Santa Ana Club Night

Maria, our Santa Ana Club Coordinator and Committee Member takes a look back at Club Night in Santa Ana last week with a great recap.
Last week we had a Halloween Theme for Santa Ana Club. As preparations and set up got underway, the first thing I noticed was Laura and the food team setting up the food table, and second, I saw Tricia decorating the dinner tables with very creative Halloween themed centerpieces. The room quickly filled with families, volunteers and even a group of high schoolers from Santa Ana High School that came to help out.

Laura  surprised us with a special lasagna dinner and as an extra special treat, a couple of ladies brought dessert to sweeten up  the evening. Halloween candy was found in several areas making for a festive evening!

During the Club Talk, Theresa, one of our mentors, shared her personal testimony. She shared about a big storm that she had to walk through but how God got her through that storm and answered her prayers. Her testimony was not only personal but I also believe that a lot of the teens in the room could relate her story to storms in their own lives. Theresa shared a story of hope and also a testimony of how God answered her prayers. After Club Talk, the teen parents had small group time with mentors and friends giving them the opportunity to express themselves and ask for prayer.
At the end of  the night the  teen moms enjoyed craft time that I had the honor of leading.  The  young mamas were able to make a Halloween theme bead bracelet.  I love
craft time since it gives the girls a chance to break away from their every day routines and get a little creative.  I enjoy seeing each one of their personalities and creativity expressed  into the craft.  Craft time also gives the teen moms and mentors  the opportunity to get to know each other, bond, and have a few giggles in between.
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♥ Maria and a YoungLives alumni

On a personal note, I love what God is doing in the YoungLives ministry. This year we have been blessed with many new volunteers and I love getting to know them as we walk through and serve in this ministry together.

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We Are the Story

I walked in to the YoungLives Giving Gala on October 5th with my brand new friend and teen mom, Stephany.  I was already feeling God’s presence as He had so carefully orchestrated Stephany and I meeting that evening. We instantly clicked and had already begun to have an open and pretty vulnerable conversation that was creating an incredible connection only God could have made happen.

The room looked beautiful. The ceiling was illuminated with string lights bringing warmth and comfort to the space. The tables were decorated with exquisite displays of delicate flowers, vintage books and old metal keys; an alluring juxtaposition of past and present, beauty and brokenness.

YLGala_2018-16A few dedicated people were there making sure everything was just right and waiting in anticipation for what the night would bring.  My photographer husband was walking around being sure to capture photos of everything in the calm before the storm.  The food was being prepared and smelled delicious. Catering staff appeared ready to go. Everything looked and felt perfect.

What made this whole thing even more amazing was that it truly was one big display of love; showcasing what YoungLives is genuinely all about.  The entire event was sponsored to ensure ALL of the money raised that night would be given to North OC YoungLives to support the sincere efforts of getting resources, love and assistance to the teen moms and dads in Orange County.

 

God’s presence in the room was overwhelming.  I prayed quietly to myself that He would open the hearts of those attending to see the truth of how YoungLives was impacting the youth of our community.

The theme of the evening was “We are the Story”.

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One of the most special parts of the night was when that theme really came to life and some of the teen moms and dads got up to talk about what YoungLives had done for them, their children, and ultimately their lives. Stephany was one of the moms speaking.  Even though she was a little nervous, I encouraged her not to worry because what she had to offer was so important and God would give her the right words. I was excited for her to get up and share with everyone.

As the teen moms and dads were on the stage baring their hearts in front of a group of strangers, I thought about how strong each and every one of them was.  First of all, to have been courageous enough to give their babies a life when they knew it wouldn’t be easy, is an act of bravery like none other.  Now, to get up and share some of their deepest thoughts and feelings so people could see the impact that YoungLives has had on them, their families and their futures? It showed how absolutely fearless they can be as well as how much they believe in what YoungLives is doing and has done for them.

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Stephany with Area Director, Myrna Bittar

Stephany shared so many wonderful things with me about how YoungLives has completely changed her, her perspective and her motives through reintroducing her to God and making her realize there is so much more to life.  So much so, that she was already talking about wanting to come back and volunteer with the program.  I am excited to continue to walk on this journey with her and see where God takes her.  She is determined to finish school this year and I have no doubt that she will.  She is tenacious and a fighter.  I can’t wait to celebrate her graduation and huge accomplishment with her and her son.

Having been a very young parent in a not so great situation, I’m so thankful for this ministry and all its doing.  I wish I had something like this during that tough time in my life.  However, I’m glad I can at least share my story with others and encourage them that there is hope; that life is not over because you’ve had a baby.  No. Life actually has become something more.

To the teen moms and dads out there, you have made the right choice. You can do this. You are strong. You are loved. You are admired. Keep going, ask for help when you need it, walk with God and know He will use your story to encourage others.

To YoungLives thank you for allowing me to be a part of your story.

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Amber and her husband Tony

Amber Matos, YoungLives Mentor

Shaping Lives

For those of you who may not know me, my name is Nicole. I am a nurse practitioner by trade, newly married, I absolutely love Jesus, and I am in love with YoungLives. I love encouraging others whether it be in their faith, their careers, their home lives, school, you name it. The teenage years are a prime time in youth development. Teens are finding themselves and forming their own identity. The choices they make will shape the rest of their lives. Those teens that are currently involved in YoungLives also have the responsibility of caring for another human while trying to figure out who they even are themselves. This year I have the honor of teaching parenting classes at a local high school. Last week I taught a group of 8 girls the importance of language development in their children. What I love about these classes in the intimacy of our setting. We gather around a table in a small room. On the other side of the wall their children get to run around and explore their own development under supervision of enthusiastic caregivers. There are no desks, no slides, and I am not standing up in front of a classroom. This is not your typical high school class. So, we sit down together and dive into a box of donuts. I pass around a couple of handouts and we dig in. I find that these lessons are most impactful when the girls get involved. It’s only the second class of the year so we are still learning to trust one another but these girls will soon see that I am here for them on this journey. After chewing on the importance of language development I get the girls to put it into practice.

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What better way to get comfortable reading to your child than through reading to your peers? The girls look at me like I’m crazy but once they realize I’m serious they humor me. After the first one or two take their turn, the others do so with less hesitation. I’m grateful for their willingness to participate and in the end everyone seems to have enjoyed herself. Girls start firing questions related to the topic and I’m comforted to know they truly care. Next we explore the concept of baby sign language. Again, the demonstration provokes laughter but the girls seem genuinely intrigued. I love the hour I get to spend with these girls. I get the privilege of empowering them to shape themselves into the best moms for their children. If you don’t have children it’s hard to imagine the sacrifice it takes to be a mom. What I can tell you is that I have witnessed the love these young women have for their children and their willingness to do whatever it takes to provide the best for them. I am looking forward to getting to know the girls as the year progresses and seeing them next month to hear about how the lesson has impacted their lives.

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Nicole Vidal, Mentor & Committee Member