Thanks, Moms!

I realize the day for celebrating our mothers is several months away, but after spending a few days camping with three of our four granddaughters, I want to give some love to our moms.

First of all, when it comes to vacation, I’m guessing most moms likely plan the vacation and then also pack everything for the vacation, and thus the vacation probably never really ends up being a vacation. I’m sad to report to you that this is also true for our family.

Second it’s on vacation that I’m guessing most dads get a real glimpse into what a mom does every day. From prepping meals, to changing diapers, and trying to keep the little ones from killing each other and in addition to a full or part time job and a never ending list of other tasks, a mother’s work never               seems finished.

Vicki and I were never outnumbered when we were raising our two sons so we got a little taste of what it’s like to have three—we didn’t dare try all four. Well, in addition to being out numbered, add the extra drama that comes with three little girls trying to play a good game of dolls, and it becomes a physically and  emotionally disturbing experience. When Jesus gave the reasons for what hinders a person from growing in Christ likeness, he could’ve added “having too many kids in too short of a span.” J  You know I’m just kidding, however I’m guessing the writer of Proverbs 31:10-31 put his reflections on paper after returning from a vacation or camping trip.

For the sake of space I will include only selected verses.  (And moms, I know there are many of you who don’t like this scripture because of the pressure they feel to meet these expectations. And yet from my perspective, this description of a mother and wife is not about who you should become, but rather it’s a reflection of who God hard wired you to be).

And with that I honor you with these words…25She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come [like when she can go to the bathroom alone]. 26She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 29“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

May it not be so with you and me that we should ever take our mothers for granted. And here’s to you, Vicki and Traci and all the other moms who read this!

Grace to you and peace!

Mike Altena

 


Be Positive or Be Quiet

If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. This seems to be a favorite line of mothers. In the movie Bambi, Thumper’s mother reminds him of this wisdom and I have repeated this saying to my own family more than once. A new version that I recently heard is “If you can’t be positive, then at least be quiet.”

The tongue is a popular topic in the Bible, especially in the book of Proverbs. Listen to these words from Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Is it any surprise that 3 of the 7 things that the Lord finds detestable have to do with our mouth and the words we say?

The Wisdom Writer continues with more insight regarding our tongue:

  • “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Proverbs 10:19
  • “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18-19
  • “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
  • “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2
  • “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” Proverbs 15:28
  • “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” Proverbs 17:27-28
  • “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” Proverbs 21:23

I have had multiple conversations in the past weeks with people who have witnessed the Body of Christ using reckless words and gushing evil from their mouth, criticizing other Christians and bashing the Church. This saddens me greatly, and yet I am convicted that my tongue is also sometimes more like a sword than an instrument of healing. It is so easy to open our mouth and let our words fly. But James reminds us that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

As it was in the time of the early church, so it is today. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10)

Another phrase you have probably heard is “think before you speak”. Using the letters of the word THINK, examine your heart and think about whether what you are going to say is True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

If you agree with 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, then we would be wise to evaluate and correct our words. May we all pray the words of David, “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Erin Jacobsma

 


Be Thou My Vision

This week I had a cataract removed at the Luverne Hospital. I am grateful that this experience was better than the one I had as a kid when I had my tonsils removed. It was morning when my parents took me up the stairs to the office of Dr. Bofenkamp where he put me on a table and then put a towel with ether on my face. The next thing I knew I was in the car on the way home unable to swallow even though I was promised as much ice cream as I wanted.

Physical sight is important to all of us as we use our eyes every waking minute. Our spiritual sight or vision is even more important. I read this saying: “Poor eyes limit your sight; poor vision limits your deeds.” Cataract surgery should help my physical sight, but what about my spiritual vision. What do we see as important in that area? Am I interested in knowing God’s plan for my life? What is that plan? How do I know if it’s God’s plan? Vision is a discovery of God’s plan as it relates to our life.

