15 years ago yesterday my twenty-two year old self walked in to Kenmore Community center with five other volunteers, inflatable couches, a box of candy and a hope that at least three teenagers would show up to “First Glance”. I had absolutely no clue that that night would change my life. A lot has changed since that night, buildings, programs, staff, and thousands of students, but the thing that has changed the most is me.
This is the wall in my office. Hundreds of pictures that represent only a portion of the memories and adventures of the last 15 years and through all of them I stand here today having learned so much. Here are fifteen things I have learned in these fifteen years… some light and fun, some heavy and hard.
1. Have A Clean Up Plan:
If you’re going to fill a skate park bowl full of leaves, have a good plan for getting them out of the building. Our plan was not a good one.
2. Karen Freeman:
Sometimes I look back and wonder why Karen who was well beyond me in life and ministry ever decided to help me start First Glance, but she did. She walked me through so much, taught me along the way and over the past 15 years has let me pretend I am in charge 😉 She has been an amazing mentor and friend and our memories, both good and hard, are countless together! I am forever grateful for love and guidance and friendship!
3. I love them more than they know:
I sincerely love the teens and young adults who walk through our door. I see all the potential they have!!! It’s so much! I wish they could see what I see in each and every one of them! I care about them deeply while they are part of First Glance and beyond. I think they assume I forget about them, but I don’t! I follow them on FB and I show up if something tragic happens and often their picture is on my office wall!
4. Best Road Trip Song:
This is and will forever be the best Road Trip song with a van full of girls.
Sadly I have been to more funerals for those under the age of 25 than over. Over the years I have learned what to anticipate with a young persons funeral. It’s something I wish I didn’t know.
7. They are My Kids:
Those who attend First Glance I refer to as “my kids”. They aren’t clients or patrons or projects or anything of the sort! And if you tell me you want to donate something that you were going to throw away, “but it’s good enough for your students” it will make me want to punch you in the face. I will refrain from doing so, because I don’t believe in violence, but I will want to :).
I love lists, I love checking things off, I love all things accomplishing! And over the years I have learned that the single best thing I can do for First Glance and for the teens and young adults who walk through our door is pray for them! I have learned and have seen God answer prayers in a mighty way!! So we have put in a prayer room, two technically, where we as a staff use it everyday to pray for our students by name! I continue to wonder what will happen to this community in ten years if we pray every day for these students.
9. I’m Glad God Didn’t Answer That Prayer:
If I’m honest there have been some disappointing times during First Glance when I’ve prayed for something and God didn’t answer it the way I thought he should. I specifically remember fasting, praying and very much pleading with God to give us a new building, he didn’t. It really affected me at the time, I couldn’t understand!! As I look back now I am SO GLAD he didn’t give us that building. Had he done so First Glance wouldn’t exist today. We couldn’t have afforded that building and I didn’t know that then. I’ll be honest over the years there have a been quite a few times that I have struggled with this same thing, feeling like God should have been doing something he wasn’t. I now sincerely and genuinely trust that he always knows what is best.
10. Be Obedient to the Next Step:
I was young and I had no clue what I was doing, and I really had no idea I was starting a non-profit organization. From day one until now I simply did what needed to be done next… rent a larger building, find someone to start a new program, asked some nice people for money, etc. I didn’t start First Glance 15 years anticipating that we would own buildings, have staff, offer so many programs, etc… I simply did the next thing.
11. Reunion Night:
Just a handful of months ago was Reunion Night, where we invited everyone back, both volunteers and students!! 300 people showed up and it sincerely was one of the best nights of my entire life!! I love and miss them all… more than they know.
12. This Man…
Tim and I got married in May and started First Glance in September of 2000. He’s been amazing as we started, grew, added programs, invited students to move in, built skate ramps, fixed computer problems, and so much more. His love for God has allowed him to love me and those coming to our ministry well. First Glance would not be where it is today without his love and support and him by my side.
They happen sometimes. Over the years I have learned how to break them up, even if those fighting are bigger than me. If you ever need a lesson in such things just ask.
14. God, the Creator of the Universe, Desires to Interact in Our Lives!
Something transformational in my life over the past 15 years is seeing God interact in the small details of life. I have already told my story of how God healed my mind, marriage and body (click on the words to read), but I’ve also seen him show up time and time again at First Glance from providing large amounts of money at the last minute, to someone calling with the exact skill we needed on a building project, to answering even the smallest prayer. I have so many amazing stories I wish I could go into detail of each of them.
15. I WANT EVERY STUDENT TO KNOW…
I want every student to know the hope and love of Jesus! It’s why I do what I do, not because my way is better, simply because I love them too much not to tell them of the amazing adventure it is to be a Christ follower.
As I look at the past 15 years I am SO grateful!!! I’m grateful for the students I have met, for the volunteers who have served along side me, for the adventures, the memories, and living life together in this community… most of all I am GRATEFUL to God for giving me a front row seat at what He is doing!! I genuinely feel blessed and as though I have the best job in the world.