Questions, Questions, More Questions

I visited a beautiful campus library this week. There are still a lot of books in a library.  BUT I discovered there are even more at my finger tips.  Databases after databases are available by typing a single word.  They are all connected and they are all amazing.  Amazing because they answer questions.  All of them!

God loves a beautiful mind.  Proverbs 2:2 says, “Turn your ear toward wisdom, and stretch your mind toward understanding.”  Our minds are a gift, a beautiful gift. When we use them for understanding we are using a gift from God.

What is a question that you have been thinking about lately? What have you been curious about?  What have you wondered about lately?  What has been keeping you up at night?  We always encourage children to ask questions.  Maybe children should encourage adults to ask questions, too.  Of course, as adults, we no longer need to ask simple questions like “What makes lightening?” or ‘Why are there no more dinosaurs?” We know these answers. (Or at least we can quickly google them!)   Adults are called to go deeper with their questions.  Adults are called to ask bigger questions and commit to finding the answers.  

This is a calling from God.  A calling to use our beautiful minds.  Questions like “Who is my neighbor?” or “What can I do to being healing to this situation?” or “What is behind this feeling I have about images I see?” When we engage the world (issues, images, headlines, events) around us with our minds, we discover more questions behind the first one.  With each question and answer pair, we take a step closer to understanding. And we take a step closer to creating change or awareness so others can understand as well.

Raise your hand and ask your question!

From our curious and Happy Tent to yours,

Meredith Bell

P.S. If your question has led you to a place where you want to do something, I invite you to check out DoSomething.org. It is full of young adults doing something for a cause.

P.P.S.  This week’s book suggestion is The Encyclopedia of Student and Youth Movements.  All of these movements started with questions. This book is full of stories about youth around the world that created change with their beautiful minds. This one is sure to spice up your family dinner conversations! (Not all topics in the book are appropriate for younger minds…at least not until they get older.)

Mr. Charlie

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in church with my daughters.  One on each side.  During the beginning of the service, I noticed a man sitting by himself on the other side of the church.  It was Mr. Charlie.  His precious wife had died a few months before in the spring.  I whispered to my daughters that we were going to move during the first song and sit with Mr. Charlie.  We have been sitting with him in church every Sunday since then.  Each Sunday we sing songs together, pray together and hear God’s word as it is read over us.  An “Amen” is shouted out now and then.  We have a great time worshipping God together.

Today, before I left to have lunch with my daughters at school.  I picked up the phone and called Mr. Charlie.  I invited him to join us for lunch at school.  Twenty minutes later we were having a good time driving to pick up lunch before we arrived at the school.  The smile on my daughter’s faces when they saw Mr. Charlie was priceless.  Hugs were exchanged and we had a great time right in the middle of the noisy and busy cafeteria.

Right in the middle of our noisy, busy lives there are people and moments that God blesses.  There are people  that God needs us to bless.  There are moments that God does not want us to miss.  When we experience God’s people and God’s moments, life makes sense.  The Kingdom of God is easy to see all around us.

Mr. Charlie talks and talks about how we are a blessing to him and how we are an answer to his prayers.  My response is often that it is easy to be an answer to someone’s prayer when you love them.  But what he doesn’t know is that he is a blessing to us as well.  An answer to our prayers.

For 90 years, Mr. Charlie has lived on this earth as a faithful follower of Christ.  He has served his country, enjoyed marriage, raised children, made friends, invested in his community, lived in different towns, completed a successful career and more.  Mr. Charlie is an answer to our prayers.  He is full of wisdom.  His faith is alive and easy to see.  He laughs easily.  He is just the kind of friend we need in our busy and noisy lives.  He reminds us that life is good and God is great.

In your busy and noisy lives today, I hope God’s sends you someone to share this life with where you are an answer to their prayers and they are an answer to your prayers.  Keep your eyes open, they are all around.  If you already have that someone, give them a call and take them to lunch.  Food tastes better when a friend and God are at the table.

A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another. Romans 12:4-5

From our Happy Tent to yours,

Meredith Bell

Simply Aware

When Our Table Grows, We Grow

Just this week I found myself in the middle a modern “fishes and loaves” story.  I did not wear any thing special that day because I did not know I was going to walk into the story as a main character.  I did not know how my ordinary day would end.

School is winding down for us (in fact today was the last day for one daughter) which means our afternoons are less busy.  Routine has been thrown out the window…hello world!  We even met friends for a snow cone after school this week… spontaneously.  (Oh how sad that even a spontaneous, unscheduled, and unplanned snow cone date can feed my adventurous side. Next week I may spontaneously take on the Appalachian Trail!)

After we cooled off with our snow cones, we headed to the park. What we found there took me by surprise.  Our neighbor.  She is a teenager and she was with her friends.  School was out and she was just hanging out before walking home.  We chatted.  Then I remembered that after her parents divorced, she is often home alone with her brother in the afternoons until her father gets home from work.  Then I remembered this has been going on for a while, but I had forgotten.

Once we returned home, my daughters invited our neighbors over to play.  I made after school snacks and started on dinner.  For dinner I was preparing a salmon dish.  (The fish in the story.  But I doubt Jesus served salmon.)  I knew the meal would feed my family of 4.  But I was not sure about company.  Before long, the dinner question arrived in my kitchen, “Can they stay for dinner?”  I looked at my fish and it looked back at me as I muttered something like, “Sure”.  (God’s response…ABSOLUTELY)

This is when my dinner plans were hijacked by God.  God had other plans for my fish…hospitality and love.  As I was finishing up the meal, God and I had a chat.  My meal prep and serving suddenly turned spiritual.  Our neighbors had a place at our table that night.  They weren’t alone on the playground or in their own home.  They were with us, their friends.  Because they were with us, our circle became wider as we simply became aware that they needed us on that day.  Our tent grew, our table grew and our love for them grew.  And by the way…somehow the salmon (fish) and loaf (well…really Jasmine rice) grew.  We all had enough and we were all filled with much more than food when we left the table.

Simply aware.  Simply Available.

Dinner Survival

Savoring time together

Whew…after we finished dinner the other night I was even more worn out that I was before we began.  I LOVE the idea of sitting around the table at night together to enjoy one slow meal.  Our only slow meal of the day.  We get a chance to talk about our roses and thorns (our highs and lows) of the day.  It gives me a great insight into the lives of my children that I don’t get to see.  This ideal meal (conversation, good food, laughter) is at least what I expect.

What really happens is this…pleaseeee eat your green bean.  When asked how many at the beginning of the meal I decide on number 5.  Eat 5 green beans.  By the end of the meal I am begging…just eat one…just one.  Just eat one green bean for my sake.  Only because I know the pediatrician will ask me that one question at your annual visit.  “Does she eat a balanced meal?” I always say yes…but it is a stretch.

And then both my children began using my own lines on me…”I love you to much to argue”….then they would laugh…

I once heard Kevin Leman  encourage parents to talk with their children at the dinner table the same way they would talk with diner guests.  For instance, I would not demand that my dinner guests eat their green beans before they left the table.  So why do I talk with my children that way????

Thankfully I will be invited back to our dinner table tonight.  Maybe I just need to focus on my own green beans and not worry about controlling everyone else’s. I’m learning that a Happy Tent usually includes a happy mom…not one who brings stress and control to the table.  There is enough of that in this world.

I pray my table will reflect more love, acceptance and peace.I want to enjoy these years because I know in a few short years, some of my dinner guests will not be at my table on a regular basis.

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