Day 4 of AVBS Protection from fowl play…

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Welcome back!

To start us off let’s look at the opening verses to Psalm 91 from The Message:

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, say this: ‘GOD, you are my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!’ That’s right —he rescues you from hidden traps…

Psalm 91:1-3

In other translations that “hidden trap” is called fowler’s snare. 

I did some research and found a sermon preached by Charles H. Spurgeon that expands on this image. 

The fowler often snares birds by using a net. Since these creatures would be suspicious of the foreign material of netting lying over the ground or in the weeds or trees, the fowler camouflages the trap by covering it with vegetation, leaves, sticks and such. 

To entice his prey to land strategically in the trap, he places tidbits of food so that the bird will be drawn to eat and once settled on the bait, the fowler pulls the trap and the animal is caught. 

Interesting and ironic, isn’t it? 

When we hide in the Secret Place of the Most High….He rescues us from the secret traps of the enemy of our soul

In an earlier post I suggested you ask God to reveal to you the place where He longs for you to dwell…what that looks like for you and for your relationship with Him. I do believe that the context of how we “dwell” in obedience to God will not be a cookie cutter experience. 

I do believe that each of us, while we must all share the common ground of coming to the Cross of Jesus Christ and exchanging our life of self and sin and deception for His life of sacrifice and forgiveness and truth, have very personalized and unique sanctifications. 

Thus our acts of obedience and our refinings, our trials and our triumphs, will all vary and be tailor made to how God created us to be. 

In the same way, as Spurgeon points out, the fowler does not use the same trapping method nor bait for every bird. 

The snares for me will look very different than the snares for my husband, my children, my friends….my pastor, my co-workers, my neighbors. 

The thing they will have in common is that they are geared to catch us off guard and offer us things that look good for us. 

Like all bait they will be…pleasing to the eye, good for meeting our needs and helpful in making us smarter, wiser and better equipped to live the life we think we were meant to live. Sound familiar? Think Genesis 3 if you need your memory jogged. 

Spurgeon has a great quote:

“…he adapts his snare to the condition of the bird which he desires to take.”

My heart beats a little faster on reading those words. 

It makes me feel a bit fearful for myself and those I love. 

Which is why the promise of Psalm 91 is so precious. 

He rescues us from the hidden traps.

He himself rescues from the fowler’s snare. 

In the sermon I read, Spurgeon says this rescue has two-fold meaning. 

He often rescues us FROM the snare in many different ways when we are living so closely with Him. 

Perhaps we suddenly see a glimpse of the net and realize we are about to enter a trap. 

Perhaps a problem or trial erupts suddenly and in the midst of seeking God for how to deal with this interruption, we recognize the hidden work of the fowler who was luring us into a net.

Perhaps in our walking closely with Him, we suddenly feel called to a deeper level of prayer and Scripture reading and we are strengthened spiritually to recognize the bait being offered. 

Perhaps God orchestrates events and circumstances in such a way that by the time the trap is set, we have not interest in the bait which days, weeks or years before would have enticed us.

And then…grace upon grace….when we have chosen to abide under God’s protection by living in surrender and obedience and yet, somehow we succumb to the hidden entrapment of sin…even as the net closes around our sorry soul and we think all hope is lost, it is His hand of love and grace and mercy that reaches into that web and pulls His child back out. 

When we belong to God through the eternal Blood of Jesus Christ, we ARE protected…we ARE rescued…there is NOTHING that can separate us from His love <3

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For your activity today: Think back to a time (if you can’t come up with one, ask God to remind you) when you know there was a trap set for you and somehow you realized and flew on away unscathed. Take some time to acknowledge that it was not your great smarts or your hutzpah that saved you. Thank God for helping you to avoid the net. 

Now think of a time you were duped. You saw something that was good and good for you and you pulled up a chair and began to dine only to hear the snap as the strands of a nylon mesh net enclosed around you. There you were. Caught and feeling foolish and knowing there was no way out.

