Saturday, July 08, 2006

Blessed Despite Myself

About the time of my last post things were heating up for me....and I'm not just talking about the temperatures of summer here in West Texas. I'm talking about a committment I had made a few months earlier.....

Go back a few months:
Our pastor was to be the director for a Sports & Art Camp that was coming up at the end of June. He is so enthusiastic and such a great guy. Our church is small and when it came time to volunteer to help, I knew he really needed all our support. He gave an impassioned pitch for help. I signed up to help with art. I knew my hubby wouldn't be able to take off work to be there everyday, but at least I could go help. Our small church and another small church here in town were teaming together to do this outreach camp for our community at the Boys & Girls Club here. After all, I know what it is like to try to get people to commit to help with something you believe in... And I thoroughly believe in these kinds of outreach events.

Ok, now flash forward to mid-June:
The camp is fast approaching and seeming very real now....sounds like a lot of work (EVERYDAY for 5 WHOLE DAYS with a whole bunch of hot, sweaty kids who probably haven't come from homes with too much discipline). I have a lot of stressful things already going on in my life and surely I don't have time for this! What made me sign up to help out every stinkin' day? I could have just said I would bake cookies or something. Working with kids really isn't my "gift" after all.

I see the sign up table at church on Sunday and hope springs up in me. Maybe the sign up sheets from before have somehow met a terrible fate and have been destroyed...someone is always spilling coffee, chocolate milk.....maybe even too many Krispy Kreme donut fingers did it! In a moment of foolishness I saunter over to the table to see if, per chance, there are new sign up sheets and I had missed the announcement that we were to re-sign up. I nonchalantly glance at the art sign up sheet. There, as if written in neon lights, sat my name. Still there. OK. Suck it up girl. You have signed your name and you just have to grin and bear it. My kids will enjoy it and it is a good thing after all.

The week before the camp:
There are several "events" planned this week to get together and pray, canvas the neighborhood around the boys & girls club with flyers, set up the night before, etc. I muster up my attitude and enthusiasm (put on a big smile :) and we participate in all of it. The fellowship and the feeling that we were doing something bigger than ourselves began to grow. By the Sunday night before camp started on Monday, we were having fun working hard together and even stayed up way too late watching a movie together with new dear friends after setting up.

Week of camp:
When the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning, I was again stricken with the grumbling thoughts. I got up and put on my new big ol' orange t-shirt (the counselor issue) and we set out for camp. The kids were able to participate in one of the following all week: soccer, volleyball, basketball (girls & boys), football, baseball, art, cheerleading, drama. Each day there was a pep rally at the end where we had great fun time, praise time, and a speaker who gave a great lesson from the Bible. The kids were having a blast and somehow I was getting blessed! There were certainly moments ...like when it was so HOT in the gym and several little girls were draped all over me as we listened to the story and some of them were "close talkers" and had breath that only a mother can appreciate (well, maybe not appreciate....maybe tolerate until the brushing of teeth is ordered) or when several Big boys showed up for art that first day and we were caught off guard and wondered what we would do with them.

I came home daily (often with my friends' kids and mine in tow....all of them starving, spunky and stinky) almost in a zombie state from sheer exhaustion.

We had a great Tailgate Party on Thursday night so the kids could bring their parents. We ate, played, & visited. There was a live band and we had a couple of "sports celebrities" from Texas Tech who spoke and gave great testimonies about their life in Christ. There was even a climbing wall. It was great to have the kids come running up to hug me and introduce their parents. Their parents were so thankful for the week their kids were getting free of charge.

When the week ended I knew I had been in the place Jesus wanted me to be in that week. It didn't take away the stresses in my life and my house was in need of my attention and my laundry baskets were full....but that's not why I'm writing. (Those things will always be and Jesus will be there in my routine things too.) Despite all my grumblings (mostly to myself) I was blessed...and so were a lot of other adults and children.

Oh, did I mention that our kids both decided to accept Jesus as their personal Lord & Savior? We had been talking about it for a while and we knew they were ready, but that week helped them make that decision public and they are ready to be baptized. This was our big bonus blessing from the week!!

If you are wondering whether to "get involved" with something that takes you out of your comfort zone in some way and makes a big difference for Jesus in lives, I would highly recommend that you "sign your name" with abandon and jump in with a smile....know you will be blessed!

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