Month: September 2015

Introducing: Seamless Faith Videos! #SeamlessFaith #KidMin #Fammin #cmconnect #stumin

So… I’m going to start doing a few videos about some of the practices in Seamless Faith. Most will be about individual faith practices, but some will tackle other topics about faith and family. Planning for future videos to be 3-5 minutes long, but some might be longer or shorter. It’s sort of an experiment! The first video is one I made a few weeks ago, and it’s for Children’s Ministry Leaders and Pastors. It’s a 15 minute “how to” for creating a workshop. If you download the planning guide and watch the video, you should be ready to present a 90 minute workshop with about 90 minutes preparation time. Watch the video, fill out the guide, and voila! In my experience, these workshops are rich times of discussion with families and yield productive conversations without a lot of effort.

 

You probably need at least one copy of Seamless Faith, but if you’re hesitant about whether or not it’s a good resource for your congregation, the Kindle version is $1.99 until the end of September, so grab it on the quick and check it out.

The next video I’ll post is a very simple nighttime practice for preschoolers! Look for it next week!

Some Reflections on “It Could Be Worse…”

I often hear people who are suffering or struggling say some variation of “It could be worse.” We say it to ourselves:

  • I shouldn’t complain, at least I don’t have [some illness worse than the one we’re discussing] 
  • My problems are small compared to all of the suffering in the world. 
  • At least my child is not [the victim of some horrible fate] I shouldn’t talk about [whatever issue she is having] 

Even worse we say it (or some variation) to, or about other people:

  • Hey, at least you have your health, right? 
  • I can’t believe she’s all worked up about [whatever the person is worked up about]. Seriously. What’s the big deal? Some people have real problems. 

There are a few fundamental problems with this type of talk, in my opinion. For one, people are have different levels of sensitivity to pain in the world. What’s a big deal to one person isn’t challenging at all to another, and it’s impossible for us to know everything behind a person’s story of suffering. We hear someone getting riled up about something that seems like no big deal to us, but we don’t know the deeper trauma underneath it all. Often the real thing the person is upset about is something he or she isn’t willing to reveal to us. Human beings are infinitely more complex than the circumstances we hear about. When we tell someone that it “could be worse” (even if we don’t use those words) we’re not listening. We’re not showing compassion. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, pastor, teacher or friend, telling someone who needs your compassion that their problems could be worse is a quick way to get people to stop confiding in you. Saying “it could be worse” is a very quick way to shut down a conversation, and the best listeners and helpers always want to know more.

Another problem with “it could be worse” is that sometimes it does get worse. If we spend our lives saying “At least I didn’t suffer [unimaginably difficult fate]” and then that thing happens… then what? It’s not a competition. There are no suffering olympics, no grand prize for living through the most painful thing.

There’s an easy adjustment and course correction to “it could be worse” (and its many variations) and that course correction is simple: gratitude. 

When we are saying “It could be worse,” the value we’re trying to tap in to is gratitude. So instead of “At least I’m not suffering from x,y, or z” we can shift our focus to gratitude:

  • Even though I’m sick, I’m so thankful for the network of support I have. 
  • This tough time is teaching me something valuable, and I’m thankful for that.
  • I’m thankful for clean air to breathe and my warm house. 

If we’re listening to someone who says “It could be worse” about their own situation, we might consider doing two things:

  1. Validate both the sentiment that things could be worse, but also that their circumstances are valid “True, it could be worse, but it sounds like x is really affecting you. It’s ok to feel that way.”
  2. We might find ways to help bring gratitude in to the conversation.

Gratitude is one of the most powerful spiritual practices we can develop, it’s good for our physical health, our emotional health and our relationships. Rather than focusing on the negative “it could be worse,” make the subtle shift to the positive “I’m thankful because… ”  and see what you think.

Spiritual Practice: Bible Journaling (Part Two) More Pages and Ideas…

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I’ve been having fun doodling and noodling and journaling in my Bible. Some of the pages are more personal than others, but I have no problem sharing some of my stuff, mainly because I feel a responsibility to do so. After all, I get tons of inspiration from Pinterest.

If you’re brand new to Bible Journaling, check out THIS post where I talk a little about some basics. All you really need is a Bible (either a fancy journaling one) or any old Bible and then some art supplies. Yay!

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#1  Psalm 139 — For now, I kept this minimalist border around Psalm 139. It’s such an important Psalm, I have a feeling I might want to come back to it and do more over the page. I got the doodle idea from a page of doodle ideas I can’t find anymore. Just a simple pen and colored pencil. NOTE: if you want to watercolor over pen in your journaling bible, make sure you use pigment pens that do not bleed, or that you test them first! I’ve had some runny disasters.


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#2 — Job 17:15 Where then is my hope? Who can see my hope? Ok, so this one brings up a point you might want to consider when Bible journaling, which is “Is this going to be a Bible I need to refer back to and look other things up and re-read?” In other words… How do you feel about blacking out words so that you can’t come back and read them again? For me, this journaling Bible is a bible I use exclusively for art and meditation. The meditative value in working on a page like this is enough for me to feel like it’s ok to not be able to read Job 17 again out of this Bible. I’m sure I will read Job 17 again at some point in life, but not out of this Bible, because the words are now illegible under there. I feel confident, though, that every time I flip through and see this, I will remember an important lesson God taught me through the creation of that page. Does that make sense? If you look around for Bible Journaling inspiration you will see that some people choose to keep their work in the margins or make sure not to obscure the text in any way. I don’t have that as a goal…. This was made with oil pastel that was sprayed with a spray fixative (yes, that’s a real word) to keep it from smudging. A note on the fixative in a minute.


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3. Exodus 15:11 Who is like you majestic in holiness… awesome in glorious deeds.  I was inspired by THIS page in the creation of this one. Ok, so back to the spray fixative. Here’s the thing. It works, but it really muted the colors on this. I’m happy with this page and no longer sad about the fact that the spray made it different, but at first I was super bummed out. Be warned. If you use oil pastels, spraying them so they have a non-smudge and smooth finish has to be weighed against the fact that it mutes the colors a little bit. Great verse, though, right?


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4. Ephesians 1 – Did a sermon series on Ephesians this summer. This was me reading through Ephesians 1 the first time… Fun thing about using watercolors is that they bleed to the back of the page (this may not be fun for some people) but I love taking those bleed throughs and turning them in to other things. I’ll show you that next time!


Happy Journaling!

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