Friday, June 27, 2008
In three days my whole family will leave for the great state of California for an entire month. Loren is on “assignment” for Young Life at Oakbridge. Check out the link here. Pretty nice, huh? We will be serving with around twenty Young Life staff people from all over the country. Everyone has a specific job and it is always amazing to me how efficiently the month runs. Loren’s specific job this year is to be in charge of the Work Crew and Summer Staff. These are high school and college age kids who come to camp to serve. They run the rides (skate park, climbing wall, ropes course, mountain bikes, etc.), serve and cook the meals, wash dishes, clean bathrooms, do laundry, set up and clean up every activity, and pretty much do whatever it takes to make sure campers have the best week of their lives. They serve selflessly and we are so excited to pour into them for a whole month.
Assignment is always a special blessing for our family and for me in particular. Besides the fact that someone else cooks and cleans for us, and that there is endless entertainment for me and my kids, the greater gift for me is the time to connect. I get to connect in a whole new way with my kids since there are no real pressing responsibilities. I get to spend a lot of time just playing with them and soaking up every precious moment. I also get to connect with Loren in a unique way, too, as we are out of our element and serving side by side. And, since I don’t have a lot of responsibilities, I get to think about new ways to encourage and serve him. I always seem to connect more with the Lord, too. That is probably a result of more free time plus the added bonus of incredible scenery and daily corporate worship.
Perhaps the most important reason I love assignment, though, is that I get to connect with the mission of Young Life. Everything else I could possibly do in a different setting, but there is absolutely nothing like a Young Life camp to connect you with the mission of Young Life. Some spouses don’t enjoy assignments. After all, it is a lot of work to pack up your life for a month and go somewhere else. Plus, when you get there you will be living with several other families and time with your spouse will be hit and miss. But, for me, despite the usual kinks, it is always a blessing. I like it because I get to see, first hand, why we do what we do the rest of year. I get to watch students be served and loved by adults and other students who want nothing more than to be a reflection of Jesus. I get to watch as students understand, maybe for the first time, that they are loved beyond anything they could ever know, by the Creator of the Universe. And I get to watch lives being changed. I get a front row seat to see what the love of God can do. It’s an almost unspeakable experience. (I tried my best.)
It is necessary for us to go and do this every so often. It’s necessary because I get to enter in to Loren’s world and see through his eyes for a while. And it doesn’t take long for me to understand why he HAS to do what he does. His passion for students to meet Christ always runs deep and after a month at camp, my own will rival his.
So, we are off and we are thrilled to go. Packing to get ready to go….that’s a different story.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
This is Hope. Notice the earrings and, more importantly the two puffy pigtails at the top. She loves her "two pony's" fervently and every other hairstyle is just a layover on the way to Ponyville.
This is me. I had no idea that my hair had so much body or that I was so leggy. I like it. No mushy middle to worry about!
So, one of the ladies in our bible study, in tears because of all the pain she's seen lately at the hands of what appears to be Satan’s schemes, says, “The scary thing is…who’s next?” My immediate reaction was fear. Who IS next? Who is Satan gonna ask to sift? Who is God gonna give Satan permission to sift? Then another feeling came. I knew this feeling was more in line with the Holy Spirit in me because it had nothing to do with fear. The bible says that we are not given a spirit of fear, right? This felt more like a challenge. And so I said, before my fear could get the best of me, “Who knows…maybe you, maybe someone else. I hope it’s me.” I HOPE IT’S ME! Where did that come from?!? At the time I knew, in part, it was because it occurred to me that this sifting is for our own good. It doesn’t mean that we, as people, are sifted out of God’s hands. No way! It means that the impurities are sifted out of us, leaving more room for God to fill us with his Spirit. It is a loving and good thing for our Lord to do.
