Monday, July 27, 2009

Lessons from the Bramble Bush

Shortly after we bought our house seven years ago, I set about creating a flower bed in our back yard. All was well, but for one very persistent weed. I uprooting the first small, prickly weed and that was the end of it that year. Each and every spring this thornbush popped up, sturdier than before - and each and every spring, I redoubled my efforts to rid my flower bed of the unwanted plant.
This spring, busy with other things, my flower garden took a back seat to my vegetable growing endeavors. When I finally did turn my attention to my flower bed, that old bramble was back again - except this time it was very thick, covered in impressive thorns, and about six feet long. I trudged to the shed to get my gloves, but the thorns poked through the fabric so I figured I would just cut it off at ground level as I had done in the past. I was distracted from my weeding and when I came back to the garden days later, the briar was covered in beautiful blossoms. Realizing that the blossoms resembled those on my red raspberry plants, I decided to watch and wait to see what this weed would produce.
My answer came soon enough - blackberries, lots and lots of big juicy blackberries.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

As I have been visiting my little blackberry bramble frequently as I pick the abundant ripe berries, I've been thinking. When it comes to bearing spiritual fruit, how often I am easily discouraged? Many times, in the face of discouragement, I walk away rather than stand my ground and trust in God to work through me. This once little weed faced me trying to destroy it year after year, but kept on trying - with no encouragement from anyone - and wildly bore fruit past any one's expectations. May it be the same for all of us!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

15 Years Ago

Fifteen years ago today, I walked down the aisle of a small, white country church to wed the man of my dreams, my husband. Our wedding was simple and perfect just the way it was. Our wedding colors were rose and hunter green (still my favorite colors) and the bridesmaid dress was bought off the rack at J.C. Penneys. Our best man, my husband's brother who is now serving in Iraq, was only fifteen years old at the time. The church is the same one my parents were married in in 1972. Our reception was held at the nearby firehall and the meal was provided by my mom and my aunts - sandwiches, potato salad and baked beans. I cherish the memories from that day.
Happy Anniversary Dear!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

In Pictures

If you want to see things from a new perspective, hand your camera to your child.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How I Met My Husband, Part 2

So, I left off with going to college, right? Well, I jumped into college life with both feet, determined that it would be all that I had hoped it would be. New start, new friends, new life - and for a few weeks it was great, but I unexpectedly missed home. On my first weekend home, I called one of my girlfriends, who bubbled over with excitement as she informed me that she was dating someone. And did I want to guess who she was dating? Him. She was dating him - MY best friend. For some reason, this information did not thrill me, not one little bit. I covered up my feelings though, and congratulated her, and listened as she gushed about him. Towards the end of the conversation, she asked what I was doing that weekend, and could the three of us get together sometime? Swallowing a "no", I answered that I thought that we could. Thus began a three month run of coming home every weekend and spending time with my two closest friends, who happened to be dating.
Christmas break came at last, and the two were no longer seeing one another, but it was amicable and the three of us still went to movies occasionally. During the time the two were dating, I was forced to admit to myself that I had feelings other than friendship for him. It was all very 19 year old melodrama, and my thoughts were occupied by very little else from December to mid-January. Finally, the day before I returned to college, on a girls only trip to the mall, I spilled my guts to my friend (yep, that's right, the friend that had just broken up with him). I begged her to keep it a promise-not-to-tell secret. On the drive back to school the next morning, I played out all sorts of scenarios in my mind, deciding that I should probably wait until summer to talk to him about my feelings. To awkward to do it right then, I thought.
I went home the next weekend anyway. Now, just so it is understood, I had to drive past his house to get to mine and he lived about ten minutes from me. No sooner did I set foot in my kitchen, than our phone started to ring. When I picked it up, a very familiar voice said, "So, I hear you like me." I lost all coherent speech at that point and as I sputtered and stuttered I accidentally hung up on him. Running to my bedroom, I immediately called him back and apologized. Turns out, my promise-not-to-tell secret had less than a 24 hour expiration date. Poor guy had to wait all week to hear from me. Long story short, our first date was that very evening. We went to see Aladdin at the movie theater. Dating him felt so right and he proposed right after school left out. I returned to finish school that fall, we ran up huge phone bills and we were married the next summer.
My reason for writing all of this is this, our marriage has not always been easy. We have viewed life from the tops of mountains and from the depths of the valley. The two of us bicker and get exasperated with one another. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage, because there is no such thing as a perfect person. When I take the time to remember our history together, though, I can very clearly see God's hand in our lives - and that, I think is key.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How I Met My Husband

