(Holy) Rest by Seth Black

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

– Matthew 11: 28-29

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHey there! My name is Seth Black, and I intern at Hayesville First United Methodist Church. My responsibilities primarily consist of helping out with the worship services on Sunday mornings, hanging out with the youth group Sunday nights, and helping out with the kids program on Wednesday afternoons. It has been such a blessing in my time here at Young Harris.

I wrote about finding a sense of place through this internship in my previous blog post, but I want to write about something a little different this time: the importance of rest.

Being a college student, the idea of rest seems to be a pretty foreign concept. Who needs sleep, right? Personally, when I do not get enough sleep or am overwhelmed with work, it tends to affect every aspect of my life. There have been multiple occasions where I have shown up to the kids program Wednesday afternoon completely drained both physically and mentally, not thinking anything about it. But, what I have found is that the lack of physical and bodily rest contributes to an increasingly restless soul. Focus becomes miniscule, temper becomes short-fused, and positivity is seemingly nonexistent (especially when dealing with first through fourth graders and trying to teach them songs). But the lack of sleep does not necessarily seem to be the problem. You aren’t supposed to get enough sleep every night in college; it is virtually impossible. What is possible, though, is to find rest in the most serene, calming outlet of every day experience: rest from the Spirit.

You see, I have had it backwards this whole time. I felt that I could only be my best spiritual self by seeking physical, impermanent rest for my body and mind first, and then finding rest in God as a result. Even though my eyelids may still fall, and my overall energy might be lacking a bit, when I go to church (or anything else for that matter) recognizing that a restful soul is the first priority, I am able to shine the light of Christ despite my sleeping habits. Finding rest for your body is important. Finding rest for your mind is essential. But, find rest for your soul in the loving nature of Spirit, and all else will fall into place. We are called to have an enlivened heart, but a restful soul is just as vital for a fulfilling, spiritual journey along this path of life. In the midst of overwhelming challenge and endless responsibility, find your rest in the soul.

Fellowship and Community by Monica Lewis

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.

–Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NRSV)

Growing ucommunityp, I wanted to do things myself and was way too proud to ask for help. In turn, I was a loner. I grew up in a non-denominational church and loved it, but then I started to work every weekend and could no longer go. After coming to college, I quickly realized that being a loner is no longer an option and started to open up. Every year, little-by-little, I became the outgoing and open person you see today. The event that really opened me up was coming back to church after many, many years. At first, coming to Sharp was a little weird for me because it had been so long, but then, as soon as I got to know the people, I felt right at home. This constantly reminds me of why fellowship is important. It reminds you of not only who you are but that, with the right community, others can bring the best out of you.  That is why I love it here!​

Easter Egg Ministry by Andrea Simmonds

eggsEaster has a special place in my heart for many reasons other than the obvious, i.e., Jesus’ resurrection. I was born on Easter Sunday. If you don’t believe me you can check it out. Easter fell on April 11, 1993. I use to think it was so neat when I was little that I had been born on Easter. Easter had no significance to me at 5 or 6 years old beyond the colorful eggs. My family would always get together when I was younger and have Easter egg hunts in my uncle’s cow pasture. My favorite part was finding the prize egg. I loved Easter it was just like Halloween aside from the lack of costumes and prettier colors. However, I began to dislike Easter the year it turned 10.  Easter landed on my birthday again.  I thought it would be exciting—I was wrong. Everyone remembered Easter but forgot my birthday. For lack of a better word, it sucked.

Now that I’m older and have grown in my faith a lot since I was 10, Easter has reclaimed its rightful place as my favorite holiday. It is so much more than the eggs.  But, since everyone always thinks of Easter eggs when they think of Easter, I decided to turn them into a ministry tool.

I bought some of the colorful plastic eggs and placed three sunflower seeds in each egg. I got the idea from a story I’d heard on the radio about a class of grade school children who were given the assignment to put something in their Easter eggs that reminded them of Easter. A lot of the children put jelly beans or other candies in their eggs. Others chose to fill their eggs with flowers or grass. However, there was one little boy who had put nothing in his egg.  While the other little kids taunted him for having nothing in his egg, the teacher asked him why it was that he had nothing in his egg. The little boy had nothing in his egg, because whenever he thought of Easter he thought of Jesus being alive and the tomb being empty.

