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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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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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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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Hanging up the Fishnets

I never imagined myself becoming so passionate about a sport.  I’ve always enjoyed playing sports and being competitive.  But, I never was actually part of a team before until I decided to try out roller derby.  I remembered watching roller derby on television when I was a kid.  I was really fascinated by it.  Tough girls taking hits and giving them back, falling down and getting back up.  My favorite motto as a child was, “Girls can do anything boys can do, only better.”

About two years ago, I noticed a friend of mine from high school was playing roller derby.  I thought to myself, “that’s really awesome.”  After a few months, I decided to shoot her an email and tell her that I was impressed with her playing this tough sport and thought it was really cool of her.  She sent me a message back and said I should check into the local team, that I would really love it.  I was reluctant to do that.  I was afraid of being unaccepted and feeling out of place.  But, I kept thinking it would be really cool to check it out and see what it was all about.  My friend played for a team that was an hour away and she invited me to come watch a scrimmage, so I could get an idea of what was involved with the sport.  My family went and watched the scrimmage and it made me want to try it out even more.  I spoke with my friend afterwards and she asked me what I thought.  I told her it was amazing, full of action, and looked exciting.  She told me that the local team was having a recruitment night the end of the month and invited me to go check it out.

After talking with my husband and a close friend of mine about it, they both encouraged me to go for it.  What did I have to lose?  So, I went on recruitment night and felt welcomed by the team members.  The idea of actually participating in the sport fueled my passion.

The exercise and drills we did in practice was intense. It felt strangely satisfying to put on tights, fishnets, or knee high socks and sweat more than you ever thought you could, to learn to maneuver on skates quickly, hit a girl as hard as you could, skate faster, endure through tons of pain.  The encouragement from the other girls was enough to help you stay focused and determined.  I fell in love with roller derby.  There was so much to learn about it and there was more than I imagined that went into doing it.

After being in it for two months, we were preparing ourselves for our first bout.  In just that little bit of time, I was excited about actually getting to play.  A week before my first bout, I ended up breaking my elbow in practice.  I thought I had just sprained it, but ended up going to the doctor and found out I broke it.  It was disappointing that I was unable to play, but I still went to the bout and cheered on my new team.

I took a month off from derby to heal up.  I wasn’t sure if I should return to the team. I didn’t feel I had enough to offer them.  But, a teammate contacted me and was seeing how I was doing.  She encouraged me to come back, so I did.

After coming back and getting more involved, I found many reasons to love and appreciate this sport.   I developed great friendships with people I would have never met otherwise.  I saw how accepting the sport is to all types of people, no matter their background, age, belief, or fitness level.  It is an encouraging sport; it makes you more confident about yourself.  It makes you appreciative of others.  It makes you understand the importance of encouraging others and seeing the value of everyone involved.  It makes you become a more determined person.  It makes you realize that in order to reach the goal you have to be willing to go through some pain.  It is a bonding sport, you develop close ties with your teammates, maybe it’s because they see you at your worst and at your best, yet still encourage you to push through.  I’m sure there are many other lessons I have learned by participating in roller derby, too many to list.

As much as I love the sport, there comes a time when you have to hang up the fishnets.  This is where I am at.  I have many things going on in my life right now and I have other opportunities arising.  Will I ever put on the fishnets and skates and hit the track again?  Who knows, for right now though, I feel led to use my nets to catch another passion of mine.  It’s very tough to lay down something you’ve grown to love, but it will always make me smile when I think about it.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Sports

 

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