Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't Be My Friend

Written for the Simply Youth Ministry website:

As a youth ministry volunteer and mother of four I’ve taken many students to different places in my car, but this time was different. Instead of the ASB and drill-team girls I usually chauffeured, I was stuck in my sedan with four girls who were the opposite of sugar, and spice, and everything nice. Yay me.

After a quarter of the way into the trip, while they talked about getting tattoos for their children and how dumb their parents were for making them wear shoes, the girl sitting next to me in the front seat reached for her purse and said, “Can we smoke in your car?” My first thought was “What the?. . . no!” My second thought was, “If I tell them yes, I will be the coolest adult they will ever encounter.” Instead, I said, “If I let you smoke in my car, I’ll get fired.” The answer left my principles intact while at the same time allowed the girls not to feel stupid or to take the offensive. This kept the line of communication open between us, which was extremely important. I wanted to connect with them.

I discovered through trial and error that if I tried to be best friends with students, I would have a ton of text messages in my Inbox, but I wouldn’t be an effective volunteer. If I had chosen to allow the girls to smoke in my car, they may have thought I was fun and cool, but their respect for me would be in question. Eventually, they would have succeeded in taking advantage of my leniency.
The same is true as a parent. While teens are quick to tell their friends that they want more freedom and wished that they could do whatever they wanted, they desperately seek an environment linked to structure and regulation. Boundaries give teenagers security, although getting a teen to admit that would require large doses of truth serum backed by the threat of cell phone removal.

Our responsibilities as leaders and parents are to give our children a sense of being loved unconditionally, to give them a sense of security, and to train them up in the way of God, which may require plastering a “Please no smoking” sign to your dash board.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

"Relationships thrive with consistent interaction but wither if neglected. Our relationship with Christ is no different."

"He must become greater; I must become less."
John 3:30

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Toilets and Seats

I live with men. Men who lift toilet seats. Little men forget that the seat goes down when they are finished and the handle must be moved to the flush position. I want to hear water swirling and going other places when my people are done using the toilet.

My biggest man, the real man by definition, is fantastic at following the rules of toilet etiquette. He was raised my a man who loves all things clean and was especially concerned with modeling seat down and flush procedures.

Normally, this is not the case. Most men, especially in a public restroom audience, let their laziness fly and perhaps even go beyond leaving seats up and toilets unflushed when left on their own.

I found myself in a situation which required my using a restroom that was gender neutral. Sauntering to the door, a gentleman exited and my shoulders drooped. I assumed the worst. I imagined having to kick the toilet seat down with my shoe to avoid any and all contact with the white plastic, water splashes covering the sink area, the used seat requiring a wipe down from a crisp seat cover, and my nose and mouth having to be switched from the "breathe normally" position, the the "breathe heavily through the mouth to block all smells from entering the nostrils" position. I knew, without a doubt, that a lot of work was waiting for me on the other side of the bathroom door.

To my surprise, the seat was down and the cover was even shut. The "freshen up" bottle was recently misted throughout, and the sink was shiny, and free from water drops. I smiled, mystified, and thrilled that this man had his toilet etiquette in proper priority. I hope that he is married. Women love proper toilet etiquette. I need to send his mother and father a thank you note.

Monday, March 15, 2010

She's Home

My girl is home. She has returned from Kenya safely with a load of pictures and stories. Thankfully she doesn't want to move there, live there for a long period of time, or even return in the next few years.

In spite of this, she did love every minute of her experience and still loves mission work.

Today she has a bug, of course. School is not an option and her appointment at the doctor's office is scheduled.

She is happy to be home, in her bed, on American ground.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Post From My Girl

My girl writes from Kenya:

We Live We Love

Most of us might recognize these words from a song, but how many times do we actually apply it to our lives? Letting people know and showing our love for them. Being here in Kenya has giving me a whole new meaning to the word love. Seeing these kids and their conditions that they go through and the stories about their lives, has blown me away. They are just so open to us and are over joyed to see us. Even today at the camp their were some kids that would not let go of my hand or get off my lap. I love seeing their huge smiles and hearing them laugh. It must be also kinda scary for them if they have never seen a mzungu (white person) in their lives and yet are willing to have high schoolers hold their hand. Such a blessing, such an experience.

Right now i am missing all of my friends and family and everyone i love back in the states (mom i'm fine by the way). I love you all and will see you when i come home.

Kwaheri (Goodbye)
Bwana asafiwe (God Bless)

-Madison Rose Vujnov

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Thoughts

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.' "

Jeremiah 29:11-12

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Our Girl...In Kenya

She is the one holding the pillow in the second row.

Friday, March 5, 2010

This Time it's Different

My daughter has come and gone many times before, but this time it's different.

She has attended camps, retreats, sleepovers, and week long adventures, but this time it's different.

My girl is thousands of miles away, in another country, away from major civilization, in Kenya. It's just different.

Our house feels extra empty and our nerves are just now settling down after 24 hours of her departure. Something is more missing this time than the other times that she has been away. It's different.

I am constantly thinking about her well being, her sleep deprivation, her appetite, her goods, her needs, her attitude, the depravity she will witness, her energy level, whether her smile is vivid, and her ability to be selfless is obvious. This time it's different.

My baby is in Africa. My girl is a day's travel, 24 hours, away from us, and I am praising God for this amazing opportunity that she has grabbed with arms wide open.

God is big. He will meet her emotional, physical, and mental needs, and I need to just let Him be God, even though, this time it's just so different.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Monday is my day off.

This is the day that I pick up my kindergartner at noon, and he comes home to our house as opposed to going to grandma's house until she picks up the bigger kids. Then, he eventually gets home around 3:30 p.m.

Today he needs me. He needs me to sit with him and just watch him play. Although I have clothes to fold, dishes in the sink to put away, and e-mails to answer or create, this is the day he begs me to lay on his bed while he plays with his Legos.

He tells me stories about what happened at school and creates scenarios with his Lego guys and their vehicles. He tells me about the people in his class, and video games he could play with his Lego guys.

"I need to go Bear, I'm cold." I tell him this after a short while.

He refuses to let me go and fetches a blanket and covers my body.

"We don't have to go anywhere, right?" he asks, engaged in his pile of colored bricks, rubber wheels, and army men, determined to sit without interruption of or time together.

I try to leave again, and he begs me to stay. "Ten minutes" I tell him. "I need to get up and get some stuff done in ten minutes."

"The ten minutes doesn't start until I get all of my stuff on the table." he replies. He wants the time with me to tick by slowly and not be hurried.

I sit.

I drift in and out of falling asleep.

I sit some more.

I listen to him talk and reply when I needed.

All he wants is me. He wants time with me. We don't need to talk, or play, or tell stories, he just wants my presence, so I give it to him.

All God wants is me. He wants time with me. He loves to hear me talk, and watch me play. He loves when I tell Him stories. He desires my presence, so, do I give it to Him?

Not always, but I'm going to try harder.