I am interested to see the ripple effect that continues in me, the other leaders and in the kids.  The retreat is like a big rock getting plunked right in the middle of a quiet pond.  We’ve only just dropped the rock.  The first wave of reaction is in the works and I’m thankful.


As many of you know, I went on a youth retreat for our church over the weekend as an adult leader-person.  It’s funny that I felt like much more of a student throughout the whole process.  Over the last few days, I continue to absorb new truths every couple of hours – just small pieces of the puzzles that I’m working on.  Moments of clarity.  Selah.

The ripple effect that I intended to see in myself, the other leaders, and kids…  oh mis estrellas!  It is bigger.  Way bigger.

When we returned from the retreat, we entered into the church service where the kids on the retreat led in almost every aspect.  We did not tell them they were doing this until the night before.  Rad!  I love surprising other people with challenging things!  Each of the kids, at one point, had to take the mic and tell the congregation how the Lord worked in them over the weekend.  It was heartbreaking to me to hear their voices shake and see their tears fall.  And all at once it was amazing and beautiful to hear them articulate the transformation within themselves to love and serve God in a bigger way.  I thought I just loved their messages because I was apart of the whole gig.  

Yesterday I heard that our men’s Bible study group that meets on Monday nights, this big, gruff group of guys…  they wanted to talk and pray about the youth service.  It moved them.  One of our older kids made a life changing decision following the retreat.  Life changing.  I’m convinced that God is working in his life and leading him to something bigger than any of us every thought.  Lives will be changed.  I’m in awe.

This morning as I entered into prayer I thought about the Psalm that we learned and meditated on over the weekend.  Psalm 24.  It begins, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.  The world and all who live in it.”   There is much, much more, but I’m stuck here.  I do not know, with certainty, what it means to be His.  What does that ownership entitle Him?  I know that my sense of belonging should be entirely founded upon Him.  I can’t let go of a few things.  I don’t know how to transfer the title over to Him, I guess.

Later in the Psalm it discusses that He is the King of Glory.  I wondered about “glory.”  I am going to pursue understanding of His glory.  What exactly is it?  Can you touch it?  Can you smell it?  In our ladies Bible study the speaker in the video series discussed Moses longing to see the Lord’s glory.  Here is where I think it is especially interesting.  To “see” the Lord’s glory, the Lord had to put Moses in a cleft in the mountainside and He covered his hand over Moses.  Anyone who is not washed with the blood of Christ cannot stand in God’s presence.  He had to protect Moses from himself.  I’m not sure if Moses saw anything.  I do not know if you “see” the Glory that is the Lord strong and mighty, or…  is it an experience?

I wondered, if it was those moments we have as humans when we get relief from problems, a victory, a peace that surpasses all understanding.  Is it when we are excited for tomorrow, hopeful for today, and okay with yesterday all at once?  All good things that we know to be loving and kind and wonderful mushed together to give us such a spiritual voltage that our very physical hearts cannot tolerate it.  Is that His glory?  Then, maybe, we ought to take a moment to cherish those moments.  

I think, for me, one of the most powerful testimonies shared on Sunday, and one of the most personal to me that revealed God’s glory, was that of the youngest girl, Madison.  Madison is an outcast.  Our church accepts her, but a lot of society doesn’t.  Even at the middle school youth group, she was looked down on.  Her family has chosen to live a simple, pioneer lifestyle.  I mean, they make cheese, people.  Who makes cheese?  They make yarn!  The stuff you buy at the store – a human can make that.  Blows.  My.  Mind.

Here Madison is up at the podium, and with her squeaky voice cracking and she confesses that she had never prayed for strength.  And she sobbed.  She couldn’t really finish what she was going to say, but she didn’t have to.  The innocence.  The purity.  God’s Glory.

It angers me that the community responds to this girl with disdain.  It angers me that I have seen the same pattern of disgust and rejection in the high school youth group with Madison’s older brother.  Awhile ago, for whatever reason, the kids decided that they were going to interlock arms during worship.  I think it offers a sense of community.  I don’t love it, but whatever, I’m not 16.  Anyway…  all 50 kids were interlocked and then, there’s David.  Madison’s older brother.  All.  By.  Himself.  My heart ached for him.

