Friday, April 29, 2005

YD is in the process of renovating its website. The beginning phases of the new site are finally up. You can check it out at ....there are still lots of things to be worked on, but it gives a fresh appearance to our ministry and does a more cohesive job of explaining who we are and what we do. There are also a few awesome pictures of me on there! So...check it out.

Soul's Core

then I hear a voice from
my soul's core sayin "freedom's just a
metaphor, you got nowhere to go"

Suzanne bought me an old Shawn Mullins CD for my birthday this year, and I've taken up playing it when it seems that my soul's all restless and sad. It's titled Soul's Core, and I suppose it's thus titled because that's where Shawn wrote these songs.

This week has been restless and sad for me for no other reason that it's what I have felt in my soul's core this week. Don't know why exactly (or maybe it's that I do know why and I don't want to admit that such a thing has that much power over me, which is more likely).

I just think it's amazing that we can never really hide what's going on inside--only bury it--and if we bury it, then it just resurfaces I've chosen not to bury it, which has resulted in making for an overall sad state to my week.

I am back on the river this weekend...and thinking about that just makes me feel more tired than I already am. I'll be on the Wenatchee, which is where I was last weekend. The river is big, and I don't plan on being certified on it until at least next summer...but I think being on the river and being with some good friends will bring some healing and rest in itself.

I said "I don't reckon i'll be makin it big,
you know it's hard to get rich
off a tout of coffee house gigs"
and he said "yeah, but ain't it a blessin
to do what you wanna do..."

Monday, April 25, 2005

Is it possible?

Is it possible that during these first few years of youth ministry, the biggest and most significantly changed life in my work will be me?

It feels self-centered to say that...but I know I was reading a youth ministry book where they said that your first TEN years of ministry are about shaping YOU and the time AFTER that is about shaping others.

That doesn't mean that I'm not making an impact with kids. Because I know that I am. I know that I encourage them. Last week when I walked into the cafeteria to sit down with Daniel, I was immediately approached by Kaitlyn (whom I have been trying to connect with and minister to for SIX months) who called me a "Turd" for not immediately coming to sit with her.

I also know that my first thoughts of what I want to share about "What's going on in the ministry," is more about what God is doing inside of me right now to change and shape my heart than about how he's using me to impact students. Maybe it's just because it's what I see more clearly. Maybe it's because it's where progress and change is happening most significantly. Maybe it's because big things are on the horizon and God is prepping me for something that I can't quite see yet.

I do know that I'm waking up every morning and dedicating an hour to the Lord before I come to work and that one hour is starting to define my whole day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Yesterday afternoon, I sat down to talk with K, who came to me last week because her best friend was having an abortion and she wanted to help her.

When K first approached me, I was overwhelmed and heartbroken over a girl I had never even met, wondering why 15-year-olds have to face these choices and why they do it alone. I didn't know K's friend, and in Washington, starting at age 14, girls can go to have abortions and no one has to know about it. The law protects their right to make that choice--and I felt helpless. I called a few close friends and asked them to pray, and I continued to encourage K.

On Friday, K called me, because despite her conversations with her friend and her appeals to her own mother and the school nurse, the friend proceeded to have the abortion. She had felt like it was her only choice, because she has a 4.0, she wants to go to Harvard, and her parents had told her they would "kick her out of the house if she ever got pregnant." Plus, her boyfriend was encouraging her to go through with it, because for him, it's what you do. He had said to her, "You're going to have an abortion, right? It's no big deal. My sister has had four of them."

Posted by Hello

So yesterday, K and I sat in a local cafe, talking about how she feels about all of this and how she can continue to be a good and supportive friend. Through the course of the conversation, I realized that the girl we've been talking about and praying for all week is not some empty face--but actually a girl that I'm acquainted with through one of my other teenagers.

My heart dropped to the floor, and I just cried out, "Oh Lord." Suddenly, all of the pain and the fear had a face, and I could see her right in front of me. I again felt heartbroken and helpless.

Is there anything we can do but pray? It seems so minimalistic to say, "Welp, all we can do is pray for her..." when it feels like we should be able to do more.

Or is prayer, in fact, the best thing that anyone can do for her? I have no power to change her ability to choose and make decisions for herself, but I can pray that the Lord would open her heart and provide an opportunity for myself or for somebody to mentor and speak truth into her life...

