Hindsight is 20/20

Hi there! It’s been a while. A lot has been going on this past month! So many things have been happening for me in my work world, my emotional world, my spiritual world, and sometimes even my social world!

Back in September I posted about how sometimes being on Young Life staff isn’t easy. In fact, it might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve done so much learning and growing this month that it feels like I’ve been in Botetourt for years.

(P.S. For those of you who aren’t familiar with VA..or maybe just have a hard time pronouncing things, its “bot-a-tot”)

Anyway, I would venture to say that September was perhaps the hardest month of my life. If I’m being honest, a lot of my emotions that I experienced in September were a result of the Lord cleaning up a mess that I made for myself during my last couple semesters at Roanoke. Jesus has been so faithful to me and has come to meet me in my mess. However, I will say that the healing process has been super painful! I probably cried more tears in September and October than I did my whole 4 years in college. And that is a lot! Jesus probably has to have a shelf the size of a football field to bottle up and store all of those bad boys! (Psalm 56:8)

You probably think I’m being overly dramatic and emotional. And you might be right! But I think that I was not ready and prepared for what happened to me this summer.

To go from Hometree (the house I lived in last year) to living on my own and being on Young Life staff, was/is the most difficult thing I’ve done in a long time. There were nights that I felt like I wanted to be anywhere else in the world than Botetourt. There were also so many nights when I was convinced that the Lord made a mistake in calling me to this mission. Or that I had some how come onto Young Life staff against His will.

I think that this is my biggest fear in my life and the biggest trap that I fall into..that I was not really supposed to go on staff with Young Life. This is the thought that consumed so much of me during September. Every night that I was alone and sad in my house, my mind was engaged in such a battle against this lie. I was hurting so badly and it seemed like I wasn’t going to make it. I can’t begin to describe how lonely and hopeless I felt! All because I allowed a little voice in my head turn into loud shouts of condemnation and guilt. And, if I’m being honest again, these little lies began entering my head really about this time last year.

For a whole year the lie that I’m not good enough, that I’m too crazy for the Lord to call me and chose me and use me, and that I’ve messed up too bad, has worked it’s way into my heart. A WHOLE YEAR! How ridiculous is that? The enemy has stolen so much from me! It literally is making me angry right now to think about it! It blows my mind the ways a little lie can turn into such a big mess. Seriously! Here I sit-a year later-now able to see all the ways that I believed this lie.

As depressing as it is to realize these things, I can’t even describe the hope that it brings to me. Being able to recognize this makes me able to reclaim who I am and to reject what I saw in myself in college. I know that sounds crazy. But I think that the person who God made me to be was not entirely present these past four years. If you only knew me while I was at Roanoke, I really am sorry. I think that what you got was a watered down (or mudded down!) version of me. However, please don’t hear me say that I wish college never happened. Or that I wish the relationships I made in college didn’t happen. Because that is not true. There are so many people that I love that I started loving at Roanoke. All I’m saying is that I was not fully present there and I’m thankful that I don’t have to be the same Marissa that was in Salem.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. And I didn’t plan on writing anything like this today! I started to blog today with intentions of telling you about fall weekend. But I guess Jesus had other plans! Before I close, I want to share a story with you that helped me come out of September with my job and my life 🙂

1 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count them or their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the LORD for help.

7 When the Israelites cried out to the LORD because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians. And I delivered you from the hand of all your oppressors; I drove them out before you and gave you their land. 10I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”

11 The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

In case you’re like me and didn’t feel like reading all of that, I’ll summarize it. Basically God allows for the Israelites to be oppressed by the Midianites. Then the Lord was going to raise up Gideon to deliver Israel. What the two say to each other is what has been so significant for me this past month. Gideon is running around scared as he tries to hide what was left of his food from the Midianites. God enters the picture by calling Gideon a “mighty warrior.” How hilarious and awesome is that? Hilarious because Gideon is anything but a warrior! And awesome because God sees us as who we are going to become and not for who we are now or for who we used to be. Gideon was so far from being a warrior. And in fact, the way he responds to God is by doubting him and questioning him! It blows my mind that the Lord is so gracious to Gideon. God sees Gideon for who he is going to be, not for who he is now! God also sees Gideon according to the desires of Gideon’s heart.

