searchin’ for prayer warriors

Next Monday I’ll be heading off to a Bible camp with one of the amazing girls I do inclusion with.  I think, though, that this is going to be a challenging week [especially emotionally] as I attempt to help integrate and involve her on a more personal level than she integrates and involves herself.

I want to see growth so, so much.  I want to grow by seeing her grow.

I put a call out on Twitter last night for people who will engage in prayer with me during the week next week, and to those of you who have responded I am so grateful and want to hug all of you.

You probably all know I don’t do these kinds of things often, so here’s what I’m requesting prayer for:

  • Spiritual growth and engagement; lessons that become tangible.
  • Health [for both of us!] and safety
  • Emotional preparedness — for the weeklong and perhaps intense journey that camp will be.  For the girlie, manageable homesickness if any.
  • Patience and compassion
  • Sleep.  Oh my goodness, sleep.
  • FUN

I’ve never done anything like this where I’m on-duty 24 hours a day for like five-and-a-half days.  I’m very stoked to see what God teaches me through this.  I feel really blessed by those of you who have already committed to be on my team of prayer warriors next week.

I love you all — thanks for joining me on this journey!

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whatever we go through i will follow You

now that i know i’ve finally found my home, this life is not my own, whatever we go through, i will follow You

You held me up and made me learn to love more than myself, You took my hand before i knew there was more than myself

myself — fireflight

Before I started inclusion at my church’s youth group, I have likely mentioned before, that I declined opportunity to apply for inclusion positions at many, many daycares this past summer.  This was for various reasons—such is life, you never know what you are getting into, until you are already in.  Not trusting myself to have adequate skills was another one.  When I was asked if I would want to try working with a sixteen-year-old at church, I handed it over to God, trusted Him that He was lining things up as He wanted . . . and said yes.

This began my experience in inclusion—working toward the full potential that just needs to be unleashed from the kids I volunteer with.  I feel that as I grow in this experience that started five months ago, and grow in Jesus (the two very much go hand in hand, as does my current field of study at school with kinesiology and developmental studies, which is something only God could plan!) that this definitely, definitely was not an accident.  I’m sure there was a lot of prayer involved that I did not know about, and I never would have dreamed when I said I would try, that it would lead to so much—so much adaptation, change in perspective, love.

I was recently asked by the parents of both of my girls I do inclusion with if we could arrange outside-of-youth hangouts or doing respite care for their families.  We are now ironing out details, and I am excited to go out and have some fun on my first outing with one of them next Thursday.

I have thought of it time after time, how happy I am to be in my church.  And in addition, how happy I am to be able to work one-on-one with the kids in a group setting but not be a small group leader.  How exciting it is that it has led to experiences such as those that have been transpired, how much I am growing, and how only God could have brought me here, how I am GROWING in Him.

There is nothing boring about being alive. 

Life throws out the unexpected.  Curveballs.  So what else to do but CATCH them and make the most of it!  LEARN, help others, LOVE and do your best to follow where God is leading!

living the revolution – youth retreat ‘10

It’s been nearly a week, and I’m still having a hard time gathering together everything that went down on this youth retreat from the perspective of a leader—a leader doing semi-one-on-one at that.  I think I experienced the youth retreat this past weekend bit differently than most.  Not in a way that was any better or worse, but just, different.  A good different, though.

I think there were times in all of it that I was really challenged.  That is a good thing.  There are things that happen and you realize “Wow, I am here for a reason.  This is where I am supposed to be.”  And they rock.  I think that was a biggie for me this past weekend.  Like, I have no words—God is just too faithful, too big, too awesome for me to have words!

I think what it is, is that I really struggled to find a church where I felt like I belonged.  Where people outside of the people I came with knew me.  Where I got to meet new people, pray with new people, and worship with new people . . . People who have huge love and passion for God that extends outside of the physical building that is church.  And then when the time was right, maybe bring new people into the mix once in awhile.  That is where I am now.  And that is something I realized in the midst of worship on Saturday.  “This is where I’m supposed to be” and that just felt so awesome.  It took me five years to finally found a church I love.  This is it.  It feels awesome.

The fact that I’m doing inclusion-ish stuff, like I’ve said before, is just crazy that God would put me in a place where I’m totally stepping out of my comfort-zone and needing to trust Him more in knowing that I will do okay.  And I really believe that is part of the reason He’s brought me here, too.

The girl I was hanging out with was awesome and a sweetheart most of the time, although she did have a bit of a rougher time at some points which is fine, that’s why I was there.  We clicked really quickly, and we had a lot of fun, even on Saturday night when she started having a rougher time because she got a bit homesick [the first night wasn’t a problem.  But this was the first time she’d been away from home for two nights before].  She and Brenda called her mom during worship, and then she and I headed back to the cabin to chill and take it easy.  [We were supposed to be going on a night hike to shout their declarations into some valley, and I kind of thought she wouldn’t dig the night hike part—I wasn’t gonna stop her, but I’m really glad we just hung out in the cabin together.  We had a really good talk, too.]