And suddenly the bands that held you tight were loosened as a gentle, nail-scarred hand pulled you out and held you close to the beating heart of your loving Savior. Surely you cried out your relief through sobs of gratitude that day as the blue sky was once again yours to soar through. Will you drop down and thank Him once more today with the same tears of joy? 

Dear Father God, thank You. Thank you for the times You got my attention and I flew off free, shaking my head in relief. Forgive me for my failure when I didn’t acknowledge it was because of Your care for me that I was wary of something that looked too good to be true.

Thank You for the troubles You have sent my way that forced me to my knees and as I cried out to You, You lifted me away from something that was about to ensnare me.

Thank You for the strength You give me when I am tired and weak and You fortify me to continue in steadfastness.

And Father…thank You. Thank You that your love is stronger than any sin I have ever fallen into. Thank You that You have reached into my foolishness and my ignorance and You have also condescended and reached into the places where I willfully took what I knew was bait…and You have rescued me time and time and time again.

Your patience with me and Your love for me overwhelms me and my heart bows in humble gratitude before Your throne of mercy and grace today <3

Let’s celebrate with a yummy snack:

This one is from allrecipes.com and I have a note on it that reminds me we served it at John’s high school graduation party. 

Our graduation parties for all three are among some of my most treasured memories. Our house was jam-packed on all three occasions with friends and family. It was always the hottest day in May and I thought we would have to take out a loan to pay for the AC bill that month. 

Worth every penny…as it was such a great time to put out a huge spread and really thank all the people who had been a part of our each of our children’s journey through childhood to teen and then help launch them to their next step in education. 

For all three parties, I over did the food prep because that is my jam…planning the menu and all is like a hobby for me. But I needed back up and it came in the form of our sister-in-law Sonja. 

For all three events, she came early and helped me clean and cook and then kept the food refilled.

She was and is a sister and friend and helper extraordinaire and I am forever grateful for her organizational skills and steady temperament and loving support. 

So here is the offering for today:

Toasted Almond Party Spread

1 8oz package cream cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and divided

1/3 cup mayo

2 Tbsp sliced green onions

1/8 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

assorted crackers

Beat cream cheese with mixer until smooth. Stir in cheese, 1/3 cup almonds, mayo, onions and seasonings. Spread in lightly greased pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-15 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining almonds. Serve warm with crackers 

AVBS Day 3 In the shadows <3

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Yesterday we talked about dwelling in the Secret Place of the Most High. 

Dwelling. 

We, Russ and I, we dwell in our home.

It’s the place where our stuff is stored. It’s where we come home to at the end of the day or running errands or traveling. We eat, sleep, talk, read, dress, think, do business…live out every day here in the walls of this home we have made. 

We keep remnants of the legacy of each of our family lines and we have scattered amongst the rooms reminders of our years with a young family.

We have added treasures and we have eliminated things that would harm those we love.

Even in the short time we have lived in our new dwelling, we have accumulated times when family and friends have gathered around tables of celebration and we have held precious friends and family in our arms as they wept salty tears of grief. 

We come home here because it is where we dwell and we strive to make it a haven for anyone who needs a place to feel loved, cared for and encouraged.

How foolish we would be to go to a strange place or rent a room at the nearby hotel at the end of the day when we have this place we call home to return to.

My Holman’s Christian Standard Bible says…The one who lives in the protection of the Most High DWELLS in the shadow of the Almighty. 

When we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ and receive the gift of His salvation through His blood on the Cross, we have found our permanent home in the protective walls of the love of the Most High God. 

We move about within the days and hours of living, going to work and school. Doing chores and serving others, but our home is in Him and we live under His protection. 

We DWELL in His shadow.

Shadows are interesting, aren’t they?

They are places of darkness in the presence of a greater light. 

On cloudy days or in the black of night we do not see shadows.

Shadows can appear frightening to a child at night when familiar objects make odd shapes in the faint glow of a light down the hall. 

Shadows can be shade that provide a cool place of rest on a hot day. 

Shadows are not substance, but they are evidence of something solid that exists. 

All of these and so many more can be used by my finite mind about dwelling in the Shadow of the Almighty. 

