Now I know what a whirlwind feels like.
*If you'd rather get the simple photo recollection, skip to the end of this enormous post.
Of what am I speaking?
Allowing oneself to become totally on fire for THE Cause.
Make disciples who make disciples.
The Holy Spirit truly went with us this past weekend.
God's presence was felt in so many ways.
First, the trip down.
Blizzards abounded but we managed to avoid them up until the last 20 miles.
Where we drove 25mph and could only hope for traction.
I was freaking out in the hours leading up to this drive.
I would have been fine if I had been a passenger.
But I was the driver.
And I had 4 kids to bring back home alive to their parents.
I think my blood pressure reached dangerous highs.
But my husband stepped up.
He took me in his arms.
He told me I could do it.
He believed in me.
And then he prayed.
The teens had a blast hanging out pool side.
And playing guitar hero back in the rooms.
Meanwhile I braved the blizzard once again and ventured over to my sister's beautiful apartment.
I was thrilled to get to visit her.
Even if for just a short while.
I'm so proud of her.
Living on her own.
Taking care of herself. her laundry. her dishes. her home.
We had a great talk and I can't wait to visit again soon!
We loaded up our teens right on time.
Scraped off the 4 inches of snow that had accumulated on our vehicles in the last 2 hours.
And off we went, slipping and sliding to downtown Cbus.
And they ain't kidding.
This place had SIX convention units.
Each of which holds thousands of people.
It stretches at least three city blocks.
The only poorly designed portion was the lack of food options.
A volleyball invitational, a teachers' convention and Dare2Share all sharing a single food court.
We thought the 90 minutes would be way too much time.
Not so much.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We parked in this remote, semi-free lot and walked the mile-ish to the Convo Center.
Wouldn't have been a big deal.
Except it was snowing big heavy snowflakes.
The kind that pelt you in the eyeballs.
And the sidewalks had 1-5 inches of built up slush.
And none of us had boots.
People were lagging behind and complaining.
I don't blame them.
But I plowed on.
Knowing it would be over soon.
And it would be something we would never forget.
Horrible situations make for the best memories, don't you think?
We reached our mini mecca and rinsed out our soaking socks.
And within an hour you wouldn't have believed we had ever been soggy and sour.
As soon as these teens (five of whom were newbies) saw a glimpse of the stage they knew it would be awesome.
One of our girls backed out at the last minute, leaving us with an open place.
Katie and Megan invited their cousin, Tiffany.
We were so glad to have her along.
Being 19, she offered a great source of assistance as I navigated roads and corralled teenagers.
Turns out, she's also deaf.
Though she has an implant on her right ear and if you get her attention she can hear you/read your lips perfectly.
Thus, when I got a last minute call from Shawn at Dare2Share's home base in Denver, I asked about a signer.
He said there was none, but he could see what he could do about getting us seats near a speaker.
Before we knew it, we had permanent seats in the front row!
Up close and personal with the musicians, speakers, and skits.
And facing an HDTV...allowing Tiff to easily read lips.
It was perfect, and all of us were totally pumped!
The night started out with soul stirring worship lead by Starfield.
I heart that band.
They know how to rock out.
And their lyrics our intense.
Some (...most...) of our youth have not had the opportunity to truly encounter the Spirit moving during song.
For many of them the "singing" during church is just, well, lame.
But with God awakening their spirits in a room packed with their peers, these teenagers experienced the true discipline of songful worship.
We were then challenged by Greg Stier, president of D2S, to face the reality of our sinful state of depravity.
This was IN. TENSE.
The drama presentation that coincided with Greg's message from Isaiah 6:6-8.
The room was riveted as we watched.
A video tape had been sent from a man named David who had died and been sentenced to eternity in hell.
He was angry. scared. furious. that his friend Naomi hadn't forced him to believe the message of the Gospel.
It's hard to express the intensity of this encounter.
The teens were totally freaked out.
In a way that brought them face to face with the gravity of our sin.
And the urgency of spreading the news of God's salvation through Christ, his Son.
At 9:00 that night, Greg took the mic once again.
He faced the audience with a choice.
To choose to accept the gift of eternal life and the responsibility to make sure every one of our friends knows the Truth that can set them free.
Atheist Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller says he has great respect for the man who passionately shared the Gospel with him.
