Tag Archives: youth group

“we have to go back! we didn’t take pictures of us stuffing our faces!”

so this is an update on the second week, but i didn’t actually spend it at camp tecumseh. instead, i got to be a counselor at edge 2014, which is a middle school summer camp in chattanooga, tennessee. myself, matt, and the other leaders from new life got to go with all the middle schoolers that we’ve been leading for the past year or more. plus, some of the incoming sixth graders joined us! let’s just say it was the best ever.

it was a bit of a shorter week, which meant that after i left camp t on saturday of week 1, i got a whole day to rest before shipping off with matt, jami, jessy, and the kids.  it’s a nine hour drive to chattanooga, so we had plenty of time to sing songs, play the alphabet game, sleep (the kids, not the drivers), and just generally be hyper. it was fantastic and tiring and wonderful. the frozen soundtrack was on repeat, naturally.

edge 2014 took place at covenant college, which rests atop lookout mountain. it was the first time i’d ever been on a mountain, and it was absolutely stunning. like, every evening was a painting. just really gorgeous stuff. when we woke up in the mornings, we couldn’t even see the city below, because it would be covered with a layer of clouds. sunsets and sunrises were absolutely beautiful. and there was so much color all the time. it was the best place to spend a week of camp.

we only spent monday evening through friday morning there, but each of the days was jam packed with stuff to do. on tuesday, our first full day, we had a water extravaganza. you kind of had to be there, but i’ll try to explain. there were watermelons to fight over, pyramids of death to climb (and inevitably fall from, as they were covered in tarps soaked with a copious amount of baby oil), and giant slip-and-slides to race down, all filmed by a flying camera drone (yep). totally awesome. on thursday we drove down to georgia to spend the afternoon at white water, a six flags park. most of my time was spent in the wave pool with some of the guys, playing games involving the inner tubes. most revolved around capsizing each other and claiming victory, only to be taken down a minute later. it was a fantastic day. we also took a couple of hours that week to explore chattanooga, which is a beautiful place. those times were some of my favorites, because we got to just hang out with all the kids, talking and laughing and continuing to build relationships with them, which is what we’ve been doing for the past couple years.

each evening there was a large group meeting, where we’d jam to some music, sing worship songs, and listen as the speaker for the week, jay, opened God’s word for us. he focused on the life of jacob in the old testament, and how the theme of God’s blessing can be found throughout his life. the Spirit really spoke through jay. he talked about how we often seek to earn God’s blessing, when by definition a blessing is something given as a gift. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate blessing we have been given. there’s nothing we can do to earn it. a beautiful truth (the gospel truth, in fact), and one that i need to be reminded of daily.

one of the things i most appreciated was that the staff of edge 2014 really took the spiritual well-being of the counselors seriously. every morning before breakfast they had set aside time for us to spend in the word by ourselves, and every evening before the main session there was a leaders’ meeting, where the camp director gave a short message from the word to encourage and fill us. i always came away feeling blessed.

so camp was awesome. there are certainly more things i could say, but i’ll conclude it with this: i am so blown away that the Lord has blessed me and the other leaders with the opportunity to lead and learn with the youth at new life. there are hardly words to describe how blessed i feel to know them, to lead them, and to learn from them. God is so, so good. i am so thankful to have spent a week with everyone, and i’m psyched to be back in muncie after the summer finishes up!

 

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“psych! i’m actually mafia and i just gatling-gunned all of you.”

just got back from new life’s middle school retreat, and it was the best ever.

matt and i lead the guys’ middle school study on wednesdays, so most of the boys who came were ones that i’ve been getting to know over the course of the year, but there were a couple that i only get to see once in a while, so it was really great to catch up with them. plus there was a new guy who decided to join after only visiting new life last sunday! it was so cool; he was the perfect addition to our group and all the guys really liked him. we had a total blast together.

we did a ton of stuff. lots of games and times of hanging out. we played a lot of body body, which is a live-action version of mafia. have you ever been sneaking around in a pitch-black, slightly unfamiliar house, hoping that no one slips silently behind you and whispers “you’re dead”? it’s creepy. and lots of fun. it was a blast.

saturday we went outside to play in the snow.

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it was rather cold. we were actually out on a frozen lake (it was safe… there had been a hockey team practicing on it the other day) and some of the guys found some cattails that were on the edge of the frozen shore. naturally, they soon figured out how to make them the most obnoxious weapon ever invented.

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we also spent a ton of time playing polish pool, a classic from last year’s retreat. we had a tournament and sydney, a newcomer to the game, swept it (to the chagrin of all the boys, who grudgingly presented her with the championship trophy). Whenever there was a free minute, it was a guarantee that you’d hear the guys downstairs, hooting and hollering around the pool table.

