Off to Africa

In just over 12 hours I’ll be leaving my house and heading for the airport.  I, and 5 other members of my church, will fly from here to Newark, NJ where we will meet up with 4 people from Asheville, NC that we’ve never met.  From New Jersey we’ll head to Brussels, Belgium and then on to Kigali, Rwanda where we will spend 10 days.

I’ve said good-bye to my girls, who headed off with my mom earlier today.  I’ve crossed everything off of my “to-do” list and packed my bags.  All of my travel documents, vaccination records and medications are gathered in one place.

This not my first mission trip, but it is my first trip to Africa and I’m excited and nervous and feeling a little bit overwhelmed in that way you get when you just don’t know what’s coming.  It’s not a bad feeling, I love an adventure and I can’t wait to get there, it’s just the tension… the excitement.

Please pray for me and my team, that we will be open to the Holy Spirit and be ready for what God has in store for us and for those we’ll be encountering.  Pray for health and stamina as we enter an environment we are unused to and likely less than ideal with food and sleep conditions.  Pray that eyes will be opened to the lessons that God is teaching through this trip and through these vastly different people.

Thank you, and see you when I get back 🙂

Psalm 90

I spent my morning visiting brothels as part of my work with the anti-trafficking ministry I volunteer with.  It can be heavy work, but I have a great team and we lift each other up as we go about this task.  The introspection sets in later in the day and as I was doing some reading this afternoon I came across this Psalm, thought to be written by Moses shortly before his death and it spoke to me today.

Psalm 90

Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! 

Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.

You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!”

For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.

You sweep people away like dreams that disappear.  They are like grass that springs up in the morning.

In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered.

We wither beneath your anger; we are overwhelmed by your fury.

You spread out your wrath, ending our years with a groan.

Seventy years are given to us!  Some even live to be eighty.  But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away.

Who can comprehend the power of you anger?  Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve.

Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.

O, Lord, come back to us!  How long will you delay?  Take pity on your servants!

Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.

Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery!  Replace the evil years with good.

Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory.

And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful.  Yes, make our efforts successful.

Amen.

It’s VBS Week and I’m Exhausted!!

If you have children and are active in a church, you probably know a little something about this thing called Vacation Bible School, or VBS for short.  It’s been around forever as far as I know.  Even with the limited church exposure I had growing up, my Grandma took me to VBS quite a few times.  But it wasn’t until about 4 years ago when I started volunteering and the moved into leadership, that I truly understood the magnitude of this production.

I’m going to make a quick disclaimer and say that my church probably does VBS bigger than your church.  Icouldbe wrong, but we do it bigger than just about every other church around and are widely recognized to have the best program in the area.  This week we have nearly 900 children in attendance and 400 volunteers.  And we go all out.  Every part of the church is decorated, there are costumed youth servants, themed snacks, and music so loud you’d think you were at a rock concert.

This is not a mega-church, this is a suburban neighborhood church of about 1000 members.  None of this is saying that we do it better, we just do it BIG!

I would guess that the theme for next year has already been chosen, but I don’t really want to ask.  (I’ll learn what it is by the end of the week when I am asked if I’m going run snack services again next year!)  Those of us on leadership for this even will begin meeting next year in February to plan for VBS 2013.

February.

It takes months to make all of the decorations, plan and order the crafts, modify and figure out portioning and shopping lists for the snacks, recruit volunteers for things like music, theater, outdoor games, Bible adventure and more.  It’s probably the largest, most time-consuming and labor-intensive process I’ve ever been involved in.

But I love it!

The noise, the crowd, the mess; it’s just amazing to see the energy, excitement and fun just rolling through the hallways!  It’s vibrating off of the ceilings and walls, and beaming from the huge smiles on the hundreds of faces crowding the building.

Hearing those kids yelling out song lyrics like, “Yeah, the word of the Lord holds true!  You can trust Him!  You can trust Him!” and “I’m counting on God, I’m counting on God!” and seeing them all dancing (even the teenage helpers!) just makes me so happy.  It reminds me of why I plan months in advance and labor over serving sizes and shopping lists.

VBS week is like one big party, with Jesus as our guest of honor, and we just want it to be the biggest and best it can be!

 

 

Outsmarted

This may or may not have been the first time, but I know for sure that it won’t be the last.

Last night my daughter had a friend spend the night, and for most of the evening they spent time on laptops (the friend brought her own) playing an interactive game.  But as it was a weeknight and Kent had to work this morning, they had to be off computers (we don’t allow computers in bedrooms) and in Morgan’s room at 10:30pm.

I’m going to say up front that Kent and I are pretty overprotective regarding electronics and media with our girls.  The family laptop is in a public area and even when the day comes that they get their own, those too will stay in public areas.  There are no televisions in bedrooms.  Morgan’s friends are all starting to get cell phones, and not just cell phones.. SMART PHONES!  Unrestricted internet access wherever they are.  We haven’t caved to the cell phone yet.

BUT, even with all of this I am completely aware that my kids leave the house, go to friends’ houses and are not always under my sphere of protection.  They’re also kids.  Kids who are testing boundaries, trying out dishonesty and sneakiness and sometimes making wrong choices.

Morgan has recently gotten off of a long, internet related grounding and as an extra precaution last night, Kent unplugged the wireless modem that runs the internet and cable for the house.  We thought we were pretty smart.

Until this morning when I took the girls out for donuts and Morgan turned to me and said, “So, you unplugged the modem last night?”

*sigh*

Home, Small Home

I really love my house.

Kent and I bought this house 10 years ago, the week of Morgan’s 1st birthday.  It’s 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and just under 1700 square feet.  Our starter house.  We’re remodeled a bathroom, the kitchen, replaced windows, doors, every bit of flooring in the house, the a/c, the water heater, rebuilt the fireplace, repainted almost every room (some more than once), replaced lighting and plumbing fixtures and custom-made window treatments.  It’s decorated with a combination of new things that we’ve picked out together and hand-me-downs from family that we love, and even a few “refurbished” items thrown in… it’s home.

This house is also busting at the seams with 2 adults, 2 growing girls, a very large dog, a turtle and a whole bunch of STUFF!!  Closets will rain down upon you if you open the doors, all of the beds and couches have things stored underneath, our 2 car garage is barely a 1 car at this point and still piles accumulate everywhere.  I feel like I’m constantly purging and setting things aside for donation, so I’m starting to wonder if maybe it isn’t time for a bigger house?

Everything in me just wants to scream NO!!!

I had moved 8 times by the time I got to high school.  My husband and I moved 4 times in 4 years before we bought this house.  I hate moving.  I know everybody does, it’s not fun.  But just thought of packing up and finding a place to live, then unpacking and settling into another house just makes me want to go hide under my covers.

Then there’s the issue of contentment.

 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.  For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”  ~  Hebrews 13:5

I don’t want  a bigger house if I’m doing it just to move up in status.  I don’t want a  bigger house if it’s just to make room for all of our material possessions.  I don’t want a bigger house if having one is going to make me feel better about myself.

I just want to make sure that if we make the decision to upsize, that it’s God’s will, not my lack of contentment in what He’s already given me.