Friday, April 30, 2010

Conversations with God

I know there's a book by that title, and a new movie as well, but this post is not about either of those. It's about my own conversations with God.

I was recently reminded of the good idea to pray for people as they come to your mind. After that I had several people coming to my mind one day as I was driving. It seemed that as soon as I would begin praying for one, another person would come to mind. That prayer would lead to another thought, and another prayer, and so it went. I clearly remember thinking and saying to God, "If I really pray for every person that comes to mind, when am I going to have time for my own thoughts? All of my head-time would be spent talking to You!" Hmmm ... could that be God's purpose or His plan?
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - NIV)
Sunday, April 25, 2010

Football Frenzy

Yesterday was Evan's second football game and he had a blast! I did, too! I wasn't trying to capture it on video, so I felt like I got to just enjoy it more. I did take some pics with my new camera with the zoom lens, but it was usually at the beginning of a play or at the end of the play. I did get some good pics (in my opinion, anyway).


Pre-game warm-ups


Making sure of the play


Evan at center

The coach put the kids in different positions for this game, and it was fun to see how they did in these new positions. Evan played center for the second half, and was pretty good. Some of the kids had trouble snapping between their legs and getting it to the quarterback, but Evan and the quarterback connected every time. He seemed to enjoy this position, too. He ran with gusto to the ball. It was really cute! Other parents noticed, too.

On defense, Evan moved to right corner for this game. He made 2 or 3 tackles from this position. He was this excited after every one. I loved watching him!

After the tackle


He got 2 stars this time - defense and sportsmanship (or "sportsmannership", as Evan says)

Steve and I were both impressed with his effort, too. He would keep running and chasing after guys. He even caught up to some of them. He didn't give up on the play, and that is a good quality/skill that we hope continues with him in life.

We have a break today (Sunday), but then there's the weekly practice Monday and a make-up game on Tuesday night. Next Saturday will be a regular game again, so our frenzy is just beginning. Stay tuned for more updates!
Monday, April 19, 2010

Retreat Processing

I spent an amazing weekend at Pine Cove with lots of women from my church. The theme for this weekend's retreat was Transformation. It was a follow-up (of sorts) for a recent sermon series of the same title which discussed several of the spiritual disciplines. This was my 3rd retreat and each has been wonderful but, of course, a little different from each other. Someone asked me at lunch on Sunday what my favorite part had been, and I really didn't have an answer. It made me start thinking and I realized that I really needed to process this retreat some more. So, I decided to process while writing (this blog post).

The first thing of notice about this retreat, is that God seemed to be placing some constraints on me in some very visible ways. I had ordered a new camera (because I broke my good one at Easter) and was planning on learning on how to use it at the retreat. I was also looking forward to taking lots of nature photographs in the beautiful setting (which includes a lake, lots of trees, and a few fun creatures). The camera arrived in time, but I couldn't get it operational before I left. The end result was no pictures from this retreat by me.

I also lost my voice at the retreat. I started getting sick the Wednesday before I left. I tried drinking apple cider vinegar to ward off the bronchitis that I felt was coming. On the drive up on Friday I started losing my voice. It got weaker each day and by Sunday it was gone. I did talk at the retreat, but not as much as I would have normally. It seemed that God was wanting me to be still and silent. I did spend time listening to Him there, but I also spent time resting and sleeping. It seems that I needed both of those, as well.

Each year that I have been to this retreat we have had a prayer mosaic on one of the days. I had never participated in a prayer mosaic before, and it really touched me the first year. Just to briefly describe, it is a time of quietness where each participant travels at her own pace through several prayer stations. One station involved casting your burdens on the Lord, one was asking for forgiveness, one was having another lady pray aloud for/with you, and there were many more. The second year several new stations were added, which added a lot to the experience for me. This year my attitude was along the lines of "been there, done that" before the mosaic. I wanted to do it, but I wasn't expecting to be touched by it as strongly as I had in the past. This year, a station was added that was about service and it involved foot-washing. We were asked to wash someone's feet and have ours washed as well. I almost skipped this station, but decided to do it when I someone I knew walked into the area. I had my feet washed first and I was not prepared for my emotional response to this experience. It was so humbling! I didn't feel worthy of having her do this for me. I was touched by her tenderness and gentleness in washing my feet. I was also moved that she seemed to be praying for me as she was washing my feet. In some ways I was glad she washed my feet first, because I wasn't sure what was "expected" of the washer. I found it much easier to be the washer by following her example. I really enjoyed that part of the station more. I enjoyed showing that compassion to another and having the focused time to pray for another. I often feel like I have ADD when I am trying to pray. I will intend to pray for a person, but forget. Or I will start a prayer, and then get distracted by too many things to count. Having my hands on the person's feet made the prayer so much easier and more meaningful for me. I enjoyed it so much that I found another friend and "made" her let me wash her feet, too. I learned something about myself through this experience - first, about my willingness to be humbled and receive help or service and secondly, about my prayer life. Thank you, God, for speaking to me through this activity.