I believe the only way to know God’s plan for us is to know God and know of his love for me and his love for the world. Then I look at the gifts he has given me and use those gifts to demonstrate God’s love by showing love for others. Now I know that some of us believe we don’t have gifts. WRONG!! We all have gifts (according to the Bible) and they are not the same. I see so many gifts being used to encourage people and to show the love of Jesus. It may be a goodie made for someone, a card of encouragement, a visit, being a friend, a ride, a word of advice, a hug, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, cleaning at church, caring for someone, sending flowers, praying for someone, making a meal, sitting with someone in silence, being an example, caring for someone who is ill, a phone call, playing a game with someone, making quilts, fixing something, having coffee with someone, helping someone move, a smile, holding a door open, or a hundred different ways we can share God’s love with others. When we share these gifts we demonstrate God’s love—that love shown to us by Jesus as our Savior. Now is a great time to share God’s love.

So seeing is important in a physical sense as well as our spiritual sense. I want to have a vision of what God wants from me and for me. This song shares my vision:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art
High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

When you think of vision—think of your vision for your life.

George H. Bonnema


General Synod Update

Significant news from General Synod 2018:  On Saturday, June 9, General Synod approved Eddy Alemán as general secretary of the RCA by voice vote. The role of general secretary includes casting vision for the denomination and overseeing implementation of its mission.

General Synod delegates passed a recommendation to form a 2020 Vision Group proposed Friday morning, June 8, by Don Poest, interim general secretary.

Since then, members of the 2020 Vision Group have been selected in response to the General Synod 2018 recommendation that a vision group be formed to research and identify strategies and consequences for three possible scenarios for the future of the RCA:

  1. staying together
  2. radical reconstituting and reorganization
  3. a grace-filled separation.

Per the recommendation, one specific option the group will consider is for the RCA to be a single denomination with three or more affinity assemblies within it.

The recommendation originated as a proposal by then-interim general secretary Don Poest, who suggested the vision group in response to his assessment of deep division in the denomination.

Members of the group were named by Poest and general secretary Eddy Alemán, in consultation with the General Synod Council (GSC), and were chosen to reflect the wide diversity of the RCA, including all regional synods and racial/ethnic councils.

On Monday, June 11, General Synod directed the general secretary to write a letter to the United States president strongly supporting immigration reform and DACA and urged congregations to advocate for legislation that supports immigration reform and DACA at the local level.

The Commission on Christian Action originally brought the recommendation to synod, but retracted it instead of presenting it for a vote. Then, during their report, a motion from the floor brought the recommendation back before delegates. Some delegates expressed discomfort with the general secretary writing a letter to the president about a political issue.

“I personally do not want this body writing a letter for me,” elder delegate Glenn Emmert said. “There’s so much involved in this. … I don’t feel comfortable having our general secretary write this.”

Others, like GSC member and corresponding delegate Anna Jackson, voiced support for the recommendation.

“Too long, I believe the church has been silent to many of the injustices that are happening in our country,” said Jackson. “We need to find our voice. It is within our authority. The report does have something to say when it comes to justice issues. I think it’s high time that we do make a statement.”

General Synod voted on Monday, June 11, to commend an instructional, question-and-answer document on marriage and sexuality to all RCA churches and classes. Known as the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality, the document consists of 19 questions and answers and is written in a conversational format similar to the Heidelberg Catechism (see document on the RCA website).

Responding to overtures from two classes and a regional synod about commending or adopting the document, the Advisory Committee on Overtures and New Business made a recommendation to “commend the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality for reflection, study, and response by the Commission on Theology and RCA churches and classes as a means of deepening our understanding of the biblical teaching on human sexuality and finding a pathway forward toward unity in mission and ministry.”

Several amendments were debated that would have restricted distribution until the Commission on Theology could study and respond to the document, but in the end none were approved and synod voted 134-90 to approve the original recommendation.

For more insights into this year’s General Synod, check out www.rca.org.

