Friday, June 28, 2013

{Ten Things I Learned at VBC}

This week I hauled my children to the church for our annual Vacation Bible Camp. It's always such a highlight and, as exhausting as it is, it's rewarding and exciting, too. I've worked at VBC for a number of years, but this year I learned some very interesting things about myself.

I Spy Aidan in the red shorts!

1. I am capable of getting up before 7:00 a.m. Folks, I am NOT a morning person. Many years of prayer have enabled me to simply be civil in the morning, but I was still convinced that it would be impossible for me to ever embrace anything that happened before 7:00 with enthusiasm. So it was very exciting to think that I could actually be productive in that strangely quiet six AM hour.

Sometimes being early means that Little Miss is wearing brother's old Converse shoes. 
But she didn't forget her favorite sweatshirt!

2. I am capable of getting somewhere on time. With four children. Before 8:00 a.m. Our dear team leader made it very clear that we were to be on time for VBC this week. This benefits the team and ourselves and allows us to spend quality time in prayer. I hate rushing through the morning and I hate rushing through prayer even more. So we did it, folks. And on a few days . . . we were even early.

So proud to see Drew serve with the second grade team! (Third from right.)

3. I am not capable of making wise choices in the morning. Especially when it comes to clothing. Thankfully, this didn't apply to me. Leaders wear team T-shirts, so it was a no-brainer to just grab the lime green shirt with the decal and wear it again. And again. And again. But with the kids I had to be somewhat on the ball. I was so on that ball on Monday morning. Their clothes were ironed the night before and I knew they had clean socks. By today they were wearing dirty clothes (pretend like we're camping!). But the crowning moment was when I realized that my Little Miss looked half naked when I actually paid attention to what she was wearing. Unfortunately, this didn't take place until I saw her walk into the sanctuary with her class this morning.

(This day she was wearing clothes, including the aforementioned tie-dyed sweatshirt. It appeared daily.)

You see, she had this certain tank top she really wanted to wear. The straps were way too long, and I had  planned to detach them and refit them to a more modest length. With a needle and thread. At 7:00 this morning. This didn't happen. So I came up with the brilliant plan of just cutting the straps and tying them behind her neck. Yep. Like a halter top. She was still fumbling with it in the car, and Bethie dutifully tied it into a cute bow. Alas, her back was against the seat so I had no idea what was going on. Suffice it to say, there just wasn't much fabric back there. At all.

4. I am also not capable of keeping my house clean during VBC week. The end.

5. Or making dinner. (Hello, Costco pizza.)

6. Sometimes I break the rules. On purpose. One of our VBC rules is: No Texting during camp. I agree with this decision. Most of the time. But when my friend sends me the message that she's just given birth, well, it's like this: Reverend Mother, I have sinned. And I really hope it's okay to scream out a hooray text even if it's right in front of the director. Which it was.

7. I have a difficult time walking when children are hanging from my limbs. Those campers sure get cuddly by day five.

8. I am getting older. During game time? I was not running. I was not jumping. I was not holding a balloon between my knees. I was the lady with the clipboard.  

9. I am an introvert. (You will see why #7 was an issue.) I already knew this about myself, but it's always interesting to see how this plays out in various ministry settings. I found that my most meaningful moments this week were not necessarily those in which I was interacting with children, but when I was with other women, sharing, praying and learning from God's Word. It was extremely exciting for me to see that, as I spent time in God's Word outside of VBC, He gave me opportunities to share those very words with others at camp. Isn't He good?

My daughter is not an introvert. She's a chicken. And super fun to serve with. Her first year as Miss Lawson!

