Petra has just turned on the shower. She is leaving this morning for a church youth conference of epic proportions (well, to her). I can see her excitement. We spent yesterday afternoon under the sign of the bulls-eye, purchasing, among other things, a lightweight bathrobe (for modesty), a bunch of unmentionables (ditto), a very cute dress (for-- well, cuteness) and a tiny fan (for cool, in the not air conditioned dorm rooms in which she will be staying).
When I was a youth, and very active in the church, we went on retreats, with priests. Beloved rolled her eyes when I said that... now everything is a bad joke related to the church's abysmal track record at dealing with sexual predators. I never encountered any priest, at least until I got to college, whose intentions towards young people was anything other than showing them the love of God in Jesus Christ.
The conference Petra is attending is a different model of making disciples. Through the experience of nearly a week of small and large group activities, including wonderfully inspiring worship, engagement in mission projects, Bible study and team-building, this conference seeks to raise up the next generation of leaders for the church. Every kid I know who has ever gone has been changed by it. Every kid I know who has ever gone has remained active in church through the classic fall-away years of college and early 20's.
So, Petra is going. And she is not going unwillingly, but with a real spirit of openness and adventure, thanks be to God.
When Petra was six, this movie came out. Between the theater and our living room, we have probably watched it together, oh, about 50 times. We love it that much. So, with a little prayer for Lindsey Lohan, here's a tiny clip, of a girl stepping out for an adventure.