quote of the day

"How do I chase my friends for Jesus? This was an extremely sincere question and I loved having the opportunity to answer it. I gave all the usual “love God and love others” stuff and I finish with this thought: “Cast your net/lure from the boat“. I’ve seen too many students jump out of the boat to go chase their friends in the deep waters (the world) and drown because they aren’t strong enough spiritually to get back to the boat." -DC Curry


allnighter #5

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you...

you're welcome.

allnighter #4

2-3AM was harder than 3-4AM. i'm debating sleeping the 4-6 shift, because i'm freezing and warm blankets sound AWESOME right now. I went to go get socks out of a laundry pile on my futon [laundry and i fight when it comes to getting put away immediately] and I about died, because Cleo buried herself under my laundry [a new past time which encourages me to fold my laundry].

anyway, Dogzilla's asleep in the REAL bed, and I'm in the living room, tip-typing away. Just watched the last 2 episodes of The Office, and now I'm catching up on How I Met Your Mother. It's on Monday at the same time as [Jon and Kate? something...] so I miss it 9 times out of 10.

i also just took a multi-purpose vitamin... you know, for multiple reasons. i bought them like 3 months ago when everyone was like, "KARA YOU NEED TO TAKE VITAMINS OR YOU WILL DIE." Well, I didn't die, but i figure this is a good occasion to start taking vitamins... since i'm 90. or something.

[staying up this late produces lackluster punchlines in my head that only halfway make it out of my thoughts. this is so upsetting.]


allnighter #3

i just went to pour myself a cup of coffee and found out only Denny's and Steak and Shake have Bottomless cups of coffee. in other words, I wasn't paying attention and poured coffee all over my counter.


Allnighter, #2

wow. i am CRANKING OUT the work! everything's ready for tomorrow, and I just figured out most of the numbers for the Jr High Trip this summer [Senior High is halfway there, just have to wait and see what the planning team comes up with :) they're awesome!]

anyway, The Fresh Prince marathon is over, so in honor of that moment in my life, I have an incredibly artistic video for you all :)

[four hours to go!]

Pulling an Allnighter

If you know me, you know I'm not a morning person... or an afternoon person... If the world revolved around me, we'd all put our 8 hours in between 5PM and 12AM [well anywhere between that and 2AM]. So the fact that I have to get up super early tomorrow [today?] for Youth Sunday is not appealing to me [the early part... i'm really excited for the services tomorrow. the kids are gonna knock it out of the park!] Anyway, I'm going to attempt an allnighter tonight, since I'm usually up until 2-3 anyway, and sleeping for 2-3 hours after that would be silly.

Don't worry. I have a support system:

A Fresh Prince Marathon on ABC Family

Some Starbucks Ethiopian blend

My need for a new mixtape [well, mix-CD]

I'm also going to crank out some stuff for this summer, and maybe hit up some OC/Punky Brewster/Office [some sort of marathon for when The Fresh Prince is over]. This will be an interesting night!!!


If you can't say something nice...

Then don't say anything at all, Slice of Laodicea.

I get tired of Church bashing, especially when people are coming to know Jesus. I feel like maybe someone was mean to SoL and now they have a giant chip on their shoulder or something. I also think Granger does a great job of speaking the language of the world while delivering the message of Jesus. I mean, you wouldn't study French before going to China to be a missionary. That would be stupid, yet that's exactly what so many churches are doing these days- trying to use antiquated programs and methods that were AWESOME back in the day- but things change, people change, culture changes. We can be relevant to the world and theologically correct. We have to think BIG PICTURE- i tell the kids that all the time. The BIG PICTURE is the Kingdom of God. If we're spending time fighting each other "in the name of Jesus," well, then that's a load of crap. That's small picture. Here's three standards I think we should use to filter things before we start calling people out and pointing fingers:
1. Is Jesus being glorified/revealed? Are people coming to know Him?
2. Is the ministry teaching things consistent with the Bible? [and, we have to take into account the culture at the time scriptures were written. we can't just be like, "oh, it's okay to have slaves because the Bible mentions slavery"]
3. Is the ministry expanding the Kingdom of God? Is this good for the Kingdom?

I'd be interested to see how Slice of Laodicea would answer those questions.

and, in the words of Rent and the Bible,
Let he among us without sin be the first to condemn.
sometimes we have to keep ourselves in check, huh?