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adam’s parents, the fantastic jaque and steve, hosted us. jaque’s reputation as a fabulous cook may or may not have convinced some of the kids to come. meals were my favorite because everyone eats together and laughs and tells stories and just gets to know each other. it was also the place where we heard the most “thank you!”s. but no surprises there. one of the boys snagged my camera to take an instagram of sorts.

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a stuff-your-face-for-the-camera picture is standard for pretty much all youth events, i’ve learned. no shame.

stark, the youth group baby, made a couple of appearances as well. he’s everyone’s favorite. this guy is, no joke, probably the cutest baby i’ve ever met. he is always smiling and laughing, he’s adorable, and he recoils after kissing my beard as if he just licked a lemon.

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like the high school retreat, our theme verse for this weekend was ephesians 4:1, in which paul encourages the people of ephesus to “live in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”. we talked about how our first calling is to believe the gospel, and how when we are rooted in the love of God, it should affect how we interact with other believers and non-believers. we had some great discussion and it was, as usual, really encouraging.

this group of kids is just awesome. it’s been such a privilege to be able to work with them the entire year.

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it’s hard to describe just how cool it is to see how the guys i help lead are growing in their faith. i’ve seen the changes in their lives, the way they take their faith seriously, the way some of them are recognizing sin in their lives and seeking to pursue God more closely. it’s encouraging and convicting and inspiring and fills me with awe for how God interacts so intimately with each and every one of His children.

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the more time the Lord allows me to spend walking with kids as they pursue Him and grow in understanding of what that means and what it looks like, the more He affirms that this is something it seems i will be doing long-term. i don’t presume to know what God’s will is, but i hope i will always have the chance to lead and learn with kids about God’s grace and how His gospel will never not be essential to every moment of every day.

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“is it really just a coincidence that we’re struck with such apocalyptic snow mere weeks after frozen became such a hit? is it?!”

there are so many awesome things that are happening right now.

i’m in my final semester as an undergrad. that’s insane. and i’m not taking any classes, i’m just at practicum, which is kind of like the social work equivalent of student teaching. since i want to do counseling with kids, i’ve been placed at a local elementary school, longfellow, under the school counselor, leslie.

it’s been incredible so far. i’m learning a lot, and it’s been a privilege to get to know the students and faculty. it was pretty clear from the first week that all the teachers and staff really love these kids. leslie knows the names and seemingly the stories of each student, and it’s obvious that they love her. plus, even though i’m sure it’s annoying having to explain things to the new guy (who will only be there for a few months), i’ve felt nothing but welcomed and appreciated since i arrived.

while it’s been an odd schedule so far (i’m supposed to be there from 8-3 every day, but we’ve had so many cancelations and delays from the snow that i only have about half my hours right now), it’s been a change to get into a new routine, which has been really refreshing. i get up early, get ready for the day, and have some time with Jesus before I leave. most days i have other commitments upon my return, but i usually manage to get to sleep around 10 or so. i feel oddly grown up.

i’m also getting a taste of what it looks like to be a school counselor, at least in an elementary school. it’s exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. this could legitimately be what i’m doing in the future. like near future. like way sooner than i would have thought possible.

to be honest, i’m not sure what kinds of updates i’ll be posting this semester. clearly i haven’t made it  priority so far, but there were many reasons for that. mostly i was wanting to settle in and get my rhythm. in considering the benefits of including relaxation in the midst of a busy schedule, i’d like to post once a week, or more if time allows. so we’ll see.

so what else has been going on? list time!

1.) youth group stuff. so much fun. with each passing week, i am praising God all the more for the blessings that come with helping to lead such an incredible group. i’ve been growing closer with matt, adam, jessy, and jami. just a few nights ago we got together to eat dinner and play games. just the five of us. and it was the best. matt and i are loving the direction that the middle school guys are taking. we’re leading them through the hand illustration developed by the navigators that teaches about five different aspects of being in the word. then we plan on studying 1 peter together. the guys have shown such growth over the year, and both matt and i have been humbled and excited to watch God work.

2.) okay so maybe i got way too excited at the thought of a list. because that’s kind of it with the main things. but i have been continually blessed by the guys i live with. God has provided a lot of time lately for me to spend individually with many of them, and it’s been really awesome. such a testament to the power of blessing of fellowship in the body of Christ.

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so. there’s that. looking forward to a more consistent blogging schedule, and hopefully a full week of practicum!

