This sounds a little unbelievable, but we were so busy this week I didn’t take any photos of the boys! I will be more intentional about my photo taking this coming week. The busy nature of the week took me back to the pre-COVID days as we strapped on different hats to tackle the always growing to-do list.
In our role as soccer coaches, we decided to have the girls host a blood drive for the American Red Cross. Their job was to recruit people to give blood and we set our goal at 30 donors. There is a nationwide blood shortage right now, and seeing as our family has been on the receiving end of many lifesaving transfusions it seemed like a good opportunity to give back.
We hosted the drive at the church where I work so I parked myself in the office and caught up on some office work while the donors came and went. We had nearly 45 people come through the doors to give, but several were unable to due to medical conditions or medications. Jake came to donate so we locked the boys in the office with me while he gave. He has a history of passing out after giving blood but not this time thanks to some apple juice chugging!
At the end of the drive I asked the lady if we had met our goal of 30 donors and she said we only had 29. Shockingly I passed their screening questions and got to be donor number 30! I have had a history with clotting disorders and received a transfusion after Malachi that didn’t mesh well with my blood, causing issues (kell antigen issues for any of my fellow medical nerds). I have always assumed I would not be able to give, and there is still a chance they won’t be able to use my donation but it’s worth a shot.
If you are able to donate blood, please consider doing so. Every blood donation saves up to three lives. It takes about 30-40 minutes to go through the whole process, and the actual blood donation part takes less than 10 minutes. If the Carroll clan can find time to do it, I am confident many of you can as well. I am not a fan of needles but when I look at my sweet Malachi and know how many times he has been stuck with needles it makes me feel like the momentary pain is worth it to save lives like his…if he can get stuck without whining surely I can too.
Next we put on the youth pastor hats. Now let me dump some emotions onto you for a quick second.
Back in April we canceled our reservations at our annual youth camp. We prayed about the decision and just felt uncomfortable taking the group to a camp with 400 teens from several other states while the virus was still a concern. But we felt led to do something with the group in place of the large camp.
After searching and praying, we found a rental farm 1.5 hours from here that would be perfect for a social distancing youth retreat. Everything is outside except for the food prep and they stay in tiny little cabins with one other person. We made the reservation with the fine print saying that we could cancel on June 14th without penalty if COVID was still a concern.
As June 14th rolled around Jake and I really tried to evaluate if it was a good idea to continue to pursue taking the teens there. In our rural county we have had 38 total cases of COVID but usually only 6ish active cases at the same time. For some perspective, Chattanooga is just 45 minutes away and has had a total of 2,321 cases. Overall our little sliver of God’s country has done very well. We felt led to continue to pursue the youth retreat and to place our trust in the hands of God.
Easier said than done.
I am writing this entry at midnight on Saturday evening as we won’t be able to access the internet at our rental. And all week long as we prep for this camp I can’t help but let fear creep into my heart. We are obviously taking Malachi and Levi, and will have a total of 52 teens and chaperones in the group. We have taken all the precautions you can possibly take- thermal temperature scanners, clorox wipes, hand soaps, hand sanitizer, etc. But there is that lingering thought of what if…
Each time I let the “what if” game begin I know in my heart that the devil is behind it. I can tell you with certainty that God has led Jake and I to make this retreat happen, and there is a kingdom purpose in it. So why do I continue to worry about God not protecting my family as we walk a path He has guided us to?
Fear is a crazy thing. And I have to keep reminding myself that fear is not of God. And it has proven to be one of the devil’s most successful tactics in my life.
I have to keep reminding myself that even if the worst case scenario happens- even if somehow my family contracted this virus and our sweet Malachi or our wild Levi passed away, NOTHING will happen to us that is outside the will of God. And each time I remember that simple fact, I am able to breathe that deep air again and relax.
When we start to remember that this world isn’t about us, but rather about the things God can accomplish THROUGH us your perspective tends to change a bit.
I firmly believe that God has already determined the day he will call Levi home. God has already determined the day Malachi will run and leap into the arms of Christ. So while we need to honor God by making wise decisions, we also must find rest and comfort in the timeline of God.
Daniel was thrown into the den, but it wasn’t the day that God had chosen. He shut the mouths of the lions. Even the wind and the waves obey Him.
When we walk confidently in the paths God guides us to we honor Him. So this week I am working on trusting Him and taking my steps with boldness.
Our theme for this week is “Be Bold” with the key verse being Hebrews 10:39: “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”
In one week we have gone from not taking the boys outside of the house to loading them up with 52 teens and heading into the unknown. We also went from grocery curbside pick ups twice a month to me having to me making several in store Wal-Mart trips to track down 45 pounds of chicken, 60 hamburgers and 80 hot dogs (during a beef shortage), and enough food to feed 52 people 9 meals. Not to mention the toilet paper a group that size will need for a week. Let the games begin!!
And just to clarify, when we return home we will still be locking down as much as possible. There is a such thing as godly wisdom that we have to pray for. We are only making these exceptions this week because we genuinely feel called by God to do so.
Please join us in praying for protection over our entire group of 52. Pray that this is a life changing week for these young adults and that these next few days would become a part of their testimony.
And pray against the seeds of fear the devil keeps trying to plant in my heart.
Finally, this week marked the anniversary of Malachi’s Chick-Fil-A movie. I cry every time I watch it! I know we have a lot of new readers and I thought you might enjoy seeing the sweetness for yourself: https://youtu.be/_FqXgxnfzd4