An Outpouring of Love

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What does Easter means to you?

Let me try to explain what Easter means to me.

To me, Easter is the core of me being a Christian. To understand what love is, it is important for me to understand what Easter has done for me. The idea of a God that didn’t need to do anything for us but yet loved us so much that He gave His only son for us on a cross and defeated death and rose again.

Well, this Easter I got to witness what Love is and how it changes people when it catches them off guard. After Easter service, we invited some of YoungLives moms, dads, and babies to come over for lunch and a little Easter egg hunt for the little ones! We just wanted to love on them and give them everything we could to make them happy and experience the love that we once experienced. The love that one time made me cry just because I kept hearing the word I love you whispered in my ears by God over and over again. Just hearing “I love you” can make a difference, but if you add work to it, an act of love, then it can go a thousand miles further in someone’s life it could leave an imprint on their hearts forever. Having them over and loving on them is an opportunity to love them and share the love that God wants them to know.

I remember the day I became a believer of Christ, I was filled with so much joy that I was the happiest that I had ever been. But this Easter 2016, I was filled with joy once again. Seeing the girls and boys reminded me of the joy again. My family grew last year when my son was born, but this Easter my family grew even more when all of these teen moms, dads, and their children spent the afternoon with us. What I am really trying to say is that God loves each of them, we love them, and we will not stop loving them because they are our family and that’s it!

To me, the best kind of love given is the love given when it is not expected at all. It will turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

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-Yousef Bittar

 

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Jolies Story

My desire to work with a ministry like Young Lives began several years ago.  My heart has always had a soft spot for young women, especially within the society in which we live. Women in our society are bombarded with various images of who they should be, what they should look like and all of these are impossible and harmful standards.  I strongly believe that if we invest in young people, we can help them change our world. God has been drilling these ideas into my heart for months, and I knew I needed to find a way to serve Him in a ministry directed toward young women.

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Several years ago, I had the opportunity to work in a crisis pregnancy center In Southern California. As a nurse, I not only performed pregnancy tests on their clients, but I began to begin counseling these women on pro-life options available to them. While I enjoyed this opportunity immensely, I was regularly frustrated that I could not always know the outcome for these women. I also somehow knew that the options we were discussing were much easier to say then actually carry out. I used to think about how challenging motherhood must be, especially when someone is so young and may not have a great support system. Fast forward a decade… I became a mother of two children, now 3 and 6. With my kids getting bigger, I knew it was time to find a ministry in which to become involved. Each week when I was at church, I would see something that mentioned YoungLives. After running out of excuses to not get involved with “one more thing,” God worked out about a hundred obstacles to allow me to be involved. He even provided a bigger car to my family which comes in VERY handy for driving girls and their babies to YoungLives’ monthly club meetings.Jolie1

Since signing up to be a mentor, I have been exponentially blessed! I love being able to talk through the blessings and challenges of motherhood with my mentee and the other girls that I get to interact with. One of the awesome things about motherhood is that we have so many things in common, regardless of age or stage in life. We can learn and grow together constantly as we watch our children grow as well. It melts my heart to watch each of these young women love on their littles, and I love watching them grow as mothers. They do such a great job with their kiddos, regardless of the othYoungLives_Nov-17er circumstances in their lives. I am so blessed to get to be a cheerleader as I hear about the steps they are taking towards higher education, job goals, and future goals with their significant others. God is showing me so many things about His vast love and grace, and I love watching it play out in these ladies’ lives. I’m excited to pray for and with them about what the future holds, as well as to be able to live just a little bit of life with them.  As always, with any ministry opportunity, I wonder if I am the most blessed one there because I get to be a part of it!

 

-Jolie Hultner

Mi Casa Es Tu Casa

A beautiful testimony of how a young family went from carpooling to living with this volunteer.

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Alyn’s Story

My name is Alyn Maciel and I am 19 years old. My friend Adii introduced me to Young Lives and I first attended on December of 2014. The first person I met was Kimberly and I instantly thought she was one of the kindest people I’ve known. I enjoyed my rides and talks with her. It felt great having someone who wasn’t only willing to listen to what you were going through but actually wanted to listen. In one of our talks I mentioned to Kimberly the plans my husband and I had for our family: my husband got a job opportunity in Florida and in order to save up for this trip we decided to move into a room. It filled my heart with joy when Kimberly offered to have a look at one of the spare rooms she had available. It meant so much knowing she had opened the doors of her home to see our family grow into greater things.

