Throwback Thursday & Summer Interns

30 May 2013

Hey everyone!!
I feel bad for not posting much this past week but it's been a little busy.
There's been lots of prep work to get ready for the summer intern team that is here for the summer.
Today happened to be the big day.
All of the summer interns are finally here!!
I have been anxiously awaiting this day for weeks now.
With all of the rain and crazy weather we have been having I am glad everyone made it safely.
It was so awesome to get to connect with Kenan as I hadn't seen him in almost a year.
It was good to spend some time talking with Kristin since we haven't seen each other in almost a month.
It was even better finally getting to meet 'The Married Couple' as they have been dubbed at church.
Andrew and Anna got here this afternoon and it was great to get to meet them and talk with them.
I am really looking forward to getting to know them better!

We went over rules and guidelines for the summer, as well as what our responsibilities will be each week.
It is going to be very different from last summer but it's still going to be great.
I'm looking forward to everything that we have planned.
It is going to be awesome to see how God uses all of us this summer!

The fact that all the interns got here today made for a perfect Throwback Thursday post.
It was only about a year ago but so much has changed since then.

This was the mission team, plus a few others, from last summer.
This was an awesome group of interns, all of whom I am still friends with.
They were such a blessing and we all learned a lot about ourselves and each other through everything.
God knew exactly what He was doing when He put that group together and I have no doubt that all of us on the intern team for this summer where put together for a reason.
What that is I don't know.
However, if it is anything as awesome as last year (hopefully much more awesome), then it's going to be an awesome summer and a true blessing.
I have no doubt that God has big plans for this summer and I look forward to seeing what they are!!

Here's to an awesome summer full of adventures, relationship building, personal growth, and spiritual strengthening!!

Church In The Park

26 May 2013

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!!

The weather today, while cloudy & overcast, was absolutely gorgeous!
I was blessed to be able to spend the morning having church outside at the State Park.
It was a wonderful day to have church outside at the park.

From left: Mike, Nate, Malik, & Andy
The guys put together an awesome acoustic set for this morning.
They played some of my favorite worship songs this morning which just made it that much better.
Only a few songs were played/sung, but it was perfect.
Chad then preached a short sermon/message.

Kallie bug listening to Pastor Chad.
After the message we had a cookout.
Hotdogs & hamburgers, chips, cookies, and an assortment of other food brought by various people.

Cooking up the burgers & dogs
 Some of us adults walked a handful of the kids down the river.
One family brought their dog and he was enjoying the cool water in the river.
A prayer was said and lunch was eaten.
It was a great time of fellowship with the church family.

After lunch one of the girls from youth group, Erin, wanted to go on the trail, so Andy and I hopped on bikes and went with her.
It was a lot of fun.
Lots of silly moments followed by laughs and silly comments.
It was definitely a good time.
When we got back we said goodbye to Erin, her sister Emily, & Emily's boyfriend Andrew.
We then started to pack things up & we headed to Pastor Chad's house.
We hung out for a bit and then had dinner at Aurelio's.

Now i'm relaxing and watching some movies by myself.
All in all it was a great day with an awesome church family!
I am so blessed to be a part of such an awesome church & to get to share these moments with them.
It was a great way to spend the Memorial Day Weekend.
Tomorrow there will be some more festivities.
Looking forward to spending the day & evening with everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful & relaxing Memorial Day Weekend so far!!
God bless!

**Pictures taken by Rachel Ozee.

Good Food, Tickets, & Good Company {Friday Blog Hop}

25 May 2013

Hey everyone!!
This post is coming a little bit late for Friday, but I wanted to wait until after this evening to post.
A couple friends of mine have birthdays this month, one yesterday (24th) and one next week.
We decided to do one combined outing for their birthdays and tonight was the chosen night for this.

We ventured up to Orland Park and spent the first couple hours hanging at the mall.
Our next stop for the evening was Dave & Busters.
It was a new experience for almost everyone who went.

