Where Stretch Started

Youth Retreat 2

That’s me in the center.  This picture was taken back in February of 1989 at Camp Johnsonburg where my senior high youth group, SYNC (Senior Youth Nurturing in Christ), was enjoying our annual winter retreat.  This is about the time when I picked up the nickname, Stretch.  When I started my junior year in high school, I was 5’6″.  By the end of my junior year, I had grown several inches.  Somewhere along the way, someone started calling me Stretch.

High school was a stretching time for me in more ways than one.  I obviously grew in size, but I was also stretched in many other facets of my life.  As a preacher’s kid, I struggled to figure out my place.  I was known as a goodie-goodie to many, but I was certainly not perfect.  At times, I was a very obnoxious kid – just ask some of my youth leaders.  As I went through high school, I began to discover an interest in leadership.  This was an area where I stretched a lot taking an active role in the student leadership of our youth group and in the student government at the high school.  I certainly stretched academically as I took on a full load of honors classes.

Youth Retreat 1Here’s a picture of my dad and Dave Kennedy on this same youth retreat (my dad is wearing the darker shirt).  My dad was the youth pastor, and Dave was one of the youth leaders.  What I didn’t fully realize until recently is that my youth leaders (including my dad) were stretching too.  I’m sure I helped in that matter with my own actions, attitudes, and questions, but the leaders of our youth group were more than likely stretching in many different directions themselves – raising a family, working on their marriages, growing in their careers, serving in their churches, and interacting in their neighborhoods.

And this is where I find myself today.  The tables have turned.  I’m a youth leader balancing work, life, and church.  And I’m still stretching.  I’m not growing vertically anymore, and I’m trying to prevent any horizontal growth.  But I am definitely stretching in my faith, my leadership, my work, my marriage, my family, and in other ways as well.  And so that nickname has stuck with me, and I suspect I will continue to stretch as life continues.

How are you stretching these days?  What was your nickname in high school?  How has that nickname stayed with you since then?