Prepare Him Room

As Advent approaches, I’ve spent some time reflecting on and preparing for this special time of year.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, the whole Christmas season can blow past me in a flash.  And I don’t want this year to feel like that.  No, I want to intentionally pursue peace – choosing to trust that the Holy Spirit is with me as I turn toward the manger.

Sunday night, we hosted our annual Advent Missions Night.  We served the students of the Wesley House by wrapping gifts, delivered Christmas goodies to our downtown fire station, and packed hygiene kits for the Beacon of Hope.  I couldn’t help but smile watching it all unfold – there was such a buzz in the air as we prepared to do God’s work in and for our own city.

Something I find so meaningful about mission work this time of year, is the clear reminder of what we are called to do and who we are called to be.  We are supposed to do the work of the church and to be the body of Christ in action.  And I want to be clear – no amount of mission projects or community outreach can earn us grace.  But the grace we have been given so freely spurs us on to action, encouraging us to love others the way Christ loves each and every one of us.

If you’re feeling a little worn this season, Jesus reminds us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28).

If you’re feeling alone, remember that God has given us the Helper, His Holy Spirit, to be present with us always (John 14:26).

If peace feels fleeting, remember that our faith gives us hope, and hope will never put us to shame (Romans 5:1-5).

This Sunday, we start the road to Bethlehem, preparing the way for the Christ child to come.  My prayer for all of us this season, is that we make room in our hearts for Him above all else.



SLA Recap: Open Hands

Focus Verse – 1 John 4:13 “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.”

SLA is always a weekend I look forward to throughout the year. It is a time of fellowship, togetherness and growing closer in a relationship with God, as well as friends. I was especially looking forward to this weekend because of the busyness of my schedule; including school and extracurriculars. I needed a time to take a breath from my ongoing schedule and re-familiarize myself with my relationship with Christ.

Throughout the weekend, we discussed how we are all children of God and we’re made in God’s image. In small groups, we talked about our daily routines, such as brushing our teeth and making our bed, and how we can incorporate a small act of stillness to be with Christ during these ordinary acts. This mindfulness for a few minutes everyday will slowly feed into our daily routines and help us have the right mindset for the rest of the day. I loved this new idea and now, being a few weeks after SLA, I have taken time to be still with God for a few minutes everyday, which has incredibly changed my perspective and given me a pair of fresh eyes each day. It has allowed me to see God perform in different ways throughout my day and it has shown me how we really are made in God’s image.

One thing that really stayed with me from SLA was the idea of the Holy Spirit. We discussed how God presents himself in many different ways throughout our lives; the Holy Spirit being one of these ways. After this discussion, we began to pray with our hands open, instead of clenched together. This different way of praying felt refreshing and made me feel more open to God. By opening our hands, we are giving up our burdens to God and letting him take control; though, with clenched fists, we cannot receive his Grace. SLA has always been my favorite weekend of the year.  It feels like coming up for a breath of fresh air after ‘drowning’ in everyday obstacles.

– Mary Kate Holladay, Sophomore

SLA is almost here!!!!

SLA is so close!! I am so excited I can hardly stand it. I hope you are looking forward to a great weekend away. Below, is some information that will be helpful as you prepare. Please take a moment to read over it!
When you arrive:
  • place luggage that will go in storage in the 11/12 grade room (first room on your right – directly across the hall from the elevator)
  • check in at the registration table
  • place items you want with you in your bus seat in a chair in the worship room
  • place your snacks to share near the stage
  • grab food from the kitchen and have dinner in the youth area
  • we will have a student meeting before departing for camp
Friday night tasks:
  • 6th & 7th Grade – dinner clean up, help load supplies from the stage
  • 8th-10th Grade – load luggage from 11th/12th grade room
  • 11th-12th Grade – load gear/supplies from the stage
  • students are responsible for taking care of their own devices
  • phones will be put away during sessions since it is a time of worship
  • please do not bring gaming consoles – there is no where to play them
  • there have been questions about bringing devices to watch the Vols – we are going to do our best to stream the game during free time
  • we will have a SLA texting list for the weekend, please use the link below to sign-up if you have not already
  • we will have all students contact their parents when we depart from camp so that you can anticipate our arrival back at Church Street
  • for students without phones, chaperones’ phones will be available

