We’re going camping this weekend. We are voluntarily giving up our comfortable bed, convenient bathroom (complete with delightfully hot shower), and custom-designed kitchen for a leaky air mattress in a small tent, a pit toilet down the path, a sponge bath, and a two-burner Coleman stove. Afternoon thunderstorms are likely, but at least they’ll settle the dust and bring some relief from the heat. There will probably be mosquitoes, and maybe even bears. We’ll spend a day getting ready to go, and another day putting everything away again, all for two nights in the mountains. We must be crazy. Continue reading
It just so happened that both of my parents died in the month of September. My mother passed away in 1998 (over Labor Day weekend) and my father followed her this past year. Now, as September rolls around again, I start to think about the family I grew up in. I’m the only one who can. You see, I have no siblings. Not only that, but my mother was also an only child, and my father had just one sister. I haven’t seen my two cousins since we were all in high school; we were never all that close.
It bothers me that no one else knows what my childhood was like. No one else knows the family stories, the special memories, or the little peculiarities that were uniquely ours. Sure, I’ve told my husband and daughters some tales of my growing up years, but I’m sure I haven’t told them everything. Now no one is going to remind me of the ones I’ve missed.
Thanksgiving. That lovely holiday, with the family gathered around the table. Soft music plays in the background, snow gently falls outside. Dad is carving the succulent turkey while the children sit quietly in their seats, mouths watering. The conversation circles the table as each person describes the many things they have been thankful for this past year.
Thanksgiving, that hectic holiday. Mom is trying to gather the family, put the final touches on the dinner, pour the drinks, and carve the turkey, all at the same time. At one end of the table, Aunt Mattie is well into yet another stomach-turning description of her recent root canal. At the other end, Uncle Milt has clearly imbibed too much eggnog. Grandpa is complaining that the pouring rain is making his rheumatism flare up. The eight-year-old twins are poking one another with their forks and fighting over who will get the drumsticks, while the football game blares from the TV in the next room. No one has seen Dad in the several years since he ran off with that floozy account manager.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, our finances aren’t in the best of shape. Extremely sporadic paychecks make it difficult to budget—how do you know how much you can spend on something like food if you have no idea when the next check is coming? Then there’s the matter of tithing. You can’t tithe on zero.
Last January, I wrote about how to give to God when we’re broke. I mentioned giving away things we already own, and giving our time. There’s a third way we’re currently giving to God that I overlooked when I wrote that article, even though it’s one we’ve been doing all along: we can practice hospitality.
Desperation Leadership Academy (DLA) is our church’s year-long, full time program for young adults aged 18 to 25. As our website proclaims to prospective students, “It is one year of spiritual training that will put you in an environment to accelerate your love for Jesus, His church, and a world that desperately needs Him.”
Since these students come from all over the country (and some years, even from overseas), they need a place to live here in Colorado. To make the program more affordable, the students are housed by members of the congregation, called “home sponsors,” who sign up to provide room and board for one or two kids from September through July.