they call me mom

for the past 4 years, i’ve been a small group leader with my church’s youth group.

to be honest, the initial reason i decided to do it was quite selfish. ric and i had been attending a very large church for a few years, and we wanted it to feel smaller.

this guy i knew, dave, was the youth group leader and about a week before it was to start, was still in need of another guy and gal leader. it didn’t take us long to decide to go for it. we were really excited to meet other people our age who could become our close friends.

and that happened, and it was good.

but i seriously had no idea how much i would fall in love with these faces.

our first photo together, at my apartment

over the years i’ve gotten to watch them play softball, play volleyball, dance, perform show choir, sing and play in the church band, act in the mime, go to prom, graduate.

we’ve had sleepovers, gone 30 hours without food, picked up trash, slept outside in cardboard boxes, rang the bell for the salvation army, raked yards, gone to concerts, gone to the mall. we’ve been through new boyfriends, ex-boyfriends, mistakes, milestones.

and we’ve eaten lots of cookie dough.

and it’s been such a joy.

in a couple months, a bunch of us are going to florida and it’s going to be a blast.

one of our many sleepovers

sure, we had our ups and downs. i remember the very first meeting, and how i had no idea what to do, and how i was nervous and it was awkward. but i kept showing up, and listening, and listening, and loving on them.

and they loved me back.

i just want them to know that they are beauty, and each one of them is a prize that someday, someone will be lucky to win. because i know that God is also preparing the winner.