I work at a small college in the student development office. That being said, there are many conversations and adventures that happen on a regular basis. I hope to catch some of these moments and the resulting realizations that occur about who God is and how much He loves us.
My March adventure came from one of my brothers and his family, “Make a time capsule and bury it in Mom & Dad’s backyard.” I wasn’t sure how I wanted to execute this adventure. What should I put in the capsule? How long until I open it again? What container should I put it in? Can I even bury it in my parents’ backyard?
I started thinking about the purpose of a time capsule and it reminded me of Stones of Remembrance. I’ve written a blog or two about this in the past (https://adventuresofasinglepretzel.wordpress.com/stones-of-remembrance). I love the meaning behind Stones of Remembrance: thus far has the Lord brought us. That’s when it dawned on me that time capsules are just a modern version of Stones of Remembrance.
With this realization, I had a better grasp on a time capsule but was still struggling with what to put into one. I talked with some of my nieces and nephews and they had great ideas. I also realized that this blog (going back over six years) and my many journals (going all the way back to the ’90s) are my own versions of time capsules.
I decided to split this month’s adventure into a few different phases.
Phase 1 – Ask my nieces and nephews to contribute to the time capsule.They were all excited to participate. They told me the different things they wanted to include. Some ideas were changed over time, but I’m excited to do this adventure with them.
Phase 2 – Read through my past blogs and journals and remember what the Lord has done in my life. Considering that my blog has more than 60 entries, and I’ve been keeping a journal for the better part of 20 years, there was a lot to review. However, I decided to focus mainly on my journals as I hadn’t read them recently. To narrow down the time frame, I decided to find each year’s date closest to the current date. It always surprises me the things that I’ve forgotten! It was bittersweet reading through the entries of when my granddad (Gramps) passed away nine years ago. Such grief in those entries, but the Lord tenderly carried me through.
Phase 3 – Write a letter to myself describing where the Lord currently has me, so that I can read it in 7-8 years when we open the capsule again. I actually really enjoyed this! I didn’t want it to be cliche in my letter. I wanted to be honest about where I am: the hopes, the dreams, the disappointments, and what I feel the Lord is saying and doing in my life. I hope that when I read it I can remember the way the Lord has loved me!
Phase 4 – Find a cute container to hold all these items and find a spot to keep it safe. I found a fake decorative box (see above picture) at my house and thought this would be the perfect time capsule! It should be able to hold all of the fun stuff from my family. And rather than burying it, I can keep it next to my jar of monthly adventures on my shelf.
I also found it interesting that my adventure for March was to focus on remembering as Easter falls the first weekend in April. Easter weekend is filled with remembrance of all the Lord has done for us. May we never forget to take the time to remember how the Lord has helped us!
He [Samuel] named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
This school year has had very, very odd weather. In the fall semester, we had hurricane strength winds hit us. For some this might not be odd, but I live in a land-locked state. I’m roughly 440 miles from the closest beach, so hurricane strength winds are not a normal thing.
February 14th brought two storms that have been fondly named the Snowpocalypse of 2021. Not odd for northern states, but I live in the south. We normally get a dusting at least once a year, but these two storms in one week dumped 15 inches on us. I actually got snowed in for an entire week at my parents’ home (an hour away from my house). Thankfully, we didn’t lose power and I was able to work remotely. I’m even more grateful that my 90 year old house didn’t spring any leaks!
Then last Sunday we had a tornado warning. No watch, just a warning out of nowhere. As I grabbed my phone and started notifying staff to spread the word to students, I started trying to figure out where I would go. Tornadoes aren’t anything new. I’ve lived here long enough to know where tornadoes typically hit and the best way to take cover. My mom suggested my crawl space, ha! 🙂 I have a closet under my stairs that is in the very center of my house. I grabbed supplies and hunkered down for about 30 minutes. Rotation was seen, but never actually touched down.
