Junior High and High School years always come with challenges, tough lessons, and pains from consequences.
Most often kids don't recognize or take for granted, how the unconditional love and acceptance adults surrounding them will prove to shape their lives forever.
Besides my Mom and Dad, there were two very special people who loved and prayed for me, nurtured, influenced and taught me. They were always there for me, regardless of the drama all kids go through. And although separated by time and distance as I began my young adulthood, they were there in my heart and mind.
Carl and Naomi Bookout were my youth pastors in junior high and high school at First Christian Church in Palmdale, California.
I saw them once for a few hours a couple of years ago and then again yesterday. They stayed the afternoon and overnight at my mom and dad's while passing through. You bet I headed over there for dinner and conversation! Other than that, I hadn't seen them since I graduated high school and moved. We stayed in and out of touch via the annual Christmas card exchange but the older I got, the more I longed to see them (wishing some things didn't have to change).
These wonderful people made my teen years worthwhile and fun. They impacted the lives of many kids and always had arms big enough to wrap around us all. And boy did we have fun together.
Some of the more memorable events were things like:
We had a "youth hut" where the high school kids met, filled with big comfortable couches and chairs. We loved our "special domain".
Seems like every Sunday night we'd all get together at one or other of our homes for "linger longers", a silly term to hang out and eat pizza, play games, or just talk and laugh.
Every year Carl and Naomi would take us to the Rose Parade in California where we'd camp out overnight on the sidewalk to ensure a good seat for the parade.
Another annual trip was to PCC (Pacific Christian College) to experience campus life.
Some of the most fun times were heading to youth camp for a week in the summer. Oh the tears upon having to come home! A week just wasn't long enough in light of the new found friendships we'd made.
They formed a youth choir and we all had matching outfits. We would go on tour and sing for various churches, staying in homes of people from the church .. it was fun being "on the road".
More than anything, their absolute unconditional love, their availability, their care, prayers and hugs were part of my concrete upbringing. It's wonderful to have them back in my "speed dial".
We had a great time catching up and sharing old times. What I wouldn't give to go back and live a summer of my youth again…. but wouldn't we all?
Thank you Carl and Naomi for touching my life and for being there for me. I love you both more than you'll ever know!