The Imperfect Youth Leader

Everyone wants to be heard and known. We all have the desire to be understood in a light that doesn’t make us seem crazy. Now magnify these needs by a thousand and you have teenagers. Two main things that teens need in their lives are number 1: JESUS and number 2: imperfect adults who care about them. The reason I say imperfect is that one of the biggest disservices we do to the youth population in the church is making them think we as the adults have it all together. For some reason, youth leaders think that if we pretend we’ve never had a beer, said a curse word, or made a bad choice as a teen (or even as an adult for that matter), that we are somehow painting them the right picture of the Christian life. Now there are some adults who haven’t done any of the aforementioned things and that is awesome but I would take a guess that many have done at least one if not all of those things. When we start to be fake with students that’s when they start to be fake with us. I am crazy passionate about youth ministry and youth leaders that can really help the student along in their faith journeys. I have run into lots of different types of youth leaders of the last five years and early on I decided to be the imperfect youth leader. The one that maybe parents didn’t always understand but students did. These are 7 things that I have found to help be an imperfect youth leader.  

1) Connect 

Before you start throwing scripture at them, you need to connect with students. Connection is key in becoming a godly influence in the life of students and young adults. Find common ground. Relate to them on their terms at their level, not yours.  

2) Listen 

There is a difference between hearing and listening. Listening should be followed by an action. Remember their birthdays so you can mail them a card. Remember that time they told you their candy and bring them some to cheer them up or celebrate an accomplishment.  

3) Invest 

Put in the time. Time is one of your most valuable gifts to give because you can never get that time back. Students truly appreciate that sacrifice of choosing to spend time with them then at another commitment. Also the more you invest in them the more trust they develop which can lead to a stronger godly influence in their life.  

4) Authenticity 

Be who you are. This has a dual purpose. By being who God created you to be they see you living out all that the Christian life has to offer. Teens already tend to feel a sense of outsiderness and awkwardness with you, so what a beautiful picture it can be to see someone living out their unique brand of awesomeness! God made us all with quirks, unique personalities, and passions. Show those things to your students. Let them know its okay to be who they are.  

5) Share 

If you aren’t letting students get to know you then they are never going to trust you. Not only will they not trust with the easy stuff but they certainly aren’t going to come to you when it matters most. It’s important to listen as mentioned above but it is also crucial to share (when appropriate).  

6) Use Social Media 

This can be a hot-button issue for some church leaders but I feel that when used properly social media can really proud great insights into your student’s lives. Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat can provide you little snapshots into their personalities and what matters to them. Nuggets of truth and cries for help can be seen in social media postings. Social media posts can help with conversation starters because you have seen a glimpse into their weeks  

7) Stay the Course 

Don’t abandon them after high school. Just as they needed you in those formative years of finding their faith, your students need you in that next stage of life as well. One of my favorite things to do is send handwritten letters within those first few months of college to let them know how much I miss them, I’m still thinking about them, and I’m still here. Stay with them!! 

 

Perfect people don’t bring students to Christ, imperfect people do. 

 

in grace and love,

amber

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I am not alone

I’m sitting in my pajamas covered up with a quilt I made drinking coffee and reflecting on what I’ve been feeling lately. God has put on my heart to really examine myself and be honest with my feelings and today I feel like others may be able to find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. The enemy uses isolation to make me feel like I have no one to turn to because no one has been there , but 1 Corinthians 10:13 is a verse that has taught me that I’m not alone.

When most people think temptation I feel like they maybe think about sexual temptation but we can be tempted in lots of different ways by lots of different things. One definition of the word temptation is “a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise”. For me something that I do is unwise is to doubt who God made me to be and to think I am less then a daughter of the most high. I read in a book (perhaps by Lysa Terkeurstt) that constantly thinking negatively of yourself is still thinking of yourself. So while I constantly think to myself I’m not a good enough wife, mother, daughter, friend, i’m still thinking of myself. In the days of Facebook, Instagram stories, and Snapchat  I get to caught up in what I don’t have and who I’m not that I forget to thankful for all that I have and all that I am. God is faithful! God is the midst of everything, even my personal chaos.

As believers I think we get caught up portraying the Christian life and not walking it out. You see when Jesus got a hold of my heart and I was so excited to learn more and to grow and build community in Christ. Now I feel like portraying the Christian life has clouded the redemption of the cross. What I found is that just because you know Jesus doesn’t mean that everything is magically perfect. The longer I live in Christ the stronger I feel to live in authenticity. We need to be authentic in the all aspects of life. That doesn’t mean airing all your dirty laundry but instead showing others they are not alone. We have the chance to comfort each other in our struggles and celebrate in our triumphs. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13  says that there is “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity”.  I won’t be tempted by something that isn’t common to the rest of humanity which means I am not alone. You are not alone. We have brothers and sisters in Christ. Have the courage to be authentic in your life, it can be an encouragement to you and to others.

