Youth Digest – 08.11.20

This past week, I got some real-life experience with something I thought I never would: a hurricane. While on our family vacation, Hurricane Isaias came through town. We were able to watch the storms move in a circular pattern in the sky, see the winds cut across the water in bursts of spray, and hear the waves crash higher and higher. At times it was a little scary, but the locals put us at ease and reassured us that it wasn’t going to be bad.

Some of these locals were a little more daring than others, taking to the ocean for some kite surfing. It was amazing to watch these athletes let the winds pick up their kites and move them across the waves, sometimes being air-born for minutes. Instead of being fearful of the impending storm, they used it to their advantage, harnessing the power of the wind to find some enjoyment. They were not letting the inevitable storm scare them into hiding, but were instead standing in the midst of it and using the power of the storm to transform them from ordinary observers to extraordinary athletes.

Since coming home and thinking back on this, I have had a few questions running through my mind: When the storms of life come crashing on the shores of my world, how do I respond? Am I a scared observer, or an athlete ready to harness the storm? Do I let God transform me through the storm, or hold on for dear life to the world I knew before the storm? My prayer for all of you this week is that you will harness the winds of whatever storm you are in right now, and let God transform you through it.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 07.28.20

About three weeks ago, my parents came over to help us with a few jobs around the house. One of the jobs I needed my dad’s help with was transplanting a tree that had started growing in one of my flower beds. I didn’t just want to remove the tree altogether, I still wanted the tree, I just didn’t want it growing where it had decided to plant itself. My dad brought with him a few trees from his yard that had started growing in places he didn’t want them. At the end of the day, we had replanted three trees in our backyard.

Now, I am sure there is somebody reading this thinking, “Transplanting trees in the heat of July, that’s not a great idea!” and they would be right. I knew it wasn’t a great idea, but it was when I had help, so we went ahead and replanted those little trees in the 90-degree heat of July. We knew that there was a chance that none of the trees would survive. We “babied” these little trees for about two and a half weeks and then decided that they were probably not going to make it.

Today, R. H. was outside tending to the grass when he noticed something about these little trees. Almost all the leaves that these trees once had were pretty much gone, brown and shriveled on the tiny branches. However, there were new leaves growing as well; tiny, little green buds of life and hope. What we had counted as a loss was in fact not a loss after all.

The world can look at someone and see loss; a little sad tree wilting away, but God can look at that same person and see those little green buds of life and hope. How amazing is God’s love for us, not to give up on us the way I had given up on my little trees. Instead, he helps those little buds of life grow into beautiful flowers of HIS love, grace, and mercy.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 07.21.20

With Delaware County being put on a level three, or red alert last week, we have had to suspend the few in-person youth meetings that we have been doing or planning. I know this is the opposite direction we wanted to be moving, but we have to do what is best for keeping everyone safe and healthy. We are still working on how things will work once we get to meet in person again, but for now, we are back to on-line meetings.

I miss seeing all the youth on a regular basis, but I am so glad that we have the technology to still gather virtually. Fellowship is a vital part of our Christian faith, and we have to get creative with it during this time. I want to encourage you this week to find a way to get in some Christian fellowship! We have Tuesday evening Zoom meetings for the Middle School youth, but we would welcome any youth who would like to join. Call a friend and share your prayer requests, and pray for each other before saying goodbye. Don your mask and swing by a friend’s house for a front yard visit. However, you choose, seek out that fellowship.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 07.15.20

I love baking!

For me, baking is not a chore, but rather a relaxing hobby. When I stand in front of my mixer and start adding ingredients one-by-one, I feel a sense of excitement and anticipation for the eventual outcome. I love experimenting with new flavors. My current favorite flavor is brown butter.

Yes, you read that correctly: brown butter.

When you cook butter, it will eventually turn brown and completely change flavor. This makes the butter richer and almost toffee-like. To make this happen, I have heat it, stir it, and keep a close eye on it. But all the extra work is worth it in my opinion. One of the reasons I love baking is that I get to watch ingredients turn into something completely new, and often better, by the time I’m finished.

As I was preparing my brown butter today, I made a connection to my faith.

