The older I get,

the more misery, suffering, brokenness and pain I see in the world.

the more deeply and broadly I see the love of God.

the more blessed I feel to be part of God’s kingdom.

This song reminds me of that:

Blessed to Bless

“Father Abraham had many sons.  Many sons had Father Abraham, and I am one of them.  And so are you.  So let’s just praise the Lord…”  (Repeat no fewer than 6 times, adding motion each time and collapsing at the end.)

Bless his heart, Father Abraham is now indelibly connected to the #1 song taught to kids to make them move.  Never mind the theology behind the song; never mind the reasons we should praise the Lord as children of Abraham.  Just spin around and praise the Lord for the aerobic exercise in church, right? 🙂

Father Abraham (the guy, not the song) is awesome because he believed God and his faith was counted as righteousness.  God is awesome because, among other things, He does what He says He’ll do.  Every time.  One of the things He promised to do is bless Abraham and his family; He also promised to bless those who bless Abraham and company AND make Abraham and co. a blessing to the world. That’s a lot of blessing going on.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a lot of blessing, thank you very much!

As I read part of Joseph’s story this morning, the blessings jumped out again and again.  God saved much of civilization from death by famine through Joseph’s dream interpretation and wise administration.  Pharaoh blessed Joseph by giving him honor, position, and loads of stuff.  Even Joseph’s initially slimy brothers blessed Pharaoh by caring for his livestock.

Usually I think of the story of Joseph as a mostly sad story, but it seems that Joseph didn’t see it that way, despite the betrayal and tears.  (Count how many times they “weep on each other’s necks.”)  Joseph got it– he saw his life as a blessing, not as bitterness.

Joseph was son of Abraham by family lineage; I’m a daughter of Abraham by faith.  I’d rather skip the betrayal, false accusation, and prison experiences of Joseph, but I want to be a blessing.  Maybe the blessing of God in my life includes an occasional round of “Father Abraham”, so I’ll work on not being bitter about it!

Presently Considering:

“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be slothfulness in prayer.” -Charles Spurgeon

Small talk: it is either a way for me to say, “I don’t want to know you and I don’t want you to know you and so I am going to keep it light and make it as quick as possible and see you later.” Or small talk is a way to say, “I care about you. I would like to get to know you.” We can talk about a football team or the weather and it is actually an expression of two human beings making that connection, but it is because we love each other or want to know each other.  –David Powlison via CJ Mahaney’s blog

Fellowship with believers outside of your local church family can have one of two results, depending on your attitude: You can be blessed, grateful for the body of Christ and encouraged by God’s faithfulness to His people.  You can also be depressed, wishing for a better/cooler/(any number of adjectives) local church body, and jealous of God’s faithfulness to His people.

Jesus didn’t direct us to pray that there would be a harvest; He directed us to pray for workers for the existing harvest, ready to be brought into the kingdom.

Fellowship and Curry

I love deep conversations.  Discussions of theology, justice, mission, and the intersection of those three could occupy a lot of time!

The best, though, are the what-God-is-presently-doing in life conversations. Honestly, I don’t have these conversations enough.  They usually require time as well as intention; they don’t usually “just happen” in my life these days.  I wish they did, and with more attention they probably could.

Maybe my favorite part about these conversations is what lingers in their wake: gratitude, conviction, encouragement, understanding, and a fresh reminder of the need to pray.  These are conversations that bring about change.

So even when the curry is spicier than I wanted and traffic is bad, the fellowship of believers is a precious thing!

a bit…

… sad to notice the date of the last post. Needless to say, it’s been busy lately around here!  Between school starting, church activities building up, and the million little things that beg to be done, time flies. My goal for this school year is two-fold:say “no” when necessary, and worry less about what people think.  We’ll see how it goes.

…glad to be finishing up an activity for youth group tomorrow night.  We’re beginning a series on world religions, so our first (and the one to which we will compare the rest) is Christianity.  It’s easy to forget the basics, which makes me think that this study will be especially good for me.

Tonight, I find myself grateful that the point of Christianity is bigger than my own fulfillment but doesn’t ignore our personal need for fulfillment.  How incredibly God-like is this relationship that provides exactly what we need, makes the world a better place (both short term and long term), and shows His glory all at the same time?!

