Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Joy. A three letter word packed with meaning.

You more than likely know that I am what you would call "Facebook crazy". For the past week I have been posting status messages on how much I am going to miss my friends, how I am happy yet sad at the same time ... you get the drift. My last status message went along the lines of, "This is the week of goodbyes". But then my youth pastor's wife commented on that, and it made me change my perspective on things. She encouraged me to reach out to others who are hurting and lift them up; that by helping others we forget our own worries. This is something I am going to try and work on this year. I mean really try. I want to reach out to new teens who come to our church, to make them feel welcome, and to let them know they have a friend. Not just when it's easy either. Many times before I have avoided going up to someone new and introduce myself because of how they look, or simply because I don't want to feel uncomfortable.

I can't do this myself though. If you noticed, the first letter in joy isn't O, but J. I am going to need Jesus' help and strength, as well as the Holy Spirit in my heart, in order to accomplish what I want to work at this year. If I try to befriend new people all by myself, that's all the person will see - me. I want them to see the Lord in my life and show what He has to offer. As I mentioned before, while on the mission trip the Lord gave me a "peace that passes all understanding". Right then and there I knew I wanted others to have that same feeling of complete joy.

My friends are definitely going to have to help me along too. And God has put so many wonderful people in my life, especially in the past year or two. Every once in a while I will need that little extra "push", and I know I can count on people to do that.

JOY - Jesus, Others, You

Monday, August 24, 2009

Glow in the Dark Teen Devo

"Living Lonely or Living Lovely"

I read this in my devotions this morning and it really spoke to me about some problems I'm having in my life right now. So I'd like to share it with all of you as well in hopes that it will be a blessing to you as it was for me.

"As busy as people are today, running and scurrying from place to place, it doesn't take long to realize that people, especially teens and younger adults, can have strong feelings of loneliness.

There is an assault on the 'nuclear home' today, whereas more children go to bed on any given night in America without having both of their birth parents in the house. Sometimes it is because of death, that enemy that stings and hurts so deeply. Another form of 'death' is divorce; and divorce rates are skyrocketing and, as a pastor who counsels, I know the toll and tragedy of these human-based dilemmas is often felt most by the children and teens that are tossed around like beach balls on the ocean.

May I remind you of something today? If you are or have been a victim of such hurt, there is still a God in Heaven Who loves you very much! He has promised in His Word that He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. Check Hebrews 13:5 and see for yourself! In the midst of your loneliness, the friendship and closeness of the Lord can become great loveliness. You are given the Holy Spirit of God, Who can help you make wise, godly choices so your future can be bright. The Lord Jesus is your best friend, and although you can't see Him visually, you can see Him clearly in the Scriptures, and you can be assured that He sees you, seeks you, and wants to help you in everything you do.

Go to Psalm 142 and read it, taking notice of verses 4 & 5. As God's child, you will someday GET IT ALL! The loneliness you feel can be replaced by the loveliness of meditating on Christ and feeding on His Word." ~ Read James 4:1-8

Author: David Hansen, Pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church, Roscommon, MI

Friday, August 21, 2009


Yep. You read that right - randomness. I haven't written something new here since the beginning of the month, and I know (from my own experience) that when someone's blog isn't updated for a while, you tend to lose interest and stop following it. I don't want that to happen. So I guess whatever comes along is what's going to be on here for today :)

There are a few things that have been on my mind lately, the biggest being my friends leaving for college. I said goodbye to so many people in the past week, people who are good friends of mine. It would be a different story if they were all going to Maranatha ... haha, just kidding! Seriously though, you name a state and my friend's going to be there. Beth left early Monday morning for PH in Virginia. Her mom works at the reception dest at our library. Mrs. Vehlow would always comment on Christian books or videos I checked out, asking if I liked that particular selection or saying what a great movie such-and-such was. Well, I didn't want to outright ask her if she was a Christian, so instead I wrote her a note with a verse at the end. She wrote one back saying she had her kids memorize that exact verse! Which is how I ended up meeting and becoming friends with Beth. We awkwardly emailed each other for a few months, then I ran into Mrs. Vehlow, Beth, and her younger sister Sarah at the library, which is where we first met in person. Since then we've gotten together for different events. I was also able to meet some of Beth's friends, who are some of the most awesome people ever! Being homeschooled and all makes it harder for me to make friends, which is why I'm so glad to have befriended the Apple Tree group (their homeschool group, at least for most of them). As all of you know I am a shy person. The Apple Tree-ers, well ... aren't. And yet they still welcomed me into their group, encouraging me to join in on games and other activities. I'll bet you that a third of my friends on Facebook are people I've met through Beth and her friends. I am going to miss her very much, but I also know that this is God's plan for her life.

