Friday, March 27, 2009

Young Christians Weekend

One of my favorite weekend trips of the entire year is going to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO for Young Christians Weekend. I have always loved SDC - I've been going since I was a kid - but this particular weekend, they take out all the "normal" shows/performers and replace them with Christian speakers and musicians. We have been taking the youth group at Pine Ridge for as long as I can remember. Over the years we have had as few as five or as many as 30.

This year happened to be the largest and thanks to a wonderful member of our church, we were able to take a school bus for less than it would cost to rent vans. The bus ride was a blast!! Everyone was full of energy on the way down and it was fun to see them talking and playing and getting to know one another - especially since we had four kids and an adult from another church. They all got along GREAT!

The weather was an interesting challenge to our weekend. You never know with the last weekend in March - some years it's beautiful and others years it has been rainy & cold. This year - it snowed! We didn't let it get us down, though. We bundled up and spent the day enjoying as much of Silver Dollar City as we could - depending on what was running that day. About 25 out of 30 of us took the cave tour in the afternoon (a balmy 56 degrees in the cave) but I chose to spend my time riding Fire in the Hole a few more times. It was a fabulous day!

The evening rally was not well attended due to the weather - but we were there!! Just as our speaker, Tim Oliphant, began to speak, the biggest snowflakes I have ever seen began to fall. It was absolutely magical! I will take the snow over the pouring rain any day! Tim did a great job sharing his testimony and we enjoyed visiting with him after the rally.

Sunday turned out to be a gorgeous day. The sun came out and the temperatures jumped up about 20 degrees. We started with worship in Echo Hollow with Leeland and Kutless as well as a talk by Joe White. I was reminded that God can speak directly to our hearts even when we least expect it!

On the way home we made a quick stop at the Osceola Cheese store because Jenn said about 7 miles earlier, "Carla, I'm going to have to pee in about 7 miles." They certainly do make me laugh! We took a few minutes to play "The horse ran around with his foot on the ground" in the parking lot and then reloaded the bus for the final leg of our journey. It was, once again, an exceptional weekend and I am very blessed to be able to work with some pretty amazing young people!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

God moment

This blog is mainly for my own memory because it is what I consider a "God-moment" that I wish to remember.

In 1986 my friend, Lynate, invited me to come visit her while she was working at the Presbyterian camp where we met when we were younger. I wasn't doing much for the summer because I had to have some procedures done on my eye so I was very glad for a chance to get away for a little bit. I ended up staying to volunteer for a week and it was one of the most life-changing weeks of my life. I had four campers that I will never forget. Casey, Heather, Johnna and Elizabeth. It was thanks to that amazing week that I am where I am today. I spent the next four summers on the staff at the camp and I loved it! The camp was my connection to Pine Ridge which is where I first felt called to full time youth ministry and it is where I serve now as Director of Christian Education. I can't imagine where I would be or what I would be doing if it weren't for that week and those amazing girls. I think about those girls often and how much they meant to me.

A few months ago, I was checking Craigslist for any potential roommates and I noticed a post from a lady who was looking for a temporary place to stay while her daughter had brain surgery at KU Med Center. I wasn't that close to KU Med but I didn't know where she was coming from so I sent her an email inviting her to stay at my house if it would be helpful to her. I quickly received a response that was very appreciative but she was looking for something within walking distance. A few days later, I received another email just giving me an update on her daughter and telling me again how much she appreciated the offer and that I was the kind of person she would like to have as a friend. We continued to email back and forth as her daughter prepared for surgery and it wasn't until her daughter came through the surgery that she ever mentioned her name. When I first saw her email, my whole body got goosebumps! I knew the last name was the same but I never imagined that her daughter was one of those girls that had played such an important role in my life. I immediately wrote her back and shared with her that I knew her daughter and that I cared about her very much. I have since been in touch with Johnna and hope to stay in touch with her this time. I pray for her complete recovery and the chance to get to know her as an adult. I am continually amazed at the way in which God works in our lives - via facebook or craigslist or whatever!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Lesa's Birthday Bash!

My best friend, Lesa, celebrated her 46th birthday at PBR Big Sky - one of our favorite country dance clubs in KC. I had planned to go for just a little while because I'd been working the past three days on the youth garage sale and I was exhausted! However, it turned out to be more fun than I could walk away from so I stayed until 2am. Maybe I'm not as old as I think I am! I spent most of the evening dancing with a guy from England and a guy from Scotland - complete with his kilt. It was an international affair! I am very blessed to have Lesa for a friend. She challenges and inspires me in so many ways and my life is so much better for her presence.

Garage Sale

The youth have an annual tradition of having a "garage sale" as a fundraiser for our mission trips. They ask the congregation and anyone else they know to donate to the cause. We start setting up midweek and normally we are still working into the wee hours of the morning on Saturday.

Set up is always crazy! They find treasures that they just can't resist using as a photo op - such as this bathing suit cover up. At one point, both the girls were in the shirt together! Sometimes it's a challenge to get them to keep working but they certainly have a lot of fun!

By some miracle, we were done setting up AND pricing by 9:30pm on Friday night so we walked over to Zona Rosa for some frivolity.
A member of our church owns the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and she invited us all over for a free ice cream. Yum!! It was a beautiful evening and the walk did us good!

Who knew there would be so many places in Zona Rosa to create crazy pictures? It was fun to see the youth group having so much fun together. Since the garage sale is a required event if you want to attend the mission trip, most of our youth participate.
I am so proud of the youth and their commitment to the mission trips. They not only work hard ON the mission trip but they work hard in order to get there!

Have you ever wondered how many high schoolers you can fit in a British phone booth? They may know how to work hard but they certainly know how to play hard, as well.
I can't imagine any job that comes with such variety on a day to day basis and I certainly can't imagine one that comes with so much laughter!! I love working with the students at Pine Ridge. They make me laugh and they keep me young! I thank God for the opportunity to serve in ministry with them.