Sweet girl, you are not alone

Oh sweet girl, you are not alone

You’re single, you’re 30ish, and you start to wonder…..am I weird? Am I not beautiful enough? Am I not fun enough? Am I just…..not good enough? I remember a specific time when someone, who I know loves and cares for me, asked me a question that really did not sit well with me. I know they never intended to hurt me, but their words stirred in me something that would go on to affect how I thought about my own singleness. I was sharing with a group of my family members a new amazing guy that walked into my life and he happened to be older as well. At the time I did not know it would eventually not work out so I was sharing with enthusiasm and excitement. In the middle of me sharing one of my family members asked, “Well what’s wrong with him? Why is he still single?” And man oh man, it hit me hard. I quickly spouted back at them, “I don’t know, what’s wrong with me, why am I still single?” Our society seems to have this view of those of us who just haven’t met the one yet as weak, or insecure, or even maybe they think we ourselves have not matured yet. Well, I am here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with you. You are just as strong as the person who got married at 24. You’re working full time on your own, paying for your own apartment or mortgage, your paying for your own retirement plan, buying your first car, paying off your student loans, making life changing decisions, and you’re doing it alone. That makes you a warrior. I will never forget a few months back a dear friend I’ve made in ministry ran into me at our area’s youth convention. As we sat in the lounge set up for youth pastors sipping our coffee and catching up on life, she went into deep conversation quick. Have you ever had those moments? Where you know someone is about to say something that is going to encourage you deeply, so you brace yourself for it? She looked at me and said, “Elise you inspire me daily. I watch your Instagram stories and I watched you move jobs, transition churches, pay off crazy amounts of debt, pay for your own place, and buy your own car. And you look like you’re having a blast doing it. I am so inspired by how much you’ve done alone.” I never knew how much I needed to hear those words. Sometimes we need someone to come up and validate that we are doing a good job at something, but no one really acknowledges that we are doing a good job at being single. Those simple words have encouraged me so much, because while my Insta-stories look like I’m having a blast, they are only the highlight reel to my real life battle that I am actually really sick of being single.

Can I just tell you, sweet girl, you are so not alone!

I’ve been there. I’m still there. But I’m starting to walk out on the other side. No I don’t have a new boyfriend but rather, I am just finally learning how to be happy with just me and Jesus.

As a young 20 year old the thought of life just being me and Jesus conquering the world seemed exciting and thrilling. But now at 30, it’s exhausting and lonely. Until I learned to retrain my mind, and actually allow God in to heal my heart, I could never fully surrender this area of hurt in my life. I wound up in a bitter, tired, and lonely season and the only way I was going to get out was clinging to Jesus and NOTHING else.

No amount of things from Target or Hobby Lobby could fix it. A new car didn’t fix it. My perfectly decorated house didn’t do it. Even my adorable joyful puppy didn’t fix it. The only way out of the hole of lonely singleness I was in, was Jesus.

And can I be honest, I didn’t want it at first. I was angry, and I was mad. Why was I stuck here? Why was God allowing it? If he knows the desires of my heart, why wasn’t He doing anything about it? Why was he allowing me to stand in wedding after wedding, and hold baby after baby, all while grieving a dream that I wanted so desperately to be my own reality? Don’t get me wrong, I adored every friend I got to experience these moments with and I consider holding my niece 3 hours after she had been born one of the best moments of my life so far. But in the back of my mind, in a dark hidden place, I was sad, and questioned when it would be my turn.

Is this sounding familiar? Are you walking through this? Do you want out of the hole?

Step one: Admit you’re mad! Or angry, sad, jealous, bitter….Whatever emotions you have you need to get them out and in safe places. Number one, you need to tell God! There were days I would drive around my tiny town and just tell God how mad I was and how much I was over it. Number two, I found a counselor extremely helpful to talk this out with. There is no shame in therapy! There is also a book I highly recommend to any one walking through hurt, it’s called Hope When It Hurts by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton. It has incredible encouragement from scripture, but my favorite part of this book are the questions at the end of every chapter. They engage you in conversation with God that maybe you haven’t been able to communicate. It was a key piece to my healing.

