Wednesday, February 25, 2015

YoungLife: What We Do on Tuesday Nights

Aaron and I don't know marriage without YoungLife. Pretty crazy that we led cabins at camp just a month after we said I do. Doing ministry together is incredibly rewarding. We believe that it is God's will for us that we pour into kids' lives instead of choosing to focus solely on us. It can be stressful at times, but it unites us in a mission that is much bigger than ourselves. And the Lord blesses our marriage through it. Tuesday nights are YoungLife nights for the Ks. And so are Mondays, and Saturdays, and some Fridays...really any night can be YoungLife night, but every Tuesday we alternate between Club and Campaigners, where we spend time with our high school friends.

 So at this point you may be wondering, what exactly is YoungLife? What do you actually do? 

My best answer to that would be, we try to love like Jesus did. We meet kids where they are, and we love them. We don't always love the decisions they make, but we love them just the same. We believe that we have to build a relationship with them first, before we can "earn the right to be heard" when it comes to telling them about Jesus. We spend time with them, are there for them, and try to provide them a voice of truth in a world that can be incredibly hard to navigate. As a result of this, many of our YoungLife kids have never stepped foot in a church. Some of them don't know anything about Jesus, and some of them know a lot. YoungLife is for everyone. There are four main "C"s of YoungLife Ministry: Club, Campaigners, Contact Work, and Camp.

Club- A Party With a Purpose:
What is it about YoungLife Club that makes it the best night of the week for thousands of kids every week? We like to think of it as a party with a purpose. It's controlled chaos that's almost impossible to describe, but kids know it when they see it. And before the party ends, we share a simple message about God's love for them. After all, that's what the celebration is all about.

Campaigners- A Time to Learn and Grow
Campaigners is a weekly meeting for kids who wish to learn more or grow in their faith through study, service, and leadership. YoungLife leaders also encourage these kids to celebrate their faith through participation in a local church congregation.

Contact Work:
Kids don't care how much you know till they know how much you care. Young Life leaders show they care by going where kids are, meeting them as they are, and believing in who they can be. Within YoungLife we call going into the world of kids "contact work", but kids call it friendship.

Camp- The Best Week of Their Lives:
Kids spend a week away from the distractions of home, including their phones, and build deep friendships in the midst of awesome fun while hearing the greatest love story ever told.

My story with YoungLife begins back in 2003, during my freshmen year of high school. Everybody went. Students wore t shirts and put signs on lockers about Wednesday nights. We met in the top of an Attic Storage business in town, sang songs, played games, and went to Wendy's for Frosties after every club. I had alway been involved in church, but my church was far away and I was one of the only people from my high school who went there. Thus, I thought I'd give YL a try.

I went to YoungLife camp at Windy Gap for the first time the summer after my Sophomore Year of High School. It changed my life. I learned that I could truly share my faith with others, and be excited about it. I had the best news in the world, and it was time to start sharing it. I was active in YoungLife for the rest of high school, and I went to camp again as a second timer at Crooked Creek. I looked forward to weekly Campaigner meetings where I loved worship songs and talking about the Bible with girls my age who went to my school. Even for a churched kid, it had a huge impact on my life.

When I graduated and headed off to Mizzou, I had several friends who encouraged me to go through MyLife and become a leader. I was already involved in a sorority and classes, but I knew that YoungLife would be a worthwhile activity that I wanted to be a part of. I lead for three and a half years at Blair Oaks High School, a small school just outside of Jefferson City, before I moved back home to student teach.  YoungLife was fairly new to Blair Oaks, so it was a humbling experience where we sometimes had more leaders than kids at our clubs. Still, God was working both in and through me, and I loved the experience.

I can honestly say that becoming a YoungLife leader in college was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I had such an instant community of amazing Christians around me who supported me, prayed for me, and held me accountable for making good decisions and being true to myself and to the Lord in college. I believe this kept me out of so much trouble in college, and I am thankful that God worked through me to morph me and strengthen my relationship with him at that time. I was also asked to lead cabins full of girls for my old high school at camp two other summers, and it was the most amazing, indescribable experience. Ministry became not only a part of my life, but also a priority. I began to care less about myself, and more about others who I wanted so desperately to know the love of Jesus, and to show them that love through me.

