Sunday, January 1

Good God is it really 2012?

I found myself drawn to this little place since it is January 1st after all and that's how I started the blog back in 2010. I wanted to, as many people do, share a few thoughts with 2011 before bidding it adieu and then give 2012 a warm welcome.

2011 it's been real. You've been kind to me and my family, well for the most part. Just like I don't expect myself to be perfect, I certainly don't expect any year to be perfect either. The adversity we shared this year served its purpose in refining my character and maturing me. But back to the "for the most part"-part...for the most part it was a really nice year. Not amazing or one for the record books, but very nice nonetheless.

I think it felt more like a transition year more than anything. Lots of newness: new job, new friends, new experiences. Even the more challenging aspects of life were new or different than in the past. Daniel and I fought new fights, hang with me for a second. In marriage I feel like we bickered over the same things over and over again. We fought new fights over new issues, which means we've moved onto something new. Progress. The next stage. We're entering a new phase, which is exciting as we grow and learn together. Maybe the word "fight" has too negative of a connotation to articulate what I want to say. What I mean to say is that the conversation has changed. It's not the same old broken record. We're moving forward.

The other entity in my life who I've fought with is anxiety and in this relationship much ground has been gained as well. Talk about a new conversation. In fact anxiety and I don't have much of a relationship at this point. He shows up fairly frequently, but I can silence him pretty quickly by just continuing on with whatever else I was doing. I may have tense shoulders or toss and turn every once in awhile when trying to fall asleep, but I can proudly say that that's about the only effects he's had on me. I was too busy living and working.

Speaking of working, my new job has been perhaps the biggest blessing of this year. It provided such relief. I am a much healthier person in large part to this job. I don't have a choice to get out of bed each morning. It's not a battle, ever. I finally started to grow up and realize that whether or not I feel like doing something, sometimes you just have to put your head down and work and be productive and contribute to society. Like I said each day is not a battle anymore. I just get up and go to work each day. There's no question. And I find myself enjoying each day and thankful that I'm out in the world.

There have been lots of other highlights 2011, but you already know that as you were there. I have to say goodbye to you now and close this chapter of my life. I'll still carry with me a lot of what I learned. The experiences we shared will always be a part of me just like the ones from all the years before. You may have been an in-between year but you weren't without significance. Can I also just say that you went really fast? Like super fast. Well thanks again, goodbye.

2012, Daniel in his eternal and inspiring optimism thinks that this is going to be a good year. So much so that he often refers to it as "our year". The "our" refers both to his staff at work and I think his family too. So I'm embracing his optimism as well and am hoping for the best. Though I think a good year is determined less by external circumstances that it is by one's approach to life as well as their response to those circumstances; a "you make your own destiny" type of philosophy if you will. All the more reason to force optimism as my fate may lie somewhat in my own hands. So here we go. Be good to me and I'll be good to you. One day at a time. Any more cliches you can think of? No. Okay. It's nice to meet you. I think we'll get along just fine.

Sunday, July 31

Eyes to See

It's been a few months since we first grieved the loss of our titles as Young Life leaders. Life went on and we have been continuing to love kids. Not a whole lot has changed as we still see our kids just as much. But there are quiet moments when I feel confused, sad, and a little angry and so I ask God once again, "Do you still want us to love on kids? Are we forcing this? Have you removed your favor?" And inevitably about once a week I get a text message from a kid asking me to hang out. The times when we are contacted and pursued by kids rather than the other way around has been a good indicator that there is still favor there. As long as they want us around, we will be there.

I knew one of the more difficult pieces of this loss was going to be missing out on a week of camp with the sweet (and crazy wild) West girls. I had been doing fairly well with the loss of YL for a while until these past few weeks as camp crept closer and closer. Facebook and Twitter have been full of posts from my friends who are leaders all over the midwest saying things like, "And for the 16th year in a row, I hop on a bus to spend a week at YL camp" and "One week till camp and the best week of kids' lives". I longed to share another week of adventure and a life changing message with high school kids. Last night the bus full of beloved teenagers headed to Georgia pulled out of the parking lot. And today I am able to write this post with a twinge of sadness but still able to proclaim the sweetness of the Lord. Because last week, well you see, last week God gave me a little gift (or two or three).