There were so many nights when I was laying in my bed and praying that the Lord would remove my sin from me. I would literally get angry that I was still struggling with the things that I struggle with. But this story shows me that God saw me for the desires of my heart. He knew how genuinely I wanted to be free, and He lovingly decides to see me and treat me according to the desires that I had! How awesome is that? I’m so thankful that God sees me for who I will be in eternity. He sees me for the ways that he will redeem me and for the ways that I will mature throughout my life. This calls me up out of the lies that I believed in college and I feel like a new person. I feel like I’ve met Jesus all over again for the first time. And that is exciting to me.

I hope that makes sense. If not, sorry that I just wasted your time!

If you are the kind of person who didn’t read all of this because it was so long and dense, I will leave you with a few pictures.

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Update Email that I sent out. Enjoy!

Hello friends!

I hope you are having a great week! I want thank all of you again for supporting me in Botetourt. I really could not be doing this without you! Your prayers and support mean so much to me! As part of my ongoing thanking process, I want to give you an update on how things are going with ministry in Buchanan!
The kids at River are so sweet and have made me feel very welcomed. The school has about 450 kids who attend, so it’s really felt like a family. The first time I went to lunches at the high school, I was greeted by several campaigner girls who quickly invited me to come sit with them and meet their friends. This was such a relief to me!
This past Monday night, 33 high school kids from James River High School came out to our first Young Life club of the year. I was so excited to see how club at River works, but I was also very nervous! I am familiar with a lot of kids at this point, but there were a bunch of new faces. With only two leaders at River (and no male leader!), leading at club is certainly more of a challenge than it was when I was in college. It was also the first time that I played guitar for club. I chose some easy songs (firework, don’t stop believin’, free fallin’, and I have a Maker!) and I think it went pretty well..aside from a few technical difficulties with our amp!! Despite the amp, it felt like everyone was having fun. My favorite part of club was when Jen Harris (my teammate!) got up to share about her life and about how there is a God who created and loves each of us. She had 5 or 6 parents email her letters that they had written to their kids who were in the crowd at club. Each letter was about how much each mom loves their son or daughter. Jen had the chance to read these letters during her club talk and it had such an impact on everyone there. It was made very clear that these parents are crazy about their kids. It was so cool to watch the tough football player boys in the room turn bright red as Jen read about how much a few moms loves them. Although they were embarrassed, I know that their hearts were so glad to hear that they are loved. Jen followed up these notes with reading the ultimate love note that is found in Psalm 139.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

If parents love their kids as much as their letters showed, how much more does our perfect God love us?! Next week, I get to share about who Jesus is and how he left his place in Heaven to be with his people on earth. I’m very excited for this opportunity! Please pray for me next Tuesday around 8:50. Also pray that I can demonstrate Jesus’ choice to leave his Home by leaving the comfort of my home (and office!) to go be with kids at JRHS this week.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and for being a part of what God is doing at James River HS. Because of you, 33 kids went home Monday evening knowing and feeling that they are loved unconditionally. Some of them felt that perhaps for the first time. Your support has a real and lasting impact on the lives of real people. If that isn’t something to be excited about, I don’t know what is!
In Him,
Marissa Kennedy
Blog friends, if you would like to support me financially and/or be on my email list, let me know! my email is marissa.ken.g@gmail.com
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When it rains it pours!

Well friends, it’s been raining here in Blue Ridge, VA for forever. Really it’s been about 24 hours..but it seems like forever! Turns out my road floods sometimes, making it interesting to go to and fro from my home!

On friday around 10 am I decided that I was too lonely to stay home all weekend by myself (without even my cat!), so I abruptly packed up and drove to my parents house for the long weekend. Unfortunately that meant me missing the River-Glenvar game 😦 Probably #1 on my list of things I’ve told myself not to do is tell kids I’ll be somewhere then not show up. Unfortunately I already had to break that rule of mine..and I’ve only been leading there for 2 weeks! I prayed on my way home that the Lord would redeem my failure and that my absence went unnoticed.

It was nice to hang out with my family for a few days. We went to the beach (well…river..) and my brother got stung by a jellyfish! This sparked my interest as to what other kinds of harmful creatures lived in the Potomac. When I got home, I promptly began googling sea life that could have been dwelling in my swimming area. I happened upon an article that had picture evidence of an 8 ft bull shark that was caught right in the river! What the heck! Needless to say, I will NOT be swimming there any time soon.

