Being a 90s Youth Group Kid wasn’t so Bad

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The 90s take a lot of flack. The church takes a lot of flack. 90’s Christian music takes a lot of flack. All over social media I see people having to recover from that decade, having to recover from being a “church kid,” looking at that time in their lives as something that wrecked them. First of all, if that is you, I am so sorry for any bad experience you had. I’m sorry if you were in an unhealthy church, but I have to share another side.

I LOVED being a youth group kid. When I see Buzzfeed quizzes about “How much of a 90’s youth group kid were you?” I am filled with so many great memories. I will still blast “Not Ashamed” by the Newsboys when it appears on my iTunes shuffle and think about how it felt to feel so proud of who I was, and that I could make a difference in the world. I proudly wore my faith like a badge… not ashamed. I had the silly T-shirts (which were truly a bad fashion choice). I had crushes on way too many CCM artists and would swoon over the boys who quoted Scripture and were leaders in the church. I was a leader in the church, and it was a place where I grew as a confident leader.

I learned so many useful skills during that time. I participated in various work projects to raise funds, so I could participate in various summer trips. It was where I started writing for others, and even dipped my foot in the public speaking world. Encouraging people surrounded me and in a period of life when I could have taken many paths, it was my many “moms,” “dads,” and “grandparents” that made me feel like I belonged and had a purpose. It was the time in life that I learned important disciplines like getting to know God on my own. Those years gave me a foundation that led to where I am today.

Was it a perfect time? No. I do have some residual baggage from those years too. I was in a pretty safe bubble. I probably should have explored other churches instead of thinking my church was the “one and only.” I was a cocky Christian who believed I was pretty much perfect and there was no other path out there. Because of some of the “minor” issue things I learned in my younger years, I still struggle with “my way or no way,” and seeing God as unconditional.

Thankfully, after high-school graduation, I became closer to people that weren’t in my youth group, and it opened my eyes to see beyond the bubble. I went through the exploration phase of finding my own beliefs. I learned that there were other Christian beliefs and other ways to worship God. I began to see that some of these other beliefs made more sense to me and I ping-ponged between the church system I grew up in and new churches. I started asking the tough questions and no longer identified with the old system.

From what I hear, it seems like this story is not the norm. That it is impossible to leave your own belief system without a period of rebellion. I am here to tell you that you can question the things you have been taught without walking away from your faith. It’s okay for your beliefs in God to shift, and you don’t have to feel that just because some things don’t make sense that you have to do a 180 with God. My heart breaks for people that had such an unhealthy church relationship that they felt like completely walk away from the church and everything associated with it was the only option.

The church is not perfect. It’s full of flawed humans who do the best they can, but still can make mistakes. Some make a LOT of mistakes, unfortunately. I think it’s up to each of us to do what we can to create positive experiences for others. If I can just talk to my youth pastor friends for just a moment… you have the opportunity to create a positive experience for your students. You may be the only positive experience a student has with the church (sometimes in life). I know that is a pretty overwhelming thing to think about and that is why it is so important to empower your other adult leaders to see themselves as more than just a warm body on Wednesday nights. Allow your students to ask the tough questions, give them opportunities to gain valuable life skills, and encourage them to use their gifts.

We need to be pouring into this generation, so they can look back at the 2010s as a great time in their lives.

A Lasting Legacy

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Another theme that has been running through my life lately has been “living with the end in mind.” I’ve heard these words many times and didn’t really pay much mind. In fact, it seemed a bit morose to think about death. Picking up “Living the Intentional Life” brought to life why it is so important to think NOW about what kind of legacy I want to leave behind.

When you are up to your neck in survival mode and busyness, it is difficult to think about “things that last.” You just want to keep trying to put one foot in front of the other without tripping. I have been in and out of this mode for longer than I’d like to be. When this year began, I picked the word “Forward” to focus on. I desire to look ahead instead of staying stuck in the pastin mistakesin failures. I don’t want to let those things cause me to flitter the days away and cause me to say things like, “Where has this year gone?”

This book reminded me that it is never too late to re-create the life you want to live. To live with passion and purpose. To make a positive impact on the world around you. We need to stop just taking up space on this planet and start being people that make the world a better place because we are in it. Each day we are given is a new chance to focus on our legacies. To focus on what we are called to do regardless of the life stage we are in.

Don’t wait until _______ to be the person you want to be known for or do what makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning. Start doing it NOW!

Learning from my Moments

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There has been a recurring theme throughout the last few months. Am I living the life I want or am I letting life live me? Am I being purposeful with the days I’m given?

Life can be full of twists and turns. I’ve noticed that I did not live out the first half of the year as well as I could have (or should have). Relationships are different. Dreams are still just beyond my reach. I’ve been frustrated and disappointed. Sometimes acting like a two year old and throwing temper tantrums. 🙂

There were also some amazing momentslike “Friendpalooza 2014” in April which included spending 2 weeks from Nashville to CA with my best friends and ended with this moment….

 

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My people… they are beyond amazing!

As always, spending time with the people that know me best, left me refreshed and ready to press into whatever adventure was next. To move forward in spite of setbacks and delays. While on this trip, I began reading “Moment Maker” by Carlos Whittaker. This book talks about looking at all the various moments in life and making the most of them not only for ourselves but for those around us.

Sometimes our moments crash and burn at the speed of a fighter jet plummeting toward earth in a fireball. At that velocity, sometimes there is nothing else you can do besides eject, but if you can hold on, sometimes you are presented with an even more incredible moment than what you thought was possible.

Those words just washed over me and caused me to pause, realizing that I just needed to hold on. Pushing the eject button is easy, holding on takes courage.

If you are in a season of feeling like things are crashing around you, or that you have spent time messing up moments for those around you, please realize that as long as you are on this earth, no moment has to be final. There are second chances; ways that you can take moments by the teeth and create something much better. Be present in the moments that you have. Don’t let life just pass you by, but be an active participant!

 

If you want to check out Moment Maker for yourself, you can buy it here.