After I came out of the stairway closet, and I put my house back together from my frenzied grabbing of items, I started thinking about Psalm 118. Specifically, verse 8 and 9, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord then to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Taking refuge strikes me as a physical action. I had to take refuge in the closet because of the tornado warning. I couldn’t just think about getting into the closet, I physically had to place myself there.
In some situations, I don’t have a problem taking refuge as in the tornado example above. Other situations are harder for me. One of those situations surrounded my adventure for this month. I pulled #4, “Write your own song of worship to the Lord.” When I pulled this out at the beginning of the month, it struck fear in my heart. Nothing felt comfortable! I enjoy writing, but poetry is not a language my brain understands. As I sat about trying to figure out how to write a song of worship, I tried to focus on Psalm 118 and what the author was trying to convey.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever…Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.
Psalm 118:1, 5
These two verses conveyed what the Psalmist knew of the Lord. Hmmmmm, maybe I could do this for my song of worship. Often times the chaos of my life overwhelms me. Just like the chaos of all the weather has overwhelmed me at points this year. So I decided to try and focus on what I know of the Lord and how He is my refuge.
My first adventure of the year, number 3, on January 9. The challenge came from a sweet friend and co-worker, Abi. Number 3 encouraged me to “Send an anonymous letter to an acquaintance telling them someway that they have made an impact in my life.” I prayed about it for a week and decided to write a childhood friend who I haven’t seen in a while.
I wrote the letter on January 16 and dropped it into the mail the following Monday. I decided to not make it anonymous as anything coming out of Arkansas was going to be a big clue. 🙂 I decided to own it completely and be as encouraging and uplifting as I could be.
I love snail mail so this was a fun adventure for me! Plus, it brought up sweet memories of junior high and high school with my friend. 🙂 We met in 7th or 8th grade and made it through our teenage years together. She’s a precious wife and mom now and I have been blessed to call her my friend for the past 24 years. We haven’t lived in the same state for years, but I know that we’d pick right back up where we left off!
Scripture says a lot about building each other up. I think that’s why this adventure brought me so much joy! My spring semester is always crazy with everything student housing. This goal forced me to slow down and focus on building up a sister-in-Christ. “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19. “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13.
Last weekend when I was home, my parents received a similar note from someone in their church. Because of my Dad’s health, they haven’t been able to worship in person for a while. A fellow member took time out of their day to write my parents and introduce themselves. This brought my parents so much joy and reminded me of my adventure. It made me wonder how many people in my own congregation haven’t been able to come to church for similar reasons. The Lord stirred my heart to continue my number 3 adventure but with a slightly different twist. I was given a list of women (from a friend at church), a mixture of ladies I know and have never met. The first letter was written this weekend.
May I always find the time to build up the Body of Christ. Who will you encourage and build upthis week?
DISCLAIMER: There is a lot going on in the world right now. Lots to pray over. I’ve learned over the years that often times on-line is not the place to have those conversations. I would be talking at you rather then having a conversation. Thus, I am choosing to use this blog to focus on other things. If you’d like to talk with me about anything that is currently occurring (or anything else that you’d rather talk about), feel free to comment and we’ll set up a time to chat!
BLOG POST: I sat last week planning out my goals for 2021. I did this last year and had great success at getting things accomplished. As I was planning, an idea started to develop.
I started realizing that it’s easy for me to stay in my happy little comfort bubble. I go to work, I come home, I take care of my house, I go to bed to rest before doing it all again.
To combat this, I brainstormed some ways to push myself. I reached out to several friends and family members to share what they enjoy doing, what gives them life, or allows them to rest. Have I told you how amazing my family and friends are?!? I thought I’d be lucky to get maybe 12-24 good ideas. I just finished typing up all the ideas and I have 150 ideas!
I printed them off and put them into a jar (see above picture). I’m going to mix them all up and then pull one out at the beginning of every month. As long as it’s not seasonal, I’ll have to complete what I pull out. I have the entire month to complete the adventure.
