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Category Archives: Youth

Teen Scavenger Hunt Finds Kindness Goes a Long Ways

This past weekend, I planned a scavenger hunt for the youth group. The teens had a lot of fun and worked great with their teammates. We had four groups of teams and I had four sections of points for the scavenger list. The first set were pretty simple stunts for five points like running a lap on a track, put away a stray shopping cart, or writing their names on a busy sidewalk. The second set was group photo pictures in various places for ten points each. The third section were riddles to locate different places in town and the surrounding areas, they were fifteen points each. Then lastly was the 20 point stunts, these were the stunts that were intended to get the teens out of their comfort zones. These stunts included things like folding clothes for a stranger at a laundry mat, giving a bouquet of flowers to someone and telling them Jesus loves them, pumping gas for a stranger at a gas station, or visiting someone in a nursing home or hospital.

Each team had a driver who would take them wherever they requested to find their clue, get supplies, or do their stunts. The driver couldn’t suggest anything or give answers to the riddles. The driver was only allowed to drive the team, take pictures of the team for group photos, and make sure they did whatever they checked off their list. I was one of the drivers. My team consisted of two girls and two boys. They did great in planning where to go first, what to do, and what all they needed along the way. One girl automatically took the role of the leader and asked the other teammates if her suggestions were ok with them. They agreed and threw in input whenever they thought of something themselves. The first place the group went was a park, there they did several of the group photos and then they decided to go to Walmart to get supplies for their tasks. I took them to Walmart, when we got there they started putting away stray carts. They put away a ton of them, one of the teens gathered so much; he looked like an employee without the electronic push/pull cart. After that they went inside and got a box of peeps for a group photo, a chocolate bunny to give to someone, and a notepad to write notes of encouragement to stick on a bathroom door stall. After they paid, they wrote their notes and placed them where the list said to. They did several different group photos afterwards and then decided to head to the nursing home. They planned to give the chocolate bunny to an elderly person there. Once we got there, the leader of the group went to a nurse that was standing in the foyer to let her know what we were doing. The nurse asked if we just wanted any random person. The group told her yes. When we came in, I noticed an elderly lady sitting in a chair near the entrance. The nurse pointed at her and said, “She’s a retired school teacher. I’m sure she’d like the gift.” The leader of the group went to the lady and introduced herself. The lady was hard of hearing, she asked what. After the teen tried several times to say what she was wanting to, the lady still couldn’t hear, so I spoke to her loudly. It was kind of funny, since I’m hard of hearing too; we were both speaking loud enough for the whole wing to hear us. Anyway once she understood who we were and what we were doing, she was delighted. The team gave her the chocolate bunny and said they wanted to bless her with an Easter gift. The lady smiled and said, “That is so sweet!” She then told about herself being a schoolteacher and how nice it was to have them bring that to her. She stood up and gave them each a hug and a kiss. They were all smiling as she told them each some little advice and thanked them once again. We said our goodbyes and headed out the door back to the car. All the teens were very moved by that little nice gesture, I was as well. They continued afterwards doing other nice little things, having fun, and working together as a team. I know that the other teams have their own stories to tell as well.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if more of us intentionally did something out of the ordinary to make someone’s day a little brighter? A little act of kindness goes a long way. It’s those moments of giving and sharing that help shine Jesus’ light to others. Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped preaching so much to people and started loving them? I think that’s the best door to open for others to hear you. I know that if I walk into an area where people are ranting, I find an alternative route. Instead, let’s just smile at the people we pass, let’s listen to what they have to say, and let’s humble ourselves and do little acts of kindness to show people they are important. Let’s be like Christ!

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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This Bread is so Tasty

B-read“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”  Matthew 5:6

Since I was asked a few years ago to lead the teens, I have dug into the word more than I ever have in my life.  That’s a sad statement to make, but I’m just being honest. I used to do Bible study more as a religious checkmark on my homework assignment.  So, with that kind of attitude, I didn’t get much out of the word.   But when I begin studying the word and what I want to teach the teens, I find myself digging further and further into the Bible.  I feel like I learn more than I can tell the teens.   I don’t want to stop reading and when I do have to put it down to do life, I can’t wait to open it up again and learn more.  The more you read the word, the hungrier you become.  The more you want to come to the Lord’s table and eat.  Then when you are away from it, you’re thinking about what you’ve studied and it brings life to you to sustain you for the rest of the day.

