Monday, March 28, 2011

Aaah, Transition....

Last week, as I was sitting with the Lord, doing my favorite devotional, I was confronted with this simple phrase:

is here to stay.

No kidding.

Other than God Himself, the surety of change is often the only constant we can count on in life.  People change. Seasons change. Jobs change. Relationships change. Finances change. Location changes. We change. A friend once told me a few years ago that without change, things die. Indeed, change itself can feel like a death. We have to mourn the way things were in order to make way for the new. It's how we grow.

Young Life in Colorado Springs has seen season after season of transition, particularly in the five years I've been on staff.  During my second year on student staff, we were without an Area Director. When we did hire Josh as our AD in the spring of 2008, I was transitioning from college and part-time ministry to a full-time job in Young Life.  That was also the time that our small region of 12 staff joined the Front Range Region of 50+ staff (which, I must say, has been a significant blessing to me! Much love to all the FRR!). We added a few more staff members during my two-year internship with Young Life, and then at the end of last spring, we joined forces with Central Colorado Springs YL as their former AD transitioned into a new position in the organization. We hired Brit (my roommate Hailey's fiance) and Dan to lead clubs downtown, and our volunteer leadership doubled in size. We went from 5 club minstries to 12, including WyldLife, Young Life, and YoungLives. God is doing such a mighty work in this city, and we are simply trying to keep up!

Then, last fall, Josh resigned, and we have been without an AD for the last six months. I learned so much from Josh during the two years that he was my boss, and I am a better minister of the Gospel for it. His departure has been difficult for all of us on staff, to say the least, but the Father has proven Himself faithful time and time again.  I am so grateful for the way He cares for us.

Even though I know that God is present in every season, and that He is sovereign in spite of whatever is surrounding me, I always find myself resisting transition and change.  I get comfortable. I get used to working out of my own strength (or, oftentimes, the lack thereof).  I prefer safety, security, and routine.  When circumstances shift or new opportunities spring up, I find myself wishing things could simply stay as they were.

But if things remain stagnant, they will wither away and die.

I am learning to lean into change these days rather than running from it. To press in, to be fully present in the here and now, and to leave the past where it is requires a painful release to the Father. I have to loosen my tight, white-knuckled grip on the way it was and let the Father produce new life. 

New life is a process, and a painful one at that.  But through the loss that accompanies the transition into the new, I gain Christ Himself. I can't say I enjoy it, or that I don't still find myself tightening my grip every now and then, but I find peace in knowing that God is with me through it all, and that He is making me more and more like His precious Son.

At a team leader meeting over the weekend, a Young Life veteran shared some wisdom: that to follow Jesus simply requires that I abide in Him. The Greek word for abide is meno, which means to make a permanent home in something. As we make a home in Jesus, He promises to make a home in us, and through it new life is produced, as in John 15:4:

"'Abide in Me, and I in you. 
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself 
unless it abides in the vine, 
so neither can you 
unless you abide in Me.'" 

The greatest mystery of all is that Jesus Himself makes us His dwelling place.  He is not only with is; He is in us.

And so, as we prepare to hire a new Area Director* in Colorado Springs and enter a new season of change, I will make my home in Jesus and trust the painful process.  

*Pray for us and for our committee as they narrow the list of AD applicants down to the top 3 this week!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

WyldLife Moments

I wanted to post a few photos of some of my favorite WyldLife moments this year. Enjoy!

High school leaders getting the giant banana split ready at Banana Club in the fall:

Enjoying the banana split!

Leaders hanging with kids at Cheyenne Mountain JH:

Bigger or Better club winners who traded for a mail truck:

Boys at Winter Camp last November:

 Winter Camp skit night. This is from the WyldLife rendition of "Twilight." 
From left to right: Edward (Michael G, leader at Russell/Jenkins WyldLife), 
Jacob (Jacob C. from Russell MS), 
and Bella (Katie T. from Cheyenne Mountain JH)

Russell/Jenkins leader Ashley (left) and girls:

Erin (my sister) and a few of our high school leaders.
They make WyldLife what it is. Couldn't do it without them!

CMJH boys:

Hope you enjoyed a little taste of what I do. :)

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Welcome to my very first blog post! It's hard to know how to begin this process of sharing my heart and life with the world at large via the blogosphere, goes nothing!

I suppose I can't help but begin by sharing an unexpectedly wonderful experience I had last week. A celebration in honor of Bob and Claudia Mitchell was held at a hotel in downtown Colorado Springs last Thursday, and a few of us Front Range Young Life staff had the honor of helping with the event. For you readers who don't know, Bob was one of the original Young Life club kids back in the 1940s, then went on to join Young Life staff as an adult. I don't know the Mitchells all that well, but every experience I have had with either Bob or Claudia has been undeniably accompanied by the Spirit's presence. Whether listening to both of them share stories about the beginnings of the ministry with summer staff and work crew at the Totem Inn at Malibu Club, or Bob sharing his passion for the Word via lectio divina at a regional staff retreat at Crooked Creek, or Claudia envoking us to understand that the language of God is silence while sitting in a living room by a fire during Advent season, my heart has been pierced by the passion for Jesus that is on display in the lives of the Mitchells. To have been in a room filled with more than 300 people whose lives have been equally - and many much more so - impacted by Bob and Claudia, and by Young Life, was an indescribable joy!

Even more so was the realization that the hallmarks of Young Life's ministry are the same today as they were 60 years ago.  Every person who got on the stage last night was cracking jokes, telling ridiculous stories, or singing nonsensical but hilarious songs that they used to lead at club decades ago.  The laughter in the room was infectious, much like what I've experienced at club or camp with kids. They still had incredible charisma and commanding presence, and I was in awe of these Young Life greats, these saints whose names would surely be in the hall of faith had it been written a few thousand years later.

And, as I sat at my table of staff friends, I took a moment to glance around at the hundreds of lives that Jesus had grabbed hold of through Young Life over the course of several generations. The Kingdom is greater because of them, and because of what God has done in and through them.

This truly is the best job in the world.