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L O V E     G O D


A few weekends ago, I had the coolest opportunity to teach in JHM on the verse Deuteronomy 6:4-9, specifically going into what it means to love God. And while I may have been the teacher that weekend, I learned and was reminded of some of God’s greatest qualities.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says:

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

Loving God with all of your strength means to love him with all that you are and it opened my eyes to ways I was hesitant to do so. I struggle with sharing my faith unapologetically and I thought it would be unfitting that I tell others how to do it. It's something that scares me a lot, but through piecing together this message I learned that inviting Jesus into more of my life doesn’t limit me, it actually does the exact opposite.

I don’t feel the anxious weight on my shoulders anymore, because letting God into every nook and cranny of your life doesn't close you off. It brings you freedom.

I feel more confident when sharing my faith because more of God means a stronger foundation.

I feel more excited about bringing God into conversations because sharing my faith doesn’t have to be something that puts walls between people, but can be an opportunity for them to experience His beauty.

It’s still not perfectly easy, but that weekend was a reminder that God isn’t here to make my life harder. He commands me to love Him with all of my strength- with everything that I am and in all that I do- not to punish me in any way but to calm my heart, open doors, and bring me closer to Him in new and wonderfully exciting ways.

-Izzy Murphy

Student Leader



Have you ever found yourself afraid to share your faith with others? If so, this is the post for YOU!

Humans are built to strive in a community and desire to feel like they belong in their friend groups. A community is a feeling of fellowship with others that share common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Your faith and relationship with God are personal and different from those around you, but it doesn’t have to be kept to yourself. When you start to share your faith with others, you will be able to connect with those are around you. For instance, if you never talked about your faith with your friends, the possibility of sharing that could persuade them to listen about your beliefs and relationship with God.

1 Corinthians 1:10 says: I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Here are the steps to show up in YOUR community!

  1. Join clubs or groups on campus that affiliate with your faith! This is a perfect way to find new friends and get to know who in your community has the same faith as YOU! FCA is a great club that is found on a lot of Orange County high schools!

  2. Volunteer in your community by giving back to others! This is another opportunity to find new friends and hear why they decided to volunteer. There are organizations that you can find on your campus, and here at HSM, we have options that you can take part in!

  3. Understanding that God wants you to be vulnerable to sharing your faith with your friends and family. He wants you to feel like you belong in your community and you have those that can support you through the good and bad.

I know that this can be challenging because it takes a lot of courage and vulnerability, but if you are able to share your faith with just a small group of people, it can not only make an impact on you, but also those who are possibly interested to leap into your beliefs.

I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. —Philemon 1:6

-Rose Esfandiari

Student Leader



Spiritual Gifts. We all have one! Whether you’ve discovered it or not, you have a God-given gift that you can use to honor our amazing God. It’s not about talent or aptitude, but using what God has given you to serve and build up the Body of Christ.

 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.”  

1 Peter 4:10-11

It can be scary when God reveals our spiritual gifts to us. Often times we don’t feel qualified or worthy of what God calls us into. But God would never call you into something if He wasn’t going to be walking right beside you every step of your journey. So lean in. Lean in to what God has for you. There’s going to be challenges and discouragement, but just remember, He knows what He’s doing. 

Another part of it is that God doesn’t compare our gifts. No gift is more important than the other and no one is “more gifted” in one thing than the other. When I felt God calling me into worship, my first thought wasn’t excitement, it was doubt! I felt as if I was not qualified to follow this calling because I compared my gift of worship to others. But God didn’t see it that way! There’s no pedestal because our spiritual gifts are all bringing glory to God. So whether it’s serving, teaching, worship, taking pictures, or making coffee, your gift can be used and it matters! All you gotta do is just trust and lean in!

-Paris Griffith

Student Leader



Hey everyone!

This past week I got to speak at one of my FCA huddles at school! I wanted to share with you all what I spoke about…

Last Thursday was Valentine’s Day so I thought it would be the perfect week to talk about love. Love is one of the most important parts of our faith. It’s the basis of our beliefs.

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

The two greatest commandments are clearly stated here about love. Pretty much everything we believe in is based off of these two commandments. We are called to love ourselves, love each other and love God. So that’s what I am going to go into in this blog.

Loving yourself:

Personally, this might me the hardest one for me. Throughout High School I have struggled to love myself. It’s easy for me to love others and put my trust in them but it’s sometimes hard for me to do that for myself. Sometimes we think it’s more important to pour everything we have into other people and end up feeling empty. We’re always trying to please others and compare ourselves to them. When was the last time you intentionally told yourself I am proud of what I have done and I am confident in myself. For some of you, you may tell yourself that everyday, but for others it could be a rare occurrence. Even though we are called to love others, God still wants us to love ourselves. And you might be thinking where does it say in those verses to love yourself? It says love your neighbor and love God, but what about me. Well actually, when you love yourself you are honoring God as you are his creation and he delights in you. If the almighty God from heaven can love you, you can love yourself. And going back to my experience, this was a hard thing to realize. Last year I especially felt this weighing on me. My junior year was seemingly going well; I was doing well in school, I got some awards, and was even nominated to go to Boys State (a mock government summer program), but I still didn’t love my accomplishments and wasn’t truly proud of myself. Going into Boys State, I felt inferior to the other people who were nominated. I felt like I didn’t deserve it. I got super nervous leading up to it and the first day was scary. I still didn’t feel like I belonged there. It wasn’t until the second or third day that something changed. I was sitting alone and all of those thoughts about feeling inferior were racing through my head, but God spoke to me in that moment. The speaker said something very simple about being proud of everyone who made it and for some reason it hit me right there. I realized how much God had loved me and how proud he was of me for being there. It didn’t matter how far I got at Boys State or if I was the smartest one there because God was proud of me no matter what. So I want to speak to any of you who feel you are inferior or that you don’t measure up and tell you that you are loved and God loves you no matter what. In the midst of me saying this I still struggle and feel this way pretty often, but I keep pushing to get better. It’s a battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting. And once you can love yourself it becomes easier to love others.

