Thursday, November 03, 2011

And here it is....November

Back in May we left the church we had been attending for just over a year. We made a smooth transition to another church with nary a Sunday off. The church we attend now is the first church I ever attended as a toddler. It's a small country church and always has been small, even at its biggest. Some years have been better, some not so great, but the doors of the church never closed - even when just over a year ago, there were 10 people attending and five of those were the pastor and his family. Now we average 80-something in Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible study sees 65-70 people as a general rule.

I have always had a heart for youth and at every other church we have attended, was never used in that capacity (or any capacity for that matter, but I'm not bitter). I began to doubt the desire I felt God had put in me, began to think I had misinterpreted what I felt so deeply in my soul. All five of us were discouraged that we had left yet another church and felt like we were wandering aimlessly.

Enter Hudson Creek Baptist Church.

We started attending there mid-May and the third week of June I was packed up and headed for my first week of camp as a sponsor (that week was Children's Camp, grades 4-6). By the second week (Youth Camp, grades 7-12), the pastor was already talking about Paul and I taking over the youth group some time in the future. About three weeks after that, while standing in the LifeWay store with the pastor and his wife, waiting to pay for our purchases, the pastor looked at Paul and I and said, "Oh and by the way, you're going to start teaching the Youth Sunday School class, right?" It really wasn't a question, more of a statement, and Brother Jerry said it so assumingly that either the statement itself or the look on my face amused the clerk so much he laughed out loud.

And so it was decided - Paul and I had officially become the Youth leaders.

When the new church year started, we split the Youth kids out of the Older Children Sunday School class and moved into our teeny tiny room just off the church office with bright red (hideous) carpet, two cinder block and two paneled walls and an abandoned church pew from the old sanctuary. We had about 11 kids that first Sunday. We average about six now. But Wednesday and Sunday nights our Youth come crawling out the woodwork to see what crazy stuff we've cooked up for them to do, witness or be subjected to. We've since painted the room so it's less dismal and have added some posters, a bulletin board and a white board which is the focal point of the room and usually covered in grafitti, names, hearts, stars and declarations of God's love, written by these kids who can smell a dry erase marker a mile away and are inexplicably drawn to them.

We average 11 kids on Wednesday nights and have had as many as 17. We've thrown rubber ducks at each other in a game meant to illustrate focus. We've snorted at each other in an attempt to make our peers laugh. We've played some very violent games of Red Rover and Cat & Mouse tag. We've wandered a corn maze with 23 kids. Paul and I spent an hour one night paintstakingly emptying a can of Sprite of its contents without breaking the seal on the pop tab then refilling the can with Coke as an illustration on judging things and people from the outside. I also sucked the insides out of a Twinkie and refilled it with ketchup and mayonnaise for the same illustration. We discovered that, unlike my youth group when I was a teen, this particular group of teens does not enjoy a rousing game of "King Frog", which leaves us scratching our head and wondering WHY? because, dudes, that game rocks. We've played many a "Minute to Win It" game. We've stayed up all night at a lock-in and plan on doing it again on New Year's Eve. We've answered texts asking for prayer after Midnight. We've listened to kids cry, gripe, whine, complain and argue. We've had our hearts broken by their disrespectfulness. We've laughed until our stomachs hurt. We've taught the unfailing, inerrant Word of God and learned many things in the process. We've opened our home to any number of them on any given weekend. We've been invited into their lives, something we've learned is an act of highest honor to a teen. We've taken the "Sword Drills" of old and turned them into Bible Trivia Smack Challenge: Extreme Church Edition. We've watched more football games this year than we have in all of our years of marriage because with a couple football players, three band members, a couple of cheerleaders and some on the dance team, we show up to see "our" kids do their thing. We've gone the cafeteria to eat lunch with them a few times, reliving our days of cafeteria corn dogs, cold tater tots and cartons of milk. We've been frustrated beyond measure, cried many tears, laughed at their antics, gotten more hugs and "thank you's" than we ever dreamed and even though yes, we have had times of doubt still that maybe we'd misinterpreted the calling, God quickly shows us that we are right where we are supposed to be.

It's exhausting. It's time-consuming. It's frustrating. It's difficult. It's fun. It's hilarious. It's rewarding. It's .....

It's one of the best things God has ever allowed us to do.

So when I break the cardinal rule of blogging and give excuse for my lack of posting and frequent absences, just know I think of you often, Constant Reader, and know that you're still out there somewhere. Hopefully your patience hasn't worn too thin. I am doing my best to find a balance for everything in my life right now - Christian, wife, mother, Youth Leader, Independent Sales Consultant for Thirty-One, babysitter extraordinaire and anything else my kids and husband throw my way. We're gearing up for our display at the Park of Lights (after a year off). We're trying to schedule our many family holiday gatherings and dinners. And somewhere in there I have to sleep. Some nights that works better than others.

I write a lot of blog posts in my head as I'm shuffling laundry from one machine to the other, while I'm scrubbing the soap scum from the shower walls and driving from one end of the county to the other, but when I finally get a moment to sit down....writing them with my actual fingers slips away as does my consciousness.....

.....but I'm working on it.


Territory Mom said...

This made me cry. I went to small church as a teenager and my youth pastors were so wonderful. As an adult they are my friends. No matter where a kid ends up they will still have that connection. Love what you are doing!

Anonyvox said...

I'm still out here! *waves at you from Idaho*

Also, sucking the insides out of a Twinkie is a very unusual life skill. You go, girl.

Anonymous said...

I still come on here and see if there is anything new, you still are my favorit blogger. 15 years later and i still remember one time at youth group we all split into groups with 1 ball point pen, we had to go from door to door and explain who we were and what church and that and ask them if they could trade anything, you had an hour to do it and you couldnt refuse what they traded,you just kept trading whatever was givin to you for the next. I went home that night with a Wicker Rocking chair I still have and rock my baby to sleep in, everytime i see that chair i have the greatest memories and laugh like it was yesterday. Love what you are doing!

Anonymous said...

I believe you have your priorities right in line. God, family and then blogging... Lol. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteous"

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