We Are The Free!

So. Amazing! I want to see this song and the power of the words filling youth groups, camps and churches across the nation and world!

We are truly the forgiven and freedom generation! Let’s join together and spread the fire that is in our hearts…our fire for Christ will never fade away and we will always give the glory to Him who is above all. Let’s rise up into to world He created and spread the good news! You, no matter your age, are part of the Freedom Generation…LIVE IT!

We are the free, the freedom generation
Singing of mercy
You are the One who set us all in motion
Yours is the glory
There’s a fire in our hearts and it burns for You
It’s never gonna fade away
We are the free, and Yours is the glory

EFC Uturn Jr. High

So last night was an interesting one…it was my last Wednesday serving as a leader with my church’s junior high youth group: Uturn. I have been with the youth group since September and have overall enjoyed the experience and opportunity.

When I ended my time at camp last August, I moved back home but I was not ready to end my ministy outreach. I prayed that God would bring about an opportunity for me, and He sure did! I was asked to be a leader with the youth group and said yes right away. That was nearly nine months ago…

I am so thankful to God for allowing me to be apart of this group. Not only have I been able to help lead the junior highers, specifically the 8th grade guys, but I have had the priveledge of being part of a great team of individuals. Together we have worked to create a welcoming enviroment for junior high students, an enviroment of safety, fun, new experiences, and most importantly one in which all we do is centered around the good news and gospel of Jesus Christ.

I will never forget my time with Uturn as I enter into new parts of my life, new opportunties. I take with me fond memories and new friends, as well as renewed purpose and mission in life.

Memorable Memorial Weekend

So this past weekend is definitely one for the books. I had the privilege to be a leader with my church’s high school youth group. They had planned a Memorial Day Weekend trip to eastern Washington for white water rafting and camping. And let me tell you, it was quite the weekend to be sure! I figured I would outline the weekend, so you can better get an idea of everything that we did.

Saturday Am: Our group, consisting of approximately 40 students and leaders, met at the church at 8:30 AM. Miraculously, everyone was fairly on time, and how often does that happen? We packed up cars and trucks with tents, backs, coolers and other camping paraphernalia. After some quick instructions and prayer, it was time to hit the open road. I was one of the drivers, and my friend Kasey (also one of the youth group leaders with me) rode shotgun. We had a very enjoyable drive and spent the time talking about all sorts of different things and people. From Bothell it was straight to US 2 and up an over Steven’s Pass. We had a brief stop in Leavenworth for lunch (unfortunately no brats on this trip) before continuing our trip through Wenatchee and north to our destination: Alta Lake Camp Ground.

Saturday Afternoon: Everyone rolled into the camp group around 1:00 and we started setting up camp. With so many people helping out, it did not take long at all to get all our tents up and mock-kitchen area established. Then we were all off to enjoy the afternoon. We spent some time talking about the weekend ahead, but we all really just wanted to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather…did I mention it was 75°? A group of us went down to the lake and had a good time just relaxing on the beach. Several people went swimming, and I opted for a nap on the beach. It was such a relaxing afternoon, and definitely needed. I knew it was the start of something great and refreshing. I spent some time praying over the weekend, hoping God would move in the hearts and minds of all of us, especially the students.

Saturday Evening:  A couple of us volunteered to make dinner on Saturday, and it was lots of fun. We all worked hard to prepare a taco dinner for 40 people, and I must say that it turned out great!

Serving up dinner!

so much food!

We sat around the campsite, eating and enjoying getting to hang out with new friends. After dinner we had a great devotional time with words from our youth pastor, Dawn. She is such a great leader and speaker, and I always enjoy hearing her give a good word. After she spoke, Dawn gave us an hour for personal devotional time. This was such a key component of the weekend, and one that I had been looking forward to. A couple of us went back to the beach and enjoyed the time in God’s Word while watching the sunset and nighttime fall around us. We all reconvened at the campsite and spent time sharing and praying with each other. After that, it was time to relax around camp and just enjoy camping. Several people stayed up late around the campfire, and I spent some more quiet time at the beach…it was great to be away from distractions and have a couple hours to think, pray and write.