Texting Sign-Up

Spending Money
  • all food and activities are already covered and you will get a SLA t-shirt
  • however, there is a small store on the campsite where you can purchase shirts, etc.
  • I would recommend NOT purchasing things, but wanted to make families aware of the option
As always, I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to call, email, or text me as we approach tomorrow night!
Grace and peace,
(423) 747-8774

SLA 2018 Info

I am so excited about SLA! It is absolutely one of my favorite weekends of the whole year.  These days away are designed for worship, study, and fellowship.  My prayer is that we all might be able to unplug from the stresses of our regular lives and pursue Christ together.

Below, I have included some basic information that will be helpful as you prepare for the weekend.  If you have any questions, just shoot me an email.  I LOVE talking about SLA.

I CANNOT wait to spend time together in worship and in fellowship!

  • Forms: If you have not completed your Annual Release form, please download it here and get it to me next Sunday or bring it with you the Friday of SLA.
  • Bringing a Friend:  If you are bringing a friend to SLA, please send me an email with his or her name.  I want to make sure all sleeping arrangements are correct.  And please forward any information on to them!
  • Arriving Late/Leaving Early:  If you are arriving late or leaving early, please send me an email with the details in advance.
  • Weather:  Take a look at the forecast before you pack to make sure you have all the right clothes!  It is already getting chilly, so we want to be sure to dress appropriately so we can be comfortable.
  • Medications:  If you have medications this weekend, please bring a note with any information we might need.  You have the option of keeping your medication with you or storing it with our first aid kit.
  • Snack to Share:  On the packing list, it states to bring a snack to share.  Please bring a snack that will feed about 8-10 people.

Drop Off/Pick Up Schedule


  • 5:00 – Arrive at Church Street in the Youth Area
  • 5:30 – Dinner at Church Street in the Gym (Chick-fil-a)
  • 6:00 – Brief meeting before departure
  • 6:15 – Depart for Ocoee Ridge Camp
  • 9:00 – Session I


  • 12:00 – Lunch at Ocoee Ridge Camp
  • 12:30 – Finish Clean Up
  • 1:30 – Depart for Church Street
  • 3:30 – Arrive at Church Street in the Youth Lot

Packing List

Below, you’ll find our Packing List for the retreat.  Please take a look at it so you know what to expect.  Each year, we have a “Flannel Funday” and all wear a flannel on the Saturday of SLA.  If you don’t have a flannel – no worries, we have extras to share!  Let us know and we will set one aside for you.

We want SLA to be a special and meaningful experience for everyone who is a part of it.  Our Youth Band will lead us in worship, we will have sessions with a message, and we will spend time in small group discussion.  If parents or students have any questions about the weekend, please contact me.  I am happy to discuss them with you and want this to be a fond memory for everyone involved.

Pull Up a Chair

1 John 4: 11-12

“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his is made complete with us”

It seems pretty straightforward, right? Love one another? It’s the golden rule after all, but how often do we forget to make room for everyone in our busy lives? I myself and guilty of leaving behind a friend to go run off with someone else, and i’ve canceled plans because I’ve gotten better offers. I’m not proud to be sharing these examples, but if hopefully they can help me learn from my mistakes. On September 2nd Jenny spoke to us about hospitality; she connected our actions to pulling up chairs at a table. We are called to make more room, to scoot over, and to make sure everyone feels welcome.

This table is from an episode of Fixer Upper that was on while I was getting my nails done last Tuesday, all throughout Jenny’s lesson I was thinking about it. Basically the family on the show loved to entertain and have guests, but they hadn’t had enough room, so Joanna Gaines built them a 17 ft tables where no one would be left out.

By pulling up a chair, literally or metaphorically, we are inviting someone in and hopefully making them feel welcome. Our goal this fall is to make space for everyone in the youth group; we want everyone to feel loved and welcomed because the bible tells us to “love one another.” Inviting people in is such an easy way to love, and hopefully you will be able to practice it in and out of the youth group!

Caroline Powell


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