Winter Retreat 2010

Because we live in Minnesota, naturally part of our year involves going on a winter retreat!  This past weekend, I was able to tag along with Trav for his junior high retreat while Ava stayed home with her Texie.  It was a beautiful, beautiful weekend and we had a great time!  The weather was so warm, like 40 degrees and it felt amazing...
Perfect conditions for our annual game of broom ball!  I know most of you who live in the south have no idea what that is...think hockey, with sticks made from brooms and big ball that you slap around.  
A Minnesota tradition.  
There are broom ball leagues here!  
Travis loves to be right in the thick of everything with the kids.  He fell a few times (as did everyone) and I knew I'd be hearing about it the next day :) Although he can leave most of those junior highers in his dust, he does have one weakness...He can't recover like they can!  I was watching the game and taking pictures when I overheard a few of the boys talking about him....One of them said, "Travis might be from Texas, but he was MADE for the ice!"  I thought that was pretty funny :) 
Look at this crazy ice climbing tower!  I guess you can climb it with picks...Thankfully, it wasn't available for us this weekend.  I think I would have had a heart attack watching kids go up and down it!

Even though we had so much fun playing games and exploring the great outdoors, we did have a greater purpose for the weekend.  Knowing about some recent situations and struggles some of our 7th and 8th graders have been facing, Trav and his staff really wanted this weekend to address some of those issues. All of his talks centered on relationships...the ins and outs of what this world tells us vs. what the Lord tells us.  Signs of healthy and un-healthy relationships and practical advice to keeping your heart, mind and body pure.  On Saturday night, we broke out into a guys group and girls groups and as a staff of leaders, we answered any questions they had about dating, sex, relationships, etc.  I had no idea what to expect, but after almost 2 hours, I can tell you it was one of the most meaningful times we've had with students.  

My heart broke to know some of the hurts these kids are facing, some of the temptations they've already been facing and will continue to.  I sat there answering questions, grateful that they were asking, but overwhelmed at what they were asking.  I had spent some time before we started, praying about this time together and asking the Lord for His words.  I dug through the Word and found as many verses as I could for each situation, so that they would hear truth and not just my opinion, but also so that they could see that God's word has an answer for EVERY SINGLE SITUATION they are wondering about.  What a loving God to give us an instruction manual for the ins and outs of life.  We don't have to just guess about what the right thing to do is.  He's put clear boundaries in place that don't harm us, but instead free us.  

Our world has tainted relationships so badly and it's amazing how much of that has seeped into what we all believe is normal or healthy.  Apart from his Word, we can all fall for the lies Satan crafts for each of us.  It blessed my heart to hear these girls, at such a tender age, asking about how to get it "right."  How to honor God in their relationships now, knowing that they are wanting a healthy, Godly marriage later.  They asked great questions and the light bulb came on for lots of them.  We talked about flirting, how we dress, what kind of things to look for in a guy that's worthy of dating, how far is too far in relationship, co-dependency, consequences and regret, and lots of other things too.  Travis told me the boys had an equally incredible discussion time.  They talked extensively about pornography, boundaries, purity and how to be the servant leader in a relationship.  Such great things for 13 and 14 year olds to be making their minds up about.  And yet, heartbreaking too.  I left this weekend, with a renewed passion to pray for our junior highers.  Being a teenager is NOTHING like it was when I was in their shoes.  It is so much harder and there is an all out war for this generation being waged.  
We know there is no way to guarantee that the decisions they are making today will hold for their tomorrows.  But, if we don't encourage them to make up their minds now and hold them to a higher standard, God's standard, then who will???  It is possible to follow hard after the Lord and to honor Him in our relationships.  There are untold blessings for that obedience and it was our hope this weekend, that our students would see even a glimpse of that reward in our marriage.  
Sometimes I lose sight of why we're in youth ministry, but this weekend was such a great reminder.  I loved watching my husband in his element, speaking truth into these kids' lives and loving them every step of the way.  One of the sweetest things to me, was to watch the number of students who approached him, some crying and trembling, wanting to tell him what they're struggling with and asking him for help.  I love that.  They trust him and rightly so.  He cares about each one of them.  Even the most annoying or unlovable of the bunch, he's got all the patience in the world for.  I'm so proud of him I can hardly stand it.  I'm also so grateful for the way God has blessed my life by bringing him into my heart and life.  I shared my own journey, my ups and downs, with those girls this weekend but I also got to share my story of God's faithfulness to me.  When I stopped trying to make things happen in my own way and my own time and when I finally surrendered my life to Him completely, He brought the most wonderful man to me.  His ways are perfect.  I could never have chosen a better man than Travis to be my husband.  What a delight for us now to serve shoulder to shoulder, letting the Lord redeem all the mistakes we have made, for His glory to a new generation.  

I needed this weekend of ministry with Trav to feel refreshed and I'm so thankful for it.  
Pray for these young generations....They are navigating a very difficult world morally, and they need the support of older saints in their lives.  To God be the glory....


Erin said...

That ice climbing pick is insane!! I am glad it wasnt open. Looks like a great weekend, I know the weather was amazing, we loved it as well :)

Toni :O) said...

Such a great post and from the sounds of it, a wonderful experience. May God continue to bless you both with your teachings, values and prayers for all those kids that rely on you. You are both doing wonderful things and those kids will benefit for years to come.

Rebecca Jo said...

oh, my heart just aches... because I know those stories... I hear them every week from these kiddos & its so heavy on a heart to know what these kids go through today. But PTL that they are willing to talk about it in a place where they can get wise, Godly advise. And PTL for you & Travis, for taking time to speak God's words into them & letting them know that people care about them...

The Martins said...

Ha! we do broomball, but its indoors. Our students LOVE it! I'm laughing at the fact you said it was warm like 40 degrees. That's FREEZING! I would never make it up there, but I'll be visiting sometime with my sister up there now!