If you follow me at all on social media, then you know this past weekend was Venture at our church. Venture is our youth's version of Discipleship Now weekend and it is something they look forward to every year. They always plan in on the weekend before MLK Jr Day because a lot of people have that Monday off and honestly, the adults need the day to recuperate.
My friend Melody was hosting a 7th grade small group at her house and asked if we could help and co-host with them and of course, I said Yes! We started the weekend off by taking our leader, Shelby, to dinner. Each group has a small group leader (usually a college student or young twenty-something that used to be in the Youth Group) to help lead the small group discussions after the sessions.
sidebar: I realized this weekend that my first Venture weekend was 10 years ago: 2005 and I was a leader...and now here I am: co-hosting. Crazy.
Moving on, after dinner, we headed to Justin and Melody's house to welcome the girls. Since these were 7th graders, this was their first Venture so for some parent's, it was their child's first Venture so some mom's where having the excited/sad moment that their girls would be gone all weekend. I said that I will be the same way with Mallory.
Ready to get the weekend started! This is us wide awake and ready to go :)
Me, Shelby (our leader), and Melody
The girls brought the most important essentials for the weekend. Drinks and snack food
After all the girls got to the house, we headed up to the church for the first session. I told my small group (9th grade girls SS class that I teach) that I would also be with them some of the weekend while I could, so I found them as soon as I got there. Mallory found them too!
The first session started and the worship was lead by Fike and Dana. They have led worship at Venture for many years and everyone loves them! This year was no different - they were so great and lead in such a wonderful worship experience!
Our speaker was Scott Avenable - pastor of Mosaic Church in Chicago. His church is the church that our high school students go to help on their Summer Mission Trip. He spoke on Belief and wanting the youth to really know what they believe and to live their belief.
After the Friday night session, we headed back to Melody's house for the small group discussion time. We took a quick photo when we got there so we wouldn't forget to do it during the weekend.
Mallory and I headed back home for the night and from what I know, most of the girls went to sleep around 1:00 AM. We did have one girl stay up to 5:45 AM! She just wanted to see if she could stay up all night - ha!
Saturday morning, we went to the church for breakfast and for the morning session. The worship music was jamming which made a perfect time for Mallory to dance. Melody was sweet and joined in with her!
Saturday for lunch, each small group went to a church member's house to do a service project and to get to know the church member! This was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. We got to work on a project together while getting to know a sweet couple in our church.
We got to go to Nick and Judy Moore's house and make Valentine's Day cards for some sweet people in the nursing home or that are home bound.
The church delivered Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for us for lunch and they had my favorite Famous Amos cookies for dessert, Everyone got to learn of my love for Famous Amos :)
Great time with some great people!
After lunch and our project, we went back to the church for Debrief and the Afternoon Activity. Before we started, I got to chat with my friend, Jillian. Jillian was in my first small group 10 years ago and now she's a small group leader! She's student teaching this semester and will graduate from Texas A&M. Yes, I kept feeling old all weekend.
Our afternoon activity was a performance by Blake Adams. He was a mentalist and was so fun. And freaky. I keep laughing as I think about it because Melody kept asking me how he was able to do all these things and of course I had no idea. He just had us all freaked out. We loved it!
By this time, the hosts and co-hosts were feeling the exhaustion. Lack of sleep plus going from place to place had us delirious which ended up with Justin laying on the hood of my car. And you thought the youth were the only ones that would do crazy things this weekend!
We had some free time Saturday afternoon so we went and got shirts to decorate and wear to the Saturday night session. All the groups usually dress up or decorate shirts to wear Saturday night and the girls were happy to do this. The girls wanted to put #JesusisBAE on the front so Melody and I said sure...even though we didn't know what that meant. We learned BAE is Before Anything Else. The girls had white shirts and Melody, Shelby and I had purple. I got one for Mallory too!
We had a moment to rest and Melody and I knew that if we sat still for more than 5 minutes, we would be out so we rested and talked and then got ready to go to the church for dinner and the Saturday night session.
Saturday night pics with my groups
My small group put pictures of their SnapChats on their shirts
One of the new songs that Fike taught us was "You are the Best Thing" saying how Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened to us. It's a fun interactive song that we all loved! Even better, they sang is Sunday morning in our big church service and all the adults got to do the motions in the song too!
They had a photo booth Saturday night so Melody and I took our turn in it. Let's just say, we tried to be cool all weekend - ha! And in the third picture she told me to do a duck face and I didn't even know what that was - haha! Mallory joined in on the fun with Olivia and Claire. I love these photos!
The girls went back to Melody's and had their small group discussion and I think it was really good and some of the girls were able to open up and talk some more. Melody and I let Shelby lead that and stayed out of the small group time so the girls would feel more comfortable talking. I think the girls were actually tired too so they went to bed earlier than Friday night.
Sunday morning, we headed to church and we all wore our Venture t-shirts. Mallory could not wait to wear hers and did not want to put her coat on because she didn't want it to cover it! I posted that as much fun as I had a Venture, I know Mallory probably had the best time. She loves all of the girls in Melody's and I's small groups and the feeling is mutual. My parents helped with the Youth and I grew up around the kids in Youth and I loved it. I want the same thing for Mallory because I know there is a day when I won't be cool to be around but she will have some great young Christian role models to look up to and be around. She was there for a good portion of the weekend but did not sit with or near the girls during the sessions and was not around during the small group discussions so the girls could focus on the important part of learning and growing in Christ. It was so much fun for me to see her interact with everyone this weekend. Loved having her there!
Our last group photo of the weekend
And so I didn't forget my first loves: my small group girls
We went to church and then had a Venture Rally to wrap it all up!
As much as Venture is for the Youth, it is also a great time for the adults. Seeing those kids worship and grow in Christ is one of the best things to witness! I know important decisions were made this weekend that will change these kids lives forever! Brian and I are so blessed to get to serve alongside our friends, The Ballards, this weekend. Getting to serve God in this way is one of the best things that I get to do!
The Estes Family loved Venture 2015!!