When I prepare my lessons and teach the teens, I’m often aggravated afterwards  because I forgot to tell them some other points that I learned.  God is showing me that all I can do is tell them what I had for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  They have to choose to eat or come back for seconds.  To enjoy the word, you often have to dig yourself because that’s when you are most satisfied.  Those are the times that God reveals to you how to deal with whatever you are going through.  Those are the times that you filled.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”  Isaiah 55:1


 
 

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Peace, be still

This month in youth we have been exploring the topic of peace. There is so much busyness in our world today; as a whole we seem unsettled and always moving. So, the idea of inner peace seems nonexistant. The world is on edge in many nations. There are battling neighboring countries and battles within countries. Take for instance America after the last election, there is an even bigger division in politics and culture. So, the idea of peace in community seems rare. This is the season of Christmas, where we sing about Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men. Last Friday, we were shocked to see the news report of a man going into an elementary school and killing twenty kids and six adults. How can anyone be so heartless? So evil? Heartlessness and evil exists and walks the earth, it looks for a willing participant to carry out its plan. Someone without inner peace or peace with others is a perfect recipient. Without peace we are at war with our emotions, thoughts, and each other.

Where does peace come from? Can you obtain it from within? I’ve tried to find peace within my own flesh and strength, but in my experience it is impossible. I’m too imperfect, broken, and weak to find any lasting peace within myself. The peace I have now comes from Jesus, he is the everlasting peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NLT) says, “For to us a Child will be born. To us a Son will be given. And the rule of the nations will be on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Teacher, Powerful God, Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.” When Jesus walked the earth he brought peace to those he came in contact with. He delivered people from demons, he healed people, he spoke to people about loving one another and being at peace with one another. In the bible we read where the disciples begin panicking when storm arises while they are out on the water in a boat. Jesus is sleeping, he’s not concerned about the storm. (Mark 4:38) The disciples wake him, thinking they are about to drown. Jesus gets up and tells the storm “Peace, be still.” The storm ceases and everything becomes calm.

There are many times that I’m like the disciples on the boat. I’m running about the ship freaking out, thinking I’m about to die or everything is going to sink. Then I stop trying to figure it out on my own and go to Jesus. He settles the storm and gives peace.

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2012 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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Muddy thoughts formed

Last year on October 16th, I embarked on a new journey in my life, I started teaching and leading the teens in my church.  Our first night together, my husband and I had a friend come and demonstrate how pottery works.  Prior to the lesson, I told the kids to wear clothes they didn’t mind messing up and left them in the dark as to what was going on.  I wanted them to anticipate what we were going to do and keep them guessing.  Once they arrived, we had a quick discussion and lesson in the fellowship hall.  We discussed the direction of the youth group and what we hoped to accomplish throughout the year. Afterwards we led them into the youth center and they saw everything set up.  Our friend Mark sat at the wheel and started to explain the process of making a pot.  Everyone had a turn at the wheel, some succeeded and others flopped.  Upon remembering this night and seeing it as the beginning of a new season; I see that God has had our group on the pottery wheel and has molded, formed, shaped and bent us.  He has also remolded, reformed, and reshaped us.  He’s constantly working on us as a group.  We may come to a point at times and think that He’s finished with what He has created; we are satisfied with what the pot looks like, but then He decides to improve on it.  In Isaiah 45, God uses Cyrus, a king to be the patron and deliverer of the Jews from captivity.  God also uses Cyrus to instruct them in the rebuilding of the temple.    If you read the whole chapter, God reminds us and the Jews that He is God and creator.  In verses 9-13 it says, ““It is bad for the one who works against His Maker. He is just a clay pot among the other pots of earth. Will the clay  say to the pot-maker, ‘What are you doing?’ or, your work  say, ‘He has no hands’?  It is bad for him who says to his father, ‘To what are you giving life?’ or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?’”The Lord, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, says, “Will you ask Me about the things to come for My children? Will you tell Me about the work of My hands? I made the earth, and made man upon it. I spread out the heavens with My hands, and put all the stars in their places. I have sent Cyrus to do what is right and good. And I will make all his ways smooth. He will build My city and without any money will set My people free who were taken away,” says the Lord of All.”

Being a leader is intimidating at times for me, but I lean on God to direct my paths with this group.  I try to listen and seek Him in all decisions, in what to teach, what to say, and what not to say.  I learn more and more every day that I am not in control, but God is.  He has taught me numerous lessons throughout the year.  He has given me strength when I feel helpless. He has given me instruction when I have no idea what to do.  He has given me great love for each of the teens that have been involved in this group.  He shows me strengths of individuals.  He teaches me that we are all a work in progress.  He has connected us with people and led us on many expeditions.  He stretches me into things I never imagined doing.  He is God, He knows all. He is the beginning and the end.  He knows the whole story and each individual story.  He is the greatest teacher, the everlasting Father, the most amazing artist,  and the sweetest Lover we can ever know.  He is God!

