Running for Water

Don’t you just love when you have one of those God moments where everything just comes together in such a way that you could never make happen on your own and you just know He was involved.  It is so important to recognize these moments as God is at work in our lives, and this past weekend I had just that kind of a moment where so many of my passions collided in one fantastic morning!

Early Saturday we dragged (literally) our girls out of bed and bundled them up in sweats with the promise of donuts if they would hurry along.  The night before we carefully stocked our car with cups, tables, posters, chairs and gallons of water.  We were on our way to set up a water station for a group of runners.  You might be thinking “This was your fantastic morning, your passions colliding – I don’t even know what a water station is?!?!”  If that’s you, let me back up and share with you a little bit about myself through some of my previous posts on this blog.  First, I love spending time with my kids and am always looking for ways to involve them in service to others such as this.  In fact, having young children serve is something that has been on my heart for so long I have been blogging about it for several years over here.  Secondly, earlier this year my family sponsored two little girls from a village in Africa through World Vision and getting water is a daily struggle for them.  Finally, running is something that I love to do and is a hobby we have involved the whole family in.

Several months ago our church organized a group of runners who were committing to run the Chicago Marathon in October in order to raise funds to build wells in Africa.  Not just anywhere in Africa, but in the same village where our sponsored girls live.  For those of you who are runners, you know that training for marathon is a grueling task that takes tremendous dedication, culminating typically in a 20 mile training run before the actual marathon.  So when a friend of mine said they were looking for people to encourage, support and pass out water to these runners on this final long training run, I eagerly signed my family up.

The night before the run the girls and I decorated posters with words of encouragement, knowing that for most of these runners this would be the farthest they had ever had to go.  As we drove to our spot on the race route the sun was just coming up.  As I turned the corner, I actually had to stop they car because the morning sun was shining so brightly it was all I could see.  It was undeniable, He was here.  He was with us.  He was with those runners.

It. Was. Amazing.

We spent the next two hours passing out water and cheering as we saw friends, Sunday school teachers, pastors and many we had never met run by.  I defy anyone to run pass a smiling three year old offering a cup of water and not take it – needless to say the runners who passed by us stayed hydrated!  Again and again we were thanked, sometimes tearfully, for our support on this difficult run.  My girls beamed as they received hugs and were told how encouraging it was to see their small smiling faces on the trail that day.  It was not lost on any of us that by our small contribution of handing out water on this one September morning, that thousands of people, tens of thousand miles away would be able to enjoy water everyday.

 

 

www.hollyskeltonbooks.com

Where We Belong
avatar

Delight yourself in the Lord …

 and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 Psalm 37:4

“There’s something delicious about writing those first few words of a story. You can never quite tell where they’ll take you. Mine took me here…where I belong.” Beatrix Potter, the greatest children’s author of the 20th century, belonged at Hill Top Farm in rural England. She found inspiration and freedom to write about the many adventures (and misadventures) of her animal friends surrounded by beautiful, lush, rolling hills. It’s where she was most herself and where her passion as an artist flourished. 

We all long to find where we belong, don’t we? As small children we belong to a family. We live where they live, find our identity in who they are and take our rightful place in the birth order amongst our siblings. As we mature, we find everyone in our family is different. Our eldest brother likes sports and our middle sister lives for fashion while we find we are most ourselves playing the piano. We’re shy. They’re social. We like solitude. They like crowds. We’re most obviously different. And so, our journey of belonging begins.

In part, the journey can answer the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we’re first asked, we usually don’t have a clue. To some extent it answers “What do you like to do the most?” But more so, it’s a journey of the heart and soul.

Belonging, is knowing your purpose – doing what God created you to do – where your heart soars. It’s a place that feels like Paradise.

So how do you get there? First, deal with your heart-wounds alone with God. Once you do, you can put the past behind you and move forward on your journey. Next, lay down your passion, your deepest desire before God in prayer.  Ask God if what your passion is truly His desire for you. Most usually, His desires align with our greatest passions, but how we are to exercise our talents/passions needs to come into alignmenet with His will. This may take time listening to God and examining our own hearts. Finally, step out in obedience to God’s leading.

Our passions make our hearts soar and create a place in this world where we belong. When we’re doing what God purposed us to do we’re welcoming the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth – a bit of Paradise.

What’s your heart’s desire/passion? How do you live it out? What steps are you taking to discover God’s purpose for your life or the life of your children?

Blessings,

Dawn Aldrich
Author of Auntie’s House
Host of Penn’s Pals

My Rocking Chair

Spending time with my granddaughter brings back so many precious memories of when I was raising my own little ones. One of my favorite things is to rock her to sleep for her nap time or bedtime. The feeling of her cuddly warm body against my chest is the best feeling in the whole world! It’s a time to be still. To hum gentle lullabies and caress her forehead. Grandchildren are one of God’s greatest blessings. It gives us one more chance to hold a little life in our arms and remember how amazing our Creator is.

My Rocking Chair

I rocked my precious babies in my cozy rocking chair.
I held them closely to my chest and gently stroked their hair.
I shared the chair with Mother Goose and bedtime lullabies.
My rocking chair was always there for weepy, sleepy eyes.

