i know that i've talked about Young Life many times on here. it's because YL has been a part of my life for a long time. once i experienced it in high school at windy gap in the summer of 1994 i knew i wanted to be a part of this ministry for the rest of my life. and i have had the opportunity to do just that for the past 17 years.
in high school i got involved my junior year after this trip to windy gap. i saw YL as a great opportunity to grow in my faith and reach out to my friends. i got to go to frontier in colorado with a cabin full of girls that i still call friends today. i was loved by a leader who is still my friend.
in college it took me a few years to become a leader. after spending a month on summer staff in 1999 i knew i had to lead and become a part of a community like the one i experienced for that month. later that year i met with the area director in cabarrus county and by january i was signed up to lead at northwest cabarrus. i remember that first club vividly as they introduced me as the new leader. i remember the girls i met first as they squealed with excitement to be at club. i remember the group of leaders that i got to become friends with. i spent 2 1/2 more years leading in cabarrus county. and i knew i wanted to go on staff with YL after college. i'm still friends with one of those squealing girls and another girl that we had campaigners at her house often. they both had a heart for their friends. now they are both married. it's fun to get to see them still. i'm still friends with the area director i met with all those years ago and a handful of the leaders i was fortunate to lead beside. those were some of my favorite years. i think in college i was a great leader. :)
"my girls" from Northwest Cabarrus @ Windy Gap
in 2002 i went on staff with YL in louisiana where i spent 2 years leading either solo or with 1 or 2 other leaders. our clubs weren't huge in numbers, but they were fun. we had a couple guys playing music and some pretty faithful kids that made it all worth it. those 2 years were a time of growing and stretching for me. i met one of my closest friends, laura, who i spent a lot of time with exploring the city of new orleans and talking about God, life and ministry. i also lived with a couple amazing families who loved me like their own and totally believed in what i was doing. ministry was hard, but i made some pretty amazing friends along the way and I know God was at work. i also met my husband as i "moonlighted" at Outback Steakhouse. he started out as my "movie star crush" and eventually became my husband. after my two years in louisiana, i moved back to Charlotte.
me and Adam at the STC carnival
2 of my girls in LA...Lauren and Maribeth
my soul sista, Laura
i took some time off from YL staff and a break from leading for a year. in 2005 a friend asked me to go to frontier with a group of girls from myers park. you did not have to twist my arm. after a year of leading at MP i went back on staff with YL and became a leader at Country Day. for a girl who grew up on the "other side of the tracks" and graduated from West Charlotte, leading at Country Day was a new and surprising experience. i loved every bit of it. i discovered leading at a private school was unique and we needed to make some programatic adjustments. but high school kids are the same everywhere. so, the core of the ministry...building relationships with high school kids and telling them about Jesus...was the same, sometimes it just looked different. in the past 5+ years i have had the amazing opportunity to get to know many high school kids and become friends with some great girls who i hope to know for many years to come. God has given me the opportunity to share my life with them in unique ways. i've gotten to know siblings and parents too. i feel like i was totally embraced by them. i'm sure they weren't crazy about their kids hanging out with the leader with a nose ring, but i think they knew my heart.
about 6 weeks ago i began feeling God doing something in my heart in regards to YL. let's be honest, the past year or so has been tough, but kid ministry for me has been wonderful and unique as i've walked through cancer and being laid-off. my summer with kids was incredible as i began to let them into what was going on. i got to experience God's grace and love along the way. and at the end of the day, i love high school kids. love them. but i was feeling overwhelmed and lonely with YL. i was trying to blame other things, but i think God was calling me away from leading YL. and i resisted. i wanted to prove i could lead YL as a volunteer and with cancer. adam helped me see just how prideful and sinful this was. i struggled for a few weeks as i figured things out. then through a conversation with my own YL leader and pastor, God made it clear it was time for me to step down. i was hoping he'd make it easy on me, like if i didn't like high school kids anymore. but he didn't. he did however, give me the greatest peace ever. it was clear what i needed to do and when i made the decision i had tremendous peace.
adam and i have a lot going on. duh. and it's important for us to pour our energy into our marriage, family and community. we needed our schedule to be freed up to pursue time with each other and friends. and already we've been able to do that. i also still get to be in high school girls' lives. i'm having lunch with a handful of senior girls every other week and will still hang out with the girls from camp and lead the junior girls' bible study on monday mornings. i also still stay in touch with the girls who've graduated and are now freshmen and sophomores at school. i am so thankful to still get to do what i think God called me to do originally...love high school girls and share my life with them. it's what Jesus did (not strictly with high school girls, obviously). YL is just a tool, a great one.
our cabin from frontier 2009
ccds group at frontier this summer
i am looking forward to this new season for us. to have more time for each other. to have the freedom to go to the school when i can. to keep pursuing the established relationships i have with girls. to build friendships with the girls who are now in college. and to pray for what God is continuing to do (without me. surprise) at Country Day.