Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Baby Dolls & Legos; Lessons on Nurturing & Refining Volunteer Teams

If not serving at the church I am most likely in my daughter’s playroom. As an imaginative two-year-old, she adores baby dolls and legos. She loves wrapping the doll in blankets, patting her back, and feeding her broccoli and tuna in a high chair. I join her and do all that I can to assure the utmost comfort for the little one.  This is quite difficult because she just got fed broccoli and tuna.

 After a while of this, the attention shifts to legos. Her standards of a successful Lego session are, “Taller! Taller! Taller!”. Once the structure is complete, my role is to assess the “building” for its stability. With her permission (of course) I spot the unbalanced/out of line sides and add or take away blocks. I know my work is done when the head contractor says, “Good Job, Ma!” and applies force to check my work. 

While juvenile, both of these contain helpful lessons on volunteer team leadership; and, man, do we ever need help! Too bad my daughter’s not a toy soldier fan because there are occasions in the trenches of ministry where that is a much more fitting metaphor.  Propelling a team towards progress sometimes feels like a battlefield; what with its miscommunications, personality clashes, misplaced priorities, and a lack of self-management skills within the squadron. 

I could see why some want to give up on the dream of a healthy team. They want to give up on the relational covenant (1 Corinthians 12:14) to which they have been called. They think their attempts at empathy, prayer,  and reading team dynamic books have all been in vain; and they resolve to simply show up for the remainder of their term.  They stop striving for an ‘A’. They settle for an average grade in the course.

But then I am reminded that Christ did not give up on us nor does he ever. It is for this reason that we should not give up on each other.  We need each other. It is only in Christian community that we discover our true identity (1 John 4:12). In order to become who God created us to be, we can not go at it alone. More importantly, our broken world desperately needs strong ministerial teams (Matthew 5:14-16). (Can I get an Amen?!)
adult, annoyed, blur
After years of searching (accompanied by the occasional day of crying and cursing) for the secrets to nurturing and refining a strong, Spirit-led volunteer team, I have come to the conclusion that I have most likely made it more difficult than is necessary. Could the route to a healthy volunteer team be as simple as intuitively nurturing your teammates (as one does with a Baby Doll) while also maintaining a critical, keen eye (as one does with Legos) as the “structure” of the team develops?

