Tag Archives: Gen J

To Jordan and Ashley

HAPPY WEDDING DAY, JORDAN AND ASHLEY! 

I am shouting because I want you to hear me all the way from Thailand. Turns out, this is the closest thing I have to a picture with both of you and Jordan is not even looking at the camera.

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But that happens to be the day you two met (in person) so I consider it a particularly worthy photo. 

Ashley, I am grateful for our many high school adventures, from slaying Calormen in Narnia to adventures at Old World Wisconsin. I even found a picture of the first time we met! (Such babies.) 

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Also, while looking for photos of us, I found one of the time we stalked that couple’s wedding at Old World Wisconsin.  Good times. 

I hope you have a lovely wedding day without high school girls stalking you from above!

Jordan, no visit to Iowa feels complete without visiting you! From Thanksgivings to iGovern East to adventures with other Gen Jers, I cannot imagine the past decade without your friendship. You’ll always be one of the family–I hope you and Ashley will come visit often!

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Congratulations and Happy Wedding Day…TheRealist and Coolweather!

Your friend, Bucky Bookworm

 


To Tori

Dear Tori,

Tomorrow you get married! If I have one regret about coming to Thailand, it is that I am missing such a wonderful day. But today is not a day for regret but for excitement! You are marrying your best friend! I am so happy for you. 

You have been my friend and partner in crime for so many years that I have probably forgotten more than half our adventures already! I am so grateful for every one of them. From an international, online girls’ bible study to a writing forum for our friends to the best New Years Eve party ever, you have turned my crazy ideas into reality for at least a decade now. 

Remember the first time we met in real life? We were so excited to meet we scared your parents by enthusiastically running and shouting and hugging! We rocked the Intelligence Committee and put on that ridiculous skit that only made sense to people on the Gen J forums and toured that incredible castle in Colorado. 

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And then we met up again in Texas! Who would guess as we sat hiding by that glass elevator discussing future dreams and plans that your future would lead you back to Texas?! And then we snuck out to meet Dan and Jennifer and in the end probably spent more time with that super-chatty Uber driver. 

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And then we both worked for AFP and could swap war stories! 

And then you came and visited me and we drove to Minnesota to hang out with our friends! And you came to my shared graduation party. (Were they separate trips? I cannot remember now!)

And then, most epic of all, that time you flew out with barely any warning and we accidentally crashed Sarah’s wedding? I will never forget driving across Wisconsin in the middle of summer without working air conditioning and then quick changing near a corn field so we didn’t look quite so sweaty and disreputable when we arrived. And then we got to polka!

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Then I flew out and visited you after a crazy election season and we had many adventures in Montana! We ate ethnic food and smelled tea that might have been the remains of King Tut and did an escape room. It remains one of the most relaxing and fun vacations I have ever taken. 

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And we plotted and we schemed and managed to pull together a New Years Party within a month! So many amazing friends in one place. Remember how excited we were about the murder mystery and how unexpectedly sketch it ended up being? And of course, Jordan and Ashley met…but that is a post for next weekend. 

Then I spent a summer at camp but we still managed to see each other for a quick visit and eat Korean!

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So many memories and so may pixelated photos! And yet even these correspond to only a fraction of our interactions. If I could, I would post a picture of hand-written letters that stretch a dozen pages, of forum posts and Facebook messages, of book club chats and bookish gossip, of Hamilton songs, of laughter and tears. 

You are an incredible, beautiful, amazing woman and I am so grateful to know you. Though our friendship will always look a little different going forward once you get married, I think of it as an advantage. Whatever our next scheme ends up being, we will now have three heads plotting instead of two! (Or, four or five or six or seven or eight depending how many Gen Jers we drag in with us!)

Congratulations on your wedding, my friend. May it be the happiest of days! 

Amy


A Gen J New Years! 

We interrupt our usual book-themed post for something even more exciting…yes, more exciting than books! My Gen J friends came for New Years! 

After years of spending New Years on a chat room together, we finally got to bring in the new year together, in real life. It has been an amazing weekend. I am so grateful for these friends! 