@ camp

(One little guy’s method for socializing at camp)

This week I’m at camp.  As a high-schooler, I wished for it to last all summer- or at least, more than one week!  As staff now, I understand why it’s a week long…and I’m glad!

But paradoxically, it’s more fun to be staff- to be worn out by Saturday morning as we load up to go home, to wish for a few more minutes of sleep, to take a turn at monitoring the waterslide, cleaning restrooms, and helping kids into the paddle boats.  To be staff is also to pray for camp months in advance, to watch kids learn to follow Jesus in prayer and in play, and to have those conversations that shape young hearts and minds.

So wherever you are this week, and whatever you’re doing, enjoy it.  Pray for me and my kids, enjoy eating non-camp food, and have a heart-shaping conversation.  We’ll all be better off by Saturday.

Heroes I

I’m spending a few weeks with powerful people, here in the beginning of the summer.  Some of that time is in children’s church, where their theme for the week is Heroes.  The truth is that I am surrounded by heroes-real, live ones- when I look around.

I hadn’t necessarily thought of my time at camp that way initially, but a post by Jennifer Fulwiler combined with some recent conversations to remind me. 

You see, I’m surrounded by people who are doing what many would say is impossible:

  • suffering with joy
  • loving your spouse for 4, 5, and 6 decades- and enjoying each day together
  • pursuing the unseen
  • changing the world in prayer
  • challenging while encouraging

None of these people would extol their own virtues.  Most of them would extol their great dependence on the grace of God and His ongoing work in their lives to make these feats possible.  They’re not your typical hero with a cape, but the world is made better by their presence.

Love hurts.

I’ve never lost a kid before yesterday, let alone three of them.  One of my favorite parts of Sundays is riding a 15-passenger van, knocking on doors, and starting the day with the smiling faces of my friends, young and old(er).  After a horrible fire yesterday, there will be one less door to knock on and three fewer children on the van.  A mom has lost all three of her children.

Now I’ve seen the hurt of loss and pain and grief in more faces than I’d like to think about.  As I talked, prayed, and cried with kids who have lost (and felt the loss ourselves), we talked about how it hurts so much because we loved.

Once again, I feel the truth that love hurts.  I’ve seen it on parents’ faces, on siblings’ faces, on friends’ faces, and it’s never nice.  Quite honestly, it makes me appreciate God’s willing choice to love me (and the rest of the world) so well and so freely.  He knows the pain it will bring; He feels the heartbreak of suffering each day.  Only because He’s God can He do it.

For now, I pray…and trust that God knows what’s happening.  He is still, always, good.

Part of the Family

I grew up secretly hoping to sing a song called, “The Family of God*” at church.  Tradition dictated that as we sang, everyone would get up and shake hands or give hugs to those around you.  There was, admittedly, a bit of pressure to get in hugs from all the pseudo-grandparents and your friends by the time the last chorus was sung and everyone returned to their places.  However, little legs move quickly, and little bodies easily squeeze between grown-ups greeting one another in the aisles, so the kids usually made it.  Those who had trouble moving would stay in their seats, and others would surround them.  Moms with sleeping babies stayed still as well, and adoring fans would smile and enjoy a glance at the wee one.

It’s been a little while since I sang “Family of God” now, but I ventured a little deeper into appreciation for the truth of those words today.  It was unofficially Baby Day today, and for a small congregation, 5 babies under four months (and two more on the way!) made for a lot of excitement!  Two of them made their first public appearances today, and the beautiful reminders of new life made everyone smile.

As I reflected on the day this evening, I thought about the blessing of being in a multi-generational church filled with people of every age and families in every stage.  As a single person, I think I get the best training possible besides growing up in a healthy family myself.  I get to see:

  • parents delight in their children
  • parents discipline their children
  • grandparents love on children
  • the suffering choose joy
  • the sick invite healing
  • the wounded offer forgiveness and receive it, too
  • marriages grow
  • spouses love each other
  • the broken be made whole
  • the weary be strengthened
  • and much more

“‘Cause I’m part of the family- the family of God.”

*Thanks to Bill and Gloria Gaither, two names probably never seen at Life and Stuff Like It before, for penning this song.