Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cards to Mali...

After VBS ended this summer, a few boxes of post-SKY parts and pieces remained in my car and garage for a couple of weeks.  Among the things in those boxes were stacks of cards to children in Mali...they were part of the mission project our kids had taken part in.  

This year was my favorite mission project to date...our VBS kids donated money to purchase mosquito nets for children in the African country of Mali...part of a nationwide campaign in partnership with World Vision to fully eradicate malaria in that country by the year 2015.  As our kids at VBS learned through the week that mosquito nets save the lives of kids just like them in other parts of the world, they jumped into action...bringing purses, pockets, and bags full of coins from their own piggy banks.  By the end of the week, an amazing amount of money had been donated.

Back to the cards...

Every time I looked at them after VBS, I would get frustrated that I didn't have the time just yet to package them up and ship them off.  They continued to sit in a box as I followed up on other things that seemed more important.  Then, one night, I got them out and began to package them up.  When I dropped the stack, I grumbled, and started re-organizing the pile once again.  The front of one card caught my eye.  It read:

"I love God.  Do you love God?"

Right at that moment, I realized that in the rush during and after VBS, I had not taken the time to look at the cards.  For the next hour, I sat at my dining room table, reading every awe of the hearts of hundreds of children that had been poured out onto each.  Crayola markers on bright construction paper were carrying a message of God's love and hope to children at risk of dying from malaria.

What I read were words of those who were unashamed to share their faith, who didn't skirt around the truth, who boldly wrote about our God who we all can trust, even in the worst times.  Honest, sincere, caring words of love that are the product of a childlike faith.

Here are an unedited few...

Dear kids in Mali.  I hope these nets keep you safe from the masquietios so you don’t get malaria.  No matter what happens trust God because He loves you.

God loves you no matter what.

Be strong and corages.  Don’t be afraid or discouraged for the Lord is with you.

God is thar for you.

Hi my name is Carsten.  My favorite food is pizza and my favorite sport is soccer.  Remember trust God.

I love you

God is loking aftr you ever day.

"I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Romans 8:38

To: Africa
From: Eddie
I hope the nets work.  I know how it feels when you are scared

God is olwase with you.  Jesus is olwase with you.

Dear Kid, Do you know who God is?  He is the one who made the universe.

Trust God.  He is amazing and powerful and real.

Dear people in Mali, You can trust God no matter who you are, no matter how you feel, no matter what people do, no matter what happens, no matter where you are.  God loves you.

I pray every night so you can heal.

God’s with you.  God loves you.  Love, Keagan

Whatever happens, trust God.  He will never stop loving you.  Jesus is always by your side.  Your friend, Brookelyn

Dear kids in Mali, Do you know God?  Well if you would like to live forever, accept the Lord. – Nadia

God has a plan for you.  From: Macie

As I finished up reading, it became clear that God planned for those cards to stay with me after VBS for a reason.  Had I sent them off right away, I would not have looked at them; I would have missed out on the words that will bring hope to children far away in the world.  I love the reminder that no matter how young, a person can change the life of another, with just so much as a few simple words.  When we allow kids to minister to others on their own, even without our coaching or instruction, we can be assured that God will do awesome things through them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Know Him Better

Over the past weekend I took a few hours to ride with Clay as he was raking pastures of hay.  My boy who, 12 years ago...or was it 12 blinks of my eye?...said his first word.  Would you believe it was "tractor"? 

He'd been alone on the field for about 6 hours when I got there, and welcomed me for a ride on the old John Deere.  Can much more joy overcome a mom whose almost teenage son is genuinely excited to see talk to spend time with her? 

Often a kid of few words, Clay began explaining the process to me.  Soon, I found myself asking questions and realized the boy I spent the past year teaching in home school was teaching me.  I asked if he would let me have a try.  Without hesitating to remind me of my past failures with machinery, he traded spots with me, and began giving instructions. 

There are a lot of things to remember when running machinery.  As he gave me every step needed before taking off, or when stopping, I kept thinking I should have a checklist.  To him, each step was just a perfectly natural order of how to make it all work.  I asked the same questions over and over, and he gave beautifully easy, logical answers each and every time.  He never sighed. Never rolled his eyes.  Never gave me that look.  As I listened, because I know it's unlikely my boys will ever turn me loose on a tractor alone, I was more interested in the quality of his teaching than the subject.  
What could I learn from his teaching?  A lot. 

 After a few laps with me behind the wheel, Clay moved back into the driver's seat.  I took my place sitting up on the fender again.  The noise from an open cab tractor working the fields is really loud.  Yet the clacking of the equipment was more like calm silence than anything I'd heard in as long as I could recall.  As we bounced along, I wanted to stay right there forever, in the noisiest peaceful place I could imagine.

 I know more about Clay than I did before our ride.  Spending time with him alone, not just anywhere, but in a place he loves, was right where I needed to be with him.  
He is growing up to become quite a young man.  
One who loves our Creator.  
Joyful.  Patient.  Strong.  Kind.  Hard working.  Confident.  
One I admire.

When it was time for me to leave, I hopped down and watched the tractor slowly make its way to the back corner of the field, where I could no longer see it.  As I started walking to the car, a flock of ducks flew overhead.  In the otherwise silence of the hay field, with the tractor now out of earshot, I could hear the loud wind under flapping wings.  No doubt, there is something about nature, standing in the middle of a field, that felt like God saying, "Stop and enjoy this one last thing before you move on, Brook."  And I did.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

My Favorite Time Is Here...

The first day of the season arrived today.  A couple months of prep work, planning, wrenching, fixing, buying, selling, and endless shop hours are over.  Well, mostly.  Now it's after dark, the shop lights are off - the first time in awhile, and replaced with headlights in the pasture.  

This is the season of late dinners. The anticipated text lets me know when it's time to have food waiting on the patio, and as politely as possible, it had better be ready on time.  There won't be much time to talk before the meal and bodies are gone and back into the tractors and pastures.  It's haying season.  My favorite time of year.

 Tonight when the herd sat down, it took just a few minutes to realize the little great one was missing.  As if on cue, we turned to a whooping sound far off in the pasture.  And there went running legs and waving arms, through the tall grass, rounding up the horses for the night.  Moments later he hopped into his seat and dug in.

My day started riding on the fender of the 2355, bouncing along beside the oldest.  Listening to his plans for the day as he mapped out field work aloud.  The whole time, keeping my eyes on my favorite mountain and thinking, "You are beautiful, and we are blessed".  This is the time of year that makes up for gray, cloudy days and seemingly endless rain.

These boys of ours are young farmers to be proud of.  Each of them, even the smallest, more capable of ranch work than many grown men.  Early mornings and late nights while the weather holds are just part of the deal, and done with a smile.  Because they love it, I guess.  The Ranch Boss is out early and out late, tan neck and arms, and happier than ever.

I get to work in the garden, the yard, the flowerbeds, and keep the food coming when I'm called. Oh, and wrestle hay bales soon...the best part.  I sort of hide from the rest of the world and soak up every moment of peace and hard work and sunshine.  Don't take it personally, and don't worry, if you don't hear from me.  I'm doing just fine, enjoying my favorite time. :)