Monthly Archives: March 2016

Moments (SB16)

Before life gets away from me (read – I get busy with third trimester and spending time with people in Houston), I wanted to share some of the memorable moments from my Spring Break.

  • The trek (breakout session) I led at the Seattle QuakeZone went so well.  Getting to listen to teens talk and ask questions about justice is pretty great.
  • Speaking of the event, it was the last YE event that I attended! Crazy to realize, but got to have some great times with the other staff/volunteers/band/alum of YE throughout the weekend1918554_10153400331496766_791146496353427813_n
  • Also, as a morning person, on Sunday of the event, I was up too early, but got to catch a brief sunrise.  (Brief because its the northwest and was cloudy/rainy almost always). So it was extra striking to get the glimpse of sun before the day started.
  • Portland, Oregon is beautiful. I LOVED getting to spend time there with Annie & Alex, and the waterfalls…. I could have just stayed there – if I had the appropriate rain gear.
  • Surprisingly good prayer time while doing a labyrinth at the Grotto with Annie. Thought/prayed a lot about the future, direction, learning from the past and trusting God.
  • While waiting in the Portland airport, there were some kids playing together – one girl and two other sisters.  The individual girl thought her plane was boarding so she left, then ran back to say goodbye and give hugs.  Her plane was not boarding, so she ran back and the three giggled and continued running around.
  • Reunions are good, and kept happening throughout my break.  Including one where my co-workers drove with me to meet up with the Cooleys in Wisconsin. Good food, better catching up and sharing life with these awesome people.  IMG_20160318_212029469
  • In all four states – WA, OR, MN & TX – I had awesome opportunities to experience hospitality as friends opened up their houses to me and bought me meals.  A joy to spend time with them – and to try local foods! (food trucks, pho & VooDoo donuts)

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  • Sunday – time to catch up with the team in Houston and relax before jumping back into the full Mission Year life!

Small Joys

Earlier this week I was talking to somebody about how it can be tough for me to recognize the small steps forward (for myself & others), the little victories, the tiny moments that make you pause or smile.  I want those to be more obvious, but I just don’t notice any of them… or at least don’t give them much weight.

And yet, as I sit here for a FMF, I realize that I can look back on this week and notice several of them.

  • The routines in the morning and evening with different housemates
  • Sharing stories and snacks with one of the other teacher aides at my service site
  • Having a student ask a question and then give me a high-five (even if he stopped paying attention right after I left his desk)
  • One of my city directors taking time to sit and chat over dinner about how I had been processing life this past week, and wondering with me about the future.
  • A Houston gathering at the end  of 2nd trimester that was simply about speaking real truth into each other’s lives.
  • Getting authentic Mexican food for lunch with my awesome co-workers.

All of this in one week. Maybe it doesn’t mean much, but maybe it could.  So the challenge to myself, and to anybody who wants to take it, is to notice the small “goodness-es” in life.


See the beauty around us

Take time to show appreciation

Go out of your way for somebody

Give thanks

Relax and  enjoy being


Last week I heard the news.  “After 51 years of successful and fruitful ministry, Youth Encounter is shutting down operations and closing its doors”

I told my housemates here in Houston.  They expressed concern and asked how I felt about the news.  And a week later, I’m still not sure of my response.

In eighth grade I went to a weekend retreat.  Having recently moved, it gave me a chance to actually feel like I could connect with my group.  That weekend reminded me that church/Christianity could be fun.  And there was a group there that weekend called Captive Free.

My senior year I attended that same retreat as a student leader for my youth group.  A “junior guide” they called me at the event.  Still great.  This group called Captive Free (new people, same name) was there.  College-aged people who liked to make music and hang out with teens.  One of them, Beckie, led some breakouts for the junior guides, and told me I should consider doing Captive Free.

College happened.  Honestly, I had forgotten about Captive Free… and maybe couldn’t have recalled that those volunteers were even connected with something bigger called Youth Encounter.  But God had plans.  As I prepared to graduate college, Youth Encounter, and the idea of volunteering with them, came back into my world.

Year 1 – I met five, four people who became my teammates, learned how to do music and youth ministry together, traveled in a 15 passenger van, spent three months in East Africa, had our lives changed by an accident (and by the people we met), did 7 weeks of VBS

Year 2 – God called me to a second year, 3 new teammates, several new states, new joys and pains, 3 months in Taiwan and the Philippines, amazing people and cultures, 8 weeks of VBS

Year 3 – Doors opened for me to move to Minnesota with a few YE alumni, start working in the Youth Encounter office, learn the ups and downs of “adult life” with amazing co-workers and  housemates

Year 4 – Feel more comfortable in my YE job, the joys and pains of volunteers and staff coming and going, admin-ed a couple events, returned to an alumni VBS team

Until hearing about the end, I hadn’t thought about how I had spent FOUR years with Youth Encounter.  The same amount of time I had spent in high school.  And how some of the volunteers and staff I  had possibly spent more time with than my actual family over those four years.

Despite how much I’ve written, it’s only a glimpse of what Youth Encounter has been and how it has helped me grow.  Many have spoken (better than I could) about the loss of ministry with Youth Encounter closing.  But in all of this, there is so much joy being shared.  I know that each person connected with Youth Encounter has been, and will continue to share what they have learned with all around them.

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Thank you to my teammates, fellow alumni, YE staff and co-workers, housemates, host homes and volunteers. God has equipped us, and calls us to continue to go.