A favorite hoodie

A favorite hoodie is a special kind of magic. I have an old, ripped, even paint splattered hoodie I got in 2010 that I haven’t worn in a while. It is one of those things I think maybe I ought to throw out since I have other, perfectly good hoodies but I never get around to actually doing it. Well, anyway, today I was rummaging for something to wear and not in the mood to look cute or put any effort onto it. In fact, I was in a pretty grumpy mood. I put on this old, well-loved hoodie and felt…content. The world became a little less gray and I a little less grouchy. It is hard to stay irritable when wearing something so familiar and understanding. Hoodies really are the best. Oh, and Gen J hoodies are the best of the best. 



Gratitude

I am so grateful for all the friends I have made over the past year. I don’t mean that in a cliche way…I just want to acknowledge tonight how full my life is. God worked things out in ways I never could have imagined. Instead of the “lonely” return home that I expected, I’ve found a lot of meaning and friendship with people my age. It is even better that I get to study the Bible with them each week.

I’m grateful for old friends. Both the ones I’ve reconnected with here “in real life” and those from the Gen J days whose friendships have sustained through many years of being online. I’m grateful that Jordan dropped by this past weekend and that I got to talk with Kris on the phone. They were happy reminders of mutual friends and interests spanning many years. 

I’m grateful for how close I am to my family, both in harmony and proximity. I am grateful I have the chance to experience life with my siblings and parents and see my cousins each week. It is so much fun to be part of their daily lives and witness their growth. I didn’t get to do that in TN. 

I’m grateful for how full my life is. I have a job I love, a diverse group of friends, and family nearby. This is a good season. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m grateful for it today and I will be grateful for it tomorrow and I will continue to be the day after tomorrow. It just goes to show that God’s plan is so much greater than I ever know. Whatever I thought the year following graduation would be like, it wasn’t this. Yet this is wonderful, beyond what I could imagine.

Tonight, I thank God for where I am at and the people He has put in my life. 


Message From the Mothership

This past week I received a surprise gift in the mail from the Generation Joshua Leadership Corps. 

  
It contained a t-shirt, a copy of The Joshua Generation, and a kind note. The package really made my week. 

Back when we had a Generation Joshua club, my Dad used to refer to Gen J HQ as “The Mothership.” Though I don’t get to do as much as I would like with it, being a part of the Leadership Corps helps me remain connected to “The Mothership” and all the awesome people who work there. I highly recommend any graduated Gen Jer take the time and join the Corps. It is worth it. (And not just because you get a t-shirt. There is the added bonus of interacting with the new Gen Jers, who are awesome people!)

Thank you to Gen J HQ for the awesome gift!

   


Identifying Gen Jer

10 years ago today, some long forgotten office minion processed my paperwork and I officially joined Generation Joshua. Little did they know! Actually, little did I know. It is impossible to imagine the past ten years without Generation Joshua. I can’t even imagine the past year without it, and I have been “graduated” for quite some time. Gen J influenced every part of my life. It provided friends, mentors, and answers during the tumultuous years of teenhood, and the early chaos of college. Even now, as I begin my career, I find I owe an unpayable debt to the organization that provided me with vision and experience before I realized I would need either.

I used to tell people, in a rush of words so fast most listeners gave up trying to understand, “Generation Joshua is an organization that gets young people, ages 11 to 19, involved in civics and government. It is awesome. But, you know, it does so much more.”  

Generation Joshua taught me a lot of things. I did everything offered: camps, clubs, conferences, the chat room, book clubs, the Benjamin Rush Awards, Student Action Teams, and later the Leadership Corps. Above all, though, I spent my teen years on the Generation Joshua forums. All those things, but especially the forums, taught me some important truths about life.

I learned…my teen years were a blessing.

Even before my teenage years began I wanted them to be over. I carried a vague notion that all teenagers had boyfriends, wore skimpy clothes, and did drugs. No matter how desperately my Mom pointed out perfectly ordinary and well behaved teenagers, I refused to believe it. I knew what was up. Nothing good came of turning 13! The teenagers on the Generation Joshua forums quickly disabused me of that notion. These students were intelligent, funny, and friendly. They discussed everything from relationships to current events to coffee! Sometimes they goofed off; sometimes they were serious. For me, it was all amazing. I learned the teenage years did not automatically mean delinquency and rebellion. It could be a wonderful time for growth and friendship.