The Baby Doll Approach: Intuitively Nurturing 
  • Make it a priority to know their stories. This may occasionally mean a late night text with a prayer concern or a spontaneous chat at your office. Come out from behind your computer and be fully present with them in the conversation. If this calls for hot tea, an impromptu prayer, or a church-appropriate-off-to-the-side hug you don’t want to miss these cues. BE FULLY PRESENT WITH THEM! :) 
  • Create a space of servitude that honors their gifts, personalities, and limitations. While it would be ideal if all of your teammates were emotionally healthy/ self-aware persons, this is not always the case. Some of your teammates might be completely oblivious to their limitations/vices, and God can use you to lovingly guide them towards this awareness (more to come on this in the Lego approach). All this to say, if a volunteer on your team fails, and you did not do everything in your power to set them up for success by honoring all of the above, you are partially to blame. #hardtruth 
  • Establish a position for them that is not only rewarding but enjoyable as well.  Go the extra mile and give them a partner with whom they have good working chemistry. Grant them their preferred days and times to serve. Offer them as little or as much say in their area of leadership as they so desire.
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  • Memorize how they take their coffee or Sonic.  This seems menial, but this small gesture shows they are more than a “bucket-o-talent” to you. They are people with preferences, and you care about those preferences. 
  • While meeting over these drinks, come prepared with some intentional (yet, informal) talking points. These will not only enhance your professional bond with them as valued teammates, but it will also enhance the overall ministry because you are allowing the Holy Spirit to guide the conversation. These questions can be as simple as, “What has God revealed to you about yourself this semester of serving? Are there any talents/gifts from which you enjoy serving that are not being utilized? What parts of your position bring you the most joy? What supportive steps can I take to make this a more enjoyable role for you?” Volunteers are (most likely) over-committed people. If they pressed pause on their lives to meet with you over a latte, make it worth their while.
The Lego Approach: Strategizing Keenly & Critically  
(Now before you go running for the hills with discomfort, hang with me. :) The Lego approach will be much easier if it is preceded by the Baby Doll approach. They work interchangeably, but the Baby Doll approach should be the foundation to create a healthy team dynamic.)
  • A volunteer’s vices must not upstage her talents; if so this is a liability to your team and the reputation of your program. A high maintenance teammate can be a huge distraction from the ministry to which God is calling you. Plus, your other teammates will suffer if the majority of your attention is used on damage control for this one volunteer.  After the second or third apology to parents, you might need to ask yourself, “Is this simply a rough edge of this volunteer who is serving out of her gifts and has loads of potential?” or “Is this is a red flag that this teammate is either A) not emotionally/spiritually healthy at the moment to fulfill this role or B) not serving out of her gifts?” Either case calls for an honest conversation. The latter calls for a potential break from serving or some grace-filled redirection towards a different position.
  • Whether your team is experiencing growing pains or abusive pains,  it is your job to address them. While you, “cannot fix [the teammates described above], it is your job to control them and in some cases protect others on your team from them.” teaches Todd Whittaker.  In his fantastic book, Shifting the Monkey; The Art of Protecting Good People from Liars, Criers and other Slackers,  he equips you to handle the most difficult personalities on your team in a strategic (non-manipulative)  kind of fashion. I seriously cannot brag enough about this book! Click on the above link to read the description and prepare to have your mind blown and your ministry improved. 
  • Communicate the “right” way. Varying levels of personalities, life stages, and situations call for different types of communication outlets. Keenly discern the best one. Does the topic at hand call for a text, email, phone call, face to face in your office, or a walk around the park? Each of these has their perks and drawbacks, and choosing correctly will prevent fallout from potentially sensitive subjects. ‘Typing’ from experience, many a bad day will be prevented if the right communication route is chosen.
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  • “No” now does not mean “No” forever. Think critically of the ideal timing of recruiting based on a person’s life.  If the Holy Spirit has led you to call this person, don’t give up on ‘em. Now, this is not synonymous to pestering. If seamstress Sandy says sewing (complementary tongue twister) for the Christmas play is too much with her teaching schedule, then make a note in your calendar to call her in June for the VBS costumes. You know as well as I that their hearts are hungry to serve, they are simply awaiting direction. 
  • Maintain professional boundaries. This can mean different things. To me, it means that I do not talk about volunteer needs when I am off-the-clock unless the person brings it up to me first. I don’t want others to run away when they see me in the bread aisle for fear I might hound them for their time or talent. I also keep healthy boundaries by only speaking on issues that I am “over” (#busychurch) and delegating the rest to the right personnel. This naturally builds up the rest of our team and eliminates some potential miscommunications.  
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Where Jesus Prayed" By Danielle Shroyer; A Book Review By Meg Calvin

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This scrumtrelescent read will fill you up like Thanksgiving Dinner (minus the Tums). It is a rich dish that covers many facets of the Christian faith. It is hearty in the sense that it is satisfying to those of all levels of Biblical literacy.   With each page, readers are led into a different time and culture by Pastor Danielle Shroyer’s authentically wise and witty voice. She is both a credentialed spiritual director and tour guide.

Upon traveling to the Holy Land with her fellow pilgrims, Shroyer had planned to take a break from her “word-crammed” life.  A desire to do more sensing and less talking filled her as she discovered that “Jesus was more human, more real, more divine and more beautiful” than she had ever imagined. Thankfully this break was short-lived, and this literary souvenir can now be shared with the masses. If one is on the fence about checking out this masterful two-hour-read, prepare to be persuaded.

