Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Hard and Healing

Last night LS YL hosted a hard and healing convo.  With two recent deaths in our community we felt led to host a place where we could have experts or experienced come share.  I will say that it was better than I expected.  Parents, student leaders, adults, and teachers came and dialed in.

I walked away reminded that being a teen is hard.  That they are often expected to be an adult and make adult decisions but their brain isn't fully developed and they are impulsive at times and overwhelmed.  I was reminded depression is real and not a thing kids can just "snap" out of.  I heard how important it is to be there for our teens.  To create a culture where hard convos are the norm.  A place where they belong and feel heard and valued.  Listen not dismiss their emotions and help them sort thru those often new feelings.

I know that teens need more that just caring parents they need caring adults... 5 is ideal!  That in order to make it thru these tough years students need 5 caring adults to be in their corner.  YL wants to be one of those!  We want to support parents and be team players.

My son Otto is three.  He said something profound a month or two ago.

He said, "Mom, look at the moon."  "It is so full of light."  "I know who lights up the moon."

I asked, "Who does buddy?"

Otto replied, "God does and I bet HE has so much fun lighting up things that are dark."

Otto gets it.  God does love lighting up things that are dark.  The light wins.  We want to be a part of the light.  Last night was a shining light moment.  Light won.  Healing won.  Hope won.

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:5

Thank you to my friend Brad Edgar (now YL staff for Blue Springs) and licensed counselor for speaking truth and hope.  Thank you to Rick Mumford (KC YL Metro Director) for being a part of the panel and speaking life.  Thank you Jonathan Kindler (former YL kid, now licensed counselor in LS for speaking wisdom and heart.

I want to point you to resources!  I know that we need two things often in life:  1.  Jesus  2.  Counseling.  I would highly recommend Jonathan Kindler if you or your teen is struggling with depression/ anxiety / or just need a listening loving ear.

Jonathan Kindler- 816-892-0902
Serenity Life Resource Center
521 SE 2nd St. Suite C
LS MO 64063

Lotz Therapy

Peace Partnership and Wellspring Ministries

National Suicide Prevention Hotline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Me too

LS YL has had the honor to walk with students and the community in this difficult time.  Our hearts break, we have cried with students for students, prayed with them and for them, listened, and continuing to create community around them.  They are not grieving alone.  They are surrounding one another, coming together, and able to say, "me too."  "I feel that too."  
Last night we had our weekly YL event called Club.  I had the honor to speak to students.  The message was simple.  Two words.
Me too.
I shared from the Magicians Nephew of the Chronicles of Narnia series an excerpt that symbolized this so well:  Digory is a young boy in this part of the story and he is about to lose his mom to a disease.  He begs Aslan (The Lion) for help.  
“Please—Mr. Lion—Aslan, Sir?” said Digory working up the courage to ask.  “Could you—may I—please, will you give me some magic fruit of this country to make my mother well?”
C.S. Lewis explains, “Up till then the child had been looking at the lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them.  Now in his despair he looked up at his face.  And what he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life.  For the tawny face was bent down near his own and wonder of wonders great shining tears stood in the lion’s eyes.  They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the lion must really be sorrier about his mother than he was himself.”
“My son, my son,” said Aslan.  “I know.  Grief is great.  Only you and I in this land know that yet.  Let us be good to one another…”We do not grieve alone.
Those two powerful words are saying- ME TOO.  Jesus like Aslan is with is in our grief.  Sometimes we look at God like a scary lion, his claws, his power.  But if we LOOK UP we see He is with us and CRIES with us.

God is for you not against you! He did not cause you pain. He knows you pain and feels it. He also can do something amazing for our pain. He brings life to it. He takes it all on and uses it for good. You are not your pain.  You are a child of God.  You are his son or daughter.  He loves you and wants to take your pain daily and give your life.

Let us be good to one another…”We do not grieve alone.

