Lean In

What a week – full of goodbyes and transitions – the two things TCKs hate the most. But hey, something’s in the air – Aslan is on the move.

This Thursday I only had a morning final, and two of my students volunteered to maneuver my couch through the window out of my first room into the bedroom in the back of my apartment. I’m getting a dining table in a couple of weeks, and I needed the extra space. The strong lads stuck around for freshly baked cookies, and we chatted about the Lord’s work through this strange year where time flies and simultaneously seems unending. One of the guys had previously sat at my picnic bench and commented that Thursdays were particularly boring to him, but we said we should expect the Holy Spirit to show up on Thursdays because that would be unexpected – let’s turn the whole dichotomy on its head, right? It was a delightful, odd conversation – as most at my bench are… but we found ourselves expectant for the Lord to move this past Thursday, and there was a sudden afternoon downpour that moved us from the bench to the covered entry of my building.

A steady stream of people came and went through Thursday afternoon, but that one student waiting for the Holy Spirit stayed most of the time and mentioned that this had been a year of Thursdays… but Friday is coming. The abstract metaphor seemed like a perfect fit for this year that has been on the cusp of some weekend style rest and reward on the other side of a laborious workweek.

The actual Friday of this week had an extra pleasant surprise for me as not only did the presence of the Holy Spirit show up, but a life size cutout of Daveed Diggs moved into my house.

This cardboard cutout brings me great joy. For so many reasons. It was a gift from a graduate to me to celebrate her graduation. This precious child is a gift to me. For so many reasons. I had the honor of recording the video that awarded her the 2 Peter Award during our school’s celebration of students that aired on our Facebook page Friday night. She and her friends came to watch the livestream with me and cardboard Daveed – all unaware that this gem was recognized for her incredible personal growth over her time at BFA.

This kid has spent a lot of time at my picnic table of the past year, and we’ve shared lots of beautiful moments inviting the Holy Spirit to teach us as we read the Bible, pray, or just talk about Percy Jackson and pop culture. We’ve both grown a lot closer to Jesus this year, and I’m elated that it’s been noticed in both of us by others in this community. She’s not the only one who’s chosen to lean in and listen to the movements of the leaves and feel the presence of the Lord at work in Kandern.

Graduation is a sending out sort of ceremony as school’s recognize we’ve finished our work with students and commission them to live well in the world as they leave our community. This year our school was able to return a tiny fraction of normalcy to our ceremony as students could sit together on the stage and share the moment together while a super small number of loved ones watched live and countless others tuned in to view the livestream. Lauren and I reflected late last night what a treasure it is to be a part of the stories of these incredible young people for a season. She mentored two of the graduates and had profound impact on an unknown number of others; similarly, I taught nearly all of them, and know that I’ve planted or watered seeds that someone else will see fruit of in future years. I was blessed to have a handful seek me out to give me a hug goodbye or ask me to sign their trousers (“Here, this part’s not the butt,” he said as he adjusted the spot for me to sign laying them on my table).

This class is super special to me because the students I connected with are the ones who made a huge effort to seek me out when they went into lockdown and restrictions remained tight for over a year. Normally when I teach juniors, they begin showing up at my house after school during the semester I teach them and keep coming regularly to bake cookies in my house through their senior year. This weird year, I couldn’t let students in my house most of the time, but a small number still stuck it out in the literal rain and snow to sit on my bench and talk about what God was doing in their lives.

I don’t take it lightly that six of the graduates chose to spend three hours playing (censored) Cards Against Humanity with me last night. Once they left to adventure on for an all nighter with other members of their class, I sat in the quiet and took a deep breath. Inhale Grace; exhale Peace. There was a quiet and stillness under the stars that I haven’t had much of in the past week. Lauren joined me for a bit, and she shared some great insights on pouring into people, praying for others, and growing alongside brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m so grateful for the friendship we have that carries on and the season that we’ve had side by side in this special place. I know we’ll have future walks and talks together, but I’ll miss those late night picnic table chats when she moves back to the States next week. For now, I lean in to the moments I still have with her. I lean in to the sunsets and stars, and I lean in to the sun rising on a new day in Kandern now that the class of 2021 is sent out into the world.

I lean in to the alumni who can directly text me these gorgeous pictures now that she’s no longer my student. The Lord is present in Kandern, and I love to watch the trees wave in the wind singing God’s praises. There is so much in store, and I invite you to lean in too. What is the Lord saying to you today? Open your eyes and step into peace.

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