NOLA! (Alt Title: Beignets are made by angels.)
August 12, 2013
This past week, Taylor started a new job and had a birthday. I also had a birthday and made a quick trip to Louisiana that included a stop by Café Du Monde. So, basically, it was the best week ever.
Several months ago, a lady named Jenny read my post to parents about Instagram and contacted me about speaking at her teen girl event just outside of New Orleans.
This is important for a few reasons: a) I could have been the single most awkward person she’d ever met in her life. She’d only read my post, never met me; therefore b) God used her to get my attention in a “HELLO. I’ve put you on a complete strangers’ heart…are you getting the message that this is a huge topic that I would like you to focus on?!”
I mean, for all she knew, this was a possible scenario:
Jenny: “Will you be traveling alone?”
Me: “Well, me and Fluffy and Buttons and Mr. Boots and Paws and my other 13 furbabies who always travel with me! I’ll send over the list of necessities for them.”
(For the record, Jenny followed my instructions to a T. The 7lb bag of Science Diet Sensitive Skin for Felines was anxiously awaiting us in the hotel room, as was the multilevel catplex play structure I mailed ahead of time.)
I kid, I kid.
I only ordered the 3.5lb bag.
So I agreed to do this, me not knowing what I was getting into all the way down in the bayou, Jenny and her team not knowing what kind of person would show up at the airport.
I was able to bring my dear friend Kylie with me. She’s one of my favorite people in the world for many reasons, beginning with the fact that she is my husband’s ex-girlfriend. (A fact that I have always been proud of. The dude has good taste.)
She also does stuff like this that makes me laugh for weeks.
Headed to New Orleans. We're off to an incredible start. https://t.co/kI6hCnsc5n
— Sarah Brooks (@sarahbrooks13) August 9, 2013
We flew out on my birthday which is unimportant except that I saw one of my friend’s in-laws on the airplane. (The in-laws who don’t even live in the same town I do, who happened to be flying to New Orleans on the exact same flight we were.)
The point is, Mardi gave me the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten. She MacGuyvered a present using items from her purse and packaged it using a cocktail napkin and dental floss. It was incredible.
Friday night we had the pleasure of dining with several of Jenny’s friends, a few of the other faces who made this teen event happen. (And all the women’s events their non-profit puts on as well.)
I have to tell you…I’ve learned to not have a lot of set expectations on trips like this. Because let’s be honest: Christians can be so weird.
I’ve been to churches all over the country, of all shapes and sizes, for all reasons. And, you guys, you just never ever ever know what you’re walking in to.
(Like the time in high school the preacher’s daughter of a church we were visiting put on a “dance” for the boys staying at her house – the same caliber of dance one might see in a new Miley Cyrus video. Or the time we visited a 30-member church on the same Sunday the elder read his adulterous confession letter to the whole congregation…including our group, the 20 college students visiting from Memphis, TN.)
You just never know. And that’s the fun part of saying “yes” to God’s call. You always know it will be an adventure, you’re just never really sure of what variety.
But I just can’t even express to you how much I loved the women we met this weekend. I was blown away by how hysterical they were, how hard they work to bring women and teen girls closer to Jesus through these events (and what an incredible job they do with these conferences!), how friendly and welcoming they were to two hooligans from Texas…
…how absolutely ginormous the food servings were at the restaurant they took us to…
|this is all my food. all 5 plates were mine. 1 plate for appetizer, 4 for entrée. 5 plates.|
…these women, their teens, and this event were far more of a blessing to Kylie and I than we could have ever imagined. We were so honored to be a part of their day.
Aside from the fact that I was accidentally wearing 2 earrings in one ear (0 in the other ear) when I first met them…
|Jenny: “I didn’t notice. I mean, I noticed your earring was very…full…but not that there were two in there.”|
or that I met one of their teen girls because she busted into the bathroom stall I was using…
or that because of the aforementioned bathroom surprise I taught the first class with my fly down…
I hope they liked us, too.
I actually never got verbal confirmation that I was, in fact, not that most awkward person Jenny had ever met, so I choose to pretend they thought we were as great as we thought they were. When in doubt, deny.
We are Facebook friends now, though…that’s pretty official, right? I’ll take it.
My prayer for this whole weekend was that God would use me for his glory and honor and not let my unpredictable, ridiculous self get in the way. I knew I’d be talking about social media to girls ranging from 6th-12th grade, some not allowed on social media, some on every site ever invented. That’s a wide gap.
But if there’s anything I can be 100% confident about, it’s that God has a message to share with them about this topic and he will get it to them where they are.
I’ve loved talking to parents about social media, because I like giving them useful information. I love bridging the gap for them and helping them understand where their kids are at mentally, emotionally, and socially in regards to social media.
Talking to teens is different. It’s not informing them of social media, it’s helping them navigate it. That’s terrifying.
But, man, as soon as I stood in front of those girls in Louisiana and looked into their eyes, I felt completely…at home. I knew that at that moment in time, that was exactly where I was supposed to be. I knew that God had a message for that girl in the purple and that girl with braces and her back there and the one on the front row…and I wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else in the world than in that moment right then wondering if we had enough time to stop by Café du Monde before having a conversation with them.
What an amazing feeling.
As far as this weird, unexpected journey God and I are on, I have no idea what will happen from here or what he has planned for me and this message in the future. I do know that whether it’s me or someone else (hopefully someone a little more qualified and a little less fly-down, earring-illiterate), we’ve got to be talking to our kids more about social media. Not just the safety stuff, not just the “once it’s out there it’s out there forever” stuff, but the identity crisis it brings. And they’re craving direction, whether they realize it or not.
Until then…thanks, Louisiana, for being awesome.
And thanks to Kylie for agreeing to join me. She is invaluable and here’s why (among many, many other qualities):
I meet people and forget their names instantly. It’s a struggle. Kylie is the opposite – she knew all of the teen girls’ first, middle, and last names and at least 4 fun facts about each of them within like 43 seconds of walking into the conference. That, my friends, is an incredibly rare, God-given talent. She’s a superstar.
‣ Equip parents with conversation topics and suggestions for monitoring/guiding online activity.