{post edit note: scroll down if you want to get to the main point of this post: thoughts on helping teens learn to minister, because I got a little carried away with the Valentine’s intro:)} And also, this is kind of cool that I can write different up in this paragraph…still learning all this new whiz-bang wordpress stuff.

Ok, so the big ol’ Valentine’s Day is all wrapped up. Gosh I sure tried to make it over here to send out some love for blog readers on the big day but here I am a couple days later, still spilling out love for those who come here and teach me so much and contribute to what I write here. So grateful for YOU!

Valentine’s Day was kind of a weird one, I have to say, mostly because I think I hit a peak of this strange, heavy exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately. I don’t know if it’s related to my Hashimotos or what, but it was probably not the smartest thing in the world to stay up way too late trying to do a little gift for my valentine: organizing the pantry. (That guy is head-over-heels in love with organization). Not sure what I was thinking taking on that project late into the night when the world was already blurry, but somehow I thought I could whip all those bins and baskets into shape lickety-split after he was asleep. Ha! But I got enough done that he was pretty excited about it in the morning. He had a pickle-ball tournament (funny and real and awesome all at the same time), I got Claire dropped off at the airport for her first out-of-town volleyball tournament and I seriously lost the car when I dropped her off…I couldn’t find it for the life of me. Then Lucy and I had a mix-up on where to meet on the tandem bike after school so we missed each other like five times (times like this I wish she had a phone). The two of us were leaving before dawn the next day (Saturday) to take a little road trip to California for a recording session with her humongous choir (MCO), so we were trying to get everything set for that. It was a strange day, and I’m still trying to figure out how in the world our traditional Valentine’s breakfast table, spilled out with heart-shaped candy surrounded by kids and commotion has shrunken down so fast.

But BOY, I’m grateful for all my valentines spread all over creation from Lucy here in Newport with me to Hawaii to Utah to Kansas City (where Claire is braving 2 degree temps with her volleyball team, yikes!), and my #1 who I adore more than anyone else in the whole wide world:

(We had a fire-lit heart-shaped pizza night, the three of us left at home, and is was quietly awesome, even through the tired-ness.)

I left these three at-home valentines little love notes right where they would find them in the morning, and I got so overcome with love for these people I get to live with.

That was a big, gigantic digression from what I wanted to say today.

What I really came here to write about is ministering. Ministering? You might ask? But really, isn’t Valentine’s, in a way all about ministering after all? Ministering to the people we love?

I got to help with a class/podcast recording dealio this last week about how to help teenagers reach outside of themselves and learn to minister. (I will send more details when they become available, because I think this course is going to be so good!) In preparation for our recording I have sure been thinking about ministering, so I wanted to share it here while it’s on my mind.

I have to admit, when our church first re-named the visiting teaching/home teaching as “ministering” I wasn’t in love with that name. It seemed so formal to me for some reason. So I light-heartedly called it “friendly-ing” because really, isn’t it all about being a good friend? Yes, for sure, but as I have studied and pondered the word “minister” I have realized that true “ministering” is deeper than that. And I have fallen in love with that word.

The scriptures refer endlessly to ministering, an action word that defines actions that we offer up with a full heart that are actually sanctified by the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:16). I liked these definitions from “the free dictionary” online: “A person serving as an agent for another by carrying out specified orders or functions.” Aren’t we all striving to be “agents” for Christ upon the earth, reaching out and “strengthening the feeble knees” of each other? And also this definition: “One who is authorized to perform religious functions in a Christian church.” I love to think about the fact that as “ministers” we are “authorized” from God to minister to those around us. That is a beautiful thought.

Ok, so on to how this relates to teenagers. Because they are authorized too.

I LOVE that teenagers are involved in ministering in our church. Claire is my ministering partner. And I am loving that.

I think it is easy to dismiss teenagers from this task. Oh, we come up with excuses about how busy they are. Maybe they won’t really “get” the needs of those we’re trying to look out for. Sometimes it’s just so much easier to minister on our own time table. But teenagers can be so powerful as ministers! I actually think it comes quite naturally to them. Two examples:

1) Claire had a pretty rough week last week. It was a week filled with lots of sadness that I’ll go into more depth about soon, but for now I just wanted to show a couple of examples of how some of her friends ministered to her.

(Not shown in those pictures: some flowers and a little treat…kids are so nice, and this meant so much to Claire.)

2) Also this last week I was ministered to from teenagers. The young women in our congregation helped each other “heart-attack” the women they minister. Here was my door after their visit:

Oh sure, it’s just hearts (and a cookie I have to add). But paper hearts have power I tell you! Made my whole day to feel that love from the youth.

Five tips we came up with in my interview to help teens turn out rather than turning in:

1) Share stories with them. Share stories from when people looked out for you. How it made you feel. Reiterate how beautiful it is when others reach out to help them. Ask how it made them feel. Encourage them to help others feel that way. The more we share and communicate the more they will share back.

2) When you hear about people who are going through tough things, add them to your family prayers. Unless the struggles are private ones (which they sometimes are), teenagers are old enough to be aware of what’s going on. Pray aloud as a family for those you are looking out for. When we pray specifically for others we are much more likely to get little nudges of things we can do to help.

