Youth Ministry

In July 2018 I began to burnout serving at church. At the time I was the preschool and nursery lead, junior and senior high girls youth leader, part time front desk helper, part time assistant to the communications director, and a menagerie of other things.

In April 2017 I went through a much needed breakup and returned home and returned to the church. In an attempt to justify my actions that happened while I was away from home being a reckless stupid moron…I threw myself into serving at church. I spent every waking second helping at church or thinking about church.

I never sat in the service. Instead I would serve all three services either at the desk, in the children’s ministry classrooms, or the sound booth being the assistant to the communications director. I didn’t fellowship. I didn’t worship. I was working. I was trying to balance the last 5 years of transgressions with burning myself out serving. My heart wasn’t in the right place. My intentions were to say yes to every need.

In July 2018 I was also saved. So I wanted to start sitting in the service. I wanted to start worshiping. I wanted to start pouring all I had into my students at youth group. I wanted to build relationships with fellow Christians. But I was being pulled in so many directions that I started to hate church. My idea that fixing my sins by serving was starting to ruin me. I met with the director of student ministries and told him what was going on. He had me seriously pray about each area I was serving in the church. He told me it wasn’t my responsibility to say yes to everything. That it was okay to say no. And it was not my responsibility how other people would react by me stepping down. And it hit me like a truck…my heart is in student ministry. My heart is with those teens.

So I stepped down from everything else. I still serve 2 times a month in children’s ministry but that’s because I have a heart for those preschoolers. Since then my relationship with God has flourished. My faith has grown stronger. I’m still at church at least 3 times a week, and I’m still meeting outside of church with students, but I’m doing what I love, I’m doing what God wants me to be doing.

My point to all this is you don’t have to say yes to filling a need just because it’s there. Pray about it. Talk to God asking Him where He wants you. It is so easy to burnout and want nothing to do with the church or God by over-serving. It totally is possible to over serve. Trust me.

If you’re burning out – take a look at where you’re serving and what you’re filling your time with. Are you serving just to fill a need? Here’s some daily Christianese for ya: God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

I would sooner quit my job then leave youth ministry. That’s how serious I am about pouring into those kids.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Alone Time

I fail daily at alone time and spending time with God. I try to fill up every second of my day with something. Work, serving at church, talking on the phone whenever I’m alone, time with friends, video games, youtube…anything to keep me from being alone with my thoughts. I don’t intentionally take that alone time seriously until I am at my breaking point and can barely function.

That is when I escape to the lake for at least half an hour of just silence and staring out at the water. Usually, if I am at the lake it means things are going pretty terribly. I can’t stand being alone with myself, my depression is worsening, and I am allowing my anxiety to control my life. I shouldn’t let it get to the point where I’m not functioning.

My mom wakes up early every morning and has her intentional coffee time with God. She has been doing this every morning for as long as I can remember. It sets the tone for her day and her interactions with everyone around her. She quietly has her coffee, reads her Bible, journals, and talks to God. I’m not saying I am going to start doing that, because I also need as much sleep as I can get for my own mental health…but I need to change how I spend every second of my day. I need to be setting the tone for my day in a healthy way that benefits myself and my relationship with the Lord.

Even Jesus took time away from people to pray. I need to start being more like Jesus.

God’s Chisel

Josh’s lesson with the youth praise team, as well as an in-depth conversation with one of the member’s of the praise team afterwards, inspired this blog post. I’m sure you’ve seen the Skit Guy’s video God’s Chisel – if you have not here is the link.

The video portrays God taking a chisel to a guy who is struggling with his sins…and he isn’t exactly welcoming the changes to his life. The changes, the cutting out sin, the moving on from our old ways and living for God…it’s a process that is filled with mourning and pain. Giving up control isn’t easy. Quitting sins, allowing God to transform us, it isn’t easy. We cling to our sins, they can be a source of stress relief, and they can be comforting, and feel familiar.

When we actually look at ourselves and fail to see God’s craftsmanship it can be a lonely place. Hiding away completely ashamed of ourselves is lonely. We are either going away from God or closer to Him. There is no standing still. There is no lukewarm. So when we find comfort in our sins, in attempting to control our own lives instead of turning from our sins and living for God…we are moving away from Him.

