a sappy goodbye.

I’ve arrived at the end of my journey as a youth intern. It’s pretty bittersweet. I can’t imagine spending my summer with a better group of students. We’ve laughed and cried together, shared stories and played really intense rounds of Catchphrase. I could say something about every student I talked to this summer, but instead…I wanted to focus on types of students. I have a few specific students in mind for each of these categories, but it’s still fairly general. So here we go!

The Quiet Junior High Girls

I loved getting to know you because I was you a lifetime ago. You put those headphones in whenever you can and drift  into your own world. I tried to make you laugh so that you would come out of your shell, and when you smile you have the capability of lighting up the room. I know you’ve been through a lot, and my heart breaks for you. There are some strong students in this group that want nothing more than to encourage you and lift you up. Let them. Just because you’re the youngest in the group doesn’t mean anything. God uses us even when we feel insignificant. Get involved. Find your niche, find your fit. Join a ministry team so that when you’re in high school, you can take up the baton of being leaders. Look at Desiree, for example. She’s singing her heart out on that stage when two months ago, I could barely get her to hold a microphone. God gives us gifts and they’re always awesome!

The Annoying Junior High Boys

Yeah. You drive me nuts. But it’s okay, because I know how you’ll turn out in the end as long as you make the right choices. Be looking to Jake, Austin and Anthony for advice. They know where you’ve been and I can’t think of any better guys for you to look up to. Even I look up to them and they’re younger than me. They’re going to blaze a trail. You should jump on that train. If God is going to be #1 in your lives, make Him #1. I promise you, there’s nothing in this world that’s more important than drawing closer to Him. Don’t let anybody tell you any differently, because it’s a lie of the world.

The Freshmen

You’re so scared about high school, I can see it in your eyes. We’ve gone on lunch dates to talk about how mean people can be and cried at Summit camp over how people have treated us. People will tell you who you need to be, what to say and what to wear. Don’t listen. Especially don’t listen when Jerry points you in the wrong direction in the hallway. Ask Tori or Sheridan, they’ll tell you the truth. We spent a lot of time this summer talking about dating. You were one of our main concerns in that area. High school is full of lies about worth. Who you are has nothing to do with how many guys you date. They say your status in the social world relies on what people say about you…but all you should be concerned with his what God says about you. He says you’re special, beautiful and worth it.

My Girls

Oh, how I love this group of high school girls. You have an incredible passion that helped fuel my walk with God, especially the senior girls. Desiree, I’m pretty sure you and I were separated at birth. I’m going to talk to my parents about that. Bailey, you are one in a million. You’re a mother to the girls in the youth group and I see how much they look up to you. Dear all high school girls, I get you. All of you. I’ve been there. It’s awful sometimes, but God is right there with you. Remember that where you go, you take the Holy Spirit with you. My mom always told me that, and she still does. “Don’t go anywhere you don’t want to take the Holy Spirit.” Or your grandmother. That one works, too.

My Favorite People in the World

Last, but absolutely not least. I have a lot of favorite people, so don’t get too excited. But you senior guys are on a special branch of the list of favorites. You want to be leaders, you crave it. Not for attention, but to serve. You have the most genuine hearts I’ve ever seen. I’ve never known students that are so willing to do whatever it takes to see God move, and to bring others to Him. Don’t lose that hunger. Allow God to fill you up so that you may pour out into others, especially those younger than you. My prayers will include your names for a long time. This next year is going to be really tough, but I know you’ll pull out on top. Focus on God. Focus on God. Focus on God. One more time: Focus on God. You’re like brothers to me and I love the stuffing out of you. I’d do anything for you, and I hope you know that. I’m always here. I’m not dying, or anything. Ha. Come visit me next year. For real.

My Morrison Family

Oh, man. You two are something else. You’ve only been married for 2 years, and you let me invade your home for a summer. That takes some guts. I guess “guts” is the right word. Bravery, maybe? I don’t know. You guys are my best friends. For real.  We fight and I give Miles dirty looks (which he follows with the classic “don’t look at me like that”) but nothing changes. You’re still some of the best people I know and you will forever have a special place in my heart. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing you could do to me that would change how much I love you two, and I hope that’s mutual. 🙂 I owe you so much. Not just in money (Haha) but in the time that you took to spend on me.