  • Each chapter is based on a  word or line of the Lord’s Prayer that thematically intertwines with a specific destination on her tour. This makes this book a versatile resource for any small group or sermon series. 
  • Carter Rose’s photography is a life-giving spiritual discipline all on its own.
  • While some might be weary of a boring geography lesson, they can expect the exact opposite. Shroyer has a magical way of getting her readers emotionally attached to each timeline and map that her words depict. She writes, “ The air in Galilee feels...FULL. [...]It’s as if the air had more energy in it.[...]I wonder if that’s because Jesus’ imprint is still here, somehow, as he left behind a trace of his own  life-giving force that even two thousand years cannot erase.” She describes the sea of Galilee as Jesus’ routine commute (Galilee’s borders had been divided into quadrants), “Jesus spent much of his life traversing boundaries. Where others were labeled by place or tribe or religious affiliation, Jesus saw fractured hearts, dismembered dreams, the ache of alienation, hopes faint as a whisper.”
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  • Each chapter drips with mind-boggling facts of our Christian story. She writes of the Synagogue in Magdala that was discovered in 2009. It remained in nearly pristine condition for two-thousand years safe underground. To add to the surprise, it was hidden less than two feet below the earth. Amazing!  The new sanctuary in Magdala, Duc in Altum (“into the deep”) honors all women ( named and unnamed) who had walked with Jesus and led others on their walk as well. This part of the book is truly empowering. Tissues will be needed. 
  • Shroyer would not be doing her job as a Pastor if she did not close the book with a booming benediction, and that is exactly what she does. The final destination on the tour is the Chapel at Shepherd’s Field.  Here where the Shepherds heard angelic sounds, Shroyer sends her readers out with, “You remember that you were made for: praise, and joy, and a heart that delights in the glories of this world and its Maker, Savior, and Keeper. You were made to be loved and to discover that love with boundless overflowing joy. You were made to see stars, to witness miracles, to watch love be born into this world, to proclaim it ever new each morning.” 

The Power of Awareness in Serving Troubled Kids Part II

(Read Part I first 😀 .)
Another external factor that should be considered is a child’s socio-economic class. This paints a different worldview for each person. While we might be more aware of it in lower class families, poor soil can be found in any class. I was once guilty of judging the impoverished families of our community for how they ran their families, and I am so thankful that I had a change of heart.

As soon as the strap hit my shoulder I knew something wasn’t right. Heart racing, I unbuckled my bag only to find that my wallet had been stolen. Stolen? Yes-stolen. I was heart-broken; it was most likely pocketed by a person who came to our office seeking shelter, funds or food.

The church's community meal was the next day, and unlike previous shifts, I was not feeling good about this one. My heart was bitter. Needless to say, the disappearance of my wallet gave me a resentful filter through which I viewed the entire evening. My usual common courtesies of small talk or topping off waters were non-existent.
Despite my sullen mindset, I remained faithful to my volunteer hours. The following week was Christmas, and each family would receive a gift from us. With my prickly attitude and low expectations, I began lining up these twenty-plus bags of groceries.
The fake Holiday-cheer of mine quickly faded with the first person who fought me on the “one-per-household” rule. It also did not help my morale when families sent different children through the line to get an extra bag. But I remained faithful. I showed up and served.
Man Wearing Black Apron Near Two Silver Metal Cooking Pot
My infant daughter joined me at the next weekly meal. I wore her in a carrier. She and I weaved through tables giving refills and taking trays. Similar to before, I was not emotionally present until a voice shook me out of myself. “How old is your baby?” I turned around to see a round-faced, brunette in her mid-twenties with a messy ponytail and pastel sweats. She was surrounded by a flock of children.
Our paths had crossed before, but the extent of our conversation was based on her preferred amount of gravy.

“One,” I said.

“She walkin’ yet?”

“Yes. On Christmas day, she just decided to take off,” I replied.