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“your beard connects all the way to your hair!”

life is in full swing here at ball state (it has been for the past month, actually), and it’s been way too long since i’ve posted. is it weird that one of the main reasons i’ve waited so long was because i got a new camera and just hadn’t taken a whole lot of pictures yet? it’s hard to get out of the camp mindset. i never had to warn anyone that i loved taking pictures of life… it was kind of just a natural thing there.

in actuality, the main reason i haven’t been on is that this year has been a big adjustment. there are lots of new things this year, awesome things, but things that take some getting used to. but they’re all awesome. seriously.

i live in a house this year with five of the coolest guys i know—dan, austin, sam, drew, and tom. they love Jesus, they love fellowship, and they take responsibility and accountability and the pursuit of God seriously. it’s the best.

we celebrated tom’s birthday recently with applebee’s, cake, and monty python. last sunday we had our first official monthly house meal. austin, sam, and i grilled up some steaks and made some mashed potatoes and corn. it was delicious, and we got to take some time to just talk about life and encourage each other.

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last saturday drew organized a time of prayer in the morning. we got together, praised God for all He had provided, and prayed for each other and our ministries. these are the kinds of things that constantly remind me how blessed i am to live with these guys.

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even though i’m not at camp, God’s provided tons of opportunity for me to hang out with and minister to kids. i’m leading my church’s middle school boys’ bible study with matt, who i know but have never spent a whole lot of time with before, and i can already tell that it’s going to be awesome. we’re studying the book of jonah, and the guys are all really invested in legitimately growing in their relationships with Jesus, which is just super encouraging. plus, leading with matt is a total blessing—his honesty and insight are both encouraging and humbling. i’m so excited for what the year holds!

i’m also involved in two other ministries: kids hope and college mentors. both are things i’ve done before, and God’s given me the time to invest in both. through kids hope, i meet with a second-grader named isaiah. he’s the best… talkative, hilarious, and really sweet. last friday we spent his lunchtime taking funny pictures and talking about books we both like to read. he asked if next week i could try to get some pop rocks, which he’s never tried before.

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we haven’t had our first activity day for college mentors yet, but our buddy family rocks and i got to meet henry (not my buddy but one of the guys in our family for the year) on tuesday, so i’m super excited. my guy’s name is malakai, and he wants to be either a police officer or a target worker. so he’s obviously the best, even if i haven’t met him yet.

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other things are awesome. like action group and learning to make food instead of buying it at woodworth and seeing camp people everywhere! we made hobo dinners and i can always count on running into a fellow camp crazy, usually while we’re wearing our respective unit shirts. not mad about it.

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life is good, God is great, and there’s a lot more ahead this year. i’m excited to share it with you!

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“i was going to make a joke, but i forgot the last funny thing we talked about.”

this weekend has been the best ever.

on friday, the new life youth group had a spectacular event:

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and it was a huge hit. we had a variety of interesting and peculiar utensils. we started out by guessing who had brought which utensil, and then moved into a guess-the-name-and-use game for a few particularly curious ones that adam had brought.

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then we got to nominate each utensil for a certain award category.

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i am proud to say that i received awards for both the largest and oldest utensil. props go to my roommate dan, who let me borrow it. stark obviously wishes it was his.

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after that, we sat down for a spaghetti dinner. there was only one stipulation: we had to use the utensil we brought. the results were brilliant.

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and after that it was so gorgeous outside that we just had to play some ultimate.

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it was a blast. then i had to go back home and write a seventeen page paper before midnight, but it worked out pretty well. the next morning ben and i got up for the college mentors walk for kids. last year it was rainy and hardly anyone showed up, but this year the weather was great and we had an awesome turnout! even better, chaise, one of my guys, was there!

we spent the walk talking about life, music, and four wheelers. we made fun of each other for liking star trek and legos, and freaked out every time we had to pass this creepy dollhouse in the middle of the woods. not a joke. it was waaaay more fun than i had anticipated. chaise is such a great guy, and it’s been awesome to become better friends this year.

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i went right from the walk back to becca’s apartment to meet up with my family, who had driven up for mom’s birthday weekend! it’s always such precious time when all of us are together. we don’t even have to be doing anything to have fun. we ate lunch at becca’s apartment, and then the women went to a baby shower while dad and i crashed in the suite to watch breaking bad, which is our new show (we weren’t sure we’d find something to compare to 24 or lost, but so far it’s been a really engaging show).

that night we went to texas roadhouse for dinner, and then headed back to mom and dad’s apartment to hang out. the syracuse/michigan game was on (we were rooting for the orange!) and i managed to get a little bit of homework done. i was dead tired when i got back to the suite, and fell asleep in an instant.

this morning chris, my family, and i went to new life for sunday school and to hear kyle preach. sunday school was great (more on that later), kyle brought a great message about the implications of Christ’s resurrection on our daily lives, and it was really special to be at a church i love so much with people that i love so much. and tonight i have youth group, so the fun’s not even over!

i don’t deserve this kind of awesome life. God is so good.

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