessings –
My best friend and husband
my sons
my cats
my dog (a very slobbery and silly blessing)
my house
my friends
my love for you, God
people who make me laugh
people who smile
for church
for schools
for gas stations
and
for computers
and…
Oh my, this is going to take a very long time – I will keep counting in my head and I just bet all of the blessings will outnumber the stars I see tonight.

“I promise” in good, bad, grumpy or sad!!!

But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—
you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.
Genesis 6:18

Have you ever made a promise to someone?

Maybe you have said,
“I promise I will clean my room later.”
“I promise to share my cookie with you.”
“I promise not to tell your secret.”
“I promise I will be your best friend.”

We say the word promise a lot.

In the Bible story today God makes a covenant (which is a fancy way of saying promise) to Noah and his family.  God told Noah to build an ark (a fancy way of saying boat) big enough for his family and a ton of animals because there was going to be a flood.  Noah was righteous and did what God said.  You can read more about Noah here in an online Bible or here in a Bible storybook for kids.

Well, Noah and his family spent a loooooooong time on the ark.  I think they had a ton of time to think about God’s love for them and God’s loving promise – God’s covenant to them.  God’s covenant to Noah and his family are so important it is mentioned in Noah’s story a bunch of times – 8 or 9!!!

A covenant is a promise that God makes first and then his people make promises back.  And even though sometimes we make a promise and get forgetful – I still need to go clean my room and bake some cookies to share – God NEVER forgets his promises.

It is like when your mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa (or aunt, uncle, little brother, big sister) say I love you.  They say “I love you” and you know it means I promise to always love you even when you are good, bad, grumpy, or sad.  They still love you even on your bestest days and even on your worst.  And of course you say “I love you too.”  By saying “I love you too” you are making a promise to love them when they are good, bad, grumpy or sad too.

That is just like God’s covenant promise to us!  Everytime we see a rainbow we are reminded of God’s covenant promise that God will always, always, always love us!!!  The rainbow reminds us of God’s love for the earth and all the people in the world.  I think that is why we are filled with excitement whenever we see a rainbow.  We know it is special and rare and God saying “I love you” in a very special way.

I am curious.  Who do you say “I love you” to and what promises do you make?
I have to go bake some cookies – see you tomorrow.

 

Remembering to say “I’m Sorry.”

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:5

Lots of people know the story from today.  You might know it too.
God told his wonderful newly created people not to eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden.  But they did anyway.
The cunning snake hissed to Eve to come and try the fruit from the tree.
And instead of insisting “Oh! No, no, no, no, no! I must not do that!!!” she tried it.
Adam, who was right there with Eve tried the fruit too.
Oooohhhhh how I wish he would have said “Oh! No,no,no,no,no! I must not do that!!!”

Actually, there are lots of things I wish Adam and Eve had said but they didn’t.
Like “I’m sorry.”

After their mistake (which is really disobedience but that is a really big word) God found them hiding in the Garden.  When God asked them what was up, Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the snake.
And no one even whispered “I’m sorry.”

Whenever I hear this story, all I can think is “Oh! No,no,no,no,no! I must not do that!!!”
I must remember to say “I’m sorry.”
Some people call this “owning up” others call this being responsible.
Christians call this confession (which is really saying “I’m sorry” to God and another big word for today!)

Believe it or not – everyone makes mistakes.
Believe it or not – everyone is disobedient.
We don’t have to blame others –
not Adam, Eve, the snake, dog, cat, little sister or big brother!
We don’t even have to hide from God!
We can “own up” and be responsible and whisper this little prayer.

Dear God,
I’m sorry for what I have just done.
I am truly sorry I hurt you.
I am truly sorry I hurt others.
Please forgive me.
Please grant me Your Peace and Love.
Amen.

I’m curious.
What do you wish Adam and Eve had said or done?
Is it hard for you to admit when you make a mistake?
What do you think God says back to us when we say I’m sorry?

Hearts Full of Love and Smiles to Share

God created humanity in God’s own image, in the divine image God created them, male and female God created them.
Genesis 1:27

I am curious – do you have a best friend? Or two or three?
Best friends can come in interesting packages-
male, female, young, old, dog, cat, hamster, rat, bunny, snake, favorite lovie.
No matter how they come – they are gifts to be thankful for!

One of my bestest friends in the world always gives me the gift of laughter.  No matter how sad or mad or glad I am – he can always find a way to give me the giggles.  Sometimes it is with a joke, sometimes a simple smile, and sometimes a silly action but always-always-always with a heart full of love and always, always, always the laughter comes!  Yes, best friends are really good gifts.

I imagine that when God created people, God just knew they could be amazing-bestest friends.  I think God created people to be best friends with Him and one another.
Why else would God have created people with hearts full of love and smiles to share?

God knew that we could be gifts to one another. God knows that every time people share a smile with one another, what they are really doing is sharing His love!

And now that I think about it, all of my friendships have started with a smile.  And all of my friendships have given me a chance to know God’s love more.  I am thankful for all of my friends. I am thankful most epecially for my bestest friend God.  God always fills my heart with love and whenever I feel God’s love, the simple smile comes and always- always-always the laughter comes too.

I am curious how did you meet your best friend? With a smile?
Which friend makes you laugh? Which friend fills your heart with love?