Today we started our VBS. All new faces and personalities. Same frantic beginning. I think I have been a part of more VBS's than most people have fingers and toes, but each one is a miracle. I am startled every time at the number of people it takes to put on a VBS. To me it really shows the value of the Body of Christ. I love the way that a community opens its arms to children and works together to create an adventure for them.
I still tear up almost daily. I still miss the comfort of my old home, but now I see that I haven't really left. The church is a universal family. I have to learn the names and faces, but the people of EUMC are my family. They are part of the body of Christ.
Now we just have to make it through 5 more days...
Tomorrow Luke is preaching on the vine and the branches. John 15. I love this passage. Maybe it is because of the gardening analogy. I also like to return to it during Ordinary Time. This is the quiet growth time. All of the planting of Advent and the pruning of Lent has led to the growth of Ordinary Time.
What I like about this passage is that we are not told that we are the plants that are sown but rather that Christ is the plant and we are merely the branches. We are not plopped down and told to struggle through our lives in isolation. We are connected to Christ and through his love and God's grace bear much fruit.
I have a tomato plant this year. Laine and I planted it in a pot since we would be moving and we dutifully watered and fertilized it. It has grown from a three inch seedling to a large bushy plant. It has beautiful, fragrant leaves and a thick strong stem, but no fruit. None. Not even a flower. I am sure I did something wrong. Fortunately, everyone else I know seems to have avoided that problem this year and are blessing me with their tomatoes. I seem to have a distinct talent for growing stems and leaves but never any harvest.
James says that faith without works is dead. I say Amen. A tomato plant with no tomatoes is virtually sterile. Our faith is sterile if we leave the vine. In John, Christ says that apart from himself we can do nothing. O Lord, keep me close to you and to your love. Help me to bear your fruit.
This week I have been walking with Luke to try to shed a few of the pounds I gained over the last few years. Mostly I attribute them to babies but a few of them are nursing school and a few are aging and a few are a relaxation of my eating habits.
We found a great park to walk in in Brevard. It is a rails to trails affair, and I love the vehicle-lessness of it. I also love that it winds through some woods and over a creek. Luke and I vie for "nature points" won by correctly identifying something along the way. I am winning 6 to 2. Luke said he would have gotten five points for catching a snake, but I scared it away (I got one point for correctly identifying it as a snake).
I am scared that someday I will forget these moments. How gracious is our God that God gave us abundant life! How gracious is our God that God gave us memory.
Quick thought from a conversation with the hubby last night...
Question: Does God do things because we pray or would God have done them anyway?
Thought: Probably God will provide for us, but prayer allows us to experience the grace of God in a full and powerful way. Prayer is not so much a means of request as a pathway to experience the richness of God.
Why is it that we have to grow up? Wouldn't it be better if we could exist in a perpetual state of Peter Pannic youth? Today I finally realized the tragedy of the fall. I knew about the entrance of sin into the world and grieved that, but I never understood the weight of the loss of innocence. When Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, they had lost the joy of innocence. Laine and Annabel have shown me the beauty of innocence. The utter joy of experiencing life without any cognition of how he or she appears to others. True, at times, Laine will notice others watching and step up his act, but overall, he lives abundantly without giving much thought to others.
Today we went to Hooker Falls. It was a 1/4 mile walk on a gravel path. The lush forest on either side provided shade and created a tunnel of growth for us to pass through. I had one of those awesome moments when I could watch my son discover new things without worrying about traffic or sharing or being too loud. He was entranced with the rocks, the mountain laurel, the river and the waterfall. He would run joyfully then skid to a stop to pick up a fallen leaf. If we met someone on the path he would confidently declare that he was wearing his "no fussing adventure shoes." It was a lovely walk.
Then he learned about skipping.
He and Luke were holding hands and Laine started cavorting a bit, and Luke asked if he were skipping. Then it was, "Daddy skip." "Laine skip." A reciprocation of joy. My overworked, overburdened, worn husband was skipping along a path with his beloved child. Laine would giggle as Luke skipped and Luke would chuckle at the "skipping" of a toddler. Innocence was a great loss. How the Father must grieve for us.
