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.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thoughts of Love and Lust in the Shower by Tyler, Lima Life Teen Core Member

Well, if the title of my blog didn’t catch some teenage attention I don’t know what will, but I suppose I should explain before the backlash comes raining down on me like an unending shower of trepidation and uneasiness. Speaking of showers (you know you like that witty transition) I truly believe that we as Christians need to take time out of every day to reflect in prayer with God about aspects of our lives to gain a deeper understanding of our faith. Personally, the time I take out of every day to pray and reflect is when I suit up to bare it all, mind, body and soul, in the shower.  Recently, I was reflecting upon 1 Corinthians 13:8-10,

 “Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.”

This got me thinking about what these inspired, yet temporary, messages could be, and what a phenomenal change it would be if we as Christians could figure out how to spread more eternal and unfading messages to each other every day.  So I decided to go out on a limb (which I don’t normally do because it can get kind of breezy when you pray like me) in order to make a few assumptions and tackle this subject. First and foremost I believe that some of the most inspired messages of love in our society are actually more akin to lust. Messages that say a person needs to look a certain provocative way, have a certain body shape, have perfect skin or hair in order to be beautiful and find love. Well let me tell you, you will not find beauty in the make-up aisle of Walmart. Trust me I’ve looked! Now I’m sure some of you are thinking blah blah blah I’ve heard this before its nothing new. . . Well look out because I’m coming at you with some hot headed opinions!!! I would bet that the vast majority of all compliments given at any age are definitely not driven by love, and in fact are rooted potentially in something more akin to lust. When you compliment someone’s hair – not love! When you compliment someone’s nice outfit – not love! When you compliment someone’s eyes or nice smile – not love! What to all these things have in common? Well I’m glad you asked. . . you see all of these things will fade and disappear. We can’t take our clothes, great hair, teeth, or even our physical eyes with us when we die. So how can you love an eyeball or a strand of dead protein on a person’s head? Well, I don’t think you truly can. However, my last assumption is this and it is that qualities like trust, honesty, faith, piety, chastity, honor, and patience do not disappear or fade away like our bodies. Therefore, I believe when you fall in love with someone at the soul level these are the things that are eternal and never fade. I’m not saying stop telling people they are having a good hair day or that by doing so you are doing something wrong. What I’m trying to get at is I believe that the world would be a better place if we kept these ideas in mind and started to balance the messages we give one another. I want to hear more people complimenting a person on how they admire their honor today or that a person’s honesty inspires you in the morning. I challenge anyone who actually read this to start going out and spreading messages of true love when you compliment your best friends, coworkers, parents, brothers, sister, grandparents, etc. It seems in today’s society that these types of compliments and messages to people are out of the norm and could even be considered weird. I say let us start a Cultural Revolution right here, and if you have read this blog I challenge you to help me change the world. Let’s start focusing on what truly matters about people and make it common place to give compliments of true love on things that will never fade or disappear.