Category Archives: Christianity

Life is a Highway

Exhilarating about describes it.

I wanted so badly to sink into sleep again and reclaim the heart-stopping hopefulness—the wonder filled awe that has been so absent from my life of late. But toddler was singing her “mommy-hi-mommy” good morning song and so I inhaled, hoping the details would retain their clarity till I could revisit the dream. And before you clear your throat and laugh nervously, believe this: I rarely dream, and I even more rarely put any stock in dreams.

A bit of background. My spiritual life has been slowly going stagnant. Hurts to admit it. A person can definitely get too busy and I’ve felt far away from Him for a while now. Can’t blame anyone but myself either.

So back to my dream the other night.

In it, I and several strangers were racing along the top edge of a cliff, with a canyon on one side and a barren, dust-filled desert on the other. Strangely, the air was brisk and sweet and my heart was flying in anticipation. It was as if we knew a weird premonition of the “rapture”. Like our jeep full of people were hurrying to meet Jesus. The Bible says He will come like a thief in the night and we all need to be ready should the sky fall to pieces with His trumpet-shout. Praise filled my dream, and urgency, and like a drum beat in the background the refrain from Days of Elijah kept hammering in my awareness. “There’s no God like Jehovah, There’s no God like Jehovah…” if you’ve heard that song, you know what I mean. It’s about the coming of Christ…the Jubilee…and it’s a soul-soaring experience just hearing it. And I’ve only heard the last part of it twice, in the car, on the way to church. A partial for you:

Still we are the voice in the desert, crying, prepare ye the way of the Lord!  (I just now went and found the lyrics online…hadn’t remembered the part about the desert!)

Behold He comes! Riding on the clouds!
Shining like the sun! At the trumpet call
Lift your voice! It’s the year of Jubilee!
And out of
Zion‘s hill salvation comes! There’s no God like Jehovah!

So the feeling I was left with?

First, one of peace. When you are in a spiritual low as I’ve been…knowing God’s strength is there for my weakness/discouragement even when I’m trying to fly through life on nibbles from His word…it’s easy to imagine that my luke-warmness is absence of salvation. How could He put up with me and my Israelite-behavior? But my deadness fell off as I dreamed. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that exhilarated hope/assurance of Heaven. It took my breath away. Nothing mattered except Him. Shouldn’t life be that way?  Nothing matters but Jesus. And that assurance is there for us believers, even when we doubt.

Second, life is a narrow highway world with a chasm of danger on one side and barrenness on the other…and we are speeding along, distracted, not realizing how it could all be over in a trumpet blast. How many miles, how much dust lies behind us…choking the people in our wake? Choking us, leaving us bone-dry and weary, when we’re supposed to be preparing the way of the Lord… 

Spinning

Sometimes my girls beg me to play the Spinning Song by Ellmenreich on the piano…as I play, I go progressively faster and faster and they spin crazily behind me…to the cries of “One more time, please!” 5 yo even has a special dress she has to wear while spinning…it’s got the “perfect spinny skirt!”

Anyhow, that’s how I’ve been feeling the past two days…VBS is in full tilt and it’s all good! Getting so much done ahead of time really smoothed the way…I feel like for the actual 2 hrs of VBS each night that we get to coast…it’s the pre-planning, the hours ahead of time that rattle me a bit. Plus today was our annual homeschool mom’s luncheon and tea party, so I really wore my kids out by the time I finished dragging them all over the place–4 cities in a few hours time! Baby took her nap on my shoulder in Wal-mart. All 27 pounds of her! Picture me, tongue hanging out (91* outside) with hot, heavy toddler passed out in my arms…but we HAD to go to Wal-mart so my 8 yo could spend $16 of her “puppy dollars” on boxes of crayons for our VBS mission’s project. Puppy dollars translates to her “payment” from daddy for all the work she does with our litters of pups from the time they are born till they sell. She and 5 yo get a percentage of each pup we sell. They earn it!

Our VBS totals are hovering at 30–which is good, considering all the kids busy with ball games this time of year. We planned for 40, so we’re not understocked on supplies. For crafts tonight, the kids painted big vegetable cans white, then stamped them with black-painted square sponges to make a checkerboard pattern. Then they got sticky-backed foam letters to use for spelling out their name across the bottom of the can…last but not least, they planted petunias in them. Very cool! Also, they made candles by layering different colors of this really neat powdered wax in a baby food jar with a wick. Tie some raffia or twine around the jar threads and you have a really pretty candle! VBS snacks have been so cute so far…tonight they had “rock piles” (our pacesetter was David–ya know, the kid that faced down Goliath!), and last night they had blue frosted graham crackers that stood parallel to each other with gummy fish stuck to them and teddy grahams crossing through on “dry land”–yep, our pacesetter was Moses and the story–the parting of the Red Sea. I’ve been taking two of my girl’s friends along each night, and the four of them spend quite a bit of time raving about all the fun they are having! That spells success in my book! I’m so glad this week is finally here. All the hard work behind us, now we can just enjoy the ride!

Summer is 2 weeks away! Don’t know how you Californians are surviving! Saw on the news that you had some 111* days last weekend! Do us a favor, and keep it!

Have a great week!

Mary

Our cow is lonely. Some Christians are too.

We took the last of the colts to pasture this weekend and ever since our lone mama cow has been bellering for her buddies.  Plus, she’s not due to calve till June, but her udder is tight and she looks suspiciously close. But what do I know? 

We skipped the trip to town for horseshoes in favor of more playtime outside.  Can’t take these sunny days for granted with all the rain we’ve had lately.  I filled up a big aluminum pan with water balloons and we had a free-for-all!  The girls were outside from 11 am till 6 pm, and they’ve eaten and are happily ensconced under their covers.  What a great way to wear out!

