66 in 52 Challenge, Bible Journaling, Youth Ministry

Reflections on Jeremiah – Cling to the Call

When I first started working at the church where I currently serve, our staff was working our way through Jeremiah in weekly staff meetings. I enjoyed digging into God’s Word with my teammates. However, when our weekly staff meetings switched to be once a month, Jeremiah seemed to go on FOREVER! Thankfully we found a different way to engage with Scripture in that time to avoid spending years in one book, but it was nice to revisit Jeremiah these past two weeks in the 66 in 52 challenge.

At times it was a challenge to read when you realize the rebellion of God’s people at that time is so similar to the rebellion of our own hearts. But what stood out to me was Jeremiah’s faithfulness to His call. This book chronicles time after time after time when Jeremiah spoke God’s truth only to have it fall on deaf ears. I have to imagine he got a little glimpse of how God felt about it all… passionately pursuing His people over and over, longing to shower them with love and blessing, only to have them turn the other way in rebellion. Even in the face of death threats, starvation, and more, Jeremiah remained faithful to the call, one he doubted a bit at the beginning:

The Lord gave me this message:
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
“O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” (Jeremiah 1:5-6)

God met him in those doubts and equipped him to be the prophet and leader God imagined from before Jeremiah was born. A few weeks ago I was out on a medical leave for a couple weeks recovering from surgery. As the end of my leave approached and I thought about the ministry I would return to at work, I had some moments of doubt as well. Could God really have called me to this? The practical tasks on my to-do list were many, but what really wore me down was the concept of how impossible it feels to truly disciple high school students and young adults in the middle of the culture and world in which we find ourselves living today. I can order t-shirts and reserve rental vehicles and run background checks and design programing. But can I help young people understand the joy and peace in following after Christ? I wasn’t so sure.

The same day I began reading Jeremiah I was reminded of a quote by author and speaker Rebekah Lyons I first heard back in February:

“God didn’t pick the wrong girl for ministry. Satan picked the wrong girl to mess with.” ~ Rebekah Lyons

This quote paired with the reassurance God gave Jeremiah in chapter 1 was enough to remind me of the reason I got into professional church work in the first place:

God made me for this!

Before I was born, God set me apart to join Him in His work in this world.

Coming out of high school, He led me to a college where I could learn and grow in my skills and abilities to prepare me for ministry.

Eight years ago He planted me in Buffalo and continues to reaffirm that call over and over again.

Like with Jeremiah, some days are harder than others, but there is no denying that God is at work and He has called me to join in.

So Satan, watch out, you DID pick the wrong girl to mess with! Let’s do this Jesus!

"God didn't pick the wrong girl for ministry. Satan picked the wrong girl to mess with!" ~ Rebekah Lyons Jeremiah 1

Crossroads, School of the Week, Youth Ministry

Williamsville North High {School of the Week 17-18}

Our final school of the week for this year is Williamsville North High!
Fast Facts:

  • Enrollment: 1405 students
  • Grades: 9-12
  • Mascot: Spartans
  • Colors: Green and Gold

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of Williamsville North High, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Adam, Lucas, Abby, Katie, and Ben. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Principal: Gary Collichio
    Assistant Principals: Andre Thomas, Brian Swatland, and Jason Lehmbeck
  • Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are on sports teams, in music programs, or participate in other extracurricular activities that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

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Crossroads, School of the Week, Youth Ministry

West Seneca East High {School of the Week 17-18}

This week we thank God for and pray for West Seneca East!
Fast Facts:

  • Grades: 9-12
  • Mascot: Trojans
  • Colors: Green and Gold

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of West Seneca East High, but especially our First Trinity high school student: Daisy. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Principal: Jason Winnicki
    Assistant Principals: Mary Beth Sweeney and Paul
  • Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are on sports teams, in music programs, or participate in other extracurricular activities that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

2018-04-03 09.50.14

Blessing, Crossroads, Devotional, First Trinity, Youth Ministry

Count the Days…Make them Count

It feels like everywhere I turn lately the same message has been repeated over and over: number the days… get focused… make it all count!

I first realized the theme in a meeting a while back with two of my teammates. One was sharing some new resources she had gotten for families in our congregation through Orange and the Parent Cue app. A tool they suggest for parents is to use a jar filled with marbles to represent the number of weeks left for a child until they finish high school. By taking one marble out at the end of each week and watching the jar empty slowly over time it is a reminder to make the time they have count.

