Much like your parents attic, treasured memories lay within. So, wipe the dust off my ruminations and remembrances, sit back and enjoy!

Scenes from the bus...

I had meant to attach some pictures along with my BLOG from last Friday so I guess I'll do that now!

Here is a picture of the main Mayo building downtown.

Here is the bus stop where I waited every afternoon for the route 17 bus.

Here is the view out the front window of the bus.

This is Darryl, the maintenance worker.

The commuters, waiting for the afternoon bus.

This is the older man who chatted with the group of ladies.

Here is the group of ladies...and the older man.

And here is the still pregnant Asian woman.

…All Around The Town

There’s the group of ladies and the one older guy…chatting about finding a daddy-long-legs nest in one of the lady’s basements…do they know? There’s the heavy-set nurse that’s always on her cell-phone, talking loudly about private family matters. Everyone’s trying hard not to overhear, but not quite succeeding…she’s oblivious. How about the still very-pregnant Asian woman, or the large well-dressed man who’s always listing to and ‘wheeling’ through his IPod…are they aware? This is the well-dressed, well-groomed man who always wears sunglasses and carries the trendy coffee thermos’s last time he’ll ride the bus. Does this micro-community, these bus denizens realize this? No, I’m sure they don’t…furthermore, would they care if they did? Not very much, if at all.

As I’ve sat there over the past several months, in my tie, observing them through the security of my sunglasses, I’ve come to realize that even though we don’t know each other’s names or anything else about each other for that matter, we do take notice when someone new starts riding or when someone that you’ve come to expect to show up every morning, no longer does.

When I started at Mayo, I knew it was a temporary position that was back-filling for a person who was expecting. The contract called for me to be here through the end of October. Through out the months that I’ve been here, I’ve been very up-front with them that if at all possible, I would love to have my contract extended and eventually come on-board permanently. The people I’ve worked with here in telecommunications are exceptional! They are friendly, helpful and fun. Carole (my Mayo supervisor) is very professional, but leads her people with an easy grace…simply put, she cares. Three weeks ago, the executive director of the agency Lisa works for came to her and told her that the agency’s computer and network person, after 10 + years of service, turned in his two week notice and wanted to know if I might be interested in the position. Now, there were some items to consider and none of them really made the task of deciding any easier…this position, in essence, would BE the IT group for the organization and where I have a lot of experience in IT, I honestly haven’t had a lot of server or network experience…this is a non-profit organization and the director was up-front with me about their inability to be competitive in the salary area of what a typical systems administrator would make…Having a job here as opposed to Rochester would save us about $2500 annually in gas, wear and tear on the car and two hours out of my day that I could use spending time with my family…Staying at Mayo would provide better salary range and over-all benefits…all of this was floating around in my head and I even attempted to sit down and logically draw out the pros and cons, but how do you weight salary against family time? All the justification in the world won’t matter when your son or daughter looks at you with hurt and disappointment in their eyes, wondering why you, for the 100th time, missed yet another event. Throwing all of that to the side, we brought it to God in prayer. I was honest with them and told them that my training and experience with servers and network support was very lite, but I also pointed out that taking a lower salary didn’t shake me. They knew they couldn’t afford to pay someone with the full experience and training the going rate and I knew given some training and time I would be able to help them. It seemed like a win-win situation. Two days later, the person I was filling in for came in and announced that starting the next Friday, she will be coming back half days…that prompted a whole flurry of activity from me going in and asking about their plans for me to contacting my consulting group and letting them know and asking about my contract! Carole told me that she needed to sit down and discuss things with her supervisor, that they were happy with me and they needed to determine if they could justify keeping me around, but that Steve was on vacation and the following week, she would also be on vacation. So, for the last two weeks we’ve been waiting on and listening to the Lord and as each day went by, we continually felt all of this was no coincidence, that once again, God had orchestrated all of it and in His time-signature. I let them know that I wouldn’t be available until October and set up an interview for next week. My consulting firm assured me that although Mayo wouldn’t have to, they planned on keeping me to the end of my contract (October 31st). So naturally, when I talked to Carole this past Tuesday afternoon and found out that Friday (today) would be my last day, I had a few moments of panic! But I quickly remembered what God had put in motion nearly three weeks earlier…that He was and IS in control. By no means do I have the job locked up, (the interview is this coming Monday morning) but I have peace about it and the confidence that whatever may come, is by His design.

