Monday, October 31, 2011

Announcing....



In honor of one of my favorite holidays on the calendar, Reformation Day





(and because it's a BEAUTIFUL day)





may we present to you:






**Drumroll**







Saturday, October 29, 2011

Reformation Day

For the last 10 years or so I have assisted a friend of mine, Elaine, in pulling together a Reformation Day Celebration at our church. She's been planning it for 20 years now, and when I started helping I was in my mid/early-teens. Since then I've grown up, gotten married, and changed churches three times!! Yet every year around early September we get together and start planning what THIS year's Reformation party will be like.

Every year is fun and different, and in honor of the upcoming holiday I thought I'd write out a FAQ guide to Reformation Day.

What is the history of Reformation Day?

Reformation Day began on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther hung his 95 Thesis on the Wittenburg church door. These 95 Thesis objected to some unscriptural practices of the church at the time, in particular the sell of indulgences (by which a family could purchase for their deceased loved one "time off" of their stay in purgatory). While the actual 95 thesis were never responded to officially, they were a sort of wake up call to the church at the time and are considered the catalyst for the following reformation of the church.

What is the focus of a Reformation Day Celebration?
In our church we focus primarily on the children. Our primary goal is to glorify Christ while teaching the children in our church (and any visitors who happen to come!) the importance of this holiday. We want everyone--especially the children--to walk away from the celebration having both had fun and learned something new.

How is Reformation Day celebrated?
There are many ways to celebrate Reformation day! Since our primary focus is on the children, we focus on fun games, skits, prizes  and other things that are fun and keep their attention. The primary ingredient common to everything we do is that it all purposefully directs back to the focus of the celebration.


Is Reformation Day just another alternative to Halloween? Afterall, it IS on October 31...
Absolutely not. Our church does not celebrate Reformation Day as an alternative to Haloween (similar to other churchs "fall festivals"). Reformation Day is a holiday in it's own right, and in some countries (such as Slovenia and Chili) is actually a civic or national holiday. While most churches don't give Reformation Day much notice, it is one of the most pivotal events in church history. It is also one of the few holidays on our calendar that are uniquely Christian. If Luther had posted his 95 Thesis on another day we would celebrate Reformation Day on THAT day instead.

HOWEVER, although Haloween didn't exist then in the way it does now, there is a possibility that it wasn't entirely coincidence that Martin Luther chose that particular day to post his 95 Thesis. To quote from Wikipedia:
The fact that Reformation Day coincides with Halloween may not be mere coincidence. Halloween, being the Eve of All Saints' Day might have been an entirely appropriate day for Luther to post his 95 Theses against indulgences since the castle church would be open on All Saints' Day specifically for people to view a large collection of relics. The viewing of these relics was said to promise a reduction in time in purgatory similar to that of the purchase of an indulgence.
Note: For information on why we do not celebrate haloween, please refer to this lesson from my father in law, our associate pastor.


What specific games do you use for Reformation Day?
We've used quite a few games over the years!! To take a sampling from last year, we played:

 "Trash the Indulgences" (a relay style game in which the kids learned what indulgences were and why it was wrong for the church to sell them), "


Nail the Theses (a nail the tail on the donkey type game, where the kids learned what the 95 thesis were and why they were important), 


 "Lasso Luther" (just as the name implies, in which the kids learned that Luther's commitment to God's word resulted in him being excommunicated and becoming an outlaw)


"Blind Faith" (in which the kids learned that like Luther, even if we are ridiculed we must listen to God's voice alone. 


Other games we have included are: Life of Luther Maze (with objects that were pivotal in Luthers life), Coffer toss, Bible Translators Clue, beanbag toss, and a variety of others. 


Are there other specific things you do to celebrate?
Of course! The last few years we've encouraged costumes in line with the theme, particularly if the children come as a character from the Reformation and can tell a bit about the person they are representing.

We often do a "German" themed potluck meal, which means lots of sauerkraut and sausage!

There is always a play or skit of some sort. Sometimes we re-use skits, but most years we make up new ones. Usually the skits draw heavily on audience participation.

Prizes--of course! The prizes change every year, but there are ALWAYS prizes, and most of the children are able to earn at least one.

