Friday, December 20, 2013

Making the Most of Your Senior Year (aka Punching Senioritis in the Face)

This post is for friends who are in their senior year of high school. 

The senior year of high school can be one of the most awesome years of your life. You’ve gotten into your niche in academics or sports or band or whatever at school.  You get to do college visits!  You get to do crazy fun stuff with really cool friends!

It can also be one of the most stressful.  There’s relational stress with friends.  There’s emotional stress as you figure out what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. There’s physical stress with late nights and big assignments and lots of activities.   And there’s that awkward tension with your parents as you try to figure out how to be an adult and they try to figure out how to let you be one.

And it can also be one of the most blah.  When some people get to their senior year there’s this weird feeling of “blah” that settles on them.  They have a hard time finding motivation to get important assignments and responsibilities accomplished.  Some people call it “senioritis.”

Whatever your year has been like so far, here are a couple tips to make the most of the rest of it.

1. Enjoy it!
With college on the horizon, it’s easy to become far-sighted during your final months of high school. That’s why you should be careful to not miss the amazing moments sitting right in front of you. Your senior year can be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable years you’ve had yet. Enjoy the special times and opportunities that will surround you. Takes lots of pics and videos.  You’ll only be a high school senior once — hopefully — so get out there and make some memories.

2.     Think Long Term—Don’t  grab at short term thrills
How are you giving up long term good for a present thrill? Think about your decisions with money, school, and even sexual purity. Don’t sacrifice God’s great plan for you for a temporary pleasure. Many who are sexually active or involved in drinking or recreational drugs in high school pay a heavy price down the road.  It’s not always easy to say no, but it is worth it. You may not feel like continuing to follow Jesus and doing the right thing now, but remember, “No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). It will be worth it in the end.

3.     Leave a legacy
As your thoughts and plans become more and more focused on next year, remember that you still have work to do where you are now. You are a senior. You are a leader. God has called you to be where you are “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Don’t try to fast-forward to college. Instead, make your senior year count. Seek God for courage and strength to make a mark for Him and leave a legacy behind you.  Find a way to make a difference and then do it!

4.     Mentor a younger student.
Remember those high school seniors you used to look up to a few years ago? Now’s your chance to be that person for someone else. Take the opportunity to build some positive relationships with those who are younger than you and to be a role model for them. Whether you’re on the football field, in the classroom or at your church, you just might be surprised who’s watching you, and you never know how much of an impact you could make on their life.

5.     Thank a mentor
There have been lots of people who have helped you get where you are.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, youth workers, have all put energy and sweat in order to help you get where you are.  Take a moment to think about who has impacted you.  And then thank them.  Tell them what it was about their life that impacted you the most.  Believe it or not, your word of encouragement might be just what they need that day.

6.     Spend quality time with your family.
You likely won’t be seeing your family as often once you move off to college, and many college freshmen are surprised by how difficult this turns out to be. When your little sister wants you to play a game of Sorry with her or your parents suggest a trip out for ice cream, say yes and cherish the time spent with them. There will be days next year when you will wish you had the opportunity to enjoy those kinds of moments together.

7.     Let Jesus be your mentor, friend and guide—PRAY A LOT
This really is the most important.  Jesus wants to involve you in His mission to redeem this world, in His plan to show his love to all people.  Do not push Him to the side in your efforts to enjoy your final year of high school.  The more you ignore Him, the easier it will be to ignore him.  But instead of that, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a) Fix your mind and your heart on Him.  Allow Him to mentor you, to be your friend and to guide you through this school year.  This means spending time in prayer, talking with him, listening to him.  As you do that, he will shape you into the person you need to be for this time and prepare you for whatever comes next.
This list has been inspired by and adapted from two interweb articles. Here they are:

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

20 Ways to Grow Spiritually with Your Teen in 2013

As I was thinking and praying about this upcoming year, I began thinking of ways that my family can grow spiritually together in the year 2013 and then I thought about ways that families at Stillmeadow can grow together too. It's important for me to say "together" because I really believe that my role as a father is not just to teach my children, but also allow them to teach me.  By learning from them I affirm that they have something to contribute and encourage them to do so!

So here is a starter list of ways that teens and parents and children can grow in Christ together in 2013.  

Pray Together

  1. Pray for your school district officials and teachers. Find a list of people who serve in your district, put it on the fridge and pray.
  2. Take time each day to look at the news headlines and choose one or more situations to pray for.
  3. Go for prayer walks in your neighborhood.  What's a prayer walk? It's when you walk and pray for the people or places that you pass or that God comes to mind.
  4. Pray over the prayer requests listed in the Stillmeadow weekly bulletin.
  5. Ask your parent or teen how you can pray for them. Then do it. Right there. Right then. And through the week.
Serve Together
  1. Find a way to serve your parent or teen in a way you normally don't.
  2. Choose a ministry to serve in together.
  3. Bake cookies and give them out to neighbors.
  4. Visit a shut in from your church together.
  5. Serve at the York Rescue Mission with the Stillmeadow youth ministry. We go the first Friday of every month (including THIS Friday!)
Engage Scripture Together
  1. Tell your teen or parent what God is teaching you through the Bible and ask what God is teaching them.
  2. Memorize a scripture per week.  Want good verses to memorize? Just check the back of your bible or google "Scripture Memory Verses" and you'll find a ton of places to start!
  3. Read a passage at whatever meal you regularly eat together. You can find great memory plans on Bible Gateway or on the YouVersion Bible App
Practice Gratitude together
  1. Take a moment each day to thank your parent or teen for something they did.
  2. Write thank you notes to the teachers and volunteers and supervisors in your life. List specific ways they have blessed you.
  3. Write thank you notes to fire fighters and other civil servants.
  4. At each meal or before school or bed have every one share one thing or person they are thankful for.
Do Justice Together
  1. Adopt a compassion child as a family.  You can go through Nazarene Compassionate Ministries or Compassion International.
  2. Buy double the ingredients for one meal a week and leave the doubles in the Stillnaz Food Pantry or at the drop bin in the front of your grocery store.
  3. Strategize and practice random acts of kindness together.
This is just a starter list.  There are many other ways to grow together.  If you think of some, I'd love to hear them!