Blessed Beyond Belief

I first found out about YoungLives through an amazing, loving and encouraging person named Myrna. Myrna visited my school once a week. She would help me and all the other moms with school work.  Myrna always encouraged me to go to YoungLives, but I always had work or some other thing going on. Finally after Zoey turning one, I contacted Myrna and started attending YoungLives. I really wish now I would have started attending much sooner.

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Natalie, Zoey, Myrna and Elijah.

I love being apart of YoungLives and really appreciate the amazing people who donate their time for us. I don’t know where I would be without the helpful things you ladies do for us. When ever I have a bad day or just need someone to talk to I’ll just text Myrna or Abby. These women are so inspirational to me.

Zoey is the love of my life, I’m so blessed to have such an amazing, smart, and outgoing little girl. It was hard at first being such a young mom, but I love my life so much I couldn’t imagine not having Zoey. She’s my best friend and I’m so happy God chose me to be her mommy. My mom has taught me so much about being a great mother and i couldn’t thank her enough. In addition to my family YoungLives has shown Zoey and I how much God loves us. I am eternally grateful for my relationship to God and how much we have gotten closer since I joined YoungLives.

I feel other moms should attend YoungLives as it is a very supportive environment. YoungLives offers us an opportunity to make new friends, over come challenges, support one another and become closer to God. YoungLives is a place I feel so safe and welcomed, it is truly a blessing to be apart of

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Photo credit: Chloe Atnip Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YoungLives always puts on amazing Thursday nights, but wow our christmas party was just incredible. They had a wonderful dinner for us and our families, we played games, sang, talked as a group. The babies could take super cute photos and then played together. All the girls, children and families got to visit and enjoy each other’s company. They gave us all gifts and clothes for us and our little ones, which is just amazing they would do that for all of us. But by far my favorite thing was the children’s Bible myrna gave to all of us from YoungLives. Zoey and I read the book every night before bed, Zoey just absolutely loves it.

I just wanna say that you to everyone who puts on YoungLives. I would recommend this to all moms. They make such a positive impact and help you grow as a person and mother.

Thank you Myrna for never giving up on me to come to YoungLives. So blessed to have all of you in our lives. natalie-1

-Natalie T.

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Christmas Boutique!

December club is always one to remember and this one was no exception. 

It started with a line formed in the hallway at Refuge Church in Huntington Beach with the teen parents getting their pink and yellow raffle tickets and all the info for the night. 

The room was decorated so beautifully with string lights and snowflakes from the ceiling and the table was set up banquet style with beautiful table settings, thanks to Tracy and her skilled team. Also, there was a professional photographer from Chloe Atnip Photography who had a line formed and was doing everything she could to get all the kids to smile big. There was so much joy in the room, from the moment I entered and I was so thrilled to see what the night would entail! 

A yummy dinner of turkey, cranberries, crispy corn bread and veggies was served to each person at the table by a selfless life group that has volunteered for four years now. The kids even received their own special kids plate and they were served too. DSC_0968.jpg

After everyone ate dinner we all gathered together for a group picture. It was quite the task because there was so many people, but it will be great having that photo to remember all the faces that showed up that night.

Once the group photo was finished all the babies went to childcare and the adults got to sing some Christmas songs; my personal favorite being silent night. 

Myrna gave a perfectly thememd Christmas message with the importance of looking off of our phones and looking more to Christ, following that bright star like the shepherds did, not the advice of others or social media. 

Myrna opened her message by offering a Beginners Bible, the same thing Colleen had done 4 years ago when she shared at Christmas Club. Myrna wanted to carry on this tradition and several moms and some dads had their hands raised to receive a bible for their child. Myrna read the Christmas story exactly from the Children’s Bible the same way she reads to her own son at home. 

Myrna reminded us that Christmas is not just about warm fuzzy feelings from chocolate advent calendars, hot cocoa, shopping, Christmas lights or even family traditions but that it comes from Christ in us and we must follow God’s gps for our life, just as the wise men followed that bright star to get to baby Jesus; who would one day die for the sins of all mankind.