Step two: Seek first the Kingdom of God and all this will be added to you! I began to seek God so hard it became what I craved. I found a devotional that walked me through hurt, encouraged me to dream again, and inspired me to be a better woman. My mind, and most importantly my heart, began to shift and I no longer craved coming home to a family, but coming home to Jesus. Life with Jesus became all I needed. I made sure that everything I listened to, watched, and consumed was uplifting. If I can encourage you to delete those stupid mood killer playlists you have for when you’re sad, stop watching This is Us, and put on worship music or an encouraging message from a preacher who breaths hope!

Step three: Keep going! I live on the California Delta just blocks away from the river itself and the fog we get here is unreal! Often times driving back home from out of town running errands the fog seems to get so thick I can’t see in front of me. You can’t stop because there’s no shoulder to park on, you just have to keep going to get home, and the fog….eventually lifts. It reminded me that the fog always lifts. It is not permanent. You have to keep going to see what is coming through the fog and eventually God makes a way and brings you to clearer skies. The joy you’ll receive the first time the fog lifts will be unreal! Even if the fog returns, you now know and hold on to the hope that Jesus will bring you through this patch too. Stopping in the fog does not help. It keeps you stuck. You have to keep going, and eventually the seasons will change and God will bring you to a new place where you now understand that fog doesn’t have anything on Jesus. His mercies are new every morning!

You are not alone.

You are not unqualified.

You are beautiful.

You are chosen.

And you are seen by the King.


How to Break-Up God’s Way


It’s like that song says, “Breaking up is hard to do.” So many times in church we learn how to date God’s way, but we never really talk about breaking up. And It’s probably one of the most hurtful things we can walk through in the human life. The level of rejection that exists in a break-up can be heart breaking. To have someone say I choose you, I want you, and then to say never mind. We can try to let not the rejection rock us at our core all we want, but the truth is, break-ups are hard and hurtful. BUT GOD…..can make any bad break-up work for our good.

A few years ago I met a guy, we grew in love, he proposed, I said yes, and then it all fell apart. I won’t get into the details because I’m not writing this to share his story, I’m writing this to share mine. Long story short, he ended it and took the ring back. I was once in my best friend’s house planning my wedding and talking fun details about marriage and life, and now I was on her couch in her arms unable to move paralyzed in my grief. My heart was broken and shattered. And please don’t think I handled this perfectly, I definitely had that typical girl period of time where I ate hardly anything that wasn’t pure chocolate, lived on my friends and parents couch for a few days and wore the same sweatshirt for a week. It’s ok to mourn, but you weren’t meant to stay there.

I had never experienced paralyzing emotional pain like this before, and I knew who could redeem it, but I also knew it was my choice and my choice alone to let Him. Most days I shoved my feelings down and pretended I was all better. I didn’t want to deal with it, I didn’t want to admit I was the girl whose fiancé choose to walk out on her. I said I wanted God’s unfailing love but not all my actions showed it. There were days I just didn’t let God in. But HE is faithful!

I know this might be getting a little long….but trust me….it’s worth it.

Looking back on this season of my life I can see gods unfailing love all over my life. The word unfailing love comes from the Hebrew word Chessed. Biblical scholars have actually said that this word is so hard to translate into English because there is no precise equivalent word.  Isn’t it amazing how the things of God are too great for us to put into human words.

The word chessed means loving kindness, steadfast love, never changing and, always available. It’s the most perfect form of love.  This word can be found in the story of Ruth. In the first chapters of Ruth we find that she went through her own broken heart, she was living in a famine and she lost her husband.  And Ruth is faced with a decision, move forward and head to Bethlehem or stay with what she always knew, stay in comfort.  In the midst of crisis or grief we are faced with the same decision, stay on the couch with our tub of Ben & Jerrys, or get up and keep moving forward.

I love how Ruth responds because there’s such passion and declaration behind her words  Ruth 1:16-17 says, But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” It’s almost like Ruth is saying, I will follow the plan God has for my life till death, even if it forces me to be uncomfortable, even if everything around me is crumbling, even if my heart is shattered, I will chase him till death. There’s some things we can learn from Ruth’s life when it comes to a broken heart and choosing unfailing love.

Ruth kept moving forward. The first thing we need to do in a time of grief is to keep moving forward. Ruth was determined to not look backwards at what was, but to keep moving forward into what God had for her. So often we find ourselves in a time of grief wanting everything to freeze so we can regain our grasp, but we can’t stay there. You can eat your Ben and Jerry’s for a moment, trust me I did, but you can’t stay there long. We were designed and destined to keep moving forward.

