amazing weekend and i'm exhausted. here's the run-down.
Friday: nada. well except taking a walk with mom and dad around our newly christened "walking trail" around the perimeter of our yard... garden snakes and all, it's a lot of fun. a veritable Walden for me.
Saturday: hung out with my friend HEATHER - i just love her - and then went to Dad's Sunday school class fellowship at my cousins' house and played with the kids for a majority of the time - my favorite. then went to the girls' dance recital in Ackerman... interesting. a night of Hannah Montana. :/ but not TOO too bad.
Today: senior celebration breakfast at church - hung out with the kids. Sunday school - talked about marriage and its challenges. sang. i LOVE hymns. LOVE LOVE LOVE. and our pastor talked about choices - which made me reflect on the number of choices I've made relatively independently the past three years. crazy. and of course, a pew-full of kids sat with us. then went to Mamaw's for lunch - KIDS. Layla and Lillie came home with mom and me - crazy afternoon of breaking up arguments and "positive discipline" (thank you, early childhood education). went back to church and practiced praise hymns with Corey and Matthew. Bible study class talked about Jonathan Edwards turning down a guy who asked for his daughter's hand in marriage because she wasn't worthy of him. :/ (REMINDS ME SO MUCH OF JOSH MCCORMICK). sang praise hymns with words on the screen for the congregation for, like, the FIRST TIME EVER at Bethel. it was great. really. really. great. worship was wonderful. afterwards played outside for an hour with all the kids. came home. ate cereal for dinner like the good ol' days. and now. sitting. for the first time all day i think.
What I've learned this weekend...
I really really like kids. However, working with them is not easy. Therefore, this summer will not be easy. (Ha! Finally I realize this.)
So much of the conversation going on around here this weekend has been about love and how tough love can be. Apparently, God is trying to get something of reality into my stubborn Amber-land mentality.
Too often we view children's ministry and (especially) work with orphans as something sweet and cute and (at times) good for publicity - obviously, because kids are cute! But this is not an area of ministry that comes without its challenges. I can't imagine the ways God is going to stretch me this summer, and I can't say it as beautifully as Amy Carmichael, so I'll quote her. Amy was a missionary in India for 60-some-odd years without furlough until her death, working with children who had been sold into temple prostitution or otherwise abandoned by their parents. These are words from the Lord she was inspired to write down about her circumstances...
"These children are dear to Me. Be a mother to them, and more than a mother. Watch over them tenderly, be just and kind. If thy heart is not large enough to embrace them, I will enlarge it after a pattern of My Own. If these young children are docile and obedient, bless Me for it; if they are froward, call upon Me for help; if they weary thee, I will be thy consolation; if thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy reward." (from A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Eliot)
How beautiful. At the end of it all, He is my consolation. He is my reward. No matter how difficult I am to love, He loves me. What consolation! And He desperately loves the people I am going to meet this summer. He SO desires to flip their cultural idea of lackadaisical fatherhood upside down and display to them the Father who loved His wayward children enough to send His Son to pay their debt, to redeem them from their wickedness. What an honor it is to go and tell! To see the glory of my faithful, gracious God on display... He is my reward.