From left: Trent, Malik, Chad, Caleb, Rachel, Me, Caitlin, & Rozy is taking the picture.
The two birthdays belong to the two farthest to the left...Trent & Malik.
This was right after we got to D & B's and ordered.

Rachel, Rozy, & Me
A handful of pictures were taken along with some Vines.
It was a great time to just talk with everyone about life and the upcoming summer.
There was also a slight debacle over who is better...Cubs or Reds?

Our food came after a short while and everyone else had normal sized plates of food.
Except for me that is.
I ordered what looked like an average sized chef salad thing called 'The Lawnmower'.
This is what came...

 This seems fairly okay from this angle, although it still seems big.
But when taken from a different angle it looks so much bigger.
This was a shot that apparently is a must have when you have such a large plate...

Super classy right??
This is definitely not one of the best pictures of me ever.
There were all kinds of things on this salad.
There were red & green peppers, onions, bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles, chicken, avocado, radishes, tomatoes, and hard boiled eggs, all on tome of romaine lettuce.
This was like the ultimate chef salad.
With the raspberry vinaigrette good!!!
It took a bit but I was determined to finish the whole thing...

All gone!!
It really wasn't as much food as you might think.
With it being lettuce with all the toppings, it really wasn't too heavy.
It was so good and it was very filling.
Definitely a good choice!!

The guys got a brownie sundae to share and after that we headed to the arcade.
We spent a couple hours just wandering around and playing different games.
I personally did not get a card to play any games but it was fun to just walk around with everyone.
There were lots of tickets won and therefore a lot of time spent in the gift shop.
One the 10pm mark rolled around you could tell everyone was starting to get tired.
The kids were getting cranky, headaches were coming, and all of us adults were yawning like crazy.
We packed up and headed out.
Tried to stop for some ice cream at Culver's, only to find out they close at 10.
Sad cheese :(

Oh well, it was still a great night of celebration.
It was a long ride home, but Malik's girlfriend Bri called.
So I got to talk with her for a few minutes which was awesome.
I miss that girl like crazy and wish she was down here instead of up in Michigan.

So that was the biggest event of my day.
I did have a big moment just before all of this when I was at the church office.
I was alone and I didn't realize that there was a way to let the other people sharing the building know someone was in the office.
It turned out that while I was doing my thing everyone from the other side of the building left.
When they did so they not only locked up their side of the building, but also turned on the building alarm.
Not knowing this I walked out to the main part of the office to throw something away and was startled when alarms started going off.
I texted my pastor and he told me he was on his way, to stay there and the police would be there soon.
Little did I know that I wouldn't be able to let them into the building.
The main door is deadbolted, but you have to have a key to unlock it from outside and inside.
Turns out you have to use the window as an access point.
All in all it was turned off and everything was fine.
It was just craziness and a bit nerve racking not being able to fix it right away.
It was a fun first adventure in the church office for the summer.
I also found out that if you turn on the light in the main part of the office then other people don't turn on the alarm system and then lock you in the building.
Who would have guessed?

Anyways, those were the highlights of my day.
I also ended up coming across a blog hop today.
It is a pretty awesome blog hop that is based on Bloglovin'.
There is a link up on the right in my sidebar.
It goes back to Bloglovin', but if you search 'Let's be friends Bloglovin' hop' in Google then it will bring up a ton of blogs who host this blog hop.
I was able to connect with a couple new blogs this week and look forward to meeting more next week!!

Well that's all for now!
Happy Friday/Early Saturday!!

Throwback Thursday & Summer Mission Team 2013

23 May 2013

Hey there!!
So today is my first Throwback Thursday post and I am really excited to share with you!
I think this is the perfect time to start this because of what I am looking back on and the upcoming summer plans.
Today I want to take a look back to last summer. I know it isn't too far back in the past, but it seems like so long ago and I find it fitting considering that it is all going to be starting back up a week from today.

