Friday, January 21, 2011

When Kids Hurt: Parenting Class for Moms at WHCC

One of the "assignments" I'm most excited about this semester at Walnut Hill is a parenting class our team is helping to teach for the morning women's ministry, AM/FM.

Maybe it seems a little presumptuous for a 25-year-old single girl with no kids to teach a class on parenting teenagers, but I've always felt that my family's story lent itself to interacting with students AND parents. So I'm super-excited that I get to teach the week on families! And since I'm the resident "party girl" on our staff youth team, I get to teach on teen partying one week, too.
The class facilitators collaborated with our crew to choose the book: When Kids Hurt: Help for Adults Navigating the Adolescent Maze. It's a paired-down version of an earlier, more textbookish title by Chap Clark that addresses the issue of teenage abandonment and how it affects every area of a student's life. The idea is that we adults who care about adolescents (parents, youth workers, teachers, etc.) need to boldly step into a teenager's world and reverse the systemic abandonment he or she feels. It's a tall order, but one our team wholeheartedly believes in.

I commend the book--and the class (if you're a mom here in CT)--to you. We've given a copy to each one of our Walnut Hill Youth (WHY) Ministries leaders to read in the coming months, so I'm excited to see how this line of thinking will impact our ministry!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Just One Resolution

I love the idea of New Years resolutions, but I hate my follow-through. There's something about determining that your life will change on January first that sort of sets you up for failure. As if the start of a new month in a new year in a new decade meant a magical solution to the fact that I eat ice cream and skip the gym and say ugly things about people. As if the new year will mean a whole new me.

And anyway, I made my New Years resolutions back in August this year. (I'm still almost-daily asking God for the grace to accomplish them, by the way!)

So there's just one thing I really want to resolve to do in 2011, and that's read the Bible all the way through in a year. It's been years since I did it, and I just want to be really intentional about being in the Word this year.

At certain times in my life, I've felt so...addicted to Scripture--during the summer I worked at Poplar Springs Baptist outside of Richmond, in particular. I had shared with my students that I felt like a different person when I wasn't in the Word. One morning at a youth event, I was a little out of sorts. One of my high schoolers, a really special kid named Buddy, asked me, "Chelsea, did you read your Bible this morning?" I confessed that I had not. "I didn't think so," he replied, shaking his head. "You'd better go read it."

Since moving to Connecticut, I've lost some momentum. (It happens in full-time ministry, I'm afraid. Sad, but true.) Anyway, I don't want Bible reading to be a legalistic thing, but something that I depend on to be who I am. During Advent, I always feel like that--like I just can't get by without the Word morning and night. It's the sweetest time, and I guess I'm inspired to build on that.

It's Day 11, and I'm happy to report that I'm on schedule. And what I love about disciplined Bible-reading is that it always yields such fruit in my life. Like on Day 2, when I uncovered a little nugget of truth in Genesis that fit oh-so-perfectly into a two-part Bible study I'm writing for myMISSIONfulfilled on forced labor in Exodus and Matthew. Or on Day 10, when I read something in Proverbs that jumped off the page and hollered "apply me!!!!" I'm always amazed at the connections in Scripture, and how the Word shapes us to be who we're becoming in Christ. It's a beautiful thing.

I encourage you to read along with me this year! It's only January 11, after all, and if you start today, it will only take you an hour or so to catch up! If you don't want to purchase the One Year Bible (because really, you have 16 Bibles at your house already, and couldn't you use the $10 to buy a Bible for someone else?) you can use the reading guide I found at

One Year Bible

One last thought: Even though I'm not naive enough to believe that I'll become a whole new person in 2011, I do believe that we Christians are being transformed and made new every day. My favorite Advent passage this year--and just one of my favorite Scriptures in general--was Revelation 21:1-5 (I had my dad read this aloud to us on Christmas Eve, and we wept, thinking about Grandma and Grandpa Russell who are now living in the fullness of this reality!):

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

To Him who is making EVERYTHING new!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Puritan Prayer for 2011

Year's End
O Love beyond compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.

Thou hast loved me before the foundations of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.

Thy goodness has been with me during another year,
leading me through twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.

Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
with thee as the blessed Pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou has blinded my eyes to the waters ahead.

If thou has appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
if I have to pass through the tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
if I am to die,
I shall see thy face sooner;
if a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
if I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation.

Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

from The Valley of Vision