Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Label Maker

This weekend was amazing!! It was AWESOME!! Yes, I can say that because God definitely had His hand in this past weekend.

Imagine over 1500 middle school students coming together in one place for the sole purpose of worshiping God. Intense - yes! Awe-inspiring - yes! The fact that I got to take part of something so monumental, I am just blessed by the opportunity.

The topic for the weekend was Romans 12:2

 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Tough to do any age,  but especially tough in middle school. So much of our identity is truly built during these formidable years. What our friends, family, the world around us have to say about us will remain with us for the rest of our lives. The good, the bad, & the ugly.

The labels my girls internalize were heartbreaking. Most of these words they've heard from their own parents. Stupid, unwanted, unplanned, untalented, ugly, thunder thighs. Parents - we have a moral obligation to BUILD our children up, not tear them down. The words that we say, even in jest, cut to the core of our most prized blessings - robbing them of the joy of truly being loved. I, too, am guilty.

Thankfully, 1500 students got to hear just how much God loves them and what amazing plans He has for them. That God's plan for them is good, pleasing & perfect. That by focusing on how GOD labels them, they will be able to fight the negativity.

This weekend gave me the opportunity to share just a little bit of my story with my girls. I wanted to let them know that I can understand what they are going through. That the choices they make today can & will impact them. That listening to the negative labels can be detrimental. I felt like I was really able to connect with them. Some took what was said to heart. Others just heard a story. Either way, I shared what God nudged me to share and walked away from a truly wonderful weekend with 12 amazing teen girls.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of these girls' lives. Some I've known for 3 years, others for just the weekend. But I walk away from the weekend knowing that I was exactly where God wanted & needed me to be.

Let God be your label maker.....

Many blessings,

*** bible verse taken from

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Changing labels

This coming weekend is Walking Wisely Weekend. It's the annual in-town retreat for middle school students at my church. I co-lead a group of wonderful 8th grade girls. Sadly, this will be our last official outing as a group. In just a few short months they will be 'graduating' to the high school ministry. After a lot of prayer & thought, I have decided to not move up with them. As much as I want to see where God takes them, I know that my time with them is coming to an end. He will place the right people in their lives for the next step.

I wanted to be prepared for the weekend, so last night I took at look at the leader guide. We'll be talking about labels. How other people label us, how we label people and ultimately how God sees us. Which got me thinking of my own labels.

Growing up, a lot of the 'labels' for myself came from my perception of what family thought of me; unwanted, useless, unlovable, dumb. Other labels came from my peers; stupid, awkward, freak. If you hear those labels enough you start to believe them. And I did. Sometimes I even played into those labels.

It has taken me MANY years to overcome those labels. There are days when I fall back into the trap of believing those words. Sometimes I am hard on myself and come up with new labels for myself.

But then I try to see myself through God's eyes.

It's not always easy. The negative can be SO ingrained. It can be difficult to believe the good, when you've only ever believed the bad. I don't have the best self-esteem, but I have gotten better.

God sees me as the person He made me. So full of potential. I just need to slow down & hear Him. Focus on what He has to say. What He has planned for my life.

Again - the Samaritan women at the well came to mind. Here was this woman.. the lowest of the low simply because she was a Samaritan. To make matters worse, she had been divorced multiple times and currently living with a man who was not her husband. Unacceptable in Biblical times. Yet our Savior... HER Savior came to her, asked her for water and offered her so much more. He offered forgiveness... and opportunity for her to change her 'label'.

There's been a lot of growth for me. Along with growth are the growing pains. It hasn't always been easy to embrace new labels - especially positive ones. Yet it has been so very freeing.

Do not define yourself by what others tell you. What society tells you. Define yourself by who our Heavenly Father says you are.

I am now entrusted with labeling these young women. These labels will stick with them forever. They will be tattooed to their very being. A very huge responsibility, but one that I do not take lightly. God has a plan for each one of these amazing girls. My prayer is that our weekend is filled with fun, but with soul searching. Opportunities for each of them to be vulnerable. To shed the negative labels that they cling to and embrace the ones that God gives them.

For you, I pray the same....

Many blessings,