When the old squeaky bus from my kid's little Christian school pulls up out front of our house in the afternoon and my older three tumble out with red cheeks, smelling like glue sticks and leftover lunch, the quiet is instantly assaulted and Haley and I come to full attention. I think our sturdy house itself stands a little straighter as the noise, backpacks, lunch boxes, the order forms, notes, homework, all comes landing on the table amidst snacks.
The first hour is intense.
"I wanted to tell Mom about my day first."
"Why oh WHY do we have to memorize all of that?"
"I'm still hungry."
"Wait- I almost forgot to tell you everything I played at recess."
"I ate everything you put out but I'M STILL HUNGRY."
Then there is this moment. This moment after snacks, after the excitement and urgency has passed (and I'm laying on the kitchen bench under a mountain of papers) when every kid goes to their own corner. Darla grabs a book, Hudson sits at his little lego table in his room, and Everett is sprawled on the toy room floor with cars. They re-charge before dinner while poor Haley who's been alone all day meanders between them all waiting to play something...anything.
I drove six hours and demonstrated how confident I was in good weather by only packing shorts in August. It happened to be the one cold day of pouring rain in Spokane as I pulled up to my aunt's house. Billie is my dad's youngest sister. Just this year the youngest of her twenty three children turned eighteen. I had come to talk with her about adoption and to hear stories. (If you've heard Billie tell stories you know that anyone would cross the Cascade Mountains for the experience).
It was surprisingly quiet at my Uncle Bruce and Aunt Billie's house. They are nearly empty nesters but when your twenty three children are young adults, they still have a way of filling up a house. In Tadema fashion, my Aunt Billie (though she is an intense woman with a full life) sat with me while the rain poured as though we had all day to discuss the things of God, the heartaches of this life, and for her to encourage my rained-on soul. In some strange time warp experience, we did end up spending nearly a day together with hardly an interruption.
Revelations from God kept rising to the top and I found myself thinking, if all of this gets organized into a book of some sort- great. If it doesn't, this is completely worth it just for me.
As we strayed from the adoption topic my aunt began asking about my life. I took a deep breath and cranked on the faucet to pour it out there in her living room for her ears and the ears of two inquisitive Great Danes.
We began talking about when God chooses to not take away the hard things. I was sharing some of my own experiences and fumbled to articulate, "It's the strangest thing, Aunt Billie. When I am at my lowest, those are also the points where Jesus meets me in a way I can't describe. It's like my senses are heightened and I'm aware of His presence in a way that-" I tried again. "Like I'll be pouring out my heart in the morning as the sun rises and I feel Jesus right there and- have colors always been that vivid? Somehow as things are hard, it comes with a rich sweetness and deep thankfulness for blessings that I'm pretty sure I'd miss if I was sailing through life."
Summers in full time student ministry are unique. In theory we have some free time without our regular weekly schedule. In reality there are camps (both to speak at and Big Oak's annual GO Camp, which is a huge endeavor), there are weddings to officiate and attend, former students home for the summer to spend time with (here is a group of some favorites celebrating Emmy & Cristian's marriage while they were visiting from Argentina),
and a week of the fair (Sean sets up the Stagecoach's mobile stage and coordinates two concerts a day with the intent of sharing Christ to thousands of people attending the county fair. I'm pretty sure it's also his excuse to mix beats as a d.j.).
Summer is hands down my favorite season. I'm pretty sure God gave me a June birthday because He knew strawberries, bright sun, time for creativity and projects, bare feet, windows rolled down and country music cranked up, would forever define me.
I determined to make this summer a make-the-most of every moment kind of summer for my kids. I don't believe in needing to travel or have a big budget for the type of summers I enjoy anyway.
Just throwing myself out there a bit...