I was listening to Kutless this morning, and my favorite song for months has been Perspectives...I pray it for this 15-year old this morning:
"It feels like your life’s crashing down all around you,
Let me ask if it’s really so bad.
Look at the world in it’s suffering,
Can you honestly tell me that no one else could understand
All of the hurting inside?
Why can’t you see
Freedom is sometimes just simply another perspective away?
Who could you be
If your lens was changed for a moment?
Would you still be the same?"

Monday, April 18, 2005

Wholehearted, Part 2.

It's a Monday morning, and my heart is overwhelmingly full.

For lots of reasons--but seriously, mostly because the past few weeks have felt like "Spiritual Renewal Week"....we used to have Spiritual Renewal Weeks at Taylor, but they were never really spiritually renewing for me...and it was annoying because the coffee shop always closed and activities were cancelled and I felt guilty not going to Spiritual Renewal Week, which made it actually rather draining....but now, I have reclaimed the title and am calling my life "Spiritual Renewal Week," even though we're currently at the 10 or 12 day mark of my "Week." I have recommitted my heart fully to the Lord, and I have been spending every morning before work reading His word and praying at the park before I come into the office. It is revolutionizing my whole life. Seriously.

My heart is also full for an obvious reason--that I just returned from a 3-day weekend in Chicago, in which I got to celebrate the engagements of two different friends and relish my wonderful friendships with them. I know some of the most amazingly brilliant and wonderful people in the whole world, and for 3 days, I got to hang out with them and feel so cool by association.

My heart is also full for a less praiseworthy reason--last week, I was approached by a student acquaintance, and she asked me for counsel in help in regards to her best friend, who had decided to abort a pregnancy. My heart cried out to the Lord on behalf of this girl, whom I've never met, and I prayed, "Why have you appointed me to this place? I don't know or understand any of what these girls are going through." But I was just so filled with a love and desire to serve, that I was pouring energy into this girl without thinking twice--NOT to the point of my own emptiness, but out of my overwhelming overabundance. And I thought--this is where we should always be in full-time ministry...It seems to be much more effective and like it's actually accomplishing something besides burnout.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


I am writing this post from Chicago, where I currently sit with several friends, talking about life and telling silly stories.

Why am I in Chicago? Because one of my best friends in the whole world--Hannah Faith--is engaged to be married, and as a special engagement present, her fiance Jon organized a cross-continental bash in her honor. So he has bought me a ticket and ensured my safe delivery to the Windy City, where friend Ruth and I were able to effectively surprise Hannah (whom I have not seen since we nearly died in a car accident last June and since I thought she nearly died in the Tsunami).

Thus far, we have enjoyed much merrymaking, and a very nice Indian dinner (which Hannah and Jon selected, being Indian food connosieurs), and there is still much merrymaking to come in the next 24 hours.

I was also able to visit with my other amazingly wonderful engaged friends--Suzanne and Barrett, who conveniently were in Chicago this weekend too.

The weekend has had many amazingly joyous moments, and it has been a refreshing release to some heartfelt missing of loved ones I have been succinctly experiencing the last few weeks. I'm convinced that it's not a 'home-sick-ness' since I have never called one place, 'home,' but I am still keenly aware that it is impossible for me to love all of the people in my life at once, because they all seem to plant themselves terribly far apart.....alas....I have good friends; I am with them...and when I return to Washington tomorrow, I will return to good friends and be with them. Praise Jesus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Off to the Park

Posted by Hello
It is a Wednesday afternoon. It is beautiful and sunny outside. Youth Group starts in three hours, and it appears that there is nothing major on my agenda until then. Therefore, I go to the park to read a book about Youth Ministry that I've been wanting to have time to read for months....Last night--in the book I was reading, it said that our work with others should always be an overflowing out of our already full cup. Seems to me that most people don't love each other on this level--and I would like to....therefore, I go to the park.

Monday, April 11, 2005


The Lord has really gotten ahold of me the last week or so. It's rather crazy to think about, the eyes of my heart have just been reopened, and I didn't even know they were closed in the first place. Like--I've been doing what I've been supposed to be doing, I've been 'obedient', I've been 'intentional', yet I wake up one morning and feel like my spirit has been asleep, and I don't even recall the last time it was awake.

On Friday evening, I was at the laundromat, sitting on a big laundry table waiting for my dryer load to finish, reading John Eldredge's Waking the Dead. I read the book two years ago, and it helped me really rejuvinate and refocus my life, and I realized this week that my heart was in need of some repair work, so I picked it back up.