I remember the day after the break-up like it was yesterday. See I have a list of dreams in my bible, and the very first one says “rescue one from trafficking.” The day after my fiancé left me, I found myself in downtown San Jose passing out cards for missing girls who we suspected were trafficked into the area for the Super Bowl. I was living out little steps towards my dream. And maybe just maybe we would get to rescue a girl. I remember that night before we got to the event I was crying in the car with my best friend, I remember she prayed over me before we got out of the car. I was so broken that night and moving forward felt impossible, I really just wanted to curl up in bed and sleep for a week, but I did it. And boy did God answer my dream! See the girl I passed out cards for that night, was rescued a few months later because of the work we did that night. On the darkest day, God checked off my deepest dream. He’s good like that.

The next thing we need to do, is keep working. See Ruth kept working. Ruth 2:2 says, “One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it” Ruth didn’t just keep moving forward, she kept working. She got back in the field and harvested.  Every one of us has a calling, and in the midst of grief it’s easy to lose sight of that calling.  Don’t let Satan get a hold of your depression and kill your calling. Keep working. It’s amazing to me that in the darkest season of my life, I have accomplished and grown more than ever before. There were so many times I would go home and just want to give up.  But I kept working. If I would have stopped working and dreaming God would never have been able to use me on our public middle school campus the way He has. More doors have FLOWN open this past year than ever!

The last thing Ruth did was she allowed herself to be redeemed. Ruth had a choice. She could have said no Naomi I’m not ready for this, not yet, I don’t think this is a good idea, I’m not ready to be redeemed yet. But she didn’t. She allowed herself to be redeemed. She choose it. We have to choose unfailing love.  It’s available all the time, it’s steadfast, but we have to grab it. And let me just say this, you can’t grab God’s unfailing love when your hands are full controlling the situation yourself. It wasn’t always easy, and I wasn’t perfect at it. Ultimately I choose to allow myself to be redeemed by God. I choose to allow his unfailing love to completely wrap itself up in every area of my life. And I know one day soon I’ll walk into that promise. I’ll walk into the dream of becoming a wife and I’ll get a man like Boaz who pursues me in the purest form.  I’ll let God redeem what man broke.

There’s a wedding dress that sits in my mother’s closet.  And there’s a beautiful rose gold ring my Aunt bought me after the break-up that sits on my finger.  Both are a reminder to me to let God redeem me. To accept his unfailing love. One day I’ll walk down an isle in that beautiful dress, and I’ll take off this ring that sits on my finger and replace it with a better one. One of God’s completed promise.

Ruth choose to be redeemed, and because she did check out what happens in Matthew 1:5, “Solman was the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed, WHOSE MOTHER WAS RUTH.” Her redemption is a part of our redemption. If Ruth had not chosen to be redeemed by Boaz, she wouldn’t have been a part of my story. You’re redemption can bring other’s redemption. He will redeem your shattered heart and use the broken pieces for good.

Maybe this is something you’re currently walking through and you don’t know who to talk to. Please feel free to email me, I’d love to chat and pray with you! Elisenicolehall@gmail.com

When God doesn’t heal

What happens when God doesn’t heal you?

Maybe you’ve got to wrong glasses on? Let me explain what I mean….it starts with a song and a little story.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the water, wherever you would call me.”

We sing these lyrics but do we actually know what we’re singing. When you sing these verses, you’re asking God to allow you to walk on water in the midst of a storm. You’re telling him that no matter how high He allows the waves to go, you want to walk with him on the water.

You’re asking to walk on stormy ocean waters, not a peaceful steady river stream.

And that’s just what I started praying when I was 14. I wanted the healing, but I didn’t want the storm. I wanted it to happen all at once. But that’s not what God wanted.

My mom broke her back when I was 12 years old. She herniated three disc’s in lower back.

The picture below is the last family picture we have before my moms injury. It’s the last time she ice skated, the last time she skied, the last time she rode a bike, the last time she ran. It was right before our entire world changed.


The years to follow would be full of botched back surgeries, pain meds that didn’t work, insurance companies that wouldn’t approve medication, and several surgeries.

In an instant, one single second, I became a child of a chronic pain patient.