It rocked a frightened child through a rumbling thunderstorm.
And when my baby had the flu, it helped me keep her warm.
It calmed a restless child for an afternoon of rest.
And when I cuddled more than one, it always rocked the best.

The chair sits in the corner now so quiet and alone.
Our rocking days are in the past, my children all have grown.
But sometimes when I’m in the mood, I sit and rock a while.
Remembering those rocking days always brings a smile.

Crystal Bowman

 poem taken from: Meditations for Moms, by Crystal Bowman, Baker Publsishing, 2001.

Kindergarten Lessons

I cleaned out my bookshelves the other day (to make room for more books!) and came across a little paperback that’s been around for twenty-five years: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things, by Robert Fulghum.

Here are a few quotes to start your week…

“Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sand pile at Sunday School.”

“Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts….”

“There is a sense in which we need to go home again—and can go home again. Not to recover home, no. But to sanctify memory….There is treasure there.”

“Have you got something around the house [that is]…evidence of love in its most uncomplicated and most trustworthy state?”

“Skepticism and realism are not the same as cynicism and pessimism.”

“Crayolas plus imagination…these make for happiness if you are a child.”
            (Do you remember your first box of Crayola crayons?)

“Weeds are in the eye of the beholder….Dandelions are not weeds—they are flowers!”

“Always trust God. And always build your house on high ground.”

“You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think.”

“Wonder and awe and joy are always there in the attic of one’s mind somewhere, and it doesn’t take a lot to set it off.”

“It’s not true that what counts is the thought and not the gift….People who think good thoughts give good gifts.”

“Some Assembly Required….To assemble the best that is within you and give it away. And to assemble with those you love to rekindle joy.”

“If you were to line up on one side of the earth every human being who ever lived or ever will live…you wouldn’t find anybody quite like you.”

“Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away.”

“Anything not worth doing is worth not doing well.”
            (Not what you thought it said, is it?)

“Ignorance and power and pride are a deadly mixture.”

“People of imagination stand on one another’s shoulders….Some of us are ground crew….Others of us are bound for the sky.”

“Why do people believe that pushing an elevator button several times will make the car come quicker?”

What effect did the charity have on the man who was robbed and beaten and taken care of by the Good Samaritan? Did he remember the cruelty of the robbers and shape his life with that memory? Or did he remember the nameless generosity of the “Samaritan and shape his life with that debt?”

And finally…

“No matter how old you are—when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”

Fulghum and I may not agree on theology, but there’s something to be said for childhood lessons!

What lessons did YOU learn in kindergarten?

How Do We Keep The Faith When a Child is Suffering?

How is it possible to keep being faithful when we see a child suffering? Children of all ages are missing some of what others consider a normal childhood like playing, running, laughing, going to school, or riding a bike because of the circumstances in their young lives. How does faith let us accept what these children are going through without being angry and loosing our faith in a loving Father?

In the wake of childhood poverty and starvation, childhood cancer and illness, and childhood gangs, abuse, and violence it can definitely shake our faith. I often hear statements from others using these life situations as an excuse not to believe in God, not to participate in religion, and not to take any charitable actions. And many times my answers may sound shallow to those who do not know our Lord and Saviour.

But my answer is always the same. I believe in our Father, Son of God, Saviour, and I believe through Jesus Christ all things are possible including a positive outcome from an awful circumstance if we stay faithful to Him who loves us. The problem for most is that we are human and we do not understand. These tips have helped me when sharing faith with both children and adults.

  • Pray. Pray in whatever words come from your heart whether they are angry words, words that cry out in pain, or joyful words of praise. God wants to hear from us even if all we can do is sit in silence. Pray for others and ask God for direction and help for yourself. God wants us to rely on Him for the answers and faith comes when we seek Him and become confident that He will answer our prayers.
  • Go Slow.Take one minute, then one hour, then one day, then one week at a time. Break the sad times into small tasks and goals so you can avoid being so overwhelmed with the whys. The actions you take to move into the next minute, next hour etc. are what come from the faith that God has not left you.
  •  Be joyful in all circumstances. Take the joyful times and be content. Praise God for the good and restful times, the times you can give an extra dollar or food item to help a hungry child or the times your own child is pain free. Breath in the fresh air of God’s peace in those moments and appreciate that your faith has gotten you here. Praying for joy to touch the hearts of those who are suffering is one way to pray with your child for other children around the world.
  •  Be giving. Give and share your prayers, your time, your money, and  share your faith that God is in control. Let that faith be evident by keeping calm, reassuring to your children, and taking positive actions steps within your abilities in any situation. Many times the only action step you can give is your prayer, for there is no other answer within your control. Share that reality with your child.
  • Keep a faithful attitude. Children begin learning about faith by following our examples. Show your child you are faithful and be honest about how difficult that can become sometimes.
  • Share the Bible. God’s book is the best reference when it comes to examples of faith in awful circumstances. The Bible is our guide to remaining faithful when we become overwhelmed with the realities of the world around us. Children will learn by example to rely on the Bible for answers and will carry that with them.

Instilling faith into the hearts of our children or friends does not happen overnight. It takes prayer and experiences, actions and results. Being a faithful example and sharing your faith with your child are the first steps to keeping the faith when children suffer. With God all things are possible and that also means remaining faithful in times of suffering.