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, January 23, 2015

1st Year of Marriage: What I Have Learned Each Month

I keep thinking of things that I am learning and feeling in my first year of marriage and I have decided to write them down each month. So this blog will continually be edited. I don't know if other married couples months are like these too, but this is what we have experienced, well at least from my point of view. This is life being shared constantly with another person. They say the first year is the hardest but they also say you're honeymooners....hmmm that's confusing, well so is this first year of all things new and together.

1st Month: November 22 - December 21

  • This is a complete and total whirlwind
  • The honeymoon isn't long enough, the real world begins again
  • In a lot of ways it doesn't feel too different from engaged life
  • Family holidays are exhausting. They are when you're single too, but trying to remember who your spouse already knows and who he doesn't and then there is the juggling of schedules to get all of the different traditions included and experienced.
  • It is really, really hard to go to work, because that means you have leave your spouse, and that's just not fair. There should a 6 week marital leave just like maternity leave. It would be incredible and helpful. Ok maybe 6 weeks of only having to work part time....
  • There should be a handbook out there on how to change your name and what order to do it in, and then a checklist for every possible place you need to change your name. (I'm still not sure I got them all).
We took this picture on our Honeymoon, but it is a good portrayal of month one. There was a lot of hand holding.



2nd Month: December 22 - January 21
  • This apartment really is too small.
  • You start to notice all the little things that are annoying that the bliss of engagement and the wedding covered up. 
  • Emotions, oh my goodness the emotions. 
  • Oh look more holidays....and you have to work... :( 
  • Because of the emotions....am I pregnant...no definitely not, but it sure would explain this...nope I'm just emotional again!
  • Date night....just about as sacred as the Sabbath, at least for our marriage.
  • I think we need lives....we have friends right? We should probably see them, but I don't want to share you, even though you're driving me nuts....
  • It's your turn to take the dog out....please....please.....fine I'll do it...
  • Can we go back to the honeymoon? It was so much easier.
  • So we're broke until Friday....because of those receipts that I keep telling you are important to give me....
  • I love you, I really do.....stupid emotions, are making me crazy.
  • Whew we survived month 2. 
This is a picture from our first Christmas in our apartment. Ranger wouldn't hold still so this was the best we could do, without him having demon eyes.


3rd Month: January 22 - February 21

This month was so, so much better. There were way less emotions and more time spent enjoying each other's company. There was more hand holding and cuddling. I think Ranger even noticed the difference because he sure was cuddly too. We had our first married Valentine's during this time, and we decided to celebrate this year. I got Adam a thin blue line ring, he loves it and wears it every day. It is really pretty, if I do say so myself. Adam got me a hoodie that says, "World's Best Youth Pastor" that's so sweet! Way better than flowers and definitely better than not celebrating at all. Adam also made dinner that night, yummy steaks. We have decided to give up going out to eat for lent, so that will be interesting. Adam was sick a couple times this month but he seems to be on the mend now. We celebrated our three months of marriage by going to the Humane Society to meet the dog that God laid on my heart. I sure hope Ranger is ready for a sister because month number 4 of marriage is bringing a new dog into our lives!

This is a Dragon Fish, I bought him for Adam. He sure has made our fish tank more lively

This is the most recent picture of Ranger. He posed for this picture. If you can't tell I'm kind of obsessed with my dog, but don't take a lot of pictures with my husband!


4th Month - February 22 - March 21
I actually forgot to write the 4th month post so now I'm having to remember back to this point. Let's see, we did not get the 2nd dog. I was heartbroken for like a whole week. I really felt like we were supposed to get her and then she wanted nothing to do with Ranger and it was really sad. But now I'm glad his puppy eyes are the only ones that cut me deep, he's so stinking cute! We went on a Mission Trip to Little Rock, Arkansas with some of the youth during this time. It was a good break from our normal routine. We've also made plans to move and have started packing. And Adam really, really hates his job, which is painful for both of us. My parents came up to see us and Adam made steak. It was a good time together.

This picture was from State Boys Basketball. We lost but it was a fun game.


Look I actually took pictures of my husband!!! These are all from the Mission Trip
In the above picture he is holding something like $250,000 in cash at the Arkansas State Capitol building.

The above picture here he is playing at the really cool Science Museum in Little Rock, That part was about pulleys and how they work.