Young Life camp is special. I could go on for pages elaborating, but let me sum it up by saying that camp is holy ground. Things happen there that just don't happen at home. Or can they? Because if they can't and I can't be a Young Life leader then I will forever feel a void in ministry. Last week I felt God say that his reach goes farther than camp. He cannot be leashed or fenced in. Special things happen at camp and I am so excited to hear stories from this year's campers about all of those special things that happened in Georgia. But if we have eyes to see, I believe we can be witness to the special and painfully beautiful things happening right here right in front of us every day. I believe this because it happened to me and it keeps happening. Over and over again God sits beside me and overwhelms me with beauty. I have moments where he lends me his eyes and I see glimpses of heaven.

Last week West cheerleaders competed at Regionals. I joined parents and other students in the stands of a high school gym (my cathedral where I go to worship and participate in a divine story). Our girls waited in the wings wearing their new sequined uniforms and ponytails full of ringlets. They left their "on deck" position and took their places on the mat. And when their name was announced we stood, and clapped, and yelled, and stomped our feet. The judges requested, "Silence please" and we took our seats. They began their routine and I sat on the edge of the bleacher nervous for the team of girls riddled by summer injuries, rotating positions and substitutions, last minute routine changes. I felt my heart swell with pride as they executed stunt after stunt and when they were finished the crowd exploded in celebration. We cheered on the cheerleaders. And as I stood cheering, I fought back tears. The Father had given me his eyes and I was overcome watching his kids feeling a small piece of what he feels when he sees them. Pride. Joy. And love, so much love.

Few things move me as much as seeing kids just being kids. And here it was again. It was just a bunch of teenage girls performing a cheer routine, but if God draws your heart to teenagers, if you cherish these kids, if you've heard their desire to succeed, if you've witnessed their efforts in practice, to see them in their element is nothing short of magical. I love seeing kids on stage and having the Father's eyes to appreciate and celebrate them as their audience. I can barely grasp that this is how God sees me. He's my audience proudly applauding and cheering me on. I know how I feel about these kids, so to think that's how he feels about me is almost too much!

It was beautiful. It was special. It was spiritual. It was holy ground. And it was a mile away from my house on a Thursday night.

God reassured me that there will be no void in ministry without Young Life camp. But I love Young Life camp. And I love Young Life. And I love kids. And I love that Ashley is finally going to experience camp after 3 summers of praying that this would be the summer she could go. So we choose to participate however we can. We may not have been invited onto the bus, but there is a story happening behind the scenes too. We will pray and join the unseen story. We will pray for those on the front lines, for tthe leaders who get the privilege to be present to see God's love manifest right in front of their eyes. And we will pray for glimpses of this love too! We will pray for eyes to see the unseen, to somehow be witnesses to the salvation taking place a thousand miles away.

This week I've been full of joy and peace. I was able to send off the West girls, many of them the same cheerleaders I cried for last week, with a sincerely joyful and content heart. My only sadness comes from a selfish desire to have a front row seat to watch the miracles happen at camp and having to stay at home. But one of my old YL girls is joining the girls in their cabin as one of their leaders. Now that is sweet. Any sadness I have about "missing out" fades pretty quickly when I picture Alie running around in some crazy volleyball uniform or sitting on the floor of the cabin sharing stories with a circle of girls. I got to take Alie to camp 3 years ago and to have her return this summer as a leader of the girls I have been chasing, well that's nothing short of a gift. To have "one of your own" go in your stead? God I am so blessed to be a part of something like that. And if that weren't enough, a former YL girl Maddie will also be at camp in Georgia leading a cabin of girls from Jeff City, the first community where Daniel and I fell in love with high schoolers as YL leaders in college. Seeing Lee's Summit alumni continue the work we participated in in Jeff City?! Amazing. And to top it off another alumni Addie will be spending this week alongside her Colorado YL girls at camp in Arizona.

I think this is what God meant when kids prayed for me as a dandelion; the seeds are blown all over the place, they scatter and then bloom. Today I have eyes to see a field full of dandelions. After I wrote the dandelion post my sweet friend Amy posted a picture on my facebook. Thanks Amy. God just reminded me of the picture. It encouraged me then, but the encouragement it brings me today is ten-fold. I just looked back at my facebook to see the picture again expecting to see a field of yellow bloomed dandelions and was at first disappointed to find that the picture does not contain dandelions in their flower form but rather as seeds ready to be blown. Then I realized how much sweeter that picture is. Seeds ready to be blown. Alie, Maddie, and Addie: first scattered and bloomed themselves now ready to scatter their own seeds creating fields of their own. That is a better picture by far. I may be missing out on a week in Georgia, but I certainly am not missing out on God's powerful and oh so overwhelming beautiful work.