I learned…online friendships last.

Because so many of my friendships began online, they continue to thrive online today. The neat thing about being an adult is that nowadays I get to travel and visit people in person. However, for many years I could have passed my closest friends on the street and not of known them. It made for the most awkward conversations! “My friend Dr. Black, well, I’ve never met him, but anyway he said…” or “Coolweather and I were e-mailing and we think…” Gen Jers learned to be very creative. My friends Tori (CatCrazy), Lydia (LidBiz) and I started an online girls’ bible study using a chat room and blog. It was a wonderful experience, spread across many time zones. Tori lived in Montana and Lydia in Senegal, Africa. We were joined by girls in California, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. Today, I still consider both girls dear friends. Whether through the forums, Facebook, or even “real life”, my friendship with Gen Jers last a great deal in part because we first learned to be friends far away.

I learned…my voice mattered.

Once upon a time I caught sight of the first post I ever wrote, and it made me want to cry. The spelling, the grammar, the content! I flinch to think of it. But you know what I remember even more clearly than the post? I remember TexasCowboy and Pippin welcoming me to the forums and engaging with what I had to say. That meant a lot to me. I also learned that I could put action behind my words via the Student Action Teams and iGovern Camps. Not everyone finds spending a week of grassroots campaigning fun, however it was the highlight of my year. I couldn’t vote, but I could act. I learned I could make a difference, even at age 14.

I learned…disagreement is okay.

God bless all the moderators who kept an eye on us on the forums! They eventually shut down the Civil War thread because it got so heated. Place two opinionated teenagers together and you are bound to have some conflict, add a whole bunch of them to an online forum and you’re begging for it. Heated discussion is not always a bad thing, though. It sharpens arguments and provides a broader point of view. I learned a lot by simply reading the back and forth of others. I saw that you could be friends with people you disagreed with.

I learned…God answers prayer.

The statement almost sounds trite, but it meant a great deal to me in high school. Before I ever heard of Generation Joshua, I begged God for friends like me. I didn’t want a robot…but someone who shared my interests. And God provided. A few years later, I prayed again, this time for closer friends. Not long after, I got to travel to Generation Joshua camp with Danielle (jcfreak) and Sara (Lightning). It was wonderful to have the friends in person and online! Being a part of Generation Joshua grew me spiritually. I saw God’s hand at work in so many ways. I saw faith in the students around me, in the counselors and leaders at camp, in the discussion on the forums. I saw pain and hurt and brokenness. And I learned that God worked in it all, that He was not an afterthought but the very foundation.

Most of all I learned…I was not alone.

There were teenagers like me. People who loved learning. People who paid attention to politics. People who read like crazy. C.S. Lewis said in The Four Loves, “Friendship…is born at the moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one…’” Indeed, I thought I was the only one. And then one momentous day, on January 6th, I joined something greater, where I learned I was not alone. Generation Joshua was so much more.

This is a thank you. I have written many before, but I can only repeat my words again. Thank you to those Gen Jers who were older than me, who mentored and offered me friendship when I first joined. Thank you to my peers, the Gen Jers my age who remain some of my closest friends. Thank you to all the kids who have come after me, it is a delight watching you discover the same thing I did. That you are not alone.

Most of all, thank you to the leaders of Generation Joshua. When I first joined, that meant Ned Ryun. Then Douglas Price. Then Will Estrada. Now, Joel Grewe. Thank you to all the leaders like Jeremiah Lorrig, Lucas Mason, and Michael Zeller. Thank you to my SAT leaders, Noah Oberlander and James Flath. Thank you to the parents who helped get the club going in Wisconsin, people like Mrs. Aguilar, Pastor Andy, and my Dad. I would never have discovered Generation Joshua without The First Generation Joshua Club of Wisconsin. Thank you for all the people who have engaged and mentored and spoke into the lives of the Gen J community. There are countless names I could mention. I have only named a few of the ones most involved while I was a teenager. What you all do cannot be quantified in words. I am ever grateful for the role you all have played in my life.

I hope every teenager has the opportunity to find a place where they discover they are not alone. Generation Joshua was that for me. Thank you, Gen J, for helping shape me into the woman I am today.