After the message, the teen moms and dads got to “shop” in the two rooms; one was full of baby clothes and the other with adult sized clothes. They had 15 minutes then they switched to the next one. It was a delight to watch the girls fill up their bags with goodies for themselves and then even as they shopped for their babies clothes they all had smiles on their faces. DSC_0030.jpg

The last item on the agenda, aside from grabbing yummy desserts, was a raffle for larger items, such as strollers, gift cards, bouncers and much more. Many girls were so blessed when they heard their names called because they got to go inside the room and select any item that they wanted or really needed for their baby. As I observed the moms and dads coming in and then out with their prized item from the raffle room many of their faces were ecstatic because they just received so many tangible items but through those items they felt love…so much love from all the volunteers. Young Lives is an amazing ministry and it’s such a blessing to be apart of it and watch lives being transformed by Christ through his servants in these small tangible ways. 

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All area club. Photo Credit: Chloe Atnip Photography

-Kelsey Mendez

New friends in similar situations

As a young mom, it’s very hard to find people who you can identify with. Other moms are older, and your old friends aren’t really your friends once you have a baby. They just don’t understand your level of responsibility for another human beings life. YoungLives has been such an incredible resource to make new friends in similar situations.

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Maria and Lilly enjoying the beach!

I was reflecting on this yesterday at the beach with my good friend Nikki and our daughters. Nikki’s daughter is almost nine months old. Her name is Lilly and she’s such a cute baby! She loves my daughter, Maria (six months), so much that she kept trying to give her kisses! Nikki and I are able to give each other advice, vent to each other, and enjoy each other’s presence in our lives. It warms my heart so much to have a friend who is my age, who has a daughter just like I do. It makes me feel much less alone in this world.

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Jayanna,Lilly,Nikki and Maria

-Jayanna Hendley

Becca’s Story

This Fall Season my involvement with YoungLives had to be more limited than other seasons due to my head coaching position at Fountain Valley High School.  Upon returning to the activities I enjoy being a part of I have noticed that the young ladies I spend so much time with last year were so welcoming and receptive to my return.

I enjoy going to YoungLives Club, and some of the young lady’s class on Thursday morning at Valley Vista High School.  We work on homework assignments and talk through planning how to finish school.  Casual conversations about their daily lives and some of the struggles they endure come up in between homework packets.  These are the moments I enjoy the most.  It seems that the girls have very uncertain lives outside of school and really need to talk to someone about what to do in certain situations, especially when planning to have a baby or parent a young child while they are still in their youth. I enjoy these conversations because the girls really seem to listen and care about our investment in their lives.  Often times we talk about how to diffuse situations at home or with their boyfriends, or how to apologize, or how to see things from their parent’s perspective etc. It is difficult to discuss the complexities of relationships, but isnt that what Jesus calls us to as he exemplified that example his whole life here on earth…

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Becca,Jocelyn,Shay,Larkspur.

I think about the Gospel, and what kind of person Jesus is, I remember how He always seemed to do “the hard stuff” with people.  He was always right there in the midst of those difficult conversations with people. I recall as Jesus sits and shares a meal with the tax collectors and “sinners” at Matthew’s house in Matthew 9:10-14.  Jesus approaches Matthew at his tax collecting table and says “Follow Me.” and immediately Matthew does.  Now, I am no Bible scholar, but Matthew followed Jesus because he knew Jesus.  This wasn’t the first time they had ever met.  They have spoken on numerous times before because Jesus was intentional with His time in that area.  I’m sure Matthew did not document every conversation him and Jesus had, but this on was the life changing one and it was what lead to the point Jesus made at that dinner table.  As both Jesus and Matthew dine at Matthew’s house more tax collectors and “sinners” join them.  This particular meal created talk among the Pharisees.  In verse 13 it says, “When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ On hearing this Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’

 

