Monday, June 3, 2013

Become a Part of Something Bigger Than You

Become A Part of Something Bigger Than You

5 years ago, in an effort to get better connected at my church, I began volunteering with youth groups (Thank you Sloan and Lauren!).  While it has been a time commitment, there are few things I have done that have been more rewarding.  Parents know what I am talking about – one friend always tells me “parenting is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done" and I think working with fantastic kiddos falls in that purview.

The greatest opportunity I’ve gotten with them was the pilgrimage to Belize in 2011.  It was time away from life’s daily distractions and an amazing way in which to get to know such fantastic teenagers in a different setting.  I learned a ton from them and my hope is we all learned from each other.  A fellow group leader reminded them of the following at their recent senior dinner/ college send-off and I believe is helpful advice for us all:  If God is in it, then you’ll have no limit…  to what you can do or where you can go! (Thanks Gene!)  Below is my letter to them at end of our time together this spring.  Gene suggested it might make a great blog so I’m sharing (and appreciate he has read my blogs ;-)!  There just are not words to empahasize what an investment - worth every second - these kiddos are worth.  I am so blessed to have been a part of their lives thus far and can't wait to see how their lives unfold!  Such a gift God has given me!! 

Dear Life Group Seniors,

It’s hard to believe we met when you were in 8th grade – just becoming teenagers.  And now you are becoming adults; about to head out into the world and see what you can learn on your own.  Here are a few things we learned on our pilgrimage in Belize that I hope continue to serve and guide you as they do me.

Namaste was the theme from our journey so that we remember “the divine in me salutes the divine in you”.  Seeing a person for who they really are inside; honoring the light God places in people’s hearts that makes them unique; and acknowledging it within you.  The next few years will be a time for you to explore and challenge your beliefs – what you really think on your own.  Let it grow and change but always be grounded in the love God and your home & church families have for you.

Remember the white feather Ordinary found in the Land of Normal that made him believe the Dream Giver had visited him.  God has a dream for you and has placed it in your heart – it is special and unique to you.  Dare to dream and live your life as God has dreamed for you.  Be bold and try things that scare you.  Only the person that never tries truly fails. I like how Winston Churchill says it: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Community – we all talked about how blessed we were to have such a special group that gives us a safe community to know and experience God’s love for us through so many others.  A “thin place between heaven and earth” is where you feel God’s presence; I learned that it is not geographically based but rather it is where you feel that sense of community.  Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

On the last day, JPA challenged us to think about our relationship with God as a living God.  God is alive, working and growing in us every day.  It is a much more rewarding and fulfilling relationship when you give it life.  It can guide you and give you purpose.  At your age (and to this day), this was one of my favorite verses that helped direct me on how to live God’s plan.  Philippians 2:14-16a “In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights, holding out to them the Word of Life.”  Just by being your best you, true to yourself, and the amazing, bright shining, fantastically awesome people I have gotten to know over the last 5 years, you will shine!

Thank you for being part of the foundation for me in building my community with Christ Church – I couldn’t have done it without you and it certainly wouldn’t have been as much fun to establish!  You always have me in your corner and I look forward to seeing how your life continues to unfold.

With much love and affection – Namaste!