The Man has been in youth ministry for over seven years. During the first few, I was with him for nearly every ski trip, small group and sleepover. When the twins were born, it was time for me to shift my main focus from students to babies. But today, the high school students leave for their annual fall retreat. And guess who gets to go with them?

That’s right! Chatty Emily will be hopping on one of four buses carrying 170 students out of town for the weekend. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get to know some of them better. I’m excited about leaving the little ones in the capable hands of my parents so I won’t have to worry. But I’m feeling old, y’all. I got an email last night with the minute by minute schedule for the weekend (I love an organized youth ministry). I read it slowly, picturing everything in my head, planning accordingly. It wasn’t until I noticed the amused look on the Man’s face that I realized I had been studying the schedule for…kind of a long time.

It was then that it hit me: motherhood has slowly sucked the spontaneity right out of my personality. I now have the need to plan, to know, to not be surprised. But anyone who works with teenagers, has teenagers or is a teenager knows that no amount of planning can insure a plan. Life simply doesn’t work that way. Especially not in youth ministry.

So I have my bag packed, my phone charged, my camera ready. I’m trying my best to take off my mom-to-three-preschool-students hat and put on my laid-back-friend-to-high-school-students hat. Most importantly, I’m beginning to release my illusion of control and to instead allow Jesus to live through me, love through me and maybe even surprise me.