Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Know when to hold them.

Balancing Depth and Breadth seems to be a significant theme for me this year. It applies in relationships with the kids (Quality v. Quantity) as well as with other youth pastors and churches...how can I be everything to everybody in ministry? The obvious answer--I can't. The practical questions are 'how do I deal with not being able to build relationships with every student and Youth Pastor' and 'how do I decide which students and Youth Pastors to invest in?'

Today--for whatever reason, I have been singing Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" in my head. WHY!? WHY? I don't even remember having heard that song on the radio ever..."You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away and know when to run." So is being in ministry a bit like being a gambler? And how do I 'know' when to hold them, when to fold them, etc.? What if I fold a kid I was supposed to hold just because I wasn't willing to take a risk...or what if I hold onto a kid that I'm never going to reach?! And most importantly, WHY am I trying to glean wisdom from Kenny Rogers?

I really am a horrible gambler. And I feel like I'm really horrible at knowing when to hold and fold my kids...I don't want to fold them....but I also don't want to be playing my hand and look down to realize I'm holding 47 cards...It's too many.

So today, I'm not praying for any more cards in my hand. I have enough cards. In fact, I almost have too many cards...I don't need any more cards...But I do need to know my hand better...and I do need to know when to hold them and when to fold them...

Monday, November 29, 2004

Idaho: The Land Where Dreams Come True.

The top 5 most exciting highlights from my Thanksgiving weekend jaunt to Kennewick, WA and Nampa, ID with Mark, Cindy, Corrin, and Paula Spencer (in no particular order):

1. Holiday football games. Not that any of them were too exciting, with the Lions performing so poorly, Craig Krenzel getting injured, and the Seahawks making a rather pitiful Sunday showdown. BUT, I realize I really do love football, and for whatever reason, I find it very easy to get excited about.

2. Spending approximately 25 hours in the car with the Spencer family. By the drive home yesterday, I decided that if we were an episode of "Full House," Corrie could be D.J., Paula could be Stephanie, and I could be Kimmy Gibler. I really did feel like a long-lost cousin by the end of the trip. Mark laughingly told his mother that I had been officially initiated into the family and endured all the necessary hazing. I think it was I who actually initiated them...praise the Lord they were tolerant and receptive to five days worth of my stories and jokes.

3. Campus Life--our weekend in Idaho was spent at Homecoming 2004 of Northwest Nazarene University. We watched basketball games, saw a campus play and frolicked in the Idaho snow. It made me very nostalgic for the joys of college life and inspired me to continue praying about and learning about Graduate programs for some future time.

4. Thanksgiving Dinner--I had three Thanksgiving dinners in eight days, and I'm really overwhelmed with the gloriousness of Thanksgiving dinner. In a way, I think it really is my favorite holiday, because it's not nearly as overwhelming and material as Christmas, AND, it seems to be all about anticipation--because it finally means we can sing Christmas songs and watch Christmas movies and people won't think we're weird. (I have already watched Christmas with the Kranks, Home Alone, and Love Actually in honor of Christmas.)

5. Snow. We saw lots of snow this weekend in Idaho and drove through a lot of snow at the Meachem pass in Oregon. In Western Washington, there is very little snow...but to see snow in Idaho and Oregon--well, my heart rejoiced a bit...and it rejoiced even more knowing that my Christmas will be in the Midwest and I will not want for snow after that.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Starbuck's Counseling.

I love taking my girls to Starbuck's for coffee--not that I love Starbuck's coffee, because I don't--but because I love that I can buy them a drink and we can pull up big overstuffed red chairs and talk about stuff.

I'm feeling really challenged lately to make Christ a more central topic of my relationships with these girls. We're just now getting to the point in three of my relationships that I can challenge them and hold them accountable and really challenge them to put Jesus first in their life. Yesterday, I was able to sit in Starbuck's with one of my girls and finally turn the conversation towards Christ in a manner that didn't seem oppressive, but genuinely seemed like I cared about her spiritual well-being. Because I do. It wasn't the right time to ask her directly to invite Jesus into her heart...but the Holy Spirit and I were communicating, and I know it will tell me when the right time is.

This afternoon, I leave for Idaho with my roommate and her family, and we'll return on Sunday...so I leave you for the joyous land of potatoes and Napoleon Dynamite, and for that, my heart rejoices!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The O.C. and ME!