I finally got her to go to bed because she was totally zonked.  Her mom wanted us to call before she went to sleep, so we did that too.  [Actually, calling her mom was totally a good incentive to get her in bed.  “Okay, take your inhaler, get your pajamas on, go to the bathroom, and then we’ll call your mom.”  Worked like a charm, especially because her mom was coming earlier the next morning to get her.

So after she said goodnight to her household and her mom and I talked about how she was doing at the retreat, I asked her if she wanted to pray together before we went to bed.  And let me tell you, it just pumps me up when kids say yes to that!  So we prayed, talked a little bit longer until she started trailing off.  My favourite thing was that the last thing she said before falling asleep was “Jesus rules”, and then 30 seconds later she totally conked out.

At this point I really got to just sit and reflect on the weekend, and pray, and read my bible and stuff.  I had an hour and a half of downtime between then and when the other girls came back, so I spent a long time writing, read Ephesians and finally got in my sleeping bag and just about fell asleep when the other girls came back.  Oh well 🙂

To switch gears, food.  Remember how I like, take food everywhere because of my picky not-eating-meat-ness?  The food at this camp freaking rocked.  There was SO much of it, and pretty fruit plates on the table at every meal, and fresh bread!  It was yummy.  I was pumped when on Sunday morning when I said to Brenda and Elisa on the way to the dining hall “I hope we have cereal!” and I walked in to find a bunch of cereal on all the tables.  I don’t usually eat breakfast, but on Sunday morning I totally had half a muffin, Raisin Bran and fruit.  Epic.

All in all, despite the minor challenges, despite being eaten by a stick [oh yeah, my kiddo dragged me through the middle of the forest and killed herself laughing when I told her a stick tried to eat me.  It totally did.], despite the freezing-cold bus with no heat on the way back . . .

it was awesome.  And as much as the retreat was to challenge the kids to go deeper . . . it challenged me, too.  I think it challenged several of us leaders, too – engaged  us in the process of growing with the students.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

James 1:5-8

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

James 1:12

maybe its just me

So, I work at an after-school program a day or two a week.  It keeps me in coffee money and it’s fun.  My placement was for the program for kids in grade 3-5, which is definitely the age group I have more experience with, so I was stoked about being placed there when I got hired [the program runs at several different elementary/middle schools, so there were different positions].

In the grade 3-5 group, we basically have snack, play gym games for an hour and a half, some kids go in smaller groups with my coworker and do crafts, leaving my other coworker and I to do gym games.  It works well.  [Although, why someone decided I was good at doing gym games is a mystery to me.  Did somebody tell these people I’m a kinese student or what?]  A couple weeks ago, though, I was asked to work the Girls Club.

The Girls Club is an interesting thing, at least in my mind.  The only experience I really have with grade 6-8 girls is a) being one and b) youth group [which my main experience in is inclusion, but I mean, I did get to hang out with the grade six girls when we were talking about sex.  Meaning, I got to go pull them out of the bathroom when we leaders apparently said sex one too many times].  So, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.  I don’t seem to know the dynamics of grade 6-8 girls very well, or respond very well to them [at least not the first time].

Two weeks ago I was asked to work the Girls Club.  Sure, they need me, whatever.  Okay,  It went down way differently than I expected.  However, we had volunteers then.  Said volunteers attempted to run the program.  I mean, kudos on them, but that’s what we paid facilitators are for, that’s why we have planning e-mails and why I get there early.  I mean, I’ve done volunteer stuff before, and volunteering is cool and sucky in the way that you basically are a robot waiting for and completing instruction, and not going outside of your box.

So, the volunteers were taking over, I had no idea what was going on, and it was just pure chaos.  I honestly thought that was just the dynamic of the Girls Club, and was like “Whatever, they’re all hormonal and whatnot, that’s probably just how they are.”

I worked Girls Club again today.  I honestly thought it went much better [no volunteers anymore, and four paid facilitators], even though my coworker who basically runs the show primarily thought it was rough [I think she was just stressed after a long day].  Unfortunately, the library got snatched outta our hands so we ended up in the gym and just played gym games when were supposed to be discussing human rights [which is half of why I was there, that’s kinda my thing].

Which was chaotic.  I mean, I totally get that some of the girls didn’t wanna play dodgeball.  I mean, I wasn’t playing either even though the other three facilitators were.  But they were totally not getting that if they were not going to participate, they were going to sit quietly on the bleachers and talk quietly?  Finally I gave up and Bethany dragged them off the bleachers and made them play.

The other thing is, we get kids there who are hurt, or sick, or don’t have proper running shoes, or have lost a shoe [yes, true story yesterday, one of our kids lost one of his shoes.  His mom was not impressed.  I mean, the lead facilitator even went out and tried to find it with him, and they had no luck.  And I was the one who got to talk to his mom about the missing shoe.  Yep.]. 

