Just about everyone is talking about the end of summer these days. I don’t know if it is because school starts next week, the sun is setting earlier or that hint of fall that’s been in the air for the last few days. Whatever it is, we’re all thinking about it. And most of us are asking the same question: Where did summer go?
It went the way of all seasons – it passed us by. I was reminded last evening that time is short and we do not know what tomorrow might bring (nothing tragic happened, the subject was raised by the NOOMA video my small groups leaders and I were discussing). The truth is that time isn’t short – time is time, a second is a second, a minute is 60 seconds no matter how you slice it. But our perception of time is relative to our emotional experience. The minutes can seem to drag on for hours when we are bored (10th grade math class, anyone?) or zip by too quickly when we are having fun (vacation!!!).
The thing is, the older I get, the more aware I am of all the minutes that seem to zip by, waaaaay too quickly. It seems that time is passing more quickly, with each year that I live. It’s starting to scare me a bit. That’s part of the reason I blog…so I will remember some of the moments that have passed me by.
What I want to remember right now is the way the dogs (my own Koski, and my parents’ Keeper) look curled up on their mats in the livingroom, snoozing as I type this. And the way the air has been different the last few mornings as Koski and I took our walk along the Etobicoke Creek trail – tinted with coolness and the promise of fall. And the way the sun almost blinded me as I drove across the city under a perfectly clear sky to pick up a friend from the airport this evening. And the way my muscles have that deliciously exhausted feeling because of a challenging BodyPump class.
I want to remember all the things that make life good. All the tiny little blessings that God sends my way every single day. All the things I need to stop and say thank you for, even though most of the time, I don’t.
Because if I don’t remember them now, if I don’t notice them and express thankfulness for them now, I may not get the chance tomorrow.
We’ve passed ‘hump day’ at VBS. I’ve reached that point where I know I’m going to make it through the week without having a breakdown. 🙂 In fact, the next two days will pass in the blink of an eye, and I will be sad to see that we are wrapping up for another year.
At the same time, I am at least as tired as I thought I’d be (though, I do think I’m doing a better job of taking care of myself this year), so I will welcome a slightly-slower pace once VBS ends. As with most things in life – it’s good and bad mixed together.
But before I rush on to other concerns and other ministries at St. A’s, I think I need to take a second and record some of the blessings I’ve experienced in ministering to this great group of kids this week. Here we go:
-we have an autistic boy who has really integrated well into the group, it’s unbelievably moving to see how the kids love and care for him
-today as we heard the story of Jesus’ arrest and trial, I could tell the kids were genuinely saddened at what Jesus went through – their hearts were hurting for him…never doubt that kids can have a powerful faith
-there are always some kids that are a little more of a handful than others…but when that kid who has been on your last nerve for the last half hour gives you a hug and says “but I don’t want to leave” at the end of the day – it just makes it all worth while
-our VBS kids have been truly outstanding when it comes to the Scriptures we have been memorizing and the Bible Points we have been learning…when it comes to VBS it is always my prayer that some of the seeds we plan will take route in the hearts of these children and the faith that grows there may carry them through all that life will throw at them. I truly believe I have seen some of that happening this week.
-I have great leaders and junior leaders…they are fun to be around and they care as deeply as I do about these children
-we have been doing something called “God Sightings” all week – where we write down any moments where we saw God’s hand at work in our midst…it was slow to get going, but today we had several kids who reported God Sightings. Beautiful!
As I suspected, VBS is already taking a tonne of energy. But it’s also a tonne of fun. I was really pleased by how today went and by the great group of kids we have this year. They had lots of fun (there is little in life that is as rewarding as a kid saying “no, I don’t wanna leave” at the end of a VBS day!).
We are learning all about trusting God this week. As much as it is a great lesson for the kids, I have to admit it’s something that we adults need to learn over and over again. Just about every time I think I know how to trust God with my problems and worries, I suddenly find myself trying to solve them on my own. I know better, but I don’t always do better.
I believe that’s why faith is a life-long journey. Although the lessons themselves are fairly simple, fairly easy to grasp, they are often very difficult to LIVE. It’s the difference between knowing something with your head, and actually having it enter your heart and transform how you live.
I am grateful that God does not give up on us. I am grateful that He keeps walking this road with us, helping us up when we fall.
And really, that’s why He deserves our trust!
So tomorrow our VBS begins at St. A’s. I love VBS week. It’s always a blast to explore faith with a bunch of great kids. This year we will be learning all about trusting God.
Today has been a day of prep – we decorated the sanctuary after worship this afternoon. This evening, I’ve been going over all the materials for the different sections I will be leading tomorrow. I even gave myself a sky mani-pedi (complete with white clouds on a blue background!).
As fun and lighthearted and good-for-my-soul as this week will be, it will also be a week that is completely exhausting. So before we begin, I’d like to ask for your prayers. Pray that the energy levels of the leaders may be sustained, that the campers would have a great and fun time, and most of all that God would be powerfully present, touching young lives and turning hearts toward Him.