Last summer was full of long work days, crazy schedules, good days and bad days, as well as a ton of wonderful memories!!
I posted about the summer a couple of times and you can see one of them here!
For those who don't know, I stayed on my college's campus last summer and worked full time in the custodial department.
That was often days a lot of work, a lot of stress, and a lot of frustration.
Little did I know when I started working for the summer that I would end up also being an unofficial part of the Summer Mission Team that Journey was hosting through NAMB.
I got up and dealt with the long days of work because I knew that I would get to work and hangout with all of the summer missionaries.

From left: Andy, McKenzie, Patrick, Malik, Haley, Kenan, & Joel

This was the official team that started out the summer, but only the six guys ended up staying on with Journey.
I was beyond blessed to get to work with them and spend time getting to know them!
These guys are seriously some of the most awesome people I know!!
The connections have been lasting and we have been able to make many memories beyond the summer and throughout this past school year.
It has been such an amazing blessing to have these guys be a part of my life and I thank God for the friendship and all of the different aspects that it consists of on a daily basis.

While only three of the guys will be coming back, Andy, Malik, and Kenan, to be a part of the Summer Mission Team for this summer, it is looking like it is going to be an awesome team!!
There will be seven people on team this summer, five of which already have worked, are working and are attending Journey and all know each other fairly well.
As previously mentioned, Andy, Malik, and Kenan will be back for the summer.
Kristin Marshall, a fellow ONU student and good friend, will be on team this summer as well, along with myself.
That makes up the five of us who have already worked with Journey or have been working with and attending Journey.
In addition to the five, we will also have two others from Arkansas joining us, Andrew & Anna Bell.
They are (or will be getting) married and are coming to join us just ten days after their wedding.
I do not know much more about them, but I look forward to getting to know them and work with them this summer.
(Little do they know there is already going to be a blog post about them before they get here (:  )

Things are going to be set up a bit differently this summer but it is looking like it will be an amazing summer none the less!
From the sounds of things the team is going to be a really great fit for the church and as a team in general.
So many awesome things are already planned and in the works for the summer and it is going to be awesome to be able to work with this team to make everything happen!!
We are a mere 7 days away from everyone arriving (officially) and I am getting excited!

I pray that God will just work in the lives of everyone both before they arrive next week and while they are here for the summer.
I pray that He will work through us to accomplish His will through all that we do.
I pray that we will daily seek Him in all that we say, do, and think.
May we be so focused on Him that everything we do directly reflects Him.
May His hands be on us and guide us.
May we be a blessing to the church and the community through this opportunity that we have been given.
I pray that we will draw closer to Him both individually and as a team through everything that we experience this summer.

It's all in His hands!!!


On a side note, I found out some totally awesome news!!!
Olivet sent out a survey to the students asking about where they go to church, how often they attend, and so on.
Turns out that Journey Church is the 6th most attended church by ONU students!!!
How awesome is that?!?
While this does not give necessarily the most accurate count, it is still awesome knowing that we are one of the churches that ONU students go to most frequently!
I know a lot of the students who come to Journey and I see new faces quite often.
I just pray that we are truly showing them God's love in all that we do and that we are providing them the opportunity to grow closer to God through the worship and message on Sundays.
I pray that we are being the guiding light that they need to stay focused on God.
I pray that we are being His hands and feet to all those that are coming.

We serve such an awesome God!
He is doing amazing things even when we cannot see it.
Sometimes it is just little things like the results of a survey to be reminded that we are making a difference.
It may not be to a huge number of people, but we are reaching a lot of people.
We are making an impact and it is all because of Him.
By keeping our eyes on Him and continuing to do His work we will be able to see results reaped tenfold.
Sometimes it may be tough, but He never fails to show us that our perseverance is producing results.
He never lets us down or fails us.
We just need patience and a little more faith in His plan.
It always works out for the best for the those who love Him!!