10. Speaking of His goodness . . . I still doubt. This week, our camp missions goal was to raise $2,000 for some missionary friends and their work in Uganda. By Thursday we had raised about $800, and I thought, "We're never gonna make it." I turned into Eeyore right there in that sanctuary. Our fun, enthusiastic missions-emphasis leader came out this afternoon to announce the results, and I found myself becoming more Eeyore by the minute. She built it up wonderfully (without knowing the results herself), getting the kids excited, ready to reveal the total with a countdown and everything. Friends? We raised over three-thousand dollars. My eyes filled with tears. I had doubted. But God was good. God is good.

"Nothing is too difficult for Thee!"

I have such a short memory! Just this morning I had read this precious reminder from Psalm 27:

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I wasn't very confident at 12:15 this afternoon. But I'm so very grateful that my God shows His goodness regardless of my limits. I think of the hundreds of kids who sat in that room today, screaming at the tops of their lungs because the impossible had been achieved. Why even yesterday, my own son had said, "It's impossible. This might be the first time in VBC history that we failed."

It's true. We might fail. But our God is greater than our failures and weaknesses. He's greater than our inability to get up in the morning, He's greater than our tendency to be late, He's greater than our introverted characteristics which make us think there's something wrong or less "useful" about our personalities, and He's greater than our doubts -- even our doubts about His own glorious goodness.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9

(All photos: Lamont Robbins.)                 
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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

{Ready . . . Set . . . Go!}

The calendar squares are rapidly filling, and summer hasn't even officially begun. This week marked a definite transition between not-summer and definitely-summer activities. We finished school last Thursday (amen and hallelujah), and the kids had their piano recital last night. Oh, the cuteness. I was so proud of them.

That was our last activity connected with the school year and, like tight rubber bands, we've exploded from captivity structure into doing pretty much whatever we want.

Today we wanted to hike. So we did. We joined up with several friends and enjoyed the beauty of the Columbia Gorge. This land is beautiful, and every time I wind my way through the towering basalt cliffs and swaying fir trees I think, "This is actually where I live!" People travel lots of miles to visit this stuff.

Little Miss was eager. Well, eager at first. She quickly learned that running up a trail in order to keep up with the boys leads to fatigue and frustration. (I snapped this picture a second too late. This was after she had removed herself from the forest floor. But before she asked to shimmy up a tree. She has selective energy.)

She and I, along with one of the other moms, were content to remain at the back of the pack. We meandered, admiring wildflowers, snails, and lookouts to our hearts' content.

We hauled ten kids up to Cape Horn, and they all did a great job. Only once did Little Miss suggest that she could easily head back all by herself and drive on home. Please. It was just too much work. All that walking. All that ascending.

She was encouraged when she realized that the trip back would be downhill.

In fact after we had reached the top and turned back around, we didn't see a single kid until we returned to the parking lot. They organized themselves into groups and merrily headed on down.

When we piled back into the van, legs throbbing and wobbly, the younger set looked like they'd been through the wringer. I assured them that they had had a great time and wouldn't it be fun to do it again! (Silence.) So it was with much fear and trembling that I announced my intent to stop at Trader Joe's on the way home. (Moans.) But the promise of a dairy free ice cream bar holds a remarkable amount of sway in this family. We stopped, shopped, snacked and headed home, quite pleased with the success of Summer Vacation, Day One.
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Friday, June 14, 2013

{My Prayer Notebook}

Lately I've been trying to come up with a more effective way of managing my prayer life. Perhaps this sounds very dry and rigid to you, but it really helps me to be organized in this way. It keeps my mind and heart focused, and it's always exciting to look back and see how the Lord has worked in my life and in the lives of loved ones.

I've used index cards and notebooks in the past, but I still found it hard to mark progress and remember where certain requests had been jotted down. So yesterday I asked the Lord if He would just bring along a method that would work for me. Of course He did, because He's so very dear like that.

I found a video tutorial through Pinterest that is very practical and "me," and set to work right away to recreate it and morph things a bit to be even more "me." (My version isn't quite so . . . intense.) My initial thought was, "Okay! Off to buy a binder and paper and dividers . . .!" But I realized that sometimes it's best to work with what we already have on hand.

