Monday, February 06, 2017

The weekend I got to Believe again ... on less than 2 hours sleep....

Wow... just wow.

That perfectly describes my weekend... it should stand for Wonderous O-mazing Weekend.  I'll change amazing for omazing... make it work.

Friday, I ended up taking a half day off & got home in time to get packed up & ready to go for another Believe weekend.

Bloody eye leader ready to go!!!

I honestly have lost count on how many Believe trips I have gone on through the years.  I started in 2005 & I think I've only missed maybe 3 since then... so its quite a few of these middle school conferences under my belt.

& I love every single one of them.

I was so happy to go this go-around for the first time with my new church.  They are just top notch in everything they do & this didn't disappoint in the least.

We got there on Friday & the girls started rolling in.  I was excited to see one of my past Believe buddies who is now in high school. I always miss these kiddos when they grow up.  But she was there to drop off her little sister & brother... the sister was in my group & the brother was in Ricky's group.  I adore this family so much & am so glad we still have family members that we can continue to love on.

All my girls got checked in & I found out I had 19 girls in my small group. Nineteen.  & I loved every single one of them.  They just made it so easy. & fun.

They really were the best group of girls.

It's funny because having this many girls, I always use the 'buddy system'... I know it may feel like a child thing to do but every time I would yell "BUDDY CHECK" & they knew to look for another face/friend & pair up, it made it so much easier to know if anyone was missing.  Some things just always classically work.

All the girls in my small group ... WE ARE 3!!!!!
This years theme was OPEN at Believe.  The idea that we need to be generous in the gifts God has given us.  We need to have OPEN eyes to see the needs of the world... OPEN hearts to feel the compassion to help ... & OPEN hands to do the work that needs to be done.

Every person, old & young, has a talent, has time, has a treasure that they can be OPEN with & generous to others.  It was really full of some great information & examples.


One of the sessions really stuck out to me & was eye opening.  They brought a kid up on the stage & gave him one red skittle & told him to share it.  Well, its hard to share one skittle... but what if you had a mini pack?  Easier, but still, who only wants 2 Skittles each?  & he kept moving up in bag sizes of Skittles until he finally got to a tote full of HUGE party size bags of Skittles.  & then they told the kid he could go into the crowd of hundreds of middle school kids & share it.

Well, I felt HORRIBLE for that kid.  He took 2 steps off that stage & HUNDREDS of middle school students ran & bombarded him & took the skittles out of his hands.  I mean, it was like a MOB.  It took maybe 10 seconds before all the arm pile of Skittles was taken away from him.  It was almost violating in such an aggressive way.

So they brought the kid back up & he looked so shook up - I would too.  But the point was, he didn't really give them away... people came & took these skittles from him.  & the leader talked about how selfish we are as a people. These kids didn't really allow this young kid to give out his treasures - instead the kids all thought they were entitled to them & ran & took them themselves.  They didn't give any thought or mind to the other hundreds of kids sitting around who didn't run up - they thought THEY deserved the skittles themselves. OUCH.  Talk about a guilt trip.

The leader asked for everyone who had a package of Skittles to now actually GIVE it to someone.

But we are all born with such a selfish nature to grab & take what you can give....Always thinking about ourselves first. It's so easy to forget the people around us & especially the people that have a bigger need than we do.
We need to rethink that thought process. We need to be more OPEN in giving.  Be more aware of the people around us that need things - not think with a selfish heart.

They had kids write down on a post it note on what they were going to be generous with.
It was covered by the end of the weekend.

I'm not sure how much that settled in on middle school kids because at the end, I saw many a kid pushing & shoving to get to the final session exhibition & wanting to get in on the fun that was offered.  That selfish nature is hard to break, but I'm praying that the message of the weekend continues to settle in as they live out what they learn & come face to face with the selfishness we all have in every day life.

As always, the worship was amazing too. It's the best part of a Believe weekend to me EVERY TIME.  You can't be in a room with hundreds/thousands of jumping & pumping middle school kids & not feel the energy & get wrapped up in it too.

One of the funniest parts of the trip was our bus drive to the event on Friday.  oh my word... we all thought we were going to tump over. Truly tump over.  Our bus driver when we got to the venue took a strange turn & someone told him, there's a curb there.  Now, let me tell you - a curb is a little piece of concrete that blocks rounded turns.  This was no curb. It was a BARRIER.  Like a barrier that prevents cars from coming over... like the kind you find in the middle of an expressway.