That I dwell in His shadow means even when, to my human eyes, I am in the darkest of places, it is only His shadow that I need to focus on.

The shadow of His hand gives me rest and peace and protection. It is not His substance, but evidence of His existence. 

I will not, can not see, God with my human eyes in the form of His deity and glory. 

But the shadows cast across the landscape of my life are evidence of the substance and faithfulness of His hand at work over, in and around me. 

Verses 14-16 give this promise to us who have chosen to make God our dwelling place, our home…the haven we seek and the one we invite others into.

Because he has his heart set on me…because she returns to Me day after day as her home…

I WILL deliver him

I WILL protect her

Because he knows who I am by name and by character:

I WILL answer when she calls and I will be with him in trouble.

I WILL rescue

I WILL give honor

I WILL satisfy those who dwell in MY shadow by giving meaning and purpose to their existence and I WILL show them My salvation <3

Today’s activity: Go outside and then enter in to your place of lodging through the front door. Sit in one of your favorite spots within the place you call home. Look around and take in the view. Feel the comfort of the chair or couch that is your go to. Ponder what it is that makes this physical building into the place you call your dwelling and think about what it means to “dwell” there. 

Then think about God’s protection and and what His “shadow” represents for you. Think about dwelling in that place. Perhaps find and read the lyrics to the old hymn “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” by Elizabeth Cecilia Clephane <3

Almighty God, Most High, El Elyon, Elohim, Adonai, Yahweh….these are names that do not fall easily from my vocabulary when I cry out to You but they are names that remind me who You are. Your glory and presence are far beyond what I can comprehend, imagine, see, understand but under the Shadow of just your Hand, I can begin to know You. Where You are is my home and it is where I choose to live. My heart is set on You and I receive the promises with a humble and joy-filled heart. Blessed be the name of our God, who calls us by His name. May Your name be forever praised. Amen <3

Our snack today is a recipe courtesy of my Grandma Lochner.

I wish you all could have known her. She was nothing short of amazing.

If anyone exemplified to me “Taste and see that the Lord is good” it would be her because she seemed to embrace all the experiences and opportunities presented to her until the very end. 

She cut asparagus, picked cherries from the tree in her yard…on a ladder…in her seventies. She was a whiz with artistic and creative endeavors in all sorts of ways. 

She wore pants in a time most housewives sported dresses. According to my dad, when The Great Depression left people hungry and out of work, she took in boarders and raised chickens in their yard to make sure they had food. He always said he would eat chicken, but not his first choice as he had witnessed their demise too many times. 

She loved good food and she loved to laugh. She had a temper and was loud and you knew what she was thinking. But she put love into every thing she ever did and I miss her terribly even though she has been gone so many more years than she was alive in my lifetime. 

While I could only hope to be as resourceful and resilient as she, I do note that I seem to have inherited her penmanship…

So today, I give you this favorite recipe. 

You have to love a dish that is called “Duff” right?

Some things you need to know –

Lochners always sifted dry ingredients. It is imperative that you make a huge mess doing this. It’s the only way we know how to cook.

She left out pertinent information like pan size, steps galore and her abbreviations are hilarious so I fixed it to be readable. 

She called apricots “cots”…I have no idea if this is a thing out in the Yakima Valley of Washington state or Lochner thing. But it cracks me up.

Enjoy…it is delicious and for the love of all things good…do not use margarine…use butter <3

Lazy Day Duff (my Peach pie)

1/2 C butter

3 tsp baking powder

1 C flour

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 C sugar

2/3 cup milk

2 Cups fruit (peaches but see note below)

Melt butter, sift together all dry ingredients. Add milk until blended. Put sweetened fruit in a 9×9 pan and spoon batter over this. Dot with butter. Do not stir. 

Bake 375 degrees for 35 minutes

*Fruit can be cots, peaches or cherries

AVBS Day 2: Dwelling under the Shadow <3

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Welcome back to Day 2! 

I was so lengthy yesterday, that I will be a bit fewer on words…or at least I will try.

