Vacation Bible School Teachers

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The Gratitude Gospel: Day 3

Vacation Bible School teachers, I am in awe of you.

It’s summer and the last thing sane individuals want to do is chase after small children, but you do – with your crafts, and your games, and your smiles.

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When You Can’t Push

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I’m a bit of an agenda pusher. In college, for example, I saw marriage as my opportunity to no longer be scared in bed each night. For whatever reason, I feared the darkness.

That is, until I read a magazine article with the perfect antidote. It told me to call out one word three times: Jesus. It worked.

My husband and I will celebrate eight years of marriage this summer, and I must confess that when he travels, I still chase the invisible monsters away with a single name.

What’s harder, however, is quieting the other demons that persist in adulthood. The anxiety. The doubts. The dread of not knowing the future.

Quite simply, the walls we can’t easily push through.

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The Trouble with Christianity

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In our eighth year of marriage, my husband and I faced one of our greatest decisions yet. I’d be lying if I said strong emotions weren’t central.

After several months of consideration and prayer, our future seemed to be falling into place. Except for this one ever-present question: Is this best for our children?

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I took my 1-year-old on a mission trip. Here’s what happened

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It’s a scene no mother envisions: your 1-year-old child running barefoot through a church made of two double-wides in the middle of West Virginia. And, yet, this is a quintessential moment from my first mission trip with my daughter.

To be honest, it was a beautiful sight. You see, in coal country, there is an emerging trend to combat vast unemployment, uncomfortable outside aid, and limited access to essential services.

Cease having children.

When I agreed to join this service opportunity, I didn’t realize that my little girl would be the youngest child I would encounter on the trip. I live in the Deep South, and babies are everywhere. But this is not true in the heart of Appalachia, and it would be my daughter who gave this community what I could not: hope.

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Mountains Beyond Mountains

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I don’t believe loving someone is ever easy, especially when it’s a stranger.

Yesterday, I shared a piece I wrote the day after Election 2016. Emotions were high, much of our nation was baffled, and experience reminded me that loving people is complicated.

But, just three days later, the hand I was dealt was angry, white, and male.

And for the very first time, I absorbed hatred in the presence of my children.

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Love: Where Fries Overcome Fear

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When life hands you a free milkshake, you say “yes”. But, the truth is, the last thing I wanted was more food.

For several moments, a scene had been eating away at my thoughts. A homeless man – not more than 30 years of age – waited on a curb of desperation outside of our local Walmart as we drove past. To help or not to help? The restless toddlers in the backseat only encouraged the excuses my mind so effortlessly generated.

No. Not tonight.

So we stayed the course to Chick-fil-A. The kids would share a “happy” meal, I would enjoy a leafy green salad, and the sunset would end a perfect evening.

Only I ordered fries I couldn’t eat. Then my son’s order was wrong, which resulted in four free chicken nuggets. And, perhaps most surreal of all, a cashier placed a free milkshake in my hand: “We forgot the whipped cream and cherry. Here!”

As my son’s ice cream cascaded down my wrist, I pondered the sticky dilemma. Light was fading, and so too was an opportunity.

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Mother, with Child

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“Whatever you do, don’t drop it!”

Such was my silent prayer two weeks ago when my husband and I braved a new world: keeping our son with us during an entire worship service. With the flip of a toddler wrist, a Walmart gift card – the only “toy” I could locate in my purse – held the potential to fly over the balcony and inspire a heart attack in an elderly member below. Would Jesus forgive us?

The fact is, we didn’t plan ahead. On Sundays, our goal is quite simple: make it to church with two children clothed and fed (Mom and Dad being such is a bonus!). For a few months, our son had joined us for 30 melodic minutes of praise before the inevitable wiggles ensued. But, as his behavior improved each week, we gained confidence and perhaps grew overly ambitious.

How difficult could it be to keep a toddler occupied AND quiet for just a little longer?

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