Youth Group: Past, Present, & Future

     So last night was youth group, better known as Journey Live. I have been going to Journey Live and helping out (of sorts) since the fall. When I say helping out it generally means that i've helped to hold the peace, add a comment in here or there, and cook when needed. I have not had to step into the role of actually leading youth group or taking a more proactive leadership role. I have mainly gotten to work on getting to know the teens and connect with them. This whole sorta backseat role i've been occupying this year is going to get bumped up several levels in the next couple weeks. As a part of doing summer missions team (a post will be coming about mission team and the upcoming summer soon) everyone on team will be split up to focus on certain areas of ministry. I will be staying with the teens. However, me and the other one to two people who will be working with the teens will pretty much be in charge of leading all of the activities and small group interactions this summer. This really hit me tonight both during youth group and after in conversations with the teens and fellow adult leaders. I was informed by my pastor of something that I already knew about and have been working on, but sometimes feel like i'm getting nowhere. I need to speak up during small group interactions and Bible lessons. I have been trying to work on this but feel like I get stuck or as soon as I start moving forward I get pushed back again. You may be asking why I even have to work on this to begin with? Well I have an answer for you. Just give me some time to explain...

Youth group was not a pleasant experience for me for the most part. I found it to be one of the places where I actually got torn down and pushed away more than I was lifted up and welcomed. It really ended up shaping me into the person that I am today and that is not entirely a positive thing. Growing up I was pretty talkative, especially once I got to know someone and was comfortable, and this trait followed me into middle school. I went into youth group fairly outgoing since I knew most everyone and I was not afraid to talk and share my thoughts. This lasted for about the first year, so through 7th grade. During that year and the year that followed I really got a lot of negative remarks coming from those in my youth group. I quite frequently heard it said that no one cared what I had to say and no one wanted to hear my thoughts or my feelings. I was pretty much told that I needed to stop talking because no one wanted to hear what I had to say. This really tore me apart and by the time I hit freshman year of high school I rarely talked during youth group, especially during our Bible lesson. Due to other circumstances, this new found habit of not talking became the only way to survive. It didn't help that my mom was in a youth pastor position and my grandpa was the pastor of the church. This meant that everyone expected my life to be perfect. Little known fact: being a PK doesn't mean your life is perfect and you never mess up. We mess up on a daily basis just like everyone else. But I wasn't allowed to share this with people because I was instantly judged and it immediately looked bad on my family. By the time junior and senior year came around I was only going to youth group once or twice a month, if that. There were times I wouldn't go for two to three months at a time. I didn't like being there and with family circumstances it was easy to come up with reasons not to go.

Now that I am a part of a youth group and in a leadership position, I am forced to look back at my youth group experience and see what went wrong and try to keep those things from happening in this youth group.

When you think of a youth group, specifically a healthy youth group that has a regular group of attendees and is growing, you think of a place where students can come and feel welcome. They can come into youth group and feel like they are safe. They should feel like they can share what they are thinking, feeling, and experiencing without being judged. They should be shown God's love by their peers and those that are leading the group. We often think of many of the things that are shown in the image below...

     These things were apart of my youth group at various times but never at the same time. Transitioning from having real youth pastors to having people just fill a rotation schedule so someone was always with us made this hard as well. We never felt like anyone actually wanted to be with us. The new youth pastor they have now doesn't even want to be there. The things in this image are what I longed to have on a regular basis in youth group, but I never got them. These things are also the very things that I want the teens in Journey Live to experience on a regular basis. I want them to come in and feel the presence of strong, positive leadership, a sense of connection and openness with one another, and feel that they are accepted in the group no matter who they are, what they have done, or where they are in the lives.

I want the teens to have that amazing youth group experience that I wish I had had. I hear stories from friends at college about their youth groups and in all honesty I get jealous. Their groups always sound like they were the best! I really want to be a part of making Journey Live that kind of a group/place for these students. I want them to be able to look back on it when they grow up and have positive memories from it. I felt a little like a dork because I was thinking about this on my drive home after youth group and I started tearing up because I just feel so strongly about this issue. These students deserve the best that we can give them and I really want to give that to them! I just need to remember that part of giving that to them is getting past the negative impact of my youth group experiences. It probably won't be easy, but I think it will be worth it in the end.