Jeremiah 29:11 ‘”For I KNOW the plans I have for you,“ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope AND a future”.

Philippians 1:6 ‘being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’

Today at approximately 5:15pm; I will board the route 17 bus for the last time and as I sit there, waiting for the bus to transport me to where I parked my car, the bus will be filled with the chatter of weekend plans, work issues and family matters…no one else is aware this will be the last time, but me. Come Monday morning, will anyone notice that I’m not there? Will it matter? I can’t help but wonder; what sort of impact have I had on my fellow commuters? Probably not much…if any at all; not that I’m being cynical, but neither time, nor opportunity presented itself to really have any impact. And I’m certainly not filled with self-importance, but you really just have to wonder…

So, good-bye loud-talking cell-phone lady, good-bye IPod dude, good-bye cackling, chatty ladies, good-bye Asian woman, I pray you deliver a healthy baby! Good-bye student with the attitude, life really isn’t that bad! Good-bye Darryl the maintenance guy and good-bye George…keep on telling them to ‘move on back…’

~ V

Positively poisonous

Written by, Van Walton -
My friend Wendy brought her children and their friends to my house for several hours of play in the backyard pool. We chatted while they entertained themselves. I remember observing young Griffin’s curious mind as he ventured into the woods. His busy and energetic body refused to adapt to the games the other children wanted to play. Following his heart, he crept out of the pool and found purpose after strolling around the yard. For a few minutes he handed branches to my husband, helping him feed the chipper. Then he picked up a rake. In no time he began to change the landscape. He cleared a path for my dog and piled leaves creating a soft bed. He set stones in place creating a protected space for the food dish and water bowl.
What an industrious boy! He amazed me with his vision, strength, and positive attitude. I wanted him to come live with me - surely his presence would keep the atmosphere in my home lively. I remember thinking, “What a good boy!” When he completed his project he asked, “Would you like to see what I did?” In single-file we followed him, listening attentively as he pointed out each accomplished task.
Then I spotted it. I never expected to find what I stumbled upon while admiring my newly landscaped yard. My delighted heart turned to dread, for there surrounding all of Griffin’s hard work … was Poison Ivy! My countenance grimaced and my stomach flip-flopped.
Innocently, without suspecting, Griffin had walked through a bed of nasty plants. Never mind that he was involved in good works or that He had done nothing wrong. He had not purposefully stepped into a bad place. It just so happened that the vine had crawled along the ground, hiding under dead leaves and climbing tree trunks, camouflaged by other clingy vegetation.
We had no idea whether Griffin had come in contact with the poisonous plant. Regardless, we had to devise a plan to protect him from the outcome: miserable days filled with an itchy rash. I grabbed Wendy and told her to get Griffin into the tub. Mixing a concoction we hoped would bring relief; we doused that unsuspecting boy, hoping to rid him of any residue that might leave its painful mark.

This devotional really brought home the fact that every day we wake up and step out into life with a plan to accomplish our goals. Whether it involves work, school or play, we set out to do good things, to make some type of impact on the world or at the very least, upon those within our influence. And many times, unbeknownst to us, lying just below the surface or around the corner, temptation and sin can be lying in wait, looking to grab hold of us and spread its poison all over our best-laid plans. The author goes on to say, ‘We need to know and teach our children what poisonous plants look like. But even more, we need to teach them to recognize sin and run from it. Even a minor brush with sin can leave its poisonous mark.’ We need to teach our children not only how to identify sin, but also the practicality of how to avoid it. Now, with a poisonous plant that’s easy, you familiarize yourself with what it looks like, then just walk around it making sure you give it a wide berth. But with sin, we live in a world where wrong is right and right is wrong and everywhere we go, we find ourselves inundated by visuals and sounds, situations and ideas that tempt us almost on a constant basis…and yet, we are called to be in this dark world and not separate ourselves from it, but this is a fine, razors edge to walk.

