Declare His glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
Psalms 96:3

Saturday, July 13, 2013



Friday, July 12, 2013


Often when we take trips with our students we put really high expectations on what we hope the trip will accomplish in each of their lives. We love who they are...but we hope that they come home different and with a deeper understanding of who they are in Christ. And as adults we know that this is a lot to ask and in order for this to be accomplished it will take work. Work on the part of the Holy Spirit to speak and work on the part of the student to hear and respond.

Some of the students have voiced their discontentment with their relationships with the LORD in recent months. We've known that they have battles going on inside their hearts and sometimes their homes. And some of that is more than can be overcome in a week's time. So, while we hope and pray for much change- dramatic, drastic lifelong change, we don't want to put our own expectations in front of the LORD's plans. The students have been responding throughout the week with thoughts and ideas that they are hearing from God. Some of them are hearing clearly, and some are longing to just hear something.

After tonight's session we gathered to have group time to discuss whatever the students wanted to share about what God is doing in them. It was a time of both encouragement as well as some discouragement among the group. We had a long time to talk and pray and walk through some of the deep things that God is doing in them. And as the leaders stayed behind to talk about how to encourage and come alongside those who voiced needs, fears, answered prayers and challenges, we were reminded again that life is hard for many of our students. Life is hard because there is an inner struggle to want to do what is right and to follow God, but there are so many variables in their lives that taunt them to go their own way. We are encouraged that the LORD is working among them...

Tomorrow is our last day of Sessions and Seminars. Our plan is to pack up the bus in the morning so that after the evening Session we are able to head out right away. 

My encouragement to the parents is to know that often re-acclimating back home is hard. They have much to process and sometimes it just takes time to communicate all of the details of the week. 

We have been so proud of your kids this week. They have behaved themselves with dignity and respect. They have represented you and our church well. 
We have enjoyed our time together and are kind of fond of them! 

I'll leave you with group pictures from our trip to the Arch this afternoon.
We had a surprise visit from Heather and Christian Chesnet, who are living nearby, and wanted to take the opportunity to see their brothers. 

 It was another excellent day with the group.  
I'll try to post some pictures tomorrow morning so that you can see your kids in action.

A new day...

We woke again this morning to the sun shining on a new day...
 we're ready to face it
 ready to EXPLORE more,
BOND more,

 PLAY more,

 EAT more,

{Parents, your children ARE eating, we promise. They have been served up meal upon meal of teenage friendly food- not to be confused with a healthy, balanced diet- but it is food, so let's leave it at that}

Yesterday was a good day. We have all remarked how quickly the week has gone. Sadly, it is Friday already and I think we'd all agree that we are not quite ready to pack up and go. 

Some of the highlights from yesterday:

 Remember these two and their attempt to get noticed on stage?
Well, it didn't exactly go off as they had schemed...but I suppose you have to hand it to them for their ingenuity. I mean...the deal was you had to "make it on the stage"....and technically they DID--

{the following is proof that they were in fact ACKNOWLEDGED from the stage, 
though they were not mentioned by name}
{Oops...technical difficulties- sorry!}
This is Micah, he's a creative writer/speaker...the kids have enjoyed his gift of thought-provoking words. Drew and Tristan were not real happy about the words he spoke directly to them yesterday- "500 pushups in return for a shout-out from the stage", but hey, among thousands of people in the room, those two figured out a way to be addressed directly. Genius. defense of the other two in the "contest", they more accurately accomplished the feat of making it onto the stage. Taking their own ingenuity in hand, they found out a way to have someone unlock the convention center early in the morning and allow them to actually STAND on the stage. 
{I know, it's small...but Kali and Emma are up there- on, clearly, THEY WIN}
But it's okay...
the boys conceded the race to the girls and slept off their disappointment, it's all good...
the competition continues. And it goes something like this-
"Whoever can be the gutsiest and will succumb to the prompting of Jason's instigating, WINS"
{Parents: this is all Jason}
So, yesterday afternoon, when Jason dared Drew to walk on stage at one of the seminars--
he took the bait and regaled us all with his stealthy walk to the edge of the stage. He thought he had won...
....until Faith took the bait and walked not just to the side of the stage, but to the microphone
But, no worries....Drew will not be shown up. Ever. 
And he won the competition by walking {running} to the center of the stage and sitting down.
It's all in good fun-

 more fun...

One of the highlights of the day came at dinnertime...

around our table, a totally unplanned, unscripted conversation.
15+ people around a table meant for 8 having deep discussion about things like
The students agreed that they talked more openly and shared more freely than usually happens, 
and they liked it. 

The morning session is about to start. And amongst the leaders there is a sense of wanting to see our students moved. Wanting them to hear something today that wrecks them. Wanting to see change and renewal and revelation and surrender and transformation...wanting so much to see our students free from the trappings that trip them up and wanting them to sense the moving of the Spirit within them.

It is our prayer that they ALL find these things...
but we agree that at the end of the day, if one of our students meets Jesus in a fresh new way-in a way that changes the course of their life forever,
then this day and all that it holds
will be a day well lived.

We hold this day lightly and trust that God's hand is at work...

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Again this morning...these words to start the day off with. What is it they say about words that are continually repeated? Perhaps The Lord has some things He wants to say to some of our students this week...

Stealing a little alone time early this morning before the day starts and was stopped with this...