I should rewatch that video each week simply for the intense and much-needed conviction it brings on.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God. Romans 12:2

If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in His ways, and by keeping His commandments and His statutes. Deuteronomy 30:16

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Joy

Joy has been on my mind lately so I asked my good friend and sister in Christ, Jayme to help me write about it! Thank you, Jaym!

Well what’s poppin people of kaito’s blog! Allow me to introduce myself…..my name is Jayme. I also have a blog called Just Getting Started. 10/10 would recommend. So anyway. I’m just hopping on here to write a little blurb on joy!

The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of joy is a little kid eating popsicle on a hot summer night. Maybe he’s frolicking in a field? You get the picture. Now here’s a little secret. That joy this kid has is going to end. It will stop. The joy that popsicle is giving him at the moment will end when the popsicle is gone. I feel like that’s what everyone is doing these days. They are trying to find joy in something that will melt, isn’t going to last. Everyone is looking for something that will satisfy them. Quench their thirst. Hate to break it to you, but everything on this earth won’t satisfy you, won’t bring you the joy you are striving so hard to find. So what’s the solution? God. God is the only thing that can satisfy you. Bring you real everlasting joy. You may be asking how does he do that?

So when God created the earth, he made man and women. He let them live in the garden of Eden. God gave them one rule and that was to NOT eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. One thing let to another and they ate from it. This separated them from God. Separated the rest of us from God. They could feel shame and they were embarrassed. Now every one who would ever live was destined to Hell. We were all going and should go because we are all so screwed up. What did God do? He found a way for us to go to heaven and be with him. A few thousand years after the Fall, God sent his son to earth. This is who we call Jesus. Jesus lived on earth like man but never sinned. He lived the perfect life. The next thing that happened? He was crucified. He died. Do you want to know why he died? For you. This is where I find my joy. Knowing that God sent His son to die for me so I could go to heaven. This makes me want to jump up and down. Go full disney princess and scream it from a mountain top. This is joy will last forever. You will still have it after you die. In heaven, it’s literally a party celebrating how rad our God is. Pretty freakin dope if you ask me. That’s all I have to say so i guess back to kait with our regular scheduled program!

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I struggle with finding my joy in the Lord. I need daily reminders to check my heart and not dwell on my circumstances or try to find my joy in things that only provide temporary happiness. I’m grateful for friends who keep me accountable when I am getting overwhelmed and not relying on God. My joy…my excitement…it all needs to come from Him.

Here are some photos of us being our crazy selves.

Go follow Jayme’s blog for more awesomeness. Jayme’s Blog – Just Getting Started

Self Worth

Unfortunately I am no stranger to low self esteem and self worth. I allowed my circumstances and the lies to dictate my relationship with myself. I allowed being in an abusive relationship to dictate my worth. I allowed my eating disorder to control how I viewed myself. Instead of finding my worth in the Lord, I looked elsewhere and it was devastating. The only thing I found was pain and heartache.

I used to laugh saying I was the type of person to light myself on fire to keep others warm. I didn’t realize how completely wrong that mindset was. I saw no value in myself. Little by little I gave pieces of myself away to keep others happy. I was numb and depressed. There was no joy, no self respect, no value, and no God.

Slowly I am realizing I am so valuable and my worth is immeasurable. Slowly the negative comments from others and myself are being replaced with positive and uplifting comments. It’s taking time, but progress is definitely being made.

My relationship with myself sets the tone for every relationship in my life. I need to love myself and find worth in myself in order to be valuable to others. I need to have a life that honors God. I need to talk to myself in a way that honors God. When I am constantly beating myself up and believing the lies, I am not honoring God in any way. I am insulting His creation. He did not create me to live a life of negativity and belittlement.

As I pray for those close to me to see their worth and their value and see how loved they are…I will also pray that I see those things as well. God is working to change me but I need to put in the work. I want God to work in me so I need Him to work on me.

Ephesians 2:10  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Isaiah 64:8  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Psalm 46:5  “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

1 Peter 3:3-4  “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Psalm 143:8  “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Proverbs 3:15-18  “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”

 

Rescue

Trigger Warning: Suicide

The shame I hold onto about this part of my testimony is heavy and covered in guilt. But the more I celebrate my life, the more I want to open up about this so that hopefully God can use my ashes for His beautiful purpose.

Here I sit at Lake Nockamixon, it’s 32 degrees and extremely windy, but the sun is shining on my tear soaked face, the seagulls are singing, and Rescue by Lauren Daigle is playing in my ears.

