Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Easter Egg

I'm not generally an idiot. Okay, that's not entirely accurate, but follow me here... This year, as we were dying Easter eggs, i had a couple of first-time thoughts, and i feel a bit, well, dull-witted for not thinking about these things before now.

First, our outside can be full of stains and mistakes, but when Jesus peels away our sins through His ultimate sacrifice for us, He leaves us pure and white inside, almost as if the old, cracked, mottled outside was never there in the first place. Perhaps this is why the dyed eggs have become a recognizable icon and family tradition at Easter? If so, i am obviously one of the last to figure it out, but i have made the connection. Finally.

Second, we spend a ridiculous amount of time working hard to get the external appearance of our eggs to be unique, colorful, and sometimes sparkly, yet it is so temporary! We crack, peel, and toss the external shell to get to the good stuff, and the beautiful decorations are discarded in crumpled, brittle bits and pieces. Do we do this in our lives, as well? Are we so focused on our external appearances that we fail to really understand that this body, this shell that houses our eternal soul, is merely a temporary home? Furthermore, how many of us understand the technique to the perfect hard-boiled egg? With all this attention given to the outside, are we losing sight of what matters: the quality of the food we are left with? How like our lives that is, too! We spend more time on external trappings than on the condition of our hearts and mind and soul.

So, this Easter, while i had quite the epiphany about eggs, i was in constant awareness of the work i have yet to do and the beauty of God's grace. I am still here, breathing and typing up blog posts, so i am obviously not done yet. And until God calls me Home, i will keep stretching, growing, and pressing on toward the goal, so that no act of forgiveness or grace on the part of my Maker will ever go unappreciated. I could never deserve it; but i can acknowledge and appreciate it.

Happy Easter, y'all!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My First Mission Trip: Lynch, KY

Finally taking time to update my blog about my mission trip to Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains. We had a marvelous time, if you can classify working your tail off, sleeping just enough to stay alive, and enduring frigid temperatures "marvelous." I know i do.

We drove into the mountains at just below 50 degrees. When we left it was about 40 degrees. From our first morning to our last night there, it snowed. The high temperature was 32 degrees. For 3 days. The above photo is the morning the snow started, and the picture below was the view on the highway coming out of Kentucky, after much of the snow had melted.

Once we arrived, we threw a giant Block Party for the townspeople. That was really fun! I met some great people, and they were so welcoming of all us strangers! 

We got to attend church in a neighboring town, where our worship team actually took over the worship for the day to give the locals a taste of the more contemporary worship styles. That was neat, too. The little kids seemed really excited!

Then we had two days of work. I was assigned 4 girls and an apartment to gut. We hauled away stuff and furniture, shlepped it to the basement for storage, then ripped out carpet and swept out the entire unit. There was no electricity in the building, so we had no lights and no heat. We only had one mild frost-nip incident, and that was due to repeated trips through the snow to the basement with all that stuff. Then a hot dinner, some music, and some sleep. End Day 1.


On the second work day, we were ready to paint. I taught each teenager to paint, both with a roller and with a trim brush, and it was with immense satisfaction that i watched them cover the orange walls with taupe paint ... and greater and greater skill.

I do have more photos, but in the interest of privacy for the girls who were working, as well as courtesy to the ones who used to live in the apartments we were revamping, i will keep them to myself.

I must say, though, that God was with us on our journey. I didn't have any thyroid flare-ups, stomach upsets, or blood sugar issues. And my body allowed me to eat what they served me and work hard without complaining (much). We traveled a distance, but God met us there, and He multiplied our energies and efforts.

I am definitely looking forward to doing something like this again.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Mission Field

Okay, i've posted before about longing for mission work while in the midst of the mission field God has given me. Now, though, i get to travel with my church on a real mission trip! So many kids being raised in the Christian church in America have this experience before their 18th birthday. But this is a big deal to me!!

My eldest child and i will be traveling to eastern Kentucky to help renovate a dilapidated building in need of some TLC... and elbow grease. ;) We're visiting a small mining town, and we'll both be enjoying our time together and our first actual mission trip.

We are both so excited! Yet, as i begin this post, i realize this is not our first mission trip.... When we delivered food, toys, and household items to the East Nashville residents after the horrible Nashville Flood, we were on a mission. When we washed disgusting laundry for the volunteers that same week, we were on a mission. When we worked in the Graceworks food pantry, we were on a mission. When we planted trees for our city to reduce erosion in a creekbed, we were on a mission. When we fed the homeless on New Year's Eve, we were on a mission.

Seriously, everything we do can be a mission straight from God.... if we are open to it. It we listen and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Although, i'm still excited about this particular trip.... :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Learning to Love Writing

I love to write. Obviously. ;)
My children love to create in their own ways, too, but they have never enjoyed writing. It saddens me, not just because it is a joy to me that they do not share, but because i know writing can pave the way to so many things later in life from college to career (not to mention a positive outlet for the soul!).

Anyway, we wrote a story for Dr Seuss's birthday last Friday, and today my oldest and i read an Emily Dickinson poem "Hope Is A Thing With Feathers" and wrote a poem in the same style and rhythm.

Here is the poem (we are still wanting to finish pictures for the book):
[copyright Angela Varela - do not steal anything on this blog to publish as your own]

Happy is a Wagging Tail

"Happy is a wagging tail
That greets you at the door
It drools and licks and wags its tail
And rolls over on the floor

It whines and whimpers when you leave
It home alone all day
And when you come back home again
It greets you the same way

It loves and lavishes attention on
Its master, owner, friend
And though it is a simple creature
It’s adoration knows no end."