& our bus went over it.  LEGIT right over it.  I'm not even sure how it was possible - but it happened. The first wheel went over & we were straddled on it - well, at that point, you gotta get off of it.  So the driver made the decision to pop the other front wheel over it & then you of course have to get the back wheels over it - with each wheel, the whole bus was leaning so hard to the side.  It was such a harsh landing too, kids were bumping up against the seats & trying not to hit the windows.  It was very traumatic.  You can only imagine how it could be with a bus full of 7th grade girls. haha... but no joke, I even thought my low back wasn't going to handle it by the 4th bump...

& then the security guy at the venue is chasing us down because, hello, we obviously just tore up a barrier... & the bus driver just kept driving in these weird circles... & running over every curb on the way. I'm not even joking.

At this point, we were just laughing because it was INSANE what was happening.  We were like, PLEASE LET US OFF... we'll walk.  Whew.  Needless to say, we arrived safely... & I was shocked that the bus was still there when we had to drive back because I thought for sure it was tore up.  & it didnt feel too comforting smelling a burning smell all the drive back to the church after that.

,...& on the bus ride back, we overheard the bus driver ask another bus driver if he could follow him back to the compound because he couldnt see the signs at night. WHHHAATTTTTTT?!?!?!?

It was nice the next morning when we had a new bus & bus driver though ;)

Happy Faces for a new bus on Saturday morning

The worst part of the weekend... sleep. Sleep just doesnt happen on these trips.  & I will say, I thought it was going to be more of a nightmare because we had 40 people in our room to sleep. FORTY PEOPLE!!! 35 of them 7th grade girls.

You can imagine the giggling & talking & chatting all through the night.  I turned off the lights at 12:30am, which means nothing to these girls... & expected... & we gave them till 1:00am to get their talking out & then it was solely devices off & whisper voices.  I would say they were all down for the count by 1:30.... which was good because we had a wake up call at 7am

But then, the nightmare began. It was FREEEEEEZZZZZINGGGGG in that room.  I dont know if the heat is set on a timer for the church or what, because we heard from every room that they were freezing, but it was horrible.  I got up at one point - & by get up, I mean, out of my air mattress - not wake up - because I got about 2 hours sleep the whole night... & got up & put on my coat backwards like a straight jacket (appropriate?) & laid back down & put the blanket back over me.

I then thought about all the clothes I bought & thought about putting on all the layers of them & seeing if that warmed me up. It was HORRIBLE. I legit was shivering so much, it made me a little nauseated.

The funny thing, I was walking around at 4am & thinking how badly I wished I had my car keys because I was going to go to my car & turn on the heat for awhile... but Ricky had taken my keys & I didnt want to bother him if he was sleeping.  Later, actually just a little later, when I saw Ricky at 5:30am, he told me his room was freezing (someone actually had a box fan going in their room on top of the freezing temps) & he went to the car & sat in the heat for awhile... at the exact same time I was walking around at 4am.  I wish I would have looked out to my car through the window & saw him sitting there.

I just know next year, if we stay at the church again... I'll be bringing supplies for fit for the Nole Pole.  Not even joking.

The morning after the freeze out... stick close to one another & warm up.

After Believe was over, the fun wasn't.

We loaded up the buses again & headed out to an athletic center where people were playing dodge ball & soccer & football & all sorts of physical activities.  Me?  Count me out... I took my knitting. & actually took some extra needles & yarn & loved when some of the girls wanted to learn how to knit. I had one girl that was like a natural. Legit - a natural. She had amazing tension on the yarn & her stitches were looking great by the end.  I let her take the yarn & needles home & I told her to keep at it - I'm going to take her strip of stitches & turn them into a loofah sort of a sponge.  I just loved passing on the love of knitting... & it made everyone circle up & watch & we just had the best conversations flowing out of that little area.


& you'd think the weekend would be over after all that... you'd be wrong....

We got back to the church at 9pm on Saturday night & then it was time to CELEBRATE!!!!!  All the parents were in the sanctuary & it was so fun talking to some parents & brag on their kids to them & just watching the reunions of the families.  But then the parents got to see a glimpse of what we did over the past 2 days... they got to hear our songs we sang & some things that we talked about over the weekend & even some kids got on stage & talked about what God laid on their hearts. It was just the best....

Getting ready to CELEBRATE!!!
... & dont let the face behind you think it wasn't fun... she said she was too tired to smile for any more pictures ;) haha

& then it was STICK A FORK IN US - we're done...