So I looked through our mountains of supplies and finally found a perfect little binder. My mind tried really hard to come up with something easy in the way of dividers, and then it came to me. I already have some! Years ago, my sister made dividers for a home-keeping notebook for me. I've loved it to pieces, but lately found that, because of Pinterest and other online record-keeping methods, I just wasn't using it for that purpose anymore. So I'm in the process of updating them to become prayer dividers.

It was fun to look back through the tabs that once read, "Calendar" or "School" or "Shopping" and think that they will now become "Worship" or "Family" or "Friends" in my prayer life. It was especially funny to find the little post-it note that my sister had attached (ten years ago?) to the "Gifts" section, which I never removed: "The EXTRA LARGE section for the pages and pages titled: KRISTA!" (She likes presents.)

As it works out, that divider lands right where my "Family" divider will now be. So I'll keep her post-it note there, now devoting "pages and pages" to praying for her.

This morning I spent my quiet time copying verses, poems and hymns into the various sections: Worship, Me, Jamie, Kids, Family, Friends and Leaders. I look forward to this new season in my journey with the Lord.

* * * * *

The Lord has been teaching me lately to really dwell on the words of one of my favorite verses. A line of it, in fact, inspired my blog description:

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy.
Psalm 16:11 

I've recently been reading the works of Jim Elliot, and find his prayer life to be both humbling and inspiring. When he wrote of this same passage, I was all attention. He was referring to a decision that had to be made in his life and commented, "Yet I still cannot set down reasons for the decision, save this, that the Lord showed the psalmist the path of life, evidently by his simply lingering in His presence."

Oswald Chambers, too, wrote of a similar reality: "The questions that matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by the words -- 'Come unto Me.'"

Spurgeon is succinct: "Dwell much with Him . . ."

And so, through this notebook, my prayer is that I might come, that I might linger, and that I might dwell. Because in His presence is fullness of joy.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

{The Evolution of the Nickname}

I just shouted, "Thank you, Zu-zu!" out the back window while sitting here in the school room. Little Miss had taken care of something for me, and it was quite automatic for me to call her by her most recent nickname.

Gyo Fujikawa

It got me to thinking about the evolution of nicknames. (My own is Juni, which I hint at in the "About" section of my blog.) I remember, years ago, visiting with some dear friends in a Life Group, and one of the wives beckoned her husband with the endearing term, hunners. Not honey, but hunners. Another wife laughed and said, "Isn't it funny how we make nicknames out of nicknames?"

That's pretty much what happened with Zu-zu. It went something like this.

Avery became Avers. Natural enough, right? 
Avers became Avoo. Her cheeks were squishy then and the "oo" sound simply needed to happen.
Avoo became Voo-Voo. Because it just did.
Voo-Voo became Vuvuzela. Because Drew got her one for Christmas one year and it seemed fitting. The volume and all.
Vuvuzela became Zela. With me so far?

Now, hold on. We're almost there. The combination of the former Voo-Voo and the flair of the exotic Zela reminded me of the name Zuzu of It's a Wonderful Life fame. You know, as in Zuzu's petals. (One of my favorite things to say to Jamie when something needs fixing is, "Paste it.")

Which finally brings us to the creation of Zu-zu. My own Little Miss, currently sunbathing on the lawn in blue shades and flip-flops with her dashing brother, Dayness. Would you like to know how he got that name?

Now it's your turn. Tell me your nickname, and if there's a story to go with it, I'd love to hear it!

Your friend,
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Saturday, June 1, 2013

{June . . . and a Little Link Love}

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten.

~James Russell Lowell

This weekend may you truly look and listen to the murmur and glisten of this world, its people, and its Creator.

(If you need a little laugh in your day, hop on over here . . .)

(For a little whimsical magic you might look here . . . .)

(And for some truth about who you are, look here . . .)

Blessings, my friends,

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