I think that when you're involved in something for a long time you start to see that there are seasons to what you're going through. Sometimes it's easy, other times you feel like maybe you should throw in the towel, sometimes you're inspired to do even more, sometimes you learn a lot and sometimes you feel like you're practically starting all over again.
After being a part of three different areas and working with so many leaders and kids I have been through several seasons of Young Life. I love that even though it's always the same organization and program, things continue to shift and change and look a little bit different. In a word, it's very organic. And right now I'm loving this season of YL that feels so much like Shauna's Puppies.
She writes, "They became something between friends and little sisters and extensions of my younger selves. They became a central part of my world, my thoughts, my prayers. My schedule became more and more wrapped around their term papers and proms and problems, and my home became the safest landing spot for this strange, whirling little gypsy wagon of girls."
My own friends and family are spread out all over the Midwest and the country and I miss seeing them all in person. But for now that means that these girls can become a central part of my world and my schedule can be wrapped up in theirs. Tonight I felt so lucky to be invited to join in Haleigh's 15th birthday dinner and it was quite the celebration.
We all got dressed up, sang TSwift in the car on the way to dinner, laughed with the parents, tried different kinds of sushi, tried to catch rice in our mouth, filled up on hibachi, sang Happy Birthday and Haleigh got to make a wish before hitting the gong. When we got back to her house we were met by her siblings and their friends who had all gone trick-or-treating and all of Haleigh's guy friends were waiting in the basement to surprise her.
Right now I'm in a season where I feel incredibly blessed because I know that walking through life with kids hasn't always, and won't always be this easy. Yes, life is messy and hard and we're figuring out stuff together but it's just so nice to be invited into all of that with my girls. As we were climbing out of the car tonight Emma and Emily said, "Miss Wright will you come to my birthday party?" I laughed and said, "Of course I will if you invite me."
Being right there with them is exactly where I want to be--right there at their birthday parties, in a circle on Monday nights, getting a snack after school, watching a movie on the weekend, in the stands at their cheerleading competition, on the phone after something has gone wrong, taking pictures before a dance. Right there with them.
Shauna writes about her puppies, "Now they are graduating from college and dating men they might marry and moving into apartments. We email and talk on the phone." and I pray that I'll still be in these girls lives when they're that old. My first campers are getting to this stage and it's the coolest thing to look back on how far we've come. I don't get to see that first group of puppies as much anymore but they all still have such a huge part of my heart. I hope they know I'm still here for them if they need me, just like when we first met back in Mingo and Teton. That first group of girls taught me so much about myself, about leading and being a friend, and helped me realize what my passion was.
And now there is this new generation of puppies. "This lovely, bizarre group of teenage girls," like Hannah, Libby, Kate, Emily, Emma, Haleigh, Brooke, Haley and Butt that, "let me into their fears and their secrets, and care about my fears and my secrets. They love me with a force that I think only comes with youth, a wide and fierce and expressive force." This a season of Young Life where there is so much to be thankful for, so many girls to invest in and so much whimsy to experience together.