3) Give them more opportunities to reach out (whether it is a ministering “assignment” or just someone around the corner). When we reach out, even if it’s uncomfortable in the beginning, we get to know people and their stories. And when we get to know their stories, we fall in love with them. And when we love them, the desire to serve is so natural. Send your teenager to drop something off all by themselves. Or to give someone a call. Oh, they’ll put up a fight at first, because it’s uncomfortable. But the more they do it, the more natural it will become. And the happier they will be. It is just human nature that reaching outside of ourselves brings so much happiness!

4) Speak kindly of others. When I was asked (in this interview on ministering) what my parents did most to teach me how to minister to others, the best answer I could come up with was that my parents never spoke ill of anyone else. They modeled giving people the benefit of the doubt and they genuinely loved friends and strangers alike. I believe this is one of the biggest gifts parents can give. Everyone has a story. Everyone has struggles they are carrying around. We need to be gentle with each other. And I’m so grateful my parents modeled that to me so beautifully (thank you mom and dad!)

5) Be patient. Don’t fret if kids aren’t natural ministers. It takes time, especially for teenagers who are in the middle of figuring out who in the world they are. Some kids will be more natural ministers than others. But if we can give them the opportunities to begin to see outside of their little world a little more, that world of theirs will be blessed in beautiful ways.

And if you really want some examples of the most beautiful ministering, so beautiful that will make you tear up on practically every single page, read Tattoos on the Heart (reading it for my book club right now). Oh my goodness, it is GOOD.

I’d love to hear other ideas of how to help teenagers minister and reach outside of themselves more. Please share if you have some thoughts about that!

Happy President’s Day!

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  1. I hope Claire is ok!
    I didn’t like the word ministering either and now I love I too. The church leaders sure are inspired.
    I just have a random question when teams have to fly out for tournaments do the school pay for flights ? Or do the parents ( I’m not from USA) are you only able to sign you for sports if you can afford to play? I love hearing about how others places do things!

  2. Take this with an absolute grain of salt. I know the feeling of sluggish, heavy, exhausted. I had those symptoms for a long time. I had bloodwork and many labs done; talked with different doctors and no one could figure out why I was dragging so much. They kept saying “you have kids – you’re just tired.” But I knew it wasn’t a normal tired. Yes, I had four kids, but I could not make I through the day without taking a nap. I couldn’t think straight. I was eating pretty well (we eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and grains), and was trying to exercise… nothing added up. I finally found a naturopath who talked to me about adrenals – they looked “normal” on labs, but he said it is incredibly common for them to be overlooked as “within normal range”. He gave me some supplements to take (one being drink called KyoGreen – no, I don’t get a kick back), and it was a complete game changer. It boosted my adrenals and I felt like myself again. So it may be worth digging into adrenals! A few friends have found it has helped to address their adrenals as well. I know everyone’s story and body is different, and how frustrating it can be to not find answers. Hoping and praying you find what helps with yours soon!

    1. I’ve been struggling with “thyroid issues” for over 10 years and can’t get answers. They change medicine, do labs, don’t know what else to tell me. Your getting older, you have 3 kids, your depressed. But no answers. My adrenals look “normal” as well. So they now say I do not have adrenal problems. I’m so fatigued I can barely get out of bed. I have take a 3 hour nap every day just to get through the day . I would love any advice.

    2. Hi Jessica,

      It’s called adrenal fatigue. But, the scientific world doesn’t generally believe in adrenal fatigue. My daughter has Addison’s disease and her adrenal glands don’t produce any hormones. She supplements with steroids to stay alive – sounds dramatic but all of our bodies need steroids to survive. I don’t want to take up too much space here but I always worry when people think adrenal fatigue is a real disease. I wholeheartedly believe that you are struggling with something. I encourage you to do a little research on adrenal fatigue and adrenal insufficiency. I would hate for you to be misdiagnosed, as is frequently the case with any type of adrenal insufficiency.


  3. Hello from Vienna! I love reading your blog, it’s my first thing when I switch on my computer in the morning. As for your exhaustion: I have Hashimoto’s as well and suffered from a severe exhaustion for almost 2 years. Somehow I found James L. Wilson’s book on adrenals and followed some of his advices (more salt, more cholesterine, less sugar, sleep from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m, nap at 2 p.m.) for 2 months – voilá, it was a revelation! I live a normal life now. (Just sleep continued to be a essential topic. When I wake up before 6:30 a.m. I feel like in a fog all the day.) All the best!

  4. I firmly believe in the power kids have for good. I have seen kindness (and unkindness) spread like wildfire bc of just one kids actions. The phrase I’ve fallen in love with this year is “Purpose Over Popularity” – we’ve had lots of good talks about how this is the secret to thriving as a teenager. ❤️

  5. anyone else have trouble with pictures showing up over the words? Does it on mobile phone and laptop. Fine if it’s just me but curious if it’s anyone else too

  6. Love you Shawni and miss living close by. So happy to keep in touch always with your blog however. It’s the way you minister to me now. You have always been so good to minister to Uncle Stuart and me and I thank you so much for all you have done and continue to do for all our family. You are a treasure to so many, but a special treasure to me/us. I love you. Bless you !

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