After sharing a chuckle, she did something unexpected. She went around the table and shared the early milestones of all of her children. Sharing at great length, she spared no detail. Her cup overflowed with pride and love. Her memory far surpassed mine, and I only had one child. Prior to this moment, I had wrongfully doubted her competence as a mother. In fact, since the wallet situation, I had been viewing all of the guests as potential thieves who could not be trusted.

Suddenly, I was ashamed of my thoughts and suspicions.  As I walked back into the kitchen, the Holy Spirit humbled me. I realized that while my lens was temporarily tarnished, God’s perspective is always grace-filled. God loved her and me in the same unconditional way. Regardless of social class, God sees through a filter of love. Instantaneously, my negative lens was wiped clean, and my bitter dehumanizing thoughts vanished.

Awareness of one-another’s story is key as we serve others in Christian love.  Even though grace is God’s gift to all social classes,  each person brings a different set of values and perspectives to the table. Since Bluebonnet Children can be planted in any socioeconomic class, it does nothing but enhance our ministry if we are intentional in our understanding of these differences and opportunities.

One leading expert on this topic is Ruby Payne. While I do not know her personally, she holds a very special place in my heart. My mother was enthralled with her work while she was completing her Masters of Education Degree. In Payne’s book, “Bridges out of Poverty; a Framework for Understanding Poverty”, she clearly articulates the unwritten parameters by which the impoverished, the middle class and the wealthy move through the world. Her work has been monumental in the world of education; and has influenced numerous community initiatives that are eradicating poverty (not an overstatement).

With this chart as a tool in comprehending my experience at our community meal, offering mercy naturally takes less effort. My wallet was (most likely) stolen by one who sincerely believed that he had no real control over how his life turned out. Like cards, the lives of the impoverished (so they believe) were dealt to them and choice plays no role in their circumstance. Unlike other socioeconomic classes that revere the concept of personal responsibility, whoever took my teal Liz Claiborne  wallet believed that the rest of the world owed him something. No judgment here-it is what it is.

Furthermore, since persons in extreme poverty operate out of a “survival mode”(in which all decisions are based on temporary feelings) it makes sense that many parents deemed it “moral” to send their kids through the grocery gift line under false pretense. When a person’s main goal is feeding their family, the black and white rules of the surrounding culture fade to grey.  Political connection? Personal achievement? Nope-the driving force here is to simply live. Wake up tomorrow morning? Mission accomplished.

When someone is operating out of survival mode, they are also unable to plan ahead or even envision the future. All basic needs must be met first. Sadly this is not the case for those who are in poverty. We know this from Sir Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Basic needs must precede all psychological needs and needs of self-fulfillment. It should not be surprising to us that our meal guests are not rushing to worship with us on Sunday morning. How can we expect them to give any thought to the spiritual trajectory of their lives while they're not even sure from where their next meal will come? And for those of us who serve in Children’s and Family Ministry, what does partnering with a parent from this family look like?

Grappling with questions such as these will equip us as a Bluebonnet Child’s supplemental family and in time, Christ will reveal the answers. As partners with Him in the Gospel, He is counting us to become aware; aware of self, aware of His holy hums (through prayer), and aware of the internal and external factors of each child’s story.  May our awareness move us towards action on the pages to come.

Questions to Ponder
  1. Are you aware of your gifts (talents) and limitations? How could you better honor both of these?
  2. What does your ideal regimen of prayer look like? How do you operate differently when you are fully in tune with the Holy Spirit?
  3. Think of a time in your ministry when a lack of awareness towards a person’s story (all of the internal and external factors at play) negatively affected the situation. Looking back, offer a solution for a better outcome. Send up a prayer for those involved. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Power of Awareness in Serving Troubled Kids

To be truly aware is a treasure worth seeking; awareness of self, of the present moment and of others. Know that every minute is valuable and full of potential when it comes to reaching out to the Bluebonnet Child.

