Friday, October 24, 2014

The Most Important Validation Needed in Our Lives

My name is Elizabeth. I attended LCC and graduated just this past May. I now attend Rhodes State College as a part of the Radiographic Imaging program. I was named the 2014 Allen County Fair Queen and I received several scholarships for my hard work in school. I can honestly tell you I am proud of myself. Can you say the same about yourself? Or better yet, can you say that God is proud of you? That’s a hard one for me to be honest about.
Me (one the right) and my amazing royalty family during the Fair

We, as teens and as people of the 21st century, are so caught up on what everyone thinks of us; if they like us, if they approve of us, if they liked our post, or if they message us back. We spend so much time worrying about how we look in our selfies, posting them on Instagram, and getting notifications every time someone likes it or comments, “OMG, you’re perfect!!!” or “I wish I was as pretty as you!!” When people do these things in response to our selfies or whatever we posted that day, doesn’t that make us feel good? Doesn’t it boost your self-esteem? But, what happens when we only get a few likes, or no one comments about how pretty we are? That makes us doubt our self-worth. Sometimes, we even delete the post because we are embarrassed about it. 

 Selfie on our way to Steubenville 2014!!!

I don’t really have this problem. I seldom take selfies, and when I do, I usually think they are too bad to post on the internet. I don’t have the self-confidence to even try to get others’ validation. I admire those who have that confidence but I’m glad that I don’t look for the validation that I look good from others, I look for it from myself. Yes, I need to learn to be more self-confident, and I am working on that every day.

 I am not saying that you shouldn’t post on social media when you feel pretty or you want to share some awesome news with your friends, but I am saying don’t do it for the validation that you look pretty or that people are happy for you. Do it because if reflects God. The only validation we need is His, and everything we put out there for people to see, should reflect His love and pride in us. Be proud of yourself, and happy in your skin, don’t let the responses of others in likes or comments make or break your day. Just be content and happy with what God has given you and know that He loves you and is proud of you.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The power of YOU! by Jordan, Lima Life Teen Core Team Member

When assigned to write a blog for Lifeteen, I struggled to decide what to write.  I feel like it should be easy for me to think of something teenagers want to read (since I still am one myself).  I was unsure what I had to say that would be valuable to any of you.  But then I realized, the answer was right in front of me.  Let’s talk about the power of YOU!

In this day and age, it is hard for all of us to not compare ourselves to others.  We are faced with “perfection” on TV, in magazines, and in the halls at school (or we think some of those girls and guys are).  But let’s face it, we all have our flaws.  Some people are better at masking their insecurities than others, but the tactic of hiding them or flaunting them is just fine.  There is one thing we need to remember, Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  All of us were created to be the perfect us.  We are not meant to be the same.  Even though you wish you could be like me (and I know you all totally do :P), you aren’t meant for that.  You are meant to be YOU!  We all need to tap into the potential He gave us and forget about those around us, even when it is hard.

Now just because I am saying to forget about those around us doesn’t really mean to forget them.  It simply means forget comparing yourselves to them!  The people around us and the actions we take toward them can be some of the simplest actions that reap the biggest happiness.  You are all valuable and the impact that you can make is unbelievable.  A simple smile, holding the door, or even a conversation can change someone’s day entirely.  All of those things are so easy to do, yet few times do we truly do them.  When was the last time you hustled a little in the hall to catch up and talk to someone walking alone?  What did you do for that mom walking into the mall behind you that was pushing a stroller and trying to hold onto another small child?  You could make one person’s day, every day, and have a huge impact on the world.  Even if you don’t completely make their day, you may cause them to smile, and affect yet another person’s day.

I challenge you all to realize that there is value in each and every one of us.  Sometimes we forget, especially those days where we would rather throw ourselves a pity party than realize how awesome we are.  Little actions each day can show others how valuable we are, and that can totally change you attitude toward yourself.  You may no longer underestimate yourself, but know that you too can be a huge change in the world.

Friday, September 19, 2014

All it takes is Faith and Trust… oh and a little bit of pixie dust! by Caitlin, Lima Life Teen Core Team Member

The title of my blog was adapted from a line in Disney’s Peter Pan and I feel that it appropriately describes my experience with God and Life Teen. I took a big leap of faith when one of my teammates on my soccer team convinced me to go to a Teens Encountering Christ retreat (TEC), where she was going to be a group leader. I respected her very much and have to say this was one time I was glad I gave into peer pressure. It was there that I met a group of fabulous girls from Lima Life Teen and bonded during the three-day weekend. At that retreat I also became reacquainted with my faith. From there I was further invited to go to Life Teen and decided to delve further into my spiritual life by attending their Prayer Nights on Tuesdays. Going to prayer that first night I felt super awkward, like I was an imposter in this group. My self-confidence was very fragile, I knew no one except two or three people, and I was afraid. Afraid of not being accepted, or being made fun of because I wasn’t extremely religious at that time. I soon found out that I had nothing to fear. I quickly became fast friends with many in the group and began looking at faith not as something to be annoyed with or to be ignored, but something that needs nourishment and strengthened if I truly wanted to be the person I knew I was meant to be. 