Alright--I admit it. My roommate, Corrie, and I watch The O.C.. (Thursday Nights on FOX, 8pm PST). I thought it was a fun 20-something addiction, to have ONE silly TV show in your weekly lineup. And the only TV we watch at all is The O.C. and Seahawks football.

Anyways--today at a Youth Pastor's meeting, we discussed our January Ski Retreat that YD and a few local churches are planning together. We were discussing themes for an event such as this, and I laughed to say how funny it would be to spoof The O.C....and Pastor Nathan and Pastor Harv liked my idea a LOT, meaning that we're going to now shoot video footage of our own kids spoofing The O.C. to promote the Snow Retreat.

I'm rather embarrassed that an unhealthy addiction is going to result in a hundred kids being confronted with an O.C. spoof...but at the same time, if you want to seriously mock anything in pop culture right now, I think the O.C. is it....so...

Monday, November 22, 2004

Gregoire v. Rossi.

i live in a state where as of today, we still do not know who won the governor's race. How unnerving.

My kids like turkey.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Dinner at my church, meaning 200 of us or so had a glorious sit-down Thanksgiving Dinner together! They made REAL mashed potatoes, of which I ate too many and felt a bit TOO stuffed by the end of the evening. I am certainly excited to be in Ohio over break, but I just realized that being in Ohio means NOT being in Washington...so I'm glad to share one holiday with one church family and the other holiday with my home church family.

The best part was many of my silly teenagers who were causing a ruckus in the back corner. I'm growing rather attached to them...and I'm also pretty excited, because I have finally officially volunteered as a youth leader with my church's Youth Group. Up until this point, I've just been showing up and hanging out with kids, and I finally decided, YES, I can commit. I am very excited to work with the Youth Pastor and all of the Youth Staff at the church, AND, with 60 kids showing up every week, I know they appreciate the extra help. I get to be a part of a bit of the planning for next year, AND, my roommate and I are perhaps going to start up some coffee chats in the Youth Center Cafe after the first of the year!

I am prepping to spend Thanksgiving Break with my roommate and her family in South Central Washington and then spend the weekend in IDAHO! I am very excited that my life is at the point where I am able to road trip to IDAHO, it being a seemingly disguised place to visit, like North Dakota or Delaware or New Mexico. I will be sure to mention any exciting Idaho adventures.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Praises in YD Land.

I received an staff email this morning from YD President, Mark Evans. Eight months ago, Youth Dynamics applied for a grant from the "Murdock Foundation" for funding to be used to hire two "Regional Campus Directors" for Youth Dynamics. These positions will take administrative pressure off of Mark as well as allow for lots of growth and development for YD Campus ministries over the next two years.

Mark received a call this morning and writes: "The trustees have approved our proposal. This means that they will help fund $262,620.00 over the next three years. I am so excited about what this could mean for our ministry in the next handful of years!"

Over a quarter of a million dollars to YD over the next three years?! Praise the Lord! LAAA!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

My brain is a big, fat, fried egg.

It's 7pm on the west coast...and I have not stopped going since 7am yesterday morning! The last 36 hours, minus the 7 hour pause for sleep, have been jam-packed with meetings and seminars, and my brain is fried!

We had a corporate-wide training seminar on support raising, along with a team meeting for our planning committee for "Tsunami," an event in Spring '05, which I will mention later. For now, I only ask that you look confidently at the computer screen and cry out in a pensive, whispered voice, "Tsunami!"

All of the 24 hours of meetings and seminars were helpful, informative, challenging, growing, etc...all of it will help me be a BETTER leader for my kids....

BUT after two days of meetings, I miss my girls, and I can't wait to catch up with a few of them tomorrow.

When I told Carrie that I wouldn't be at school for lunch on Tuesdays like I always am, she said, "but, you'll call me, right? or--I'll call you!" I said, "call me whenever you want." During my 20 hours of meetings, she called five times. I feel loved.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Be Exalted, O God.

Yesterday morning, I sat in my seat at Arlington Free Methodist Church, (my new church home,) and I cried out to God. The worship songs yesterday were just that--worship. We sang, "Be Exalted, O God among the heavens. Let Thy Glory Be Over All the Earth." We sang more. "Lord, I give you my Heart, I give You my soul. I live for You alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I'm awake. Lord, have Your way in me."

