Saturday, June 29, 2013

Can I Get a Re-Do of Day One?

As eager as I was to "officially" start my summer vacay, it seems to be delayed once again.  My ear has been bugging me for about a year now.  I thought it was from all the swimming I was doing in preparation for my triathlon last summer.  However, over the winter it never really cleared up.  It kept feeling better then flaring up again, then feeling better only to flare up even worse than the last flare up.  Typical for me, these days, I just kept putting it off.  Swearing at  each flare up, I was going to call a doctor the next day.  Only to wake up the next morning and forget, become too busy, or just feel better. 

In May it was getting pretty bad.  The problem was two fold: I actually didn't have a primary care doctor, and hadn't had one in years, and I really didn't have the time to go to a doctor.  Fast forward to our recent trip, where the kids, my parents, and I went to visit my grandma, who lives in South Dakota, and I was back in a bad place with my ear.  I mean bad.  I decided right then and there, when I got home I was going to call the doctor my mom sees, and I was getting this thing taken care of. 

Thankfully, this time I held true to my word.  As soon as I got home on Wednesday, I made an appointment for that Friday.  That Wednesday night, I noticed that my ear was really starting to hurt down into my jaw.  The next morning I realized what I thought was bad was actually just a small foretaste of what was to come. 

Good grief! I had no idea how painful ear infections could be.  I'm also irritated to be plagued with an ailment that is usually reserved for infants and toddlers.  Also, I'm now in a spot where I can start enjoying my summer break schedule wise, but now I can't. 

I'm thankful for finding a doctor, and I'm thankful for medications.  Now I'm just praying that the antibiotics kick in quick, and I can be back in action soon.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

He Waits There

For the past two years, I have been part of a ministry that reaches out to incarcerated youth in my area.  Once a month, I get to have a chance to sit in a small group of girls who are serving time.  In that hour I listen to them, I pray with them, I share the Word with them, and, hopefully, encourage them.  I hear hard stories, get hard questions, and deal with hard emotions.  It's never easy there, but it's always beautiful.  I've gotten to witness first hand the softening of hearts, forgiveness, reconciliation, and even salvation.  Works that can only be done by The Almighty. 

Last night we looked at the parable of the talents in Matthew.  In this parable Jesus was teaching about three servants who were all given money by their master.  Each one of them was expected to keep the money until the master's return, upon which the master would be asking for it back.   Two of the servants took the money given to them, invested it, and doubled the amount.  One servant, out of fear, took the money, buried it in a hole, and then waited for his master to return.  When the master returned he was elated with the news that two of his servants doubled his money while he was away.  However, when the third servant announced that he had done nothing with the money entrusted to him, and returned the original amount, the master was furious with him.  He took the amount entrusted to the third servant, gave it to the first servant, and threw the third servant out of his house declaring "If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least?" (Matthew 25:26)

As the girls and I sat and discussed this parable, told thousands of years ago, and what it could possibly mean for their lives now, here in 2013, I could see one of the girls go deep into thought.  She sat and remained silent for a while.  Fearing I had lost her attention somehow, I asked her if she had any thoughts to what the parable was teaching her.  She responded with this:

"I think that God gives us all these opportunities, and He expects us to use each opportunity wisely while we are here.  When we waste opportunities, abilities, or the things He has given us, it makes Him sad."

She paused, staring off into nowhere, just long enough for us to notice a break in her words, but not long enough for me to ask another question, or elaborate on what she had said. 

She continued with, "I've been wasting my time before coming here.  I think I've been given many chances to do wonderful things, but I chose not to.  My mom and my grandma have been trying to encourage me in who God is and the plans he has for me, but I ignore them.  So I think He brought me here so I would have to sit still long enough, and away from all the distractions, to find Him.  I've noticed since being here, that a lot of people have been asking me to pray for them.  If I wasn't here, I wouldn't even consider it.  Now that I am, I do.  I didn't get to be released when they said I would be.  I was very disappointed, but now I think that I needed to be here to continue to know Him more."

More silence.

"I don't want my time here to be a waste.  I'm tired of wasting my time outside of here too."

And like that, I once again got to see Jesus meet someone face to face.  In jail.

