Yellow Jackets and the Gospel

From my eloquent youngest daughter, about her daughters, life, death, and sacrifice.

UTTERLY HELPLESS — Posted by Lindsay Wolfgang Mast — 9-30-14

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
Romans 5:6-10

It happened faster than anyone was prepared for. My husband, our three-month-old, and I were lingering over coffee at one of the campsites we were sharing with several other families for the weekend. We were enjoying being in the woods with a group that has been going on this annual camping trip for more than a decade now. About two dozen children, including our two older children played in groups either in the woods or on the playground.

Suddenly, rising above our conversation, the bird noises, and the squeals of happy children, was a sound quite unlike any I’ve ever heard. It was a scream, a child’s scream. It seemed to go on and on. Instead of the usual dissolving into sobs, it grew louder, more urgent, and was soon joined by the same scream from other children. I suddenly understood fully why such a sound is described as ‘blood curdling.’

As fast as Melissa, another mother in the group, could say “Adults.  That’s a cry adults need to go to!” there were about ten of us on our feet, trying both to move toward the sound and to figure out who the screams belonged to.

As the sound persisted,I thought “Someone in this group is going home without a child.” I wasn’t sure what mess we were about to behold, but I pictured blood, or lost limbs, or small bodies being crushed. Or all of the above.

One of the teenage girls was already holding our baby, so I was able to start running, but I was nowhere near as fast as the men in the group. Before I could even reach the trail, they were there, and helping the three children who were being attacked by a huge nest of yellow jackets.

My six-year-old , frozen in fear, was getting the worst of it. It was her piercing scream that had first punctured the air. Faster than it seemed possible, our friend Clayton had gotten to her, leaping over a creek and snatching her from near the nest. He literally threw my sturdy, 63-pound child back over the creek to my husband. They moved onto the trail, with my older daughter and another little girl. I got there as they were stripping her down and rushing her further away from the nest. My older daughter and her friend were being attended to by a couple of other people. It was now that I realized it was some sort of stinging insects, and I realized I was completely helpless to do anything  to help my children—I tested allergic to them in my teens, and I’m supposed to carry an Epipen for it.

In another instant, as the rush to get the girls away from the nest continued, the remaining insects began to swarm. I saw a black cloud some yards away, and heard the buzzing of what had to be thousands of angry yellow jackets. “They’re swarming!” someone yelled. “Get to the tents!” I saw that another friend had the baby, and was headed away from the bugs, so I headed for our tent. As I approached it, our oldest, who had already gone to take cover there, came shrieking out of it. She ran to me, and I could see that she was still covered in yellow jackets. They were on her shorts, her shirt, and in her very long hair. “Mommy! Mommy!!!!!!” she cried. My instinct was to help her, but I also was terrified of being stung myself. Another dad in the group was nearby and I shouted at him “Jared! Help her! Take off her clothes! I’m sorry, I’m allergic!” He stripped her down and I got inside the nearby tent where someone had taken the baby.

Things got calmer after that. From inside the tent, I could see my husband and some of the others taking care of both our girls. I could hear the anguished wails of my middle daughter. They stopped counting her stings at thirty. My husband had about ten; my oldest had eight. The other little girl had two or three. Some of the other adults had five or so.  I could do nothing but listen and ache to be near them.

When it finally seemed safe to get out of the tents, I went to them. It was around then that someone mentioned Clayton. I didn’t realize until this point that he had gone straight into the area of the nest to get the children out. “How is he?” I asked.

“Pretty bad,” they said. “He’s in the shower. They got him pretty bad.”

Pretty bad, indeed. My six-year-old wanted to see him as soon as possible to thank him. At first, he seemed okay, and felt better after his shower. But as the minutes passed, he started to swell. He developed welts in places he wasn’t stung. The nurse in the group looked distressed, and soon sent him and his wife off to town to go to the ER. We prayed and waited to hear word.

