Our Youth Are Leaving

30 July 2014

A couple days ago I came across an article that someone shared on Facebook. This particular article talked about traits of youth who didn't leave the church after high school. It focused on three traits of those of us who stayed connected with a church. (Here is the article: http://www.faithit.com/3-common-traits-of-youth-who-dont-leave-the-church/#.U9cNAFwS0Zk.facebook) These were the traits they focused on:

1. They are converted
2. They have been equipped, not entertained
3. Their parents preached the gospel to them

After reading through the article I just had to share it because what it said resonated with me. Since I was on of those church kids who was there as much as I could (basically anytime the doors were open...), I could have easily fallen on either side of things based on home life and such. Yet here I am at 21 years of age serving in a year long internship position at my church here in Illinois where I moved to for school. I stayed connected with the church even though I was frustrated with it when I left for school. As I read through the article I couldn't help but think that these reasons that were stated were a big part of the reason why I am still connected and serving in and alongside a church. 

The first point is a big one. So often students proclaim that they are Christians and they attend all of the events and are at the church every Wednesday night and Sunday morning. Yet I have to ask...How many of those students are truly converted? How many of them have truly given their life to Him and are seeking daily to follow Him? How many are hearing what we say but in reality are not letting it change them? I'm going to take a guess that the number is higher than any of us want to admit. Yes, the events are fun and it is awesome to have a great attendance, but are they learning and growing while they participate is the question. We need to be teaching them and talking to them with the intent of conversion. We need to pray that God would do a mighty work in their lives and bring them wholly to Him. We can teach them and preach to them week after week and at event after event, but what good is it if they don't experience that true conversion. We should want them to be hungry to know more about Him and to want to serve Him, which is what happens when they give their lives to Him.

This second one really hits a note with me. So often the focus of youth group is merely to entertain the students for an hour or two and maybe throw in a short Bible study time. Nothing to fancy or in-depth, but enough to make it seem like we know what we are talking about and that they are getting something of substance. We get focused on the number in attendance instead of the learning and growth that should take place. Growing up in a church that had activities going on year round both locally and on the district, I am totally an advocate for having good times full of harmless fun and pure goofiness!! Yet I have seen and experienced first hand what happens when we take the focus off of equipping students and put on the fun. How can we expect students to go out and stay connected with a church or share the gospel when we don't equip them with the tools to do so? Once a student has converted and has accepted Him it is our job to help disciple them and teach them so that they can go out and do the same with others. Students should be leaving our ministries knowing how to study their Bible, how to read their Bible, and how to disciple others to become followers. If they don't know these simple things, what good are we doing?

This last one is where I could have went either way when I left home. My mom was a Christian but my father wasn't. So the messages were mixed at home. Yet my mom made us go to church and participate in the various ministries. Did I always enjoy it? No. Did I learn and grow from it? Absolutely. She shared about Jesus at home and faith focused conversation was commonplace. My mom worked in children's and youth ministry, my grandpa was our pastor, and all of my extended family worked or served in ministry to some degree. So as my mom has said, I had no choice. I grew up in it and have now found myself getting a ministry degree in college and serving in various ministries in my church. My mom made sure that the gospel was a part of our lives, whether at home, at church or elsewhere. This is such a key part of raising children who walk with Him faithfully. 

Sadly, so many youth are walking away from the church. This happens often once they have left high school and are on their own. I think that if we want to start keeping our students in the church as they become young adults we really need to make sure that these three things mentioned above are a key part of their lives. For some students the various aspects of this will look different because of life situations, but it can still happen. Students come out of youth group often times lacking the basic knowledge of how to share their faith and what it really means. This alone causes many problems. Throw in lack of support or lack of information coming from home, a church environment focused on attendance and lack of a true conversion...suddenly things are a mess. 

We can so easily fix this for our students. Am I saying it is easy? Not at all. Am I saying that it would be worth it? YES. For us and for them. These students need us to step in and show them what it means to be a true follower. We don't have to have it all together or have all the answers. We just need to be genuine with them. We need to teach them what the Bible says and show them ways to share their faith. As they are leaving home to go to college, especially out of town, we need to encourage them and maybe even help them to find a place to plug in. 

