Saturday, June 15, 2013

VBS in pictures

This was my third year teaching Zach's class at VBS.  There are about 110 kids in his grade, and in the past these kids were divided into 4 or 5 classes.  This year, they were divided into two.  I LOVED THE BIGGER CLASS!!  

Having been at the church for 10 years, at the boys' elementary school for 4 years, and being a small group leader in Zach's Sunday school class for the last year, I knew about half of the kids in our class personally.  This was such a blessing!  Having a personal relationship with the kids makes it so much easier to connect with them; to reach them where they're at and grow from there.  And it was an extra special treat to get to hang out with my Sunday school girls for twelve hours in one week.  

I love these kids.

And I love that my husband was able to join us for half of the week.  He has such a heart for these kids, and they love him too.

Incredibly blessed. 

Now...  To figure out how to clone myself so I can teach both of my boys' classes for the next two years.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My sons: "God's Word makes me feel loved."

I love the time we get in the summer.

I love plugging into my family without distraction.

Love.  LOVE.  LOVE!

And I love this book.

It is rocking my world!

It is the perfect companion to my heart's desire to be intentional in all things.

Confession:  I have not read the entire Bible.  Until 10 years ago, I didn't actually know that all those kids' Bible stories I'd heard when young were actually in the Bible, so don't be surprised when I say ... that I didn't know who King Josiah was until yesterday.

That dude was AWESOME.

(2 Kings 22-23...for a more complete picture of his character in spite of his circumstances/influences, back up a couple of chapters to read about his dad and grandpa.)

Today's 5 Conversations chapter was summed up with, "Men like Josiah are not born; they're made.  Yet without an awareness of sin and wrongdoing, a tender and humble response to sin is unlikely.  Our sons are growing up in a culture which the lines between right and wrong are blurred; it becomes easy to sin without a second thought.  As mothers, we must not hesitate to call attention to wrongdoing we witness in our sons' lives - not in an effort to beat them over the head and "guilt" them but rather to encourage them to respond in a manner pleasing to God."

I kid you not, as I was reading these very words, my sons began to misbehave.  (Seriously, it was the first time of the day that I'd had to correct them in any manner!)

As I read, "it becomes easy to sin without a second thought", I could hear them playing with the hose after I'd told them not to.

And, as I finished the part about "calling attention to their wrongdoing", one of my sons lied, "I'm not doing it.  HE IS!"  Although he was the one who turned the hose on and stood there watching and laughing...

I calmly asked them to turn it off and put the hose back, and then to come sit with me when they were done.  They came over, sat down, and looked at me with these huge, hungry eyes and sweet smiles.

I told them the entire story of King Josiah (and his father/grandfather)...and landed on the above quote about godly men not being "born" that way, but rather "made"...and that it's a parents' responsibility to discipline and teach their children.  As I pointed out their sinful behavior - disobeying their mother, and then the one child lying - they were still happily taking it all in!

I am constantly awed by how hungry and eager my kids are for God's Word.  Even when it's a part of discipline!  They never find it dreadfully boring.  Never empty.

I mentioned to them later that they always look so happy and curious when we sit down with the Bible (which, during summer, is every day - at any time throughout the day), and asked them what they are feeling when I ask them to sit with me.   (Often, these conversations will happen in the middle of play.)

"Happy.  Excited.  I love God's Word!"

"Yea, me too!!  It's cool, Mom."

"I really feel loved.  By God and by you.  Thanks, Mom."

Have I mentioned that I really love summer?

Love.  LOVE.  LOVE!

Friday, June 7, 2013

On friendship and love

I was 30 before I really began to understand friendship.  And, as with anything, it has been a growing process.  My 30 year old understanding of friendship is different than my 39 year old understanding.

Funny...  (Or God timing?)  This blog post popped into mind as my heart overflowed with LOVE for a dear friend as I prayed for her this morning.  Prayed over something so deeply personal and emotional, you can only share it with your closest and most trusted friends.  I am beyond blessed by the trust we share, and in the gift of getting to carry this burden with her through prayer.  I'm blessed to get to encourage her - to walk beside her - as she takes this journey.  And I'm blessed by the fact that I can (and have) popped in, called, texted and emailed her with ANY and EVERY need, EVER.  And she has walked beside me every step of the way.  Generously, without fail.

Precious friend.

But I couldn't have friendships like this without first understanding LOVE.

Love.  Our first fruit that we'll begin studying as a family next week!  (Oh, that God...  He's never early, never late, and always working, isn't He?)

Maybe I'll wade into our virtue a little today.  Seems like a pretty natural way to begin our study.

As I researched yesterday in preparation for our Fruits of the Spirit summer, I came across this:

"When God's spirit is at work, amazing things happen.  The person's whole life blossoms and bears beautiful fruit.  The most wonderful fruit is the giving and receiving of true love."

Truer words were never spoken.

Discovering that love is not merely a feeling or emotion (and certainly not a weapon)...and learning to generously give and fearlessly receive love...has been a most significant life changer for me.

Praise the Lord!

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  1 John 4:7

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.  John 13:34-35

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer bucket list

By the first of April, I am really looking forward to summer.  I'm completely sucked in by the promise of warmer weather, coming out of hibernation, regaining full control over our family's schedule, staying up late and sleeping in, traveling, exploring, playing.  With summer comes freedom and loads of incredible, intentional family time.  After months of adhering to school schedules, I embrace the change with wide open arms...and a bucket list.

This year is no different.

We're two weeks into our summer and have already checked a couple of things off our list!

On the list:

Vacations to Disney, Memphis and Colorado
Road trips to explore our great state of Kansas
Our dear friends visiting from out of town for two days
A week at VBS and another at Upwards basketball camp
Visits to the Truman and Eisenhower Presidential Lirbaries
Lots of bike rides, pool days and family runs
Many trips to Worlds and Oceans of Fun
Firepit nights with family and friends
Hours spent playing outdoors
Pick up a new instrument
Community service
Read every day

Reading is a big deal for us every summer.  We read a ton of various fiction, and I have always read a book of the Bible with the boys over the summer.  Months ago, I felt God leading me to something a little different this summer.  Instead of one book of the Bible, we will be studying the Fruits of the Spirit in depth.  Nine fruits, over nine weeks.  As the boys approach their 7th and 10th birthdays, their character (fruit) is something my husband and I are acutely aware of.

(My goodness, I had no idea how much hard, intentional work is involved in mothering!  I've said it hundreds of times already and I'll say it again...becoming a mother was the most arrogant thing I have ever done.  I thought I could do this, but I absolutely could NOT do it well without God.  No way.  Praise God for do-overs and his instruction manual, The Holy Bible.  And for godly friends and mentors.  And for my incredible partner - my stud-muffin husband.  Without you all, I'd be a hot mess...and so would my kids.  But, I digress.)

Beyond flip flops and sun dresses (which I adore!), I love that summer is a time to say yes more often than no.  I love that it affords us the opportunity to pour into our kids without other commitments or distractions.  I love that it is a time for reconnecting with friends and family, and a time to foster new and different friendships too.

I love the possibilities that summer offers - new adventures and discoveries, new growth.

What a gift it is to get to spend these precious months of uninterrupted time with our boys.  Our future men.  I pray, men of godly character.

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."  Galatians 5:22-23