Some of the ideas are outdoor adventures. Others are service oriented. Others are community based. Others are restorative or restful. I’m excited and a little nervous. I’m hoping to do some documentation of each adventure to share with those who suggested it. I’m also hoping that the Lord will use each of these adventures to grow me this year. I’m also hoping to share how the Lord shows up in each of these “adventures.”
May your 2021 be full of His presence and the growth that He desires for you!
December 14 will be the six-year anniversary of starting this blog. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long! Six years and 72 blog posts later, I love seeing my history and God’s love and grace memorialized in these blogs. Last year in December, I wrote a blog highlighting some of my favorite blogs over the years. This year I’ve added the ones that I loved from 2020! Enjoy the journey down memory lane and may your Christmas be filled with His presence and joy!
December 14 was the five-year anniversary of starting this blog. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long! Five years and 60 blog posts later, I love seeing my history and God’s love and grace memorialized in these blogs.
Last year in December, I wrote a blog highlighting some of my favorite blogs over the years. This year I’ve added the ones that I loved from 2019! Enjoy the journey down memory lane and may your Christmas be filled with His presence and joy!
Twenty-one can mean different things for different people. For me, it represents the number of times I’ve moved in my 35 years of life. Moving was never my first choice, but God in His mercy and grace has again called me to move.
Thankfully, this is just a move down the road! I’m moving from my apartment to a rental home closer to campus. It’s a 90-year-old house! The prior owners have been lovingly restoring the home! It has the original wood floors and multiple built-ins! The house has so much character! I’m also excited about the front porch and being able to walk to work!
Here are a few things the Lord has taught me in my moves.
I am called to grow wherever the Lord moves me
Moving is a great way to get ride of stuff I have not used recently
Moving forces me to seek help from my community and reminds me of the importance of community
Moving makes me think creatively on how to make my living space a home
Moving forces me to problem solve and figure things out on my own
Most of all moving forces me to press into the Lord and trust Him with my future
I should probably go back and start packing again! Here’s to hoping that move 22 isn’t around the corner. 🙂 May you see the silver lining in your own life.
I have 3 brothers. They are actually triplets and they just turned 40. Most people ask me what it was like growing up with triplet brothers. It was normal, I don’t know anything different. So with that being said, I want to chat about my brothers and share what I appreciate about each of them.
Josh – He’s my oldest brother, by 32 minutes. 🙂 He’s got a medical background like me. He also has a love for people that he gets from my maternal grandfather. He’s currently stateside again (PNG Blog) working at getting a pastoral counseling degree in order to help serve individuals and families in the mission field. He’s married to an amazing woman (just this year!) and I’m thrilled for them and excited to see where the Lord leads them!
Josh and I have definitely butted heads, mainly when we were kids. Thankfully, adulthood has helped with that. 🙂 As we have grown older, we are learning to appreciate our differences and value each other’s perspectives.
I appreciate his willingness to always help others. He is always ready to pitch in and assist. I see a genuine servant’s hearts when I see Josh!
Jon – He’s my middle brother. He’s creative, even when he doesn’t think so. He has a deep concern and care for those around him. He has a gift for seeing the people the Lord brings across his path. He has my maternal grandfather’s heart for people. I have not always lived near Jon, but am enjoying a season of living in the same state. Jon has been married to an amazing woman for the past 16 years and has 3 wonderful children. It is a joy to see their family flourishing!
Jon has always been that older brother who pushed and challenged me. His word was also law. If you are ever enjoying a cup of tea with me, ask about the lesson I learned from him involving water, a tape measure, and not running fast enough. 🙂
I appreciate his deep well of knowledge and wisdom. He’s always willing to engage in a conversation. I see genuine Spirit-led discernment when I see Jon!
