A Thank You Letter To My Youth Group

A Thank You Letter To My Youth Group

I’m still a spooey loving, havdallah singing, damn proud BBG thanks to you.
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To the incredible organization that shaped me to be who I am today,

I want to say thank you. Thank you for the experiences, the friends, the way you shaped me to be who I am today. I wouldn’t be a “damn proud B’nai Brith Girl” without the four years I had with you. As a young college student, I find myself comparing my past experiences of conventions, programs, and business meetings to my world now. I take everything I have learned about being a young Jewish woman and have applied it to every aspect of my life. Without your guidance and help to form me, I wouldn’t be who I am today- someone I am proud and confident to be.

Thank you for the weekly meetings.

As a small and scared eighth grader about 5 years ago, I was lacking friends, faith, and freedom. I had two friends, I knew I was Jewish, and I could stay out until about 9pm on a weekend night - I craved more. I needed stability, love, and light in my life. So when a cool and fun high schooler called me and invited me to BBYO, I jumped at the opportunity. I went to the first meeting and was hooked - I had found my place in the world. Immediately, I was welcomed by many different girls who all shared the same things with me. Young, Jewish, and a longing for sisterhood. As weeks went on I found myself counting down the days, the hours, even the minutes until I would be reunited with my tribe for an hour during the night. With these meetings, I found myself meeting my best friends. I found boys and girls that enjoyed my company and wanted me around them. I found a new home within the small space where our community would meet, and I am so thankful to have had five years of weekly meetings.

Thank you for the conventions.

Being able to say that I was surrounded by hundreds, sometimes thousands of boys and girls that are going to be the change that is wished to be seen in this world is rare. I’m lucky to be able to say I was, and even luckier to say that I am one of those people that can make a change, and I realized that during conventions. While spending a weekend at a convention, I mingled and created and shared new ideas with 300 of my closest friends from within my “region” or respective area, all while growing and developing into a strong, jewish leader. There were programs teaching us about Judaism or participating in community service, havdallah and other jewish traditions and prayers that I did not know before but now sing and chant in my head constantly, AZAA/BBGG and pretending to enjoy sports, business meetings and finding out how to take charge and learning leadership skills, and separates which had every girl and boy in their respective rooms remember how important they are all ultimately help shaped me into a new being. The best part is, the small regional conventions were only the beginning. Once a year, BBYO put on the biggest teen jewish gathering known, international convention (trust me, we broke a Guinness World Record, it is huge!). This convention, known as IC, was the number one best experience of my life, and luckily for me I got to attend twice. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have met so many people from across the globe, to have been able to be crammed in a hotel meeting room with thousands of teens, to have spent a majority of my money on late night pizza and clothing during Chofesh or free time, to have listened and been inspired by a multitude of speakers and leaders, and I will forever be grateful for the time spent in airports and lobbies and hotel rooms with people that I still call friends today. I gained so much knowledge and so much faith within myself during the five day experience and no words will ever be enough to express the gratefulness I have for this event and organization altogether.

Thank you for the sisterhood I hold onto so dearly.

I never expected to find my best friends through this organization, and I didn’t just find my best friends - I found my family. My sisters and brothers. Today, I am farther away from my favorite people than I’ve ever been. However, it’s like nothing has changed since the last time we saw each other as if no time has passed. It’s like our very last convention was just yesterday, that i was giving my life and sharing my stories to the crowd of younger members in front of me, and that we still have years of BBYO and friendship ahead of us. With the friendships and sisters that I’ve made, I will always remember and be thankful for the chapter sleepovers and bonding sessions including the pretzel and icing treat called “spooey”, pizza, and mean girls. It doesn’t matter that some of my friends are 100 miles away or a few states away, I created such strong bonds with these girls and guys that no amount of miles will break us up. For that, I thank you for giving me such strong connections to people that I never would have met without joining this organization.

So, BBYO, thank you for being such a strong and powerful organization and presence in my life. Thank you for shaping and helping me and thousands of other young jewish leaders see that faith and friends go hand in hand. Thank you for giving me the chance to find myself. Since my time in this incredible organization, I have used my knowledge and new found skills to continue to grow and prosper. I will always remember the experiences and laughs and tears that I have gone through, and will forever be thankful that I could be apart of it and letting it become a part of me. With that, BBYO, I give you my life.

All of my love and gratitude,

A Damn Proud BBG of the Mid America Region, Yachad BBG #2370

Cover Image Credit: Alec Rothman

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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We're all Flowers in God's Garden Of Grace

A short and sweet reminder that God’s grace will get you through.
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A week ago, I stood in my grandma's garden with her as we uprooted vicious vines of smilax, weeded out miniature maple trees, and pruned back her star jasmine growing atop the gazebo. I forget exactly which plant she was examining when she spoke, nevertheless her words planted a seed in my mind.

“God gave them all different ways to survive, and still there are flowers," she said, fingering the small blossoms.

Working in the garden with my grandmother, I've seen her remark proved true numerous times. Plants are each created uniquely, and tiny details enable them to grow in tough circumstances. Smilax sports thorns that pierce leather gloves to protect itself, defying the attempts of well-intentioned gardeners (ahem, me) to remove it. As it continues to grow, the thorns dwindle into mere pricks and the vine adorns itself in glossy green leaves and curling tendrils. Likewise, the bushes of peonies in nearby fields die back every winter, retreating to their bulbs where they will send out feeder roots until the warmth of spring calls forth the first pink blossom.

In His grace, God gives plants small details that enable them to endure situations that might otherwise kill them. And when they survive—thrive, even—plants culminate their seasons of growth by showcasing beautiful blooms.

My point? You and I are created differently and will walk different paths in life, experiencing different struggles, and dealing with them in different ways.

For example, I am a perfectionist, and as such, I strive for the highest goal possible. Anything less than that standard seems like another strike against me, like a mark of failure. God, however, uses what I see as my failure to point to my need for Him—and His grace gives me the strength to move past mistakes and love Him more.

Esther, a young Jewish woman in exile in Babylon, was wedded to King Xerxes. Soon afterward, Mordecai unveiled a plot to murder her people, the Jews. Holding this tremendous weight on her shoulders, Esther turned to God in fasting and prayer. In the end, the Lord gave her the courage to approach the king and plead for him to save her people. God poured out His grace, softening Xerxes' heart so that the Jews would be spared. Despite our differences, God has created us to grow in Him and to survive in all seasons of life.

Paul writes in Ephesians 4 that “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned" in order to equip us to serve Him.

And more than that, Jesus, “who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 1:6, The Bible, ESV). So, like full-petalled peonies that bloom every Mother's Day despite hail and blight, God will bring us to completion—perfection—by His grace.

Cover Image Credit: Pexel

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