I have found, in my experience, that it is these kinds of people, the David’s and the Madison’s, the one’s who get kicked out and left behind, the ones society says are not good enough…  it is them that have something richer and deeper and more reliant on God than anyone will ever know.  Whether you see it or not, I am the very essence of David and Madison.  Against the grain.  Different.  Rejected.  If you see anything good, or beautiful, or inspiring in me, it is God.  It is the same God that loves and shines through these kids.  It is my prayer that they will become a constant reminder to me that I belong to Him.  David and Madison didn’t choose to be pioneering children, but they are.  I didn’t choose to be sick, but I am.  It is in these “weak” positions that we are carrying the cross we’ve been asked to burden.  Do I question it?  Or, do I simply just step up to the mic and confess that I am weak and that I need strength to carry my cross?

Madison’s childlike faith collided with her spiritual maturity and she changed lives.  The one who was rejected is the one the Lord may have sent to save you.  Respond in love and I believe you may experience the glory of God.  Friends, consider who you reject today.  Who do you count out because you’ve judged them to be unworthy of a smile, a hug, or thoughtful sentiment?  It is those that we, as Christians, ought to cling to and build up, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  



I am one hour and fifteen minutes removed from doing one of the most ridiculous things I never ever thought would do in my life.  I was an adult leader in a  weekend retreat for a group of 12 teens from our church.  We fasted.  Seriously.  I did not eat for approximately 38 hours.  I could have never done that on my own, but in the presence of the kids and the five other adults, it was ridiculously easy.  I ate a bit at lunch, but haven’t been back to the trough, yet.  The realization that nothing is going to satisfy me, even the best food I can think of…  the enjoyment will quickly fade.  

I’m different today than when I left – mentally and emotionally.  I’m different in one way because my perspective on God has changed.  The first night we were there our Not-Youth-Pastor, Hunter, led us in a lesson, worship music, and prayer.  During the prayer he said, “God, we love you.”  I realized quickly in that moment that I didn’t even feel love for God.  I want to serve God, I want to please him, but I’m not sure how to love Him in the right way.  In the way that a daughter ought to love a father.  That should concern me and it does.  I do not know how to fix it right now.  I am willing to learn.  

That night we split up into girls and boys groups and it started to become real about what we were doing.  So, we’re really going to bed hungry?  We’re just going to read the Bible, talk shop, and pray?  For a day and a half?  I did not know what that looked like.  Who does that?  

Saturday morning was quiet.  I could tell that some of the kids were struggling and becoming restless and I was sort of concerned.  Were they able to get passed the hunger, lack of cellular devices, and awkwardness of this retreat and find the Jesus behind it?  I am so happy to say that, YES!  Yes they were able!  It was a day filled with Biblical lessons, life application, inspiration, motivation, and prayer.  My Toby gave a lesson.  I never thought he was more handsome.  I was proud of him.  It wasn’t just delivering his message, but the preparation that I saw him do in the weeks ahead of the retreat.  He is a good man.

My Shannon and I were led by the Lord to make some pretty powerful “prayer stations.”  There were 12 different themes to each station and the kids were asked to go to them and interact with the station.  For instance, there were candles and matches at the “Light” station.  At that station there was scripture of God creating light, Jesus being the light, and how we are a light to others.  The kids were asked to pray and meditate on the scriptures while they considered how their own lives reflected the light of Jesus.  We also had things like forgiveness, strength, wisdom, and discipline.  This could be something easily used in Sunday school or at any revival.  They were fun to make and the Lord worked through them well.  At the “You” station, the kids read about God being their maker and they had play-dough, a globe, and a model-statue thingy.  This activity was really meaningful to me, for some reason.

We did have a few breaks throughout the day and we tried to make it a light atmosphere, but the thing I think I like the most about these kids and their response to this process was – it was not designed to be fun, entertaining, or for their a-musement.  It was a hard core, Jesus in yo’ face, what are you going to do about it challenge.  It would be us leaders that would finally be the ones to crack Saturday evening.  Okay, it wasn’t all leaders, it was me.  

