Adults

The Mission of Summer

Summer is advancing on us with warmer days, tank tops, and cookouts. Summertime is typically a change in our routines. It’s time for family vacations, church activities at the parks, and, for some of us, summer missions trips.

If you are reading this blog, I am going to assume you have a heart for the world and for serving the community around you. Maybe God has called you to a specific people group, demographic, or ministry to volunteer in or partner with in your community. Maybe this summer is a time where you are gearing up to go on a missions trip to the other side of the world or lead a team to a place you have been visiting for years.

Even though we have a heart for the world, sometimes our life circumstances don’t allow us to board a 747 for Asia. Maybe you have a full-time job that keeps tight reign on your vacation hours, maybe you have aging parents, or maybe you’re like me and my third-trimester self who won’t be boarding a plane anywhere unless it’s going to the labor unit at a hospital.

Work as a Team

While my husband, James, and I were in Alaska, we had the opportunity to go dog sledding one afternoon. It was one of the highlights of our trip. James and I took turns helping the musher steer the team of dogs. Actually the musher was in control the entire time; he just wanted us to think that we were helping.

During the dog sledding adventure, a portion of our time was spent visiting the kennel where the 45 Alaskan huskies are kept. All these dogs run in the famous Iditarod sled race each year in Alaska. These are very well-trained dogs.

The musher, Darius, began telling us all about the race. He has been a musher for 15 years and has participated in the Iditarod for many years.

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Let It Go

Have you ever listened to a song that completely changed an everyday phrase?

For example, now you can barely say “Hello,” without someone breaking into song. (“It’s me. I’ve been wondering . . . ”)

You get the idea. Or what about, “Tell me what you want.” (“What you really, really want!”)

Perhaps my favorite phrase to sing is “Let It Go,” from Frozen. While Elsa’s song is quite dramatic, “let it go” is a statement that applies to multiple areas of real life.

One of the hardest things for me to “let go” is attempting to control the future. College is full of big decisions that lead to big life changes. Sometimes the world makes us feel like we should already have a 30-year life plan. Meanwhile, we’re just trying to make it through a tough semester.

Jesus has some practical advice for us. He said, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matt. 6:27 NIV).

Don’t Go There!

“I shouldn’t have done it. I knew better. Once I got started, I couldn’t stop.”

My remorseful friend stood before me with head down. I reassured her that I understood. We all travel damaging paths sometime. But hers was a craving that could end her life, and she knew it. Determination was on her side though, as she resolved to “get it together.”

Giving Up My Life

“We aren’t sure what’s wrong,” said the emergency room doctor.

I’d been experiencing four days of abdominal pain accompanied by a low-grade temperature.

“Your doctor said it could be your appendix leaking infection.” He paused. “But we aren’t sure what that soft mass is.”

Observe the Need, Meet the Need

The phone rings.

My grandmother is on the other end. I’m always happy to hear from her even though I see her and my grandfather several times a month. My mother is working at a new job following her college graduation. I’m proud of my mom; I’m saddened by my parent’s divorce; and I’m confused by the current situation in which we find ourselves.

My grandmother tells me to go to the kitchen, look in the refrigerator and kitchen cabinets, and tell her exactly what I see. I immediately do as she instructs. I tell her the contents of the refrigerator and cabinets. This task takes me less than 3 minutes.

I remember this situation and conversation with my grandmother as if it were yesterday. But this conversation occurred more than 30 years ago. That same day, while my mother was still working, my grandparents delivered sacks and sacks of groceries. My brothers, sister, and I were elated! We had not seen that many groceries in our house in a very long time.

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Rice for Christmas

Mrs. Susan captivated the VBS children with the huge Christmas package. But they were crestfallen when the contents were revealed. Rice, dried beans, flour?

Having made innumerable medical mission trips and also dispensing staple food items to families, Mrs. Susan explained that children in other countries are elated when they receive a bag of rice. Whereas, “unfortunately we all have so much that we are ungrateful.”

Summer Plans

Summer . . . plans. Really? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Summer is not supposed to be about plans. It’s about not having to have a plan! Or at least I used to think so. I guess summer as a grown-up isn’t always quite that free. I remember the feeling of getting out of the last day of school without a care in the world. I had nothing to do and no expectations—just rest, TV, making up games in the yard, or spending time with my grandparents. It was awesome, for a while. It didn’t take long to find out that there were still household chores to do, some expectations of others, and, in the South, a humid heat that drains your energy. Oh, and boredom, sunburns, and mosquitos.

I didn’t make plans back then but I’m pretty sure someone was making them. Summers are pretty awesome, but maybe having a plan isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Shining Through Summer Missions

Even though we strive to let our light shine throughout the year, the summer months provide unique opportunities to creatively bless others and share the gospel.

Sometimes summer missions involves reaching out to children in our community through Backyard Bible Clubs and Vacation Bible School. Sometimes it means traveling to another country to tackle a specific project to help a ministry spread the gospel.

I love summer at my church. From VBS to short-term trips, there are a variety of missions opportunities available for families and individuals of all ages.

I am most excited about a project our myMISSION group is doing—providing food for a staff appreciation event at Cedar Lake Lodge, a local facility for intellectually disabled adults.

Letting Go

“The next ten years, at least,” was always my answer when people asked me how long I wanted to live in the Middle East. Following the greats before me like Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon, I admired the kind of faith and sacrifice they possessed.

My whole life geared toward that moment of stepping on the plane and beginning this adventure I had prayed for, researched, and anticipated.

In that moment, I thought that was the final surrender, to leave behind my family, my friends, my comforts, and my ability to communicate within my culture. I really did think I had reached my one big free fall and everything after was going to be a continuum based off of that jump.

Little did I know the true surrender would happen 2 years later, when God told me my one-way-ticket plan was not His and it was time to go back.

What?

Did I hear this all wrong?

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