Then there's Kay ... wow! There are just no words to describe her. She's everything a friend ought to be and more. I can't remember how many years ago it was when she and her mom first came to our church. We were having a meal after one of the services. Mrs. Miller was such a great person; I knew that even as we were first meeting each other. Then she introduced her daughter, Kay. I said something like, "Hi. My name's Sarah." She replied, "Hi." That was it - no smile, no I'm Kay, nice to meet you . Nothing. My first thought: This is never going to work. Goodness was I ever wrong! Kay started coming to youth group on Wednesday nights and to Sunday School on Sunday mornings. With our yg being so tiny you get to know everyone there in a matter of weeks. That's the way I got to know Kay better. Now we're really good friends and I miss her each time she's not at church. I wouldn't put her in the category of being shy, nor in the outgoing group. But she's amazing either way. She leaves for Hope in one week as of today. Her last Wednesday with us is next week. God is going to use her to bring glory to Him while at college.

The person I think I will miss most is my best friend Chelsea. I've only known her for a year and a half, yet I can go to her with anything and she's there for me. I've never had a friend with whom I could do that. I won't go into detail, but because of her dad's job the Behns had to move, and they moved out here from Wisconsin. When the family first started coming I wanted more than anything to talk to them, but once again my shyness held me back. After a few weeks I decided just to go up to Mrs. Behn and introduce myself. Actually, there was going to be a teen activity coming up and I wanted to see if Chelsea and Riley wanted to come. I didn't know their ages, but they looked like they were both still in high school. So I caught Mrs. Behn as she was headed out the door. After mentioning the activity she went and got Chelsea from their van - I didn't ask her to do that, mind you :) But it was great anyways because that's when I first talked to Chelsea. It was a bumpy road to friendship. One I would take all over again if it meant being where I am today. Because of some unexpected family problems now, I'm not sure whether Chelsea will still go to Northland this fall or attend a community college for a while. I feel badly, because I was always saying how much I was going to miss her going all the way to Northland and wished she could just stay here. Now I'd give anything to see her go where she wants to be right now. It's all in God's hands though.

Three moms, three friends, three people I will never forget. God had a reason for placing Beth, Kay, and Chels into my life. He is such a good God, knowing the right time for everything. He is going to take care of my friends, and for that reason alone I feel at peace with letting them go. Besides, they'll be back for breaks and such, and I myself will be at Maranatha next fall.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Memories that last forever ...

If you've never had a chance to go on a mission trip before I would highly recommend going on one. It will change your life forever. Mexico wasn't what I was expecting - it was far better.

Helping the Lathams meant more than just doing what they said. We were a mission TEAM - that involves teamwork. I got to know Joe, Becca, Mr. Webb, Chelsea, Jason, and Elizabeth more than I ever have before. I guess being with them for 9-10 days will do that. Mr. Webb, Joe and Becca were real leaders during the week, but especially the Bauwens. They pushed me to do things that were hard for me to do, and they knew that. It's what helped me grow and to focus more on others and less on myself. Chelsea and I became closer friends that week. We only get to see each other twice, maybe three times a week. Being in the same room for 9 days, doing projects together, eating, working together ... all this helped our friendship. Jason has always seemed like the serious type, but he has his funny side as well. Elizabeth grew in the Lord too. When we were younger we used to hang out all the time. I guess as we got older the age difference started playing a factor: she's 14, I'm almost 18. But we relied on each other at different times during the week. We were friends again.

I've never met people like I did while in Mexico. Even though only a few of the girls could speak broken English in our dorm room, they were still very friendly and made us feel welcome in their room. Claudia was a big help in translating for us. Others we met while helping in the VBS in Bosques and Arboledas. Most of the people knew we couldn't speak Spanish very well, yet they still offered their help. Many couldn't speak any English, so instead they pointed to something that needed to be done in order to ask us. So there was a language barrier of some sort, but that didn't stop us from communicating with the people. I got to know some of the adults, but more of the teens/college students. The whole time working at the VBSs I heard not one single complaint. It was hot; it was a lot of work; there were 40 kids one day, over 100 another day. But complaining wasn't in their vocabulary. They loved the Lord with all their heart, and wanted to show others how much they loved Him.

