Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Great Adventure...

"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His." 2 Chronicles 16:9

What a week this has been- if not just an emotional roller coaster, but also a spiritual awakening to all that God is doing in the world. To be honest, I need a day to just sit and absorb it all. But alas, work and life doesn't have a time for that just yet, so blogging will have to do. :)

Monday I dropped Jasmine off for a TAG beach trip and Jordan off for Band Camp. It felt totally surreal to realize that I am officially no longer in charge of their education. I will have opportunities to help, but as I waved goodbye, I knew our special time these last few years were over. And as much as I tried to be excited for this new stage, I was in reality- totally depressed. Bawling as you drive away is understandable for a Kindergarten Mom... not so much for a Freshman Mom.

Fast forward to Thursday, and all the amazing God Stops this week. I realized how often I parent out of fear. Fear that they will make the same mistakes I did, fear that I have missed teaching them something crucial, fear that they won't feel loved and understood, fear that they won't enjoy life to it's fullest and live for Jesus. As I sat in the stadium yesterday watching Jo in the drum line, I felt like I was walking on clouds as God just poured one truth after another into my heart. He answered every prayer I had this week in such an astounding way- I can't even begin to describe in this type of format. If I didn't know my son would drop dead out of embarrassment- I would have been standing on the railing screaming at the top of my lungs about how awesome God is!

For the first time, I truly feel ready for this Great Adventure my kids are heading to and not just forcing the words out of my mouth. I know that in all things, God is working FOR them- and He will do amazing things so that we can shout to the rooftops- "Fear Not! God is Powerful!" (I am still in VBS speech)Now let's just hope I can keep that belief on the first day of school. :)

"the LORD is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him.." 2 Chronicles 15:2

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Grand Finale! Friday in Lakeview...

Last day in Lakeview. We woke up with mixed feelings. As I had my quiet time that Friday morning, I couldn't help but cry over all that God had accomplished through our teens that week. We saw friendships strengthened, unity in the body of Christ increased, and preached the Good News to so many sweet little hearts. I watched our kids lead like I didn't think they could, show a different way to worship to the teens of Lakeview- using their creativity and God-given talents. It was so awesome to watch, and even more exciting to be a part of. Seriously, all day I was embarrassing myself with tears of joy. You know how well that goes over with high schoolers...they probably thought I was a creepy freak. :)

We said goodbye to Lakeview and all that was wonderful about it, and packed up our Expeditions to head to Redding. That definitely cheered me up, because where there is Redding- there is In-N-Out. Yes.

We ate burgers, stayed in a terrifying house, played stress filled rounds of Mafia into the wee hours, and found that no matter where we were, Felida Youth can have fun and love God like nobody's business! It was a great week. I know that God changed my perspective on teens in a million ways, and I fell totally in love with Felida's youth staff.

The question now is- how do we translate all that new found talent and leadership into our home church? Where can we make room for our teens to be God's mouth piece, be His hands, and be His heart for the community around us? It was so interesting to me that as I talked with my son about all that had transpired that week, he had such a heart for what God had done, and excitement over the way things had happened. But as the distractions of life came back into play, the Spirit of God got quieter in my son's mouth. I think that happens to all of us- I know it did me. I spent the entire week of Lakeview getting up with no house to clean, no garden to tend, no nursing job, no husband to care for- just me, a house full of sleeping girls, and my Bible. I felt like I was on a retreat with Jesus, feeling Him hold my hand and smile at me as He watched me be in awe of Him. Of course that kind of undivided attention on God and His Word would be rewarded with a passionate spirit and joy. Once we get back in the "real world", where there are distractions and crises, how do we keep our focus? It's like the Lighthouse Skit in real life- minus the creepy things.

Oh, God- keep being huge for me and Felida's Youth. Help us to get up every morning with you on our minds, and go to be every night with God Sightings on our lips. Convict our hearts to make YOU a priority, and bless us with Your very real presence in our day to day lives. I can't wait to see what you are going to do next, Lord. As school starts and our teen accountability groups meet again- help Lakeview not become a fun memory, but a memorial for all that You want to do through us.

"And now...what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands... for your own good?" Deut 10:12-13

VBS Day 4!

What an insane week. I had good intentions to be intentional, and look what happened. We are now on another Monday, with one of my sweets heading to the beach for too many days, and the other starting band camp for too many hours. Rewind, please.:)

I was thinking about Day 4 of VBS, and Lakeview- and realized that this was the very best day of the whole week. The key point was "God gives us life", and as I sat around this morning whining about how much I will miss my kiddos, I realized how totally thankful I am that God has given us life, and breath, and everything else. I can be joyful for the adventures my kids go through, peaceful that they're days have been pre-designed by a loving Creator, and that no matter what happens- because they both have accepted Jesus into their heart, we will never have to say a real goodbye. What a promise, and what a pick me up. Thank you, God!

