Last year at this time, I was waking up at 7 am, packing a cooler (multiple coolers) for the day and loading 30 kids into big white vans for service projects, double checking for sunscreen and bug spray and inhalers. Giving hugs and braiding hair, breaking up conflicts over who gets to be in charge of the radio and patroling for immodest clothing. And this week, each morning I think about that week in Jacksonville with the youth group and my heart mourns a bit that I am here and not there as they returned for a missions trip this week.
I love those kids and want them so badly to know that Jesus loves them too. Taking a year off from formal youth ministry has been a time for me to refresh, to get my cup refilled, all of those things. But when I think about weeks like Jacksonville and Bilouxi 2 summers ago, those weeks gave me more life and joy than many other weeks in my life have. They filled my cup to the brim with laughter and joy and somehow forced me to be my best self, knowing that how I live makes a difference to these kids. So thanks God for the fullness of loving these kids and give me wisdom to know when it's time to jump back in.