Yousef and I have experienced a newfound appreciation and respect for teen moms and dads these last 3 and a half weeks. Holding our very own child has not only opened up a part of our hearts we didn’t even know existed towards our own firstborn, but also towards the teen parents that YoungLives is all about.
People told us parenting would be hard. They told us that the first month, even first year, could be the hardest thing our marriage would endure… but nothing could have prepared us for what it would really be like. Nothing could prepare us for the tears of joy and awe when we first laid eyes on him. Nothing could prepare me for the way that his cries instantly ceased when they put him on my chest seconds after being born- the way that he knew me as mama. Nothing could prepare us for the excitement every time he does something new- from smiling, to peeing on us for the first time, to grabbing a hold of our finger. Nothing could prepare us for what they all meant when they said it would be hard- the exhaustion, the tears, the difficult feedings, and not being able to quiet his cries.
To all the mothers that did it on their own- we are amazed by you. Not only did you endure all of this, but you gave up your own teenage life to care for your little one. You stayed up all night countless times and still went to school the next morning. You fed, clothed, and bathed your child and still managed to work, be there for friends and family, and so much more.
To all the fathers that stuck around- we are so glad that you did. You stood by her even when it was rough. There were ups and downs- and there still are today- but seeing your child, a piece of you, smile back at you makes it all worth it. Not all boys that have children choose to be fathers, but you did.
I can’t help but see a glimpse of Jesus in all of this. Watching the incredible sacrifice it takes for my young friends to be parents- they literally lay down their own lives every single day for their children. That is a beautiful picture of love. But even more so a glimpse of how Jesus loves us. That he would lay down his life for us, his children.
So today we dressed Elijah in a Young Life Shirt. We are so excited that he gets to be a part of this ministry where so many come around and support teenagers that are doing one of the hardest things that I myself have experienced- being a parent. Elijah gets to grow up knowing some of the bravest young people I have known and look up to an amazing community that surrounds them. As we spend these weeks cuddling with our little guy we look forward to being back with everyone in a few weeks. I could not be more sure that there is nothing else I would rather do than walk alongside these young mothers, fathers and their children. You all amaze me.-Myrna and Yousef Bittar
It’s that time of year again!
As we move into a season of celebration of our saviors birth, we are blessed with another opportunity to serve the moms,dads, and children of Young Lives. Each year at Christmas time we host a “Christmas boutique”at the Young Lives monthly club. In preparation for this event we ask the church for donations for the boutique. We ask for gently used girl,boy, and baby clothing and toys. It is amazing to watch the generosity of Gods people be poured out as our garage is literally bursting at the seams with donations!
The last two weeks have been spent sorting, sizing, and organizing. Again, I am blessed by the outpouring of love, not only in the giving but in the hard work of preparing. So many things to sort through!
The day of the club we load it all up (it took a van and two trucks) to move it to the location of the Christmas club. A group of awesome volunteers came early to set up all these donations for the boutique for the girls and guys to “shop”. There was a “store” for clothing and a “store for baby items.
Each young person received 20 tickets that was used as payment, one ticket per item. We were also blessed with 15 brand new toys and a bike! These items were raffled off at the end of the night. As if this weren’t enough to get excited about, the kids were also blessed by a delicious homemade Christmas dinner, beautiful Christmas decorations, gift cards, and hand written notes from their mentors. This night was an incredible time for us to pour out the lavish, incomparable love of Christ on these kids! The most important time of the night though, happens during the club talk, where the story of the birth of Christ is shared. We talked about why Jesus came, to reconcile us to God, and invite the kids into relationship with Him. As much as we are blessed to bless the kids immensely, we are super blessed to see Jesus change hearts and lives!
It is indeed “The most wonderful time of the year!”
If you didn’t get to be there heres a little idea of what this wonderful night looked like!
The experience at the Yost Theater was so amazing. It was so great to see volunteers from different churches come along side each other and make this event special for our Teen Moms and Dads from the Santa Ana and Costa Mesa Area. This Christmas event was our Kick off for Santa Ana Club. We were blessed by the volunteers that attended the event and helped out.
