Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good Grief!

We are home.  Again.  We arrived home last Sunday evening from a mission trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Minneapolis is a city so in need of salvation.
I want to so desperately tell you all about it.  And I will, promise.  But not today.
I am going to tell you about our trip in rewind.  That way, when I tell you about the trip, we don't have the end of the trip hovering over me and you.

"Bring joy to Your servant's life,
since I set my hope on You, Lord." Psalm 86:4

We left Minneapolis early Saturday morning (July 14).  We were looking forward to our late afternoon stop in St. Louis.  There were many of us that had never seen the Arch.  I was one of them.  I had no idea what to expect.  It was so cool how God worked it all out, but our dear children in the Lord (Natalie and Daniel) were close to St. Louis at the same time we were.  We were so excited to see them again before they made it back to New York. 

Warren and Sterling were the bus and van drivers and had a hard time finding a close parking spot, so they dropped all of us on the trip off in front of the Arch.  They went on and parked.  A little later Warren and I caught up with each other.  The Arch was so much more than I had imagined.  I had no idea about all the things they had underground.  Half of our students were able to get tickets to ride the tram up, including our Tyler and Ethan.  The other half was not able to.  So we decided to go eat dinner down the road (and on the way to our buses) at the Spaghetti Factory.  The walk there was fabulous.  The streets of St. Louis have so much history.  Up to this point, I was loving it and ready to come back on a family vacation.

We got word that the other group had finished the tram ride on the Arch and was heading to the bus.  We were getting our dinner tickets about that time.  We were in the middle of paying our waitress when Warren received a call from Sterling that our bus had been broken into.  At the point of the call,  we weren't sure of the van.  Our Tyler and Ethan had been riding on the bus with 27 other students and adults.  Elise was on the van/trailer with Warren and me and about 8 seniors.

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever."  Psalm 73:26

We hastily walked down the crowded, busy St. Louis street passing bright lights of casinos and people everywhere.  We walked into our parking lot, passed the security attendant, and cars.  As we got closer, we could see the police, upset students, and glass.

The bus had been completely ransacked.  The thief had taken so much.  The detective on the scene was carefully instructing students to stay away while he looked over the situation.  It wasn't long before the crime lab arrived and took fingerprints.

The detective would have students look carefully and see what items were missing. Much was.   IPods, Ipads, money, checkbooks, prescription glasses, retainers, laptops, backpacks, clothes, shoes, movies, cd's, Bibles, wallets, phones, chargers, sunglasses, keys, picture books, tax information, headphones, Bible study materials,  but most significantly, trust .

"I cry aloud to God, aloud to God,
and He will hear me." Psalm 77:1

After the awe of material things being gone, the kids stood there in a greater awe that someone would do this.  To them.  Teddy bears thrown to the ground by this thief.  Gifts from relatives were taken just like that.  Bibles they had received from loved ones, gone.  A child's bag of crayons and coloring books foolishly taken.

The students had so many questions:
"How could someone do this?"
"Why did God allow this?"
"Is the man going to find me?"
"Will I get my stuff back?"
Tough stuff and tough questions.

The only thing seen on the ground of the scene was an ipod cord, glass from the broken window, and Elise's Bible study book. 

I lost quite a bit of material things as well.  I am nervous that I lost tax information that was on my stolen computer. Money gone.  Chargers stolen.  I am bummed that I lost my Beth Moore James book, Kelly Minter No Other Idols and Ruth books, Radical by David Platt, Timothy Keller's Couterfeit God's, and Sarah Young's Jesus Calling. (Is God teaching me something about idols or what??)  I hate that I lost my awesome 31 bag and many other things.  Overwhelmed that our budget for the year is now on the streets of St. Louis.  My bamboo pink lipstick is melting on a street corner somewhere beneath the arch.

"Do not have other gods besides Me." Exodus 20:2

 But let me tell you, I have literally stamped my little foot about my Bible.  I did!  In the Suburban as we traveled home from Monroe the other night.  I have had this Bible for over 16 years. I purchased it while pregnant with Tyler when I began my first Precept class, Philippians.   I have prayers I prayed for my mother in it.  Prayers of thanksgiving when we learned we were having a daughter.    Prayers for the knots on Tyler's head to be healed when he was 2.  Outpourings of forgiveness of sins.  I have underlined many, many, many verses that God has shown me.  It has dates of salvation for many of our youth through the years.  I absolutely treasured this Bible.

 Just a month ago I had failed to open it for a day or 2 due to busyness.  I had been satisfied in my hurry with simply doing a "devotional book."  After those couple of days, I laid in my bed and just slowly flipped my fingers through my Bible.  It was wonderful.  I just read through some of the things I had written in the margins and the verse joining it.  It was a sweet night being reminded how good God is.  So faithful. 

I love to do my quiet times and study in my brown chair in the sun room at our home.  And I won't even try to deny it, I am struggling to plop myself there in the morning.  (Yes, my eyes are fighting a good cry right now as I upload these pictures)  I miss that brown Bible.  It's pages stained by me.  It's words are life to my soul.  I have pleaded with the Lord here.  I have praised the Lord here.  I have been humbled before the Lord here.  This Bible has met each morning through joy, pain, and loss. 

So we move on and learn so many things.
Missions is hard.
We live in a broken world.
That is why Jesus came.
That's why we go.
God is good.
God is faithful.
God is our protector.
God loves us.
He is enough.

So I will soon go to Lifeway and search the shelves for a new Bible.  It will have crisp pages (yuck) and the binding perfectly intact. God will teach me new things that I will mark.  Many prayers will be penned in the margins.  And I will love it, just as I did the old. 

