Jr. High Retreat: A Game Changer

Jr. High Retreat: A Game Changer

Don’t listen to stereotypes about Jr. High youth and preteens, because these kids are amazing!! Seriously, one of my favorite age groups to spend time with is Jr. High. And last weekend, I had the privilege of going away on a three-day retreat with seven of these wonderful, energetic 7th and 8th graders.

Every year, the Missouri District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod puts on a retreat for Jr. High youth at Camp Windermere in Roach, MO. At this year’s spring retreat, almost 500 youth and adult leaders flooded this beautiful camp in an event jam-packed with live music, games, activities, candy, a talent show, and most importantly, worship and studying of the Word of God. Pastor Greg Bearss of Lake Pointe Lutheran Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas led us in four theologically deep and culturally relevant sessions on God’s L.O.V.E.

This is my fifth time taking a group to this retreat and each time I come away with just as much as the youth. This year was no exception. At Sunday morning’s worship service and final Bible study, Pastor Greg’s Spirit-filled message of God’s infinite, unconditional love and grace for each one of us cut me to the heart and had me in tears. I realized how undeserving I am of that love and how much I take God’s grace for granted. And I realized I all too easily overlook the brokenness around me–in my own life and in the lives of others around me. How often I have neglected to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46).

The beginning of change starts with the understanding that each of us is simply a trophy of God’s grace.

Pastor Greg challenged us to make that day a game changer. And that is my prayer–that from this day forward, I would be so grateful for God’s undeserved grace in my own life that I can’t help but share it with the broken around me. I want to leave a legacy of Jesus’ love. When someone looks at me, I want to get out of the way so that they see Jesus in me. I want to be first a foremost a trophy of God’s grace.

I’m going to leave you with some pictures of these amazing children of God I got to spend time with this weekend (in no particular order)…

photo 1

This guy has a contagious smile and loves to bring joy to others

photo 4

This guy soaks up life like a sponge and has a passion for teaching others.

photo 2

This guy has a servant heart and a calming presence that makes my heart happy.

photo 3

This girl is a strong and steady presence and a loyal friend.

This girl is full of life and smiles. I admire her fearlessness!

 

This girl is spunky and confident. She is a friend to all!

Jr high retreat

Even though I just met her, I can see that this girl is loving, caring, and thinks of others above herself.

I got to know David, the other adult leader, on this trip. He is a great listener and has a heart for God and others. He will make a great pastor!

 

 

 

A little bit about me…

Blog About PicWelcome to my blog! I’m new to the blogging world, so here’s a little bit about me:

I’m a mostly-stay-at-home mom to two little ones, a church worker, musician, website manager, and most recently, a sewer/crafter/hair bow maker (having a girl will do that to you). I work very part-time as a website administrator for our church and am currently training to become a Kindermusik educator. Bottom line: I keep myself busy!

But most importantly, I’m a redeemed child of God. With my husband, I’m on that ever-difficult parenting journey, and I fail daily. Some days I feel like Martha Stewart. Other days, I’m as domestically challenged as they come (have you seen my kitchen lately?!). Still other days, I feel like the world’s meanest or most boring mom, whether it’s warranted or not. But at the end of the day, it’s God’s grace and forgiveness that gets me through. And that’s what I want to impart to my children.

I want my kids to get to know their Heavenly Father, who loves them unconditionally, never lets them down, and forgives every last sassy remark, screaming tantrum, and sibling fight. I want them to see His love–in other people, in nature, in art, in everything around them! I want them to place Him first in their lives.

Maybe you’re here because, like me, you like seeing what fun and creative things other moms are doing with their kids. Maybe you are looking for ways to point the children in your life to Christ. Or maybe you don’t know God as your Heavenly Father, but your curiosity is piqued. Whatever brought you here, I hope you find inspiration, grace, and encouragement in these “pages.”

I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite Bible passages, which has been an encouragement to me in this parenting journey.

~ Anne

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9