Loving others:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” - John 13:34 NIV

Some of you guys might be thinking that loving others is easy. And sometimes it is, but often we find ourselves loving people conditionally. We find ourselves saying, if this person is nice to me, if this person is a good person, if this person makes me feel happy, if, if , and if. We can’t say we love someone without one of these conditions. But in Matthew 22:37-40 he doesn’t say love your nice neighbors, love your good neighbors, or even love your Christian neighbors. He just says love your neighbor. And there’s a difference between love and like that I’ve learned. Like is conditional. Like is they hurt me and I don’t LIKE them right now. Like is I like that movie, I like that food, I like that sport. But to love people is different. And in our culture the L word is so scary to use. But the truth is we can and should love everyone. That person who you know is going down the wrong path and is doing bad things is someone you are called to love. That person who was mean or annoying to you is someone you were called to love. So go spread love, and don’t hold back. We weren’t meant to give our love to only certain people at certain times. We are meant to love everyone despite times that we may not like them.

Loving God:

Lastly, this is the most important as everything else flows from it, we are called to love God. It’s the first and greatest commandment. So what does loving God mean? Well there are many ways to love God. Obeying his calling, praying to him, devoting your life to following Jesus are a few. But even more than that, when you love others and love yourself, you are loving God as that is what he calls us to do. He set the perfect example of love when he sent his son to die on the cross for our sins. This is unconditional love. And we can only try to follow that example by loving others and ourselves unconditionally.

All of these things together make up what we are called to do as Christians. It’s something that’s kinda simple when you think about it, but we make it so much more complicated. One person I think represents this idea of love really well is Mr. Rogers. I’m not sure if you guys know Mr. Rogers, but this past year I saw this great documentary about him called ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’. Mr. Rogers was a great man who hosted a children’s tv program and helped many young children grapple with serious, real life situations such as loss and divorce. But what many of you don’t know is that he was also an ordained minister. While he didn’t always use his platform to spread the gospel, he did spread love through his actions and everything he did for many children and people. He was once quoted saying “love is at the root of everything, all learning, all relationships, love or the lack of it”. Mr. Rogers showed love to everyone despite race, gender, sexual orientation, or disabilities. He loved all those people, and even more, despite anything they’ve done or were doing. And that’s what God wants us to be. He wants us to be people who love others no matter who they are or what they’ve done, and to love ourselves because he loves us. It can sometimes be hard to love in the midst of insecurities, loss, anxiety, and heartache, but God loves us all the time and he calls us to act upon his love and follow his example.

-Zach Lyons


Student Leader



Starting on March 4th, I will be living in Nairobi, Kenya for three months to serve at Mavuno Church in children’s ministry. I will also be teaching English to kids while I am there. As excited as I am to participate in these things, I am most excited to be submerged in another culture and see what life is like for the people in Kenya.

With my adventure only weeks away, it's crazy to look back on how this whole process began back in October. I was doing online school and trying to figure out what to do for my second semester as a senior. I had the option to stay online or go back to a regular high school to graduate. None of these choices appealed to me. It was then that my mom and I discussed the possibility of me graduating a semester early. My parents and I agreed that if I graduated early, I would do something valuable with my time. This was when God placed an extended missions trip on my heart.

My mind flooded with reasons not to. “You’ll miss senior prom! What about your friends? You would miss your family too much! What about Student Leadership and your JHM life group?” Despite all these panicked thoughts, there was a louder voice saying that it would be okay. I felt an extreme sense of peace and confidence that this was what God had for me.

Both my parents are a part of the Kenya team at Mariners, so when I told them I felt called to travel, Nairobi was automatically thrown into the discussion. Through further research and conversations with pastors, God affirmed and reaffirmed that Kenya was where He was calling me.

As plans began and as they continue to take shape, it becomes more real...and scarier. But as my anxieties have grown more prominent, so does God’s voice. His voice continues to tell me that His plans are better than mine, that He already knows what lies ahead. I don’t expect my three months in Kenya to go without trouble. I know there will be hard times, but I also know God will meet me in Kenya in a way that I would have never been able to see if I didn’t step outside my comfort zone.

   “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 (NIV)

-Katie Nicholas


Student Leader

Y O U     H A V E     A     S T O R Y


It’s true! You have a story! Yes, YOU!

