I recently joined a group called Hope*Writers. One of the statements in their manifesto says,
“We build benches, not platforms.”Hope*writers Manifesto
I love this and so many other things about this writing site.
To “build a bench” is to invite others to come and sit awhile:
- So that we can get to know each other better.
- So we can hear each other’s thoughts about what is important to us.
- So we can share words of hope and encouragement.
- So each of us can then turn and pass on that hope and encouragement to someone else.
Thoughts. Words. Actions. All so important.
Why MRS VAN?
I had a really hard time deciding what to call this blog. Should I continue to call it “Mrs Van” or should I call it by my full name, Colleen van Nieuwkerk?
Both names apply to me and have for a long time.
My full name is Lola Colleen van Nieuwkerk. “Lola” is my paternal Grandmother’s name. She was “Lola Mae” with roots in Missouri, USA. I always loved being called after her. She passed away several years ago, and I still miss her and her prayer support so much. Sometimes you may see my name as “Lola” even though I have usually gone by “Colleen.” Anything government-related can become tricky when you are called by your second name.
My life as Mrs. Van began in the late 1990’s. I was serving at our summer camp and was asked what my camp name would be. The answer, “Mrs. Van” was my instant response and so began an easy solution to helping all the kids in my “Director of Children’s Ministry” life know what to call me. My husband became known as Mr. Van. We have loved being Mr. and Mrs. Van. Today, even 22 years later, many of the dear folks in our church still call us by those names. And those kids in our ministry, many of whom are now grown up and have children of their own, also still call us Mr. and Mrs. Van.
Part of my struggle in what to name the blog was “Do I need to give up the “Mrs. Van” identity after all these years?” I probably went back and forth about the name over twenty times until one morning last week. I was dreaming about the blog as I woke up and my first thought was “No, I don’t need to give that identity up.” God gave me peace about the decision.
God has kept us in the same church family for almost forty years and we have been so privileged to learn to know and love Him, and to love and serve our people here. For some reason, He didn’t ask us to move on, as ministry staff often do, as their time of ministry ends. He has, instead, allowed me to continue to serve but to carry a lightened load as I grow older. This is amazing to me!
As I consider passing on hope and encouragement to you:
- I want to walk with you.
- I want to sit on the bench with you, and visit one-on-one, and
- I want to also reach out, with you, to others.
And so, again, welcome to Mrs Vans Musings.
Why Mrs Vans MUSINGS?
Anyone who knows me well would say that the meaning of the word “musing” would describe my personality accurately…
Merriam’s Webster Online Dictionary defines the word “musing” as thoughtfully abstracted, MEDITATIVE.
Other synonyms for “musing” include melancholy, contemplative, pensive, and reflective. The dictionary also includes absentminded but I’m not liking that one very much.
Antonyms given are featherbrained, flighty, flippant, frivolous, goofy, harebrained, light-headed, scatterbrained; brainless, mindless, silly, thoughtless, and unthinking. None of those words describe me ever—at least not in my opinion…
My husband would say that I sometimes overthink situations, but also that I often discern truth about those same scenarios.
- I am definitely not the “life of the party” person, but I do enjoy other people’s kind humor.
- I am definitely philosophical and analytical.
- I also enjoy thinking deeply about God and His story…and how I fit into it.
To live life with intention is to muse, to become absorbed in thought and to think about something carefully and thoroughly.
And so, again, welcome to Mrs Vans Musings.
God’s Meaning Of MUSING
God gave the Psalmist, David, in Psalm 19 in the Bible, some words to share that also pertain to musing. Psalm 19:14 says,
I chose this verse to be my Life Verse when I was thirteen years old…
The words, “Be acceptable,” request in this song (psalm) that my “musings”, my words and my thoughts, would be an act of worship before God, like a sacrifice.
MY MUSINGS THIS WEEK…
What have I been musing about this week—what has been my act of worship and sacrifice?
- Mr. Van and I are parents to three sons who are all married with families. We are grandparents to ten grandchildren. Our anticipated Grandchild #11 will arrive in January/20.
- Thanksgiving weekend was a time of celebration as it was announced publicly that our oldest grandchild and his wife are expecting our first great-grandchild in May/20!
- This news means that we will have four generations in our personal family. It also means that we will have two babies to love at the same time:) And it also promotes my almost 87 year old Dad to a fifth generation as a Great-Great-Grandpa!
*This next week will be our Federal Government election in Canada.
- I feel privileged to live in a country where we still have freedom to live openly the life that God has called us to live. However, many things have changed in our culture in the past four years and so we are praying that God will keep our land glorious and free.
*The rhythms of life as I contemplate doing the next right thing over and over every day, and choosing what counts for eternity.
YOUR MUSINGS THIS WEEK…
So, as we together consider entering into this journey with joy and intention, please let me ask you…
- Are the words of your mouth and the meditation of your heart an act of worship before God?
- Will you begin or continue to “muse” about what God might be saying to you regarding your thoughts and words?
- Will you share in the comments one way you plan to “muse” well in order to encourage the rest of us?
Thanks for walking with us in this place of Joy and Intention. And so, again, welcome to Mrs Vans Musings.
Love you, Colleen
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