Jer – He’s my youngest older brother. 🙂 He’s always game for adventures and loves sharing laughter. He actually has my maternal grandfather’s laugh which is contagious! He also has the gift for teaching. He regularly shares Christ with his youth and anyone the Lord brings across his path. He has my maternal grandfather’s teaching gift. Jer currently lives a few states west with his amazing wife of 15 years and 5 wonderful children. It is always precious to see the joy their family has in doing life together.
Jer was always the brother that wanted to make me laugh. If I was mad at him, he always tried to solve the issue by making me laugh. He’s always willing to share his God given joy!
I appreciate his ability to connect with people. I don’t know that he’s ever met a stranger. I see the Lord’s love for the lost when I see Jer!
I’m blessed to have these brothers in my life. I probably don’t tell them enough the things that I value about them and what they’ve taught me. I’m hoping that this blog will be the start of remedying this oversight on my part.
Over the last 4-5 weeks I’ve noticed the theme of time. This isn’t the first “time” the Lord has highlighted the passage of time for me. Back in January 2018, I wrote another blog along this theme, Time & Promises
Time isn’t always the easiest concept to understand. Scripture often talks about different seasons of time and patience. Ecclesiastes even has a whole passage dedicated to this idea.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed the Lord reshaping my views on the passage of time.
1. I’m a problem-solver. I like promptly finding solutions that help my students. I dislike leaving my students in limbo, so I usually put all my energy toward resolutions. Three times in the last month I have encountered situations with residential students that have taken longer to resolve than I wanted; these have included roommate problems and maintenance issues. One situation even took me two weeks to get worked out.
What I realized is that all three resolved in unexpected ways. If I had rushed to solve the problems, they would have had different outcomes. Would they each have been resolved in an okay way? Yes. Would they have been resolved as well as they were? No.
2. The other time situation involved my dad, who has Parkinson’s. This last year has been rough for him. It’s been hard to see him struggle, and as his body gives out, I feel like I’m losing precious time. Feeling the weight of losing time with him, I’ve been focusing on treasuring all the good moments.
About a month ago, one of his doctors mentioned a new treatment he thought might be helpful. My parents prayed about it and did some research and decided to give it a try. My dad is now over halfway through the six weeks of treatment and we’ve notice definite improvements. The greatest one, for me, occurred last night. I am spending the weekend at my parents for my sister’s birthday celebration. My dad came down the hall to say goodnight to my sister and me, and then he started singing us a song. My dad has always been musically bent, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard my dad sing! What a sweet moment!
Both of these situations involve time, and I’ve realized that I want to control time because I fear losing time. I don’t want to spend it wastefully and I think I know best how to corral it. But the Lord has been reminding me that His timing is perfect. Instead of rushing to solve things, I’m learning to ask the Lord to set my time by His schedule.
He has made everything beautiful in it’s time. He has set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I have to give my sister credit for the title of this blog. She’s witty, an English major, and a writer. There is a lot that unfolded this week to bring this title about. May you see the Lord and the laughter in this situation.
I was at work this past Tuesday when I got the picture below with the caption, “Hopefully, 34 bins to a new home!!” with the laughing crying emojis.
I immediately called my Mom! She answered and I quickly started saying, “Those are my bins! Those are my bins! Those are my bins!” My mom got quiet and after a moment said, “I’ll replace them.” It was then that I read the message that I hadn’t processed yet, “All gone!!!”
I talked with my mom a few minutes longer and then hung up. My mind was spinning and all I could do was lay my head down on my desk. I was completely overwhelmed. I actually had to call my mom back so she could pray over me so that I could again focus on work and the deadlines I had that day.
Most of you are probably thinking, “What’s the big deal?” I actually had to take some time later that night to process everything before I fully figured out that it wasn’t actually about the bins.
Before I get to that part, I want to look back and explain how we got to this point. That might help you understand my state of mind
The Lord has had me move a lot in the past 10 years. Because of all the moving, I have gained a lot of tubs that I use to pack. I don’t use boxes as they attract bugs during storage as well as break down more easily. I usually would buy a handful with each move to replace boxes or cheap bins that were breaking. This last move was the first time that I had been able to use bins entirely and I was thankful!
