Aaron Godwin- Senior Reflection

Psalm 121 spoke out to me because it reminded me of Montreat and all of the
youth conferences have been going on for four years. Now I’m coming up on my fifth
year of the Montreat Youth Conference.  For those that don’t know Montreat is in North
Carolina surrounded by Lookout mountain and during the summer they hold a High
School Youth Conference during a week of the summer with about 1,000 High School
students from rising freshman to graduating seniors. Montreat is filled with youth that are
happy and with lots of stories to tell. One of the great things about Montreat are the small
groups which is a room filled with 30 to 40 youth of all ages from all around the country
and gives them the chance to talk about to talk about problems in their lives. I actually
still keep in touch with some of my friends from my small group. Montreat is a place
where everyone can be themselves and focus more on God individually and together as a
group. Not only have I grown closer with people from my church but I have also had the
opportunity to support others and have others supported me in my small group.
When I am at Montreat I look up at the mountains and at the lake and think of how
amazing everything God created is, including you and I.  The green mountains and blue
skies remind me of how God is putting all of this to our attention so we can see Him
everywhere we look. I see all of these things and I think of how God is going to keep us
safe on the four hour journey to and from Montreat and just as the Psalm said, in every
other place of our life.  I also think about how the Lord is my protector when I am at
Montreat and when I am away from Montreat. 

I have struggled in times when there have been issues in my family and when I’ve
lost someone close to me. These times made me feel lost and confused and wonder if
God had fallen asleep on the job. During these times I thought back to times at
Montreat when I could look up at the mountains and be reminded of God and where my
help comes from.  I realized that a way to see God is to think back to a time where you
felt your strongest connection with God and think of the place, object or person from that
moment that reminded you of God and made it easier and more meaningful to love and
praise God. 
Going on from here to Georgia Southern University and beyond I’m going take so
many lessons with me from every I have learned in church and youth group. I am going
to cherish everyone I have met and everything I have learned to help me continue
forward in my life of faith. On our faith journey it’s always important to remember that
God is with us through the ups and downs and God reminds us of this by giving us a
beautiful place to live and call our own and God also gives us loving people to care for
us, talk to and call friends and family. 

Anna Lippy- Senior Reflection

When we are facing hard times, we often hear, “Trust God, He’s got a plan for
you!” and I think we can all agree that trusting God is easier said than done. There’s a
difference between saying you trust God and fully trusting Him, as shown through your
actions. I’ve struggled with this all throughout high school, whether it was incorporating
God in difficult decisions, taking risks – or not, or in how I viewed myself, etc. I’ve
learned that fully trusting God means taking that leap of faith to do what scares you or is
out of your comfort zone, because “God won’t let your foot slip,” and God’s always got
your back.
My YoungLife leader, Nichole, showed me this song called “Dimensions” by Jess
Ray when I was a sophomore, and it is still one of my favorites today. Jess Ray sings
this album from the perspective of God. My favorite lyric of this song is “Wipe the tears
away from your eyes, drive the fear away from your mind. You have no idea how safe
you really are.” Every time I hear this, I’m reminded to take a step back from trying
to control my life, and to trust that God has a plan to prosper me and not to harm me.
This lyric inspires me to live boldly, trusting that God will keep me safely in the palm of
His hand.
I’ve never been one to plan out my future in specific detail, I’ve always gone with
the flow for the most part. I had general goals I wanted to accomplish, but I’ve always
known the God has a plan for me because that’s what I’ve been taught in Sunday
School. I thought I found the perfect college for me, but when decisions came out two
weeks ago, I didn’t get the news that I’d been hoping for, I got wait-listed.

I’d never been more discouraged in my life; I worked as hard as I could to
maintain a 4.0 GPA, I was as involved in extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and
community service as possible, and I did everything to make me a perfect candidate, or,
so I thought. I’m trying to figure out where the Lord is leading me, and as I am
considering my options for the Fall I feel other doors opening. Now I have to figure out if
I should wait and try my chances with my first choice school, or if I should commit to
another one. Both options require me to trust that Jesus will guide me to the right door.
We all encounter disappointments and heartaches in life and we don't always
have an explanation, but we trust that God will guide us through the heartache and
temptations to turn to other outlets. We trust that God will turn a difficult situation into
something beautiful. We have to look for love when it feels like there isn’t any.
During this period of waiting for a sign, I’ve been asking myself some questions:
How can I see God in this? Where is God along this part of my journey?
Why did this happen? Where can I see the love around me?
After some reflection, I found that God calls us to live a full life built on the
foundation of His love. In order to give love to others, first you have to accept the love
that God is giving you. Accepting God’s love starts with trusting and believing He
created you just the way He wanted you to be. These days we spend so much time and
energy trying to win the approval and acceptance of our peers and admissions councils,
that we often forget God has already made us good enough and worthy of His love,
without even trying. Even when colleges feel that you don’t meet their requirements, we
can relax in knowing that God has no requirements for us to fulfill in order for us to gain
His love.