A story is a journey that makes you the person you are today, and an ultimate challenge that creates a transformation. You may or may not have faced a great challenge in your short life YET, but you still have a story! You are living a life that is paving way and preparing you for that ultimate challenge, a plan God has for you. Nonetheless, a story is not measured by length of your life or the intensity of your challenges. A story is YOU! But when God says your story is not for you, what does that exactly mean?

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 says: Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

As a culture striving for perfection, we fear weakness. Because of the sin within us, we cannot be separated from this weakness. Our story is birthed through this brokenness, but it is by God’s grace through our faith in Him, we are saved. GOD DELIGHTS IN THESE WEAKNESSES. No, God does not want you to be in pain, but God loves to use Satan’s acts of sin to spark lights of His goodness by grace through faith. In order to see the power of His grace, we must be “insufficient” of His grace through hardship and weakness. God’s grace gifts us with hope and goodness. God’s grace gives us His love when we are angry. God’s grace gave me a best friend that truly understood my never-ending illness because she had lived it herself too. God’s grace gave me a Life Group that loved on me through the grieving of my brother. God’s grace saved me and saved you and has given us an eternal life with Him.

Through boldly boasting of our weakness, our story, we glorify God’s great grace and mercy.

God delights in our weakness because He uses the bad for the good through the power of His grace and mercy. And we can shine His grace and mercy through boasting of His goodness in our stories (weaknesses). Here are ways to boast through your story:

1) Be Vulnerable

Vulnerability is a scary word. Being vulnerable is terrifying in a world of perfection and judgement. But ultimately, VULNERABILITY IS STRENGTH. It takes true courage to let down your walls and show weakness. But For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 2:10) God honors your courage and will open new doors of opportunity.

2) Take Time for Yourself

Being vulnerable can become a great weight and burden. And waiting for an answer and God’s calling for you can become frustrating. Take time to care for yourself and focus on your own needs. Remember that God loves you and wants to pour into you too! Check out Katie’s post on how to find ways to care for yourself.

3) Pray!

Change doesn't happen overnight. It’s hard to trust in a plan you cannot foresee and have hope in His goodness, but THAT IS OKAY. Pray for openness — open your heart to what God is calling you to and how He wants you to use your story.

This is a concept that is so incredibly crazy and amazing, and it’s okay if you don’t get it all! As finite human beings, the plans of an infinite God are sometimes beyond our understanding. God sees things from a perspective of holy goodness while we see things from a broken, sinful, earthly perspective.

Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? —Romans 11:33-34

-Claire Wong

Student Leader



If you’ve ever attended a High School Ministry service at Mariners Church, odds are you’ve heard the word “youth...” a lot. For some of you, it is a culture you fully embrace -- the students help run HSM. For others, you might question it.

It’s also likely that you have also heard an excess of negativity towards younger generations in your day to day lives. “They are weaker socially, have everything easy, and aren’t difference-makers,” some say. In reality, young people today are one of the most influential and opinionated generations. Our voices, aided by social media and word of mouth, are louder than ever.

Why not use our voices?

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

As if you needed any more convincing, the great Whitney Houston echoes this sentiment in her hit song, Greatest Love of All.

I believe the children are our are future , teach them well and let them lead the way ....
Because the greatest
Love of all is happening to me
I found the greatest
Love of all inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

In all seriousness, to succeed, we have to believe in ourselves and lead the way. God will do the rest. Affirmations and outside commentary are important, but we need to be strong ourselves and develop trust in things that are out of our hands.

With a significant platform and God in our hearts, we can be big leaders. Our impact doesn’t have to just be in HSM though; It is our job to be the church OUTSIDE of a church. Our school campuses, workplaces, and homes can all benefit from our youthful leadership and enthusiasm.

As Youth Culture Weekend approaches, it is a perfect time to display our way of living out the word of God. There is so much opportunity to reach the teenagers of Orange County and expand our ministry. We may be young, but that shouldn’t be a limitation.

-Noah Lyons

Student Leader

S E L F     C A R E


Being a student leader in HSM has been one of the most rewarding choices I've made during my time in high school. Student leadership has allowed me to reach outside of my comfort zone and further my relationship with God. However, student leadership has also made me realize the importance of taking care of yourself in order to take care of others.

Last year in HSM was difficult for me as I felt obligated to continue to pour into the people I was serving, despite not feeling poured into; I was driving on an empty tank. As much as I wanted to be a good servant, I couldn’t love others as well as I wanted to because of how exhausted I felt. Serving started to come out of a feeling of commitment rather than out of an overflow of God’s love.

Once I realized this, I began having a lot of anxiety at church. The crowds of people that once seemed like an endless opportunity to show God’s love felt overwhelming and suffocating. It came to the point where going to church no longer sounded appealing to me. That’s when I knew something had to change. I recognized that I needed to focus on being poured into, but that seemed like yet another task I would be responsible to take care of. Being a part of the church, the saying “being poured into” often fills my mind with a to-do list; I should be reading my bible, praying, and attending more church.

