June 29, 2005

Rest area 2 miles ahead, get your shoes on

Our church is gracious to us. My husband is the pastor and has had a rough year. He has been making lots of changes in how the church does it’s work and had a bout with depression last winter. So our church is giving him a month’s sabbatical…plus some time in the Fall for a trip to Israel that a church member gave to us. I always thought that a sabbatical was a period of time off of one’s regular job to do further research and study in an intense way….i.e. a college professor working on a doctorate degree. On an internet search, I found, http://www.thesabbaticalcoach.com/ which makes me laugh. I guess some people may need a coach to get them to rest. Another sight urged “Relax with God and Minister to Yourself”. Oooo, it seems that there are a whole slough of people out there ready to schedule you and plan your whole ‘rest’ for you. heehee

We are just doing it the old fashioned way, really old fashioned….like from Bible times. It turns out as I have looked into it further this year that a sabbatical is a period off one’s regular job for: rest. Obviously the word comes from the same root as Sabbath, the day of rest. God wants us to rest, He commanded us to rest at least once a week, not only to turn our minds and hearts to Him for that day, but also to physically stop and rest for a day. As some of you may know, a pastor’s Sunday is usually far from restful! So for the month of July, we are resting. I guess you could say we’re taking a ‘month of Sundays’. =)

It begins….tomorrow! We have some plans, including a camping trip to Colorado for 2 weeks, but we are resting from being in charge: of church business, resting from meetings, resting from preparing sermons and organizing stuff. *Whewwwwww* I think it will take a while for it to sink in, but I can already see the relief and gradual relaxation my husband is feeling. Oh, he is not sitting around with a tv remote in his hand. So far, he has mowed, trimmed and weeded the front and back yards, even in his allergy season….he has done a couple of repairs around the house that have long been neglected….he has gone for a walk with me every morning this week….he’s going to ‘town’ with me tomorrow and giving our outside dogs baths. “Yay!!” Clean dogs are my favorite kind!

I have to admit, we need a rest because we are not very good at resting in our normal mode of busyness around our house. This year was especially crazy with me taking on a 4 day a week volunteer position at our church school. We are worn out…..a kind of worn out that I am not sure a month off will bring relief from….but we are grateful for it. We are trying to learn to rest from ‘activities’ and spend time renewing our focus and priorities, including God, the Word and family. Simplicity….that is what I am searching to describe. A simpler lifestyle….seems ‘simple’ but in our world of kids’ activities, church, obligations and ministry, life is far from simple….it’s more like ‘catch a few minutes while you can’ to talk, spend time with our kids or to just sit and veg.

Of everything this year has held, I think depression took the biggest toll. King David was a cool guy. He had this godly understanding of human nature long before psychology ‘explained’ it all to us. Psalm 42 talks about depression and the toll it takes on our minds and bodies. I will just include one verse, but do look at it…even if you’ve never been depressed yourself, it can help you understand a smidgeon of what depression is like.

Psalm 42:11
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

So as we rest, I may not blog much in July, especially while gone camping.

…no internet….? I can do that.

’On your sabbatical ye shall rest from thy typing and striving and clicking and info-bites. All other days, ye shall surf, but on the sabbatical, thy fingers shall not type’.

Then again, this is a very restful creative outlet for me, so on the days we have electricity and a phone line, I may be able to get some entries…as well as some pictures. Did I mention my husband bought me a new digital automatic OR manual setting camera for my birthday? (I got it early due to vacation plans.)

June 28, 2005

Paul Harvey and Prayer

This entire entry is a Paul Harvey radio program quote from an email I received today. I think it is worthy of being passed along with a whole-hearted AMEN!

Paul Harvey says:

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue
somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I
don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a
lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory
of evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be
endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer
before a football game.

So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there
reading the entire book of Acts. They're just talking to a
God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the
players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country
founded on Christian principles. According to our very
own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others
better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody
chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem,
I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad,
I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China,
I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended.
It wouldn't bother me one bit.
When in Rome...

"But what about the atheists?" is another argument.

What about them?
Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to
pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If
that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear
plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand.
Call your lawyer!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or
two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do.
I don't think a short prayer at a football game is
going to shake the world's foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other
cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our
parents and grandparents taught us to pray before
eating; to pray before we go to sleep.

Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a
handful of people and their lawyers are telling us
to cease praying.

God, help us.
And if that last sentence offends you, well ... just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we
let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard
.... that the vast majority don't care what they want. It
is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, you don't
have to pray; you don't have to say the pledge of allegiance;
you don't have to believe in God or attend services that
honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your
right. But by golly, you are no longer going to take our
rights away. We are fighting back ...
and we WILL WIN!

God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce
Him. God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still
the greatest nation of all.
God bless our service men who are fighting to protect
our right to pray and worship God.

May 2005 be the year the silent majority is heard
and we put God back as the foundation of our
families and institutions.

Keep looking up.

June 23, 2005

Vacation Bible School week

It’s a busy week with Vacation Bible School and all of our other activities, but here is an off-the-top-of-my-head summary of the week:

-There are 6 children in my kindergarten VBS class and there’s not a dud in the bunch! =) Ok, well no kids are actually ‘duds’ but some can make your life miserable and I am glad to report that I don’t have any of those in my class this year.

-I have 2 very good teenaged helpers for the week who I have watched grow the past 8 years into really great kids…fun, responsible and like to serve others. I love seeing children mature into older kids, then teens and sometimes you get to see them into early adulthood. It’s cool to think I have had a very small hand in their spiritual development through teaching in the church.

-We went for a drive Monday afternoon up the mountain near our town. It rises to over 9,000 feet and it’s a favorite drive for us. We have seen a black bear up there before and this time saw 2 separate bunches (flocks? Herds? Gaggles?) of wild turkeys! We even saw a set of adults turkeys with at least 2 little babies slinking along after them! (turkeys don’t waddle or run, they slink along, neck stretched out in front of them, moving swiftly with a smooth gait) So cute and so rare a sight.

-Also on Monday we woke up to irritating smoke coming in our bedroom window and looked out to see lots of smoke coming from something burning downtown. It turned out to have begun in a local downtown bar and spread to an empty adjoining historic building. It was put out, but later in the day, the fire started back up and was once again sending a great cloud of smoke into the sky.

-I helped cook a church dinner Tuesday night and it was fun to get together with a group of about 25 leaders from the church who want to help the church have a more effective outreach. Also had a time of concern, giggling and ‘fishing’ when a friend of mine flushed her car keys down the church toilet! Imagine the comic timing she has to be able to flush the toilet at the precise time her keys are falling out of her pocket!  ….I am sorry to report that she never did retrieve them. =(

-Today is Wednesday and we made playdough at VBS and I let the kids choose what color to add to their own lump. My hands are now dark blue with pink and green splotches. (Anyone know how long it takes for food coloring to wear off of skin?)

-At the end of VBS we got a report that main street and 3 blocks surrounding it had been closed off and evacuated due to a possible bomb in the recently burned out building downtown. It was soon opened up again but it was quite a little excitement. The drive home was interesting too with downtown access closed off and construction closing several other main roads in town. For a town of 3,000 and only 2 flashing red lights, it caused a little traffic!

-This afternoon we washed down the abandoned swallow’s nest that I ranted about in an earlier blog. The 2 babies that had hatched had each taken a fatal leap onto the porch…..each too little to fly yet. We have reclaimed our porch now and feel quite firm in our resolve to sit there the rest of the summer without letting swooping birds drive us out.

-Goodnight. There is a feint throbbing in my head, thunder booming outside, the smell of rain coming in my window along with a minty smell from the garden and the light from my monitor here has a psycho moth diving at me in a kamikaze frenzy.

-Well I didn’t post this last night because of the moth problem. After a moth came in to visit my eye, behind my glasses I decided it was time to turn off the computer! I also didn’t sleep very well, thinking about moths being in my bedroom in the night.

-Today is Thursday and the sky is welling up with thunderclouds and there is a cool breeze in the air…very refreshing.

-VBS was good on all counts. Our theme today as we ‘traveled’ each day across the U.S. on a ‘ramblin’ road trip’ was Wyoming and Yellowstone park, so my preschool class played with water, made nature Bible verse bookmarks, and took a walk to find wild strawberries. My helpers hid candy strawberries in the grass around the church. It’s hard to decide sometimes who has the most fun…the children or the helpers!