When I was 20 I tried to kill myself.

I wanted to end it. End everything. End the pain and the depression and the anxiety. End the frustration. End the never ending struggle. But more than that I would have ended moments like this one. Sunshine on my face looking out over the lake. I would have ended coffee dates with my mom. I would have ended heart to heart talks with my dad. I would have never seen my brother graduate college as valedictorian. I never would have poured into my youth kids who mean the absolute world to me. I would have ended the possibility of ever meeting Josh and beginning this immaculately designed chapter of my life. I would have ended any possibility of the Lord using me for His purpose. In the blink of an eye I would have ended every single thing that I hold so valuable.

I was desperate and numb and in searing pain all at once and I thought my only option was to kill myself. I thought the only option was to give up. To give up ever having a future. As I write this I vividly remember the amount of emotional and physical and spiritual pain I was in. I remember throwing myself on my bedroom floor shaking uncontrollably, sobbing and screaming for God to take the pain away, take away the pain from my disease, take away my depression and anxiety. I was shrieking. I was done. I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t imagine continuing to live one more second.

I am grateful for the nurses and doctors that took care of me at the hospital that night and the next day. I am grateful for the security guard that was posted at my door and didn’t take his eyes off me. I am grateful to the nurse filled with compassion and warmth who didn’t treat me like an insane person, she kept me company and brought me heated blankets, I don’t remember her name but I am grateful to her for treating me like a person. I am grateful for the support from my coordinator and therapists. I am grateful to my mom who never ceased praying, never ceased crying out to God, even in the midst of her agony, and the fear of losing me. She never ceased praying. She was my rock when I couldn’t stand on my own. She fought for me when I couldn’t care less.

Suicide doesn’t just end the bad stuff, it doesn’t just end the pain. In fact it causes pain, intense unmeasurable amounts of pain. Suicide ends all of the good things and any good thing that’s to come. It ends more than just a life. Praise the Lord I am alive. I am experiencing what it means to actually be alive. I will not let my depression and anxiety win. This will not steal my joy. I refuse to fall victim to my mental illness.

I have way too much to live for.

 

My Born Again Story

The past couple days in Colorado have been a whirlwind. From seeing new things for the first time to camping with my youth kids and fellow leaders….it’s been a lot to take in. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yesterday on our drive in Colorado we stopped at Molas Pass, our incredible driver and friend read Psalm 104 as we were standing on the side of a mountain looking out over the mountains and sky that surrounded us. After he read we were encouraged to go out into the wilderness and pray on what he read. Just think about it and really chew on what was said.

I sat on a tiny rock, it had just rained and the ground was damp, I took out my journal and I wrote what surrounded me. In that moment I felt a tug on my heart and it was as if massive flood gates were opened. I bursted into ugly tears. God was talking to me on the side of that mountain. I was exhausted and defeated and constantly in a struggle trying to keep control over my own life. God had never once been in the drivers seat. He had never once been first in my life.

I broke down. Poured my heart out to Him. And I asked Christ to come into my heart and save me. I asked for forgiveness and for His Hand to guide me and protect me. I became a Christian, a Christ follower, for the first real time yesterday.

Jubilant is a good word to use to begin to describe the emotions I was feeling. Ecstatic. Overwhelmed. Nervous. But filled with an incredible high that I’d never felt before.

Today whilst standing in a hot spring in Colorado I spoke to our student ministries director about it. He was ecstatic, so excited, tears in his eyes. I said I’m hoping to get baptized when I go back home and he looked at me and said “why not now?” Why not now? I thought. He wanted to make sure it was okay with my parents. I called my mom. They were okay with it. Excited for me. But they wanted to be there. So Jayme, one of my best friends and sister in Christ FaceTimed my parents and they watched as all my youth kids and fellow leaders gathered around us in the hot spring.

Jeff explained what was going to happen. Asked me to tell everyone my story and why I wanted to be baptized. And then he asked me if I was going to follow Christ. I was then dunked into the hot spring surrounded by my loving friends and my parents watching. They prayed over me. And each person gave me a hug.

I’m currently standing in the campground bathroom while my phone is charging so I can document this. I don’t want to ever forget this.

I’m a Christian. A baptized born again Christian. I am loved. I am in a family of accountability partners. And I’m saved. I am saved from a life of constantly battling myself.

