Courage at 22

There are people in this world who completely and utterly amaze me.

On the list, of course, are the veterans…those who fought and fight for peace.  Those who were drafted and volunteered to do things I could never do.

There are also the single parents, often not by choice, who have to figure out not only their own lives, but the lives of those vulnerable angels in their charge.

The parents, guardians and others who by choice or blessing care for children with “issues”.

There are many others…

But this year I have added another group to my most courageous list:  young adults seeking help.

I have no idea how they do it.  When I was in my early 20’s there was no way I was going to ask for help.  And I needed it.

But I could do it on my own.  I could, and should, do it on my own.  At least that is what I thought.

It wasn’t like there were not people who would be open to helping me navigate the working world, but wasn’t that what I had been working towards?  Shouldn’t I be able to figure this out on my own?  Wouldn’t people think less of me?  Wouldn’t it show that I had failed?

Fortunately I found my way, or rather, I was blessed by God to marry an amazing man who helped me find my way.  But not all are so lucky.

Not all are so lucky to grow up with the idea of going to college as normal as taking a daily shower.  Not all are provided with parents who plan their careers based on paying for their future children to go to college.  Not all have family and friends scattered around the nation, able and willing to provide assistance to a start-up life.  Not all have a grandfather whose depression-era upbringing and physicist mind provided for a financial “bonus” a few years running.  And not all are set-up with an amazing and gifted spouse whose unique gifts provide for a steady income.

As some say, the stars aligned in my favor.  But they do not for others.

This week I started my position as Director of Women’s Programs at Launch Ministry.  It is through my volunteering and now vocation with them that I have met a whole new group of courageous individuals.

Launch Ministry grew directly out of the need of young adults struggling with becoming financially and emotionally independent.  Each of their stories are unique, but in the end their ability to be a “normal adult” (whatever that is!) in this particular society has been fraught with barriers.  They could easily fall to the wayside, continuing on paths that lead them to who knows where, but instead, they are asking for help.

They show what it is to be truly courageous.

They have decided that the life they are living is not what they want.  They could stop there, falling into despair, but instead, they have courage to hope.

This hope leads them on a different path.  This yearning for a different life is ultimately theirs, and this ownership of their life leads them on the next step.  They have to have the courage to become vulnerable.

Vulnerability is almost impossible to embrace in our society.  We are supposed to be strong and smart, independent and creative.  We are supposed to be able to handle everything by ourselves, if we can even be vulnerable to admit that not everything is perfect.

These young adults know they want more, and are just asking for some guidance on how to get there.  They are just asking for someone to help them navigate the unlimited choices, the government bureaucracies, and the unique situations in their lives.

They want what we all want…a place to live, food to eat, a job to go to.  They want to be part of something, and have social worth.

But they have to have courage to even ask for it.  Were you that courageous at 22?  I know I wasn’t.

Interested in supporting Launch Ministry?  We have a number of amazing current programs and programs in the works which could use your time or financial donations.

A few examples of ways to support these courageous individuals!

  • We are renovating the “church basement” into a welcoming and inspirational environment that truly represents how important and loved our young adults are.  This will include a children’s area for their children (and children of volunteers and staff) to feel welcome.
  • Our drop-in times are expanding to 5 days a week, in addition to Tuesday night free dinners.  Resources for these are greatly appreciated!
  • We are always looking for mentors and volunteers, anyone with a big heart or experience/knowledge to share are welcome!  This includes assisting with periodic women’s events.
  • We are also open to your ideas…just contact us and we would love to give you a tour and explore how your unique gifts and experience can support this ministry!

To contact me:  stephanie  (@) launchministry (.org)

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Holy Spirit Prayer Stations

Clearwater Crysalis

The Spirit works in wondrous ways!

I try to avoid cliches, but hard to do in this situation.  I was invited to be the key note speaker at Clearwater Forest’s 2015 summer Crysalis retreat, and it was the amazing experience I had imaged it would be.  (I fully recommend this retreat/adult camp for any woman out there!  We had multiple generations, sisters/cousins, friends and individuals who came on their own.  I plan to return!  They also have a winter retreat.)

