thoughts worth sharing

Currently reading: Crazy Love, by Francis Chan

Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God. -RC Sproul, p. 26

This is what really got me:
Did you know that a caterpillar has 228 separate and distinct muscles in its head? That's quite a few, for a bug. The average elm tree has approximately 6 million leaves on it. And your own heart generates enough pressure as it pumps blood throughout your body that it could squirt blood up to 30 feet.
Have you ever thought about how diverse and creative God is? He didn't have to make hundreds of different kinds of bananas, but He did. He didn't have to put 3,000 different species of trees within one square mile in the Amazon jungle, but He did. God didn't have to create so many kinds of laughter. Think about the different sounds of your friends' laughes- wheezes, snorts, silent, loud, obnoxious.
How about the way plants defy gravity by drawing water upward from the ground into their stems and veins? Or did you know that spiders produce three kinds of silk? When they build their webs, they create 60 feet of silk in one hour, simultaneously producing special oil on their feet that prevents them from sticking to their own web. Coral plants are so sensitive that they can die if the water temperature varies by even one or two degrees...
Whatever God's reason for such diversity, creativity, and sophistication in the universe, on earth, and in our own bodies, the point of it all is His glory. God's art speaks of Himself, reflecting who He is and what He's like. -Chan p 27,28

quote of the day

Julie: "We found a square dance caller for the fall festival, but he can't hear anything."

lessons from myspace

so for my status on myspace, i put "learning time management," but when it posted, it said:

Status: Kara is learning time management Just Now.

it made me laugh haha, like myspace is mad because it took me so long to learn time management.

it's the little things in life that get us through, huh?


What's a "youth room?"

we're working on redesigning our youth room; a lot of ideas have come in, and our leadership team is narrowing in on a decision. i found an interesting article a few minutes ago that will help us filter what goes in and what doesn't, so i thought i'd share it:

read it here.

the main idea of the article: The Youth Room should be 5 things:
1. homey- representing the youth ministry as a family
2. holy- a sacred space for students to connect with God
3. inviting- first impressions matter. is the room marked by your students, or is it a place everyone can feel welcome in?
4. a refuge- students should have a place to feel safe; we can't keep assuming they have it at home.
5. fun- HELLO, IT'S A YOUTH ROOM! design it with teens in mind!



this week: is off to a sleepy start. mainly because my dog was sick all night. poor kid. i think i have a lot on my plate this week, but i can't really remember what any of it is...

on my to-do list: develop new Flipside series [Mirror Image], work on 'Best Life Ever'' series for all the kids

excited about: i'll get back to you on this one.

procrastinating about: the book proposal. i still haven't got around to it :\

book i’m in the midst of: I just got "Chasing Harry Winston," and i heard it was good, so we'll see. there's not a lot of extra time these days.

music that caught my attention this week:
older stuff, mostly from the 50s.


one of those mornings

mondays and thursdays are always rough. bleh.

the good thing is that today i'm finally going to start working on my book proposal. i need to reconfigure chapters... it's kind of choppy. i guess i don't know how to make it flow, since the focus is all these different profiles. but it will work out :)

God is crazy good. He's doing a lot around here, and rarely does He get credit for it.

tennis match tonight at CCHS, followed by some writing and then the return of Grey's. 2 hours. they should have just made it a movie...



this week: feels like every other week, and doesn't seem to be going the way i planned.

on my to-do list: book proposal, HSM message, Flipside message, shareholder's banquet

excited about: the county-wide youth director gathering tomorrow morning. [not excited about: it's at 8 AM]

procrastinating about: [see to-do list]

book i’m in the midst of: The Pidgin Bible

music that caught my attention this week: The White Tie Affair. good stuff.

anticipating: not a lot right now. i guess thats a good thing.

youth ministry 101

my head has been swarming lately. there's all these ideas and things i'd like to accomplish, so i've been having a hard time focusing on what really matters. in the search for bigger and better programming, i've forgotten the basics. i think this happens more often in ministry than any of us would like to admit. we want our churches to be like Saddleback or Willowcreek or [insert catchy megachurch here], but that's not who we've been called to be. Every church has an identity, a brand they're trying to represent, so when we try to be each other, we'll fail miserably.

trying to define your brand is hard. it means you have to know who you are and, presumably, who you aren't. it's been a hard thing to wrap my brain around and i don't think it's one of those overnight things. but knowing your identity as a ministry is so important, because it makes it easier to know where you're going, what you're capable of.

there's a few things i do know, regarding our identity as a ministry: we're relational, missional, and artistic. we want to know the real Jesus. we like to have fun, and we have a twisted sense of humor. we worry about our friends because we care for them deeply. we're a little off-kilter. we walk the tightrope between being open and being comfortable.

i think i like words too much to be able to narrow that down. buh.


