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Monday
Mar212016

easter {monday}

READ Matthew 27:27-50

Jesus Suffers for His People 

Today, I saw a woman crying on the bus. A grown woman crying so hard after receiving terrible news on the phone that she couldn't contain her tears as she rode the bus. I couldn't help wondering what news she had received, and how I could help this stranger in pain. 

Always, my first reaction when I see someone suffering is to offer help, practical care, solutions. Dry up those tears, I say, we're going to get out of this. And, hopefully, we'll get out of this FAST!

But, Jesus. He says, "Stay." 

Stay with my people in their pain. Join together in the suffering. As I have endured sufffering for your sake.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:3-4)

This week, as we enter Holy Week, mindful of Jesus' suffering and pain for our sakes, consider how you might stay with someone in pain. Not moving too quickly, not rushing through the suffering, but truly walking next to, shouldering the pain as if to make the suffering just a bit lighter.  

*originally published in Awana Lent Devotional 2015

Monday
Feb152016

be like me {current favs}

for the month of february, at willow chicago, we're teaching lessons titled: Be Like Me {Jesus' teaching from the mountain}. this is the first time we've created original lessons based on the beatitudes + sermon on the mount. it seemed right to add these lessons following january's follow me, and heading into march's easter lessons on jesus loving the world.

i LOVE these lessons for so many reasons -- TOP of the list: it gives us the opportunity to really show off Jesus’ magic! he was unlike anyone, as crowds grew and gathered to hear him speak. loving all and giving every person the opportunity to be near Him and be like Him. as we show that kids, created in jesus' image, can love each other, care for those in need, pray continually, and not worry -- i imagine jesus will do great things in their hearts and lives. original art by molly z

a few of my current favs from this unit: 

Original Art: it's super important to me that we don't use images of jesus as a white man in our curriculum. jesus didn't have white skin, so to show visuals of him with light skin, i think, is teaching the bible inaccurately to our children. BUT, you know. i'm a broken record.

aaron created this fantastic image that we're using in all age classrooms to highlight what it might have looked like when jesus taught the people on the mountain. 

Staging: crystal created this fantastic stage enviroment for our grades 1-3 class based on the concept that kids would feel like they were sitting on the mountainside with jesus while listening to the day's story. i'm in love with this concept -- because, literally, when you sit on the floor and look up at the stage, it feels like you're on a mountain. tapestry by urban outfitters

Toys: we bought a whole heap of new toys so that kids could experience the story during playful station time. for our lesson on caring for those in need, multicultural food books. it's a chance for kids to consider how jesus gives people the food they need.

for next week's lesson, on not worrying (matthew 6), we bought these bird wings for kids to have fun while learning that god clothes and feeds the birds.

and, because MOST of jesus' teachings on becoming like him are based on loving each other, we bought several sets of these toy people so that kids in all classrooms could pretend play situations in which they showed love to someone who looked similar + different to them.

Music: yancy generously sent us her new kidmin worship DVDs, and boy, are we in love. we've introduced a few songs for these lessons -- specifically, all creatures of our god + king (gorgeous floral design that matches well with the moutainside creative design), and wanna be like jesus, which of course, is the perfect lesson pair!

now it's your turn---what are your current favorite things? i'd love to be inspired by your ideas. 

Wednesday
Jan272016

about my angel, Marta

almost a year ago, we hired a cleaning lady, who every other week cleans our tiny city apartment. on thursday mornings, we leave the house early so that Marta and her crew can do their magic. 

for awhile, i felt embarrassed that we needed Marta. our apartment is seriously so tiny, we don't have kids, and our work schedules, while busy, are still flexible enough to allow adequate time for cleaning. i felt like a failure not being able to keep the place clean, and silly, every other thursday morning as a i left Marta her check when there were SO MANY other demands for our money. 

but THEN, at christmas i wrote Marta a card telling her how much she meant to us, how she had been God's gift to us this year, and i sort-of cried as i wrote the card thinking about how special this year had been -- every time we came home from work feeling so loved and cared for as we walked into the sparkling clean apartment.

and, at christmas, Marta left me a card, too. it simply said -- I love you, Amy.

she's my angel.

Marta's love and care reminds me of this simple truth: NONE of us can do this thing called life alone. regardless of our current situations: mansion or studio apartment, raising 5 kids or zero kids, working 3 full-time jobs or staying home during the day. NONE of us have it all together, life perfectly balanced. on the good days, for me, life and work and friendships somewhat come together because i did my best + others took care of the rest.

Marta reminds me every other thursday: i love you, Amy. you're not alone. 

i need my husband, friends, family, co-workers, therapist and Marta to tell me, care for me, cover me. let's not shame each other for needing care, instead encouraging + celebrating one another as we're mindful of the care needed and the openess we demonstrate in allowing others to provide. 

much love, friends. be good to yourself. 

Monday
Jan252016

{creating} settle-in-time

it's a super busy meeting week for me -- so, i'm re-posting a few of my favorite posts about how to lead great meetings. of course, you know, i'm a NERD for smoothly run, on time, productive, creative, efficient meetings. but, don't hold that against me---i'm cool, too. happy monday! 

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everyone needs some good ole' settling-in-time. before a meeting, before volunteering, before getting down to business, they need some time to get settled and to feel ready to participate. 

here's what i've noticed -- people walk into most meetings and need a good five minutes to get settled. they take their coats off, look for the perfect seat, search for a pen, and then{!} when i think they're finally settled and ready to start the meeting, they turn to the person next to them and say -- how was your weekend?! really. did you see "chat about weekend" on my beautiful agenda?

maybe this is obvious already -- but, allowing for settle-in-time does not come naturally to me. when i arrive at a meeting, i'm ready to go. ready to work. we can chat later. but, that's when i'm the leader. because i've already had my settling-in-time. i came early to the meeting, i put my coat away, i found my pen, printed the agendas, and mentally prepared for the meeting before i arrived. 

leaders settle in pre-meeting. participants settle in at the begining of the meeting. 

today: a few things i'm intentionally trying so that participants feel settled and ready to engage in meetings, and so that i feel less frustrated at the beginning of meetings.

build in the time. i'm creating agendas that allow a good five minutes for settling in. i'm not adding a new agenda line, but i'm mindful that the first agenda item also needs to account for settling-in-time so that folks can engage as the meeting starts. 

don't get panicky. let the settling-in-time settle. i notice that when folks are chatting, and looking for just the right seat, and not getting to the work of the meeting quickly enough, i start to feel panicky. i'm nervous we'll run out of time and won't get to everything we need to discuss. i try to tell myself -- this is good! this is the work of the meeting! people chatting, connecting, all good! 

move the meeting along. once it's time, move the meeting to the next topic. settling-in-time can easily turn into a thirty minute free for all, where everyone chats about everything. NOT GOOD. allow for settling, then move the meeting along. if someone does need to chat further, make a note and mention that you'll follow up post meeting. 

oh! oh! also! when it's time to move along, don't say -- let's get this meeting started. i'm so guilty of this! i do this every stinkin' freakin' meeting. settling-in-time is part of the meeting, it's part of the good work that's needed for everyone to fully engage. don't discredit that by implying that the real work of the meeting begins after this time. 

{creating} settle-in-time in order to lead effective, productive meetings. additional tips? 

oh! and, in case you're new to the blog. it's a little passion of mine to lead great meetings. i've previously written additional meeting related posts here. enjoy! 

Wednesday
Jan202016

discipleship {webinar}

a few months ago, i had the opportunity to participate in this INCM webinar with my friends matt + sam. take a listen as we each share our perspectives on discipleship.