If you are just joining us, take some time to go back to Day 1 and read about the names and meanings of the names for God in Psalm 91:1-2

Today we are going to camp out on a thought found in our key verse for the week using a couple of different translations. Please read all three as together they give us richer picture of this passage of Scripture:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” NKJV

The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say concerning the LORD, who is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust:… HCSB

and finally from Eugene Peterson

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’me safe!” MSG

The phrasing I am most familiar with in this passage is “the secret place of the Most High” and that wording draws me with great interest. 

It speaks to me of a place of such solid security, a well-protected and private place. 

Odd for one who has chosen to allow her soul to be bared so publicly isn’t it? 

But those who know me know I am deeply protective of my inner thoughts and feelings. 

I am choosy about who gets a glimpse of them and yet, so like God, He asks me to spread them wide open in a public way because He also speaks to other’s hearts through them. 

And yet, there are hidden treasures He and I have shared that are safely kept secure deep in the wells of not only my heart, but His. 

The summation of the translations above is, in my mind, a picture of a place so intimate and private between God and each individual, that it can only be found when we are in a place of brokenness and complete dependance on Him.

Or those times where joy is so intense that we are overcome by an ocean of the purest of lights and it is more than our human hearts were made to handle.

This is the secret place and the source of our life in Him, and in that fellowship with Him we learn to “dwell” so that the world around us increasingly loses its power over us as we choose to do what it takes to pursue His presence throughout the ordinary moments of our days. 

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Last night as Russ and I ended our evening walk, I saw a bright colored pillow under a grove of pine trees that line the walkway and form a natural fence for the adjacent home.

On closer inspection we could see a quilt spread over the pine needles, more colorful pillows and some paper with drawings hung along a wire. 

I assume some little girls had set up a camp under that area and had tucked away there for a summer day of giggling and drawing and dreaming. 

A secret place. 

God has a secret place for you and for me.

He is inviting you to come and dwell under the shadow of His hand…His protecting and loving and guiding Hand. 

It is scarred with the price of our sin, that Hand. 

It is gentle and patient and kind. 

Enter in, dear one. 

Enter in <3

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Oh my good and gracious Abba. Thank you for making a place for me in the deepest places of Your heart where we can meet and I can rest and live and dwell. Thank you that there is always room for more and that all are welcome to enter in. I am a refugee from this world. I had no home here because I wasn’t meant to dwell forever on earth. You have made a way for me to be where I belong and that is with You. Thank You for showing me the way <3

Today’s activity is to ask God to show you what the Secret Place looks like for you. Be open in your heart to recognize His Shadow and then choose to set up camp right there and rest in Him.

Today’s snack is a favorite in our home. 

While I have found the recipe on the internet when I was at the grocery without the ingredient list, I credit our dear friend Peggy with giving it to us. 

The copy in my recipe box includes a grade school picture of her sweet daughter because it was an entry in her class’s cookbook one year. 

It makes me smile and thank God for friends who we have grown up and grown older with. 

Tijuana Tidbits

4 cups tortilla chips broken into pieces

3 cups Crispix cereal

1 bag microwave (I pop regular or use bagged snack kind) popcorn

1 12 oz can mixed nuts

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp chili powder

1/8 tsp cinnamon 

1/3-1/4 tsp ground red pepper

Heat oven to 250. Combine the first four ingredients in a big roaster. Heat remaining ingredients to boiling in a saucepan. Pour over cereal mixture and stir. Bake 1 hour stirring every 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn onto a sheet of waxed paper to cool – break apart. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks….don’t worry…it won’t last 2 days!!! 

It’s that time! Summer VBS for adults is IN SESSION!

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Hello August! 

We got back from our little getaway to Florida late Saturday night and enjoyed catching up on things around here yesterday. 

While I started laundry, Russ mowed and then there was rest and a long bike ride and we have launched back into real life. 

As I look at the calendar, I realize it is now or never for our annual adult VBS series and so even though I had great hopes to have it all mapped out and ready to go…we will, as usual…just diving in with it and let God lead us! 

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If you are new to the Journey, I decided several summers ago that I miss Vacation Bible School. 

I loved it as a child and I continued to love it as a volunteer when our kids were young. 

