Breaks Are Good

I’m going to need to return to reality soon.  I spent a long weekend in Nebraska and have been at home with my family all week without a schedule. But…Sunday is coming and so is a new school year…children’s ministry calls.

I will however frequently revisit my memories of time with those I love in Nebraska…those who saw me through the trials of high school and divorcing parents.  I will recall the rural highways I drove instead of interstates; the endless fields of corn and well worn farmhouses.  I will be forever grateful for the time alone to drive, listen to a good book, and talk to God.

As I drove, I detoured to make a long overdue visit to a beautiful campus designed for varying stages of senior adult care.  Looking into a face I once saw multiple times a week, I was reminded that ministry includes goodbyes sometimes and I’ve never been good at goodbyes.

My casual week has included a much needed coffee time with the friend who keeps me grounded. I bought myself new sheets and pillows — ok, my hubs benefits from them too.  Truth be told, I need a twelve step program to address my relationship with my bedding. I’ve taken my boys on an expensive little shopping trip — why the heck could I not be the lucky soul who invented Nike and UnderArmor?   I’ve done a bit more writing and evaluated what is most important in my life.  And I’ve snuggled with two silly English Bulldogs who remind me that love and soft sheets are among the biggest necessities of life.

 

True

Step one: home from work.  Step two: regular shorts off,  pj boxers on…hey, a girl’s muffin top deserves comfort.  Step three: answer friend’s text…”well yes I am available for a glass of wine, I’ll be right over, in my boxers”.

Friends who don’t care if you come over in boxers, spend two hours chatting and laughing and definitely expressing opinions, and ask you to text when you get home so they know the boogie man didn’t get you, are true friends.

Friends who listen to all of your craziness and even a little complaining and make arrangements to spend time in your presence two more times before the week is finished, are true friends.

Did you know that National Best Friends Day was June 8th and National Friendship Day is coming up on August 4th.  Really? Do we need designated days to recognize the value of friendship?

Today brought me phone calls from three different friends, texts from several others, and a “girls night in”.  Today is an everyday Tuesday.  That’s how God works y’all…placing other humans on our path to live this crazy life with.  Thank you Lord for the friends whom you have given to me. Amen

Words are easy, like the wind, faithful friends are hard to find. William Shakespeare

 

 

Rise

“In the morning when I rise, You bring a tear of joy to my eyes, And tell me everything’s gonna be alright”

I awoke this morning with these lines of “Danny’s Song” floating in through my head.

Yesterday was defeating, some days are like that y’all.  But in my stress, my husband wrapped his arms around me and said “just pray, everything’s gonna be alright”.

And just as I fell into a good deep sleep in the middle of my prayers, my phone rang.  My daughter had learned that you can only push it so far when the gas tank reads empty.  Back out of bed I crawled.  As I went through the rescue motions (because of course the gas can in the garage was empty), I remembered a few of the many stupid things that I had done at her age.  Crawling back into bed my husband quietly said  “you are the best mother, thank you for taking one for the team”.

So in the midst of a crappy day here and there I rise this morning in joy.  Joy for the amazing husband God has given me and for the precious children I was afraid I would never have.

Thank you God that in you I rest knowing everything’s gonna be alright and that your way is the best way.  Amen

 

Home Again, Home Again

Y’all I was just way too tired to write the last night of camp.  As my girls huddled up and talked the night away, I called it a day.  They claimed they were loud with their giggles — I wouldn’t know, I was out cold on my air mattress.

Yesterday morning we loaded up and headed out…for a day of fun before actually heading home.  Breakfast, shopping, iced coffee, and so many giggles.  I forgot that I had the luggage carrier on my car and didn’t quite clear the parking garage — a few scuffs, no real harm and oh so many laughs.

As I turned the girls loose in an outdoor shopping district with instructions to stay in pairs and a “meet back here” location, I set off on my own.  The weather was still cool and I had time to reflect on our week as I walked.

I thought of the children we tutored.   Josiah, a trauma filled second grader, has experienced his mom walking out of their home.  My first day there he inappropriately grabbed another boy’s private parts — kids aren’t born with that instinct, someone has hurt that baby.  Even with his struggles, I was in love with this kid.  I wanted to hold him in my arms and read to him and pray  over him and tell him over and over that he is good.  On our last day Josiah kept running to me in the lunch room, begging me not to leave him,  to come  back the next day.  I looked into his beautiful brown eyes  and told him that he is a good boy, that he is going to grow up and do important things, that I loved him.   He  was sad and he cried.    I cried too.  I know that my trust must be in God where this little one is concerned, but I so wanted to take him home.