All the Agone Students

The best advice I can give you is this: love Miles and Emily. They’ve collectively changed my life…multiple times, if that’s possible. God sent them to you for a reason, they’re not in Bowie by chance. They’ve been students before, so they can encourage you and help you in more ways than you give them credit for.  They do so much for you and you don’t even realize it. Don’t take them for granted.

There’s a huge part of me that just straight up doesn’t want to leave, but on the other hand, I’m excited to see how God will use what all you’ve taught me. I can’t wait to see God use you in this next school year, and don’t worry…I’ll come visit. Ha. Try not to miss me too much. 😉 If you want to cry…Jerry will cry with you.

Students, comment with some of your favorite memories from the summer!

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “We Need Each Other” by Sanctus Real

Watch this video:

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150326002726383

there are a lot of words in this one.

This weekend, we took 8 soon-to-be seniors to Austin for a little senior retreat. We had a blasty blast. Yes, you read that correctly. A blasty blast. It’s a term. Look it up. We talked through some chapters in the book “How to Stay Christian in College” by J. Budziszewski. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that. I can’t help you. This book is an incredible handbook to dealing with the realities of college that nobody warns you about.

I wanted to write about some of the things that stood out to me the most. But then I thought…that’s lame. So my creative wheels started turning and I came up with this “Playlist to Staying Christian in College”. Enjoy.

“We Won’t Give Up” by The Afters

This is more like a wrap-it-all-up kind of song, but hey..the last shall be first and such. (Matt 20:16) I may have loosely interpreted that verse. The intro to this song belongs at the beginning of a CD.  It has awesome lyrics like, “They say we’ll never make it but we’re gonna take it all the way” and “all we hear is wait, it’s not you’re time.” I’ve had many people imply that there are certain things more important than digging into God’s word or even taking that simple trip to church on Sunday morning…but there’s nothing they can say to make me believe it. I’m going to take my faith as far as I can and nothing will stop me, though many will try. My first year at college, it was easy for me to decide to sleep in on Sunday, for example. Once I realized that they were wrong, that there isn’t anything more important than strengthening my relationship with God, I understood: You have to fight. You have to decide that you won’t give up, that you CAN make a difference, despite your youth (1 Tim 4:12). Make that decision before your first day of class, and stick with it. [[Also, “Can’t Shut Up” by Anthem Lights]]

“Outta My Mind” by Anthem Lights

This song basically describes one of my insecurities: that I’m not important. I know…that’s stupid. I’m dealing with it. God says I’m important, loved and special. Why do I need more verification than that? I get stuck in my head and only hear my own thoughts. Do you do that? I drown out that voice telling me how special I am and get stuck. “If anybody asks me, what have I been up to, this is what I’m gonna say/I’ve been spending my time out of my mind/and I’m really loving living this way”. Preach it, Anthem! I’m done with inward living and moving on to serving others and serving God. In college, it’s easy to get caught up in all the things other people have and you lack. Especially as a girl watching friends get married and have families of their own. “Gotta try not to say/oh God, what about me/cause I know that’s not the way that I’m supposed to be” and “gotta try just to say/oh, God what can I do” are words to live by. I have this song on repeat sometimes just to get me “outta my mind and into [His] heart” so that I can start “playing my part in [His] design.” [[Also, “Overcome” by Jeremy Camp]]

“By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. I have a lot of “jams” and only a few “favorite songs of all time.” This is definitely one of those. “Why are you looking for love?/why are you still searching as if I’m not enough” are some of the most impactful words I’ve ever heard. A common struggle in college is the need for comfort, love and attention. I think everyone struggles with those to some degree. God is by our side! He doesn’t run off when a prettier girl comes along or a funnier friends walks by, so why do we make Him our last choice? Why not the first? God knows what we’re going to say before the words even pass through our brains, He never has any intention of abandoning us, and He is the King of comfort! This song is a love song to you from the Father through Tenth Avenue North. Don’t take His love for granted, but rather cling to it as you enter the college chapter of your life. You won’t believe the difference it makes. I can attest to that. [[Also, “Strong Enough” by Matthew West]]

“You Are My Passion” by Jesus Culture

This song is sung by my hero: Kim Walker-Smith. She chuckles when she sings. Her joy is full, pure and infectious. I’ve never heard anyone sing with as much passion as she does. I don’t even know where to start with this song. One of the most important nuggets of advice I can give is this: know what you believe. People will ask you why you don’t do this or why you disagree with that and if you can’t give them a solid answer…they’ll either make fun of you or shrug you off. Neither one of those outcomes feels very good, I’ve experienced them both in college. Is God your passion? “My strength in life is I am Yours/and my soul delights because I am Yours/Your will on earth is all I’m living for.” Amen! If you follow Christ and you’re about to head off to college, make God your passion, make Him your only desire. [[Also, “All to Us” by Chris Tomlin]]

-Caitlyn

Listening to: Honestly, I’ve been listening to “You Are My Passion” and “Rooftops” also by Jesus Culture this whole time. Ha!

