For one thing, I was by far the oldest person in our group. The night before we left we got together for dinner to pray and talk about the week ahead w/ the kids. I sat at a table with well spoken college kids (who prayed like a wise Billy Graham; totally intimidating, btw!), two recent high school graduates with amazing enthusiasm, an experienced Young Life couple, my sweet colleague (Sarah Wright) who breathes this ministry and then there was me.
I think most of us can say that we are our own worst enemy, and as I've been surrounded by such encouraging people, I stepped into this w/ fears and trepidations... such as:
- I'm old(er). Late 30's, not crazy old (I mean that w/ love w/in the context in which I'm speaking!)
- I have two kids.
- I have a career.
- Um, this list could go on...
But here's the deal, we all get into things because we are attracted to it. Often there's something we can't quite name straight out, but we feel a pull to it. When Sarah Wright mentioned that Young Life was getting started at HSE, I didn't quite know why I wanted to do it, I just did. The reasons came later. And here's what I figured out:
- I want to do this because I love kids. I love these crazy teenagers whom I'm blessed to work with every day.
- I've been feeling the need to let down my walls a bit. In the classroom, there's definitely a wall (which I respect) of how much a teacher shares (religion, etc...). School is vital, without a doubt, but there's some things that matter more. Kids go through stuff, kids question stuff, kids push the boundaries. Within the boundaries of being a public school teacher, there's only so much you can do. That's ok, I get that. I know there's a huge piece of me that has the energy and desire to poor into kids that I'm not totally able to do at school.
- After talking with Jon Houghton, who is in charge of YL here in Indy, YL stood for everything I believe in. It's not about just ministering to kids who already have a relationship with Christ, it's for everybody. It's about getting to know kids and meeting them where they are, however that looks.
- I love Jesus and how he leads me through this crazy life. I want to be used by Him. I want to do anything He calls me to do, despite my fears.
At camp, we went nuts. I did things that the average mom doesn't do. I did camp... I ran in the rain multiple times, I sang at the top of my lungs until I was horse, I wore blue eyeshadow with an awkward 80's ponytail, I stayed up until 2 am laughing at girls while they fake farted (which was freaking hilarious), I wore hill billy teeth while someone gave me a piggy back in wet grass, I did an obstacle course in the pitch black, I laughed my butt off while the girls showed me the latest dance moves as seen at your average junior high party, I cheered kids on to stuff their faces with plate sized sundaes, I had deep conversations amidst laughter and tears about what's going on in life & what Jesus means in the middle of that, just to name a few...
And it was so meaningful. I was inspired and energized by all this. And you know all those people that I met for dinner before we left, we became friends. Oh my gosh, I love these guys. These sweet college kids made me laugh so hard and just shared their crazy experiences, dreams, and questions about adulthood. Yes, there were a few old jokes, but I loved it. I really did;)
I just can't help but think that that's how Jesus works. He shows you a door, you hesitantly walk through it, and He showers you with blessings. He'll take that mustard seed of faith and make it grow into something beautiful.
So, I have these four eighth grade girls whom I adore. I'm so excited to take this journey with them. They make me laugh, but more than that, they opened their hearts to me, and I'm so humbled by that.
Jesus has really shown me in the past few years that some of the coolest things He wants to bring into my life starts with feeling awkward and unsure of myself.
This past Saturday, I had a great conversation with an old, dear friend about how we often (especially as moms) define ourselves so strictly and don't open ourselves to all the crazy possibilities that could make our lives so multi dimensional.
On another note, when I came back from Ethiopia last summer with our sweet boy, I had a difficult time looking around me and finding this American lifestyle acceptable. I still hurt over the excess in which I and the average American feel that we need (I absolutely take responsibility too!). But I now feel energized that God is using me for these kids, although I often just want to sell everything and move the family to Ethiopia, I'm here, and I feel like I have a purpose. I'm grateful.
God is so good in this messy life. I'm so appreciative of the people He's put in my life, the craziness of this journey, and the courage He gives us to do coo coo things.