By the grace of God, I have already begun participating in my first of 37 Adventures! As I stated in my earlier blog “37 Adventures for My 37th Year of Life” I set a goal to ride the tilt-a-whirl 100 times during spring break. I was only able to ride 22 times. The purpose for riding the tilt–a-whirl 100 times was completely selfish on my part. I love the tilt-a-whirl and I wanted to have fun riding it. However, unbeknownst to me, God had a different plan and purpose!
My first discovery at the festival was that many children actually ride the rides by themselves. I was completely dumfounded by this. I fully expected to be begging my students and others to ride the rides with me, but oddly enough, I found the exact opposite to be true. As I had hoped, I did get the opportunity to ride the tilt-a-whirl with some of my students, and I had a blast!
Be that as it may, I had no idea that God intended to carve a special little place in my heart for to two incredible little girls whom I had not yet been introduced.
Let me first present “Leigh.” “Leigh” is a sweet middle school student. Her and her cousin blessed me with their company on a number of rides throughout Spring break! “Leigh” is a precious little girl who just moved to our area a few weeks ago. She knew very few students, and immediately when I asked to ride with her, she claimed me as her “riding buddy!” We had a delightful time getting to know each other and I had the privilege of meeting her mother and grandmother.
The second girl I would like you to meet is “Ann.” We met each other in line for the tilt-a-whirl when, with her sparkling brown-eyes, she boldly asked, “are you riding by yourself?” “Yes,” I immediately replied, and she quickly countered, “can I ride with you?”
I have never, in my life, been so instantaneously connected to a person, as I was with “Ann.” I have always had a passion for children and youth. I felt God’s call to serve as a youth director when I was a child, but there was “something” incredible about this young lady that immediately stole my heart. She was such a joy! And then I asked “the question” that would change everything. You see when I first met “Ann” in the tilt-a-whirl line, she was with her grandmother who was unable to ride the rides. Her granny gave me permission to be her riding buddy, and quickly “Ann” claimed me as “her best friend.” As we whirled around and squealed with joy, I couldn’t help but wonder, “where was her mom and dad?” My heart would stop when I finally inquired. Without delay, she responded, “I don’t know…ummm, I really don’t know where my mom is, and my daddy is in jail.” (SILENCE)
I have had my heart broken a time or two, in my lifetime, but I am quite sure it has never shattered like this. I have no doubt that God placed “Ann” in my life for a reason, and I refuse to believe it was just for those few hours to ride the tilt-a-whirl. Before parting ways I asked Ann’s grandmother if I could take my picture with Ann. She obliged, and now I have this precious memory!
I fully expected to see “Ann” and her grandmother during the rest of spring break, unfortunately, I never did. I waited by the tilt-a-whirl countless hours in hopes of seeing them again, but I did not.
I am now on a quest to find this little girl!
I feel God’s ever-present nudge to find her. I want to tell “Ann” about Jesus, who has called her by name, and who has claimed her as His own. I want to remind “Ann” that she is loved and forgiven. And, I desire to be a “big sister” in her life, if that is something she is in need of. After all, “Ann” did say, we were best friends!
In Matthew 18:11-12 we learn the parable of the lost sheep. “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? I have always been drawn to finding the “lost sheep.” I believe that is one of the gifts that God has especially given to me. As a youth director, I was and am called to serve my church and feed them, but I also believe we are each called to search for the lost. I lost “Ann” and her grandmother, but it is my prayer that I will find them.
Thankfully, I know Ann’s real name and for her safety I have changed it for this blog. I know the name of her grandmother, who cares for her. I know the name of the school she attends, and I know that Ann loves the color blue! Won’t you please join me in prayer as I continue this quest to find her?