I took a break from leading to survive my first year of teaching, but then the call went out to take two girls from the high school that I taught at. I went. We were a part of another cabin, but it was still a blast. I knew that my high school needed to have regular Clubs again. I knew that the kids needed Campaigners. And most importantly, I knew that the kids needed to hear about Jesus. The next year, while Aaron and I were still engaged, we started telling kids more about YoungLife and inviting them to come to camp with us that summer. One girl in my class noticed my YoungLife water bottle, asked me about it, and then recruited about fifteen of her friends to come to camp with us. Thus, Liberty YoungLife was reborn.

Last Year's Group at Castaway Club in Detroit Lakes Minnesota
It has been an incredible journey to see how God has worked through Liberty YoungLife since the summer of 2012. Our Clubs and Campaigner groups continue to grow, and we are taking 48 students to camp this summer! FORTY EIGHT! The Lord has blessed us with new leaders, supportive parents, and kids with a heart to learn more about Jesus and share His story with their friends. We can't wait to see God continue to move through this ministry. So, dear friends, THAT is what God is doing on not just Tuesday nights, but every night, through us. Aaron said it best: YoungLife isn't just something we do on Tuesday nights, it's something we devote our lives to. Something that affects the kingdom, and peoples' lives. Something worth all of the time spent passionately pursuing kids for the Lord. Something eternal.


If you'd like to find out more about YoungLife, please don't hesitate to contact me! If you're interested in getting more involved, check out our Facebook Page or our website. We are always excited to have new leaders, committee members, supporters, and those lifting us up in prayer. We will be posting updates and photos on our Facebook page while we are at camp. Check it out to see all the fun we're having! Thanks, friends! 

I'm linking up with Amy Schlichter, Wholehearted Home, Giving Up on PerfectWomen With Intention, To Love Honor and VacuumCoffee for Your Heart, and A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Miracle

This my my brother Scotty. He's pretty awesome. Not only is he awesome, he's kind of a miracle.

You see, when Scotty was not quite four, he went in to have his tonsils removed. Much to my parents' horror, the doctor found a tumor. It was discovered that Scott had cancer, Hodgkin's Lymphoma to be exact. Essentially, it is cancer of the lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell within the immune system that grows abnormally and destroys the body's ability to fight infection. Not quite the way you want a tonsillectomy to go.

At the time of his diagnosis, I was in 2nd grade, and was right around 7 year old. Thankfully, I don't remember a lot of Scott's struggles, because my parents shielded me well. Kirk, our youngest brother, was just a baby, so he doesn't really remember anything at all.

I do remember my dad picking me up from school one day and telling me that Scotty was sick. I do remember wondering why I had to be picked up if Scott was the one who was sick. And I do remember going to the hospital to see him and falling asleep at night in my parents' bed, crying and wondering when we were going to be a family again.

You see, Scotty had to undergo chemo. He stayed overnight in the hospital for weeks at a time. My parents took turns staying at home with us other two kids. I distinctly remember eating two huge hamburgers on the way to the hospital in my dad's truck with Kirk in the car seat in the back. It wasn't a very fun time for any of us. Here's a picture of Scotty when my mom knew he was going to lose his hair from chemo.

Sometimes I wonder how my parents did it. And then I realize that they didn't. God did. I don't know a lot of the awful details, and I don't really want to. But I do know that the Lord gave my parents the strength to take care of Scott and pray hard for him, while raising two other kids at the same time.

Here is Scotty when he got to come home on his 4th birthday.
And on the right is him on Easter, when he was about halfway through his treatments. Each stay was 7 days long, with round the clock chemo. There were so many wonderful friends, family, and church members who were praying round the clock for Scotty.

