In our World This Week…

 We wrapped up VBS this week with a wonderful concert presented by the kids.   I think this was the best program I’ve seen yet.   I am not sure how many children asked Jesus into their hearts, but we ministered to an average of slightly less than 200 per night.    This was also the first year that we rotated the kids through a lesson, crafts, theme-related movies, and concert practice; that was a boost for all involved.   The kids’ attention spans and energy stayed high as they relocated themselves every 20 minutes, and the volunteer teachers only had to think and work in 20-minute blocks rather than trying to work with the same group and keep their attention and interest for 2-1/2 hours.   As I type this, I realize that I’m probably making the kids all sound wild and rambunctious; even our 10-year-old son said that, though this was the best VBS by his standards, also, the kids were wild!   In some good ways and some not-so-good, VBS has sure changed since I was a kid!

 

There is always a boys vs. girls competition for funds raised during the week.   All the money goes towards missions.   Last year, the girls lost, so the female leaders had to kiss a pig.   This year, the boys lost, and so all the male leaders, including my superhero, got slimed.    Please pray for him that he’ll return to help on next year (LOL).

 

One of the positives, at least on the surface, was the record(?) 88 volunteers that we got this year.   On the surface, 88 volunteers for 200 kids sounds awesome, right?   Our Children’s Pastor quickly came to the conclusion that a significant volunteer population was teenagers who came as “floaters.”   A floater would normally be a person unassigned to a specific task, making him or her available to float about where needed.    In the case of the teenagers, floater meant an unsupervised teen coming to hang out with friends in and around the VBS and the church parking lot.

 

In the last few months, we’ve very slowly allowed our teenager to spend a brief amount of time after church service with the kids in her Sunday School class.    Generally, she’s with them about as long as it takes us to round everyone up and complete any outstanding ministry tasks, catch up with a few friends, etc.   After one Sunday, she came to the car and decided that they might not be her crowd.   The conversation on that given week was all the gritty details about one of those teen/young adult reality shows that has been discontinued, which then somehow led to a discussion about where each of them might go to college.   Before our teen could answer, someone else said to her, tongue-in-cheek, “You’ll probably go to Harvard or somewhere, huh?”   Oh, well.   At least they give her credit for being smart.    At any rate, watching them as an outsider, at that time and again this week, confirmed for her that she really is better off somewhere else.

 

Teenage development can be challenging; finding your own skin, and then trying to grow comfortable in it, is not the easiest of tasks.   I have moments in my 40’s when I wonder if I’ve truly conquered that battle.   When my cousins, also homeschoolers, came to visit on last week, we talked some about how kids who don’t fit into the norm develop coping mechanisms.   His son’s mechanism is to keep quiet like a wise old owl; that way, his thoughts are not subject to ridicule.   Our daughter’s mechanism is to spend time with people older than she.   Of course, they don’t expect her to be mature and capable, and so at times treat her as if she’s a typical teen, much like the kids she stays away from.

 

 Many parents make the decision to put their children back into traditional school environments at this age because of what they might miss.   I won’t presume to judge anybody else’s decisions, but I am increasingly convinced that one of the many blessings of homeschooling is affording children the ability to complete this “skin thing” without the pressure to fit into someone else’s prescribed version of what they should be.   So, with that in mind, our daughter has had a unique opportunity—to observe her peer group without striving to fit into that same peer group.   And we’ve had a wonderful opportunity to talk about what it takes to let go of people and move on.   Letting go and letting God, I believe is the term popularized in music.   As much as our minds can grasp that we’re better off without some people, the heart longs for belonging, for inclusion, for welcoming.   That becomes the place of trust in God, that He’ll bring the right people to us, friends that uplift and don’t tear down, friends that can handle your anointing and favor without jealousy or insecurity.  

 

I minister to her as I minister to me.   When people would leave my life, I would begin to second-guess myself: what did I do?  What did I say?   Why don’t they like me anymore?   This was the worst thing I could do; it led to all kinds of self-destructive thoughts and patterns.  It took many painful years to learn that people’s appearance, and disappearance, in my life had as much to do with them, and with God, as it had to do with me.   Now, I don’t spend much time chasing people down when they leave; I pray and I trust God to reveal it in His time.   Being an introvert, I don’t seek attention or crave for a boatload of friends.   The few I have are as close as family to me.   Our teenager, on the other hand, is much more social, or at least (typical of an oldest child), she can lean either way between the introvert who’s close to a few and satisfied, or the extrovert who frets over who spoke to her, who talked to someone else, who’s in who’s friendship circle, etc.   I don’t think her struggle is in any way unique.   I’m just thankful that she has space and time to work it out without negative influences—just me, just her dad, and most importantly, just God.

 

In six days, she and the rest of the missions team take the VBS on the road.   I’m praying on a number of things—safety, salvation, deliverance, healing, resources, and many more.   But I want most for God to invade our teen’s life, to take over, to reign supreme.   Believe with me, please.