Lord, in your mercy, return us to the innocence of a child.
Let's focus on the No Fussing part of that phrase.
“One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14.
I totally forgot the no fussing part today. I have learned two things from today. I let myself get tired and cranky for the sake of being able to do everything. And, my former level of daily occupation had covered up some fundamental questions I need to answer.
Lessons number one. I put Laine in his crib during Annabel's morning nap because I was getting fractious. Sometimes Mommy needs a nap too!
Lesson number two. Much harder to tackle. Two questions revolved in my head today.
First, how do I want to engage in ministry? So far, I have been able to accompany Luke to his place of ministry and make it mine taking on projects of my own. Now, I have two fantastic little full-time jobs that need almost 24-hour attention. I also can choose to facilitate Luke's vocation. I ruminated over this today. I have no problem saying that my kids and husband are a great ministry, but I want to make sure that my heart is open and soft to the fullness of God's calling. I have made the mistake of dwelling too long in a season to which God originally called me and then urged me to leave. Also, I have utterly failed to wait for God's permission before opening my mouth and deciding to start some project (talking ministry not knitting or sewing--pretty sure Luke and God are resigned to crafting). So, I am waiting this time. Really. I am. I have stopped just short of volunteering to do about fifty different things, but I am waiting. Really. I am.
I have not forgotten how unpleasant it feels to get out in front of God. Even to do "good works." I am waiting. I am waiting for my soul to catch up with my body. Maybe when I am able to keep my disciplines in the hereness of now, I can go on to my list.
I am waiting.
Second thought. Why do I so desperately want to have a milking goat? Or a sheep or cow or whatever. Why shouldn't I go ahead and try it out. If you are reading this AND have room on your property for a goat AND live pretty close to me AND can help me learn the basics, can I have a goat?
I had a pretty tearful day today. It is going to happen. I am starting to love where I am. I even love the quiet little neighborhood where I live (it is sweet). But, I loved where I was and I miss it. It is always better to miss where you have been than to be glad when you leave. I think Philippians 3:13-14 was written for such as me. I can't say that I am going to forget what is behind me...that would be disregarding the lessons and love of the past, but I must allow it to enrich me without overwhelming me. I must remember that "no one who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is worthy!" I must remember that I am straining forward toward the same goal in Etowah as I was in Hillsborough. Christ Jesus is my goal. Praise God he is here too!
Welcome to life in the no fussing adventure truck! Luke quoted Luke 9:62, Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." in a recent sermon. It struck me that that is true not only for those called to vocational ministry, but also, to those following them about.
We are in Ordinary time again. I guess that is why I began thinking about blogging again. It was about this time last year that I had my blogging experience, and I remember thinking about the significance of Ordinary time. With a year to reflect I think Ordinary time is my favorite time of the year. I dearly love Advent and the depth of Lent is profound, but Ordinary time is when serious growth happens.
That's why I think the No Fussing Adventure Truck is such a great illustration for today. Last night our family went on an adventure in the Excursion and Laine and I dubbed it the No Fussing Adventure Truck. The phrase tickled something in his toddler fancy and he woke up on repeat. As I listened to him chew his verbage, I pondered the words. The No Fussing Adventure Truck is the symbol of putting your hand to the plow and not looking back.
As I unpack boxes (bock-uhs) in Etowah, NC, I know I am continuing the great adventure of life. My thoughts centered around the idea that getting things done is not why I am a SAHM. I stay home to unfold the universe before my children. I have to fight the urge to put Laine and Annabel on pause until I am "done" with the move. But that is not living into the day. Allowing chaos to rule my home is unacceptable, but neither can order. This is an adventure truck that gets messy. I finally had a day when I can say I looked my children in the eye while we played. For those who are interested, I am also in bed with my daily load of laundry put away, my sink shined, and the toys put away. (www.flylady.net) God requires that we do what he has called us to do now. Not when we have our closets organized.
I will continue to struggle with wanting to accomplish tasks, but hopefully I can remember the musings of the day and learn to embrace the abundant life that Christ brought.