Tag Archives: Youth ministry

A month in the life of the Bakers

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Nearly a month, actually.  If you’re still checking, I’m impressed.  There has been a lot going on, including my going offline for weeks at a time and some serious writer’s block.  But here’s the update.

School ended, thank God.  Everyone survived.  Summer is hot, hot, hot.  There will be not trips to the zoo any time soon, membership or no.  The goal is for everyone to survive the summer.

We’ve been keeping busy.  I can’t actually remember what happened right after school got out, but we spent some time at Craig’s parents’ house (mostly in the pool) and then came back to spend a day canoeing with Theresa and her friend Paul, and then a day of rapid laundry and packing, and off to Bunkie.  For nine days.  If you don’t know where Bunkie is, it’s in central Louisiana, near Alexandria.  It does not have its own Wal-Mart.  That tells you how small it is.

So we were on the outskirts of Bunkie, LA, helping to facilitate a leadership retreat for some of the finest Catholic youth of the Baton Rouge and Lafayette Dioceses.  It was really good (I think there are some pictures attached in some way I don’t understand to Craig’s Facebook page…or maybe he can see them but not share them…I don’t know) and we had a lot of fun and great prayer experiences and spent time with wonderful people.  The down side was the ridiculous number of chiggers and mosquitoes (which I am still scratching) and the two poor baby sitters who were left with my attached baby most of the day.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  There’s only one danger with attachment parenting – they might actually become attached.  And Samantha definitely is.  So that was hard on Samantha, me, and the two patient young ladies who volunteered to spend their week watching the facilitators’ kids.

Also, the camp is run by the Department of Education, so we had school lunches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week.  On the last night, vegetables were brought out as snacks.  I have never seen teenagers attack bell peppers and carrots, watermelon and cucumbers like that before.  The cookies were abandoned.  The granola bars, abandoned.  The Big Cheez-its were not abandoned, as they apparently complimented the vegetables.  This should tell you something about the nutritional content of school lunches.

[I have been told that the nutrition in school lunches “balances out” over the course of a week – sure, sometimes it’s pizza, but sometimes it’s meatloaf.  That only worked for our week if all the students were pregnant and needed 80 or so grams of protein a day, but only needed one serving of vegetables per day.  Over the course of the week we had corn twice and carrots (overcooked and drowned in sugar) once, plus the lettuce for hamburgers and tacos, which I don’t count.  I do not call eating French fries at least one meal a day balanced.  But I digress.]

So we were happy, after another two days at Craig’s parents’ house (for meetings and a youth group softball game – which we won!), to return to our garden and our kitchen.  We had pizza with chocolate bell peppers, a tomato, and basil and parsley all from the garden for dinner tonight.  We’ve also had two yellow squash now, a couple of other tomatoes (including a beautiful Cherokee), and delicious purple beans which have all been eaten raw.  There weren’t really enough of them to cook, anyway.  I have battled slugs in the squash/melon patch, and finally have plants large enough to survive their onslaught.  There are now beautiful yellow, black, and white caterpillars eating my dill plant, but the thing was taking over the garden, so I’m letting them go to it.  They don’t seem to be bothering anything else, and Stephen Locke says they make pretty butterflies, although he couldn’t remember which kind in particular.

Meanwhile, Lucy has taken to singing made-up songs with repetitive words, which is pretty funny, and she is writing beautiful letter “L”s and upside-down letter “U”s.  Samantha continues to learn new words to say, and to mimic whatever Lucy may be doing.  They both swim fearlessly with floaties now, which is great except we have to make sure Samantha doesn’t get near the pool without them, because she will jump in and expect to float.

In case you were wondering, the pooping on the potty seems to have been a fluke on all accounts.  There have been no repeat attempts.  Two steps forward, one step back.  Or something.

I have tried to update my reading list, but the plug-in is on the fritz, so that will have to wait.  I’m busy with several sewing, framing, and card-making projects, which will hopefully be posted when they are done and/or delivered.  There are pictures, I just have to sit down and put them up.  I should really get Craig to work on that part I guess…

So for the rest of the summer we have a week planned with my mom’s family in Florida, and a week in North Dakota (actually, a weekend in North Dakota and the rest of the week driving there and back), and another weekend in Bunkie for Taylor’s wedding.  After last week’s experiences, I, for one, will be wearing eau de bugspray with my bridesmaid dress.  I’m still scratching.  And then the rat race starts again.  If, of course, you consider it ever to have stopped.