This hadn’t become quite so obvious and real to me until a few weeks ago when I was talking to Brittany. This is her first semester at college and she was struggling with not having met any new friends. For the first week, night after night she would sit on her bed in her dorm room, not doing anything, so I was pushing her to get out…meet people…make friends. She kept telling me that everyone was so worldly, that she wanted to make Christian friends and I kept telling her, to not isolate herself…to reach out, take the opportunities that she has to meet new people and let God use her. But she was persistent, and wasn’t budging on it. Honestly, I became a little frustrated with her and kept pressing her back…until I asked her what the deal was and she said she was afraid. That surprised me…it wasn’t like Britt to be afraid of rejection, so I asked her what was she afraid of and she told me she was afraid of succumbing to the pressures of sin. In the struggle to be accepted and ‘fit-in’, she was afraid that if she didn’t surround herself with a core group of believers, she might very well compromise her own beliefs. WOW…and here I was ‘tossing’ her into a patch of poison ivy without any protection! Now, I still do believe that she shouldn’t seal herself off and make ONLY Christian friends, but I can’t argue with the wisdom she’s showing in building a foundational support system, before branching out!

I Peter 5:8 ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’

Hebrews 12:1 ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’

~ V

You make the call.

Do you remember pay-phones? Yeah, I know, airports and shopping malls still have them, but with the advent of cellular phone technology, you see less and less of them. When I was a teenager, before running out with my friends, or being dropped off, my mom (she was a great mom!) always made sure I had a dime in my pocket. When I needed to get a message to someone back home that the ball game was over or that I was ready to come home, I dug for the dime she gave to me, reached for the receiver, dropped the silver coin in and dialed. Soon help, or a ride, was on the way. I rarely had to use those dimes, but it always provided a sense of security knowing that help and family was just a quick call away. Contrast that with today’s cell phones and most teenagers…at times it seems the cell phone is either glued to their ears, or their thumbs are moving 100 mph texting! These kids don’t make a call once or twice a day, but closer to once or twice a minute! They feel free to dial or text at any time, call at their convenience, and to use their ‘phone a friend’ lifeline at the drop of a hat. Now, I agree there is a time and place for the use of these devices and teenagers and adults alike need to exercise appropriateness and courtesy while using them, but this isn’t about nagging on these kids for talking too much, actually, I think they are on to something. They are in constant contact with their friends and family and literally have help at their fingertips.

When it comes to my relationship with God, I’m afraid to admit that often I am much more like a teen in the 80’s when it comes to calling upon the Lord. I reserve my spiritual dimes for the times I need Him, coming to Him in times of need and not so much in times of blessing. When I fear I will be spiritually stranded without a ride, feel a bit scared and need someone to rush to my side, or any other such divine emergency, I call upon the Lord. But in times of plenty and blessing, I must admit my spiritual cell phone sometimes stays shut. Instead, my prayer life should mirror the actions of the cell-phone-grafted-to-the-side-of-your-head teens of our current culture. He wants us to feel free to call, text and mobile-to-mobile Him about any and everything and, as a result, stay constantly connected to Him throughout the course of our day…everyday! We need to realize that His line is never busy, we will NEVER get His voicemail, His ear never tires and He longs to connect with us more than on an as-needed basis. We can call (pray), text (journal), save a message (memorize Scripture) or return a message (praise Him) no matter the time or place! And by doing so, we will draw closer to Him and He to us…

Oh, if only God’s presence in my everyday life became as precious and desired as a teen’s cell phone use addiction!

