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Black Hills Reflection #standagain #comments4kids

 

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Black Hills Reflections:

“Beautiful Creation”
I could reach the skies, feel the wind, see the beauty not only in the nature but in the friendship I’ve been blessed to receive, Mt. Baldy was a phenomenal destination. As I reached the top, the wind wrestled with me, yet the solid, sandpapered rock held me strong and kept me safe. I looked around and my eyes adjusted, I saw the hills, the rocks, the dirt, the trees, and the horizon that awaited much more. My crouched body made way a couple of steps; my eyes went along. There was clouds and skies that touched the heavens, but there was even more. Faces. Each face entered my mind, followed with thousands of stories. Peace. Every breath I took my lungs would fill with peace and let go of the stress that it held. Freedom. I was free, I felt alive. I no longer worried about, “I need to Instagram this!” because I knew any photo I took would never be as crisp as the memory in my mind. Any photo I took, would not come along with the smell of the fresh air, the pine trees, and the sweat shed while climbing the mountain. Photos couldn’t capture the warmth of love or the comforting trust that settled within the air. We were on top of the world; without my friends I wouldn’t have been there. I knew any person I reached to they would give me a hand and help me to the top. “It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” (Henry Ward Beecher). This year there was times I climbed down, yet my friends always pulled me up to the magnificent view. Creation is not just the mountains or oceans, but it’s the people too. It was possibly my last trip with some of them, maybe even last van ride, but forever I will remember being with my best friends on the top of Mt. Baldy. Trust, love, peace, laughter. Beautiful creation.
–Megan Suedkamp

“Ride of Pride ”
“I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred tree of life and the whole earth will become one circle again.” – Crazy Horse. Anyone can hear about ones effort to change the world, but when you see the imprint they left with your own two eyes it unlocks a whole new perspective. Crazy Horse was a man who fought against the whites with pride and encouraged his people to never give up. People compete to see who can have the highest tower and don’t even think about why they are building it. The Native Americans knew why they wanted to build this memorial. The Native Americans thrived for building this monument because they wanted to provide strength and pride to their people and show the rest of the world that Native Americans are just capable as any white person on earth. You may believe that you must get to the finish line first, but what you don’t realize is your only competitor is yourself. “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” (Jeremiah 2:25). This relates to me because I run so fast in life only keeping my eyes pressed against the banner that says finish. Along the way I miss everything else around me and when I think I have reached the finish line in reality my destination just keeps moving farther away. Just observing the monument taught me that the journey matters more than the destination. The Native Americans do not care when the monument will be finished, but they care about what comes along the way. I observed that the builders were focused mainly on the appearance of the statues size and compared it to the size of Mount Rushmore. The size of what you are trying to leave behind doesn’t matter, it’s the impact you are leaving. I heard stories of Crazy Horse and what he was like, but I was clueless until I was in the presence of the legacy itself.
–Macie

“Fun Size Devils Tower”
As I keep searching for God in my journey Fink takes us to the Black Hills. I was excited to be hiking Mini Devils Tower. The first hike that we went to was the biggest hike we went on and also my favorite hike. Jack, JP, Ricky, and I leave the class and run up Mini Devils Tower. As we get up to the top the rest of the class starts to come. Jack and I break off. Ricky and JP go to play Mafia with the rest of the class. I see Jack dangling his feet over this cliff and I go and do the same. We lay back on the crystal rock and talk about life in general. Now that I am reading this I begin to know how dumb it was because here we are my best friend and I sitting on Gods creation but still talking about “noise, crowds, hurry,”-(Foster) and drama. Then I closed my eyes, I pray that this end of the year will be great. There is a tense breeze that suffocates my breath and the sun comes out of the clouds. I say ,God, thank you, at that moment I have just a glimpse on how my journey plays out.
–Mitch

“Leap of Faith”
Cliff jumping in my definition is the leap of faith. Cliff jumping in the Black Hills was an unforgettable experience. When you see the rock when you drive up to it looks like two feet off the ground. As you climb up the rock, you begin to feel your heart beating faster and faster the higher you go. You finally get up on the top of the rock, you look down then quickly grab onto something because you think it is so high. One person after the other goes. Each time you hear a splash of water from someone jumping you think about how you are that much closer to making that sound yourself. It was finally my turn. Extremely slow I slither my way down to where you jump. Fink counts 3,2,1. It took me two times to finally jump. 3,2,1, I push off of the rock. You feel as if you are floating in the air. Then at the last second home girl over here does a belly flop. My head goes above the water, I gasp for air, I swim over to the rock that I jumped off of. Then I hit my chest on the rock. “Perfect timing” I thought. As I begin to catch my breath I hear people swimming over to me. Luke, Izzy, and Megan were my rescuers. Even though I was not smiling when they came I was smiling on the inside. After it all happened it made me think of how cliff jumping is just like life. You feel as if everything is going your way, but at the last second pain finds you. “For I know the plans I have for you”  (Jeremiah 29:11). God will come and help you catch your breath.
–Angelina Basso

