iCYouth: When Life Begins {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

This week, 30 students and 5 leaders from iMPACT braved the cold and took the train down to Chicago to hand out blankets and other warm things to the homeless.

I loved this trip so much is because it’s always so humbling to step out of my comfort zone to pray with a stranger, ask their name, ask their story and to give them something that I think we all take for granted too often. I’ll admit that I really wanted something to happen to me that would break me down or change my life or something like that.

So as the day is almost half over, I started to think that maybe that wasn’t gonna happen this year. Maybe God just wanted me to be humbled by seeing that I really am blessed with so much. But then again, God does big things when we least expect them.

A few of my friends and I had just finished eating lunch and we just wanted to stop by the Starbucks next door before returning to our mission. As we were crossing the street, my eye was caught by a man who looked worn, tired and, well, cold! So we decided to stop and talk and see if we had something he needed.

We found out that his name was David, and he had a 47-year-old daughter named Michelle who was living with him on the streets. We gave them the blankets, hats and socks that we had and they were so grateful. But what they were even more grateful for was the fact that we stopped and talked. We learned that they had been evicted from many apartments in the projects and that Michelle really missed her daughter who died from a seizure when she was twelve.

Michelle told us that we had just missed her daughter’s birthday and that she would have been twenty-one. As our hearts broke, we asked if we could pray with her and we gathered around. David yelled, “Wait!! I wanna pray too! I need Jesus too!” We all agreed, so right there, in front of a busy Starbucks, we grasped hands and prayed to our beautiful Savior. Michelle cried her eyes out the whole time because she just couldn’t believe we would do something so simple for her.

When it was all over, none of us could even speak. Humbled is an understatement. There were so many other memories made on that trip, ones I will cherish forever! But the thing that really sticks out to me is the reminder that real life begins at the end of our comfort zones. God can only do so much with a sedentary heart. So let’s step out, and let God take us to places we’ve never even dreamed of!

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!

iCYouth: “Silence Scares Me” {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

I talk a lot.

Silence scares me. I’ve noticed that I tend to fill silence in any way that I can because it genuinely unsettles me. Unfortunately, I do this with God, too. I really like praying and talking to God all day, though. God certainly gifted me when He gave us prayer.

But I feel like sometimes I use that gift to my disadvantage. I never really thought about this until somewhat recently, but my relationship with God suffers because I can’t just sit and listen to what God has to say.

This past Sunday at iMPACT, Pastor Josh talked about living in awe of God. It hit me that I am not typically living in true awe. I know that God is huge. We are insignificantly small to Him. The thing is, I can’t really ever seem to wrap my head around just how large God is so I just don’t try. And then I feel inadequate when I hear people talk about how sunrises take their breath away and they are dumbfounded by how God could create something so amazing and beautiful. I mean, don’t misunderstand me, I love nature and the beautiful sights God has given us! But all of that really doesn’t make me fall on my knees before The Lord.

For a long time, I felt like it should and since it didn’t, I clearly just wasn’t passionate enough or something. But something else Josh talked about was General Revelation and Specific Revelation. General Revelation is God revealing Himself to a large group (like with a sunset and mountains and things like that) and Specific Revelation is revealing Himself to individuals (like with a passage of scripture). I realized that I usually experience the latter.

A good Bible verse can break me down way faster than thinking of the vastness of God. My favorite is John 16:33:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Verses like this comfort me so much and really make me think. I believe that God places me in certain parts of The Word whenever I crack it open. But that’s kind of rare for me nowadays. I have let everything else in life come before getting into my Bible and taking quiet time with God. I think that’s my problem!

I don’t live in awe because I don’t give myself the chance to be humbled in the best way God uses to humble me. Josh offered a challenge at the end of iMPACT on Sunday: Take at least 5 minutes of quiet time each day. I need it. Will you join me? I would love that! Five minutes. No talking. Just listening. Let’s learn to be ok with silence.

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!

ICYouth: Angry {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

Has anyone ever told you something like: “you have a right to be mad at that person” or “they don’t deserve forgiveness”?

People have said that to me. It’s funny how easily we hold grudges, isn’t it? It’s much harder to forgive someone for whatever wrong they have done in your life than it is to maintain a sour attitude towards them. Instead of letting go and repairing a broken relationship, we hang on to words and actions or lack thereof. Sometimes, the last thing we want to do is forgive people but the funny thing is that you’re usually not doing anyone a favor but yourself when choosing to forgive.

I have found that if someone hurts my feelings they either a.) don’t know or b.) don’t care. So in both of these situations, I am the one getting hurt. I am the one holding in all of this pain. But sometimes, the situation cannot simply be fixed with mentally and emotionally choosing to let go. While yes, this is a great place to start, it’s so important for us, as Christians, to sit down and talk it out with that other person.

Matthew 5:23-25 says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

I will never forget my first real fight with one of my best friends. At first, I only noticed a little shift in our relationship. It was just different. A few months went by and we got increasingly angrier at each other. Neither one of us likes confrontation so we just went on, hoping this rift would just work itself out. It didn’t and our friendship took a steep decline.