Psalms 86:3 ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.’

~ V

On the Slow Cooker ~ part 3

Ok…I’m growing tired of this subject…and I know if I am, I’m POSITIVE you are as well!

My point in all of this is this: If we are Christians and we are to be unified in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3 ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’), and we’re called to be like-minded (1 Peter 3:8 ‘Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous’, Philippians 2:2 ‘fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.’, Romans 15:5 ‘Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.’), how can fellow Christians, bothers and sisters in Christ, stand so vehemently on opposite sides of the political spectrum? I honestly believe that we CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT leave our Christianity outside of the voting booth. Come this November, we MUST go in prepared and not just because we are Christians, but it's our responsibility and priviledge as citizens. As a Christian, we should prepare ourselves by discovering what the candidates believe and what their character really is. But beyond that, we need to be in prayer. We need to be on our knees asking God for wisdom. Wisdom in our choice, wisdom for our leaders and wisdom for the people of this Nation.

I see so much hatred and anger each party holds for the other, even those who don’t live in this great country have expressed their hatred…especially for conservatives. What is our response to this? As Christ’s children, should we get caught up in the ‘drawing of lines’ or passionate ‘mud slinging’? Please tell me you know how to answer that...I can't believe that it makes God happy to see His children acting in such a way. His message, through His son Jesus Christ, is one of love and compassion.

So, talk about it! Call your pastor, visit with a friend from church. Enter into good, healthy discussions on the subject of what a Christian's response to America's political system should be. How do both main parties align with the Bible and where do they not? Then search out God's will in His Word and through prayer.

~ V

On the Slow Cooker ~ part 2

We are in the home-stretch of this political process we call the Presidential Election and that has me contemplating what my role both as a citizen and a Christian should be. I don’t particularly like how this process draws out the bitterness and anger in people and the focus of the campaigns involve less of what a candidate will try to do to make this country and our lives better to mudslinging and pushing the agendas and ideologies of the extremists and special interest groups. Somewhere along the line, we’ve gone from being proud of America and being a citizen of this great country to It used to mean something to be called a patriot, now when it’s mentioned, a good share of people just laugh or sneer as if it’s an insult. It’s not my purpose to sit here and try to persuade you to vote one way or another. Quite honestly, both main-line parties have pros and cons. I am, however, going to broach the subject of politics, religion and what's the Biblical perspective. What IS my…our… responsibility as Christians in this process?

I’ve heard everyone from political pundits, journalist, ministers and friends, some of them Christians, say that religion shouldn’t have anything to do with politics. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! Why would the God of heaven desire a personal relationship with us, ask us to bring all of our burdens to Him (Psalms 55:22 ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.’ Matthew 11:28 ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’) and desire to be involved in every aspect of our lives, except for political matters? God tells us to search out His wisdom (Romans 11:33 - Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!) and honestly, you can’t get more plain than what Proverbs 3: 5-7 tells us, ‘Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.’ Our beliefs don't exist in isolation. They concern and shape our fundamental view of the nature of human life and how it is and should be lived. Romans 13:1-7 tells us, ‘Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.’ 1 Timothy 2:1-3 - 'I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior.' Titus 3:1-2 - 'Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.' It bothers me to see people, supposedly in the name of Christ, speak what amounts to hate and spite against the leaders of our nation, no matter if those leaders are adequate or inadequate, just or unjust, fair or unfair. By doing so, you are, in essence, either calling God a fool or incompetent…remember, Romans 13:7 tells us that God has placed those people in authority.

Sometimes I think we forget ourselves…God has a very distinct plan and goal for this world and at times the things that He puts into motion can confuse us or might even be painful, but we have to keep in mind the character of God. He is in control, knows what’s best for each of us and ultimately it will culminate with the return of Christ.

“Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord.” Col. 3:23

To be Continued...

