The Ant Hill
ONE BRIEF SHINING MOMENT...By Debbie
As you know, I have been working with the Sunday School children with a bit of ‘singin’ and ringin’. It is something I have always wanted to do. I grew up with music and sometimes think I am just a kid at heart, myself. Hence, we started out singing and have now expanded their horizons (and mine!) with the art of playing handbells. It really is rather comical when I come up with an idea…the first thing I do is call my sister (yes, that one in Texas!), and tell her of my grandiose idea for our next song, next project, next whatever pops into my mind… Now, she has never really come right out and said it, but I KNOW she is thinking to herself “Debbie, you sound like a little kid getting ready to go to the circus!” I swear I am more excited than the kids, and it’s like waiting until Christmas Day as each performance gets closer. Most of you know that after the adult choir sings, I quietly slip out to go practice with the kids. (And no, it is not an excuse to escape Lonnie’s sermons! LOL!!! I actually really miss them.)
Last week, as I walked back to set up the music, Kathy Hilligas looked at me and calmly said “We have 15 kids this morning”…Keep in mind that our wonderful Sunday School teachers know what they are doing, but I have had no teacher training whatsoever. Having been hit pretty hard for the past month with upper respiratory issues I had missed church the previous week, so this was to be our FIRST practice on a new song and the kids are scheduled to sing this coming Sunday. ONE PRACTICE AND 15 KIDS!!! Don’t think this girl didn’t say a quick prayer! The kids came running out all excited, and the teachers had them all seated together on the floor in no time. I had done a ‘storyboard’ to help with the lyrics as most of the kids are so young they do not read yet. I had no idea if it would work but, once again, these amazing little munchkins got right to work and had the song perfected in a very short time. My hope is that Pastor Logan can learn it that fast as he will be singing with the kids, most likely without a rehearsal!
So, back to my story…ever have a moment out of the blue where, when you least expect it, something causes you to step back for the briefest of moments and you suddenly realize that you have just experienced one of the sweetest things in life? It happened with those 15 excited, bright-eyed little kids in an instant. As I stood before them for those few seconds just before the music started, I looked down at them and I don’t think I will ever forget the look in their eyes. They were all quietly looking up at me waiting for direction with a look of anticipation and something that you will only see in a child’s eyes. I don’t even know of a word to describe it. The only words I can come up with are ‘innocence’ and ‘wonder’, but that still understates it. I remember wondering at that moment why I did not become a teacher. Surely, these are the moments that keep teachers doing what they do. It also occurs to me that it is never too late for any of us to become teachers. There are teachable moments every day at any given time. And I also think how amazing it must be to see the world through a child’s eyes.
I’m guessing most of us grew up with Sunday School and we know what that experience gave to each of us. My hope is that our Sunday School class continues to grow and grow not only in numbers, but in excitement about being there. Perhaps you are familiar with the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”…let’s all become ‘villagers’ and do what we can to make a positive impact on their lives and to get involved. The reward is immeasurable and I am honored to have been blessed with the opportunity!
I’m Just Fine…
by B. Hislop
Do you ever get the feeling that nothing is wrong, everything is fine, no cares or worries in the world? So then you start manufacturing things – outrageous things that have never happened to you but now you are sure they are going to happen. Well it happens to me on occasion and when “things” happen it’s time to take inventory. As the saying goes…What am I doing with what I’ve got? I live in a wonderful part of the country, weather is perfect, especially for January in Nebraska, health is good, family is great and my constant companion, Audi, continually wags her tail and let’s me know “life is good,” good friends, three edible meals per day. So what’s the problem?
Must be GJSA Syndrome again, it happens when I start taking all of the above for granted, when I start to manage life as if it were my responsibility to see that everything runs to my specifications and standards. “God Just Stepped Aside Syndrome” is very dangerous to anyone with the tendency of trying to control the uncontrollable. The symptoms of this dilemma are: frowns on the face, age spots on the hands, heartaches in the chest, a dragging of the feet, slumping of shoulders, listless gestures, rolling of eyes, finding fault and unhappiness. The tried and true age old remedy is: picking up something inspirational to read, go to church, help someone in need, bending knees to pray, loving your neighbor, and remembering God is in charge, I am a child of God – not his mother, it makes a difference. Ever wonder just how many chances God gives his children – this doesn’t enter my mind when I’m doing what I SHOULD and what is RIGHT. God doesn’t go anywhere, he just steps aside for a time so once again I can learn, sometimes with a little tough love but always with love he brings me back to where I’m supposed to be and once again, “I’m Just Fine.”
