Crafting Friendships

Every third Thursday of the month I have the privilege of doing table decor and organizing a craft for the girls. My family and I look forward to this night so much, as we aim to create a welcoming atmosphere for all who attend. Not knowing the kinds of challenges or things they may be facing, it’s so important for us that their minds can be at ease. It’s in these times that friendships are formed, bonds are made and God is at work. Heading into our fourth year we didn’t realize the blessing it would be as we are invited into the lives of these young moms. 
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After so many years now, we’ve heard testimony after testimony that has proven that all these girls have needed someone to stand with them, to encourage them and to believe with them.
At club they get to hear the word and connect with people who are going through their same struggles, things that we may all face.  But also as practical as sharing a meal, having dessert and getting to shop for their children. The nights end with the girls gathering to craft with their mentors, which means lots of laughter and deep conversations about the message they just heard. 
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To me personally this has become an integral part of our family. With my children serving in the children’s ministry, holding babies and helping in practical ways, but also building their own friendships and playing late into cleanup time with everyone. We look forward to our monthly gatherings and though we  understand we are intentionally serving, hoping to bless others, we also know that God Himself in turn uses these nights to bless us. ~ Tracy Sumner, HB Club Crafts & Decor Coordinator
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Keep Your Doors Open

If you’ve ever spent time with Yousef Bittar, one of our YoungLives Committee members, ever present volunteer, and Myrna’s husband, you know what a golden heart he has. Today, he shares about the experience he had a couple weeks back in taking some teens to the Chargers football game. Enjoy!

A couple weeks ago Russell Okung, an offensive line backer for the LA Chargers donated 10 tickets to YoungLives. So I had the opportunity to take some teen dads, a teen mom and her boyfriend, and a 9 year old boy who is the son of one of the YL alumni and has been in our lives for about 6 years now.

Football2Three dads that came were teen dads when we met them and now they are men. They are strong men that are living their lives caring for their children and girlfriends. The impact in their lives is not only when they are teen dads and moms, but the impact of Christ’s love resonates with them their entire lives. See, when Jesus shows his love, it changes things in the heart and mind of the one who experiences it. I walked beside these men over two or three years ago when I got to know them at YoungLives Club. Nevertheless, year in and year out, they are still a big part of our lives, God does not forget them and my family nor will I ever forget them. Seeing them drive to my house with their own cars, having their own jobs, thriving in their lives for their kids, and working hard brings tears to my eyes. These are the teens that we invited into our lives, and they are here to stay in our lives forever, because basically they became a part of our family. Football4If God invited us to become His children and loved us for no other reason than Him being good to us, then who am I to not love as many as I can and invite them in to my family? How else they will know they are loved if they are not allowed to become family? Do you see what I am trying to say? Keep your house door open for these kids, throw as many burgers needed on a BBQ and tell them to come. Call them weekly, bug them as much as you can, tease them, joke with them, love them as you would love your own child, your own sibling, love them and never stop loving them for one second. Never judge them, just love them, never put them down, instead just love them, never push them away, just keep loving them.

Allow a transformation to happen in their lives, allow them to become your friends, best friends, and the ones that you would ask for help from. Allow them to become leaders, trust in them and let them be the children that God created them to be. That is it!

Forever I will owe it to these teenagers and their babies, for changing my life and opening my eyes to a greater love that Jesus called me to love and live. I encourage you to step in and reach out to anyone in your life that you see needing a loving heart. That can be you! A life changer!

Humbled by a greater love, Yousef Bittar.

Sowing Little Seeds

This week we welcome mentor, Alise Salcido sharing about Santa Ana’s October Club night.

From the moment I walked through the doors on Tuesday night, I felt like I was the one being ministered to not the other way around. The love and care were obvious and evident throughout the entire night. Connecting with the amazing moms and hearing about their month is such a sweet time. The night flowed so well. Beginning with asking the moms about items they had picked out at the donations table, sharing a delicious home cooked meal, playing a game, hearing from a speaker, and chatting over a craft, there were many opportunities to chat and hear from the moms.

