Young Lives Camp, Day Zero: getting ready for mamas and babies

[*note: Young Lives is the a Young Life ministry for teen mothers]

This week in Michigan, in a little tiny corner of the world known as Timberwolf Lake, a group of people are getting ready for the arrival of 100-plus teen mamas … and their babies.

Yesterday, one little tiny spot in this little tiny corner of the world looked like this:

YLives no strollers

It’s a lovely place indeed, a place where many people hear the beautiful truth about Jesus Christ and God’s love.

But this week, it’s especially beautiful, because this week, it looks like this:

YLives strollers

In one short day, this place – intended primarily for teenagers without babies – has been transformed into a place absolutely and perfectly and completely intended for teenagers with babies.

I wish I could describe the transformation. Pack-n-Plays, high-chairs, booster seats, napping cots, tricycles, bouncy chairs, swings, kiddie pools, blocks, toys, toys, toys, blankets, sheets, diapers, snacks, juice, rocking chairs, and so much more. It all must be unloaded, unpacked, sorted, washed, organized, and delivered to twelve – yes, twelve different nursery spaces.

But it’s always the strollers that get me – those colorful, joyful, inviting, ready-to-roll strollers. They are the first thing the mamas will see when they climb out of a car, van, or bus. The strollers, saying, “We are ready for you. We’ve been waiting for you. We welcome you. We love you.”

Those are powerful words for a young mama to hear.

But they are not the most important worlds they will hear this week. These are: you are loved by a God who is not just a father but also a mother, like –

an eagle who hovers over its young
a hen who gathers her chicks under her wings
a comforting mother
one who gives birth to the dew and the frost.

 

Most breathtaking of all, when in the very beginning God breathed the breath of life into humans and made them living creatures, he was like a mother, for that breath (neshamah) is derived from an older word nasham, a verb that means “to pant, especially of a woman in travail or labour.” It shows up in Isaiah 42:14 where the LORD, marching forth like a mighty hero, will say:

I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.

The LORD – our father God – like a woman in labor.

Gracious. Mercy. Astounding.

This week, 100-plus young mamas are going to learn about that God – the God who loves them, the God who became human to demonstrate that love, the God who offers new life, the God who created all life, the God who breathes life into us, the God who hovers, gathers, comforts, and gives birth to all that is.

Bless the LORD, oh my soul, for being just exactly what and who each one of us needs.

 

 

 

 

The amazingness known as Young Lives (in which I consider why we are all a-flutter on Day 0)

Tomorrow, 100+ teen moms and their collective 100+ babes, plus 70 or so mentors, will descend on a place in northern Michigan that really doesn’t matter much (there are, after all, lots of beautiful places in the world) except for the fact that it has been consecrated for the Lord’s work. And His work this week is to really truly fully love a population that doesn’t always get loved that way.

Tomorrow is known as Day 1 in camp speak. Which makes today Day 0. Which means today, 84 childcare workers arrive – people aged 16 to 70-something, who pay for a full week of camp in order to love and care for a young mama’s baby for 6 days so the mama herself can be a teenager.

It blows me away every single time I see it happen because, well, 100+ babies and teen moms.

In 24 hours, a thousand things need to get done. Strollers to be lined up. Highchairs to be hosed down. Toys to be sterilized. Nurseries to be organized, stocked, and set up. Carpets to be cleaned. Supplies and clothing and more supplies and clothing to be sorted. Prayer spaces to be created. And that doesn’t include all the other things that need to happen for any other week of camp – cleaning, mowing, prepping, straightening, beautifying, and also maybe a bit of resting.

Today all of this happened (plus so much more):

Work crew delivering strollers (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work crew delivering strollers (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Crew cleaning high chairs (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Crew cleaning high chairs (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Staff delivering supplies (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Staff delivering equipment (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Staff sorting equipment (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Staff sorting equipment (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Crew clearing prayer space (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Crew clearing prayer space (Photo: CKirgiss)

…so that this could exist (and so much more):

Strollers ready for riders (Photo: CKirgiss)
Strollers ready for riders (Photo: CKirgiss)
Young Lives Prayer Tent (near frisbee golf hole #6) (Photo: CKirgiss)
Young Lives Prayer Tent (near frisbee golf hole #6) (Photo: CKirgiss)

And with only 30 minutes until childcare workers arrived, this was happening:

Property and Work Staff prepping sod (Photo: CKirgiss)
Property and Work Staff prepping sod (Photo: CKirgiss)

…because every minute is useful when you are prepping for tomorrow’s arrival of mamas and babies and today’s arrival of childcare workers, who were greeted just as if they were a busload of teenage campers (though they were maybe only 1 or 2 cars of 2 of 4 people)…

A warm Young Life welcome (Photo: CKirgiss)
A warm Young Life welcome (Photo: CKirgiss)

…and whose suitcases were carried, even if they were just one person rather than a full cabin of campers:

Work Crew helping with luggage (Photo: CKirgiss)
Work Crew helping with luggage (Photo: CKirgiss)

Humility is a strange thing. It is active. It is visible. It is real. It is earth-shattering.

But mostly, it is obedient – obedient to a Father who loves us so deeply that the only possible response is to love and obey in return. We so often do these two things, loving and obeying, poorly. I pray that this week, we do them well. Not because we are awesome (oh gracious, we are not); not because we want to be noticed (please Lord, protect our hearts against such desires); not because they are the magic cures to a life of difficult trials and problems (love and obedience just as often invite their own trials and problem).

I pray that this week we do them (loving and obeying well) just because we should. Just because God told us to. Just because that is what we are commanded to do. That is reason enough. More than enough. No matter what the situation. But especially when 100+ teen moms and their babies are going to be arriving soon. Oh yes – especially then.