Isn't it just like Jesus to wait for someone there?  A King who came to this earth not to be served but to serve.  A King born to an ordinary woman in a feed trough.  Not in a palace, not to royalty, and not with any sort of special ceremony.  A King who spent his time not with the most important people, but with the most unnoticed people.  People who were sick and dying, people who were outcasts, people who were criminals.  A King who came to be with the "least of these". 

When I think about Jesus, who He loves, and how He serves, it makes sense to me that He'd wait for this girl there.  In jail.  That terrible, cold place.  That place full of people who are outcasts, who society frowns down upon or even purposely looks away from.  A jail where few acknowledge  (or know) who He really is and how loved they are by Him.  When I really think about who Christ is and what He came to do, it makes perfect sense that He wouldn't hesitate for a second to sit and wait for people there.  No one is too lost for Him to love and no one too low for Him to serve.

These things that God has allowed me to see and be a part of, thrill me to no end.  They deepen my roots of faith, and they make me fall deeper and deeper in love with Him.  Him, who chooses to go to the ugly places, the most hurtful times, and patiently wait there.  A King.  In those places?  My heart could burst.

" Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”
" Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”--Matthew 9:10-13 The Message

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 27 is Day 1

Here, on June 26th,  I'm finding myself on day 27 of summer break, my most favorite time of year.  I had such grand hopes for this summer.  Well, actually for every summer.  Plans of warm days, pools, sleeping in, resting, no shoes, eating out on the deck, and just over-all joy.  I was going to document each day of this break with a "Photo-a-day" project.  I also had this "home summer camp" idea where the kids would have these activities each morning that would help them to achieve summer goals, learn, have fun, and exercise.  Oh, I had plans. 

The first weekend of summer break doesn't really count does it?  I mean, it's the weekend, right.  We were going to have those days anyway.  Plus, I threw my sister a bridal shower that weekend.  Which let's face it, while it was super fun and special, was still a ton of work.  Also, that Sunday I spent doing laundry and packing for a trip that was going to take place early the next morning.  So, yea, I'll say that weekend didn't really count. 

Then we went on this trip.  It was a great trip.  Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida for eight days.  We got up early, we stood in lines, we rode rides, we ate, we drank, we swam, we slept very little.  We (OK, it might just be me) came home exhausted. 

Then, there's the laundry.  Again.  Also, the fridge doesn't stock itself and dinner doesn't come together on it's own.  Also, someone had a birthday, and we celebrated Dads.  I chopped off all of my hair the day after we had family portraits taken.  Yup, we did a lot of shopping to find just the right outfits for those babies.  Also, for one week, we thought we were moving.  They needed to know exactly which model we wanted to build and all the different options we would like to add.  I had to make up my mind quickly because I was leaving again.  But before I could leave, we needed to have clean clothes packed.  Laundry, suitcases, and lists.  Lots and lots of lists because at this point, I'm beginning to feel like I can't remember what day of the week it is let alone all the different things the kids will need to make a 650 mile long road trip to visit with great-grandma just that much more bearable. 

I'm so thankful for the time spend with my family, for the safety and health we had while traveling.  My kids were angels the whole time, as well, and now we are home, and my calendar is relatively clear.  And it's day 27, yet it feels like day 1. 

My summer break is starting just a little bit behind schedule, but I think it's finally here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Boy. He's Eight .

I really don't have words.  My baby.  My youngest child.  He's eight. 


Oh, who am I fooling, of course I have words.

Little Man,
You are my most favorite boy in the entire world.  I don't know that anyone could love another little boy more than I love you.  You are the sweetest, most scrumptious, hilarious, loving, compassionate boy I know.  I could not be more proud of all the things that make you, you.  You have not only been wonderfully made, but you are also purposefully made.  These past eight years have been a thrill for me to watch God form you and make you into who you are.  When I watch your compassionate heart lead others with gentleness, I feel like I get glimpses of God's plan for your life.  It's easy to see that His spirit lives inside you.  You have had an amazing year, and you surprise me almost everyday with your wit, love, kindness, and intellect.  Thanks for a great year, Buddy.  I couldn't ask for a better "job" in this life than to be your mom.

Love you to pieces,