May your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,

Mike Altena

 


Legacy

I was one of the lucky kids who grew up in the same community as all of her grandparents. There were many hugs, treats, and so many fun times together as I ponder the memories of growing up. Each Sunday we would visit one side of the family or the other for afternoon coffee. I’d play with my cousins, and run around the family farms exploring all they had to offer. After Grandpa and Grandma Stoel moved to town, my siblings and I would walk to their house after catechism and Sunday School to get our fix of molasses cookies and “Grandma’s Nectar” (a.k.a. juice). Grandma, with an incredible gift of hospitality, was always preparing something sweet to serve her guests. Just thinking about it makes me crave my favorite treats she made with love.

Grandparents are special people and each of mine hold a very special place in my heart. I was well into my thirties when I lost my first grandparent and my own three children have been fortunate to know seven of their eight great-grandparents. Last week Saturday evening I received news my Grandpa Stoel had passed away. Sudden, yes; but it was evident his nearly ninety year old body was failing in recent weeks, so not completely unexpected.

Each of my sweet, loving grandparents has left a mark on my life. They leave a legacy of many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. However, something even more incredible than 37 great-grandchildren under the age of 17, is the legacy of faith they have left with each of us. Each of my grandparents carefully helped my parents raise me to know my Creator. Not a meal went by without teaching me who had ultimately provided us with it; not a day passed without thanking God for another day on this earth; and not a prayer of blessing was missed for each of the tiny children they held in their arms.

The scripture Grandpa chose for his funeral is found in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 3. “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” At first I found it to be an odd selection, but after reading it and the verses surrounding it again, it summed up all that he was for in this life rather well. When Paul wrote this letter he was challenging Timothy to continue to spread the Gospel of Christ at all cost. Timothy would need to have discipline, train hard and endure all things for the sake of letting all know of the Savior.

My Grandpa knew his Savior and with each day he set out to instill in his children (and his children’s children) right from wrong, teach them of Jesus, and make sure they knew the many promises the Lord has given each of us. Together my grandparents endured the pain of losing a son in a tragic accident, and both were challenged with a few health ordeals over the years. Though Grandpa was perhaps a bit rough around the edges at times, the quiet and gentle whisper of his Savior was spoken through words and actions, and a reflection of his faith was found in the things he stood firmly for.

Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” I thank God for all witnesses of my faith; both those tucked in the Bible and those I’ve been blessed with in my lifetime here on earth.

So as I reflect on the many memories of my Grandpa, I am left with the thought of what will my legacy look like when I am laid to rest one day. We each have one to leave, after all, and ultimately only we can determine if it points in the direction of our Savior.

Becky Ossefoort

 


Compartments

This week many of us will celebrate the 4th of July holiday with some fireworks, camping, activities at the lake, or a family get-together. There is an abundance of options for the extra day off from work, but picnics are my favorite. Not only do they provide a connection with family and friends, but there seems to be a never ending supply of delicacies that tempt my tummy. Grilled meats, fruit salads, veggies, homemade pies, chips, dips… all spread before my eyes on a gingham draped picnic table. There is just one problem with a feast like this: no regular plate will do. I can deal with foam, Tupperware, Chinet, plastic, or paper, but no matter what the plate is made of, it must have compartments. It is a gross misdemeanor to have a sweet, fruit salad nestled up against a spicy taco salad, or even worse, salty condiments finding their way onto Grandma’s homemade pie. And who wants their salad dressing making a soggy mess of their bun? Yuck! I know that it all goes to the same place, but I like the things I put in my mouth to be separate from each other. I don’t want one flavor to overlap another.

We tend to do the same thing with our lives. We isolate and divide. We separate our space, desiring our own bedroom, our own bathroom, our own vehicle, and our own office space. We divide our commitments, not wanting our job to interfere with our family time, or our kids to interfere with “me” time. We segregate our loyalties and don’t want political views and spiritual beliefs to overlap and get messy. Everything is easiest if we can keep it compartmentalized and evenly distributed.