One other aspect, we need to teach parents how to share their faith in their homes. We can do all of this with students but if they are getting a different message at home it makes things so much more difficult. Helping parents to grow in their faith and learn how to disciple others, especially their children, can make a huge difference.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with the points or disagree? How do you think we can best help our youth? Have you seen something done in ministries at your church that have helped this?

God Bless!

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A Late 4th of July Recap

21 July 2014

Like I said on Saturday, the last couple of weeks have been crazy. Thus I am posting my 4th of July recap on the 19th. I'm two weeks late but at least I am posting them. For the 4th we go out to the Community College and set up there just after lunch. We bring canopies, chairs, tables, food and water, cornhole, and other games. It is offered at church as an open church event, but within a community event. People from church come out and bring their chairs, food and such and we all just hang out. It's a great time of fellowship while we enjoy a nice day, play frisbee and cornhole, as well as interact with friends from the community who are there.

The guys all look so thrilled and energetic ;)
All of us interns went out just after lunch and set everything up so that it was ready when everyone else go there. Once everything was set up we got to relax for a little bit. The guys just look so thrilled to be out there don't they lol. They actually had a good time, they just didn't know I was taking this picture. We helped monitor the bounce houses again this year which is fun but it can tedious since we just stand there and tell kids when they can go up and come down. But it is fun at the same time since we get to interact with the kids. 

Chad, Mark, Bri and David playing football
Throughout the day we had games of cornhole, frisbee, football and t-ball going on. We had some family visitors there and we always have some people from the Kankakee Valley Theatre Association group come hang out for a little while which is fun. Bri got to join us for the day since she was in town and not touring that day.
Broshi, Caleb, Andy & Jarrod (somewhere) playing football and Caitlyn was playing with a child
All around it was a great day and for the first year in a while it was a mild day. It was perfect to be out and about for the 4th. We got to enjoy the Kankakee Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Kankakee Valley Symphony Orchestra. They also do a military tribute for all the branches and that was hard for some people there as it reminded them of relatives who are no longer with them. The KVSO played the some music from Star Wars if I remember correctly.

Some more of the crew
Ignore the quality of these pictures. I was taking them from my iPad one handed and in a fairly quick manner since my ice cream was melting! And the green smoke in the background was someone setting off a stink bomb. That was not pleasant in the least. Once it hit about 7:30ish we went ahead and took down canopies and tables. We took everything we didn't need to watch fireworks back to the bus so that we didn't have to take it down and carry it down in the midst of the chaos of everyone packing up and heading out. About 8:30 they started the fireworks.

It was a great show and it was a beautiful night for it. Minus the bugs who seemed to like everyone that night. Once the show was over we picked up all our trash, gathered the camp chairs, and grabbed the last cooler. We headed to the bus and we prepped for the best part of the night yet. See, we've become smart in how we do the heading out part of the night. There are so many people all trying to get out at once that it is mass chaos and takes forever. So we bring a cooler full of about 6 or 7 watermelon, a big sharp knife, salt, trash bags and plenty of napkins. We popped up a table and laid out a plastic cover, then out came the watermelon. We cut them up and people just come and grab them. Friends are invited to join us and it's a great time to fellowship and enjoying the evening while everyone else is stressed about getting out. We generally have a decent sized group. It doesn't take long to go through all of the watermelons as you can guess! By the time we finish though, the parking lot is pretty much empty and we have an easy time packing up and leaving. It's a great way to end out the day!!

One quick story from the night. A friend of ours, Jade, and her family joined us for watermelon after the show. She had went with us to camp the week before and had become friends with all of us interns. Well, Broshi is affectionately referred to as being "swole". He had told Jade that saying "swole" when you pick up something heavy, or in this case try to break a big triangular piece of watermelon, it makes the task easier. Jade didn't think it would work but tried anyway. So here we are all standing there talking, laughing and enjoying our watermelon when all of a sudden Jade says, "Swole!" quite loudly. At the same time she is saying it she attempts to break the watermelon. Much to her surprise and everyone else's, the piece of watermelon broke ridiculously easy. The look of shock on her face was so great! We all just busted out laughing while she just stood there amazed at what just happened. So funny!! To say the least, she believes him now.

Anyways, that's enough for the crazy stories. Have a great day! God Bless!