We went to Disney World for Scott's Give Kids the World wish. I was pretty excited, as evidenced by the shocking smile below. Embarrassing. Our church was generous enough to cover the cost of our flights. I got to ride all of the rides twice while my parents did child swap, so I was pretty pumped. At the same time, this experience really taught me a lot about sibling love, and not taking things for granted. I wrote a paper about Scotty as an example essay for my students. Every year I grab their attention by sharing a little bit of the story.

A few weeks ago, Scott celebrated 18 years cancer-free! You would have no idea he was ever sick if no one told you. He is currently finishing up his Junior experience in education before he student teaches in the fall, and I am very proud of him. He has only gotten more fun as he has aged, and I really can't imagine my life without him. We are so thankful for the blessing that he is in our lives, and we know that God has big big plans for his life. Love you bro!
Children's Mercy Hospital shirts for days.
Scotty on the left with us at Kirk's graduation last May.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Speaking Bird

For some reason, birds seem to have an affinity for attempting to build nests in the wreaths we hang on our front door. I'm not really sure what it is. Sure, we are all about hospitality and inviting people into our home. But with these birds comes a messy front porch and several near misses of bird collisions (more on that in a second). And so, enter exhibits A and B.

Exhibit A:
We were given this lovely K wreath as a wedding shower gift. We constantly have to take down the nests that our bird friends attempt to build. One time we were a little late to the game and we even had a bird lay eggs in her nest.

Exhibit B:
Our Christmas Wreath. This bad boy was purchased from Aaron's sister as a school fundraiser. Sometime during the holiday season, a bird decided that it was time for a new home. Naturally, they chose the space between our wreath and the door.

We first noticed that a bird was making this space a home when Aaron ordered pizza the other night and the delivery man narrowly escaped the dive-bombing bird. But last night, things really came to fruition.

We were headed to a hockey game with my brothers. When they opened the door, our birdie friend decided to fly into our house, instead of away like most birds would choose. After a frenzy of wing flapping, confused perching, and the realization that we couldn't leave for the night with a bird in the house, we had to take drastic measures. Naturally, I went for the long duster.

This happened (though I'm showing you the condensed version):


This crazy occurrence reminds me of an awesome YoungLife talk we heard last summer at camp. The camp speaker, Josh VonGunten, was incredible. Seriously, look him up! One night, he gave a captivating talk about Jesus that included an analogy about "speaking bird". You see, a bird was stuck in one of the gutters on his house. There was a small opening at one end where the bird could safely escape, if only the bird could find it. If only Josh could "speak bird", he would be able to save it. If only he could communicate clearly with the bird, or climb into that gutter as a bird himself.

You see, this is what Jesus did for us. We are the birds. He did more than just "speak bird", he came down and BECAME a bird so that he could love us, live with us in that awful gutter, and tell us (in our own language) how we can be saved, if only we are willing to listen. Powerful stuff, that he would love us enough to do that!

I was reminded of this last night as I watched the bird fly frantically around our dining room and living room, attempting to perch on curtain rods and window trim when both the front and back doors were wide open the entire time. All the bird had to do was stop swooping around the room and go through the open door that we had provided. It probably thought we were trying to kill it by shooing it towards the door, when were only helping it.

But isn't this what we "birds" do on a daily basis? We frantically flap and fly around, terrified in a foreign world that doesn't feel right. We try and figure it all out for ourselves while the door is open the entire time. Then we think God's out to get us when he gently shoos us away from the things we think are better, towards that open door, and on to much better things (and he celebrates when we finally choose that way out, just like my brothers and I celebrated our bird friend in the video.)

Are you listening? Are you choosing to fly for the open door? Or are you desperately flying around, hoping you'll make it out on your own before it's too late? If only we'd listen to the one who came to speak to us in a way in which we'd understand, who came to be one of us, suffered right along with us, and then suffered more for us than we could ever begin to imagine. What a sacrifice.


I'm linking up with A Life in BalanceModest MondaysThe Quintessential Mommy, Me, Coffee, and JesusThe Beauty in His Grip, Life as MumA Fresh Start on a Budget, Rich Faith Rising, and Pick Your Pin Tuesday.