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I am a mess

I am a mess. And not the cute mess as in messy bun and yoga pants but the kind of mess that really makes you stop and think what is happening in my life. Several months ago I thought I knew what I wanted and what the next chapter for me looked like but God had different plans. I had a job which if I’m being honest with myself I wasn’t happy with and it didn’t suit me and then another job fell in my lap but I quickly realized it wasn’t the right fit either. So there I was feeling like a failure and I just kept my choices to myself because it was easier than admitting defeat.

I really felt the Lord called me to go back to school so I went and now here I am unemployed and wondering if my discernment is more like a mac truck I’m driving to get to where I think I should be going. When I was in graduate school we had a lot of major things happening in our life all at once so I feel like the last year and a half has almost been a blur that I am just now really feeling the effects from.

I’ve seen so many posts from friends lately about being thankful for their tribes and I’ve had to reflect on that absence in my life. We made the decision to move and switch churches which we know was and is the right decision four our family but what that created was a rift between those we were closest with which has been a tough pill to swallow. It’s caused me to doubt who I am because if people don’t want to invest in me anyone more, am I worth it? It’s caused to me to wonder what’s wrong with me if I can’t sustain friendships 20 minutes up the road. I told you I’m a mess. But I want to be honest about my mess because I feel its the social media filtered lives that we all post do us a disservice. That filter of “look how wonderful my life is and everything is perfect”. I’m tired of looking for the right filter. The stress of social media is real and I know I can’t be the only one who thinks that. I just want to be open and honest with myself and everyone. Sometimes you have to claim your mess before you can start picking it up.

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Charges but no Offense

Last Friday I went to a bible study and we read a portion of Acts. When we discussed what we observed from reading this passage what jumped out at me is that charges were brought against Paul but he had committed no offense. I started to think about my teenage years and how I would believe anything anyone said about me. If someone said something negative that wasn’t true after continually hearing it I would just start to accept as truth. This cycle of thinking still haunts me as an adult. “Charges” but no offense. Acts 25: 7 really stood out to me.

Just because someone brings a “charge” against you doesn’t make it so. Charges were brought against Paul but with no proof. Paul had committed no wrong doing. He stood firm in his faith. He knew who he was in Christ and what the truth really was. As Christians we have to remember we are who God says we are, not the world. We are his sons and daughters. Another thing that came to mind while reading was what God can do with you and for you when he gets ahold of you. Paul used to be a persecutor of Christians and then he became a champion of the faith. God can transform anyone for his glory. I need that reminder so much today. The past, the “charges”, the world doesn’t define me but Christ does. Be strong today for God is fighting for you.

in grace and love,

amber

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My Planning Power Couple

If you know me at all you know that I am paper/stationary/planner/office supply OBSESSED. There is just something about it that makes me happy and I love shopping for it. This year will be my second year with an Emily Ley Simplified Planner and Lara Casey’s PowerSheets. Being as tomorrow is August 1st (the start of my academic simplified planner) I’ve decided after hearing Lara and Emily talk about using these products together, to actually start doing this myself. Last night I sat down and did my power sheets prep work for August (yes something didn’t get done in July and I added them to August). This morning I sat down with both products to give my self a greater chance for success towards my August goals.

The tending list can be taken out of the PowerSheets but I like to keep mine in tact. I also love my cultivate what matters sticker book to help dress up not only my PowerSheets but my planner. As you can see I marked in my monthly layout when to do my prep work for next month. Next I used another sticker to cover up the word “Notes” in my planner to say “tend to this” to keep items from my tending list front and center. Then I used my Emily Ley Dot Stickers to add some organization and color!

You can get 20% off Simplified Planners through tomorrow with the code 20OFFSP! 

If you have any questions about either products or how I use them feel free to ask

*post does contain affiliate links, however this post is not sponsored. I just LOVE these products!*

 

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DIY Tulle Bedskirt

I have been eyeing this Emily & Meritt bedskirt at Pottery Barn Kids for Presley’s room for quite some time but with a $169 price tag it’s been a no go. What makes this version so affordable is that I was able to use my 40% off coupon on my single cut of fabric. This version worked out to be about $44!

 

Tonight I went to hobby lobby and found this awesome tulle with elastic (more than likely meant to make skirts), but it immediately reminded of the bedskirt at Pottery Barn Kids.

My first thought was to sew it to the plain white bedskirt I had on Presley’s bed already but when I called to ask my mom about it she suggested just pinning it! I purchased 5 yards (I used this chart to help guesstimate how much I needed for a full size bed) and a package of safety pins.