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Butterfinger Apple Nachos

19 July 2014

So a couple weeks ago my good friend Alaina and I decided that we wanted to go up to Chicago to see a movie in Millennium Park on a Tuesday. Last Tuesday was the day that we thought would work, but unfortunately our work schedules didn't allow us the time to do that. Instead we decided to do dinner, dessert and a movie at Alaina's apartment. I was doing dessert but couldn't decided on what to do. I scrolled through Pinterest in hopes of some sort of inspiration of an amazing but easy dessert. I came across a couple options, but one stood out to me. Butterfinger Apple Nachos. A somewhat healthy dessert. 

I easily became tempted by the fact that not only do I love apples, but the fact that they had caramel, marshmallows, white chocolate chips and Butterfingers on them. Sounded wonderful to me! So I made my decision. My dilemma was that I was at the office on Tuesday afternoon and only had a microwave at my disposal to make it. So off to Kroger I went for supplies. One of those being a glass liquid measuring cup. I was going to use to the microwave to melt the marshmallows. Not sure how it would turn out but willing to try, I bought my ingredients and headed back to the office.

Forgive me for not taking pictures while I was making it, but I was in a hurry. I had 45 minutes to cut everything and figure out the microwave to melt the marshmallows. Here's the ingredients and about how much I used.

Butterfinger Apple Nachos
3-4 large Granny Smith Apples
1/4 bag Mini Marshmallows (1lb bag)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 jar Kroger caramel sauce
(OR 1/2 bag caramels & 1 TBS water)
1/4 bag White Chocolate Chips
5 Fun Size Butterfingers

I altered a recipe I found on Pinterest a little bit since I was making it for a smaller group and didn't need as large a serving. To start with I cut up my apples and placed them in my disposable foil pan. You can use a platter or plate or whatever you wish. I placed them so they would all be covered with the toppings. I then put the marshmallows and butter into my glass measuring cup and melted them in the microwave. I started with 30 seconds and then did 10 second increments until they were done. I then drizzled my melted marshmallow over the apples. I think I may use more next time. I then warmed up my caramel sauce in the microwave and drizzled it on. You can use the individually wrapped caramels. You would melt them in the same fashion as the marshmallows but using water instead of butter. I then sprinkled on the white chocolate chips. Then I cut up the butterfingers into pieces and sprinkled them on top.

I think they came out great and for it being the first time I made them they were a hit. Even Alaina's roommates who got back from Colorado while I was there tried them and said they were amazing. I am excited to try them again in the fall when all of my friends are back in town. They were so yummy!! I could have ate the whole pan by myself! I hope you enjoy the recipe! Tweak it to fit you and your needs. Let me know what you think!

God Bless!

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One More 'Frivolous' Purchase...

Hey y'all! These last few weeks have been straight up craziness. We're doing a ton of different things because there are some big events coming up soon and we have to be completely ready for all of them before we leave for camp tomorrow. Oh yeah, we've been prepping for the camp that we run during the summer. It's only a week long but things are different and get crazy when you're the ones planning every detail. Anyways, I just wanted to post a quick update. I will have other posts ready and being posted throughout the week while I am away from internet.

To start with, is anyone else still amazed that it is already over halfway through July!? Where has the summer gone? I'm pretty sure it just started a month ago. Seriously though, it's been a great summer and I am so excited about what the next month has in store. I just got my new frames last week. Finally! I had been waiting for them to come in because about three weeks ago they got broken when I picked up one of the kids from church. So I had been walking around for about three weeks with duct tape holding them together. Real classy, right? But it worked. Now I have new frames and the best part is that they were free because they were still under warranty.

So nice not having duct tape on my glasses
I also recently made one big 'frivolous' purchase before making some big adult purchases. I've been wanting to learn acoustic guitar for a while but always ran into the issue of not having a guitar readily available to practice on. Well, I fixed that situation a couple weeks ago during a sale at a local music store. The sale at King Music was great and the guys took care of me. I bought myself a Fender CD 60 Acoustic with a hard case for just over $200. A great deal all around in my book. I've been working on some chords but will really hit some good practicing after getting back from camp and things slow down.

My new baby
 I love spur of the moment decisions on one hand but on another I still wonder if I made the right decision. I guess I will find out after doing some more practicing and seeing if I am really any good! Anyways, that's about all I have for now. While I have some down time I am going to get things ready for next week. I hope you all have a great week!

God Bless!

