Aside from my family, my two greatest joys in life have been my time teaching first grade and my many years working in youth ministry. I love to help, teach and play...I also like to be someone's biggest fan!!! In the last few weeks I have had the honor of seeing some of "my" girls grow up! Now, this is nothing new folks. I am old...I have kids from youth group who are married with school aged children! I won't mention how old my favorite youth leader is...but I will say she is still a stronghold in my life (love ya Mary!!)! I hope I can be the same for many years to come, or for as long as they will put up with me :)
I started helping in youth group at Davisville in September of 1989; our last Tuesday at Bible Fellowship's youth group was in June of 2006. That is a long time to do anything!! In that crazy but wonderful 17 years I went to more retreats than I can count, enough missions trips to know how to pack for one in less than an hour, so many concerts I am probably legally deaf and more school plays/dance recitals/jr. high lacrosse games/etc. than any one person should be subjected to. I've eaten a lot of pizza, spent a lot of money on ice cream and water ice, sang at the top of my lungs, rolled down huge hills, ice skated without skates, jumped off cliffs, torched stuffed animals, eaten unidentifiable food products, and played bombardment enough to go pro (too bad I stink at it). I've seen the inside of many ERs (spent one retreat at the hospital more than the actual retreat), a psych ward, a pregnancy center and a few random doctors offices. I've seen the sadness and devastation of divorce, suicide, teen pregnancy, rape, abuse, loss of parents and sickness. I've watched the elation of new siblings, parents remarrying, getting into the school of choice, first jobs, first kisses, winning THE game and the ultimate joy...a student accepting Christ.
That's a lot of "stuff" but none of it is really that important now, well none of it but that last one. That's why I did it...I wanted students to know the love of God like I did. I wanted them to know that someone created them just the way HE wanted and loves them for every fault and every gift. I wanted them to know that living for HIM is not easy, but it's worth it. I wanted them to know that I was one of their biggest fans...because sometimes when you're a teenager, you just need someone to be there...cheering!
Those joys in these last few weeks have been over bridal showers, decisions about first jobs, choices about missions and news of weddings and babies. It's such a deep, deep honor to continue to be included in so many of their lives. I love to see them working out their salvation, serving their Heavenly Father and glorifying HIM with thier lives. My heart is overflowing...thank you Lord for each one of them!!