Alright, while we're being honest... It always draws me RIGHT to the edge of my seat whenever someone says that. Or if I'm suspicious they've been keeping a secret I start saying " Yeah, I mean, yes YES, please... say whatever you need... SAY IT!!!". What a goob.
For the past week or two I've found myself in a bit of a slump. A funk. A low point. Yeah, there's been a bit going on that has lead me there but we all know that circumstances shouldn't totally dictate how you're doing. There has to be an element of fight in you that allows you to find reasons for hope and sunshine and all that jazz. For some reason, this slump has come about and I've been a stinker in it. I've been just.. sleepy, moping about at home with my dog everyday.
I've started to fight a bit but, I needed something to push me over. And in this slump, in THIS funk.. it was Fun Life.
Meet Amy and Austin Nielsen:
I've known Amy since high school. We were in eachother's weddings and have maintained a wonderful life giving friendship for the past 7 or 8 years. Austin is her rad-sauce husband. They make life better. End of story.
A few years back Amy decided to follow her big heart and start a group called "Fun Life" which is part of the Capernaum branch of Young Life- a high school outreach ministry- that is carefully crafted and re-imagined for kids with special needs. If you have ever been involved with Young Life, you know what it can do to your heart... you become a lover of the lost and get to see God do wonderful things through the blood sweat and tears of drama, prom, kids with gnarly families etc. If you have ever been a part of Capernaum Young Life, you've been changed forever in a whole new way.
Sometimes I trek out to Pasadena to "help" with their gatherings. I get there a bit early to set up and pray with the team and then at about 6pm... it starts. You can tell as soon as our first friend walks in. Most of the time, they run in and announce their arrival with a loud crashy jubilant " HEY GUYS!!!" and if there's a song on, they dance.
There are thousands of reasons why working with these friends blesses your face off. It doesn't come without difficulty- I respect the Capernaum Young Life leaders I know more than just about anyone. But if you ask any one of them they'll tell you that the way they experience love by knowing the kids so far outweighs the struggles its almost blinding.
Its hard to determine my favorite thing about when I get to lead songs at club. I get to just hang with these friends and I always have more fun than I anticipated. To wrap a word around my favorite part I guess I'd just say the FREEDOM is the best part. Imagine for a moment, you're in a room with 50 average high school kids. Now imagine that N'Sync's "Bye Bye Bye" comes on.
The guys will crack some joke or scoff, the girls will look at each other and squeal, and there's about a 20 percent chance one of them will have the guts to start dancing. However, at Fun Life, take 50 of our friends, turn on just about ANY song, even "Bye Bye Bye", and within 8 seconds, you have a full fledged dance party.
There are kids who are dancing who aren't able to SPEAK, there are kids dancing who don't have full freedom physically, and the most wonderful part? They're dancing because they love to. My favorite thing is just sitting back once the dancing breaks out... everyone is in their own world. Spinning, clapping, laughing... and each would be doing the same thing if they were alone but with all the other's around? Pure joy.
Each time I leave fun life I feel like I've inched closer to being free. I want to be like my friends at Fun Life. I want to hear that Jesus loves ME and GASP loudly, take my pointer finger to the middle of my chest and yell out " ME????" ( that happened the first time I went to Fun Life). I want to laugh harder and more frequently. I want to dance sweaty and with all of my limbs to any song at any time ( I'm sort of close to that now) just because I want to.
I want to hug strangers and hold their hands and potentially make them uncomfortable with how I love them without even knowing their names.
There is something to be said about childlike faith that ties into this... Children and our friends at Fun Life tend to have a lot of similar strengths. There's a life that's so straight up and bold, so filterless, and so carefree... and more importantly there's a lack of fear and worry that a lot of times is due to lack of awareness. I think back to the garden- when things were perfect between God and man it, it was before man new good AND evil... It was before the fruit-knowledge of fear and doubt and what if. It was full of trust, even blind faith.
And I see that each time I go to Fun Life. It breathes life into me and helps me to not think so much about... so much. It reminds me that I can choose joy because no matter how I walk into Fun Life, when a friend comes and starts dancing around me... I toss aside what's going on and I dance too and you know what? I have fun. I smile real smiles. These friends bring me back to life and they definitely brought me back last week.
Until next time,
Carly Calmes the FIrst