From Florida I Fly

world golf village

My home for the last 7 days

An almost pattern:

Two Wednesdays in a row at JAX…

Two years in a row spending 8 days at Young Life’s Winter Training school in St. Augustine Florida in January.

Two flights til I get home today.

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Rocking chairs at Jacksonville International

Drew and I spent last Wednesday, January 7th, at the Jacksonville airport welcoming 396 Young Life staff people from all over the United States. The process of greeting, counting, and loading onto buses was exhilarating, (love seeing familiar faces and witnessing embraces) and exhausting (10 solid hours of walking, talking, and checking schedules)! Some respite came in short stinks of rocking in the rows of rockers here.

After airport welcome day, we settled into our respective roles. Drew was officially a “helper”- tasked with doing whatever needed to happen whenever necessary. He was able to offer capable help and did it all with his winsome personality and handsome beard. To have Drew join me in my work was a great experience for us both.

My official role was to be a TA for the Gospel’s class filled with 207 students under professor Mark Strauss, of Bethel Seminary, San Diego. Unofficially but possibly more importantly, I was able to spend a week with my 14 Gateway Region friends as they processed information, became better friends, laughed and played hard, and shared in deep, hard, and hopeful conversations.

I ducked out of Gospels occasionally to hear from other presenters down the hall at New Staff Training.  As I listened there and in smaller gatherings, I was reminded of the reasons and the real life of what composes my vocation:

  • Jesus is our Message, Friendships are our Method.
  • Comparing yourself to anyone else will only lead to defeat. Know you are okay, you are accepted here, you are worthy of the calling and placement of your position, and you are very especially loved by God.
  • Young Life works if you love Jesus and show up in the lives of kids. “Don’t over think it”, Alex said. Just what I needed to hear.
  • Expect some suffering, to be misunderstood, to have to forgive and ask for forgiveness
  • Jesus did not live a balanced life but had boundaries
  • Abandoned kids need to be adopted into a family of love and hope…accepted and affirmed, called to live up and out of God’s love in real life.
  • Surround yourself with people who are different than you in multiple ways. Diversify to be inclusive, the kingdom doesn’t look like me.
  • Humor in Young Life,  is mostly about leadership and taking people somewhere- from belly laughs to the feet of Jesus.
  • Leading is easier when you start with good people around the table
  • “Good people” work with integrity, humility, a heart for the people they serve, and very few words.

Most of the Gateway staff folks at the fort in St. Augustine

During the last few minutes of our Gospels class, we gave an oral thank you note to the prof which ended with cheers, chants and even a short but controlled crowd surf. 200 Young Life staff people in any room, even a classroom, can bring energy, noise, and smiles at levels that impress a seminary professor and hotel staff. Energy erupts and sounds like loud joy.

My favorite picture of what we were trying to do, came in the last hours of the last full day. I was walking the lake loop with a couple friends during a break. There was a group of 6 other YL staff approaching us from the other direction- a most ordinary occurrence for the week. However, as our groups drew near, the 6 people started yelling, “Ahhhhhh!” Yaayyy” and formed themselves into a gauntlet…joining hands in pairs to form a tunnel. Surprised by the spontaneity and immediately invited into the energy, we picked up our pace, joined the cheering, and ran through their outstretched arms.

Our spirits were immediately boosted. It feels incredibly good to be cheered on. I haven’t run through a tunnel in a long time- I lived fully into the fun of this one.

Young Life doesn’t do everything perfect, but in it’s moments of perfect expression, Young Life lifts up its arms to form a tunnel of cheers,to give affirmation, an invitation towards joy, and lifts up kids who are low. We hope to make shuffling feet start to run, sending them through to more freedom for where they go next, with a community of care to continue on with them.

I loved being around my Young Life family.

I cannot wait to get back to my Osborne family. Here I come Eli, Andi, Oaks and Drew! I’ll be a tunnel of love for you!

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