Earlier this summer, Jonathan and the band got to play at Island Christian Church’s Youth Week in New York. There was such a great response from the kids that their youth leader, (as well as Jonathan’s former youth leader) Seth Kirschner invited Jonathan to come their yearly winter retreat at Camp of the Woods and be a guest speaker.
To be honest, I was a bit apprehensive. Jethro had just arrived and I couldn’t wrap my mind around flying with two small children being out of their routines, traveling during holiday traffic, a 50* drop in weather, and still maintain some form of sanity. Did I mention we just finished the 4 Christmas Eve services at Calvary?
But we went for it. Yolo.
A long day of travel but not nearly as exhausting as I had imagined. About 50 high schoolers had already arrived and after a good meal, some time to settle in, Jonathan had his first session that night. By then, we were all pretty worn. He kept it short and simple since it was getting late and he’d start digging in tomorrow morning.
The camp continued with four different sessions of Jonathan speaking through Daniel 3. In between those sessions were structured free time (basketball, volleyball, a rockwall, and game room), devos, meals and general fun.
And then there was me…
with two boys…
that were teething.
We couldn’t go the sessions because the boys were too fidgety and distracting. By Day 2, Jonathan and I started taking turns to go into the dining hall so one of us could shovel food in our mouths (in peace) and get back so the other could do the same. It was difficult. Sleep schedules were off, there were no other children, no TV, no toys and to our surprise instead of enjoying little snow that hadn’t already melted, Joram was terrified of it. We REALLY wanted to see snow but it’s not in the forecast. Ugh.
And the first thing I want to do was dig in to these high schoolers but I knew my hands were full.
I know Jonathan has his plate full as well and I’m struggling to find my purpose on this trip. Maybe I should’ve stayed home.
That night I had this random thought about praying against suicide at this camp. Weird because this is a Christian resort type getaway. At breakfast the next day, one of the leaders told me that one of the kids on the trip had been taken to the hospital. He had some prescription drugs that were no longer on the market and needed some serious detoxing. The doc said it could’ve been much worse. Next time it happens with this kid, he’d hafta revive him from the dead.
One of my favorite moments on the trip was in the dining hall. I don’t know who started it but when someone stood up to grab some more food or turn in a plate, everyone started yelling, “SPEECH! SPEECH!” and kept chanting until that person said something. It was pretty funny. This went on easily for 20 minutes while dinner was in session. Some kids were afraid to get out of their seats to pick up a napkin or cup of juice for fear of getting called out. Joram must’ve left his chair because moments later the house is after Joram: ” SPEECH! SPEECH!” Jonathan picked him up and faced him to the crowd. All 50 students and the leaders fell silent as they looked at Joram to see what he would do next. Joram squealed something incomprehensable to the crowd and everyone cheered. It was one of my toddler’s biggest moment yet. I’m a proud mom of my little world changer.
The last day, the group gathered for sharing stories and some worship. This trip had been different than previous trips in that the high schoolers weren’t given a lot of hype but truly had some introspective time to take inventory of their personal lives.
Now on to our second leg of the trip with family in Brooklyn for the New Year. Joram was PUMPED have his cousins Nicolas and Georgie to play with.
A new tradition we got to take part in was Soula’s cake. In the Greek culture, they bake a cake with a coin in it for to celebrate the New Year. When cake gets sliced they say the first piece is for Jesus, the second piece for Mary, third for the home, 4th for the poor and then everyone can dig in and eat. Whoever gets the piece with the coin in it, gets good luck for the year. I think it’s a cute tradition so I kept eating the cake to find that coin, Breakfast, lunch and dinner!
New Year’s Day, the family from Long Island came out to exchange gifts. Everyone except Bruce was able to join us for this reunion. It was quite a celebration and yet we were all aware of a certain anniversary that was upon us.
The following day, I had the privilege to meet up with some good friends, Sarai and Damaris, for hugs, high fives while crushing authentic NY pizza. Those girls melt my face with their pure awesome. I think everyone should have friends like these two in their lives. The world would be a better place.
Paul, Soula, Jonathan and I made our way to the city with the kids. We hit up F.A.O. Schwarz which is like a Toys R’ Us on steroids. Joram has been not sleeping the best on the air mattress so by the time we got in the city, he was wiped out, ready for a nap. It’s cold and once we saw a Thomas the Train set in the store, he toddler-freaked. Meltdown. Jonathan carried out our screaming toddler with me seconds behind him with Jethro, wrestling through the crowds. We finally made it outside and there it was…
Beautiful, glorious, feathery-light snow that disappeared as soon as it hit the wet ground.
It was the most incredible moment. We wanted to be in snow at Camp of the Woods but most of it had already melted. This was a gift straight out of the Hands of God. We made our way to Rockefeller Center, Jethro strapped to me sleeping and Joram somehow contained.
The sleepless nights on air matresses, teething, diet change, wrestling the demons out of a toddler, all were swept away by the sight of the snow. Remarkable.
We made our way home in pretty intense sleet and ate a warm meal upon returning. Tomorrow we are heading to Long Island to be with Becky and the family before we head home.
A good friend of the Schroer family, Dan Lang who was in our wedding 6 years ago recently purchased a SWEET NEW CASA! It was beyond a dream to align schedules and see his new place. His sister Gina and I have become good friends and we spent time downloading the latest, arranging bookshelves and watching the Cowboys game.
That night, our last night in NY, Becky tells me that a friend from a different season wants to see me. Cristina lived in Florida with Bruce and Arlene for a time yet I haven’t seen her in years. She discovered I was a mom and got to meet both of my boys. We finished the night slamming apple pie, a Level 10 convo, ending the night with hugs and high fives.
This trip has been extra full, more than expected. We took a late flight, made it home with our boys and were in our OWN beds by 1am.
Praise the LORD for our own beds! I know I sound like an old lady saying that, but I’m not ashamed. I learned a lot about traveling with little ones. Missing New York but happy to be home!