Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The weekend that fed my soul

List all the little things that happened today that brought you joy
I'm going to expand this from today to this weekend. I was honored, humbled, privileged, and am thrilled that I was asked to chaperone some high school youth from my church this weekend on a retreat up in the snowy, muddy, mountainy forest of California. I had no idea what it was going to be like, and it was certainly a mix of things, but I came down that mountain on a high, and woke up Monday (after 12 hours of much needed chaperone sleep) buzzing.
So happy to have been involved and can't wait to help with another event. I'm thinking girls only and nail painting and dance parties and maybe no sleep (well, for them. I will for sure pass out at some point).
So now let me tell you about all the little things that made me so happy this weekend:
First, I'm going to tell you about the snack I had on Saturday night.
Are you ready?
First, I toasted some bread. European wheatberry or something else titled in a similar, weird manner.
Then I buttered...EACH...slice of bread. (Did I mention calorie counting was out the window on this trip?)
I put jam on one slice.
Peanut butter on the other.
And I took. that. sandwich. DOWN!
Mmmmmmmm. Still thinking about it.
So. #1 on this list: The Sandwich. Now that we have that covered, let's move on.
I enjoyed that I slept in what I believe was the warmest bunk bed of the cabin. The heat was barely and/or not working the first night, and it was 27 degrees outside when our Saturday alarm went off. Many of our campers were very cold that night, but up on top nearest the heater, cradled by the slanted, A-frame ceiling, I have to say I slept just fine.
I'm joyful for the many cups of tea I drank.
I love our kiddoes. Very few of them are in the practice of attending worship services at church, and I think most of them aren't sure about this God thing. But they were respectful, willing to participate, kind, and fun, each in their own way.
One of our girls got a concussion while sledding, sadly. I'm NOT joyful for that, but I'm so glad there was cell phone reception, so my RN sister-in-law could talk to the camper, then tell me that we should get her checked out. I'm glad Sam didn't get stuck in the mud driving down to a medical facility, and I'm so glad we didn't just chalk her injury up to an ordinary headache. And obviously I'm so glad she got medical attention.
I love that the kids in our group didn't punch me out for being a chatty (chatty chatty chatty) Cathy all weekend.
Both car rides, to and from camp, were super fun and giggly.
Loved spending time with my great pal Sam.
Enjoyed meeting some other youth leaders from SoCal, and connecting on Facebook.
The food was superb. Refried beans at dinner on Saturday get an honorable mention for sure.
I love that I had some adult self control (where it came from is a mystery) on this trip and ate two apples as snacks, and put salad on my plate at three whole meals. I love even more that I enjoyed those apples and salads.
I love that when I weighed myself Monday morning, I was the same weight as when I left, despite the delicious PB&J snack, the cookie snack, and the ice cream snack of the weekend.
I enjoyed being without my phone for an evening (Sam took mine for road navigation on the way to seek medical help).
I enjoyed watching our campers participate, including the quieter ones, even when they didn't have to.
I loved meeting our campers where they are.
I like that after not taking a shower all weekend, I really didn't look or smell too offensive by the time we returned home.
I enjoyed skipping the Super Bowl entirely.
I liked being in charge for a night, while Sam was gone.
Sam got a jingle stuck in our heads over the weekend, and I, for one, cannot stop chanting it, nor am I upset about this.
I loved hearing and seeing how happy the parents were, in knowing that their kids had fun.
I like that none of them have sent me a letter of complaint, considering one of our kids gained a concussion under my watch.
I enjoyed getting some use out of my selfie stick.
One of our kids wore an Iowa Hawkeyes sweatshirt on Saturday. I'm gonna call him my good luck charm.
One of our breakfasts included a bowl of bacon. A bowl! Of bacon!
During free time, I planned to make friendship bracelets. However, upon finding this as my supply stash:
I decided instead to untangle some thread. For an hour and a half, I created little bows of string:
This was extremely soothing for me, and I loved it. I thought a few times how I should be working on my freelance piece during that time, but I'm glad I sipped my tea and wound purple and pink around my fingers instead.
