Tag Archives: children’s faith

Katrina Brooks: Ordinary Miracles: “Awake and Alert”

Our son came into the world completely awake and not missing a thing. The nurse brought him to me his first night saying, “This one is watching everyone and wants to see everything.” I remembered thinking awake and alert are excellent qualities for a disciple, but this will be an adventure.

Doing life with Joseph has been just that. Even as a wee boy he saw everything and watched everyone. And when Joseph played, he played hard. With the back of his head drenched in sweat and a grin reflective of his utter fascination with life, Joseph touched, manipulated, repurposed and reimagined everything he encountered. Even with his huge, advanced vocabulary, Joseph had little time for words. There were worlds to discover, parking lots to design, things to pull apart and put back together, speed barriers to shatter and sports legends to become.

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Entering school was a challenge for our son. Not only did school insist on the use of words, school required Joseph to learn classroom boundaries and social etiquette. A man of action, Joseph entered the world of sports to balance his Monday through Friday world of words and rules.

Sports gave Joseph a place to pour his energy and later, his brilliance. Joseph was a powerhouse on the field and excelled in soccer, baseball and later, football. Over the years we found him asleep under his schoolbooks with at least one notebook holding his latest sketches of plays for not only his team, but for his beloved Auburn Tigers.

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Having become a disciple of Jesus at age ten, Joseph thrived in youth group. He thrived not only because he was comfortable in his own skin and could articulate the epiphanies that came to him, but because his steadfastness, patience and perseverance steadied the entire group. As his personality blossomed, so did his good hearted mischief and sense of adventure. Behind the scenes, acts of love became his signature.

Joseph entered college determined to turn his love for football into a career as a high school math teacher and coach. As easy as math came to him, the physical demands of college athletics drained him. His junior year, Joseph changed his major to accounting and finance and made math his minor. His love of problem solving, puzzles, statistics and all things having to do with numbers flourished in his new degree program and in May 2015, Joseph graduated from Maryville College.

Through camp, worship, ministry opportunities, youth group, mission trips and doing life with others, we watched God instill in our son a heart for ministry and missions. Our numbers guy became a passionate and gifted disciple. As God continued to call him, Joseph’s transformation into a minister became complete.

At 23 he is a fascinating minister to watch as he leads, loves and serves others with his whole being. Honestly, I don’t even think he considers himself to be a minister. When asked, he simply defers that journey to his sister who is a seminarian following a more traditional ministerial path.

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Our son may never attend seminary like his sister, but I have no doubt that he will minister in his church. I imagine he will be the cool professional who gives his vacation time to chaperone. He will be the one at the table of the finance committee as it imagines an annual budget. Having lived off church salary packages, Joseph will be the one to explain practically how much of a salary package actually gets into the minister’s paycheck.

Joseph will be that one at the table that advocates for creative ministry and missions. Joseph will be that youth parent the ministerial staff can count on for support and love, ideas and presence. He will be the adult who understands faith formation and establishes his family’s schedule around church ministries. Joseph will be the one who invites colleagues to church and passionately shares what is happening at his church. Joseph will serve his coworkers and engage them in conversations about Jesus. He will be the one to seek out discipleship opportunities and position himself to continue to seek God’s will and desire for how he lives life.

Regardless of how it happens, Joseph will minister. It is who he is at his core. Under his fascination with numbers, his curious nature, his insane problem-solving skills and his ease with finance and accounting, lives a disciple of Jesus determined to love God and love neighbor with all he has.

“Awake and alert,” he is on the greatest adventure . . . life.

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Reverend Katrina Stipe Brooks has served as a pastor, campus minister and youth pastor. Part of a clergy couple, she is also a mother to a daughter in Divinity School and a son who just graduated college.

Melanie Storie: Ordinary Miracles: Letting Go

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” –James Taylor

IMG_1932For a significant portion of my life, I carried my young sons on my hip. The warmth of my boys clinging to me like monkeys on a tree, their legs wrapped around my middle, their feet dangling, their hands playing with my necklace or in my hair – that warm imprint of them still lingers like a phantom limb.

Back then, people would say to me, “Enjoy it, because it goes so fast.” I heard these words as if from the platform by a rushing train. At the time I barely discerned their meaning. Those seasoned parents made sense, but someone was about to put a strange object in his mouth and I had to go stop him.

That’s the mindset I lived in for several years: Constantly monitoring small boys, keeping them safe, fed, entertained, potty trained, etc… Now, that time is gone.

I sent my teenage son to Guatemala on a mission trip this summer. My pastor husband has been leading trips to Guatemala since before we were married. I’ve been with him several times and when our children were young, we took them with us too.

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Aidan was five and we taught him the phrase, “Puedo jugar?” which means, “Can I play?” He said these two words all over Guatemala and no one turned him down. He played toy trucks with children in the market. He played soccer with children in the field. He was a little missionary.

The trip this summer would be different. Aidan is nearly fourteen. He would be on a roof in a foreign country doing construction. He would be with his father, but I wouldn’t be there. Communication back home would be sketchy. Could I let him go?

Could I let him go? The question echoed in my mind as we sat at the kitchen table and discussed the details back in the spring. I had many concerns, some so devastating I dared not speak them out loud.

But to see the excitement in Aidan when we talked about not only this trip, but a mission trip to Cleveland as well… how could I not let him go?

The thing I’m learning at this stage in parenting is that there are moments of letting go along with almost every day. This is the first fall I won’t have a son in elementary school. I have two middle school boys. How did that happen?

Owen went to church camp a few weeks ago and got on the van without saying goodbye or having that last hug with me. He’s too cool to hug me in front of his friends. I knew it would happen sometime. I just didn’t know that time would come in a flash of a moment.

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When Aidan went to Cleveland, it was the first time one of our kids visited a city that Matt and I had never visited. On their free day, Aidan went with the youth to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, saw a Great Lake, watched an Indians game… All things we’ve never experienced.

He’s growing into his own person, both of my boys are. Time seemed to go so slowly (The Righteous Brothers) when they were small, when I was knee-deep in diapers and toys were strewn all over my house.

But really, life moves pretty fast (Ferris Bueller).

This summer has been marked by life-changing events for my sons. Aidan gave up two weeks of video games to help others in Guatemala and Cleveland. When he tells me about what he’s seen and done, I know these experiences have shaped who he is and who he will become.

Owen was baptized this summer. He’s been reading his Bible on his own and asking me hard questions. On that church trip, his children’s minister texted me, “He’s a sponge.”

And isn’t it true? They are soaking it all up, our children. The life they are given, the time that’s passing, the experiences we open up for them. There’s a little letting go every day.

When James Taylor sings about enjoying the passage of time, he asks, “Isn’t it a lovely ride?” Yes, it is. I’m thankful for all of it.

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Rev. Melanie Kilby Storie lives in Shelby, NC with her pastor husband, Matt, and her two sons, Aidan and Owen. Currently a tutor at a local school, Melanie is finishing work on a novel, Wildwood Flower set in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina about a girl who can talk the fire out of a burn.