Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming…

I sit here, with “Fear of Walking Dead” streaming on my phone next to me, still unkempt from a typical crummy night’s sleep.  I’m waiting for my laptop to update (this thing is in desperate need of a reload!) and thinking about where this week is headed.

Wednesday begins the new school year.  Parents everywhere are rejoicing in this wonderful time of year!

Don’t get me wrong – I love my children with all my heart, but I’m so glad to get back into the regular routine.  I’m even feeling the negative effects of sleeping in too much and staying up too late.

I’ve been blessed with kids who have never had separation anxiety when it comes to school.  They’ve willing parted from me with a new excitement!

I now have a 13- and 12-year-old…things become increasingly “grumblier” as each new school year approaches.  It’s comical, really, because I think back to all those “first day of school” I endured as I was growing up.  As an adult, how I wish my only responsibility was good grades.

My kids don’t know how good they have it!

I look forward to this year, it’s my daughter’s last year in junior high (O. M. G!) and, due to the district’s plans for consolidating grades into two schools from three, my son’s last year of junior high is this year, too!

This whole summer revolved around horseback riding and lessons for my daughter, Scouting events and activities for my son, bike riding and many church activities as a family.  They’ve grown so much in the past few months, they are clearly not babies anymore.

This fall will push them even further into young adulthood with my daughter gaining more experience with babysitting and a wonderful program through her school she was chosen to participate in – she’ll be working with the special education kids throughout the school year.  I can’t wait to see the opportunities with that group.  My son continues to plan for an international trip with the Boy Scouts of America next year.  To think he’ll be heading to another country at his age just makes me so excited for him!

I’m thankful for all the opportunities we’ve all had this summer, but I’m ready to get back to the old routine…get up, get ’em out, and get on with the day!

Good luck and many prayers to all the kids back in school or awaiting their first day back.  I pray it will be full of opportunities and success!

Image Credit:  Christ Covenant Church

Advertisements

The Lord Made Me Do It…

Something I struggle with in my faith is whether or not there is a “master plan” or if God intervenes in our lives.  I don’t believe God is a puppeteer, but I think He’s there always trying to get our attention.

I’ve moved away from the “master plan” because the God I know through the Bible and just living my life can’t possibly plan for awful things to happen – plus it removes any kind of responsibility on our part if we just blame everything that happens on God – or blame Him for not doing something when things go down.

Today is the perfect example of, what I consider to be, pure intervention.

I have had an insanely busy week.  As the Director of Christian Ed, our annual BIG fundraiser is the annual Basement Sale – and it’s a stressful week of transforming our hall into another thrift shop.  If we didn’t make so much money for our youth, I’d not do it!  So there’s that plus the fact that we FINALLY (after two long years) are closing on our home.

In the mess of all of that, there’s everyday life:  laundry, dry cleaners, shopping for elusive copies of the latest Rolling Stone magazine.  As the week draws closer to the Basement Sale opening, I’m living in a flurry of to-do lists.

“Dry Cleaners” is on my list and it’s usually an afterthought.  However, on the Search for the Rolling Stone, I was reminded that the clothes I dropped off were ready (I usually forget about my clothes for a good week after they’re ready) so I headed over.

Naturally, it’s pouring down rain, but I get out of the car and run in.  There’s a young man with a delivery of laundry and the elderly woman working the counter was on the phone.

“I’ve gotten busy here, so I’ll have to call you back,” she says to the person on the other line.  She hangs up the phone and after a few beats says to the room, “That was my vet.  We thought my cat just had an simple autoimmune illness – I was just told he has feline AIDS.”

It was silent for a moment and the young man was very consoling and sympathetic to her, as he says he’s a cat lover himself.  She was clearly blindsided by the news that her beloved cat would die.  She did not cry, but she appeared disoriented for a moment.

The young man dropped off his order and offered her a hug.  He said he would think of her and her cat and left.

It was my turn.

