Camp Cones and S’Mores

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When you think of things that make you happy, what do you remember? For one, I remember special things that my husband does when our granddaughters are at our house. The special traditions. The special treats that he is totally responsible for dreaming up and doing, especially the memories that are pressed into the hearts of our grandchildren. Most of them would say they can count on Pop Pop’s delicious waffles for breakfast if they have stayed overnight. But then, there are also those times we sit around the fire pit and roast marshmallows under Pop Pop’s supervision, and more recently camp cones and s’mores.

I am the “tag along” at these special moments. The bystander. The one who gets to appreciate the moments and count my blessings. And sit back and enjoy. I get to be very grateful that my husband is a wonderful Pop Pop! I get to marvel at the blessing of family. I get to focus on what God is doing in my family. And this, I did a couple weekends ago.

Psalm 78:4-7 “We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power, and the wonder He has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which He commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds but would keep His commands.”

There is a pattern at work here. The passing of traditions. The legacies of life. I have spent over half of my life being professionally involved in, promoting, and otherwise supporting Christian school education. I am convinced that Christ-centered education is the only true education and that if done well, it reaps benefits in the lives of its recipients, mostly beyond school days, during the challenging days of adulthood, marriage, family, and careers…

But the most important tradition – the most urgent legacy –  is Jesus Christ Himself. As we enjoyed s’mores outside in the dark, my young granddaughter surprised us all with her present depth of faith in Jesus. Can you imagine my unsurpassed joy, when recently sitting around our fire pit, my 9-year-old granddaughter began passionately recounting Bible stories with full-on characters and their names and stories from the book of I Samuel!? She recited Psalm 1:1-2 also, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” Yes. And yes!

When she asked for my Bible and flashlight, and then continued telling Bible stories around the fire pit, I experienced a heavenly “burning bush” moment of my own! This was indeed, for me, the maximum supernatural joy that can be experienced on earth, when you see that God has allowed you to have had a small part to play in the spiritual formation of a grandchild. I can’t even describe it fully.

Credit does not belong to me. It was simply not by promoting or being involved in Christian education, although these are good things. Or by any other flawed attempt to impress my Christian values on my progeny. Jesus authored this wonder! It was simply by inviting Jesus Christ in. Choosing Him in return. Knowing Him. Loving Him, serving Him, having faith in Him, and passing it on by His grace to the next generation. God pulled back the veil for a moment and let me see the miraculous unfolding of faith in one grandchild! I still can’t describe it fully.

In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in Him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Underneath the sky, the night. Around the fire and the delicious s’mores, I saw some amazing fruit. Joy upon joy!

Faith Over Fear

Faith Over Fear

It was a gospel journey that brought my group of beach friends together. It started in the late 1980’s when we were young moms. Although, the beach retreats didn’t start until 2011. I always enjoy this extraordinary getaway with my spiritual sisters twice a year, more so now that I am not working full tilt in full-time ministry. I am usually the early riser in the group. It doesn’t matter if we have stayed up until midnight binge-watching “Jamestown.” I’m still up in the quiet of the morning seeing the sun rise through the kitchen window while coffee is brewing.

Saturday morning of this getaway (9-29-18), I was reading My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers). This quote struck me: “The realization of the (God’s) call in a person’s life may come like a clap of thunder or it may dawn gradually… but… it is always accompanied with an undercurrent of the supernatural – something that is inexpressible and produces a ‘glow.’ ”

We were a fairly informal group until a certain discipleship training course crashed into our lives. It was called MasterLife. I don’t know if it was the scripture we memorized, or the all-morning prayer solitude one day, or the continuous prayers we prayed, or the hard homework questions we discussed. But, our lives were changed. And we answered unique calls. It’s possible that the greatest call came and directed us to minister to our own families. It wasn’t a clap of thunder. It dawned gradually.

Many children and grandchildren later, our families remain the greatest arena of our faith testing. The greatest arena of our fear. The greatest arena of heartache. The greatest puzzle. The greatest arena of hard questioning. The greatest arena of life and death cycles. The greatest arena of the stretching to which God calls us. Yet, the place where our faith has been built up.

Twice a year, we come to the beach “mountain top,” but that is not where we are allowed to stay. We often (sometimes reluctantly) return to the “valley of life” with a refreshed perspective. Because of a call whispered to us by God, we step ahead in faith. A spiritual touch happens. A supernatural undercurrent. An inexpressible lure.

Joshua 1:2 says, “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you (Joshua) and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them – to the Israelites.” Just as God was preparing Joshua ahead of the crossing, God prepares us. We get ready. While we wrestle with our fears, God’s promises remain trustworthy. He refuels us with His Word. He gives us courage and resolve. We leave the beach.

Joshua 1:5-7 says, “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

Faith over fear. It’s the message of Joshua. The call of God. The glow. Be strong. Be courageous.