Friday, November 19, 2010

D.A.R.E. to be Different

It's time to put my daughter Maggie in the spotlight.

We have three kids. Ironically, it's not the twins that are very much alike, or even the two girls, but Caitlin and Ryan who seem to be cut, if not of the same mold, at least near the same kiln. I often remember writing down little notes in their early years of how Caitlin and Ryan did one thing, and Maggie did quite another. I was going to write a book titled "...And Then There's Maggie."

I'm still considering it. She gave me quite a lot of documented material.

See, Maggie is this interesting dichotomy of enormous talent and complete indifference. She has more natural athletic ability than the other four of us put together.

And absolutely no ambition.

Her "love language" is Quality Time. She has little interest in electronic gadgets, much preferring board games played with other living, breathing human beings. She's social, but not in the way of joining everything, pursuing popular programs or even having a wide group of friends.

Maggie likes one-on-one. And she doesn't easily tire of it. So when she finds something she's interested in, we get a little excited around here. Because as much as she likes the social interaction, she usually won't join anything that requires too much of her.

We haven't pushed her into sports or academics or park district courses. We're happy to save the money - and truth be told - the time and gas required to shlep another child to another destination on any given weekday/end. We've been content to have her participate in Girl Scouts which only meets about once a month after school. But something peaked Maggie's interest at school recently and the result was kind of amazing.

Maggie got totally into the D.A.R.E. program. You know the program...Officer Friendly on steroids. DRUG ABUSE RESISTANCE EDUCATION. DARE to say NO to drugs.

Maggie was all in.

She not only participated actively at school, she attended CSI-like presentations at the library and applied herself like superglue.

For her efforts she was recognized as one of two kids in the entire 6th grade (about 100 kids) as "DARE Student of the Year." There was a ceremony, a customized plaque, photos with the Chief of Police and more. We were so proud we totally let her blow off her small group at church to attend the award celebration.

At a time when kids are exposed to more dangerous vices at earlier ages in a culture that is increasingly tolerant of it, I am thrilled that the activity that finally warranted my daughters efforts and commitment was one that teaches her to go against the grain.

That's pretty much what the Christian life consists of in 21st century America. Going. Against. The. Grain.

It used to be when I came home as a kid and asked my mom to do something (or got caught doing something I shouldn't have been doing) and pleaded that "everyone else was doing it" that possibly two or three kids I knew were doing it. Now when my kids come home and talk about non-stop texting, or whatever the new must-have/must-see/must-do thing is and tell me "everyone else is doing it," literally, everyone else is doing it.

Makes me really grateful Maggie was honored for not doing something too many other kids are.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend

This weekend wasn't non-stop activity but the activity was chock-full.

Friday night I went to a "Fall Fellowship" of over 30 women who will all be attending our church's newest campus in Itasca. We spent some time getting to know each other, eating (lots of eating), learning about women's ministry and praying for the campus. It was emotional for me because I was involved in the process of this location becoming another site of our church from the beginning. It was a very eclectic group of women ranging in age from 22 to 96! I stopped complaining about being tired after working all day and going out again past 9:00 pm when the 96 year old was making her way from room to room in her immaculate skirt and holding hands in circles of prayer to lift up the ministries of the church. I am ridiculously out of shape.

Saturday morning Ryan's football team played for the Championship in their division. I thought I might not make it there because my back was half out and I could barely drive to the field.

Best youth football game I've ever seen in my life.

Both teams played their hearts out and it could have gone either way. I actually experienced some of the devastation the other team must have felt coming so close while at the same time, being elated for my son, his dad (Dan is an assistant coach) and all these kids I've gotten to watch play all season. I think it was Ryan's first real taste of competition on a higher level. He made a great catch on 4th down with a defender all over him and I couldn't help but be proud. The celebration was immediate - it rivaled an NFL division win in enthusiasm. They drank heartily from bottles of sparkling grape juice (when they weren't dumping them over each other's heads). I asked Ryan to pass me his trophy so I could get a better look at it while we were in the car on the way home but he couldn't do it.

It was strapped into the seat with him.

One of the families on the team hosted a celebration party afterward that I am still hearing about. Cait and I stayed home for homework/backache reasons respectively, but the family was well represented by Maggie from what I hear.

Sunday morning was the "internal launch" of the Itasca Campus for church. The former congregation had dwindled down to about 30 people prior to joining The Orchard. There were well over 200 people there Sunday morning. It was such a gift to be part of a community of believers who had worked hard, prayed hard and put aside personal preferences for the greater good of reaching more people for Christ in this really special place.

Everything went fairly smoothly and I doubt most people were aware of what didn't go according to plan. Although most things went completely awry for the ministry I head up it ended up being okay. In fact, it was better than okay and I was blessed by the people who showed up and participated in it.

I was so thankful to have the extra hour of sleep - and the rest of Sunday afternoon to lay on the couch and watch the Bears win - added bonus! But I still feel like life is moving at a pace I will never adjust to.

So I'm working on not adjusting to it.

There's a verse from the Bible that keeps popping up in all my reading. Matthew 11:28, "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

It's my slow-down-even-if-no-one-else-is free card. Way better than getting out of jail in Monopoly.