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Disorder, Disease & Discovery: A Glimpse Into My Story

02 July 2014

Good evening everyone! I told you that today (or tonight...) I would share my story or my testimony with all of you. As I go into this I just want to put out the warning that there will be some touchy subjects, some heavy subjects throughout and I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable or to stir up anything negative in anyone else because of that. I want to be open with you all and to share with you, but I don't want to cause anyone to stumble. Also, I don't know how long this will be but I will try to keep it somewhat short because I know that long posts can get tiring to read. This is the first time I have posted my story or anything quite this similar, so give me some grace as it will not be anywhere near a perfect draft or where I would like it to be. Here goes...

I was born in upstate New York, specifically Johnson City. I was basically born in church. My mom took me there all the time, same with my sisters when they were born. My grandpa was our pastor pretty much my whole life. My grandma was involved in various ministries, which is expected when one is the spouse of a pastor. We moved out to south central Nebraska when I was five years old. Just a couple years prior my grandparents had moved out there as well. My mom was a Children's Ministry Leader when I was a kid. 

I grew up doing everything in the church. I did Bible Quizzing, went through the whole Caravans program, went to Church Camp every summer, did all of the lock-ins and special events. I was at church whenever the doors were open. I took part in every musical I could. I was in Sunday School every Sunday morning. I was what many called the perfect church kid. I knew all the answers and according to most everyone I didn't do anything wrong, or at least I shouldn't because I was the granddaughter of the pastor and daughter of a children's ministry leader. I didn't think anything of this when I was young. I went along with it.

I accepted Christ when I was 8 years old at Church Camp. I thought God was the greatest and I was on fire for Him. Nothing swayed me and I thought I was set. Once I got to about 5th grade I started to really see another side of the church. I started seeing and experiencing the 'church politics'. I didn't entirely understand it then but I knew it wasn't good. I started becoming disillusioned with the church and I questioned things much more. In 6th grade I started joining the youth group for as many things as I could because I couldn't stand the children's program and the politics that were involved with it. At this point I started doing Teen Bible Quizzing, which is ten times better than Children's Quizzing!

NE Teen Bible Quizzing. Look at how tiny I was!! (I'm way over on the left)
Things at home had never been the greatest, although they weren't terrible. I was used to yelling and fighting about money and other things at night after my sisters went to bed. I thought it was normal and didn't think much of it. We had always had financial issues. Sometimes the issues were small and I didn't notice too much, while other times it was tough enough that we may be without our car for a few weeks or struggling to pull together money to get the basic groceries. Life wasn't easy but I knew people who had it worse. Things started to get worse between my parents in 6th grade. I saw and felt the change. Arguments grew more frequent and often times louder. My fathers anger issues started showing more. He no longer went to church with us, not even for holidays or special occasions. 

The end of 6th grade is when things really started getting hard. At this point my mom was now the Youth Pastor, which put more pressure on me to act and talk a certain way. I had lost my best friend from grade school when I went from the public school to homeschooling after 5th grade, but didn't think much of it as I ended up making a new best friend. This best friend was a year older than me, but our families were pretty close. One Wednesday right after school got out my mom and the other youth pastor got a call and had to leave during our free hour before youth group. I didn't think anything of it and the other teens didn't either. An adult was put in charge and we went on with what we were doing. Later that night I found out what that call was about. My best friend's mom had walked in on him molesting his two younger brothers. I remember that I didn't entirely understand, but I do remember crying as I was told that he would be going to juvy.  This was my first real experience with things really taking a downward turn. 

Abby, Me, My Mom, Amber, Katie and Jamie. We were all good friends at the time!
Middle school proceeded to throw its challenges at me. I had to close friends and that was it. The pressure to be the perfect church kid continued to grow. The people at the church who were the ones who should have been encouraging me, praying for me and helping me through everything were the ones who really tore me down more than anyone else. I remember hearing multiple times from multiple people that no one wanted to hear anything about my thoughts, opinions or feelings. Especially if any of them happened to contradict what and who they thought I should be as the church kid and youth pastor's daughter. I started to dislike coming to church. At the same time things at home got worse. My fathers anger started to come out in more physical ways. Outside of yelling on a regular basis over little things, he started to throw things when he was mad. It started out with small things like remotes and plastic dishes/silverware and grew to pieces of furniture such as chairs. This left holes in walls and sometimes other furniture. He even kicked in a few cabinet doors in the kitchen. I started to be afraid of him. I was afraid to be anywhere by myself with him. I was afraid to be out and about on the first floor of the house when he got home from work or when he was awake and about. I learned to retreat to my room or make plans to be gone. Babysitting become not only a job and something to enjoy, but also a refuge. 