On Monday on my way home I stopped in C’ville to deliver a parcel to my friend Hanc. I also got to enjoy some Bodo’s and some Arch’s froyo! While there, someone asked me if I liked my job on YL staff. My natural response was “YES DUH! It’s the best job ever! Every young life leaders dream!”

But then when I got to thinking, I decided that I want to start being more real with people about my life and how I really feel about what I’m doing…even in little things like not brushing off questions by giving the answer that they expect. Don’t get me wrong, this is, in fact, the job that I have been praying for for over a year. I mean, what young life leader doesn’t want to get paid to hang out with high school kids?

Of course I knew going in that YL staff is much more than just hanging out with kids. But the other parts of the job are still pretty awesome! For example, today I got an email with 2 assignments that have to be completed by next Tuesday when we go to the beach for the first Commonwealth Region staff time of the year. First assignment, talk to our trainers about how they set goals and what that looks like for them. Second assignment, memorize Colossians 1:16. Isn’t that the best? Memorizing scripture is part of my job. Awesome. So, those are just a few of the incredible things about what I get to do for the next 2+ years.

However, I don’t want you to get the idea that as soon as you go on YL staff it’s all butterflies and rainbows, if you will. I don’t think that all first year staff have the same experience, but I was forewarned about a few things that are happening, which leads me to believe that they might be universal. First, it’s been very lonely! There aren’t a ton of people my age here in Botetourt County. It also doesn’t help that I live pretty far out in the middle of nowhere. Alone. It takes me about 40 minutes to get to JRHS where I’m leading. In Salem, when I was feeling bored or lonely, I just shimmied on up to the high school! (Not that this was the only reason I would go..I of course went other times!) Unfortunately, on my modest YL staff salary, I cannot afford to go up to the high school any old time I want. This is something that will take some getting used to for me. I spent more time at SHS than I did at Roanoke College. Not being able to be at the school every day surrounded by high school friends has been very hard for me.

In sum: if you live within an hour of 354 Brickyard Rd. Blue Ridge, VA 24064 and you are reading this blog, you are summoned to come visit me ASAP. and even if you don’t live within an hour, still come visit. I could use some company!

Other than feeling lonely, hard things about my time in BTOT so far include: learning to manage finances, trying to get on the sub list in Salem, unpacking my house, and not feeling like I have a lot to do.

If you are a person who prays, pray for that list of hard things! I know that the Lord did not make a mistake in calling me here, but sometimes it feels like it!

As weird as it sounds, I love where the Lord has me right now. Not just physically, but emotionally as a result of the physical…

Obviously I don’t like to feel lonely, stressed about $$, etc. However, I know that because of these things I will get to see the Lord in ways that I wouldn’t if I were still in college in my house full of awesome roommates (and Cubby), leading at SHS with the girls I’ve known for years, and living off of my parents $. (If I’m honest, the last one is still a little true..woops!) I’ve only been here for 3 weeks (that long already?!) and I’ve already experienced Jesus in ways that I never have. I’m learning so much about myself and who I am in light of who Jesus is.


Sorry if you feel like I sound complainy about my job. Hopefully the last part redeemed it? I will post pictures of my finished and furnished house asap! Also, if you are looking for a craft, this is what I will be working on this week/weekend!

check it out!

Peace and blessings.



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The song that this blog is named after is called “Grace Upon Grace” by Sandra McCracken. I have loved this song for the past few months since we sang it in St. Thomas when we had a little team worship time. How cool is it that the Lord freely gives “mercy that pours from boundless shores,” even when we mess up for the 100000000th time? I listen to this song whenever the enemy tries to drag me back through my sin and shout guilt at me.


I would encourage you to buy this on itunes. It’s totally worth it. Here are the lyrics.


In every station, new trials and new troubles
Call for more grace than I can afford
Where can I go but to my dear Savior
For mercy that pours from boundless stores.

Grace upon grace, every sin repaired
Every void restored, you will find Him there
In every turning He will prepare you
With grace upon grace.

He made a way for the fallen to rise
Perfect in glory and sacrifice
In sweet communion my need He supplies
He saves and keeps and guards my life

To Thee I run now with great expectation
To honor You with trust like a child
My hopes and desires seek a new destination
and all that You ask Your grace will provide.