In my eggs I put the three sunflower seeds to represent three days and to represent the trinity. Also, the seeds were meant to represent light seeing as they are “sun” flower seeds. I also told my kids at church the story I just told you, and I also told them about the parable of the seeds and the sower. I let them know that often times the most we can do is just plant a seed in someone and hope it grows. Most of the time, God does the watering and cultivating for us, but first a seed must be planted. Often times, we don’t get to see the end product. I gave them the seeds so that they could see what it was like to plant and grow their own sun flowers. By giving them a story with the Easter eggs, I’m hoping that they will carry it with them.  Also, I hope that the next time they look at an Easter egg that they won’t think about it being filled with candy but rather think about a tomb that is empty and a God that is very much alive.

Lessons by Robert Payne

lessonsMy name is Robert Payne. I am a Young Harris College intern at Andrews United Methodist Church. My job has been to educate the children through the church curriculum, which has consisted of Bible stories from the creation narrative to the stories of Paul ministry and life. In my surprise, the children have grasped and retained the stories. I originally did not grow up in church and only remembered what my child-state mind deemed cool. So initially going into this position, I only had a small idea of what I would really learn. In an earlier blog post, I talked about All Saints Day, a day in the church where past lives are celebrated and the importance of volunteers (which if you haven’t been in a room full of kids by yourself, are the difference between a good day and leaving with a chip on your shoulder), but I have learned valuable lessons from my time at Andrews United Methodist, too.

The first lesson I have learned is that children can understand very deep topics and trust them more than an adult. I have a kid in my class at church.  Let’s call him Bobby. He is an example of a kid who will make your day. Bobby is young, but he treats people with a positive smile on his face. In my current life, I can be totally exhausted from schoolwork and co-curricular activities. My goal is to walk in with a positive attitude, but sometimes I just don’t have one. Bobby, however, is a reminder to me of life’s joy because, no matter what is going on, he continues to smile through it all. This is a lesson I wish I could apply all the time. Another example is a girl I will call Ella. Ella is probably the youngest one I teach, but she astounds me with some of the statements that come out of her untainted mouth. Anyone who is planning to go into children’s ministry for the first time should make note of these examples, because children will blow your mind some days.

The second lesson I’ve learned is that children’s ministry is just as hard as being a leader for a youth group or teaching adults. While children will grasp ideas and stories, I have learned that their vocabulary is not up to par with a high school graduate. In order to communicate the stories to their young minds, you have to be careful not to confuse a kid. For example, I was teaching about Pharisees. However, how many of you could tell me what a Pharisee was? If you thought you couldn’t, you would have the same issue the children had. Instead, I would have to use a word choice such as “Jewish teacher” or “person who taught Jewish rules.” In other words, I have to know the details in order to simplify the words to explain it to the kids. Simplicity is the key.

Lastly, since this will be my last blog post of the year, I would like to thank a few people. The first one I want to thank in Pastor Mary. She does a great job and has a lot of experience that I can learn from. She is patient and kind. God has blessed her with great reason, too. The second group I would like to thank are my volunteers. Dusty, Mary, and Kay are very helpful, and I couldn’t do my job without their help. The next person I would to thank is Joslyn. Joslyn is one of the people who has poured herself into the program, and it is great because of that. I have been blessed to work with her. The next group I would like to the church. You all have welcomed me with love and trust. You embody how a church should treat new people. The last group I would like to thank are the kids. I have learned just as much for you as you have from me (hopefully). I have been blessed to meet all of you.

Don’t Worry by Sarah Beth Tankersley

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

– Romans 8:28

don't worryI have heard this verse from Romans so many times throughout my life, and it has proved its validity through several different opportunities that I have experienced. This past Sunday was one of them.