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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A Rapid June

On June 10th, the group headed to Ace Adventure Resort for our big summer retreat. The former youth pastor, Kelly Blanton traveled in from Texas along with his intern, Jonathan Perkins to be our guest speakers during the retreat. That afternoon, shortly after we arrived, we embarked on our first event at the resort, which was a mud obstacle course. Our guide led us to the start of the course. There he handed us all a PDF and instructed us on a few things. We put on our PDF vests and helmets, we were eager to get dirty. We decided to run the course as a team, which meant we had to make sure everyone made it through the obstacle before we moved on to the next. The guide blew the whistle and we took off. Cristal was the first to leap into the first obstacle, while the rest wasn’t far behind. The pit was thick with mud and we had to crawl under logs with netted rope over them. The smell hit our noses immediately, it was quite putrid. Each obstacle was a challenge and the group worked well as a team, whenever someone was stuck they encouraged them and even gave a little push/pull when needed. Whitney even met a friend along the way!
After the mud obstacle, we walked back to our campsite, laughing and reminiscing over the muddy good time we had. The theme for our retreat was servant hood, so once we arrived back at camp I instructed the teens to not run to the shower yet. My lesson was on Jesus and washing the disciples feet. I had each of the teens sit at the picnic table as Dave and I prayed over and washed each of there feet. They were nice and grimy too, considering what activity they just went through.
The next morning we headed to our check in station for our whitewater trip. Several youth and adults were a bit nervous about rafting, while some of the others were pretty excited about it. After the long bus ride to the river, our group was split into two rafts. Both groups had fantastic guides. I was very impressed by the professionalism and knowledge of the guides. We hit the river and enjoyed the time working as a team, riding the whitewater, and coasting through the calm spots. That afternoon when we arrived back to the campsite, Dave taught his lesson on listening to the guide. I won’t spoil it, since he will be presenting it to the church soon. Then that evening after dinner, Kelly spoke to the group about discipleship and putting others ahead of yourself, among other things.
The next day, we went rappelling and rock climbing. I am terrified of heights, so I was really nervous about this event. The guides gave us clear instruction on what to do, they were very informative and helpful. We rappelled first, I nervously waited my turn and determined that I would conquer this fear ready or not. They clipped my harness, gave me a quick re cap on what to do, and I slowly lowered myself off the cliff. I didn’t look down, I kept my focus above. When I started hearing the cheers from the others who went before me and the onlookers, I was thankful I was close to ground. It wasn’t that bad actually, I’m very glad I did it. When it was time to rock climb though, I didn’t do as well. I attempted it. I climbed a little, it was really hard to position yourself and the rocks were a little slippery. Plus, I was a big chicken! Brian, Heath, and Thorne did a great job on the rock climbing, they climbed like Spiderman! Whitney did a good job too, she was like me, a little afraid of heights.
That afternoon we spent time at the lake, playing on the water toys, sliding down the waterslide, zipping into the water, and bouncing on the trampolines. It wore me out, but was a lot of fun. If you are ever looking for an awesome place to do some extreme adventures, Ace Adventure Resort in Oak Hill, WV is the place for you. They have excellent guides, great food, nice lodging, and nice facilities.
That evening Kelly, Dave, Jonathan, and I shared in the lesson for the evening. We talked about sacrifice, obedience, and change. I hope the kids got a lot out of the trip. My heart is that we all will come closer to God and develop the heart of Christ for others. We can make a difference in our community, schools, and workplace if we allow the holy spirit to guide us and teach us daily.

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in Youth

 

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April Showers bring May Flowers

On April 1, the weather was nice and spring was in the air.  Instead of a lesson, the group decided to work on the prayer trail behind the church.  We met late afternoon with our machetes and hedge clippers in hand to tackle the thickets and thorns that stood in our way.  We trail blazed for a little over an hour, by clipping, tossing, and digging out roots.  A few days later, we discovered that poison oak or sumac had sprouted out in the mess on the hill because Dave and Cristal started itching and breaking out into a rash.  They both had to see a doctor to get relief from the outbreak. It took approximately two weeks for them to get rid of the rash.

Personally, April was a tough month for me.  My grandmother had been ill for over a month and passed away on April 11.  She was the most influential person in my life.  She taught me so much about living and loving  God and others. She was the one person I went to whenever I needed a helping hand, my tears wiped, encouragement, prayer, comfort, or advice.  That’s what grandmothers are supposed to do anyway, right?  To me though she was an extraordinary grandmother, she continually sacrificed for her children and grandchildren. She imparted into me a lot of her compassion and made me who I am today.  I miss her greatly.

