Youth Specialties

We are finally back from our long weekend away.  Lia kept wondering when we were going back to California.  Whenever she flies somewhere she goes out of California, so grasping Sacramento as a part of California was difficult.  I don’t know that we ever succeeded.

We heard some great speakers, as usual.  Now that we’ve gone enough years to hit most of the main seminars, it’s the speakers that are the highlight for us.

One night they had three speakers and time for discussion and questions after each.  First up was Jarrett Stevens, who spoke about what it’s like to end a successful ministry.  As in, you have a “successful” thriving ministry that is reaching people and you decide to end it because you and your team feel that it is not what God wants.  He talked about the “end” and the “means” and how the means aren’t what’s important in ministry, it’s all about the “end”.  (That would be God.)  Wow.  How about knocking everyone off their seats…who would have the guts to dismantle a successful ministry (the thing you are always aiming for)?

And then there was Andrew Marin.  His life is all about creating connections with the gay and lesbian community.  “Love is an orientation.”  His story and work are really amazing.  What was more amazing was that he could speak on such a touchy touchy issue with an arena full of people of strong (and opposing) views on the subject…and inspire us all.  Check out his website at the Marin Foundation.

And last was Shane Claiborne, one of my personal favorites.  His speech/sermon/story two years ago at YS completely changed my whole life’s orientation.  He has two books…Irresistable Revolution and Jesus for President (which I haven’t read, but Devo picked it up, so I will get to it soon).

Another session had Phyllis Tickle, who is my new hero.  Holy cow, I want to be like her.  She’s 75 and as well-read, well-spoken, feisty, and loving as you could possibly imagine.  She did an amazing overview of Christian history, explaining the cycles that the church goes through.  The main cycle is that every 500 years there is a big shift.  And we’re approaching one of those 500 year shifts.  And the church has never managed to make a shift without bloodshed.  The issue that she believes will continue to be at the forefront is our theology of religion (how to get along with other religions).  She encouraged the youth workers to be very thoughtful and intentional on how they speak to kids about getting along with other religions.

What I appreciated most, however, was how she took all the things that I’ve been reading and drawn to but unable to connect…and connected them.  I believe that her book The Great Emergence is an expanded version of her presentation.  Very fascinating and very revealing.

And there was Mark Yaconelli, whom I enjoyed alot three years ago.  This year we saw him everywhere…swimming in the pool with his daughter, in the halls, etc.  I was really looking forward to his session.  But when he started it out with a prayer exercise, saying, “Let’s remove all distractions”…I high-tailed it out of there with my two children.  And missed it.

Which leads me to the other big event of the weekend.  I think it was Saturday evening, when the general session hadn’t quite started and I was slumped in my chair thinking seriously of just going to bed when…

a man (a bald man) came up to me and said,

“You know, your baby was really distracting this morning.”

I murmured, taken aback, “I’m sorry.”

He went on.  “The way she just kept saying, ‘Mama, mama, mama, mama.’  It was really distracting.  You know, that’s why they have a kids room.  Yada yada yada blah blah blah blah.”

By this point I had wiped off any friendly or engaged expression from my face and gave him a blank, “Okay.”  He finally got the point and left.

I was seriously irritated.  And seriously upset.  And seriously angry.  And seriously hurt.  And I felt seriously unwelcome.

You know, I had just been to a seminar entitled “The Scandal of Grace”.  And we had all just sat together and listened to Andrew Marin say that if someone who you disagree with comes into your church, you should celebrate that they are there.

And Amelie had been happy and contented.  She was playing so nicely, and the “mama, mama” was not loud and it was so cute and sweet.  We DO believe in taking our children out if they are fussing.  And we DO believe in teaching our children to amuse themselves quietly in church.  And to listen and participate. We are not delinquent parents who believe that children should run wild.

In the middle of the night, after a few hours of space and a few hours of sleep, I woke up and composed my reply, in the event that he should approach me again.  Or offer me an apology.  (We can always dream, can’t we?) I can’t remember it now, but it was an exquisite, ironic truth-saying speech.  Condensed into three sentences.  Where I could speak up for myself (and all the mothers and children in the world!) calmly and rationally.

I suppose they have a mandatory nursery in his church.  And he’s probably childless if he’s so easily distracted.  But the funny thing is that after we left, Devo said that a couple with a baby sat right behind the man and the baby cried through the entire meeting.  Forgive me for my spirit of vengeance, but that satisfies.

But while we’re on the subject of children, Amelie (while sweet and contented during that pivotal session) spent the weekend jerking our chains.  She threw a fit at every opportunity.  I’m convinced that she knew that I was unwilling to go the distance in a public place and that she most definitely was.  One reason I like staying at home is because I can discipline my children the way I want/choose/need to…without anybody else (peer pressure!) to interfere.

I promised Amelie that we would have it out together as soon as we got home.  And sure enough, this morning she threw herself on the floor again and screamed bloody murder and we spent a very important 25 minutes learning that that is unacceptable behavior.  I’m expecting another round or two before she settles back into the sweet, obedient girl she usually is.

But other than that, we had a very nice weekend.  The pillows on the bed were just perfect.  Lia really enjoyed Lincoln Brewster.  I enjoyed Shane and Shane.  And Joe Castillo of Sandstory.  We ate at the Magnolia Grill 5 times.  And Devo got a really cool new sweater.

Oh, BTW, I passed the 12 week mark on Friday.  Glory Hallelujah, may there be more energetic days ahead!


4 thoughts on “Youth Specialties

  1. Glad you’re home safely. I can see despite the “bald man” others thoroughly enjoyed your children! 12 Weeks, wonderful!! Glad it was such an energizing, educational, enjoyable weekend! Welcome back to California!

  2. Good to read about your trip! Now, I’d really like to know what ‘having it out together’ means since we’re at the point where fits are becoming more regular and intense and we’d like to see our happy little boy more often. Maybe a post on your discipline techniques?? 🙂

  3. Hey there. I saw you several times as I made my way around the Hall, big old camera in tow. I am pretty confident I saw you in Shane’s session as well.

    Anyway, I’m sorry this happened to you. Just so you know, we (the YS team) love that you’ve taken this time away with your family to be together. Feel free to invite mean old bald people to please sit somewhere baby free… like near the front or something. I think you were plenty considerate. Thanks for not punching him or telling him where the old bald guy cry room was while pointing to the potty.

    With 2500 seats I find it inconceivable that someone would be so locked into their seat to be distracted by a baby!

    As Tic loves to say, “Make it your own.” Thanks for coming and making it your own!

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