-Tomorrow is the last day and I’ll miss my little students….you should see and hear them practicing their songs for parents’ night. You just haven’t lived fully unless you’ve watched children singing with all their hearts about God’s love. I hope to post some pictures of them here soon.

June 19, 2005

Life means so much

As I begin a week of teaching Vacation Bible School, I'm feeling overwhelmed by the amount of effort it takes. I found myself wishing it was just over...gritting my teeth and getting it over with. Then...as God always does when we need it....He reminded me....each day is a gift.....none of them are a loss if we take the opportunities He gives us to serve. Oh, I don't mean just teaching Vacation Bible School or sunday school. We can serve the people we're around every day....our family members or friends, coworkers. Or, consider the popular idea of random acts of kindness. =) This week, for me, it's Bible School. The children of our town are our mission field. God cares for them so deeply and wants to use our little Bible school to reach them and their families. So it's not a waste of time or something to be endured...it's a gift.

How did God remind me? I came across these pictures of last summer's mission trip. I didn't get to participate because we had a tragic funeral to help plan and a devestated family to comfort, but my two oldest daughters went. I got to see how serving affected them and it was beautiful to see how God not only blessed them but He worked through them of their own free will. One of the days, they got to go over the border into Mexico and spend time with the children at an orphanage. They brought gifts for the children, but those who went received much more than they gave away. Being used by God to bless others and to spread His message is an awesome privilege.

One boy, Jonson, 11, who went with them befriended a little boy who was playing on the playground barefoot. Somehow Jonson found out that the boy didn't even have a pair of shoes and without a thought, Johson took off his fancy tennis shoes and said, "Oh take these, I have more at the hotel." He rode back across the border that day barefoot and wore his flip flops the rest of the week because those were his only extra shoes.

Here are the pictures I came across....

The other way He reminded me was hearing this song. Sometimes you know God is speaking to you and this song did it for me tonight.

Life Means So Much 

Every day is a journal page
Every man holds a quill and ink
And there's plenty of room for writing in
All we do is believe and think
So will you compose a curse
Or will today bring the blessing
Fill the page with rhyming verse
Or some random sketching

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much
Life means so much
Life means so much

Every day is a bank account
And time is our currency
So nobody's rich, nobody's poor
We get 24 hours each
So how are you gonna spend
Will you invest, or squander
Try to get ahead
Or help someone who's under

Teach us to count the days
Teach us to make the days count
Lead us in better ways
That somehow our souls forgot
Life means so much
Life means so much
Life means so much

Has anybody ever lived who knew the value of a life
And don't you think giving is all
What proves the worth of yours and mine

Every day is a gift you've been given
Make the most of the time every minute you're living

~Chris Rice~

June 18, 2005

Now playing....

I don’t know why they call these question things meme’s, but it’s not for the obvious reason because I looked it up. I was pronouncing it ‘mee mee’ due to spelling and because the subject is yourself. I was wrong. It’s pronounced ‘mem’ or ‘meem’ and you can look it up yourself if you want the definition….I still don’t get it, but everyone does it, so here is one I came across on one of my favorite subjects.

Movie meme
Total number of films I own on DVD and video:
No idea. I don’t have time to count, but we have one and a half 3 ft rows of dvd’s and 4 more rows of vhs tapes. (most recorded off of television)

Last film I bought: Finding Neverland, National Treasure, and Phantom of the Opera (we usually buy in three’s)

Last film I watched: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Madagascar

Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

1. You’ve Got Mail: it has a very comforting quality to it…..the setting, colors, language, music….it’s like eating chocolate.

2. A&E’s production of Pride and Prejudice: it is 5 hours long, but always worth watching….especially on a rainy day. Hey, I just realized that the characters in You’ve Got Mail discuss Pride and Prejudice in the movie….hmm.

3. Stepmom, Miss congeniality, Two Weeks Notice

4. Roman Holiday, Meet Me in St. Louis

5. Master and Commander, Count of Monte Cristo, Dead Poets Society

If you could be any character portrayed in a movie, who would it be? Considering it would just be a ‘part’ and not a life, I have a couple of choices:

I love Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail because of the setting….her quaint Westside apartment, the changes of seasons, walking to work down charming streets, and of course her really cool bookstore.

I would also like to try being Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables.

