& the scary thing, I dont get embarrassed easily so that's saying something.
Maybe its more of a pride thing... or a humbling thing... any ways, I can say, it wasn't a good feeling.
Sunday, we had a meeting for our new year starting in youth ministry. I can't believe it, but this will be my 17th year working in youth ministry. 17 years. Are you kidding me? That's a long time. Like, enough time to see a lot of my past youth kids grow up & have kid(S) - multiple - of their own. That just blows my mind. I always say I've been in this way too long. But yet, God still gives me the passion & the heart to let young people know that older people love them & are there for them & praying always that I can point them to a God who loves them the mostest!!! :)
You can make up words that aren't really words in youth ministry. It's what makes you cool.
This is an exciting year for me because while I have dabbled with Senior High Ministry, I've typically stuck to Middle School Ministry.
I've always heard it said in High School Ministry, the kids have the attitude of "Do I like you?" when in middle school ministry, they are still so unsure of themselves & have the attitude of "Do they like me?" ... that sweet little precious bunch of hearts in one place is always what makes me love middle school ministry - even when they have the funny smell to them & are trying to decide what their style is or what kind of person they want to be. Such formative years.
At the church I serve in now, we have the opportunity to stick with a group if you've really bonded with one another. & to say our group has bonded is an understatement. TOTAL understatement.
I always say that my youth kids feel like my own children & these girls are the same way... I just adore them. I think the world of them & am so blessed to be someone in their lives that they come to for advice & support.
So when they graduated out of MSM (middle school ministry) this past year, they told me I had no choice but to come up with them to HSM (high school ministry) Whew! Glad they felt that way because I wasn't going to let go of them.
& finally, here we are... what happened this weekend to make me tuck my tail & hang my head a little.
This weekend was the kick off of our meeting as leaders to see how the year was going to go.
Our church is just the best at making the people that give of their time in ministry feel valued. They had lunch for us from Subway (& the awesome leaders get my vegetarian diet & had me a beautiful salad ready) & they had cards with the fall dates on them & some information on how to equip us for a great year ahead.
You just randomly sit at a table & I ended up sitting next to one of the most special young ladies I know - who ironically is a school teacher with another beautiful young lady who is a teacher & is in my JOYSTER group. Small world, right?
But our table was filling up & I was even more excited that my new partner, Rachel, came & sat at our table.
Rachel is the HSM Youth Pastor's wife & I have heard basically 1,983 good things about her so I am SO SUPER EXCITED to work along side her & get to know her over the next 4 years. We're actually meeting up for coffee this week so we can kick off our new friendship. I told her that she better hang on, because I'm already moving her up to Best Friend category in my world.
While we were eating & before they kicked off the program, they threw out a question for us to go over while we were finishing up eating. A basic conversation starter kind of question.
"Talk about one positive thing that happened over the summer"
The first lady that went had a beautiful story of getting her youth girls together over the summer & having a fun girls night together that involved all things that girls like to do - giggling, laughing & photo shoot fun!
& then I was next.
Let me tell you - I know I had to be the Debbie Downer if ever there was one.
& I'm not a Debbie Downer typically. But this day, this moment, I even made Debbie Downer look like the cheeriest of the group.
My turn... talk about one positive thing that happened over the summer....
& I just said, "Skip me - move on"... & I literally couldnt even hold my head up.
I should stop here & say, this was just a tough weekend. I have missed my dad so fiercely lately. I was in random bursts of tears the day before just because - totally out of the blue. BAM! Instant tears & that grief sucker punch that literally feels like someone kicked me in the gut.
& I'm still in pain physically. So much pain. I've never healed up from the surgeries correctly & needing to make appointments to go back, which I know is going to lead to MORE surgeries ... & I have another heavy worry & more tests ahead with other health issues - which I promise, I'll talk about soon. I've not been avoiding it, I just haven't stopped to write about it yet.
All that on top of me & when asked to find some joy in a moment, I literally wanted to pull some sort of Kanye angry face, stand up, & drop a mic & walk out.
Such an attitude every youth leader should have, right?
My sweet friend next to me reminded me that she has seen posts of Ernie all summer long & he's a bright light in my summer - which indeed he is. & I did talk about my baby boy for a minute before we moved on to hear the others stories & the things they found blessings in.
& as they were going around the table.... the shame & the humiliation set in on me.
I am good at finding the joy. I am good at finding things to be thankful for.
In all the mess of the summer & all the mess that still is & still lays ahead, I do know there are blessings & good things.... I've even documented them here trying to continue my Thankful Thursdays when I can.
Some days, its tough. It's digging deep to really reallllllly find the good things. But they're there.
It just showed me how easily we can get blinded by the negative, the hard things. It's so easy to overlook the joy. It's just comfortable to sit in the pity of life & say, "There's nothing good" when so much good is around.
So if anyone is reading this that sat at my table that day - I apologize to you. I'm sure I left a wonderful impression - especially on the people there that had never met me before.
& I'm thankful that God tapped me on the heart & reminded me that He has put blessings in my life every single day - even on the worst of them this past summer. It's what God does. It was a gentle reminder to keep my focus on the good in life & not let Satan distract me with the hard that will always, inevitably come in life & how he wants to use that to just be a shadow that overcasts everyone else's joy.
I hope to encourage you today... find that good. If you are going through some tough times right now - dig deep. Find one thing that is positive. Cling to it. Let it make you smile. Let it fill your heart. & then find another & another thing. Perspective & vision & what we focus on makes all the difference. Let it be filled with the blessings you are given.