This special book holds pictures of our family that she can page through . You can see that she has found her mommy and daddy, as well as our family picture. **Side note - special thanks to Aunt Gwen and family for this great 1st birthday present! She loves this book so much. It is soft and "chewable" and also as a handle which makes it much easier to carry!
I also noted yesterday, that all of a sudden she is using so many "baby signs"! We have all been using these signs for many months - things like milk, more, all done, water, bye-bye, please and thank you - and now Grace is actually making her wishes known through sign. She has grown into a toddler and left baby behind. Yes, it is a new season for her and for all of us!
Today is also the beginning of another season - Lent. With my Lutheran background, Lent was an important observed time for me. I would usually being a Lenten Journey devotional and also considered "giving something up" for the 40 days of Lent. We would be encouraged to spend extra time considering the life of Jesus each day as we contemplated His sacrifice on the cross. Honestly, today I was thinking about how incredibly meaningful Lent has been for me over the years. I loved helping kids understand this connecting season between the birth and the death of Jesus. During those years of bringing the message to kids, I encountered Jesus in such a deep and meaningful way. Isn't it interesting just how many times teachers learn and grow just as much as the students?
One of my very favorite Lenten memories is a very special time with two amazing ladies that happened to work with me - one as a parish nurse and one as a youth director. I was the church secretary. We had our own sort of "small group" and often prayed together and encouraged one another. We were all reading the same devotional that Lent and one particular day, the message was on worship. We were alone in the church and decided to go into the sanctuary and worship together. It was a blessing that the youth director was also an amazing worship leader and singer. There we were, just the three of us in a large room, an unlikely trio, singing our praises to Jesus. For me that was a game changing moment. Lent became a time of offering more worship and praise to Jesus. It became a time of a deepening understanding of fellowship and friendship. Instead of "giving something up" for Lent, each Lent that followed that experience became a time of growing closer to Jesus and to those most precious to me.
It was fitting that today, Ash Wednesday, was also my small group meeting. As I sat there and looked around at those women, I was reminded of that long ago worship time with Lynn and Jade. And my heart was very full. What a blessing to be moving into this new season - here in 2018 - growing closer to Jesus and being surround by my shield-sharing prayer warriors. I believe that this new season we are all called to give out rather than give up during Lent. Give out your love to those near and dear to you. Give out your praise and thanksgiving to Jesus. Give out a smile to the clerk at the store. Give out a kind word to a neighbor. You get the idea. It is really easy.
I am challenging you and I am challenging myself to this 40 days of giving out. My small group today was such a blessing, leaving me feeling filled up with warmth and love. I can't wait to see what Jesus has in store for the next 39 days. Won't you join me?
Jesus, you are the author and creator of seasons. You have given us rhythms and changes in the natural to guide us through our lives. Holy Spirit, draw us ever closer to Jesus during this season of Lent. Remind us when we have a moment or two that we can spend it in worship and thanksgiving rather than on Facebook. Thank you Jesus for friends who impact us so powerfully. Amen