December 23, 2017
“If I could tell you anything, I would say, ‘Be daring. Let courage be the spine that makes you stand taller. Do not be afraid to stand taller. Be the woman or man you would want your daughter or son to follow footsteps after.’
If I could tell you anything, I would say, ‘Do the things that scare you. Let your dreams be big enough to scare you.’“
These words from the slam poet Arielle Estoria have been running through my mind constantly these last few months as so many exciting things have happened since I wrote you last–
- I was able to travel to Georgia in September to celebrate Megan & Hailey Jane’s birthdays with them. (Megan is a former DSS student of mine who I had the gift of mentoring for several years after her graduation as we figured out how to raise her daughter in community at Park Church.)
- In the last five months, the East Campus of DSS has seen unprecedented growth and support from our community and church partners.
- Bulldog athletics are back for the first time in years! It’s been a “growing season” for all of us, but I’ve been reminded of just how good organized sports are for students.
- I have had the honor of walking with students through some really high highs and some really low lows this semester, one such high being… drum roll please…
- 6 students’ academic progress resulted in them graduating high school last week! Wooooo!
- I am currently writing you from Port Alsworth, Alaska where I’m spending the holidays with my old TLC missions team and preparing for DSS’ now annual Journey to the High Places counseling conference in February. (Click here to learn more about the conference.)
- SIX current DSS students and THREE alumni are slated to spend a week in the wilderness seeking Jesus and discussing trauma, healing, and forgiveness at said conference in just a few weeks.
While all of these things have been amazing, one of the most exciting things to come out of the last few months has been the launching of The Hesed Project. For years, two of my good friends (Nick and Rebecca) and I have spent the weekend after New Years praying, dreaming, and scheming of the discipleship/ adventure ministry we felt the Lord putting on our hearts. It was around their dining room table, over many (MANY) late night cups of coffee that this discipleship program focused on mentoring and counseling at-risk youth to their potential as gospel-centered, whole-hearted leaders first began to take shape. This October, all of those years of dreaming came to fruition as we officially launched Hesed!
I’m excited to announce that within our first two months we were able to bring Joanna, our first apprentice/ student mentor, on board! Joanna is working with me at the East Campus of the Denver Street School as our nursery worker. When she isn’t cuddling our littlest DSS student, Joanna is mentoring and discipling students who have professed faith in Christ and desire to grow in their relationship with Him. She is also helping me with every day prep work as we gear up to take our Street School students and Hesed Project team out to Port Alsworth.
As of today, we are 71% funded for the conference! Our students have been working their tushes off putting on spaghetti dinners, volleyball tournaments, and spending their precious weekends selling goodies at local markets; They only need to raise roughly $1,300 more to be finished fundraising! If you are interested in partnering with my students and pushing them to their goal during this last week of 2017, you can donate online here, or send a check to the address below. (This is a semi-shameless plea, as I would love to be able to shift our teams’ preparation emphasis from finances to digging into Hinds Feet on High Places and the rest of our conference curriculum when we return to school in January…)
Whether you are able to partner with my students financially or in continued prayer, I just want to say thank you. Jesus is doing mind blowing things in and through the Denver Street School and The Hesed Project and it is because of your partnership and prayers that I have the privilege of working in the “trenches” every day.
You all are a sweet gift in my life and I have been so reminded of that this advent season.
Merry Christmas from the beautiful (and incredibly windy) white north.