The event begun by greeting the Teen moms, dad and their children. As they walked in the theater doors I noticed their faces just in awe of how beautiful everything all looked. You could truly feel God’s presence as you entered the event. The Teen families and were invited to a Buffet style Italian dinner. The event proceeded with Christmas Music and a play. The play was lead and played out by Nathan & Cody from Mike Rigdon’s life group. They entertained the event as they played out their version of the 12 days of Christmas. Throughout the event the young families were also invited to a Christmas photo booth, which was really fun!
After the Beautiful Christmas Caroling we had a special speaker come up and share the Christmas story. Pastor Lamont from Emmaus Church shared on his personal life on a day where he was given a gift. Lamont also shared on his personal life and shared on memories being brought up by a single mother in a lower income community. Lamont also shared verses of the Bible from the book of Luke. He shared on the ‘Gift” of Christmas. I noticed the teen moms and dads eyes glued to the stage and listening to Lamont as the story unfolded. For some people attending it was the first time they had heard the Christmas story.
The event ended by inviting the Teen moms and dads to receive Christmas Gifts. It was such a blessing to see so many of the young families come up and receive their gifts. For some of the families this will be their only gift under their Christmas Tree. Many volunteers helped in wrapping their Christmas gifts. Towards the end of the program Kylie called out raffle tickets and handed out prizes which included gift cards and tee shirts.
It was heart warming seeing the many volunteers serving and sharing the love of Jesus this Christmas. I am looking forward to seeing many of the teen families and the volunteers in January for our next Santa Ana Club event.
Hi my name is Zenia Tejeda.
I am 19 years old now but when I started going to YoungLives I was 16 years old and pregnant with my first child, Jeancarlo. When one of the girls from school, Aylin, first invited me I didnt want to go because I was not feeling very happy. I was feeling alone because my parents and I were not talking. They were very upset with the news that I was pregnant. I ended up going to YoungLives because Aylin convinced me and I am so glad that I did. When I went there I liked it because I didn’t feel different. Everyone there went through the same thing and when I was there I felt loved. I started reading the Bible and praying more because I really wanted to have a relationship with God. While I was praying the Lord talked to my heart and I realized that I was wrong and that my parents were hurt by what I did because they had trusted me. I realized that I needed to ask for forgiveness. Everything changed and I started going to church with my family. The Lord has done many miracles in my life and when I was 18 I married my son’s father, Marvin.
With my second pregnancy the doctors told me that I had a high risk of losing my baby because I had the IUD. When I was 24 weeks along I started getting contractions and my water broke. The doctor told me that there was nothing they could do to keep him from coming and that there was only a 25% chance of him living. I was very sad and I told Myrna and asked her to ask the YoungLives mentors and moms for prayer. I didn’t want to lose him. I told the Lord, “please I don’t want to lose him but Lord if you want to take him I promise I won’t lose my faith.” It was hard but there was nothing I could do besides pray. A couple of days passed and the doctor called me to tell me that Baby Alexis needed heart surgery. He was just 1 pound 9 ounces. How could he survive a heart surgery when he was so tiny? I started to lose my faith but all of the YoungLives people were praying for me and my son. My faith came back and I told the Lord, “I know you are not going to take him because he is here and I know prayers work and there are a lot of people with faith praying for my baby. I know the enemy wants me to lose my faith but he is not going to because I trust in the you Lord.”
My baby Alexis is now 5 months old and he is here with me. He is an example for all of those people that don’t believe in God and in miracles. He is one miracle baby. I am so thankful for Myrna and my mentor Milie becuase they have been there for me and my family. Thank you Millie for buying my wedding dress when I didn’t have the money to afford it. Thanks to her one of my best days became true. Thanks to Myrna and YoungLives I had have gotten to know the word of God more and have been able to know Him. Thanks also to the group that brought my family Thanksgiving dinner last week. It was delicious and we got to spend a very good family dinner last week. Thank you for having a very good club like YoungLives.