We live in a world of sin and imperfection. I am a child of God striving each day to live out my calling. Welcome to my blog where you get the inside scoop of this Youth Pastor's world!
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

Friday, August 31, 2012

Twenty Something

What does a 23 year old single youth pastor do on a Friday night when the high school football team is away...she eats dinner with her best friend, her husband, and her one year old. Then she drives around for an hour, comes home does laundry, dishes, and watches TV while coloring.

That's right I am and ridiculously boring.

I have been in Hesston for two and a half weeks now. It has been a little crazy. My first few days I was able to unpack and get everything situated and meet with Steph and figure a few things out before she moved to Illinois.

I started full time on the 20th. So I have had two full weeks at the church. It feels kind of like complete chaos at times and others it is almost boring. This is one of those things that I wish someone would just give me a to do list so I can work through it, but I am at the planning stage.

My planning consists of:

  • Bible Zone (K-4)
    • I still don't really understand how this program works.
    • Steph had the curriculum ready but it doesn't really make sense so Pastor G and I started to rework some of it. It needed more depth.
    • So now it is just a pile of confusion.
  • Mission Possible (5-6)
    • We finally have someone who has agreed to teach this, which is a huge relief.
    • The problem is there was no curriculum. 
    • I spent a good two days working on creating some curriculum to hand the teachers.
    • I have a bunch of ideas on paper but nothing ready to go.
  • Faith Girlz (7-8)
    • I am very excited about this, this group has the potential to be pretty awesome
    • Not to mention I love working with Junior High Girls
    • But for some reason this one is also intimidating to me.
    • I have a lot of ideas for this group but haven't put anything down on paper.
    • I spent this afternoon making a power point for our first meeting, so I guess that is a start.
  • Gods Guys (7-8)
    • I have teachers for this group.
    • And this should probably be easy to plan.
    • I just need to do it
  • Youth Group (9-12)
    • We had our first youth group meeting this week
      • We had a tie dye party. 
      • Only four kids showed up.
      • I was pretty disappointed.
      • But we had fun
      • I want youth group to be really powerful, but it also has to be active because it is currently consisting of four Sophomore boys. 
      • I need to find a guy to work with me.
  • Sunday School (K-12)
    • I don't even know where to begin on this one.

Needless to say that is my day to day thought process. To top all of that off the church is in the process of kicking off a Capitol Campaign...currently that is just a bunch of stress and copies and I really have no idea what it all means. I just show up to my meetings and don't say much act like I have it all figured out and then go back to my office and try to figure out what to do next.

I started writing a sermon yesterday that I will probably give before the end of the month. I wrote a page and then had to take a phone call so I will probably rewrite the whole things. 

I have met a couple of friends since I have been here. I feel like such a little kid when I say that but its true and exciting. I don't have school anymore to help me meet people and I don't exactly work with anyone in the office that is even relatively close to my age. More like my mother and grandmother. 

I have also connected with the new Choir Director at Hesston High School. And I think I may just have my hands back in the theatre world. I may be helping some with costumes and make up. This shall be fun. I hope I don't put too much on my plate, but I really need to do something other than work and sit at home on my computer.

Well there you have it, my crazy, chaotic, boring life!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Follow Love - 2012 (Goodbye to St. Paul UMC)