Lovely time on the water

Sunday Morning:  I woke up to a beautiful morning on Sunday, perfect to spend a little time with Jesus and enjoy the peaceful morning. We had a great breakfast and a devotional time focused on learning about what it means to be a disciple. After a personal devotional, it was time to get ready for the central activity of the weekend: white water rafting!! 

Braving the River:  After changing into swim wear and gathering together, we drove to meet up with the rafting company at the nearby river. They were all great and helped us get the rest of our gear together before pilling us onto a bus and heading north. Once we were at the launch site, we divided up into the different boats. My team, which just happened to be the best, consisted of myself, Caroline, Elizabeth, Dane, Kevin and Andrew and was led by our guide, Michelle. Our boat was the front runner, we launched from the beach and were soon far ahead of everyone else. From there it was 13 miles of fun. From going in huge holes, getting splashed and soaked, to just having a great time with each other. The scenery was absolutely beautiful and there was always something new to see. We worked extremely well as a team and I was so proud of each of the students. At one point, I intentionally jumped in the river and floated along the raft for a bit…while the water was super cold, it was also very refreshing…Caroline managed to pull me up, back out of the water! We had fun drifting and laughing and I know we all wished it would have kept going. When we were back in sight of our cars, I jumped out again and spent the remainder of the time floating, and sometimes walking on the bottom, from boat to boat. What a grand adventure!

Sunday Evening:  By the time we got back to camp, we were too tired to do much of anything. I went down to the lake with some of the students and enjoyed getting to hang out with them and relive various parts of the rafting trip…there were so many great stories! We had a yummy dinner once again and spent the remainder of the evening having devotional time, listening to the wise words of Pat, sharing about our lives, praying for each other, and of course eating s’mores. I slept so well that night.

Monday: We were all much slower to wake up on Monday, but we all managed it and worked together to make another great meal. After I shared the morning devotional (I talked about the importance of taking retreats and showing that even Jesus did during His ministry time) we again had individual devotional time. We worked together to clean up camp, and a group of people went for a late morning hike. I opted to relax back at camp and just enjoy the last little bit of peace and quiet. Once everyone was back we had a huge lunch, consisting of everything left over, and finished packing. My car was full once again, and Kasey and I jumped in and hit the road for home. We again talked about so many different things, mainly about the weekend and different things that had happened in both of our lives over the past three days. We hit traffic but were not worried about it, aside from the desire to visit a restroom. We met up with everyone at a pizza place in Monroe and enjoyed one last meal together. Then it was the final push to the church and ultimately to home.

 

back at church!

Now that I am back to “real life” I know I will be reflecting on my time at Alta Lake. Here are a couple personal takes-a-ways from my time on a much needed retreat:

  • Retreats are not necessarily a break from what is going on in life. Rather, it is a break from the noise of life, and an opportunity to focus on God and His plan for our lives. Retreats are a great place to turn over issues and situations to God and seek out His help and guidance.
  • People of all ages have something worth saying, just take a moment to listen and do not just discount them on account of their age. While high schoolers seem inattentive or disinterested at times, give them time to think through things and formulate thoughts, the results may just surprise you! The high schoolers on this trip were just great all around.   
  • Whitewater rafting is great.

What a trip…what a weekend…one naught to be forgot.

Names of God

At the last meeting, my fellow UTurn Junior High Leaders and I talked about the various names of God and how we could illustrate/teach about the names at youth group. We had some great discussions regarding different names and it really got me thinking into how God has been evident in my life and how each of the names attributed to Him in the Bible are still so evident and clear. Perhaps the best way for me to show what I mean is to briefly discuss a couple…