We had read and discussed Elijah relinquishing his spirit to Elisha.  As one generation of leaders to the next, we wanted to pray over the kids in a special and meaningful way.  We each had drawn two kids that we had been praying for leading up to the event.  Even before I got to my first girl, I was crying.  I just knew it would be a hard prayer.  Relinquishing some of my hopes and dreams over to my Kelsie.  Realizing that my time with my hands is limited and that, I am so thankful that I was able to use them to spend time with her at the flower shop.

I am not getting better.  My symptoms of spasticity, tremor, and pain are very difficult to treat.  The progression of my illness into my upper body has really slowed me down.  I am uncomfortable, now, in any position.  I usually don’t sit for too long because my legs ache and now that my upper body is crappin’ out on me, it’s really put me in quite the pickle.  My neck, shoulders, and arms are just tired.  Just lifting my hands up to lay on the kids, was a struggle for me physically.  

I’m normally very excited to go to work and get to “play.”  It is a burden now.  Dana is tired.  I pray for miraculous healing.  I am hopeful that my neurologist will help me.  I get in to see her the 28th.  I can hang on for 23 more days, right?  After that, Toby and I will assess the situation and see if the shop does need to be sold.  It makes me cry.  It might be what the Lord is asking me to do though.  Maybe I have to get rid of the shop to get somewhere else.  I’m just not sure.

Perhaps the most challenging part of the entire weekend was signing an agreement with all the other attendants – a contract, a call, a commission to serve God wholly and completely.  I am good with that.  We were asked to commit to Bible study, devotional time, scripture memorization, and to seek the Lord first everyday.  I am good with that also.  The part that didn’t feel so good was committing to use my suffering for the growth of the Kingdom.  From the outside, it’s like, “Yes!  I will do anything for the Lord!”  But, when you are IN the suffering, you want nothing more than to get out.  

I have been trying to recondition my mind to understand that this illness and the problems it creates can help me and are actually a good thing.  I’ve been trying to accept that healing may never come.  I’ve been living and waiting as though I would feel better someday and as I realize that it may not happen,  I grieve for the dreams and experiences I haven’t had.  I am sad to be limited by this stupid body.  At the same time, I know I can offer the world a completely different perspective on things because of the uniqueness of my walk.  I might help someone.  And, if I can, but instead I choose to sit and feel sorry for myself…  that is not the legacy I want to leave.

The difficulty in signing the agreement, for me, was a few words.  Bryon presented the lesson and gave us a beautiful message on a friend he had lost years ago.  The friend died, full of life and love for the Lord, and his character not only impacted his immediate circle of friends, but generations of family’s now.  The friend, Bryon illustrated, lost all of his lifeblood in one moment.  The rest of us who struggle, serve, and work for the Lord may not lose our blood in one foul swoop, but one drop at a time.  

One drop at a time.  

Can I be okay with that?  For me, to be OK with it would mean that I could face my pain and illness with strength, with a good attitude, and joy.  As it is, I don’t have that mentality about it.  I don’t trust that it will all be OK.  I’m seeing these little droplets of blood everyday and I’m freaking out and well, freaking out isn’t really helping anyways.  But, dang it!  I just wish I had the ability to carry this cross for the Lord with a happy heart.  I want to change in that way.  I want to pursue His will for my life because I know that is the place that I will be used most.  If his will for my life is for me to weaken in body slowly, yet ever so surely, how can I accept that for really reals? 

I am interested to see the ripple effect that continues in me, the other leaders and in the kids.  The retreat is like a big rock getting plunked right in the middle of a quiet pond.  We’ve only just dropped the rock.  The first wave of reaction is in the works and I’m thankful.  I’m tired.  Our prayer as leaders was that this experience might cause a chain reaction that didn’t just end with the teens leading church today, but continues to envelop the kids in their homes, with their family’s, friends, peers and the generations that follow them.

I am thankful that I got to shut the whole world off and focus on God.  That is a rare opportunity.  Happy to be home with my monsters and as I type in my chair, watching all four of them cuddled up on the couch, I have tears.  If this is the only way that I could have them, I would do it all over again.  That makes me glad.