About Impact

Thursday, July 31, 2008

End of Summer Struggle

I just finished looking at pictures and reading the updates from our Mexic08 team. I accidently got a little carried away on one of my comments but it is a subject that has come up every summer I've worked with students. We use to call it "I don't want to go home" syndrome when I was working at camp.

About the morning of the fifth day of a week long camp or mission trip, you start to hear students talking about how they don't want to go home. For some it is the fact they don't want to leave the friends they only see at camp. For some it is the fact that life at home is hard. For many it is that they don't know what to do with the changes God is doing in their lives.

I remember being the same way when I was younger. I was at a high school week of camp and I said to one of my family leaders that I didn't want to go home. His response has stuck with me. I wrote it in my journal and refer back to it almost every summer.
"You know sometimes I think that is exactly what Satan loves to hear. It is easy to live for Christ when you are at camp, at a youth conference, or anywhere you are surrounded by people who are following Christ. But if we were to all stay here, who will tell others about Jesus? Who will share with those at home what we love about this place?"
It is easier to live your life centered on Christ when you are surrounded by people who are doing that same. It is even easier when your whole day focuses on studying, learning, worshiping, serving and breathing Jesus. That is exactly what happens at camp and on mission trips. The reality is that you are changed after a week long experience like that and the home you are returning to might not have changed at all. I think that is the root of the problem.

For the past few years, I've been intentional about helping students understand that and prepare to face the return home. I don't know how helpful these have been for others but some of them have been very helpful to me.
  1. Journal about the changes God is doing in your life, especially any commitments you've made, and refer back to it through out the school year. It can be easy to slide back into the old you and forget about commitments you have made.
  2. Find some accountability. Yea it is a big word but really all it means is find someone who is willing to walk the journey with you. Someone who can lift you up and encourage you when you get down. Someone who can push you when you start to lose your focus.
  3. Continue to surround yourself with people who are walking the same direction. I've had a significant number of students who tell me they don't go to church or attend youth group during the school year. The journey was not intended to walked alone. I've tried it. Doesn't work! Plug into a church family where you can be refueled and serve together.
  4. Don't stop your quiet times once camp/the mission trip is over. Even if you've never done a quiet time outside of one of these settings, continue the discipline when you get home. Will it be hard? Probably. Set a realistic goal for yourself, ones that stretch you but are attainable. Set aside the specific time in you schedule just like you do at these events. Be patient with yourself.
Like I said, I don't know if any of that will help you but it gives you a starting point. Allow God to continue to change you. Those changes might just be what he uses to change the people and the environment you return home to at the end of the week.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Uncertainty

Earlier this evening I got a little frustrated with myself. After spending some time with God I got in my car and started driving. I haven't done that in a long time since gas is so much.

I had some cards I hadn't mailed to friends at camp so I decided to drive them up.I know mailing it would have been cheaper but you can have some great conversations with God on that drive. I've done it many times.

It was exactly what I needed. I don't like the uncertainty of this next month. School is starting. Big changes in our student ministry. Lots of things happening on the home front.

Every day I learn to lean in a little further as I talk with God. I'm praying no matter what comes my way I'll have the strenghth to face it head-on.

"The light shines through darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:5

I love food!

I was going to post about this last night but decided to wait until I could post pictures since some of you asked about my Facebook status.

Yesterday I went grocery shopping, which can be rather depressing since I'm allergic to wheat. The cost was depressing but the finds were amazing! Lately Meijer has been carrying more and more wheat-free food, which means it is cheaper than a health food store. Here is a look at part of this week's shopping list.




Spelt Bread...$4.19











Spelt Bagels...$4.89





I also went to the Health Food store to try and find some Wheat-free Goldfish Crackers. I didn't find any but I found something even better!



WHEAT-FREE WAFFLE CONES!!!!!!
$8.49





I haven't had a waffle cone or any ice cream cone since I found out I couldn't eat wheat. I ate one last night as soon as I got home from the store with my favorite ice cream, Mackinaw Island Fudge. It was amazing!!!!

I love food!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Can you speak about relationships?

The topic I get asked to speak or teach about the most is relationships. Sometimes it is relationships in general and sometimes it is specifically about guy-girl relationships. Those of you who know me well are already on the ground rolling in laughter. I am in no way an expert in this area or even claim to have a little bit of insightful wisdom. So why it is the number one subject I get asked about I have no clue.

Since I got back from Chicago last week I've had a good handful of facebook messages, e-mails and conversations about the topic. One of those messages was from a former camper who has now been asked to speak about it with some middle school and high school girls. She wanted to know about some resources I use. I decided I would share one with you that has been surprisingly helpful.

I thought it was ridiculously silly at first but this little tool my friend Emily gave me has come in very handy. She uses it with the college students in her ministry. The bottom half are things for guys and girls to keep in mind as they pursue relationships. Allison was kind enough to post this on her blog so I could post it here. She has lots of great insights on this topic as well.

I've always wondered why marriage was represented with a submarine but oh well. It seems a little odd to me. You may find this helpful. You might not. Either way, enjoy!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Party Week

This is a week full of parties and I love it!