*~*~*~*~*~*

If you have any other questions please feel free to ask!! :-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

To be Relevant




It's once more time to join Gypsy Mama with Five Minute Friday, the day that we write just for the love of the word--no backspacing, no editing, writing straight from the heart. There are only a few rules:


    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!
The prompt today is: Relevant.

Relevant. It's what I want to be. It's what I wonder each week as I pull my girls into the little classroom back of church to slap paint on wood and stamps on paper. Is what I'm saying relevant to them? Am I actually teaching them things that they care about? Need to know? Want to learn? Will remember after they leave--and even for years later? Is what I'm saying relevant?

I ask myself that question when my sister in law and I plan together to have a young lady in the church over every couple of weeks--ostensibly to teach her the finer womanly arts of cake decorating and sewing and baby-watching. Really what we plan on doing is speaking encouragement to her heart, showing her she's is maturing into a woman of value, arming her with tools of scripture to fight the battles she's already facing. Can we do that with a few fancy cake decorating tips? Write God's love on her heart with a bit of colored icing? Will it work?

I wonder if I'm relevant, if I'm speaking the words that need to be said. I ask God to teach me what to say, and how to act--because "relevant" is so much more than the words that I speak. It doesn't matter if they remember me--what matters is that I use the abilities and voice that God has given me to the utmost, and that I encourage them to be the women of purpose He created them to be. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Remembering

A couple weeks ago I was reminded by Holly that the month of October is

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

That's not very hard.

The past couple months have been full ones for me. The blog has been quieter than it ever has been this year, and it's because in the last few months I've dealt with just about every major life change there is.

Moving. 



Pregnancy. 


As much as it has been to process, I haven't ever forgotten about my little one.  I couldn't ever forget about him.

It was four months ago that my little one, my first, our Christian William, went home to be with Jesus. It was completely unexpected--but these things always are, I suppose. It still amazes me how much love two parents can have in their heart for a child they never met.

I think about him every day.

There are a couple things I have done to remember my little one...



The first was to make a baby box. It isn't much, really. So little that I keep it in the top drawer of my jewelry box. There are a couple of my positive pregnancy tests (though I didn't keep all 7!! *smiles*). A heart charm. And a fortune cookie insert that says Alto Sax (when I was married my aunt gave me a gift bag with a dozen fortune cookies "re-stuffed" with the names of various musical instruments. She told me she expected me to have a lot of children who were all musical, and to avoid redundant instruments all I had to do was open a fortune cookie with each pregnancy to find out which musical instrument that child needed to learn. Christian, apparently, would have played Alto Sax.)



Perhaps the thing that has helped the most in remembering my Christian was a gift from my husband and a dear friend who also lost her first. It is a remembrance bracelet by La Belle Dame. The bracelet itself is made of alternating beads of Blue Lace Agate and Rose Quartz, because it was too early for us to know for sure whether we were having a boy or a girl. There are three Forget Me Not flowers, and on either side of each flower is a gemstone--one for the month of conception (diamond), one for the month of the loss (pearl), and one for the month he would have been due (garnet). I rarely leave the house without this bracelet on.

The grieving process has been difficult, but the Lord has been with us through it all--and He has blessed us with family and friends who have helped tremendously.



For those of you who have little ones with Jesus, did you do anything this month to remember them? If so, I'd love to hear about it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder




One week ago today I arrived at work to find that the lady I cared for, Miss Inez, had passed away an hour before I arrived. She had been in failing health since a little before her birthday, and over the past week had gotten much worse. She'd been off liquids for several days.

It was an honor to sit with Miss Inez and be a part of her life. I was her companion for nearly 3 years, and we had some pretty good times together. When I first started working I always brought my laptop along and would type out the stories she told me. Miss Inez never really understood what I was doing (sometimes she'd complain to her daughter that I wasn't doing anything but playing on my computer all day!), but that Christmas we were able to present to her family an illustrated book of her memories. It was 50 pages long, specially bound, and each of her children got a copy.

As Miss Inez drew closer to her 100th birthday she told fewer and fewer stories. Her health declined, and within a year of when I started sitting with her she had broken two bones and had to move from her daughters house to a skilled nursing unit. My hours were increased, and after about a year her daughter, Linda, moved back to Texas from Tennessee. Linda began staying with her mother in the afternoons and weekends after that, so for those last few months Miss Inez had someone with her nearly the entire day.

