Friday, May 30, 2008

Worlds Apart

As I write this I am at Chula Vista Resort Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI. My hearing is under constant assault from music, bells, sirens, screaming students (I'm on a year end field trip) and rushing water. I can't help but compare this barrage with the quiet beauty of last weekend. Dale and I had the joy of going to Yellowstone Alliance Adventures outside of Bozeman, Montana. We joined Lauren and Josh and a group of 7 others from the Chelten Baptist Church near Philly for a 4 day work weekend. Seth & Cathy Coates, who are from that church and good friends with Josh & Lauren, serve full time at the camp. It was our prayer to be an encouragement to them and others - to do whatever needed to be done - whatever.

God reminded me of that about 1 week before we left when I told Dale that I hoped I wouldn't have to be in the kitchen the whole time.
It didn't take long for God to remind me of "whatever".
Forgive me, Father, for my selfishness.

We went eager to see Josh and Lauren, Seth and Cathy, meet new friends and work hard. All of that was accomplished.

With Dale's and Josh's construction abilities they were put to work on different projects. Dale worked on putting board and batten cedar skirting around the base of the new office building. Thankfully he had 2 able bodied young men who worked under the porch and on their backs some of the time.

When they couldn't do anymore because of the mud, he cut the pieces of cedar shingles for the gable ends of one of the new buildings.

Josh worked in an old cabin that needed a new bathroom. He had to cut out rotten floor joists, fix the plumbing, put in new supports, and sub-flooring, frame up the shower and put up cement board for under the tile. It was a small area for 2 guys to be working in.

I was on the "miscellaneous" crew led by Joe Gough, the Jr. High director at the Chelten Church. At the start of each day Seth gave him a list of things to be done and at the end of each day they were completed. Yeah!! Somethings took 30 minutes - some took hours.

Here is some of what we did:

- 4 full loads of branches piled onto truck and moved to the burn pile

- put together futon bed with bunk

- 2 loads of firewood moved from a shed - onto truck - and then piled by the Coates house

- emptied a small shed so that it could be moved and then restocked the shed

- emptied another shed in maintenance

- removed things from the ropes course building

- moved the freezer to the ropes course building

- etc...

Kudos to Crystal for her truck driving abilities on & off the muddy roads, and to Joe for getting the truck with the freezer up the steep drive which was soupy with deep mud. We cheered when he made it up without getting stuck. It was fun but wet sitting on the back of the truck piled with branches. It had been a long time since I'd been that dirty, wet and tired from working outside. We worked until 7 p.m. Friday night then had supper.

Saturday we ended work earlier to go into Bozeman for pizza. Sunday we worshipped together at the Alliance Church in Bozeman feeling at home with believers.

In the afternoon we had another new experience -

Paintball! What FUN!

Josh, Lauren, Dale and me

We split into 2 teams and played up on the hillside in the woods that was muddy and slippery from all of the rain on Saturday. Played several different games for almost 3 hours. It can leave some pretty significant bruises or welts. Believe me, I know. But ask me if I'd play again!

We worked some Monday morning yet before heading back to the airport trying to get as much done as possible. Once in the car the first thing that Dale said was, "I'm so glad that we did this." I agreed. We had joked earlier that we were practicing for retirement. We would love to be able to do this sort of thing on a regular basis. It was such a blessing to serve, and especially with Josh and Lauren and their friends. We enjoyed getting to know Jim and Andrea Hawthorne who is the Director of the camp and have him share words of encouragement at our break times. He reminded us not to think that we just have gotten the jobs done, but because the jobs are done it helps them to continue with the ministry of reaching kids and families for Christ.

So even though we ended up sleeping in the Denver airport Thursday night, worked in the rain all day Saturday, was physically tired, ended up with an allergic reaction which gave me a wicked rash and sent me to the doctor once we were home.....

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat!

For more pictures click on the link below.

camps website:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Mom, the blogger

My mom asks a lot of questions. If it is somehow related to my life, or has been related to my life, or could (in her mind) possibly be related to my life, she has probably asked me about it in the last week or so. While this drives me crazy at times, I've come to realize that this is just what Mom does. She remains, probably, the single most interested person in what is going on in my life. I know that there are many people who can't say the same thing about their mom, and I've come to appreciate it.
Aside from asking questions, Mom is a wonderful listener. I often find my mind wandering as people explain to me answers to questions I ask, but I don't think that she does that. She so willing to just sit and listen to frustrations, fears, complaints, etc., without being quick to correct or to offer her own solutions.
She is always willing and eager to share biblical insight into any situation, and it pretty common for me to wake up to an email with a quick encouraging note that she has typed before heading off to work.

I was just thinking earlier today how rare it is that I let her know how much I appreciate little things like that, so I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it on here.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom - I love you!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Mom

It's hard to think back to specific things that Mom has taught over the years (aside from school stuff) and come up with a notable and impressive list of skills and accomplishments. On the other hand, if I attempt to think about what my life might be like without the things that I've learned from Mom, well, let's just say no one wants to see that. I have however, made it this far as a successful and hopefully contributing member of society.

Somewhere along the way of living with Mom, I realized that she wasn't perfect. But that's okay, because I've recently found out (I think when I got married) that I'm not either. I'm glad that you're not perfect, it would have been pretty hard to find another woman to meet those standards. It has also helped me feel okay at the prospect of my own parenting adventures, even though there were times that I used your depravity as justification for my own childish behavior. Not that I still act that way. Ever.

I am so thankful for the relationship that I have with you and that you have welcomed Lauren into. I am thankful that you are you. I am thankful for the way that you love both Zach and I and Lauren and I, and the ways that you have shown that over the years. We're both excited about having a Grand-Mom soon!