Last night I went over to the wonderful Baker resident for Kristin's birthday party. It was a blast. I especially enjoyed watching Ben and Vanessa feed the swans. Ben loved every minute of it. The biggest swan loved him.

Tonight two of our students from GCC, Shelby and Austin, are celebrating their birthdays at Hacienda. I love those two and I love Hacienda. This is going to be great.

Tomorrow night there might be a girls night with some friends from college. That is guaranteed to be a blast. I have to check my schedule on that one. I'm afraid there might be something I'm over looking. I hope not!

BUT...Friday night is when the big party happens!!!! My niece, Amanda, is celebrating her 10th birthday today. We are having a party to celebrate Friday night. I bought her present today and am very excited about it. Hopefully she will too. And then after we have stuffed ourselves with amazing food and feel like we are going to explode, will kick the party up a notch. My niece, Heather, accepted Christ at camp last week and is going to be baptized. It is going to be a special night for both of them.

I'm so pumped just thinking about it. I'll be screaming and shouting all night. I told Amanda I was going to sing at the party non-stop. She was okay with it so I'll probably be without a voice once again this summer! What a great week!!!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dinner Date

I just got home from having dinner with Brooke and Angela. I can't tell you how much I love those two. I have learned so much from them. More good times will be had this week!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Random Update

The Mexic08 team left town this morning. They'll spend the next week telling others how much they matter. Follow their week here. Since the boys are with the team that means girls nights this week!!!!

Below you will find a few of the Chicag08 pictures I took. I'm not real impressed with any of the Chicago or camp pictures but it gives you a better idea of what we did.

Obviously from the last post you can tell I'm still not sleeping well at night. However, I slept the entire day and am still pretty tired. Hopefully tonight I'll be able to get my body on the right sleep clock.

Last night Ashley and I went to dinner and took a short road trip to MCSC. It was sooo good to hang out with her. I love that girl and miss having her around during the school year. God is doing some great things in her life and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Erin and I signed another lease yesterday. I like our little apartment. Hopefully this school year won't be nearly as rough as the last two have been and I'll actually get to see Erin every now and then.

School starts soon and I couldn't be more depressed that my summer is over. Where did it go? When did summer break become two months instead of three?

CHICAG08 PICTURES

can't sleep

I've been trying to fall asleep for hours and it isn't going well. Ever since we got back from Chicago I haven't slept well.

I guess it will be easy to wake up in time to send off the Mexico team!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm back!

We are back from a wonderful week in Chicago! Our team did incredible things. I was so proud of our students and leaders. I'll post pictures tomorrow. Until then enjoy some camp pictures.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CHICAG08 Blog

Hey friends! This entire week I'll be posting almost daily on our Chicago team blog. Be sure to check it out and see what God has been doing.

Today was an incredible day. The students have been challenged and stretched. The excitement level continues to climb and it is only the end of day one!!!!

Leave your comments for the team and we will read them during our daily team meetings. The students love hearing the words of encouragement and support from home.

Go read the blog!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Camp Adventure

Talk about a phenominal week of camp!!!! This last week was a fantastic one. I haven't had a chance to get my pictures developed and it probably won't happen until after Chicag08 but let me share some highlights.
  • spending a week taking steps together with some of my favorite people
  • aving a wonderful family group
  • sharing a cabin with Angie Aquila
  • watching Jasper being blobbed half way to outer space
  • canoing with Gabby and Olivia
  • watching a student I've been praying for the last seven months take a HUGE step on commitment night
  • watching God shape students into leaders
  • celebrating with students who made it a priority to memorize Scripture because they knew they needed more of it in them - one memorized an entire chapter
  • sitting at the feet of some incredible teachers
  • watching Halley get a bull's eye in archery
  • watching our students be stretched in worship on Friday night - Great leading by Jeffrey!
There are many stories to share. I won't take up all your time by sharing them all. I will share about the one thing that made this week very different than any other week I've done. Camp wasn't over when the last camper left. Our team packed up and headed to McDonald's for lunch but that wasn't the end either. We all worshiped together at the 7:30 service, where God spoke through Mark in a powerful way. Still not over! Then it was off to BWW for some great fun. It was late when we left and you would think we all went home to crash but we didn't. It was off to J and Angie's for movies and more fun. It was great to celebrate the week and just relax with the people you served with all week long.

God is doing something great in our student ministry at GCC and I'm blessed to be a part of it.

I Timothy 1:12 & 14
How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him...Oh, how kind and gracious the Lord was! He filled me completely with faith and the love of Christ Jesus.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

I'm back!

I'm back from a phenominal week at Camp Adventure. I have been stories and thoughts to share but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm am tired but super excited to see what God has in store for this coming year in our student ministry!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Off to camp...

I had a great post all planned last night and ran out of time. Oh well.

Camp Adventure here we come!

See everyone on Saturday.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Week in Review

For a week off, this sure has been a very eventful week. I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on our small group guides for Chicag08. I’m so pumped for this trip. We have an incredible group of students going. You can follow our team HERE.