~ V

On the Slow Cooker ~ part 1

I’ve had something ‘brewing’ in my thoughts over the past several weeks. It’s complex and some of you might find the things that I’m going to talk about, uncomfortable & controversial, while others might get angry or upset. It’s not my intent to offend, however I do know that I’ve come to believe that God has been pressing this onto my heart to share and because of the depth and magnitude of it, I will spread this out over several posts as they will build on each other or provide background information aimed to support the subject.

Before we go any further, I need to make a few statements:

1) This series is specifically intended and directed towards those of us who are Christians, that doesn’t mean that if you’re not a Christian, you can’t read or comment, but I will talking from the perspective of a Christian to a fellow Christian.

2) It’s important to note that I am an imperfect person. I frequently make mistakes, stumble in my walk and absolutely make NO claims that my life, my walk or my relationship with Christ is greater or better than anyone else’s. Isaiah 64:6 couldn’t put it anymore plainly as I apply it personally, ‘I have become like one who is unclean, and all my righteous acts are like filthy rags; I shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind my sins sweep me away.’ I fully recognize that on my own, there is nothing good within me; Romans 7:18 - I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.’ So, it is with that in mind and a great deal of humbleness in my heart that I approach this.

3) As a Christian, I must assume that you believe the Bible is the true, relevant, immutable and inerrant Word of God. Consider the following syllogism: If truth is an attribute of God (Jeremiah 10:10; John 1:14; 14:6; 17:3). And by that attribute, we can be assured that God speaks truthfully - that is, He does not lie (Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Titus 1:2 & Romans 3:3-4). And if we believe that all Scripture is "breathed out" by God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20 & Psalm 12:6). We can conclude that God’s Word is therefore true, complete and without error (John 17:14,17; Psalm 119:142; 151; 160; & Revelation 21:5; 22:6).

That brings us to the first part; what DOES being a Christian really mean?
Theologically speaking, a Christian is someone who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior (John 1:12 - Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God), believes He is the one, only and true Son of God (1 John 4:15 - If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God), trusts Him alone for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 4:12 - Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved), has put no trust in his own efforts to please God (Isaiah 64:6 - All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away), and repented from his/her sins (Mark 1:15 - "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!").
But, being a Christian consists of more than theological knowledge. In being a Christian, we strive to live a life that is pleasing to God in mind, body and action (Micah 6:8 - He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.). Notice that I say ‘strive’…Philipians 2:12 says - 'Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.' God warns us against the following: 2 Timothy 3:2-7‘…lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.’ But rather, He calls us to love each other: John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." He also goes so far as to tell us how that love should appear; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us this, ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’ And the Christian life will be evidenced by the fruit that it bears. In Galatians 5:22-23, it tells us, ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ As members of the body of Christ, we are called to: Colossians 3:12-16 ‘Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.’ And last, but certainly not least, as Christians, we are called to: Mathew 28:18-20 ‘Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

If you do not believe this to be true, then you need to be honest with yourself…search your heart and thoughts…1 John 2:3-6 says, ‘We know that we have come to know Him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know Him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.’ And in Matthew 7:15-18, 20-21 - "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.’

If you, as a Christian, disagree with anything that I've related here, I'd really like to hear from you. Tell me what you disagree with and why...and if you could use the Bible to show where I am wrong, that would be very much appreciated!

...What kind of fruit have you been producing lately?

~ V

Vote for Pedro...