When I first talked to my husband about it he didn’t know what to think or say. That automatically changed once he met Kimberly. He thought she was such a great person. I’ve always thought she had a natural way of winning people over with her love and kindness.
In the beginning it was hard for my husband and the baby to get used to living in a room rather than our own apartment. But as time’s gone by I feel like it’s only gotten so much easier. Kimberly has been really good at making us feel at home. We’ve had so many good times with her inviting us to dinner and  letting us grow a special kind of bond together.

It’s amazing how one single person can work through God and spread so much love. The kind of love that only makes you wonder how? How can you grow so love for someone in such little time? The kind of love that makes you love your family even more by just seen someone else love them the way they do. And the kind of love that makes you feel like that person is now a part of your family. Just the way my son loves her says soo much. It warms my heart everytime I see him attacking her with hugs and kisses, because even though he is just a baby I know can too see how much of a great person she is.

I’ve been so blessed to have been able to learn about Young Lives because I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for them. I’m thankful that God sent me such an amazing mentor who has opened her doors to my family. Even though I don’t know all the mentors in YL I’m sure they’re just as awsome as Kimberly. I’m sure they’ve all inspired one or a few teen mom’s in the club because they are people who God has chosen to bless young moms like myself. Thanks to them we can seek love in God and grow a relationship with him. I’ve been more than happy being able to attend church with Kimberly and just seen the great things God has done for me and my family.

Kimberly’s Story
In August of 2015 I shared my experience of “showing up” to mentor a teen mom through YoungLives. (You can read Kimberley’s first post here)

I wanted to give you a little update on what has developed since then. I had the privilege of meeting many wonderful young ladies last year by simply giving them and their children a lift to club. One of those young ladies, Alyn, her son, Junior, and her hubby, Peter now live with me.

I affectionately refer to them as “my little family”

How did this happen you ask? Well….Getting to know Alyn simply thru our monthly conversations– these conversations were so effortless because Alyn is so open and engaging. Peter would come out to gather up the car seat, their sleepy son and goodies from club each month. This year as club started, I learned that Alyn and Peter have this dream and desire to move to Florida to begin a new adventure and grow their family (Alyn is expecting an addition to their family in May).

With the cost of living being less stressful in Florida, I admired Peter’ desire to provide this opportunity for their family and was compelled to pray for these little cuties on my way home that night. Immediately I felt the Lord nudge and suggest “why don’t you invite them to live with you so they can save money”.. I text Alyn and invited them over to meet my big dog Hattie and check out the place and well.. here we are two month into our experience as roomies.

I shared with my life group how it humbles me to think of the many blessings I could have missed out on…

Hearing laughter from not just a child in my home– but a mom and dad playing with their son.
Seeing roses on the kitchen counter from a husband to his wife with X’ & O’s Tasting new foods and flavors– Alyn is a wonderful cook. I’ve never had someone pack me a snack for work before.
Seeing a family eating dinner with one another every night– something I only experience on special occasions anymore with my own family.
Hugs and Besos from Junior and his little arms raised for me to scoop him up.

I know this is for a season and I’m so thankful for Peter, Alyn, Junior and new baby Julian. My hope is that they experience “love” and mi casa es tu casa.

We love because He first loved us” 1John 4:19

Be blessed!

Something Special in All of Us

My name is Olivia Garcia and I have had the opportunity to be a mentor for a little bit over a year. Within that year I have understood what it is to be a reliable mentor/friend to Fatima A. I don’t really like to say I mentor Fatima, I like to say she’s a friend. She asked me once, what do you tell people I am to you? I told her, a friend. She replied, me too, and to Leah your Tia Oli. I’m totally fine with that especially now that Leah has finally grown close to me. As for before let’s just say; I needed to work hard on my relationship with little Leah. I have seen how club has impacted Fatima’s life and how she anticipates on going to Club every first Tuesday. She always texts me a few days before and asks me, if I’m going? I reply yes, are you? And her response is yes, since you are.