I am His.

New Bodies

Do you ever get fed up with your body? After gaining 130 pounds in 6 years I am very fed up with my body. But not just for how it looks, but for how it acts. My lungs suck. According to my allergy and asthma doctor they are strong, we just don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. It’s been a lot of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t.

Physically I can run distance quite well. My body doesn’t get sore too quickly other than my normal chronic pain spots, and I am willing and ready to go! But my lungs don’t allow me to take deep breaths, and it is impossible to breathe out of my nose. Do you see why I am fed up? It feels like there is a massive elephant inside my chest cavity and squeezing my sinuses. Maybe it’s the constantly having bronchitis and sinusitis and ear infections. Ot maybe it’s linked to my already a pain the butt auto immune disease.

Either way I just want to be able to run. I’ve gone through C25K, completed it, with no improvement to my lungs dying inside. It’s infuriating. I do realize it could be a lot worse though!

I cannot wait for these new bodies God promised us in Corinthians 2:5-10, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.[a] 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. 6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.”

That makes me feel so good. These bodies come with a lot of grief, a lot of pain, a lot of problems. But we will receive new bodies when we are at home with the Lord!

Even If

There have been two songs swimming through my brain for the past two weeks. Usually when I am stressed out I neglect my time with God in a huge way, which causes more stress! I think my brain knows this so it plays two songs on repeat. Even If by Mercy Me, and Reckless Love by Cory Asbury. Two powerful songs. Encouraging. Uplifting. And much needed.

Yesterday I had a breakdown. I was thinking about everything all at once and I couldn’t breathe. My chest was weighed down and my breathing was panicky. One line kept playing through my brain louder than my doom filled thoughts, they say it only takes a little faith to move a mountain, well good thing a little faith is all I have.

I opened Spotify and put the song on repeat. Within five seconds I was sobbing. Weeks of pent up bitterness and anxiety and frustration and pain flooded out of me as I tried to sing the words too. I don’t think my word were audible at all but I know He heard them loud and clear.

Like the prodigal son returning to his fathers arms I clung to those lyrics like I was holding onto the Lord with all the strength I had left in me. I struggle to hold steadfast in my faith when the waves are crashing down all around me. But this song reminds me He has me covered, even if things don’t go my way, even if the struggles endure, He has me.

My Island

There is $0.41 in my bank account right now.

I’m at my wits end. It’s been one thing after another. It’s the never ending medical bills. The having to be out of work for a week because I got my neck cut open. It’s the two car payments. It’s the client telling me to take the week off. It’s the threat that I’m going to be sued by the guy who hit me and that I should lawyer up. It’s taking care of everyone else all day long nonstop and then coming home and sitting in a room where I’m surrounded by dirty laundry and mugs that need to be washed. It’s the hallow feeling inside. The lump in my throat. The anxiety and the depression. It’s nothing yet it’s everything at once.

I’m shaking and terrified. I’m on an island of quick sand sinking faster and faster as gigantic scary waves bigger than life come at me from all sides. Even if someone came to rescue me in a helicopter with a long rope I don’t know if I’d grab on. I’m at that point where I’d be okay if everything swallowed me alive because I’m so exhausted I don’t know how I can keep doing this.

Everything was going so well. I wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck for the first time in years. I quit my terrible job and started a company where I was the boss. I had an awesome savings account built up. I was driving a nice car – my first car – my baby. I was feeling okay with life for the first time in a very long time. And then everything hit at once. Literally and figuratively. It was an explosion of sheer panic and nervous laughter.

The past six months have been pain on top of agony on top of disaster. I don’t know how to fix it. I’m in constant panic mode. I’m trying to please everyone yet I’m sinking further and further into a depression I’m not so sure I will be able to get out of this time.

And trust me…I know…cry out to God and He will hold me and comfort me. But I’m too embarrassed to even walk towards Him right now. I’m too weak to try to fix my faith walk. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who to go. My parents and my brother have their own struggles right now without me crawling to them asking them for whatever help they could offer. And it’s not their fault. They each have their own island, their own quick sand, their own huge scary waves.

So I will sit here surrounded by dirty laundry and mugs that need to be washed pondering why I can’t just take control of life and handle things like an adult. And I will cry. And hyperventilate. And hope I will be able to fall asleep despite the fight going on inside of me.