The things that stand out in my mind from growing up in this family:
1.      Children’s Church, moving from the little pews in the front of the room to the big ones in the back, and being the cool big kid that got to help poor the apple juice.
a.      This is where I learned memory verses like John 3:16 and The Lord’s Prayer.
b.      I also learned that you do not EVER run in the church.
c.      I also learned the church calendar and what it meant to care about other people’s joys and concerns just as much as mine.
2.      Air vents as a child were meant for Amanda Young and I to see whose dresses was bigger.
3.      We always stuck our hands in the vacuum holes when there weren’t adults around because it felt cool when our hands were stuck, but our parents didn’t like it when we did that.
4.      Easter & Christmas always equaled a new dress, annual pictures, and a height contest!
5.      I will never forget how important I felt when my prayer partner left me a card or small gift on the table by the front door.
6.      In children’s choir, Amanda and I always made up actions to the songs, but Janet never let us do them in public! That is also where I learned that Peanut Butter is a cure for hiccups. I always wanted to get hiccups in choir so Janet would take me somewhere and bring me back without them. I had to ask Amanda when we were older what the secret was.
7.      It was special to make it to 6th grade so I could finally acolyte; little did I know that job would still be mine over a decade later.
8.      Vacation Bible School, the songs and games were always a lot of fun and I secretly disagreed on Millie’s brownies being the best, she put nuts on them, I didn’t know what I was missing when I picked them off.
9.      My class was the odd class that stayed in the same Sunday school classroom from Kindergarten through sixth grade. I remember going from Theresa’s class to Dac’s and then back to Theresa’s.
10.   I remember thinking that my cousins were the coolest people I knew and I couldn’t wait to join them in Youth Group. It never sank in, until I got there, that they were almost all enough older than me that they weren’t there anymore.
11.   I remember when Church Garage Sales were fun, and I also remember when I realized they were actually a lot of work.
12.   The bats were probably the scariest thing ever, and I will never forget the time I was organizing the shoes for the garage sale and one came flying out of the shoes, we called the animal control lady, and she had just wrangled a skunk.
13.   I remember when we decided to switch youth group from Sunday to Wednesday so we would have something to talk about.
14.   Youth Sunday’s were always my favorite, when Barbara and Bob were in charge we got to go to the Donut shop during Sunday school, which seemed like the coolest thing ever.
15.   Amanda and I felt so special when we were asked to be on the color committee for the renovation, but we were kind of sad when nobody agreed with us that purple would be a good color. And yes, I do remember the green carpet!
16.   I remember being so upset on the METour because I was missing Jim & Sheila’s last day here, I was so upset the “moms” let me call and say goodbye, and then I think I cried the rest of the day.
17.   Filling the Easter eggs for the hunt is still one of my favorite things to do.
18.   The tailgate dinner always equaled sunburns for me. Especially the time Amanda and I wore the florescent poster board signs and walked around on Summit to get people to come.
19.   I still get a little nervous when walking down the hallway upstairs in the dark, from all the times in youth group someone was hiding and would jump out.
20.   I remember when I wasn’t allowed in the alley behind the church and sitting on the table may have been ok for other people but it was never allowed for us.
21.   I can tell you the seating arrangement for the entire congregation when this place is empty or even when I’m not here at all.
22.   One of the perks of a small church is the one room Sunday school we have in the back. There are times that Sunday school is my favorite time of the week. And it will be one of the things that I miss the most.
23.   This building has gone from being a place that I went, to a place I had to go, to a place I brought all of my friends, to the place that I come to when nothing makes sense.
24.   These steps have seen me in so many different phases in my life. I was baptized here, grew up here, confirmed here, wrote my first sermon here, questioned everything here, and someday I plan on coming back and saying I do right here.
I could go on for hours with things that stand out in my mind about this place and the people here. Growing up in this church has been a blessing. I can’t imagine my life without this church being in it. This church is more than just St. Paul UMC to me, it is my family of course almost half of the congregation I am actually related to, but the rest of you I consider to be my family as well. I have always thought that the worst part of my calling is that eventually it was going to take me away from here. Sadly that day is today. Today is my last Sunday in Ark City for quite awhile. Eventually my schedule will calm down and I will be able to come home and visit, and yes St. Paul is home for me. Growing up I have spent just as much time here as anywhere else. Church was like an extracurricular activity for me. It was here in this building that I discovered my love for youth ministry, it was here that I got hands on experience in children’s ministry, it was here that I learned there were politics in church, it was here that I almost gave up on my calling, and it was here that it came back stronger than ever before, it was here that learned what it meant to be a Christian.
I have spent a lot of time in the past couple of years dreaming for this congregation. When we split a few years ago I remember being so scared that we were going to have close the doors and walk away that was something that was unfathomable to me. At that time it was hard to see past all of our broken hearts and see a future, except that I can tell you that the first Sunday after everything happened was the first Sunday in almost a year that I felt the Holy Spirit moving freely in these walls. It was then that I started dreaming again, and this time not just for me.
There is a future here. We have gained three new members in the last three years, so what if they were all three a few weeks ago. That is three new members, and that does not include all of the growth that is happening. We have a Children’s time that is usually equivalent to a church twice our size. There is a future here, because there are still children here. There may be a significant age gap in our attendants but that doesn’t mean there isn’t promise here.
There is a ministry that happens every week that is unlike any I have ever been a part of anywhere else. If you haven’t made it here to experience the SHARE meal, then you really need to make time to come on a Wednesday evening. It may be the most exhausting afternoon and evening of your week but it will also be the most rewarding. Sometimes those people can be frustrating and push your buttons, but when that girl comes back for her third or fourth plate because they have no food at home, your heart just breaks.
There is a future here. I can see, many potential ministries that could be happening if people would just commit. Rebecca and I had our own small group time for most a whole semester until my schedule got too crazy. We made some really cool hair bows, and went on some fun walks; we even tried our own Zumba class.
There are classrooms upstairs that are just itching for someone to use them. There is a future here, this congregation is growing. I have chosen to be quiet and not share my dreams for this congregation because, just like everyone else my schedule is over packed, but I can’t leave without sharing a few with you. When you are ready to try something crazy and new, reach out to the college, open up those classroom and let them use them for small groups or something, and just maybe after they use the building some of them will come for church. We have a lot of young families in this church so maybe there could be some kind of date night, where the church members offer free babysitting for parents to go on a date. I think it is time that we held a small VBS again, there are some young ones that I know would have a blast doing something like that, and it wouldn’t have to be elaborate or anything.
My dreams for this place are that those little ones that are upstairs in the nursery will be able to stand up here someday with some of the same kind of memories that I have. VBS, Children’s Church, and Youth Group, they are your future. I dare you to dream just take time and dream for this place without thinking of the time commitments and money. Just dream and as you dream start reaching for those dreams and things will fall into place.
In high school I always dreamt about what I would do if I had my own youth group to run. What games we would play and what lessons we would have. Somewhere those dreams took control of my life and became much more than just dreams. They became the only thing I wanted to do with my life; they became my calling, my education, my hobby, and my one true passion. My dreams for my life are coming true, so now I dare you to dream for this congregation for this church and for you.
And know that even though I’m not here, I’m still a part of this family. I will always call this my home and I will always return. I see you as my brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles. And this isn’t goodbye at all it is just, see you later. I want to say thank you for always being there, thank you for always caring about my life, thank you for taking the time to make me feel important, thank you for investing in my life, and thank you for pushing me to be better. I couldn’t get up here without sharing a song with you all, so here is my “goodbye” song. “Follow Love” by FFH.

While I'm Waiting - 2011


Waiting For God – Sermon 6/5/11
“It is not for you to know the times or the dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1: 7-8

It is not for you to know the times or the dates the Father has set by his own authority. Jesus is promising the Disciples will receive the Holy Spirit, they just have to wait. They cannot do this by their own schedules; this one has to be done by God. We have the luxury of reading on to the next chapter and seeing that Jesus stays true to his promises and the Spirit is sent. But imagine standing there as one of the people who has followed Christ for three years. They answered his call, they heard him teach, and they watched him die. Then they were able to walk with him for awhile longer and here he is against all odds telling them that he is leaving but sending the Spirit, and then he too will return one day. What were they thinking, what were they feeling? From the scriptures it says they obeyed Christ and they went and waited for the Spirit to come. 

They waited. The Jewish people had spent generations waiting for the promised Messiah. The largest portion of our Bible is the stories of them waiting. They lived they served they messed up and they started over the whole time while they were waiting. They spent their whole lives waiting for the promise and many of them never saw it fulfilled. That didn’t change the fact that they were waiting.

Waiting, to wait, to be in a state of anticipation. We spend our whole lives waiting. We wait in line at Wal-Mart because they only have four lanes open, we wait at the red light, and we wait on our fast food that is taking more than five minutes. We spend hours waiting for the things that we want in life. Parents wait nine months for the birth of their child and then wait years for them to grow up and be on their own, then they wait for grand children. Children wait until they will be old enough to drive, to stay out late, to move out, to be done with school, to get married, to be independent.

