So. Richard and I went away with our youth group this weekend. Every other (Canadian) May Long weekend, our church denomination holds a national youth conference, “Abundant Springs”, in Saskatchewan. Sixteen hours of bus-riding craziness with 20 of our beloved teeny-boppers, and 3 full days of rockin’ and praisin’ and playin’. Good times.
When I was in high school, I went to Abundant Springs. And rocked it up hard. I mean HARD. I have some amazing memories from those long weekends. And, I apologize profusely to my youth leaders, who had to deal with my blatant immaturity and not-quite-as-funny-to-them antics. Now I’M the youth leader, and my heart bursts with happiness when I watch my “kids” making similar memories. (Except the ones that are made after 2am. Those aren’t quite as heart warming.)
I often joke that I’m putting in my time as a youth leader so that *my* kids can pay it back by being Ellie’s sponsor. You know, when Ellie’s rockin’ it up at youth group.
When ELLIE’S rockin’ it up at youth group.
Ellie? At youth?
It’s going to happen. And I thought about that a lot this weekend.
Will Ellie be able to stay in dorm with all her friends? Will she be able to navigate herself to the bathroom without help? Will there be a wheelchair or walker accessible shower in her dorm? What will she do when it’s time to play the “big game” on Sunday? Will the kids want her on their team? Will she even be able to GET to all the stations, with her wheelchair? How will she get on the bus? Will I have to drive her separately? Will her friends wait for her when she takes longer to get places? Will she have friends?
My heart feels panic when I process all these questions.
Because I want this for her. SO MUCH. I want her to love being a teenager as much as I did. I want her to feel safe and secure within her youth group. I want her to have BFFs that love her and love Jesus. Like mine did…STILL DO! I want her to giggle in her dorm room, as she tells her girlfriends about the guy she has a crush on (who, of course, will also love Jesus and won’t ever hurt Ellie’s heart. Right?!).
It’s just so hard to imagine. Because of all the questions. All the “what if’s?” All the unknowns.
But, there is something I know without a shadow of a doubt: If Ellie wants to go to Abundant Springs 2021, I will move the Saskatchewan Prairies to get her there.
According to our conversation in the car this morning, there will be some prairie-moving to do:
“I wish I could go to Sassassawan, Mom.”
“Well, you’ll get to when you’re older.”
“Old like you?”
“No, not *that* old. When you’re Shane’s age.” (Shane is one of our youth kids, and Ellie adores him.)
“When will I be Shane’s age?”
“In 11 years.”
“And when I get to go to Sassassawan, will you and Daddy be there too?”
“No, I don’t think you’ll want Daddy and me there. You’ll want to be there with your friends. And your youth leaders. Maybe Shane will be there as your youth leader!”
“Because you and Daddy will be too old?”
“And because when I’m Shane’s age, then I won’t need you and Daddy to be there?”
“But you and Daddy will come pick me up when the bus comes back to the church?”
“Oooh, I can’t wait till I’m Shane’s age! It’s going to be so much fun!”
Yes, sweet Ellie. It will be so much fun. And Daddy and I will be there to pick you up, anxiously waiting for all the stories that you probably won’t want to tell us until you’ve had a good night sleep. And when you say, “I love you, Mom, but I’d rather be back at Abundant Springs, hanging out with my friends,” I won’t feel one bit of sadness.
That is my prayer.