Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mother's Day

Post by: Cathy Stafford

This past Sunday, May 13, was Mother’s Day! I want to wish a wonderful day to all women reading this who nurture children. I believe that Mothers, Stepmothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, and Friends all have such an important part to play in raising children in the way God intends. We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to do so.

I want to share a proud Mom moment I had recently. This past Easter Sunday, my 9 year-old son gave the Gospel reading during one of the services at Broomfield UMC. He did a terrific job, as did the other young people who read during the other services. After the reading, my son came and sat down next to me in the front row, one of those reserved for service participants. The rest of our family was sitting in a row further back. Probably getting over some nervousness from reading, he wanted to draw pictures instead of listening intently to Pastor Ken. I drew with him, because I could tell he wanted me to, and I also listened to Pastor Ken. Moms know how to multi-task, am I right?

As you know if you attended Broomfield UMC on Easter Sunday, Pastor Ken told the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, one of the youngest children who marched in the Children’s Crusades of 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the youngest child who was jailed during that event. Pastor Ken also discussed Audrey Faye Hendricks in the BUMC blog dated May 6, 2018. I did not know the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks before the sermon on Easter Sunday. I did not know the story about the Children’s Crusades either.

During this Easter Sunday sermon, a story about a nine year-old child being jailed for seven days is being told. I am sitting next to my nine year-old child. My mindset is pretty much one of shock and disbelief. I am thinking about this child who went to jail, and about my own child sitting next to me who is the same age. One thing that is going through my mind is what her parents must have felt like when their child was in jail and they were not allowed to contact her. I am not catching everything Pastor Ken is talking about due to my flood of emotions. I just can’t believe this child was put in jail. I want to know more about what happened.

Shortly after Easter, I think when everyone else was asleep in my house, I researched the Children’s Crusade and Audrey Faye Hendricks’ story. I found out that her parents were very active in their church and the Civil Rights Movement. Audrey knew about the injustices in her town. She was aware of bombings that occurred in her hometown. She went to planning meetings with her parents for many years. She knew that other young people, mostly teens in her community, were going to march and would likely have to go to jail. She told her parents that she wanted to participate in the march, knowing that she would almost certainly go to jail too.

Audrey’s parents let her participate in the march, and even bought her a game to take with her, in case she had to stay in jail. Some people may agree with their decision, and some people may not. I believe it is not my place to agree or disagree. During my research, I felt empathy and sympathy for Audrey Faye Hendricks’ parents, not judgment. I don’t feel entitled to even start to know their circumstances, or their child, or the other people involved in their lives. I just stand in awe of their bravery in how they supported their child. I feel relieved that their family made it through this ordeal.

I imagine Audrey’s parents could rely on the teens who were part of the march along with their daughter. I hope the teens who also participated were as trustworthy, responsible and kind as those who volunteer and work for Broomfield UMC. I imagine they were. I know I would be saying things to the teens prior to the march like, “Natalie, please check on him every 10 minutes, and ask two of your friends to do so as well in case you are pulled away.” History shows that Audrey Faye Hendricks’ and her family’s sacrifices were not in vain, and were very influential in bringing about change.

Among many other things, Audrey Faye Hendricks’ story reminds me that the greatest gifts we can give to parents are acceptance, support, and as much understanding as possible. Jesus is clear that we are not to judge. Parenting is a hard job. I hope Audrey’s parents had lots of support from family and friends in their community. On this week of Mother’s Day, let’s all find a way to support a Mom (or Stepmother, or Grandmother, or Aunt, or Friend) who is nurturing children.

Cathy Stafford is a church member, friend, daughter, sister, wife, and mother of two elementary-age children. She works as a Program Coordinator with the Family Ministries Team at BUMC, which serves children ages birth to 5th grade and their families.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Simplifying Faith

Post by: Kristan Marsden

I am on a mission to simplify my life. I’ve always been someone who appreciates tidiness, order and routines. But somewhere along the line, I’ve begun to feel trapped by a packed calendar, excessive “stuff” and a perceived to-do list I could never hope to complete. I’ve been intentionally applying the concept of simplicity to several areas of my life. It began with paring down my family’s schedule, focusing on the things that enrich our lives and learning to say no to the rest. Now I’ve moved on to all the “stuff.” I’ve been purging cabinets, closets and toy bins. The idea behind simplicity is removing the excess to focus on the things that truly spark joy. As I watch all the “stuff” leave my house, my calendar and my consciousness, I find myself wondering: Can the idea of simplicity be applied to faith?

It’s a tough time to navigate as a Christian. So many important social, political and scientific issues surround us everyday and it feels impossible to respond in a Christ-like way to all of them. How would Jesus carry himself in the world we live in? I had a WWJD bracelet back in middle school just like everyone else did, but now I’d really like to know! Seriously, what would Jesus do about all this crazy stuff going on in the world? Countries don’t agree, communities don’t agree, friends and families don’t agree. Christians certainly don’t agree.

Maybe this is where simplicity comes in. Maybe the key to finding common ground as a church, a community, even a country is to strip away the distractions and keep our eyes focused on the most basic Christian principles. Second Corinthians 11:3 puts it this way, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your mind will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

I attend a bible study with an amazing group of women. They happen to all be Catholic, except for me. We seek to understand each other and many of our conversations have been around different practices and traditions within our respective churches. At first, I thought this was a strength of our group. We were educating each other and accepting different points of view. I’ll admit, however, that I was growing a little tired of being the “odd man out.” It started to feel like we spent most of our time discussing the differences in our faith.

One woman in my bible study is an ER physician at a children’s hospital. At a recent meeting she told us that she has never lost a child in her care, but that fear is something that haunts her constantly. She told us that when she arrives at work, she sits for a minute in her car and prays. She asks God to guide her hands, to help her use her knowledge to treat her patients effectively. She asks God to work through her.

Shortly after this conversation, I found myself sitting in my own car praying. I recently became a CASA volunteer and had my first court date. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children involved in child abuse and neglect cases. Part of the role is attending court hearings and making recommendations to the judge based on the information I’ve gathered. Heading to my first court hearing, I was nervous. I was afraid I would not be able to articulate what I needed to say to effectively advocate for the child. So, I sat in my car at the courthouse and prayed. I asked God to give me the words to help this little girl, to work through me to better her situation.

Embracing one of the simplest Christian beliefs is where we found our common ground. At the core of our faith, we both seek a personal relationship with Jesus and, without hesitating, turn to God when the tasks we must do feel too big for us alone. Strip away all the traditions, the denomination-specific teachings and there you have it: Christ lives and works within us. Simple.

I’ve heard the bible described as so deep a theologian could drown in it, yet shallow enough that a child could wade through it. This is so true! As I continue my quest to remove the distractions from my life and focus on what is truly important to me, I will continue to study the bible and its complexities. But I will also focus on its simplicity. 

Kristan spends her days living and learning with her two young daughters, Shay and Grace. In her downtime, you’ll find her running (preferably with friends), skiing, struggling through the occasional yoga class and escaping to the mountains every chance she gets. As a teacher taking time off to raise her own kids, she enjoys volunteering in the Children’s Ministry as well as writing about her experiences as a parent and educator. She and her husband, Britton, have been members of BUMC since 2011.