iCYouth: Unlikely People in Unlikely Places (Trever)

Thank you for your generosity Immanuel. Because of your generosity, 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 Trever Carter

I’ve always, always been a fan of unlikely places. Traditionally, these unlikely places come hand in hand with a wave of sentimentality. Maybe because they are explored and shared with friends, maybe because of that extra bit of uniqueness about them or maybe because of the sense of surprise that overcomes you when you first stumble upon this gem.

Think about some of the unlikely places in your lives.

Maybe its the unmarked coffee shop that sits in the shadow of the bigger buildings around it, but inside is an environment that you just can’t get enough of. And sure, the coffee is great, but the conversation that occurs between friends there is irreplaceable.

Or perhaps it’s that small cabin that has been in your family for years–that old, musty, far-away place you never thought you would use … but in reality, it provides the perfect escape, a subtle unplug from the world, a place where you and your family could go to just be.

icyouth blog 5.1.15It could even be that unmarked road that you pass on your way to work every morning, but have never dared to go down. Until the time when you found yourself early enough to give it a try and you discovered that it gives you the most magnificent view of the sunrise.

I certainly have a few of these places of my own, a couple places that you would double take at, that look a little rough around the edges, but once you give it a little bit of deeper examination, a little bit warmer attention, there is something beautiful about it.

When it comes to the way that God has manufactured my life, I think it would be safe to say that he has made it an unlikely place. My four years of being a Christ follower have been characterized by a lot of unlikely circumstances, in my eyes. God loves the unlikely place, however, and God uses unlikely people in unlikely places to do extraordinary things.

Take Nazareth, for example. Scripture tells us that people thought that “nothing good comes from Nazareth,” but, of course, God had different plans for an unlikely place; God would see a Savior to come from Nazareth.

So I look at my life and all the unlikeliness and I find security, comfort, and encouragement in it. I see my non-Christian family, and I’m thankful because it’s given me the opportunity to be able to really own my faith as my own and make it what I wanted it to be. I see the division in my groups of friends, and I can be thankful because not only have I had the opportunity to have great Christian community, but also live out my faith and learn how to field questions and engage in conversation. As a matter of fact, I think I would be more concerned for myself if I wasn’t in an unlikely place, because God adores the underdog and relishes in their success.

As I get ready to go off to college in the fall, my prayer is that I fall into some more unlikely places. I pray God leads me to find people, places, and experiences that will allow Him to greatest do His work and most live through me. I encourage you to do the same: seek the unlikely and embrace it with open arms, because it’s a great place to be.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: You are What I Love About Sundays {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity Immanuel. Because of your generosity, 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 Trever Carter

There’s nothing I love more than sentimentality. I love thank yous and letting people know how grateful I am for them. Hugs are one of the best vessels for love. I’m big on “I love you”s. Traditions are irreplaceable, the big ones and the little quirky ones alike. Words on a piece of paper hold more power and weight than most anything else.

My personality certainly drives the desire that I have for these little things. It’s the way that God has crafted me: hard wired to love others and be loved by others. I am so incredibly relational that being apart from friends or family or community for too long tears me apart. And I know that Jesus was the same way. He was consistently in relationship with God, never seen without people and always going out of His way to just love. And I think that is what Heaven will be like–a place full of love.

IcYouthblog 3.6.15 heavenThat’s what I love about Sundays. I love Sundays because it’s the closest I get to Heaven at this point in my life. For those of you who don’t know me, my family doesn’t attend Immanuel on a regular basis. Sometimes my mom does, and it’s certainly a treat; nothing makes me happier than being able to sit next to my mom during service. Just because they don’t attend, though, I’m rarely at church alone. Immanuel has blessed me with family, and for that, I cannot thank you all enough.

God is always present on Sundays. He is present in the hugs exchanged when I walk in the doors and see my friends. He is present in the little hands that I hold walking kids from the parking lot to the building. He is present in every song that I sing, every word that is spoken, every bit of community that is present. And His presence doesn’t stop when the service is over. His presence transcends into lunch traditions and lazy Sundays, family grocery trips and frisbee golf outings when it’s warm. And iMPACT is certainly a way to end the day.

I have had so many memories of Sundays at Immanuel, each just a bit sweeter than the last, but not as sweet as the next, especially as I draw my high school career to a close and have to think about moving on and finding a church wherever I end up at school. But I will say this: I will try for the rest of my life to emulate Sundays at Immanuel. And not just on Sundays, but throughout my life.

I want to make my life about sentimentality. About community. About the smiles and laughter and tears. About quirky traditions. About family. Because I think God looks down and smiles big at all of those things. And Immanuel, you give me just that. You have helped make me into the man I am today, so thank you; you are what I love about Sundays.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: A First, A Last {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity Immanuel. Because of your generosity, 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 Trever Carter

A first, last.

Senior year is characterized by a lot of different things for a lot of different people. Stereotypically, it’s the easiest, most fun, care free year of high school. I, however, have found it to be one of the most stressful. College applications, scholarships, letters of recommendation flood you like the Des Plaines river in May; a lot of stress comes along with it. Add to it an eagerness to move on to something bigger and better that wages constant battle with the desire to stay in the comfortable. Finally, top it off with a series of “lasts,” and you get a pretty stressful, emotional, sentimental and nostalgic senior year. Sometimes I have a hard time wondering where God is in all of it; what role is God playing in my future and how is He taking care of my hopes and dreams?

I’ve had plenty of lasts so far this year: last first day of school, last homecoming week, last set of high school finals. But as I sat in my room last Sunday, eyes heavy and clothes and snow gear thrown all over the floor, I realized that I had just had a “first last.” This last wasn’t school related though; I had just returned from my last Winter Extreme retreat as a high schooler, and it was the first last I’ve had for a church-related thing. I won’t stop at Walgreens on the way home from school and spend $20 on junk food again; I won’t bubble with excitement on the drive up to camp Timberlee; I won’t fight to win a broomball championship, and I won’t raise my hands in worship in that chapel again for probably quite some time, if ever again.