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Olivia, Fatima, and Leah

She makes me laugh and her ambition to be the best mother for Leah is unbelievable. God is so good and perfect in all He does. The impact that we make on the girls is so amazingly rewarding especially when you see her impacting another mom’s life. We just started Club in Santa Ana and I have had the opportunity to do crafts with the girls. To see the girls excited gets me excited! We did tied blankets once and when I first thought of doing the blankets I thought of God’s word in my life. How his word has always kept me warm when I felt cold and how it has always comfort me when I was unsure or needed to feel loved. I thought a blanket would be a great way to express how amazing God can be in our lives and an added plus, it would keep the babies warm and the mommies too.

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Karime making a blanket

This past Tuesday at club I decided to do sock bunnies, it was a challenge for some of the girls because it was there first time sewing but we learned together. To see the young moms have fun and enjoying each other’s company was a great blessing. I notice that with every craft it’s an opportunity to bond, talk and laugh with the girls. They bond with us as we bond with them and that is a beautiful thing to experience. I ask God to give me ideas for crafts. I want them to have a meaning that they are more than just a temporarily thing to pass time. That every craft they do reminds them of God and his promises of meaning and purpose for our lives. We were called to serve. God saw all of our hearts before we were born and he knew that there was something special in all of us. We should see that special something in all the girls we mentor. I thank God for the opportunity to become friends with these girls as we see our lives entwine and see each other grow and make new memories.

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Olivia teaching the craft at Santa Ana Club

Favorite scripture: Psalm 139:16-18
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.”

-Olivia Garcia

 

What is Young Life

Young Life isn’t just about teen moms. YoungLives is a branch of Young Life that loves on young people in all different life stages (high school, middle school, special needs, teen moms, college aged) in over 90 countries!! We get to be a part of a BIG work that the Lord is doing. I want to introduce you to Luke Bright, the Area Director of Young Life South County. It has been so exciting to see God working through him to build up some incredible ministry in Ladera Ranch and San Juan Capistrano.  I like how Luke explains what Young Life is all about…

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“What do you do?”

I get this question a lot. It is usually followed by, “What is Young Life?”

If you look at the mission statement of Young Life, “Introducing adolescents to Christ, and helping them grow in their faith,” it
seems pretty straight forward… Young Life seems to be like any other youth ministry. We are trying to share Jesus with kids, and help them develop and grow in relationship with
him.
To a very large degree, this is correct. We are like most church youth groups. We try to develop an atmosphere that is attractive to kids, and will foster their growth in Jesus.

But, at the same time, we are different than most local church youth groups.

We primarily seek the lost sheep that don’t see
m to have a flock, or have wondered away from home. We are going after the kids that aren’t going to one of the many amazing youth groups that are all over South Orange County.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells a few stories of lost thing
s. He tells the story of a lost sheep, and then a story of a woman who lost a coin, followed by the story of a father who loses a son. In the first two stories, the shepherd and the woman drop everything they are doing and seek after what they have lost. Jesus says that the shepherd would leave 99 sheep to just find the one that got lost.
Young Life is this shepherd. We are a part of the arm of the Church that goes out from the pen in search of the lost sheep. We do not have a building, and when we go out doing Young Life, we are leaving the flock behind in search of sheep that have gotten lost, or even sheep that just never seem to have found home. We go to these sheep, meet them where they are, earn their trust by showing them that we like them just the way they are, and then begin to bring them home through a loving and caring relationship.
This takes a lot of timSC3e, and, often times, it doesn’t look pretty, doesn’t look flashy, and can be incredibly hard work. More times than not, it might not be much to look at, there might not be a huge crowd, flashy program, or loud music. Sometimes it might just look like someone surfing with someone else, or getting coffee, or going to a movie, or weird adults showing up at freshman games. It can be exhausting and
can test the patience of even the best leaders… but just like in the stories Jesus told, when we get to bring one of these sheep home… ITS TIME TO PARTY!

So, what do I do in Young Life? I get to search for God’s lost sheep, his kids that seem to have wondered away, and begin the journey back home with them…
even if it takes years, and even when its costly.

-Luke Bright

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If you want to read more about Young Life South County check out their website.