(This is our fearless leader singing Disney Princess songs to us during quiet time. Gotta love it!)

On Thursday in Lakeview we had another fantastic day with the crews, and that night the teens put on a High School Youth Event. Again, it was so awesome to see them literally JUMPING out of their comfort zones and doing things that were not normal. It is normal for teenagers to be cliquish and want to sit with their friends, yet here were 15-18 year olds spreading themselves out between tables of complete strangers at dinner, engaging these new people with questions, conversations, and laughter. It is natural for teens to be self conscious and aware of their appearances, yet here were high school girls throwing themselves with abandon into crazy "get to know you" games that involved violence, trash cans and the Great American Rip Off (it was terrifying to watch, but they had a blast and when it was over, not a single hair was in place- and they didn't CARE!).

God was so good in keeping everyone safe and bringing common ground for the Felida and Lakeview Youth. It was so cool to see that no matter where you come from, how you live or what you look like- when you love Jesus, you have instant family where ever you go.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

VBS Day 3- Lakeview Style!

Ahhh, we have now arrived at Wednesday- mid way through our Rural Mission Trip week, and more than half way to In and Out Burger! Woohoo!

We had another fun-filled VBS day, learning about Moses and the people of Israel. The bible point for this day was actually one of my favorites, because it reminds me of my Believing God study- "God does what He says He will do". How often do any of us really take God at His word? He has said that He will provide for us even more abundantly than the birds of the air (and there is one FAT robin that hangs out on my patio every morning), that He will never leave us or forsake us, and ALL THAT WE NEED can be found in often do I really function in that place- of believing God to "do what He says He will do"? Not enough, Father, not enough.

Well- in Lakeview, we were all relying on God's might and strength and He showed up! The Zombie Apocalypse was trying to take us out- one kid after another was succumbing to sore throats, congestion and headaches...but you would never know it! They were singing and dancing with the VBS'ers, laughing with each other, then crashing during quiet time! It was awesome to see God give them the strength and energy they needed to make it through each morning.

Wednesday we were blessed with a beautiful hike through Crane Creek. One of the church members is a local Forest Service Engineer, so it was a blast listening to him explain the ins and outs of conservation, land erosion, and the proactive interventions they had put into the creek to keep the road from destroying it. Almost all the obstacles of trees and brush you see in the pictures, Shawn (Forest Service Man) and his crews had placed there intentionally to provide for fish habitat, bank support, etc.

Afterwards, the same cool people hooked us up with dinner and some fun water games at their house. Apparently for fun, they also hit apples out into the field behind their house- which entertained us for quite awhile.

It was a great time to visit and just hang out with each other. The Lakeview folks were so hospitable and generous with us, I can't tell you how amazing they were. I really enjoyed Jennifer (church-go-to-gal) and Jill (a sweet Jesus lover) and the conversations we had about our children and the way God was working in our lives and our futures. Oh, I wish I had had more time to get to know Jill, but I know someday we will have all eternity to laugh and talk together.

We then went swimming this night at the local pool. I didn't really want to considering how stinkin' cold it was, but after I got over the initial shock, I loved it! There is a hilarious video of our synchronized swimming on my facebook for those who are considering youth work. You won't regret investing in the next generation- if for no other reason but you get to learn how to synchronize swim!

We had also been introduced to "Woof", the most disturbing children's book series ever, and laughed our way from breakfast to dinner thinking about poor Woof and his misadventures.

Yeah, the pictures say it all.

The girls got to have a little "AUDOC" competition after lights out, praise Jesus together, and learn more about how uniquely God had made each of us, but we function best when we are connected. All in all, a very eventful day and a great end to what could have been a average Wednesday.

"Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us." Romans 12:4-6a

VBS Day 2!

I realized I failed to mention our Felida Spontaneity adventure on Monday night. We went to take pictures at the Lakeview sign, but we also drove up Black Cap (correct me if I am wrong about the name) mountain and got the most beautiful view of the town and surrounding area. You could even see the lake. God's timing was so perfect, after we scared the life out of the girls driving the Expedition backwards down a very steep and narrow cliff, we arrived at the view point right at dusk, and got to see the sun set. Ahhhh. Thank you, Father, for that little extra bonus.