The children in these two towns broke my heart multiple times. We have so much here in America, yet they live with the bare esentials - most of the time even less. More than I could count came in to our VBS with no shoes on ... but with the biggest smiles on their face you could ask for. Some of the activities we had for them seemed so simple and boring to me. The kids loved every minute of them. Here in America I don't really "have a way" with younger kids. In Mexico, though, they seemed to be the ones who had all my attention. Since I wasn't really able to talk to many of them I wasn't able to give them a presentation of the gospel. I tried to show them through my actions instead of my words, like the other leaders in Mexico showed me.

Tears come to my eyes as I write this. I have only told this to Chelsea and a good lady friend of mine because it's something I have been ashamed of. Since last summer I have had doubts about my salvation, just tiny ones I let pass. But a few months before this trip I really started to worry about whether or not I was really saved. I could remember the time when I was 10 years old going up after one of Charlie Marshall's messages and asking the Lord into my heart, but to this day I have no idea what I said in that prayer. I didn't want to go through the rest of my life, or even on this mission trip, thinking I was saved only because everyone else thought I was. Just a week before our trip I told Chelsea about it and she said something I'll never forget. What kept me going through hard times, like when we almost lost our house? when my dad lost his job? when things were going so terribly wrong and I felt like no one was there or cared? I know it was my FAITH in GOD and nothing else. If not for Him, I wouldn't be the person I am right now. It takes faith in God to go through trials; it also takes faith in God to know you are saved. A missionary who came to our church a while ago also mentioned that it's not WHAT you said in your prayer, but if you really know what Jesus did for you and you believe that in your heart ... and I do!

God really worked in my heart in a way I've never felt Him work before, and it never would have happened if I had decided not to go on this trip. I was all worried about the different food, about being homesick, about it being so far away ... all these small things that seemed so insignificant to me. My good friends Tammy, Kenzie, and Joanna helped me through this, and I am thankful for them. Kind of without knowing it, Joe and Becca helped me to want to go as well by encouraging us all along the way. The money seemed like it would never come, yet God blessed above and beyond what we needed. With the never ending paperwork we had to fill out... God had a plan for each of us and I now know it was His will for us to be in Mexico. After being there for a mere 10 days, I have a burden for missions more than ever now. Before I think I wanted to be a missionary just to travel; to get away from my home life. Now that has nothing to do with it. Missions isn't about selfishness, it's about selfLESSness- about others. I want to share this peace that only the Lord Jesus Christ could ever fill in my heart to others who may have never heard the good news.

Our flight was canceled Saturday morning and the earliest we could get another flight home was Monday morning. I was absolutely devistated. I wanted to go home more than ever, and that day just seemed to drag. God had a plan though, and made Sunday the best day of the whole trip. In the morning service I got to play the piano (good thing I know my numbers en Espanol!). Then I was able to give a short testimony to the congregation while Mr. Latham translated. That afternoon we just hung out at the Lathams with Obed( in the group picture all the way towards the left) and Manuel(picture on the right) and played a different version of "Uno". Neither of them could speak English, but we still managed to have tons of fun. Sunday night I sat next to Miss Alonso and she translated the service into English for me so I could get something out of it :) Gracias! After the service we headed out to view the whole city of Monterrey. Beautiful! I can't put it into words, you just have to had been there. All the rest of the night we stayed up with 12 year old Manuel and tried to figure out what he was saying, and he us. So much fun! Something I would have hated missing out on, and I wish Becca and Chelsea could have been there with us.

This trip has taught me about God's everlasting love and peace. Even though so far away from home, He still worked in our hearts. Now that I'm home I feel a longing to go back to Mexico. If I could choose a second home, it would be Mexico. There are so many memories that will last forever, and I know I'll see my friends there again someday, if not here in Heaven.

And there's always Facebook and MSN!!!! If you want to see all my pictures (all 664!), you can click on the following album links.

Dios te bendiga!! God bless you!!