Wihin a few pages, the Lord revealed to me that my heart had it had been scarred over the past few months, and that I had yet to ask for healing. So I invited in the Lord's healing power, and was immediately overwhelmed with intense peace and joy, so powerful that I practically burst into tears on the Laundromat table.

Within a few minutes, the phone rang--it was one of my best-good-friends, Hannah, who is recently engaged and has recently returned from India--and I was so excited to talk with her. In the midst of that conversation, a call rang in from another best-good-friend Suzanne, who was calling to tell me that she had just been proposed to a few hours before.

And my heart was joy-filled, and I was so excited to share in their excitements and anticipations that my heart was nearly bursting.

At the same time my heart was being healed, I was also meditating on what my weekend would look like. The theme for Reachout's summer (Reachout Expeditions being the Adventure Ministry Branch of YD, whom I will be guiding for this summer). The theme for the summer is--ironically--"Wholehearted." I was not feeling "Wholehearted" about going to training this weekend. The last weekend of training was hard, cold, frustrating, humbling, and a bazillion other difficult and not-good emotions. I didn't want to go--or I at least wanted to go "half-hearted." But no--the Lord said--I have healed your heart, and you will go Wholehearted.

( Jaws on the Sauk) Posted by Hello

After two good runs on the Skagit on Saturday, n Sunday--we tackled a much bigger river--The Sauk. It was not the intention that we would learn to guide on the Sauk, but that we would learn more about how to read the river and respond quickly to situations in faster-moving water.

I was intimidated, especially when within ten minutes of putting-in on the river, one of the boats (being guided by our Rafting Coordinator) was wrapped around a tree with a Senior Guide straddling the tree, suspended a few feet above the river. But--the time that I spent navigating through some of the lesser rapids, stranding us on a few rocks, and learning from it all, made the whole process seem so good and exciting (even when I fell out of the boat into the 35 degree moving water).

Near the end of our day, I guided a boat-full of my comrades through "Jaws", a Class III rapid, and my trainers commended me on an amazing job, giving me big Paddle High-5's. I was ready to burst off the boat in glee that I had shown progress and big successes, until I was immediately humbled by spending the next 10 minutes working us off of the 10 rocks on which the boat got stranded (causing my trainers to retort, "What happened to YOU?!") Aaaaah....I am very much still a student.

So on Monday morning, I feel Wholehearted, I feel Empowered, I feel richly connected and centered on the Lord's will for my life, and I am excited to minister to kids this week.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Spring Breakity-Break.

This week has been all about recovery and denouement after the big event, and it feels like for the most part, April/May/June will be all about normalcy and winding down the annual ministries before summer. Not to say that it's time to fall asleep, only that there's not much BIG on the agenda that I haven't handled before, so there's lots of time and energy to focus on one-on-one and small group ministry again. It's spring break, so I get calls from very bored teenagers everyday, and it's fun just to have time to talk.

One of the bigger rapids on the Sauk.
This may eat me for breakfast tomorrow.
Posted by Hello

Tomorrow--is Weekend #2 of Raft Guide Training. I'm actually dreading it. It's been three weeks since I was in the water, which is certainly enough time to lose any confidence I had when I stepped out of the water. Luckily, I will be riding up with my friends Greg and Danica, and if anybody has the ability to help me get to where I need to be--it would be the two of them. When I told Danica that my trainers said I needed to be more aggressive, she tackled me and then flexed off her very impressive rafting muscles. I'm now chanting in my head *Be Aggressive. B-E Aggressive. B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E* I'm really a wuss by nature, so sometimes raft guide training feels like it opposes everything I am. This weekend, we will be tackling both the Skagit and the Sauk. Ack!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bob's Island Getaway: The Recap.

BLECK! This weekend. Long--interesting--full of stories to share. Here is a very lengthy recap--but it's full of some funny moments, interesting characters and good stories, so, if you have ten minutes today, stop and read. If you have one minute today, then just read this: everything went well, all of my kids (and myself) returned fully intact and with all of our limbs, and everyone liked the T-shirts.

Group Shot. Posted by Hello


At 1:30pm on Friday Afternoon, we loaded up three vans full of kids at the Arlington Chevron and headed north to Anacortes to catch the ferry to San Juan Island. The kids were nervous and excited. The music was blaring. The energy level was high (most noted by vans full of boys testing the swaying power of the shocks on the 15-passenger vans.) We were leaving for Bob's Island Getaway.