Lots of things about my job and my life have felt so confusing lately, and it's easy to ask God WHY it's all so hard. And I should not have been surprised that yesterday's sermon would include passages about Job. I remember the responses that Job received when he cried out, "why?" so instead of asking God WHY, I cried out with praise....be exalted....Lord, have Your way in me....

I hope that my praise will be a blessing to Him.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

consumerism and the holidays.

Tomorrow, as a fun activity for my Monday Night Girls...we are spending the day at the biggest shopping mall in Washington State. I'm not sure if it serves a spiritual purpose at all, other than I will spend lots of time praying and fasting throughout the event as I squeamishly accompany four 15-17 year-olds around the mall.

Pray for us...for safe travel and a safe, fun time at the mall on the day when we're supposed to be honoring Veteran's....which we are, I guess, by exercising the freedom to purchase material goods.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Sty in My Eye Has Gone Awry.

I am very proud of that rhyming Title, you know.

Anyways...so, my eye is starting to swell shut because of this lovely sty..but I did get to use my Health Insurance for the first time today to have the very friendly Physician's Assistant say "Put a Warm Compress on your eye, and if it's not better in 2-3 days, call me." Oh my.

I really think it will be fine, and the whole process was rather entertaining because my roommate is the main office girl at the Doctor's Office, and her dad is one of two MD's in the practice. Therefore, the attending PA who checked me out referred to me as "practically related." It was all very friendly and fun.

Now, if only my eye will quickly return to its normal, pain-free size, then I will truly rejoice.

Scrapbooking Queens.

One of my girls showed up to Bible Study last night with ten more pages filled in her worship journal. It included sketches, quotes, clippings, a few brainstorming webs, and a paper mosaic rainbow....

The other girl made a pastel drawing of a cross with Jesus' name written across it....

My girls are AWESOME!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


"Lord, I crawled across the barrenness to You with an empty cup uncertain in asking any small drop of refreshment. If only I had known You better, I'd have come running with a bucket." Nancy Spiegelberg.

Quote taken from an article by James Gottry, which you can read here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

"Worship is what we are--

living, breathing, walking arrows that are always pointing to Christ." --Jason Morant.

There's this poster hanging on the wall in my office with this quote on it from Christian musician Jason Morant...and I read it everyday wondering if I'm an arrow pointing to Christ.

Last night, the Monday night girls and I discussed worship again, and I was amazed to see two of the girls return with pages and pages filled in their worship journals with photos, candy wrappers, journal entries, and sketches! It was great.

We meditated on Psalm 95 while listening to Barber's Adagio, and I read a passage about the Incarnation from Madeleine L'Engle's Bright Evening Star. At the end, the girls said "Awesome." It was my fervent prayer that last night could be a time where we could draw together in the presence of God, and we really did. And the best part--is that the girls understand that it's not limited to my living room or Monday nights...they are beginning to understand they can meet God anytime and anywhere...and that's so encouraging.

Monday, November 01, 2004

A few of my favorite kids at The Mud Hut last Monday Night. Since costumes were optional, we turned out to be the brave few... Posted by Hello

The aftermath of cooking with the Monday Night Girls in my apartment a few weeks back. The scarier part was when all we walked into the grocery store fifteen minutes later covered in floury handprints. Posted by Hello

A Weekend of Small

I spent all day Friday and Saturday in Moses Lake, WA at the "Rural Youth Ministry Conference" designed as training for youth ministers working in non-urban areas.

Besides getting to fellowship with lots of other youth workers from Washington and Montana, I also got to spend time with some of my favorite YD/RE staff, which was certainly a blast (especially when it involves an extremely animated game of darts, in which i promise that i did not break any darts....okay, wait. i cannot make that promise.)

I was reminded of a few key points about my ministry work here in Arlington: #1--none of my work or programs will succeed if they are not birthed out of prayer and God's leading. #2--in order to discern which doors God is opening and which He is closing, it means you may need to actually walk through a few without knowing if it's going to open or close. #3--I am meeting more and more youth workers who have been doing this for 20+ years, and their wisdom is inspiring. It inspires me to not become an "average" youth worker, who bails after 2-3 years....because it seems like it takes at least 5 years just to get your feet on the ground anyways (I am still only committed to YD Arlington through June 2006, however. No long-term planning yet.)

Yesterday, I returned home to my own Small Ministry to take two of my unchurched girls to my church in the morning and go running with one in the afternoon. It is certainly a privilege to spend time with them and be a part of their lives...and I'm just very curious about where God is going to take them this year.