Saturday, February 23, 2013

Worship is not fellowship

Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. (Psalms 89:15 NLT)

Todd and I recently attended a conference for the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. It was a great opportunity to fellowship with pastors from our area, hear a great praise band (made up of pastors!), and receive some encouragement from a gifted speaker. Getting away for an entire day with my hubby was nice, too.

Dr. Ben Witherington III  spoke on a variety of topics including a biblical view about work and rest, but his words about worship resonated with me.

Dr. Witherington pointed out the origin of the word worship. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, worship comes from the Old English "weorthscipe", which means worthiness. The word worship can be used as a noun or a verb.

How many times have you heard (or said), "I'm not going to church because I just don't get anything out of it"? Are you treating worship as just a place, or as an action?

If worship is really about worthiness, than it's about humbling ourselves in order to encounter God. It's about giving rather than receiving. Can we focus one good hour on God, with love, wonder, and praise of God our goal?

Are we more concerned with what happens at coffee hour, or with asking God to reach in to fill the empty spaces in our lives?

The season of Lent is a good time to work on our hearts. But we can't do it alone. Reach out for God. He will always reach back.

That's why this Lent, I chose not to "give something up" as much as do something extra. I've been intentional each day about giving time to God. I try to start each day following a devotional or in prayer. I suppose this means giving up distractions in the morning: demanding kids, Facebook and email, endless chores. All of it can wait five minutes for me to center myself and give thanks to my creator.

How do you give worship?

Image taken from

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jesus Tree

If you're anything like me, you completely freaked out last week when you flipped to the February calendar page and realized how quickly Ash Wednesday is upon us. I feel like I just packed away the last of the Christmas decorations. I've been in a Googling frenzy ever since trying to come up with some ideas for a family Lent devotional. Good thing I didn't bury the Jesse Tree stuff too deep in the attic..

The branch I used for our Jesse Tree Advent devotional is about to become a Jesus Tree. I found these paper ornaments from St. Brigid's Academy. Each ornament has a picture, description, and Bible verse to look up. We will add an ornament each day of Lent (excluding Sundays) and will discuss what the Bible verse has to do with the themes of Lent: repentance, forgiveness, self-denial, discipline, prayer, charity, simplicity, and spiritual growth. The girls enjoyed our Jesse Tree, so it is my hope that they'll be similarly invested in our 40 days of Lent study.

Here are some other family-friendly Lenten resources I found:

Printable Lent countdown calendar:

Intentionally celebrating Lent as a family:

Making a Jesus Tree (from the same author of the Jesse Tree devotional):

What are you and your family doing to celebrate Lent?

Friday, February 1, 2013

I love you because

You can never say "I love you" enough. But do you?

For the next 14 days of February, I'm writing love notes to Todd, Madeline, and Ava. It's easy, only takes a few minutes, and best of of all, it's free!

I took this idea from Pinterest. Big surprise.

I got out some scrapbook paper I had on hand (you could use construction paper or anything you have available), a pen, and some scissors. It took me several tries (and some not-very-Christian mumbling), but I finally got a perfectly-sized heart template. I traced the heart outline on the scrapbooking paper. I made 42 hearts total (3 people x 14 days). Cutting out the hearts took the most time, but I had a sharp pair of scissors and good tunes on my iPhone, so I daresay it was a pleasant experience. On each heart I'll write one reason why I love the recipient. To avoid confusion, I'm numbering and labeling each heart with the recipient's name.

Before you all ask: No, I did not make hearts for myself. As much as I would love 14 days of positive affirmations, it seemed a bit forced to have Todd or the girls to write me notes every day. I'm doing this project so I can show my love for all of them. If they want to do sometime for me in a different way, that's great. I'm not doing this for what I'll get back, but for what it will add to my family.

The biggest challenge of this project was where to put all the hearts. I wanted them to be somewhere we'd all see them multiple times a day, so hiding them away on the girls' bedroom door (like the pin from Pinterest) wasn't my first choice. I decided to put them in the blank wall space in the stairway. It will be one of the first things we see when we come downstairs in the morning, and one of the last things we'll see before going to bed.

We all show our families love in different ways: cooking special meals, keeping the household running smoothly, working hard at our jobs, snuggling on the couch, reading together, and on and on. But how often do we tell our loved ones why we love them? Give it a try!