Tuesday was the start of another fantastic VBS day. Again, the "Felidian's" were faithful to help out where ever they were needed, and lead specific rotations, taught lessons or did the extremely tasking job of being a crew leader. Megan had a GREAT time corraling the preschoolers into an older elementary style VBS, and she and John had to get really creative to find ways to engage these little ones during games. They couldn't even track with basic relays. Needless to say, there was a lot of "Follow the Leader" going on for the rest of the week!

What was really cool about Tuesday was that we got to put on our first night event- a fun night for the Junior High Students of Lakeview. Our kids planned and prepped for the whole thing, with get-to-know-you games, food, more games, the Lifehouse Skit, a message about keeping the distractions in life from pulling us away from Jesus, and a creative worship time.

During the Creative Worship- the students were put in small groups and given paper and markers. They were to draw something that helped them refocus on Jesus- and then the papers were taped up on the wall. It came out very cool, and I really hope it showed the kids that worship is about more than just standing up in church and singing hymns. Worship can and should be done any where and at any time. God is just that cool.

All in all, another fantabulous day- and a time of recharging I think for everyone. It was so cool to sit around during the debrief session with our kids and watch God light that fire in their eyes for what He can do. Working for Him is so amazing, I don't know why we ever forget it. We were DESIGNED for this- living and breathing Jesus. No wonder we all went to bed smiling- there is nothing like knowing God is smiling at YOU.

"The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands." Deut 28:12a

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday- Day 1 of Crocodile Dock- Lakeview Style!!

Again, blown away over how my reality can come crashing down on my theology. In my mind, I couldn't wait to come home to my perfect marriage, perfect life- and instead was reminded very quickly isn't perfect. HAHAHAHA.

So, I am choosing to focus on the fantastic, and trying to remember all the ways God shocked me into awe this last week. Last Monday at this time, I was being completely absorbed by our fantastic Youth Group. We were eating dinner, laughing and debriefing over a fantastic first day of VBS.

The first Bible point is "God is with us" for this year's curriculum, and I think every Felida staff would shout a "Fear Not" to that. From the first night, we were blown away by how God provided so wonderfully for us. The church was quaint and beautiful. It was clean, with so much character and obvious love from the members, we took picture after picture.

He also provided the girls with a super fun "MAD" house to stay in (Making A Difference). We couldn't get over the neat ceiling tiles kids had decorated, the comfy couches, and of course the sweet pool table and fuseball!

I got to spend some time right off the bat getting to know Rachel, a graduating senior I have never spent much time with. God was good and opened up conversation for us over pool table tips. She is such a neat person with so many talents. It was such a blessing to get to know her over the week and learn how I can pray for her this year while she starts college, and love her as my sister in Christ.

I think for day 1, this would have been my motto:
"I shall run the way of your commandments, for you will ENLARGE my heart." Psalm 119:32
I started out feeling a little indifferent to all the boys and some of the girls, thinking God was putting me on this trip to get to know my TAG girls better and be sure no one died (being a nurse, that is kind of in the job description). But God so totally "enlarged my heart" for our youth, I literally want to cry every time I think about it. Jo had a friend over yesterday, and as he was leaving I wanted to just grab him and squeeze him...of course I DIDN'T. Tad inappropriate and creepy, but I wanted to! Just because I love this kids so much, and can't wait to see what God will do in them and through them in the years to come. They lead games, songs, taught lessons- it was amazing how much they know about God and how capable they are...when they put some effort into it. :)

It couldn't have been a better start to what would be a fantastic trip- so hopefully it won't be too hard for you to have to wait anxiously for tomorrow's installment of VBS- Lakeview style!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Time to Review...

What a trip we had. I spent the last week in Lakeview, OR. helping our Youth Group put on VBS for the local kids. Lakeview is a very small, isolated farming town and it's claim to fame is the fact that is the "tallest town" in Oregon, at an elevation over a mile high. The nearest large city is Kalamath Falls about 2 hours away, but if they want some good shopping, they drive 3 1/2 hours to Bend. I know, I can't imagine it.

The church we were working for was called First Baptist and the people there were fantastic! Pastor Ray was such a fun, kind man, and Jennifer, their church secretary and coordinator was so sweet. It is so awesome to me to see the body of Christ work together so perfectly- each person using their God-given gifts to bless people and bring glory to God!

We fell in love with Lakeview, and learned so much. I will try to break down each day over the next few posts, and share some things about what God did through our amazing kids. (Pastor Ray is the fella on the right.)

I can't wait to see how God continues to work in our lives! "God is powerful- Fear NOT!" (VBS slogans are so hilarious.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sometimes, a change of plans is a good thing.

"Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?" Isaiah 29:15

I am realizing more and more that it is so much easier to do things the right way the first time. I so desperately want to find a way to teach my kids that staying ON the straight and narrow path is so much easier than trying to find it again after they have taken several detours. I want them to save themselves the heartache of consequences, that they would be "wise" and listen to the words of Solomon in Proverbs chapters 1-6.

I have felt bombarded with people's poor choices the last few weeks, and the huge consequences of not believing God at His word. Not that anyone consciously says, "I think I will doubt God's goodness and forget His very nature, and do things my way because my way is better", but in essence that is exactly what I am saying when I don't BELIEVE that every single thing that touches my life has been ordained, nay- GIVEN by God for my growth, wellness, and His glory.

Watching so many people that you dearly love struggle with darkness and secrets is so sad. It is especially sad when you can see the glorious "light" that is all around them, but they can't. They have spent so many years cultivating their sin and poor choices, the road back to freedom and healthy life is hard and long. I am just as guilty, but by the grace of God, I am choosing not to carry those burdens anymore. I attached something at the bottom of this post that I read the other day that gave me hope. Hope for them, and hope for me- that though the work is hard, the sweat and tears are good and in the end, it will bring an awesome "paycheck". Let's all change a few of our human plans around and make them God's plans, and see what he will do. If that means staying in a tough marriage because God hates divorce, being a better steward of your blessings, quitting drugs and alcohol, putting other's needs before our own- so be it! And we will do it with a smile on our faces. :)Can you imagine what God would do if we would just kick our sins to the curb and make room for GOD's plans?

"Be strong!
We are not here to play, to dream. to drift,
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle; face it.
It's God's gift.

Be strong!
Say not the days are evil- Who's to blame?
Or fold your hands, as in defeat- O shame!
Stand out, speak up, and bravely,
In God's name.

Be strong! It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long,
Faint not, fight on!
Tomorrow comes the song."
Maltbie D. Babcock

(I have decided my favorite annual is going to be the petunia. Not because it is anything so special or unique, but because it is faithful. It is faithful to bloom every day, to grow bigger and more beautiful, and to put a smile on my face. I will always have petunias in my garden.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Good bye, July.

It has been a crazy busy month, and I just have to say I am so glad July is over. I don't like the month of July much anyways, and now I have another reason to hate if for the rest of my life. I have decided from now on, July is going to be my sabbatical month. I am taking the entire month off and spending it in Hawaii on the beach. Nothing bad can happen on the beach in Hawaii, right?

Just a few fun memories to try to offset the stinky stuff...enjoy!
(Pause the playlist on the right again!)
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Sunshine Days
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Funny Nail Comedy

This video was hilarious- because it is so true! If you have never gotten your nails done by a Vietnamese woman, you are missing out. :) Leave it to a Vietnamese woman to smile at you and make you feel like she is there only to serve, and be putting you down in the same breath. My current lady is the sweetest woman ever, but I have been to some salons that are exactly like this.

My favorite memory was once in Arizona, I was getting a pedicure next to this really beefy lady, and I was listening to the two girls doing our toes go off on her disgusting corns, how she never tips well, blah blah blah. (The best part of being half Vietnamese, is I get to eavesdrop on Vietnamese people and they are never the wiser.) I was trying hard not to be obvious as I held in the giggles, but then I forgot to stay incognito. One of the other ladies said in Vietnamese for my manicurist to give me a water bottle- and I quickly said, "Oh, I don't need one". Oops! Cats out of the bag- you should have seen the girls jaws drop when they realized I had understood all their rude comments. It was HILARIOUS. Needless to say, I got the star treatment, and left there with painted flowers on every toe, a coupon for my next visit and a head that could hardly fit through the door from all the compliments they gave. Ah, good times.
(Remember to pause the music on the right before playing video.You can skip forward to about 40 seconds into it- that is where it gets funny.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Major chords are sweeter because we know what minor sounds like.

"Would we know that the major chords were sweet,
If there were no minor key?
Would the painter's work be fair to our eyes,
Without shade on land or sea?
Would we know the meaning of happiness,
Would we feel that the day was bright,
If we'd never known what it was to grieve,
Nor gazed on the dark of night?"

Trusting God to know best is always a good place to be.

The pictures is from Alpine Slides on Mt Hood, and the video is what we did. A great day in the midst of a tough week to remind us that God is working in mighty ways, we just have to open our eyes and "see". And when your aren't holding a camera- the sleds are soooo much faster! Woohoo! I will post some great pics of our youth flying down the mountain. Now I just have to learn how to snowboard. :)