Today, as so many things are changing I am clinging to the truth that God makes all things new and makes beautiful things out of nothing. It is the 16th of September. My man left to begin his journey to become a Marine yesterday. Two hours ago he swore in and will be standing in the hallowed yellow footprints tonight as so many great men before him have. I am so proud that he chose to fight for his country and our freedom and the freedom of many others around the world. I am deeply sad to be with out him but I know and trust that this is what he has been called to do so I cannot be sad with out being selfish. Pray for him with me? Another journey begins here for myself as well. I have moved back to Corpus Christi, a pseudo home town for me, which is weird because never in a million years did I see myself being back here again. This town is not a bad town but my idea of moving forward was not moving back to Corpus. It was clear that God called me back to Texas for so many reasons and I will not fight it even though I miss my New York City dearly and my church and my friends that I left there. I'm thinking a trip back is very soon in order. The reason I'm back in this town is to fulfill a position in a church as the Family Ministry Coordinator. Again, weird for so many reasons. I have been involved in ministry to high school students for so many years now through our beloved Young Life. But, Young Life is not a church. It is filled with leaders and committees and staff people to build a community among. YL has had a well oiled machine of a system for deep, meaningful ministry to those that are lost and hurting. And now my challenge is to take what the Lord has taught me inside Young Life and figure out what that means for ministry inside the church and I get to start from pretty much scratch. You may ask what the difference between YL and church youth ministry is and I would be glad to tell you if you wanted to read a novel. But you don't so...a few key points. YL does not have a building where kids of parents who know Christ come and bring them to my door step. YL happens on high school campuses and game fields and in restaurants and coffee shops. The kids we go after want nothing to do with Jesus or have no clue who he even is. It's pretty fun. Let me tell you a bit of my history so that all this makes a bit more sense. What I knew of Jesus in high school was what my YL leaders taught me. I did not grow up familiar with a church in my small town. Youth pastors didn't know me or come meet me or want anything to do with me if I came to them. So for me for a long time I had a sinful view of church youth ministry. I thought there was no place for someone who didn't have it all together or didn't have 36 verses memorized and have a bible with a cool cover with a fish or a cross. I was interested in Jesus but I felt that the church wasn't interested in me. But Jesus was. In my walk with the Lord in the last 8 years since high school he has shown me His church, not man's. He has shown me its worthy of love and trust because its really his and we sinful human beings just facilitate. He has shown me what it means to see people, all people inside the church just as Christ sees me and that is as a sinner saved by grace. I am a continual work in progress and so were the "church people" that hurt me. It was so incredibly unfair for me to assume that all churches and youth pastors are the same. You know what the say about assuming... This also taught me that Christian's flaws are NOT God's flaws. Just because someone siting in a church pew is rude or judgmental how could that possibly mean that God is?! I cannot imagine what my life with the Lord would be without my Sunday mornings in church or the sinners I worship along side. Back to youth ministry. In undergrad I was pursuing my minor in Christian theology and the only class that fit in my schedule was ironically a class all about youth ministry for the church. Picture me gagging and kicking and screaming all at the same time. I was HOT that that was the only class available because at this point my glasses were still foggy to what the Lord was doing in church youth ministry. I thought, "what the heck am I going to do sitting in a classroom filled with a bunch of graphic tee and ripped jean wearing, goatee trimmed faces of a bunch of men who sat happily on their butts at church waiting for kids to fall in their laps and kicking the messy ones right back out? This is the worst. There is nothing here for me." God, forgive me of those sins of judgement and COMPLETE ignorance. While at first there were many heated debates about what ministry is and should be, what it should look like, how it should be executed who should be sought after etc., what I found to remain at the end was group of people loving Jesus and trying to figure out how to share that with as many youth as possible. My perception of them was clearly wrong. (only a few of them even wore graphic tees) Their hearts were for the Lord and for kids. How could we be any more similar? We simply have a different call. My heart turned towards Christ in regards to church youth ministry in that classroom. I was intrigued by the thought I could be that youth person that changed what I assumed was truth about all youth pastors. I could take the outreach/relational ministry forms I have grown to love and know would make the heart of the Lord happy and put them to work to make church a place where sinners can come and be with Jesus. Where kids who don't have it all together can come and experience real, authentic community and not feel like outsiders. This is my passion and my heart, that all who want to know the Lord can. And those that don't know the Lord could come and taste and see that He is good. I'm sure that this new journey will be filled with face palms and face plants and trying not to sink but I'm sure God will teach me to swim. So, brothers and sisters, I IMPLORE you to pray for me as I walk with the Lord and ask kids to walk along side us. I sure as heck will need it. This will be quite the ride. You can look forward to my embarrassing stories.
***sidenote- this post is two days delayed. I began writing Monday but did not finish until now. So my man and I have been officially on our journeys now for 3 days.