When you work with youth, they grow up, and then they leave, or in my case, I left (one group and started up with another). Last summer when I left FUMC Shreveport, I left a family, one full of children, which is my dream as you all know if you read this often. Those youth, those young men and women of God are my friends, and what happens in their lives is incredibly important to me. I don't see my time in their lives as ending when I walked out of that church and into a new one (though I have yet to change my membership over--I am still in a bit of denial about the move). Each year Seniors leave and go on to their prospective colleges, or other "adult" plans, and I long to know how they are day to day. I can say that thusfar, the ones whom I've been very close to have made me so proud!! I can only imagine how their parents feel, I just got to hang out with them for a while, these parents have raised some amazing children. I'll give you just a few examples of things my sweet youth have done in the past couple of years: one took Swalhilli (I don't even think I can spell that) in hopes of learning more about other cultures, to become a missionary, one went to a college and pledged a sorority by herself and made a whole new set of friends, while making excellent grades (I pledged with my four best friends, I was chicken!!), one went to college and joined a sorority and became the recruitment chairman as a sophomore, one went on a back-packing trip all over Alaska for a month this summer, one is my wild and crazy LSU girl who is enjoying every minute of her time there, and one has joined the Army and is at basic training at this very moment.
These kids are amazing! I continue to hear the media slam this generation, and while yes, they are more spoiled than we were, they also have hearts much bigger than ours were at their ages!
More recently, I've had an entire separate set of Seniors take off for the big world of college. Some to Baylor, one to Texas Tech, one to Mary Hardin Baylor, one went to OU, there's one at TCU, and one went all the way to Georgia Tech. I will say that one of my Shreveport girls did make me proud and head off to LSU this fall--Thanks, see you in two weekends!!
That long list doesn't even include all of my sweet Happening kids--I have a lot of people to love all over the place. It is so bittersweet each year as they move on, and you never realize how much you will miss them until they are gone!
Being in youth ministry is such a blessing, you get back as much, if not more, than you give!
Another thing that I didn't really consider when starting in youth ministry was the camaraderie that I would find with the other leaders. This past weekend I was at a retreat with a group of my girls, but also with 6 other wonderful women!! Getting to share and discuss and have prayer and fellowship with these women, while we are reaching our girls is like this special bonus blessing that you don't even think about until it's over really! I must say that I'm grateful for these women and for the great women that I have at FUMC Shreveport as well.
I'm a very blessed girl! I miss my kids who have moved forward and the ones that I left in Shreveport, but I am very grateful for every moment I have with each of my youth. I am just a really lucky girl!