I think many people view self-care or being poured into as another thing that takes up time in an already busy schedule. However, self-care shouldn't feel like another constraint; it should be something you can look forward to -- an excuse to take intentional time doing what you enjoy. Being poured into happens when you spend time with God, but this doesn’t just have to be in a church service or reading your Bible. Although these are great ways to be with God, it isn’t the only approach. One of the easiest ways to spend time with God is inviting him into something you enjoy. For me, I love art, especially painting. So when I decide to set time aside for myself, I paint and invite God into that either by listening to calm worship music or painting the nature He created.

There are so many ways to invite God into the activities you find enjoyable. As the first semester of this school year wraps up and as a new  one begins, I would encourage you to schedule time into your week for yourself. Lean into inviting God into your hobbies, whether it's writing, running, or anything in between. God wants to spend time with you and spending time with God is what allows us to be poured into. When you allow yourself to be poured into, it becomes much easier to pour into others as God calls us to do.

- Katie Nicholas

Student Leader



Hey everyone!

Happy New Year!

As we go into the New Year we will be starting a series of blogs from all different students who will be able to discuss a variety of topics. We will have two of these a week so stay updated for more. I wanted to start off this series with a little message about who we are in HSM.

HSM is a place where we go every weekend, it’s a building where we listen to messages, worship, spend time together, and maybe sometimes play a few games, but that’s not really what HSM is about. We go to a building to worship God, but we don’t belong to that building, we belong to God. HSM is part of the global church and that is something far greater than a building. We are this church, or at least we’re a part of it.

Corinthians 12:12 says, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”

HSM is only a part of the large body of Christ. And even inside of this part of the body, there are many other parts. Each unique individual in HSM is a significant part of HSM and HSM is a significant part of the humongous body of Christ.

Now that I’ve said all this, you’re probably wondering how you can actively apply this to your life?

Well, I bet that there are some out there that have made the decision to follow Christ and go to church on the weekends, but you don’t feel you have reached any further than that. You feel like there is a wall between your church life and your life outside of church. For those of you who feel that way, I would challenge you to try to bring you’re Christianity outside of the church walls. I challenge you to put your identity in Christ, go to FCA or Christian clubs at your school, invite people to Church, and make it known that you are a follower of Jesus wherever you are. It isn’t something that will be easy to do at first, but we are all called to carry our faith with us even when it may feel uncomfortable.

And to those of you who believe you put your identity in Christ wherever you are, I still challenge you to step out of your bubble. I mentioned before that we are part of a global church which means that the church isn’t just in Irvine, in California, or in America. The church stretches far beyond that. So I challenge you to go beyond whatever your bubble is. There is probably somewhere you haven’t tried to spread your faith or connect with other believers. This could be at school, serving somewhere new, or going far away on a mission trip. The church was not meant to be just HSM, instead, we are the church and we should spread as far and wide as possible.

Psalm 96:3 says, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among ALL the peoples!”

Youth Culture is a big part of HSM and with Youth Culture Weekend coming up I am reminded of this idea that we are a culture of Jesus followers and we can spread this culture to many. Youth Culture Weekend is a great way to spread this as we can invite people to join us and create a movement.

The church is not the building,

WE are the church.


Zach Lyons

Student Leader

Senior @ Irvine High

I Will Never Be the Same After Haiti

I Will Never Be the Same After Haiti

First and foremost, my trip to Haiti was an amazingly transformative experience that not only shaped my views on God and this world, but also myself. I came away with more questions remaining than questions answered but that was okay. For some reason the fact that I still had unanswered questions reassured me that my time in Haiti was well spent.

I expected my trip to Haiti to be like my mission trip to Mexico I took freshman year, but they weren’t that similar. I wasn’t expecting the trip to have as much of an impact on me as it did. Leading up to the trip, our group of twenty students would meet and discuss what’d we’d be doing there. After a while all that mission trip diction began to blend together and become an audible buzz in the back of my head. I began tuning it out because I heard it so much, I was ready for the real deal. I was ready to stop talking about going and finally go. So, when I actually got to Haiti, I was shocked to realize it wasn’t anything like I had expected. It exceeded all my expectations and blew them out of the water.

God met me in Haiti. He comforted me, He laughed with me, He cried with me (I mean really cried with me), He was with me everyday in a way I don’t usually feel in Irvine. I felt his presence in the stillness of the orphanage and saw his love in the wide smiles of the orphans. God had reminded me that He is God, the ultimate power of this universe, and he’s got my back. God reminded me that He loves me, my fellow student leaders, and those Haitian orphans with a passion. I will never be the same after Haiti. I don’t know when but I know I’m going back. I have to. I need to see the faces of those orphans again. I left Haiti with a hunger to do God’s work and show love to the outcast.

I waited till senior year to apply because I was lazy. Please, I’m begging you, do not be lazy. If you keep putting it off just because you tell yourself “it doesn't feel like the right time” or “I don’t hear God really calling me to go” or “I have so many other things going on” you’ll never apply. When I applied I wasn’t anywhere ready to go on a mission trip across the world, but I put my trust in God and applied. Applying is just the first step, the easiest step. Even if you have the smallest inkling of desire to apply... DO IT! Haiti was a wonderful experience that I will cherish for as long as I live. To pass up an opportunity to go to Haiti would be a mistake. Trust me when I say this, you will 100% not regret signing up for Haiti. You’ll love it.