“The Tower from all Angles”
The tower is an exploration, and every angle of the rock is a different sight. Say if you look at it from the front, then you went to the left front. Then you went to the right side. It’s different and it will be hard to recognize. The tower can be an exploration in anyway, maybe it’s going up and climbing on top of the tower and looking around Wyoming. Or maybe it’s looking at the rock 360 degrees and look at it from every direction. Also, maybe even going below to see what’s below the rock and see how it was brought to the surface. What would that monument be if the rock never came from the surface? What would it look like to not be the first national monument? Questions about the tower are answers humans may never know. The tower is 360 degrees around the body of it, but each boulder it takes to form it is 360 degrees. The tower in general, from the big rock to the rocks that fill in the gaps, the tower will never be looked at the same way that you looked at it the first time. In a community, a day will never be the same ever again, whether you think of the year that day came, or the time that happened and what happened, nothing will be looked like from the same angle or picture again. Sure, you may look at the front of a house the same as yesterday, but you did it the next day instead of 2 days ago, of tomorrow. Another day will stay the same, but another minute will be enjoyed. It just like what Anastasis talks about, joy lasts longer than happiness, if you enjoy the moment of today or tomorrow, then that is what people like to call, joy. Then joy will not come in the same way it did yesterday or next week, happiness maybe will, but joy will never in 1 million years be the same as tomorrow. That is what makes the tower a 360 degrees, everything comes in different angles, if you enJOY the moment.
–Jack

“Black Hills trip”
During our trip Mr. Fink had a surprise for us. We went to a place called flags and wheels. It was a really cool surprise. It had go karting, Laser tag, bumper cars, and batting cages. It was so much fun. What I did most of the time was go karting. It was fun to race Miss Jamie Mr. Fink and my friends. Everybody went to laser tag. I stayed and I raced the person that was running the go cart and we were able to mess around on the track. It was amazing to go to flags and wheels I had so much fun go karting.
–Ricky

“Wild in Spirit”
Adventure lies in nature. The most exciting piece of South Dakota was camping in the wild, unknown, forest. I look over the thundering boulders to see the swirl of colors that is the setting sun. As the sun says goodbye for the day, and the shivers of the cold wind set in, I appreciate the natural beauty of this earth. My fear of bears and unknown creatures is swept away in the midst of the natural beauty of the setting sun, fallen trees, and tweeting birds. From the laughs of my friends, to the thrill of being in the middle of nowhere, (not really, more like 2 miles from a parking lot), I enjoyed every moment. The glimmering stars of the night sky spurred my curiosity of life outside of this world, and lit the colorful, laughter-filled stories being heard and told. Although they were quite random, My stomach hurt from all the laughter. As I fell asleep, my dreams were filled with curiosity, stories, and memories created from camping in the wilderness in South Dakota. “Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity for the human spirit.” (Edward Abbey) Although I am back in suburbia, I still stay wild in spirit.
–Isabella

“Pizza Runs”
When we camped up at Mount Baldy the 8th grade boys traveled down the mountain and back bringing up pizza. We ran down the mountain, not on the trail, but on a path that we cut through the woods. It was tons of fun jumping over rocks and logs, darting between trees. When we reached the bottom we waited for Luke to show up with the van. Luke doesn’t know how to start a car. We rolled down into the small, tucked away town of Keystone and pulled up to the pizza place. While waiting for the last pizza we all got cokes. Luke doesn’t know how to hold a drink. The pizza came and we headed back to the mountain. Walking up took much longer because we weren’t running and we were carrying grub. We reached camp just before dark delivering the pizza! The thing I enjoyed most about the pizza run wasn’t the running (I’m not a runner), or the pizza (still tasty). My favorite thing about the pizza run was spending time with my teacher and friends, growing closer in relationships. Running to go get pizza sounds like a chore, but it really wasn’t, we had good conversations and we got to grill Luke’s driving skills. I got to know people better. The pizza runs were an exciting interaction I won’t soon forget. The simple things are the most memorable. I could write about big things on a grand scale such as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and The Devils Tower. Those things are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the simple things stand out just as much. I’ll remember times like the snipe hunt or running down a mountain and maybe tripping a time or two just as much as the things people travel cross country to see. The trips are so special because of the little things mixed with the big things, the all around memories. “It is the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones after all” (Laura Ingalls Wilder).
–Joseph

“Dreaming of Rushmore”
Every year at my old school the 8th graders would take a trip to South Dakota. When they came back they would present to the whole school on their trip. Mount Rushmore was my favorite part. It just looked so magical. I would constantly daydream about going there. It was never a real thought that I was able to see the place of my dreams. After years and years of waiting, I moved schools. It actually never crossed my mind I wouldn’t see Mount Rushmore.
I tap my fingers on my desk and watch as we go through the trip to South Dakota schedule. I hide my excitement when I know we get to go to the place I have just dreamed of for at least 5 years. I attempt to explain to everyone why I’m most excited for the Mount Rushmore part, but they just nod their heads and take it as nothing. That’s when I realized maybe this was something that was just a little more meaningful to me than everyone else. I didn’t care, we were still going. Cliff jumping was our first stop before Rushmore. “Jump!” everyone called as I stand on the edge of a cliff. I totally forgot today was the day. I push my legs, close my eyes, plug my nose and jump. After a rush (pun intended) into the van Mr. Fink tells us we are changing at the camp, and we are going to Mount Rushmore. The time has finally arrived after 5 years of waiting.
“I want everyone to guess why I pulled over” Fink tells us before our stop to Rushmore. We all scramble out of the van and look around. No one seems to know why we are in the middle of a road.  Some girls slowly walk forward and scream. I can’t find what their looking at. Now everyone’s screaming and I have no clue what’s going on. Megan turns my head up to the sky. My eyes stop and my mouth stretches to a smile. It’s George Washington’s head! I join the screaming and jumping before we hop into the van. It was the most surreal moment of my life. I walk into the memorial. A goal I never thought I would achieve I just did. Tears of joy were streaming down my face, and when I looked at the beautiful memorial, I never wanted to leave the place of my dreams. This was a day I will never forget.
Without this experience I don’t think I would really understand what realizing your dreams felt like. Going somewhere and doing something you have always wanted to do is the best feeling in the whole world. Every day I wish I could re-live that moment and I’m sad I’m not there. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” -Walt Disney. I am definitely taking this quote to heart after that day.
–Angelina Hogan

