missing something

I absolutely love it when the Lord reinforces something in my heart several times in a short period.  Since the Sunday sermon, I've been thinking about "church" -mostly in regard to why.  I've heard before the "no man is an island" reason, the encouragement reason and the service reason for being part of a church community but this week, something else hit me pretty hard.
Abbey came home from choir camp and it didn't take long for her exhaustion to show.  What started as slight annoyance with her siblings quickly became tears.  I knew I was walking that fine line between letting her release the stress of having been away and getting very frustrated!    I asked her more about the trip and it started to come out.  My brave child, the one who hopped up those bus steps just days before, had trouble describing how she felt.  Finally she tearfully exclaimed,

"I felt like I was missing something!"

Of course, I immediately thought it was her mother she was missing...  but no.  It wasn't a person or a thing, it was that she couldn't figure this group out.  She couldn't understand why they wanted to hang out around the pool table instead of play in the nearby play structure.  She couldn't understand why they wanted to sit beside the pool talking instead of jumping in and swimming.  She couldn't make sense of why she was so different from the others.  My heart broke for her because I know how important it is for a girl this age to feel that sense of belonging.

And then I remembered the Sunday sermon.  I recalled our pastor talking about the sense of belonging we have as a part of God's family and a part of a local church community.  During the message, the Spirit whispered to my heart.  

You see, there have been many times that I've wondered about church.  Why go?  Why be committed to something so demanding and often draining - especially when you work there?  

And then I thought about the world, how hard it is to be in it, but not ruled by it.  How much I can tend toward wanting to fit in, even at my old age!  It's the struggle my daughter faces, it's the struggle we all face.  

But on Sunday (or whenever your church meets) you go to a place where you fit.  You don't have to pretend (and hopefully we're not still pretending).   It's the Family.  Of course that means it will be messy and imperfect - isn't that the definition of family?  

God gives us the gift of church as a reprieve from the world - a place to refresh our beat up hearts and souls.  As the world takes little pieces of our confidence and strength all week long, we come together to share the burden of being different, to remind ourselves of the importance of our calling and to worship the One who made us His!

 "Let us consider how we may spur one another on 
toward love and good deeds. 
Let us not give up meeting together, 
as some are in the habit of doing, 
but let us encourage one another."
Hebrews 10:24-25


what makes you happy?

You know you take life a little too seriously when you examine and seek to define what makes someone happy.....

I mentioned in my last post that I spent last weekend at a women's retreat and shared what I learned and how the Spirit is speaking to my heart.  What I didn't tell you was that I had a terrible sleep for that one night at FBC.  I was placed in a cabin with some lovely ladies and thought it would be pretty cool to get to know people that I didn't know very well, and even though I'm always a little "stiff" in those types of situations, it was cool!

Then the lights went out.

And people started to fall asleep.

And heavy breathing turned to deep, resonating snoring.

Now, I know people snore and while I did contemplate how sore my throat would be if I snored like that all night, I don't blame someone for something they can't control.... but I couldn't get to sleep!  I had a book that I tried to focus on (so glad I brought my little flashlight!) and even had my ipod, but the sounds were still there.  As the hours ticked by, I was becoming worried and (I'm ashamed to say) cranky!

The next morning one of my cabin mates commented on the late-night symphony and how she had to focus really hard to keep from giggling out loud.  giggling?

There I was getting cranky across the room and she was laughing about it!

Everyone is different of course, but I wonder about how I could train myself to be more like that!  The person that when their baby blows a raspberry of mushed peas all over the place, they burst out laughing at the peas on their face....or when your school-aged child draws a remarkably unflattering picture of you, a giggle escapes instead of a worried frown that this is how the child sees me?....

It's not like I never laugh, though the laughter has been a little more rare in the last months.   Who could help but laugh when your son says of the top you're wearing, "it looks like a tablecloth and that's a comment." (pretty sure he meant 'compliment')  I just wonder what it would take to release some of the burdens of the world and just enjoy what God has given, how He's blessed my life.

   But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; 
let them ever sing and shout for joy
because You make a covering over them and defend them; 
let those also who love Your name be joyful in You 
and be in high spirits.
psalm 5:11 (amplified)

Which type of person are you?  The kind who finds the funny in everything, or the kind who -like me- needs to be careful not to take life to seriously?

I'm pretty sure the Lord gave me Cassidy, our third-born to give me a daily reminder of His joy.  (Which happens to be her middle name.)  She has a smile that can light up any room, a cheerful disposition and an eye for fun!  Give her some strawberries with nutella and fresh flowers and you get a beautiful reward.

"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart"
proverbs 15:30


growing up

Music is a very important part of the life of our family, so when my firstborn said she wanted to try out for the grade 5 divisional choir, I was thrilled!  She was accepted and I was (not surprised and) so pleased !  She was so brave walking into the rehearsal room, knowing only one of the sixty other children seated in the risers, and I felt so proud!

This morning I drove her to a bus where she confidently hopped up the steps, off for three days of choir camp.  And I - well, I was....speechless.  I know every mother asks herself where has the time gone, and I have wondered it many a time.

But today I marveled again to see the girl she is becoming, and wondering what the Lord might have for her future, should she choose to follow Him. 

She's growing up.  She's so intentional about becoming independent and applying the things she has learned about life in her almost 10 years.  I don't think she knows (even though I've tried to tell her) how much of an inspiration she is to me.

This past weekend I was at a women's retreat at one of my favorite places in the world, Faith Bible Camp.  It was a perfect fall weekend, the leaves were golden and the sun was warm.  The speakers shared what God had taught them about 1 John.  I had read the five chapters before the weekend to prepare for leading the worship times, and the Lord had already been softening my heart to hear.

Probably the most well known part of the book of 1 John is chapter 4:7-8, because of praise song written to these words :
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  
Whoever does not love does not know God
because God is love.

One speaker spoke of her deep conviction as she thought about the "hate" she'd been holding on to for a particular person.  Another speaker challenged us to put aside the fear that keeps us from loving others as Christ loves us.  

There are many people in life that are easy to love.  Sadly, sometimes it's even easier to extend love to the homeless person on the street than "that person" (you know the one!) in your life that drives you crazy.

"God has poured out his love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given you."
Romans 5:5

God has given me His love, not to greedily hang on to and cherish for myself, but to extend to others.  No excuses.  No "yeah, but...."

The bottom line?  It's time for me to grow up.  Love isn't going to just happen in my life without being intentional, without confidently hopping up the steps of the love bus (cheesy, I know) and trusting that as I follow God's command, He will give me courage and strength to persevere when loving is too hard.

Not worrying about protecting myself, no fear.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear." 
1 John 4:18
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