Friday, July 25, 2014

Vacation..... Finally

Mark 6:31
And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”

God truly does know just what we need and will find a way to provide it......... when we least expect it.

For the past month my two children and I have been trying desperately to convince my sweet hubby that it was time to take a break and get away. Each year it seems to get harder and harder to convince him that work will still be there when he returns.

Finally my son just sat down with a laptop and started searching for things. My husband had been talking about possibly going to Indiana. Indiana? Why Indiana? Who knows..... Anyway, my son (being the wise young man that he is) knew that his best bet to convince hubby to actually get away was to provide him with something that tied in with work.

Recently Hubby has been working with a local group of citizens to open a Pioneer Village, documenting the historical past of the county where he grew up. It just so happens that there is a Pioneer Village located at Spring Mill State Park in Indiana. Once Hubby knew that, he was ready. He took care of booking the rooms and the trip was placed on our calendar.

Little did we know just how much this time away would touch us.

We headed out Monday morning and dropped our daughter's Mini Cooper off to be serviced while we were away. Our daughter spent some quality time visiting her boyfriend who lives on the other end of the state and then we were off.

Our first stop was at the Pioneer Village itself. We were greeted by sight of dozens of historical reconstructed buildings full of artifacts and people demonstrating everything from leather work to pottery.

Along the winding path from building to building there were tiny footbridges built over the babbling waters that fed the nearby mill. It was the perfect place to stop, take a breath, and just enjoy a chat.

Once our quick visit at the Village was over and the experience was documented in picture form, we traveled on the Spring Mills Inn, located in the same park. As we pulled up in front we knew that this was no regular state park lodge. I drew in one long slow breath of that mountain air knew that I could relax. The lobby, built with logs, was filled with rocking chairs, a fireplace, and even a checker board made from a log. A downstairs game room was filled with board games and jigsaw puzzles, all to provide some simple, old-fashioned fun. The inn itself did have wireless, but once you stepped outside there was no cell service (much to my children's distress).

Over the next day or two I wandered some of the hike paths, watched ducks floating on the water, smelled the flowers, and even took time to read a complete book on my Kindle, (though it felt a bit sacrilegious to be sitting in THIS chair.....

reading from an e-reader..... I truly thought that a good old fashioned bound book would have been more appropriate.)

It wasn't what anyone would call an exciting vacation. No amusement parks- no concerts- not even a visit to the inn swimming pool. It was however one of the vacations that will likely linger in my memory for a long time. Lacking cell service, our family talked more. My hubby couldn't get emails from work, unless it was during the time we were actually in the inn. That meant he had time to attempt to forget about work while we were out and about during the day. We picnicked, we walked, we did some geocaching, and we just enjoyed being a family.

I would DEFINITELY recommend the Spring Mills Inn for anyone who needs time to just withdraw from civilization and get away for a while and rest. I am so glad that God helped my son find that listing on the computer. Our family needed it..... I needed it..... and I am grateful for the experience.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Little Children

Matthew 19:14
14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Proverbs 22:6
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

This week has been very full: full of work, full of afternoon naps, full of fun, and full of blessings. You see, this week was VBS week at Warren's Chapel United Methodist Church!

My children and I work each year at VBS. I am the "crafts lady", my daughter is the puppeteer, and my son fills in by doing whatever it is they need.

We had the typical VBS stuff....

Singing.... complete with hand motions....

Our fearless song leader....

(Joan Campbell is actually much more than just our song leader. She helps organize everything in the months before VBS, recruits teachers, orders supplies, and keeps us all in line during the actual week of Bible School. Without her, I am fairly certain that we would NEVER be able to pull it off!)

There are puppets and Bible stories....

(That is my son, Keenan. This year he took on the task of actually leading the opening and closing portions each night as well as assisting with food and whatever else he was asked to do.)

Bible drills.....


and lots of FUN!!!

The week of VBS always makes me a little tired. Each day finds me preparing materials for that night. Each afternoon finds me squeezing in a tiny little nap. Each night there are hours of classes and chasing stragglers back to their original spot.  

Yes, I am tired, but I am also very blessed. I love seeing the children get excited about the Bible lessons and crafts. I love seeing them sing and dance along with the music. I love seeing "MY" middle school students take on leadership roles and help with the younger children. 

