I've climbed a 14,000 foot mountain with them (that's a whole other story)! I've led WyldLife with them! I've laughed with them, and cried with them! I've spent at least 5 weeks of my life with them at Young Life Camp! I've slept in the lobby of a Hyatt with them. Yep, in a lobby. For over two years, most of Sunday Nights were with them!
I have known these girls since they were in 8th Grade!!! They are now Freshman in College. I have called them my Pioneers! I was their Young Life Leader, somewhere along the way they stole my heart, and now I treasure being their friend!
At the end of this Christmas Break, Natalie already back at school, we sat across a booth from one another on a Friday Morning... 7:30am-10:30am... We laughed, talked honestly, gave life updates, and reminisced about funny memories! I drank toooo much coffee, didn't want the time to end, and driving away my heart was bursting with thankfulness.
You never know as a Young Life Leader what the Lord will do with your friends, and what maybe even more so, what your friends will decide to do with the Lord!
These girls were the first group of friends I knew walking into Novi, and as I left my Area Director job there, they were graduating from NHS... Pretty fitting if you ask me. We are all experiencing new things... New people, joys, pressures, and questions. Newness is exciting, and sometimes a little scary. There is something holy when you return to the familiar for a few hours. When you sit across a table, and know the people on the other side care! Know they are invested, and that memories and conversation leave you feeling valued.
As I think about ALL our Seniors from last year... I am deeply, deeply grateful! Grateful to walk alongside of such incredible friends... and even though it looks different now, when I am able to connect and hear how they are doing my heart rejoices. I love how our friendships continue. The journey is not over when they leave the halls of their high school... that is the heart of any Young Life Leader. Part of my heartache watching them leave for college is trusting that the Lord knows best... BUT isn't that the problem with most things. Trusting that God is in control and I am not! I can't tell you the amount of times I have prayed for them, asked God to be with them, and wanted them to see how much more God has for them! These friends are beautiful, wonderful, bold, courageous, and AMAZING... God has made them THIS way!
In a booth on a cold, snowy Friday morning I saw the Lord in each of these girls again. I always do. They have taught me more. Taught me what joy, kindness, thoughtfulness, and patience looks like. Being with these friends reminds me what true friendship feels like... When you are in the midst of it, you don't realize the depth of how dearly you know one another, but it is oh so real. We have fought, and I'm sure there are more ways I screwed up as their leader than I even realize... (and for those moments I depend on God's grace!)
And now with tears in my eyes, I can see the Lord has them and they have the Lord!
I marvel at each of these young women, and here is why! Their character... their integrity... the way they are becoming the women God has designed and created them to be! The way their freedom has allowed them to grow, even in one semester of College! I can't believe that two of them are Young Life Leaders now! Speaking truth into kiddos, and being used by the Lord!
Here is a small glimpse of why I love these ladies...
Natalie leads YL at Dexter High School. I went to Potbelly last spring with Natalie and our conversation left me with tears streaming down my face... God has done a mighty work in her life! She asks great questions, is authentically herself, and has a very intentional heart!
Alina leads YL at East Lansing High School. We spent the month of July together at YL Camp... She loves from the deepest part of her heart, and knows the peace of Jesus in a way I marvel at! She cares deeply for friends and family... and makes me laugh allll the time!
Maddy goes to YL Bible Study, and is unwavering in her convictions and faith! Someone I look up to in the way she cares for others, and believes in our God... Maddy teaches me in a quiet, humble way!
Abby is rowing for MSU and spending time with Athletes in Action... She still is one of the most involved, strongest people I know! Abby is faithful, bold, and deeply committed to the Lord!
Lindsey is a WyldLife Leader in Novi, works at Panera... and I will listen to ANY story she tells me! Linds has a soft heart, and a fierce spirit... A Great Combination! She is unapologetically herself!
Megan is playing Club Field Hockey and pursuing her faith at Penn State... Makes me laugh hard, and love the way she does what she wants, lives with zest and passion for Jesus, and does not compromise!!!
What I can tell you today... these girls have taught me more! I know Jesus more. I know friendship more. I continue to know them more!
As a Young Life Leader I think sometimes we question the investment. Does it all really matter? Do I even know what I am doing? We mess up, but we show up. And in the midst of it all, we lean into Jesus! And God covers it!
The reality today is that these women have given me more. I can't WAIT To see what the Lord has in store for them. And I cannot thank them enough for what they have taught me through our 6 years of Friendship! I thought I was leading them, but in so many ways they have been my leader!!!
On this Monday, let's vow to invest in one another! Let's climb up mountains together and cheer one another on! And then on snowy mornings, resting in the holy of familiar, sipping too much coffee, let's share the adventures we have been on!!!