I love my kids. And this time I don't mean my biological children. I have two sets of kids in my life: two little ones who are mine by birth and another set - a big ole' group of teenagers. I often refer to them as "my kids" and thus confuse people who think I only have two small children. If you're still not sure what I'm talking about - my husband is a youth pastor. That means all the kids from the 6th graders to the seniors in high school at our church are "my kids." And really, it doesn't stop there. Once my youth, always my youth. If you've ever been a part of our youth group, I will forever consider you "mine" (and might always think of you as 16). You can't simply graduate your way out of my heart -just ask my dear friends Rachel & Kaelyn about this one.
And oh, how I love my youth. They are just incredibly awesome. For those of you with little kids who are nervous about teenagers, don't be. They're not nearly so scary as you think! In fact, they're just plain great (even in the tough times).
My youth showed me yet again this weekend just how awesome they are. We had our DiscipleNow weekend this weekend - a little weekend retreat we do every year. Last night, Rob worked for HOURS to pull together this super-cool interactive worship/prayer experience for them. Seriously, I think he put 15 hours just into setting everything up. Everything was done in the dark, with bazillions of candles to light the way. It was cool.
When it was said & done, the kids left and we turned the lights on to see what they'd left behind. It was just awesome.
The very last station was a HUGE piece of paper on the wall. The kids were asked to express whatever they wanted on that wall (anonymously of course). Can I tell you their responses would put many "pious" grown-ups to shame? They wrote poems to God, wrote out prayers asking Him to strengthen their faith, they acknowledged areas in their lives they needed to turn over to Him. Amazing. These kids get it. Oh, they are just so cool.
But my favorite part is this: the second-to-last station. It was a map of the world with two bowls of salt next to it. The instructions were to sprinkle some salt on North America & pray for our continent. Then they were to sprinkle salt somewhere else, wherever they felt led, and pray for that area. After all the kids were gone and the lights were up, I looked at the map.
Africa got some serious prayers last night, y'all. There was salt sprinkled pretty much everywhere, but there was more on Africa even than anywhere else. And the two places in Africa with lots of salt? Swaziland and Ethiopia.
The first time I said aloud to a friend that our adoption might not happen, I was sitting in my car in a parking lot after spending all morning teaching the 4's & Pre-K classes about Ethiopia. She told me that even if we don't adopt from there, our going through the process has brought Ethiopia to the forefront of so many people's minds. That God has already brought attention to Ethiopia through our process.
She's right. My youth told me that last night with salt.
Even if we never adopt from Ethiopia... our family and friends are more aware of what's going on in that part of the world. The kids at Riley's school got an opportunity to learn more about kids in Ethiopia, our church family has learned more about Africa in general through our adoption stuff and through Heart for Africa trips to Swaziland.
And my kids, my big ones, care about Africa. They had a choice last night to pray for anywhere in the world and many chose Swaziland and Ethiopia. Teenagers in Greensboro care about what's going on in Africa.
What an honor it is to get to be the messenger. It's not our message, that's for sure. It's not about us, about our family, or even really about our adoption. I'm still holding out hope that we WILL adopt from Ethiopia, because I'm growing to love that place. But even if we don't, look what God has done already!
Who knew salt was so talkative?