Some days this time of waiting is easier than others. Paul often compared the life of a Christian to running a race. We know there is a finish line somewhere up ahead we have faith in that, but the hard part is keeping the faith when it gets hot the road gets bumpy and the competition just seems too strong and that finish line is nowhere to be seen. I am going to share with you a song today (as I always do)! I first heard this song when I was driving one day. It was right before graduation and I was really bummed. Here I was I getting ready to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religious Studies with a minor in Youth Ministry. I have a heart and a head full of ideas and passion. All I want to do was have my own youth group and to finally have the opportunity to put that expensive schooling to use, and yet I am jobless. I’m twenty two years old and moving back into my parent’s house, every young person’s dream, right? Needless to say I was really struggling with knowing my call but not having a place to use it yet. I was very confused and heartbroken, because I thought the job that was for sure where I was supposed to go had been filled by someone else. Then this song came on the radio:

While I’m Waiting by John Waller
I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every
step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every
step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

            Every time I listen to this song it really gets me to thinking. We are called to live out our lives no matter where we are or what we are doing. I have to remind myself that even though I’m not working in a church right now I’m still doing ministry and I’m still serving God. There is nothing like spending the day in the world of a three year old to remind you that this is not the end. And as Bishop Jones said at Annual Conference a couple of weeks ago, “God is not through with us, yet.” Let’s think about that…

God is not through with us, yet! The promises haven’t all been fulfilled we live in a time of waiting. And in this fast paced world we live in that is sometimes hard to comprehend. The Bible was written by people who were waiting. And it’s the people who are willing to serve him and worship him and love him while they wait that we model our lives after. So no matter where you are in this race of life you are waiting for something. What is it that you are waiting for? Jesus asked his Disciples to wait for the Spirit, and then after the Spirit was upon them they awaited his return by sacrificing their lives for the Kingdom. What are you doing while you are waiting? We are all waiting for Jesus to come back, some people jumped on the bandwagon and thought the rapture was going to be a few weeks ago. But it says that you will not know the times or the dates so what are you doing with the time you have been given? The Apostles were the first of the martyrs and there have been many since then. I’m not saying that you are all supposed to go out and lay down your life for Christ but what are you doing for the Kingdom of God? What is it that you are sacrificing? We can all sacrifice our time, our money, our energy, our comfort zones and many other things to serve God.

God is not through with us, yet. This church family has been through a lot together and we are still standing. Last week in Sunday school we were talking about how we are struggling as a congregation to grow. How do you bring new people in? Well I wish I had that answer but I do know we aren’t the only ones struggling with that. At conference they showed a video that had a bunch of depressing numbers about how numbers are declining the church today. So it’s not just us. The idea that God is not through with us yet just proves that there is more work to be done. We may be small but we are mighty. As long as we continue through our time here working, worshiping, loving, and living for God we will prevail. I keep getting this feeling that God is calling me out of my comfort zone and into his. In my covenant group at school we read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. This book talks a lot about changing the way we think about God. And about living a life of true faith and absolute love for God. I am going to share a passage with you from page 168. “I wrote this book because much of our talk doesn’t match our lives. We say things like, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ and ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart.’ Then we live and plan like we don’t believe God even exists. We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn’t come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His promise. A friend of mine once said that Christians are like manure: spread the out and they help everything grow better, but keep them in one big pile and they stink horribly. Which are you? The kind that reeks, around which people walk a wide swath? Or the kind that trusts God enough to let Him spread you out – whether that means going outside your normal group of Christian friends, increasing your material giving, or using your time to serve others?”

This race is not over, so let’s keep running. And serve God while we are waiting even when it is painful and difficult.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” – Hebrew 12:1

Another Camp Sermon - 2012


Stephanie told me that you all just finished a sermon series about stewardship, and that this week’s lectionary reading was the Parable of the Talents, which Naomi just read. Stewardship and the Parable of the Talents are always thought to be about money. Money, money, money, something that we never have enough of, people always need it, and if you get a little of it you always want more.  There is another word that comes to mind that fits this same description. That word is love. Love is something that there is never enough of, people always need it, and once you get a little of it you want more. This morning I want you to think about this parable not as a lesson on money but a lesson on love.
I would like to introduce to you today a young lady who has taught me what it means to love. For the sake of this sermon I will call her Keziah. The name Keziah comes from the book of Job. Keziah was Job’s daughter at the end of the book. After all of the turmoil of Job’s life God blessed Job with a new family. Keziah was a new ray of sunshine in Job’s life. Well the young lady I’m going to tell you about is a ray sunshine in my life and to everyone who meets her.
I met Keziah during my third summer as a camp counselor at Camp Horizon. She was participating in canoe camp. We spent two full days canoeing the Arkansas River from Oxford back to Ark City. During this time I learned a lot about her life. Let’s just say that this young lady has experienced more in her almost eighteen years of life that I can even fathom in my twenty two. She is in foster care and she has definitely been dealt a hand of cards that no one deserves. I specifically remember a conversation we had on the last day while we were waiting for her to be picked up. She was telling me about how hard it was to live for Christ when she was back home. She wanted to be a youth worker or a case manager or someone who works with kids when she grew up, especially kids who are in the system just like she is.
She was feeling a call but struggling with how to keep the passion she knew and was currently experiencing alive when she got home, and she was really worried about her younger brother. I remember feeling crushed when she left because once again I was given the opportunity to meet a camper that was going to change my life and I just wanted to be able to take her pain away and give her the life that I was blessed with.
Keziah and I became pen pals that school year. We had developed a connection that was far too great not to continue. She would tell me about all of the crazy things going on in her high school world and oddly they weren’t too far off from my college world. We talked about everything from God to boys, work to family. By the end of the school year she was really struggling because she lived in a foster home of mixed religions where she was looked down on for her passionate feelings toward God. She was very involved in school and every single club that had to with a cause she was on it and she was also a dancer and had a job. It was becoming obvious that this home situation was causing some pressure on her soul.
We managed to work it out where she could come and stay with me for two weeks during the summer because I needed her help with Performing Arts Camp that year. In those two weeks of crazy dress up nights, ice cream runs, and choreographing skits for the camp I learned just how far this young lady’s love really went. On the last day of her junior year of high school she shaved her head. She became a shavee for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. She had raised money and donated it to kids with cancer, and part of this foundation is that you then shave your head to show your support. By the time that I finally saw her in June she had about an inch of hair and boy could she rock it. She taught me how to crochet which she did in her free time, which I’m not sure how she had any, she would crochet blankets and donate them to the Wichita Children’s home so that when children arrive there from their broken homes they had something nice waiting for them like someone did for her. She is that girl with the spunky spirit that does not care what the world thinks of her but moves to her own groove and the love of God just flows from her in a way that I have never experienced. She may tell you that I am her mentor but honestly she is my hero because she is conquering the world in the name of Christ on a daily basis and it is definitely a battle.
I have a song for you all today, anytime I preach at St. Paul I share one of my favorite songs with the congregation so this song I chose it to share with you. I want you to listen to the words and think about Keziah and about the difference she is making in her young life and what it really means to love.
This song is called “It Just Takes One” by Addison Road (a popular Christian band)
What if we moved 
What if we wandered
Took a reckless ride to the other side 
Of the tracks

What if we knew somebody's story
Would we write them off like a number
On a check

Or could we be the only souls
Who take the time to love and find
The beauty in a nameless face

