It's February 29th: Leap Day!
This got me realizing something... Yes, Chad is particularly good at leaping. But more than that, this IS a leap year for me and Chad—a year in which we are taking leaps. Leaps in our business, in our lives, and in our ministries. I want to fill you in on one of those recent leaps.
For nearly 10 years now, Chad and I have been spending our extra time investing our hearts, souls, and energy into our favorite age group of people—high schoolers.
We led a youth group in Kenosha, volunteered as leaders with a youth group in Racine, organized and helped with retreats, lock-ins, overnights and outreach events, taught Sunday School and small groups, planned group activites, served on committees, helped organize and run multiple fund-raising events, went on 5 youth mission trips as leaders, took countless photos and designed a plethora of t-shirts & printed materials for events and ministries.
We've sent birthday cards and facebook messages, attended basketball games, musicals, football games, school plays, volleyball games, band concerts, talent shows, school fundraisers, prom festivities, game nights and one-on-one lunches & dinners galore. We've prayed up, preached up, learned up. Laughed up, lived up, cried up. Sang up, skyped up, soaked up.
We didn't always have the answers. Sometimes it was scary—most of the time it was motivating. We witnessed teens change their habits and give their lives to Jesus. We saw them keep each other accountable to glorigying God in all they do. We were challenged by their boldness and learned from them constantly. We've seen students step up when no one else would. We've seen them reach out to their own communities and to the world. We've seen God move in miraculous ways through them. We've been pushed spiritually by most of them.
We've grown attached. Obsessed, even. We've felt like parents at times (and were sometimes called "mom" and "dad"). We've tried to be "cool". We've been silly. We've been real. We've been friends. Most of all though, we've been blessed.
I list all of those things not to boast in ourselves at all. The truth is, we couldn't have done any of it without God guiding our steps—HE deserves all the credit. Sure, it was a lot of "stuff" to do over the years and there were a lot of draining moments and sacrifices, but we wouldn't trade a SINGLE minute of any one of those experiences for anything in the world.
God has been so faithful... We worked with unparalleled adult leaders and pastors who have become the closest of friends. We have built amazing relationships with the coolest high school students on the planet (no, we're not biased). In fact, many of those students already graduated high school. Some even graduated college. And still, we're encouraged by their lives and all of the memories we hold onto—each and every one of them.
So, you're wondering what our leap is?
Well, Chad is 28-yrs-old. I'm 12 days shy of 28-yrs-old. We're young adults....but not for too much longer! Haha! Over the summer and fall, God began to lay a new challenge before us. He stirred our hearts and turned our focus instead toward college students and young adults in our church. We were honored that he saw potential in us to start up a ministry that didn't yet exist there.
We finally worked up the courage and started small, just intentionally getting to know other young adults in our church and setting up hang-outs. In a few very short months, our group had grown like crazy! We discovered an ever-expanding network of friends that were just hungry for relationships with other young adults. Right about the time we began to feel overwhelmed and inadequate to pull it off, God pulled through. He brought on a full-time Director of College and Young Adult Ministries for our church! (Duh, Amber...why do you ever doubt? God's timing is always perfect...He's got your back.) In January, we stepped down almost completely from high school youth ministry.
So that's our leap! We're now adapting our youth ministry experiences, applying our own life experiences, depending on God TONS, and walking alongside some amazing new ministry leaders to invest in the young adults and college students of our growing church. So far the ministry has lots of momentum and plenty of potential. We can't wait to see it unfold and be a part of it! Praise on!