This year, as I sat in the audience, watching my son lead the programs and watching my daughter as she became "Rivet", I found myself thanking God for blessing my family. I am so proud of the character, strength, and leadership that he has instilled in them. They jump in to assist whenever asked and someone even jump in BEFORE being asked. Watching them as they lovingly helped a youngster with a craft or washed a face that had gotten dirty while enjoying snack truly made this mother's heart swell.

At the close of VBS they took a minute to thank Kari for her work as a puppeteer. A few weeks ago, Kari went to Union College for her orientation. While there, she met the minister of the campus church. We were telling him about some of the things that Kari helps with at church and when he heard that she was our puppeteer he became very excited. They have been thinking of starting a puppet ministry. Well, it just happened that Warren's Chapel had kept ALL of the puppets from Kari's five years of VBS. In the closing program, they thanked Kari for her assistance and presented her with all of the puppets so she can take them with her to college.

Seeing her smile, I know that these puppets and that smiling face will continue to train up little children. I also have no doubt that, come next summer, she will be back for year 6 and another new puppet!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Time Clock of Life

Psalms 31:14-15

But I trust in you, Lord;  I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hands; Deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.

I have always been one of those people who likes to be on time..... no.... scratch that. I have always been one of those people who likes to be EARLY. School begins at 8? Then I feel the need to be there by 7:15. I have to log into my computers, check for those important emails about the day's events, look over my lesson plans, and prepare any handouts for that day. That's one of the reasons that I hate my early duty days. On those days I have to be in my appropriate spot in the hallway at 7:30. No time to get myself "mentally prepared" for whatever lies ahead.

I have also always been one of those people for whom a calendar or planner is a necessity. I like to know what lies ahead for the next week and, if possible, for the next month. Meetings, games, obligations.... they all need to be written down on both the family calendar and my personal planner. That way I can check on a regular basis to make sure that I am where I am supposed to be WHEN I am supposed to be.

Lately, our family calendar has looked more like this:

My daughter just finished her senior year and, between her clubs and organizations, the track & field/cross country team, senior obligations, and school obligations for both my husband and I, our time was full! 

School ended about a month ago and I really thought things might slow down a bit, but my sweet hubby took over the role of music director for the local community play. Hours and hours of practice, lighting setup, reading through scripts..... Then my son was recruited to do lighting...... He joined his dad for hours of practice, lighting setup, and meetings to discuss changes.... Then my sweet daughter agreed to help with the sound, so she rode along every night for the practices, lighting, and meetings. (You get the picture.)

To be fair, my family members are not alone in their inability to be idle. Next week is VBS and I have once again signed on as the crafts teacher. When I am home I feel the need to be constantly on the move: cleaning, cooking, or preparing crafts that I can sell at the Christmas bazaar this year. I will likely go into school at least a week early to prepare and organize my classroom and begin my yearly "mental preparation" for the task ahead.

In recent months I have been trying to be more deliberate with my choices of duties. Whenever possible I have stopped to think about, and pray about, each decision. Is it the Lord's will for me to take the duty on? Would I be doing something that would teach ME something? Would I be helping someone in need? As Psalms 31 says, my time is in God's hands. 

As I was reading another chapter of Karen Ehman's book, Let. It. Go., I was struck by the following suggestion: "Don't take on more than you can pray for." WOW! At school every day I encounter students and families who are in need of physical healing, spiritual healing, or an improved sense of self. I try to pray for as many of those as possible. With each new duty that I undertake, I find myself involved with another group. With each group I find myself faced with more and more people who are in need of my prayers. 

It goes even further than that. When my daughter joins something like the track team, my husband and I become involved too. Right now the team is facing a very difficult year. There were several long-time team members who graduated with my daughter. They now have only a limited number of runners left. On top of that, the coach has left our school system, so the team is looking for a new leader. Needless to say, the team is on my prayer list as well. 

What would our lives be like if we truly only undertook those obligations for which we could daily pray? Our calendar would definitely be a little less full, but it would also have an impact on the commitments that we do make. Surely the time that we do spend on those tasks will be more meaningful, more heartfelt, and definitely more representative of God and his unlimited love. 

What about you? Do you find yourself faced with that calendar overflowing with obligations? How do you gain control over your time while still allowing God to take the driver's seat? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment and help us all as we fight this seemingly never-ending battle.