God is able.

The theme this summer at Summit Camps is “Poured Out” and it’s based on this verse: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:38). I guess that whole week I focused on reflecting Christ, that I never really stared at this verse and wondered what it was trying to tell me. In the weeks that we’ve been back from camp, God’s revealed to me that the whole purpose He called me to Bowie for the summer as a youth intern is in that verse.

My last two years of college, I’ve poured everything I have into other people: trying to be a good example, trying to get friends to come to church with me and encouraging my friends with their walks with God. But in all that time, who’s been pouring into me? I have some great friends, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard, though, when we all live in different places. Sometimes you just want to sit down and have a conversation, but it’s not the same over chat or Skype. The friends I’ve made at school are awesome, but it seems like something’s missing. We all have different aims and goals. I’m at the point where I feel like my gas tank is running low and there’s not a gas station in sight. We get so focused on figuring out what’s wrong with us that we’ve taken all control from God and thrown it on our backs. I’m definitely starting to feel the weight.

So here I am in a town I never thought I’d move to and I feel my walk with God getting stronger every day. These students are pouring into me more than I ever imagined. And I’ve gotten some amazing encouragement from Miles & Emily Morrison, the youth pastor and his wife that I’ve been friends with for years. Then all of a sudden – BAM. Curveball. And I was just starting to get comfortable.

All of my plans for next year have crumbled at my feet. My apartment and roommate plan…everything. I didn’t even bother to have a backup plan. That’s so unlike me. After a few different events, I found myself in the church office crying and saying, “I have nothing. I have no one. I don’t have anywhere to live next year.” After God let me have a good cry, He calmed my spirit and spoke through a dear friend.

God hasn’t gone anywhere. He has a plan for me. He has a place for me to live. He has friends for me that I haven’t met yet. I’m a control freak. It’s time for me to relinquish control and continue giving Him everything – even a plan I thought I had already made.

Something big is coming. Oh, yes, friend. God is moving and it’s going to be fantastic. Are you ready?

//I wrote this post last week and kept thinking something was missing – it wasn’t ready to be posted. Well, that’s because this hadn’t happened yet: This last weekend I went home and posted something on Facebook about needing furniture to fill an apartment I didn’t have, yet. That day, I received a leather recliner, a table and chairs, a coffee table, two side tables and my Nanny’s old couch. Praise God, my provider and shelter! Yesterday, I received a call that an apartment I applied for a few months ago and didn’t think I would get has freed up and they offered me a home! Praise God, my provider and shelter! The roommate search continues, but if God wants me to live alone and focus on Him and my school work, then so be it. As long as He is glorified, it’s fine with me!

-Caitlyn

Reading: “A Lineage of Grace” by (one of my favorite authors of all time) Francine Rivers

there’s commotion in my ocean.

I’m one of those people that views the glass has 100% full. This “glass” they speak of is always half air and half liquid…making it 100% full. I’m not big on dwelling on the past, but rather looking toward the future. However, there are some good times to stop and study the past. History’s a fun subject, after all. The past shows us what mistakes to avoid, what works and how time has progressed.

Have you ever heard someone ask you to look at what God has done? What about what He’s doing? Or what He will do? What happens when we hyper focus on one of these points in time and ignore the other two?

I’ve started my summer internship with the First Baptist Church of Bowie youth group and I feel like a lot of my posts this summer will be based off what students and youth workers have said to me, such as this issue. I already have a running tab of ideas.

So let’s break this down, shall we? Yes. Yes, we shall.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I think it’s awesome to look back on what God has done to encourage movement towards the future. I think those kinds of conversations need to happen with students, they have to see proof sometimes before they’ll pack up and move when He calls. There have been times where I have to stop and remind myself of what God has done in my life and use that as fuel to push forward towards the promise of tomorrow. But what happens when we don’t push towards the future and solely focus on the past? Students get stuck. Students get bored. Have you ever met a teenager that liked feeling stuck? Yeah, me neither. Everyone wants to be able to hold onto a wisp of hope, a glimpse of what’s to come; a light at the end of the tunnel. Some people call that “graduation.” If all a student knows is what has happened in the past, without witnessing God move in their present situations, they lose that hope of the future.

