Now she is, anyway.
In case you don't know, Life Action Ministries is just that : ministries....multiple. One of the largest parts of the ministry is the Life Action Retreat and Conference Center, where, for eight weeks every summer (among many, many other activities during the year), the Camp is hopping with 25-30 families every week learning what God has to say about having a godly family, putting your spouse first, loving that spouse completely by first, keeping God the Lord of your life, raising children who love the Lord, and certainly, having a TON OF FUN!!! We went in 2004 and I can honestly say that it was THE BEST week of our lives!
With all this wonderful-ness, they are able to keep their prices VERY reasonable because the camp is staffed by Life Action Staff families, who, like us, live on the support of ministry partners, and dozens of teenagers who volunteer their summer to work in various capacities. So far, Alyssa has been in the kitchen for her first two weeks, and this week, she is working in the Snack Shop, scooping ice cream and selling Cokes, T-Shirts and various other Camp souvenirs.
I am so glad things are good for her now, but her first week at camp was, um....rocky, to say the least. Going to a week-long camp with your church group, ie., friends you've known forever, is totally different than being dropped off in a place, albeit familiar, in a cabin with 19 other girls you have never met. I will refrain from sharing too many details, so as not to embarrass my very-easy-to-embarrass 14 year-old, but let's just say that there were a few moments I thought we were going to have to go and get her. Actually, if I'm being honest, everything inside of this Mama Bear wanted to go get her....to rescue her....but I knew that was my heart speaking, and the heart is, after all, deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). So I switched from "heart-mode" to "brain-mode" and realized a few things:
1. She made a committment and she needs to follow through.
2. I knew it would not be hard forever, and once she got through the "hard", she would would reap benefits that would last her a life time.
3. She could NOT be in a better place. She is with people I trust COMPLETELY for her physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Not to mention, she is sitting throught through two services a day, taught by some of the best Christian speakers on the face of the earth, in addition to break-out sessions for the CREW.
4. As much as I wanted her home and to end her suffering, I knew it would end up being a bit of a disaster. Alyssa cannot stand to sit around and "do nothing". While there are certainly plenty of things to be done around the house, I am not much a of a "cruise director", and with our current budget, we are not going very many places beyond the "Y", the library and the park (all less than a mile away) right now. The combination of a bored teenager + three other children in the house is not a good mix. It actually equals bored-teeneager-tormenting-three-other-children-and-her-mother.
SO.....with all of that "head knowledge", I was able to hold myself back, and I am so glad I did. She came home the first Saturday for her sisters' birthday party and we had to take her back that Sunday night, and that was almost as traumatic, if not more-so, than the first drop off. However, we went to
"So, Mom. I have a question. What would you think about me asking Mr. A.J. if I can work next week, too?"
"Um.....excuse me? What did you say? Did you just say, 'work another week??'"
Keep in mind that her original schedule was to work for two weeks, come home for a week, and then work another two weeks. This would mean FIVE STRAIGHT WEEKS IN A ROW! Not to mention, she will be away for another week during the week immediately following her last week at the Camp to go on a church mission trip.
My mind was racing a mile-a-minute, and the battle between "level-headed Mom with all the right answers", and "I MISS MY GIRL AND WANT HER HOME Mama" was raging furiously in my head. Meantime, my friend that I was just talking to was laughing hysterically, and I was sitting there looking like a complete liar! (You know that is why we have children, right? To keep us humble.)
My first (selfish) response was, "ABSOLUTELY NOT!". I wanted to look right at Alyssa and say, "But WAIT!! You're miserable, remember? And you desperately want your Mama....remember?". However, I referred back to my brain logic (see previous bullet points), and after Jeff and I talked it over and prayed about it that night, we let her do it. I am not so naive to think there was not other motivation, like 'her best friend was coming to Camp to work that week', but either way, she is there.....and she is HAPPY!! As a result, so am I. :-) She is making a lot of new friends and she is serving others, something she loves to do!
The girls and I had to get Alyssa yesterday to take her to the dentist (she had a tooth that kept breaking off in pieces), and since she was in the chair all of six minutes (doesn't take long to pull a baby tooth that has a permanent tooth underneath it that has already grown in half-way....doesn't this seem like the kind of thing a responsible teenager would mention to her mother?), we had plenty of time to go back to the Camp and hang out a while. I can't tell you how wonderful it was to have all four of my girls together again. I took a deep breath for the first time in a while.
Do you think these two were happy to see each other?
Megan loves to climb this thing....a thousand times!
Doesn't she look great?
(Still hates having her picture taken.)
There's something I really love about this one.
They were sitting on the dock waiting for fish to "give their feet kisses".
These last two were taken as we were about to leave. They had to run in and go potty "one more time", and as they were walking out of the Lodge, they struck these poses for me. :-)
Blessings to you and yours!