“I can’t feel my legs…”
South Dakota was such a fun trip with so many awesome activities. One of those activities was Harney Peak hike. As we were walking up I got to talk and bond with my friends. It was beautiful but it was windy. Once we got to the top I looked out over the rock and it was breath taking, I felt a sense of peace. Love is a way of connection with peace and that’s what I felt on top of Harney Peak. We took pictures and put all of our layers back on because it was really windy and cold. I had shivers running though my spine then I felt the Holy Spirit brush over me and I was calm. As we started to walk down some stone steps to get to a lookout. Our class climbed on the rocks and we sat down and over the rock were three mountain goats. As we started to hike back down I saw prayer flags. Prayer flags are what the natives put on trees for symbolism. Over all I thought Harney Peak was so beautiful and I loved the experience.
–Lauren

“Faith, trust, and pixie dust”
This Black Hills trip was by far one of the best trips. On this trip there were so many highlights that I will always remember. My biggest highlight was rock climbing. I had never really done rock climbing before so it was fun to work my way to the top of the mountain and then to trust my classmates to keep me alive as I worked my way back down. As I was climbing the mountain it forced me to think and watch my every step. It forced me to use a lot of strength that would soon get me to the top of the mountain. It made me push myself to reach higher and that was one step closer to the top. There were some challenges where I didn’t know if I could go any farther but once I found a good spot I could take it step by step and go to the top. My favorite part about rock climbing was reaching the top of the mountain and to look out at Gods creation. This rock climbing experience put me in a place to truly notice and enjoy Gods creation. Even though the weather was not great I still loved rock climbing and trying something new. Being in nature helps me connect with God and enjoy his presence. “You won’t understand the power of community until you are apart of one.” This year I have truly been a part of a community that is so meaningful to me. The best part about this trip was being in a community laughing and crying and making new memories that will never be forgotten.
–Alli

“Paintings”
After the months and months of the memories we’ve shared together, it has started to come to an end. At the beginning of this year I felt like we as people all represented a color. Nothing to do with one another. In the end we all came together making a beautiful painting. That night of the campfire speeches the painting was completed. We became a true family, and that’s just going to make it harder to say goodbye. The night was filled with so many emotions. Everyone was in tears and I thinks it’s because we realized each others value. It’s tough to move on but our colors will continue, their stories going on to make beautiful new pictures and memories. That makes the memories we’ve shared that more important. The point was, our campfire speeches ended the chapter and began a new era. Our campfire speeches were a farewell to the other colors within our picture. “A picture is nothing without the colors on the canvas.” (Unknown) Anastasis was a family and it was tough to say goodbye, but I guess it’s time to start a new chapter and paint a new picture.
–Luke

 

“Baptism”

The baptism experience in South Dakota was truly astonishing. I feel now as that if I have truly become a Christian and now know what it is like to walk with God. Now the wrestle with God truly begins, there will be ups and downs. In Christianity every person believes in the same thing but in different ways, now I feel like I am forming my own opinions instead of just believing exactly what my parents or piers think. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome”
(Genesis 32:28). We will be blessed after wrestling with God and struggling with him. Our ultimate blessing is to be his child, and be granted into heaven.

JP

 

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Dwelling in Safety

This last week, we’ve felt particularly close to tragedy. First on Friday with a deadly accident outside of the school following carpool, and then again on Monday when we got word of a shooting in Centennial with the results being a dear friend, father, husband, and doctor lost too soon.
Somehow there is something that feels different with this kind of loss, in many ways these losses feel preventable; and yet, in the midst of it, we couldn’t stop it. These kind of moments remind us of our own vulnerability and how truly out of control this life we hold so dear really is. Despite our best efforts the reality is that we aren’t in control, not really.

We tend to live life as if we are invincible. As if we will have more time to sort out grudges that we hold, to say our “I love you.” The truth is we don’t know. We never know. We may not have more time.

When this kind of tragedy occurs, I can’t help but be reminded of this same helpless feeling that I felt in the days following the Columbine shooting. The utter shock in learning that even kids aren’t safe. School is not safe, but instead a place of tragedy. That my peers may be dangerous. That the suburbs, the epitome of the American dream, could be places of tragedy.

The places I used to see as safe suddenly felt dangerous. It became hard to look at people and trust that they were good at the core. Suddenly it felt like everyone was suspect.

How can the Kingdom be there? In the midst of such despair? How can community be built in such tragedy?

In those days following Columbine, I saw community strengthen and rally. I saw hope and love.
There were also moments when we felt overwhelmed by the tragedy. It felt like the world was imploding. There were many moments of frustration and anger and hopelessness. How can people be so broken and selfish? Why haven’t we figured out how to recognize and repair the broken places in people before it is too late?

How do we love each other better? How do we support each other better?

