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Friday, June 15, 2012

God Doesn't Do Odds

"What are the odds of that happening?"

It's a question that we ask ourselves and ask others often, sometimes in jest and other times seriously. The bottom line is that we ask it and, low and behold, most of the time we don't like the answer. We take that answer and just run to the bank with it a lot of times and really, we have no need to do that.

It's not like we have final say in the matter; we don't. God does.

This week I was reminded of this very fact while teaching the preschool class for VBS. Now, if you know anything about preschoolers it's that they come in various different shapes and sizes, one could say even more so than your average group of older kids. The thing is though, I was never supposed to be teaching that class this week.

In fact, I was slated to just fill in wherever I was needed, not one particular class. But, low and behold, my mom's friend who was supposed to be teaching that class with her caught strep throat in South Carolina (I'm not making this up, I swear) and she was out of commission. So, my mom asked me to step in and I did so.

Though I'd be lying if I said it was with gusto. I was-more or less-quite "bleh" on the idea. I'd served my time as a preschooler teacher in various roles over the years-YMCA, VBS, Sunday School, and Awanas come to mind-and I was kinda done with them. There are no preschoolers left in my immediate or extended family...we've all grown past that stage (thankfully) and really, who wants to go back? Sure, the kids are cuter than normal but they're in such a weird place at that time. Some of them are physically ahead of the game, emotionally behind, and mentally unfocused or at different levels concerning those three areas entirely. Preschoolers have it almost as tough as teenagers-almost.

So, the comparison "Preschoolers=shorter, more volatile teenagers" was pretty firmly stuck in my head by the time this Monday rolled around. Preschoolers in small doses and numbers I could deal with though...we weren't expecting any more than 16 in our class, max.

Monday rolls around and we have 24-on the first day! Odds, blown away by God yet again. We only had 10 or so actually sign up and we added those extra six for good measure but 24...jeez. So, we were swamped that first day and all four of us (we had two extra helpers get added in at last minute, and they stuck it out all week with us bless their hearts) were dealing with quite a cast of characters.

This preschool VBS class had it ALL. I mean, you would think this was a classic cliche' teen drama with the characters we had. We had the drama queen, the hyperactive kid, a pair of self destructive (and generally destructive) brothers, a sister/brother combo that were on two ends of the spectrum, the loveable ahead-of-the-game (and far too smart) kid, the quiet kid, the young kid, the too-cool-to-do-anything kid, the I-get-my-way-all-the-time kid, and more.

Monday pretty much defied the odds by itself. By the time it was all over, I was wore out. Being up early in the morning (at 6:30AM) to get ready, get there early to set-up, and be there when the kids arrived...I didn't sign up for it. I was a stop gap measure, not a permanent solution. 

But Tuesday rolled around and my mom's friend was still ill. So, back at it again I went and with a day under my belt I felt better prepared. We had two more added in to the mix to make it an even 26 kids and they were a handful. Boys, of course, were nearly three times the size of the girls, and so every trip we made to the bathroom with the boys was an exercise in controlled chaos.

With preschoolers, boys especially, every one you add after three makes it ten times more volatile. So, as seeing we had about 18 boys we're dealing with (insert math solution here) times the volatility of a controllable group. We took the lumps though with them and Tuesday was better. Still was a bit cool on the preschooler front but I was warming up.

Wednesday was the day where I finally really got warmed up for things. Again, I was on duty, and by this point the preschoolers had a basic understanding of my routines. They called me crazy, joked around, and we had a blast. The playground time was the best though as I manned the monkey bars and helped them do it (by carrying them-quite a workout!) so I quite enjoyed myself.

Thursday was equally as good, and family night was where things really hit home for me that me being there was exactly what God wanted. That night I was thanked by a grandmother who's son was in the preschool class for being a good role model to him; she said he did nothing but chat about all the cool stuff I did with him when he got home. I was pretty floored.

