There is nothing like looking around the opening of Vacation Bible School every year and feeling the buzz of excitement as old friends are reunited, teachers see former students who are now serving on staff, and music fills the room to be reminded of how truly blessed we are. We may not have everything we “want” in life, but most of us have just what we need. But as we know, sometimes life doesn’t go the way we plan and sometimes we need a little help. That’s where Vacation Bible School mission projects come in.
Each year, our VBS staff and students raise funds and collect items to help people in our area. This year the beneficiaries will be Voice of Care ministries and Sharon’s Angels. Voice of Care is an agency that provides spiritual care not only to people with disabilities, but those who care for them as well. They rely heavily on monetary donations to provide these programs, and a large part of their ministry lies in training churches-both clergy and lay people- so that they can best serve these members of God’s family within their home congregations thus preserving the important bond of parishioners with their home church that we all get to enjoy. These relationships and part of belonging are so important for all of us, and to be able to help provide that for those who are differently abled is truly a blessing. A love offering will be taken on Sunday, June 18 as well as throughout the week of VBS. You can find more information about Voice of Care at voiceofcare.org.
Sharon’s Angels was started by CELC member Sandie Falco in honor of her cousin’s memory. She has been collecting desperately needed school supplies which get distributed through Orland Township as well as sister congregations. This year we will be collecting plain backpacks (without characters), notebooks, 3-prong folders, pens, pencils, paper, glue sticks, white index cards, and crayons (available at Five Below for $1, according to Sandie). A collection box will be available throughout the week of Vacation Bible School for your desperately needed donations.
Memorial Day weekend typically kicks off summer activities. Pools open, schools close for summer, and baseball is in full swing (pun intended). Since becoming a mother, I can’t help but get a little nostalgic this time of year, especially when dressing the little one in head-to-toe safety equipment so she can ride her bike. I remember…
- Riding bikes everywhere without helmets or safety gear
- My cousins, brothers, and me riding in mom’s “land yacht” without seatbelts
- Drinking from a water hose in the backyard
- Watching fireworks while sitting on the hood of the family car
- Riding big wheels down the hill in the backyard
- Roller skating around the neighborhood
- Coming home when the sun started to set
- Bug catchers
- Chasing lightening bugs and butterflies
- Running after the ice cream truck
- Playing baseball in the street
- Lemonade stands
It’s alright to get nostalgic this time of year – we can reflect on how much times have changed. As cars have gotten smaller, safety needs have increased. Toddlers and children require sophisticated car seats with latch systems. Children two years of age and younger should be rear facing. There are so many new regulations regarding safety, it is difficult for parents to keep up with them. This alone can make anyone nostalgic for a simpler time.
But as much as we can reflect on how things have changed, we can rejoice in what does not change. God. His presence and His love for us is constant. “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol Him all peoples! For great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalms 117:1-2)
Vacation Bible School
By Barb Mazarakos
School is out and summer is on the way- it must be time for Vacation Bible School! Each year, hundreds of children and their adult leaders converge on the church grounds for a week of fun, worship, and witness and this year will be no exception. This year’s theme is Mighty Fortress, perfect for this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation. The coordinators have been hard at work getting ready to give our youth a wonderful week of celebrating Jesus as we quickly approach the week of June 19.
The committee is once again working under the direction of Nancy Burden to get things rolling. Taking on leadership roles again this year are Kathi Sterling (Missions and Publicity), Linda Day (Crafts), and Natalie Dudek (Teens and VBS central). Many familiar (and a few new) faces will be on staff this year to teach the lessons, recreation, and music portions of the week, all based on 1 Corinthians 15:57- “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The committee does all of the pre-event planning, from choosing which curriculum to use (“Mighty Fortress” comes from Concordia Supply) to planning the crafts, ordering supplies, and getting the staff members all trained to handle the excitement of the week. Without these ladies (though men can help, too!) this outreach each year would not be possible. We thank the Lord for the time and dedication of our Vacation Bible School director and committee, as well as all of those who will teach, lead, and listen this year. The impact they have on the lives of those children is everlasting.