Following Columbine, I had a hard time falling asleep. When you no longer feel safe in places that should be safe, you begin to live life waiting. Waiting for the next tragedy. I remember lying awake so often praying for those who had lives forever altered. Whose families would never be the same. The parents of killers who now had to reconcile the sweet baby they held, to one that would carry out such hatred. How do they move on? I couldn’t watch the news without it keeping me up wondering how those who caused tragedy would manage a life. How do they sleep? And what brokenness must be in their lives that led them to this moment? How do they survive the dark nights knowing the wide spread pain they caused?

Every night I pray Psalm 4:8, “ And now I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”

In time, you learn to trust people again. Sleep follows.

In the midst of tragedy that can feel so utterly overwhelming, in the midst of the world feeling like a place of fear and darkness,  is this reminder: HE alone makes us dwell in safety.

We’ve been reading Luke 6 with students this week. In it, Jesus shares the circumstances we are blessed in: when we are poor, when we hunger, when we weep, when men hate us, when we are excluded, when we are opposed by others.
Blessed? Really?

In our culture that list seems like a curse.

Like the world imploding.
Like it is all wrong.

But it is in these moments that we remember that HE alone makes us dwell in safety.

It is in these moments when the Kingdom is built. And we are blessed.

For those of us who have felt like tragedy is close, who are overwhelmed by it, who are feeling fearful- may we remember that HE alone makes us dwell in safety. May we remember that we are blessed. May we work to bring the Kingdom here. May we say “I love you” more. May we live in hope. May we offer more grace. May we release the grudge.

And now we will lie down to sleep, for you alone, LORD, make us dwell in safety.

 

|Kelly Tenkely|

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2016 in spiritiual

 

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Building community through travel: Team Anastasis goes to Santa Barbara #standagain

After spending the week in Santa Barbara for the Surf and Serve trip, Team Fink reflects on their experience.

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Thank you Simply Venture for making this trip possible!

Community:
The nights in Santa Barbara are what has brought our class closer together. From running about in the yard overlooking foggy rolling valleys, to playing card games inside, the games we played at night in Santa Barbara are one of the most memorable parts of our trip. Whether we were laying by the hammocks near the cactus, playing Mafia as Joseph descriptively narrated, (I will never look at cruise ships the same way again) or riding penny boards in the pitch black night sky, we came closer as a community through these experiences. The class bonded and strengthened relationships with each other. I connected with people during these fun actives I never thought I would, and strengthened my relationships with my closest friends. Although in many years I may not fully remember this trip, I will always know that I can connect with people through the littlest situations, whether it’s sliding over a table to grab a spoon or naming plants and animals as our own. “People coming together as a community can make things happen.” (Jacob Rees)

Santa Barbara Community Garden:
One action can have an effect forever. The service we did in the community garden was super meaningful to me because I got to see the way my work the year before had given a lasting impact. It felt so fulfilling to sit on the tree stumps we had moved the year before, and gave me such joy to look at the tree I once gave a ‘haircut’.  Little actions can change the world, like how our energy can change the dynamic of a room. We pulled weeds, we put down cardboard, we poured mulch. We worked, but it was fun and satisfying. We left an imprint. Although it is just a small garden, it could be the start of something bigger. The community garden also helped us grow closer together and commune. Our class worked hard and it was amazing to know that we can have fun while serving. I hope that I can go back next year and realize the beauty our work has left again. “The sea is really only drops of water that have come together.” (Desmond Tutu). What will our drop be?

Hiking Inspiration Point:
At the top of the mountain I saw sights I never thought were even real. When I was sitting on top of a rock I looked out over Santa Barbara and saw all of Gods creation. As I watched and observed the beautiful world that the Lord has created, I also reflected on my self and on my character. When we were on top looking out over the world I could feel that God was with me in that moment and truly feel peace in this world of chaos. Who knew that in this crazy world there are still areas of peace and comfort. I now know more than ever that the Lord is always with me even in the hard and scary times. Now back to reality, noise, crowds, and hurry are in my life once more. As I try to find peace like I had on top of the mountain, I get distracted by a ding on phone or the smell of bacon and eggs. Having joy and finding peace relates to Foster on the subject of taking time from the world and giving it to God. Isaiah 55:12 “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” This bible verse stood out to me for the peace and the love He gives us. We need to go out in joy to truly experience peace from the Lord. The world is our sandbox.

Last day:
We went surfing, biking and served the homeless in California. It was our last day in Santa Barbara and the trip was starting to come to an end. In the process not only did we get to go to California, but we created memories with each other that will last a life time. This might have looked different to everyone but I have a feeling we all had a lot of fun. We walked the boardwalk, played on the beach went to the candy store and some shops. Ricky and I even met Brodie Smith!!! The point was that our memories stick with us forever and we can choose to make that good our bad. “We don’t remember days we remember moments.” (Cesare Pavese) The last day was a reminder to us that we have all those good memories and still continue to make them. This years Santa Barbara trip created so many good memories for all of us. Life is full of memories, make sure to cherish the good ones.