Finally his wife texted the only one of us who had cell service, that he was hooked up to an IV and was getting steroids. He arrived back at camp several hours later, less puffy but clearly drained. By this point, the children he had helped were a little itchy and swollen, but after some Benadryl, also ready to eat burgers and s’mores and settle in for another night of camping.

I was, and still am, in a place of extraordinary gratitude to God for watching over our children that day, for giving them Clayton and the other adults who flew to their rescue, and for sparing them from any long term damage, or worse. I also have been pondering since shortly after that incident, the question of, how do you adequately thank someone who saves your child’s life?  If she’d continued to be the target of an attack that vicious, it’s entirely possible that we’d be planning a funeral today, and not her birthday party.

The bottom line is, nothing seems enough. Clayton, a father of four himself, dashed in to a very dangerous situation to save a child who was helpless in the face of extreme danger. When he got to her, she was frozen, mouth agape, screaming, while being stung repeatedly. Did you know yellow jackets leave a scent on the mark of their fury, signaling that others should attack there, too? She needed rescue. She needed it fast and she needed it desperately. He put his own well-being aside to help a small, weak, human, and ended up taking the brunt of the pain in return.

Sound familiar?

I was not the direct recipient of the saving in this case, but I can’t shake the feeling of helplessness that I experienced in not being able to aide my own children. And nothing—except our condition outside of Christ— compares to how truly helpless the children were to get out of danger. They couldn’t save themselves. But someone paid a price to get them out of harms way.


My daughters and their friends posing with a hero.
“He saw me plunged in deep distress
And flew to my relief;
For me He bore the shameful cross
And carried all my grief,
And carried all my grief.”
—Samuel Stennett

In the stillness of the nights since then, as I nurse the smallest of my children, those words from “Majestic Sweetness” have resounded in my head. My savior saw the deep distress I was—we are— in without him. He recognized my complete inability to save myself from my sin, from my own stumbling ways, and from the attacks of the devil. And before I even realized I needed him, he gave up Heaven to come down and save me from it, at the cost of his own life.  I can have only reaction—I have been completely humbled by my Lord’s sacrifice, and I am forever grateful.

Saturday night, knowing that Clayton had spent the day in the hospital and that he had paid his own very steep price to help her, I noticed that my daughter could hardy look him in the eye. She’s a smart kid, and I think she knew to a degree what he had done to help her. And she knows she can’t do anything to help him back. But I know she is grateful, as am I, and that we always will be.

So much more I must show my gratitude and service to the one who paid the ultimate price for my distress. When my soul is in danger, when I am under attack, he is there for me. Always. And for that, I am eternally humbled, and grateful, and ready to serve.

“Since from His bounty I receive
Such proofs of love divine,
Had I a thousand hearts to give,
Lord, they should all be Thine,
Lord, they should all be Thine.”

Lindsay’s Lens: A Challenge From a Grieving Father

Lindsay’s Lens: A Challenge From a Grieving Father

I was going to comment on Scott’s post — but my daughter says it better!

A Challenge From a Grieving Father — Lindsay’s Lens, November 22, 2013

Read more from Lindsay Wolfgang Mast on her blog, Lindsay’s Lens, at:

This blog has been long-neglected. Not for any lack of thought on my part, but because much of my thinking has been going on in the background while things that required doing demanded my time more urgently. I am pleased to have the desire and the time to be back at a keyboard and writing this morning.

This week much of my ‘doing’ has involved praying for and trying to encourage a number of people I know who have been touched, again, by death. This time, it is the death of a 25-year-old man who went out to enjoy a fall day and drowned in Kentucky’s Barren River. I did not know Adam Smelser, but many people I care about cared deeply for him, and still do. By all accounts, he had both an insatiable appetite for life–first, for eternal life, but also for the life God blessed him with on Earth. Funny, talented, vibrant. His loss is being felt deeply here.

I have been praying for his friends. I have also prayed fervently for his family, who lost a beloved son, the second of 6 siblings. I have heard Adam’s father, Scott, a preacher, teach about parenting, and I know he takes his role seriously. He has been quite transparent about his grief and his faith via social media, and his handling of this unspeakably hard situation is so very admirable.

