Tag Archives: Jesus

VBS Success!

VBS Success!

For the past three weeks, all I’ve had on my mind was Vacation Bible School. I was typing up class lists, keeping track of registration fees, and making signs. While I walked, I listened to VBS music and tried to memorize words. While I sat at jury duty, I read the curriculum and wrote lesson plans. And then it was finally THE WEEK. Parents and kids filled the quiet narthex of our church and it was time for VBS to begin!

I felt like a blur all week long. Singing songs, organizing skits and telling Bible stories was uplifting and exhausting all at the same time. By the time the morning was over the last thing I wanted to do was keep going, make lunch for Lily and Emmy, and plan for the next day. I wanted to nap. I think I actually did nap at least once.

Moving in a blur all week long

Let me tell you, VBS kids have a way of knowing how they should answer a question. When doing a lesson about caring, I asked the kids to tell me someone who loves them. They were supposed to say “Mom” or “Dad” or “my sister” and I would write their answer down on a sticky note shaped like a heart. At the end of the morning, I was going to arrange all the hearts into a large cross. The first answer I heard the kids say? “JESUS!” Yes, they knew the whole point of the lesson before I had even taught it.

The week flew by. I beamed with pride by the end when the kids were standing up and singing with joy “Standing on the Promises of God!” I knew that my prayers had been answered and the Spirit had moved through our mornings together.

So even though at times I feel resentful that VBS planning seemed to take over my life, feel tired and worn out and blurry, VBS also has a way of bringing my life back into focus. I should say, the Spirit has a way of bringing my life back into focus. So yes, I missed a couple weeks of writing on my blog. I still have some wrapping up work to do for VBS. But all that work…and the work of the Spirit…makes my volunteering gig worth it.

Leading each other in faith

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Lifeless?

The last leaf has fallen from the maple trees in front of our house. The green grass is slowly turning to brown as cold air settles in to stay. November is here.

As the wind whirls dead leaves around me, it would be easy to assume that the middle of November here in the Midwest is lifeless. There are no green leaves on the trees; brown clematis vines rattle against the lamp post; impatiens have wilted away from frostbite. Everything seems quite dead.

The brisk winds have blown all the leaves off the trees.

But wait! Just below the clematis skeleton are purple chrysanthemums, still colorful and able to withstand the light frost the past few nights have seen.

A fat brown squirrel stubbornly chews away at a pumpkin. He knows what treasure awaits him inside, and when he finally gets to those pumpkin seeds, he carries away each seed to help him stay plump.

The ground is not yet too frozen for mud pies, as my two little girls discover. The chill in the air is not enough to keep them inside!

As I think about all these things, I am reminded of the trip my father took this weekend. He drove up to Minnesota and visited a quiet place where my mother is buried. I can imagine the silent stones overlooking the small lake; the cold Minnesota wind whistling over the hill, making that place seem indeed lifeless.

That must have been how the women at the tomb felt on that that early Sunday morning, as lifeless as the tomb in front of them.

But wait! Just inside the lifeless tomb are two angels! They are certainly not lifeless, and neither was our Lord when He rose on that third day!

Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, and as we remember that wonderful day when He rose from the grave, we are reminded why He is the King of Heaven and Earth. And when we reach that heavenly shore, we will wonder why we thought death was lifeless, because that thought couldn’t be farther from the truth of eternal life that Jesus brings.

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The Bells Are Ringing

My bathroom window was open as I was putting on make-up. The sounds of traffic and dogs barking drifted through the window, along with the faint sounds of church bells ringing the hour. The bells are a few blocks away, at the church where I teach preschool. If I didn’t know that the bells ring every hour, I might not have noticed their sound. I love those church bells; they remind me of the bells that rang across the street when I was little. I lived in a red brick parsonage with my family; on a street paved with red bricks, by the red brick church with a tall, tall steeple.

Our grade school was just down the street. In the middle of the morning, while we were at class, we would occasionally hear the bells ring out…but at the wrong time.

Imagery of a bell tolling is used as a symbol of death. And that’s exactly why those bells were ringing. A funeral was taking place at the church. As kids, we knew what the bell ringing meant. Listening to the peal of the bells would cause us to pause in our school work, and then we would bend our heads down again to the task at hand. And so, life went on.

It is harder for life to go on after hearing those funeral bells as an adult. I have been thinking about my mother a lot these days. She’s been gone for almost two years. The month of October, with all the pink for breast cancer awareness, used to be easier to face together. Pink is good; pink reminds us that we still need to fight. But pink can also be a lonely color when I worry about the recurrence of cancer.

