“Growing Up In the Lord” – My Youth Group Memories

*cue “Growing Up In the Lord” by Acappella – ca. 1987

A few Sundays ago was “Senior Sunday” at my church. All of the graduating seniors at our church were presented with a bible during morning worship, and a slideshow was shown featuring pictures of their lives from back when they were little babies to now – 18 years of life.

The theme for worship was “Family” – our youth minister spoke about how this class of graduating seniors had really come together and created a family amongst themselves, demonstrated by the love they had for each another.

It made me think back to my years of being in my church’s youth group, and how I was really blessed to have an amazing youth group family from middle school until my senior year of high school. Those were some of the best years of my life – I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I thought I would take some time to reflect back on those years and write out some of my most memorable moments – I’m sure I’ve missed some, but I picked my top 10 moments, which are written about in more detail below. My memory has failed me on many of the specifics, and I wish I had more pictures to share (I used disposable cameras back then!)

I also really wanted to thank each of you who were a part of my Camelback Church youth group family – (you know who you are!) – you meant a lot to me, and I honestly miss you all! Thanks for some amazing memories!

Favorite and Memorable Moments of the Camelback Youth Group         (1998 – 2005)

1. Christmas Parties at the Robert’s House – this was a special memory for me, not only because it was a fun Christmas tradition, but because it took place at my Grandma’s house. My grandma died when she was only 75, that was during my senior year in high school. When I think of my grandma, I think of her giant front yard with the horseshoe driveway – I think of chicken enchiladas, which were the main course for any and every event – and I think of the big Lazy Susan table in their dining room where we used to eat. Each year she would host the youth group Christmas parties, which would always include a gift exchange – one of those where you steal gifts from other people and eventually they get “frozen.” YG Pic 4

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Unexpected Lessons From Japan

My husband Dean and I have been back in the States for about 2 weeks now after taking an 11-day trip to Japan. This trip was an early 10-year anniversary celebration for Dean and myself (actual anniversary June 5).

One of the most common questions we’ve gotten about our trip was simply, “How did you decide on Japan?” Dean and I are very different, but we have known for a long time that if we ever got the chance to internationally travel, we would go to Japan. For starters, I went to Japan 19 years ago when I was in 8th grade.

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Me in my host family’s home (April 2000)

 I had the opportunity to participate in a “Junior Ambassador” program with my school, and we had the chance to meet and connect with a Japanese student of the same age. We got to meet their families and stay in their homes – a pretty awesome experience to have as a 13-year-old. As happens when you travel somewhere new, you usually want to go back someday. This trip was my “going back” opportunity. Besides that, over the past 3 years we have really gotten more interested in Japanese culture – manga, anime, sushi, etc. We have a sushi night once a week (local Abilene sushi, although it’s actually pretty good!) and normally watch an anime film or show while we have dinner. It was pretty cool to see and experience in person some of the things we had seen in the shows we watched.

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Tomoe, on the left, and her sister on the far right were my host family

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know from our pictures that we did a lot – we went to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka – this included visiting places like Akihabara, Disney Sea, Studio Ghibli Museum, Fushimi-Inari… through the social media lens, where I have strategically chosen the best of the best pictures (and filtered them beyond belief), it looked like the trip of a lifetime. That’s always how it is on the other end of the screen, isn’t it? Perhaps there’s a twinge of jealousy or longing as you scroll through a friend’s travel pictures.

Well, it was an awesome experience, and I am super grateful that we had the chance to go – however, there is always more to the story.


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