There have been times in my life that have been more difficult than others;  you could say that the heat was turned up. I was tried and tested and didn’t like it one bit. I was uncomfortable, frustrated, and brought to tears more times than I wish to admit. However, now that I look back on those times, I can see how God was forming me to be a better version of myself. Now, I am able to be used in new and exciting ways. So even though life may be difficult right now, and you may feel like the heat has been turned up, let God use this situation to make you into a better version of yourself, so that you can be used to do God’s will in new and exciting ways.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 07.07.20

We are currently reading through the book of Esther in our Digging Deeper Bible Study. If you have not read this book yet, I suggest you do so, it’s an easy read and a great story. Last evening we read through chapter 4 when Esther learns about the plot to kill all the Jewish people in Persia. She is faced with a very tough decision, stay silent and watch her people die, or go before the king, uninvited, and risk being put to death. Essentially, she had to choose her faith or her life. Her cousin spoke these very wise words to her, “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

These words are a great reminder for us as well when we are faced with hardship in our own life. As God builds our lives to become more of what He wants them to be, we will face difficulties and negative situations that can make it seem like He isn’t in control or He has abandoned us. But we have seen that God is at work in our lives even in those difficulties. Indeed, God uses difficult situations as building blocks to build us up into the place where He wants us to be so that we can fulfill His plans. God won’t force you to make the right choice, but when the time comes, He will give us the ability, by His grace and His Spirit, to make the right choice.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 06.30.20

The past three and a half months have been difficult for a lot of us in the world. Whether you have been unemployed, working from home while trying to home-school, or working on the front-lines, everyone has had a new routine to learn and been made to adjust. I will admit that I have let the difficulty drag me down more than I would like. There has been one thing that has helped bring me joy and see the positive side of all this time at home: Harvey.

It has been a lot of fun literally watching my son grow before my eyes. When this started in March, I had a little 10 month-old baby who was not yet crawling and eating primarily bottles throughout the day. I now have a 13 month-old toddler who is on the verge of walking and is already eating me out of house and home. R. H. and I have gotten to watch him learn to crawl, get his first tooth, learn to climb the stairs on his own, grow into his personality (he’s a trouble-maker like his dad), and so much more; a lot of “firsts” that we may have missed. What a blessing it has been! Besides just making my mommy-heart glow, it has reminded me to be thankful for each day, because it is a day that the Lord has made.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 06.23.20

Because Harvey was born early, he will have some “catching-up” to do for the first two to three years of his life. This means that R. H. and I work on some basic fine motor and gross motor skills with him repeatedly. Whether it be mushing mashed potatoes between our hands, rolling a ball back and forth, or playing pat-a-cake, we try many things to get to the same end goal; helping him clap his hands together on his own. This might seem like such a simple thing, but it is actually something that needs to be taught.

I realized the other day that this translates so well to our spiritual lives. The habits and practices we form as Christians are things we have to learn and practice again and again. We learn to pray, we read our Bibles, and go to church with one end goal in mind; strengthening our relationship with Christ. In the same way that Harvey will always have things to learn and will be growing for years to come, we will always have things to learn about our faith and will keep growing in that faith for years and years.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 06.16.20

Last evening, we had our first in-person youth gathering since March 15.  This meeting looked A LOT different than our normal high school gatherings, but it was so refreshing for my heart. As we start having youth gatherings at the church again, we will have to face a new normal. This will take some getting used to, but it will be worth it to be together again.

I have spent the last three months praying for our youth and their families, but seeing some of our youth again reminded me how important Christian fellowship is. We were created as social beings, so being away from our fellow Christian friends has been hard for me. I can only imagine it has been harder for our youth, as they are even more social. As we roll out more in-person youth gatherings, I will make sure to send out information, so stay tuned for that.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 06.09.20

A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of Confirming 23 eighth grade students in the shelter house at the church. This service was not what we had planned it to be when we started out this year, but it turned out so beautifully. Each student read their favorite Bible verse, we took communion together, each student was given a wooden cross from their parents, and everyone signed the roll book. Some parts of this service were new and some were familiar to past Confirmation services.

