I have a lot on my mind after a couple of eventful days, and I haven't even finished my trip report from our recent road trip vacation, so skipping a day of blogging isn't helping, though it gives me a good bit of material for the next few days of posts. That said, last night my daughter, Melody, and I went to the Bengie's Drive-in to see a couple of pretty good movies. The big one was THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, which was as awesome as you've probably already heard. The other movie was PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE, which was much better than I expected. In fact, I thought it was far superior to the first PLANES movie. I'll provide a full review of both movies in a future post.
I want to focus tonight on a couple of other things. We attend Grace Community Church in Fulton, MD, which is a very large church compared to what I grew up in. The churches I attended while growing up were, on average, fairly small. Grace has several thousand. I would probably prefer going to a smaller church, but I've really come to enjoy Grace and the people there. My wife, Teresa, who was a 9th grade English teacher at both Mt. Hebron and Reservoir High Schools, taught many of the kids who participated in the youth program at Grace, and she could see the differences in the teens who attended Grace. In fact, she also taught the pastor's kids, and made a connection with him and his wife. That was enough to convince us to give Grace a try when we were searching for a church near our home. After Teresa passed away, the support that I found from the staff, elders, and members of Grace was overwhelming, and I felt like I had found a church home.
Despite the fact that I came from a very traditional church environment, and Grace is definitely not traditional, I've come to enjoy the services at Grace. The hardest adjustment was with music. I really enjoy the traditional hymns I sang at church while growing up, and I do miss them. I didn't like the full band vs. the organ I was used to. But after a time, you do come to enjoy it, if only because of the constant exposure to it. Tonight, in particular, I found myself watching the musicians in the praise band. They are all very good, but the passion and joy on their faces as they performed the music was all too apparent, and I found that moving. It actually brought a tear to my eye. I was overwhelmed. Musicians are some of the coolest people I know, and the members of the band were truly enjoying themselves more than what you might expect from musicians just playing their music. They had the Holy Spirit driving them. It was awesome.
On a different but connected topic, Friday was the last day of Grace Adventures Day Camp for the Summer. My daughter, Melody, really enjoyed herself this year, and that is a credit to the wonderful young people who ran and participated with the camp this year. This is no different than past years, since she really loves going to camp. But this year, the camp had a completely different staff in charge, and many of the folks we encountered in past years have moved on to new endeavors. That did not change the tone of the camp, however. There are still nothing but dedicated young people making the camp a success and truly a special, Christ-centered experience for all of the kids, and their families, to enjoy.
I got to thinking about my personal relationships with the people who work at the camp, both this year and in past years, and because things were different this year with so many new people, I expected things to be different. But the results were the same, as far as Melody's experience. But what was really noteworthy was how they behaved towards me. Really, when you come right down to it, I'm dealing with young people, many half my age. I wouldn't normally be "friends" with these people, necessarily. But I couldn't help noticing just how friendly they were towards me, especially compared to others. This is just my own limited observation, but they always greeted me with smiles, and they were very quick to announce to Melody when I was there to pick her up. To me, they were just a little friendlier, a little quicker, and a little more engaged in what they were doing during my encounters with them, compared to how they behaved with other people who were there for the same purpose. I've concluded that this is, at least partially, a result of how my daughter interacts with them.
I'm very much an introvert. It's hard for me to step out and talk to strangers and people I don't know very well, and I certainly have to make a connection before I open up. My daughter is very similar, though I think she's a bit quicker to open up and make a connection with other people, and I'm certain that's the case with the counselors and staff of the camp, past and present. When I see how much Melody opens up and steps out of her shell and comfort zone, doing things I've never seen her do (like dance and sing with many of these young women counselors), it touches my heart. Melody doesn't have a mom, so she's constantly looking for female role models, and it's awesome to see these young women interact with Melody. It's so apparent to me that the Lord is centered in their hearts, and by loving on Melody, they are exhibiting Christ's love. This is having a great positive impact on my daughter, and, as a result, it's doing the same with me. How can I not be touched by this?
Anyway, I'm so thankful for God's impact on these young people, and I thank them for what they are doing. They are awesome.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.