Monday, July 23, 2012


Oh the joys of living across the street from the summer 4-H Fair! Once-a-year noises bounce through the air like a volley ball in endless action: muffled loud speaker echoes, buzzes of carnival rides in operation, occasional outbursts of shouts, screams and laughter, the bleat of a sheep or bawl of a cow. Underlining this pop concert is the constant whir of engines idling in stop-and-go road traffic near our front sub-division entrance.  It's hard to decipher any specific smell out of the odd mix of scents that assault my nose, yet, in spite of this funky odor my mouth is hankering for tastes of elephant ears, hot pretzels and Cajun chicken on a stick.

This nine day festival offers fun for all ages, interests and personalities. Being so close to this gaiety makes me consider the ability we have to celebrate. God's people, the Israelites, were instructed to keep several festivals throughout the Hebrew year. Each holy-day held significant meaning to their history and were times of serious contemplation along with feasting and merrymaking. Our Father has built into us the need for rest and refreshing and he delights in our enjoyment of things he's created to bring us pleasure.

We commemorate anniversaries of significant events with celebrations.  Even sad occasions bring us together for support and help us celebrate our dependence on God and connection to each other.  Jesus asked us to remember his death and resurrection; how often have we rejoiced during communion? 

Grand kids coax us into frivolity.  I had the privilege of reveling with three of mine one day this week.  Take a peek at some of the fun we created.

Maybe you like the appeal of drawing aside into a place of quiet rest and celebrating the stillness. My husband and I spend Sunday mornings before church sipping  Starbucks coffee on our front porch and celebrating our children by praying for them.

We celebrate God's goodness and love for us every time we do an act of service. Our joy increases if we remember we are doing it for him.

This past weekend we and three of our couple friends celebrated our summer anniversaries. After a scrumptious meal at Carrabas we gathered at one of the friend's homes for dessert and sharing wedding pictures. As we arrived in their driveway a hot air balloon was rapidly descending over their property tree line in straight trajectory for their back yard. A desperate voice from the flying basket pleaded for permission to land. Mike offered a quick courteous 'YES'  as the aircraft bounced down and slid to a stop.  The approaching descent had attracted a menagerie of curious neighbors who swarmed into the yard to spectate and assist with the touch down.  For a few minutes choas ensued as cameras clicked and many hands flailed on the sides of the nylon giant trying to steer the deflation from trees and bushes. Balloon chaser vehicles hustled onto Mike's property. Seated on Mike and Emmy's deck we watched the once towering vessel shrink and fold into it's surprisingly small carrier bag. As the crowd dissipated we joked about the extraordinary fanfare our hosts had arranged for our celebration! 

What are you celebrating today? No anniversary or birthday?  What about life itself? Take a scripture and get excited about the message. 

Ephesians 1:17-20  
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ Jesus from the dead..."

Dance on those promises! 

Wisdom. Revelation. Knowing God better. Enlightenment. Hope. A rich and glorious inheritance in fellow believers. Great Power. 

Raise a toast! Throw a party!
Come take a break from the stress, abandon the worries, don a playful spirit and worship the Father who made you to sing, laugh, recognize and create humor, and equipped you with senses to experience pleasure.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sonrise National Park

I reported for duty last Monday morning at the Sonrise National Park, aka the church I attend. A banner advertising our alias identity for the week spanned the driveway as I entered the parking lot. I almost pulled out my wallet as I approached what looked like a ranger's station set up to collect entrance fees.  The fictitious replica was one piece of the fabulous decorations our vacation Bible school volunteers had constructed to provide a park setting for the week.  Stuffed wildlife creatures, borrowed from the county's park department, stood in lifelike poses throughout the building.  The stage resembled a campground site complete with tent, canoe, tripod and a mountain themed backdrop. Rather than a hallway connecting the sancutary to the classrooms, we now found a cave to pass through, darkened with walls draped in black paper and plastic tablecloths.

My assignment:  trail guide for the Outrageous Otters, a group of 5th grade girls. What fun! Each morning we followed an activity schedule that rotated us through four stations all centered on the promise for the day:
Bible story time where a young man from our youth group relayed God's word in a very lively and meaningful presentation,
Craft session,
Game time and
Nature center where we learned facts about animals and enjoyed a snack-also part of the theme. (donut hole acorns, ice-cream cup made to look like a beaver, sandwich in the shape of a fish, etc.) 

The morning started and ended with all groups gathered for singing, watching planned-for-a-purpose friendly competitions between trail guides, tracking totals of money brought in to meet a goal of providing shoes for orphans in Africa and watching a "Nature Survivors" DVD, reality show format,  that challenged us the listeners to look for the True Nature of the contestants. What delight to be surrounded by energetic kids, excited about God's Word and being submersed in Biblical principles for two and a half hours each day!  The songs are still repeating their messages in my head.

I blissfully followed my girls, taking in the daily promises of True Peace, True Riches, True Power, True Love and True Hope.  The Sunday service following this glorious week, Bible School participants presented a recap of our learnings for the rest of the church.

Imagine with me that what I just described could be a foretaste of heaven.  We, God's kids, gathered together to learn more about Him. There will be excitement and a constant atmosphere of rejoicing.  We'll learn and understand more of the stories we love and think we know well, sitting around the feet of Him, the Master Storyteller. Our hands will find the projects and assignments He gives us, like doing fun crafts together with other believers, each adding our unique creativity because of the varied gifts He's instilled in us.  Our accomplishments will be displays for His pleasure and represent His life message inside of us.

I bet we'll sit around his creation and get to ask how each creature and being was put together, and He'll let us in on secrets the scientists never discovered. And yes, there will be snacks, outrageously creative with our taste buds pleasantly alive to every flavor!