Two years ago at the end of my last move, I realized that I didn’t have a good spot to store my bins (now numbering around 34). I live about an hour away from my parents. They have an attic and don’t ever use it because access is hard for them. I asked if they would be ok with me storing my bins there and they gave their blessing. I toted all the bins up to the attic myself. I even offered a few of my bins to one of my sisters, Carissa. She passed on them and I donated them to a local second hand shop.
This past week one of my brothers and his wife were in town. They offered to help my parents with a few projects around the house. I usually am up once a week helping with things (my dad has Parkinson’s Disease). So I was happy that Mom and Dad would be able to get a few more things done.
My mom mentioned that they were working in the garage that Tuesday. Nothing was mentioned about the attic and I thought that they never stored anything up there, so I didn’t even think about my bins.
My mom thought there was a box of books in the attic (she’d had another brother put a few things up there). She sent Josh up. He told her there were a bunch of empty bins, a bin of my sister’s stuff, and a box of Christmas items. My mom couldn’t for the life of her remember why the empty bins were in the attic. She thought those were the ones I’d offered to my sister, Carissa, that she had passed on. Mom decided to be proactive and get them out of the garage.
My Mom normally talks with me about things she’s clearing out, but it never crossed her mind to ask me about the bins. She knew that I had been swamped at work this week and had a lot of deadlines.
They decided to put the bins on the side of the road with a free sign in order to get them moved out quickly.
My sister, Claire, who was home at the time, knew they were my bins, but never saw them and was unable to intercede for me.
The bins were gone in 7 minutes flat.
My mom was so excited about the work they had done! She wanted to share her joy and sent me the above picture and text messages. She never thought that it might have a negative impact on my day.
So what did I realize later that night? Mainly, that it wasn’t really about the bins. Yes, that was stressful, but not the main struggle. The Lord revealed three things that I was struggling with and one truth about Himself.
Work – I’ve got a ton on my plate right now. Adding another thing to sit and figure out stressed me out! My bins were different sizes and used for different things. The thought of trying to figure out what has taken me the last six years to build, just about short circuited my brain.
Stability – I crave dependability, which is kind of funny, since I’ve moved so much. I’m pretty sure I have at least one more move ahead of me. I felt comforted knowing that I was prepared for any move with my bins. I know it’s a false sense of stability, but it made me feel better. My lack of bins immediately made me feel unprepared which equals lack of security for me.
Reliance – My mom normally has a pretty good memory. When she is overloaded and overwhelmed, things are harder for her to remember. The bins had been up there for two years, but it was a piece of information that didn’t pertain to her. My dad has been hospitalized because of his Parkinson’s a couple of times this year and they are learning a new “normal.” So she has a lot on her plate. So it was a perfect setting for her to forget my bins. Being single, my parents are my “go to” people. When I don’t feel like I can rely on them, that’s hard for me. I’ve been working a lot this year to rely on them less or in different ways because of their changing circumstances and needs. This was yet another reminder of that change. That’s hard.
One of my dear friends often says, “we chose what we feel.” I didn’t want to feel upset, but also didn’t know how to process all of this. I knew my mom felt bad and I didn’t want to make her feel worse. I wanted to let it go, but also knew that I needed to feel and process it all. So I took some time Tuesday night. I even called one of my brothers and lamented with him. 🙂 I knew this was a pure accident and no one’s fault. Just a very weird and crazy set of circumstances that lead to this moment.
Thankfully, the Lord is bigger then my “bin-tastrophy.” I still remember the Lord asking me if I believed He was still good. My answer is yes!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
Thankfully, it was just bins and not something that could not be replaced. Thankfully, my mom was able to get some projects done this week that brought her joy. Thankfully, the Lord allowed me process time and reminded me that He is good. Thankfully, we’ll laugh about this story, maybe not today, but hopefully tomorrow. 🙂