"...we have inherited a tendancy to forget our true identity as creatures of a caring, merciful God. Our true identity is that we are created in the image and likeness of our Creator, and that WE ARE EACH the CHOSEN and the BELOVED of God, just as Jesus was CHOSEN and BELOVED..."

Continuing to pray over our students a knowing of this deep down in their hearts...


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The end of a full day..

Our day in pictures...
 {Morning worship with Dave and Tara Powers}
{Getting ready to clean the streets of St. Louis}
{Our sweet bus driver, Alexandria. She has just started driving bus for the school and scored herself a little extra work driving us around all afternoon.}

{These guys MAY or may not have found this in a trash pile today...and they MAY or may not have been given official permission to bring it home with them. Seriously...look how HAPPY they are!}

After showers and dinner, we walked a few blocks to the Cardinal's stadium, where we literally walked up to the very highest row of seats. The view was spectacular, but not necessarily so if you wanted to actually watch the game. 
{Those itty-bitty specks right there are fans..}

{The Arch was right over our shoulders...}
{And the sunset was gorgeous..}

One of the highlights of the game was a little FRIENDLY competition that went on between a group of students and Jason to see who could be the first to make their way into a seat the closest to home plate. We got millions of group texts updating us on everyone's latest position in the stadium. It started as a friendly competition...and because a clear winner could not be determined {they ALL think they won, of course} the most competitive of the group have decided upon a tie breaker that will take place tomorrow. I can't reveal secrets spoken to me in confidence, but let's just say that perhaps we will be seeing some of our students manipulating their way onto Center Stage tomorrow. 

I am sitting in the Hotel Lobby and these
two literally had me howling 
as I watched their plan unfold. 
{The iphone didn't pick up the hue of the pants, but I promise they are VERY BRIGHT PINK}

{Need I remind you that we are staying in a REALLY nice hotel?}

The elevators were backed up with hundreds of students when we got back from the game, see that floor number up there? That's how many flights of stairs some of us walked up to get to our rooms...

This is night #2 of Bedtime Stories with Jason

Every night before bed the group gathers in one of the rooms (Intended for a max of 5 people) and Jason reads a story from Jonan and Rosalyn's bedtime Bible Storybook. I'm not going to lie...remember those 15 flights of stairs the kids walked up? There was no time for showers before storytime, thereby creating a stench so strong in that crammed room that it was almost impossible for certain corners of the room to stay focused.

In the end, we all had a great day.
Thank you for praying for us. The sessions and group times were full of a lot of good things. One of the students who admits that he doesn't usually enjoy worship music, stated that he has really enjoyed singing here and is beginning to understand what true Worship looks like. These are the kinds of things that make it all worthwhile. There is so much more to experience and we anticipate another great day tomorrow.The kids are spending a lot of time together...and they are bonding and laughing A LOT.

One last picture to share....
Look who we keep running into- 
I think you might recognize them!!
{Edna and Jerry Mapstone & Dave and Carol Kruft}

PS...Cody Fisher, just wanted you to know that we prayed for you during out group time tonight. We will be getting ready to go into a Session tomorrow as you go for your MRI...we'll be praying for you.

GOOD NIGHT from St. Louis!

Day 2...

Yesterday was a good day.

After the VERY LONG bus ride, we arrived in St. Louis, full of energy and anticipation.
(Maybe more anticipation than energy, 
but that was nothing that a power nap and some caffeine couldn't cure)

The group explored the Convention Center and the Hotel 
(which by the way is beautiful and much nicer than the last LIFE Conference...thank you, Renee!)

Everyone is slowly waking up to a new morning and a new day,
Day 2.

On the schedule today is a morning session, 
which starts with worship of song with 
and then we will sit under a line-up of great large group speakers,
followed by a time of smaller group sessions and speakers.

Each youth group has been placed on a schedule for a day of SERVICE projects
 in the city of St. Louis....
today is our day.

So, starting right after lunch, we will put on our work clothes and head out...
to something,
we're just not sure what.

Pray for the students attitudes today...
it will be a stretching day.

I'm sitting under a sky-light as I type, and rain is falling...humidity is high.
Need I say more?!

The theme of the conference this year is 

As I've sat in quiet this morning, preparing myself for the day,
two words have resonated in my spirit that I am claiming for our students...


They mean much to me personally...and I am certain 
that the LORD wants our students to claim them for themselves, too...
but as you know, it's hard for teenagers to be still and quiet and just listen.

So, pray for them...
It will be a long day
they will be tempted to react out of their flesh 
(we ALL will)

Pray for them to listen and HEAR 
the voice of the LORD as He 
and pulls 
and stretches 
their minds and their hearts 

"You didn't choose me CHOSE you..."
John 15:16
"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you 
into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, 
which is good and pleasing and perfect."
Romans 12:2

Thanks for your prayers throughout the day...

{I'll be back later, hopefully with some pictures of your students....}

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Meet us in St. Louis...

It's been a long ride...
but we are 45 minutes from our destination of St. Louis

We've been fed a nutritious McDonalds breakfast

Played a little Can Jam
Spent some time bonding with Dave, the bus driver

And now we are passing the time by watching Napoleon Dynamite
{feel the pain}

It's time...
and we're almost there!!!

PS. Wendy Taylor...never fear, as promised I have made sure that Sarah gets her eye drops.
One down....many more to come.