But God isn’t big on compartments, he’s a God of wholeness. He wants our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not one piece, once in a while. He wants all of us all the time. He can’t be contained to Sunday morning and Wednesday nights. He doesn’t just fit our schedules on Christmas Eve and Easter morning. He is God yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is God at church, at our workplace, at the bar, at the playground, at the prison, at the hospital, at home.

Philippians 1:27 says “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” It doesn’t excuse our words and actions when someone cuts us off in traffic, or when it’s been a long week and we just need to unwind, or when we just need a bit of sunshine and the rain to stop, or when the kids are driving us nuts. We are called to live our lives completely connected to Jesus Christ. No matter what. No divisions. No compartments. No categories.

In the 86th Psalm, David prays these words: “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name”. David knows the aimless tendencies of the human heart. He asks God to unify and inhabit all areas of his life. May the same be said of us.

So go ahead and separate your pickles and your pie. Keep your pudding away from your pasta. But don’t try to keep your spiritual life separate from the rest of your life. Let God’s love for you and your gratitude to him flow and mingle and affect everything that you think, say, and do.

Erin Jacobsma

 


Our Responsibility

Below is a recent call to action from the RCA’s General Secretary, Eddy Aleman. What is our responsibility?

Caring for the most vulnerable is not optional; it is a calling from Christ. We believe this calling means that we have a responsibility to speak up for and take action to help children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. With this statement, the Reformed Church in America condemns the separation of children from their parents and calls for a more biblical, humane approach.

RCA Urges Support of Immigrant Families

In April 2018, the Trump Administration rolled out a zero-tolerance policy of arresting and criminally prosecuting all adults apprehended by border control for illegal entry. Under this policy, when adults are arrested, they get separated from their children. Even those who are seeking asylum—a legally protected right—get prosecuted and separated from their children.

President Trump signed an executive order to end the policy on Wednesday afternoon, June 20. Although this is encouraging news, many challenges and questions still remain. The administration says it will continue its zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting all adults stopped by border patrol, and many questions still remain about how families will be able to stay together and in what conditions.

Given the seriousness of this issue and the questions that remain, we in the Reformed Church in America believe our Christian witness still compels an informed and biblical response to the situation. So it is in this hour that we make a bold, biblical, conscientious statement that affirms our hopes for this country and for those that are seeking the privileges and freedoms the U.S. has to offer.

We recognize the intent of immigration policies that seek to protect U.S. borders and U.S. citizens. However, we condemn the policy of forced family separation and urge the Trump Administration to find more ethical, humane approaches that preserve the family unit as people seek asylum or citizenship status.

The trauma that is inflicted on children when families are forcibly separated has devastating immediate and long-term consequences. Studies show that children who are separated from their parents are more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior, an inability to empathize with others, long-term psychological conditions such as PTSD, and difficulties with memory and impulse control.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re compelled to practice a gospel that is “pure and undefiled”—to “care for orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). Caring for the most vulnerable is not optional; it is a calling from Christ. As part of this calling, when defenseless children are torn from their parents, we believe we have a responsibility to respond.

So we pray. We pray for the reunification of families. We pray for the healing of children who have been traumatized and for them to have strength and comfort while they are away from their parents. We pray for people to find homes free from conflict, extreme poverty, and war.

We speak up. We call for more humane, biblical approaches to enforcing U.S. laws at the border and for the reunification of families that have been separated.

We take action. We seek to participate in meaningful work that minimizes and helps heal the traumatic impact on children and families who are separated. And we urge all RCA congregations to join us in these efforts.

Although the challenges are great, we have hope that God will lead us toward a more biblical, humane, and loving way of treating the strangers in our midst.