- Brennan Ernst


Student Leader


Worrier vs. Warrior

Worrier vs. Warrior

You have a test tomorrow, and you have been so busy with other homework that you have barely studied for it. It's late, you're tired, and you just don't feel like there is any possible way you could do good on this test. Now you can't stop worrying and stressing yourself out about that test. Flash forward to the next week when you get your test scores back. You find out you got an A. Now you're thinking: Why did I worry so much about this test in the first place? Could I have done just as well without all the worry and stress?

Full disclaimer: I may be writing this devotional about how to help with worry, but I still find myself worrying about things that I didn't need to worry about in the first place. Despite this occasional worry, I don’t identify as a “worrier”. And I’ll admit it, I used to be a worrier. It's funny to look back on freshmen year going up to my junior year and see how the workload and difficulty has increased, yet my worrying and stress has decreased. The thing that has helped me to lower worry and stress is knowing that God is with me no matter what happens, if I fail or if I succeed.

Too often we find ourselves worrying about little things or things that we can't control. We worry about grades, appearances, popularity, and much more. In reality, one bad test won’t ruin our lives, yet some of us treat every test like it determines our future. Worrying is a habit and it's a tough one to break. To fight worry, you must learn how to trust God. We must know that worrying about things is pointless because we have a God who cares for us and won’t let us down. In Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus teaches us that we should trust him instead of worrying:

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”

Matthew 6:26-27

If God can feed helpless birds, we should be able to trust that he will take care of us. We must learn to let go of all fears that something bad will happen and just let God do his thing. God wants to take away our burdens and let us live a stress free life. 

So instead of being a worrier, I call all of you to be a warrior. A warrior deals with a lot of stress and conflict, but a warrior pushes through all of it without worry. If we let God carry our burdens, then we can boldly fight through all of our challenges. And I will tell you that it is not an easy task to accomplish. It's human nature to worry when things get tough. It may be a long journey to go from worrier to warrior, but it is definitely worth it. When times get tough we can always look to God for strength and guidance. 

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Philippians 4:13 NLT

This is a great verse to remember when we are going through difficult times. When we are consumed with worry and anxiety, God can give us strength and let us become warriors.


HSM Student Leader


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Clickbait Life

Clickbait Life

“I really should be doing that history assignment right now… ” I thought to myself. But I was too far gone. Nothing could have held me back. I needed to know the truth. I clicked the link titled “Which Taco Bell menu item are you? QUIZ”, and my heart started to race. Filled to the brim with anticipation, I answered five or six questions that were completely unrelated to dirt-cheap, inauthentic mexican cuisine, only to find out that I’m a side dish of cheesy fiesta potatoes?! Ridiculous. 

As evidenced by my susceptibility to clickbait, I am a very distractible person. And unfortunately, I’m not alone. We live in a day and age where there are a plethora of distractions around every single corner. Whether it be social media, friends, smart-phone games, school, or otherwise: we are distracted creatures here in the 21st century. The reason why is simple. We don’t know what to be focused on. It’s not a hard trap to fall into, really. There are so many influences that are incessantly grabbing for our attention, time, and focus that we often lose sight of those that actually matter. 

Romans 8:5 tells us this: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”         

We can be so set on what the flesh desires: pleasure, popularity, wealth, lust, etc., that we completely neglect making room for anything else. What should be coming first in our list of priorities sometimes doesn’t even make it onto the list at all. Soon enough, we don’t even recognize distractions at face value.  They can take the form of hobbies, passions, schoolwork, social gatherings, and *gasp* relationships.  

If God is not first in our lives, even good things can become distractions. 

This reiterates what Matthew 6:33 says: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you also… “  

This is the point where being a Christian can become difficult. We know that we need to be focused on God, but seeking God first means, well, putting everything else second. Having the discipline to put your desires aside and embrace God’s will for your life is something we all could use a lot of practice in.  Although sometimes it’s easy to view living out God’s will as a monumental sacrifice, Paul reminds us that it is nothing but the best for us.

Romans 12:2:  “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will…

If you aren’t influencing, you’re being influenced.  

Unless you are actively living out Christ’s love and sacrifice in your daily life, you are being conformed to the world, like Paul warned against. Think of it this way. There’s two types of people: thermometers and thermostats. A thermometer is nothing more than a reflection of what transpires in its environment, but a thermostat functions with the sole purpose of altering its environment.  Do not be a thermometer. Like the liquid inside actual thermometers, living your life like one is toxic. . So get out there and be a thermostat for Jesus; be a force of change for your Lord and Savior. This can take shape in ways as small as setting an example for a younger sibling, or as large as devoting your life to a ministry you feel called to. 

If nothing else, take a few minutes out of your day and be present with God. If you are up for the task, do some soul searching. Recognize the distractions that distance you from God and assess the areas of your life in which you prioritize your desires over God’s will. And most importantly, strive to be an influencer for Christ in every opportunity He provides you with.


In the abundance of His blessings,

A side dish of cheesy fiesta potatoes...