You can also listen to part of it on http://www.igracemusic.com/sandrahymns/



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Getting down to business

I hope you’re surviving the hurricane! Botetourt county is doing well. We had some mist yesterday and some ominous looking clouds, but that is about it! I am definitely praying for my east coast friends. Don’t go outside please.

It’s been a busy week for me! Last week I moved from Salem to the tot. It was tramatic. Tears were involved. It was also tough because I didn’t feel like I had anything to do and I got restless. Most people would be excited to have a week of relaxation, but not this girl! I found myself aimlessly going to the YL office for no particular reason. A few times I showed up and moved a couple piles of papers around in attempts to make myself believe that I was being useful. Needless to say, it failed and I was still restless. A large part of my sadness came from the fact that cubby and I have been separated for a long time. He is on vacation at my friend’s house until I get his room in the new house in order. However, there were several highlights from my first week living in the tot. For example, first sleepover with Cate Harris, sleepover with Hanc before she left for college, campaigners, first contact work at JRHS volleyball game, and working on the house that I’ll be moving into! Once I get moved in I’ll post some pictures. I got to pick out the paint for most of the rooms and it’s looking pretty fresh. My favorite part is the closet that I painted bright orange.

I got to go to Lake Champion this week for New Staff Orientation overnight. We spent almost as much time driving there as we did in meetings. Totally worth it though. We learned about what our jobs will look like for the next year or so and it was exciting! We go to here from John Wagner who is a big deal in the Eastern Division, along with a few other regional trainers. It was really helpful and I left feeling encouraged and excited about being in Botetourt. While all of these seasoned Young Life staff men were telling us about our job and how it’s the best job in the entire world, I had so many thoughts running through my head. First thought was..”crap, there is no way I can learn how to do all of these things that Young Life staff people get trained to do.” They gave us a lengthly area director job description and I got stressed. However, they reassured us that there is no way we will be expected to be good at ALL of those things. My next thought was “there is no way I can be good at any of these things without Jesus.” I think that is my favorite part of this job. Unless my relationship with Jesus is my first priority, I’m doomed. I can’t think of anything better I could be doing with my time than this because it will force me to know Jesus more every day. Going into my time at Lake Champion, and really starting back in January, I had a hard time believing that I am called to this mission. I have constantly believed the lie that I am not good enough, qualified enough, kind enough, or close enough to the Lord. But this trip affirmed that I have been chosen for this job and that the Lord looks past my weaknesses and insecurities. I am so humbled to think that through all of my crap, the Lord still chose me to brush shoulders with the children that He loves and is fighting for at JRHS. I’m super pumped.

So today I had one of the best experiences that I’ve had so far in Botetourt. As some of you might know, I’m moving to Blue Ridge, VA this week into a house that a committee family is letting me live in for free. They are so sweet. This same family has also “adopted” me, which includes dinners with their family whenever I want as well as great fellowship and company. Today I went with Chasity and John (the mom and dad) to Chasity’s grandparents house. This couple is about 80 years old, but you would never guess it the way they looked and acted. The husband still runs his farm with the cows and his hay fields. We sat on their front porch in Blue Ridge and talked about the cows, the hummingbirds that were going nuts right outside of the screens, and all other sorts of simple things while the sun was setting. And this one cow kept hollerin to it’s baby it was so loud! I thought it sounded like it was dying, but the Grandma assured me that it was simply trying find its baby that it had set down in the field somewhere. I am thankful that I also can hear cows from the house I’m living in. They were probably the sweetest and most hilarious couple I’ve ever met. They also had a shadow box with hundreds of arrow heads that they found on their property. The Granddad said..”we are still looking for the Indian!” I hope I have more encounters with the local Botetourt county people because so far, the sampling that I’ve had has been pretty awesome!

Things that I’m excited for this week:

Moving into “tater town” and setting up the house

Being reunited with cubby

Cubby moving to “tater town”

Hanging out with Diane Brinkley

Going to UVA for a football game and to see my bff hanc


Going to JR for lunches and such

Also, here is the song I’ve been listening to over and over in the mornings. Its great. Jesus is great.

Thanks for reading my first (well, second) blog post! You are #1


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Follow Cubby and I on our adventures in Botetourt, VA! I have just started a 2 year internship with Young Life and Cubby has started a 2 year internship with http://www.catsforgold.com/. He will be working mostly from home. Thanks for joining me on this exciting adventure!




Marissa and Cubby 🙂

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