“The stronger the storm, the bigger the rainbow. Be stronger than the storm.”
Creative mind. Designed to spread the love of Christ. Driven to change the status quo. Wife. Mama. Foodie. True lover of life’s smallest blessings.
Twenty years ago, if you had asked me where I saw myself in 10 years, my response would have been working for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise or standing proudly on the sidelines of the next big game offering highlights in prime time. Turn the page and the chapters to my story are much different. God had a much different plan for me; and thank you is not a fitting response. Because sometimes we find out who we are, but figuring out who and what we are not.
FINDING GOD IN THE DARKNESS
As a teenager I always felt like I had a handle on what kind of life I would create for myself after high school graduation. To say I was incorrect is a ginormous understatement. God had a plan for my life. However, it definitely was not the same plan I’d written in my mind by any stretch of the imagination. Looking back all these years later, I’m not certain I would change how the chapters unfolded. Being diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis at the age of 18 rocked my entire world. Years later one small voice I heard calling to me in the darkness continues to remind me courage and vulnerability go hand in hand.
I used to think I really understood the idea of service in youth ministry. Teens enjoy the opportunity to get their hands dirty and fulfill a cause bigger than themselves. However, it was not until I saw a vision come to life in the summer of 2019 that I fully understood the power behind service in ministry. Teenagers are more than capable of conquering big tasks and small feats. It is unreal to witness their hearts swell with pride in a job well done, while having that realization that giving is never about receiving. Instead it’s in giving selflessly, without any expectation of getting something in return, where we spread love and light so beautifully.
Love. Share the truth. Give a witness.
Being your authentic self is key. A teen can smell a fake from miles away. Teenagers do not need us to be the perfect Catholic. They need to witness us owning our imperfectness in this imperfect world. God is in control, but do we trust his driving skills? Or are we the nagging passenger who spends our lives consistently side seat driving
Teenagers are certainly capable of leading. The question remains are you prepared to give them the key to leadership? And, are you prepared to help them when they falter or fail along the way? So many teens in our parishes demonstrate a commitment to Christ, a love for their communities, moral integrity and a desire to serve and care for others. You see what they may not see in themselves. Give them the key. Allowing them to lead is so important. Mentoring them is even more important.
WEB DESIGN &
More than 20 years ago, if you had asked me where I saw myself in 10 years, my response would have been working for the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise or standing proudly on the sidelines of the next big game offering highlights in prime time. Turn the page and a chronic illness diagnosis at the age of 18 forever changed the trajectory of my life. I instead found myself serving the Catholic Church in two capacities – one as a youth minister, the second as a web designer and social media manager for a diocese working diligently to make big strides in the communication game. I now serve my home parish fulltime as the director of youth and young adult ministry. Yet, I also have a wide variety of opportunities to stretch my creative mind in the world of communication.
People often say it takes a certain kind of breed of human to connect and mentor middle school teens. The truth is these few years of life can be some of the hardest for young people to conquer. They seek answers, have thousands of questions, and desire to stand on their own two feet on the brink of independence. Helping middle school teens uncover their faith in new ways, and empowering them to discover a part of themselves they didn’t even realize was there in the first place can be brutally exhausting. It’s also extraordinary to witness that connection to Christ. Even if you don’t always immediately get to see the fruits of your labor. There is joy in the journey.
Finding God in the everyday can be difficult. Now take a few seconds and think about where your relationship with God ranks on a scale of one to 10. What number came to mind? I often wonder if so many people struggle to see God all around them, because as youth they were never consistently encouraged to give Him praise in the triumphs, or seek Him in the ugly times of life. High school can be brutal, but it’s also a glorious rite of passage in the life of a teenager. Walking alongside a high school teen in the thick of their messiness is not optional. Helping high school teenagers to uncover Christ in their midst is powerful. Reminding them God loves them is crucial. Guiding them to find their inner strength and serve as disciples in the vineyard is essential. We all have a purpose in this life, and it’s a valuable lesson to learn sooner rather than later.
CORE TEAM TRAINING
I once read that an extraordinary parish youth ministry is built on solid relational ministry. It’s true. Surrounding yourself with a team of young people and adults is essential to healthy and vibrant ministry. The teens and adults on your Core Team should be handpicked individuals who possess the seven essential core values of youth ministry – love, evangelization, joy, affirmation, vocation, authenticity and Eucharistic spirituality. Team work makes the dream work.
This Sacrament of Initiation is not just another church celebration with fancy oil, a different name, and some random person standing behind you. Confirmation is so much more. The truth is, I wish someone would have shared the details of this glorious sacrament with me in a far more engaging way when I was in eighth grade back in the 90s. The culmination of the three sacraments of initiation are such a gift. So much of this sacrament prepares us for a life battle we’ll never be ready to fight without our brothers and sisters in Christ.