*Disclaimer to all my PC friends, (politically correct): It’s okay. Really. My kids know I love them. I make a point of driving them crazy reminding them way too often.
Cast of Characters
Tom Sawyer—My 14 year old son
Lanky—Tom Sawyer’s friend
Frizz Head—My 17 year old daughter
Hippy Princess—Frizz Head’s friend
Einstein—21 year old friend of all
Myself—Chauffeur, Commander in Chief, Referee, Chef, and Scribe, aka “Moomm!”
I shoved tents to sleep six, a ton of books and lots of unnecessary supplies into the limited space of our minivan and managed to slam the doors before anything fell out. I’d planned to leave on Tuesday, but Wednesday dawned before we finally escaped with the dashboard blinking like a Christmas tree, a missing hubcap and a screaming belt. String looped through holes replaced the duct-taped trunk handle. It swished like a small tail above the license plate. That’s one way to keep me humble—or make me cringe. But it was all good! We were on our way to SoulFest Christian music festival! Gotta keep my priorities straight.The merciless three o’clock sun greeted us at our campsite. Good thing friends a few sites down came by to watch the show as we set up. Teen boys claim to know everything about things they’ve never done, but somehow, the same useless words spoken by “Momm!” are received as great tips from a male.
Mission accomplished, Lanky and Tom Sawyer ran up the face of the mountain, something I wouldn’t have attempted at half my age and weight—which could explain why I’ve lived to be my age and why I’m not half my weight. Lanky took pictures of their testosterone driven, death defying antics at the summit and texted them to his mother. I’m not sure she will entrust him to my care again.
“Did you brush your teeth?” I said. “Brush them! Or I will brush them for you!” There! That worked.
Jim Trick plays a mean guitar and with a voice like a lullaby, I could listen to him all day. “Jesus wants you to love yourself,” he said. “Only then you will be able to love others.”
The Bible says to deny myself and pick up my cross. But love myself?
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. Tis is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV)
As Christians, we ought to love what God loves and hate what God hates. When we hate what God loves, that’s a problem. If we hate ourselves, we are contradicting God. We can’t truly love ourselves (or others as he calls us to) until we grasp God’s love for us. Biblical love tends to the well-being of its object; it doesn’t indulge or enable sin. Jesus hates sin, but love drove Him to the cross to redeem us.
Sometimes I contradict God by holding onto regret of past failings which Jesus has forgiven and struggle to extend grace to others as scripture exhorts. God reminded me that people mistreat others because of what’s broken in them. When we focus on others’ need for healing, injustices are easier to bear and forgiveness to extend.
What we listen to, read, and watch, either influences us toward or away from Jesus. We love ourselves when we nourish our souls by time spent in the Bible and prayer. Jesus invites us to come as we are so He can transform us into His new creation.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23 NKJV)
…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIV)
“Do you need prayer?” she said. We stood in the shadow of the towering wooden cross that served as an altar, a call to Christ in the middle of it all. I left some things I couldn’t change in the hands of the One who can.
Matthew West made my Friday when he pulled an altar call because I believe hosting Christian events without providing opportunity for salvation is like telling a dying man you have the cure but not offering it to him.
I found Tom Sawyer brandishing bamboo skewers like sparklers as embers floated across the sky toward our neighbors’ tent—but I’m the crazy one. And what part of, “Don’t bring food in the tent unless you want to room with a bear,” don’t they get?
It’s quiet in the bathhouse at midnight, a good time to shower. A canopy of stars lit the path through the rows of tents. In the stillness the earnest whisper of a young man explaining the Gospel floated on the cool night air.
I stepped out of my tent Saturday morning as Hippy Princess, sitting cross-legged beside the fire, reached for the lighter fluid and matches. I seized them. My phone rang.
“It’s going great,” I said. “Jesus is alive! I’m really saved—I haven’t sworn at anyone!”
I lay on the mountainside as Zealand played.
