Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Meditation

A thought, verse, or quote to meditate on through the week...

"Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for ever more."
Psalm 16:11

 Lord, only You can show me the way to an abundant, peaceful life in You. 
Keep me in your presence.  Fill me with your joy!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Prayer for These Times

Slow me down, Lord!
Steady my hurried pace
With a vision of
the eternal reach of time…
Teach me the art of taking
minute vacations.
Of slowing down
to look at a flower…
to chat with an old friend…
or make a new one…
to pat a stray dog…
to watch a spider spin a gossamer web…
to smile at a child…
or to read a few lines from a good book.
Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
That there is more to life
than increasing its speed.
Slow me down, Lord!
And inspire me to send
my roots deep
Into the soil of life’s
enduring values.

~ Orin L. Crain

I don't remember where I found this prayer, but it is perfect for this season of my life.  The last year or so, I feel like I've been running from activity to activity, finding "good" things to do, staying busy, running here and there, always asking, 'what should I do next?' but never thinking to ask, 'Lord, what do YOU want me to do?' 
I never took a moment to thankfully savor
the talents He had given me, 
or sought His will about how I was to use them. 
I know He has a plan.  He has prepared good works for me to do!  But often in life, MY plan takes precedence.  Why? Often because I simply did not take the time to seek His will, but even more often, because I failed to wait.   How often have I pushed my way off of the path God had prepared for me so I could chase what I wanted at the moment, or because life seemed to be at a stand still when I wanted to be moving?  Why must I wish for what I don't have at the moment?  When will I learn to savor the waiting?
When will I realize that HE is all I need? 
He has placed me where I am for a purpose and has provided all that I need to live a life of joy In Him.  When will I stop chasing the 'good' things I see, and turn instead to the lasting riches that Christ is waiting to give to me.  Yes, that He is waiting to give me, if only I will stop, wait, and turn my eyes to what matters most.  To stop reaching for all that is "good" and wait for Him to give me what is best at just the right time.
Slow me down, Lord!  
And inspire me to send
my roots deep
into the soil of life's
enduring values. 
The enduring value of You.

"Wisdom righteousness and pow’r,
Holiness forevermore,
My redemption full and sure,
He is all I need"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ATI Conference '11

After SSI, with hardly time to recuperate (and trust me, you need recuperation time after SSI) Mom and I drove down to Indianapolis for the regional ATI conference.  I can't remember the last conference I was able to attend without worrying about chores or other responsabilities.  It was a perfect time of seeing old friends, and being refreshed in the Lord.  Here's a peek at some of the fun!

Esther and I, womaning, the ITG table. 
She even gave me a pipecleaner!!!
Yes, pipecleaners make me happy, very happy!
...don't ask...

And of course you couldn't keep me out of the CI room! 
Especially when two very awesome friends
happen to be in there ;)
Rissa and Lyd, you guys are awesome!

Josiah was very proud of the character award
he recieved for archery at his first year in ALERT Cadets.

Mom and one of her "honorary grandkids" :)

It was wonderful to be able to visit with
 Mr. and Mrs. Robert Staddon!

The last day of the conference, a few of us Indy staffers were able to get together at Starbucks.  It was great to see Tim, Patrick and Robert and Kendallyn again! What did we do while we were there?  We reminiced over Mr. Gergeni's Wonderful Life!  Fun times, and lots of memories.

Student Statesmanship Institute

The muses in the capitol rotunda
Who would think a week of studying bills from the house and senate, translating "legalese," writing speeches, listening to debates, giving press conferences, and surviving on cafeteria food would be done by choice?  But three weeks out of the summer, Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Michigan is teeming with high schoolers doing just that.  And yes, they even have fun in the process!

I have spent four weeks in successive summers at Student Statesmanship Institute.  My first year, as a state representative, I arrived having no idea of what to expect. I mean, summer camp is supposed to be fun!  Who invented government camp?  A whole week of parliamentary procedure, caucus meetings, questioning lobbyist, worrying about the press, and speech writing,  all overseen by a "sometimes benevolent dictator?" You've got to be kidding me!  But, I was hooked (I think its something in the water...besides the "swamp monster.")  So much so, this summer I could not stay away and went as a chaperone. 

The Madison committee

So, what exactly do you do at SSI?  First year students are state representatives, second year is senate (you get to write amendments to your bills! ... as long as they are germain.  No Barney amendments.)  You take the oath of office, join a committee and caucus, and start studying your bills (while hanging out with your caucus and eating pizza, of course.  Come on, this is camp!)  Throughout the week you take your bill from caucus, to committee, (at the state capitol) where you interview lobbyists and vote to pass the bill to the house floor.  You then head back to camp and start honing your caucus strategy and arguments and commence to speech writing, and rewriting and more rewriting, because on Friday you will be on the house floor debating other caucus in an attempt to pass you bill.

Caucus meetings, at this point we were not getting much done...