(CHORUS)
One, it just takes one
To step out from the crowd, and show
What love is all about
One, it just takes one
To change a life forever, 
Touch the world and make it better

So what if we moved with no hesitations
And learn to love the least of these without reserve
Let's spark a change in this generation
And let our actions speak louder than our words

And what if there's a world in need of hope
That only we can bring
Brighter then the midday sun

(CHORUS)
One, it just takes one
To step out from the crowd, and show
What love is all about
One, it just takes one
To change a life forever, 
Touch the world and make it better

It just takes one
It just takes one
It just takes one

(CHORUS)
One, it just takes one
To step out from the crowd, and show
What love is all about
One, it just takes one
To change a life forever, 
Touch the world and make it better

(CHORUS)
One, it just takes one
To step out from the crowd, and show
What love is all about
One, it just takes one
To change a life forever, 
Touch the world and make it better 
God has given each of us more than enough love to last us our entire lives and some day He will return and will be ready to inspect what we have done with that love. We have the choice, we can deny His love and walk away, we can accept His love and keep for ourselves or we can accept His love and share it with other people. I would have to say that the last option there is the perfect way to be a steward for God. So my challenge to each of you today is to decide how are you going to use the love or the talents that God has blessed you with are you going to be the one that steps out and reaches out to change a life forever? It just takes one, are you ready?


Remind Me Who I am - Jan. 2012


January 22, 2012
“Jesus said to them follow me and I will make you fish for people.”
I want you all to close your eyes and imagine for a minute what it must have been like to be on your boat doing your job and a Rabbi walks by and says, “Come follow me.” What did that look like, how did that feel?
Are you having a hard time seeing exactly what that looked like? I’m going to paint you a little Jewish history picture.
Around the age of six Jewish children went to school to learn the Torah. They had to memorize the Torah that is the first five books of our Bible; they memorized Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Around the age of 10 the students were separated. The best of the best continued on in school, the rest went home to learn the family trade. The best of the best continued on to learn the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. That would be the entire Old Testament.  Around age fourteen or fifteen, another cut takes place these young people would apply to be disciples of a rabbi. The rabbi would quiz them and decide if they were worthy of following him. More often than not he would send that young boy home to learn his father’s trade. Only the best of the best became disciples.
So let’s go back now to the Sea of Galilee, Peter and Andrew are fishing. They are fishing, that means they are not the best of the best. They did not make the cut. Jesus walks up and says Come follow me! When a Rabbi said this he meant I believe that you can do what I do. Jesus said Come follow me. They dropped their nets and followed Jesus.
I used to always wonder how could they just drop everything and leave. Now it makes much more sense. Rabbis were the best of the best, they were the most revered and trusted people. Imagine being rejected at a young age, being told that you were not good enough to ever be a Rabbi and then a few years later a Rabbi walks up to you and says Come follow me.
Jesus said these words to Peter, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, Matthew, Philip, Bartholomew, James, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas. Twelve young men’s lives were changed by the words come follow me.
We hear come follow me as leave your money, your family, your job, your bed, your home, your comfort. They heard come follow me as, you’re good enough, and you can do what I do.
Talk about a change of perspective. How often do we hear the words you’re good enough? Really, think about it, are you ever good enough for this world?
Are you pretty enough?
Are you thin enough?
Are you strong enough?
Are you rich enough?
The answer is of course not, no, never. We always fail, we are never good enough.
We are a lot like Peter and Andrew out there fishing on the boat, we are going about our days knowing that we will never be good enough and somewhere along the that has become ok with us. We can’ t change it so why not just embrace it.
God doesn’t want us to be ok with not being good enough, he walks by in our darkest hours and says come follow me you are good enough and I need you to fish for men and help me tell others that they are good enough as well.
I have video to show you today. I always have song when I preach and this one’s video was too good not to share. So please humor me and watch this video.
***insert video here*****
When I lose My way,
And I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror all I see,
Is who I don't wanna be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places,
When I can't remember what grace is.

Chorus:
Tell me once again who I am to you.
Who I am to you.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to you.
That I belong to you.
To you.

Verse 2:
When my heart is like a stone,
And I'm running far from home,
Remind me who I am.
When I can't recieve your love,
Afraid I'll never be enough,
Remind me who I am.
If I'm your beloved,
Can you help me believe it.

Chorus:
Tell me once again who I am to you.
Who I am to you, Woh.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to you.
That I belong to you.
To you.

Bridge:
I'm the one you love,
I'm the one you love,
That will be enough,
I'm the one you love.

Chorus:2x
Tell me once again who I am to you.
Who I am to you.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to you.
That I belong to you, Woh.
To you.3x 

God is constantly reminding us who we are, we are beloved, we are chosen, we made the team, we are good enough. So let’s be fishers of men and go and tell the world they don’t have to settle for failure they can be good enough too.

Halloween Sermon 2010


Let Your Light Shine

When I started writing this sermon I had a completely different idea in my mind. The day I told Ben I would preach on Halloween I had an idea in my mind and as the sermon started to write itself I realized that, that sermon was not for you guys. It was for a different congregation and it was a sermon I wasn’t ready to give so those words have confused me for a couple months. But every time I thought about a sermon for Halloween the topic that kept coming to my mind was Masks. But that was about all that would come to my mind, I even had a song picked out, and once again that wasn’t the right sermon. So last week I was sitting on my bed and I read today’s scripture and it gave me today’s sermon.
Let your light shine.
What a statement. As I have wrestled with this sermon I have wrestled with that statement. This school year I started a new job and a new chapter in my life. I had to tell Camp goodbye and decided to give my hand to my calling in youth ministry. Every time that I go to work I feel like I am going to a battle zone. Slowly the chaos has settled down and the bullets that fly my way are not as scary as they were when I started.
I walked into that church with all the confidence that I could muster, with all of my knowledge from camp and school, and with a lot of ideas, and what I thought was patience. After my first youth meeting I walked out in tears, destroyed, and very confused. Why were these kids there? No one makes them go and yet, they show up and they are mean and rude and sometimes violent.  I had officially joined a world that I didn’t know how to handle. Each week I showed up with a smile and left with tears.
I spent a lot time in frustrated prayer; ok I still spend a lot of time in frustrated prayer. My kids confuse me, but that’s it they have become my kids. In about 2 months time those holy terrors found a place in my heart and yes, I’m still just as confused as the day I started, but somewhere along the way I found some strength. And part of that strength came from knowing that in a few weeks time I was going to take a week off for Arkalalah and to come home and preach! There was a particular Thursday that I remember meeting with Ben and let’s just say I was about as destroyed as I could be from the night before, and about the only words I could come up with were “I don’t know” every question that he asked that was my answer. I was so lost and so confused that I was doing good to be out of bed and dressed, I even made it to class that day so I was very proud of myself. I wasn’t sure how I could go back or how I could continue. Why was I there? Had I misread what God had been saying to me? That other job down the road looks so much nicer right now. Now looking back on that week and all the weeks before that with my kids this song really seems to apply to me and my situation. That’s right, another song! J

