Lice and wasps. Oh my!

We have all heard that the devil likes to attack just before the Lord moves or uses us to further His kingdom.  Most of us have felt those attacks just before a mission trip or even just on Sunday morning.

I want to tell you about my first full fledged attack of Satan, and the first time I felt God used me in His ministry at Citychurch.  This story lives in my mind as a milestone in my ministry at Citychurch.  It was the first time I stuck through the rough stuff and came out the other side to see God move.  It was the first time God let me be a big part of what He had done.

August of 2000, Citychurch was still a new church, a new ministry.  It was summer, and we took a few of the youth aged kids to a youth camp, our second youth camp as a church.

James's family had started Citychurch just four years earlier.  The ministry was still very much a family affair.  So the camp staff was just our family: me, James, his sister Anna, their brother Donnie, and his wife Shanda.  And we took our two year olds along.  We had our daughter Lucy, and Donnie and Shanda had their daughter Alexis.

I don't think I've ever shared this, and James's family might even be surprised to hear the whole story.

If you've ever been to camp or worked at a camp, their is this pattern that emerges.  I worked at a Girl Scout camp the summer after high school, and I started calling the pattern the Wednesday blues.

How camp always goes: 
Early in the week, the campers arrive, they are happy to be there, they are making new friends.  It's all good. 
Wednesday afternoon, rumbling starts.  All the new friends are beginning to get on each other's nerves.  The campers realize camp is half over, and they are either mad it is going so quickly or devastated because it feels like forever before they will get to go home. 
Wednesday night is sure to have some crying and a few fights. 
Thursday everyone is depressed.  They miss their mom, they miss their bed, they miss their dog.  They are sick of spiders.  They're scared of the dark.  Get the Kleenex out, crying is going to happen and happen hard. 
Friday everyone loves everyone again.  They've just survived the most traumatic night of their life together.  Group photos ensue.  They are going to miss everyone when they go home.  Everyone swears to pen pal it up. 
And goodbye.

So I was aware of this pattern, and when I was feeling the blues Wednesday morning, I thought I was just feeling the Wednesday blues.   Then the hits started coming.  I realized that my two year old Lucy had lice.

Now days at Citychurch, if you are involved in a Citychurch camp, lice is part of the plan.  It's in the camp budget.  Lice checks are done before we load them into a van.  It's just a fact of life in inner-city mission work.  We have a saying at our church.  It is one of our ten truths that my father in law Don Lane wrote when we started the church.  "It will all wash off or we will find something to kill it."

Back at camp, I didn't know what to do about Lucy's lice.  Lucy and I had been sleeping together.  So I checked my head.  I had lice.

I'm itching just writing this.

I don't know if you've ever had lice before, but it gets you mentally.  You feel violated.  Parasites are living on you, and you didn't even know it.  You feel like all your fears of what a white-trash, slob you are are finally confirmed.  It's depressing man.

I wanted to go home.  The reason I didn't get in my car and leave was two things.  One, my husband said,  "We only have one more day left of camp.  Just stay; we can deal with it when we get home."  Reason two was Donnie had asked me to share my testimony with the group the next night.  I didn't want to not do the one thing he had asked me to contribute to the camp.

So I stayed.  I let the parasites occupy my head and my daughters head for one more night.

I was feeling pretty crummy the next morning.  It was our last day of camp.  I was trying to hang in there that last day, but I was feeling attacked.  Mentally I was pretty kaput.  It was lunch time, and I was lingering around the cabins feeling sorry for my lice-having self.

My husband James came and found me to give me one of his world-famous pep talks.  (He's a pro at let's get out of the dumps chats.  If you ever need one, I can give you his number.)  He convinced me to go get some lunch.

As we were walking across the bridge to the cafeteria, I was stung by a wasp.  I broke down.  I balled my eyes out.  It didn't actually hurt that bad, but everything hit me with that sting.

I told God that I was mad he was letting this happen.  I just wanted to be there to help ministry to the kids, and everything was just not fair.  I don't know why you feel better after a good cry, maybe it's a brain chemical thing, but I did.  I had hit rock bottom, and I was ready to see that youth camp to the end.

That night I shared my testimony.  It was the first time I had shared it in front of a group.  Group speaking isn't my thing, but God used my weakness.  A teenage girl came forward to pray and give her life to the Lord.  This teenage girl and I had nothing in common, but God used my story to reach her heart.

I had not expected anyone to respond to my testimony.  I will never forget the feeling when I realized that if I had went home when I wanted to, that camp might have turned out differently.

God had moved.  And I had learned how to stick it out through the devil's attacks to get to that moment when God uses our weakness to accomplish His strength.

This is a lesson I've leaned on so many times in the ministry I've been a part of between then and now.  God showed me that He was faithful to do His work and no matter what the devil throws at me, I can stick it out because God will get me through it.