In this picture we were working at a Habitat for Humanity site, clearing out the fence line and painting. He is working hard with those clippers.

I actually failed on this mission trip to take any pictures with me in them, but I  took all three of these pics so I was there lol.


5th Month - March 22 - April 21
Well we arrived home safely from the mission trip. Adam put in his 3 week notice at work. I turned 26. We moved into our new house. We've had a lot of company, now that we have space to have them. It has been fun. Adam is now home every night, that is taking some getting used to. He started a new job at the Hillsboro Co-op and he really seems to be loving it. I got to do some Prom hair which was fun. We had a new cousin born on my Dad's side of the family, and Adam and I now have our first nephew from his side of the family. I feel like this month was a whole lot of life changing, but it has all been for the good. Oh yeah, Easter was in there too. If you can't tell these posts are less about actual marriage and more about our life, the newness is wearing off and now its just us doing life together each day! :)

In this picture I am holding Delaney, my newest cousin. Her birthday is really close to mine!

This is the picture of the cousins at Easter in Blackwell. My friend Dana is to my right, her husband was traveling so she came with me since mine was asleep. Actually in this picture I am on the phone with Adam.

This is Zack, he is one of my youth and he came to church in his tux the morning after Prom. I was impressed so he made it into the blog, he also skipped school the day we moved and helped us the whole day. He is kind of awesome.

This is our nephew Logan Ryan Utt! Isn't he perfect? I'm so happy to be an aunt. I have been a friend aunt for quite awhile but I've been looking forward to being an aunt for a long time! Welcome to the world Logan! :)



Well it is currently August 5th and I haven't updated anything since April. So here is to going back and trying to remember.



6th Month April 22-May 21
April 27th -


If that wasn't enough for a whole month of marriage....

We celebrated Mother's Day by telling our parents we are expecting. This will be grandbaby #2 for Adam's parents and #1 for mine.

video


video

Needless to say they were both surprised and very excited. 

Ranger told the world about the baby


My first group of students graduated. That was pretty emotional for me. I have a relatively small group and 5 of them graduated all at once. I am super proud of them and excited to see what all they do in the future.

We finished up all things school related and all of our Wednesday night programs officially ended. So our life slowed down.... or so it seemed.



Month 7: May 22-June 21

This month started off very emotional. We thought we were having a miscarriage and then we were blessed with a beautiful heartbeat. You can read through that weekend in these blog posts. Might Be a Miscarriage and Heartbeat

I definitely struggled through feeling nauseous all the time, and my energy was very low until week two or three of the second trimester.

We had VBS at the church.

It was science themed. It actually wasn't horrible. :P

I drove kids to and from Middle School Camp but didn't stay for the week.

And somewhere in there my parents spent a lot of time with us working on our house. They said it was their vacation....now I understand why I don't fully understand that word! :P But seriously they're the best. 


Month 8 June 22- July 21
Well I started this month by taking an awesome group of youngins to Day Camp at Horizon. They're so cute. I didn't realize just how much a  group of girls around age 6 could talk but I promise they can all the way there and all the way home.

Jessica and Paige helped me take the kids to Day Camp!


Adam worked his first Harvest it actually started earlier than this but this is where I'm going to put it. Wheat harvest clothing made me incredibly nauseous. I would get the washer ready for him and he had to put his own clothes in it because it was way too much to  actually do it myself. There were a few nights when he would get home and his skin was almost black from all the dust. Gross!!! But the paycheck was nice. And it was nice to see my husband actually enjoying his job even if he was beyond exhausted.

Father's Day

Adam was working Harvest so we had to celebrate without him.


Family Reunion on my Mom's Side

Adam was working Harvest. But Nicole got to come!


We brought Autumn home to live with us during this time.

We even squeezed in a short day vacation!


Autumn and I went to camp for Performing Arts Camp Week. She was an Assistant Counselor for Junior High and I had to do PAC without Adam this year. Sad day. But it all went well. I was so exhausted that I crashed at my parent's house before driving home.

PAC 2015


Then Autumn and I went to the Kansas Christian Ashram in Sterling. This was a totally new experience but we loved it. Autumn finally let God in and let go of a lot of the hurt from her life. It was magical. We were once again beyond exhausted but we drove home for our 24 hour turn around before High School Camp

Adam and Ranger had to spend a lot of quality time together because us girls were gone a lot.