It’s that time of year again…yep, it’s time to set those New Year’s resolutions – those goals we set in areas of our lives which we feel need a little tweaking. Some resolutions are kept and many are short-lived, but nonetheless, we valiantly make promises to ourselves and others that we are going to put forth the effort. Most resolutions eventually go by the wayside shortly thereafter. So, that got me to thinking…maybe this year would be a good year to focus on what’s on the INSIDE, not what is on the outside. It seems simple enough, but I need a plan. I just don’t want to make a ‘blanket resolution’ to be a better person. I need something to guide me along the way, something that I can apply each and every day. I found the answer today right in front of me. It has been a very stressful few months at work and the other day I came across a bookmark I had made with the Serenity Prayer on it. I taped the bookmark on my computer at my desk to help redirect me when my frustration level starts to climb, which sometimes seems a daily event. I’m not the most patient person in the world, which is no surprise to people who know me well! So, I have decided to take an in-depth look at the first two verses of the Serenity Prayer to see what I’m in for:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
Wow, I’m in trouble right off the bat! This is perhaps one of the most difficult areas for me, and perhaps the root of a lot of my frustration. I just have to come to grips with the fact that there are some things I have no control over and must just let go, but doggone it, if only…………… I just have this mind-set that I need to fix everything (or everyone, as is sometimes the case). I go into ‘protective mode’ a little too often and think that the problems of my loved ones and friends are my responsibility to fix. My intentions are good, but sometimes you just have to let them find their own way.
Courage to change the things I can…
Aha! Now we’re getting somewhere! This is where I think my strength is. I’m surely not bashful, and there is nothing I love better than coming up with an idea that is going to change the world. Okay, maybe not THE WORLD, but in my little part of the world. Sadly, many people are afraid of change. Change does not mean we have to ‘toss the baby out with the bath water’. Change and growth go hand-in-hand. You simply cannot grow if you refuse to try new things. Some new things may fail miserably, but how will we know if we don’t TRY? The world around us is ever changing and we have to realize that what may have worked in the past could possibly use a facelift! Time to hit the ‘refresh’ button! Time to grow! I ran across an interesting quote recently:
Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic
This year, I resolve to be more courageous and try some new things, and I am sure that somewhere along the line I will be prodding you all to jump in and take a risk. I’m not afraid of failing…but I do not want to fail for lack of trying.
And wisdom to know the difference…
Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. I think that most of the time I do know the difference between what I can change and what I cannot change. The problem lies in stubbornly not accepting what I know deep down is a losing battle and that some things are just meant to be, for whatever reason. I think the wisdom comes with age and experience…whether they are good experiences or bad experiences, you hopefully learn something from them.
Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time…
This one is gonna take some work. I am guilty, as charged! I tend to spend too much time today worrying about something that may or may not happen tomorrow. Before I know it, today is yesterday and you find that you have gotten through it somehow. Time spent worrying causes us to lose the moment. To paraphrase Matthew 6:34…
"So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it…
There’s that word again…’accepting’, not to mention ‘accepting hardships’! I definitely need some work on this one! I guess that hardships do make us grow, even though we think at the time we are going through hardship that nothing positive can come of it. In looking back, I know of many, many ‘hardships’ that made me a stronger person, and many times a better person. We are all familiar with the phrase “That which does not kill us will make us stronger”. I may be a Hercules in the making! Ask any one of my siblings what verses come to mind immediately when we think about our mother…they will all say the same thing: "There but for the Grace of God go I" and "These things, too, shall pass". Oh, how I wish I could hear her voice repeating these. She has forever engraved that in my heart.
Trusting that HE will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will
Trust…..it’s hard to just let go and put your trust in God….can it really be that simple? Unfortunately, I took the ‘scenic route’ in finding my way to just put my trust in God. All I have to do is just surrender and trust God…and remember that he is walking ahead of me all the way! What took me so long to make that move?