PATH:
During our class trip to Santa Barbara we went to PATH (people assisting the homeless). This honestly wasn’t a period of the trip I was super exited about because I figured it would be mostly kitchen work and food prep. The trip to PATH turned out to be probably the best part of the whole trip, for me at least. We all started out working in the kitchen which was just fine. We did tasks to prepare food which is necessary. If service was always fun and exiting more people would be drawn to it. After food prep we ate lunch. I was pretty tired so I decided I was just going to sit down and play the piano for a few minutes (I didn’t really want to), grab lunch and go hang out with my friends. So I sat down and started playing what I could remember, when this homeless man named Garvin came and sat by me. Garvin asked me what I was playing and then he asked if he could show me a few things. He taught me music I’d never played before, and it really ended up being super meaningful. An hour later I got up. I came to PATH thinking I would be serving people and giving to them. I think they did a better job of helping and serving me. I thought I was completely different than the homeless man but there are things that can tie us all together. Music is one of those things and it shows that we’re not different at all. Sometimes the world seems ridiculous, but then there are times where people truly show unique qualities, sometimes the people we’d least expect.

SB Rescue Mission Chapel:
When we went to the homeless shelter and led the church service I was thinking how privileged I am to meet these homeless people as if they were famous. I met this man named Lamar, the definition of Lamar in Arabic is “Liquid Gold”, and that is what I saw in him. Just to sit in a room and listen to Amazing Grace with all of these amazing people was a privilege. I learned a lesson that is go find the most intimidating people and talk about God and see what happens. “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” -Mother Teresa This means to me that when we give something we should have a purpose of love. Overall this trip gave me freedom.

Surfing:
This Santa Barbara surf and serve trip was incredible. This trip had so many highlights that I will always remember. One of the main highlights for me on this trip was surfing. I had never been surfing, and it was a new and exciting experience. After many tries and failures, after being crushed by the waves, and finally conquering my first wave, I learned that you can never get something perfect in the first try. An individual must practice and learn from those mistakes and failures. Once you learn from those mistakes you will be better then you were. Personally, when I fail it makes me motivated and more determined to work even harder. The most memorable part of this trip was when we all put away the surf boards and went into the ocean as a community. We laughed, splashed, and jumped waves as a whole. Being in a community, that is what I loved most about this trip.

Surfing:
On our trip to California we got to go surfing. On our first full day is when we went surfing. Once we arrived at the beach we split up into groups. A couple of kids would go with one instructor, and my surf instructors name was Lang. When we got out on the water I was so excited to surf with my friends. I can still remember how beautiful the water was. The first wave that I tried to catch was too small and I fell off of the board, but that’s what made it fun and what made me want to try harder. The first wave that I stood up and surfed was after three tries of falling off of the surf board. When you were surfing or swimming to get to a wave the water would pull you to the left. So you would have to get out and walk back or you would go to far out. When Alli, Macie, Lang and I started to walk back, I tripped on the cord that wraps around your ankle and fell on my face when lots of people were watching me. That was one of my embarrassing moments of the trip. After surfing a long time with Lang I went back to the beach and started to surf with Liselle. I surfed with her for a while and she taught me how to evenly balance my weight to catch bigger waves. Something I found really fun was falling off the board. An example of when I did that was when I tried to catch a wave but I didn’t  turn all the way around, and my board flipped over. I was pretty tired at that point and went back to the beach and put my surf board down. All of my class was playing in the water, and I went to join them. We were jumping over waves and splashing each other. Our class got really close and we were all in community. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10: 24-25. At the beginning of the year our class was in two groups and I feel like even on the first day in California was a bonding experience.

Biking:
This week we went on a trip to Santa Barbara. We had a a lot of fun on the trip doing many different things. We went surfing, biking, and hiking and we were able to serve. I thought the most powerful moment was the bike ride. I think bike riding is powerful to me because on the way to the dirt park there was a gap jump and I did it and failed. However, I thought to myself to try, try, try, again. That part of the bike ride was a great day for me and it was very powerful.  The other part was seeing the amazing view of the ocean because I thought of all the people in the world that are trying to succeed. Their failures are what encourages their successes.

Night Hike:
It is always good to have your eyes be open to seeing Gods hand prints all over the world. The hike we did was just a small fraction of what God has done. Even though it was in the dark and people were laughing, falling, slipping, scraping their knees, “Macie”. You just could tell that God was walking that hike with us. When one person would slip it was almost as if God had come in front of that person and caught them.
My favorite part about that night hike was when it was totally dark. You can’t see where you are going at all. It reminded me of how life goes. It was light for for just a little while but then it got totally dark. We had to walk through it with out seeing. How in life we walk through life not prepared and can’t see what is next. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil” ( Psalm 23:4). Sometimes we will laugh. Sometimes we will cry. We will always fall, but God will come and catch  us before we hit the ground. I yelled at Fink so many times to turn on a light. We yell at God for not shining a light on our dark path. God will choose when to shine the light on our path.

Serving the Homeless:
Santa Barbara was an amazing experience that changed my views on the homeless. In particular, there was an experience that opened my eyes and heart the most. One night we went to serve the homeless at a shelter. We led a church service and a few homeless people attended. I realized that being with the homeless helped me to pay attention and learn more. I was immersed in God with these people because it was new to me. “It is not a strange place, but a new one.” (The Alchemist). I have been with the homeless before, but I have never been able share the love of God with them. I was able to listen more because the homeless inspired me. I had the feeling that the homeless people weren’t there to brag to others, or to gain a reputation but they were there to praise God. The homeless didn’t care what people thought of them. The homeless had a plan to praise and love God. The most touching moment for me was when John was preaching. I looked back and saw a man with tears in eyes. At my church I have never seen a person cry during a service because they recognized Gods love for us. “I stand at the door and knock …” was originally penned for believers, not unbelievers” (Rev. 3:20). Society is so hooked on noise, crowd, and hurry that people do not pay as much attention about noticing and observing everything God has done for us. God tries to show us everyday. The homeless are disconnected from society because the ones who believe in God are the ones that truly believe. The homeless don’t go to church to prove that they should be accepted by society but to love God. I always used to think that the homeless could never be Christian because of their tattoos. Or because they seem dirty to us because we are blinded by the luxury of taking showers every night. I was proven wrong at this church service. I could feel the Holy Spirit in the room, in the hearts of others and myself because I realized that I was wrong. I was humbled. My opinion of, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” was put before my eyes. I realized that just because they are homeless doesn’t give us the power to take away their right to faith. Sometimes I find that the homeless are motivated to be connected with God more than us. God loves everyone of us. Whenever I think the homeless should not be treated the same as me, I will be reminded of this moment during the trip.