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8 comments on “In our World This Week…

  1. 4sweetums says:

    Wonderful entry. My son has spent his teen years hanging out with older folks as well. He feels that even the church kids are wild and shallow. I would have to say that the people he calls his friends are almost all adults that he works with at the nature center. His skin is coming in nicely though and those all important talks about his future and who he sees himself as are richer and richer. It is much better to grow into yourself without the public schools help. LOL!
    BLessings,
    Dawn

  2. JamieLee says:

    Great thoughts. I agree that even as an adult it's still hard to figure out who we are and not fall into caring too much about what people think of us. At least that's what I tend to do, and I have to fight (and pray about) that tendency.

    I also feel like the teen years are really important to allow our kids to solidify "who they are" without too much peer pressure and worldly influence. But as you said, that's a decision for each family to pray through.

  3. homeforgood says:

    We just finished up our week of VBS as well. We had about 100 registered and did the rotation thing also…snacks, crafts, story and recreation. They had music together at the beginning and end. Our $ competition was by age (4 groups) and the VBS coordinator received the most of those $'s and got a pie in the face.

    I really appreciated your thoughts on teenagers and their peers in the church environment. Dh and I have discussed this several times although our kids are still 4 & 6 1/2. Nice to know what we're thinking isn't so far off. I also really needed the reminder to not do the "what did I do?" etc. when someone exits my life (you may remember my recent happening) because I am still catching myself doing that at times. I just need to leave this at the feet of Jesus and keep praying. I still don't regret the decisions that got this ball rolling.

    Janet

  4. gnjlopez says:

    Like always, great post! It's so awesome the way the Lord works in our own hearts when we minister to our children. I'm so happy your daughter didn't sink into something horrible. People can be so mean at any age. At times like this we just have to keep our eyes on Jesus. Remember to pray for those who try to hurt us intentionally or hurt us without intending to. We also need to remember the Lord sometimes brings people into our lives only for a season. We need to learn to move on to that next season he has for us without looking back.

    I will also be agreeing in prayer with you regarding the teenagers.

    Blessings,
    JEN

  5. SandBetweenMyToes says:

    Good for her that she saw that was an immature place that she shouldn't be. It is so hard for some. My oldest struggled to want to belong with the youth at church for a while. It took a long time for her heart to catch up with her head. She has always been so mature emotionally and spiritually that it has been difficult finding friends. Finally at this time in her life she has found a couple~but guess what. They're all 3 or 4 years older than her. For my 2nd, she saw very quickly and pulled herself out like your daughter did. Later she went back in and joined a Bible study with them, but it was on her terms, not theirs.
    You are absolutely right. It is so much easier (not easy) for them to sort through these things and find who God has made them to be (their own skin) when they are not surrounded by that peer pressure all day.
    Praying for your crew as they head out on missions.
    Letitia

  6. bubbebobbie says:

    first we are well and although we arestill smoked in, it is bearable and no longer our smoke but Trinty's smoke. Continued prayer for our over worked firefighters is appreciated. We have been battling fires since June 6.

    second, I love mentos geysers, very awesome.

    And lastly I will pray for your teento be smitten with Jesus. You are so right about keeping them home. My kids are so grateful for the things they missed in HIghschool.

    Because of Jesus, Bobbie

    new book for your teens to read. "I would die for you" by Brent and Deanna Higgins

  7. Queenbrownshuga says:

    Hey Girlie!

    I can so relate to a lot of what you were saying about "fitting in". I was the same way when people would leave my life. It was depressing for me and I think much of that had to do with being abandoned as a child. Then one day, out of the clear blue, God poured revelation in my heart ( it actually felt like a pouring ) about me being in Him. I can't quite explain it, but chalk it up to revelation. Every since that day 4 years ago, I have been content in my friendships…not smothering and not distant.
    Being content in our own skin is very hard. I try daily to teach my daughters and son, as the Holy Spirit teaches me, to just be and not to conform for the sake of being liked. Since they have tasted PS, it's been a bit more of a challenge, but they are doing great. I am so proud of them!

    Hugs and Kisses,
    Tirzah

  8. Abbyigale says:

    Great post! I am far from having teenagers, but sometimes I feel like one myself!

    In the military it seems as most women and mothers my age (23) are still in the teenage mindset. The immmature teenage mindset. It is hard to find peers even now that I feel comfortable with and who aren't pressuring me in negative ways. I felt a lot like your daughter does when I was her age (not so long ago). And, I was not raised in a Christian home and went to public school! But, the Lord had plans for me! It will always be difficult to fit into this world, but we have to remember to try to not be of this world and its influences.

    Do I mind this difficulty? Sometimes, but I am thankful for it even moreso. It helps me to lean on my God even more, and become much closer to my family. It gives me the oppurtunity to reach out to my peers who are misguided, and help them understand why we do what we do.

    Not as if you need to be told, but you have gave the greatest gift to you daughter by keeping her home! She has an amazing present and a wonderful future ahead of her!

    Sorry for rambling, your blogs have just been so refreshing to me and they get me all fired up! 🙂

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