Yosemite National Park will always hold a special place in Mike Tiemann’s heart. And it’s not just because he spent a summer working there, which he did. Or the fact that he met his wife that same summer, which he did. It’s because for the first time, Mike found himself around people who believed in something he believed in, too. A faith he’d found on his own, through the pages of Scripture.

As a kid, Mike, who didn’t grow up attending church regularly, had some really big questions. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is this really all there is? What happens when we die? As a teenager, all of these questions led Mike to finally open a copy of the New Testament that his grandmother had given him years before. Mike read through the text from start to finish and found answers to all those big questions he’d been wrestling with. The seed of faith had been planted, but to grow in his faith, Mike needed community.

And that’s what he found that summer in Yosemite. For the first time, he was surrounded by a group of believers who loved Jesus, but weren’t overzealous or pushy or super holy. They were just like him, only they’d been walking with God a bit longer. Through those friendships, Mike’s faith began to flourish. It’s also when he discovered John 10:10 and the whole idea of merely existing versus truly living. Jesus came to bring us life for eternity. But He also came to bring us abundant life, a life lived to the full right now.

Mike graduated from the University of Puget Sound and moved south to be near his future wife. He soon landed his first “real” job, working for a company that produced hunting and construction magazines, two subjects he couldn’t have known less about. Having graduated with a degree in English, Mike never thought he’d serve on a church staff. But a five-year stint as a preschool worship leader, roving from classroom to classroom with his guitar, led to ten years on full-time staff, five of those leading the elementary team at a local church.

Mike now works for Orange full time as the large group director for 252 Kids. When he was asked to write a kids devotional that would be based on the idea of living fully alive, he was, well, “amped.” While Mike has been a contributing writer of large group scripts and GodTime devotionals for several years, this is his first children’s devotional for 252 Kids. As he was writing this book, he thought about what he wished he could go back and say to himself as a kid.

Mike and his wife, Julie, have two elementary-age girls, Amelia and Lily. Two summers ago, Mike took a trip back to Yosemite to show his girls where his faith was first ignited. It was surreal to visit that place that had meant so much to him, to look around the circle into the faces of his family and recognize his abundant life. But then again, that’s what Jesus meant by living a life that’s fully alive.

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