I would love to have that old Bible back.  But I would be so very mad if I did get it back, because I know what that Bible holds in it.  Words that change lives forever.  It did mine.  My prayer hours after the incident are still held true today, blow wind, blow.  Scatter Your word.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But He, Jesus, has come to give us life and give it more abundantly. Praying TRUE LIFE is found in the lives of the ones who encounter my Bible. In it is found the pourings of my heart to God for 16 years. His Word never comes back void. May the pages fly out all over this city and stumble upon the feet of the desperate. May they see the margins and know God is ALIVE and Good!! Pray for our students to feel total secure in the Lord's protection.

and so we "cry and walk." (K. Minter, Ruth).  God is faithful.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stop Your Whining!

I am sure all you "camp parents" have enjoyed the small bits of information your students and kids have shared with you after arrriving home from church camp or Super Summer.  For some of you out there, the information they shared with you about their experience is the only details of life you will get for the next couple of months.  After this, you will have to pull teeth to get practice schedules, details of new classes, and at least a day's warning of needed school supplies.  So I guess we all need to take a moment and savor that bit we got from our teenagers.  Because it's just about over.  :)
In our family Tyler is more of the talker when compared with Ethan.  Ethan's details come in bits and pieces and they are always so vague. I am still trying to put all the pieces together from his time at camp. 

Ethan at Super Summer

Tyler tells you all at once.  Fast.  So fast that I am still trying to figure out what he said.  I heard what everyone said, did, what the speaker said, songs sung, and highlights of camp within the first 30 minutes of being home.  Now I am just trying to let it soak in.
Tyler at Super Summer

One thing I did understand from both of the boys was that they really enjoyed the speaker for the week, Ed Newton.
Ed Newton

On the way home from Super Summer, Tyler shared with me many things he had gleaned from Ed's teachings.  I will admit, I have no idea what the point was, just his thoughts as he processed it.  Tyler told me that he realized this week that he got all his good qualities from his dad.  Ouch!!  I asked calmly (trying to remember my advice in "walk down the mountain" blog from a couple of weeks ago), "Tyler, what qualities would those be?"  He went on to describe Warren's kindness, mercy, friendliness, communication skills, easy going, ........................................................................... and on he went.  

So at this point,  wondering just what qualities he felt I beheld, I ask "So, Tyler, umm, what good qualities do I possess?"  Tyler goes on to describe the kindness, organization,cooking and friendliness in my life.  He did use the words "sort of" a whole lot.  He then adds a tidbit about how I am always making them clean the house, do chores, and more strict than Warren.  As he stops there, I think to myself, That's it?  15 years of effort and that's what he thinks of me? 

Side note I have written in my Bible.  Wrote it many years ago.

It wasn't but a few seconds later down the road, as I was digesting all of this "bad news", Tyler started again on my qualities.  He says, "You know, but you also, like, are really good at telling us what the Bible says we should do and how we can apply it.  You play the Jesus card a lot.  And you know a lot of scriptures.  You are really good a that.  I like that about you.  You are nice to people and want them to know Jesus."

Hallelujah!   My efforts are not in vain. 

"Be dilligent to present yourself approved to God as a workmen
who does not need to be ashamed,
 handling accurately the word of truth." Hebrews 4:12

Tyler also went on to tell me about the over 100 scriptures Ed said by memory and where they were located.  Ed uses an app called Fighter Verses to learn the scriptures.

I told Tyler this would be a wonderful app for him to use.  I encouraged him to use this in FCA at school or find an accountability partner in the student ministry in our church.  He agreed and on he went.

"Thy word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:11

Later that night,  he walked into my room and said, "since we paid $2.99 for the app, you need to downlaod it."  That's when God grabbed my heart and I knew to ask, "Why? Are you wanting me to be your accountability partner and memorize these verses with you?"  And he reponded, "yes."
Oh no!
I can barely remember my own children's names.  I have to check 3 or 4 times a month whether I mailed all the bills or not.  I have to go through the alphabet to think of peoples names.  And he wants me to memorize a new scripture passage every week?
I won't lie.  I am being completely honest as I write this to you.  I have kicked, screamed, and whined, A LOT!  The first verse is found in I Peter and it has been many hours of studying to get it.  So here it goes.

"Resist him.  Firm in your faith.
Knowing the same kinds of suffering
are being experienced by your brotherhood
throughout the whole world.
And after you have suffered a little while,
the God of all grace
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and confirm you.
[To him be the dominion forever and ever.Amen]
I Peter 5:9-10 [11]

I had no idea that my enjoyment of "camp talk" would lead to memorizing scripture with my son.  But it has.  Tyler and I go back and forth saying what we know everyday.  Tyler completely learned his first verse in 2 days. (but note-he probably knows every detail about North Little Rock's Payton Holmes, Kenny Howard, Gary Vines, Rodney Bryson, Juan Day and Altee Tenpenny in Hooten '12 already)   It has taken me the full 7 days to memorize this verse, but I have it!  We sit at Twisted Cow saying our verse.  We drive down the road saying our verse.  Ethan hears it.  Elise hears it.  He tosses his Bible at me and says, "Watch out!  It's sharp enough to pierce our hearts."

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword,
 and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow,
 and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of heart." Hebrews 4:12

Good stuff.  Having to obey and choose to leave a legacy with my family by memorizing scripture with them and being in God's Word is the time worthy stuff in life. 
I encourage you today to do the same.  Introduce them to this app or come up with your own plan.  Memorize His Word as a family or with one of your chldren.  Even if you have to kick, scream, and whine like a two-year old for a toy in Wal-Mart at first.  It is worth it!

So we finish week one and go to week 2.  And good news!  It's an easy verse!

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10

Maybe one day when I have left this world for my seat at Jesus' feet, those 3 that I "make clean house" will have engraved on my headstone, "Mama G: Lover of the Word." 

That's the quality I want to leave.

"For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life...." Deuteronomy 32:47