Ranger had his first birthday. I can't believe how fast that went. I know its only going to be worse with this baby.

Ranger & Chloe eating their Birthday cake! Ranger is in the back eating his cake off the floor.


Month 9: July 22 - August 21

High School Camp was an incredible week.

Followed by the Mann Family Reunion. That was awesome too

Adam and Autumn got to join us at the Reunion

I have a cousin who is due in November. Look at those baby bumps!!


We had a Norwex party and got a whole lot of free stuff! 

Mom and Dad came back up twice to do more work.

Gender Sono didn't reveal the gender but we did get to see our little one move around a lot which made this momma cry.


And we are officially caught up...for now.

This blog post is supposed to be more about what I have learned about marriage and myself and my husband than necessarily what has kept us busy.

But busy has be overwhelming us and it seems like the rest is all just running together. But I do have to say that the Adam and I have grown together in remarkable ways since April. Before April I often found myself wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into when I said I do. But I can't imagine doing the past few months with anyone else. He takes care of me, reminds me how to laugh, and holds me through the insane emotions of change and pregnancy. He talks to the baby (which is super cute) and it seems as if we actually notice each other these days. We aren't just going through the emotions. We may have fast tracked this marriage but God knew what he was doing. We are growing together! :)
These are the most recent pics  of Adam and I! They're from the reunion, I just love those smiles, they're so real now!!! :)


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Before They Leave the Nest

Today I find myself in an emotional state. I'm tired because I didn't sleep well last night and I started my morning off grumpy and frustrated. I knew that something had to change when my Pastor asked how I was this morning. I can't spend today biting people's heads off. So I went to Bible Study. A group of our women meet every Wednesday morning and I have never met with them. I have never felt like I had the time to spare on my craziest day of the week. Now I realize how stupid I was being. I didn't feel like I had time for fellowship and study of the Bible? What kind of youth pastor am I?

Well it hit me really hard during this study time, and it has been on my heart for awhile, but it is starting to get really heavy. I have five seniors graduating this semester. I have just a few weeks left with them before they leave the nest. I can only imagine how parents feel during this time, I'm just their youth pastor and I'm already emotional at the thought of them being gone. But more than them no longer being in my ministry, what is it that they need from me before they leave the nest.

I had a plan figured out for this semester and then the closer we got to today the more I knew that wasn't what I wanted to teach. Just like a pastor giving a sermon each week, that is how my teaching time is on Wednesday nights. I've been here for three years, and this is my first batch of kids leaving the nest. And now I'm wondering, have I really done my job? Do they get it? Are they ready? Because ready or not this is the last semester.

Have they discovered a life defining faith?

Are they ready to be in a world where they have to make all of their own decisions and accept the consequences for these decisions?

What is their faith life going to be like? What is their faith life like?

But as I take a deep breath and push the tears away I know, that I have to give this fear to God. And then open myself  to whatever it is he wants me to give them before they go.

Honestly though I should feel this kind of weight every week. Because this may be the last semester with these boys but God's timing is not ours and I have no idea if tonight might be the last night I have a kid in my group. God could take them home, they could move, or they quit coming. I should treat every night like its the last one. Planning their lessons and time should not just be something on my to do list. These kids are the church and their time here is important. This is a life or death situation.

If I really love these kids this much then they need to move to the top of my priority list. If they aren't at the top of mine the who is putting them at the top?

My job is to show them Christ, and help them cultivate a relationship with Him. A rock solid relationship that can stand up to the storms of life, and then I have to remember they have the choice rather or not to live this way. My call in life is to do all of this before they leave the nest, whenever that may be.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Beauty

I am a huge fan of The Biggest Loser, and I really love the current season. I just watched the most recent episode which is the Makeover week and the transformations are incredible. Seriously they all look amazing. Then one of the female contestants, who is 39 years old, said, "for the first time in my life I feel beautiful." This immediately brought tears to my eyes. This show makes me tear up a lot but this was different.

There stood a 39 year old woman admitting that she has NEVER felt beautiful in her life before. The girl in me that has always struggled with her weight understands this. But the youth pastor in me is screaming out beauty isn't about your weight. It is so much deeper than that.

