The Chaos

The Chaos

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Enjoy the Ride

Working in youth ministry has afforded me the ability to be perpetually young.
Well that and being a mom to four very active children.

It would be easy in my situation to relish in the delights of youthfulness and completely forget the responsibilities and necessities of adult life. Of course with no one to do the laundry and wash the dishes, that reality might come crashing down on my wishfully youthful head. Even so, my constant involvement with students leaves me wondering how in the world I am so close to thirty years old when I don't feel like it and how can it be that it has already been ten years since I graduated high school. And yet, the truth is... though a decade isn't an eternity, a lot has happened in that time. The great roller coaster of life roars on.

Enter the reunion blog.
Ten years ago (well really ten years and a few months ago), I was a happy-go-lucky, not-a-care-in-the-world, overly hyper, insanely passionate and motivated, seventeen year old high school girl with the entire world at her doorstep. In all honesty, I was not your "normal" high school student. I was, for lack of a better word, a "goody-two shoes" and yet an incredibly adorable nerd. At least I think I was incredibly adorable. I was a choir girl, involved in drama, a teacher's aide, the president of the Christian club, the leader in my youth group, though I did have a bit of "wild" side. My "wild" involved late nights of sugar rushes, toilet papering houses, and jumping on trampolines at 3am. Like I said, probably not your typical high school student. But I had good fun and I had good friends. And I truly believe that God used that time to spiritually prepare me for the life that was waiting at the end of graduation day. He grounded my faith, strengthened my convictions, emboldened my words, and developed a passion for serving Him that has not wavered.

Comparing me now to me then, not much has changed. I am still the same girl, with a few extra tag alongs, a few extra pounds, a few extra years, hopefully a little extra wisdom, but a lot of the same heart. And the funny thing is, I found a lot of my classmates to be pretty close to the same people I remembered. Maybe ten years is not long enough to change too much, or maybe your personality reaches its peak in late adolescence. Either way, it was nice to spend a weekend with people that shared pieces of my life history. And it was equally as nice to introduce my life now (aka, my husband and my kids) to my life then.

The weekend started with a ball game in true Viking fashion. My sister and I were excited that we made it to the church parking lot in time to see the band warming up across the street from our old house. And as we marched down the sidewalk behind the sea of red and baby blue, the waves of nostalgia began to roll over me. The breeze in the air at the game, cuddling under blankets, watching students parade back and forth in front of the stands, listening to the bands in the cold mountain air... it was like revisiting the fall of 1999 and returning to that place in time and space. Isn't it interesting how sights, sounds, and smells can carry us back?

Unfortunately my kiddos couldn't hang for too long in that mountain air and we returned to our hotel for a night of rest. The reunion festivities continued at the park the next morning with a pizza picnic and a gaggle of class babies and children running through the park. This is where the fun began. To see my classmates with their look-a-like kids running and yelling, it was the realization that we are grown up. We chatted, we laughed, there was some reminiscing but mostly just the joy of being in the same location as a group.

My sister and myself.

(Two Friends with their gorgeous children.)

After the park, my crew and myself spent the afternoon at the local crafts festival where we were able to partake in amazing bluegrass music, chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick, and endless walking and admiring. I am not sure what possessed me to leave the camera in the van because if I had remembered you would certainly be treated with a picture of this dipped cheesecake wonder, it was truly a culinary delight! We returned to the hotel where the babysitters (my sister and her boyfriend) took over, Michael and I primped ourselves to perfection, and we arrived at the final reunion activity.

The Class of 2000 descended on the country club Saturday evening in true high school reunion fashion equipped with tailgaters, the cha cha slide, obscure music videos, plenty of candid photos, and enough laughter to make up for the ten years everyone was apart. Of course Michael accompanied me and later as we discussed the party over greasy food at the Huddle House, his biggest observation was that our class did not seem to have any divisions. That was not the case in high school. What high school doesn't have cliques and social hierarchy? But that evening it seemed that for just a brief moment, everyone was able to remove the masks they wore in high school and revel in the craziness of a Saturday evening party.

Photo Courtesy of Robin Collins

Ahhhh... the high school reunion.
When the evening came to a close I had many lessons gathered in my arsenal of adult wisdom.
But those lessons must be saved for the next blog.

Sunday morning came all too soon and my family packed to leave the Gap. After a visit at our home church, lunch at the Chinese restaurant, and a stop at the lookout... the Gaffner's said goodbye to "my" mountains and trekked the long road back to Ringgold, Virginia.

An event that I anxiously awaited for months, came and went, similar to the way the last ten years seem to have gone. It is interesting how quickly the years slip through our fingers especially when we are busy in the moment with the everyday anxieties, worries, and responsibilities. These things too shall pass. And one day you sit back and realize that the great roller coaster of life shows no mercy, has no rewind button, and one day will come to a sudden stop. So, I guess you better enjoy the ride!

Photo Courtesy of Robin Collins

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