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Hacky Sack Worship

hacky sackLast week something beautiful occurred.  On Thursday, it was a cool, almost rainy day at Metro Christian Academy.  Almost rainy.  But the rain had not yet come, and we had been aching to take our weekly chapel outdoors this spring.

So, our high school chaplain and student musicians moved all the instruments out to the front courtyard of the school and set up in a corner of the grass.  When all 400ish 9th-12th  graders filed outside, they weren’t sure what to do at first.  It was almost as if they didn’t know what to do without the dark, interior constraints of our windowless auditorium.  But, it did not take them long to relax and sit on blankets, or huddle in the cool air with friends as the music began.

The breeze was strong, but not overwhelming—just enough to hear it rush through the trees and watch it bend strong limbs as we sang:

He is jealous for me.  Loves like a hurricane. 

I am a tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy

When all of a sudden, I am an unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory

And I realize just how beautiful you are

and how great your affections are for me

And oh, how he loves us so…oh how he loves us…how he loves us so…

(John Mark McMillan)

After about 15 minutes of worship, our chaplain, Brian, invited students to spread out.  He gave them permission to keep singing, or to talk quietly with friends.  He encouraged them to walk and pray if they needed to, or to even play hacky sack if they wanted.  The look on students’ faces when he gave the invitation for hacky sack was priceless.  Was he actually telling them to go and enjoy the outdoors with their friends as an act of worship?  Yes, he was.

What I love is that with no prior knowledge to this idea, so many students had a hacky sack handy!  It did not take but sixty seconds for about 6 hacky sack circles to form—one included the high school principal!  And, for the next 15 minutes, the musicians led worship, while some sang, others prayed, some visited quietly and some played.

Our student leaders have been asking for a “recess” worship experience this spring.  They wanted their friends to experience all that worship can be, and see that it does not have to be a formula of neatly lined rows of people in an auditorium, all facing forward and singing.  They wanted their friends to see that enjoying God and his creation is worship.

So, thanks to some high school students with a beautiful dream of what worship could be, and a chaplain who courageously let God’s spirit lead in an unplanned moment, we dove a little deeper into the truth of those lyrics last week: Oh, how he loves us—enough to join us in the circle and play hacky sack.

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Disconnected

disconnectA few weeks ago, my husband and I were sitting in the lobby of Johnny Carinos waiting for a table.  It was a little date night we had planned that was long overdue.  While waiting to be seated, we found ourselves surrounded by at least thirty other people who were also in the holding pin for a table.

After a few minutes of chatting, it dawned on us that EVERY person sitting around us in the restaurant’s front foyer was engrossed in an activity on a smart phone of sorts or a personal media device.  Kids listened to their music with earphones on, husbands and wives were playing Angry Birds and Unblock Me, and others were feverishly texting.

No one was talking to each other in those few minutes except Gary and me.  No one really looked up and made eye contact with friends or strangers.  And once we realized what was happening around us, that is the topic that consumed us until we were seated!

What amazed me was that a few precious moments when friends and families could be talking and laughing with each other, their connection to technology was the actual cause of being disconnected from one another.  It’s as if our culture is often allowing a pseudo-bond with hand held technology to replace the bonds of breath-filled, tactile human relationships.

For full disclosure, I own an iPhone and can easily get caught up in texting, checking emails and scanning Facebook updates.  I’m not much of a gamer, except my guilty pleasure is Words with Friends – and that game can get me to stop just about anything I’m doing to play the next word!  However, I’ve realized that sometimes the iPhone is controlling me rather than me controlling it.  It is a marvelous tool for organizing and enjoying life, but I’m still having gut checks when tempted to give the machine more attention than the person standing in front of me.

Now my daughter is the proud owner of an iPod Touch that she saved up the money to buy.  And I definitely know I have some progress to make in this area of media boundaries.  So, that little dinner outing was a wake-up call for our family to be more intentional about keeping technology in it’s rightful place in our lives.  Some of the relational vs. technology values we are trying to hold onto are:

  • Talking is better than texting:  when eating out, during our family activities, when gathering with friends and extended family, when the conversation needs facial expressions and interaction
  • More games with boards and tangible pieces, less games with a screen.
  • Walks, runs and park fun should come first.
  • Age appropriate filters and boundaries are essential.
  • Model how we want our kids to use and interact with technology.
  • There is a time to just turn the media gadgets off.

This certainly isn’t the exhaustive list.  I’m sure I’ll have more to add at some point.  It is just a starting place for making sure that while I have greater and greater access to a digital world, I don’t loose the intimacy and wonder of the human relationship sitting right next to me at the kitchen counter.

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2,000,000 and counting–Homeless Youth in America

A 20/20 epidosde with an incredible look into the lives of 4 homeless teens – the story of abandonned adolescents in our culture at its deepest, and most desperate…

http://abc.go.com/watch/2020/SH559026/VD55108764/2020-128-homeless-youth

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My best t-shirt ever

It’s been a fairly cold month in Tulsa.  I haven’t felt like running for several weeks because it’s been too chilly or because I’ve had a cold.  On New Year’s Eve I was looking in my closet for a shirt and grabbed my heather-gray One Life Revolution t-shirt that I’ve owned for probably 6 or 7 years.  For about the thousandth time, I read the words “You have one life, do something.”

olr tshirt

And just like every other time I’ve read it, I found myself ready to go.  This time it was for the run.  Get the shirt on, lace up the shoes, and get on the trail.   There is a strength in wearing those words.  They motivate me not to settle for the status quo or give up when passion is lacking.

Sometimes I put it on after a week of being distracted by insignificant details in life and it reminds me that I’ve lost perspective.   Does the competition I feel with another person really matter?  Do the small injustices of slow traffic or a fellow shopper cutting in front of me in the store really impact my life?  Will the lecture I just gave my daughter matter in the long run?  Many times, the answer is “no.”

Often it’s a conversation starter with people I meet.  They want to know about One Life Revolution and I have the privilege of sharing with them the story of a movement where students were challenged to combat AIDS in Zambia and how teenagers in Tulsa raised tens of thousands of dollars over several years as a part of that movement.

But always, it is an igniter to action in my life.  It is always challenging me to get off my butt and get something done—for my health, for my family, for my world.  It’s funny how a humble little t-shirt has had such a positive force in my life.  And it’s completely amazing to me how durable it has been since there is hardly any deterioration in the fabric or fading of the words.

I’m hoping it lasts a long time so I can keep pulling it off a hanger in my closet on the days when my frame of mind is less than impressive.  And, I hope the message of my life has the same positive force and endurance.

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“Still With Us” – a Christmas song by Symon Hajjar & Garth Bjorklund

Saw this link on my friend Evan Gundy’s facebook page and discovered a fresh, insightful reflection on Christmas.  It’s a free download so check it out!

Still With Us Cover Art

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Where the Rubber Meets the Road, Part 3

Does My Youth Ministry Have the Shape, the Story, and the Staff that Will Anchor Student’s Faith?

Here’s the last segment of the 3 part series I wrote for Youth Worker Update that doesn’t necessarily give answers, but rather, asks questions about how we do ministry and what is most enduring in students’ lives.  Feel free to check out parts 1 & 2 if you missed them!

Where the Rubber Meets the Road, Part 3

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Special Mile Markers offer

mile markers coverInvitation for all Mile Markers fans…

Purchase an autographed copy for a friend or loved one or yourself for $12, shipping included!

Send me a message to denise@denisemckinney.com with address and quantity of books needed and I’ll get it to you!

In His grip,
Denise

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