On my way home from Michigan I was driving by Chicago and made a spontaneous detour to go visit my friends Emily and Kat since I didn't have to be back in Indy right away. They had a Wyld Life Scavenger Hunt at the zoo and I got to tag along and hang out with their sisters too. It was fun to get to see a different YL area for a night.
I felt very Shauna Niequist visiting these girls, "They became something between friends and little sisters and extensions of my younger selves. They became a central part of my world, my thoughts and my prayers." Getting to be a counselor is one of the most life-giving things I'm part of and it's all because of my campers. My own counselors made such an impact on me when I was a kid-- they made me believe in myself and gave me examples of who I could become. All I wanted to do was grow up and get to do that for someone else.
I'm so glad that this Christmas Break got to include more time with these two. These girls aren't always perfect but I love them no matter what and would do anything for them. Heart to hearts with them are the best because it's a gift to hear their stories and questions and dreams. I've got so much faith in these two and hope our lives will keep overlapping for years.
Before I left I got to see Gianna too. She's such a champ and being around her just makes me want to be a better person. I wish the three of them, and all of my Tecumseh people, lived in Indy so that I could see them all the time. But for now I'll be thankful for spontaneous visits with some of my favorite people in the world.
Back in Indy, I couldn't wait to go to church with friends this morning. Molly Henry, Hannah, Emma, Kaylee, Milly and Liz all met me at the Northview Fishers campus. Getting to sit in a row with a camp friend, YL girl and Wyld Life girls was really sweet. The music and sermon were all, as the girls said, "AWESOME!"
Church this morning was all about joy, one of my very favorite things.
Romans 5:3-5 There's more to come. We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling short changed. Quite the contrary-- we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.
When we don't chose joy we're missing out on a lot of God's blessings and being a witness in the midst of troubles. Let's chose to think and say differently. God has something greater in store for us than our present circumstances.
Philippians 4:8 Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of the details of my life. God doesn't promise answers or explanations. He promises joy in the midst of troubles. He promises a peace that passes understanding. God cares more about our character than our comfort.
God's not done with me yet. That is good news. Joy is in him. Joy shines like the stars in the sky and we become witnesses. Our outlook determines the outcome. Joy and trust are linked together.
After church Molly and I went to lunch with the 8th grade girls and laughed through lunch about Quiz Up and school and Miley and WL Camp and forks in Milly's hair. I've missed these girls this past week.
This afternoon I met Susan, Taylor and Dommer for coffee. These were my first Carmel YL girls when I moved to Indy five years ago and now they're getting ready to graduate from college and planning their next big life changes. Time flies. In some ways they've changed so much and in others they're still exactly the same as the day I met them. They have hearts that are on fire for Christ, a desire for adventure and so much love for life. I admire how they've held on to these friendships for the past four years and love getting to see them when they're home from school.
Tonight I met up with MacKenzie and Anna, two CILTs from this past summer and their youth pastor Betsy. At the reunion last weekend they told me about Betsy and how we're practically life twins and they wanted us to meet. It was so fun to get to talk over dinner tonight with these girls and see how we do have so much in common. I'm thankful that MacKenzie and Anna have another person who loves them so much and points them to Christ. She is absolutely influencing the incredible people that they are becoming.
This Christmas Break has already been filled with so many friends and family and overlapping. Vacations are the best. I'm pumped that I've still got a whole week left of seeing more people that I love and having adventures together.