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I wasn’t a huge fan of being a teenager until maybe my junior or senior year of high school. It just wasn’t so great for me. And there are plenty of things I wish I had done differently… although, looking back, I know that those choices (however poor they may have been) were what helped shape me. And maybe it was because of that, maybe it was because I didn’t think that I’d ever really be able to connect with them on any kind of level, or maybe I was just intimidated… but I never saw myself working with teenagers. Teaching wasn’t my thing and when it came to serving at church, I was way more comfortable in children’s ministry. Besides, some close friends of mine served in the student ministry and I saw the things they were going through and things they were walking through with their students and geez… if they were struggling (women who were way more adept at relating to teens that I was!) then there was no way I could ever do that.
But, in 2008 my heart started to change. I have no idea what it was, other than the fact that God was working. And later that fall, when I found out that student ministry needed leaders and I was feeling the pull to serve in more ways than I already was, I found myself becoming a part of the student ministry world. And I was way intimidated.
If you ever want to be reminded of how incapable we are of doing things on our own, step out of your comfort zone and/or into a leadership role. There are so many times over the last four years that failure was at the forefront of my mind. I kept hearing things like, “You aren’t spending enough time with these girls.” “You aren’t praying for them enough.” “You don’t know scripture well enough to be teaching them.” “You aren’t capable of counseling them.” And on… and on… But all of those were lies. No, I wasn’t the best leader. No, I wasn’t the best teacher. But did I love those girls? Oh my heavens. I didn’t know it was possible to love them as much as I did. And I knew, without a doubt, that I was right where God wanted me to be.
When my girls graduated in the spring, it was time for me to step down from student ministry. I had a feeling that as they began their junior year that I probably wouldn’t be a leader after they graduated. And with meeting Ben and getting married, we realized that he and I needed to be serving together…
What I didn’t expect out of all of this was how much I still love teenagers. There are some girls still in high school that I am connected with and I love it. I love talking with them, I love hearing their struggles, I love hearing how much they know they need to rely on God for even the smallest of things. But I also know there are teens out there who don’t have that, who are struggling at home, who have parents that don’t really care, who are feeling the weight of depression and my heart is heavy for them. And now that I’ve walked through high school again – with an adult perspective and with girls that I grew to love – I’m able to see teenagers differently. It’s SUCH a unique time in life and my prayer is that all teenagers would have someone that would love them, latch onto them, speak truth to them, help them walk through these teenage years and just love them… unconditionally.