Spring break always makes this church internship a little difficult—having to miss two consecutive Sundays can really throw you off your game. The second Sunday of our break, Seth (my co-intern) and I were asked to provide some sort of program for Sunday Night Youth. As typical college students, we procrastinated communicating with each other and both showed up that evening with our own individual programs for that night. In the few minutes before youth began, we established our game plan. We agreed that we would sing some worship songs, watch a video, and then have a short discussion (Seth’s plan). My program had been a Lenten learning recap, but I did not think either of us were quite mentally prepared to follow through with that having just come off of break.

As we began our program, Seth and I sang a few songs with the youth, and without practicing or even warming up, our worship songs flowed so effortlessly. This really set the stage for the rest of the program. We began the video with your typical technical difficulties, but as we finished up with the 10 minute clip, I realized that we had not come up with discussion topics. Once again, we winged it in a true free-spirit college student way. This is where that verse in Romans really takes hold.

We started out discussing the topic of the video, being the storms of this life and casting all of that stress and worry on God. This presented an excellent transition into Lenten topics. Expressing the concern of Jesus in the wilderness and how He had to rely fully on God and constantly casting all care and worry on the Father, this is such a valuable mindset to take on. Following this Lent talk, Seth throws out the verse Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This was an excellent scripture to encompass our program, and it turns out that our head pastor had used those same verses in his sermon earlier that morning! It is funny how God can work things out to mesh so perfectly even without our knowing. It is not worth stressing over last minute programs, or whatever life may throw at you. What truly matters is being open to the Holy Spirit and allowing God to move through you to work toward His purpose.

Finding My Place by Seth Black

The only thing that counts is faith expressing

itself through love.

– Galatians 5: 6

My name iFitting ins Seth Black, and I have had the privilege of being an intern at Hayesville First United Methodist Church this semester. In addition to helping out with the service(s) on Sunday mornings (truly testing my ability to wake up so early on the weekends), I also help out with the youth group and children’s ministry. I am a sophomore, but this is only my second semester at Young Harris. I transferred from a school in Nashville, Tennessee with one purpose in mind: finding a place where I felt at home and at peace with opportunities for me to carry out the love Jesus has shown me.

Arriving at this beautiful college, I immediately felt an overwhelming sense of belonging, but something still felt like it was missing. Then, an answered prayer made itself known in the form of this internship. I absolutely love every part of the work that I do, but I must say that I am slightly partial. Being able to work with these kids every Wednesday has probably contributed most to a sense of purpose while I have been at this school. I am not going to lie; there are some days where I could pull my hair out at their blatant disregard for respect, constant screaming, and fighting (seriously, though, there was a fist fight). But once I was taught many lessons on patience, I realized how much some of these kids need structure and a place to come be around those who love them. Some of these children do not have a healthy, stable family life. They may not all like learning new songs to sing on Sundays or having to wait to eat their snack, but they need this. For me, it has been the biggest blessing to be able to provide some sense of love and comfort for these kids who may not get enough at home.

For this reason, Young Harris has become my home. It has allowed me to get poured into but also pour into others who desperately need it. A home is not a piece of property with some type of structure built upon it. A home is a place where your heart allows you to experience the fullness of life with the closest people whom you can learn from and pour into simultaneously. After transferring and because of this opportunity, God has given me a home. I have found my place by finding a purpose through the work He has laid before me. I am overjoyed at this opportunity to show the true definition of being a follower of Christ: love. Simple.

Good Work by Logan Gray

Nothing compares to the feeling one gets when working with children. The reason I feel called to ministry is in part to make a differenUnexpectedce with children. The difficult thing about interning at Sharp is that there aren’t many children who attend the church. A majority of the congregation of Sharp are senior citizens. This means that every now and then there are days where the usual kids that attend children’s church are absent. While some people might see this as having a day off, I see it as a bit of a disappointment.

This type of situation occurred within the last week. Since there were not any kids present to attend children’s church, Monica, my fellow intern, and I decided to spend the time helping out in the nursery. What was a disappointing situation, God turned into a situation that worked for his good. There was a boy who was attending the church for the first time that morning. I found out later that this boy has a parent who is in the hospital under extreme circumstances. While I’m not sure that this boy even remembers me, I feel like God put me in that situation for him. Just like Romans 8:28 says: “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”