Oh Church Camp

Oh church camp…you leave my mind in a constant Tug-O- War match. Should I go to camp, or stay home? Will I be able to spend time with the teens, or will my daughter need all of my attention? Will God move, or will the Word fall on deaf ears? And the questions go on and on… But in our ministry (yes our ministry because although my husband is the youth pastor I choose to be in the ministry with him) I constantly remind myself that God will prepare me, God will give me wisdom (I do have to remember to ask for this) when I need it, God will speak, move, and show up, and God will get all of the glory!

At the beginning of my husband’s ministry we were young and fully committed to sharing our lives with teenagers. Our house was open 24/7 and my weeks off were spent with young people between the ages of 11 and 18. As our life changed and our daughter was born a lot of my ministry opportunities changed. Now my home is open, but noises have to be kept to a minimum after a certain time. My breaks are spent with teens, but a two year old is coming along for the ride as well. It has been a difficult balance to find, and by no means do I think I have it perfect, but this trip has been the best one since miss priss came along.

The girls rode in the car with us this year while the boys took over the bus. We laughed and cut up throughout our six hour journey. We watched movies and napped (well not me, but most of the others). I felt like I actually was able to continue to build relationships on the car ride instead of either A) focusing on the drive with a toddler screaming for mommy throughout the trip and wishing I had my husband to help or B) feeling like my husband was being kept away from the teens on the bus so he could drive his family to camp.

I haven’t made it to all of the small group sessions because mommy does have to put a sweet little girl to bed, but she has played quietly while we have done several bible studies. It has been incredible to get to help teach these young ladies and listen to them grasp concepts that may have alluded them before. This is the part I have missed the most in the last few years. It is so exciting to open God’s word alongside teenagers and help them take away something real.

Listening to Kyle preach is always one of my favorite parts of it being our ministry, but especially this time. He wasn’t sure he had the sermon right or made an impact, but I was in the room. My ears were listening, as little girl colored in a Dollar Tree coloring book, and I know what I heard. I heard a lesson that was relatable, real, and a little cut throat (learning about struggles and how God sometimes allows us to struggle is never easy to hear). I was able to encourage him afterward and remind him of how God uses preachers to speak into the hearts of the listeners in ways the speaker could not have possibly done.

Watching the teens love my little one and her attach to them is so encouraging. These teens will possibly be her small group leaders, teachers, coaches, and hopefully role models as she grows up. I want them to love her (because if mommy comes then baby girl comes too) and I want her to love them! These students play a HUGE part of our family’s life!

The best part of church camp winning the game of Tug-O-War in my mind is being together as a family. Spending time with our youth and serving alongside each other. Neither of us was raised as a preacher’s kid so we don’t really know what we are doing as our little one comes along but we do know that we are better together!

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Have you SPLASHed someone today?

We had a HUGE youth event last week called SPLASH Bartow. SPLASH stands for Show People Love And Share Him, the Him being Jesus. We had over 400 students and 300 adults volunteer to do service projects in our community with the intention of sharing Jesus with the people we served.
This year our worship band was the Brandon Stubbs Band and they played a song each night that captured my heart. It is called O Come to the Altar. As I continue to listen to it this week the Holy Spirit is showing me more and more about myself and God’s love and grace for me.

With life on this earth I constantly feel the hurt and pain, but especially with my own sinful nature. When Jesus saved me He didn’t make it to where I would never sin again, He forgave (and continues to forgive) my sin and made me aware of just how much I need His unending grace. It overwhelms me daily how sinful I am. I’m judgmental, ungrateful, self-centered,… The list goes on and on. Yet Jesus calls me to continue to try to be like Him.

I continually try to do things out of my own strength. I try to make more money, take care of the house, land, work, council students, lead the youth praise band, take care of a husband, love on youth, … Yet I never seem to be good enough, strong enough, make enough,… And it’s because I try to do it out of my human strength instead of giving it to God and letting Him take care of it. I need to let Jesus fill me up at the well of everlasting water. And He continues to call me to let Him take over.

God wants me to come to the altar and crawl into His welcoming arms. He made a way for this to happen when He sent Jesus to give His perfect life so that I could have the forgiveness that need.

I have to leave my sin behind and not dwell on the continually mistakes I make. I don’t need to carry my burdens around because Jesus has called me to cast my cares on Him because He cares for me. He cares that we struggle financially. He cares that I worry about being a new mother. He cares that I am overwhelmed with going back to work. He cares!