 

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Student Post: Reflection on Study #comments4kids

|Macie|
Study:

No matter what kind of Study it not only will provide you with more knowledge but it will set you free. The question is how do you study? Is it memorizing a page just to pass a test and then throw it away later? Instead we need to study not for one time but learn for the rest of our lives. Is study just scratching the surface instead of engaging in the deeper realm of understanding? “Let’s learn to ask questions.” ( Foster 75 ). Study must involve humility. You have to release the thought that you know everything and don’t have to be taught anymore. You will never learn if you come from the lens of I know everything and I don’t need more knowledge. “We must come as a student, not a teacher.” ( Foster 66 ). To completely connect with what you study you must include these four steps into your routine. First you must have repetition, then concentration, comprehension, and lastly reflection. “With innumerable murders being portrayed each evening on prime time TV, the repetition alone trains the inner mind in destructive thought patterns.” ( Foster 65 ). Learning is just one big circle sometimes you have to come back to the start to progress. Sometimes you have to repeat something you’ve already learned in order to attain something new. “Study simply cannot happen until we are willing to subject to the subject matter.” ( Foster 66 ). If you are distracted and cannot completely submerge in your study your mind will be in more than one place and you will feel that your work is impossible. If you De-attach from noise, crowd, and hurry you will be able to listen and comprehend. “This Eureka experience of understanding catapults us on to a new level of growth and freedom. It leads to insight and discernment. It provides the basis for a true perception of reality.” ( Foster 66 ). Without comprehension we wouldn’t be able to apply it to ourselves. When something is applicable to ourselves we automatically are able to comprehend it better because of the experiences we had in life. Although coming together and reflecting the topic almost always changes our comprehension. “Although comprehension defines what we are studying, reflection defines the significance of what we are studying.” ( Foster 66 ). Reflection is one of the most important steps. If you do not reflect you won’t be able to reach a deeper level. Reflecting is the step that opens your eyes to possibly to change. What you thought at the beginning might completely be muzzled when you reflect. What if all of this study didn’t have to be just from books. There is a fine line between verbal (books) and non verbal study. When you study books you need to have experience, other books to connect it to, and a live discussion to reflect the book. When you study non verbal you need to study nature in respectful observation, become friends with the animals, and to observe the relationships between humans. “The handiwork of the Creator can speak to us and teach us if we listen.” ( Foster 73 ). Listening to humans interactions will help understand who you are. You shouldn’t judge people when we do this. If we have a judging attitude while studying humans it won’t teach us anything. We almost need to wipe our mind clean so our automatic reaction is not to judge someone but instead to have an open mind. If we truly commit to our study we will find that study won’t harm us if we don’t allow our laziness to control it.

 
 

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Being There: Student Post

Posted originally on Makayla’s blog January 13, 2016

|Makayla|
I have a name. I want people to know it. I love being called by my name because that means that I am known. At school, If I fall down, I get picked up. If it’s by a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. I get picked up.

I am like no other. And I’m not afraid to show it. Here, is where I am wanted. If I am having a bad day, I get encouraged. If it’s by a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. I get encouraged.

If I’m struggling, I will have help. I will not get left alone. I will get help. If it’s by a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. I get helped.

I used to feel ashamed of what I didn’t know. But now, I’m not. You have to embrace that you don’t know everything. And then you can learn and not be afraid to ask questions. If I need someone to help me get up the staircase of life, then someone will be there. If it’s a friend, or a classmate, or a sibling, or a teacher. Someone will always be there.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in School Days, Student Post

 

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Advent writings by Anastasis Jr. High

Team Fink reflections and writings about Advent

 

Love
My eyes open yet I see pitch black,
My feet are planted yet my muscles never move.
You are holding my hand yet you never let go.
I tell you, “run” yet your hand squeezes harder.
I am left here in the dark with no hope in sight,
You stay with me even if you could take flight.
Love pushes every boundary I ever set,
Feet planted, eyes blinded,
You shield me from death.
My eyes do not seek you because your touch is the only thing I’ve ever felt.
Love pushes every boundary I ever set.
I crave your hopeful touch yet we never met.

Another day another dawn
Running from dawn to dusk
Is this really the end?
Trying to follow the movies’ trend?
Lonely another dawn, another day
Here I lay, on a stone
Our favorite spot everyday
The tragedy, for you and me
Under the moon I say
I will see you another day

“Love is when two people dress up, put on nice clothes, perfume, and smell each other.”
“Love is when a boy sees a hot girl, goes to talk to her, but he gets all nervous and sweaty.”
“Love is how women bring men to their knees.”
“Love is physical relationship.”
“Love is an abusive relationship.”
“Love is mindless”
“I love you mom”
That really doesn’t sound right. It’s the same word. Does it mean the same thing? Be genuine. Love is a word that’s used improperly more than any other. It should be a word of deep meaning. Instead it’s a simple description. Christmas time is a holiday about love. The roots of it all. The true meaning. Show that love during Christmas.