I am looking forward to the challenges that working with these students this summer will present, as well as the many, many, many wonderful and amazing moments and memories that will come about!! They are such an awesome group of students and I pray that I will be able to provide what they need this summer alongside my fellow mission team members and adult leaders from church. I have no doubt that this summer will be an awesome season of growth for these students, as well as those of us working with them. It may not be in the numbers of students attending, but it will no doubt be in the hearts and lives of the students. I am excited to see the students grow and change in their faith!! It will no doubt be a summer to remember!!

Passion Can Lead To Purpose

17 May 2013

     Have you ever found yourself in a position where you are so tired and worn out with what you are currently doing that you wonder if it is really what you want to do? Has this made you question what you purpose is in life? Or maybe you are okay with what you are doing but still find yourself questioning what your purpose is. Sometimes we can start out doing something that we enjoy, at least at the time, and we our happy, but as time goes on we realize that it is not what we really want to do. Whether it be work, a long-term volunteer position, school (or a particular major), or any number of things, it can start draining us mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually. As it wears us out more and more we find it affecting our relationships with family and friends, our hobbies and activities, even our faith. We lack peace and joy in every aspect of our lives. Sure there may be moments when we feel those things, but overall we do not.

     There are all kinds of excuses for why we stay in positions where we feel no enjoyment and that drain us. Maybe we feel like we have to stay in the position we are in because of the security it provides. Maybe we feel like we will be letting people down if we do something else. Maybe we feel like we just are not good enough at anything else to do something else. Whatever the case may be, this is not how we should go about our lives.

     If this was the world that God initially intended it to be then we would all be able to spend our days doing the things that we enjoy doing, that we are passionate about. However, we do not live in that world but rather in this fallen world. It is not always easy for us to spend our live doing exactly that which we enjoy the most. What we can do however, is adjust our lives to fit the strengths that God has given us in a better way. This may not mean that we are able to do the exact thing that we most enjoy, but we can do something that is close to that or involves many aspects of it. By redirecting the things that we are doing to more closely fit the strengths that God gave us, we will be able to rediscover the joy and the happiness that God intends for us to have about life.

     For some of use we may not know what our strengths or gifts are, but it can be easy figure that out. You may feel like you are looking everywhere to figure out what your strengths are and it may seem like you have none or if you have any they are hidden. But here is a thought... Have you ever wondered if maybe you are looking in the wrong places or focusing on the wrong things? If you cannot figure out what to focus on, it can seem like strengths are nonexistent. Or maybe you feel like you have several strengths or gifts and you are having a difficulty figuring out which ones you should focus on. Figuring out what your strengths are can be as simple as answering some questions such as:
-What were your favorite subjects in school?
-What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
-What do you feel most comfortable and confident doing?
-What things seem to come natural to you?

     The list could go on, but it is questions like these that can help you figure what your strengths are. Once you figure that out you will more easily be able to find a way to make that a part of your life and work. Maybe that means a total career change or maybe it just means looking for a different position. If you are in school it might mean that you change your major or add a minor. There are all kinds of ways to redirect the things you do to fit your strengths. The joy and fulfillment you will find upon doing this will make life much more enjoyable. I really like the following quote about our strengths and passions...

What you are passionate about was
created in you to make a splash in this life
that no one else can make. 
-Nicole Johnson

     God only created one of each of us and he has given each of us different strengths and gifts. What we do with them is our choice and we can make an impact in our lives and on the world that no one else can. Whatever your strengths or gifts are, you can "make a splash". 
     So, what are some things they are holding you back from doing something that you truly enjoy? Or are you doing something that you enjoy and hope to continue doing? How can you make an impact using the strengths and gifts that God has given you? What are some ways that you are already making an impact with your strengths?

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