Our Story to Becoming Young Life Leaders

{{This got a bit lengthy but I wanted to share the full story}}

I remember the first time that I ever explained to Tanner what Young Life was. The infamous Blair Jones put up a facebook post that she was organizing a team of runners to run across South Carolina in efforts to raise money for Young Life (200 miles). I was like YES I WANT TO DO THIS! Life is so crazy because I remember that we lived in Raleigh, and we were to meet in this parking lot at the home of the organizer (blair) and ironically enough, that is now our neighborhood. I had NO idea at the time that I would be living RIGHT BESIDE this parking lot 4 years down the road. But, I digress. 

I raised the money for Young Life, ran the race, and I told Tanner all about my high school years of Young Life and how much I loved the ministry. That was that. 

But, that's just the first time I told Tanner. Let's rewind to how much I feel the Lord has been pursuing me for this ministry for a long time. 

When I was in high school, I was involved. I won't say I was SUPER involved, but I was very very busy with the sports that I played and I remember always thinking how badly I wanted to go to their events but couldn't seem to ever make it. I always thought it was so cool when the girls would come talk to us at lunch (which is funny because of how AWKWARD that had to have been for them) and how I wanted to be one of the cool kids that did Young Life ;) I always went to Windy Gap. I wanted to go to summer camp, but my family didn't have the money and I actually didn't know that you could fundraise most of it. 

I went to college at App, and became instant best friends with Erica Aguero (Gardner now). We decided to go to College Life one night (I have no idea why to be honest). We decided we wanted to be leaders. We both talked about it, and right before everything was about to start, I bailed. I knew I did not have the time or energy to be this "perfect student and get into pharmacy school" and also be committed to Young Life. I lived with Erica sophomore year. I loved watching her be a leader. I went to a few meetings & events with her...nothing serious. I knew the Lord. I loved the Lord, but my focus was so skewed back then. Pharmacy school or die because I "had to be successful". I told Jesus I'd get to know Him when I was done with all of that....which I guess I kept to that promise at least. HA! 

Pharmacy school ends and we head up to New York City for a year of adventure. The first thing that happens is how involved we become with our church. One of the first months that I'm there, I meet someone who is a young life leader. I talk with her literally the entire night about how much I love the ministry and want to be involved. We exchange numbers. It was a go....until I left and talked to Tanner. He knows me. He knows how I jump in before thinking. He was like "Katie really? You are working 40+ hours a week, commuting 2 hours, studying for boards, training for your first marathon and opening up an incorporated business. This is just too much." I remember thinking that he was not "being a spiritual leader" hahahaha! No, the boy just had common sense and spoke it into my soul when I needed it. 

Then, we move back to Shelby. We get really involved with our church and still are, and I run into a friend, Wes. He is married to this really cute, sweet girl named Rachel. She is so bubbly, introduces herself and I tell Tanner how I could be such good friends with this girl and how she totally had the "Young Life Vibe." I knew they were very involved. At this moment, I literally had ZERO intentions of any involvement, and honestly just hadn't thought of it. Rachel facebooked me later that week and asked if I'd like to get coffee. I was like UH DUH and that's all she wrote on our friendship. It's been a go ever since. ha! 

In the midst of that though, I remember one night she texted me and said "I promise I'm not a recruiter, and I don't normally do this, but I just honestly think that you and Tanner would be great Young Life leaders." When I read her message, my heart kind of stopped because I thought "God, here you are again, for the THIRD time bringing this ministry to me across the span of 8 years." Like, how insane right? There are MANY MANY different ministries that I could have met along the way, become friends with people involved and been pursued. Yet, somehow from Shelby, to Boone, to New York City then back to Shelby and it's there every time. I honestly don't think I'd ever felt so "led" like "Woahhhhh...this just happened." haha! 

Then, I got nervous. How am I going to tell Tanner I want to think and pray about this? He's going to tell me I do too much and I don't need to, and he has no idea what it is so I doubt he will want to do it. So, I started dropping subtle ((which I know Rachel will probably LOL as she's reading this)). Like- "hey babe-Rachel gave you the best compliment today that you'd be such a great leader of Young Life and obviously NOT THAT WE ARE but like IF WE WERE, you'd be so good at it." You know--build up the man's ego...yall know that's how they work ;)

His three comments were: "Well I just don't know what it's about because I've never done it" and "I don't feel like I'm good enough to lead" and "I'm not against the idea at all...I just need to think and pray about this." 

A few weeks went by. We kept talking about things. I had honestly come to the conclusion he really didn't want to. Tanner is either IN or he's not. He said he "wasn't against it" but I know him. If he's not ALL IN, he might as well be out and if he was in, he would talk about it nonstop and be so excited. He wasn't that (STAY TUNED).

We went to a marriage retreat with our church, and Wes and Rachel did too. Tanner was able to talk to Wes a little bit more about what Young Life looks like day to day from a full time working spouse type thing. He was coming around and I could feel it! HAHAHA! 

I honestly didn't say a word. I prayed individually about it, and continued of course talking to Rachel about it, but I didn't want to pressure him at all. I wanted this to be 100% his decision and not something I forced on him, so honestly I didn't talk about it all. 

I can't even remember how soon this was, but we were on our way to pick up something at Wes and Rachel's one night and the conversation went like this: 

Tanner: Oh, by the way, I'm 100% in now.

Me: For what? Wait what?

Tanner: Yea..Young Life-I'm 100% down now. Let's do it!

Me: How did this happen? When? Why did you make this decision? 

Tanner: I don't know. I prayed about it, but I just know now and I'm 100% in. 

AND THEN MY EXCITED TANNER KICKED IN. I told yall, I know the kid.

At that point, we reached out to the area director in Shelby now, and had dinner with him and his wife. Shoutout to them for being the absolute best hosts and I'm so excited to get to know them even better than we do now because they are FAN-TASTIC. I feel like God hand picked them to be just what Cleveland County needed for YL. 

Things happened quickly at that point, and we were placed at Burns High. For a little background, I went to Shelby High. Burns High is a rival, but not like a deeply routed rival. It's more of a friendly rival. LOL!! I had a REALLY incredible leader in NYC tell me once that being humble is not about never recognizing where you are needed. It's having the maturity to think so little of yourself that you are able to recognize from the outside an area that you are of need, and to fill that need. That's EXACTLY the emotion that I feel about being at Burns. I feel as if God hand picked us for this spot, this school, at this time. It's pretty incredible to be apart of something I know to be just SO RIGHT, and I'm so excited for the future of it. 



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