Tag Archives: youth

I like everything about it

I like everything about it…except the exhaustion. I like the silly games which I get to make up and not play – I am not a game player. I like the dress-up days…I am all in there. I like the charity money-raising class contest which produces sheer frenzy in the last few hours and minutes…hundred dollar bills and pounds of change fly at me, held out in secret strategies to gain the win. And, I love our rinky-dink little parade through the neighborhood to the church. It is nothing but a joy in good weather…which we were blessed with yesterday.

I love the powder-puff game where the competitive amongst our girls put on a show the varsity would be wise to watch and I even like the homecoming court and queen’s crowning. Most of all, I  like working closely with my team of kids who run the games and make crazy dress-up examples of themselves and race around the building, begging, promising their future services and otherwise finding a way to come out on top of the charity fund-raiser – AFTER – they have bankrupted their own piggy banks , cleaned out their cars and given away their  next month’s lunch money. I love counting fifty pounds of change with them and making signs with hallucinogenic inks with them and seeing them work so hard to make it all fun for everyone. I love these kids…who give a damn. Who won’t win our cool prizes or even a shout out on the intercom. Who won’t be crowned or recognized by the local paper as an extreme athlete. Who work hard and smart and secretly to make everyone’s week as fun as it can be.

Every year, teachers and admin’s ask me to please run this thing called Homecoming. ( No one else wants to.) They thank me, but no one ever asks me why I do so. It’s an easy question to answer: I do it to hang out and suffer the joy with those who care, who get there early and stay so late and really do give until it hurts.

I do it to be with them.

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raves and realizations

I’ve been reading over at Megan’s site this morning. Her moniker is FriedOkra, which, of course, I love.  And I love fried okra, not the “sit in steam pan, in the meat and three” kind, but the “hot out of the grease, heaven, but you might burn and not feel your finger tips, for a while” kind. Megan’s words are equally as satisfying… and I know my mind was HS seared as I read them. I could think of nothing intelligent to say in response, so I just said something not intelligent, but really heartfelt.

BTW, my daughter, Molly, a 13-year-old, Paula Deen want to be, whom I graciously let practice every dang night…(I have cooked 3-4 meals a day for us 6 forever and we had 3 restaurants for 14 years, I’ve earned it people) is a master okra fryer. Yes, yes she is. That alone commands a high dang dowry in this neck of the woods. So, to my thinking, Molly’s marrying and my financial future is pretty well in hand. What was I saying?

Oh, Megan’s blog. I read it this morning. She is friends with Leigh, my flesh and blood buddy, who is a real writer. Those two and several other of the greatest talents and hearts out there in Blessed Blog World managed a bonafide get together at the lake. You can imagine the magic of that intersection. Well, if you can’t, Megan so richly renders it out, in oils…and people, it is so dang beautiful, to see what she saw. The Holy Spirit’s help is all over what she shares with us.

As a small aside, (Don’t get side-tracked by my tale, Go read the post!) Jeremy has dubbed me the official Reflector of our merry band. We do things: deeply spiritual things, daring things, dang near crazy things…and it’s my job to help us know what happened.

The present moves so swiftly. I thought about that as I read Megan’s post. I wondered if she registered all she wrote about as it went down, or if she, like me, saw it out the proverbial back window – think 1970’s station wagon and that backward facing waaay back seat. I spent some time there.  Scarred/imprinted me for life, take your pick.

One of the things I too have discovered from the Contemplatives’ wisdom is that life can be appreciated best in that back seat. The Holy Spirit shows us little in the present, the future is a foggy land. But, the past is His playground. He helps me see more…And, those of us willing to sit in that waaay back,  we get to look at life lived  longer than the souls up front, facing forward and all. We get to watch it a while, in what might as well be slow motion.

So, instead of despising my own youth, I am trying to learn from that perspective which I was given. Nausea and gifts don’t seem to go together, but then when one takes into account pregnancy – well, that pretty much makes my case. So, I am climbing on back, picking up my pen and watching the Holy Ghost Slow-Mo, the way Megan’s does with such acuity here: (Don’t forget to go there!) There will be a quiz, students.

Back to my job as Chief Reflector.  I go with us…and heck yes, I participate. One can’t catch much in the moment. It’s not like photography. I ride the rapids, fly through the trees, and play the parental, “No you cannot jump from thirty feet in that tree rising 100 into the jungle canopy down into this black river that might be 20 feet deep in a crevice-like channel, even if the natives, who do not speak our language save Hollywood heroes’ names, are waving you on down. I promised your parents to watch after you.”

Anyway, my job is to watch out the back window, rewind the movies, see it all again, slowed enough for the sweet we gulped to settle on my tongue, and write with the best words I can. I’ve written accounts of Costa’s Rica’s breath-catching glory swallowing us like a dream. We have yet to escape it. I’ve no eyelid who would dare lift to do so. I’ve written of nightmare in Mexico – where God walked close to us, His breath heavy and audible… I’ve written of camp outs and early morning manuevers. I’ve written and written and written and done no justice to any of the brutiful glory that was. But sometimes, something I write cues a memory of life not chronicled with photo or that wasn’t even recognized as it occurred… and for another soul, the memory movie plays over through the dusty but familiar back glass window; and they see it, feel it and know deeply that it is, always is, too.

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that’s it? yeah…that’s it.

A little music from our brothers and sisters here in Birmingham! Got to love this song. It’s one of our favorites.

Reminds me of a conversation/discussion we had at the Freak. We were discussing youth “evangelism,” explaining how what might have worked a bit once ( occasionally at least) just doesn’t as we swing round this corner of time.

