Posts Tagged With: youth

The Wheels on the Bus

School Bus_Fotor

It’s been years since I’ve ridden on a school bus route for the sole purpose of getting to and from school.

Even now though, I still can’t see one of those big, yellow behemoths without being briefly taken back to my youthful days of riding the bus.

When I was in elementary school, we lived in rural North Central Kansas. North Central as in, seven miles from Nebraska. And rural as in, 90 (yes 90!) miles from the nearest Wal-Mart. So five days a week for year after year, I rode the big yellow school but from our house ten miles to town and back again.

But because we were so rural, our bus route was huge. Like, an hour and a half huge. And the way the route was set up, we were usually “first on, last off.” It made for some long (yet entertaining) days.

Many life lessons were learned on that big yellow beast. Like the farther back you sit, the higher you are going to bounce off the seat when it hits a pothole in the gravel road. And that, while very popular, sliding under the seats and “sneakily” jumping across the aisle were not overly safe activities. Oh, and school busses that travel on only gravel roads are incredibly dusty.

These memories make me grin and there was one day I would never forget…

The end of the route was nearing and I was the only one left on the bus. (I’m not sure where my sister was?)   So I decided to put my feet up in the seat, lay down and take a little snooze. (That was before school busses had seat belts.) I settled down, mentally mapping the route in my head waiting for Mr. Nech the bus driver to turn down our road.

I waited… And waited… But we kept going straight. Maybe my timing was off. I started to get concerned, so I popped my little head up to look out the window.

My little elementary school heart was terrified. “He missed my turn! We are headed back to town. What if I have to spend the night in the bus barn? I am gonna get hungry. And cold. WHAT DO I DO!?!”

Believe it or not, I was kind of shy back then… (A lot has changed the last two decades.) I dug down deep in my little trembling heart and squeaked out a feeble plea…

“Um… Mr. Nech?”

His eyes flashed to the mirror, then widened with surprise. He muttered something (I don’t think it was a profanity– he was a real nice guy. And even if it was a dirty word, it was justified. :-))

“Sharita! What are you still doing back there?!?!”

Mr. Nech turned the bus around at the next intersection and I made it safely home. Crisis averted.

As I was reminiscing about this humorous adventure, I (as usual) thought about our relationship with God. While it was an honest mistake, God never forgets about us like my bus driver did.

He always knows where we are going, what we are doing. He constantly cares for us and answers our feeble little cries for help.

We never need to be terrified that He will overlook us or take us down an un-legit path.

Because as the wheels of our life-bus go round and round with daily activities, God is in the driver’s seat, tenderly and diligently guiding us until that glorious day when we finally arrive HOME.

Homeward Bound,

“I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” ~Genesis 28:15

Categories: direction | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Planting a Few Seeds of Faith (Factor of 7)

Attention houseplants and vegetation: Enter at your own risk.

I do NOT have a green thumb. You have been warned.

My inability to grow plants and keep them alive for extended periods of time is not for lack effort. (Ok, maybe a little lack of effort- or lack of remember to water them regularly.) It is mainly a lack of knowledge. Know-how. Skill. I just don’t have “the gift.”

We currently have four plants in our kitchen… Enrique the spider plant has been with me the longest (His 4th “birthday” is coming up in a week or so. At least I think. Ish.) Chloe the peace lily has been around for about 3 years. Eleanor the aloe plant has resided in our kitchen for about a year and a half. We have a recent addition to our plant family still nameless. (Name suggestions anyone?)

Perhaps you are impressed with the longevity of my sweet plant population. Please don’t be. These are the lucky few that were the strongest… many of their counterparts have not met such a lucky fate. And honestly, these plants have had their close calls as well.

Enrique the spider plant… Still going strong (A testimony of God’s miracles. Seriously.)

Fortunately, God has not called me (or my husband for that matter) to be thriving, successful horticulturists, growing acres of healthy, attractive vegetation. (WHEW!)

However… He has called us to plant and grow seeds of a different kind– those seeds that share His never-ending and abundant love.

We do this through a movement within this ministry called “Factor of 7.” (Read all about it here.)  Our “Factor of 7” for August and September was kind of confidential, which is why you haven’t heard much about it as of late. However, God gave us a pretty sweet opportunity to re-engage Factor of 7  at a youth group gathering at Seeds of Faith church in Lester, IA on October 28th.

Here’s what went down…

You remember that I was blessed to preach at two churches that morning, Seeds of Faith being one of them. At the conclusion of the second service, a church member approached me. Sandy told us that the youth group speaker that they had scheduled for the evening had canceled… Would we be willing to help them out??