Emily, Luke, and Abbie’s Stories...(Haiti Day 4)

Emily, Luke, and Abbie’s Stories...(Haiti Day 4)

Hi! My name is Emily Steinhouser and all I can say is that I am in love with this country! Already on day 2 God has shown me His overwhelming love for these people and has put something on my heart I was not expecting. I am excited to share it with you all!

To start off, going on this trip was something I have dreamed and prayed about since the 5th grade, now going into my Junior year I was ecstatic. I was nervous about setting up expectations that couldn’t be met and having to readjust when I got here. So to prepare I felt God telling me to go into this faith adventure with no expectations. Which I have to be honest, is difficult for me. I’m what you call a “planner,” I prefer for things to be organized and perfect in order to be done right. So you can imagine how “going with the flow” was not in my day to day routine, but nevertheless I went along with it.

As a result of being a planner, before this trip I had my life mapped out and like some people, never questioned if it was the one God has called me to live out. During these past two days I have been praying for the boldness to step out of my comfort zone and to not feel anxious in the process. I can say with certainty that those prayers have been met during my time with the kids so far. As soon as we stepped off the bus today at the orphanage these kids made sure you felt their love and after that any anxiety I was feeling was washed away. From praying over strangers, playing with the kids and getting to know the culture I have felt as sense of purpose. That not only stepping out of my comfort zone allowed for deeper relationships, but also that being in this place feels natural. I am not exactly sure what this means but I am so excited to continue to explore this change in my heart.

Hi everyone! I’m Abbie Nelson and I have the pleasure of returning to Haiti for the second time this year. Last year, I immediately fell in love with this country and everything in it. From the kids, to the community, to the power of God’s love, I was obsessed and couldn’t wait to come back. However, in the last couple of weeks leading up to the trip, I felt a feeling of uneasiness. I didn’t want to leave the comfort of our homes and come to a third world country. I didn’t want to come and go through the heat and hunger for a week. I was also afraid that I wouldn’t have as good of an experience as last time. So, I began to pray that God would show me why I was meant to return. Sure enough, the past two days have been filled with reassurance and have shown me the clear reasons of why Haiti has been my calling. I’ve immediately fallen back in love. The amount of  joy I feel when I am around these kids is overwhelming. In some ways, I can’t even explain to you how insanely full and happy these kids make me feel. In the back of my mind, I’ve always known that mission trips are what I’m meant to do, but this environment has yet again made it so clear to me. I’m so excited to continue to witness God’s love and power throughout this trip, as well as where this path will take me in the future.

Hey everyone, my name is Luke and I am super happy to be reporting from Haiti. Today we went to our partner church in Haiti with the leaders and Pastor Sam and we spent time with the kids at the church. When we arrived on our bus, the kids rushed out and held our hands. One boy named Marshon, grabbed my arm and guided me into the church. After we got all situated, the kids began to sing in creole and it blew us all away. During crafts me and Marshon colored together and we instantly had a connection. I gave him my hat, we would always stay together, we played frisbee with 2 other kids and Matthew, and basically just had a great time. Today was a great day for me. When I first arrived at our first stop I was super nervous and kept to myself. But today God really touched me and told me to get out though and do what I called you to do, to spread the light and love of Jesus Christ by forming relationships with the kids and showing them love. I am really hoping to see God do more work through me these next couple days. Bye everyone, Catch Ya on the Flip Side.

Beca, Ethan, and Ashlynn’s Stories...(Haiti Day 3)

Beca, Ethan, and Ashlynn’s Stories...(Haiti Day 3)

Hi, Beca here. “She wants to know if you’re coming back,” Elsie translated for me.  I had called her over because I needed a translator to understand what the small girl was whispering in my ear.  Though this girl and I had been together nearly all day, I hadn’t exchanged any words with her except for asking one another’s names – even that was hard for me to understand through her thick accent.  None of this mattered to her.  From the minute we arrived at the small church, this girl had been holding my hand and following me everywhere I went.  Even though it has only been one day here in Haiti, I already have a variety of stories I could share.  I could tell of the little boy who kept asking us to make bracelets for him but giving them to others who were less outspoken  or of the kindness of the people living in the small town as they welcomed us into their homes and talked to us about their lives and faith.  I return, however, to the question asked to me by a small girl: “Are you coming back?”  We had been communicating all day without words, so the words she chose stood out.  Today was important to her, a day she will remember, and I know I will remember it as well.  Our different homes, languages, and ages could not prevent me from loving this little girl or her from loving me.  I know I am just seeing the tip of this love that surpasses boundaries; I can’t wait to continue to see how it shows itself this next week.

Hi, Ethan here. Today I experienced one of the most powerful moments of my life.  During street evangelism, it was my turn to speak with one of the locals about Jesus. As my group approached an older woman in a small shack-like structure, I began thinking about what I should say and how I could connect with someone so different from me.  I introduced myself to this woman and began talking to her through a translator.  She told me that she regularly attended church and is a follower of Christ.  I asked if there was anything that I could pray for.  She told me that her back and leg were causing great pains and suffering. Then I asked if she had a family.  She told me that her son had passed away.  Through the eyes of this woman, I saw a past of sorrow and hardship.  The woman explained to me how she was wishing that her life would change and that the overall condition of Haiti would improve.  While praying over this woman, I could hear her crying.  I knew that this was the voice of God speaking through me to her.  She was very grateful for my prayer and I felt spiritually fulfilled for the rest of the day.  I had never felt God’s power in that way before today.