Before growing in our awareness of another, we must first know and love ourselves well. This is not news to you, but there is not a single parishioner who feels it is her divine vocation to maintain your level of self-awareness/management.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was a committee of beloved church members whose sole purpose was to manage this?  (Sign me up!) Don’t get me wrong, they love you and your ministerial leadership, but taking care of you is up.To.You. Nurture your soul, so God can create soul-nurturing moments through you.

In our attempts to be self-aware we naturally discover and hopefully honor how God wired us.  There are many great resources for this, and one that has recently enhanced our staff’s life is the Servant By Design assessment. From this we learned to trust our gifts and respect our limits. Each person on your team has a unique set of skills, life experiences, and a natural wiring that could bless a Bluebonnet Child, but the first step to serving is being self-aware. “Ya wanna know what sets highly influential people apart?” Education guru, Todd Whitaker, says, “ They are aware of how they came off to others.”

Along with being self-aware, one must also be aware of how the Holy Spirit is moving in his life. While we will unpack this further in another chapter, the key is prayer. Hold it at the forefront of your mind that the child who takes the most patience is in the most need of your ministry, and an arsenal full of that much patience only comes from a routine of prayer.  As we tread on the poor soil in which a Bluebonnet Child is planted, we must be prayerfully in tune with the Holy Spirit. Or as Williams Carrey put it, “Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness.”

This divine dialogue sustains us as we seek to be more aware of the Bluebonnet Child’s story, and believe you me, some pages can be pretty dark. Once we are self-aware and aware of the “Holy Spirit’s Hums” it becomes quite easy to be fully aware and present in each moment. From this level of awareness, we can be more observant of any signs of abuse.
Being aware of these signs not only lead us to advocate for this child (more to come on this), but it helps us to understand the implications that poor soil will have on the learning environment. In any teaching space, there are external and internal factors that could potentially prevent the child from learning at her best.  In my opinion, abuse can take the form of both. The first are those that are physical distractions outside of one’s person, say if a child’s new sweater is itchy or there is an electric drill buzzing next door. The latter are emotionally-based.

As neuroscientist, Eric Jensen, writes, “ Although all of us acknowledge that we have emotions, few of us realize that they are not the cards on the table but the table itself. Our emotions are the framework of our day.”  The primal spark of “fight or flight” is housed at the base of the brain in the amygdala; it is literally the foundation of the mind.  If this spark is ignited too often (which it is for Bluebonnet Children), the other functions of the brain (rationalizing, creativity, memory) shut down (They.Shut.Down!).This is not a matter of a bad mood or a good mood. Cognitively speaking, it is impossible for the brain to perform well if one is living out of fear and uncertainty.  The best teachers have a heightened sense of both the external and internal factors and they adjust their lesson and the teaching/worship space accordingly.

Stay tuned as we explore the power of being aware of each child's socioeconomic class. Be sure to subscribe to the right. 😁

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Fighting for Unbathed Babies Part II

(Be sure to read Part I first. 😃)

At this point in the conversation, a rush of gumption filled my soul. I had to fight for this little guy:  “Leslie, I can only imagine how difficult being a new mom is.” [silence] “So if ever you need some extra help and support, there are these great parenting classes downtown at the Eagle’s Nest. They are so helpful,” I said. 

“How much they cost?” She said with mild excitement.

“Don’t worry about that. Our office could help with that if you are interested.”

“Yea,” I heard over the phone. I sensed my time to exit the conversation was near. Our chat had been weighty. I needed to give her space to ponder.

“Thanks for your time, Leslie, and please call me anytime if there is any other way I can be helpful.”

“Yea,” she said one last time.