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Hearing the girls’ stories is my favorite thing. Throughout the night, over dinner and later during crafts the girls will share little snapshots about themselves, their child, and their lives. Some are funny, some are sad, and some are relatable. Last week one of the girls talked about how much she loves soccer. She shared a story about how she ditched practice one day and her dad caught her getting food with her friends. She described how she lost her dad’s trust and how she had to rebuild that trust. It was great to be able to see that this mom had made a personal connection with Sarah’s message from earlier that night about how decisions we make can damage our relationships with others but that there is grace, love, and freedom. Being present and asking questions that encourage the moms to reflect and make connections with Jesus is so special.

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As a wife, high school teacher, and a mom to a toddler, I thought about how I could support young moms. However, it has been humbling to see the moms be such good parents. They love on their babies while juggling the craziness of being a teenager. Often without the support of a partner, they balance being a student, getting babies to daycare, doing homework, holding down a job, being a daughter, helping with siblings, chores, caring for their own child, and so, so much more.

Being a mentor has provided me with a glimpse into the lives the moms lead. They have huge responsibilities and my goal is to gently direct them to Jesus because He is the ultimate source of strength and support. There are so many ways to be involved throughout the night. From giving rides to holding a baby while a mom eats her dinner (maybe the first time in a month she’s gotten to do that). Personally, I have the opportunity to pick up one of the moms on my way to club. The first month I thought it might be a a little awkward, but then last Tuesday was so nice because we got to catch up and I had legit follow up questions. We were able to follow up on a previous conversation and I got to see that she actually valued and listened to what I said the previous month. I think that’s the greatest takeaway: they are listening. So sow those little seeds!

 

You Were Made For This

Hi everyone! My name is Ellen and I’ve been a volunteer with Younglives for about 3 years now. It has been so amazing to see how God has breathed life onto this ministry over the years. I have seen Jesus meet with both teen moms and teen dads, and it has brought me so much joy to witness the redemption and restoration of lives.

IMG_5954.JPGLast Friday my husband and I had the pleasure of attending the Bi-Annual Giving Gala at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity in Costa Mesa, which not only was a fun date night for us, but also was such a testament to God’s faithfulness and heart for this ministry! When we walked in, I first noticed the stunning decor (great job ladies!!), and I then looked around and was so encouraged to see the room full of both new and familiar faces. I was in awe to see the significant number of people compelled by the heart of YoungLives. The night began with a silent auction, which included so many fun items and trips! I was constantly blown away by the generosity in that room from the moment we walked in to the moment we left. 22218639_898503796966195_1637708726663927653_oAfter the silent auction ended, Myrna shared about how she and Yousef stepped into YoungLives and the powerful ways they’ve seen God move. I have the greatest respect for Myrna and Yousef, and it’s amazing to see the ways their hearts beat for teen moms and dads.
22256653_898503993632842_3735427300262612720_oWe then watched a testimony from one of the teen moms who found the Lord and a new life through YoungLives. Her story was so powerful, and I am so thankful that she has come to know that she is not only loved deeply by the YoungLives community, but she is also unconditionally loved by her Father in Heaven. After her testimony, we had an incredible dinner from 24 Carrots Catering (my table couldn’t stop talking about how tasty both dinner and dessert were), and we heard from speaker and author Paul Gibbs. He captivated everyone with a message centered around Young Life’s motto: “You were made for this”. He shared how through the love of Jesus we are compelled to action. We are each created with gifts and talents, and God’s heart is that we would live out the calling He has placed on our lives. There is abundant life in and through Jesus. This was such a good reminder!

The main thing I will remember from this night would be the amount of people there 22219636_898498756966699_1319805925009556899_o.jpg
who came to support this ministry, whether they’ve been involved for a few years or if they recently just learned about it. In my view, this wasn’t just a fundraiser, it was also a beautiful celebration of everything God has done, and a declaration of everything God will do in the years to come.

Thank you to all who came and all who made it possible!