So I developed my own little AVBS series and had enough people say they liked it that I have continued the tradition. In the past I have told you to bring your own snack and craft, but this year I have decided to add a recipe for a yummy snack we like at the end of each session. 

Before we start, full disclosure:

  1. Having a recipe with a devotion is a concept I found in Kelly Minter’s studies and I love it and I am blatantly copying her good idea so I give her full credit for combining the feeding of our spirits with the feeding of our tummy’s.
  2. I loved VBS with our kids because it gave me a chance to meet other adults at our church and wore all of us out so that we felt like we had done something besides be couch potatoes and validated us going to the pool or watching a movie when we got home.
  3. In addition to the benefits of #2, I actually learned more about Jesus by sitting with my group of little kids at the teaching times and it made me hungry to study God’s Word as an adult.
  4. I did not love running the craft table. Ever. Kids never do what you tell them to do when you have copious amounts of glue, foam craft shapes and paper plates. It refined me. Greatly.
  5. By “enough people” I mean one or two people. Seriously. It takes that few people to affirm me and I am all in. So this is for both of you…and any others who enjoyed from afar. You know who you are.

Ok. With that out on the table…here we go….

AVBS (hold the glitter) has official opened for the summer and our theme this year is Psalm 91.

Our Key Verse for the week is the opening portion:

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”

Psalm 91:1-2

Today I just want to focus on the names of God in these two verses.

There are four names for Him in this passage:

Most High 

Almighty

LORD

God

Each of these is referring to the one and only God, but they are different names for Him. 

I think of how I have many names and they have different meanings attached to those who use them…

Laura is the name I am called by most commonly but other people call me by different names and these express relationship…

Pearl…was the name my family called me when I was little. There is a whole story behind it involving a doll named Pitiful Pearl and my grandma soothing me when I was fussy…and how it stuck and all the neighbors until I was probably in early grade school thought that was my given name. 

Mom…momhead…momma…mommy…bubba….the various names our children have called me by. These represent a relationship that happened when God began to weave them together inside of me. The name has gained meaning as we have grown up together and walked through seasons of joy and laughter, sorrow and tears. Russ calls me this when he is talking to them about me. And a very few children of the soul have adopted that name for me and it is a great blessing.

Lola…our grandchildren and now even our children and friends of family call me this because I have gained the status of a grandmother. This name means I am the parent of the parents of four children who think I was never their age, never their mother’s age. Who think I have a never ending supply of coins to throw in fountains and will share my drink despite the fact that I cannot tolerate spit back in water bottle. I am the one who belongs to them as in ‘my Lola’ and I have added a derivation to it as Caroline has dubbed me “WO-WEE” said loud and with a big wide grin because she knows I will drop whatever I am doing and pick her up when she calls me.

Mrs. Reimer…a term of respect from well-mannered children who are now adults and yet continue to call me by this name because it represents that I was the mom of a friend, or a teacher, or coach or whatever and they cannot bring themselves to call me by my first name even though we are long past those days.

You get the point. 

We all have names that represent relationships and character and history and this is true of God’s names.

So let’s look at them today:

Most High = Elyon

Almighty = Shaddai

LORD = Yahweh

God = Elohim

and what do THESE mean….

Elyon – This is more a descriptive word…it is used to describe people or things to indicate their elevated position. For instance an “upper pool” or in this case … The Exalted One. It points to His position as being higher than anyone or anything. 

Shaddai – All-powerful; the name of God known by the patriarchs. Related to the word for “mountain” in Akkadian. It indicates God’s greatness, strength, ever-lasting nature. All sufficient, eternally capable of being all that His people need.

Yahweh – The distinctive name of “the God of Israel” even though the name did exist in the writings and names of other nations [Babylonian inscriptions, and Ammonite, Arabic and Egyptian names appear to contain it] It is the name God gave Moses to be known as: I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE … say I WILL BE has sent me. Or as we know it often…I am that I am…I am has sent you. This is the personal name of God. 

