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Choose your own Adventure

chooseadventureI used to read the “Choose your own Adventure” stories from the library when I was a kid. I liked the fact that I could read along the same storyline and see how one decision could tailspin the story into another path or series of adventures. Sometimes, I would get aggravated if I chose something that would end drastically or abruptly. But, I was satisfied that I could return to the page before the decision and change the outcome with the other choice. There are times in my own life that I wish that I could’ve done the same with my personal story. Are there particular chapters in your journey that you would’ve chosen to erase if you could?

I imagine the author of the adventure series has the perfect plot laid out first before he adds the side stories. He probably ultimately hopes the reader will pick the right storyline that makes the greatest adventure. But instead, he gives the reader the free will to decide which path to take.

When I used to read the series, I often picked what I knew would bring a bad outcome. I did it because I wanted to push the limits of the story. Sometimes, I was just ready for the story to end because of boredom. I’ve done the same thing in my own life. I’ve come upon decisions and picked the wrong one, fully knowing it would be a bad choice. I did it out of curiosity, rebellion, or selfishness. I did it to see if I somehow could change the outcome, even though the Author already knew where the outcome would lead.

Thinking through all of this, I’m reminded of this passage, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV

There are other times in my life that I let fear of the unknown stall me on a page in life. I’d lay the book down and sit down on the journey. I wanted to choose the safe path when Jesus wanted me to pursue His adventure. He reminds me that He is the author of my faith to step into those unknown pages. I need to hang onto the next word as he writes it and trust him to make it all end with an outcome that I could never do on my own. Why? Because he is also the finisher of that faith. He already knows where the path leads and he’s excited for me to follow that path instead of me choosing my own. He knows the beauty at the end of the story. And those chapters I messed up, no longer matter because of his grace and love. He uses them to remind me of where I came from and to be cautious with veering from his lead. Ultimately, if I want the best story, then I need to I look to Him to lead me through it.

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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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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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“A December to Remember”

                As we continue on to 80 ways, (see previous blogs), we started out the first Saturday in December with wagons to participate in a local Christmas parade. We had three wagons for eager teenagers to ride and about sixty treat bags made up to throw into the crowd. It seemed like forever waiting for the parade to start. So we were goofing off quite a bit with the wagons and each other. Finally, the parade started to move and we rolled up the road and over the bridge onto Main Street. The teens and adults involved threw out the treat bags to onlookers and grinned with their Christmas hats fit nicely upon their heads. The crowd laughed, commented, and smiled at the teens riding in the little red wagons.
                 The next day we planned to go to Kmart with wrapped gifts to give to strangers in the store. Each person was told to think and pray about who they were to give a gift to and what kind of gift they needed to give. Our original plan was to go into the store and put a teenager in a shopping cart and have another push the cart. With our group that would be about five shopping carts. When we arrived and asked the manager for permission to do this, he told us we couldn’t because of liability reasons, but we were allowed to pass the gifts out as long as we didn’t solicit. We were somewhat disappointed we couldn’t use the carts but understood the reasoning; we thanked the manager and strolled throughout the store. I was very proud of the consideration the teens were giving in handing out the gifts. They took their time looking for the person they felt they needed to give gifts to and when they found who they thought it was, they approached the person with a smile, said Merry Christmas and handed them the gift. People reacted in various ways, some were delighted to receive the gift, others acted surprised, some seemed confused, and some were trying to figure out what the catch was or didn’t want to accept the gift. To me this spoke volumes; people react to the gift of Jesus and salvation the same way. After everyone passed out their gift, we left the store and went to have ice cream so we could discuss what had happened and to socialize.

            Tia, one of the other youth leaders that helps us out, scheduled the group to visit one of the local nursing homes. We went to sing Christmas carols and the staff allowed us to roll around in wheelchairs afterwards, to count as one of our eighty ways. When we first arrived we went into one of the main lobbies where a group of elderly people were playing bingo. Tia announced to the room who we were and that we were there to sing to them. Josh, one of the teens, brought his guitar to play as the rest of the group sang. We let Josh play a solo before we started and then the group began to sing. It was a rough start on singing because of nerves and no one wanted to sing very loud. But, as we went on, it became somewhat easier. Some of the people in the crowd were joining along and singing too. After we sang several songs in the main lobby, we moved room to room to some of the bedridden residents. It did my heart good to see the reaction of the residents as we sang, some teared up, some sang along, and others smiled. Afterwards we went down one of the empty halls and borrowed some wheelchairs for a quick spin up and down the hall.
                December became a month to remember. I really felt the spirit of Christmas this year because of the participation with the teens. Giving to the community, reaching out to others with time and talent, and making other people smile is a real treat to the soul. As we embark on a New Year, I’m excited about what may lie ahead for this group.

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Youth

 

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Holler Wheelin’

Last Sunday evening, our youth group met at one of the kid’s house for some four wheeling and dirt bike action.  It was a quick attempt to check off a few more modes of transportation for our year long challenge.  Not sure what challenge I’m talking about? If not, read the previous blog to catch up with what we are doing. For our outing we had three four wheelers and a dirt bike. We enjoyed a fun filled evening of “holler wheelin.”  I decided to coin this event in these terms because we went up and down the holler on the four wheelers and dirt bike.  For those of you who are city folk and unfamiliar with what the definition of holler is, it is a rural road in Appalachia.  It can also mean, as demonstrated by one of our youth leaders (Tia) who was unsure of the driving abilities of the teen escorting her up the hill, to yell loudly.

Four wheelers are pretty common in our area.  Many people have them alongside their vehicles in the garage or driveway.    They are used to go into the woods to hunt, for pure recreational pleasure, and as a means of scraping snow away, to escape from cabin fever from the “holler” you live on.

After about an hour riding, we took a break for a quick lesson.  One of our teenage girls taught the lesson.  She decided to teach on her Dad’s school bus. So, we piled onto the bus and picked a seat as she and a few others turned on some flashlights.  She shared with the group that we should always be compassionate to those around us and look at them with Jesus’ eyes.  Afterwards, one of the teens suggested visiting a few of the neighbors and inviting them to youth group.  So, we piled back on the wheels and went up the hill.  They rang the doorbell and politely and somewhat nervously invited a teenage girl to come sometime to church.  She said she was considering looking for a church and said she may drop in sometime.  Then we went down the hill and invited another neighbor to come check it out sometime.  Afterwards, we went back to the home, spoke a little while of some future endeavors.  There was a lot of excitement and ideas in the air as we talked.  What’s next, you ask?  Tune in periodically to find out!

 
 

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