“That’s why it’s called The Present”

Have you ever heard that joke? Ehh. Google it. This is a big one, “Check out what God is doing right now!” I’ve heard that one before. Usually some applause breaks out immediately after that exclamation mark. Then what? Can I get an example? Do you ever feel like that? “God is doing some awesome stuff right now…right?” Uhh…yeah? Now, I’ve witnessed God move before and it’s pretty amazing. I’ve seen God take a student’s heart and change it within the course of a weekend. So, I’m a strong believer in the present presence of God. (See what I did there?) This is something that should be the focus of our lives. Seeking God in our daily lives is the first step. If we’re not constantly seeking Him, sometimes we can pass right by Him. We can glaze right over the situation God may be trying to get us to zero in on, all because we’re not on our toes. The present is something students should be encouraged to focus on. They should see it in examples of those they look to, they should see it in their parents’ lives and they should hear it from their youth workers.

Back to the Future

This one is the real kicker. “I can’t wait to see what God has in store.” I’m gonna be real right now: I don’t think you’ve earned the right to use this statement if you’re not excited about the present and you haven’t learned from the past. Yeah. I said it. If you want to focus on the future, that’s awesome. I honestly can’t wait to see what God will do in my life. That’s because I’ve spent time studying my past and the pasts of those around me and I’m hyper focused on my day-to-day life. God is preparing me for the future. You can jump into that DeLorean thinking you’re headed into an awesome, God packed future and all of a sudden BOOM…history will repeat itself. Students can get a lot of encouragement from this statement. “Your life is hard right now? God’s using you, won’t it be great to see what He does with this situation down the road?” There’s power in that sentence. But it can be empty, too.

The past, present and future have to work together to strengthen a person, to strengthen a student. We have to learn from the past, correct it in our present lives and work towards the future. So, what happens when we’re only using one of these time periods to drive students? Does it really benefit them?

-Caitlyn

Listening to: The sound of the Rangers game on the TV. It’s intense…like camping.

the combination of a student retreat and a rap song.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going with Agone Student Ministry, from First Baptist Church of Bowie, to Camp Copass for their Spring retreat. The theme was “Back to Basics” and we studied these verses:

“I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.” Hebrews 5:11-14 [The Message]

Lately, I’ve been struggling with having a daily quiet time. My friend, Alexz, and I have been working through Beth Moore’s study called “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” together and have been able to meet every week to discuss the daily readings and hold each other accountable. The problem is, we’ve both been finding it difficult to actually do the readings every day.

We kept focusing on setting goals like, “If I do at least two of these daily entries every week…I’ll be okay” or “I did two last week…so I’ll do three this week.” The problem is, that’s not the point of doing a bible study.

God wants us to find time for Him every single day. Whether it’s 30 minutes or 10, He deserves it. If we have to wake up earlier or stay up later, He’s worth it. At the retreat, we talked about how if we give God 1/100 of each day, that’s roughly 10 minutes.

Revelation 3:15-16 says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Wow. Spit us out of His mouth. I’ve read those verses before over the years, but I’ve never been so caught off guard by those words. God doesn’t want us to sometimes focus on Him. He’d rather us either choose Him every day or not at all. In Lecrae’s song “New Reality”, he says,

“Well cold water we drink, hot water we cook
But lukewarm does nothing it just sits and it looks
And that’s you imagine these as the words of Christ.”

Cold water has a use. Hot water has a use. But lukewarm water? It sits there and has no purpose; it doesn’t help anyone. The majority of Christians out there are in this stage of life. We talk the talk, but ignore the whole walking part.

Instead of focusing on completing a certain number of daily bible readings a week, focus on spending at least 10 minutes every day working through the studies. Start your day with God. Dedicate the day to come to Him. God’s really been using multiple things to get my attention in this area. Music, the retreat, a speaker at DNow in Van Alstyne, everything around me seems to be illuminating the importance of spending time in His word every day.

You can’t fight a war without training, experience or knowledge, after all.

We don’t deserve God’s constant love or His omnipresence, yet He’s there for us. He deserves our everything, every moment of every day, yet how much are you giving Him?

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “New Reality” by Lecrae ft. Chinua Hawk