A Vent After Vacay

What I want to write about today is how much it is taking out of me to take care for Oakley in his current stage of attitude, emotional fit throwing, and obstinate disobedience.

But, when I start to write down what has been “Soo Hard” about my day with Oaks today, it seems ridiculously small, insignificant, fleeting, and whiny! Which, of course, proves that I am whiny and don’t deserve to talk about raising a three year old as actually having a real problem.

Plus, it’s indescribable how it is in our house at the loudest, craziest moments and should probably stay that way. Our moments of noise sound out and then seep into the walls and ways of our family history- a bit messy, often energetic, openly communicative, active, intense, in home and out-and-about, bent on being together, and showered in grace for and from each other, that we gather from God who gave us this gift and helps us hold together.

Alas, I won’t vent in angst, but with thanks.

I just returned from the Young Life All-Staff Conference/Celebration: YL75. 

Drew and I went together, without our kids, and joined 5,000 other staff and spouse Young Life friends. We filled the second largest hotel in America, (The World Center Marriott in Orlando) and half the Port Orleans Disney hotel with attendees. And we overflowed the tiny Marriott Starbucks- the lines at Disney paled in comparison.

From my single seat in a crowd the size of three huge high schools, I heard, saw and felt richness in most every aspect of a mission based vacation.



  • We got great gifts- sunglasses (thanks to the TOMs founder Blake and his YL connections!), surprises, and excellent speakers and sessions. 
  • Drew and I enjoyed each other and being OFF– of work, of parenting, of cold Missouri weather, of Christmas chaos, of household work…Oh my how well we get along with no real responsibilities. Funny how the inconvenience of caring for others and cooking can disrupt our couple zen. Ha!
  • We absorbed great conference content:

Louie Giglio encouraged us to continue to take on the weight of what it takes to make a significant change in someone’s life.  (Mark 2)

Efrem Smith spoke with loving admonition to: turn up the volume on kingdom compassion, have the kingdom of God move with expansion and inclusion to welcome the untouchables and outcast into our midst, and join a revolution that Jesus has wrought from the beginning to say all lives matter equally to God but not in the world, which is a call to the church to step into the hell of marginalization and reach deep into the muck and mire to lift people out with the love, hope, and light of Christ.

Jen Hatmaker said today’s adolescence value: community, justice, anti-consumerism, and mentorship. They don’t need “cool”, the world gives them “cool,” but instead real adults showing up in their lives, present and available and lasting. (Very encouraging to increasingly un-cool 35 year old me.) They are looking for people to lead them with their life, not their speeches. She encouraged YL to continue to reach this generation by any means, wherever the gospel is rising- giving kids a safe place to ask their questions, share their struggles, and fill their emptiness.

Worship and presentations by YL from Africa where staff people are vigilant, kids engage with Jesus, and people dance daily. The whole time they shared, I felt smaller and smaller in our world that is so big, with so much outside my experience, education or imagination. I loved feeling little because it made any problems or fears I had shrink to their appropriately minuscule proportions.

  • We had EXPERIENCES. A night with fireworks and characters and a birthday party just for Young Life’s 75th year, at Hollywood Studios. Then a day at Universal Studios with my friend Alex. Really fun roller coasters, really tasty butter beer, really long lines, and really a lot of fun. (Check out the theme of food and drink in these pics!)IMG_6025 FullSizeRender (3)IMG_0023
  • And yet, as we walked past families experiencing Disney’s best with their kids, I couldn’t help but think of the gift we’ve been able to give our kids of adventure, humor, surprise, and good food in a crowded room when we go to Castaway in the summers. To be known, loved, tossed in the lake, and freed to play in the safest community anywhere, the gifts Young Life has given us as a family through assignments, might just trump a day at Disney.

I felt affirmed and spurred on, Drew felt encouraged in the mission, and we loved seeing our friends from Chicago, Nicaragua and a few places in between.

We are thankful our kids were cared for so well at home that they cried when Maama left, and wished for another night with GG and Pops.

I can’t wait to keep marinating on the memories and walking out the invitation to kingdom expansion and inclusion here in Park Hill.


5000 people with 5 finger flashlights held high. We pledge to take the light into dark places going forward for another 75 years.

Thank you YL75 for a wonderful week..

And thank you Oakley for taking a nap long enough that I could breathe and refocus…

Saying “Thank You” is so much better than saying “Poor Me.”


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