And oh, the games we'll play. Totally enjoying carefree fun. The thrill of competition where we can strive to be winners and never feel bad about losing. We won't worry that we're staying up too late or have to fear any injuries. I might even do a sport I never attempted here--of the extreme kind!

While in Bible School I had no worries or cares. My schedule was planned out for me and my mind was constantly focused on His truth and goodness. Even though I had responsibility with the girls I led, I could easily give leadership to them out of the freedom I was experiencing. What if I could live like that all day long, every day!

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father!  Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation...  '  Matt. 25:34.

"Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these"  Matt. 19:14.

Lord, keep my heart childlike and eager for more of you.  You have marvelous things planned for me each day and when life happens to bring hurt and sadness, you will always be there to pick me up and comfort me. I enjoy being part of your kingdom now, and I thank you for preparing a place for me in your heavenly kingdom.  I love you, Father.

Friday, July 6, 2012


It's another a la carte post:

----Summer gives me the gift of time off  since the library where I work closes down during the month of July.  Morning time reflection and reading the Word become unhurried and sweeter.  Today I took a dunking in a pool of verses from Psalms 89. (Can you tell my senses are focused on staying cool in this stifling heat wave?)  Two references drew my pen to the notebook, writing them down as a way to prolong their impact in my thinking.

"Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.  They rejoice in your name all the day long; and exult in your righteousness."   v. 15 ,16

Acclaim in the Hebrew means shout as in a battle cry or shouts of joy, trumpet blast.  It's something to be learned!  I let out some whooping and hollering, just to practice, I guess.  He is so worthy of that kind of exclamation and as I walk in the light of his presence there are certainly occasions for shouts of joy.  I rejoice in my Father's name; to do it consciously all day long is my desire.  Exulting his righteousness means lifting it up high and being proud of God's high standard of honesty and integrity.

----It's a season for more reading in the books I have stashed in piles for such a time as this.  Today I'm keeping company with Called to Controversy, the biography of Moishe Rosen who founded Jews for Jesus. He became a Christian through the influence of some Gentile friends who were very anxious to share the Gospel with him.  Moishe let them know 'Jesus talk' was off limits.  The friends respected his request, continued to offer friendship and prayed fervently for him.  After a time, the Gentiles moved out of Moishe's area. but continued to pray for him.  Several events and relationships in Moishe's life were bringing him closer to a personal faith.  The praying friends, now at a distance, felt compelled to ask another friend who still lived in Moishe's town to go to his house and visit him.  It was a God-appointed time and Moishe and his wife became believers.
I'm impressed with Moishe's humility and honesty.  He also is driven and determined to reach goals such as acquiring the best methods for street preaching, or reading about how to tend roses at a new house they moved into.  When someone in leadership offends him, he decides to learn from it and stores it away as an example of what not to do when managing.
I'm about half way through this book and looking forward to continuing to follow this interesting story.

----It's my husband's and my anniversary today.  After 16 years I am grateful for a man who loves me unconditionally and treats me with kindness and support.  We hope to go to dinner and have some movie time to celebrate tomorrow.

----The previously mentioned husband returns home in an hour and the house is begging for some pickup.  This writer's disarray of resources next to the computer, chores left dangling because blogging couldn't be interrupted, and her  mind lost in word formulation needs to be packed up and pushed neatly aside.  Now on to an evening with friends!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Giving and/or Saving?

I was just sitting there enjoying a train trip home from a Chicago get-away weekend. Memories warmed my thoughts as I recounted the conversation with friends and hubby around the outdoor cafe table along Clark Street and  late night fireworks from Navy Pier. I shook my head recalling the numerous 360s our inexperienced boat crew dizzied us through as they tried to tether to the dock after our short Michigan Lake cruise. I opened the book I had borrowed from one of our travel companions and scrunched down in the train seat to concentrate.

Unlike the Balducci fiction read I had devoured enroute to the big city, I was expecting some new insights from this little publication by Randy Alcorn. I felt mostly confident that I understood the first few chapters and Alcorn's premise for the rest of the book, which rested heavily on Scripture verses and concepts from God's Kingdom. As I read further, discomfort began seeping into my thoughts and then struck blows to any rationalizations I had tried to hide behind. The book's title was Managing God's Money, and my mind was being scrubbed like a car in the automatic car wash.

Here are a few quotes that felt like big brush burnishers. I was in the chapter on saving for retirement and the American dream of achieving financial independence.

"But from whom do we wish to be independent? God? Our family? Christian brothers and sisters?...there's a kind of dependence that's terribly unhealthy.  But there's a kind of independence that's equally unhealthy....we are to be channels of money...not storehouses.  Whatever role saving has in our lives, it should be secondary to giving and it must never be a substitute for trusting God."  p. 193-4   Whoa!

"When I hoard, I'm unwilling to part with what I've saved to meet other's needs because my possible future needs outweigh their actual present needs.  Hence, I fail to love my neighbor as myself." p. 195-6  Ouch!

"I'm not saying we can't use or shouldn't have retirement plans-but as God's children, we don't need them. Our brothers and sisters in other ages didn't have them and neither do most non-American Christians today...How much is too much?  Ask to him, not us...quietly listen for his answer." p. 197     Are you for real, Randy?

"If we consider our retirement funds to be off limits to God, we're pretending to be owners rather than God's money managers...lay everything on the table."  p. 198  Seriously?

I'll be keeping these things in my heart and pondering them for awhile.

Lord, help me be open to listening and willing to be obedient to whatever you are saying.  I am your servant and want to be faithful with what you've allowed me to manage when it comes to income and money.  I've heard many voices on this.  Now I want your wisdom and most of all, more of you.  You said it's more blessed to give than receive. Teach me what that means and how it works.  Thank you!