Home was a place I didn't want to be. By the end of middle school things at home were getting pretty bad and I was starting to lean towards a slight hatred of youth group. Mind you I never said anything about church to anyone except the other youth pastor after she left the beginning of my 8th grade year. When your family are the leaders in ministry at the church you keep a lot of things to yourself. By the end of 8th grade I had a mask that I wore day in and day out. I was always smiling and things were always great. I learned to shut my emotions off and not let them dictate anything. No one saw behind the mask. Summer of 2007 was the last somewhat normal summer of my life, at least for a while, but it was also the beginning of a climax in my life. The picture above with my mom in it is one of the last ones I have on my Facebook of her walking.

In August 2007 my mom had an accident of sorts at work. She worked at an assisted living facility overnight and they had cats for the residents. She stepped on one by accident and it bit her. This caused a disorder that was diagnosed a few weeks later. She ended up being diagnosed with RSD/CRPS or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. She ended up in a wheelchair and there is no chance that she will walk again. This diagnosis threw a wrench in an already bad situation. What little bit of involvement my father had in our lives was now gone. He went to work and then came home to sit in his room. My mom was laying in bed in pain without the ability to help take care of anyone or anything, not even herself. At 14 years old I was suddenly in charge of taking care of my mom and my sisters. I cooked, cleaned, ran errands, planned out rides when need be, helped my sisters with their school, did my own school, worked basically full time, and many other things. I was stressed but it kept me busy so my mind wasn't thinking about things. It eventually hit too hard and I started to think that people would be better off without me. I didn't think anyone cared nor would they miss me. I was ready to end it all. I had it planned out twice, but thanks to my best friend at the time I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was a struggle to accept the fact that if I was gone that people would be affected. I had a hard time believing that throughout freshman year. 

Volleyball during my Sophmore Year of high school

I met my current bestfriend, Mike, the summer before my sophmore year. Little did I know, but he would become my rock and my one constant (besides God) in the coming years. Sophmore year started out like all of freshman year had gone. My mom's doctors and lawyers appointments and life being dictated by judges. It was only the beginning. Home life was really bad at this point. Bad to the point that I was rarely home and when I was I hid out in my room with my nose in a book in an attempt to block everything out. The end of my sophmore year my father filed for divorce. A four and a half year fight would begin that April. Custody battles started within a couple weeks and a temporary custody schedule was made. We all lived in the same house through that summer which made things hard. When fall came my mom, my sisters and I moved across town to our own place in less than eight hours. We were thrust back into the public school system. I got sick with Swine Flu and came close to hospitalization by the third time I caught it. My immune system was shot and I was still struggling with some of the depression issues that started freshman year. Throw in being forced by a judge to go to my father's place every other weekend and one night a week... I was a mess. I was so afraid to go over there. I subconsciously worked myself up to the point of physical sickness every weekend I was supposed to go. 

Church musical my sophmore year of high school

This was pushed aside until one weekend when it all came crashing down and my mom realized something was wrong. Often times things got so bad when we were leaving to go to his place that my mom, my sisters and I were all in tears and yelling at each other because we were frustrated and hated the situation. One Friday it fell apart for me. I suddenly had an anxiety attack while in the shower after school, although I didn't know that's what it was at the time. I barely finished it before falling to the floor in my bathroom with my towel over me. I was shaking and shivering, my body hurt everywhere, I was sobbing so hard I couldn't breathe well, I was physically making myself sick, and I felt like I was watching everything happen from outside my own body. My mom came down to get me and found me barely coherent on the bathroom floor. I remember her ending up in tears right there telling me how she wished that she didn't have to make me go. I also remember the doctors appointment the next week that ended with me being put on anxiety medication. I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was on meds, still struggling with depression, hated going to church, had all of four close friends, and my family was a hot mess. Not to mention we got evicted at the end of my freshman year as well. 