In the four years that followed, I watched Leslie grow into a very caring and responsible mom. After that day, Jeremy never came to KDI in such a dirty state again. In fact, one day I had a sub, and when I returned, Leslie took me aside to tell me that my sub did not change Jeremy’s diaper in a timely fashion. It was refreshing to see the concern on her face. I tried not to smile as she was complaining to me, but I was truly proud of the parent she had become. I was thankful that the Holy Spirit led me to a  better understanding of Jeremy’s story, led me into fighting for him, and helped me to clearly state how Christ and His church desired to support him.
While there is no objective formula to best serve the Bluebonnet Child, there are certain steps we can take as we intuit our way through it! I call it the Triple A approach. No-this is not an auto club to call when your car breaks down. It’s way better (and less expensive). The Triple A approach will equip you as a vessel that showers the Bluebonnet Children with God’s grace. This approach calls us to: be aware, to advocate, and to articulate in their lives. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can be more aware of their stories, advocate for their needs, and theologically articulate how the healing power of Christ is at work in their lives. The next three chapters will cover the individual components of this approach in more depth.

Questions to Ponder 
  1. What is an alternative way to handle the “Baby in the kitchen sink” situation? Can you compose a conversation between you and Leslie? 
  2. What would have happened if the caretakers had not taken the time to bathe Jeremy, feed him better, and simply voice their concern? 
  3. Who on your children’s ministry team could you see going above and beyond in the same exact way with a child? 

Stay tuned for the Triple-A approach and how it could enhance your ministry! Be sure to subscribe to the right. 😁

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Fighting for Unbathed Babies

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“Pssst-are we allowed to bathe the infants in the kitchen sink?” I heard this as I was attempting to read a story to our preschool class. I turned to see a caretaker with the filthiest lil’ brunette boy on her hip. The dirt and residue had been on his chubby arms for so long that a rash had emerged beneath the grime. Trying to preserve his dignity by controlling my face, I smiled, passed the book onto my assistant and joined them in the hall.

“Come again?” I said.

“He’s just really dirty, and his odor is, well-you can smell it, I’m sure.” She said this while gently swaying this oddly happy baby. “His bottom is caked inside of his diaper, just caked-as if it hasn’t been changed in a while; so we were thinking we could bathe him real quick in the church kitchen?”

“Sure.” I said, “I will call the mom and let her know. Also-slap some diaper cream on his bottom, please.”

I shook my head in disbelief as she walked away. She then turned back and said, “Oh, one more thing. His lunch today is a half-eaten Taco Bell burrito. Can you ask the mom how she expects us to serve that to her eight-month-old?” My heart dropped. What was already an uncomfortable conversation with the mom, just got more uncomfortable.

This is what we do in children’s ministry, right?  Yes!  We do whatever it takes-pray mercilessly for our kids, stay late to prep lessons,  Prezis at board meetings, shift teammates to best honor their gifts, and oh-yea-pretend to be unshakably bold. Whatever it takes to lead these kids closer to the healing grace of Christ-WE WILL DO IT! Why? Because we were made to live in no other way, to serve in no other way but this. Why do we do it? Because we are called. We are called to serve the Bluebonnet Children.
So I picked up the phone.

“Hi, Leslie, It’s Meg from Kids’ Day In,” I said.

“Yea,” the lower-income, teen mom said over the TV noise in the background.
“I hope you are well. Jeremy is doing fine. He is so happy today,” I said.  (Butter ‘em up before the blow-right?)

“Yea.” She murmured again.

“I was calling because I was curious about Jeremy’s bath schedule.” I bravely said.

“Yea, he gets baths,” she nonchalantly replied.

“Great. Well, today his caretakers thought it would be helpful to give ‘em an extra one due to his odor, and he seemed to have some dirt on his arms. So if it’s ok with you, they are going to bathe him in the sink.” Whew- I got that part out.

“Yea.” She, obviously, could care less.

“Also, I am sure your family is good in this area.” My nerves were starting to get the best of me. “But, if ever you guys need help with water bills and such, our office can help with that.”
“We got water.” An inflection change was present in her tone. “Sure, sure, sure, well just in case you ever need that, we are here to help you.” I practically exhaled these words.