The last Sunday of the month after our lesson, we wondered how many people we could stuff into Katrina’s P.T. Cruiser.  The answer was 9.  We traveled a mile, stuffed into the car, and tagged the way as “Clown Car.”  It was a fun night with lots of laughter, something I felt we all needed.

For the month of May, we planned a food drive.  We asked for donations of non perishable food items and monetary donations for the purchase of meat and dairy products.  We used a wheelbarrow to take groceries to families in need on May 27th.  We were able to provide for two families.  It was a privilege to lead the teens in this way.  I hope that we can reach out to the community in more ways like this in the future.

Matthew 25:34-36

34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

After the last delivery, Landon rode in the wheelbarrow and Brian and Cristal took turns pushing him.

Later that evening, we went to the carnival that was in town for the Memorial day weekend.  We rode all the classic turn your stomach upside down rides.  My stomach reminded me that I am not a teenager anymore.

April was a tough month, we were attacked by the poison oak/sumac, my grandmother passed away, and my husbands businesses were suffering.  But May bloomed with several flowers throughout the month.  On May 9th, the youth aired their first live internet radio show called “Getting Vocal.”  This was something that was thought and dreamed about for several years. Almost a week later,  one of our teens was in a car accident, he flipped his truck several times, and went to the hospital.  The hospital x-rayed his back and said he fractured several of his vertebrae, so they sent him to another hospital an hour away to do further treatment on him.  They suspected that he would have to have back surgery.  Before he left the local hospital,  the Pastor, his mother and I prayed for him to be healed.  The rest of the youth group showed up after I left and prayed for him as well.  When he arrived at the hospital that was an hour away, they did another X-ray on him.  Here’s the awesome part, they couldn’t find any fractures.  It was confirmed there were some at the local hospital, but by the time he arrived at the other hospital, God healed his back.  Therefore, protection and healing bloomed that day.   Compassion for those in our community was another flower that sprung in the heart of the youth group when we delivered the groceries. 

Next week is our Extreme Voice Summer Retreat.  We are looking forward to all that God has to teach each of us during this time away.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Spiritual Reflections, Youth

 

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January Ways

             January days in West Virginia are usually sprinkled with snow days throughout the month.  But this year there has only been a few snowfalls and they haven’t lasted for long.  I thought that many of our ways for youth this month would have included skiing, sledding, and other typical winter activities, but was proven otherwise.  Most of what we did this month consisted of using the resources available to us.  We started out the first weekend of the month using scooters to travel up and down the halls in the church.  I didn’t realize that going up and down the halls on a scooter would take so much energy, and I did a typical wipeout on one lap because I was trying to get the wheels off the ground for a split second.  I got them off the ground long enough to touch the ground myself with my shoulder, Whitney got to experience my embarrassing feat. 

            Since the weather had been so atypical I planned for the youth to go on a zip line in Sophia, a town south of Beckley.  The zip line is a half mile long with a 300 foot descent.  God’s sense of humor shined through that day because I reserved probably the coldest day of the month to do this.  But, we loaded up the van and headed to our destination, each bundled with plenty of clothing to try and keep us warm on our quick ride.  When we arrived, the instructors geared us up and gave us a quick overview of what we would be doing and what to expect.  The instructors drove us to the top of the hill where the starting platform was.  I was with the first group that was dropped off, so we waited as the truck went to get the second group.  One of the teens admitted that he was very fearful of heights.  He almost backed out, but several of the other teens convinced him to take the leap.  I admitted to him that my biggest fear is heights, so I told him that if I could do it he could too. When it was time for me to conquer my fear, I took a deep breath, quickly looked at the line I was going to attach myself to and hung on for dear life.  Halfway through I began to feel at ease and enjoyed the ride.  It’s hard to take a leap into something when you don’t know if you’ll make it through or not, but when you take that leap and make it to the end, you are glad you did it.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their ride, we all had a good time and we seemed to entertain the instructors as well.  They said we were one of the funniest groups they had ever had. 

            Last Sunday, the teens decided to run a mile around the church.  They each took a few laps around until they totaled a mile together.  This weekend, the youth went to support other fellow youth in a wrestling competition that was held on Saturday.  After cheering them on, we decided to go on College Avenue in Bluefield and bounce basketballs for a mile.  We started at my house and bounced the balls to my husband and my shop in Bluefield.  That consisted of 1.3 miles.  We turned some heads, cars slowed down and people gawked.  I guess it was a bit odd to see several people bounce basketballs down the sidewalk. 

            This month was fun and I keep telling the youth that this is going to be an epic year.  January is only the beginning, there are many things ahead of us and I’m very excited for whatever is to come.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Youth

 

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