It took her a moment to take my ticket as she continued talking about her cat and how she couldn’t yet understand this new development.  She took my ticket and went to the back room to retrieve my items.

As soon as she disappeared, I pulled out the fully tied pocket square I kept folded in my front purse pocket.  It was beautiful – and very purple – with a verse of scripture.  Every knot I tied was tied during a time where prayer was all I had left.  So I prayed and prayed and prayed!

She took my money and while I was due only $8.00 in change, she grabbed a $10, $5 and started counting $1 bills.  “That’s too much change, hon!” I told her.  She put the $5 down and continued counting the $1 bills.  “That’s still too much,” I said.  She was clearly distracted.

She gave me my change and I then handed her my pocket square and explained what it was.  I then told her, “maybe I was meant to come here today.”  She agreed and appreciated the gift.  We briefly exchanged our love for animals and then I wished her well and told her I would be praying for her and her cat.

Yep, the Lord made me do it.  He was there with me, guiding me, and cheering me on.  I always wish there was something more I can do, but maybe, from her point of view, it was just what she needed in that moment.

If we open ourselves up to His presence – it can be pretty amazing what we can get out of it.

Image Credit:  Me!  And our incredible Prayers and Squares group at Westmont Presbyterian Church.

Called to be…good dirt or an active gardener?

I haven’t felt all too inspired lately.  Things have been so hectic this past week, I haven’t exactly had time to allow inspiration in.

However, a new mid-week Bible study began on Thursday, led by our Pastor, and it’s on the parables in the Gospel of Luke.  The first one we discussed was The Parable of the Sower.  Inspiration happened!

We began with discussing what it takes to have a successful garden.  Being precise with directions on how to plant the seeds and care for them once they sprout, making sure the soil is fertilized, and weeding were among the answers given.

We all agreed, in this parable none of those “rules” of gardening seemed to be followed.

When one reads this parable, one tends to assign roles to the different “characters” in the parable.  God or Jesus is the happy sower.  The path, rocks, and thorns are those who willingly reject the influence of God – you know, “those” people who will never come around, so why bother.  And then there’s us – the “good Christians” who are the nutrient-rich soil guaranteed to produce the fruit.

Mmm, not really.  And it makes sense.  Let’s continue.

First we were asked, what is the seed and who is sowing it so generously?  Is it God?  Sure, he’s the happy sower, but what exactly is the “seed?”  Is it us?  According to Luke 8:11b, the seed is God’s message.  Well, what is that?  To us it’s the Bible, but Luke was written long before the Bible was compiled.  Is it Jesus, the One sent to us by God Himself?

We were directed to John 1:1, as some interpretations of Luke 8:11b don’t say “God’s message,” but “the word of God.”

“In the beginning was the Word.  The Word was with God and the Word was God.”  So God is spreading God around?  What?

Yep.  God spread himself and his grace over every inch of this world.  Generously.  Indiscriminately.  In places doomed to fail and in places guaranteed to flourish.  But why?  Why would any gardener waste seed on a path where birds would eat the seed?  Why on the rocky ground where roots cannot grab a hold?  Why among the thorns where they’re consumed?

God is everywhere.  In third world nations.  In prisons.  In the places most people wouldn’t dare visit for fear of their own safety or health.  How can God’s seed possibly survive in these places?

We aren’t the good dirt with the bumper crop.  We are the caretaker!  The gardener!  It is up to us, the ones who know God, trust in God, and follow God’s message.  We are the ones who need to go to those places – sweep the seed from the path to the good soil; cut away the thorns and weeds; pick out the rocks.

It is not up to us to bring God to these places, for God has been there since the beginning.  It is up to us to follow through with God’s message of grace, mercy, and love – to all people.

