Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adventures in Tree Climbing

"Mama, Nathan is in a tree."


"I'll be right there."


"Mama, hurry. Nathan is up really high in the tree."


"I'm coming. How did he get up in it?"


"Well, he climbed the ramp I made for him."


And I come out to Nathan at least 9 feet up one of our pine trees, proud of himself and thankful for his brother's assistance.

(Pictures are from another tree climbing expedition. My hands were too full with climbing the step stool and all to get Nathan down to take pictures during the adventure described.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Open Letter to VBS Workers Everywhere

My Dearest Vacation Bible School Worker,

I am convinced there is a special crown waiting for you in heaven. Most likely it is made of cardboard, covered in excess pastey glitter and those shiny round things that insist on falling off no matter how hard or long you hold them down. VBS Worker, you are truly special in God's eyes.

You see I was one of those kids that just showed up at VBS. You had never met me before since the only taste of church during the year was the week of VBS. You were my first impression of Jesus when you smiled at me, took my hand and led me into a world of fun.

For those who are craft volunteers, I can remember you helping me make a decoupage key holder while talking about Jesus being the key to life.

For those who teach the story and Bible verses, I can remember trying to learn 1 Corinthians 13 just so I could get a free watermelon.

For those who make the snacks, I can remember the oreo pudding "dirt cups" with the gummy worm peeking out.

For all of those who greet children with a welcoming smile and a warm hug, I can remember church being a joyful place, full of love and excitement.

So, dearest VBS worker, thank you.

For those who have completed their VBS this year, thank you for planting seeds and nurturing young lives. Continue to pray for those seeds to grow and produce fruit. While you may never see it, trust it will come. (It took over 20 years for my VBS seeds to give any fruit and I can only hope those sweet people who planted in me will be rewarded by God one day.)

For those who are in the midst of VBS and are, like me, trying to garner enough energy to finish the week strong: Keep up the good work! This week and your willingness to serve is changing eternity! It is worth every aching muscle, every tired fiber, every grumpy child.

And for those who still have the opportunity to serve, please do. You never know how God will use you to change a child's life. Your presence, your smile, your love may be the first impression a child has of Jesus.

With Love and Admiration,
Yours.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Do Something

As I sat on the couch this morning, my to-do list loomed big in my imagination. Items continued to come to mind, adding themselves to the already burgeoning list. As my to-do's grew, it felt as if I began to shrink. Overwhelmedness (is that a word?) began to creep in as the thought "How can I do all this?" filled my head and heart with its cold dread of looming failure.

Then a still, small voice spoke to my heart:

Get up and do something.

I argued back, "But can't you see? It is too much, too long...I will never it get it all done."

You're right, you will never get it done. But, just do something. Remember, you have everything you need for everything I need you to do. Now, get up and do something.

Still slightly grumbling, I got off the couch and completed the first item on the list. The feeling of being overwhelmed began to retreat. I finished a second item. The dreaded feeling of failure began to wane. I finished a third item. I began to realize that if I focused on each task in itself and not the entire list as a whole, I was going to feel much better about myself and my day.

My list may be still be long and undone, but I am truly glad I got up and did something about it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In the If

I am guest blogging over at Summer Session today. Hop over and I enjoy!

Don't know what Summer Session is? Read here.

Need a summer reading plan? Click here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Be.

The carousel ride at a nearby park is one of Nathan's favorites. As soon as he spots it, he insists that we ride, quickly claiming the lion as his own. We climb up, Caleb on his horse pretending to be one of George Washington's soldiers, Nathan on his lion, grinning broadly as the carousel begins to pick up speed and the world around begins to flash by.

Life for me right now feels a little bit like that carousel ride, only it is a crazy carousel spinning completely out of control. Days pass by in a blur, turning into weeks, turning into months...All the while, I am sitting on my horse (or lion if I follow Nathan's lead), clinging on with all that I have. I seriously fooled myself when I thought things would slow down for the summer. If anything, things got a little faster with the trips and day outings and all that is fun and summery.

I don't want to come off as complaining. Like I said, I too enjoy the carousel ride of life for the most part. But sometimes I just want to stop.

Cease.

Rest.

Wait.

In Psalm 37, God implores us to stop. Stop fretting, be still, wait patiently. Sometimes, I just want to wrap myself in the thick blanket of these words, close my eyes, and just be.

Be still.

Be delighted.

Be delivered.

In honesty, I don't think at this point, I can make the carousel stop, just like I can't stop the sun from rising. (Crazy, I know.) Instead I have to look again to what I am clinging to even as the blur of life whirs by.

Am I clinging to the things of life? The stuff? The people? Or am I clinging to the hand of God? Trusting that when I fall, He keeps me from smashing flat on my face and makes my steps firm? Am I dwelling with Him, enjoying Him as my greatest good?