The discouragement I felt at first has quickly been replaced with peace and
comfort from the love and support of my friends and family, who continued to accept
me. As soon as I told my family the bad news, they immediately started helping to
research other colleges that offered what I was looking for. When I told my teacher
about it, she encouraged me not to give up, and to write them a letter to emphasize my
strong desire to attend their school. I have been encouraged to lift my head up, literally
and figuratively, and enjoy the gifts that God has given me, despite feeling like an
opportunity was taken away. I have been encouraged to adapt and trust that God will
lead me where I am supposed to go. I have been encouraged to live a full life rooted in
“the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” 1
Psalm 121 reminds us that God will always be with us in times of trouble and will
protect us from all evil. God will watch over us on our journeys, from now and
forevermore. Jess Ray’s song reminds us that we are so much safer than we know. So,
we must remind ourselves to fully trust in God’s timing, because it is perfect, and along
the way we look for love in God and in our neighbors and live on that foundation. Going
forward along this journey, I’d like to challenge myself and all of us to approach difficult
situations with the confidence that God will help lead you in the right direction.
Relax… look up to God… and trust that God has so much more power than we do,
which allows us to live freely without fear or anxiety about the future.

1 Song: Reckless Love by Cory Asbury


Margaret Rose- Senior Reflection

Growing up in the age of new technology and social media, I am very aware of
the focus my generation has on themselves. We grew up during the invention of the
selfie and social media. As I scroll through Instagram or Snapchat, it is pretty easy for
me to keep up with the activities of my peers. Where they are, what they are doing,
who they are with. That is why I find The Good Samaritan story refreshing. There are
many layers to the story but the two that resonate with me the most are the fact that
help can often come from where you least expect and the concept of acting selflessly
and doing good deeds without expecting anything in return.
As Jesus is telling the legal expert the story of the Good Samaritan, he is very
specific about who passes the man in the street and who ends up helping him. The
priest and the Levite cross the street to avoid the man, although these two are arguably
the characters we would assume would help the beaten man, since they are “supposed”
to be very dedicated to worshiping and practicing the word of God. Instead, a
compassionate Samaritan bandaged the man and took care of him. The beliefs
Samaritans had about God and worship created divisions between them and the Jews.
However, the Samaritan was able to live out the word of God more accurately than the
Jewish priest and Levite. Jesus is careful to emphasize the kindness of the Samaritan,
and I think he does this to show that anyone has the capability to live the way God
intends for us. The wounded man’s help came in a way he could not have anticipated
and I believe God works in this way too. God may not send you help in the exact way

you pray for or expect. Although very cliche, the saying “God works in mysterious ways”
is very accurate to the way God works in our lives.
When I was a little kid, probably from the ages of 8-12, I struggled with intense
shyness. I was nervous about what to say and I did not like having a lot of attention on
me. My solution was to just be quiet and speak very little until I grew comfortable
enough around a person to really show my personality. When I was 8 I joined a
competitive gymnastics team, but the team was small and only had around 15 girls on it.
Still, I was extremely nervous around everyone and it took me nearly a whole summer’s
worth of practices to grow comfortable with them. When I entered middle school, I hated
how shy I was. I would watch my friends easily talk to new people and branch out. All I
wanted was to be outgoing. Around this time the size of my gymnastics team nearly
doubled in size. I was at first intimidated by all the new girls, but I quickly grew used to
them after spending many hours in the gym with them. Being on such a large team
forced me to speak up and use my voice, often because it was hard to get a word in
with so many of us. While I still tend to be slightly shy today when I first meet someone,
it is nothing compared to how I was as a kid. Although I had hoped God would magically
make me an outgoing and bold person, I feel like my help from God came in an
unexpected way, through having me step out of my comfort zone and providing me with
the support of many new friends.
The kindness and compassion of the Samaritan is another one of the major
takeaways of the story, with the Samaritan encapsulating the lesson of loving your
neighbor as yourself. My trips with the DPC youth group have opened my eyes to who
my neighbors are. I used to think of my neighbors as close friends, peers at school, or

the people I see in my everyday life. But I’ve realized our neighbors are everyone we
interact with and even people we might not know. On a trip to New Orleans this past
summer, we worked on repainting the house of a woman named Myrtle, who’s home
had been damaged during Hurricane Katrina. Mind you, we were outside for hours on
end painting the house and it was mid July in New Orleans. In other words, this was the
hottest week of my life! But as we progressed through the week, Myrtle would come
outside and check out the work we were doing. We worked this entire week to help
Myrtle, and we expected nothing in return. It was what we were there to do and we
wanted to help. But later in the week, Myrtle came walking out of her back door carrying
boxes of Popeye’s chicken, bread rolls, and cans of Dr Pepper. This treat from Myrtle
honestly made my day, not only because of the tasty food, but because of her
thoughtfulness in getting it for us. Myrtle’s kindness opened my eyes to different ways
you can love your neighbor, and showed me that there is always a way to give back.
Myrtle shared stories with us about how her neighborhood banded together after the
hurricane, with everyone helping each other. This kindness and generosity lasted
months after the hurricane had occurred. While working in New Orleans we were there
to help and serve, but I can honestly say Myrtle helped me by showing me the impact
kindness and love can have on an entire community, and what loving your neighbor
truly is.
While this age of individualism and social media tempts many of us only to look
to ourselves, I think it is important to challenge ourselves and others to look to God and
our neighbors along the journey. As we move through life we can always look to God
when we need help and know that help may come in the ways we least expect it. Also,

just as God is supporting us, we can support each other and all of our neighbors by
offering love and compassion instead of passing to the other side. My experience in
New Orleans taught me that we are always surrounded by neighbors, whether it’s
someone you meet on a trip, someone you’ve known your whole life, or even the person
sharing the pew with you in church today.