I feel like we can all learn something from this Confirmation experience. Things ended in a very strange and new way, from sharing faith expression projects via Zoom to having three socially distanced Confirmation services, but it all ended so beautifully, and better than we could have expected.

This translates to our personal lives so well! How many times have we made a plan, just to have it upended? Then, when all seems lost, things come to completion better than we could have planned or predicted ourselves. This has happened to me on multiple occasions. God often has a better plan in mind for us, and we can get too caught up in our plan to see it. I know circumstances were a little different this time, but the lesson is still the same. God has a plan, and we need to trust the HIS plan is better than ours.

So as another Confirmation year comes to an end, join me in praying for these 23 amazing students. Pray that they will seek out God’s plan for their life. Pray that they will spread the love of Jesus in this dark world. Pray that they will continue to grow and build a stronger relationship with our Lord.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 06.02.20

If you have been on social media at all today, you have probably seen an image similar to the one above, a black square. I know for myself, it has been such a simple, yet very powerful reminder of what our country is living through right now. The world is broken-hearted for our persecuted brothers and sisters. The world is asking for love and equality. The world wants healing.

As someone who cannot relate to what this kind of persecution feels like, it has been jolting to have my eyes opened to reality so drastically and brutally. It has not been a pleasant experience, but one that is necessary. It can be far too easy to fall into the familiar comfortability that my skin color offers me. Shame on me for that. What this past week has reminded me of is that as a follower of Christ, we are called to love. Not just to love the people that love us or the people we go to church with, but we are called to love ALL people!

We have been given some wonderful accounts of Christ’s love in the Gospels, and if you read some of these encounters of His love, you will find Jesus loving the ones considered “less” by society. He often went out of His way to share His love or a story about loving those considered less. I am so sad that we live in a world where there are still people who are considered less, but that is our sad reality. It is our calling to live a life mirroring Christ’s and show His love to them and for them.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 05.26.20

R. H. and I have been dreaming about the next time we can go on a vacation because, like most of you, we are not sure if our family vacation will happen this year. We are craving an ocean breeze and waves lapping at our feet. While dreaming about a vacation, we spent some time reminiscing about past vacations and time spent at the beach. This conversation really got my thinking deep thoughts about the ocean. While in this conversation, I turned to R. H. and said “I think I understand the term ‘Fear the Lord’ a little better now, if I think about the ocean.”

I have a deep fascination for the ocean, but being in the ocean makes me very nervous. I love watching the National Geographic shows about the coral reefs and other ocean life. I could sit and stare at the ocean for hours. I respect how important it is for our world and how it responds to our dry-land world. Even with all the resources on this planet, there is still so much for us to learn and discover about the ocean. However, you’ll be very lucky to actually see me in the ocean. I have a very deep respect for all the creatures that call the ocean their home, and I don’t need to get up close to let them know; I can do that from the beach!

I don’t think I would describe my feeling toward the ocean as feelings of fear, at least not in the typical definition, but that’s exactly what it is. I have a fear of the ocean, but I am not afraid of it. I know that seems like an oxymoron, but this is what helped me understand what it means to fear the Lord.

I have a deep respect for God and all that He does for me and the world around me. The Bible is full of amazing God stories for us to study and learn from. I love hearing stories from people about how they are able to see God in their lives. I could very easily sit in worship for hours, just soaking in God’s presence. With all the resources we have to learn and grow in our relationships with God, there is always more to learn. We can fear the Lord and not be afraid of the Lord.

This week, I want to challenge you to think about what it means to fear the Lord, while you too might be dreaming about your next family vacation.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 05.19.20

Last night during our Digging Deeper Bible study, we listened to the song “Oceans” by Hillsong United and looked at scripture referenced in the song. This song took us to Matthew 14 when Jesus walked on water and called Peter to climb out of the boat and join him. In this story, Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and instead focuses on the waves around him. In doing this, he starts to sink into the water. As he cries out for help, Jesus immediately reaches out and grabs him.

