Monday, May 19, 2014

Dear Young Life,

Dear Young Life,

Thank you. For the past 9 years you have been a constant part of my life. It started at Holland Christian with Campaigners with Kara Stanley and Friday breakfasts at Jackie's Place with LDP and Lindsey Bieri. I thought that was the end of the road, but you surprised me when I moved to Indianapolis. There I discovered Carmel Young Life and you totally changed my perspective of what community and team looks like. Because of YL I met Sarah, Mary Ellen, Jenna, Jon and Annie. I learned to love leading with my Seniors Allison, Taylor, Dom and Susan. A few years later I spent all my Monday nights sharing life with a group of older girls in the Miller's guest room after singing downstairs. 

In those first 7 years I never could have predicted that we would end up here-- in a gym under a garage living life with hundreds of kids from Fishers, IN. Thank you for continually surprising me--  because God's plans are better than my plans and his ways are higher than my ways. Thank you for leaders that show up and serve sacrificially because they love Jesus and they love HS kids. This family and this team continues to grow. 

Thank you for existing for every kid. When I was in youth group in HS I loved it and grew so much there--but so many of my classmates never stepped foot in my church. Thank you for being a place where any kid, no matter their religious background, can show up and feel welcome. Like Maddy and Sherisa said tonight, we're all on equal ground here. God loves all of us equally.

Thank you for the way connections and relationships keep growing and sparking and building and weaving. I love that our Wyld Life leaders dived in this year. Watching them become friends with Junior High kids is such a beautiful thing. When 8th graders showed up tonight at Campaigners their HS friends couldn't wait to run over and hug them. That's amazing and never would have happened without Young Life.

Thank you for accepting us just as we are. In all of our goofy craziness you say we belong here. Young Life's motto, "You were made for this" is sometimes hard for me to explain. What is the "this" exactly? I think you were made for living life with Christ. You were made to be in community with people. You were made to embrace whimsy and joy. You were made to know your creator. You were made to live in freedom and grace. You were made to shine Christ's light. You were made for more than this life.

Thank you Young Life for emphasizing that we live life together. Tonight we asked our Senior Karl what Young Life was all about and he said, "It's basically about God and connecting with your Young Life family." He nailed it. This isn't just about studying the bible and alone time with Jesus--we're trying to live it out in all that we do. It's playing basketball before Campaigners starts. It's showing up at soccer games and choir concerts. It's taking girls to dinner. It's sitting around a campfire and talking till the stars come out. It's making tie-dye in the driveway. It's sharing chips and salsa after school. It's riding bikes around the neighborhood. It's about doing life together.

Thank you for another year of this. Thank you for a committee that loves and supports us. Thank you for parents that trust us and believe in what we're doing. Thank you for kids that choose to show up and be invested in what we're doing. Thank you God for being part of all of this-- there would be no point without you.

Thank you for our Seniors--Karl, Maddy, Mariah, Hayley and Sherisa. Thank you for the gift they've been in this family whether we've known them for several years or just a couple months. We're so excited for them to step into something new next year. We pray that you will stay the center of their hearts and their lives wherever they go.

Thank you for my Young Life girls. I love all the kids that come to YL, but there are some that I've gotten closer to over the years. I want to keep being more like Jesus. Just like how he invested in the disciples I want to have a crew of girls that I'm pouring into by showing up in their lives, praying for them and reminding them that they are loved and they were made to be awesome.

Thank you Young Life for showing me what it means to love people well. It's not always easy or fun but the more that I aim to love these girls unconditionally, the more I learn about God's love for me. Becoming a YL leader way back when Lani and Emily told me about it in our freshmen year at Hope was one of the best decisions I ever made. I had no idea what I was signing up for and never could have predicted that it would become something this awesome.

Thank you Young Life for being part of our stories. Tonight we watched a video for the Seniors and heard them talk about what this community has meant to them and how their faith has grown here. It's touched their lives and it will continue to ripple out. Sometimes we get a front row seat to hear about how YL made a difference but there are so many more stories that we'll never get to hear.

Thank you for planting a seed that will continue to grow long after these kids graduate from HSE. We know that we may never get to see how this place and this community has touched the lives of these kids. We're not about immediate results. We want kids to follow Christ for the rest of their lives and we may not see that happen.

Thank you for the fun and adventure. Thank you for sitting in circles and having conversations that matter. Thank you for singing worship songs together. Thank you for leaders that point us back to Christ. Thank you for silliness. Thank you for prayers. Thank you for Young Life.

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