Tag Archives: front door online church

Planting a Spiritual Garden

To The Garden Sign With Pot by Simon Howden

A young mom raising three kids was going through a hot, dry Texas summer.  The garden was wilting, grass withering to dry, brown patches.  She moved the garden hose around back, filling a small wading pool for her kids to play in. She meant to reconnect the hose to the spigot out front where it belonged, but instead left it in a heap in the back yard. She’d get to it later when things weren’t so busy. There were so many other things that were more important.

One day she looked out the front window to see that the dry front lawn had caught fire, probably from a cigarette butt tossed out a car window.  She ran to the spigot she had forgotten. No hose!  She ran to the back yard, dragging the hose around.  It was a tangled mess, full of kinks and knots.  She ran back to get her children’s sand castle buckets abandoned by the wading pool.  Racing back and forth from the spigot to the front lawn, she tried to put out the fire, one child-sized bucketful at a time.

This is the kind of story Jesus used for teaching. It’s a parable.  The life-saving water is God.  The hose is our connection that comes through developing an intentional relationship with God. The fire is whatever crisis is waiting in the future.

Have you ever disconnected your hose? Left it in a tangled mess? I know I have at times. Life gets busy.  I mean to read scripture. I mean to schedule a prayer retreat. I mean to… well, a lot of things. Just like physical and emotional self-care from my earlier blogs, spiritual self-care takes intentional nurture.

Spiritual self-care is intentional focus of time and energy on your relationship with God. Richard Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline and a leading expert on spiritual self-care, offers the following suggestions as ways you can enrich your spiritual life.

  • Internal Disciplines. These disciplines focus on your spiritual life through internal reflection.
    • Prayer
    • Meditation
    • Study of scripture
    • Journaling
    • Silence/listening
    • Fasting – not only from food, but from distractions such as television.
  • Outward Disciplines. These disciplines are lived out in personal actions and outward expressions.
    • Solitude – set aside time to be apart from others to focus on God
    • Simplicity – embrace a practice of “enough” and let go of wanting more
    • Submission – follow where God leads
  • Corporate Disciplines. These disciplines are lived out with others
    • Worship – regularly participate in worship, including the sacraments
    • Service – being God’s hands and feet in the world in help to others
    • Community – engage as part of a Christian community where you can share your talents with others, as well as be supported

There are many additional options.  Look at this list and think about what already works for you. Celebrate those! Well done! Look for what interests you as something you would like to do and make a plan to try it.  For me, silence is a great discipline.  My life used to be filled with noise. The TV always on, or the radio, some distraction constantly in the background. One year for Lent I gave up those distractions. I took a fast from noise and found the gift of silence.  I liked it so much that I didn’t turn on the radio in my car for a decade. When I decide to watch TV I need a quick lesson from my son or husband about how to use the remotes (why do we have to have so many and why do they need so many buttons?)

Solitude is also a great discipline for me. I’m an extravert. I love being around people, but at times I crave being alone.  Right now I have the house to myself for four days, a rare gift. I will be total hermit. Just me and the cat, writing away on my book and blogs, thinking of scripture and seeking connections that offer hope to parents. Even in my solitude I found space for another discipline, worship.  I joined Key Ministry Front Door Online worship.  I was blessed by the message and connection with others for an hour, but now I return to my gift of solitude and prayer for parents.

Where I work there is a serenity prayer garden.  It has five flowing fountains and a labyrinth gravel path that winds its way through an arbor of wisteria. I try to spend at least a few minutes there each day. On a glass water wall there is this hymn:

I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice I hear falling on my ear,  the Son of God discloses.

And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own;  and the joy we share as we tary there, none other has ever known.

My prayer for you is that you find what nurtures your spiritual garden and be filled with the peace of Christ. Amen.

“To The Garden Sign With Pot” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Easter: It’s All in the Seeking

For me, Easter is steeped in memories of my childhood. We’d pile in our two-toned Oldsmobile, nicknamed Gladys, driving two hours from my home in the Bay Area of California to my grandparent’s house in Sacramento. The eternal question was offered up regularly by me or my brother in the backseat, “Are we there yet?” Saturday was a blur of preparations, including boiling and dying eggs.  Finally, the big day arrived. Easter Sunday! I was eager to get up and see what the Easter bunny brought. “No candy until after church.” But then grandma would wink at me and, when my parents were out of sight, sneak me a small foil-covered chocolate egg.  She also regularly let me have ice cream for breakfast.  I loved visiting grandma! Then it was off to church, my tightly combed ponytail facilitating a smiling expression that belied my discomfort in the inevitably itchy Easter dress.  My reward for sitting quietly all through worship?  The Easter egg hunt afterwards in grandma’s backyard with all of the cousins! There were six of us so I learned to move fast and hunt low, being one of the younger and, therefore, shorter children.  In addition to tons of boiled eggs, plus plastic ones filled with chocolates, there was also one special egg that had a dollar in it, a big find for a preschooler in the mid-60’s!  Ready, set, GO!!!!  Mayhem ensued in a free-for-all, mad dash for those precious eggs. Afterwards, grandma gathered up the boiled eggs and made egg salad and deviled eggs out of them. We kept the candy. The one lucky recipient of the money egg was typically just a bit smug, snapping that crisp dollar bill under the disappointed noses of those less fortunate.

The Easter egg hunts for my son were much more sedate.  Being an only child with ASD and having no extended family living within 2,000 miles, our egg hunts were for a party of one. The community egg hunt was over-stimulating and that competitive scramble of hundreds of children guaranteed a meltdown.  At times I have felt guilty that his Easter memories were so different from mine. I suppose my concern was that I offered him something less. That guilt caused me to compensate with more eggs than one child needs, and inflation greatly blessed the contents of the money egg. What Craig taught me as he grew up is that what I offered wasn’t less, rather it was different. More important, it was just right for him. Looking back now, he says he loved knowing he didn’t have to rush. He could really enjoy the moment, knowing that the hunt was all for him and the one extra special egg was his reward if he just kept looking long enough.  We hid that one very well! He never wanted us to show him. He needed to find it for himself. For him, the joy of the hunt came in looking for something, even when what he was looking for wasn’t where expected it to be.

What Craig experienced, on a rather profound level, has much to do with what Easter is all about. After Jesus was crucified and laid in the tomb, on the third day the women came to attend his body. Except Jesus’ body wasn’t where they expected it to be. Thus began a Easter hunt of a much more important nature.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. (Mat 28:5-6 NLT)

What Christ offers to us through the resurrection is a gift for everyone, but it is a gift claimed through the individual effort of seeking. It is not a gift another person can bestow upon me or you or anyone else. Rather, this gift only comes through seeking for ourselves, encountering Christ, and proclaiming him as Lord in a  one on one encounter. The joy of discovery in finding Christ magnifies that innocent joy of the childhood experience of Easter. It celebrates finding what we are seeking.

Sometimes as parents of children with special needs, what we are seeking is simply a practical answer to how we can be part of the Easter celebration. With Easter Sunday coming tomorrow, I understand how it is hard for some to be part of those large celebrations. Crowded sanctuaries, physical accessibility limitations, sensory and anxiety, issues all make high holy days especially challenging.  If you are looking for a way to be part of a worshiping community on Easter Sunday, here is a wonderful option available online. Front Door Online church specifically seeks to offer a worship experience geared to families with special needs.

http://drgrcevich.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/the-front-door-online-church-for-families-impacted-by-disabilities/

Happy Easter to all and may you find that which you seek.