This makes me think. What am I doing with my time?  Who am I spending my time with?  Without diving into a deep cultural understanding of Jesus’ day and how it compares to our modern culture, I think it is very clear that we, as believing Christ followers, we are to see the opportunities to eat with those that do not know salvation and who Jesus is.  We have neighbors, coworkers and in this case for me young ladies that live so close to me, that need to be encouraged in how Jesus wants to take over their life and teach them about how much He wants to be in their heart and help them make decisions in life. That is what I enjoy the most about participating in YoungLives events.  These conversations that lead to meals at club, that leads to coffee dates and tutoring sessions.  These are the moments that allow for us both to be encouraged by the Truth of Jesus and how much He wants to lead our lives, be the “doctor” because we are sick from dealing with sin, and call us to repentance, turning from our old ways and walking in His way.  This is why I continually attend club even though I have club practice and coaches meetings.  I see that Jesus works through these conversations and has made dramatic changes in the lives of some young ladies that have shared with me.  I see change as well.  I see how God works in their hearts, softening their hearts to deal with their home life in different ways.  I think it helps that they feel like they have a support system in YoungLives cheering them on and encouraging them to do the “hard stuff” by apologizing, or discontinue hanging out with a certain group of friends that might not be good influences on their lives and their baby’s life.

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Becca,Nikki,Larkspur,Shay,Jocelyn,Kylie

I know that I will continue to attend club and class and as many other events as I can, because it is worth it.  The girls are worth it.  I also benefit from the reminders of how to live like Jesus the more I interact with these lovely ladies and continue to have those difficult conversations about life and troubles and how God desires to come into our lives and change us where we need to be changed.  Thank God for His mercy and grace to accept us as we are and lovingly change us to be more like Him, living in His ways.  He is a good God that desires good gifts for His children in addition to the good gift of salvation in Jesus.  Thank You Jesus for dying for our sins, so we can be saved and live in Your ways and Your peace.

 

  • Becca Turtose

They are someone’s sons… and daughters

The other day I was walking out of Little Cesar’s with 4 boxes of pizza to take to the teen parenting class I teach at Santa Ana High School. A couple young guys, that had clearly been homeless asked if I had any money to spare for food. I got in my car and was about to buckle my seatbelt when I caught a glimpse of my son Elijah’s carseat in my rearview mirror and thought, “man, they are someone’s sons out there.” I went back in and bought a $5 pizza (the price of my grande iced coconut milk decaf mocha at Starbucks that day) and handed it to them. They jumped up and thanked me and moved into the shade to devour the pizza. As I walked away they said “we should save some for Ricardo..”

Now I can’t stop thinking about that. “They are someone’s sons.. and these are someone’s daughters.” Someday I hope when my son is in a hard place physically, emotionally, spiritually that someone will step out of there way and care for him- even and especially when it comes at the measly cost of their afternoon coffee indulgence. As we head into the Christmas season and get the opportunity to share Christ’s love with the teen parents and their children I wonder how all of us can make sacrifices, big or small, to love on these children. If you want to participate in what have in the works for the Christmas Boutique check out the list below and either contact me directly or email northocyounglives@gmail.com to let us know how you want to help (ex. purchasing 5 Children’s Bibles). And if you would like to make a year-end tax-deductible donation you can do so HERE by December 31st.
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Teen parents receiving Children’s Bibles 4 Christmases ago

    • Children’s Bibles for 45 families (on sale HERE for $5 each now through 12/5)— already purchased
    • $30 Target gift cards
    • 50 blue Ikea bags for families to “shop” our boutique (purchase in-store or ONLINE)
    • 4 sets of Ornament Kits for children to make ornaments (order HERE)
    • New items for raffle prizes (ex. children’s toy, makeup, men’s axe hygiene kit)
    • Gently used clothing and items for teen moms, teen dads, and children aged (0-5)
    • New clothing for teen moms, teen dads, and children (especially if you have a connection to a retailer that would want to donate)
    • Volunteer in set-up, tear-down, or childcare at our Christmas Boutique on Friday, December 16th
Thank you for joining me in lavishly pouring out Christ’s love on these young families in real and tangible ways.
Sincerely,
Myrna Bittar