In Christ, Eddy Alemán, General Secretary

 


Alignment

I recently downloaded a Dictionary app on my phone (don’t judge) and since then I have received a daily notification for a Word of the Day. It has made me feel a bit uneducated and uncivilized since I have not been familiar with any of the words so far. For example, today was the word “antigodlin”. If I had to make a guess, I might reason that it has something to do with being ungodly or against God. However, the actual definition of the word is 1) lopsided or at an angle; out of alignment, 2) diagonal or cater-cornered.

My car has been a bit antigodlin lately. I purchased new tires a few weeks ago and paid for an alignment, but it just wasn’t good. As I drove down the highway and let go of the wheel, it would quickly pull to the right. We made an appointment to recheck the alignment. The mechanic tweaked a few things and thought it was fixed, but upon further driving on the open road it continued to pull to the right. After yet another appointment at the repair shop, the mechanic thought that switching the front tires would help. It did. But now the car pulled to the left. The decision was made to order a new tire and try that. Thankfully, the new tire seems to have done the trick. The car is no longer antigodlin, but drives down the road in a relatively straight line.

A wheel alignment sounds like a simple thing, but when I googled the method I realized it is actually an elaborate process that brings the car’s suspension into proper configuration, positioning and adjusting components so the wheels are aligned with one another and the road surface. When your wheels are out of alignment, the tires aren’t pointing in the right direction. This affects steering and suspension, but could also affect your safety and the durability of your tires and other parts of your car.

Sometimes my life seems to be a bit antigodlin also. I feel a bit lopsided and like I can’t get things straight. I try to go forward, but there are distractions and detours. I veer to the right and then to the left and struggle with advancing in a linear direction. Like the alignment on my car, I continually need to check and recheck my alignment with God. His Word gives us many insights into the process and the proper configuration:

  • Proverbs 4:23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
  • Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.
  • Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
  • 2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every lofty opinion that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.
  • Philippians 4:8 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
  • Philippians 1:27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

So wherever you find yourself on the road of life, it is my prayer that you would align yourself with God according to his Instruction Manual, that you would be diligent about rechecking that alignment until you get it right, that you would finish the race and keep the faith.

Erin Jacobsma

 

 


How I Love Your Words

“Turn left…turn left…left again…turn right…stop…proceed…turn right…right again…slow down…brake…Brake…BRAKE!”

These are the words that have become the language spoken inside our car over the past year. Our daughter has her learning permit and is required to log 40 driving hours before she can test and proceed to her provisional driver’s license. We started out driving in the church parking lot, proceeded to city streets, then advanced to highways and the Interstate. We have practiced left turns and right turns, accelerating smoothly, stopping gently, following at a safe distance, controlled and uncontrolled intersections, lane changes, maintaining speed, driving defensively, backing up, and parallel parking. She has improved greatly. However, it occurred to me several weeks ago that while her skills have become more refined, the day is approaching where she will be the only one in the car and, up until this point, I have been making most of the decisions for her. Therefore, our driving instructions have now evolved into “Drive to the church; take us to the park; proceed to the grocery store; go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.” Instead of me telling her how to get to where we need to go, she has had to enlist her brain and her own thought process to make the decisions required to help us arrive at our destination.

This week I had a similar experience of employing my mind. Wednesday was the first morning of the Community Women’s Bible Study at the Christian Reformed Church. Twenty or so women from multiple area churches gathered for Jen Wilkin’s study of the book of 1st Peter. The opening video was interesting and Jen warned us that this study might be different than studies we had done in the past. We would be looking at the Bible as a book about God-discovery, not self-discovery. We would be engaging not only our heart and emotions, but most of all our mind. Then the author laid out a few guidelines, the first of which made me hesitate: no commentaries, no study notes, no paraphrases. Wait, what? My NIV Study Bible is an old companion that she was asking me to leave at home for this journey. The Study Bible is printed with the scripture at the top of the page and explanations printed underneath for almost every single verse.