The Lost Get Found – Britt Nicole

Hello my friend
I remember when you were
So alive with your wide eyes
Then the light that you had in your heart was stolen
Now you say that it ain't worth stayin'
You wanna run but you're hesitatin'
I'm talkin' to me

Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found
The lost get found

So when you get the chance
Are you gonna take it?
There's a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it
There's a girl on the streets, she's cryin'
There's a man whose faith is dyin'
Love is calling you

Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found
The lost get found

Why do we go with the flow
Or take an easier road?
Why are we playin' it safe?
Love came to show us the way
Love is a chance we should take
I'm movin' out of the way

Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
(Stand out)
Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
(Stand out)
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found
The lost get found

So when you get the chance
Are you gonna take it?
There's a really big world at your fingertips
And you know you have the chance to change it

*************************************************************************************
The other day I sent my parents an email, which actually turned into a prayer. I was struggling with trying to be a decent student, a good friend, and a youth leader. Each one of those jobs at any given time is a full time job by itself. I was frustrated because every time I got motivated to start my huge projects with fast arriving due dates, someone would call or text or come over with some major life crisis.  I was barely staying afloat for myself and yet there I was again, swimming for others too. It was one thing to deal with my kids’ problems, that’s what I’m called to do, but why do all of my friends seem to be having multiple crisis at the same time as all of my homework is due? Is anybody thinking that’s called life? I am!!!  It just so happens that October equals crisis time in my world. It’s just not always my crisis. It would be so much easier for me to just stay in bed, or drop out of school, or to quit my job. It would be so much easier to quit everything that is difficult and to walk away, or to just let myself settle for being depressed and never good enough. But if I gave every time life threw me a little curveball, where would I be today? I most definitely would not be up here right now.
Hello my friend
I remember when you were
So alive with your wide eyes
Then the light that you had in your heart was stolen
Now you say that it ain't worth stayin'
You wanna run but you're hesitatin'
I'm talkin' to me

 Don't let your lights go down
Don't let your fire burn out
'Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out
That's how the lost get found
The lost get found

Well I have said this to myself many times. Sometimes this is my motivation and prayer to get out of bed.  So now I’m talking to you. What is hiding your light? Today’s scripture:
14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Tells us we are the light of the world. Jesus tells us that when we believe in Him we will be able to do things greater than He did. (John 14). And He tells us to go out and make disciples of all nations (Mat. 28). And to pick up our cross and follow Him (Mark 8), we are supposed to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Him. SO I ask again, what makes your candle flicker? What causes you to want to stay in bed and give up? What is stopping you from letting your light shine and to be that city on a hill that can’t be hidden? Give it to God, whatever it is.
“Cast your cares on the LORD
       and he will sustain you;
       he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
Let go of whatever is holding you back and let God use it to guide you in reaching out. Don’t give up, don’t back down, instead stand up, stand strong and don’t be afraid to let your light shine unto all the earth.
“There’s a flame inside my soul,
some shine bright, some shine small.
The rains will come and the waters will rise,
but don’t you ever lose your light…
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Play song!

Mother's Day Sermon 2010


Happy Mother’s Day! I originally thought writing a Mother’s Day sermon would be easy. Boy was I wrong! How do you write a sermon recognizing all mothers and still have some kind of message in it??
Well last week when Steve was talking about how Christians are called to daily take up their cross and carry it, meaning we are called to suffer; it made me think of my message!
July 17, 2008 Katie called me to ask me if I wanted to do Fine Arts Camp the following week. I said sure, I had been hoping she would ask me to help with it, I mean who wouldn’t want to combine their two passions? Turns out I wasn’t going to be helping with Fine Arts Camp, I was going to be the Dean of Fine Arts Camp. The person who was supposed to do it backed out that day. I had eight kids, seven girls and one boy, a weekend to find some sort of theatrical thing for them to learn and perform, and a weekend to plan an entire camp that should have had at least a month of planning, and I was going to be by myself. Wow, talk about culture shock. So I spent my forty eight hour weekend planning camp, 7 Bible Studies, Eight Monologues, 1 skit for eight people with only one guy, and a song to be mimed. In one weekend I went from being a counselor to being a Dean. Well Monday rolls around and we are making final rounds of cleaning and final preparations for the week before the kids got there, and it hit me, I am supposed to teach these eight kids about God and Theatre in one week, by myself. Oh my gosh, well lets just say that it was the first of many break downs that week. I shut myself in my cabin so no one would see me cry because I hate it when people see me cry and I called my mom. I was scared to death of the coming week, I was ready everything was organized and scheduled and I knew what I was doing but I was going to be by myself. All the other counselors had to be with their own camps, and I didn’t even get a co-counselor. My mom calmed me down and told me to turn on my music because she knows that is what helps me the most, she also knows that is where God talks to me, and then she said if you need me call me, I am only five minutes away and will come help if you need it.
So I went got my iPod and by the time the kids were coming in I was calm, collected, and excited only my mom and a couple counselors knew just what was going on inside of me.
I met my kids Jordan, Lizzy, Libby, Allie, Rose, Joe, Madi, and Tionna. Each one was completely different. Libby, Rose and Joe are triplets and unless you know them you could not tell by looking, they get along great, and Libby and Rose have two of the best voices I have ever heard. Followed closely by Jordan and Lizzy two best friends who were not sure if they were ready to spend a week away from home but could harmonize better than most college kids. And poor Joe had to put up with all the girls by himself, he was such a great sport! Madi was the quirky one and Allie was the shy one. And of course you have to have the problem child right? That was Tionna she was the oldest and she did not want to be there, she was an atheist whose Grandma made her go. One day at dinner I had my eight children sitting around a table and I sat at the head of the table, and said wow I feel like a mommy! And from that moment on, that is who I became. And for the first time in my life I started to understand just what a mommy does. Most of that week for me is a blur I don’t remember a lot of it because most of the time I wasn’t there. I don’t know who it was that led those kids that week, because it certainly was not me, it had to be God. The day I learned that Tionna was an atheist and didn’t want to be there, it became my soul’s mission to make her see the love of Jesus in me and camp. I just wanted her to feel a little of what I feel everyday. We had many conversations alone and I had the entire staff praying for her. Every ounce of who I was that week wanted my eight children to come to know God the way I know him, and to be able to spend eternity with them.
Mommy, when are we going swimming? Mommy, its hot outside, Mommy, is it time to eat yet? Mommy, what’s for dinner? Mommy, do we have to go to bed?
That’s right I became a mommy. No planned parenthood, no nine months to prepare. No, God blessed me with eight teenagers of my own for five days. Let’s just say I loved those kids as if they were my own, but I pray that God does not bless me with octuplets of my own!
All I wanted to do every single day was crawl into my own mommy’s arms and make it all go away. I loved those kids with all I had and for one it wasn’t enough, she never did find God the way I wanted her to, but I planted some seeds that really wish that I could water and watch grow but that is not my job. I watched seven of my children accept Christ for themselves and discover his love in their own ways and it was one of the coolest things to watch. One night while reading a passage from Psalms to my girls at bedtime I asked them how it made them feel (it was a passage about God’s love and how big it is). Jordan said, “It blows my face off.” We spent the next ten minutes or so laughing really hard because she meant to say it blows my mind, and then that statement became our motto for the rest of camp, And for my life.
God’s love really does blow my face off. Because when you love like God loves and give it all you have then it isn’t your face that people see, they see the face of God. And that is what a good mother is like. She gives everything she has for her children. She would die for them and still want to give more. Nothing she can give them is good enough for her, her children will never understand what she goes through every single day for them. I got a glimpse of it that week, when more than anything I wanted to give up and walk away because it was so hard and stressful, and I broke down many times. The moment I heard Mommy, I wiped my face and put on a smile and turned around and said yes dear! I can only imagine doing that for the rest of my life, and I am looking forward to it. And for the counselors that saw me that week, and even my own mom, I’m sure a lot of them were glad when it was over and I would go back to being the me I was the rest of the summer. But that week changed my life. I learned what it means to truly love someone with your whole heart, and what it feels like when your heart breaks because there is nothing else you can do. So to all you mothers thank you, you truly are angels and because it wouldn’t be a sermon from me if it didn’t have a song this one is for you!
Angels – Randy Travis
Me and some of the boys were sitting around the other night
Started talking about politics, religion, love and life
And what a shame it was about 9/11
And what about hell and what about heaven
And is there or isn't there angels on earth
And then one guy said
Well you can take that for what it's worth
If it's something I can see or something I can touch
Well I might believe in all that stuff
So I just had to say to him