When I was a middle/high schooler, I loved the idea of a relationship with God. I loved knowing and believing that He loved me and cared about who I was and what I could accomplish and appreciated that I was kind to people. If you consider my hyper tendencies as a person, you can imagine that I LOVED church retreats. Every little detail, from buying soda at the camp store to talking about the Bible in small groups to singing silly songs to washing dishes when I was on KP duty.
I remember getting back to church one time after a retreat weekend, laying my pillow on the concrete sidewalk in front of the building, and attempting to nap. I wore myself out, but I had the best time doing it.
The kiddoes I went to camp with this weekend are not real interested in attending church worship services -- at least it doesn't seem to be so; I rarely see them in services on Sunday. I could tell some of the songs at camp made them uncomfortable this weekend, and I could understand that, even being the woman I am who was once a girl who would have sang with abandon.
I feel like when I was their age, I would have been more concerned about their participation. This past weekend I was just so glad they were there.
I went to this weekend's retreat willingly and enthusiastically, but I didn't know how I would feel when it was over. I didn't know if I would want to participate in more youth events.
I can say now I'm really interested in making relationships with this awesome group of youth.
And as I am with all my friends, some of whom aren't sure where they lie on the faith spectrum (this is true for a lot of my friends), I want to just be me, and be honest in who I am, and mention my faith when and where I can. I know that religion -- particularly Christianity -- has left a really bad taste in people's mouths, and even though I've clung to it my whole life I get it that people have reservations.
I'm not on a conversion mission, but I do know that I've found healing in God, over and over. I know that others have, too. A great example is a couple from Minnesota who just lost their premature baby, Afton. Lindsay, who's hardly mentioned her faith before on her popular blog, is being incredibly real about how God fits into her heartbreak. If you get a sec, head over there and read her stuff; it's...just, wow.
My point here is that I just want people to know what's held me together in my life, so if they ask I'm going to tell them: An incredibly supportive family, funny friends, falling down and getting back up, therapy, meds, purring cats, the sun on my face.
And a mysterious God, who makes me ask waaaaaaay more questions than I get the answers to. I just know that I have a hard time reading poetic verses in Scripture without crying. I have always been taken care of, with amazing people who didn't have to be kind to me, but they were, and they are. It's my choice to believe that someone big and powerful who created heartbeats and eyelashes and laughter have put those people in my path. I believe that He/She taught us to love, made us naturally inclined to love, and that didn't have to be a part of this life equation, but it is.
I just want people to get a taste of that. I don't want anyone, whether they're 15 or 83, to wander through this life feeling sad and broken and like they can't express themselves.
I could talk your ear off about effective ways of communicating one's faith to others, but what it comes down to is this: I don't want people to be sad and feel like they're grappling for anything out there that will make them feel better and have them gloss over a beautiful Psalm that might make them feel better, even for a moment, just because it's associated with Big Bad Christianity.
When I was untangling string this weekend, Sam was dumbfounded that I would choose that as my voluntary activity. All I could tell him was that it was comforting to me. Touching something soft, having color -- my favorite thing -- in abundance in front of me, digging through a giant mess and making some, slow sense of it.
I want that for everyone -- the youth I'm just barely getting to know, my parents, the people who may never set foot in a house of worship because they're just so hurt. I want for them color, and a softness to meet their touch, and to see the pain untangle. And I hope one day they can make knots in the string and not beat themselves up for the mistakes they've made, but see the art that comes out of it: a friendship bracelet. And God, do I want everyone to have a friend. So much. That's why I'm always trying to share mine, obnoxiously connecting people who have anything at all in common.
This morning I was listening to a CD my friend Caleb made for me. It has a song on it by MercyMe, called Something About You.
I LOVE the lyric in it:
Still, there's something about You, that keeps me in pursuit of who You are.
If I had 10 seconds to tell someone why I'm a woman of faith, I might just quote that.
I'm pretty protective of my weekends. I want to Netflix and read and snuggle Max to my heart's content. But I loved every second of this past weekend, never wanting to be anywhere else.

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