"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I do what I do:

Some Littles here at Shelterwood know from the day they arrive that they need to be here.  They become self-aware, they confront issues, make changes, of course there are still struggles and temptations, but in the end they come out stronger than they were when they came in.

Other Littles take a while to realize they need to be here.  They take each day as another day to be miserable and locked down.  Eventually, though, some of them come around.  It may be a phone call with their parents, or an encounter with God - something triggers a desire for change.

Still others stay miserable.  They maintain a mindset that they were sent away to hell and their primary goal is to make everyone else's lives hell until the day they finally get pulled from the program or kicked out.

There are a couple of guys who fit into that third category who all left the program around the same time for various reasons.  One of them is a little bit infamous around these parts.

Just a few hours ago, he posted the following on Shelterwood's Facebook page.  I know it's a bit lengthy, but it really is worth the read.
(Disclaimer:  This is unedited, except to remove specific information for privacy purposes)
"Why i was at shelterwood i thought it was hell and wanted to leave the whole time i was there. I had respect for almost no one there and fought every rule pretty much to the day i got pulled. I made a lot of great friends there and went through a lot of life changing things. I thought since day one of me being at "The Wood" that i should have never went there in the first place. I thought everyone else was in the wrong but me, and that i was just the victim in the situation.
Well now i've been home for around _ months and cann now honestly say i should have never left the program. I honestly never even gave shelterwood 1 single chance to change me, and i wish i had. I never really gave God a chance to change me there and i wish i had because now life is so much harder and not all its cracked up to be. I feel like shelterwood is what you make of it just like this kid "_____" said in his graduation. And from day 1 i made shelterwood hell and thats exactly what i got was hell.
While i was there i saw the kids who were graduating as a bunch of loser or kiss ups and if you really knew me i would of used completly different words than that. While i was there i met kids who faked there way through the program and you can easily tell they did based on there actions today. And everyday i wonder what my life would have been like if i stayed and made it completly through the program. I mean if you ask someone who is there now what was it like to know _____ while he was at shelterwood they would probley tell you ____ is a party all by him self or _____ treaeted people like s***. But those people that i treated like S*** and thought all i was is trouble are the people who really didnt know me. Im a loyal friend and if i tell you i got your back i always got it.
I wish i never left because the things that happened when i came home were not at all what i promised and promised and promised my mom would happen. So i guess the main reason i wrote this was to have some of the bigs who knew me and some of the littles who knew me just i know how hard it is at shelterwood. believe me. I was probley one of the worst littles to ever go threw that program and it kills me to say it but not graduating was probley one of the stupidest choices i have ever made because shelterwood was the perfect place for change and i just made the worst of it. i know some of my boyz from shelterwood will see this and be like wtf dude shelterwood was worthless and what i would say to yall... is that we never completly gave it a chance and if we did think of how much easier our lives would be today. i just am sorry for all the hell i gave evryone why i was there well alost everyone anyways bye i guess"
Even if we don't see it, God is working.
This is a kid that gave trouble to everyone all day every day.  But even he is still malleable in the hands of the Lord.  His time here was not a waste, but served to show him the potential he had for growth.

Even if we don't see it, God is working.
This is truth.

Messages like this are so reaffirming that what we do here is valuable.  That God will use us, even in our brokenness (or especially?), to inspire change and to set examples for people He so desperately wants to claim for His Kingdom, to release from bondage.

Be used.
And be encouraged that what you do, wherever you are, is not in vain.  We may not see the fruit, but God does.

Monday, January 23, 2012

living well.

We are called to live each moment in a way that glorifies the Lord.  The things that we do with our free time, the places our thoughts go as we wait for our coffee to brew, even the mindset we have when the person in front of us has to use three different credit cards before one is accepted - all of those things, the small things, define our lives.

I've heard it said that if we are faithful in the small things, we will be faithful in the big things.  It is a message I tell to the teens here at Shelterwood all the time - that if they can be honest when asked about small things like their homework, then they are more likely to be honest when they are confronted about choices they have made, more trustworthy when asked hard questions.

Those pieces of our character make up the whole.  Those pieces of our time make up the whole.  If our thoughts are pure, they honor the Lord.  If our free time is spent well, it honors the Lord.  If all of the small things are well, then our lives honor the Lord, and isn't that the chief end of man?

It is so easy to excuse our selfish thoughts, to ignore the man who needs help picking up the change he dropped, to spend spare moments on nonsense.  God calls us to a higher standard, where each moment is one of value, an opportunity for intentionality.

Reading a piece of fiction, if chosen well, enhances the imagination and brings concrete thinking into an abstract story.  A work of non-fiction compels you to think, to process the information presented, to filter it, and then integrate the valuable pieces, ultimately building into the mind with which God has gifted you.  Checking in with a friend reconnects a relationship that could serve to glorify the Lord in the way that conversations are uplifting and refocusing.  Enjoying oneself is a manifestation of the joy and life and we have been given.  Intentionality.

So we must live well.  We must take each moment as another chance to love well, to live well, and to honor God.

My mentor tells me that I should ask each morning for "Grace enough for today."

Lord, give me grace enough for today.  Make my moments ones that glorify you, so that I may live in a way that pleases you.

Living well.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

a new year.

It's a new year and new job and a new schedule and a new.. everything, it seems.

What an exciting time it is in this ministry!  God is doing some incredible things, and I am anxious to see where it all leads and how He will use it to further His Kingdom and bring healing to these teens (and to the staff, praise God).

The new Big Brothers and Sisters arrived last week.  Let me tell you, they are God-sends.  So very different from one another and from the Bigs we already have, we will all come together to form a pretty excellent team, I think.

And my role is different now, as I mentioned a few weeks ago.  I get to still spend time on coverage in the house with the Little Sisters, as I did before.  I also get to take Bigs out on one-on-ones.  Which means intentional time to care for them over a cup of coffee or a soup and salad.  It's so neat to hear their hearts and just.. be there for the Bigs, old and new.  It seems like I am seeing whole new sides of them, now that I have the energy and brainpower to devote to them.  I. Love. This.

Not only that, but the task-oriented side of me gets satisfied through administrative tasks for the office.  Somehow, I find a sense of accomplishment when I complete a project or a to-do list, and this piece of my position helps me to feel that.

And THEN.  Well, I'm working on a small group curriculum for the Little Sisters that the Bigs can lead.  And finally my background in Bible, in youth ministry, AND in education/curriculum development come crashing together into this residential context.

All this to say that I love how God orchestrated all of this.  I love that the things I have studied are being used for God's glory.  I love that I get a good mix of many different things, but most importantly, that I get to spend so much time with Bigs.  Seriously.

I don't really know what the purpose of this post was, except to, perhaps, share in my excitement.  God is good and He is faithful to do what He says He will do.