So if you have been a Christian for more than about 5 minutes, you have probably heard the saying “love the sinner, hate the sin.” my friend Nancy posted this AWESOME take on that saying on FB the other day. Ever since seeing it, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
Mark Lowry likes to play the lovable idiot. But dude is SMART. This reminded me of Teddy Roosevelt’s saying: comparison is the thief of joy. I think the world would be a much better place if we could all learn to take care of our own mess, instead of worrying about the messes of others.
Jesus had something to say on that matter, too. He said, worry about the plank (read: big honkin’ piece of wood) in your own eye before you point out the speck (read: tiny, barely noticeable flake of wood) in your brother’s (read: fellow human being) eye.
It isn’t an easy command to follow, and Jesus knows I fail at it regularly, but it certainly is something I continue to work on. And I am convinced it is one of the secrets to world peace.
So many of you know that I hurt my foot last week. (You know this because I am an Olympic-gold-medal complainer when I am sick or injured. This is probably something I should work on, but there are so many other things on that list, and only so many hours in a day.) The really frustrating thing about the injury was that it happened when I was doing something so mundane and average that I didn’t even remember doing it afterward. I am of the belief that if one hurts oneself it should be because of an event that was momentous enough to be remembered. Yeesh.
Anyway, because of the foot injury I was not able to get back to the gym like I had hoped last week. In fact, I wasn’t even able to go for a decent walk for a number of days. Now, at another time of the year, I might have just grinned and thought: oh well, I am going to have to take it easy for a few days…that’s not so bad. But at this particular juncture I was more than a little frustrated. You see, I chose to be fairly (read: incredibly) lazy during my summer holiday. I decided this vacation would be a true break from all of the things I have been disciplined about in the last year. I didn’t track my Weight Watchers points, I didn’t exercise with anything resembling regularity, I just took it easy. And that was a good thing on the one hand: I had been severely struggling to stick to my WW points in the weeks leading up to holidays. Having the break was apparently just what I needed to get back on track: in the past week I haven’t had any issue sticking to my points. Sometimes, you just need a rest.
On the other hand, I lost ground over my vacation. I gained weight and I lost muscle. While being laid up with the foot injury I began to gain some ground on the weight (down 3.5lbs when I weighed in on Sunday thankyouverymuch), but I couldn’t do much about the muscle. Today, I am very pleased to say, I was able to return to the gym. I did a 60min BodyPump class. It was tough. I couldn’t believe how tough it was! But it was also good. My muscles (such as they are), are pleasantly fatigued. I am sure they will be telling me off tomorrow. But I know that today I took another step towards improving my health. Another step towards getting back on track. Another step away from just talking (read: whining) about the ground I have lost in the past few months, and towards actually regaining that ground. I feel strong and I feel accomplished.
I write this down now, because I know in another few months/weeks/whatever something will happen andI will need to be reminded of what this feels like. And I hope some of my friends may point me back to these words.
Any journey has its ups and downs. The ups are usually pretty easy to deal with. The downs are when we need friends to surround us and to speak the truth we cannot utter ourselves. I believe that is why Jesus gave us the church. Because He knew there would be times when we needed each other. When we just couldn’t do it on our own. When the strength of another would be the thing that gave us the ability to keep going.
I know, I know – about half way through my vacation I lost the drive to write and therefore the blog entries dried up (plus, I was watching a LOT of Olympics and having a LOT of fun…and I didn’t want to stop to write it all down!).
Now I am back home again, having just completed my first official day back at work (though, as all ministers can tell you, my hours aren’t neatly defined like a 9-5 job might be…sometimes I work while walking the dog or lying on the couch…).
Today was foodbank day at St. Andrew’s. It’s one of my favorite activities at the church. Sometimes it is heartbreaking and sometimes it is inspiring and sometimes it is really frustrating (it can be hard to love those who are so broken that they cannot engage in healthy relationships). Today was just good. I was welcomed back by volunteers and clients alike. Everyone wanted to know how my vacation was, and to tell me how happy they were to see me back.
They asked if I was glad to be back, and I think they expected me to say “I’d rather be on vacation.” I kept surprising people by smiling and saying “Yes, I’m really glad to be back.” The thing is – it’s true.
I have often said that church work can be tough, and there is no doubt I was exhausted and a little burnt out by the time I started my vacation. But now I have had rest. I have laughed and I have cried. I have slept in and I have eaten ridiculous amounts of really good bread. I have spent time with my family and with my chosen family. I have caught up with friends and read some really good books.
And through all of that my batteries have been recharged. I am ready to go. I am ready to blog again, I am ready to stick to my Weight Watchers plan again (I took a sabbatical during my vacation, hence the mountains of really good bread I ate!), I am ready to exercise regularly again.
I am back. I am blessed. I am excited to see what Jesus will do as we begin a new season of ministry at St. A’s.