What a day.
Last night, my niece and nephew and I wandered the streets. We walked to a local restaurant and played alphabet games over pizza and cherry pepsi, then walked around the streets before finally heading home. On the way home I mentioned something about how pretty a night it was and how it'd be a great night to pitch a tent and sleep outside.
Every adult I could tell this story to, probably would shake their heads wondering what's wrong with me that I would have been the one to suggest this. Somewhere deep inside, I shake my head at myself too though.
So, with two very excited kids, we made it home and started pitching the tent. We laid down a blanket then spread out 3 sleeping bags. Sure enough, one blanket did nothing to ease the fact that the ground is not nearly as comfortable as a bed.
Combined into that was the fact that at some point, something had happened to Davey's sleeping bag. (He'd never slept in it before, so whatever the issue was, it wasn't his fault - I want to make that clear.) But, as we all laid down I couldn't help but notice (and trust me, I tried to keep from noticing) that his sleeping bag reeked of some very foul smell. Every time he rolled over, tossing his cover over his shoulder, taken unawares by the sudden gust I tried to keep my cherry pepsi down.
In the not so quiet darkness, we talked about the odor until one of them had to run to the restroom and the other was laughing so hard that he was raining spittle across the tent showering me.
Finally, everything has calmed down and we were quietly singing. We reached "Thank you Lord, for saving my soul" when David asks "What does salvation mean?"
For the next hour, we talked about salvation, sin, Christs sacrifice, communion, and "being dunked" as my niece put it.
This morning, as I took a warm shower, amidst thanking God for indoor plumbing, I realized how I've missed the very obvious ministry right in front of me in these two kids. I've worked for them, and I've taught them as any decent aunt would do, but today, something changed. Their knowing Christ deeply, closely, personally, and embracing the gifts I myself am trying to embrace, became a priority to me.
It wasn't comfortable. But, laying there next to the polluting sleeping bag, showered in spittle, and looking up at the tree above us while vaguely wondering if birds poop at night (do they?) I got to be the mouth of God to them.
Today, right after all that, we went into the church that I'm so torn about, and after talking about communion the night before, we walked in and my niece took her first communion. I took it seriously, and she did too, and God touched her. Sitting there next to her, simply praying her through this new encounter with God, my heart overflowed with thankfulness that I had had this chance.
From the other side of the house this morning, loud shouting of the lyrics of the song "Blessed be the name of the Lord" rang out, and I'm just so grateful for every Sunday morning with them. Even if it means waking up to smelly sleeping bags and stiff backs.