As I sit here waiting to get on the plane to Michigan, filled with sadness from the void left by the life of my dear Dede and filled with separation anxiety from the 2012 Summer Leadership Project that has somehow sneaked its way into my heart, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the summer so far.
Lord, I pray you would do the impossible and free me to believe in your good plan.
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13-14).
I’m going to be honest. I don’t want to go to Michigan. I want to be around my SLP community where I feel loved and needed, and more in control. I feel like my role as a daughter and granddaughter in the face of this loss is even less defined than my role as a team leader.
That’s a good place to start. What do team leaders do? I’m not sure. Most of the time I feel like I am selling doughnuts, sharing the wonders of Les Mis with Ben on our way to work, and trying to convince people I am not a “hipster” (really, I’m not). But I have actually enjoyed working at Dunkin’ Donuts. CO employees have a long legacy there and I am honored to walk into that. The management and employees are a joy to work with. Ben and I have decided not to eat a single doughnut. You can hold me accountable to that.
The detail/planning/programming part of team leading has been the hardest part for me, and most of the leadership team I would say. We struggle through the 5-hour staff meetings on Mondays and wonder if the feng shui of the picnic tables really matters. Every Thursday: “Oh, we have team time in an hour? Whoops.” –Ben and I.
A welcome surprise has been how much I have enjoyed working with Christy, Evan, Mallory, Lewis, Sophie, Kunal, Drew, and last but not least, Ben. I wish I could post our team leader “Call Me Maybe” remake video but I don’t think it’s on YouTube yet. Katie Martin secretly wants to join our team so SHOUTOUT (because we are so fun). Living with Sophie, Mallory, and Christy in a one-room condo is an adventure in itself. They offer me tremendous grace considering I wake them up at 5 every morning when I go to work (along with many other things I am sure).
Let me tell you about the ocean. I don’t think there is a better place to have Summer Leadership Project. The ocean offers itself freely. You don’t have to work hard to become a part of its vast beauty and power. I am unable to understand how large and powerful the ocean is, and yet all I have to do is dip myself into the waves and I am offered a place in its infinity. Which is a lot like grace. We are reading through Colossians and I was struck by how similar God sounded to the ocean. “So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20ish The Message). Going to the sandbar is one of my favorite SLP activities, along with getting tan.
Leading Erin, Daisy, and Elizabeth has been the other amazing part of project. Their heart for the girls in their rooms has allowed me to love the girls in their rooms too. Our Wednesday d-group time (stands for “dance group”) is a welcome and refreshing look into the freedom that Jesus offers us as sons and daughters in his kingdom. They are trying to find the balance between love and truth this summer for our team, and walking behind Jesus every step of the way. Join me in praying Isaiah 55:11 for Erin, Micah 6:8 for Elizabeth, and Colossians 3:2 for Daisy.
Big Picture: There are a lot of new believers, hungry to learn more about their Savior. We, as staff and team leaders, are trying to walk beside them in grace and offer better tools with which to do this.
My Heart: Daily struggle to trust God’s plan for my life and his role for me this summer.
“The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taught by hope” (The Message) or “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (ESV). Colossians 1:5a has given me great comfort in the last few weeks of my grandmother’s life.
I worry, a lot, and I don’t think I have realized how sinful and detrimental this aspect of my life is. The Lord has placed me in a few different situations this summer that I have no control over. You would think I wouldn’t worry because I can’t control them. Wrong. The anxiety-dial was turned up so loud I couldn’t hear the voices of the people around me, much less my Shepherd’s calming voice leading me beside quiet waters.
“Am I a good team leader? Why can’t I do the simplest things i.e. annunciate the words ‘Welcome to Dunkin’ Donuts. What can I get for you today?’? When will I have to go home for the funeral? What do I say to my dying grandmother? Should I be home with my mom? How can I possibly get to know 16 girls in 8 weeks? Should I take a nap? Go to the beach? Write an SLP update? Answer emails? Pay my bills?” and on and on and on and on.
With this little half-verse and loving community, He has been slowly turning down the frantic, scared, panicky voices on my worry-dial so I can hear his grace-filled voice that has promised me life to the fullest. My purpose is kept secure in heaven and I don’t have to live up to any sort of standard that has been set before me by either others or myself.
Coming home yesterday and sitting here at the airport I feel like I’ve turned the dial back up. I want to control my grief and control when I will get back to project and I’m not trusting in my Father’s provision. So I’ve already complained, thrown a fit, and mistreated my mom who has just lost her mother (I am sorry, mom.) I know Dede is in heaven laughing at my petty worries and fits. Although I’m sure she understands what it feels like (one time she pitched a fit when I stole her place in the front seat of the car). I’ve forgotten that I am free to dream, play, and imagine (Thank you, Connor) because I am a child of the most High King who has promised to take care of me.
I imagine Pat Tucker, one of the great loves of my life, meeting Jesus yesterday. It must be like there was darkness and struggle and a lack of air in her lungs and then suddenly light. Sweet breath filled her whole being as she surfaced an ocean with waves upon waves of grace. Her heart felt more complete then even imaginable. She was crying and laughing because just a second before it had seemed like it was all over but now she knows it has only just begun. She can’t wait to tell us of the unutterable goodness that is seeping through her unblemished skin. He is there on the shore to welcome her, reassuring her that she is in the right place. If she could write us she would say, “Don’t cry for me. I am free. I don’t have the adequate words to describe this place and I must leave you. But we will meet again in this new home. Forever. And more than that and more than that and more than that.”
So raise your glass to my grandmother, to mom, to wonder, beauty, the ocean, grace, doughnuts, SLP team 1, and He that is preeminent in all things,
And drink with me.
P.S. I heard this story yesterday: When Elvis died, my grandmother was so distraught she made my grandfather and uncle come home from a camping trip to console her. Hmmm I wonder where the drama comes from…