The answer is not confrontation, argument, answers…but love. Yes. love. Not words. Definitely not arguments. And never right/wrong or us/you wars.

But love is powerful. More powerful than anything else and maybe more powerful than it has ever been.  We have learned ( the hard way) to invoke passionate patience and to love purposely and to try our best to confirm what God is doing, saying, displaying in the lives of those He loves.

Last time I checked, that was everybody.

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Make sure you celebrate your students.

During BeachFreak we, the “leaders,” had a class. During the one PJ wasn’t leading, a fellow leader offered an idea, to celebrate your kids. It kind of stuck in me. Not because we don’t do so at all. But, because I think it is something I can do better and more. Maybe, just maybe..it’s what I do best.

So, I’m going to dedicate lots of space to that here. This sight is primarily an expression of my experiences in teaching and ministering with and to youth anyway. At least once a week, I’ll highlight someone you should know, or something you should know about. (Yes, I see that preposition.)

Things in God’s church are NOT getting worse. I can’t see that anywhere in the kids I am around.

Are their challenges greater? Yes.

Are they made more to meet them? Yes, I believe that they are.

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my world is small

We are getting the pictures up from Beach Freak. This is one of my favorites, and not just because these are two of my favorite folks. This is Kenzie and Jesse. Their standing on the shore is significant. Jesse came a long way to join up with my life. He is my second son. He and Trent are twins, separated before birth by an ocean and a hemisphere and language and well, just about everything…except Jesus.

Kenzie will surely have many such journeys in her life as well. I’m sure she will take me with her through her pictures and the stories she will bring to light. Maybe, I’m hoping,  I can go with her in other ways as well.

All that to say, these kids make my world small, and stretch my heart bigger!

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bf 2011: moments

We are home from Beach Freak…honestly, I don’t feel more home to be back. Don’t get me wrong, the Christian Retreat Center isn’t my favorite place on the planet, don’t bury me in that particular parcel of land. But I got to take meals daily and feel the wind in my face and the sand pull from beneath me with so many of those who are home to me. So, though the floor is now not sandy and there is no curfew for my conversations, I honestly feel farther away than I did from “home.”

It was a good week. The speaker was insightful ( People, he showed an N.T. Wright video!) and helpful and honest. He so spoke in line with my heart and even used my language. (I loved that!) The music was powerful. Our team did an unbelievable job of hosting and facilitating and serving everyone in all manner of capacities. The kids seemed to have lots of fun and be very impacted by encounter with God.

But, what I will remember are these moments.

We were out body surfing the waves, more of us are learning every year. There was no rain, little seaweed and good strong sets of waves. ( Thank you again, God.)  The waves were such that you could not stand in them, they could flip you over and pound your head into the sand. ( I know this for a fact.) You had to dive under. Pretty much everyone learned quickly to dive under, deep under, to get prostrate on the bottom and let the waves rush over. Otherwise, the power tended to cart-wheel you toward more shallow water and injury. As we dove in groups like porpoise, Glenleigh said to me, ( I paraphrase) ” I love that sense when you are under the wave, it kind of shuts everything out, and it’s just you and the wave.” ( Yeah, what she said.) In the excitement and adrenaline of the pounding surf, there was an other worldly place of deep peace. If you faced the wave, got low, relaxed and trusted, the wave would surge over, not into you. Underneath those powerful, unsteerable mountains of movement, there was stillness and only womblike sound.

During worship I always like to get on the far flank, so I can see our students. I don’t stare them down. But I often glance over them.  I wish you could have seen what I saw in so many glimpses over so many days. Glory blazing, nearly obliterating, and then that next and even better thing that is rising…them seeing one another, hidden and at the same time a mirrors of light. We are starting to see one another. I can sense them taken aback and appraising the invaluableness of one another, so obvious in that better light.

I sat on the beach with my girls, who are now leading small groups, very expertly, I might add, leading with a compassion and grace, I do not share. I sat there with young men, whose hearts make me tear up. I sat there with a 15 year old, who each of you would guess to be 25, because her heart is so deeply hewn and beautifully carved and I sat there with my own children, who have found grace to love me so profoundly.

We can now just be, together, well. It’s sort of our favorite thing. Being together, without need to speak or joke or carry out ridiculously funny feats ( which we are so capable of .) Every year, there seems this moment, my favorite, where we do nothing, so very well, together….connected all the same.

This year a girl whose life in no way yet knows the healing that has come to ours, sat for hours beside some of them, talking a little to gentle hearts, and honestly, breathing better air than she might have ever known.

I brag on these kids a great deal. But not enough so. They worked so hard to make this camp a go. They organized and packed and loaded props and equipment (tons) and their hearts with compassion for who might come with us. They gave out of their joy, but also their need and brokenness and desire for others to gain the life of God that they have.

I am so blessed to ride and dive under and see the refraction of God’s glory upon the waves with these who are mine.

A speaker in a class was talking to us leaders ( many of our edge graduates were there with us) about building a youth group/program, developing a vision. I watched their faces twist up, their eyes narrow.  Later on the beach, refereeing a volleyball game in broiling sand, some of them gave those grimaces voice. “We don’t have a vision/program. We are your vision.” I bit my slightly burned lips against tears, and nodded.

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Share it with us

Well, last night went even better than we had hoped. The band was great and fun and just hung out with us all like we had known each other forever. Neverthirst came out and brought lots of material and touch points to help us all get a feel for life without clean water. And our production/promo team did their usual incredible job. Here are the pictures…wish you could have been there with us. Maybe next time. We’ll keep you posted on upcoming events.

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