I was talking books with a girlfriend who is helping me with VBS.  She has no idea I’m writing.  She made the comment that she didn’t like Karen Kingsbury’s Redemption Series because the Christians face so much turmoil.  She tossed her head and rolled her eyes and I about died laughing.  I was glad to know that not ALL readers out there have to have back to back conflict.  But it got me to thinking. We all have our own unique areas of testing…whether it seems to always be health, job, or finances, or family conflict.  Maybe your vehicles are always breaking down.  I don’t know.  Some people seem to be like Job…everything at once.  When we were self-employed I had to hang on to that verse about contentment…Godliness with contentment is great gain.  I learned a lot in those lean years.  I have one painful memory of the humiliation of a bank overdraft that I didn’t know how we were going to cover, but that’s the only really bad memory I have.  And yes, I’m kind of glossing over it (no need to mention how I sank to my knees in the corner of the kitchen and wept, so sick of it all) but it was a big deal to me.  When I think back to those times of wracking my brain for creative snacks for the kids, or how to stretch point A to point F…or looking at other families with two incomes and wondering why God wanted me at home? Now, instead of all that, I remember the good things.  Like the piles of bagged popcorn in my upper cupboard that had accumulated year after year from our farming neighbor…just waiting to be used as a last resort snack…which became the kid’s favorite! (Ever make cinnamon popcorn with red hots?) Or how I had to get in the habit of baking homemade bread out of sheer necessity…which was like a delicacy that I’d been too lazy to discover!  I remember devouring Tightwad Gazette volumes 1,2, and 3 and being amazed at all the ways I wasted money!  Even now that I don’t have to I still wash out my ziplock baggies, not the sandwich ones, but everything else! We discovered the best beans out there–Anasazi beans, that require hardly any soaking and they’re SO pretty in glass jars!Are there any Christians untouched by suffering?  If there are, I bet they only appear to be. Our pastor had a great message on Sunday about loving one another.  He said some lady did an experiment in a well known city in Nebraska.  She visited 18 churches consecutively and sat up toward the front.  Her purpose was to score each church for their friendliness factor.  I can’t remember the exact “point system” she used but suffice it to say they got around a 100 points for each person who came up to her and shook her hand.  They got even more if they introduced themselves to her.  And even more, like 500 if they said, “Hey, you should meet so-and-so”…there were all sorts of simple ways for these church folks to gain points.  And to make it easier on them, this gal made her way slowly from the front pew where she sat to the back at each church, making eye contact with whoever she could…essentially being friendly herself to pave the way for a return on her investment!  Sadly enough, the highest scoring church had only 100 points.  

Now that’s hard for me to believe.  Our church is pretty friendly, in fact, that’s one reason my dh and I kept going back…we were made to feel so welcome.  I know I’m guilty of being in too great a hurry to run back to the nursery, collect my kids and get home for lunch…but what’s the deal with 18 churches in the same town all being too inhibited to be friendly to a newcomer?

What a ramble.  Guess I should put my soapbox back where it belongs now!

Gonna hit the book,

Mary

VBS and Two Must Read Links for Writers!

Couple of VBS tips for ya, in case you are in the same mode…get to church early the Sunday you plan to announce the need for volunteers and go through the pews putting neon dot stickers randomly under the seats. Then at announcement time, tell everyone to check under their chairs to see if they’re the lucky winners that get to “help” with VBS this year!!! Then run, don’t walk to the nearest exit!   I actually can’t complain, I’ve got my crafts, snacks, story, song, game and missions all lined out…it’s just the organizing of all the details!

Second tip: in the month leading up to VBS have a standard workshop night–we’re having ours every Tuesday night from 6-8 pm…a come and go time where anyone can drop in and be put to work coloring posters, painting backdrops, getting the crafts ready etc. This is a good way to involve people in your church that already know they won’t be in town or available to help during the actual week of VBS.

Have to share our mission project, we’re so excited about it! The general consensus at our church as regards a mission offering for VBS is “don’t ask the kids to bring money”…um, okay. But–little whine here– I really have good memories of the boys against girls offering wars or the time we all brought shoes to be donated to an overseas orphanage… So we started mulling over our options. What could we do that would appeal to the kids, and give them an opportunity to make a difference? Long story short, we are going to collect boxes of crayons and sheets of star stickers to be sent to Burundi, Africa for the over 16,000 children that will be participating in VBS this summer. Another church not too far away from ours does this every year, and we’ll just send our collections with them. Each African child will receive one color to last the entire week of VBS. The stars are attendance stickers to be put on the homemade crowns they’ll construct the first day. The woman who explained this mission to me said that over half of these children come to know the Lord during this week in VBS. Burundi used to be a part of Rwanda…these children know a lot about loss of loved ones and living in the midst of war. I can’t wait to take this on!

Okay for anyone writing or interested in expanding your horizons: Yesterday in asking for help with my ms at ACFW, one of the members, Mirtika, who critiques for contests and an online magazine gave me a link to her blog and said I could share it. The entry is called BEFORE YOU ENTER THAT FICTION CONTEST: Mir’s Non-Comprehensive Tour of Trouble-Spot Tip-Offs. Also while there check out her links…there is one for Ten Writing Mistakes that is worth reading also. I printed out both actually! Sigh. Who knew there was so much to well, writing! Or writing well! Mir has a hilarious way of doing both and I appreciated that she “showed” how to fix the common mistakes, she didn’t just point them out as problems!

Now I need to go quit procrastinating…maybe I can play around with some VBS clip art as I surf the net!

Have a great day!

Mary