Are you telling me that you've never seen an angel?
Never felt the presence of one standing by?
No robe of white
No halo in site
Well you missed the most obvious thing
Man, are you blind?
Just look in your mothers eyes

And then I said who went through the pain
And smiled through the tears on the day of your birth?
She counted your fingers and toes and thanked God you were whole
Son you outta know who loved you first, that's right
And who always came running everytime you cried out
And how many more things have you forgotten about
And who tried their best to teach you wrong from right
And how many nights did she leave on the light
While she waited and prayed that you came in
And who'd be there for you right up to the end
Think about it tonight

Are you telling me that you've never seen an angel?
Never felt the presence of one standing by?
No robe of white
No halo in site
Well you missed the most obvious thing
Aww Man, are you blind?
Just look in your mothers eyes

Aww Man, are you blind?
Just look in your mothers eyes
That's right
Twenty years ago on this day, well on Mother’s Day, there was a baby baptized in this church. The young parents at the time couldn’t have had any idea of what that would really mean for that child. To bring her up in the church and to make sure she memorized her Bible verses and sang in the choir.
Well Mom and Dad I want to say thank you. Today is Mother’s Day and I couldn’t think of any better way of celebrating this wonderful day then to come back to the place where my journey began and thank one of the people who have made my life what it is. You couldn’t have known twenty years ago when you decided to baptize me in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that I would take that decision into my own hands and find the greatest love anyone can know, and discover my calling to serve my Heavenly Father each and every day. On Friday I will be moving out to camp for another summer filled with all the things I love and doing what I have been called to do, share God with all the youth I come across. Yesterday I graduated from Cowley and in a couple months will be moving on to Southwestern. When I go to Southwestern I will be moving out, and stepping out on my own. Most kids my age have already moved out but I am so glad you “made” me live at home. These last two years I have learned many life lessons and got to do it all while sleeping at home and living a college life. So don’t worry Mom you won’t notice much difference when I leave, except my room will always be clean and my bed will always be made, sadly the amount of dust will probably stay the same! I love you and I will never have the right words to tell you just how much you mean to me, so for now Thank You! And be ready because “Mommy, Mommy I need you,” will be going off plenty of times in the future I am sure, which is the sound that goes off every time I call her!

What if His People Prayed (My first Sermon) 2009


Good Morning!
Today’s message is a little unconventional. The inspiration came at 5:30 in the morning, while I was at work trying not to fall asleep. The only way I can stay awake sometimes, is to listen to music. And yes, today’s message is in music.
My life revolves around music. You can ask my parents, there is always music playing in my room, my car, or from my iPod. I listen to a little bit of everything, but my favorite kind of music is contemporary Christian.
My dad tells me that he can’t tell the difference sometimes between my Christian music and other types of music. The difference isn’t in the sound, that’s the point; contemporary Christian music is designed to fit all tastes of music style. The only difference is in the words.
          Instead of drugs, sex, and money, it is Jesus, God, and Prayer.
I just ask you to give this a chance. Consider this a Youth Sunday where everything is a little different. Please have that Methodist open mind, we say we have.
This song is called:  “What if His People Prayed?” by my favorite group, Casting Crowns.
I ask that you listen, and listen to the words, they’re the important part. I am going to read the words to you after you hear it; to be sure you get it!
(PLAY SONG)
What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captive free
And not let Satan have one more

What if the Church, for heaven’s sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God’s promise
And stormed Hell’s rusty gates

What if His people prayed?
And those who bear His name
Would only seek His faith
And turn from their old ways

And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day

What if the light that we pursue
Came from a hunger for the truth
What if the family turned to Jesus?
Stopped asking Oprah what to do

What if His people prayed?
And those who bear His name
Would only seek His face
And turn from their own way

He said that He would hear
His promise has been made
He’ll answer loud and clear
If only we would pray

If My people call by My name
If they’ll humble themselves and pray
If My people call by My name
If they’ll humble themselves and pray