June 9, 2005

I like green

I have sliced my finger tip (pointer finger, left hand) so I won't be real wordy for a while...at least until the stitches come out in 8 days. (It is really hard to type without your r, t, f, g, v, b finger.) While trying to 'fix' the dishwasher, I found something wedged in the spinner, drainish thingie and it turned out to be a piece of broken glass. Waaaa, owwwwie! Amazing, you don't realize how many nerves are in the tip of a finger til you try to slice a chunk out of it.

So here is one of my all time favorite songs, by one of my all time favorite songwriters, Rich Mullins. Spring comes late here in the mountains...we live at nearly 7,000 feet in elevation, so it is a song about Springtime. As it mirrors our spiritual seasons, nature has many lessons and illustrations for our lives. I have just finished decking my gardens with annual flowers and have been enjoying the greening up of the yards and scenery around here. It is a gift God gives us each year...the earth coming back to life, dressed in it's lovely colors. We always know it's coming, but are always in awe of the colors of Spring once again after the long winter. =)

The Color Green

And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop
Every house must have it's builder
And I awoke in the house of God
Where the windows are mornings and evenings
Stretched from the sun
Across the sky north to south
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out
I heard the rocks crying out

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

And the wrens have returned and they're nesting 
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again
And the streams are all swollen with winter
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now
And I'm amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house
And with the rocks I cry out

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

June 3, 2005

The woods are lovely, dark and deep...

We went for a long drive on some back roads in our area....here are some pictures I took of the lake where we ended up. It's a nature preserve and we saw all kinds of birds. There were a bunch of Orioles, all orange and black and a really cool falcon that had a huge nest up in the top of a dead Ponderosa Pine. He kept swooping down to the lake surface from way up in the air, but never caught anything with us looking. I never got a picture of him, it was too dark and he flew too fast! Next time we go, I'll take my telephoto lens.

June 2, 2005

School's out for summer

Today was my last day of school. I have been working as a 4 day a week volunteer aid in our new church school since last September....and though it's been a blessing helping it get started and getting to know the kids, I am ready to be OUT! Next year they hope to have a part time paid aid. (and it won't be me!)


From all the Jails the Boys and Girls
Ecstatically leap
Beloved only Afternoon
That Prison doesn't keep

They storm the Earth and stun the Air,
A Mob of solid Bliss
Alas, that Frowns should lie in wait
For such a Foe as this?

~ Emily Dickinson ~

Let summer begin! I look forward to lazy mornings, sitting on the porch with my Bible and a cup of coffee or with my husband for casual, but meaningful conversation. I'll be tending my newly planted flowers, watering them in the evenings and spending time with my girls. In a couple of weeks I'll teach Vacation Bible School. In July my husband is on sabbatical and we have some trips planned and I'll be helping my mom and dad after her hip replacement surgery. In August, I will make sure I have everything we need to begin homeschooling again in September. I look forward to a slower, less structured way of life once more. I definitely found out this year that I do not thrive in a structured environment, doing the same thing each day...but at least I found out that I can do it if I need to.

My kids still go to school for the next week, taking finals, then having a tennis tournament. Perhaps I'll get in on that.....if I feel like it. =)

June 1, 2005

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

Happy anniversary to my husband.

For 21 years now, he's been my partner, my best friend and my greatest source of feeling right with the world, aside from the Lord.

God is mighty wise and caring to give us marriage partners for this life. We need each other and living life as a couple and a family not only gives us comfort and pleasure in life. It gives us a place to belong. I know I need to belong and I appreciate my husband's love and faithfulness all these years.

You are a good man....it's been a great life so far and I'm looking forward to what lies ahead as our kids grow and fly out of the nest. =)

Not much for conversation, I still find need to pray.
Sometimes I get tired of walking through these ordinary days.
If nothing else I get to see you even if we never speak.
The harm of words is sometimes we don't quite know what they really mean.

I don't know where, I don't know how.
I don't know why, but your love can make these things better.

Let me lay down in this field and stare up at the sky.
I hope the days and clouds turn into something as they pass us by.
And maybe you could settle for a skyline faded blue.
I hope that you might settle for this love I have for you.

I don't know where, I don't know how.
I don't know why, but your love can make these things better.
......your love can make these things better.

Song by jars of clay, Eleventh Hour CD