I started with the plain white bed skirt that was already on her bed (I believe it was under $10 from target). Next I started safety pinning the elastic part of the tulle through bed skirt about every 6″.  If you wanted a cleaner look you could do a couple of more permanent options: fabric glue, double sided tape, or sewing. What I like about this is that it can be traded out plus I can always reuse this for another project. It took maybe 15 minutes to pin the whole thing.

 

I’m super happy with how it tuned it out and I think when Presley sees it she’ll love it!

 

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Parenting Out of Fear

 I’ve made a really eye opening revelation recently. I parent out of fear. Not making my children afraid of me (although I’m sure from time to time they are) but parenting them because I’m afraid they will turn out like me. What happens is I catch them doing something that reminds me of something that I do and I come down hard on them, not always because what they are doing is necessarily wrong but because I’m afraid of them picking up my bad qualities. I’m learning that I have to be okay with all my attributes. God entrusted these two children to me and I have to trust that he will equip me in raising up gracious and loving children. My kids come from me and my husband and are bound to have some of our personality traits good or bad. Also bad is a relative term, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

So often I parent out of what I DON’T want them to be that I forget to parent them into what I DO want them to be. I forget to celebrate their uniqueness instead of trying to stifle it because it scares me. When it comes to parenting I often feel that sometimes nuggets of wisdom come and then feel like it’s too late to apply them. In reality my parenting style is continually evolving because my children are continually changing at what works in one situation might not work in the next. All in all i’m doing the best that I can with the knowledge I have and lean on God.

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Making Space

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I started an intensive bible study last Friday that has already been eye opening. One of the things I read was about in order to to be disciple of Christ you need to be disciplined. It defined discipline in one’s spiritual walk as making space for God to work (at least that’s the gist). When I read that a huge lightbulb went off. I’m often complaining and wondering where is God and why isn’t He doing anything. The problem isn’t God, the problem is me. I do not provide God space to work and do what He does. I have become addicted to the busyness of this world. When my calendar is full and I’m constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off I’m pushing God out of the way. My goal for the rest of this year and for 2017 is to make space for God. Making space for Him FIRST will allow all the other things in my life to fall into place.

In order to try and be as successful as I can be I’m going to iron out a few action steps. First off, I’m going to start by writing in time with God in my planner. I’m a HUGE planner person. I write everything else in there so why wouldn’t I carve out time for the one who created time. After that I need to have a plan with how I’m going to spend that time. I don’t need to schedule it in detail but at least have a general idea of how that time is going to be spent in His presence. Whether that be journaling, praying, scripture dissection, etc. Finally, I need to make sure that I have everything I need to make the time successful: bible, notebook, pens and whatever else I find useful in my quiet time.

I hope this post gave you some food for thought and some practical tips to help you make space for God so he can work in BIG ways in your life.

in grace and love,

amber

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Obedience

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Over last year God has been working on my obedience to Him. Not just in some aspects of my life but all of them. What I’ve learned so far is that the spirit of obedience is most necessary when it’s the most difficult. When God calls you to do something that you love and want to do, it’s simple. But when he’s called you to be obedient in adverse circumstances that’s when your spirit it stretched the most. It makes me think of my kids and if I ask them something easy to be obedient to like go pick out a cookie they’re going to willingly do it but when I say hey go clean your room there is resistance because it’s not with they want to do. The same scenario can be applied to us as believers, there’s resistant in being obedient to God’s calling when it’s something that we don’t want to do. My life looks very different then it did before Jesus got ahold of me. Being apart of HIS kingdom means following HIS will. I might not always want to do to what he is leading me to but I know that the Holy Spirit would not lead me against His will or against His word. His is continually stretching me and pushing me to become who he has called me to be, my job in all that is to get out of his way and be obedient.

 

in grace and love,

amber

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Boldness

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Today I was doing my write the word journal  and a verse that continues to speak to me was included in the today’s verses of Hebrews 10:35-39. After I wrote down the verses for today and moved on to the next page I became flooded with thoughts. I really feel that is the main purpose of the journal, to get you thinking about scripture and how it applies to your life. Right off the bat I wrote BE BOLD!! God wants us to be bold in his name. Who benefits when I retreat into myself and shy away from my faith and purpose? the devil (he does not need any help from me). As Christians we need to be confident in the Lord, His truths, and His promises. He is Holy, He is sovereign, He is Lord. I need to remember I am a daughter of the most high God.

I wilt at the sign of darkness instead of standing tall to catch the light. I need to BE BOLD, STAND TALL. The darkness is not our chance to wilt and die but to stand up in faith and love. God is light. God is love. When the darkness of the world creeps in I must be bold in my faith and my love of Christ. I need to stand tall to let the sun reach my face so that I grow in the love of Jesus.

in grace and love,

amber

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