Joy
I provide you with a pinch of laughter when you are feeling down
I give you a smile when all you can do is frown
I am not temporary, but I stay in your heart forever
I bring community
I bind people together
You all have me in your heart somewhere…
Just dig deeper and you will find me there
I am like a fire
I thaw your heart and sustain your glow
Don’t hide me, but let me show
I can be in the dark but light up a room
Remember I am not found in what you consume
Listen to me, I am not here to annoy
Listen to me because I am joy

Here… I am standing here, wondering the worth of my life. I can’t seem to think, my head is a mess and my pants are a little too tight. It’s Christmas Eve, I’m in a store but everything doesn’t just feel that right. One girl, one boy taking things off the racks thinking of it as nothing more than a toy. So let me ask you is this what fills our hearts with joy.

Joy does not simply happen to us, we have to choose joy and keep choosing it everyday. Think of day without smiling, laughing, hoping. Without joy we are numb at our hearts. Our minds would be frozen in time. Marianne Williamson says, ” joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good thing really are.” Joy can come from the simplest moments that you would never think of. Joy is not in things, it is in us.

Peace
My hands reach out to yours. But the wall between us is not made of breakable glass, but concrete. The wall has words on it. I see Hate and Fear on the wall. I cannot see you anymore. You have faded away. Gun shots. Sharpened knives. I look right and left but it is never-ending. When I look up, I see an eraser. I touch the wall and it crumbles. I see your hands and I hold them until they leave.

Oh my what is this
A wreckage of good bliss?
Not knowing if it’s true or not?
These people don’t seem like they have been taught
Is it my inner corruptedness
Or is it God showing me this
I see riots on the streets
Wondering if we need the navy fleets
I ask God what’s going on?
Without letting another bomb
We don’t know how this started or works
But by using peace we can solve the worst

Why are we always afraid of something? Is that what keeps us from having true peace? What if we had no fear? Is that what keeps us from having true peace? I think in order to have peace we have to have fear. We have to be afraid of something to find the peace in the midst of trouble.

Do not be afraid. Do not have fear. This is peace. Solitude to the soul, serenity in the spirit. This is peace. A calm state; a mysterious, wonderful harmony. Meditation of the mind. Love, joy, and hope through all. This is peace. I stand and the world collapses in front of me. Fear settles in the air and battle is about. I fall, scared, but a light covers my soul. The fear in me escapes, battle ends, and peace wraps me in it’s arms. It is finished. Now there is peace.

Peace is the absence of fear. Serenity, meditation. Our world is run by fear. We are always fearing something. But what if we could always be in peace. Fear is the only thing that we know how to do, but let’s bring peace into our world, let’s flip on that switch.

As I stroll through a snowy forest I look around and see snow trickling down onto the cold frosted ground. I listen to a chilly breeze that makes the snow-capped trees sway, and I hear in the breezy wind God whisper to me and say peace be with my child. I walk and hear the crunch of the half-frozen snow beneath my feet. The truly Serene area that we can find in this world of chaos is truly a time of peace and solitude. I listen one more time and hear nothing but a bird chirp in excitement, I look and see a winter wonderland.

Emmanuel
My arms cradle him
This baby boy will free us from sin
He smiles at me so I smile back
Why shall a king be born in a shack
Lying serenely in a box of hay
This baby boy will never stray away
I look at my husband in awe
I see the star the shepherds saw
I give him a hug, a tender embrace
Before King Herod and his men start the chase

As I walk through the darkest valley, I see God everywhere. I see you, God, a light filling a room of darkness. I see you, a drop of water within a fire. I open my heart to you and see you everywhere. Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Emmanuel, you are with us in the darkest times.

Do you forget how to pray?
How to be with God all day,
even when you are distracted
by noise, crowd, hurry. Repeat
this word. Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Emmanuel.
God is with us. Emmanuel is a reminder
to the world. That no matter
what God is always with us.
In time of fear Emmanuel
In time of noise Emmanuel
In time of crowd Emmanuel
In time of hurry Emmanuel.
Emmanuel God is with us.

God is with us. He came to save us. He came to free us. Make us new and cleanse us. He wraps us in His tender love. Creates a reason to have joy.  Allows us to have peace and is the reason for hope. Emmanuel. While the world spits evil and doom into our life God brings us light through darkness and whispers, “I am with you.”. The one word that will keep us going. The stronghold and beautiful, incredible Christ. He was, is, and forever will be… Emmanuel. Rejoice he is always with us.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in Prayer, School Days, spiritiual, Student Post

 

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Beauty in the brokenness: Reflections from Team Fink

As part of Team Fink’s cultural tour of Colorado they took time for a prayer retreat. Below are their reflections on this day.

 

As I go cliff walking, I slipped on a rock, caught a hand, I look behind, nothing was there. Staying still doesn’t help me meditate. I followed the wind, I could hear ‘this way’ which lead me to the cliff. I look down and the beauty showed off what Gods’ touch of a finger did. If you’ve read my writing, raccoon and turtles are my spirit animals, which help me through life, and I found raccoon tracks. I followed them, and I lead me to a tree stuck to a tree, it was a cross.