I love the imagery in this, of Jesus ready and waiting to swoop in and rescue Peter as he asks for help. It reminds me of a line from the song that reads, “Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, You’ve never failed and You won’t start now.” What powerful words and a great reminder this is! I think we have all felt this feeling of sinking at some point in our life and the following feeling of relief as we call out for help and are then reminded that Jesus is with us and will not let us drown.

Even though we find ourselves in this scary ocean of a pandemic right now, we need to remember to keep our eyes focused on God instead of the waves that crash around us. Please pray with me this week for those who may be focusing more on the waves rather than asking God for help.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 05.12.20

These verses have been on repeat in my head today. What wise words from the book of Proverbs!

 

Proverbs 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.
Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Then you will have healing for your body
and strength for your bones.

 

I want to encourage you all this week to remember these words. Let us continually put our trust in the Lord.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 05.05.20

I have been spending the day working on things for our graduating high school seniors. Their senior year was probably nothing like they expected, and their graduation will be different than any other graduation ceremony there has ever been. However, it will be a year to remember.

During this time of self quarantine, as we celebrated Harvey’s first Easter and get ready for his first birthday, I have learned that we don’t have to miss out on celebrations right now, we just have to change our expectations and preconceived notions. It will be tough for our senior class and their families right now, so please join me in praying for them this week. Also, celebrate with them and congratulate them for all the hard work they have put into completing not only this school year, but also the years preceding.

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020!

Blessings,

Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 04.28.20

We have had a lot of extra time with Harvey because of this quarantine, and it has been such a blessing. We have been able to watch our precious boy grow and learn so much over this past month. He is now army-crawling, he’s gotten his first tooth, he loves playing with and “reading” books, and he absolutely loves “helping” mommy work on the computer.

(Harvey says hi: jkjk kokjkujkikh      hhb  c xtvvb      7bbbjtcaZA)

While this time “self-quarantining” has not always been easy or fun, we try to remind ourselves of the blessings we have and have been able to witness during this time. I want to encourage you this week to be mindful of the blessings all around you, especially when you feel yourself getting a little cabin fever.

Blessings,

Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 04.21.20

Last night during our online Digging Deeper, Shelby and I asked the youth what things they were doing to keep busy right now. We had a few students say that they were spending more time in their Bibles and trying to learn more about who God is and strengthen their relationship with him. I was taken aback but also so inspired by this. What a great use of this extra time! (We have some absolutely amazing youth at our church!)

That got me thinking about some of my favorite scripture and the things I have learned about God over the years. I looked at Psalm 46 and was blown away, once again, at the power of our God.

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come
and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam.
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! Interlude

A river brings joy to the city of our God,
the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed.
From the very break of day, God will protect it.
The nations are in chaos,
and their kingdoms crumble!
God’s voice thunders,
and the earth melts!
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”

11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

 

We have probably all heard parts of this before, especially verse 10, but I feel that this whole Psalm is so applicable to our lives today. We can take refuge in the Lord while the world around us is in chaos. The Lord will give us strength in times of trouble. All we have to do is be still and trust in God.

Blessings,

Tanya Karn

04.14.20 – Youth Digest

A few weeks ago, I went on the medical mission trip to Honduras. As always, it was an incredibly moving experience. On this trip, what really stood out to me was the Hondurans’ passionate love for God. We attended a worship service with our sister church in El Ovido and it was unlike any kind of worship I have ever seen. There was lots of loud music, dancing, and yelling praises to God. Everyone in that church, whether they were a child, teenager, or adult, was singing praises to our God with everything they had. They showed the same passion in their love for us. This was only the third time I had met these people, yet they showed me the love of a close friend. I sat next to a teenage girl during the service and she spent that time trying to teach me the Spanish song lyrics and show me the dance moves. Rather than both of us keeping to ourselves, she reached out to make me feel like a part of the church instead of just a bystander.

This experience reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew:

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3-4.

I find that it’s easy to keep our faith to ourselves and be reserved in the way that we worship. However, Jesus calls us to have a passionate love for him that resembles that of a child. We are called to be joyous and loud about the good news of our salvation found in Jesus. We are called to be fierce in the way that we love others. Jesus calls us to step out of our comfort zone in the way that we love him and our neighbors.