Brittany moved into her dorm room this past Wednesday. We would have loved to have gone with her to help moved her in, but I didn’t have the time to take off from work. So instead, this past Saturday we packed everyone up in the van, along with a few boxes that Brittany wanted us to bring, and traveled the 3 ½ hours to Whitewater. With the exception of needing to stop 50 million times (ok…4 times) for bathroom breaks, it was a pretty peaceful trip with Kyle & Hope watching a movie on one DVD player, Vinny & Nick watching their movie on another DVD player and Trevor watching a movie on my IPod. We drove through Baraboo, dropped Trevor off to visit friends for the day and stopped at Wal-Mart to put together a care package for Britt. We arrived in Whitewater about an hour later and after taking a few wrong turns, eventually found the campus and Brittany’s dorm.
After unloading and resting a few minutes in her room, we took her out for a late lunch. We let her choose and she chose a Mexican restaurant named, Cozumel. The food was ok and the interior was over-the-top gaudy, but the highlight of this outing was our waiter (and quite possibly, the owner) Martin. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Napoleon Dynamite, you know the character, Pedro…well, Martin sounded just like Pedro, so I kept talking to Brittany and Lisa like Pedro. After lunch, Britt took us on a walking tour of the campus; the field house and the student center were both very impressive! It was good to see her and we could tell that she enjoyed showing us around the campus. We miss her.

Today, the rest of the kids started school. Trevor is now a sophomore, Vinny & Nick are both in 6th grade and Kyle & Hope are in 2nd grade. Hope is both excited and nervous…which is pretty normal. She’s been having a few ‘stress’ dreams and has been asking Lisa and I a lot of questions, but if you know Hope at all, she’ll be just fine! This year will be a new experience for all of my kids, not only are all of them are starting new schools, but Trev and Vinny will also be riding a school bus for the first time ever! I’ve really been thinking about the new people they will meet, friends they will make and relationships they will establish…how often do you pray about your child’s friends and relationships? Lisa and I went through a valley (still going through, actually), concerning the friendships that Trevor had made back in Baraboo and speaking as a parent who’s been through the rough seas, prayer IS your lifeline!

There is NO other area in your life that can make you feel more like a success when things are going well, or more like a failure when things go wrong, then parenting. Sailing this ocean we call parenting, we have all experienced the smooth as glass calm as well as the full blown tempests with dramatic 30 foot swells where we hang onto the rigging and fight to keep the boat upright. There is nothing as fulfilling and exhilarating…there is nothing as depleting and exhausting. In Stormie Omartian’s book, ‘The Power of a Praying Parent’, she relates of herself, ‘I had countless agonizing concerns for my child’s social, spiritual, emotional and mental growth, but most compelling of all, I feared something bad might happen to him. Kidnapping, drowning, disfigurement, disease, abuse or even death all played across my mind as possibilities to his future might hold. And with each newspaper or magazine article or TV newscast that told of the rising crime rate against children, my concern for his welfare grew. It was more than I could handle. One day in prayer, I cried out to God, saying, ‘Lord, this is too much for me. I can’t keep a 24 hour a day, moment by moment watch on my child. How can I ever have peace?’ Over the next few weeks the Lord spoke to my heart about entrusting my child to Him. We had dedicated him to the Lord at our church as an infant, but God wanted more than that. He wanted us to continue giving him to the Lord on a daily basis. This didn’t mean that we would abdicate all our responsibility as parents, but rather, we would declare ourselves to be in full partnership with God. He would shoulder the heaviness of the burden and provide wisdom, power, protection and ability FAR beyond ourselves. We would do our job to provide discipline, teach, nurture and ‘Train up a child in the way he should go…’ What God really wanted was for us to depend upon Him to enable us to raise our child properly and He would see to it that our child’s life was blessed.’

We, as parents, really need to move past the ‘basics’ of prayer. Prayer is MUCH more than giving a list of desires to God as if He were Santa Claus…Prayer is acknowledging and experiencing the presence of God and inviting Him into our lives and experiences. It’s earnestly seeking the presence of God and releasing the power of God, which gives us the means to overcome any problem.

OH!...remember earlier when I told you about how nice and peaceful our trip to Whitewater was? Well, the trip back home was the polar opposite! Nit-picking, arguing over how someone said something...yes, HOW, not WHAT! Whining and tattling and snapping at each other....it was pretty close to a full two hours of it. Needless to say, we were getting pretty close to being certifiable!

Before I was married I had six theories about raising children. Now I have six children and no theories (John Wilmot, earl of Rochester)...oh well!

~ V