In my particular vehicle, there were two nervous 8th graders who were clinging to each other as human security blankets (and checking their eyeliner every five minutes) and one VERY enthusiastic sophomore, who had made 12 new best friends within 20 minutes of arriving in the ferry line. I sighed with relief as my friend Esther hopped in the Suburban with me, and we made tactical plans to combine our two groups (I had recruited her to help out as a small group leader with Skagit Valley YD, but there was only one girl coming from Skagit Valley, so they had a group of 2).

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Friday night was full of getting oriented--meeting our host family for the weekend (The Kitchen Family), eating dinner, hearing a brief word from our speaker, Rusty Van Deusen, and a few songs from our musician, John Van Deusen. We trekked back to the Kitchen home, got settled into the camper where we were staying, and awkwardly tried to go about having a group discussion with these two insecure Arlington 8th graders, this enthusiastic Arlington sophomore, the two Kitchen girls (who have grown up on San Juan Island and are homeschooled) and now a brand-new face--our new friend from Esther's group, who loves the military and practices survival training in the woods with Army retirees.

We were up early, only to find Mrs. Kitchen had prepared us homemade pancakes and sausage! Woohoo! It was raining--but it was bound to be a great day when there are beautiful pancakes to start it off with.

My stomach was churning, because I was going to be sharing a devotional with the entire camp before we headed off for morning activities, and I was pretty convinced I was going to be boring, non-entertaining, and irrelevant.

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Brian Williams, from Oak Harbor YD introduced me as "recently moved from Ohio, likes Strawberry-Banana Yogurt, lived in Africa, and wears Secret Ultra Dry." And that being said--I launched into telling some humorous descriptions of childhood, shared the most shameful thing I've ever done, and talked about Jonah's apathy hiding in the belly of a fish, saying that "he evidently preferred sitting inside intestines with seaweed wrapped around his head to saying that he was wrong." It was all very heart-wrenching to share, and afterwards, staff and kids were approaching me saying, "Heather. I felt like you were talking right to me. You were up there, and it felt like you were just having a conversation with me. You have a gift." It was so refreshing to have my YD family know and respect me as a public speaker, because it's something I love doing.

After praying for our day, the girls and I (now up to seven girls and two leaders with the addition of the two Kitchen girls and another Friday Harbor teen) went to our daily activities of Sailing on a 38-foot Sailing Yacht and playing paintball with the boys from Moses Lake YD. There was a moment during the sailing, when Esther and two of the girls and I were all scrunched up on the very front of the bow crying out "I'm flying," and straddling the boat for dear life as the sails filled and we were pushed violently to the right. We discussed the question I had left them with during the morning devotion, "What do you really care about?" and laughed as we smacked onto the waves like we were riding a roller coaster.

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Paintball was a very humorous experience, and I actually only lasted about five minutes, before I was so un-entertained by the whole thing that I returned to the hat I was knitting. I did proudly commend all of my girls' welts and snap photos when they returned with paint splattered across their foreheads and through their hair. And later on, I watched the jaws of the Arlington boys drop to the floor when I reavealed that I had found paintball boring.

(The boys who can't believe I find paintball boring.) Posted by Hello

By Saturday night, after hearing a great message from Rusty and great music from John, we returned as a group of nine girls to Esther's host family to talk about whether we cope with pain and emptiness by filling our lives with stuff (like King Solomon) or retreating from it (like Kurt Cobain). Some of our girls were retreaters, some were fillers, but we all became very aware that we try to fill up voids in our lives that only God can fill.

(Main Session with John and Rusty.)Posted by Hello

I literally dragged the girls out of bed, cursing the man who decided Daylight Savings Time was a good idea, dragged them into the Suburban and dragged them to the Fairgrounds, where we heard an amazing devotional from my friend Jade, who shared the deepest struggles of her heart. Another poignant start to a morning.

Our morning activity was rappelling at a State Park, and while I was excited, the cold, the rain, and the lack of sleep had the girls pretty discouraged and cranky. In fact--one of the girls from the Island put her foot down and refused to ascend the hill, demanding that she would stay in the parking lot until her mother arrived to pick her up. I was extremely frustrated at this apparent temper tantrum, and even more frustrated because I had been looking forward to rappelling with the girls for two months...

God--evidently--had other purposes for me.

I sat with the Island girl and with Liz, one of the Rock guides, in the Suburban for an hour and a half, talking about life and God, giving off the impression that we were in no rush and could stay in the Suburban all day. After a few hours of talking and sharing with each other, building a relationship and connecting, I finally asked her if we could please go up the hill because it had stopped raining, and I really needed to take some photos of my kids.