While I do miss her, I don't grieve for her. She is leaving a legacy of children and grand children, and great-grand children to be proud of. I know she loved the lord, and she served Him faithfully all her life. The last year has been a difficult one for her physically, and she spoke often of her two children who hadn't survived childhood. I know she wanted to see them again. I imagine she has already met my own little one, who I never met in this world.

Miss Inez loved to sing, though her singing voice wasn't what it used to be. On rare occasions  she'd treat us all to a ditty. On her birthday, for example, she sang the kids song about a duck with a feather over his back who lead the others with a "Quack, quack, quack." She remembered three verses--more than any of us did!

She also enjoyed it when I sang to her. Amazing Grace was a favorite, but the one she consistently asked for was When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. When I sang that one to her she'd almost always join in on the chorus--even that last week she was with us. I know that when the roll is called up yonder she'll be there--she is there right now, singing with a new voice as loud and pretty as anyone.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Usefulness



This week is going to be a little different of a Multitude Monday for me. Lately God has been putting my life on the fast-track, and there are SO MANY blessings I have to count!!

A new Keepers of the Faith ministry at church (231), and the 8 girls I meet with every week to teach them fun homemaking skills, Bible Verses, and character (232). The way their eyes light up when it is time to meet brings joy to my heart (233). The eagerness of the boys to do something similar (after seeing how much fun their sisters are having)(234), and the stepping up of a soon-to-be man to fill the need for a leader—THAT makes me smile (235). The words of praise as their parents pull me to the side and tell me how much their daughter enjoys the class, and that they are already seeing a change at home in the way she acts around her family—is the crown (236). This is a 10 year dream realized over the past 2 weeks—and it's everything I'd hoped it would be. (237)

A new Ladies Bible Study I started at church, small—only 4 of us (238). But we meet every week as we learn together to trust God with everything, and quiet our noisy souls before him. (239) It challenges me.

An anniversary, my first, spent very quietly with my husband. (240) A year ago today we'd just arrived back from our honeymoon, and I was just learning how to be a wife and dreaming of being a mother. Now I am a mother, (241) though my baby is with Jesus, and have learned to be a help-meet for my husband. It has been a beautiful, quiet, perfect first year. (242) I know that this next year will be different. But that's good too.

A new ministry given to me in an area I've dreamed of working in for many years. (243) I was trained a few weeks ago to work with We Are Cherished, and though I haven't yet been able to volunteer with the ministry, I look forward to the ways God will use that in my life and in the lives of the women he puts before me.

A new apartment, next door to my brother and his bride (and their new little girl!). I love our beautiful new home! :-) (244)

A new community group, the second one in our church, visions multiplying. (245) This one will be meeting in our new home, too—blessing upon blessing!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Housekeeping: Since we moved a couple weeks ago my schedule has been completely out of the norm. I haven’t had time to keep up with email, much less the blog. I’m hoping that as life settles down into a new normal I’ll be able to pick up writing again as well; but for the time being I’ll only be posting a couple times a week. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ordinary




I'm joining Gypsy Mama this morning for Five Minute Friday--the prompt today is:



On ordinary…



I walk out of my house and head to work in the morning, and the coolness of fall hits me. Where I live "coolness of fall" may be 80 degrees or higher by noon, but it is a blessed relief from one of the longest droughts in our history. It's an ordinary fall day, but as I smell the rain I think "ordinary" must be pretty close to perfect sometimes.

I never realized till this year how much Fall is a new beginning to me. So many fresh starts I've made in Septemmber and October over the years, and this year is no exception. My ordinary days have been different this past month, I feel God moving my family. It's an invisible, silent movement that seems to shout volumes to me.

My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary a couple weeks ago. It marked the end to a year where "ordinary" really was pretty close to perfect. I know this next year will be the same in that respect, but ordinary will be different now. Looking forward I see a year full of ministry--both in the church as my husbands wife, and at home, with my family. "Ordinary" is changing for me now, so that I'm only just now learning what is going to be normal from now on. But that is good. When God leads, the best thing to do is hold on tight and follow along closely!!


The rules for joining are:

    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
    3. Go all out encouraging the writer who linked up before you.