Bronco Strong- Fox 4 News Clip

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Come to the table

Have you seen this Walmart commercial?  It gives me all the feels.  I see God in this commercial.  I see YL in this commercial.  LS YL has been hosting family dinners over the summer.  We have been going to games at each LS school.  We have been taking kids with us to church.  We have been texting and encouraging students.  We have hosted tailgates and given away YL swag.  We have been leading Bible Studies.  And last night we had our first club.  We do all of this because we believe in the table.  Because we believe that all students can bring themselves (their chair) and find a spot at the table.  That there is a place for them.  That there if food ready all they have to do is come.  There is friendship and community.  Jesus is the table.  He invites us to come join him.  We want to let all students know they are welcome here.  That YL is home.  That they are family.  That there is real life and full life with Him and there is a spot for you at the table an in turn there is a spot for them here at YL.

16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  Luke 14:16-17

YL Family at Club

Thursday, August 10, 2017

text me

Every year for the past 6 years I get a text from a former YL kid, Will, on my birthday.  I've come to anticipate it with excitement.  My head thinks....

I wonder if he will text this year?  Is he too busy?  He's a grown adult now.  Surely he won't remember this year.  Maybe his faith or feelings have faded. 

However, Will never disappoints.  He has even been texting on Mother's Day, Father's Day, and the births of each of my sons.  They are texts that I cherish and I save for years.  They remind me that kids are worth it.  That YL is making a difference and leaving a legacy.  That students deserve to know who God is and how HUGE He loves them.  That they want to be heard, and known, and loved by caring adults.  That they want purpose and life to the full.  That YL camp is really the best week of many of their lives because they found the source of LIFE... a relationship with Jesus Christ.

You see Will and I sort of have the same birthday.  On my birthday 6 years ago Will said YES to a relationship with Jesus.  He came to life.  I don't know why God allowed me to be there, see it, and be a small part of it, but it has been one of the best birthday gifts I've ever received.  We got to walk beside him as his faith grew thru the ups and downs and curve balls.  We watched Will become a leader, have a depth of faith and compassion for others that is unmatched.  We watched him play collegiate sports and be a light in dark places.  Every year I am reminded of His goodness and my love for Will and kids like Will.

This is the text I received this year:

"Tracee, it is so late, but I couldn't let the day go by without telling you happy birthday, and thank you for the boldness, and courageous opportunities you have taken to share the Gospel to me and probably thousands of kids and because of you Jesus is being proclaimed and His children are coming to know Him!  I am thankful for you and Young Life, and because of this ministry 6 years ago I made the best decision of my life to follow Jesus, and here I am doing ministry for a living.  Never would've saw that coming!  I hope to come back to KC soon and visit!  I hope you, Billy,  Otto and Jude are doing well!"


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

young LIFE

We Back.

Life happened.  YL claims that students will have the best week of their life at YL Camp.  How does/did that happen?

1.  Kids... let's real... our teenage friends are kids.  They got to be a kid.  They got the chance to be carefree, irresponsible, disconnected from their device and comparison trap on social media and be present and be a kid.  They got to throw food on their YL leader, jump off a rope swing, scream, dance, play, sing, and take the weight off their shoulders for a week.

2.  They found adventure.  Campers experienced so many firsts.  First time to paddle board, first time to challenge themselves with heights and fears and complete a ropes course high in the sky or zipline through camp into a lake.  First time to spend 15 min alone under the stars, first time to talk to God, first time to share their story.  They also found adventure in octoball, volleyball games, go carts, and rock climbing floaties.  

3.  They found deeper relationships.  Camp is all focused around relationships.  Students grew in their friendships with one another.  They got a chance to be real, honest, share their heart and their friends and leader listened. I mean really listened.  Like no phone in their hand, no interruptions, but with eye contact and an open heart listened.  Those deeper friendships will help carry them through the rest of high school.  Those friends will be go to's when life is hard or throws a curve ball.  They grew in relationship with their YL leader.  They know, that they know, that they know their YL leader loves them no matter what.  That we are here for them in LS and at camp.  That we will be beside them as we all do life together.  They grew in their relationship with God.  Some said YES to life with Jesus for the first time.  Some said I want more in my walk with Jesus and are diving in deeper.  YL will continue to live out our mission statement- "introducing adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow deeper in their faith."  

The best week of your life.  

John 10:10  Jesus says, "I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full."