Hey guys, I’m Ashlynn! Going into this trip I had no expectations, but I’ve learned so much in just one day. I’ve experienced the most welcoming and loving people in Haiti that I have ever met in my life. I made friends with a few girls that were my age and even though we couldn’t chat about everything we wanted to, we bonded in ways that I could have never imagined. For example, they braided my hair, we made bracelets, and just sat around each other and enjoyed the little time we had together. What I loved the most about the people I met throughout the day, was the fact that they had no expectations of me and they accepted me even though I don’t know their language and I’m new to their culture. That made me much more relieved and led my pathway to learn, grow, and just have fun with my day.

I truly believe that God has placed me on this trip to learn from other people and to show me that there is so much more than the small things I worry about on a day to day basis. I put so much pressure on myself and who I will be in the future, even though I know that it’s all in God’s hands. Seeing how other people live, I’ve realized that my life would be much easier if I was as open and accepting as the people I’ve been surrounded with in Haiti. When I come home, I will keep an open mind to new experiences and situations that will come up. I can’t wait to see what doors will open as I become more open-minded. I am so thankful for this opportunity that God has placed in my hands to grow my relationship with him and as a person.

Lots of Travel...(Haiti Day 1 & 2)

Lots of Travel...(Haiti Day 1 & 2)

Hey everyone,

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers for our team as partake in this Faith Adventure in Haiti.

After getting to LAX and catching a red-eye to New York, we caught a plane to Port-au-Prince, landed safely, went through customs smoothly, and met up with our church partner, Pastor Sam, quickly after exiting the airport. Once we connected with Pastor Sam, we hopped on a bus and drove six hours to the hotel we are staying at.

For the following blog posts my hope is that you hear from the students what they are experiencing. I want them to be the ones to share their stories of how God is moving here in Haiti.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers. We cannot wait to share with you our stories!



HSM Staff:  David Beavis

HSM Staff: David Beavis

Dear 8th Graders, You Will Soon Find You're Having Loads Of Fun.

Dear 8th Graders, You Will Soon Find You're Having Loads Of Fun.

As an incoming freshman you may experience many fears, as we did. Including, losing old friendships, leaders and the great experience that there is in JHM. HSM is kind of the next stepping stone on your journey through your walk with Jesus. It is basically JHM but with kids that have facial hair. You have the same weekend experience but the lesson is more mature and high school oriented. It’s like getting a new bike but you don't have training wheels anymore. Instead of the leaders holding you up, they are riding with you. They are almost like your peers or they treat you like one.

Because of this, in your freshman year, you will see growth like never before. You are one step closer to becoming a mature, Christ-like adult with real world responsibilities. This can come with stress or excitement, but it’s all about your perspective.

I,  (Brady) was very excited for a new experience and a fresh start.

However, on the other hand Lexy was freaking out because she loved the consistency and the normality of JHM, and she did not want to go through change of transitioning.

But eventually everyone came around because they saw the great things that the leaders in HSM were doing. No matter what perspective you have. HSM has a place for you.

With all the ministry teams, Life Groups and maybe just general events, you are welcome here. And hey, if you're really that scared, this will teach you that sometimes fears can lead to happiness, and you will use this concept throughout your whole life. HSM looks like it's filled with a bunch of mean seniors. But once you talk to those scary people, called upper class men, you discover that they really are great and one of them might even be your best friend. Ministry teams are a great place to expand your comfort zone. They will help you make new friends, serve God, and just have some fun. They also fulfill what God calls us to do, as it says in Galatians 5:13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

Life Groups are a good way to get connected and really grow in your maturity and your faith. And Life Groups will give you 10 new friends that you can see every week and have a Godly relationship with.

Hey, we aren't telling you that you need to do this, or that God needs you to do these things so he can love you - God will always love you as long as you are seeking Him and glorifying Him in the ups and downs.

Moving into HSM doesn't mean that you will lose all your relationships with leaders or students, it simply means that you are adding on to your list of friends. You will still see those other friends, just maybe not as much, but that will be okay once you have all your new friends to hang out with.

After spending 5 minutes of your life reading this blog, we want you to remember one thing…


If you look at HSM in a bad way, or if you’re not welcoming to the change, you will not enjoy HSM. However, if you are curious and welcoming to the inevitable change, you will soon find that you are having loads of fun.


Freshmen (soon to be Sophomores)


FRESHMAN  :: Brady Sahlin

FRESHMAN :: Brady Sahlin



If any of you have ever watched Winnie the Pooh when you were younger, you know one certain donkey named Eeyore. This donkey walks around all day and is nothing but negative. Everything he says is mopey and no matter what people do to try and cheer him up he will stay the same way. Sometimes having Eeyore can be a real buzzkill.

