During my freshman year of college I was given an assignment in my Expository Writing class. We were to write a descriptive essay—I had lost my father to a car accident just one year prior and had been coping by writing poems and journal entries…so this time I chose to write specifically regarding the car accident.
I would describe the accident in detail. I felt like I needed to, in order to process the reality and maybe to help push through the flashbacks. I needed the whole thing to just make sense in my mind.
I completed the assignment, handed it in, and went on to receive an ‘A’. I felt very connected to that writing, but eventually it was physically misplaced. Throughout the years, the absence of that paper has caused me some distress.
Now ever since I was a teen I’ve been storing collectibles, pictures, and memorabilia in a cedar chest my parents bought me for my sixteenth birthday.
Last year I rummaged through that large wooden box as I have many other times, only this time I came across a folder that hadn’t been opened for years. I peered inside and much to my surprise I came across writings—journal entries from that college Expository Writing class.
When I wrote my last blog-post (First Jesus, then coffee) I didn’t know I’d have a part two until I was just finishing up.
It prompted me to consider a recent conversation my husband and I had… ‘The way we’re living day to day—the things we’re saying and doing, our behavior and actions are all a representation of our Christian faith.’
When we’re asked to give our testimony, we want it to be an accurate reflection of who we are in Christ and ultimately who Jesus is. As His followers we need to portray Him well, not only outside of our home but inside also.
For the two of us, while growing up, our view of God was misrepresented therefore we lived a life apart from Him—and I wouldn’t blame our parents for that; more than likely they had misconstrued ideas or a void of Christ as well during their years at home and prior to that it’d been an ongoing defect passed down generation after generation.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
“I can’t believe you use to be wild, you don’t seem like the type”…….That’s the typical statement I hear after sharing my testimony (my story of coming to faith). And it humbles me, it’s a sure-sign indicator that I must be doing something right these days! Whew!!!
Recently I’ve been mentally preparing to give my testimony to a group of high school teenage girls from my church.
When my sweet friend and also fellow youth leader asked if I’d share my story with these girls I wish I could say my first thought was, ‘this is the group that meets at a coffee shop for bible study every Saturday morning… there’s going to be an abundance of flavored creamer for a little bit of coffee…why, YES I’ll speak for you gals!’ BUT that’s far-fetched from my initial reaction…it was more so, ‘you want me to do what???, these girls are going to reject me, what do I include and what do I somewhat sugar-coat???, where do I start and how much needs to be said?’…
There’s a reason I volunteer to help with the jr. high youth group (only)—they’re fun, crazy, and most impressionable…but the high school group I’m not real familiar with and I’ve somewhat distanced myself, not because I don’t care for them but more so because when I was that age I was (regretfully) a mess of a girl, so perhaps I feel somewhat unable to connect with a majority of them…
He walked over to my “temporary” desk while I substitute taught and the words abruptly and nonchalantly spilled from his mouth, “my dad just recently died.”
Taken aback, I looked up from the top of my glasses and the pile of papers I’d been sorting to place a face to the small voice that had just offered me such matter-of-fact information. A young boy of about ten years old with light-colored hair, freckles, and a fair skin tone stood just feet away from me.
My mind quickly searched for words of comfort to give and with concern shown on my face the normal cliché consoling-phrase jumped its way out, “I’m really sorry.” …and I really meant it, but as I offered those overused words, my heart felt unsatisfied and desired to extend on the moment.
For years now I’ve worked at a nursing home where I doll-up ladies and trim men’s hair one day out of the week. Most of these men and women will complete their last years of life here so it gives me such an opportunity to analyze my outlook on life as I build relationships with this elderly generation and learn about and from their lives.
I’ll always remember one of my ladies who had her hair “fixed” weekly by me, she always seemed to be in a positive state of mind…until I’d seat her in the salon chair…anyone with a “cosmetology degree” knows that with that degree comes more than just hair— somewhere hidden in that name must include: counselor.
As she lay in bed I knelt down by her feet and began rubbing them gently. She needed comfort and this was a relaxing form in which I could offer it.
