Mustard Seeds & Peanuts

Listening for Life

Sometimes, I look at someone else’s faith and think: wow, I could never be like that.  It seems like no matter what happens to them–no matter what storms are raging in their life, they navigate them with such grace and trust and gratitude and hope, it is nothing short of miraculous.  And faith like that is just mystifying, isn’t it?  

It’s kind of like Thanksgiving at grandma and grandpa’s house (bear with me).  When I was growing up, holidays meant big Tucker family gatherings (they had 6 kids and they all had many kids). Grandpa was at one time a cook in the Navy (quite providential I would say).  At Thanksgiving, my cousin Kevin and I used to enjoy counting how many pumpkin pies grandma made (usually 13-15).  It was always big, loud, and as a kid,fantastic.

penutsBut the part I looked forward to most was when great-grandpa Laird would do his peanut trick. Some time between dessert and the car ride home, all the kids (and adults for that matter) would beg great-grandpa to do it.  And, finally, after he felt we had begged enough, he would concede.  He would ask for a handful of shelled peanuts.  Then we would watch very, very closely.

He took the first peanut and lifted it toward his eye.  Then he would pretend to rub it into his eye–then showed us his empty hand.  He would do the same thing with the other eye.  Then each ear.  Then his mouth (showing us his empty mouth afterwards).  Then, he would pick one kid to take the last peanut and throw it as far as they could outside (this was always a great honor).  At no time was great-grandpa NOT being watched closely, because every kid and every adult had no clue how he did what he was about to do next.

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My Soapy Foot

Listening for Life

Group Publishing is a youth/children’s ministry publishing company located in Loveland, CO.  You probably know them from their wildly popular VBS programs.  Anyway, their non-profit arm, Group Workcamps, sets up week-long mission trips for teenagers to repair homes in communities of need all over the country.

I’ve been working with Group for 20 years now, and usually try to work one of their summer camps every year.  This year, my church’s youth group is attending the camp I’m leading–which will be a blast!  (Incidentally, in 1998, I met Karin at a Workcamp in Altoona, PA.  Yes, Altoona, the place where true love blossoms).

Anyway, yesterday I arrived in Loveland for their annual mission training (mandatory for all leaders).  It had the usual family reunion vibe.  Pastors, youth pastors, Group staff–all catching up and picking up where they left off a year ago.

But after the welcome dinner, Thom and Joani Schultz (who founded and run Group) led us in an experience that completely surprised me.  We began with some worship songs.  No big deal.  Then Thom read the account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet (I’ll bet you know where this is going).  Then he asked us to get into groups of 4 (and they had to be people we didn’t know).   (more…)