While the representatives are in caucus attempting to figure out what in the world they are doing, and the Senators are plowing full speed ahead, some of the third and fourth year students are quietly tucked away in a back room furiously typing at their computers, or sneaking around campus with note pads and pencils, or video cameras.  Yes.  The media.  Feared by all, with few friends as a result, the few and the proud take their job seriously as they hunt down stories, interview poor, unsuspecting representatives, and capture *misquotes for, what would probably be considered, the equivalent of the comics section of the daily SSI Observer. 

(*Misquote - random phrases, usually taken out of context, said in the hearing of media personnel or one, Charity Malick.  Misquotes are not supposed to make sense. The stranger the better.
 "We will win by the power of rhyming, Botox, exercising regularly, and cake" -Maple party member,
"Safety is one of our... top 5 priorities." -Zak Weston,  
"Jennie is our camp nurse.  She's vicious." -Amber Thompson,
"The orange juice is malfunctioning." -Hannah Kissling,
"How do you feel about being a people killer?" -Representative to lobbyist,
"We'll have to think of something nasty to love." -Spencer Field,
"The terror in your eyes keeps me alive." -Zak Weston,
"All ninjas are lame compared to me." -Evan Thompson) 

Week three was also the pilot week for the campaign tract.  That means, in addition to all the normal (if you can call them that) SSI events we also had a gubernatorial debate to attend and lots of fund raising and campaigning to put up with  ;)  The three parties were very creative in their strategies.  Not only did they have campaign adds in the news paper and commercials in the broad casts, but they sent out "mailings," and hosted events such as face painting, euchre tournaments, and sponsor dinners (which included a served cafeteria meal by members of the party, they even bussed the table for you!)

Amber and I

Oh, and you cannot leave out the annual talent show (very fun to watch!) Between the kids collecting signatures for the petition, and hearing campers practicing everything from instrumentals to stand up comedy in preparation for the auditions, the day has a climatic feel to it.  We had some great acts this year!

The County Boys at the talent show

That's what the kids do, what did I do as a chaperone?  I had way to much fun!  I was assigned to the Madison committee which was handling the "smoking ban" bill and the "adoption by any couple" bill.  (neither of which passed)  Among other things, it was my job to moderate caucus meetings, keep the kids on track and make sure they had some sort of idea about what they were doing.  I had a great group of "representatives" in my committee!  They expended lot of effort in their arguments, research, and speeches! 

If this all seem a bit confusing, I'm sorry, but there is not much I can do. It's an SSI thing.  I could try to explain it, but you will never quite get it until you experience the craziness for yourself. 

SSI is really nothing more than one big inside joke. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

VBS 2011

Wow, how time flies!  I can't believe everything that has happened since VBS in June, but more about that later.  As most of you know, this year's Vacation Bible School had a military theme, which was way to much fun to work with!  There are oodles of object lessons, craft, and game ideas out there which made planing crazy fun! (but mostly crazy...)
Part of Charlie Squad at snack time
For starters, at check in, each child was given a "dog tag" (name tag) then stood next to the American flag while we took their "enlistment photo." (which was used later that week in a craft) They then joined their squad (alpha through foxtrot) which was marked with the squad guidon. We had about ten more kids than last year, pushing the total number of attendees to around fifty with several visitors!
Zach and Levi
 If you have ever worked with Vacation Bible School you know it is only as amazing as its volunteers, and we were blessed with some pretty amazing ones this year!  They helped with everything from check-ins to crafts, games, writing skits, acting in skits, listening to verses, assisting with lessons, shopping for and making snacks (thanks Mom!), cleaning up each night, leading worship, being pied (insert evil laugh), getting me coffee, taking pictures, and in general, keeping me from losing my mind!  You all are amazing!!!!!!!  I wish I could give you all the medal of honor.  You earned it!  (O.K, well, maybe a VBS version...)
Something we did differently this year was close each night with worship.  (Thanks Chad, you did a great job!) It was a great way to end a day of fun and craziness by bringing it back to what it was really all about.  As much as we try to bring the lesson across in every aspect of VBS, it can be easy to lose the point in the midst of the fun and games. But when you end the night worshiping The One who is All In All, it brings everything back into perspective.
Ben, the victim of the verses
And last but not least.... Memory Verses!!!! This year the challenge verses were Ephesians 6:10-18. I must admit, I was a bit disappointed that only one child was able to say all eight extra credit verses at the end of the week. But to make up for it, one of the three-year-olds said every single last one of the verses we said each day! Kids, next year you don't have an excuse! Each child that said the verses got a special ribbon and an opportunity to put a pie in the face of the leader of their choice! We used whipped cream this year instead of shaving cream (It tastes much better, and it doesn't hurt as badly if you get it in your eye!) however, we put the whipped cream in the pie pans to far in advance, and when it came time to pie the leaders it was soupy on the bottom and splashed every where! Lesson learned for next year! 
Here are a few extra pictures of the fun.  I owe a huge thank you to John Poma for all of the great pictures on this post! 

Fun outside!

Yes, this is usually what they were doing....

I have no idea what they are doing

My A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. Brother who just happened to be on furlough VBS week *big smiles!*


I think he's in denial