Then the chorus plays again.
This song spoke to me in a weird way, and I still can’t believe that this is the message God wanted me to give to you today. This message isn’t just for you it is for me too. If I went through all of this without including me, it would be very hypocritical of me. I’m terrible, and I mean terrible about remembering to pray. Unless, of course, I need something, need to complain, or something amazing happens. I am also the LAST person to volunteer to pray in a group. If you noticed I got Leslie to pray the prayers for me today. I’m big on silent prayer or at least not group prayer, and I always wonder how people know what to say when they are in a group.
I also don’t pray the conventional way we are taught in church, it just doesn’t really work for me. I saw someone give a sermon once on prayer, and they said you didn’t have to kneel down and fold your hands and close your eyes. That’s a wonderful way to teach kids, they’re easily distracted, and it gives them a model to follow. But as I’ve gotten older and closer to God, I realized that I didn’t have to kneel at my bed every night to pray, I could do it in bed, or in the shower, while I’m walking down the stairs,  and in my car (and I pray in my car a lot). If you walked by me while I was praying you would probably think that I was talking to myself. So I urge you if conventional prayer is not working for you, and you think that it is the only way to pray, try something new. Just talk to God, and I mean literally just talk, but make sure you’re ready to listen, and that’s generally the harder part. Kara now understands this. One night last semester she was struggling with past family issues, she just couldn’t get over, I asked her if she had prayed and she said it never works, I’m bad at praying. But she isn’t bad at talking!
None of us are. The moment she started talking, sure it was ranting and raving, and a lot of tears, things started to change in her. I haven’t really asked her about her prayer life since then, but I do know that, for the first time in her life, she now has a true relationship with Jesus. It started that night in my car when she let go and let God. She always knew he was there but that night he became real.
The line in the song:
“What if the family turned to Jesus and stopped asking Oprah what to do.”
Now I wrote this sermon before all the news about Oprah and her version of Christianity came out, so I’m not going into that today.
But Oprah, Dr. Phil, or any other person we turn to for all of the answers that our hearts are seeking can make great assumptions, but true answers lie in our creator. Oprah is human just like we are, she obviously doesn’t know all of the answers, especially when it comes to God, no one on this Earth does. We are a society of instant gratification, when we should be waiting and listening quietly. God has the answers we are looking for. They’re not always the answers we want but they’re the ones we truly need. And we don’t need all of the answers to all of life’s questions. God will reveal to us, when it is time, what he knows we need to know.
God doesn’t speak to us with burning bushes, or like I am speaking to you today, it sure would be nice if he did, but he does speak in other ways. It would be amazing to hear the booming voice of God in the middle of the night calling us to serve him. His ways of speaking are not so obvious anymore. We have to listen. So the part of prayer we seem to lack in is listening. Prayer equals talking to God right?
Sure but that is only half of it. We can talk all we want, but if we don’t stop and listen then what good have we done? God loves to hear your voice, and he cares about everything we have to say. But he has a lot to tell us too. If we never listened to our parents and teachers how could we have learned anything? It is the same with God. We have to listen to what he has to say.
Now I know that we have some true prayer warriors here in this room and we’ve seen the power of prayer. But can you imagine if every person in this church was a prayer warrior? How about if every Christian in Arkansas City was a warrior? Cowley County? Kansas? The United States? If every Christian in the world was a true prayer warrior, there would be no chance for the Devil to leave his mark. He would be cowering in fear. Prayer is the last thing he wants. And he is great at causing us to be too busy to pray.
When you’re too busy, too tired, too angry, and too undeserving, that is when you need to talk to God the most. So I pray and I truly do, that you take this message to heart, it came from mine, and pray. Pray without ceasing.
This quote comes from one of my friend’s Facebook “To pray does not mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other things, to spend time with God instead of spending time with other people. Rather it means to think and live in the presence of God. As soon as we begin to divide our thoughts into thoughts about God and thoughts about people and events, we remove God from our daily life and put him in a pious little niche where we can think pious thoughts and experience pious feelings.
Prayer can only become unceasing prayer when all our thought – beautiful or ugly, high or low, proud or shameful, sorrowful or joyful – can be thought in the presence of God. The main question is not so much what we think, but to whom we present our thoughts”
That quote sums it all up for me and I hope it helps you too!
Prayer is powerful!
And Powerful prayer can move mountains,
Mainly the mountains in people’s hearts and souls
So pray, pray, pray!

Benediction:
May the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. Turn his face towards you and give you peace. Out into the world we go.

