VBS Musings…

This is one of those posts I composed in my mind weeks ago and then never had a chance to actually sit down and type.  It is also one of those posts that I think God has prevented me from having time to type out because He knew that I needed to be thinking on these thoughts *today*…and that if I had already posted them, they would more than likely be “out of sight, out of mind”. 


Several weeks ago, during a VBS training session, Lyndel asked us to share VBS memories, either from our own childhoods, or from our experiences as adults as teachers and workers.  I didn’t share, because I couldn’t….I literally had an explosion of VBS memories invade my mind, and had to really focus on just staying “composed”.


My VBS experiences as a child were incredible.  Our church didn’t use a canned “curriculum”…or if they did, it was completely unrecognizable as one by the time they finished with it. :)  My friend Susan’s mom was *the* most creative mom and amazing teacher anywhere…so we always had the *best* VBS classes. :)


The year I remember most vividly was the year we studied the tabernacle.  My dad worked for a corrugated box company at the time, and we had individual corrugated tabernacles, mounted on cardboard bases, for each child.  During the week, as we learned about each part of the tabernacle, we “decorated” our tabernacle…making various pieces out of small boxes, clay, or other materials and carefully positioning them in just the right spots.  We also had a huge “to scale” tabernacle model (also made of corrugated cardboard) in one of the hallways, which we could actually walk through.  I still remember being so awed…that VBS made such an impact on my view of the holiness and glory of God.   I cannot imagine the hours Jenny Oliver, my parents, and several others put into making that week happen. 


My thoughts then jumped to VBS memories as an adult.  *Lots* of memories of things I learned (as a teacher :)) from the character curriculum we used to use.  And then the memory that always pushes its way in when I begin to get stressed about VBS…


When I was growing up, my mom almost always taught in VBS, but my dad, while he was often very involved in the preparation for VBS (i.e. the building of the tabernacle), was always working during the actual week.  When they moved to Fort Smith and joined Oak Cliff, however, he was retired, and one of the things he enjoyed the most was being able to work in VBS each summer, and he worked until he literally could no longer get out of his chair and go.


The year before he died, I was at Mother and Daddy’s house one day, and was at that point when my VBS “to do” list was completely overwhelming.  I was fussing and fuming about all I had to do for VBS, when my dad very quietly said, “I wish I could work in VBS this year.”    I felt like I had been hit between the eyes with a 2x4.   I realized that what I had been looking at as a drudgery…just another thing to eat up my already limited time and energy…was actually a privilege and blessing, and that there are many…those with health issues, like my dad, and working parents…who would love to be able to work in VBS but can’t.  It changed my attitude about VBS that year really quickly.


I was then almost assaulted by another VBS memory…this one a few years later.  It was an odd memory, in that I actually remember almost nothing about that year’s VBS.  A few random things stick out in my mind, but for the most part, that year is a blur.  The week before VBS that year was literally the worst week of my entire life.   An extended family situation had blown up and the fallout had become intensely horrific and personal.  I remember telling a friend “There is no way I can do VBS this year.  How in the world can I go teach Bible School when I can barely function well enough to get out of bed in the morning and make sure everyone has food three times a day?”


But…at that late date, I really had no choice, and I knew that the best thing for the kids was to keep things as normal as possible.  That was the week I literally lived Romans 8:26-27.  I couldn’t pray…I couldn’t form coherent thoughts.  I knew that a couple of close friends were praying for me, but all I could manage was “I can’t do this God…I can’t do it.”  And while I remember very little from that week, I do know this…I got through it.  God carried me through every moment of that week.  My children had a wonderful week of Bible School, and I didn’t once have a meltdown in front of my class (one of my big worries). 


As I sat in that meeting a few weeks ago, I thought of all the things that were worrying me about this year’s VBS…the fact that neither of the two people I usually depend on most are going to be there this year, the rather weak crafts curriculum and my own current creative slump, etc….and suddenly realized God was saying, “I carried you through VBS 2006, don’t you think I can get you through this year as well??”


I started this post days ago, was interrupted, and never got back to it.  Again…I think that was Divine Interruption.  Unfinished posts tend to nag at me, meaning that this post has been on my mind all week.  And again…I needed to be pondering these things.  Over the weekend a health issue I thought was resolved reappeared, knocking me off my feet physically and emotionally.  How in the world would I manage prep day on Saturday…much less a week of VBS??  Monday we were faced with the prospect of no AC in our classroom (and others).  ACK…with 110 heat index predicted??!!


God has shown me throughout this week, again, the truth of 2 Cor. 12:9-10:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


Despite much that has not been smooth “behind the scenes”, my experience in VBS this year has been one of the smoothest ever so far.  I am thankful (most of the time :)) for the opportunity to work in VBS.  I am very thankful for all those who have worked and are working so hard this week to make this an exciting, meaningful experience for my children.   I am extremely thankful for my husband (who volunteered to take over the cooking all week!) and for all the ways he picks  up the slack during weeks like this.  And I am most thankful that God *always* shows Himself faithful to provide *all* that we need for what He has called us to do. 


Kecia said...

Jennifer, thank you so much for sharing that. I'm discovering that memories are a precious thing, even the "bad" ones, when you can look back and see God carrying you.
I'm so glad (again) that we reconnected. <3

Denise Hughes said...

Your reflections on VBS memories are particularly encouraging today. It's Sunday, and I just finished teaching VBS this week at my church. On top of leading the worship (with fun hand motions and lots of jumping up and down), writing the curriculum, shopping for materials and props, and staying up late every night preparing for the next day, I've been fighting a sinus infection, cough, and congestion. Plus, it was my wedding anniversary this week! I was so worn out by Saturday morning that I just wanted to sit on my couch with a cup of tea. But I had an empty fridge and piles of laundry, mail, and dishes. Regular life needed some "catching up."

I'm exhausted and still recovering, but I know it was worth it. My own kids are still talking about the fun things they did and the cool things they learned. It is comforting to know that precious seeds are planted during weeks like VBS.

See you on Tuesday for IOW. I'm glad you're hosting. It's a great quote.

Denise Hughes