The thing is, the program is optional.  It is free, it’s a government-sponsored school-division run program.  We’re there to help keep these kids off the streets between 3:30 and 5 because apparently according to my sociology prof, this is when kids are doing things like stealing things and having sex and vandalizing stuff, in their little hour and a half opportunity when their parents aren’t home.  But yeah, anyways, nobody has to be there, they are there because they want to be there.

Which is why it’s crazy frustrating when they don’t participate.  Yes, it’s a place to hang out with their friends and be safe.  Yes, it’s a place to have fun.  But you don’t have to go there to talk with your friends or have fun.  If you don’t participate once in awhile, hey, that’s cool.  Not everybody likes everything.  But if it’s game after game after game that you’re sitting out, then why are you even coming?  It’s not like our snacks are that great or that we do anything super-cool [usually].

I mean, I can’t even find a parachute in the equipment room.  Not even after two weeks when we found the light switch to the equipment room.

I’m totally not ragging on the program.  For most of these kids, they come, they have a blast, and they get excited when they see you in the hall on the day their program isn’t run and ask if they can come.  But the participation factor is something we really need to work on with them.

 

On another note about grade six to eight girls, I’m off to our Youth Retreat this weekend.  I get to hang out with the seventh grade girls and Elisa and Brenda, and I’m sort-of doing inclusion, but not as one-on-one as I do most Fridays. But semi-one-on-one.  Sweet.

The craziest thing about this one-on-one thing is, last summer when I was looking for jobs, I wasn’t applying for inclusion positions.  Because I didn’t think it’d be something I’d be good at, didn’t think I was capable of it.  So, like I mentioned before, when Ramona asked me to do it, I was like “God, You better know what You are doing here”.  Of course He knows what He’s doing.  I just gotta make myself remember that again, and I ave huge hopes that we have a blast this weekend living the revolution at the retreat!  It should be epic.

plaid, snow and healing hearts

We kicked tonight off with a change.  It started snowing before we started rocking.  Change–change set the theme.  Tonight was our monthly youth event—hundreds of junior and senior high students, four churches.  Lots of plaid—it and “country” was our theme, after all.  Lots of tears, hugs.  Lots and lots and LOTS of Jesus reaching in, healing.

I’m doing one-on-one with a super sweet girl this year for youth.  She’s awesome.  She’s quiet and just likes sitting back and soaking it all in.  She likes hugs and high-fives. 

I like watching how God works in people.  Sometimes, the girl I get to hang out with just totally comes alive from her usually quiet position.  One moment she’ll be standing, just listening, the next she’ll be clapping or dancing.  I’ll be acting like a goofball for Jesus, and she’ll look over and give me a smile when I least expect it.

I like seeing hearts change.  I like looking up to the front of the room and seeing arms wrapped around one another in hugs over what is being thrown at someone in life, and what God is doing to move in them.  I like looking around and seeing boxes of Kleenex at the ready, prepared for whatever God has in store.  I like seeing kids celebrating LIFE, celebrating JESUS, praying for each other in a way that is totally real.  I like seeing relationships build up.  I like surrender—I like seeing inner surrender to God outwardly—the tears, the hugs, the arms around each other’s shoulders . . . The group of students on the floor, in a circle around another student, praying during a song.  I like seeing hearts being healed in big ways that only God is responsible for.

I like leaders I don’t know grabbing me to participate in a high-five clapping-circle in the midst of a high energy song.  I like leaders who aren’t afraid to grab anybody to just go nuts with during a song, but completely transform when it’s time to do one-on-one prayer.  I like striving toward that.  I like groups of people clustering together during a song, unified, hands on each other’s shoulders and praying. 

I like love how real this place I’m finally at is.  This is not about pretending you are the person God wants you to be, it’s about growing and getting to be that person.

I say it time and time again, that thing about reason.  The why of the things happening around me, in me.  The reason Ramona asked “How do you feel about doing one-on-one with a tenth-grade girl who attends the junior high group?”  Inclusion is one of my favourite things, I just didn’t know if I’d be good at doing it.  I remember at the same time as I was saying yes, I was thinking “God, I hope You know what You’re doing”.  And of course He does, right?  Getting to hang out with this girl, though challenging at times, is totally a blessing.  It allows me to participate in worship on a different level.  It’s allowed me to adapt myself to trust that Yes, my God totally knows what He’s doing.  My God knows me, He knows what I am capable of before I know it myself. 

And it makes me hope that she sees Jesus in me in her own special way, as I do in her.  Makes me hope that I’m doing this thing right, in a way that’s tangible to her. 

My God, like her, is quiet but He comes to LIFE time and time again to surprise me . . .  And smile at me when I least expect it.