Our Moms

I thought that on this Mother's Day it would only be fitting if both Dale and I write about our Moms. So, we will each offer thoughts on the impact that these women have had in forming who we have become.

Here's my Dad with me and also my brother, Ronnie, sister, Sharyn and Mom

Ruth Vinson - my Mom

When Brenda told me that she wanted me to write something about my mom for Mother's Day that she would post on her blog, my 1st thought was, "where are my sisters when I need them", or my sons (both are very good writers) or even my wife (also a very good writer). Enough about all of them, here I go in no special order.

- she has always been there
- she is a great cook
- she loves me
- she is very understanding
- she looks good - always has and still does
- she is pleasant to be around
- she sends care packages
- she is always baking something
- she used to read to me - Silver Chief, Call of the Wild, and My Side of the Mountain - just to name a few
- she is a Godly woman
- she lived out her faith in God for me to see
- she has helped with many a project
- she is willing to do what needs to be done
- she loves my wife and our sons

It now seems that this list could go on forever. The more I think and remember the more things come to mind to be put on the list.
But I guess I would sum it up this way.She is my mother and I am her son. It has been that way for 55 years since she gave me life. The bond that God has given us is a special blessing to us both.


LaVerne Soerens - My Mom

My Mom was 1 of 9 children born to my Grandparents who were Dutch immigrants. She grew up with very little compared to what I had when young. Somewhere Mom has a picture of her family and to me it seems it should be in John Steinbeck's book, The Grapes of Wrath.
But, though they may have been poor in the eyes of some, they were rich with family and faith. Both have always been an important part of Mom's life. That, in turn has made them a part of mine also.

Life is meant to be celebrated & lived with family: birthdays, Holidays, weddings, illness or deaths. Family is there - to love, to cry with, to laugh with, to come along side and hold you up. It's what families do. It's what I've seen Mom's family do. And in turn, that's what ours does. Each season of the year and of life has it's own celebration to be spent with family.

Mom's faith is lived out daily. Not just when things are hard and she needs something, someone stronger than herself. But, regularly with prayer, church and Bible study. She has set a wonderful example in that. She has recently been battling breast cancer and her faith has given her the strength that she has needed to help her through. Even though her body is scarred, her faith is strong and she continues to trust God to see her through. She is beautiful inside and out.

I love you, Mom!

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
"Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."
Proverbs 31:28-29

Happy Mother's Day to you both! Thanks you so much for all that you do!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Graduation Day

This past weekend was spent in Warminster, PA.. We flew in on Friday morning with a load of brats, Sheboygan hard rolls and Gibbsville cheese.

We were there to watch Josh as he received his Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling from Philadelphia Biblical University. What a joy to watch him walk across the stage while we cheered and clapped. But, as I sat and waited for his name to be called, the names of the others soon just became a distant whisper. My mind was playing a video of the past. I could see Josh as an infant – then as a toddler hanging onto his favorite bear. I remembered him as a small boy asking me, “Mom, who am I going to marry? I can’t marry Eva (his cousin) and your already married to Dad.” And the time he told Dale that he was a “muddy stick” instead of “a stick in the mud”. I blinked trying to keep the tears from falling. Here was our first born completing something that he had worked on so hard. That in spite of our mistakes as parents, he is a wonderful young man who we are so proud of. We are also thankful that he found Lauren to marry. She helped make this day possible with all of her support, encouragement and love.

As the Commencement speaker addressed the crowd, one of his first statements was, “Commencement is a time of nostalgia.” I laughed to myself – that was exactly where my mind was, in the past. Cherishing it, trying to remember more of it, thankful for it and where it has brought Josh and Lauren to at this time.

It is God's grace that has brought us - them - to this place. We can claim nothing of our own, except the many prayers for our boys that God gives us the words to pray.

"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints." Ephesians 1:17-18

"And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." Philippians 1:9-10

"We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience and joyfully giving thanks to the Father," Colossians 1:9-12

Thank you, God for your many blessings that you so richly lavish upon us!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Navigating the Mullet River

A few weeks ago Dale invested in a small canoe. He wanted one that he could move on his own when he is out fishing by himself. So we packed it up into the truck and headed out of town west on PP. Just onto Sumac Road, we crossed a bridge and pulled over. There was a great spot to put in - not muddy or with a high bank. So we locked up the truck and headed out. The river should actually take us right behind our house, after portaging around the dam.

It was a beautiful Spring day. The river was just the right depth. It wasn't the typical high, rushing waters of Spring. It was perfect for the afternoon paddle and NO bugs yet!!

Dale had hiked on the river over the Winter and had gone quite a ways out from our house. But, as we spent more time on the river his comments were more along the line of, "This doesn't look familiar at all yet." That was after we were on the river for about 1 hour. I would have thought that we'd be in "familiar" territory by now. We came to a duck blind and he said that he remembered that so we paddled on. He kept saying that there was a snowmobiler's bridge that he went under. Well, still no bridge.
"Honey," I asked him, "Do you remember when we were dating and we went hiking in the Kettles?"
"The time I got us lost?", he said. "Yah, that's what I've been thinking about." We both laughed about that day! What a way to impress a girl.

Well, we couldn't actually get lost here because we knew that we were somewhere between Highway 28 and PP. We just hadn't planned on it taking almost 2 hours to get home.

Along the banks there were huge oak trees that must have been there for a 100 years. What have they seen over the decades as they stand like silent sentinels on the banks of the mighty Mullet? We watched wood ducks, mallards, geese, kingfishers and other wildlife go scooting off as we would come around a bend in the river.

Even though it was a longer paddle than we had thought it would be, it was a wonderful afternoon. There were times that we just floated silently - listening and watching. I loved doing that. Just listening. We miss so much in our hurried lives. That's why I love to just sit on the porch and listen.
Slow down... enjoy God's creation... listen to it... listen to Him.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10