I took my two nephews towards the front of church today and sat with them during the morning service. Actually, I offered to take one of them, and Noah was the first to jump at the suggestion, but as he trailed along behind me, I glanced back to see an upset and left out Oliver. Needless to say, I cannot turn away sad and tearful faces, so I took them both.
Noah, Oliver and I plopped down in a bench mid-way in the sanctuary with three bags of toys- oh, and I also brought my Bible to church and a purse. So it’s a good thing at ages 4 and 6, the boys can carry their own bags. ☺ I enjoy spending time with my nephews, but an older lady sitting behind me had it right when she leaned up and said, “You have a busy morning ahead of you.”
We started off coloring with those magic markers that only produce color on the special paper to eliminate staining. It is amazing what accident-proof toys they have come up with over the years. Back in my day, you used to have to just be real careful to stay inside the lines or within the edge of the paper. Anyway, once we got through the excitement of that (which lasted about 6 minutes, which equals about 2 songs out of the Zion’s Harp), we made paper snow flakes. I showed Ollie how to fold the paper into a triangle and cut it to make pretty patterns.
“Let’s make another one,” he would say every time after opening the snow flake up and seeing it’s beauty.
“I used coffee mugs to make it a circle shape at school,” Noah informed me.
The things these kids learn at school… he’s going to be smarter than me before I know it.
Next, we played “Guess what Picture I’m Drawing.” Oliver had a fixation with drawing a circle and a smiley face with about 5 legs coming off of it. The first time, it was a spider, and the second time it was “nothing.” Noah drew a long squiggly line.
“It’s a snake,” I guessed.
“Nope,” Noah replied.
Ollie and I put in about 2 more guesses each until Oliver said, “It’s a snake.”
“Yep!” Noah said.
“That’s what I guessed,” I told him, slightly annoyed, “and you told me I was wrong.”
“Ohhhh, I thought you said STEAK,” Noah said.
I love them both- I really do. Being with them reminds me of the important task both of my sisters, and my sister in law, all carry in their day-to-day lives. I look at their life sometimes and I don’t really envy it; but other days, I come to stand in awe and appreciation of how they raise their kids. It’s not a blow-off task. It is so comforting to know these kids are being raised in homes where the love of Jesus is taught and their morals will be set as a solid ground beneath them. I know that teaching those things to kids doesn’t always guarantee they will all grow up and be perfect, but by having those morals instilled in them, hopefully they will be carried in their minds all throughout their life.
I look at myself and my life so far, and a lot of the choices I have made and the convictions that have tackled me. Almost every one of those instances can be traced back to how I was raised. Why I think the way I do, why I act the way I do, why I say the things I say… it all comes down to the amazing parents I had who raised me up in a loving and caring environment, and one in which encouraged the good and admonished the bad. I have always had a never-ending source of wisdom and advice to go to at any time throughout any of my family members, and it has been what has molded me to who I am today.
Being with kids makes me nostalgic- I wish that I could go running back into the days of my youth… sometimes I walk down the alley that now leads to me sister’s house across the street, and I stroll right by my old best friend’s backyard. I remember those summer days when we would run barefoot through the neighborhood until it was dark out, catching lightning bugs and finding wounded animals to care for. Those were the days… but how great to think that one day, I could raise kids of my own who can do those same things. Sometimes, life seems to connect in ways that are like a dot-to-dot-- a series of events that look scattered… but occur in chronological order that all relate to each other and when it is finished, it creates a beautiful picture that just makes sense.
I am done being philosophical for the moment. I’ll dwell on my weekend for a second… it was a good one, but a busy one. I went out to eat and then to the riverfront Friday night with some friends to celebrate Tricia’s homecoming from Europe. It was good to see her and welcome her back! We then wrapped up the evening back at my house.
Saturday, I got to help at the Cat Electronics picnic all day, helping sign people in and answer people’s questions. We had a good turn out with volley ball games going on, great music, food, and other activities for kids and adults. Saturday night was another out-to-eat deal with bowling and games… you can never go wrong there.
Today was church in Morton, which was very good, and then volleyball with some people in Goodfield in the beautiful afternoon weather. My mom and I met my sister and her husband and kids for supper, and then spent the evening together.
I look ahead into a very busy week with lots of plans… in life’s busy-ness, it is so easy to overlook my purpose. It is my prayer that we can all learn to stay focused all the way through… you know, today in church, we read out of 1 Corinthians 15, and there was a verse that stuck out to me:
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (15:58)
When I think of “purpose,” I feel like that verse supports a world of answer. What is my purpose? What is anyone’s purpose? To further and build His Kingdom while we are here on earth, and we do that by being firm and unmovable, proclaiming His name boldly, and giving of ourselves FULLY to the work of the Lord, in all that we do. Not just at church or after bible studies or during singings… it’s an “always” thing. The singings and bible studies and church services are supportive worship services and opportunities to serve and encourage and learn, but the real “doing” of Christianity happens outside church doors and worship singing circles. The real “doing” happens every day in our day-to-day lives at work, at school, and at home. Let’s do this, knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain!
I love you all! T