I was serving at an annual week-long summer camp, but it isn’t just any ordinary summer kids’ camp, this special camp brims with emotion—some cheerful and some troubling. One of my responsibilities is to aide in putting little girls to bed in their cabin shortly after the sun settles. This often includes tucking them in, prayer, story-time, music, and occasional waitress duties when they request a sip of water to quench a dry throat. Continue reading “Loving Others Through Dirty Feet”
Originally written and posted on 9/4/17, reposting on 9/4/18
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Psalm 127:3
“It was either a grasshopper or a mouse—just smacked me in the face and bounced off!”, I joked with my kids and they giggled and snickered behind me wildly.
We were on our annual camping trip, complete with four-wheelers, miles of sandy trails shaded within a thicket of pine trees, and of course marshmallows toasted over a camp fire in the evenings. My two youngest children rode securely behind me on our four-wheeler while my husband and oldest daughter trailed behind, each on their own ATV.
Just for the record, safety is a must…pony tails fly in the wind under tightly strapped riding helmets and boy hair shows sweaty evidence whenever the protective headgear is removed, chicken legs are always covered with blue jeans, and little toes are snug in a pair of boots or sneakers.
We’ve come to this particular state park a number of times now and it always proves to be a nice break from the routine of chores, work, and electronics back home. A wide array of colorful wildflowers dot the many hills of sand amongst thousands of acres of tall conifers; and Poison Ivy trail comes by its name naturally. In a playful manner sunsets seem magical, although I know it’s really God’s hand at a work of art. Finding time for relaxation, writing, and Bible reading always seems to occur effortlessly for me when visiting this home away from home.
Some of our most favorable memories as a family can be traced back to four-wheeler tracks left on a sandy, winding trail at this campground…
I recall one time when we pulled along side a sand-covered path to enjoy a picnic. While I made sandwiches the kids picked up large pieces of tree bark and began using them as shields as they pretended to play a game of what must have been ‘Knights in Shining Armor.’ My son chose what he thought would make the best shield of all, but upon examining it further we all laughed hysterically when we realized he was actually holding a hardened “cow-pie”.
…Fast-forward a few years to the bittersweet outting I’m referring to as I write (Labor Day weekend 2017)— I felt a strong urgency to make every endeavor of having a good time, hence the reason for my silly comment to my bubbly passengers.
To be honest, at times I get stuck in discouragement realizing that my kids are growing up and this was one of those instances where I was struggling with those depressing thoughts. The problem is I focus too much on time quickly passing by, rather than soaking-in the moments of precious memories with these kids. Inevitably though, the years of camping and four-wheeler riding in the sand hills along with every day fun spent together as a family will cease as they mature and go out to experience life on their own and frankly this thought doesn’t settle well with me!
Realistically speaking, when I find myself tormented by these feelings I realize it’s Satan trying to swoop in and steal the joy I experience with the family God has blessed me with. To counteract this false logic Satan longs to impress on me, I have to remind myself that God’s desire for me is to find peace through Him (Romans 15:13).
These years on earth are temporary and pass quickly; I want to do everything possible to live in a way where I bring glory to God by what I say, do, and think (1 Corinthians 10:31). True lasting joy comes when I place my faith in the Lord daily and seek Him wholeheartedly. If I allow Satan to intervene without considering God’s truth I’m left standing at the risk of not enjoying the life God has graciously given me.
Even though my kids are growing up at a rapid rate I need to appreciate every minute I have with them without allowing Satan to interrupt. Life experiences and mine and my husband’s Godly influence will help mold these children. Through prayer, God’s word, and His grace-filled love I am reminded that He has chosen us as their parents.
Maintaining a positive perspective and watching my son and daughters grow in the Lord and love Him on their own will make every moment I spend with them worth it as I focus my attention to them rather than a swirling clock-hand. And if it includes shouting silly comments from the seat of a four-wheeler to keep this optimistic attitude then I’m in. I want my children, and my husband and I to be able to reflect back on these years we’ve spent together as welcoming ‘hill climbs’ in our growing faith.
**UPDATE..Below are some pictures from our most recent camping experience, Labor Day weekend 2018… amazing how God works, I was able to fully enjoy my time this particular outting without dwelling on how quickly the time passes;)