As I ride today's crazy carousel ride, I am choosing to rest in Him, to drink in the cool depths of His word, take His hand and in the midst of it all, just be.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Declaring

On Sunday, we taught on faith as trusting in what you can't see because of what you can see. We tried to express the idea that we can believe in a God we cannot see because of all the things we can see. Creation and its complexity screams out the fact of an intelligent creator. I couldn't help but think of this amazing video David shared with me last week.

This video is a series of still pictures taken at the VLT (Very Large Telescope-seriously that is its name) in Chile. It is 8 minutes of breathtaking, jaw dropping, God-glorifying images of space. Take the time to sit and watch, to be amazed and to declare for yourself the glory of our amazing God.



The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Sticky Situation

Sin is a sticky subject. I think it is even stickier than the giant marshmallow s'mores that covered my boys faces and hands after lunch today. It is not something you want to bring up and talk over with a friend, nor is sin something you want brought up and shown in your own life. I think talking about sin is as much fun as being covered with the marshmallow gooeyness without getting to eat it, the chocolate or the graham cracker.

Recently, I was complaining to David that I just was not enjoying the boys. More and more, they seemed to get on my last nerve. I really was beginning to lose it with them and see them as only a nuisance. Not a pretty place to be as a mom.

After some pointed questions, it came to the surface that I felt the boys were getting in the way of how I wanted to spend my time. After a few more questions, it came to the surface that the way I wanted to spend my time was in a behavior/habit that God had revealed to me several months ago as one that was leading me into sin. Again, not a pretty place to be as a mom.

This habit isn't something deep, dark and insidious. It is simply spending too much time on the computer while my boys are awake. For many, this is not a struggle or a sin, but for me, it is. Hourly, sometimes multiple times an hour, I will find myself checking Facebook, email or surfing the same news sights, hoping that something different will be on there. Lame I know. For many of you, this might seem like such a petty thing, but my use of the computer was getting in the way of my relationship with my boys and with my God.

Several months ago, my pastor gave a sermon on the consequences of sin. I remember him talking about how as a culture we belittle sin, but the Bible is clear that the result of sin is death- sometimes physical, often relational, always spiritual. Even then, I was convicted about my computer use and knew I was playing around with death by continuing to ignore God's conviction and to keep delving into my own desire and sinfulness. Only when earlier this week as I began to use the tinges of death in my relationship with my boys, did I come to a point where I was broken over my sin and truly asked God to step in and change me.

I was mired deep in the marshmallow stickiness of my sin when God in His infinite grace, pulled me out once again, wiped me clean and said, "Child, I will help you through this too."

Honestly, I am still struggling with this one and will be for awhile I am sure. Currently, I am limiting my time on the computer to the boys' rest time unless it is something I am doing specifically for them. I will check my email sporadically while they are awake, but will only answer then if it is an emergency. Otherwise I will leave it till later.

Sin is a sticky thing. I wanted to share this with you today in the hope that if God is convicting you of something, that you will hold up your hands open wide to Him, and allow Him to clean off the goo and mess that you have made. Right now, He is doing a thorough job on me. Although there is a little bit of pain in the cleaning, it is well worth it to get out of the sticky mess I have made for myself.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Missed. Not Missed.

This past weekend, we got the opportunity to get away from the normal routine for a bit. We went up "the farm" in Virginia and camped out a couple of nights. There is nothing like getting away from it all to give you a little perspective and show you the things in life that are missed and not so missed.

Missed: My camera. Yup. Got away from it too...which is a shame considering I would love to share with you pictures of the gentle mist rising over the hillside as the sun set behind it or a picture of Caleb's grin when he came back from wading in the creek, mud up way past his knees or a picture of the sun glinting off the early morning dew on the bright pink peonies.

Not missed: Facebook. Blogging. Email. Cell phones. As much as I love ya'll and love to stay connected through technology, it is definitely refreshing to get away from the pull of social media, even for a short respite.

Missed: A hot shower. While we had bathroom facilities, a cold washcloth was all we could wash off with for the most part. Let's just say I did not realize how ripe we all were till we walked in the house on our return. Shooweee.

Not missed: Good food. We picnicked with hamburgers, hot dogs, the first fresh watermelon of the season and s'mores. On the second night we went out to a family-style restaurant. Fried chicken, country ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes, dumplings, pintos, biscuits, blackberry cobbler and more. YUM!

Missed: My bed. We had a very comfortable air mattress, but there is just something about your own bed. I really enjoyed sleeping together and watching Sky curl up with the boys and then waking up in the tent with all of us as a family. Special times.

Not missed: The 6 loads of laundry that I did to catch up from the weekend away. If you thought we were ripe, you should have smelled the clothes. Double shoowee!

Overall, I had a time full of love, laughter and adventures....a time I would not miss for anything in the world!
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