He went on to say (paraphrased),
"How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize them?"
To not share with one's friends the faith to which we hold?
As you might imagine, this weekend's message was not just convicting for the teenagers, but for the adults as well.
Or at least for Kevin and I.
We can't expect our youth group to become evangelists if we ourselves are not.
Evangelism is not an option of the Christian faith.
Jesus's final words were to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel."
"Go"="while you are going."
As you live you life.
As you go to soccer practice.
And make sure that everyone hears Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life that leads to God the Father.
During the moments when every head was bowed, Greg asked for hands to raise if anyone was choosing to declare that their lives would be God's from here on.
Youth leaders were to look for hands among their students.
We were overwhelmed with joy to see two of our girls have their hands timidly raised.
Then Greg took it to the next level.
He said to look up and into the eyes of your youth leaders if you were serious about this decision.
Both of our girls boldly looked us in the eyes.
There were tears.
Kevin was weeping.
Of course us girls were.
God had moved in mighty ways.
And the next day we had a heart to heart with these girls about the reality of their heart changes.
Believing they can truly take their schools for Christ.
That night was a short one.
I went to bed at 11:45.
Heard the girls laughing loudly at 12:45am.
Told them to turn out the lights and get some sleep.
Woke again at 1:45am and realized one of the girls wasn't in bed next to me as I anticipated.
She was on the floor.
Talking with a hospitalized friend.
Went back to sleep and got up at 5:15am to make time for a treadmill 3 mile run.
I figured I'd rather be energized with the run than get one extra hour of sleep.
It was a wise decision.
No real exhaustion.
The divine energy offered to youth leaders for such a time as this, I believe.
Day two brought even more challenges.
Cell phones for THE Cause being one of the biggest.
Everyone pulled out their phones.
And were to call/text at least three of their unsaved friends.
Asking them what they believed about God and looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with them.
We were all shaking with anxiety.
But within minutes I was proudly overhearing all of our teens explaining the message of Christ with their friends who are destined for Hell.
The calls didn't end there.
Quite a few of our students continued contacting friends for the rest of the trip.
One girl was totally bummed on the car ride home.
When, after three hours of texting, her phone battery finally died.
I was and continue to be so amazed with what God is doing in the hearts of our youth group.
This is what we've been praying for.
Real passion. Real change. Real determination. Real courage.
It won't be easy. And they know that.
Satan is already working his ways among them.
He hates how Spirit-filled these students are.
Hates knowing what an impact they can have on their friends.
But "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.
Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
I Cor. 15:58
After driving 80 miles on rural roads that were completely coated in ice*
not to mention another 100 miles on clear interstates,
all 12 of us hit the sack in our home.
When I crawled into bed at 2am, the house was still.
It was lovely.
And the night was, again, all too short.
But testimonies shared in front of our congregation and challenges issued to the adults made it all worth it.
*I was shaking with fear.
I have never had to drive in anything that terrible.
It was so much worse than any snow storm.
The unplowed, packed down snow that had become ice.
After 40 miles of it, we pulled off so I could regroup.
But instead I totally lost it.
I was sobbing.
And then to top it off, my nose started bleeding.
The teens were concerned I'm sure,
but Kevin implored me to pull myself together.
And I did.
The next 40 miles were easier.
Knowing every inch was ice made it simpler somehow.
Though begin miles from the nearest farm was quite frightening.
The four teens in my car, kept me calm and even smiling.
All the way up to I-75 we were enjoying each others' company.
At that point, when the roads were clear and 70mph was possible, all 4 of them zonked out.
.ash. megan. mel.
cell phone challenge.
chris. megan. ash. michaela.
our beautiful group
isaac. harry. chris. john. shelby.
michaela. megan. kevin.
ashley. tiffany. katie. mel.
.mmm. the sweet victory of pizza after an hour of line waiting.
.youth leaders place torn up, forgiven sins of our teens at a cross.
.aww. us. in our shirts.
Kevin caught mine for me.
it says: LIVE THE CAUSE. Make disciples who make disciples.
Kevin's says: Kung Fu Evangelism. Sometimes. Truth. Hurts.
.dance party prior to the final session.
greatest gospel hip hop rap artist ever.
.see how close we were???
For the complete photo experience check out this album.
If you made it through this post, props to you.
I'm not sure how I did, frankly. :D