French class trip to Paris, France

Senior year came along and I thought I was doing better. It was a lie. I had started to believe in the me that everyone else saw. The me that was always smiling and always saying things were great. I wanted to believe in it because I didn't want to focus on the disorderly life I was living. I had my first taste of alcohol the beginning of my senior year. Not enough to get drunk but just enough to help numb things a bit. I also started self harming during senior year as well. Not with anything that would be noticeable. I wasn't that stupid. I took erasers to my wrist, basically using friction to burn through my skin. The marks looked more like a burn from my straightner, thus they were easy to brush off. By this point I had the mask on so much and my emotions turned off so often that I was just wanting to feel something. I wanted to be reminded that I was alive, that I was still able to feel something because I felt so numb. I usually only harmed when I hit low nights where the depression, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and all the other issues hit all at one time and I was so numb and felt so lifeless that I needed the pain. 

Hanging at a graduation party with my mom and great grandad

I had rededicated my life to Christ the summer before Senior year but wasn't doing a great job at following. I was a mess. I was watching my father pull all kinds of nonsense in front of lawyers and judges. I listened to him threaten to have me sent to juvy amongst other things. I watched as the people at church didn't really pay any attention. I watched as I let different guys come extremely close to crossing lines they shouldn't have. I was craving attention and these guys gave it. I never let the guys I knew get far enough, but if I didn't know them and wouldn't see them I let them say whatever they wanted. The things that were said and talked about shouldn't have even been though of let alone discussed. I was a mess but I was crying out to God in the midst of it all. I was asking to be renewed but I didn't feel like anything was happening.

I went off to college at Olivet Nazarene University in August 2011. I was still struggling with depression, anxiety and self harm. I didn't deal with it as frequently but it was still an issue. After almost failing out at the end of my first semester I finally kicked my butt into gear. That seemed to be the wake up call I needed. I started to see things turn around and I found myself reaching out to God more than ever before. I was praying and seeking Him. I was trusting Him. I knew that in the midst of it all God had been there and He was still there. I don't remember the exact moment it happened, but it was about the time that I got word that I was going to have to petition to stay at ONU that I recommitted to Christ. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew it would be worth it. Through out the last two and a half years I have watched God change my life in incredible ways. It has been a year and a half since I have self harmed in any way. I rarely have anxiety attacks or any terrible moments of depression. I have seen God do some wonderful things in regards to family structure and just my relationships in general. I have watched Him reshape my idea of what a healthy relationship looks like.

Some of the amazing roommates and friends that have helped me so much these last three years at Olivet

After years of struggling through one big downward spiral I came out of it on top. Nothing is perfect nor will it ever be, but looking back I can see how God worked even in the darkness. I see Him in the people that came into my life. I can see His hand in the different circumstances. I can see His presence in so many little things throughout those years. I have no doubt that even when my eyes weren't focused on Him that He was guiding my path. He was protecting me in the midst of my lowest, most dangerous moments. He used it all to bring my eyes back to Him and I am so grateful that He did. His grace and mercy are so overwhelming and I don't deserve them in the least. He has blessed me so much over the last several years and I cannot even begin to express my thankfulness that He never gave up even when He had every right.

I haven't had contact with my father in three years and I still have my moments, but I lean on God in those moments in ways that I didn't before. I am still working on accepting God as my Father due to the negative view I have of fatherly figures due to my earthly father, but i'm getting there. God has blessed me with an amazing church family that has helped me to grow more in my faith, as well as other areas. I have been blessed with the opportunity to be at a great school with amazing roommates and friends. I have been blessed to gain another wonderful district church family that is incredibly supportive and so encouraging. I am reminded daily that even though I didn't lean on God and trust Him the way I should have throughout high school, He is still there and He still loves me regardless of what my past looks like. He is the ultimate Saviour and Healer! I am daily learning how to serve Him better and how to live more and more like Him.

What is your story? How has God worked in your life?

(P.S. The pictures don't particularly have anything to do with the story but they kind of fit the timeline. They also show that even though someone is dealing with depression, anxiety and/or self harm they can and do still live normal lives. You often can't tell that something is wrong, so don't write someone off as not being affected by these things because they very well could be.)

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IL Super Summer 2014 || 10/40: Send Me

01 July 2014

Hey y'all! I'm finally back from camp. I actually got back on Saturday evening but we had things to do from the time we got back until Sunday evening, so i'm just now catching up with everything. Tonight I just want to do a little recap of what camp was like and how it impacted me even with a bit of a change of roles this year. 

