Monday, December 8, 2014

Going Back In Time

My favorite memory of junior high/high school is hands down my church youth group.  We went through a lot together.  Sharing stories about struggles we were facing, losing a friend to suicide when most of us were just 12 years old, family trials or losses, I'd say my youth group was close.  At least, I felt that it was.  And beyond that, I felt a close bond with nearly all of the youth leaders that were present in my life during those turbulent teen years.

To this day, I still think about many of my friends from youth group, and even more so, the leaders that listened to me whine about whatever drama I had going on, and gave good counsel.  I often wonder where certain couples are today that had a huge impact on my adolescent life.  Most are now on Facebook and while we don't interact constantly, it's good to know how they are doing.  There was one couple in particular, though, that I have always thought about, wondered about, and longed to reconnect with.  To the point that I stalk Facebook from time to time looking for them!  I'll even look at other youth leaders, stalk their friends list and see if they are there.  It's bad.  I have a problem, I know.  :-)

Several weeks ago, I got to be a part of something that turned out to be an incredible blessing to me.  I wasn't doubting for a moment that I wouldn't be blessed, but it was one of those "blessed beyond comprehension" type of moments for me.  And God is always doing stuff like that for me.  And not just for me.  Do you realize if you live a life with eyes wide open, you'll begin to see that he does stuff like this for you too?  After a while, you get used to recognizing these blessings and just think, 'Man God is SO good!"

Not realizing God was grooming me to take a leap into leading a middle school youth group, I began planning a reunion with a friend - we decided to do it with our old youth group and see what happened.  It didn't start out as a reunion--it started out as a fun get together that would maybe bring in a little income for me to make after the four hour drive there.  It very quickly escalated and morphed into a reunion and no opportunity to make money!  But the rewards were so much greater than any amount of money I could have made that weekend.  Well...if I had made a million dollars, perhaps that would have be comparable...but that was never going to it's irrelevant.

In the process of planning all of this, God began to shift my heart.  Our preacher had asked us to seriously consider starting a youth, several months ago.  I said no.  We were too busy, we have four kids that are going in a billion different directions, and I had no interest AT ALL in LEADING.  Being a youth leader who just helped out?  Yeah, I would consider that.  But to be the one in charge?  Absolutely not.  No way.  Not going to happen.  And it isn't like I told God no.  I just told Tony no.  I think God took that as me saying no to him anyway and said, "Ha...we'll see about that..."

And then God did what he does.  Where my heart was closed off to being in charge of a youth group, at the Switchfoot concert two months ago, God placed a heavy burden on my heart for the youth, specifically my kids' friends, and I felt God say, "I want you to do this."  I knew with certainty that God was calling me to tell Tony yes.  I was ready to take on something of that magnitude and try to lead and organize.

All the while, not connecting the two, I'm planning this youth group reunion.  There were pictures posted and memories written on the Facebook page, and it struck me just how much of an impact my youth group had on my life.  But until last weekend, I didn't see that God was connecting his calling with this reunion I had been planning, as if to solidify in my heart that this was something he was guiding me in.

All of that aside, the reunion took place in late October and while it wasn't the most organized event ever (because let's face it-that's not my area of expertise), it was such a blessing.  There were about 10-15 of us, adults and...older adults...alike and we chatted for about an hour, then the sweet woman who used to lead our youth choirs led worship and for me personally, that was a huge blessing!  Music, as most of you know, is very close to my heart and to go back in time to her singing mixed with all that God has done in my heart - it was immensely powerful.

I got to reunite with old friends, my old youth minister and his wife who always held a special place in my heart; and to top it all off, that couple I mentioned before that I never could reconnect with was at church that Sunday morning.  So it was such a blessing to my heart to be able to see them again!  Oh it was so good for my heart!

And here we are, early in December and Kris and I are actively planning the beginning of a middle school youth group.  It will be middle and high school, but I believe most of our high school kids at church are actually graduating in May, and then we'll have a large age gap, with out oldest ones being in 8th grade.  It's scary and exciting and I know that God is going to use us.  I want to help teach these kids that their stories matter and that living in the light with one another is a healthy way to deal with the trials of this life.  I want to provide a safe haven for these kids who are growing up in a world that is so different than what I grew up in.  The trials and struggles these kids are facing at such young ages astound me at times.  The conversations I have with my oldest about her friends and the things they wrestle's a lot.  It's heavy.  And these kids need a place that feels safe to them.  I pray that we can provide that for them and that God uses my kids and the other kids already established in our church, as well as all of the leaders, to bring light to the darkness most of these kids are growing up in.

1 comment:

  1. Jamie that is AWESOME!!!!!!!! I'll be praying for you and Kris as God lays you guys on my heart....... now pass the tissues :)