While I am not a parent, I figured out the stats: at that time I had less than 15 weeks left with the seniors in our high school ministry before our Senior Blessing Event around graduation time. Three weeks have already passed since then. Three more marbles gone. We’re down to 12.

A few days after that meeting I found myself listening to a podcast that was titled A Trip Around the Sun. In it Louie Giglio shares the number of days left in this year’s journey as we circle the giant star that lights our days. He challenged those listening to seek God’s wisdom in how to use each moment this year to make it count. As I think about the things I’m already planning for this year I know … it will fly!

This message was echoed in an book by Chip and Joanna Gaines I finished recently and before all of that countless circumstances, conversations, and situations all seem to be echoing the same prayer Moses has in Psalm 90:12…

“Lord, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

There are only 24 hours in each day. 365 days in a year. I’m guessing your life is something like mine in that there always seems to be more on the to-do list than can fit in the time.

Some may think counting the days only adds stress to that scenario, that numbering the moments is scary. In my own life, though, I have found it to actually reduce anxiety and provide focus. When I really see how much time is left, I become more intentional with how I use it. (Case in point: my college students at UB miraculously become more focused as the deadline for a paper approaches.)

As I realized that the weeks I had left with the seniors in our youth group were so few, I prioritized time with them. With each marble I take out of the jar, I thank God for one more week with them. But my intentionality didn’t stop there; I also prioritized time with my juniors, and sophomores, and freshmen. I found renewed passion to focus on the things that really matter and cut out the fluff. Soon there will only be a handful of marbles in their jars as well. I want to spend the weeks well.

It’s true: numbering the days leads to wisdom. It brings clarity showing what is important and what needs to let go of in order to focus on the important. It gets rid of the clutter and frees me to do the exact things God has created and called me to do.

Lord, forgive me for the days I do not invest well. Help me spend each moment with more focus, more purpose, more passion, and more grace. I still have a lot to learn, and that is why my prayer remains: teach me, Jesus, to number my days. Give me a heart of wisdom! Make my days count. Amen!

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Crossroads, School of the Week, Youth Ministry

Tonawanda High {School of the Week 17-18}

This week we thank God for and pray for Tonawanda High School!
Fast Facts:

  • Founded: 1895
  • Grades 9-12
  • Mascot: Warriors
  • Colors: Maroon and White

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of Tonawanda High, but especially our First Trinity high school student: Lizzie. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Principal: Mr. Michael Brown
    Assistant Principal: Mrs. Sarah Infante
  • Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are on sports teams, in music programs, or participate in other extracurricular activities that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

2018-03-18 15.38.39

 

Crossroads, School of the Week, Youth Ministry

Sweet Home Senior High {School of the Week 17-18}

This week we thank God for and pray for Sweet Home High School!
Fast Facts:

  • Founded: 1956
  • Grades 9-12
  • Mascot: Panthers
  • Colors: Blue and Gold

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of Sweet Home Senior High, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Matthew, Ian, Katie, Paige, Mike, and Nikki. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    Principal: Mr. Scott Martin
    Assistant Principals: Dr. Keli-Koran Luchey and Mr. Joseph Zwack
  • Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are on sports teams, in music programs, or participate in other extracurricular activities that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

2018-03-13 10.14.21

 

Crossroads, School of the Week, Youth Ministry

St. Joseph Collegiate Institute {School of the Week 17-18}

This week we thank God for and pray for St. Joseph Collegiate Institute!

Fast Facts:

  • Founded: 1861
  • Enrollment: 764 students
  • Grades 9-12
  • Mascot: Marauders
  • Colors: Maroon, Silver, White

Prayers:

  • Pray for all the students of St. Joseph Collegiate Institute, but especially our First Trinity high school students: Jacob, Adam, and Patrick. Ask God to walk with them each day and give them opportunities to live out their faith at school, in extracurricular activities, and in their homes.
  • Pray for their administrators, faculty, and staff.
    President: Robert Scott
    Ask God to give all who lead the students wisdom and grace.
  • Pray for the students who are on sports teams, in music programs, or participate in other extracurricular activities that they would perform to God’s glory, stay safe, and have fun.

2018-03-04 07.50.06