Going into this week I didn't really have a specific role. I went in knowing that I would be fulfilling various roles and obligations throughout the week. I was the worship tech for Broshi for Blue School. I was sort of assistant TLing with one of the small groups a couple times a day. I was helping with tech stuff for worship for evening services each night. I was running lights for evening worship. I was also on call for set up, tear down and whatever else Chad needed throughout the week. I also got a few other little things thrown in there, but nothing time consuming or too strenuous. So I was bouncing from role to role through out the week. This allowed me to see Super Summer from different sides than I had previously. I enjoyed the week and the different aspects of filling the different roles, but I also got to make some observations about how that bouncing around was good and bad for me.
Last summer I really got the chance to build relationships with the girls and guys in my school, especially those in my Family Group. This was awesome and I still keep in contact with them. Some of them even came back this summer! I really enjoyed this, but in a tiny way had wished to get to know some of the adults better. Overall I couldn't have asked for a better experience last summer. This summer I was bouncing back and forth between being a part of a school and being a part of exec staff. It was fun, but I feel like I lost that relational aspect, especially when it comes to the students. I got to meet them and get to know them but not on the same level. Yet on the other hand I got to get to know some incredible people on exec staff and continue to build relationships with those I already knew. I absolutely loved getting to do this and it was such a blessing! I think that next year I would prefer to be fully in a school or fully on exec staff. It's hard to build relationships when you're jumping from one to the other constantly. However, I know that God put me where He did this year for a reason. Part of that I have already seen and there is part of it that i'm sure I don't even know yet.

Anyways, here are some pictures from the week. They are all of the evening service, but that's because I didn't have time to pull out my iPad and take pictures at other times throughout the week. 

Super Summer Worship Band practice before students arrived
First night of worship with the students
Chase preaching the second night. I'm chilling in the light booth.
Last night of worship with the students
Chase's last message to the students
The theme of Super Summer this year was 10/40: Send Me. So the whole week was centered around the students learning about the 10/40 Window and how they can make a difference there, as well as right where they live. They learned about the lack of Christianity in the 10/40 Window despite the number of people in it. Blue School was focusing specifically on how you go about sharing the Gospel, whether in the 10/40 Window or elsewhere. I watched students come to tears throughout the week as they felt a definite call to a specific area in the 10/40 Window and some who were called elsewhere. I watched as these students were questioning their faith in the right ways, as they were coming to terms of where they felt God may be calling them and as some came to terms with the fact that God truly loves them regardless of their pasts. 

In Blue School we asked the students to share their testimonies throughout the week. (Blue School is those going into 9th grade in the fall.) Some of the students had simple testimonies which is absolutely wonderful! Some of the students had some heartbreaking testimonies. I watched and listened as these 14 year old students stood up and shared some very serious things. Some admitted that they were diagnosed with Suicidal Depression in 5th and 6th grade. Others shared of the physical abuse that they and their other parent suffered from their fathers. Many shared of painful divorces and fathers who walked away. The things that I faced in high school these students are facing in grade school. One girl in my school was the daughter of one of the pastors who was a leader in another school and she had been struggling with some very serious things. She had come last week but at the beginning she had seemed hesitant to open up and she seemed like she didn't really want to be there, but at the end of the week she stood up and shared her testimony. I was close to tears when many of them shared their stories. 

These students who bravely got up and shared their stories in a room with quite a few people they had only just met that week made me realize something. How often do I share my story, even with people I know well? How often am I brave enough to stand up and share what God has done in my life without feeling like someone would judge me? Do I have enough faith to stand up and share what He has done even when it puts me outside of my comfort zone?

So tomorrow I will be posting my story. I don't know what impact it will have, if any, but I think that sharing it on here is a good place to start. I don't know how long it will be or how detailed, but it will be here. 

This week was a great one and i'm sure that I will share a little more as time goes forward, but that was just a tiny recap and some thoughts that have been running through my head about it since being back. The next few weeks will be crazy as we have a missions team coming in and then head off for our second week long camp of the summer. I'm still struggling with the concept that it's already July. How did it get here so quickly?!

Anyways, i'm going to be working on writing my story tonight while listening to some music. I hope you all have a great night.

God Bless!

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