We didn't have one keynote speaker at this retreat, but we had several women from the church speak to us about the different disciplines and about the transformation process in their own lives. One of the speakers discussed some things she had learned recently about butterflies and about their transformation process. I really related to that talk and enjoyed the things she brought out. I had been thinking about butterflies before the retreat myself. I had thought one day that I wish my transformation would happen as "quickly" as a butterfly's seemed to happen. A few days later I stopped to evaluate that idea again. Is a butterfly's transformation really as quick as I initially thought? I remembered that some butterflies live only a few days after they emerge from their cocoon. The majority of their life is spent growing, developing, and transforming; only a small proportion is spent as a mature adult. Thank you, God, for revealing this truth to me. Please help me to appreciate the process and the change that You are making in me.

We did have a special guest speaker who was not on the program, but was so inspiring to me (and a lot of others, I believe). She and her husband were the (human) founders of our church 34 years ago. They now train others in using Christmas partners to evangelize to their neighbors. I had heard parts of their story before, but it was so beautiful to hear her telling the story and to have her point out people in the room who came to Christ over 30 years ago because she and her husband were willing to be obedient and open their homes, hearts, and mouths to share the love of Christ with people in their neighborhoods. She and her husband will be sharing more about what they are doing now and what they see God doing in the world next Sunday at our church. I am so excited and looking forward to that time! Thank you, God, for reminding me that You have given me a place to be to share Your love with those around me. Please keep reminding me and help me to be obedient to You.

I also enjoyed getting to know some "old" friends better and getting to meet new women! This is always a fun part of any gatherings for me. This retreat did not fail me, even if my voice did. In fact, I was probably forced to listen more and talk less. (Some of you who were there may be surprised by that last sentence. I did still talk a lot - the first 2 days - but it was probably less than would be normal for me.) Thank you, God, for the beauty of community with other believers!

Those are a few of the highlights of my retreat weekend. I am glad to be back home with my family, but I am also thankful for this special time that I got to spend with God and several of my sisters.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who says you can't take it with you?

"All that you find here, you will lose it"*

Those song lyrics prompted a discussion between the boys and myself the other day. I tried to explain why gaining "things" on this earth should not be our goal - because those things won't make it with us into eternity. (I also added that God does give us things to enjoy, but that getting more things should not be our goal in life.)

Today Joel and I were in the van when that song came on again. He piped up with, "Evan said that he is going to take his toys with him when he goes to heaven." I tried to explain that wouldn't be Evan's decision, and I think I finally convinced Joel. I think I might need to have another conversation with Joel, though.

* Here are the full song lyrics:
Free Me Up (by Downhere):
I'm giving up my electro TV things
'Cuz I don't ever need, no...
anything like that again
I'm livin' on the move and
I wanna drop these chains
Well you'd be surprised what you can leave behind
It keeps me looking upward

CHORUS

You free me up to live this life
far from any Earthly sense of home
There's a place where I belong
but there's nothing here I really own
I really own

Do you deem this to be extreme behavior?
A little bit too ideal
You call it young man's fever
But I've got my treasure stored beyond Heaven's gates
And you'd be surprised what lies behind them
It keeps me looking upward

You free me up live this life far from any Earthly sense of home
There's a place where I belong
but there's nothing here
But there's nothing here,
there's nothing here
No there's nothing here I really own
I really own

BRIDGE
All that you find here, you will lose it
All you find here, you will lose it
All you gain here on earth, you'll lose in the end
All you gain here on earth, you will lose it... Lose it
Saturday, April 10, 2010

Flag football games have finally arrived!

Evan had his first game today and was it fun! He and the rest of his team played hard, but didn't score as many points as the other team. He hopes that he doesn't have to play that team again. I have heard that several times today. ;-)

Here are a few pics:

from the pre-game warm-up


the game


after the game - team cheer (Evan is a little dwarfed by the other players, but he is in there) and Evan's blue star for effort

He got to run the ball once, and I was so excited that I messed up the camera. Here is the little clip that I did capture, though.
video
Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter greetings!

He is Risen!!! And I love celebrating that fact with my family and my church. This year we celebrated for what seemed like a much longer time frame. We started by attending a Passover Seder at our church on Thursday night. I have heard presentations on Passover Seders before, but never gotten to see one - and certainly not participate in one. So, our family of 4 joined over 200 others from our church for this event. It was really neat and I am so glad that we were able to do it! The boys seemed to enjoy it, too. Joel at least tolerated it. ;-)

Friday we attended Good Friday services at our church, too. This was more solemn and I was focused on Evan (who was out in the service with me), but it was still an excellent way to spend Good Friday.

Saturday we mostly cleaned around the house and yard in preparation for some friends coming over the next day. We went out to Texas Roadhouse for a late lunch/early dinner, and got a little shopping done, too. Evan was most excited about his new cleats and mouthguard for flag football. (The games start next Saturday, but he needed them for his practice and scrimmage tonight.)

Sunday we got up early and went to church for a semi-sunrise service. We should have seen the sun rise on our drive, but it was so cloudy that it just got brighter outside. The service was wonderful and we even got a couple of family pictures taken. Unfortunately my camera dropped off the neck strap on the way out of church and broke. All of the pictures that I took of the kids hunting eggs turned out too dark. But we still had a great time visiting with our friends and eating a lamb dinner with yummy sides. (We learned on Thursday that seders do not involve lamb these days, but I like having lamb at Easter.)


We hope that you also had a nice Easter and that you spent some time celebrating this most important of Christian holidays and the reason for our hope!
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