Tuesday, Dad and I painted and managed to finish the job early. That meant Wednesday we were able to take a trip to Home Depot (30 minutes away) and buy the supplies we needed to finish the garage.

My brother asked Dad and I to come over on Thursday and Logan, who is 5 1/2, was very adamant about helping since it was his room. When his mom got home she came in to see how it was going and this was the conversation that followed.
Nicole: Logan are you helping paint?
Logan: Yes cause it is my room.
Dad: He sure is.
Sarah: He's doing a pretty good job too.
Logan: Yes I am.
Nicole: Well that's good. Are you learning how to do it right so you can take Aunt Sarah's place when she finally gets married?
Logan: Yup! (Dad and Sarah laugh)
Nicole:
Well you better tell Sarah to hurry up.
Logan: Yup. It will be when I'm six.
Sarah: SIX?! That's less than a year!
Let's just say the conversation quickly went downhill after that.

Today, Mom and I went shopping for tennis shoes without much luck and Dad and I hung drywall in the garage. I started grilling only to find out there wasn't enough gas to finish the chicken. It actually was a pretty relaxing day.

Tomorrow I have several things I'm looking forward to...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Praying like a child...

Last week my parents had all of the grandkids for VBS. All the kids took a turn praying for meals. I would read them a story and each of them would pray before we tucked them into bed.

I’m not really sure where they learned to pray but they are the best pray-ers I know, especially the youngest ones. They are honest and real. They hold nothing back and don’t think twice about what God or anyone else might think. They tell God exactly how they feel. They pray with such great expectation. Why wouldn’t God hear me and answer me? He IS God! Check this out…
Dear God, sometimes they tell me I have to go to bed and I don’t want to. I’m not tired but they still tell me what to do. Could you make me the boss so I can tell them what to do? Then I can tell them I don’t have to go to bed. (Emily, 3)

Dear God, thank you for today and thank you for this food. Help me get a little brother soon and help us adopt Aggie and Gwen. Help us have a good day with Jesus, playing with Jesus, eating with Jesus and having fun with Jesus. Amen. (Logan, 5)
Emily prays for about five minutes and only breathes twice. She can be hard to understand sometimes, but when you can she is talking to God like he is right there next to her. Every time Logan prays he asks for his sister to be adopted. He and Aggie fight most of the time but he so badly wants them to officially become his sisters.

Aggie (4) and Gwen (2) are the same way. Aggie occasionally turns her prayers into songs. Gwen loves to just start laughing as she is talking with God as if she had just told him a joke. I guess she very well good have since she can be hard to understand every now and then.

Why don’t I pray like this? How is it that I don’t get it and a 3 year old can? How did I get so cynical? It really is so simple. I have so much to learn!

The Quotable Logan...

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, know that when Aunt Sarah comes home there is an unspoken contest to see who can end up quoted on the blog the most. The little ones love it so much they’ll just walk up and say random things in hopes I think it’s funny. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really on my game this week but I do have a good Logan quote and story for you.
Mom: It must mean Logan is the instigator.
Logan: huh-ah
Dad: He doesn't even know what that word means.
Logan: Yes I do!!
Dad: What does it mean?
Logan: I like to be noisy!
I mentioned a few posts ago that Logan is the only boy. It is starting to bother him a little bit. So one afternoon while everyone else was napping, he went with Dad and me to the church to get some things done. He sat with me while I was working on slides for the next session and we had this conversation.
Sarah: (singing a random song) Heaven is a wonderful place…
Logan: It is?
Sarah: Oh man, yea. It is the coolest place EVER!
Logan: Really? Why?
Sarah: Cause Jesus is there silly.
Logan: No he isn’t! He’s dead. He died on the cross. Duh!
Sarah: Yes he did but then he came back to life. He is alive!
Logan: What?!
Sarah: Yea after he died on the cross he came back to life. He spent some time with the disciples and then left earth and went to heaven.
Logan: Oh yea that’s right. And he is in heaven now. What is he doing there?
Sarah: When he left he said he was going to get heaven ready for us. Then he’ll come back and get us.
Logan: And then we can go to heaven?
Sarah: Yuppers.
Logan: Jesus is alive and in heaven!
He then ran and told Papa. Later that night when he started jumping on the bed saying, “We get to go to heaven to see Jesus and Granny! I’m going to heaven to see Jesus and Granny!” This was part of he prayer that night. More to come on the way this boy prays.

Dear God, thank you for today and having fun. Thank you that Jesus is alive and in heaven so I can go see him. (Logan, 5)

Ever since He and I talked about heaven, he has been talking about how Jesus is alive and he is going to see him someday. It makes me smile. I love this kid!!

Vacation?!

For several years my summers have been jam packed full of different things. I had two goals for this summer. One of them was to actually take a break and relax. So far that hasn't really happened, for numerous reasons.

I tried the taking it easy bit in Mishawaka but was incredibly unsuccessful. This week, however, I'm not doing much of anything except hanging with my parents. I'll meet up with some friends and family, sleep in, read and basically whatever I want. I guess they call this taking it easy. Hmm...

James, start preparing your new lecture!