(Would you please kindly read the rest of this post in a Southern accent? It'll help bring you into the right state of mind.)
All the little buckaroos at the Junior High put on their finest denim and plaid threads tonight for our Wyld Life Barn Party. A whole party of leader folk showed up early to saddle horses, practice their boot-scootin' moves and wrastle some crickets.
I just love when all the little cowboys and cowgirls start arrivin' to the barn, burstin' with energy and ready to have themselves a real fine time. They looked quite dapper in their boots and cowboy hats.
Word had spread clear around the county and folks from all over the 7th and 8th grade arrived at once. This mighta' been our biggest Barn Party out on the farm yet.
We had some folks bring along their friends from other schools and their cheer and swim teams. It was just a real kind thing for them to do.
When a critical mass had galloped up to the ranch we headed on into the Barn so the real festivities could begin. There was some "Small Town" and "Burnin' Ring of Fire" singin'.
We had ourselves a Barnyard Scramble to sort out them cows, chickens, pigs, dogs and cats that got all mixed up in the pasture.
While we were sittin' round the campfire swappin' stories someone spilled all the beans and we had to race to clean em all up and stuff 'em into our hats. It was a pretty close race but the ladies ended up pulling into the lead on account of some foul play on the part of the gents.
Ya know a campfires just not complete without some s'mores, but we made ours a bit nontraditional. You see the girls had to assemble them there ingredients with their feet and then feed 'em to the boys. The first boy to gets their tasty treat eaten won the prize! It was a real swell and tasty competition.
Our next game was one we used to play when we were just lil' cowpokes on the ranch. We'd go out in the field lookin' for some crickets. Once we found 'em we'd catch 'em up and then all the kids would see who could spit 'em the furthest. I seen my brother spit one clear across the swimmin' hole one time.
Our crowd wasn't familiar with this game but the boys shook their nerves off and stepped up to the plate. Each of 'em had just a lil' baby cricket to spit-fire across the barn floor. I tell ya Worthington shot his so far it smacked the back wall.
My ma always said a Barn Party just wasn't a Party without a little line dancin' so we got ourselves organized and had our own little hoe down throw down.
Rascal Flatts showed up to perform the last song of the night, a nice ol' ballad of "God Bless the Broken Road." Reminds me of the nights we'd sing under the stars while out on a cattle run.
Lil' Miss Allison Sams delivered the Club Talk at the end of the night. Just a wee 8th grader this cowgirl had some big words to share. She told us the story of the footprints in the sand, about her little sister Audrey who used to be real sick for a long time and how she knows now that God was right there with her every step of the way. It was just the coolest thing to watch her stand up there in front of everyone to share her faith and her heart. Allison was leaking Jesus big time as she told her own story and shared "Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
One of the best parts of the night is right after the talk when all the cowgirls and cowboys find some friends and leaders to circle up with. My lil' posse likes to sit in the bottom of this stairwell as we talk about how real life and life with Christ walk hand in hand. Tonight I was just amazed to see how God was workin' in the lives of these girls. We're not perfect by any means but we are on the road to followin' Christ and I think that's exactly where we're supposed to be.
I think that these little circles are church. It's not about the meeting space or formalities, it's about comin' together to love and learn about a God that cares about us so deeply. It's about being honest and asking questions when we're just not sure what to believe. It's about holding one another up and pointing to Christ.
We get to have church together in our over-alls and cowboy hats. I get to have church with these girls on Wednesday mornings over muffins and strawberry yogurt as we read Love Does. I'm having church in a basement on Monday nights. God just wants us to meet him where we are.
(Do you know what dedicated friendship and great love looks like? Miss Julia DeWolf showed up at Club just four hours after she got her wisdom teeth taken out because she couldn't miss her best friends Club Talk. Love in action... and highly medicated.)
It sure was a fine night out at the ol' ranch. You just can't beat a Barn Party with a whole crew of fine people like ours.
On the way home I had one more surprise. I'm so lucky to have moms like Cindy that love me so well like my own mom does. Natalie's mom surprised me with a brownie heart-shaped birthday cake with candles and the sweetest gift and card. My birthday is still a couple days away but it's fun to have the celebration begin early.