Awesome night tonight. Brenda and I baked cookies. It was nuts. We had to combine our knowledge in order to make them happen, but they totally did.
We also partied to Addison Road, pretended to know words to Christmas songs and spent far, far too much money on candy in Superstore and had adventures in self-checkout.
Also, we missed Elisa, because the studio and school-land ate her and kept her from us.
Friday’s small group night is gonna rock, if tonight is any indication.
It’s been nearly a week, and I’m still having a hard time gathering together everything that went down on this youth retreat from the perspective of a leader—a leader doing semi-one-on-one at that. I think I experienced the youth retreat this past weekend bit differently than most. Not in a way that was any better or worse, but just, different. A good different, though.
I think there were times in all of it that I was really challenged. That is a good thing. There are things that happen and you realize “Wow, I am here for a reason. This is where I am supposed to be.” And they rock. I think that was a biggie for me this past weekend. Like, I have no words—God is just too faithful, too big, too awesome for me to have words!
I think what it is, is that I really struggled to find a church where I felt like I belonged. Where people outside of the people I came with knew me. Where I got to meet new people, pray with new people, and worship with new people . . . People who have huge love and passion for God that extends outside of the physical building that is church. And then when the time was right, maybe bring new people into the mix once in awhile. That is where I am now. And that is something I realized in the midst of worship on Saturday. “This is where I’m supposed to be” and that just felt so awesome. It took me five years to finally found a church I love. This is it. It feels awesome.
The fact that I’m doing inclusion-ish stuff, like I’ve said before, is just crazy that God would put me in a place where I’m totally stepping out of my comfort-zone and needing to trust Him more in knowing that I will do okay. And I really believe that is part of the reason He’s brought me here, too.
The girl I was hanging out with was awesome and a sweetheart most of the time, although she did have a bit of a rougher time at some points which is fine, that’s why I was there. We clicked really quickly, and we had a lot of fun, even on Saturday night when she started having a rougher time because she got a bit homesick [the first night wasn’t a problem. But this was the first time she’d been away from home for two nights before]. She and Brenda called her mom during worship, and then she and I headed back to the cabin to chill and take it easy. [We were supposed to be going on a night hike to shout their declarations into some valley, and I kind of thought she wouldn’t dig the night hike part—I wasn’t gonna stop her, but I’m really glad we just hung out in the cabin together. We had a really good talk, too.]
I finally got her to go to bed because she was totally zonked. Her mom wanted us to call before she went to sleep, so we did that too. [Actually, calling her mom was totally a good incentive to get her in bed. “Okay, take your inhaler, get your pajamas on, go to the bathroom, and then we’ll call your mom.” Worked like a charm, especially because her mom was coming earlier the next morning to get her.
So after she said goodnight to her household and her mom and I talked about how she was doing at the retreat, I asked her if she wanted to pray together before we went to bed. And let me tell you, it just pumps me up when kids say yes to that! So we prayed, talked a little bit longer until she started trailing off. My favourite thing was that the last thing she said before falling asleep was “Jesus rules”, and then 30 seconds later she totally conked out.
At this point I really got to just sit and reflect on the weekend, and pray, and read my bible and stuff. I had an hour and a half of downtime between then and when the other girls came back, so I spent a long time writing, read Ephesians and finally got in my sleeping bag and just about fell asleep when the other girls came back. Oh well 🙂
To switch gears, food. Remember how I like, take food everywhere because of my picky not-eating-meat-ness? The food at this camp freaking rocked. There was SO much of it, and pretty fruit plates on the table at every meal, and fresh bread! It was yummy. I was pumped when on Sunday morning when I said to Brenda and Elisa on the way to the dining hall “I hope we have cereal!” and I walked in to find a bunch of cereal on all the tables. I don’t usually eat breakfast, but on Sunday morning I totally had half a muffin, Raisin Bran and fruit. Epic.
All in all, despite the minor challenges, despite being eaten by a stick [oh yeah, my kiddo dragged me through the middle of the forest and killed herself laughing when I told her a stick tried to eat me. It totally did.], despite the freezing-cold bus with no heat on the way back . . .
it was awesome. And as much as the retreat was to challenge the kids to go deeper . . . it challenged me, too. I think it challenged several of us leaders, too – engaged us in the process of growing with the students.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.
Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
We kicked tonight off with a change. It started snowing before we started rocking. Change–change set the theme. Tonight was our monthly youth event—hundreds of junior and senior high students, four churches. Lots of plaid—it and “country” was our theme, after all. Lots of tears, hugs. Lots and lots and LOTS of Jesus reaching in, healing.
I’m doing one-on-one with a super sweet girl this year for youth. She’s awesome. She’s quiet and just likes sitting back and soaking it all in. She likes hugs and high-fives.
I like watching how God works in people. Sometimes, the girl I get to hang out with just totally comes alive from her usually quiet position. One moment she’ll be standing, just listening, the next she’ll be clapping or dancing. I’ll be acting like a goofball for Jesus, and she’ll look over and give me a smile when I least expect it.
I like seeing hearts change. I like looking up to the front of the room and seeing arms wrapped around one another in hugs over what is being thrown at someone in life, and what God is doing to move in them. I like looking around and seeing boxes of Kleenex at the ready, prepared for whatever God has in store. I like seeing kids celebrating LIFE, celebrating JESUS, praying for each other in a way that is totally real. I like seeing relationships build up. I like surrender—I like seeing inner surrender to God outwardly—the tears, the hugs, the arms around each other’s shoulders . . . The group of students on the floor, in a circle around another student, praying during a song. I like seeing hearts being healed in big ways that only God is responsible for.
I like leaders I don’t know grabbing me to participate in a high-five clapping-circle in the midst of a high energy song. I like leaders who aren’t afraid to grab anybody to just go nuts with during a song, but completely transform when it’s time to do one-on-one prayer. I like striving toward that. I like groups of people clustering together during a song, unified, hands on each other’s shoulders and praying.
like love how real this place I’m finally at is. This is not about pretending you are the person God wants you to be, it’s about growing and getting to be that person.
I say it time and time again, that thing about reason. The why of the things happening around me, in me. The reason Ramona asked “How do you feel about doing one-on-one with a tenth-grade girl who attends the junior high group?” Inclusion is one of my favourite things, I just didn’t know if I’d be good at doing it. I remember at the same time as I was saying yes, I was thinking “God, I hope You know what You’re doing”. And of course He does, right? Getting to hang out with this girl, though challenging at times, is totally a blessing. It allows me to participate in worship on a different level. It’s allowed me to adapt myself to trust that Yes, my God totally knows what He’s doing. My God knows me, He knows what I am capable of before I know it myself.
And it makes me hope that she sees Jesus in me in her own special way, as I do in her. Makes me hope that I’m doing this thing right, in a way that’s tangible to her.
My God, like her, is quiet but He comes to LIFE time and time again to surprise me . . . And smile at me when I least expect it.