It’s like watching your best friend get punched in the face by a bully, then dragged on the ground, kicked, poked, beaten, and you can’t do anything about it. You can’t make the bully stop beating them up. You can’t take away their pain. You just have the front row seat to their torture.

You feel hopeless.

So at 14 I got a dream. A dream for some hope in my warrior mama’s life. I prayed God would heal her. And He did, but it was different that I thought. He healed her HIS way.

Before her back injury my mom was a marathon runner. She’s an addict to “wind in her face.” So over the years we’ve found somewhat painless ways to get wind blowing in her face. Ultimately I knew the true happiness of wind in her face would be if her feet were pounding the ground. I thought for her to run again she’d need full healing of her back pain.

So I started to pray. Years and Years of prayer. I wrote it down, circled it, and knocked at God’s door asking for it. In my bible I have a list of dreams, one of them says, “See Mom living pain free.”


I was 27 when my mom was accepted into a chronic pain rehabilitation program. Her first goal was to sit down in a normal chair for 20 minutes. This seems so simple to us, but to her it meant fighting through high levels of nerve pain shooting through her left leg and back. The doctors at the clinic knew my mom was a believer and they suggested she do something that brings her peace. So she put headphones in, turned on the song “Oceans” and started singing. She closed her eyes and worshiped God. Asking Him to call her out upon the waters, no matter the storm. When the 20 minutes passed she opened her eyes and the entire clinic was in tears.

My mom praised through pain!

On her last week at the clinic she sent me a video of her running for 30 seconds.

Then a year later I got a FaceTime from her, one i’ll never forget.


There she was, my warrior, running! By herself, no doctors, no aids, just her and the open road.

Then over the past year 30 seconds turned to minutes.

And then my mom got a crazy idea, she was going to run a 5k.

There was no way I’d let her run that long without a chaperone so I instantly demanded I do it with her.


And she didn’t just do it, she ran a mile without stopping, and ran at least 75% of the race. On the last .10th of the mile I turned on Oceans and held the phone up to my moms ear, and with tears in our eyes we crossed the finish line.

This moment wasn’t just for my mom, but my dad and I as well.


God HEALED my mom. Even though it didn’t look like I thought.

My mom wasn’t pain free on that run, she ran through pain.

Her pain had purpose.


What is it in your life that’s causing you pain?

Have you been praying for healing and it hasn’t happened? Maybe you’ve got on the wrong glasses.

Are you letting that pain defeat you or inspire you?

Use your pain against the devil and give it some purpose through Christ.

Walk on stormy waters, get out of the boat, and praise HIM through your pain.

You’ll see yourself in the things you once deemed impossible!

Bottled up prayers


Bottled Up Prayers

In 1914, British World War I soldier Pvt. Thomas Hughes wrote a letter to his wife, sealed it in a ginger ale bottle, and tossed it into the English Channel. He died two days later fighting in France. Fast forward to 1999 when a fisherman found the bottle in the River Thames. It was too late to deliver the letter to Mrs. Hughes who died in 1979, but not too late for Hughes’ 86-year-old daughter, who was only 1 year old when her father died — the message was delivered to her at her home in New Zealand.

Have you ever prayed a prayer that you felt like God never heard?

A prayer so close to your heart that you prayed it over and over and over waiting for God to answer it?

We need to pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on us. It’s like the ending of the book of Daniel.

Daniel is thinking long and thinking out loud. In his final vision in the book he asks the question most of us all want the answer to….”My Lord, what will the outcome of all this be?” See God always answers but it’s not always a straight answer. This doesn’t mean it isn’t an honest answer, because God is perfectly honest, it just means it’s far too complicated, with infinite twists and turns for our logical left brains to comprehend. The bible says this is the response given to Daniel, “Go your way Daniel because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.” There is a specific reference to the prophecies here given to Daniel by the Holy Spirit but I also believe that there is a universal principle in this passage. Our prayers are like prophecies, and God almighty seals them until their designated time.

He’s never early.

He’s never late.

When the time comes, the prayer will be unsealed and the answer revealed. Our prayers never run out, they can even out run us. Our prayers never cease to exist because they follow the laws of the supernatural and not the laws of time and space.

You have to remember that the very God who hears your prayers is the same God that made light in a moment, and the oceans in a second.

He created everything out of nothing, so why do you doubt the dreams he puts in your heart.

We need to remember his promises!

John 5:14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.

