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42

42It’s just a number.  Another year to celebrate.  I remember a few years back having a sinking feeling in my gut because I was quickly approaching the big 4 0. I dreaded the fact that I was getting older, further away from my days of youth.  Today, I’m 42.  I find that funny for some reason.  It’s my geek showing.  “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” says 42 is the answer to the great question of life, the universe, and everything.  I don’t really believe that, but it is humorous to me since it is now my age.  I feel the older I get, the more appreciative I am of the smaller things that life brings me.  I’m thankful I have a son who couldn’t wait to give me a card and a kiss this morning.  I’m thankful for a husband who is my biggest encourager and admirer. He continues to look at me like I’m young and spunky.  He’s very patient with my erratic emotions.  I’m thankful for the breath in my lungs and being able to still feel younger than the age I represent.  I’m thankful for the teens that are placed in my life because of youth ministry.  They remind me how hard it is to grow up.  I’m thankful that I know God.  He gives me fuel to continue moving forward every day, especially the hard days.  I’m thankful for the difficult lessons that I’ve learned in life.  Those lessons have made me see God’s grace to the fullest.  I’m thankful that I’m still learning new things everyday about myself, others, God, and life in general.  I’m thankful for family and friends who love me for me.  Yes, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate today.  Forty-two years ago I begun this journey called life.  I hope that I will always embrace the opportunities that God places before me.  I hope that I will learn to be more positive and not let life’s obstacles get me down.  I hope that I will be mindful of others and cautious with my words.  I hope to be more grateful.  I hope that I will let God lead me more instead of trying to take the reins myself.  I hope that I will always find humor in life and remember that yes, life is marked in numbers, but it is remembered by character.

“Forty-two!” yelled Loonquawl. “Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?”

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Spiritual Reflections

 

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A Sappy Story

Since I’m around teens quite a bit with the youth group, love or being in love is a common topic. I remember being their age and falling in love with just about any guy that would give me a second look. I would fantasize about them picking me up on a motorcycle and riding off into the sunset. I was infatuated with the character Bo Brady from “Days of Our Lives,” so that’s where that fantasy came from. The motorcycle dream never came true and all of my teen romances were pretty disastrous. When I was in college I dated off and on and really gave up on finding that perfect love. I truthfully didn’t think I would find someone who would stay by my side and had pretty much sworn off the idea of marriage.

Then I met Dave and all that changed. It wasn’t love at first site, but it was a love that grew quickly. The thing with Dave was, he wasn’t who I pictured I would be with, but his heart was what I was looking for. Our early conversations were over my head, he would talk about space and geeky things. They were things I was never really interested in, but I came to appreciate them and learn about them. He was a dreamer, just like me but in a very different way. His logical mind met my mischievous one and some type of memorable experience always ensued.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that things don’t always happen exactly the way you think they will. Your dreams might come true, but it may be with someone you never really pictured them to be with. Dave really is my soul mate. Our marriage hasn’t been perfect, but he has stuck by me and I’ve stuck by him. Our love has become seasoned through the years and I’m very grateful to have him by my side. He really is a dream come true.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Life

 

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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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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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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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Love Lifted Me

This month in youth we have been talking about loving God and loving others. This seems like a very simple thing, but in reality we all struggle with fully understanding it. Love is the core of Christianity, yet a big portion of the world sees Christians showing anything but love. Why do so many of us miss the mark on love? Well, when I started putting together my lessons on love, I started with 1 John 4:19 “We love Him because he first loved us.” For much of my life, I struggled with not understanding that God loved me. I felt like I had to gain his love by being a certain way, by being perfect. I knew that I couldn’t be perfect though, I was constantly struggling within my sins. I messed up too much for God to love me. I felt unworthy to be loved by God. Read the truth in John 17:23, God sent Jesus because he loves us completely, he doesn’t want me or you to be apart from him. That is the whole purpose of Jesus coming to Earth and dying on the cross, so that we would be able to spend eternity with Him. We just have to accept that gift of love from Him. I had to accept and know deep down into the core of me that God loves me. God’s love is the foundation for us to love. We cannot love Him or others if we don’t get that he loves us individually. When I was a kid, I remember the church singing the Hymn, “Love Lifted Me.” The chorus says, “Love lifted me! Love lifted me! When nothing else could help, love lifted me.” I couldn’t save myself and I couldn’t fix myself. God’s love is what saved me, fixed me and lifted me.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Writing

 

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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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