Saturday, August 25, 2012

Passing the Plate

This past Sunday, at church, I sat next to a little boy who will be a first grader this year.  Watching him during the service brought back so many memories of when our boys were that age.  I especially loved when it came time to take up the offering.  With anticipation he eagerly held his offering envelope in his hand, waiting for the plate to come down the row.  When the offering plate was passed to him, he put his money in and then with both hands handed the plate to me.  He was smiling from ear to ear.
Our boys, too, loved when it was time for the offering to be given in church.  You could count on the Bertrand row to take an extra minute or two because each son had to place his envelope with money in the plate and then hold the plate all by himself, with both hands, before it was happily passed to the next person.
Promotion Sunday is this week and the four year olds will be the “New Kids on the Pew” in church.  Some have had a trial run with family a few times, but others will be coming for the very first time to “Big Church”.  It’s an exciting time for the four year olds, their families, and their church family, too.  They will eagerly watch as we sing, pray, hold and read the Bible, listen to the music and sermon, and give our tithes and offerings.  Hopefully, the ways we worship will encourage and set the example for the four year olds as they learn to do the same. 
Oh, that our eyes, ears and hearts will also experience the joy, excitement, and expectancy of worshiping in “Big Church” like the four year olds.   And when the offering is taken, may it take extra time as we each get to touch, hold the plate with both hands, and give  cheerfully to the Lord. 
Psalm 122:1
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 9:7
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Reflection

Several years ago our dear friends, Jim and Pinky, set a goal of visiting all 50 states.  For the past 5 ½ weeks, they have realized that dream by visiting the final 5 states.  Their trip is more than just driving through the state and saying that they have been there.  The trip is carefully researched, mapped out, and planned.  To help family and friends keep up with their trip, they post a blog and pictures each day. 

God has gifted Jim with a great eye for capturing the scenery, people, and events in his pictures.  When they were in Moab, Utah, they took a jet boat excursion on the Colorado River.  I was amazed at the pictures of God’s creation and especially fascinated with the photos of land features reflected in the water.  Thanks, Jim, for allowing me to post a few of the pictures on the blog this week.

 It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words.  The reflection pictures were at least worth extra thought and viewing time from me.  It seems like the sunlight was shining just right to clearly reflect the images of what was on the ground and in the sky.  The image did not reflect anything that was not there.  In some of the pictures, you had to look closely to see the dividing line in what was real and what was reflection.

As part of God’s creation, we too need to have God’s “Sonlight” shining on, in, and through us.  We need to listen to and obey God’s Spirit so that when people look at our lives they can see a clear reflection of Jesus.

Proverbs 27:19
As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Going for the Gold/Goal

It has been exciting to watch, hear, and read about the Olympics these past two weeks.  As a spectator, I’ve noticed several things…
No one goes into the game aiming for the silver or bronze medals.
Olympians must sometimes choose to forego a “good thing”, like the Opening Ceremony, so they can be prepared for the “best thing”, their event which is scheduled for the following day.
Athletes are willing to train for four years or longer for a 10 second race.
 1/100th of a second can be the difference between winning the gold, silver, or bronze medal.
Even if the first 3 positions have been determined, the others still finish the course/race/game.  In one race, a runner fell over the first hurdle and injured his leg.  He then hopped to the outside lane and hopped until he crossed the finish line.
No one gets to the Olympics by themselves.  They each have families, coaches, sponsors, and teams that are part of their story.

Any person or team can win on any given day.
Even though the athletes have prepared for their event, they must still focus on the goal, concentrate, follow the rules, remember the basics, and give 100% to win their event.

As happy and thrilled as the spectators are when an individual or team succeeds, it doesn’t come anywhere close to what the Olympians must experience.
Encouraging words are often heard by teammates, coaches, and the crowd.
Athletes have a passion for their sport.  They are willing to exert hours of grueling training as well as make sacrifices as they prepare to be the best in their sport.
Sometimes you are better as a team than you would be individually.
During the Olympics, I enjoyed hearing several of the athletes being interviewed.  One of the members of a running relay team broke his leg during the race.  When asked how he could even complete his leg of the race he said he continued to concentrate on “faith, focus, finish”.  Sounds like a great lesson for the race we are running in the Christian life, too,…faith in God, focusing on Jesus, and finishing the race set before us.
I Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

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.

 And now the athletes go home to train and prepare for the next competition and we have the opportunity to continue training for and running the race God has marked out for us so that  one day, like Paul, we too can say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  2 Timothy 4:7

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Beach Week 2012

For 25+ summers, my side of the family has rented a beach house in Galveston to spend a week together.  Not everyone can come for the entire time, but since it is so close most can make it for at least part of the week.  This year we enjoyed the company of 22 family and friends, representing 4 generations.  “Beach Week” is a much anticipated and treasured time.

The place we rent from even used pictures from some of our past family vacations in their promotional material this year.

Traditions still continue at the beach.  The first day at the beach, after the cars were unloaded and everything was unpacked, the families would walk down to the beach and just look around.  The "Cousins" would wade in the water and "accidentally" fall in and get their clothes wet.  I noticed that Chad helped carry on that tradition with David.

It was a joy to view “Beach Week” through the eyes of children again.  David and Eli awoke each morning calling each other’s name and played non-stop.  I foresee years of enjoyable times and friendship ahead for these two.

Several summers, Brad and Chad's birthdays were celebrated at the beach.  Within a few weeks of this summer's beach time, several had birthdays.  We even celebrated David's a few weeks early which meant he and Eli had lots of new toys to play with for the week.

Brad and Melinda gave him this Big Action Set.  The adults really enjoyed it.  They even let David and Eli play with it sometimes.

There was lots of time for visiting and relaxing.  A plus for me this summer is that I was able to sit on the porch and visit.  Since the stem cell infusions, I have been able to tolerate the heat better.  I was wise enough not to go out in the hottest parts of the day.

At the beach you can read, watch TV, work on the computer, play games...whatever.  This year there was a new element to the games.  With the Olympics beginning the Friday we went home, it was decided that each game would have a gold, silver, and bronze medalist.  The "medals" were three of the scrubbies Grandmom made hung on a piece of net.  After each game, the winners stood by the windows and the National Anthem was hummed or sung.  USA did well!  Notice the "medals" hanging from the light fixture.  That was their home base until it was time for them to be awarded.

There was always a puzzle to be worked. 

Recently, I noticed that one of Mom's photo albums, with her oldest pictures, was not in good shape.  The pictures were falling out and the pages were torn.  I bought the supplies and a new album and planned to redo it and surprise her with it.  Then I thought that it would be a great project for us to both work on when the others made the morning trek to the beach.  I'm so glad we did it together because I heard lots of stories that went along with the pictures and people.  It was a treasured time.

Mom made over 100 scrubbies while we were at the beach, when she wasn't working puzzles, reading, or playing games.  One afternoon, she even taught the grandkids how to make them. 

Another tradition through the years has been to play miniature golf one evening.  The last few years we have gone to the Pirate Course.

I Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.