Except Ricky was starving & we left the church at 10:15pm & was on the hunt for some food for him.  Me? I sat on the side of the car & said screw it & ate virtually a whole bag of Reese's peanut butter white chocolate hearts. I felt like I deserved it at this point.  Or more so, I didnt care. I just wanted some food in my belly & ready to get home to see my dogs.

We got home & I have never been so happy to see my bed & PILE of blankets.  Poor Ricky fell asleep with his clothes on - even his shoes. Like totally 100% collapses in his bed when we got home.  I told him to welcome to the world of middle school ministry. He's seen me come home after many Believe trips & he never understood my exhaustion... now he gets it.

Needless to say, Sunday was an easy day.  Making out bills, doing grocery shopping, knitting, laying around & recovering....

& just thinking of what a blessing it is to be able to do these events.  To get to meet & hang out with the coolest kids - kids that really are looking for that relationship with God... kids that are such amazing & supportive friends to one another.

Probably one of the best highlights of the whole weekend to me was our last group time prayer.... we all huddle up - all 19 of us & we prayed for the person on the left of us. The girls were a little freaked out at first when I asked them to pray out loud for the person but let me tell you... these were the most heart felt, kindest, most sincere prayers I've ever heard for one another. I was teary eyed by the time the circle came back around to me.  THAT was what these weekends are all about & for.  Its so worth freezing, not sleeping, & nearly tilted over buses... so worth it.... 100%


  1. What a wonderful and inspiring weekend you had! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  2. I LOVE the Skittles/sharing gifts activity, filing that one away for future use! Youth events like these are my favourite, I was part of one for jr.high/high school students when I was in university and it was the best. We did a 10 day 'at home mission trip' where we slept in the church and spent the days volunteering at different places around the city. It was five or six years ago now but I still have such fond memories of the whole experience!

  3. Whew... The Skittles lesson was a toughie. It would've hit me hard, I'm sure!
    Sounds like a great weekend (minus the arctic sleeping quarters!)!!

  4. The skittles story is powerful.

    Gahhh to the lack of sleep and the freezing. Not a good way to spend a night, but it was definitely worth it.

  5. I remember those days. Hubby used to be youth minister at a former church. We've been on many of those youth trips. What memories!!

  6. WOW, Rebecca Jo! What an awesome experience and I love how much your passion shines through too. Those girls are so blessed to have you. I love the skittles story too. One of mentors told me about an experience she had in India. If someone had a banana, they immediately wanted to share it with others versus eat it all themselves, even though they were likely hungry. Whereas we, first-world country people, would eat our share before even considering sharing. That story has always stuck with me. I'm sure the Skittles experience will be remembered by a few and change them too - and that's a good start.

  7. What an amazing experience! That skittle story gave me goose bumps, such a powerful message. I hope it sunk in just a little bit.

  8. I have candy on the brain cause guess what, my BFF and I are sharing a giant white chocolate Reese heart right now while I'm tearing up over the skittles story! What an inspiring weekend!

  9. Wow is right! Sounds like an amazing time... minus the cold and the crazy bus driver! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Wow, it sounds like an amazing weekend! The skittles experiment is great, and definitely a lesson that I feel like we have to keep remembering and re-learning through our lives. I hope the kid felt ok afterward :)

  11. I LOVE the Skittles story. Such a great way to show human nature.

  12. As someone who works with middle school student on a daily basis I have to say I LOVE the message of the weekend. We have a lot of GREAT kids but then we have a lot that are like the kids in the experiment and feel that they are entitled. I truly hope this is something they grow out of because I hate to see our future when these children grow up. We already have enough of that in today's society and it certainly does not set a good example for our kiddos!

    I got teary eyed just reading about your prayer circle and praying for the girl on the left. We do prayers circles often in my family and I always enjoy hearing what everyone has to say. I bet it was just amazing to hear what came out of their mouths! Glad you had such a good time even thought you had to sacrifice sleep and warmth for a little while!

  13. Wow, what an amazing, life changing weekend!! You are so sweet to do that for those girls. I know you will have an impact on them forever. I went on a weekend mission trip with our youth group one time, and the room we stayed in sounded just like that church. There was no heat whatsoever and it was probably 20° outside. That's really not right! They know everyone is coming and they should've been better prepared. There's no excuse for that. I'm glad you all still had a great time!

  14. Sounds like one of those weekends the fills up the soul! The skittles!! Goodness. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Your weekend looks like so much fun. I love that skittle story. It really resonates. Thanks for sharing.

  16. girl this looks so amazing! You are the biggest blessings to all those around you!


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