Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Things That Make You Go "WHAT?"

Enough of these sentimental, thought-provoking blog posts. It's time to lighten up.

Those kids to the left, our youngest two children, are the cause of a lot of laughter in our family, as well as some head-scratching moments when we sit back and say, "What?!" This past Sunday was a good example...

We've recently found ourselves in a position of freedom on Sundays. In the past few years, Nate has been serving as interim and transitional pastors at different churches, and thus our Sundays are always planned out. However, since he just finished his latest transitional pastorate, we've found ourselves with the unique opportunity to decide what we want to do each Sunday.

We've enjoyed the chance to visit a few different churches and relax more. This past Sunday - we made a rare choice to visit a large church in Columbia. Not since attending Second Baptist Church of Houston do I remember visiting a really large church - and that was many years ago. This was less than half the size of that Houston church, but for us, it was still huge. I was anxious to see what my younger kids thought of it - since they've never experienced anything other than our small, rural congregations.

Thus, after we left the church's second of three services and were heading out for a Sunday afternoon drive (with the freedom of not having to make it back in time for committee meetings or evening services) I asked my youngest kids, "So, what did you think of that church service? Kind of different?"

Right away, the eleven-year-old chimed in, "The best part was when everyone stood up all together, and then sat down all together!"

"YEAH!" shouted the nine-year-old in agreement.

What??!  No mention of the extremely cool and talented worship band - the theater type seats - the dual large screens - the skinny-jean-clad pastor - the bookstore - the coffee shop?
Just people standing up and sitting down???

"But we stand up and sit down during our smaller church's worship service," I felt compelled to explain.

"I know - but when ALL those people stand up together, it looks really cool and it makes a loud noise," was their simple clarification.

I love kids' fresh and unique take on things. Theirs, however, made me wonder if King Solomon should have added just one more item to his famous Ecclesiastes 3 passage.  I can just see it now, perhaps right after "a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;" he should have added this little addendum for my kids' sake, "A time to stand up, and a time to sit down." Or it could have been, "A time to make a lot of noise while standing & sitting, and a time to refrain from making a lot of noise."  

Yup - someday in Heaven I'll ask Solomon why he neglected to add that little tidbit.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Mom Ramblings in a Big World

It's been another one of those days. You know the kind - you've just sent a child off somewhere, and you're feeling those melancholy mamma moments. I think it must happen to every parent in varying ways and at various times. That first day of kindergarten. Their first sleep-over. Their first week away at camp. Then things get bigger, and before you know it you're sending them off for a few weeks at a time on trips that woo your fledglings to try out their wings and make those first faltering flights farther from home.

Ah, but then there's college. Near or far - sending them off to college has to be one of the biggest, hardest, "cutting the apron strings" events.  That is, until the wedding day takes place. Wouldn't you think that once the wedding occurs and they've got a home of their own, that would be that and a parent would become accustomed to not having their adult child near-by? Perhaps...until they decide to take off to the other side of the world for a couple of years, then you get hit all over again...a bit like that first day of school times 1000.

Aug. 2012 - Sending Lydia off
to England until December
I feel as if I've witnessed the view to the left a few too many times. Herding everyone into an airport, so that one (or two or three) can head off to another land - often half a world away.

I think I can say it all began in 2001. Granted, Nate did a few mission trips before that - but in January of '01 all of us went to India for three months. That was the beginning of our children developing globe-trotting habits and a heart like their father's (and Father's.)

Before I knew it, before that year was even over, Nate and two of the girls headed off to Guatemala. The next year, two of the girls headed to Ecuador - only 13 and 15 years old and their first mission trip without mom or dad along for the ride. The year after that - I think two of them went to Mexico. It all gets a bit blurry after that point...a total of three different trips to Mexico and Guatemala, and a few more India trips interspersed amongst trips to places like Rwanda and Nicaragua.

That was just the mission trips. A couple of years ago, the "semesters abroad" began...first India, and now two different ones in England - including some travel to Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland and Scotland. Soon - the "Journeyman" trips begin - two year commitments to serve overseas.

Am I complaining? Good golly, NO! Fantastic opportunities, unforgettable experiences and blessed days of serving the poorest of the poor - who could begrudge any of that? But there are many moments when my sighing heart says very, very loudly, "The world is a very big place, and my child on the other side of it is so very, very small."

Thus, in the midst of my heavy heart and melancholy, I have to remind myself that God is a very big God. No matter how big the world is and how far away my child is - it is HIS world and that child is HIS child. I'm just the minuscule tool that had the wonderful, brief opportunity to mold and shape that life. Thus, I need to allow God to lift my spirits with faith in the fact that He's now using my children as the tools that shape the lives of others.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." --Hebrews 11:1,6

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you."    --Jeremiah 32:17