Monday, June 27

I Got a Job!

There's cause for celebration over here because I GOT A JOB! Yes my friends it's true. You are looking at the new secretary at Lillian Schumacher Elementary. After four interviews I was informed this past Friday that I had landed the position. I will begin work on July 6th and couldn't be more excited.

I hadn't told a lot of people about my interview(s) because I've been through this a few times before. It's not that I don't like telling people that I didn't get the job when they ask how my interview went, it's more that I don't take the interviews as seriously. That's not to say that I don't prepare for them and try hard to put my best foot forward; it's to say that I don't view
every interview as a job offer. Not getting every job you interview for will do that to you. The interview becomes an opportunity rather than a guarantee. But enough rambling.

The best part of Friday was getting to share the good news with the handful of people who were aware of my most recent job search. The first person I called was Daniel who proceeded to jump into his car to meet me for a celebratory lunch. Then I called my mom. Then I got to text a Young Life girl who kept asking after every interview if I had heard anything yet because she was "really anxious" for me. She's known me for a few years and has watched me go on a lot of interviews over the past year. I texted a friend from J.Crew who has been waiting for good new
s so she can take me out for drinks. We don't really need an excuse to get friends together for Happy Hour, but she's paying so it's a double win. I texted my friend and former supervisor in Young Life, Drew who agreed to be a reference for me a year ago when my transition off of Young Life staff began. In the past 12 months Drew has filled out a number of surveys and character references on my behalf each time a potential employer contacted him. He responded to my text that he's "enjoyed being part of the process". Maybe next time someone asks me if I'll be a reference for them, I'll need to give them a time limit. Then I got to email my small group. They had been praying for me and rooting me on. It felt good to give them a positive update instead of news of another job missed out on. Their congratulatory responses were fun to receive especially from Molly who said, "You'd better get used to being called Mrs. Cummings". That night I went to the Royals game with my three best friends from growing up. They are literally my oldest friends in the world (20+ years). I told them I had to show them something and I pulled out my new i.d. badge from the district. Jill hesitated for a moment in confusion after reading the word secretary as "security". If she was excited for me and my new security gig, you should have seen her joy once she realized my job was as a secretary. I have good friends.

And now I get to share the news with my long-suffering reader-friends. After my last two posts, this news may not come as a surprise. I had sensed God was about to lead me out of this last season of restlessness in work. He had some things he needed to teach me that could only be accomplished through breaking me. I felt like I learned what he was trying to teach me and was now ready for the next season. Sure enough it looks like I am and here we go with a new job.

Relieved is the best word I can use to describe how I feel. That and abundance. I walked into my final interview/meeting with human resources prepared to accept a 10 month position and on the first step of the pay scale. I found out the job is a year round position which also places me in a different column of the pay scale and because of my previous years of administrative experience I am starting out a few steps up. I have benefits paid for by the district. It's awesome, just awesome. Because I had never run the figures of hourly pay at the step that I'm at and for a full 12 months, I pulled out the calculator on my phone on my drive home. When I saw the number come up I laugh cried. (I don't know that I've done that before but it is where you audibly laugh but at the same time there are tears and a little shaking. Weird.) The number was less than what I have made before, but so much more than this past year. And after learning to live on less and living with a spirit of gratitude, this seems like a lot of money. I called Daniel and told him, "I think we are rich again."

It's a good day. Go Sharks!

Thursday, June 23


Every Wednesday night this summer we've been having over old Young Life kids who are home from college (or who just graduated high school). The time is very unstructured with no lesson or agenda ahead of time. The kids that show up that particular week determine what the night looks like. So one week it involved ice cream, answering questions drawn from a hat, and cuddling/wrestling on the couch. (Can I mention that this night may have gone in this direction because I felt like a single mom with a living room full of children while my husband excused himself upstairs to recover from a concussion? But that's another story that I'll share soon.) My only objectives for our time each week is to 1. be together and enjoy each other's company 2. be honest with each other about the challenges and changes that come with college and adulthood and 3. bring God into the conversation.