A Charmed Life?

We have such beautiful girls.  Samantha is fighting her molars, but at the same time she has started giving hugs and kisses, and I don’t think there is anything in the world cuter than a hug from a 14-month-old.  We are truly blessed.  And I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, with the NFP discussion going on on a friend’s blog.  Some people struggle to figure out their signs and when they’re fertile, and it leads to frustration, fights, and general trouble.  I, on the other hand, have a regular cycle and a hard time not knowing if I’m fertile, now that I know what to look for.

We have met two beautiful young men with special needs through the youth ministry now.  And I keep wondering, “Will we have a child like this?”  All children have their own challenges, of course, but talking to these parents, you can see the years of struggling to help their child get by in society written all over their faces.  Again, it’s something we just haven’t had to deal with, at least not yet.

And I’m meeting more and more women who have had to deal with miscarriages.  Growing up, I thought that was a very rare occurrence.  Now that I am an adult talking to adult women, and maybe the things brought up in polite company have changed since I was little, but I’m finding it frighteningly common.  My friend Julia wrote a beautiful, moving post about her friend who lost a baby in utero.  But again, we’ve only suffered through this vicariously, it has thus far passed us by.

And I’m left wondering, maybe it’s the flip side of what these struggling families wonder, “Why not us?”  Surely we can’t escape these hardships forever?

Maybe it’s just the rain outside today, but it’s strange the way the suffering of others can cast a gloom over our own bright times.  Or maybe it’s not strange at all.  Maybe, and I think Julia (see above) is right in this – we have the chance to bear each other’s burdens, even if only tiny pieces of them.  The Triune God did not design us to suffer alone, or to rejoice alone, for that matter.  Which is a little difficult for a loaner like myself to accept sometimes, but I can’t think of a time I’ve opened up my suffering and not been thankful for having done it afterward.

We’re hoping to have a crowd for dinner tonight.  And we’re hoping to pray the Liturgy of the Hours after dinner, despite the two (or more, depending on who comes) little ones bounding around the room.  It seems like this is where all my writing, all our work is tending these days.  Community.  For joy, for suffering, for prayer, for play.  Community.

Those pesky “young adults”

This is a bit of a follow-up.  I talked about the young adult meeting we went to in Baton Rouge in We Are One Body, and my suspicions have been confirmed.  That night we had 10-ish people gathered from the whole diocese for what the textbook says young adults want to do: mostly fellowship, with a little prayer thrown in for kicks.  This Wednesday, we had 12 or 13 (I don’t remember and don’t have time to count!) young adults from one parish – singles, married couples, college students, career folks, a great mix really – gathered to do wait for it – service.

The first official St. Jean Vianney Parish youth night very nearly had more adult helpers than youth.  They were itching for a way to share their faith with these youth!  I tried to covertly bring things to the car afterwards, because our car is such a mess I didn’t really want anyone to see it, and four of them followed me unasked with things they knew needed to come to our car.  They stood up with Craig at Mass last Sunday to invite youth to this event.  They moved chairs.  I have a volunteer to make Rice Krispie treats next week.  They sang and did hand motions.  Ok, I guess it was a very social event, with games and pizza and all.  But that’s not why these young adults showed up.  They showed up, yes, because they want the community, and they knew, somehow, that the community was to be found in service to the youth of our parish.

Needless to say, Craig is pretty excited about the team he has to help with this youth ministry thing.  Mostly because the team is pretty darn excited about it all themselves.  (They sat through an almost two hour meeting to start planning all this.  With no texting, yawning, or hurriedly exiting at the end.)

Point being, I’m not convinced that “socialization” is going to be the best draw to get “young adults” together.  Maybe it will bring the ones who don’t feel called to work with youth, but my other suspicion is that even we very busy “young adults” do feel called to some form of service.  Maybe we just need to get busy and help connect them with the people who could really benefit from their talents.  Meanwhile, we’re having some pretty awesome young adult community-building on the way to planning movie nights and youth retreats.