Why I ended up at Innovate08

the most important thing i heard these past few days came from one of the last moments in Innovate08:

"Between the Promise and the Payoff…there is always a process. We forget the promise, and forfeit the payoff because we’ve fainted in the process. The process wasn’t pointless! The process was the point! God is preparing you in the process. God is training you!” -Steven Furtick, Charlotte, NC [Elevation Church]

We faint in the process when it becomes to heavy of a burden, to hard to wade [or wallow] through. The Lifechurch guys talked about it, too:

The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be Is the pain you’re unwilling to endure. Our capacity will be found at our ability to endure pain. -LifeChurch

being faithful in the good times is easy. it's when the darkness comes and our light grows dim that we have a hard time remembering the promises of God. this impact message was exactly what my spirit needed to get out of this slump i've been in. everything that could go wrong lately has, so it was extremely encouraging to be reminded that this whole process isn't pointless, but the point behind everything. remaining faithful is key. david remained faithful in delivering cheese and bread, and then shepherding for his father, and through that faithfulness, he was put in the right place at the right time to hear Goliath talking crap, and to take Goliath down. It was only possible for David to do this because of the process he had endured prior to this time.

never forget that God is good. never forget that He is always working in your life, even if it seems He's abandoned you. we all go through those seasons- people sometimes assume ministers don't, but i think it hits even harder when we do, because the world is looking to you for the Light of Christ. But God is ALWAYS good, ALWAYS faithful, ALWAYS loving, and ALWAYS THERE. if we could respond to His character with a reflection, how beautiful would life be? the pain isnt fun to go through [obviously], but how much more apparent is God's love when the storm passes? His provision seems endless.

here i go with another long post, but today out of nowhere, i sat down with a publisher and we discussed my book idea... he thought it was a great idea! [lets all pause for a moment of shock]. i was asked to submit a proposal, and i was encouraged to flesh out this crazy vision God placed on my heart during my senior year at Bethel. this was something that I never thought would happen, because honestly, it seems so much bigger than anything i could ever accomplish, and let's face it, bigger than my current credentials might allow. but that's the thing about God- His promises ARE so much bigger than we ever could understand. everything about Him is so INTENSE and wonderful, and with Him, anything is possible. we've got to stop fainting in the process and start pressing on towards the promise. we owe it to ourselves and to the world around us to strive towards the image and Kingdom of God, in order to bring heaven to earth. We need to start believing in ourselves the way God believes in us. With faith like that, we can change the world.


Breakout 1: DC Curry

Innovate 08- Casual Q and A's on Student Ministry Programming
[warning: this will probably be a jumbled mess, because i wrote a lot of notes down]

-train how YOU do ministry, not how another church does it.
-get a good beat on where your kids are at; do a TON of surveys, ask questions, search their hearts.
-Programming starts with biblical truth, then a relevant topic, then a cultural theme.
-what can you give students that they can't get anywhere else?
-help students understand that they're part of something bigger than youth group and bigger than their world view
-figure out how to get into the schools and then use that to rub shoulders with students
-have a laser focus on who you're trying to reach
-make communities; make sure there's always a leader to shepherd those communities
-don't manufacture moments
-make sure each kid has three or four really good friends to graduate with

Session 2: Shawn Wood

Innovate 08- Brand Schizophrenia

"Stuff" - anything and everything; should help us to demonstrate the Gospel, but often becomes the object of our affection

-We care because they care; if it's important to them, it should be important to us.
-Whose vision are we? Are we God's vision or the vision of another church?
-Ephesians 1:18
-Sometimes we're so worried about the brand we're following or the brand that we're trying to become, that we lose our identity

[check out shawn's blog here]

Session 1: Mark Beeson

Innovate 08- "Stop Talking"
Key ideas worth writing down:

-carve out time in your spirit for an encounter with Christ and with others
-live like you're already IN the Kingdom; act like the body
-the church is a lot of talk with little action; are we keeping up with the world?
-Stop talking and start engaging; the world is waiting for something spiritual to happen- why are we waiting to show them?
-sometimes the issue is clear to everyone BUT us
-we can't fix everything; relate to God like a 911 call. Tell Him the problem/situation, then let him send the help. Don't try to tell him how he should solve things.
-"I'm not God; You direct me" vs. "I am God; I direct You."
-If you're making progress, you will stumble from time to time because you're leaning into God's Kingdom, and sometimes when you lean, you fall.
-"Be clear. Make progress. There's no one else lined up to do what God has called us to do."