Beauty come from God. Beauty does not come from a good work out and a healthy diet. That is weight loss and fitness. Beauty comes from God. We were all made beautiful from the very beginning. When God created the world He stepped back and looked at the end of each day and said that creation is good, this was especially true when He got to humans. Humanity is God's most favored creation.

David recognized this in the Psalms when he stated, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." - Psalm 139:14 Now David was described as a good looking man, but he did not have a good looking life. He spent a large portion of his life running away from a King he had once called family, who had a fiery vengeance for him. David had an incredible faith in God that fueled him through those dark days. It was that faith that helped him understand his true identity and worth in this life.

Body image is something most people struggle with. Of course I would love to be a few sizes smaller and look like I did in high school, but one thing I have learned in life, and constantly have to remind myself is that what I see in the mirror does not reflect who I am on the inside. My body is a vessel for the soul that was created in the image of God. Yes, my body is a temple and should be treated as such. But a temple is just a building without God. It was the glory of God's presence in the Temple that made it so magnificent. The tabernacle in the wilderness was just as beautiful when God sat upon the Mercy Seat.

When God dwells within your heart He radiates through you and beauty abounds from those rays. Your physicality never, NEVER affects your beauty. We have all been created in God's image, and when we chose to live in that image people can't help but notice the beauty. Beauty comes from God not from the gym.


Monday, January 5, 2015

Proud Youth Pastor

I have a feeling that being a proud youth pastor feels some what like being a proud parent. My life really does revolve around these young people. Thankfully I have a husband who understands and supports this vocation of mine. Even when I am not at work I am often thinking about work and what can be done to make things better. It is easy to get bogged down when you're in ministry and it is easy to only see what is wrong with the things you put together. Well this last weekend I was blessed to go on a small trip with some of my youth.

The OneEvent is an annual event the Great Plains Conference hosts for the youth 6th-12th grade in Kansas and Nebraska. This year it was in Grand Island, Nebraska. I, along with two other adults took seven youth. We had one sixth grader, three seventh graders, one eighth grader, one ninth grader, & one senior. Talk about a mixture of youth, four girls and three boys. When you take a mixture like this anywhere, there can be complications of people not fitting in with each other and people being left out. It actually turned out to be a good combination and we had a pretty good trip.

A blurry group picture!

This was our trip home! :)


I really, really enjoyed watching them all step out of their shells and worship God with their peers, make new friends, meet up with old friends, and interact with each other.

I also had two other youth working the event. They are members of the Conference Council of Youth Ministry. This is made up of 2 youth representatives from each district in the conference and they are the ones who helped plan this event and worked it.

These two sophomore boys were everywhere. They were making sure the game room ran smoothly, the sound and tech was working properly and then running the camera during the main stage events. This was where I became very proud. These two boys gave up half of their Christmas break to work on this event, along with countless hours throughout the year in planning meetings.


We have some amazingly talented youth in this church, and sadly the church often doesn't see it. They come in with new ideas and dreams, and there are some members of the church that drag their feet and don't really want to give them the chance to try it out. The youth running the above camera often runs our church sound system and at the first sight of something not running right people throw a fit and don't want him to do it anymore, because he is 15 and might break it. The truth is, he is better on that sound system than anyone else. He is good enough with technology to be put on the tech team at an event for a couple thousand people. At the conference level he is respected as a leader and they let him mess up and keep trying. There is a reason this kid ran the sound system at my wedding.

If our youth are responsible enough, talented enough, and driven enough to do something like this on a big stage in front of a thousand of their peers, why do we even question it here at home, in our little church.

Now, not all youth are cut from this kind of passionate cloth, but each of the young people that were with us this weekend have the potential for leadership. As a youth pastor it is my job to cultivate that leadership and help them discern where God is calling them to use it in their lives. I just wish everyone else would get on board and quit fighting it. We have so much passion and potential in our midst, and their still stuck on why they don't see them on Sunday morning. God doesn't just happen on Sundays, church doesn't just happen on Sundays, and it doesn't just happen within our doors. 

It is time for our congregation to get on board and stop being fearful of how things might change because we back our youth up and let them get their feet wet in the world of Christian Leadership. Our youth learned this weekend how to be fearless in their walk with Christ. I think my job this coming year to be more vocal on their behalf. It is time for some change around here, and it is time to stop being fearful of the unknown. These are our kids, this is their church, they are the church, not the future of it. It is time we give it to them and let them run with it.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Look Back at 2014

It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone. They say the older you get the fast time goes and I would most definitely attest to that. I think this was the fastest year yet.

