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Archive for July, 2008

A Still, Small Voice

July 16, 2008 1 comment

The still, small voice was whispering,“Grace” in my soul. Every fiber of my being was screaming for retribution or, at least, some kind of fairness. But there was that voice. “Grace… grace… they are only teenagers.” So I took a deep breath, put on my iPod and started cleaning.

Five hours earlier…

Two of the six guys I was responsible for at Trey’s youth camp decided to cook a spaghetti dinner one night. I thought that was a good idea and much cheaper than eating out in Red River, NM at night. And we would all be there together for a meal which provided another opportunity to bond. They wouldn’t let me help at all; instead, one would call his mother multiple times to seek advice. I guess they didn’t know or care (well, they did know… I told them a few times) that I am a good cook. I do most all of the cooking for my family during the week. But my experience was not asked for. They had purchased a lot of food. I was sure there would be left-overs. I did check on them several times just in case they needed something but they seemed to know what they were doing. So we were going to have spaghetti.

Trey and I were on the deck upstairs with four other guys playing a rousing and loud game of Rat, a variation of the dice game Farkle. Shouts of excitement and disgust would come spewing off the deck causing passers-by to look up and ask what we were doing. It was that clamor that make it hard to believe that the guys downstairs “didn’t know I was there.” So all of the spaghetti was eaten by those guys with the help of the guys next door. There was none left.

Over the previous few days I had tried to connect with these guys and really thought that I was making some good progress. “Spaghetti-gate” illustrated that I was wrong about that, at least to some degree. At first, I was disappointed until one of the fellows brought up the half-empty plate of his second or third helping (I am not sure which.) Trey had gone down and asked if there were anything left. I told the guy that I really wasn’t that angry but for him to tell everyone that I was ticked off. I was going to milk it for awhile. Then I went into the kitchen. Oh my Emeril! What a mess! There was spaghetti everywhere, cooked and uncooked. There was spaghetti sauce spilled on the counter, floor, and the sides of the crock pot they had used to keep it warm. (That was actually my suggestion.) Pots and pans were covering the counters – pans that had been used to cook hamburger meat, pots that had held spaghetti, pots that weren’t even used (I think). It was overwhelming. That is when I kind of lost it. The bus was going to pick us up in 35 minutes to take us to the conference center that was about a mile away. I told them, in no uncertain terms, that it all must be cleaned up before they get on that bus. Upon that instruction, Trey and I left to find something quick to eat so we would not be late to the evening session.

I was certain that when I walked back into the kitchen that it would be clean. So I was crestfallen upon finding that much of it was still untouched. They had put the plates in the dishwasher, apparently without rinsing them, which clogged up the dishwasher and later caused a leak all over the kitchen floor. All of the pots and pans and mess were still there. I started to get warm.

“Grace. Grace”

Then I noticed the crock pot had been left on and had a black baked-on layer of spaghetti sauce in the interior. I was getting really mad now. “I can’t believe these guys didn’t share their meal with me and then left all of this for someone else to clean”, I thought.

“Grace. Grace”

In all, it took about an hour to clean that mess. I got finished just before they returned from the late night activities. In my room, I listened to see if anyone had noticed. It seemed they didn’t. And the next day, no one said thanks or even acknowledged that any of it had happened. Later, one of the guys, who had been sick and taken to the hospital thanked me for looking after him and “everything I did.” I appreciate that but it was given in a more general way. I will, however, take what I can get in that respect.

The next day, before we left Red River, I was checking the kitchen one last time. I found another mess inside the microwave. Someone had re-heated their spaghetti and sauce had splattered all over the inside of it. “I wish I had seen this yesterday.”

“Grace. Grace”

We were often told by our leader that this week was not about us (the adult sponsors). In light of that, I feel kind of guilty for even writing about this. I had been praying for several weeks that God would use me somehow to influence “my guys”. And although camp was really great in every other way, I came home wondering if the Lord had used me in any way. Later, I told Rhonda that I am not sure that I got anything from camp this year. But she reminded me about that voice. That still small voice quietly urging me to extend grace to those six 10th grade boys. I am not sure why but I guess I did bring home a lesson about grace. Maybe God was also showing me that it really wasn’t all about me. Should I have cleaned up that mess or made them do it? I may never know if any of this had an impact on any of them. But upon reflection, it did have an impact on me.

A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Proverbs 19:11

Categories: Family, Religion

Are You Smarter Than A 3rd Grader?

At first glance, the obvious answer to that question, it seems, is yes. I am smarter than a 3rd grader. But after spending a week with 20 3rd graders at church camp I am amazed at what I learned from them. Noah and I spent five days at Camp GAP with about 1200 other kids and adults last week. And what a week it was! Our Minister to Children considers this week the highlight of the year. I now know why he thinks of Camp GAP that way. It was a great week.2008_shield.jpg

Noah was able to climb a rock wall, slide down a 4 story zip line, and climb a 55-foot alpine tower. The kids learned about God’s Amazing Power (GAP) and were blessed by Keith Coast as he preached the Word with his unique blend of the Gospel and illusion. And, of course, he got inside a large balloon. That was a crowd favorite.

It never ceases to amaze me how God can bless me so much through the lives of kids. Whether it is church camp, Upwards Sports, or teaching a Sunday School class, I am always inspired by the outlook and perspective these kids have. I guess it is all a part of serving but I think I am often blessed more than the kids that I am with. That is why Camp GAP is one of the highlights of the year. And that is why I am planning to go back next year.

Now from 3rd graders on to the youth. I will be going to camp with Trey next week. It is in Red River, NM again this year. We will spend a frenetic week up in the mountains. It was a lot of fun last year. So next week, the question is what can I learn from a group of teenagers that think that have all of the answers. I don’t know. These guys inspire me all the time. Sometime while we are there, we are planning to go white-water rafting down the Rio Grande. I am sure that I will learn something in that experience. I did not do it last year but want to now after hearing Trey rave about it. I guess I will have some stories to tell when we get back. Now what did I do with my sunscreen?

Categories: Family, Religion