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next…
Despite all the hardships, all the wrong turns, all the mistakes, all the worry, God was there just waiting for me to trust that He had me in His care and that the lessons of this life were meant to prepare me for the next. I’m sure I tested God’s patience through the years. Lord knows, I’m still a work in progress. Despite all this, I’ve had a wonderful life…I only wish I had realized it sooner!
So, there you have it. My New Year’s resolution is to do my best to live by the Serenity Prayer each and every day. And to that, I say…AMEN.
Somehow, my drive across town after attending church has become my ‘thinking time’…I guess it just may be the most quiet, uninterrupted time of my week. Nothing but me and the road and an occasional stoplight! My 3-year-old grandson the other day said it quite simply…”Grandma, don’t talk…I have to think”. That’s what I do on my way home after church, I turn off the radio, and think. The focus of my ‘profound thoughts’ this morning was Sunday School teachers. Having spent a little time lately with Kathy, Becky, and Dee, and Amanda it is clear to me that what they do is the epitome of dedication to the church. In my viewpoint, they are ‘heroes of faith’ who spend their time teaching children about Jesus. It seems to me that if you were to Google the phrase “stewardship of time and talent” their names should surely be at the top of the list. They use their gifts to teach songs and verses, but they also teach children about Christ and sharing. I wonder if they know that their dedication will stretch far past their time by pointing children ultimately to Jesus?
Last summer, I joined my sister from Texas in the small town of Alton, KS for their annual Jubilee. We, of course, did a little singin’ and entertaining at their concert in the park. My memories of Alton are very few as I was around 6 years old when we moved to Nebraska. The memories I do have revolve around Sunday School. As I was speaking to a lady who was well into her late 80s or early 90s, I mentioned to her that one of the few memories I have of living there was that on our birthday each child always received a beautiful lamb cake. Her name was Mrs. Holloway, and this very same lady was the one who baked and decorated the cakes! I cannot tell you what a special moment that was. Now, I may not remember all the specifics of what we learned in those very early years, but I know that Sunday School started me out with a good foundation. We continued Sunday School through our childhood here in Nebraska, and I always remember looking forward to Bible School. I don’t think I ever once realized that all those wonderful people teaching Sunday School and Bible School were volunteers, that they dedicated their time and talent to teaching kids. I am sure I never said thank you.
So today, I am saying thank you to Kathy, Becky, Dee, and Amanda for their time, their patience, and their wonderful dedication to the kids of our church making sure they have a ‘running start’ in a life of faith. The Christmas Program this morning brought me back to my Sunday School days and brings us all back to what Christmas is all about. I also hope they know that down the road, there will be children who grow up remembering their Sunday School teachers and will hopefully get the chance, as I did, to say thank you for the gift of their time and talent they so unselfishly give. Remember to take a moment to thank our Sunday School teachers when you see them. Let them know how much they are appreciated!
I was asked to speak on Stewardship in November and I said yes. Lonnie said he thought I would be good for the task. I’m not sure if that was the case as I was one nervous lady and still haven’t found out why, that will be revealed to me in time. I spoke and then Lonnie gave the sermon, it was on the three servants who had received talents from their master and the master went away and trusted that the servants would take care of the money he had entrusted to them. It was important to the master that the money earns some interest. The first two servants invested wisely and the return was very satisfactory to the master, the third hid the money and only had the initial amount to give back to his boss. The boss was very disappointed in him and told him so. This sermon sent a powerful message to me.
When Lonnie asked me, I said yes, and he said, if you need help I will be happy to help. I did not ask for his help. We have never talked about how I feel about giving and yet he trusted me enough to let me tell his congregation how I felt about giving. He never asked me what I was going to say. He let me be me and was there for support and I’m sure he did the same for Verne and Debbie as they spoke on stewardship.
Since Pastor Appreciation week recently ended and Thanksgiving is so near, I wanted to share my thoughts on this event, trust is very important and I didn’t realize how much I was being trusted until the sermon was over and I had time to reflect. We are so blessed to have a humble man like Rev. Lonnie Logan at the helm…practicing what he preaches.
We are also blessed to have this website – Trusting is important and so is sharing.