Last night involved ice cream again (it's summer time so ice cream seems to be a requirement for any get together). After ice cream we prayed. For those of my friends who know and love Chris Patterson let me just say that we prayed, as I describe it with my kids, "Chris Patterson style". And for those of you who are Young Life leaders or have discipled kids, you know what a sweet experience it is to pray with them. At one point their prayers became directed towards me. This was not my intention by any means, but if praying with kids is a joy then being the recipient of their prayers is downright heavenly. I want to share one of the pictures they prayed for me because it articulates my journey in a beautiful way that I want to record so I can always remember it.

Hartzell prayed that I'm like a dandelion. We all giggled because it's a pesky weed, but hang with me for a minute. He said that in the same way that the seeds of a dandelion get blown all over the place and then a field of flowers grows, that I give people the tools they need and then they scatter all over and "bloom". This was sweet because it is exactly what I hope to happen through things like College Night on Wednesdays. I would love it if I can care for kids and give them any tools that are going to equip them to come alive and bloom once they go back to college.

Then Katy prayed about the dandelion in a different, but just as articulate way. She said that my life used to be "all together" and then the wind blew and now I'm sort of "all over the place". Daniel and I were sitting next to each other and there was a lot of giggling from our corner of the room at that comment. Boy was she right. My whole life used to revolve around Young Life, maybe to an unhealthy degree as I lived in a bit of a bubble. My work life, social life, and marriage were all consumed by Young Life. I don't think it's a bad thing to have life revolve around such a worthy ministry, but to be consumed by it meant that I didn't have many relationships or friendships outside of it. I didn't have a hobby or other interests. I think we can agree that that's not the best idea. And now...well I have three jobs. If that's not a picture of being "all over the place" I don't know what is. But here is the poignant piece of what Katy prayed, though I am blown all over the place "God is in the wind." I so needed to hear that though it may not feel like it, God is determining my path. I am so fearful that I'm not climbing the ladder and advancing my yet to be determined career. I feel like I'm not on a forward trajectory, but am just wasting time. What I heard last night was that God knows what he's doing. I may not see the path I'm on. And that path may be a little circular, a little all over the place, but God is in control of it.

If that wasn't cool enough, then Hartzell prayed about an open window. The phrase came to mind, "When God closes a door he opens a window." I kept waiting for God to open a new door, but instead he cracked open a window. Though I may have been disappointed by the size of the window instead of another door, Hartzell prayed that I would have the courage to take advantage of new opportunities. Katy prayed about the window as me opening the curtains at dawn and letting in the light of a new day.

They asked if any of what they prayed for me made any sense. I was able to share with them about what God has been teaching me and celebrate with them that I am indeed experiencing a "new day" of health and joy that I haven't experienced in years. So I told them that yes, yes their prayers were making a lot of sense.

So I thought I'd share because kids are just so cool and because they articulated things in a way I haven't been able to. If anyone ever questions if giving your life away to kids is worth it, you need only to experience quiet moments like these where they become the ministers of grace and peace and you'll be convinced.

Monday, June 20

Where to begin again?

I am always writing blog posts in my head. Sometimes I'm composing them as I'm watching the moment unfold in front of me (like I was doing this weekend while watching a bride dance with her family at her wedding). I wasn't sure how to start writing again, but I think I probably just need to jump back in and the words that are in my head will start coming onto the screen again.

It's a day shy of two months since I last posted. It feels like an eternity. It's only been 60 some days but things feel so different. Not a lot has changed circumstantially or situationally, but I have changed. I am different and that is a very good thing. The year that I spent writing the blog certainly induced a lot of the change in me, but I think the span of time that began last summer with leaving my job, the month and half of unemployment, and still yet to be settled in a new career has caused much more dramatic change.

A few weeks ago I was praying and journaling and reflecting on the past year. I have kept a journal on and off since the third grade when my teacher Mrs. Jones gifted me with my first personal journal. There is a plastic crate in my parents' basement containing over 20 years worth of my journals. (Someday one of my grandchildren will stumble across them and give up on reading after hearing enough about all of my middle school crushes.) Mrs. Jones gave me a great gift and now I have a concrete way to constantly reflect on where I've been, who I was, where I'm going, and who I'm becoming.

So a few weeks ago when I was reflecting on the past year, I flipped to the front of my current journal and starting reading my entry from July 11th, 2010. I read my words and laughed at the person I was. I recognize my voice. And I recognize a lot of things in me that I don't like. I recognize my fear. I recognize my need for control. I recognize my arrogance. But I read that person's words and rejoiced because though I remember who that person was, I know that she does not live in me anymore. There is still fear in me. I still feel the need to control things at times. And I can be arrogant still. I recognize that girl, but not because she is the one staring back at me in the mirror. She is a memory.