The coolest part was his breakdown of the word "immediate" in the Bible. It happens around 40 times in Mark [about once every 16 or 17 verses]. Do we have the sense of urgency that Jesus and the disciples had about the Gospel, or are we sitting around waiting?

[check out Mark's blog here]

Innovate 08

spent the whole day at innovate08 @ granger community church.

i've noticed people either LOVE gcc or HATE gcc, which is kind of weird. it's been nice to spend some time there, because they are definitely passionate about the gospel, and they have a good beat on the community they're in. i'm a fan of the way they do ministry- in fact, within the first five minutes there, i wrote down "Serving, Hospitality, Encouragement." It's what they're all about, and it makes people feel valuable and cared for. Such an awesome thing.

i also got to spend time with DC Curry today. DC's the director of their student ministries, and it was cool to see where his heart is at. He talked a lot about bringing the focus back to the church and back to Jesus, rather than focusing on this separate entity of student ministry. that's definitely a hard balance, and he's doing a great job finding some middle ground at GCC. it made me think a lot about where our ministry is going and how we do programming.

tomorrow's going to be another crazy day- mark beeson's speaking again, and rob's speaking in the morning about being missional. there's also a game of simon, which was this awesome idea they had around christmas last year:

it's nice to be learning again. i want to be someone who never stops learning, never stops striving for excellence in ministry. this has definitely been a good experience.



My dad sent me this video of a monkey [i think its a gibbon] and a dog, and the monkey keeps pulling the dog's tail. the dog runs after it, can't catch it, and goes back to what it's doing, only to have its tail pulled again. It was with a forward about how sometimes it seems like certain people think it is their job to annoy others. It got me thinking, because lately I've really been able to relate to the dog in the video. I've been stressed lately, and there's a lot on my plate, so I always feel like I'm being tugged at. but this made me think that maybe it isn't the people necessarily, but rather Satan, constantly trying to trip me up and frustrate me, always bugging me just when I think I've got things under control. But then, the next email in my inbox [from Heidi, our Director of Worship], said this:

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says... "Oh Crap....she's awake!!!"

why is he tugging at us? because he knows the power we have, and he'll do anything to make us focus on other things.

things are looking up.


update :)

[fyi- i'm going to start doing these at the beginning of the week now, rather than when the week is almost over. it makes more sense]

this week: is crazy! it's pouring outside today, then i work Monday and Tuesday, then drive to Elkhart, spend my birthday there on Wednesday, then spend Thursday and Friday at Granger Community Church for Innovate 08, then head to Concord on Saturday to see ECHS perform [I think CCHS will be there too??]

on my to-do list: relaxing a little. that hasn't happened a whole lot lately.

excited about: Innovate 08

procrastinating about: burning a DVD. dumb, i know.

book i’m in the midst of: i havent been reading much of anything lately. i guess still 2 Sam [we're using it for the Flipside on Wednesday nights]

music that caught my attention this week: joshua radin. love him. oddly, one of my favorite songs of his is called "girlfriend in a coma." it's catchy, though. :\

anticipating: getting my copy of "da Jesus book" [a pidgin bible], AND FINALLY GETTING MY RED WAYFARER SUNGLASSES! [after 3 months]


we the people

... could never afford to dress like potential first lady Cindy McCain.

Vanity Fair did an interesting piece on both what Lady McCain wore to the GOP Convention, as well as what the money spent on that outfit might otherwise buy:

How Much Is Cindy McCain's $300,000 Outfit Really Worth?
by Vanity Fair
September 6, 2008, 12:27 PM

Last week, the Vanity Fair fashion department priced out the ensemble Cindy McCain wore to the Republican National Convention. Far be it from those of us at V.F. to criticize people for buying fancy clothes (you've met our advertisers, right?), but even we were astonished when the estimate came back: thanks to a pair of earrings our expert valued at roughly $280,000, the prospective First Lady's get-up appeared was assessed at approximately $300,000!

That got us thinking: what does $300,000 mean to Americans who don't have the luxury of inheriting a gargantuan beer fortune?

To Cindy McCain, $300,000 is the price of an outfit.