I think the most nostalgic part is that this weekend was the catalyst for beginning my relationship with Christ five years ago, and give years later it’s incredible to look at the role He has played in my life. He has shown His ultimate provision for me by bringing me an incredible church I call home and friends and leaders I call family. He has grown me as a person, and most importantly, as a man of God.

I laughed so hard last weekend. I enjoyed every minute with my friends and with God because it was the last time I would be in that setting with those people. I smiled until the corners of my mouth hit my cheeks and laughed until my abs hurt. And now I sit and pray and wonder how God will influence my next couple of lasts, and more importantly how He will influence my next couple of years in college.

I’m praying for His guidance, and know that He will provide. I’m confident that if my heart is right, He will lead me to where I am meant to be and give me the place and people that I need. I have a hard time believing that it will even come close to comparing to my family at Immanuel, but I am so eager to experience God in a bigger way so that I can grow and mature even more.

God provides. Through the firsts and the lasts, God’s grace and provision are bountiful enough, and my first last has taught me just that.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: On Living Out Our Lessons {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity Immanuel. Because of your generosity, 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 Trever Carter

One of my absolute favorite additions to a typical series at iMPACT is what we call a Review Preview. At the end of each sermon series, students get an opportunity to take advantage of an open mic to share about how God has changed them through the previous series, and at the end, we take a quick look at what’s coming up in the next few weeks.

Since I didn’t have the courage to stand in front of the group on Sunday night, I might as well show how the past two series, Love Does and Silver Linings, have affected my life.

For Love Does, I just want to share a couple of stories. I took a lot away from all of the bottom lines, like the fact that I didn’t have to be defined by my failures, but I think that the series really shown through in a few moments over the past month. Last month, I was able to work at our church helping run the election. I was there from 5 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., so believe me when I say that it was a long, monotonous day. And also hear me when I say that teenagers don’t typically work these things (I did it for social studies class in school). The people that work these things are often older, and deeply impassioned by the United States government system. The man who worked next to me was named Harold, and he was a single man in his mid-seventies with A LOT to say about his life experiences … about 15 hours worth of things to say. Sometimes, he even got so caught up in what he was saying that he didn’t hand the ballots out the right way which resulted in some angry voters. Although there were times where I just wanted to get up and walk away because I couldn’t get a word in, the Love Does series started to speak to me. I thought that this man probably didn’t have many people in his life that he could share his experiences with, or many people at all that could really talk to him. So, I thought that Love would sit and talk to him and engage in conversation with him, just listen to him and be present for him. And what he had to say was actually very interesting: a long life full of a lot of crazy experiences. Love is patient, kind, gentle … And a lot of those things I also got to implement in my family. Just being present and loving them when they frustrated me.

And this was complemented perfectly by the next series, Silver Lining, which had everything to do with changing the dynamic of your family and finding the silver lining. For me, that was big. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my family, but sometimes they really just know how to push my buttons –some more than others– and it taught me so much about how I am personally responsible for the dynamic of my family, how I respond to them and how I treat them. That was a tough pill to swallow, but it was so encouraging.

The other thing I loved was just seeing the strength of the community in our youth group, how we are a family and we all love each other and are there for eachother. It became completely evident when kids started taking the mic to tell about how God has helped them through their peers, deeper, iMPACT and the leaders. It reminded me how incredibly blessed I am to have the adults and youth group I have in my life –so I know I’m a week late, but I am certainly thankful for that.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.

ICYouth: The Beauty in Failure {Trever}

Thank you for your generosity to our one-fund, Accelerate. Because of your generosity, 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 Trever Carter

When I look back at the past couple years of my life, I can see a general trend of ups and downs—a roller coaster of life, if you will; and I think it’s safe to say that we all experience the same thing to some degree.

Nobody’s life is perfect and easy and happy and fun and without struggles all the time, and I certainly don’t think that that is how God intended life to be. Instead, we look back at our lives and see the crests of the roller coaster, where we can really feel God and the fruits of the Spirit that He manifests within us. Other times, we are at the troughs, the low points of struggle and seemingly far from God. More often than not (for me, at least) those troughs and low points come hand in hand with one thing: failure.

Failure is imminent. That’s certainly part of being human, and I certainly believe that all of our lives can be characterized by bits of failure. For some of us, those are really big. For other, they come few and far in between, but certainly add up after a while. And for all of us, failure eventually starts to hurt. Failure makes us start to feel like we aren’t worth it. It makes us feel like we aren’t worthy. And more often than not, consistent failure instills in us apathy to stop trying all together.

But that is certainly not what God has intended for us.

There are numerous people in the Bible who have had failures: sinners, prostitutes, liars, people that ran in the opposite direction of God, people that didn’t trust him, doubters. Many of these people, however, are iconic for doing God’s work, and I think that’s a beautiful thing.

God lets our lives get messy. He lets us ride the highs of life, but he also lets us fail. What we do with our failures, however, is the most important part. We can be owned by our failures and overly concerned with a list of moral wrongs and rights that we need to uphold, or we can fall madly in love with Jesus, handing our failures over to Him and allowing Him to use us for His work.

Those who have tried and failed have much more to say than those who have failed to try. God says that he will take our failures and turn them into something beautiful. I’ve seen it in my life, a beautiful redemption story that allows me each day to fall more in love with God and encourages me to consistently seek after Him without fear of failure.

TrevernewheadshotTrever Carter is a senior at Grayslake North High School. He enjoys running, playing lacrosse, and photography. He also likes to write, serve with the church, and spend time with his friends.