 Me (second from the left) with the group of girls that I became fast friends with. 
To say we were inseparable is slightly an understatement.

 Those first few weeks and months after joining Life Teen were a little rocky. Faith and trust, and pixie dust became paramount because I often felt like I was leading two lives sometimes. One with the group of friends I had before Life Teen and the one those newly made friends with Life Teen. 

Me (center) and my two best friends from the soccer team getting into mischief.

It was often hard to find a sense of balance. With a lot of hard work, love and faith put into my friendships I am happy to say that I still remain friends with most of those girls 7 years later. My faith and relationship with the big man upstairs has had its own ups and downs over the years, because lets face it, no one is perfect, definitely not me, but I have always put my trust in Him to lead me in the right direction. 

Caitlin Gorman graduated from Shawnee High School in 2007 and went on to get her Bachelors from Saint Mary’s College and a Masters in Art History from Bowling Green State University. In the past year she has interned at the Art Institute of Chicago and taught at Defiance College.

Current Favorite Quote: “ Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”
 – Vincent Van Gogh

Friday, September 12, 2014

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone by Andrew C., Lima Life Teen Core Team Member

While I was looking through some boxes, I stumbled upon an old issue of the Chimes from 2004. In it, there was an article about a trip that Life Teen took to Lourdes, France. It was ten years ago this past June when a group of 35 Life Teeners went on that trip to serve in Lourdes, and I was one of those teens.

For those unaware, Lourdes is a town in southern France and is the site where the Blessed Mother appeared to Saint Bernadette in a grotto. According to the accounts, the Blessed Mother, instructed Bernadette to tell the local priest to have a chapel built on that spot. In the grotto, a small spring appeared. There have been a number of miraculous healings that have been attributed to Lourdes. Ever since then, millions of people have flocked to Lourdes, some seeking healing from the waters, others seeking guidance and many other reasons.

So back to the story. This was right after my freshman year of high school. It was also my first time overseas, without any family. Yet, there I was, off to France with other Life Teeners to serve. We spent a long time flying from Cincinnati to Paris, only to board a smaller plane to an airport in southern France, followed by a 2-3 hour bus ride to Lourdes. To say that we were tired would be an understatement.

However, there was little time to rest. Just a few hours after stepping off the bus, we were asked to participate in a Eucharistic procession with many of us carrying incense, banners and crosses, or, in my case, the canopy that covered the Monstrance with the Eucharist. The next day, we were divided into different work groups. The older ladies worked in the Piscines, baths that were filled with water from the spring, while those who were too young to work in them volunteered in hospitals, as well as practicing what they called “Patch Adams” ministry, by giving rosaries and flowers to random strangers.

As for us men, we worked in the train stations, unloading pilgrims off trains and guiding them to busses, as well as working at the men’s Piscines. Near the end of our experience, we were asked to participate in a candlelit Rosary Procession. Some of the Life Teeners volunteered to sing in the choir. I, along with eight other of our young men, carried a statue of Mary and cross at the head of the procession, four of our girls carried candles, and everyone else participated in the procession itself. We were told that we were some of the youngest participants and, if memory serves me right, we were also the first Americans to do this.

So why tell you this story?  Was it just an opportunity to wax nostalgically about an event that happened a little over a decade ago? The truth is that this story has to deal with comfort zones. We all have our own comfort zones; where we feel safe, where we know who people are, with everything we like and nothing that we hate. It’s predictable and safe. Yet, that is not how we are called to live. The call to follow Christ means to step out of your comfort zone. Jesus says:

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

As I mentioned earlier, this was my first time overseas, without any family members. I was involved with Life Teen, but I was not exactly the most outgoing person, you can ask Angie. I would usually sit in the corner, talk only with people from my school and grade, and not really speak out as much. So to participate in this service trip was something very unexpected from me. Looking back, I was not eased out of my comfort zone, more like launched out of it. Yet, I would not change how my comfort zone was radically changed. That trip taught me, not just how universal the Church is, not just what the call to serve was all about, but what my comfort zone was, and more importantly, how to step out of it. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that only a few weeks prior to that trip, that I was the shy kid in the corner who would not participate much. Yet, when you let God work though you, big changes can happen. It’s a scary prospect, stepping out of your comfort zone, and it doesn’t get any easier as you go through college and into the adult world. Yet the Bible constantly reminds us, that while it’s not easy to follow Christ, He will always be with us.

As a new year with Life Teen begins, I would like to challenge everyone to break out of their comfort zone. It doesn’t matter if you are a new freshman, a returning Life Teener, a Life Teen alum or an adult. It doesn’t have to be some huge event like mine. It can be very simple, like meeting someone new. Not just saying, “Hello, my name is …” I mean go up and have a conversation with someone. Try inviting someone to an event if they don’t get invited to things that often. Try volunteering somewhere. There are thousands of things you can do to step out of your comfort zone.

It might be hard, it can be exhausting, and it can be scary. But trust me, it is worth it.

This blog posting was written by Andrew Chamberlain. Andrew is a 2007 graduate of LCC, a 2011 graduate of Bluffton University and a recent graduate of the University of Cincinnati. Andrew has been involved with Life Teen since 2003, both as a participant and as a Core Team member.