Ever wonder what goes on inside the historic barn that graces the Cedar Ridge property? Well, who better to ask than the so-called “Pastor of the Barn?” Trish Audi serves on the pastoral team as the overseer of our middle and high school ministries. Trish is energized by the opportunity to work with, “love on” and challenge our youth, and is always looking for ways to effectively communicate God’s love to the students at this crucial time in their lives. Trish also wears the monikers of “mom” (to Michael and Meghan), “wife” (to Steve), “Mrs. Audi” (to her students at Rosa Parks Middle School) and “Cheesehead” (that’s actually not an insult for Trish and her fellow Wisconsonians).
Knowing God’s love is a huge issue for Trish. She’s passionate about working with young people and helping them figure out who they are and who Jesus is to them, “because I struggled in middle and high school with those issues and heard Psalm 139 about how I’m a wonderful work of God.” That realization was a major turning point in Trish’s life, and it’s her dream that each student would come to know how widely and deeply he or she is loved by God, no matter what. And that knowing Jesus and his hope for us can make them a new person with hope for the future as they navigate the sometimes-stormy adolescent years, figuring out who they are.
Inside the barn on Sunday mornings, students and their volunteer leaders hang out and interact over the theme of the day, whether that’s a topic aligned with the message in the main service, or examining how we use our free time/free space, or providing meaningful and often humorous opportunities for truthful sharing. Yet Trish has recently been equally excited by what’s been happening beyond the barn. Regular retreats help build community amongst group members. Students are involved in one another’s lives outside of Cedar Ridge, going to watch each other’s plays and shows. They’re working together virtually to conquer the world in Clash of Clans ; they’ve served the homeless through Grate Patrol; jumped in to help out with our Fall Movie Nights; and collected goods for a Puppy Rescue program. The response to our Guatemala Trip 2015 was also great, as 18 current and recent Cedar Ridge students headed to Ipala with adults during the summer.
Trish recalls a recent discussion when one student declared, “I don’t really care what others think. I can sing about chickens if I want.” Another student, impressed with the other’s self-confidence, replied, “I’m not there yet, but I wish I could say that. I care too much about what others think.” That kind of truthful sharing opens up great opportunities, the kind of opportunities that Trish hopes others at Cedar Ridge who enjoy spending time with young people might experience here by hanging out with our youth. As Trish looks to the year ahead, she’d love to see more adults investing in the lives of our youth. Maybe that means cheering them on at an event, or planning a soccer game, or cooking breakfast for a retreat, or joining in on some adventure. For some, it may mean joining the team of dedicated volunteers who have opened the doors of the barn and walked in to connect with, laugh with, and mentor the middle and high schoolers who gather there on Sunday mornings. If you’d like to check out some of the possibilities of coming alongside Cedar Ridge youth, please be in touch with Trish. For Trish, it’s all about letting our students know that they are loved by us and loved by God. n