When I first met my husband, I informed him that we would be getting married. In front of several witnesses and my parents. I was a take charge kind of gal. I knew what I wanted and made my decision. I'm pretty sure my boldness shocked everyone around. Did I mention I was five? Or that I proposed to him at kindergarten registration? No? Oops.
True story. We ended up in the same kindergarten class too. I think the teacher thought it was hilarious - until we had to be separated for kissing in line (calm down, it was only on the cheek). The school secretary thought it all very amusing, and tortured me mercilessly throughout my elementary school years. Our romance cooled after kindergarten and instead became a close friendship. I treasure the pictures of us together at his sixth birthday party, and if I ever can figure out how to scan and post those pictures, be assured that I will. Our friendship remained strong until the middle school years when our academic paths diverged and we were no longer in the same classes. Once we reached high school, however, we found that we had the same lunch hour and friends in common, and began a four year tradition of standing in the same group before school and eating lunch at the same table every single day. He quickly became my closest friend. At 17, I had jaw surgery, jaw wired shut and summer school all in the course of two months. My other friends bailed on their mute and perpetually bummed out pal. He was the one who may or may not have implied to the ICU nurse that he was my cousin so that he could come in and visit me post-op. He was the one brought milk shakes and called on the phone so that we could have indecipherable conversations that caused us to crack up uncontrollably. So, of course, I fell head over heels in love with him immediately, right? Um, no, not exactly. Instead, I went off to college and he found a job, and we figured that maybe we would see each other at a high school reunion or two.
To be continued. . .

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Weekend Away, Part 2

The finishing touch on our weekend was a much anticipated trip to the Sight and Sound Theater to see In the Beginning. We had never been there before, so it was quite a treat!
The building was very impressive from the outside - it was enormous! At the main entrance, this statue of a lion and a lamb is the first thing you see.

If impressed is the word I used for the outside of the theater and awed is the word I'm going to use for the inside. The four of us walked through the doors and immediately, our jaws hit the floor when we saw the lobby area. Gorgeous!
We walked around for awhile before the show - a pleasant surprise was that the concessions were not terribly expensive and that every single employee we met were extraordinarily nice. One of the ladies noticed my brother-in-law's military picture in my son's wallet and asked about him. When my son told her that his uncle is serving in Iraq, she promised that she would pray for him and his family. I was so very touched by her kindness.
Finally, it was time to take our seats.

The beginning sequence, the portrayal of God creating the earth, was breathtaking. Stars and planets sprung from the darkness near the ceiling, angels flew high above our heads and sang, "Glorious", animals (real and animatronic) took the stage - it was like nothing I have ever seen in my life. If ever you have a chance to attend one of this marvelous productions, do not pass it up.

The scene when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden was heart wrenching. During intermission, the angels with flaming swords stood guard as the crowd awaited the rest of the play, which was every bit as good as the previous part.

All in all it was a wonderful break from the daily grind and a terrific time to reconnect as a family, but as it always is, it was even nicer to come home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Weekend Away

On Friday morning, we piled into the car and escaped to Lancaster, PA for the weekend. Swayed by the frequent commercials and frequent mentions, we stopped by a Sonic for lunch.
We do not have a Sonic nearby, so the whole "drive in" concept was initially confusing, but we figured it out. Cherry limeade is AMAZING!
At the outlets and I purchased a much coveted microplane zester. No one in my family had any idea what it was or why on earth I wanted one so badly, but I was insanely happy (or insane AND happy) when I found one.
Our next stop was the Mennonite Information Center where they have a replica of the Tabernacle as described in Leviticus. Since I just recently finished reading Leviticus, it was really neat to see everything and get a feel for the size and layout of it. Surprisingly, the Tabernacle was not all that big.
To finish off the evening, we played a round of mini-golf at what has to be the most beautiful course I have ever seen - Village Greens. This course was even mentioned in Sports Illustrated!
We found a very nice Bed and Breakfast in Smoketown called Homestead Lodging, it was a great place to stay with kids. The back of the property borders an Amish farm and cornfield, and we were treated to an outstanding light show, courtesy of the lightening bugs.
Saturday's adventures to follow. . . .