**Just a note- as of this writing, there is still a need for 2 additional teachers at the 3 and 4 year old levels. Those teachers would have a class of 10 students along with 2 aides. If your heart is moved to help in this matter the week of June 19-23, please contact Nancy Burden at email@example.com **
By Patti Bareither
This is for all the mothers who shivered on cold metal benches at football games Friday night instead of watching from the car so that when their child asked, “Did you see me?” they could say, “Of course, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
This is for all the mothers who have sat up at night with a sick toddler in their arms, rocking and repeating, “It’s OK, Mommy’s here.”
This is for all the mothers who carpool, bake cookies, bring orange segments to the soccer practices, who sew Halloween costumes…and also to the mothers who don’t!
This is for the mothers who taught their children to tie shoelaces before they started school, and for those mothers who opted for Velcro instead.
This is for all the mothers who bite their lip when their child asks to dye his hair green.
This is for all the mothers who teach their son to do laundry and teach their daughters to change a flat tire.
This is for all the mothers whose head automatically turns, when they hear a little voice call out, “Mom?” in a crowd ….even though they just realize their off spring are at home.
This is for:
The young mothers struggling through diaper changes, night feedings, and sleep deprivation;
The mature mothers learning to let go;
For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers;
For single mothers and married mothers;
For mothers with money, and mothers without.
This is for all the mothers that could get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning, but know the value of time spent worshiping together as a family.
This is for all the mothers who hold their children’s actions and behaviors accountable by taking time to hold a follow-up discussion as to “W.W.J.D.?”
This is for all the mothers whose heart goes with their child as their grown child goes for his/her first solo drive after receiving their driver’s license.
This is for all the mothers whose jolt takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib, at 2 A.M. just to put your hand on the back of a sleeping child.
This is for all the mothers who gave birth to babies they’ll never see and to the mothers who took these babies and gave them a family.
This is for the mothers who have the need to hug their child after hearing the news of a school shooting, a fire, car accident.
This is for the mothers who read Goodnight Moon twice or thrice each night for a year…and then just maybe one more time.
For all mothers, and all you do- this is for you. Happy Mother’s Day!
By Barb Mazarakos
One of the most quoted cinematic lines comes from the 1994 film Forrest Gump, in which Tom Hanks as the title character tells his friend, “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Isn’t that the truth? One day you are going along, living your life as you always have. Then BAM! Life changes. You get another chocolate, so to speak, only this time it doesn’t have a delicious caramel filling, it is overflowing with nougat (what IS that stuff, anyway?) Next thing you know, you are a caregiver, unemployed, or a widow. Just like that, life as you had known it has changed and now you have to figure out a whole new way of being.
We all have moments from our life that we can put into those little candy box compartments. One such moment for me happened the first time I lost a job. It was a job I really liked, with people I enjoyed being around. I was young-maybe 20- and I had no idea that things would be ok. At that moment, having never been “downsized” before, it just seemed like things were falling apart around me. As I have come to (and continue to) learn, things in my life happen on God’s timing, and that was no exception. Finding myself unemployed, still living at home, and with nothing really holding me back I decided to join the rest of the VOYAGERS on the annual trip to Winter Camp, something I hadn’t been able to do before because of work. I admittedly don’t remember much about that trip except that it was over New Year’s, I think we were in Iowa, and I had a cold which kept me inside when others went out to enjoy the snow. On one of those indoor times I found myself chatting with campers from another group and joining their impromptu Bible study. The verse of focus? Matthew 6:26. If you don’t know it by memory, allow me to refresh you: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
Wow. To this day, I can remember that feeling of reading that verse at that given time. The overwhelming emotion, the kindness of strangers whose faces I can no longer see but whose empathy stays with me and reminds me that things may not always work out as we would like but they will work out. The birds in the sky go day to day in blind faith that their needs will be met, so why can’t we? Doesn’t He love us as much as those birds? Won’t He provide for OUR needs, but at HIS timing?
Yes! The answer is yes! He does love us and He will provide. But you must believe. You must be fervent in prayer. And you must know that “this too shall pass”. I know it doesn’t always feel like it. Lord knows life has not always been easy for most of us. But if you hang in long enough, one day you will go back to that box of chocolates and the one you get will be filled with all of the goodness you have desired. So hang in there. The next chocolate you get may be the one you were waiting for all along.