Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fruit of the Spirit

Our God is SO AWESOME! (In case you EVER had any doubt.)

I recently decided to try my best at taking the word "awesome" out of my vocabulary and use it only for things that are truly AWESOME. This is not as easy as it might sound. The word "awesome" had become a commonplace word used by me to describe the big, the little, even the unimportant that just filled the void when I truly didn't know what else to say. And by watering down that word I didn't have much else in reserve to use for those occasions that truly called for a description beyond, "hey that's cool."

One of those occasions happened on Sunday morning. It was a usual Sunday ... kids to Sunday School, Nolan to the Nursery, me to my class eventually, after getting Nolan settled, trying to make sure that I had some input instead of just auditing the class as a listener. But between Sunday School and service God gave me the biggest hug and I don't know if I have ever felt so loved or at least not in this way.

One of my friends who started going last year to church where we attend who I had gotten to know 2 years ago when our first born children were in preschool together stopped me and asked if I remembered being a Summer Church Camp Counselor years ago ...

WOW. Talk about blow me away! It was a blast from the past to say the least as that was quite awhile ago (1990) and in some ways it seems like a lifetime ago (before college graduation, working, marriage, kids.) And as she went on she mentioned how she had always thought I seemed familiar to her. (I get this a lot for some reason ... I think there must be many people out there who look like me or something. So when she mentioned this over the years I didn't really think too much about it thinking that she probably just had run into one of these look-alike Valeries. I seriously get people who I do not know stop me and start talking to me like they've known me for years until it becomes apparent to them through my confused look that I'm not the person that they thought.) But on Sunday Shawna started telling me things that even I had almost forgotten. My days as a camp counselor at Camp Wyoming, my pretend Counselor name ("Teddy"), the cabin that we were in (Robin), and how she had dug up a Church Camp photo and there was no doubt that it was ME as on the back was written after "Teddy" in parenthesis was (Valerie.)

It may not strike a cord with all of you in the same way that it did to me (and Shawna) but to know that something I did nearly 20 years ago coming back to me was like God circling His mighty arms around me in a big embrace. And it of course happened with the most perfect timing that left me with tears rolling down my cheeks throughout the rest of the service as we sang "O how Jesus loves me" and Sonicflood's "Holiness" whose lyrics are :
"So, take my heart and mold it
Take my mind, transform it
Take my will, conform it
To Yours, to Yours, oh, Lord"

(the pastor probably thought I was just especially moved by his sermon!) To explain I need to back up and set the stage for how I got to be a camp counselor.

My parents wanted so much for the three of us kids to enjoy our years as young people and not be harnessed by a work schedule that wooed us into the love of a paycheck and money. They also wanted us to continue to cultivate our relationship with my grandparents who lived next door and needed help with their LARGE garden (farm) about 30 miles away. In retrospect they were teaching us such priceless gifts that I am still unwrapping the treasures of as I grow and mature and appreciate their foresight. Time with grandma and grandpa was simply priceless. They had seen and lived so much I cannot even begin to write about how much I treasure that relationship and how it has bound our family together through the good and the bad and the incredibly painful. But because of this freedom from a job I also was available when our Church Camp was in need for an emergency counselor one week due to a counselor becoming severely ill. Someone from church asked if I was interested and a little voice inside me said "YES!" It was an incredible week of growth personally and in the Lord. It was a year before I met Shawna and the senario included TENT CAMPING and helping 10 year old BOYS and GIRLS work together and cook 2 of 3 meals over an open campfire all week. Besides being the best weight loss method I've found (haha) it drew me so close to God as I really felt out of my comfort zone in so many areas. But by the end of the week I had made so many friends and had such a wonderful time I went back for 3 or so more years whenever they needed a spot filled. And one of those years was a week that I had Shawna in my cabin!

Now, flash forward to this Season of my life. If you've been following my blog you probably realize that I have a passion for orphans. It's deep. I can't explain it, I seem so drawn to China especially ... I've asked God to take it from me because I at times wonder if it is Me-driven and not He-driven. The roads that I keep thinking He's leading me down don't seem to make much sense and leave me searching ... and searching more for Him. God has taken it from me ... but Instead of releasing me from this burden He's growing and blossoming it into so much more than I could ever really have thought. And as my husband and I prayerfully consider how God wants to use us for His good I am reminded of how 20 years ago He used me in a season of my life when I was afforded time away from the worldliness of the importance of money and how the fruit that was planted then is now being revealed.

It is so AWESOME to feel useful to God, to feel used for His work, to feel that He's taking you in His arms and saying "Good job!" Thanks Shawna for being a part of God's special plan for sharing this coolness of God's special timing and thank you God for letting me be a part of growing your fruit in the little ways and the big ways. God, you are truly AWESOME!

" Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight." --Proverbs 3:5-6


Tara Anderson said...

It is AWESOME how God sends us little reminders of times that are so precious to us...especially since He always seems to know right when we need them! I'm so thankful your "blast from the past" was able to touch your life now. Only God!

Valerie and Jeff said...

Thanks for the link to the Orphan Sunday and also to the blog about Desiring God. I will share that with Jeff.
I bought "Fields of the Fatherless" for him for Father's Day ... although he has not yet gotten to that. I think hearing directly from Scripture God's heart speaks the loudest.

I keep hearing the "we can't"s in so many ways. And yet I'm quietly reminded and encouraged by a voice that reassures me, "God does not call the equipped, he equips those he calls."

I am confident that He will provide for your family as you walk in faith to be His hands and feet. If God wanted to take care of things on His own He would, but instead He chooses to involves us and grow us in His image! What a blessing you continue to be as you walk with Him doing His will.

Valerie and Jeff said...

Sorry, that last post was actually supposed to be posted to Tara's site. (too many windows open at once and lost myself briefly on my desktop.) You should visit Tara's blog if you haven't! She has a great link to Orphan Sunday and further encouragement.

Tara Anderson said...

I have NO idea how to delete a comment once it's been posted! LOL! Thanks for the encouraging words...and just for being my blog buddy. Have a blessed day! :)

TanyaLea said...

oh Tara and Val... I love you BOTH! :) Your little messenging back and forth in the comments totally put a smile on my face!!

Val,that was a WONDERFUL post. I have been touched by God in those same ways in the past. I just LOVE His tenderness and how he knows just what we need at exactly the right time. And just as I've told Tara recently...God has called you for such a time as this and He WILL equip you and give you all that you need to see you through. He IS faithful!

Yes, "Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart and lean not on your own understanding!" HE WILL MAKE YOUR PATH STRAIGHT!! <><

Blessings and Hugs,

Jacob and Carrie said...

I think it is amazing how God gives us the little doses of encouragement right when we need them! He is always good, and He is awesome! :)

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