Most of us have this Eeyore in our lives and some of us may even be an Eeyore. While Eeyore does have some good qualities and may be a good donkey if I got to know him, he doesn't seem like the kind of donkey I want to be around. As followers of Christ we need to know that we can have joy through whatever circumstance we are in, so we don't have to act like Eeyore. 

1 Peter 1:6-7 says:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

When we hear "trials" and "grief" we usually don't think of joy, but we are shown that through God that we can have joy in our hardest circumstances. Wouldn't it be amazing if we could live this out every day. And when people see this they are going to want what we have. People always say that they want to be happy, but only we know exactly how to be happy. Jesus will give us a lasting joy instead of momentary happiness.

As Christians we should be more like another Winnie the Pooh character named Tigger. Tigger is always happy and trying to cheer people up. If we could all be like Tigger, we would show others how Jesus' love affects our lives and help them live a life just like that. So today, think about how you could be less like Eeyore and more like Tigger.



Student Leader



Dear 8th Graders, HSM is a Safe Place & So Much Fun to be A Part Of.

Dear 8th Graders, HSM is a Safe Place & So Much Fun to be A Part Of.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

When I was in transition from JHM to HSM, I went through stages of emotion: Excitement, Grief, and Acceptance.

At first, having a naturally extroverted personality, I thought “Yes! New people, new friends, new relationships.” I felt ready to take on a new chapter in life, full force, feeling ecstatic and ready to conquer what I thought was going to be an easy task. After a few weeks of excitement, I stopped and realized what this new transition really meant to me. I realized my middle school years were going to be over in just a few weeks. I stopped feeling excited- instead I felt grief and anxiety. My mind cluttered with “What if…” thoughts like “What if when I go to high school, I’m not accepted for who I am?”- “What if I don’t form a close knit community of people to walk in fellowship with?” I was also leaving a second family I had formed over the course of three years through fun events like summer camp and weekends. The thought of walking into a new environment, no longer the “upperclassmen” of middle school, and becoming “fresh meat” in the social food chain terrified me.

It wasn’t until I heard an HSM staff member, David Beavis, teach about being anchored to God through transitions in life and to not lose grasp of the strongest anchor- the Lord. He based his teaching from the verse Hebrews 6:19- “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner [a person or thing that precedes the coming or development of someone], Jesus, has entered on our behalf.” My third stage was acceptance of my new season that God laid before me. David’s message changed my attitude walking into HSM, believing in Jesus’ promise that he is always with me. My first time in HSM was amazing. The staff and people were so nice and welcoming, making HSM instantly feel like another home. Life has seasons that one goes through that God gives us for a reason- often some are challenging, and other times they are jubilant.

Although a season of change can be terrifying and hard, it introduces a new chapter in life to grow in faith with the Lord and trust in him. As Deuteronomy 31:6 teaches to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I encourage you to be present through transition and to embrace the plans God has for you. HSM is a safe place and so much fun to be a part.


Freshman (soon to be Sophomore)

FRESHMAN  ::   Olivia Severson

FRESHMAN :: Olivia Severson

Group Projects + Jesus

Group Projects + Jesus

Group projects. Some of you love them, some of you loathe them. And when doing group projects, there’s always the few stereotypical characters who are in every group:


  • The self proclaimed group leader. They’re the one who instantly is in charge.

  • Then there’s the clueless one. The one who’s always asking questions and has no idea what’s going on.

  • Next there’s the one who just doesn’t care. They realize someone else is in-charge, so they just check out.

  • Lastly, there’s the one who’s overly excited about the project. The one who will do all of the work just because they want to.


I can be all of these stereotypes in different situations, so I understand the frustration that comes with all of these positions. Most of the time, though, I have this feeling that I’m carrying the whole project on my back because I’m putting so much effort into the project. It’s stressful. And similar to this, in Luke 10:38-41, Martha is stressed getting everything prepared for Jesus.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he had said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’

‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things, but few things are needed- or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

In this passage, Jesus tells Martha that Mary’s chosen what can’t be taken away from her, which I find very important. I feel that often we complain and call out for more help like Martha in moments, like group projects, where we are annoyed with being left to work on everything ourselves. Someday, the grade you got on that project or the team you tried out for won’t matter. Those are all things that can be taken away.

Instead, we have the incredible option to choose the joy and peace that Jesus provides, instead of choosing the stress and anxiety that comes with worrying about the presentation. That’s all because being able to drop all the hassle and sit at Jesus’s feet is something that can’t be taken away.

Throughout this week, I challenge you to take the time where you could be stressing, to sit at Jesus’s feet and dwell in his word.


- Delaney Miller


Student Leader

Trusting God

Trusting God

I want you to find a peaceful place. A quiet place without any major distractions. Silent your phone for 15 minutes.  Once your comfortable, read Proverbs 3:1-6.

My son, do not forget my teaching,
    but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
    and bring you peace and prosperity.

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
    bind them around your neck,
    write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
    in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.[a]

After you’ve read through the scripture a couple times, take a few minutes to reflect and respond to these questions. 

1. What do you feel God is saying to the reader? What message does He want to communicate to us?

2. What can you personally take away from this passage? What verses do you want to work on? ie. Trusting in God. 

3. How do you think you could help someone else trust God? 

- Niko Bremer


Student Leader