To most Americans, $300,000 buys ...

... one and a half houses, given the national median home price of $206,500.

... a year's worth of health care for 750 people.

... the full array of back-to-school supplies and clothes for 500 kids.

... enough gas to drive cross-country 543 times.

... 365 round-trip flights from Washington, D.C., to Anchorage, Alaska. (John McCain should have splurged on at least one.)

... a three-course steak dinner (at Mat-su Resort) and a movie ticket (for the Mat-su Cinema) for every man, woman, and child in Wasilla, Alaska.

... enough money for three Troopergate investigations.

If you're not registered to vote, you should do so here.



this week: FEELS LIKE FALL! i love the start of fall, because the sun is still shining, but the air gets crisp. it's my favorite couple of weeks in the whole year, weather-wise.

on my to-do list: ha, what ISN'T on my list now? Website stuff, the video for Sunday, developing "Best Life Ever" curriculum for all three age groups, designing and getting shirts printed for the kids, registering for Innovate [see below], registering our dodgeball team, planning the shareholder's banquet, breathing and general survival.

excited about: Innovate 08. it'll be nice to head back to GCC, and to be with other leaders, learning wonderful things. This means... I'll be in Mishawaka Sept 18-19. perhaps a Bethel visit is in order???

procrastinating about: asking for help. i'm too dang independent, but God is definitely shaking that out of me, especially when i had three people tell me i looked haggard in one day [well, not "haggard," but more of a "you don't look so great. do you feel okay? you look exhausted." it would have been fine if i felt that way, but i felt fine!!!]

book i’m in the midst of: the bible. specifically 2 Samuel.

music that caught my attention this week: haha flash back to late 90s/early 2000's... DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL- SCREAMING INFIDELITIES! crazy how i remember all the words when the cd plays, but couldn't tell you what they were when it stops. this cd got worn out in high school, probably by a lot of us.

anticipating: spending my birthday at home with my family [and having a night off!]

random babble: i'm finally wearing a necklace i bought for $1.00 over a year ago. i finally have the right outfit to wear it with haha!


from a letter to my brother

"figure out what you're passionate about. figure out what makes you tick, and go from there. don't be so scared to try. whatever you do though, don't settle. don't do something because it's what you're told to do, do it because you love it and you want to see it succeed, because you want to be a part of something bigger, because you want to connect with the world on a real level. don't just grasp at straws though... really think things through and when you pick something, go for it. don't let other people tell you no."

good advice for all of us, huh?


current things on my mind

1. johnny cash and bob dylan. it's quite ridiculous how in love i am with them at the moment. i figured out how to play "it ain't me, babe" on my guitar, so now i feel even cooler. it's probably just a moment of self-glory, but whatever.

2. "waiting for Jesus." not necessarily with specific instances. as soon as i typed that, i figured people would think abstinence, but that's not what this is about. deena and i got to talking yesterday about how a lot of people live their lives in this stuck state of "well i'm waiting for a sign from God," and whether that's legit or not. i'm sure it is in some cases- it has been for my life at times. but i also feel like God is going to work through whatever we come to, as long as we have the right mindset. for instance, let's say you're in the cereal aisle and you can't decide between count chocula and fruity pebbles. both equally delicious, but you're waiting for a sign to know what the right choice is, when Jesus probably is a cheerios fan anyway. We spend all our time worrying and praying about these little choices, and while that's good to take things to God, we end up taking them and dwelling on it, and double checking if we're supposed to take them, and then we might take them back, only to bring them back to God later [that was the most confusing sentence i've ever typed, sorry]. In reality, God wants us to use our time wisely; take matters to God, and watch for the ways He works in our lives while we spend time on the important stuff, like interacting with people and listening to their stories and loving them unconditionally. our focus is all wobber-jawed. and maybe in six months i'll totally disagree with myself. i just think we waste a lot of time.

3. cooking. i'm trying to figure out how to cook, which is NOT one of my fort├ęs or even something i come close to getting right 5% of the time. last week, i managed to slice my finger on a food processor when i wasn't even using it. but, the adventure continues, so i'll let you know how it goes.

random story of the weekend: last night, cleo was in the backyard at my parents and she caught a toad. she didn't try to kill it or bite it or anything, but she did feel the need to carry it around in her mouth. the toad was not happy, i was not happy, and basically, it was not a good situation. my dad got it out of her mouth, and it hopped away while i took her inside to brush her teeth. yeah, she's classy.