Friday, today, I was kinda saddened to see VBS come to an end. It's a great time of the year not only for the church but for the kids as well. We celebrated with some extended playground time, popsicles, and me pretending to be a monster, chasing them about before I was pulled to the ground by the little horde and then beat up. No, seriously, they kicked and stomped at me and were having a blast so I let them go didn't really hurt that much anyway.

At the end of the week I had a great time and so did the kids...but I wasn't even supposed to be there for that. Let's look at the long list of odds that had to be defied here for me to even be AVAILABLE for VBS. Firstly, I had to fail to find a job for months on end to set this up...the economy sucks, I get that, and I was recently told that it's the worst economy in the last 55 years by someone...but months on end looking for a job likely should have landed me one.

Secondly, my mom's friend had to get sick on her way back from South Carolina with strep throat-not normally a common summer illness. Thirdly, the recovery is usually quick with medicine but in the case of my mom's friend, it lingered...which allowed me to be there all week long as opposed to just one day.

God doesn't care about odds. He takes them, kicks them to the floor, and stands atop them as a champion.

There are multiple examples of God defying the odds in my own lives and the lives of the people around me; I'm sure you could come up with many examples too if you just thought a little while.

I'm glad for the experience of this week. It was fun and the memories made are quite fond at the moment. I think this will go down as a very memorable VBS for me in the future. I hope the kids remember it that way too.

God doesn't do odds and you know what? I'm glad he doesn't. Odds are meant to be defied and beaten. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

There's Always Something Around The Corner...

Last night, my brother and I were watching the Spurs vs. Thunder game (Thunder won, going to the finals-I got OKC winning it all!) and the subject of bad games came up. The Spurs were having what many would consider a good game if you just looked at the stats but the stats don't tell the whole story; they don't tell how the Spurs had an 18 point lead turn into an 8 point loss by the end of the game.

You see the Spurs, like so many teams this year in the NBA, were able to jump out out to a big lead and then couldn't hold on to win. It's disappointing, yeah, but not unexpected-not even for the Spurs who did this to the Clippers earlier in the playoffs overcoming a 24 point deficit to win the game. This has been the story in the NBA for the regular season and playoffs and yet, teams still fall prey to the same pattern and result. You get out to a big lead, feel like the game is won, and watch as the opponent whittles the lead away until, somehow, they're on top and you're looking up.

This isn't exclusive to sports as it happens to all of us in life. You ever have one of those days/weeks where you can seemingly do no wrong? You're just kicking tail and taking names with nothing in your way, right? We've all had those days/weeks. I myself had one of those weeks a few weeks ago where I nailed everything brought in front of me and I just couldn't be stopped.

Those days/weeks are intoxicating, aren't they? You want more. You want the same the next day, the next want to see how far you can take it. Problem is, as human beings, we get too cocky too quick when it comes to stuff like this. The week after my amazing week was a disappointment...and then the following two weeks after that I feel completely off the wagon, got run over by the wagon, and then got disposed of by the roadkill crew.

Not. Pretty.

The point is that, whenever we have those types of days/weeks, we should always be preparing for what's around the corner because something always is. Always. You can sit there and think you're invincible from whatever comes your way but the truth is, you're not. I certainly wasn't. It doesn't take much to send us human beings spiraling out of control into horrible choices.

Really, all it takes is doubt-that's the thing that, nine times out of ten, is always around that corner. Doubt. It comes in many forms, many names...but we have an amazing ability to be superbly confident in ourselves one second and than utterly crippled by doubt the next. It's quite an interesting dichotomy.

We should always prepare ourselves for the onslaught of what's around the corner. Something always is. The best way to prepare yourself for that is to 1) know that your good fortune can't last forever and 2) to be insulated from what's around the corner through support from those around you-friends, family, ect. Having support of the people around you is something that everyone should have but a lot of people don't (which bugs the crap out of me but that's another post for another day).

Remember, above all, that the way you kicked tail that day/week can be replicated again-just keep the faith, keep chugging along, and be able to keep your ego in check (which I have an issue with).

Also, remember that there's always something around the corner...if you remember that, you're already ahead of the game. :)