As I held my breath, I listened to her reasoning. She likened the use of study notes to a driver using a GPS device. We mindlessly listen to the automated voice telling us to turn left or right until we arrive at our destination without much trouble and without really knowing how we got there. However, if our GPS were to lose signal and we had to think about where we actually were and struggle with our confusion and dwell in the “I don’t know”, it would actually be a good thing and we would probably remember that route and destination in the future. As Jen Wilkins explained, “Nobody likes to feel lost or confused, but it is an important step in the acquisition and retention of understanding.” I began to evaluate how often I read a passage in scripture and then jump straight to the study guide for an explanation of what I read instead of mentally chewing on it for a while and letting the Holy Spirit speak to me personally.

In Psalm 119:97 David says, “Oh, how I love Your words.” While I can say that I love the Word, I am convicted that all too often I spend more time reading books and devotionals about God’s Word than the Word itself. Devotionals, study guides, and commentaries can be helpful, but I would like to grow in allowing the Holy Spirit to lead me into truth before I listen to someone else’s insight or direction. Scripture also warns us in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 that there will come a time when the truth will be disregarded and people will surround themselves with others who tell us what our itching ears want to hear. I think that time has come. And how easy it is to be deceived when you haven’t learned the truth firsthand.

My challenge to you and myself is to get in the Word. Read, struggle, listen, think. As Jen Wilkin reminded me, “The heart can’t love what the mind doesn’t know.” May God’s Word be the lamp to your feet and the light to your path! Erin Jacobsma

 


Curve Ball

When spring finally arrived this year, you could find AJ at the ball diamond. He loves to play baseball and enjoys time spent with his friends while tossing the ball around. Over the years it has been fun to watch him develop his skills and grow his knowledge of the game. AJ plays with a smile on his face even when mistakes are made and we often see his cute, little dimples from the stands after a well-executed play – all the way from the outfield! He and his teammates encourage one another and brush off their frustrations well. Win or lose, when the game is over, they are all the best of buds. I may be biased, but it is a joy to watch those boys play together!

Over the years, each player has found their position on the field. AJ most often finds himself in center field or on the pitching mound. When he is in the outfield it never ceases to amaze me how quick he is to get into position and nab a ball out of the air, swiftly throwing it back to the infield. While I enjoy watching him throw pitches from the mound, it does make this mom a little nervous with each crack of the bat. I worry about that sweet little boy getting hurt by a line drive baseball to the shins or mouth. He thinks I am ridiculous and continues working on his technique anyway. A few weeks ago he came to me complaining of shoulder pain. He is not one to complain too quickly, so my mind immediately thought of all the terrible things it could be. After a visit to the school trainer, she recommended some rest and heat. Mom maybe overreacted a little bit. The instructions to rest left AJ a little bummed and disappointed he would not be able to give it his all at practice or during a game. After about a week, the coach had him back on the mound tossing strikes – with a big, bright smile on his face.

Does life ever get you down? It seems as though life throws a curve ball of sorts and suddenly you have been plunged into this sea of fear and uncertainty. To some degree, I believe we have all experienced this sudden sense of tragedy, doubt, and disappointment. It’s not an easy journey, nor is it much fun. The last few days I’ve heard of several people who have been left feeling hurt, discouraged or let down. The following was a part of my recent morning devotions and I’d like to share it with you as a source of love and encouragement.

“The Cure for Disappointment” from He Still Moves Stones:

“Come and see what God has done, the amazing things he has done for people.” Psalm 66:5

We need to hear that God is still in control. We need to hear that it’s not over until he says so. We need to hear that life’s mishaps and tragedies are not a reason to bail out. They are simply a reason to sit tight.

Corrie ten Boom used to say, “When the train goes through a tunnel and the world gets dark, do you jump out? Of course not. You sit still and trust the engineer to get your through”…

The way to deal with discouragement? The cure for disappointment? Go back and read the story of God. Read it again and again. Be reminded that you aren’t the first person to weep. And you aren’t the first person to be helped.

Read the story and remember, the story is yours!

“So let us rejoice because of what he did. He rules forever with his power.” Psalm 66:6b-7a

Becky Ossefoort