His words yesterday, though, have pierced me to the heart:

“A newly married friend just asked -as many have- if there’s anything he can do. I’ve been asking for a time machine, but nobody has had one yet. Today I came up with a better request:

Here’s what you can do, you and that sweet wife of yours. Have a baby boy (girls are fantastic, have some of them too, but right now we are one short on the boys). And for all of them, expect great things of them. And don’t let the world get their hearts. And love them like crazy, and train them like they’re going to be workers for the King of the Universe.”

The request of that grieving father is so challenging to me–to us. His son had a profound effect on others both his age and beyond. That doesn’t happen by luck or circumstance. I want to respond to the wisdom of a man who raised a soul like Adam.

Here is what strikes me about it: It is so very single-minded. And dedicated. And sincere. There is one reason, and one reason only that we are here: To Know God, and thus to Make Him Known.

When Mr. Smelser says, ‘Expect great things of them,” I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mean, expect them to walk or talk early, or to take home all the MVP trophies, or to land the highest-paying job out there. He means to expect excellence in God’s sight. He means it in the same sense as Colossians 3:23–our work is to be done heartily, yes. But it is to be done for the Lord, not for men.

Yet it is so easy as parents to forget that *our* work is for the Lord, too. We want to raise children who follow Christ, but who also (insert other thing that the world thinks is important right now too). That’s not single-mindedness. Of course there will be Christians with some traits that are lauded by those who do not serve Christ. But that is not the goal. And Satan loves to muddy up our thinking by telling us we really can have both. Jesus himself says it’s not possible (Matthew 6:24). But since God doesn’t write spiritual milestones in our child’s baby books, or give out trophies when our kids show kindness, or hand out raises when they tell someone about Jesus, it’s tempting to look elsewhere for the validation we want in growth, even when it is of an earthly nature. But that is just one way that we as parents let the world get *our* hearts, and when he has our hearts, he’ll get our children’s, too. That thought is chilling to me. May it never be.

I feel like I’ve got the love thing down. The constant challenge, though, is to remember that our primary love must be for our children’s souls–not for their volatile emotions. I have to do what makes them better, not what makes them happy (though a child whose parent truly cares for their soul is going to know much happiness).

Then there is the final urging to train them, to train them to serve the King of the Universe. Wow. I mean, no pressure, right? Our boss hung the stars and knows how many hairs are on my head, yet here I am trying to teach little kids (who will soon be big kids, and who all too soon be adults) how to work for Him. But clearly, it can be done, and He will help us.

So, I think about the best training I’ve gotten over the years. First, I needed to know what the job was and who my boss is. This is a big job, with a big boss, and I need to spend time teaching the children who they serve (bonus: I learn more about Him too). A worker also needs to know what is expected of them in their job. That is still more for us as parents to input into our children. And finally, the most effective way to train someone is to have them observe us on the job–and this one requires us to be in the field and on the clock all the time. I can’t farm this training out, y’all. It starts with me. It starts with me.

I suppose you could look at a challenge like this and feel overwhelmed by it. But when I see how very well the Smelser family did this, and how well other families I know have done it, I’m strangely not intimidated at all. Because I can see how they did it and where they got their strength to do it (Phil. 4:13). It makes me want to have oodles of babies. It makes me want to remind all the young couples who are waiting for the perfect time to have children: there is no perfect time, but there are always abundant blessings in children (Psalm 127:3). But most importantly, it gives me new resolve to do the things Mr. Smelser has said to do with my two children who are sleeping in their beds right now, who will wake up eager to learn new things, new skills, and to be shown the way they should go.