The prayer retreat was something I enjoyed a lot. Seeing God working through different ways and different people was really cool. We were all serious about it and that rarely happens. We all connected with God and that was really cool. My connection was just sitting on the window sill and watching the trees dance in the wind. I did a head stand on the ground and it was really relaxing and it was almost like an upside down meditation where I was looking up to God.

When I prayed I could feel God’s holy wrath through the wind. I loved how the retreat was In the mountains and I had a great time bonding. A retreat is a place where you can get away from all distractions and be still through God. When I hear God in me it makes me frozen in His holiness.

This experience was amazing. I saw God mostly through my friends and community. In the beginning God spoke to me and said know that I am God and trust in the plan that I have for you and your family. I believe and know that The Father, Son and The Holy Spirit are always with me. We can experience God in many different ways, like through solitude, community, and nature. Gods love for us is so immense, that we cannot explain it with words or actions. The Lord tells us to just look out to nature, that is our gift from God.

The prayer retreat was unforgettable. I’ve always wanted to have a special moment with God. Today mine happen from beauty in brokenness.  I was crying at one point in the day because, I was thinking about all the sins I have sinned all the things I have done and faced. But after that I saw the good things. Yes I have fallen and fail to get up so many times I just think I am a mess. There is beauty in brokenness-don’t forget that. I have repeated that in my mind all day and don’t forget to pray praying is the most important thing to ever do.

The prayer retreat today was very special and so peaceful. I got to feel solitude, yet a balance with community and felt the presence of creation, the presence of God. I saw the strong winds, but also the tiny gentle moss that lay upon the rocks. Getting away from our daily routines and venturing out in the mountains created such a wonderful peace within me. A little solitude. It allowed me to forget about the distractions and gave me the chance to feel serenity, be still, and listen. I realized we don’t have to be afraid, only fear God. Even though at the end of our time couldn’t feel my hands or feet because they were frozen, getting out and being in solitude was totally worth it.

This experience open my eyes to the fact that we don’t have to be in a specific place for us to receive this connection with God. At first it was hard for me to get rid of the distractions but I ended up with the vision that I don’t know was from God or not. Imagined a bear coming close to me and I was terrified, but the bear didn’t hurt me it led me to God. I thought that maybe God provides us with fears so that they might lead us to him and draw us closer. I went into a room and open the window. The wind is roaring in my ears. I thought about how we feel that when God speaks to us we think it has to come in the thunder but it might be a whisper. When we talk we can’t hear the wind blow. Crowd, noise, hurry. We think that we need to go somewhere to experience God. God us everywhere so if we take the time to observe we can have a portable sanctuary. That’s why I appreciate when the Muslims will stop whatever they are doing for the day and pray to God. This feeling of connection and peace is something that I wish I could feel my whole life when I talk or pray to God. If we do it more often we can develop this feeling is our hearts.

This field trip was super powerful for me. I loved going outside and being in nature. I connect with God best there. I heard a voice in my head that kept repeating Put your trust in me and I will guide you in the path of the righteousness. I am still not sure if it is God or the voice inside my head. It means that even though I will go off Gods path for me he can still bring me on the right path. When I was walking back to the cabin there were two pair of foot prints. this brought me back to a picture in my room that says one pair of foot prints is yours and one is God’s. You will walk away from God but he can always bring you back. Overall this was an amazing experience to connect with God and to just be.

Whisper in the wind calls to me as I wonder what would’ve happened to my family if my dad died of cancer. I wonder if that a lot and if he was not in my life I would not be the person I am today. Reflecting off of yourself is important but reflecting off of others is not as easy. Solitude something that is hard for us because we are always connected to noise crowd and hurry. We need to sometimes just get away from that. First for me it was hard to switch to meditating after I went through the gorgeous house. I didn’t really want to meditate because I was so caught up in the house. Once I started to meditate it was easier for me to lose myself in silence. I really like this experience of listening to God. I thought it was cool that since we were reading Celebration of Discipline at school we got to have Solitude and get away from noise, crowd, and hurry.

Revelation ranch was a time of prosperity and connection with God. When we first got up to revelation ranch I was so interested in the house and how big it was. Trying to find all the nooks and crannies that I could. Yet I realized that after wasting 30 minutes of my time none of that matter. I thing a lot of materialistic things distract us from what really matters. It was very hard for me to focus on God, especially when I was in a room by myself. So I decided to go out and explore, right after that decision was made the wind started to pick up. God was talking to me. I had found God in nature and that was a beautiful thing. Later in the hour I met up with Joseph and Megan and we started to go climbing. Through that we were truly able to see God. From one mountain to the next, we saw beauty everywhere. The ranch was an incredible experience getting to truly understand God’s love. I hope we can come back soon, (not just because of the house) and get to experience God in ways we don’t even know yet.

If the purpose of life was to put a check in a box there would be no beauty in living. Horses have blinders to stop them from seeing what’s around them and keep them focused on only what’s in front of them. We wear blinders as well. These blinders are called noise, crowds, and hurry. What removes these blinders? Silence can. Solitude can. A river can. A mountain can. Moss on a rock can. God can. Connection is a funny word. We have to detach in order to become truly connected. Connected with something way greater than what consumes most of the day. Something that speaks in the wind. Something that speaks in the snow, between trees, and all around us. Learn to listen.

 

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