Image Credit: LeightonAutrey.com

“How it is…and how it ought to be”

RUSH and God in the same post?  Borderline blasphemy from either side, perhaps?  Despite my three favorite (favoUrite?) Canadians being a “wee bit” on the atheist side of things, I, myself, find a lot of spirituality in their music.  Perhaps that’s what makes a good lyricist  – he sees things his way, but I can also see things my way. (FTR, no matter his stance on anything, Neil Peart is my hero. 🙂 )

Today was a disappointing day.  We’re going through some things in our personal lives that I won’t bore you with – pretty much because it’ll just sound like whining.  Our lives are not perfect, but they’re not awful, either.

I’ve said many times before to folks, the boys from The Great White North pretty much have a song for everything, and this situation is no exception.  “How It Is” came on while I was driving to pick up my boy from his Boy Scout meeting.

One thing you have to understand, the album Vapor Trails, from whence this song came, was born out a great trial in life Neil Peart had to deal with – the loss of his daughter in a terrible car accident and the loss of his wife to a broken heart nearly a year later.  See why I’d just be whining about my piddly problems?

I’m often bringing their music back around to my Christian way of thinking, and damn it if it’s not right.  This situation is how it is.  God’s trying to communicate with us here, and we have to be open to listen.  We didn’t get what we expected, but the answer didn’t change our immediate future – and what a blessing that really is.  It could have been worse, but it’s not.

So, I did my whining, asked God for the night to get over it, and I’m sure I’ll be better in the morning.

I do a much better job of putting things into perspective these days.  Earlier in our marriage, I would have lost sleep, given myself a stomachache or a headache, and dwelled on it for days.

Jesus said,Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Once we take Jesus up on his offer to bear the weight of our burdens, we’re free.  What a friend, what a gift he offers up to us!  We give it all to him so we can deal with it in manageable bits – and the best part, he stays with us while we’re sorting it all out.

The disappointments in life are “how it is”, but Christ’s love and care for us is also “how it is”.  And that’s how it ought to be.

Image Credit: WeAreThatFamily.com

I Survived the 30-Hour Famine!

OK, OK, OK! I was no where near dying, but after a decent night sleep after more than 24 hours with your youth group – that’s how I feel!

What a remarkable time – and to think, 112,000 other people were right there along with us around the world. At least 14 countries participated in the 30-Hour Famine this weekend.

As exhausting as it is, and while it’ll take me and my partner in crime in the Christian Ed department at least a week to get our bearings and regroup with the calendar, I can’t wait to see how we can make it even bigger next time.

The goal for me is MORE ADULTS! This is eye-opening, not only for the kids, but for the adults who get swept away in life-taken-for-granted.

Pray for us – we Christian Ed leaders and our group of kids, our church, all the others around the world who voluntarily went hungry for a while to gain some knowledge, and especially for all – past, present, and future – who have suffered hunger and were burdened with not knowing when or if there would ever be a next meal.

This problem is not God’s doing. This is why we NEED God.

Can I get an AMEN? 🙂

30-Hour Famine…25 hours in

Still feeling pretty great, aside from being very tired.  Body’s kind of sore from a lot of walking around, standing around, blah, blah, blah.

We had a fantastic time with our service projects today.  The first  was heading out to a rather busy intersection near the church with our “Honk for Hunger” signs and counted how many cars honked at us…over 200 for the day!  Last year it was around 120.

Then we came back to make simple sack lunches.  The kids made 27 lunches and we headed downtown to Central Park and handed them ALL out to 27 people who took us up on our offer.  We had so many people request we give the lunch to someone who needs one – the kids were discouraged, but soon realized how refreshing that honesty was from complete strangers.  We felt that all the people who took lunches truly needed something to eat and were very appreciative.  I think we all learned a lesson today.

We just finished up with a bit of downtime.  Now for the last game of the famine, some discussion and devotion, praise songs and then we’re off to break our fast (yay!) with some pizza and bowling!

I made it another year…and even more excited for the next 30-Hour Famine!

Image Credit: TheWellnessChoiceCenter.com