My prayer on July 11th and the weeks and months that followed was that God would show me what my new calling was. I thought if he called me away from Young Life staff that it was because he was going to call me to something else. I have learned a lot of things this year, but maybe nothing as clear as the truth that God is much less concerned about what I do than he is with who I am. I began learning the basics of this lesson in my Year of Living Imperfectly when I began breaking my performance based identity issue. For me there was no better way to learn this than through unemployment and subsequent underemployment.

It has been almost a full year since leaving my first career and I still don't have a full time job. I have not found a new career. I am not a salaried employee. I have to get benefits through my husband (God bless that man). You want to talk about breaking the pride, ego, and arrogance out of someone? Try working 3 part time jobs, for hourly pay of no more than $10 an hour. I don't mind though! This life is not what I imagined when I decided to leave my job. I am almost laughing out loud at the conversation Daniel and I had where we discussed the likelihood that I could probably make more money now that I was leaving full time ministry with a non-profit. Hahahaha! But it's okay! Really it is! That's how I know I've changed! I've had to go through all of this to humble me and humble me it has. And I am better for it!

This past year has not been a walk in the park. There were times of darkness last summer that I have only experienced in seasons once or twice before. But I am so very grateful for it because it "worked". As much as I prayed this past year for a new career, I kept hearing God promise me not a new job, but that he had a plan for me in this season, a purpose to what he is doing. I kept hoping I could just endure this season of underemployment and at some point he would consider his "purpose" finished and give me a new job already. I suppose he could have answered my prayers and done just that, but then I would just be the same old Hattie with a new job. No instead he kept trucking along and somewhere along the way I started to change from the inside. My circumstances didn't change. The outside stayed the same, but my heart/character were transformed.

I could write forever about all this and how it's still occurring, but instead I'll just share how I know I'm different. I'm not sure that I have felt the change since it's been so gradual, but I've seen the evidence. I had a series of interviews for a job the past two weeks and at the end the interviewer asked me, "What's something you'd like to share about yourself that I didn't ask?" My answer, "I like to work. I'd rather be working than not." The Hattie from a year ago would not have said such a thing. She was entitled and expected a generous salary for simply showing up (and even for not showing up if she felt too overwhelmed to tackle her work that day). I have days off every once in a while (with wedding season I have been working almost every single day) and I've gotten so good at balancing 3 different jobs that I don't know what to do with full days off anymore. I know it's important to take time off and relax, but I enjoy my jobs and my co-workers so much that I'd almost rather be working sometimes. I don't dread work like I used to. Opening my email or hearing my phone ring used to trigger such anxiety in me. They were just reminders of the sense of drowning I was feeling, the inability to keep up with my job. Now I look forward to each workday. I'm not trying to save the world, but just rather make the people I interact with happier and serve the the team of people I work with.

The other large piece of evidence that I'm different is how healthy I am. Sure I feel anxious sometimes, but now instead of running away or hiding from life, I'm forced to face scary situations and overcome them. I've learned to cope with anxiety and keep living in the moment because I don't have another choice. I have to show up for work everyday. It's not just overcoming the little moments of anxiety either, it's the deep undercurrent of peace that's been cultivated. I have a new brave approach to life and a trust that everything (even the small stuff) is going to be just fine. I think this comes from facing my fears of mediocrity and living in situations I always looked upon with such judgement and condemnation (i.e. not having a full time job, being an hourly worker, not using my college degree). Man was I judgmental.

So here I am Mrs. Mediocre. But I'm happy, really, really happy. I love my husband. I love my friends. I love my life. I have more relationships and friendships now than I've had in recent years (one of the many benefits of having 3 different sets of co-workers). On a day to day basis I am completely content with my external situations because internally I am more humble and just grateful for how extremely rich my life is. I am so lucky. When I think about the long term, and of course the end of wedding season when my life will slow down dramatically, of course I would love to find a full time job of meaningful work. Which is why I've been looking for jobs again. But I think I've had to endure this past year to allow God to change me first. I don't think I was ready a year ago. Now I'm a little more ready for all sorts of situations and whatever may lie ahead because my approach to each day and the people around me and my view of myself is so different.

So here I am: poor and folding t-shirts at a clothing store. But at least I am nice and have good people around me to share my life with.

