Monday, May 11, 2015

A Snapshot of My Story

When I entered high school I was at a place in my life where I felt disconnected from the world, my friends, my family, and my church.  My thoughts were spiraling downward towards a path that was leading to my own self destruction.  I would say that I knew of God as I grew up in the church, but did not know who God was or what he could do.  My freshmen year of high school, the church, got a new youth pastor.  She invested in our lives, developed strong relationships, and lived out the teachings of Jesus.  She challenged me constantly, she pushed me to go further, she gave me opportunities to lead, and she worked hard to build a positive community where different individuals could thrive.  She developed a team that did likewise and for the first time I wanted to be at church.  

That Summer, I was invited to be a counselor at a Christian camp and I remember the first day of camp, one of the third graders walked up to another kid and slugged them.  Our director was furious and about to send him home.  I argued with him, I'm not sure why perhaps I had empathy for the kid, about sending him home.  Following our, heated, conversation he allowed the youth to stay but I had to take full responsibility for him.  The kid didn't want to talk to anyone and it seemed that he didn't care about anyone.  My heart broke for this kid who felt alone and it was obvious that his current path was heading in a negative direction.   On the third day of camp, we go to the beach.  All the kids were playing games and building sand castles except for this kid.  My co leader asked him to grab a pail, scoop up sand, and dump it next to her.  He did (I think he had a crush on her).  She asked him to do it again and again while both of us asked him questions about his life.  He built a whole sandcastle to his surprise.  To our surprise we learned his dad was in jail for abuse, his mom was dying of cancer, and was being taken care by his uncle who owned a liquor store where he hung out after school until it closed.  Neither one of us knew how to respond, except to treat him like family and work harder at the relationship.  That's how I felt my youth pastor interacted with me and the other youth, it was all I knew.  I had no prior experience or real training.  He began wearing my sweaters, which was funny to watch since he would take a few steps and then go splat because the sweater was too big.    At the end of the week he called me brother in spanish.  

I'm not sure I could explain what happened except for the holy spirit was doing something magical at the camp and it was such a joy to be part of it.  Following that experience I felt God's calling to dive deeper into the ministry.  I found that God was a larger part of my life than I had ever realized.  The kid demonstrated to me the power of God and what he was capable of doing.  Several years later I saw the kid at another camp and his pastor said he was doing far better than she could have imagined.  One might say that I was part of his transformation, but in reality I think he was a bigger part of my own transformation.  I look to that event as one of the primary catalysts for me going into ministry.  

My final year in high school I was preparing to follow my dream of being a lawyer.  The last 4 years I had done mock trials, interned with lawyers, had a mentor who happened to be a lawyer and set myself on that path.  The schools I was begging to apply to for my undergrad had connections with law schools.  One of my friends, who at the time was agnostic, said to me I don't know what your thinking, but everytime your around kids you light up.  There's something different about you when you talk about God and kids.  I'm not sure that being a lawyer is what your suppose to do.  
Wow I was hit like a ton of bricks, but still has lasting power even after 10 + years.  I would say that I'm called into the youth ministry, and every time I tried to deny it or run from it God has other plans.  Where I am today is because God had other plans than what I had imagined and I think I might stick with God's because they seem to fit perfectly to who I was created to be.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gratitude

My family is one of my greatest blessings and so I give thanks for them cause they are awesome. ;)