Sifting also doesn't mean that we have to fall to the temptation of sin. See, ultimately Satan’s goal is for us to let go of our faith. But all he can really do is tempt us to let go. He’s pretty good at it frankly. But he can’t pry it from our grasp without us agreeing to loosen our grip. So, I know that this sifting is also an opportunity for me to strengthen my grip. I also know that God won’t allow it unless he thinks it would deeply benefit me. Still, I HOPE IT’S ME! That’s a little crazy, right? Probably, but I desperately want to be brave enough to say, “Bring it on.” That’s why I had to say it out loud in that moment, because I don’t generally feel that way. But, underneath my desire for comfort and security and safety and my even more fervent wish for all of these things for those I hold dear, my heart has begun to beat with a reckless faith. It’s ferocity is sometimes inconvenient and it’s wildness makes me uneasy. But, it also feels right and good and strangely necessary. So, in my braver moments I pray for sifting. And I pray for the courage and the faith to remain true to what I know to be the only Truth, my only Saving Grace, my only Hope, my Soon Coming King. Holy God.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Summer, for Hope, means the pool. And the pool means goggles. Even if the pool is one foot deep and four feet wide.
My baby has learned to ride her bike. Here she rides proudly down the sidewalk with no need for us to hold on anymore. I'm afraid this is only one of many times she will be ready for us to let go.
This is Hope in all her finery. She has a flair for fashion and routinely picks out some of the most unique outfits. This one is very color-coordinated, though matching colors is never a priority. I love her use of accesories here.
Sweet Hope has a thousand watt smile.
Hope radiates with life. She has a huge personality and is so expressive. I LOVE (when it isn't driving me over the edge :)) how much she feels. She can be extraordinarily happy and devastatingly sad. She is super social and cares a lot about her friends. I've started to get these glimpses of her as an adult, like when she looks at her sister doing something silly and says to me, "Mom...isn't Bella adorable!" She is also starting to read, which has blown me away. She brings such energy and passion to our home and I am so blessed to be her mom. (Mom...that's what she calls me most of the time now...not mommy...what's up with that?!?)
We finally got this famous face on camera. This is Bella's signature look. She makes this face all the time. We can't wait for her to talk so we can figure out what, exactly, it means.
At the beloved family Ranch, on the beloved Lone Tree Mountain. Loren was climbing this mountain when he was Bella's age, so this is a very special picture for us.
Now, here is a look that says it all. Our happy girl!
Her smile just lights up a room.
More sweetness. I can not resist kissing those precious cheeks as often as she'll let me.
I love being this little girl's mommy. She is so precious and has her own unique take on life. She is NOT a morning person, at least until breakfast is served, and she is a big fan of her blankie, our dogs, baby dolls, books, bath time, FOOD (all of it), and dancing. For those who know her, it goes without saying that her bunny is an intrical part of any good time. She is such a joy and I love the way she has added such sweetness and warmth to our family.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Before I sat down and processed all of this, I had to put Hopie to bed and, uncharacteristically for me, I decided to break with routine tonight. We played for a full hour in her bed. We were “supposed to” sing, pray, and then, lights out. That’s the way bed time usually goes in our house. Instead, we read a book. (By the way, Hope sounded out the following words all by herself: big, in, at, has, no, and bed. This is a brand new thing for her and I am astounded at how she is picking up reading.) After that we did sing-though instead of the traditional bedtime hymns, it was a bunch of silly songs that we made up and that didn’t make any sense, but made us laugh our heads off. I even shot some video of it. Then, because I have been asked to memorize Isaiah 26:3 for our small group, we talked some about peace and what it means. I loved Hope’s definition. “It means that Jesus will give you everything you need.” Of course, this came only after the sillier definition which was, “It means you get a ham sandwich.” Hmmm…not quite as profound. Then, lots more silliness…more silly songs, making up silly words, silly faces, etc. Finally, we did pray and Hope prayed that “God would peace the bugs out of her room so she wouldn’t be scared of them.” (Grammatically, not correct and also I think we are still a little fuzzy on the definition, but I liked the sentiment and I even kind of liked her use of it as a verb. I’m a big fan of mixing it up when it comes to language.)
Here’s my take on tonight. I think the Lord knew that he was about to confront me with my recent failures and he, kind of, moved me to have this special hour with Hope to take the edge off a bit. He knows I don’t do well with confronting my failures. But, a cushioned blow to the ego is still just that, a blow. And so I am sad. But, I think sad is better than panicky. I know what is wrong now and I have some idea of how to make it right…not enough, but some. More than that, I have a deepened understanding of my need for Jesus because when I think of where the energy is gonna come from to live life and to parent out of more than just survival mode, I know he is my only hope. Praise God that his very nature is hope.