Isaiah 65:24 I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

Your prayers are in HIS bottle.

And like a message in a bottle, your prayers are carried by the current of His sovereign will. When and where they will land no one knows. But those bottled up prayers will be unsealed in God’s time. In God’s way.

I’m praying some crazy God Sized, God Possible, prayers right now. I’m putting them in a bottle, and trusting that in God’s timing, he’ll unseal my dreams.

I challenge you to do the same.

Learn the tune of your season.


Life hasn’t been the easiest for me lately. It’s threw a pretty big wrench in my direction. And by “pretty big” I mean the largest wrench I have ever had thrown at me. Never in my life have I ever been so overwhelmed and lost in a situation, but I also have never experienced the power of God’s overwhelming peace so majestically in my life! In my darkest hour God is shinning the brightest.

An incredible mentor of mine took me to dinner recently. When you’re walking in some of life’s dark alley’s make sure you don’t do it alone. Bring people who are bigger, stronger, and better than you. I took many things away from our conversation that night, but there was one thing she said that stood out to me the most. It was the story of a Canary.

Canaries are incredible birds. They can hear a tune, memorize it, and repeat it, forever. Once they’ve learned a new tune they never loose it. However, Canaries learn new tunes best when they are in darkness. And once they’ve learned that new tune, they never have to learn it again.

When I’m standing in the darkest moments of my life, the last thing I want to do is evaluate myself and learn something I can be better at. If I’m really transparent all I want to do on a dark day is binge on Netflix and eat Ben & Jerry’s Banana Split Ice Cream by the gallon. However I’ve been learning this week that it’s in the darkness that the Lord is speaking to me the loudest. He’s opened my eyes to things I couldn’t have seen in the light. He’s teaching me his peace, his grace, and his mercy in a way I’ve never experienced it. He’s teaching me a new tune. Refining me. Challenging me. He’s making me the best I can be.

I’ve found myself asking the Lord, “Ok God, I don’t understand this, I don’t get why this is like this, but I want to learn my new tune. I want to hear you. How can I learn through this to be more like you.”

I may be walking through some of my darkest days, but I’m also walking through some of my most victorious. It’s in the darkness I’m learning to hear this soft still whisper of his voice.

So maybe you’ve been in a dark place lately. I’d challenge you to ask yourself two questions. 1. Who are you surrounding yourself with right now? 2. What new tune is God trying to teach you?

Because once you learn that new tune, you’ll never have to learn it again.

How to survive the worst day of your life.


At some point in our lives we will have what we would call the worst day of our lives?

When I was about 9 years old my family went on a big camping trip in Yosemite. My cousin Matt had a habit of getting his little sister and I into trouble. So we’re in Yosemite, and we are hiking to Yosemite Falls. Right before you get to the deck of the lower falls to the right there are a sea of huge boulders. Massive rocks that go on forever. Now to three kids this is basically natures playground. So Matt convinces my parents he will take care of his sister and I and our parents let us go exploring. Now I should have learned from past experiences to not trust Matthew, but for some reason I did anyways. Matt always had a knack for convincing Brittany and I to put our selves in danger. So we’re climbing, and climbing, getting further and further away from the trail and deeper into the sea of these massive rocks. It was awesome! Then we see it, this massive huge rock! Matt begins to tell Brittany and I how cool would it be if we got up there and took a picture like out of the lion king? Oh we were so excited, this was gonna be great! So Matt says, “You girls go up there and I’ll take your picture.” So Brittany and I climb our way up this huge rock, we run to the edge, Matt takes our picture, we turn around to come down and………we realize there is no way we are getting off this rock. I mean, there was no safe way off this thing! Brittany starts to panic and freak out, I’m yelling at Matt because this is all his fault. I mean this was the end of the world, We were surely going to die up here. We are a mile into a rock forest, it’s bear season, and we are basically in their home messing around on their rocks. Surely we were going to die! There was no way out!

Life can feel a lot like this. We find ourselves in situation where we feel there is absolutely no way out. I don’t know what it is in your life, but I can guarantee that each of us has had a bad day. Bad month. Bad year.

Good news is, we don’t have to be defined by bad day because we are a child of the one who created day . Isaiah 40:12 says “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?”