Because how else will they know the path to take?
Lord, may I be single-minded, sincere, and constant in my love and service for you. May I teach your way diligently to my children, and may we all never stray from it.
And a comment from Lindsay’s mother, who trained her in the way she should go:
“Thank you for this testament to what The Lord is able to help us, as His children, to do through His son. I thank Him that you and their father are the parents of those precious children in the beautiful photo on their path. I thank Him for your compassion, heart, and wisdom to do this most awesome task.
I continue to pray to God for the Smelser family and for so many who grieve so deeply, and know that He knows how deep that pain is and is ABLE and is the Source of hope, which saves us from despair. He turned the earth dark when His son died and accomplished His work.”  — Bette Wolfgang

Homeschooling History and Statistics

Homeschooling History and Statistics

VERY interesting infographic — via Lindsay Wolfgang Mast and

April 2013 TOS
April 2013 TOS
April 2013 TOS
April 2013 TOS
April 2013 TOS
April 2013 TOS
The Old Schoolhouse Magazine | PO Box 8426 | Gray | TN | 37615

To Nuun Hood to Coast, With Gratitude

In case you’ve been wondering, “Where’s Lindsay?”

twisted running

It’s Monday morning, and I am far from Oregon and Hood to Coast, but they are in my heart, along with an overflowing serving of gratitude.

First, to Nuun:

Thank you. Thank you for the most amazing four days of fun. Thank you for showing me and the other Hood to Coast team members the time of our lives. Thank you for getting it–for understanding that endurance athletes want a great experience, and delivering it. First, in making a product that makes achieving our goals easier and more enjoyable by giving us a tasty way to hydrate. And more importantly, for getting that the greatest gift you could give the biggest fans of your product is an unforgettable, amazing experience with other people who feel likewise. We don’t need to see your product in a magazine or billboard.. But we love tasting it at the end of a…

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The Cowbell Curmudgeon (a Conundrum)

Whose child is this?

twisted running

So, today I got to cheer for some of the 60,000 runners who undertook a wet, soggy Peachtree Road Race. I was supposed to run, but am trying not to aggravate a slow-to-heal injury from Ragnar Chicago. I was very responsible and decided to forego the race and serve as chauffeur/cheerleader for my husband, sister, brother-in-law, and friends.

So that is how I ended up outside the Flying Biscuit in midtown at 7:30 this morning, ready to cheer on runners at the busiest corner of the race. The intersection of Piedmont and 10th streets is just .2 miles from the finish, on the middle of an uphill push to the end. Also, it allows easy access to, you know, biscuits. And coffee. I was all coffeed up, outside and ready to cheer by the time the elite women went by.

I was alone, but I had brought my trusty cowbell…

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Run for Boston Recap

Run For Boston – by my favorite Hood-to-Coast runner

twisted running

I am, for the most part, a lone runner. Due to my husband’s work schedule, I squeeze my runs in before breakfast, and don’t get out a lot for group runs. Plus, most of the time I use that time to do important work in my head.

But, like so many people in the last week, I have felt the desire to be out with other runners in the aftermath of Boston.
So last night I dropped the kids with my husband at work and joined a large group of runners at the Big Peach Running location in midtown Atlanta. This group was just one of hundreds that met up at places worldwide to mark the passing of a week since the bombings. I went solo, with the plan of finding Jesica of runladylike at some point before or after the run. Jesica and I have corresponded on Twitter for…

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My Children are Boston: A Post Dedicated to The Littlest Runners

Sobering yet hopeful thoughts about Boston from one of my favorite runners

twisted running

I think it’s safe to say that tonight, as a runner and as an American, I am grieving. I prayed today. I mourned today. I ran today.

This morning started in a flurry of activity. My friend Katie and I are both runners–she is in training for her Boston Qualifier as we speak, and I am going with her to Wisconsin to support that quest. We are also both homeschooling our kids. Today we planned special activities that centered on Boston and the marathon to educate our kids justify getting together to watch Boston. She read aloud the story of Phidippides and showed the children Greece and Persia on a map. I re-enacted the story of the Tortoise and the Hare with puppets and we talked about pacing and focus. We showed them Boston, talked about Massachusetts and it’s State Bird, the chickadee. It was quite sweet, and included breaks…

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