  • Yahweh Jireh: “The Lord will provide” Through everything, God provides just what we need, when we need it. He knows the plan that is best for our lives, and will provide for us accordinly, all in His timing. I keep trying to plan out my life and it never really works in the way I want…I have learned that God has a plan and I need to just be willing to go along with it and set my own agenda aside. In a way, this is why I do not have my life all mapped out and planned…sure, I have a desire to better myself and I have the motivation and drive to do so, but I am also letting God work on the roadmap of my life (I like the way that sounds…possible blog post in the future??)
  • Yahweh Maccaddeshcem: “The Lord your Santifier” God alone can make us pure and holy, through Him we become as we were meant to be. We are all sinners…you, me, everyone. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Through Christ we are made holy once again and our sins are washed clean away.
  • Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd” God guides us and protects us, much in the same way a shepherd guides and protects the flock. We are all lost sheep and Christ is seeking us all out to bring us back together in His flock. Whenever I get off track, I feel the gentle prodding my my Shepherd…getting me back on track.
  • Jehovah Nissi: “The Lord my Banner” Jesus is our rallying point, the firgure that we, as Christians, gather around and are united under. I will rally around the banner that is Christ…it is above any nation or government and is my first allegency.
  • King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

There are so many names in the Bible used to describe the attributes or characteristics of God. It is a topic worth studying and deserves so much more justice than a simple blog post can provide. We are covering some the various names of God during Wednesday evening services with the junior highers. If you should feel so inclided, please pray that God gives us the words to say so that the junior highers understand just how great and mighty God really is, in all aspects of life.

Names of God

Above are the various names of God...which do you feel the most drawn to, the most powerful or the most inspiring? All thoughts welcome!

Winter Camp ’12

Winter Camp '12

EFC Junior High UTurn Winter Camp '12

Well, just got back from an awesome weekend with my youth group! It was our annual Winter Camp and it was great to say the least. We covered nearly the entire book of James in just under 48, it was awesome! We divided the book into different sections and used different tools to teach the book to the junior highers. The weekend was full of good teachings, informative workshops, morning devotionals and great messages. It was so great to be able to come together and talk about Jesus…and everything He has done and will do for us. Some of the junior highers really opened up with several of them recommitting their lives to Christ and one even stepping out in faith for the first time. 

We also had a blast just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. I mean, hanging out with junior highers is never boring! From sledding to games to hours spent playing football in the snow it was all so much fun. It was great to get to better know the students and leaders. Now I’m back home, a little sore, but totally refreshed. Awesome weekend to be sure 🙂

I think what hit close to home for me, was the no matter how old we may be or how smart we think we are, God can always teach us something. We talked over the course of the weekend about being an authentic Christian, and God spoke to me as well as to the students. There were definitely great reminders during the weekend, most of which came from conversations with other leaders and from talking with the students.

Friends and Co-Leaders

So last night was awesome…I got to spend time with my fellow youth group leaders. We’re all leaders with the junior high youth group at our church, Eastside Foursquare. While we do get to see each other each week during youth group, it’s always so great to have a chance to be in community together outside of being at church. Each month we meet at our youth pastor’s apartment, have dinner, plan for upcoming weeks/months and all sorts of stuff. It’s typically a few hours of a good mix of fun and seriousness as we work together. Last night was our Christmas meeting and it was wonderful! We had a delicious dinner and spent some time just chatting. Then we jumped into brainstorming topics for the new year as well as continued planning for our Winter Camp in January. (We’re spending the entire weekend on the book of James) After we covered the business end of things, we enjoyed some Christmas fun. We exchanged gifts, played games and just enjoyed the chance to hang out with each other. It was great!

I feel so blessed to be a part of this group and am so thankful for each of the leaders. When I moved home after camp, I prayed that God would open an opportunity for me to get involved with youth ministries, if that was His will for me. Literally the next day I talked to one of the youth pastors at my church and she asked if I wanted to help out with the youth group. I’ve now been involved with the junior high youth group for most of the school year and it’s been great. It took me a little while to get accustomed to it, mainly cause it’s a different area of ministry than I am used to, but I am so thankful I decided to stay with it. I’ve been co-leading the 8th grade guys, and while they are a challenge at times, it’s been very rewarding. I enjoy helping out with different aspects of Wednesday services and working alongside a great group of individuals. While each of us come from different areas and experiences, we all have something to give and make the youth group better for everyone…1 Corinthians 12, anyone?

It’s been a great experience so far and I look forward to more great times to come! Please keep our youth group, students and leaders in your prayers.