Warning: Whining first, blessings second. Stick with me?
We started Vacation Bible School when our oldest was four years old. That makes six years of this high-octane activity. Only once did I find a daytime program. All the other years, it's been a grueling five consecutive nights of over-stimulation, leading to insomnia for my whole clan.
To get them through, I push naps every other day. That helps the VBS workers enormously, but it makes my nights worse. I never know if the insomnia is because of the nap, or because they can't settle their over-stimulated minds and bodies down.
Nap or no nap, they rarely fall asleep before 10:30 PM ( or 11 for Paul) on VBS nights....and the fussiness (x 4 this year) on the drive home and during bedtime prep, and the next day....is a sure thing. I've tried different things to calm them down before bed, to no avail.
It's just this beast I have to grit my teeth and endure--counting the hours until Friday night. They would call it the highlight of their year, with the county fair coming in second. Christmas is pretty wonderful too, of course.
They love it as much as I love chocolate....so I get it. I support it with fake smiles all week.
Would I want someone exiling me to a chocolate-free island?
In less than twenty-four hours, it's over for another year. I'm sure we'll survive, despite the heat advisories all week and the broken church air conditioning. Sauna, anyone?
My husband reminds me that air conditioning is a recent invention. Considering this, I've berated myself all week. Surely I can be more long-suffering? How would I survive on the mission field, helping native women carry heavy jugs of water, uphill, back from the contaminated river?
The air conditioning went out in the van early last summer. The central AC in the house will break eventually, and we'll likely have no money to fix it. So, yes, the Lord will teach me that virtue yet....long-sufferingness.
There are many good things, and to remind my frazzled self of those, I list them here:
~ The unbridled passion my children exude as they sing (okay, shout) praise songs to Jesus, complete with sophisticated hand and body motions.
~ The friends they wave at and greet so enthusiastically in the parking lot....a practice always mimicked by my toddler.
~ The number of times they ask me each day....."How many more hours until VBS starts?"
~ The sanctuary and classrooms, decorated to eye-popping perfection, every year.
~ The delightful gadgets they come home with, like glow-in-the-dark trinkets. (Such things distract them from bedtime prep, so I confiscate them until morning. They always remember to ask me for the confiscated loot, first thing in the morning, though.)
~ The enthusiasm with which they jump out of our vehicle upon arrival, smiling from ear to ear, eyes dancing.
~ The handmade T-shirts we've collected over the years, each one displaying a different VBS theme...a different Bible verse.
~ The loving, spirited teachers who never look tired...even on Friday night. I'm sure they fall into bed every night, but the Lord sure holds them up during the festivities.
~ The youngest one here (Mary, this year) reciting the week's Bible verse at dinner, melting my heart.
~ For the inventive snacks and crafts, so lovingly provided.
~ The grace my children extend to me, the party pooper, every year. Somehow, they get it...how it makes my days longer, harder, when they're overtired and fussy.
~ And this year, a very special thank you......for baby Matthew, seven months old this weekend, whom I've had the pleasure of holding in the nursery all week. He's amazing. His mother does sound for this church. Two-year-old Beth has taken my devotion to him in stride. She's still gotten more of my attention than usual. (It been just the three of us in there.)
~ I shall always remember baby Matthew's humming along to my songs, as I walked him to sleep. He's a few months advanced in everything...and his singing? Incredible.
Do my children gain spiritual knowledge from VBS? Not always.
But the point, for me, is this:
They gain childhood memories of worshiping Jesus with every ounce of energy they've got...in the company of saints. They experience the joy of the Lord.