Then I thought of Esther, a woman that I met while we served at a neighborhood garden.   She came that morning to pick her “greens” and I joined her.  She told me about the children she raised, about her mother, about how she still works as an usher at the local civic center and loves to hear the concerts — especially the rock and roll bands.  Esther taught me about greens…”This is soul food baby”.   She told me how to clean them, how to prepare  them, and how they are served.  I hung on every word feeling that I could listen to her forever.

And I reflected on my girls, my “daughters” for the a week.  They kept me laughing, they had me crying, and they made me so, so proud.  They were kind and respectful, they gave everything they had to their work and those whom they served, they did not complain, they were leaders —  they were the hands and feet of Jesus.

Gracious and loving Father, I thank you for this week.  I pray Lord for little Josiah.  I  wish I could call him my little boy.   I trust your mighty hand as I know he is  your little boy.  I ask God that you bless Esther with abundant food from her garden and the enjoyment of rock concerts.  And Lord I lift to you my girls and I thank you for the many ways in which they touch my life.  May you guide them to places where they can continue to be your hands and feet.  Amen.

Youth Camp Part 4

My standard line this week has been “I’m not a real youth minister”.  And it is apparent in my multitude of sins…

I’m allowing my girls to get up early and have donuts and coffee delivered tomorrow morning.

I’ve gotten “the eye” from a few adults for treating my girls as the responsible, young women that they are instead of children. My girls are loving it and doing things to encourage the judgement like saying in large group time that they give thanks for their sponsor who let them have coffee.

And in order to get coffee, I let my darlings quit the scavenger hunt before they were finished — and might have made a comment that if we weren’t competing and “everyone is a winner”, I’m out.

But let me tell you one thing…my girls are complete rockstars on the mission field. They have nurtured and bonded with underprivileged children and senior citizens. They have also packed food like ninjas at a food pantry warehouse.  Plus, they prepared dinner tonight and knocked it out in record time.

Most importantly these girls love the Lord and each other. We have church group times full of all of their insights, feelings, and ideas. In the uncertain world in which we live, I call that hope friends.

Now please excuse me as my air mattress is calling my name.

 

 

 

Youth Camp Part 3

We had our free evening to explore tonight. I took my girls to a museum, dinner, then a cute coffee shop with sweets.  Good Heavens these girls were a MESS! We laughed so hard we cried! I let them choose where to eat — did I not learn from the trip here? You guessed it, another bar! Especially nice were the t-shirts with swear words across them which were displayed in a lovely arrangement on the wall — “no girls you cannot buy one for the senior pastor and give it to him in front of the congregation”, “no girls, we cannot all get matching ones”, “yes girls, I do agree they are pretty funny”, “NO! We cannot but them”.  But best of all was the beer pitcher in which our lemonade was served. Giggles galore at all these “special” details. The irony of a church youth group eating in bars and drinking out of beer pitchers was more than their teenage sense of humor could handle.

We began coffee time indoors.  Note: it too was a bar, one side coffee, one side not. We quickly became too obnoxious indoors, so outdoors I shuffled us. Several rounds of “Truth or Dare” proved embarrassing for those passing by, again more laughing ourselves to tears. And the ride back to camp? Veggie Tales songs and as we all sang along, well thank goodness I didn’t wet myself or wreck the car.

One of the other churches here this week requires three vans to transport their group. God knows I am doing good to handle six — assuming that good includes bar hopping.

 

Youth Camp Part 2

An 87 year old resident at the senior living center we served in this afternoon hit on me…multiple times.

My girls are breaking the “no food in the sleeping rooms” rule left and right and talking in code to request a chip from the friend hiding the Pringle’s under her pillow… “can you share a verse from the New Testament with me?” Hey, they are happy and sharing, so I’m happy to help conceal the evidence.

I’m most definitely wearing a hat tomorrow. Did I mention that the showers are at a freaking community center and happen at 3:00pm, after we have served at our mission sites?

Those flashlights that seemed so cool last night are now the source of a laser light show on the ceiling.

And there is a sponsor from one of the other groups that confessed in the first leader meeting that she has a really short temper and needed prayer that she wouldn’t yell at any of the kids. I’ve wanted to say “M’am, you know this week is a sleeping on a church floor, eating crap food, lucky to get a minute in the bathroom week with teenagers right?” But y’all  I wouldn’t dare…cause she scares me!

As I tuck myself into my delightful air mattress bed I wish you a good night friends and I’ll bring you more fun tomorrow.