Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A glorious ride

What a summer it has been!  I realize that technically it isn't over yet -- school doesn't start until August 31 (Happy birthday to me!) -- but the days have the feel of prepping for school: I'm meeting with potential Young Life leaders, squeezing in dates with my neices/nephews, and making lists of things I need to do so that I'm ready when my new set of English students walk through the door in two weeks.  While I am so excited about this fall and its new challenges, I would be remiss if I didn't write at least one post about The Summer of 2011!  Who knew so much could be packed into two months?!?!?

Young Life Assignment & Canyon Camp
A few fantastic members of my A-Team
I got to spend the first three weeks of this summer investing in the lives of Young Life leaders and campers at Washington Family Ranch's Canyon Camp. In three weeks, my team and I got to serve almost 2000 campers and more than 200 leaders as they experienced the best week of their lives. My job this year was a Head Leader, so I got to encourage and support the leaders as they walked (and ran and jumped and blobbed) with their students through the week. My Head Leader team (6 other fantastic adults who served in the same function as I did) was an absolute blessing. They were all HIGH CAPACITY people with great leadership/service experience and maturity; in fact, it was the humility and maturity that I appreciated most because -- believe it or not -- I was NOT the most outspoken person on the team. The whole thing had the potential to erupt in power struggles and ego clashes, but the Christ-like humility of each team member allowed for us all to serve in the same space. It was so great to participate with these kinds of leaders.  The rest of the Assignment Team was also a BLAST to get to know. There were so many opportunities to LAUGH with this group of Jesus-loving individuals!  It was also so much fun to get to serve leaders from the Northwest, many of whom I have met or served with at camp over the last two summers. I don't know what Jesus has in store for me with this Mission that is Young Life, but I am thankful for the chances I have been given to grow as a leader and as a disciple in this context. :)

The Davis Gals &  The Big Ball
During the second of my three weeks at camp, the girls from Davis came with Colby and Jael, two of the college-aged ladies who've been serving at Club all year.  It was so much fun to have them there, but it was also a real challenge for me. I was praying for discernment and wisdom all week long because I didn't know when I should step in to support them with the girls and when I should just let them lead without me. We lived three days in every 24 hours it seemed, especially as girls were open and honest about the pain in their lives and my leaders were experiencing their own personal challenges as well.  At the end of the week, though, both of them had a good experience as leaders and the girls loved their week as well. 

The Rest of July
Once Assignment finished on July 8, I spent a few days running around Oregon visiting friends and facilitating at teacher conferences.  Every summer I say I don't want to do these anymore (I get SO NERVOUS), but every time I'm in the middle of presenting, I LOVE doing it!!!  What a silly Marah I am.
The Smith/Hemker Fam (and me & Jaelynn)
    When I got home, my family from Indiana flew in for a visit.  Oh how I love love love them!  Uncle Larry, Aunt Sue, Ian, Emily, and her whole family spent 10 glorious days with us in Washington. We took a day trip to attempt to see Mt Rainier (it was too cloudy) and had lots of pool time and laughter.  I am so blessed to have a family that really loves each other and loves Jesus together.
    Another short element of July was a 4-day fly-by trip to Canada to see Baba.  Now this trip, while I'm glad I took it, was really difficult.  Baba is 99, and his body is so frail. His mind is sharp, and he remembered me. I got to spend hours holding his hand and answering the same questions each day: what am I teaching, and am I married.  He is my last living grandparent and my heart just aches for him to go be with Jesus.  While that was challenging, I did get to have a short time to reconnect with a few of my friends in Calgary: Mike  and Greg.  Hurray for wings and laughter and books and music and Jesus and friendship.

Creekside Baby!!!
The other BIG event from this summer was taking six 8th & 9th grade girls to Young Life's Creekside Camp.  What a RIOT!!!  These girls were SO MUCH FUN!!!!  The camp property is incredible, and our assignment team was BEAST!!!  Water slides, mud pits, glow-in-the-dark leader hunts, and the truth about Jesus made for one incredible week.  Four of the six girls will be at Davis next year, and all six of the gals want to get together every week for "cabin time".  Hmmmm..... we call that Campaigners in Young Life.  :)  I'm excited to see what God will do with these gals during their high school years, and I'm praying for wisdom on how to lead and love and disciple them.

The Fill-In Days
My Little Tyler Joe
So those were my big events during the summer, but the fill-in days were just as glorious. I spent lots of time at The Ranch getting my tan on with Rachel and the kids. From watching Jaelynn conquer her fear of swimming without a life jacket on to being Tyler's catcher as he launched himself into the water, my auntie heart gets filled time and again by these sweet little people.  I also kept up with singing and teaching at Franklin Hill, though I'll be taking a little break in September to ease the transition into school and coaching.  Yep -- I said coaching!  I got hired to coach C squad volleyball, and I am more than a little nervous. However, I feel like Jesus held open this door for me and I want to see what this kind of work/relationship building/ministry might hold for me. Try-outs start on Monday, so that will be the official end of my summer vacation.

In all of these endeavors, I am seeing the hand of Jesus' protection and provision for me. I've learned more about myself and about Him and am so thankful for His reminders to rest in His Presence and not freak out about the maybes in my life.  Thanks to all my friends and family who have prayed me right through this summer!  I have felt so carried and protected in many ways.

much love -- mj