Women, God, stories, nature, coffee, amazing food, crafts, walks, water, stories, free time, classes, singing, comfortable beds, and massages!  Not to mention optional quilting for the expert and novice.  And in the midst of all this, I was blessed to provide ways to unleash the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Even as an introvert who is not typically seen as an evangelist, it was wonderful to “evangelize” in a way that worked for me…sharing my stories and the stories of others, while including practical steps people an take to deepen their faith lives.


As a person who is very tactile and learns by experience, I set up four prayer stations around Clearwater for the participants to reflect on the Holy Spirit.  I hope that if you are in ministry, you may be inspired by these too!

Taking advantage of our amazing location in the Northwoods of Minnesota, I chose the nature themes of water, air, earth and fire.  Each theme provided many connections within the Scriptures, and in the planning stage, I imagined each station to be situated in a corresponding setting.  I did my best to use items I had around the house, only needing to purchase a blanket and bowl for the Fire station from a thrift store.

The Holy Spirit – Water

Holy Spirit Water Prayer StationLocated on the porch of Eagle Lodge, this prayer station looked out onto Clearwater Lake.  The lighting was perfect for prayer, but not so for taking pictures.  I included a few different fabric textures, including the literal wave fabric and a scarf flowing like water.  Shells and drift wood collected from various water environments wade in the “stream” and cattails cut on my drive up stand behind the tables.  To the right of my daughter’s baptismal picture is a cross rusted from Kansas rain.   For each, I included an image of a woman immersed in the station’s theme – an appropriate subject for a women’s retreat.  Each station also had 6 scripture or related quotes, and an interactive method of prayer.  For water, I offered a Buddha Board to write or draw a prayer on, letting it be released to the Spirit as it disappeared.

Holy Spirit – Air

Holy Spirit Air Prayer StationWhen I arrived at Clearwater Forest it was cool, rainy and windy.  I found a protected spot on the lower level patio of Leaning Tree Lodge, for this station.  As air is obviously difficult to capture, I kept this station uncluttered.  While simple, I layered lace, tulle and a white fabric cut out of a dove to set the stage.  The cross, a seminary graduation gift from my in-laws, caught and reflected the light.  Participants often felt a breeze as they sat here, requiring the addition of a rock to hold down the fabric!  The interactive prayer option for this station was cutting pieces of green ribbon and tying them to a dead branch (sorry, no picture) located about 15 feet away.  Each ribbon signified a prayer or prayers, and together they completed an image of a tree coming to life in Spring as the ribbons blew in the wind.

Holy Spirit – Fire

Holy Spirit Fire Prayer StationOptimally I would have located this station near one of the numerous fire pits, but the weather led me to position it on the other end of the Leaning Tree patio from the Air station.  It did overlook one of the main fire pits, which was frequently used by the small groups.  The gold chains, “diamond” and metal cross (a gift from my brother-in-law), signified the refining nature of God (Psalm 66), while the scarf was my best representation of the flowing nature of fire (a craft option at the retreat).  The interactive prayer was to write their prayer and burn it, letting the thoughts raise up to God as an offering.  One woman commented that her prayer was burned into the shape of a heart!  Upon cleaning up, I offered the ashes to God by washing the bowl in the lake.

Holy Spirit – Earth

Holy Spirit Earth Prayer Station Large ViewHoly Spirit Earth Prayer StationTucked in a corner of the Peace Garden is this small pergola, which amazingly kept dry in the rain.  Using burlap from a coffee shop’s coffee bag and a rag rug from a family farm, I used smoothed rocks from Lake Superior as well as ones with etched words such as ‘Breathe’, ‘Always’, and ‘Harmony’.  Included is a simple cross and a carved stone Mary & Jesus I had purchased at a fair trade sale.  While I had added a pine branch, acorns and birch bark, others added their own small natural treasures as the weekend progressed.  In honor of our earliest faith ancestors, the interactive prayer option here was to place rocks in a common pile, marking our joys and concerns.


I have been blessed by the wonderful experiences women had at these stations, providing them some quiet moments of individualized prayer and reflection.  I hope that they may inspire you also!

Clearwater Forest is available for private functions, to check out the facilities, as well as all the camps and other events they offer (their Grandparents’ Camp books up quickly!), click here.

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