She conceded, and when we got up the hill, she conceded to putting on a harness, and when we got to the top of the rock, she even conceded to helping belay other rappellers down the rock. It was a very small victory, but at the time, getting that girl to walk up the hill and put on a harness made me feel like I had just completed some epic quest, and that at any moment, the people who judge Youth Ministry victories were going to leap from the bushes, crown my head with laurels, and hoist me onto their shoulders crying out, "Praise God for you! You amazing embodiment of Christ's amazing love and character!"

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This did not happen, obviously, and by lunchtime, the rain had five of the remaining six girls getting whiney. Esther and I looked at each other and sighed--launching into a backup plan of skipping Kayaking to go shopping and sit in a coffee shop.

It turned out that dry clothes, the appearance of the afternoon sun, and the opportunity to buy really expensive designer clothing is all one needs to lift the spirits of a few cranky teenage girls. By dinner time, it was on par to being quote "one of the best days of their lives."

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At our evening session (during which I dismissed our girls to go to the bathroom at least 27 separate times, chased down some Motrin, found them bottled water, helped them clean up spilled bottle water, and fended off the advances of several boys who found worship time and listening time to be the appointed time to distract/tease/impress my girls), Rusty shared about the power of Christ's ability to heal us and offerred students the opportunity to make a new commitment or a recommitment if they had been living apart from Him.

The amazing part of Sunday evening, though, was returning back to the Kitchens, our mismatched group of seven girls and Esther and myself, and launching into a long, heartfelt discussion and exploration of Christ's love. The spirit filled the room with amazing peace, and girls who had been silent all weekend began to open up and share, while the rest opened up and encouraged. We talked about our hearts, the condition of our hearts, and where it is within ourselves that Christ comes to fill us.

Then--Esther and I asked each of the girls for one specific way that we can pray for them after we leave this place, and we all looked at each other, knowing that this night had been very special. Not wanting to end on too much of a deep point, we joined the Skagit Valley YD boys for a bonfire and S'mores to close out our final evening on the Island.


Our final morning--we cleaned everything up, said our goodbyes to the Kitchens, and made our way to the ferry line. The girls were running around, doing their final flirting and watching boys participate in competitions to prove their manliness by sampling the hottest sauces at Friday Harbor's "hot sauce" store. As I gathered my remaining three girls (seeming so small from our weekend group of nine), they launched into a sentimental spiel of "This was the best weekend of our lives! I don't want to go back."

On the ferry ride home, I crashed near my friend Sarah, exhausted, and realizing I had caught a cold, and she let me pour out a bit of what the weekend had been to me. I realized through just a few moments of talking to her, that God had moved throughout the midst of the entire weekend, and He had shown Himself so vividly in the way my group had come together.

As we drove off the ferry and entered Anacortes, my girls cried out, "I can't believe it's over! Omigosh, thank you so much for inviting me," and I laughed so hard, because the one who was praising the weekend the most was the same one that I thought hated me for the first three days of the trip. was 5:30pm yesterday before I finally arrived home and fell onto my couch, praising God for an empty living room.

The Weekend Themes: God showed up (of course), the weekend for our group went off relatively hitchless, and the ministry that happened came in moments of encouraging a girl to climb up a hill on a rainy day and listening to girls open their hearts up to Christ in a simple living room.

And now--after taking like two hours to write this entry. I'm going to go home and recoup.

Friday, April 01, 2005

In Honor of April Fools Day... coworker Brian called me at 6:30am to let me know it was "Bob's Island Getaway Day." Apparently the people who had to get up at 4am to catch the 6am ferry to San Juan Island felt like sharing the love.

Fortunately, my phone was in the other room.

This is a big improvement on my last prank phone call from him, which involved me assuaging the anger and fears of what I thought to be an angry businessman who had seen some YD kids making obscene gestures and upsetting his customers.

Aaaah. I love YD.

Countdown to Bob's...

Ahhh--and life works out as it should. We're up to fifteen kids for the weekend (including three girls! hooray! and we will be meeting up with three Island girls when we arrive) and we're loading up the vans this afternoon to head out.

Please remember Bob's Island Getaway in your prayers this weekend. There will be about a hundred kids from all over Washington participating in lots of activities and hearing a great speaker and participating in some amazing worship.

(And by the way, the T-Shirts are all here and intact. I feel like a very heavy/cottony burden has been lifted.)

Me. San Juan Island. Bob's Island Getaway. Four Days. Six Teenage Girls. Ministry. My YD Family. Aaaaahh.