My mouth dropped open (I know this, because she laughed at my expression.) I had just got done preaching twice. We had a baby shower scheduled for that afternoon. Obviously we had nothing prepared and about 6 hrs to make it happen. I had gotten up at 2:30am CST the day before to get to the airport. Honestly, my flesh was telling me to say, “Thanks but no thanks.”

However, God told me YES. So that’s what I said. YES.

I voluntold my husband we were team teaching that night (why should HE get to miss out on the fun?) and between guests, gifts, cupcakes and snacks, we prayed and planned to share our hearts with the youth of Seeds of Faith.

Long story still long– it was AWESOME. God showed up (as He often tends to do.) Seeds were planted as we shared part of our testimonies,  told  about our ministry and our Factor of 7 movement as well as showed them our “Real Warriors of Christ” vlog. Our main point was from James 2:26: “FAITH WITHOUT ACTION IS DEAD.”

As we ended, we included them in our October Factor of 7. Although it wasn’t much, we were able to scrounge up some small candy bars/Halloween candy. We gave them each a piece and asked for their first name and how we could pray for them.

I have never heard a group of teenagers (and parents) so quiet in my life. God’s power was felt there in that sanctuary. It was incredible.

How have you shared God’s love with someone lately? Are you planting seeds or just waiting for the harvest? How can you get creative in your everyday walk and invite God to work powerfully in your life? (As usual, feel free to comment below.)

You don’t have to be a “professional” when it comes to planting seeds of God’s love. God doesn’t need your ability– just your AVAILABILITY. It only takes a little love and  faith the size of a mustard seed to get started.

The ground is ready– God is waiting for you to make the first move and start planting a few seeds of faith.

Growing in Him,

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” ~2 Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV) 

Categories: Factor of 7 | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Spinning INto Control

I’ve been to my fair share of retreats and camps.

Back in my younger days, my retreat/camping experiences revolved around organizations like FFA (National Blue and Corn Gold, baby!) Alpha of Clovia Scholarship house, Blue Key and Agricultural Ambassadors. But it didn’t matter what organization I went “retreating” with, “recreation” was always on the schedule.

Recreation could mean a variety of things. Of course, it wasn’t a legit campout unless there was a bonfire big enough to make  Smokey the Bear instigate a new public service announcement.  Other “recreation” included the classic hide-n-seek in the dark, singing songs around the aforementioned scorch-your-eyebrows-off campfire, and telling “scary” (code for ridiculously predictable) stories.

At one retreat, I was introduced to a new game. Here’s how we played. After dark on a clear night, we would go out to a grassy, open area. Everyone would get in a big circle, then one person would be it. They would go to the center of the circle, pick a star directly above them, point at it with their finger and focus on it as they spun in a circle. Once they spun a certain number of times or for a certain length of time, they would take their focus back to their earthly surroundings and immediately try to walk back to their spot in the circle.

Goal: Don’t fall down.

Few every achieved the goal of making it back to their spot without taking a tumble. Those of us watching in the circle got a great laugh watching how hard they fell or when someone got a mouthful of grass.

Don’t judge us. We were in college. In Kansas. And desperate for entertainment.

#38 - Starry Sky

Source: Cliff_R (Flickr)

This game is a lot like our relationship with God. We start out strong, focusing our eyes upward towards heaven. We have a great time as we move and spin in our daily lives. Then suddenly, we get distracted. Someone or something takes our focus off   God and we look away. Once we shift our focus back to our earthy surroundings… Yep, we spin out of control, face plant and get a mouthful of grass.

We have a choice. We are all “playing” this game. When it’s our turn to be “it,” will we keep our eyes focused upwards at all time? Or will we repeatedly turn our focus to earthly things, causing us to fall?

Here’s the best news of all: When we DO get distracted (since we are on this side of heaven, it WILL happen on occasion) God picks us up and puts us back on our feet. He doesn’t laugh when we spin out of control. He gently calls us back to Him, inviting us to get back in the game.

What things in life distract you from focusing your life toward our Heavenly Father? How do you recover when you fall? What steps can you take to reduce the “mouthful of grass” incidents that occur in your life? I always L-O-V-E hearing from you. Leave a comment below.

The sun is going down, folks. The stars are coming out and the game is about to start. Let’s focus on our One Star and allow Him to help us spin INto His Control.

A little dizzy but still upright,

“We couldn’t be more sure of what we saw and heard—God’s glory, God’s voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You’ll do well to keep focusing on it. It’s the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts.” ~2 Peter 1:19-20

Categories: focus, God | Tags: , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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