I can take my sorrows to God and He will trade my hurt for joy. Not happiness, but joy. He can turn the ruins of my life into a new creation. The hurt from infertility is turning into a testimony of God’s goodness. The tears over bills due into provisions coming out of nowhere. The wonder of how everything will get done into a completed to do list with an abundance of time left over. I just have to listen to Jesus calling me and trust that He will continually take care of me.

There is no magical location or specific altar to run to. I can use my couch, seat in my car, or church pew as an altar. God is waiting on me to turn over my sorrow, climb into His lap, and let Him have full control. He wants me to remember the price Jesus paid for my forgiveness and recognize that with that gift also came a new name for me, daughter to the King.

When I can remember how I have received forgiveness, then I can take my eyes off of my selfish needs and wants and focus on praising Jesus. He is my Savior! He is wonderful! He deserves my praise and honor and glory.

So today when I choose to bear the burden of the cross, I will remember that I am simply waiting for the crown the Lord has for me in heaven. I can’t wait to return my crown to the altar of God as praises sing from my heart and mouth! Until that glorious day I must tell everyone about my Savior and how they too can have a relationship with Him. They can leave their burdens at His feet and let Him take care of them.

This is the heart of SPLASH. We are to turn our lives over and serve the Lord and share His grace, mercy, love, salvation with everyone we come into contact with.

Have you shared Jesus’ story with someone today? This week? This month? Year? Ever? Let today be the start of your telling the world about the Savior they need!


Youth Pastor Super Heroes 

Think about to when you were in youth. Who was your youth pastor? I had a few (Mark Chandler and Spencer McCoy) but never realized how much they really did for me. Now, as a wife of a youth pastor, I have a behind the scenes view of all that really happens. Youth pastors are super heroes!


These men who devote themselves to leading teenagers toward God do so much more than plan trips to Six Flags and teach a bible lesson once a week (which I do believe is what 16 year old Kyle Ruff thought they did). They see a hurting student and take them fishing. They see a crisis in a young person’s family and go to the hospital to just be there. They hear a student share the gospel with a child and text the parent to encourage them. They spend a week on local mission, basically without sleep,  and then leave with the youth group on another mission trip across the country. They listen to girls cry and some lucky pastors have wives to send them to (others learn to handle girl tears). They guide boys on how to handle being turned down by the girl they like. They make crazy videos to get the group pumped for events and lessons. They love on smelly teens after long days of work, fun, or …some teens just smell. They wrangle up volunteers for summer camp. They pray for teens by name daily. They lift up other youth pastors and bear each other’s burdens. They share there hearts with their church families. They write curriculum for events which they may not even be attending. They share Jesus as much as they can work it in (which is more often than you would think). They go to sporting events, concerts, graduations, birthday parties, and other life events for students. They… I could keep going, but I think you get it. 

Youth pastors give so much of themselves and ask so little in return. My husband is just part time, but his time is not his own. It is our students’. I love how he sees a need and instantly wants to take care of it. It doesn’t matter that technically he doesn’t work today…super heroes don’t have set working hours, and neither do youth pastors. 

Today, take the time to encourage your youth pastor, or your student’s youth pastor. 

A Mom to Teenagers

No, I have never given birth. No, we did not adopt. No, we do not foster. However, when one of the teenagers in our youth group needs us, we jump into action and become “parents” whenever. 

Thursday night we hosted our small group bible study. After everyone had left and I was cleaning up, Kyle tells me one of the girls in the youth group is having family problems and may need a place to stay. Well, let’s go get her. It turned out her stepdad had taken her back to her mom from a friends house that night, but last night she stayed with us.

I love the students in my class, but the teenagers in the youth group have me wrapped around their fingers, especially this young lady. 

Don’t worry. Her parents know she is with us! We had an ice cream outing last night, followed by her picking a movie (Star Wars) to watch at home. Today she will either tag along with us to a couples shower and Mother’s Day/birthday dinner or go hangout with some other girls from our youth group. 

I love that she feels safe with us, wants to stay with us, and knows she is loved by us! Being a youth pastor’s wife means so much more than going to camp, Six Flags, and church every time the door is open. It means loving teenagers and helping them the way Christ would in some of the most difficult times in their lives. 

If you can, stop for a minute and pray for this young lady and her family! She could use some comfort and peace in the storm her family is in.