I challenge all of us to step out of our comfort zone especially when so many people are feeling isolated and hopeless in the face of a pandemic. This could be reaching out to a school friend you don’t frequently talk to or posting encouraging scripture on social media. Let’s all take a small step towards child-like faith and see where it takes us.

Blessings,
Shelby

Youth Digest – 04.07.20

Buenos tardes!

If you’ve ever been on a mission trip (especially one of the high school mission trips), you understand the feeling of getting away from your world. We leave behind our busy lives at home and center ourselves to serve. Honduras is always an escape for me. We spend 6 days in the heat and humidity thousands of miles from home serving our Lord by providing medicine and care to the people of Honduras. This year was especially fun because my fiancé tagged along and experienced an annual favorite trip of mine.

While in Honduras, it’s easy to forget about my worries and stresses back home in Ohio. This year, our morning devotions centered around a book by Henri Nouwen called Marking All Things New. We talked about giving up our worries and setting your heart on God. For me, it’s very difficult not to worry. I am constantly stressed about my performance at work, concerned about the health of my family and friends, and worried about not waking up on time (anyone else set 4 different alarms in the morning just in case?). Why do my worries seem to disappear when I’m in Honduras?

Like I said before, Honduras is an escape for me, and it allows me to focus completely on God and serving others for Him. We spend the week in community together, building relationships within our team and growing close to the Honduran people. God is always on our minds because we can clearly see His works in the lives of others through their attitude and responses. Back at home, we have many distractions from God like school, work, media, and the list goes on and on! Instead of focusing on many things, we must relocate the center of our attention to the one necessary thing: God. “Do not worry,” Jesus says in Matthew 6:33.

“Set your hearts on his kingdom first. . . and all these other things will be given you as well.”

 

We are in a world full of worry right now, but we are not alone in this pandemic. We have the Lord and we have each other. We must focus our hearts on Jesus and have confidence in the Lord’s ability to take care of our worries. I want to encourage you to set aside time for God during this time of quarantine. Take a few minutes in the morning to be alone with God. Open your ears, your heart, and your mind and just listen to what He has to say and let Him take your worries away.

I can’t wait to share Honduras stories and photos with you all!

Gracias!

Bekah Hiltz

Youth Digest – 03.31.20

A prayer for our quarantine:

Lord, we thank you for the wisdom you have bestowed on those in power. Thank you for their swift action in doing everything they can for us. We pray that this time indoors will continue to help flatten the curve. Please help everybody understand the significance of what we are doing

We thank you for all the men and women who are working on the front lines in the hospitals, for nurses, doctors, janitors, and everyone else doing all they can to help those who are sick and prevent others from getting sick. Lord, we pray for your hand of protection on them as they are risking their health to help those who need it.

We thank you, Lord for everyone working in the grocery stores and distribution centers, doing all they can to make sure everyone has the food and the supplies they need to make it through this time at home. Thank you for their hard work, their patience with everybody shopping, and their willingness to do this job during this difficult time.

Lord, please help us use this extra time at home wisely, making fun family memories and strengthening our relationships with you. And help us remember to seek you when this gets tough, to have a conversation with you, to spend time in your word, or to worship you with our voices.

We pray all these things in your loving name, Amen.

I’m praying for all of you as well!

Blessings,

Tanya Karn

Youth Digest – 03.24.20

We are not often given the privilege of knowing that we are living through a major historical event. What our world is currently experiencing is something that we will talk about with our children and grandchildren for years to come. We will get asked questions like, “What do you remember about the pandemic of 2020?” or “What did you do all day while everyone had to stay home?” This is completely new territory for our world, which is history in the making.

And as we face this historic event, we have a choice to make. How do we want to remember this time? As a time of frustration and fear? Or as a gift of time with our families?

I want to encourage you all to keep a memento of your thoughts, fears, joys, and even prayers during this time together. Whether it be a family journal, silly pictures, or recording some of your family time together, these are moments you are going to want to remember after we are through this.

Join me in praying for this situation, for all the people impacted, and for the health and safety of our neighbors.

Blessings,
Tanya Karn