Maybe you’ve heard this all the time as a kid. “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” But do you really understand what that means? Do we really understand what this verse is saying to us? Our God is so big, so great, so grand, that He can take his hand and measure the waters of the earth in it! Picture that! Our God is so big that he literally can hold oceans in his hands?! If we truly understand how big our God is, we will begin to understand how little our situation is.

It doesn’t matter who you are, you need to remember whose you are.

When we understand whose we are, we’ll realize the victory is already ours. It reminds me of one of my favorite movie scenes. You know that part in the Lion King when Simba roars at the hyena’s and eventually Mufasa roars for him. Simba understood that he was the child of the King of the jungle. When the hyena’s began to laugh at him, it didn’t stop him. So he failed the first time, whatever, he knew whose he was. He was a lion! Which meant his daddy was the King of the jungle. He was the child of the king! So he got up, and growled again. This time his daddy showed up, and showed off.

We just need to remember whose we are!

We are a child of the most high king!

We are a child of the prince of peace.

Our God is bigger, greater, stronger than our situation.

We need to realize we aren’t fighting for victory, but from the position of victory.

I’ve had to remind myself of this a lot lately. No matter how bad the war is, or how strong the storm, I’m already standing in victory!!!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed everyday. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we see now; rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

In the middle of a fight we need to focus our eyes on the eternal, and not the temporal.

So what do you do on the worst day of your life? You focus your heart not on the things of this world, but on the King of your heart. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Hold tight to his word. Get back up.

I promise….it’s going to be ok!

9 things ADHD Students wish their Youth Pastor Knew


I was always the silly loud girl drawing attention to herself. Often times I was proud of it, other times I didn’t want to be me anymore.

I’ve been both the student and the pastor on this one. If you’ve read any of my other blog posts you’ll know that I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 5 in the 98% bracket. This means that only 2% of children in the United States with ADHD have it worse than I do. I know what it’s like to be the kid constantly being asked to quiet down, sit still, or stop jumping off the stage (even though you’ve asked me five times). I also know what it’s like to be the pastor with one of these amazing crazy and passionate kids in their youth ministry.

I’m no expert on either, I’ve just lived through both.

Here is a list of 9 things I believe every ADHD Student wants their Youth Pastor to know.

