the last month was CRAZY
i’m sitting here on august 16th, thinking back to what i was doing on july 16th.
i was packing.
it seems like i have done a lot of packing since july 16.
that day, i was packing in anticipation for the trip south to new orleans for the elca national youth gathering.
i checked and rechecked lists to ensure that i had everything i needed to survive a few days from clothing and shampoo to all the documents needed at the gathering.
on july 17, we flew down.
we left the nice, warm/hot weather of north dakota and arrived in the ridiculous heat and humidity. stood for an hour with sweat dripping.
but the gathering was amazing.
i have not really had much of a chance to decompress and really reflect upon the experience yet.
i say yet because i need to, but have been running pretty fast without time to stop since i got back.
shortly after getting back, i had started a blog post where i was listing all the things i learned.
the post still isn’t finished, and i’m not sure if it ever will be.
i loved gathering for worship and music with hundreds or thousands of people every morning and night.
i loved walking in a city and seeing how the old culture and buildings have connected with the modern world with its own traditions.
i loved picking out souvenirs that reflected the time i spent in a city very much unlike where i live.
i loved getting to know two wonderful girls from my parish as well as meeting new people and seeing old friends.
i especially loved the speakers.
i remember going to the gathering as a teen and meeting people from other states. i was a small-town girl from south dakota who had never been to such a gathering of people from across the country.
but i don’t remember who spoke.
i remember musicians whose music i still appreciate.
i remember talking in hotel hallways (but not what we talked about).
i remember a lot, but not the speakers.
this time, as an adult, i experienced the gathering in a new way.
i instead focused on the message being shared and communicated instead of just the fun.
i was always a bit stressed as i was looking out for two youths entrusted to my care.
i sought to enhance their experience more than mine, to give them opportunities to grow.
but i still learned.
i heard from speakers i have met personally over the last few years.
i heard messages that i have heard before, only to hear them in a slightly different way.
even though i was not labeled a participant (that was restricted to only the teens as i was a leader), i felt as though i participated more fully than when i was a participant.
and i’m still processing.
this month i was going to have the two girls travel with me to the 7 congregations to share their experiences with the entire parish.
but that did not happen.
because four days after getting back from new orleans, i was packing again.
i was headed to south dakota for a few days to meet my new nephew tucker.
and i was timing my arrival back in north dakota so that i could see all of my sisters, even the two who live in nashville and were coming up for a visit.
but plans changed.
instead of heading north after a stop by my parents’ house to pick up my dog, i headed south.
i stopped at my parents’ so i could wash clothes. i had been so proud that i brought the exact amount of clothes needed for my short trip.
and i had to repack.
i spent over 4 days in hospital rooms.
i’m not begrudging the time, because i knew it was where i needed to be.
i have a new appreciation for people in hospitals: staff, visitors, patients.
the entire time seemed a lot longer than 4 days.
either nothing was happening and time never moved.
or else everything happened and seemed to go wrong for what was really a short time yet seemed endless.
but eventually i had to get back to work.
even though i can usually drive 12 hours in a day just fine, even into the early morning hours, i found that after 6 hours, i was too exhausted to continue my drive back.
it took me two days to drive north to my house.
i got back and hit the ground running.
i’m not saying that i haven’t been able to find down time.
i have read a lot this past week.
but my reading is a form of shutting my brain down and escaping reality.
i haven’t been processing my time at the gathering.
nor have i been paying much attention to how my family’s lifestyle has changed drastically.
but i’m slowly getting back to a routine.
i had two funerals in four days.
in between them i had sunday worship with three morning services and one afternoon service.
yesterday i had a morning and evening worship service.
and today i’m finally starting to look ahead to this sunday’s services, all three of them.
i don’t think i’ve ever had to write four sermons/messages in a week, but i’m surviving.
a few weeks ago, i preached about how God becomes our strength when we are weak.
God is the only thing keeping me going, keeping me from going crazy.
because i know that God is my strength when i feel overwhelmed, giving me peace and calm in the midst of so much turmoil.