I love you, Lord, to close my eyes and hear Your Name echo all around me like a balm, solace for my soul
The heat was a good advertisement for avoiding Hell. The angels in disguise worked at the iced tea stand. I found shelter in the Justice Center during Andrew Schwab’s talk on The War of Art. It’s worth the war to push through pain, procrastination, doubt and distraction, because when I fulfil my call to write, I honor God. When I draw closer to Jesus and reach out to touch lives through my writing, He heals me too.
Jesus promises us beauty for ashes; His strength is made perfect in our weakness. But first we have to let Him uncover our weaknesses and give Him the ashes.
We were told to take cover as a thunderstorm bore down, but our bags were unattended on the far end of the venue. Cue Chariots of Fire music, as I ran in the opposite direction of the crowd and rescued my daughter’s phone from its demise. Soaking wet, I joined the huddle under the tent by the cross. Someone started singing, and then we were all singing, “It is well, it is well with my soul.” It is well with my soul, even in the storm, when I keep the cross before me.
The mountainside came aglow as we used our candles to light our neighbor’s. The shofar sounded, Rabbi Oliveira sang the Aaronic Blessing, and shalom settled over us as POD jammed out from another stage. The night closed with the real Piano Man, Michael W Smith, leading worship.
Sunday morning en route to rouse the children, I distributed my website cards. “May I pray for you?” she said. — Good thing. I needed it for the task ahead. I hope she’s still praying.
We were one of the first to break camp. Tom Sawyer poked Frizz Head with the tent stakes until she finally punched him. Hard. Hippy Princess, seated, sunglasses on, gently pressed the air away with her palms whenever asked to help. “Shh,” she said. Einstein finally awoke and sprang into action straddling our minivan roof to secure bags, and myriad camping gear. We ignored the younger boys wrestling until we noticed Tom Sawyer using his phone as a weapon to encourage Lanky to release him from a headlock.
“I don’t care where the shadows or north and south are, Einstein! Just tell me whether to take a right or a left!” I said. We were one of the last to leave. It was a quiet ride as Lanky and Tom Sawyer weren’t on speaking terms, despite my mini sermon.
My husband and I pulled into the church parking lot simultaneously, him fresh from his afternoon nap, me returning from the three-hour trip that took five. The doors flung open, and kids and stuff spilled. I slowly hauled my body to face my husband.
“Hello,” I said. “I hate your children.”
“Oh! I was wondering if you hated me for giving you children! What did they do to you?”
“You have no idea,” I said, bursting into uncontrollable laughter.
“I think she’s overtired,” Frizz Head whispered to Hippie Princess as they skittered away.
Wish I’d known hysterical laughter garnered concern from the motley crew; I would have employed it days earlier.
“Vacations are hard work,” my husband said. “That’s why I try to avoid them.”
I gave him a hard look as I yanked at an article of clothing, trying to extricate it from the melded mass in the trunk.
“It’s like labor,” a friend said, laughing at my disheveled demeanor. “You’ll forget the hassles and go to SoulFest again next year!”
Yeah…because sometimes I need to see Jesus in someone else’s eyes who isn’tpart of my usual crowd. Because my son is happy hanging with the Word of Life crew, and my daughter could be anywhere, but she loves singing worship songs by the bonfire into the wee hours of the morning.
I want to put five nails in the cross, one for each of my children, and one for my husband and myself because the two shall become one, and sometimes that’s hard. Sometimes we need to nail our hopes, all that we are and all that we aren’t and should be to the cross again.
I’ll return because it’s good to saturate our thirsty, world worn souls with the Gospel served up a hundred different ways, and because I love to hear Jesus’ name echoing all around me.
Next Year’s Packing List for SoulFest, (Lord willing)
Case of Starbucks iced coffee
Drinkable Greek yogurt
iPhone as my journal
© 2016 Rachael M Colby | Tattoo It on Your Heart | POST UPDATED 6/12/22