Thursday, April 21

Don't be a Cynic

If you read the last post a few weeks ago and aren't someone I speak to on a regular basis then you may be wondering what the heck happened. Daniel and I were told we could no longer be Young Life leaders in our area. (Don't worry there was no moral impropriety involved.) As you can imagine, this has been an extremely difficult time for the both of us and the word "devastated" from the last post sums up our reaction best.

However we are moving forward now and continuing to live out our calling of loving high school kids, their parents, administrators, and the community we live in. Before we officially move on to unofficial ministry without titles, I thought it best to share this clip of Conan O'Brien's final speech when being forced to leave not only the Tonight Show, but NBC altogether. Daniel played this clip for me and I cannot believe how well it articulates our feelings.

If you want to know exactly how we are feeling about the situation, simply listen to Conan's words.

-Daniel became a part of Young Life at age 14; I got involved at age 16. We have been involved for half of our entire lifetimes.

-If our next "gig" is hanging out with kids in a 7-11 parking lot instead of a multi-million dollar camp property, we will find a way to make it fun. Though we'd prefer to do it at a camp with our high school friends.

-To those of you who have reached out in support, we cling to your kindness and will remember it always. When we felt like rejected missionaries without a home, your support showed us we still have a place in our community.

-We are not cynical. We are grateful for every moment we got to be a part of God's work inside of this organization. The experiences, conversations, tears, and laughter we have shared will always be remembered fondly and with longing. We are grateful for all the lives we have been invited into and will continue to share relationships with the young and old from all the different communities we were able to be a part of. (Go Northmen! Go Jays! Go Hawks! Go Titans!)

If we were to become cynical, we could ruin what God has in store. I read this proverb the day before Daniel showed me the Conan clip, "Cynics desecrate beauty." We believe God still has beautiful things in store for us, so instead of spending time looking backward and possibly missing what's ahead, we are looking forward toward that beauty.

Friday, April 8


How do you title a blog post to sum up a situation you wish you never had to experience?

A quick disclaimer: My blog is not private and I choose to continue to keep it open because I want to make myself, my experiences, and my heart available to other people. Many people would not be able to read along if they were forced to expose their anonymity by becoming an official "follower" in order to have access to me and what I'm trying to share here.

That being said because my words are public I am not ready to speak publicly about a recent loss that Daniel and I are currently grieving. But if this had happened in 2010 I would have forced myself to post something, anything as part of my Year of Living Imperfectly daily post challenge. The good and the bad. In the best of times and the worst of times, I committed to sharing myself and exposing myself to friends and family who read along and to those anonymous souls across computer screens who may have stumbled upon my journey. Last year's blog project was life altering for me and has changed who I am and how I live. So on this day, in the worst of times, I feel compelled to share something, anything.

As I begin to weep at my keyboard, this is what I can share today.

This is a picture from Young Life's annual All City club where kids from all the Kansas City and surrounding suburban schools get together for a giant club all together. Daniel and I have had the privilege the past few years to lead these couple hundred kids in song at each year's event. The singing is fun, but the view is something I wish everyone could experience. So here it is. I took a picture one year because I wanted people to see this event from our perspective, from the best seat in the house.

This particular year Daniel and I's leader from our high school days at Oak Park got to speak. I took my seat alongside the crowd and listened to Peach's words to this crowd. Is this what Jesus saw when he spoke to the masses? Is this what He felt when "He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd"? I don't remember Peach's whole talk because I wasn't present for most of it. Let me explain. He was telling a story, which I can't remember the point of, about trying to have a conversation with God while driving in his car and Nelly's rap song "Grillz" came on. Peach then proceeded to play a clip of the song for all the kids and encouraged them to respond "however they wanted". The result? Well these high school kids came to life. A few of them stood up and began dancing, showing off their best moves for their 400 peers in the room. Most sang/rapped along. I watched and was overcome and burst into tears. I caught a glimpse of the way God sees his kids. I watched sensing the heart of the proud Father who loves, I mean LOVES teenagers. We've all been teenagers and there's no denying that this is a special time of life so unique to any other age we will experience. The moment simply was kids being kids and me falling completely in love with them for being exactly that.

I ducked out the side door and broke down outside overwhelmed by love for the hundreds of kids on the other side of the wall.

Today I hold onto this memory and to the overwhelming love that I still feel for teenagers and for the God who loves them and me more than I can ever comprehend.