Life is sometimes so easygoing and wonderful...until those Monday's when you feel like it's about to swallow you up and eat you whole--refusing to give you up until you threaten it with a nap or some really strong coffee.
That's why I'm glad it's time for prayer stations again. It focuses me on what's important. If you want, you can skip the story that starts in the next paragraph. Scroll to the bottom for this month's stations. Or, if you like you can enter into our world for a few minutes today to walk with and celebrate life's little moments with us.
On Sunday, our youngest daughter woke up super early. My husband and oldest daughter were still sleeping when it was time for me to leave for our Sunday prayer meeting. I didn't want to wake them so I made an executive mommy decision. I dressed little miss Mya in warm clothes (and by warm, I mean some tights under her sundress so she wouldn't suffer in our cold 60ish degree temperatures). I put her on my bike and headed down the road to a very adult prayer meeting. I told her what we were doing on the way there, she said, "but mommy, I don't know how to pray". I smiled. Her words were so honest and sweet. I told Mya. It's ok if you don't know how.
She did ok (for the most part) on my lap...until she decided to break into a Nutri-Grain bar I had hidden in my purse for the chance that she might not survive the prayer time and need a snack. I should have unwrapped it ahead of time but it didn't bother her to make crinkly-crunchy sounds while Pastor Brett was praying. She didn't care that she needed to change her position every thirty seconds. She whispered things, whatever two year-olds whisper, and she sighed...often. I did open my eyes a few times to find her watching me. Watching our pastors. Looking around for what they might do when she made a peep or took a giant (and loud) swig from her sippy cup. She watched as they continued to pray. As we prayed with her in our circle, I felt that she was praying in her own special way and it was just as important and beautiful as our big adult grown up words. She was proud of herself afterwards (see the photo above). She, and her friend Lotso--who smells a lot like strawberries, had been a part of their first prayer meeting.
And this is how we embrace teens who give us this gift of their time mid-week or on the weekends. We have a sacred opportunity to show them the way. But we also have the sacred opportunity to push back and show them that no matter how out of line they get we are going to continue setting the example and hoping that they will learn from us as we faithfully love without limits.
Thank God my youth pastor didn't expect me to know how to pray when he met me. Thank God his wife didn't judge my choice of clothing or music. Thank God the volunteers didn't judge my worth on the history of my family or the challenges we faced. They included me in the circle. Invited me to learn. And, when I was ready, I joined them.
This is my hope for our children and the children we are blessed to support in our ministries. Supplementing the faith work that is being done in homes is the greatest privilege.And if it's not being done in homes, an even greater privilege is leading a student to Christ and watching them lead their own families.
As we head into prayer stations I'm reminded that our work is never done in vain. When our goal is doing the will of God for the glory of God we find our work invigorating and bearing fruit because God tells us that if we ask for "will of God--for the Glory of God" things that he will answer us and give us anything we ask.
Wow. That's an amazing promise.
During last months stations, Emily (our chief creative officer) told me that she overhead a student saying, "I feel like I could do this every day" as she sat spilling out her heart to God through art.
I feel like I could do this every day.
One teenager is able to say it best, the goal of the intentional work....that teenagers would desire to connect with God everyday.
Here are our art stations for October (inspired by an article we read in the Immerse Journal titled, "The Awareness Examen, by Amy Jacober)
Space to Lament:
Focus: It's okay to be truly sad, but you don't have to stay there.
Verse: Lamentations 3:19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this aweful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet, I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
Materials: Black paper and oil pastels
- First the students will read the verse and begin to reflect on something in their life that makes them sad. This may be something very obvious to them or something they might have to think about.
- The black paper represents the darkness, sorrow, hurt, heartache, trouble, and sadness.
- As they think on their suffering they should know that God will give them hope in that darkness; even if it's just a small glimmer.
- It is up to them to take that small step to "dare to hope" despite the circumstances.
- Students will use the oil pastels to draw a small glimmer of hope invading the dark.
- The glimmer of hope could be sun rays, light from a light bulb, a strane of lights, a candle, firefly (any kind of light), you could even write a word that is glowing such as hope.
- Write lamentations 3:19
Option 2: Make a hope tree
Same focus and verse
Materials: black paper precut in the shape of leafs and oil pastels
- Students will read the verse and reflect on something in their life that makes them sad.
- The black leafs represent death, darkness, sorrow, hurt, heartache, trouble, and sadness
- They will color the leafs with bright vivid colors to represent their daring to hope
- Use doodles, zig zags, spirals, and such
- Write on the leaf what they hope for.
- Example: I hope to be a part of my dad's life someday.
- The leafs would go together on a tree made out of paper on a wall and leave on display.
Verse: Psalm 73:28 How good it is to be near God! I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Materials: white cardstock, markers, and crayons.
- Students will begin by reading the verse.
- What in their life can they celebrate that God has done?
- Draw the contour (outline) of a simple house that represents making the lord your shelter.
- Inside the house they can artfully list all of the things you would tell others that he has done for you.
- You can use doodles and creative lettering
- Examples: healing, restoration, made me new, forgave me, helped me to forgive others, provides for me, keeps me safe, guides me
- Write the verse Psalm 73:28
These are the art stations that Emily came up with as we digested the article (much of which was inspired by the Ignatius Examen). We will be adding three non-art stations to this line up (intercession, confession, and thanksgiving). If you would like a copy of the additional stations, please comment with your email address and I'll send them as soon as they are polished up and ready to share.