An aluminum weekend

Sing with me… “Friday night I crashed your party, Saturday I said I’m sorry…” Okay, so I was actually invited but then the song doesn’t quite fit.  Oh well.  Anyway, this story starts before Friday, actually earlier this week.  I was given advice to see what represented a 10th wedding anniversary.  So I did a web search and found this site with information on anniversaries.  We all know about silver and gold wedding anniversaries, but the years leading up to them are rather short of the glamour silver and gold bring, with things like paper, cotton, leather, and wood.  10th anniversary is tin or aluminum, so I got the idea to purchase them some snacks in tins.  Well, apparently stores only sell snacks in tins around Christmastime- they were nowhere to be found.  I finally found something kind of lame at Meijer, but it was in a tin.  I would be giving them another gift along with it so I figured as long as the idea got across the tin would be fine.  Next day, I had a job in 8th grade and I noticed the teacher had a tin in his room- full of puzzles.  Ding- of course.  Games and puzzles can come in tins, and my friends are wild for games! So, back in Meijer after school I found some options in domino sets (double 6, 9, and 12), and Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader Disney edition.  I leaned toward the dominos, but decided to check Walmart across the street first.  Good thing, as their domino sets were half the price of Meijer’s!  But wait, they had several more items in tins including a classic game set, a couple of jigsaw puzzles, and a Phase 10 card game.  It took me awhile to decide what to get, but C & L know what the final selection was.  So, I wrapped them up, found a half-day job for Friday AM, went to bed, couldn’t sleep, canceled the job at about 4:30 after only short bursts of sleep, went back to bed until 9:30, then got up, finished getting ready, ate, and headed to Ohio, stopping only once for gas and a snack (what a sentence, whew!).  Once I finally gave the gifts away later in the evening C guessed something about me wrapping the gifts in tin foil and I had to kick myself for not thinking of it.  Well, the paper was the color of tin anyway.

Backing up just a little, I arrived at 3:45 and checked into the motel.  $25 per night- even better than the amazing $29 C told me on the phone!  Not too many frills, but I wouldn’t be there except to sleep so I didn’t care.  I finally arrived at the theatre around 5:40 and discovered several people were already there and I didn’t really need to delay at the motel as long as I did.  I saw C’s mom for the first time in a long time, as well as the rest of the family and friends there.  Once they started it was short but emotional.  One of the two (I won’t say which, though most of you readers already know!) broke down while reading which only added to the powerful sincerity of what s/he said.  Then it was off to the reception across the street where I had my second meal of the day (I skipped lunch) and, well I’ll just skip ahead since this part is already in my friends’ blogs.  We all had a good time.  When we went to their house afterward, they graciously allowed the few of us to stay for a short time and we had a fun few rounds of a Tribond game before we all retired for the night.

The next day they gave me some options for a fun, family activity- drive an hour to the Toledo Zoo or even longer to an animal park.  Umm…  Since I drove four hours the day before and would drive four hours again the next day, the animal park was really a no-go.  The zoo might have been an option, but I had seen the zoo just a year before around the same time of year so we finally decided to go to town.  It wasn’t bad.  The important part was just hanging out together, so it really didn’t matter much what we did.  The kids enjoyed some playtime at Menards, and then we went to a couple other places, including a few runs of go-karting (their eldest was visibly upset when she was asked to sit out first since not all could go at once, but I think she got over it after going twice in a row.  Everyone- including us adults as we had to watch their youngest who couldn’t ride- rode two out of the three runs) before having dinner at a pizza buffet.  Since it was a Chuck-E-Cheese style (somewhat) place I wasn’t expecting much from the pizza, but it was actually pretty good.  Not Gino’s East or Giordano’s good, but for sure better than Dominos or Little Caesar’s.  They even took requests, so I jokingly asked for something with jalapeños, and they actually obliged- not an unusual request I guess.  Well, when they have peanut butter and jelly pizza I guess nothing’s unusual!  The kids had their fun at the games there, and then we rented a blu-ray movie to watch through my computer on their HDTV.  Unfortunately, due to draconian copy protection and software issues it took some time to get the movie going, but we were glad when we finally did.

Hmm.  This post is getting a little long so I think I will chop it here with a:

Reflections

Well, this weekend it was mentioned that the next church anniversary in September is the its 20th. Yes I know that is nothing compared with some churches celebrating centennials and more. The church I grew up going to is a church like that, but the one I go to now is kind of mega-ish. That is, it is quite large, expands four campuses, and has a couple dozen “plants” following its doctrines and leadership style, but is still nothing compared to the likes of Willow Creek or Crystal Cathedral. Anyway, When I first started going to the church it hadn’t yet celebrated its 10th anniversary. I remember that celebration was done in the school it originally met at before they got their own building. It was still on only one campus, its campground was still in the hands of its previous owners, and even the building they were in wasn’t yet fully utilized. Inside was a big fenced in area of, well, nothing which would soon become the second half of a new improved worship center. Since then much has happened. Besides being on four campuses now (one of which used to be a plant but joined up for a reason I never found out) and having a campground, it has a chapel that didn’t used to be there, used mostly for weddings, a second floor in part of the building (the building was always one floor, with a roof high enough for two), a school, and has undergone much remodeling.

As for me, around that 10th anniversary was when I started working in the children’s ministry. It started with an ambitious children’s drama which took up much of the service time and was scaled back the following year due to the teaching volunteers wanting to, well, teach. I of course knew God wanted me there and so was part of the first cast. This lasted about three years. I even had a short stint at directing in the third year. Well, after the first year I wanted more so I started teaching as well. They put me in fourth grade with another teacher and we took turns week to week teaching the lesson. On the weeks I was also in the drama (there were four casts- one per week of the month with any fifth weekends generally without drama) I would walk the kids down and then go backstage and get into my costume. Believe it or not, I wasn’t the only one who did this. About that time a new combined program for4th and 5th grades was just getting started. The prior year they had it as a Friday night program as a supplement to the weekend services, but now they were making it the weekend service. They started off with just one service on the weekend, but it wouldn’t be long before it expanded to all weekends. Just why they did it this way I am not sure. Anyway, I switched to this service eventually. As I recall they went through a few staff members running it over the years to where it is at now with the current pastor hired about six years ago. I think I am the only one left still volunteering in that ministry from that first year (discounting the Friday night program). Like the church itself, this program has grown and is definitely in a mature state. I reflect on this because there is a high school student who volunteers in one of the services who was one of my first students in fourth grade. He is a senior in high school now. Well, actually from what he says he was a senior because he graduated in January.

I really enjoy working with the kids, and I know God placed me there and has kept me there. In fact, my best spiritual time I think was last summer when I volunteered as a camp counselor for 4th and 5th grade. Also the two summers before. I just wonder if God will ask me to move on soon like the others have, and if so where to? I am still involved with kids ministry drama as well, which after a hiatus of a couple of years came back as a different sort of program. Really, I am deeply immersed in this church and currently have no plans to move on, but eventually God may ask me to. Will I be able to if and when he does? Will I be willing to go where He wants me to? Would I be able to shepherd children myself as a pastor if called to do it somewhere? I can only make sure be ready I suppose in case He does. And how about my own family? Has He been leading me toward this in a way? That is, I am single right now, but is this practice, along with subbing, to lead a family of my own one day, soon I would hope as I am not getting any younger…