*Please pardon me while I make a wild shift in both subject matter and tone. There...it's done.*
I realize that I left you, my faithful readers, smack dab in the middle of my summer and have since recklessly abandoned you with shockingly little remorse. I'll try to give you a brief rundown of the rest of my summer activities as quickly and painlessly as possible. (Of course, that's also what they tell you right before they jab a 2 inch needle into your hip, so it may not be of much comfort.)
My summer was truly blessed with some time to disconnect and recharge a bit. It was also blessed by incredible moments with friends. I did not record every single one of these moments due to the fact that people begin to look at you funny if you pull out the camera every time you pass within 10 feet of each other. So, I expect you all to take me at my word when I say that I had many wonderful times with my friends. :)
I did have to record our evening of Balderdash at Harold and Kayla's. My dad pulled out a very strange wig/hat arrangement in honor of our time. It demanded a photo.
My mom also had a few pretty funny moments with Dylan, who was absolutely determined to feed her chips.
The last week I was actually at home, our church had its yearly VBS. The theme this year was "Go for the Gold".
Different people from our church participated, and it turned out really good. We had over 200 kids every night. I had a lot of fun being involved with my buddy Willie. He had a way of keeping things hopping. He and Pastor Loper were a big hit with the kids.
Right after VBS was over my family left for our vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Brent met us there, and we had a really fantastic time. My mom, who is wildly organized, brought lots of great food items to make our experience even better. She even brought my unbirthday cake. (Remember last year's? So beautiful.) Unfortunately, the trip was not kind to this cake.
Oh well, it still tasted lovely!
I'm trying hard to force the trip into a nutshell, but it's a bit difficult. There was the trip to Dollywood...
...with my parents;
the tubing accident that wreaked havoc on my elbow (I flipped my inner tube in the rapids...dumb...but excessively funny.);
browsing at The Christmas Place (or whatever it's called...my dad loved it.);
eating good food at places like the Apple Barn, Huck Finn's Catfish, Bullfish Grill, and The Old Mill (Hey...he's awake!);
visiting with our neighbors;
and just enjoying time together with our family.
There was this time when Brent annoyed my dad by "wasting film" in the digital camera (Not really, but the concept applies. He was annoyed.),
and this time when he nearly sent my mother to her eternal reward out of sheer terror for his safety,
and this time which defies explanation,
and these two people who are responsible for it all. I rise up and call them blessed! *rising* "You are blessed!" *settling back to a reclining pose*
If you are interested in any further tidbits from our vacation, you can view some excerpts on Brent's latest video blog.
After our vacation, I came back to the Hilltop to start the process of getting ready for the year. It wasn't all work, however. I did manage to fit in trips to the park, the flower conservatory, the art museum, the museum center, etc. Really lovely times. It was on my foray through the conservatory that I had a moment of inspiration. I shall share it with you now...ready or not. I was walking through the Bonsai display enjoying the miniature plants; so detailed and intricate in design. I came across this one.
Not all that extraordinary really as bonsai plants go. Pretty, detailed, but that's what one expects in this sort of display. However, the thing that caught my eye was the card below it.
This little plant is 40 years old, and 31 of those years it has spent "in training". It is constantly being pruned, shaped, and bent into the image that its owner desires for it. Without this constant "training" the branches would grown unruly and this delicate plant would lose the thing that makes it unique. It would become just one more bit of greenery.
How often do I chafe under the constant "training" of my Heavenly Father. "How long is this going to go on?" "Surely I should be good at this by now!" And then I remember that the One who owns me, both by creation and by purchase, is conforming me to a very specific image; that of His Son. He knows that without constant "pruning" and "training", I would grow unruly and the image would grow more and more indistinct as I became just like everyone else around me. It may not be the most powerful example, but I was blessed as I realized that if human gardeners will spend hours and years to perfect a tiny tree, how much more will our Heavenly Father patiently tend us until the image of Jesus can be clearly seen.
Bless you, my friends. I wish you all very lovely last weeks of summer. Make them count!