Just last week, in preparation for parenthood, my husband and I turned in our zippy Honda Fit for a twelve-passenger van. We stocked up on Juicy Juice boxes, cereal bars, and Cheese-Its. We gathered blue, pink, and polka-dotted fleece blankets to keep our kids warm at night and tended to all of the health insurance forms and waivers required of every family.
Then, on the morning of July 9th (before the sun had even cleared the Eastern horizon) we became the happy parents of eight sleepy, groggy youth from our congregation. We loaded them into the van, waved at all of the people gathered in the church parking lot to celebrate the occasion, and turned north towards the Coram Deo Higher Things Youth Conference in Bloomington, IL.
Throughout the next seven days, my husband and I experienced parenting adventures to our hearts’ content: managing frequent potty breaks, setting curfews, making sure everyone ate enough fruits and veggies, teaching how to respect each others’ personal boundaries, encouraging the shy and taming the bold, removing splinters, running last-minute errands, talking about God’s faithfulness to all of us in Jesus, taking the Body and Blood of the Lord together, sharing in each others’ dreams and desires, and seeing the world. We were a proper “Pastor and Kate Plus Eight” (or, “Pastor and Katie Plus Eightie,” as the youth preferred to call us).
The best part? Our nightly devotions. As we prayed the Lord’s Prayer together and recited the Apostles’ Creed as one, I marveled at the faith of my children. What a delight to confess the same faith in the Triune God! What a comfort to be one in the body of Christ!
On the night of the last devotion of our trip, I found myself looking around through tears of joy at each precious soul. I am a mother in the Church. I get to participate in the upbringing of the young people in my congregation. I get to pray for them, encourage them, admonish them, teach them, commune with them, sing with them, and remind them of the grace they have been given in their baptism. I even get to take them on youth trips and be their “mom” for a week.
Thank you, God, for answering my prayer.