When Real Life Sneaks Into Sunday School

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I’m a licensed and experienced teacher, mom of four, former homeschooler, and have taught Sunday school too many times to count.

And I’m actually nervous about this week’s elementary lesson.

The scheduled text is on Peter and the Beggar. It’s the story where Peter and John approach the temple to pray and meet a beggar at the gate. They heal him in the name of Jesus, and send him off  “walking and leaping and praising God.”

I’ve taught this group several times. I’ve even presented this story before. But like all teachers , I’m anticipating my students’ questions, and this is where the nerves are kicking in…

I’m imagining a few raised hands this week… Continue reading

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When the Pew is Just Too Hard

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At the Call to Worship, I stood and sighed.

The calendar was on its last page and I was on my last leg, tired from holiday prep, tired from my work, and honestly, too tired for church.

Don’t get me wrong… I love my job. I love ministry. I love my church. But there are times when the pew is just too hard.

Continue reading

In the Company of Cast and Crew

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Theologian Stanley Hauerwas argues that to truly learn a story, we must act it out.

In my experience, Hauerwas is spot-on, but I’d like to apply his theory a step further. I believe the real, most-important learning comes not only from the acting out, but in the company of the actors.

Every Christmas at pageant time, the kids act and I direct, but it’s the company that changes us. The kids come to that first rehearsal either struggling against or showing off their part. They come clutching their scripts and focused on their own small scene.

No, we can’t have the shepherds use a GPS to find the manger. No, you can’t ask Joseph if he made a reservation. No, the Angel of the Lord can’t wear a gun and holster…

The irony isn’t lost on me that I’m the one who must lead them. Continue reading

2017: Off and On

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Man, I didn’t write much this year. And I can feel the effects of that, for sure.

Ever since childhood, I’ve turned to pen and paper for organizing, processing, and expressing my thoughts and feelings. Each day of every year brings many words, and I do better when I pay attention to them; helping them to find their place so I can find mine. Next year, I vow to pay closer attention…

But I hold on loosely, asking God to make me just as content to receive words as I am to offer them.

Though it’s meager, here is my 2017 offering -or its highlights, anyway: Continue reading

Who Told You?

chloe-ridgway-170406“Who told you that you were behind?”

I was in the middle of a pity-party and had invited my friend into my rant: “How am I supposed to get all of this done? Where is the help when I need it? When do I get to think/rest/be?”

She set down some flowers and listened to my list of should be’s and just cant’s, but soon it was obvious she was mainly there to serve the punch…

“Who told you that you were behind?” She asked again. And it hit me right in the gut. Continue reading

Kneelers

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“Mom, what were those dresses made of, again?” Even when it’s not near our anniversary, I often find my girls huddled around our wedding album. They laugh
at the big hair, dyed-to-match pumps, and shrub-sized flower arrangements.

“It was the style back then,” I explain.

They love to turn the pages of our story: church ceremony, roast beef dinner, touching toasts, cake-cutting, then late-night dancing. One day, I looked over my girls’ shoulders at my nearly twenty-six year-old memories, and it struck me…

The most vivid memory I have of our wedding wasn’t captured, and I never realized it before. Continue reading

If I Had a Hammer

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All he wanted to do was hammer something.

Eli* wasn’t a regular church-goer and wasn’t sure how to find the book of Galatians in his Bible, but he heard there might be an opportunity to build things, so he signed up.

“When are we going to build stuff?” he asked as we settled in for our group devotion.

“Soon,” I said, but I wasn’t sure. Not at all. We were barely 24 hours into the youth-group service trip when I realized things were out of our control. Our group was randomly split up at lunch, placed in prayer groups with people we didn’t know, and assigned to various work-sites without our consent. Clearly, we weren’t in charge.  Continue reading