  1. Be patient. I know, we are probably the patience test in your life. We’re loud, compulsive, and constantly stirring up trouble and distractions. Be patient with us. Often times the incident in which caused you to excersize great patience is actually a moment when our energy level is just so high we no longer care what is right or wrong. I can think of several times in my teen years when my impulsive energy led to wrong impulsive decisions. It was the patient leaders who gained my trust.
  2. Allow us to control how open we are about our diagnosis. Some teenagers are open about their diagnosis, while others don’t want anyone to know they struggle with it. Allow them to control how much you know, or others know. Let them choose to open up to you. And just a tip, if you want a student to open up about this with you, they will need to trust that you love them for who they are at ALL times, not just when they are “normal.” I have two leaders in my life that I tell everything to, and I work for them, as a paid staff member! I tell them when I’m struggling with concentration at work, I tell them when I’m changing medications, or quitting medications, or increasing medications. They know it all. I don’t fear they will fire me because they have proven they love me for ME even on a bad day. Over the years they have gained my trust, because although they have had to correct me when I’ve been “hyper” they also have loved me for exactly who I am, on and off meds. They’ve seen me at my worst, and at my best and I have never once questioned their love. You see ADHD teenagers don’t trust that you love them for them, because most likely they’ve had people tell them their whole lives that they aren’t perfect, that they are annoying, loud, and crazy. The world ruined it for them and if you want their trust you’ll have to prove your different than the world.
  3. Correct us in private please. The worst thing for any teenager with ADHD is to be constantly pointed out in public. We know we are different. We know we are loud. However most of the time, in those moments when we are, we don’t realize it. Correct the group as a whole, because lets be honest, it’s usually a group effort making the noise, and then pull us aside later and talk with us. Let us know that we weren’t acting appropriately for the situation and then encourage us, remind us of a situation where we succeeded and what it was that made us succeed. I’ll never forget walking into my pastors office on a bad day, I had just acted completely out of line in front of a guest speaker. I interrupted them and didn’t think about what I was saying before it came out. I was humiliated by my own actions. Before even trying to correct my behavior she allowed me to be upset with the situation. I remember giving her a hug and starting to cry. She didn’t push me away, she allowed me to be mad that this was hard for me. Some students fight so hard to overcome ADHD and they have bad moments, and it can devastate them. Allow them to know that you are a safe place for them to talk about how they feel about their actions.
  4. Let our medications and diet be private. “Did you take your med’s today?” I can’t even count how many times this sentence was said to my face. I say it’s a sentence and not a question because the person who said it was never asking, they were making a statement. Medication can be a sore topic for any teenager with Add/Adhd. Even when they appear they don’t mind talking about it, they still need to know you support them, on or off medication. Help them focus, concentrate, or settle down with kind words and a gentle spirit. Another sensative area is diet. I know most people mean well, but when we start to grab a donut, or are chowing down a bag of candy like any other teenager, please don’t ask us “should you be eating that?”
  5. Encourage us to take notes. Buy us a journal. Teach us how to take notes. Because I guarantee you, if i’m a teenager with Adhd and I’m not taking notes, I’m only hearing 10% of what you are saying. I can hear every single noise in the room, and if I don’t have something that is keeping me consumed in the message your preaching, I’m probably listening to the other 100 noises I hear.
  6. Allow us to grieve. Many children diagnosed with a chronic illness have to go through a grieving process because their lives will never be “normal.” It’s the same for us. Our lives aren’t normal. Our lives are hard. We struggle on a daily basis just to complete simple tasks. When I was about 13 years old my medication that I had been on for years suddenly stopped working. My doctors put me several different medications all in one year. I clearly remember asking my doctor one day, “Well can I just try hard, and pray hard, and not take medication any more, because I don’t think we’ve found one that works and I’m tired of trying them.” My doctor sympathized with me and then said, “Honey, you’ll never be able to come off medication, if you want to maintain a real job for the rest of your life you will probably always need medication to help your brain function.” All I heard in this moment was that I was created as a failure. My brain was a mess-up. I wasn’t normal. I was a failure. I had to really grieve the reality of my diagnosis at that point. I remember sitting in my pastors office in tears because I wanted so badly for this fight to be over, but I knew it never would be. Just like anyone who grieves, I had to find my new normal.
  7. Remind us constantly that we are not who the world says we are but who Jesus says we are.The world has probably already crushed our dreams by the time we reach your ministry in 6th grade. We’ve probably already had doctors tell us we won’t go to college, we’ve had teachers tell our parents we are failures, and we most likely believe everything we’ve been told. We need to be constantly reminded that our diagnosis has nothing to do with what we can do in the world. Had I not had incredible parents and pastors who believed in me through every failing grade I got in college, I wouldn’t have a Bachelor’s degree hanging on my wall. My mom told me something when I started college that I wrote on a post it not and taped to my laptop. She told me, “You are not a statistic, you are the two percent, you’re a conqueror.” See only 2% of students diagnosed with ADHD will graduate college. My mom wanted me to know that I wasn’t part of that category, she wanted me to know I was a conqueror because I was a child of the kings of kings. Make sure we know and believe that!
  8. Don’t use the term “ADHD” in a joke. It saddens me that when you type “Adhd Meme” into Google Images, Hundreds of responses come up. Many of these images actually break my heart, because too many of them are too real to me. They are actual struggles I’ve faced. Our society has found it acceptable to use ADHD as a joke. From the girl who’s heard them all, it’s just not that funny to us. In fact it’s hurtful. ADHD is classified as a Mental Disorder, the same category as mental retardation. I just wish more people treated ADHD as they do the word “Retarded.”
  9. Love us for US! I can count on one hand the people in my life that I believe truly love me for me. My pastors are two of those people! I know we’re difficult, I know we make preaching a sermon difficult for you sometimes, I know we make bus rides loud, and small groups distracted, but we really are just teenagers looking for someone to accept us for us. Most of the world doesn’t accept us, and when we feel that someone really does appreciate us for us, we are loyal to them! Nothing means more to a teenager with ADHD than knowing that someone loves them for them. ADHD students are passionate in nature, tap into that. Love us for us, and challenge us to love Jesus with everything we have. It was because of genuine love and encouragement that I had the guts to turn my passion into action. I am who I am today because someone took a chance and loved me for me.

I have a passion for discipling and loving ADHD students into successful adult lives. If you have any questions beyond this, need personal advice, or have questions about ADHD and Youth Ministry. Please feel free to email me. I would love to be a resource to you or your ministry.