But yet, I have to laugh as I read that last sentence. In the children’s book, “Purplicious”, the main character moans, “I’m the only on in the whole wide world who likes pink. I am all alone. No one understands me,” when all her friends declare that pink is out and black is in.

By moaning that I am all alone in my breast cancer journey, I am like that pouting little girl in the book. I am not really alone. I am surrounded by love. And of course, I am forgetting that death has no hold on me–a lesson my mother taught me. She had no fear of breast cancer; no fear of death, as one of her favorite hymns proclaims:

Lord, let at last thine angels come, to Abr’hams bosom bear me home, that I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep my body safe in peaceful sleep until thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me that these mine eye with joy may see,
O Son of God, thy glorious face, My Savior and my fount of grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, My prayer attend, my prayer attend, and I will praise thee without end!

What a joyful sound, the ringing of the bells!

The words above are from the hymn “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart.”

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Make pink more powerful by joining the Army of Women to help breast cancer research.

Granddaughter of a Preacher Man

Lily loves water slides. She has no fear…and so I have to have fear for her. Or, you might say I have to be brave for her. After climbing four flights of stairs during our recent trip to a small water park, there were two choices — the benign green slide, which was a nice, well-lit, moderately fast slide — not scary at all. The other slide was a red slide, which was a dark tunnel plunging into unknown depths at unknown speeds. Which slide did six-year-old Lily want to go down? Why, the red slide, of course.

And so this mom told her to let me go down first and see how fast and how dark it really is. This mom, who is scared of the dark and of heights and of going fast.

I went down that red slide, and it was really dark and really fast and really breath-taking. For me. At the same time, I thought it was not too scary for my brave Lily. And she went down the dark, scary red slide several times, shrieking with delight as she entered the darkness.

As we were walking down the hallway back to our hotel room, we were talking about that red slide. It was so dark that you couldn’t see where you were going, which is what scared me. My dad asked Lily why the red slide didn’t scare her. She said, “I didn’t know where I was going, but I knew where I was going to end up.”

My father, the pastor, told Lily he’d have to remember that for a sermon.

Growing up, my sisters and brother and I were always afraid that we would become a sermon illustration. What would Dad share about us with the whole congregation? As we became teens, we dreaded being part of the sermon more than ever. Even as adults, we never know what Dad’s sermons will bring up. One Mother’s Day, I was sitting with my new boyfriend in the pew turning red with embarrassment as my preacher father wondered out loud when his daughter might become a mother. That boyfriend stuck with me anyway and ended up marrying me.

This New Year’s Eve, Dad was the guest preacher at a small church, and we all attended the service. He told us about the young girl hit by a car who didn’t deserve to die; about the man with cancer who shouldn’t have died from such a horrible disease; about how death seems to march on and on. How even Jesus died a horrible death, and death goes on…but wait. Because Jesus died for us, death does not go on and on.

Then he told the story about Lily and the red slide. About how she was not afraid of that dark tunnel because even though she didn’t know where she was going, she knew where she was going to end up.

As Dad was preaching this story about her, Lily looked at me, and her face shone in delight. She beamed. Unlike her mother, her aunts and her uncle, there was no embarrassment.

That look…the huge smile on Lily’s face is the smile I hope is on my face, when I die. Because I know where I’m going to end up.


My cousin recorded Lily the first time she came down the red slide. You can hear Lily’s grandpa laughing in the background.

If you are reading this post in a email, please click through to Lemon Drop Pie to see the video.

Daughter of a preacher man,

The Younger Child

I feel bad for my little Emmy. I feel bad because she wears all of her older sister’s hand-me-downs. Poor thing doesn’t get a new Christmas dress or new Christmas shoes. The only new thing she’ll wear on Christmas is new tights. Fortunately, at three years old, the sparkles on her sister’s old dress are still shiny enough for her. She doesn’t even realize she is making a sacrifice for our household’s finances. But what about when she is older? I doubt she will be as eager to wear her sister’s cast-offs.

We don’t know much about Jesus’ young life. What was his childhood like? Did he have younger siblings? Did his little brothers wear Jesus’ hand-me-downs? Did they resent walking in Jesus’ old, cast-off, worn out sandals?

What would they think if they realized that today so many of us try, unsuccessfully, to walk in Jesus’ shoes?

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