“Yea. We’re good,” she shared.

“Awesome. Also, Leslie, how would you like us to feed Jeremy today?”

“I left a burrito in his bag,” she said.

“Yes, we saw that. I am wondering if he might enjoy a jar of baby food better.” I began to realize that she thought this was an appropriate meal for an infant.

“If you guys have some, give ‘em one,” she blurted.

At this point in the conversation, a rush of gumption filled my soul. I had to fight for this little guy...

Stay tuned for the rest of the story! Be sure to subscribe to the right. 😁

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Monday, January 23, 2017

You're In Their Circle; The Psychological Perks of Your Church to a Troubled Child Part II

Vvgotsky's View of Child Development 

(Be sure to read part one first.)

Another theory that points to hope outside of a child’s home is by Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky. It’s known as the sociocultural theory. In this theory, he states that a child’s cultural context has a much greater shaping effect than the child’s natural wiring. He argues that instead of researching the child’s stages of development, focus more on the beliefs, customs, and skills of the surrounding community.  A child desires to emulate the thoughts and behaviors as she grows into a contributing member of her little piece of the world. The village does, in fact, raise the child, not just the parents.

 From the famous Orange curriculum, we know that if a child attends on Wednesdays and Sundays, we will see him around 100 hours a year; whereas the child will be with his family around 3,000 hours (considering school and sleep).  What type of difference could we possibly make in the life of a Bluebonnet Child in just 100 hours a year?

Recently I arrived home from work on a Sunday to find a fifteen-year-old girl leaning against the tree in our front yard. She was crying, well-bawling to be exact. Though I had known Lydia for eleven years, I had not seen her since she started high school. How did she even know where I lived? I only knew her through our church programs. She shared with me that she desperately needed to call her aunt.
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She would not stop crying. Once we got back to the church to find the number, she opened up to me. Her parents (Bluebonnet Children themselves-just longer stems) were going through a divorce. Her mother lived an hour away, and she was staying with her dad in town. Earlier that morning, he had told Lydia that he was going to sneak her out of the state. She protested, he slapped her and then she ran two miles to my house.

While she was on the phone with her mother, I stepped out into the office hallway. Her mother’s passionate voice rang through the phone, “You stay at the church. You hear me, he can’t get you there. We trust the church. We’ve known Meg a long time, and you will be safe there.” Lydia and I waited in the church for two hours for her mom to arrive. Our lunch was made of leftover wedding scraps, and we painted in the craft room. It was so good to see Lydia smile while she inhaled her food. We talked some but painted mostly. She painted me an abstract cardboard circle with pure hues and geometric shapes. It still hangs in my office.

Once her mom pulled up, I was able to share with her the helpful resources within our community. She then moved forward in protecting her daughter by gaining full custody of her.  Although our church might have only seen Lydia for 100 hours a year for the past eleven years, it seems as though the impact of our ministry might easily last a lifetime.

Beautiful things happen when the church answers the call and serves the Bluebonnet Child. The hard part is already done-God is already active in these kid’s lives. The Holy Spirit is communicating to their hearts. Studies reveal that fifteen percent of four thousand people interviewed claimed that their relationship with a higher power began when they were children.  Although these persons had no religious upbringing or training, they were able to describe their profound childhood experiences in great detail thirty to forty years later. Whew, there is hope. God’s got this!

Questions to Ponder 

  1. How would you summarize the ecological systems theory (in part one of this blog)? 
  2. How do these psychological theories affect you as you move forward in serving  Bluebonnet Children? 
  3. When have you served a Bluebonnet Family that fully trusted in your church’s ministry? Share this story. What steps made this a healthy and helpful relationship? 

Stay tuned for some clear, applicable steps to serving kids from troubled homes! Be sure to subscribe to the right. 😁

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image from Learning and Adolescent Development”. https://goo.gl/Kj7noe .Wordpress.com. 14 September 2016.