"I'm bamboo."

“I’m bamboo.”
 
That’s my slogan for the school year. Ask my team, I say it all the time--“I’m bamboo”--usually with a wincing face, like the toothy emoji that pops up when you text “eek”. Typically, I’m cringing because I know it means that I’m about to follow a prompting of the Holy Spirit into uncomfortable territory.
 
The Holy Spirit is a wild goose, with a tendency to disrupt, surprise, and move our lives in unexpected ways. All of this wildness runs completely contrary to my nature (classic 3, for you enneagramers), which prefers the safety and predictability of clear expectations, schedules, and policies. “I’m bamboo”, reminds me that I long to be bendable, to move gracefully with the wind of the Holy Spirit, letting go of my inherent rigidity and embracing His way.
 
Working with students these last three years has helped me learn how to be more like bamboo. It’s not usually comfortable, but the Lord is gracious and patient with me, gently teaching me to trust in His strength over mine, prioritize people above the program, and prayerfully make room for the Holy Spirit to prompt and guide us.
 
This fall has brought terrific new energy to our community as we’ve kicked off all three of our youth programs:Summit 56 (5th/6th grade), EPIC (junior high) and 34N (high school). Visit the Loft most weeknights and you’ll find the place teeming with life and laughter. I love that I get a front row seat to the spiritual growth of our students and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It never gets old! Here are a few highlights from the fall, so far…
 
300+ junior high students in the Loft last Tuesday! Yes, you heard that right >>300<<. (Thankfully not all at once, but over a 4-hour period.) The school district had a minimum day so we decided to take advantage of the afternoon off and invite our regular students, their friends, and their friends’ friends, to join us for an EPIC Loft Party! (Whose idea was this? I’m bamboo. I’m bamboo.) The buzz created was electric, and we saw so many students who would have never attended our evening youth group walk through the doors of the Loft and be warmly received with the love of Jesus by our staff and volunteers. Many were taken aback by our hospitality, and we had 5 brand new students--with no previous church background--attend youth group this week because of the event. So exciting! Word on the street is that Oceanhills throws a great party. What a great reputation--to be known for Christ-like hospitality!
 
10 high school students heading to LA’s Skid Row this weekend! We’re following the Spirit’s prompting and jumping into a God-sized adventure with other Covenant Churches from Southern California to seek shalom and learn how to better serve the marginalized in our communities. My heart just about explodes every time an adolescent steps outside their comfort zone to follow Jesus. Isn’t it inspiring?! Please pray for this team, and for Rob as he leads the group. Come Holy Spirit, raise up a new generation to bring your Kingdom!
 
31 adult mentors hosting our 3 youth groups and facilitating our student small groups! This team is a tremendous blessing to our church family and could only have been assembled by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a joy to lead this crowd of faithful friends. I am humbled by their care for our students and the time sacrifice they make each week to walk alongside our kids. If you’re a parent of one of our students, please take time to meet and thank our leaders!

Please be praying for the 65 women heading up to Mount Hermon this weekend to retreat together and listen to God's voice. We look forward to seeing you on Sunday morning at 10am at the Santa Barbara Junior High as we continue to lean into The Beatitudes in our worship gatherings.

Love Everyone Always,

Laila DiGuilio, PhD
Director of Youth Ministries

Julie Lisea