Toilet Paper, Mac ‘n Cheese, and Grace.

When some people write, they have their whole story perfectly crafted before the title comes to life. For me, almost without fail, the title is the first to surface. It’s a weird process, but it’s mine.

I knew last weekend’s events would become a blog post, and also I immediately knew it would carry this title. Weird again I know, but will make sense in the end, I promise.

My good friend Anita is the Youth Director at our church, and she recently took charge of nearly THIRTY teenagers for a weekend camp-out. Tents, hammocks, bonfires, the works. She’s brave. And some say gifted, but I’d say a little (actually a lot) crazy. Either way, those kids have a blast whenever they gather under her wing. With a three day weekend, ideal weather, and a huge campus, it was a teenage dream come true.

One of their typical scenarios is to break into teams and fully engage in some whackadoo competition. I’m not sure if it’s a lesson on the merits of being a good winner or a good loser. I’m not sure there even is a lesson. I think it’s just team spirit and shenanigans. Last weekend, as tradition would have it, the group divided in two and the nonsense began.

One activity was a late night scavenger hunt. Do this “crazy stunt”, take a picture, and the first team to text in all the pics is declared the winner. One such “crazy stunt” photo challenge was to tee-pee MY HOUSE.

This is an inherent risk of living close to their camp site. Also, when I was warned of this possibility, I gave Anita the green light. For the record, I’m not sure my permission actually mattered. She equipped me well for this late night invasion. First, she shared an approximate time frame, and then, she loaned me not one, but two nerf guns and a giant pack of ammo.

So I closed the gate, hunkered down inside, and waited. It was exhausting to pause Netflix to step out and investigate every little noise. As the 4th season of Grace and Frankie ended, I lost my enthusiasm and decided to call it.

This image released by Netflix shows Lily Tomlin, left, and Jane Fonda in a scene from the comedy series “Grace And Frankie.”

The first team showed up in my final moments of flossing. By the time I stepped outside, armed and ready, they were long gone. There was plenty of evidence that Team One had scored. It was a good thirty minutes later when I heard the giggles outside my room from Team Two, and by then it just didn’t matter. I was not interested in crawling out of my comfy bed to defend my territory.

When I awoke, I couldn’t stop laughing.

It had been all over the fence until the wind got most of it.
It seems these kids had prior experience.
Most of the front door evidence was removed when I stepped outside.

What I failed to capture was my car, which was completely wrapped in Quilted Northern, which clung beautifully when it met the morning dew. I couldn’t help but smile as I envisioned them prowling around my yard the night before. Their harmless prank brought back similar memories of my own teenage tomfoolery.

Earlier that week, I had volunteered to heat and deliver their dinner that night. So I texted Anita that their evening meal would be held hostage until my lawn was tee-pee-free. I was sure they would want to right their wrong. Also, their very lives food was at stake.

When I walked outside to greet them, I declared that the mac ‘n cheese was safely warming in the oven and would be delivered unharmed later on. One of the boys, trash bag in hand, looked up at me sheepishly and said the most precious words…

“Wait, we tee-pee’d your whole house and car, and now you’re going to feed us?”

“Yes, that is correct”, I replied, “And it’s okay, there was no harm done. Thanks for coming back to clean it all up.”

He stood and stared in disbelief. It could have been the lack of sleep. I’d like to think that maybe it was a powerful moment of grace.

Isn’t that the way grace operates though? In the name of late night fun, I created a big mess for an innocent stranger. And the next day, the offended person is arranging a delicious dinner for me?

Yep, that’s grace for you.

So the next time your Youth Director friend wants to let her wily crew have a heyday in your front yard, let them. Just make sure you’ve got a pan (or two) of mac ‘n cheese on the ready.

Thanks for reading, until next time,

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