Camp Sermon Given in 2010


Good Morning!
I am going to start with some scripture today… 1 Corinthians 3:1-15.
This section of scripture is titled “On Divisions in the Church”.
I found this fitting for our church today. It has been a year, an interesting one at that. We have been through a lot together, as family and friends. I have watched the people that I love the most be hurt, angry, resentful, broken, and strong. Growing up in this church I have seen a lot without ever really realizing it.  I saw a picture last week of my first summer out at camp where our praise team had come in to do worship here, and our pews were full. I almost cried. Then I started thinking and remembering the feelings on my own heart that year while here in this church. I remember not wanting to be here. I couldn’t feel the Spirit. My heart ached for something that was missing. And then my church family fell apart and things changed drastically. And I can honestly tell you that the first Sunday that things were different, the Spirit was back. Yes, we were all hurting, and confused, and angry. But the bad feelings that I had had before were gone. I have wanted to be here every single Sunday since then. I have kept pretty quiet this last year and have watched as things started to come back together. I feel closer to each of you than I ever have before. My sermon today is titled “This Could be Our Day”. I come to you today with a challenge from my heart. Before I challenge you I want you to hear the song that sort of inspired this message.
~Insert Song Here~
I consider this song the Camp Horizon song. Because this is how I feel best describes my job as a counselor. And I am going to share with my first hand experience with this:
As a counselor at Horizon I have learned a lot about Youth Ministry and about myself. My first summer as a counselor I met a young lady named Jane. She was the first camper to really turn my world upside down. She was one of my campers during Performing Arts camp. A camp that I had become the dean of three days before it started, and had spent the whole weekend planning the whole thing from scratch. The first day I noticed that she didn’t want to sing with everyone else at Praise and Worship time and didn’t act like she wanted to be there. I pulled her aside to ask her what was going on and immediately she said “I don’t even believe in Jesus, I’m only here because my grandma made me come.” I felt the weight of the world fall on my shoulders and kind of panicked. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. We were taught how to bring someone to Christ but nowhere in my training were there instructions on what to do with a sixteen year old who was completely set on not believing in Christ. For the rest of that week my entire being was set to making her see Christ and come to understand that she needed a relationship with him. Even though all of my prayers and energy were focused on her finding the one thing that I have always known, there was no “happy” ending for that week at camp, until she returned the next summer much to my surprise. That summer I learned what it meant for something or someone to be more important to me than myself. I also learned what it felt like to really experience the Holy Spirit working in me. Looking back on that week, there is not much that I can remember, and what I do remember are things that don’t really seem like me. I spent more time in prayer that week than I had my entire life. I got closer to God than ever and it was an amazing place to be, which was good considering the next week I faced something that traumatized me for life. As a lifeguard for five years, I spent my last day of my first summer at Horizon back boarding a child who dove off of the diving board straight into the deck. I was mortified, and swore that I would never lifeguard again. But in the same way that the boy was fine and came back the next day ready to go again, eight months later I got back into the stand and am still a lifeguard. I know that God gave me the strength to make it through that experience and the strength to make it back into the stand.
My second summer at Horizon started off a little rough, I felt like the passion that I had discovered the summer before was gone and I didn’t know why I was still there. My school year had been really rough and I was so lost in my own life that I didn’t feel like I had a purpose for being there. I knew I needed a new “Jane” to give me a reason to be there. Her name is Sally, and she not only turned my world upside down but she stole my heart. From the first day of camp she latched herself to me. She is probably one of the sweetest little girls I have ever met. One day she decided to confide in me just how bad her home life was. When I asked her why she was at camp she said that her dad’s boss paid for the kids to go. She came with no money for the canteen and no Bible. She wanted nothing more than to learn everything we had to give her and she hated that she would have to leave at the end of the week. Some of my campers from the summer before liked to call me “mommy” and Sally said, “I wish you were my mommy.” At the age of twelve she had already discovered more of life’s hardships than I had ever dreamed of. She showed me the scars on her wrist from a time when she had tried to end her life, and that broke my heart. I didn’t know how to help her. I did not want her to go back to the home where the emotional abuse was going to continue until she was old enough to leave. When I offered her my phone number in case she ever needed anything she told me it would just make her mom mad. So I started trying to find a way to hide it where she would only know where it was. Then I realized she didn’t have a Bible. So I got one out of the staff house. I highlighted all of my favorite verses about strength and love, and wrote my number in the dictionary in the back under the word love. I was the first person to ever tell her that she was beautiful, and worth it, and it was the first time she heard the words “I Love You” and believed them. When it came time for her to go home, she gave me a hug in the morning and begged me not to talk to her when her mom got there, because her mom would be jealous of her having a relationship with someone other than herself. So I did as she asked, and also made sure that none of the pictures in the weekly slideshow were of her and me.
 Letting that little girl go was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I wanted to help her so badly that it hurt and all I could do was let her leave. So I prayed every single day for her for the rest of the summer and into the school year, hoping that she would find some strength and happiness. I prayed that I had given her the tools and words of wisdom and life that would carry her through all of the horrible times to come with a woman who hated her. One morning I woke to a text message that said, “Hey its Sally, do you remember me? I miss you...” I almost screamed. Of course I remembered her. From that day came early morning texting and a few times after school, she had memorized my phone number and was using a friend’s phone to talk to me while she was on the school bus.
In October I started to get an overwhelming weight on my chest with a feeling like something horrible was about to happen. It was a crushing feeling that I couldn’t completely understand, I knew God was telling me that something was going to happen and I needed to prepare my soul for this. It scared me, I prayed fervently that it wasn’t going to be any of my close family or friends that I was going to lose, and if so that He would give me the strength to make it through. Then on a Thursday morning Sally’s text came with no strength left. She said I need to tell you something but I’m afraid you will be mad at me. I told her that I could never be mad at her and asked her what was wrong. She said sorry, I have to go. I worried and prayed all day long, because I knew in my heart that the one thing she would think that I would be mad about was her ending her life. We had talked about it, and I told her at camp that there was nothing in this world worth ending your life for. I was so scared that she wasn’t going to get back on that bus the next morning, but she did and another text came. She told me that she couldn’t do it anymore, that it was too bad, and it wasn’t worth it, that she wasn’t worth it. I texted back as fast as I could trying to assure her that she was worth it and that I loved her even if her mom didn’t. But her strength was gone and she could not promise me that she was going to make it back on the bus on Monday morning. So I got out of bed and called my mom, crying. She told me that I had to make the call, I had to turn it in, and I was so scared because, if they didn’t do something drastic like take her out of the home, then her mom would just make it all worse. But I called the school and talked to the counselor and told her everything. Then a couple hours later I got phone call, from that beautiful little girl who was crying and just as scared as I was. She didn’t know what was going to happen to her, and didn’t want to get off the phone with me. They hospitalized her for a week, just a few days before her thirteenth birthday, and the counselor called me once to give me as much information as she could, because she knew how worried I was. The lines of communication between Sally and I were gone. She wasn’t allowed to ride the bus for awhile, and then when she did she didn’t text me much. Until the week of finals, she was staying at a friend’s house for the night (which was something she had never been allowed to do) and we started texting. I asked her if she was excited about Christmas, and she said she was, I was shocked. She then told me that her and her mom had been going to counseling ever since I had made that phone call. I had spent two months praying and worrying that I had made her life worse, and in the end I realized that God had put me in her life to save it, and her in mine to give the passion that I had been missing.
Through my two summers at Camp Horizon and a semester of texting Sally I realized that there was more to my calling that just youth. I have a huge passion for children of all ages, but my heart is easily ripped out when it comes to girls of the middle school age. I want nothing more than to tell them all that they are loved and that they don’t have to live up to the world’s standards. They are beautiful the way God made them, and they are Princesses, because their Father is the King of Kings, and should never settle for less than a Princess deserves when it comes to living in this world. I want every youth to know that there is always a way out that does not include ending your life. I know that the rest of the staff at Horizon back me up on this message as well. I have created a Bible study just for the girls with this message. And the guy counselors have created one for the boys that is designed to teach them how to be young men of God and how to be worthy of serving in God’s army!

 “This Could Be Our Day” – Addison Road
What we do here is just the beginning

New life is starting at every ending

We are a part of the story unfolding

This is the weight of the world we are holding

This could be our day

This could be our day (3rd& 4th time)



Clearly it's time to make a change

Or I could keep sitting and waste all day

I know that it's time for me to move

I've been given this minute to use

And given this moment to prove that



Chorus

I was holding back

Now I've come undone

I want to touch the world

Heal the broken ones

Ending the cycle has just begun

We've been given this minute to use

And given this life to prove

Chorus

To give ourselves away

For something beautiful

A million miles away

To the one who's hungry, and thirsty


And needs some hope

To the people that are weary and

Broken and left alone

I'm giving myself away

I'm giving myself away

My challenge to you today as a congregation is to find a child to sponsor for a week at summer camp. Help us make a difference and send us one kid, because this IS our day, our minute to use, and we really are holding the weight of the world; and it’s time to give ourselves away