January
Our Youth teamed up with the UMW ladies and put together emergency response bags for the Hesston Childcare Center



The first annual OneEvent, was at the beginning of the month. This was an awesome event for the youth of our conference, and one of my own was on stage speaking to a thousand of his peers.




You can't help but love some quality Quinn time!







Autumn and I got together to exchange Christmas gifts and hang out. We always have a blast together.



February

Valentine's Day Concert: Lady Antebellum








I think we were getting ready for a date, since we didn't spend Valentine's together! He is a goof ball.







My little brother graduated from the Sheriff academy, I can't use a picture of him so here is a picture of Adam and I waiting to watch him walk across the stage!

In February we also celebrated my mother's birthday and Grandma Marjorie's birthday.


March

Some more sister time, we were at IHOP. Not sure sugar was a good idea for us, but it was delicious!






Adam and I spent some time out at Camp Horizon, visiting the place where we met back in 2008.



This was a date night to Olive Garden, He wouldn't take a normal picture.




I love playing make believe with Miss Elizabeth! 





We celebrated my grandparents' 50th Wedding Anniversary!




March also brought Adam asking my parents for my hand in marriage and my 25th birthday. 




April
We took a church work group to Camp Horizon to do some work. We had a blast!







The Youth Council Members lead a Sunrise Service



Kailie and I matched on Easter Sunday

Easter beauties!






Great Grandma Skelton's birthday!





May

Happy Mother's Day Mom!






Our end of the year Youth Party came with a surprise!





Adam put a ring on my finger in front of all of the youth, he coordinated it so well.








Sister time at Spangles






We're dorks!






June



Jessica and I survived our first 3rd & 4th grade VBS





Annual Conference was in here somewhere! And I tried on Wedding Dresses and picked one out online. And I think we failed at Father's Day. We also had the DIP family reunion at Horizon. June was really busy.




We took engagement pictures at Camp Horizon











Middle School Camp at Horizon 







You never know what you are going to find at Walmart!





July

Mission Day Camp at Hesston UMC










My 7th Performing Arts Camp and Adam's 4th










High School Camp with Autumn


I got a new hat!




August

Mann Family Reunion at Camp Horizon






Adam's Grandma Beth's Birthday Party





I gave a sermon at Hesston UMC, and my family came to support me, so I got some pics with Zack, my Grandma, and Nicole 









Parkinson's 5K in Manhattan with Nicole and Sarah Jane, we dressed up as the PowerPuff Girls





Ninja Turtle Movie Date





Adam and I got a new puppy, Ranger.


He was so little









Quinn turned Three!!!








September

Ranger and I went to visit my family. He loves going to both sets of his grandparents.








We celebrated Adam's 24th birthday by going to Tanganyka Wildlife Park.










Adam busted his foot playing soccer with the youth. He was in a boot for a few weeks.







October

We had two wedding showers, one in Hesston and one in Arkansas City. We are so blessed!





We took a family photo with our growing boy.




We also celebrated Dad's 50th birthday and Trunk 'n Treat, and all things Halloween.



November
Bachelorette Party!!! We got pedicures, lunch at Fazolis, played cosmic mini golf, hung out in the hotel room, dinner at Old Chicago's, and then a lingerie party in the hotel room. It was perfect.










The Wedding of my Dreams!











We honeymooned in the Kansas City area.



While we were gone I made my third Lock's of Love donation, this time in the honor of my best friend's mother LaDonna!





Thanksgiving with the Mann family





December
Church Christmas Program







Ugly Sweater Christmas Party with the Youth







Our First Family Christmas


We spent Christmas Eve with Adam's family, Nicole also spent Christmas with us!





Christmas Day at Grandma Sharon's








Christmas with my family


One of my favorite gifts from my mother.

Ranger and Thunder met for the first time





Christmas with Grandma Jo





We are ready for an awesome 2015.

Ranger sure is growing like a weed, its hard to believe how small he was and how big he will become.

Here he is ready for a new year!



He keeps us on our toes and makes sure we are active! I just love being a puppy mom! :) 

Thanks for being a part of our 2014.

Happy New Year from the Utt's