my personal "before story" with the ignite cafe

 i didn't sleep. i was filled with excitement like you get on Christmas eve yet was so worried that it would fail. then what. what would people think. what would i think. would God be disappointed. what would be his plan then.. just a few thoughts where my worried mind led in the early hours of the morning.

my husband and i along with a few amazing youth leaders were launching a cafe. a cafe for the high school students to hang out at lunch. we have huge vision of what this space could become and we are tying to take faithful steps seeking God of what He wants this space to look like. for now, step one is to open it tuesday and thursdays over the students lunch hour. see who takes interest, who shows up, and evaluate if this is a need for the students.

mark and i have such a strong passion for high school students. my heart literally hurts for the students who are having an awful high school experience. i know i have this compassion for teenagers and a heart to be used in this age group because of my personal experience. EDSS was a beautiful but toxic, rough but refining couple of years. i regret so much of my high school choices wishing i would have grasped an eternal perspective earlier. i wished i would have told all my friends about Jesus knowing now that He is the only thing that will last. yet with these regrets i can confidently say that God has used my broken, vulnerable story for good in allowing me to have such a heart for these students. i thank God for using it for good.

yet i still worried.

i hardly ever wear makeup and i found myself early tuesday morning deciding which eye shadow to apply (i only have three choices). i stood in front of my closet wondering what outfit would look the cutest, what would make me feel beautiful and confident in front of these teens. i laugh typing that last sentence onto this page… seriously maddie… your twenty-two years old. you don't need to worry about impressing grade 9 through 12's. plus who cares. who cares if they think i'm pretty or not. thats not my purpose to look cool.

yet i stood in the mirror staring at my outfit choice searching for a compliment while asking my husband if i looked good.

it's pathetic. i know it is. but gosh, being in and around high school brought back so many memories. it terrified me knowing if i would "fit in" and be "cool enough" to face the students God would bring us at this cafe.

i asked God out loud while standing in front of the mirror if i could really do youth ministry. i got a simple answer very clear in my spirit. "no you can't. you can't do anything without me. but i will equip you. i will always go before you."

thank you God for being real. for talking to me. for equipping me.

my high school insecurities and lack of sleep will forever leave me paralyzed and ineffective for the kingdom if i dare try to do once ounce of this by myself.

yet God goes before me. He has called me to do this job in this season. to do this specific ministry work. i do nothing but allow Him to work through my life.

and He did.

God showed up huge.

on tuesday we planned for eighty students and easily accomplished that within the first fifteen minutes. we had well over a hundred students pass through the ignite cafe.

on thursday we fed 140 teenage students.

wow God. i can't put into the contrast of tuesday morning and my reflections now.

mark and i could have never pulled this off. we don't even know how to cook for that many people.

yet God went before us.

typing this now, a week later, i didn't even consider wearing eye shadow this morning #winning.

i am slowly (and sometimes embarrassedly) learning to live out what God going before me means. less worry, more trust. 

we have God dreams for this cafe. for the space. we already have it in phases ready to go.

thanks for reading all this. if you are someone who believes in prayer, please pray for us. we know that this is all God working and not us. pray that He brings more people to the cafe and the moment they walk through the doors they know something is different.

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