Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lazy Lake Days (And Late Pictures)

It was a beautiful summer.

And yes, I realize that by the time I am finally getting these words into print, summer is well over. As the welcome cooler weather has settled in, watermelon and salad have been replaced with apples and oatmeal as weekly staples in our home. It is nice - though almost eerily quiet - to sleep through the night on jersey sheets without the hum of the window air conditioning unit in the background. As someone who loves wearing socks and hoodies, and snuggling under blankets, I am inwardly delighted with the drop in temperature. Still, I would be remiss if I neglected to blog - however overdue - about our lazy lake days of summer.

Unlike last summer's six weeks of rain, this year was full of bright, sunny days, and not so many hot streaks as to be unbearable (though the humidity made me very thankful to at least have AC in the bedroom!).

Our June was sprinkled with activity, such as our strawberry picking field trip (an adventure that I don't care to repeat - in the future, I will bring additional adults or leave the children at home, or more likely, just buy my strawberries at the store!)

Don and I went hiked a small mountain with the teens from church, and our sweet Lydia experienced her first birthday.

In July the fun began with Lydia's first trip to the beach and then to the lake shore. It turns out that she loves both the sand and the water!

At the beginning of the summer, she was perfectly content to sit by edge of the pond and splash in the water, but by late August, she was determined to swim! She was fearless in her attempts to crawl straight into the middle of the pond, and refused to admit defeat until I was forced to pull her up, sputtering, from the neck-deep water!

The boys loved playing at Grammy's, too. They made friends with Henry, the elderly neighbor, caught frogs and snails, and went for paddle boat rides. Donny occasionally ventured into the water, but mostly preferred the shore, while Hayden loves to swim. With the swim bubble belts my mother-in-law bought them, both boys learned to do a decent doggie paddle in the pool, too!

Don missed out on our weekday fun while he was busy working, but he couldn't complain - he started a new job at the end of June that is 100 percent telecommuting. Now instead of battling traffic for 45 minutes or more each way, he just has to roll out of bed, walk into the office, and turn on his computer! Having him home has been an adjustment, but it is certainly a blessing.

As for me, I am very much a homebody, but if I have to be away from my own abode, I think my favorite place would be my mom's house. Besides the comfort of feeling "at home" and welcome to rummage the cupboards in search of snacks, there is something wonderfully peaceful about being at the lake. This lake is actually a pond too small for motorboats, to my husband's chagrin, but my delight. Without the threat of being plowed over by a speedboat, I was able to swim straight out across the middle of the pond, slowly and steadily making my path through the still water. Each week, while Lydia napped on a blanket and the boys played with Grammy on the shore, I worked on swimming a little farther before I turned around. My goal was to make it across the 1/2 mile pond and back by the end of summer, and with my slow rate of swimming, it was a somewhat daunting task.

At the same time, my relaxed pace also enabled me to thoroughly enjoy my swims. Practically having the pond to myself, I was free to pray or let my mind wander as I enjoyed the surroundings. Sometimes there were ducks in the distance. Once I swam out towards a neighbor's house to look into the eyes of a blue heron. As I floated on my back, I watched a hawk circling above me. And once, I was confused by the strange buoy I saw just a few yards away from me, until I realized that it was a snapping turtle!

Near the end of August, on a drizzly Sunday afternoon, Don and I did it: we swam all the way to the other side and back. I was stiff-necked and chilled, but very thankful for my husband's patience (since he could have done the swim alone in a fraction of the time) and excited to accomplish my goal!

It has taken a month now to finish composing this post, so although more could be said about this summer, I will conclude it here: watching the sun set over the harbor, as we did from the car window after one of our beach trips, and pondering the greatness of the God who made it all.

He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.
Job 9:8

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Great (and Small) Things He Has Done

God has done great things, but sometimes it takes the small things to remind me how great He really is.

I don't believe in coincidence; I believe God is Sovereign over every detail of this universe, including those that seem mysterious or random to our limited human understanding. When I find myself stumbling upon the same Bible verse in various places, or reading about the same subject in different books and blogs and magazine articles, I think it is more than random chance. I see it as God getting my attention through the small things, to make sure I really understand what He is trying to teach me.

Don and I experienced this just a few weeks ago, when he was given the opportunity to preach at an afternoon church service. He was inspired by Psalm 150 to prepare his sermon, "A Proper Response to God," on how God wants us to joyfully praise Him. When it was nearly time to deliver the message about David dancing before the Lord, Don felt uncertain, wondering if he really was interpreting the Scripture correctly. He had been plagued by a pulled muscle for a few days leading up to Sunday morning, and he wondered if it was God trying to tell him something about the sermon. But then, when the morning service ended and we picked the boys up from their Children's Church class, they were shaking paper plate tambourines. The papers they had colored showed David praising the Lord with music. In fact, their lesson was on the very same event that Don was planning to preach about! The back of the paper even had a verse from Psalm 150. When I noticed that, it nearly brought tears to my eyes. God was so good to give us such clear reassurance!

Then this week, as the children and I enjoyed our last summer days and started to gently transition back towards a more structured school year schedule, the Lord has shown me the same Bible verse three times. First, he convicted me that instead of spending every nursing moment in front of the laptop, I should use the times when the boys are awake to read with them, just like I used to read board books to Donny in the early days of nursing Hayden. Accordingly, during Monday's first nursing session, we read a chapter from Hymns for a Kid's Heart, a really interesting book about the stories behind famous hymns - it even comes with a CD of children singing the hymns that we all enjoy listening to. Each chapter includes "A Verse for My Heart," so after learning about "To God Be the Glory," we read:

The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. -Psalm 126:3

It is such a simple verse, yet so profound. God HAS done great things for us! And we read about some more of those great things on our "Worldwide Wednesday," when I flipped to a fitting article in Donny's magazine. The article was about some orphans in Kenya who had gone to live in a place called Sanctuary of Hope. At their new home, they have brothers and sisters, and they learn verses and songs about God. Splashed across the magazine page in bold letters was Psalm 126:3, this time from the NIV:

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

I pointed out to Donny that we had just read the same verse in a different translation. Then tonight, I had written all of one line of a new blog post, when I decided to do a search for something on my website. The first post to pop up in my search was a summary of last year, concluding with, once again, Psalm 126:3. By now, I have the words memorized!

The Lord has done great things for me, for my marriage, and my family. He has done great things for orphans in Kenya and for a blind girl who wrote thousands of praise hymns. He has done great things for all of us, because He IS great, and His love is greater than we can understand. As I meditate on it, like the Psalmist, my heart is filled with joy. I love when He speaks to me through the small things.

Thank you Lord, for being greater than coincidence and more than chance. Thank you for the great things you have done. Thank you for encouraging me tonight. May I always be glad and filled with joy because of YOU!