Elohim – Most frequently used name for God in the Old Testament. It’s form is plural…but the construction is uniformly singular. So it is a “they” who acts in unity as a single entity. Think of the Trinity here. The origin is unknown because the derivation of the name is prehistory. The meaning is of “might” or “power” although this is only a conclusion because the beginning source of this name is unknown. 

I kind of like that, how about you? That the Name of God existed before it was ever recorded? 

So here is where we start today. 

Your activity is to meditate on those four names and ask God to reveal more of Himself to us as we practice calling Him by each name. 

I am choosing one to use in our closing prayer and then we will adjourn for snacks <3

Elohim, I bow before You today and I marvel that You have existed before time. You know better than anyone how time confounds me. I lose all concept of it and yet I must function within it. I disrespect others by not honoring appointments and I disrespect you by not valuing the gift of it. I wish it away when seasons are hard and difficult. I beg it to linger and I make it an idol when seasons are good and full of the things I love. 

But You are not bound by time. Your Name reminds me that while I and all I know here on earth has a beginning and an end…You do not. And in You I am joined to eternity. 

I bless Your Name today, Elohim. My God…my LORD…my Life <3

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Bread Hors D’oeuvres

This recipe was given to our family by a dear woman named Audrey Hrbek who lived down the street a few houses from us after we moved back to Decatur after six months in Galesburg. John had just been born and we were in a new neighborhood, trying to adjust to several moves and a pregnancy and an overwhelmed mother of three. Many an afternoon I would wander down to her house with the troops and she would make me tea and let the kids play with her grandchildren’s toys. She was a kind of mom to me that I did not have locally and this delicious treat is not heart healthy nor low calorie, but it will feed your soul like nothing else <3

You make ahead and have in freezer, ready to pop in the oven for a family movie night or a surprise house guest who needs some love and company and encouragement.

Thank you Audrey for loving me and teaching me about hospitality <3

  • 3 sticks of margarine
  • 2-3 loaves thin slice sandwich “Pepperidge Farm Bread” – a mix of white and wheat is good
  • 12 oz. shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt

Cream the margarine, cheese and seasonings together

Cut crust off bread. Use one white/one wheat. Spread with the creamed mixture (not too thick…nor too thin…) 

Cut in bite size squares. 

Freeze.

When needed, bake at 350 degrees about 10 minutes or until brown.

Enjoy!

It’s that time of year <3

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We are headed out this evening for a few days of fun in the sun with Rachel and Zach and the fab four. 

Back in the day when we had three little ones filling our home with laughter, tussles, laundry and a never ending parade of plastic drink glasses that seemed to clone themselves all over the house…getting ready for vacation was a daunting task.

Like most women I know, I wanted to leave an immaculate house behind with all the laundry caught up so that all I had to do was deal with what we brought home. 

This was somewhat like a Disney Fairy Tale that looks and sounds marvelous but is impossible to pull off in real life. 

The result was that I was basically so unpleasant it took several days into the vacation for my family to actually like me again. I jest. Kind of.

I think it was Russ or Russ’s mom who gave me a little Family Circus cartoon clip that became my reminder to laugh in the process. 

In the cartoon, the reader is viewing one of the children of the family, clad in only underwear and peeking through a crack in the door. The inside of the living room has a frazzled mom, more kids in their underwear and an array of suitcases and laundry piles. Out on the porch some kids are holding bats and balls and gloves. The caption says, “We can’t come out and play. We are getting ready for cayvation.”

The whole picture and the addition of the child-like wording for vacation gave me a place from which I could laugh. 

Through the years when I am getting in my snit-mode of wanting everything perfect in the house before we leave, I will remember that cartoon and for some reason just saying “we are getting ready for cayvation” is enough to give me pause to giggle and get my perspective adjusted.

We live in a world that is full of anger and anxiety and offense. 

We need to encourage each other with little snippets of joy and laughter and reminders that all of this is just temporary. 

We are only passing through, dear friends…sojourners…travelers…on our way to a better place. 

Let’s enjoy the journey and let’s help each other along. 

May God bless you and I will check in with you next week. 

For now…I have some laundry to do <3