I felt so far away from God. I couldn’t tell why, though. I thought it had something to do with some family issues I’d been experiencing but when all of that was over and had calmed down, I still couldn’t move forward with God.

In March of 2013, things started to heat up in this fight. We decided we needed to talk, and she came over to my house. When she left that night, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and before I knew it, we were better than ever. I felt free.

Pastor Josh spoke this past Sunday at iMPACT about how if we harbor anger down in our hearts, it will affect our relationship not just with other people, but also with God. We meet spiritual roadblocks. And then we think that if we just try harder and read our Bibles more and pray harder that this feeling of being stuck will go away.

But it won’t. Not if we’re hanging on to whatever pain that’s weighing us down. There comes a time where we must let go and let God be God. The bottom line: angry guts lead to spiritual ruts. Reconcile right away. Take the initiative, listen, and cooperate. 

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!

ICYouth: The God of Second Chances {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

Last Sunday was a big night for iMPACT. There was an awesome message (as always), student-led worship and absolutely the most exciting thing of all — eight students accepted Jesus Christ as their savior!

Can I get a “praise God”?! I mean, holy cow! That makes me SO excited! Why? That is eight new brothers and sisters in Christ who get to spend eternity in Paradise with us! Also, it tells me that we’re doing something right at Immanuel Church. It reminds me of the story in Acts when God was pleased with the Church and the amount of people in the Church multiplied like crazy.

“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47

And, while eight students might not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, anyone giving up themselves to follow Christ is a victory and certainly something to be celebrated. But, as any Christian knows, being a Christian is not always the rainbows and flowers and sunshine that we often like to pretend it is.

It’s hard! It’s a lot of sacrifices and awkward conversations. People you thought were friends won’t always be there for you. Families can still fall apart. Sometimes, it’s going to rain. Scratch that, sometimes it’s going to storm so badly you don’t feel like you’ll make it out!

But the wonderful thing is that with God, we know we’ll make it out! For new Christians, however, it’s things like storms and sacrifices that could seriously make or break their relationship with Christ. Actually, I suppose that could be the same for anyone, new Christian or not.

Won’t you join me in prayer for these eight individuals who are taking a step of faith?! Let’s lift them up daily and pray for piles of blessings! Join me in thanking The Lord that He is a God of second chances. A God who loves even after being overlooked a million times. A God who will never give up. A God who is in control. He is sovereign.

And I am so thankful.

Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!

ICYouth: On Insecurity and Building on Solid Ground {Gracie}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your geneorsity, we are able to share stories of how God is changing lives! Every Friday, one of our student bloggers shares how God is working in his or her life. Leave some encouragement by commenting?

by Gracie Adamek

As a senior in high school, I’ve seen a whole lot of insecurities in my days. Not just in myself, but in everyone around me.

Some people hide their insecurities well and some people, not so much. For some, they are so insecure about themselves that it’s crippling. They just can’t get past the thing that they so desperately don’t want anyone to notice, whatever that may be, that it consumes their minds and that’s all they think people see when they look at them.

For others, and this was me for a very long time, they think that they can hide all flaws and all feelings of self doubt by having a big, loud personality that masks who they really are. The problem with both of these ways of living is that this gets very tiring. When we are always so concerned with what others think that we go to extremes to hide it, we become angry and sad and exhausted.

When I was in the 6th grade, I was daily ridiculed for basically just existing. To a certain group of people, I was annoying. I was stupid. I was fat. Even things like my hair being big was mocked! It seemed like there was nothing I could do, nothing I could say that would get them to stop.

So I changed. I went into middle school with the though that I didn’t want that to happen anymore. I was going to start over. I got loud and put on an “I don’t care” mask. But I DID care. I cared a lot about what people thought, actually! But I became someone I didn’t like to please others.

I secretly began to hate who I was becoming more and more every day. My personality at home was so different from my personality at school. I was living this awful double life, and I was exhausted.

The thing we all need to realize sooner or later, for me it was freshman year, is that God loves you for the person that each of us really are way deep down. He loves the flaws that we hide. He sees them and still craves a relationship with us!

One of my favorite poems by Emily Joy says this, “So tell me WHY, before I was even thought of or desired, You saw every day of every moment of my life. And as my sins passed before your eyes, You sighed and said ‘Yes! I will USE THIS!'”

“So tell me WHY, before I was even thought of or desired, You saw every day of every moment of my life. And as my sins passed before your eyes, You sighed and said ‘Yes! I will USE THIS!'”

God sees it all. He won’t leave. He won’t make fun. He wraps his arms around us and and says “you’re mine. There’s nothing you can do to change that.” At iMPACT, Josh’s “phrase of the night” was “you aren’t insecure — your foundations are.”

So we need to build ourselves on the firmest foundation possible: God.

Gracie Adamek is a senior at Lakes Community High School. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100% through this!