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Nightmare No More

To preface this post, I do not like horror movies - never have, never will. The closest thing to a scary movie I've seen in a theater is The Sixth Sense, and even that I watched through my fingers most of the time. I don't like to be scared. I like movies where the endings are happy, and with the same number of characters at the end that it had in the beginning.
But, since I don't live completely under a rock, I have to admit this cracked me up:

My daughter and I went out to lunch and this is the pen they gave me to sign with. It's so nice to know that he has reformed and become a businessman. I just wonder what he does? Manicurist? Sleep technician? Fashion Designer? Dermatologist?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Twister . . . . .

. . . . not just for humans, apparently.
The kids went to bed without putting their game away. Midnite was intrigued.
The spinner is a little hard to manipulate without fingers, but she manages nicely.

Hmmmm. Maybe Parker Brothers needs to be notified that there is an untapped market for board games. Tell me this isn't a happy dog.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bible Study Crunch Time

Next week kicks off the Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible study. I don't think that I ever fully told the story of how this study came together, and since I don't have anything else to post about today, that seems as good as anything.
Around Christmas, I started thinking about the possibility of maybe, potentially, someday in the far off future hosting a Bible study. The thought was fleeting, kind of like a buzzing mosquito that you swat away from your ear and forget all about. At the beginning of February, I spoke at a women's breakfast and thought, hey, these ladies are fun - I should think about that whole Bible study thing again - someday. March passed without any of my neurons suggesting any sort of study. April, however, was a completely different story. I received my Today's Christian Woman magazine in the mail and it seemed like every other page had an advertisement for another women's Bible study. While shopping for a new novel, I found myself staring at a large display of Bible study curriculums. All the while, I kept praying, "God, if you want me to do this Bible study thing, please make it clear." Duh. Sometimes I think I must be in the front row of His remedial class.
My plan was that I would host a small (four or five women) Bible study at my house one a week for five, maybe six weeks. Sounded like a very good plan to me. It was then suggested to me that it would perhaps be a better idea to host the Bible study at our church on Wednesday nights and think a bit bigger. After a small, "but, God" session, which ironically the author of the study, Liz Curtis Higgs, highlights, I was forced to realize that this whole Bible study thing was NEVER my plan - it was His all along. I say this, but just for the sake of honesty, I still thought this was going to be a small scale Bible study, maybe six or seven women instead of four or five. At this very moment, I have thirty, yep 30, ladies signed up for this. God has a sense of humor and He is so, so good.
I know we are going to learn lots, laugh and have good fellowship, but I wanted to ask for your prayers. I have logged plenty of hours in nurseries, Sunday schools, junior church, youth group and VBS, but never something like this. I'm excited and intimidated, nervous and raring to go!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

I just wanted to wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July! As we spend time with our loved ones this weekend - please take a moment to remember our armed forces and all that they have done, do and will do for us. Enjoy all of the summer fun and fellowship, and thank God for all of the freedoms that we so often take for granted.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vacation Bible School

All this week, I've been immersed in our church's VBS (Vacation Bible School) program. It's been a blast! So many kids, what fun!
So, this post is going to be an Ode to Vacation Bible School - or not, as I'm not sure how exactly you go about writing an Ode. Maybe "Tribute to VBS" is better.
I attended my first VBS when I was five years old. My only distinct memories of that week are that my mother made me wear a yellow dress that I loathed (Hi Mom!), ribbons on my pony tails, I panicked when the teacher asked me how to spell my middle name (I didn't know) and that I learned how to play "Farmer Takes a Wife". VBS was a summer staple, attending and then helping out, until I went to college. After a hiatus of a few years, I began helping out again when the kids started to attend. So many themes, so many awesome crafts, so many skits - great memories.
What I couldn't believe though, history buff and useless trivia guru that I am, not once, in all of these years of VBS, did I ever bother to find out how VBS started. Rest assured, I remedied that situation right quick!
  • The first Vacation Bible School was created in 1894 in Illinois because Mrs. D. T. Miles, a Sunday School Teacher (and public school teacher), felt that Sunday school did not give her enough time to teach the Bible to her students. So, she held daily classes through the summer.
  • Eliza Hawes rented a New York City beer parlor in order to hold "Everyday Bible School" for children living in nearby slums. The six week program went on for seven years.
  • Standard Publishing (still one of the most popular publisher of VBS curriculums) created the first VBS program curriculum in 1923.

In honor of Vacation Bible Schools everywhere, feel free to leave a comment and share your favorite VBS memory, VBS theme, VBS snack - whatever you want. Or just leave a comment and say hi.