Americans Believe Religion is Losing Clout

Here's the article.

just wanted to share the graph from this article, because it's interesting to look at the importance of religion versus national events [low importance during Vietnam, a spike after 9/11].


some more beef to add to my statistics-burger

Young Adults Ignore Traditional Morality

One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers - never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality - look like moral pillars in comparison.

For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group - known as Mosaics - was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%).
Did you survey the Boomers when they were the Mosaics' age? Because otherwise this is a moot survey- instead of surveying morality between generational groups, you're surveying between age groups. Obviously someone in their 50s would act differently than someone in their 20s.

Calling the SBC's bluff [a long post on ministering to statistics]

So I'm reading this article by the Southern Baptist Convention, and it says that 88% of teens are leaving the church by age 18, never to return again. Well, here's the actual quote:
In the course of researching family life in America, the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life uncovered such gut-wrenching statistics that they were driven to their knees. Among the facts they found: 88 percent of the children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.
SBC, I'm calling your bluff. What research led you to those statistics?

I don't believe it's that high. My research in college said the percentage was somewhere in the 50's, and Tom, didn't you find it somewhere in the 40's? I don't believe it's become 88% in 2 years, AND I don't believe you can say something like "NEVER TO RETURN." Here's why:

1. Unless you surveyed people my grandma's age, you have no idea if they're never going to return. My guess is you looked at some research done in the last 5-10 years, which would give you subjects who are at most 28 years old. 28 is not an adequate age to say that they've made permanent decisions for their lives. Heck, I'm 24 and I can't even decide on what color nail polish to wear.
2. The research I did said that many of those who leave during their young adult years come back once they start raising a family.
3. They didn't provide any of their research, so I should believe it as much as I should believe that 88% of all statistics are made up.

Because this is a topic so close to my heart, I feel like I need to speak up about this: Publishing articles like this, with doom and destruction statements, facts that aren't backed up, and dramatic overstatements, is irresponsible. When I tried to find evidence of the 88%, all I could find were articles from other youth pastors who seemed to be in a panic. Is it important that we spread the message of Christ to teens? YES, but you can't base your reasoning to share the gospel on statistics. Christ didn't die for statistics.

Another thing to keep in mind [which Terry brought up to me a few months ago]: one of the key reasons it seems like the 18-30 crowd is missing [besides the fact that their numbers are lower] is because the 13-18 crowd is the largest crowd in the church. Barna states that one third of students participate in Christian groups at school, and 81% have attended church for a period of at least 2 months during their teen years. Teens are everywhere in churches, because they're drawn to the acceptance of Christ and the community of a Youth Group. When they go off to college or move away from home, they're on their own for the first time, and church is just another option. It's not that they've abandoned their faith; their lives have drastically changed, and they're trying to figure out things on their own for the first time. But we freak out and think it's the end all of end alls that numbers decrease.

Here's the thing, youth pastors: if you've done your job, if you've loved your kids like Jesus would, if you've built relationships, if you've ministered with integrity, your students will remember that, even if they're away from the church. People don't forget that kind of stuff, and sometimes part of growing up is walking the path of the prodigal for awhile. All we can do is love our kids and love Jesus, and we have to realize there's a bigger picture beyond our world, and God is the author and perfector of it all. We can't be God- we as youth pastors can't be God. However, we can step aside and let God move through our students, and when you experience something like that, it's impossible to completely turn away from it, never to return again.


Interview with Satan

This media for GCC's Sex for Sale series is awesome. Jeff [the guy who plays Satan] and I had physics together at Bethel, and he's a super talented dude. Check it out:


survey says

i snagged these survey questions from the blog over at Charm City Cakes [of Ace of Cakes fame]. their staff does it, and i not-so-secretly have dreams of working there and making cakes that look like dinosaurs and robots. unfortunately, they are not hiring girls who have absolutely no culinary skills.

Full name: Kara Szyarto
Nickname(s): GiGi, Punky, Chuck, Toes
Work Title: Youth Director
Hometown: The C.O.E.- Elkhart. [if you use initials, it sounds gangster]
Pets: Dogzilla, Kingsley the Fish
My Themesong: Bob Marley "Three Little Birds"
What is your favorite word? Shenanigans.
What is your least favorite word? Moist.
What gets you going? visionaries, sunshine, a good beat
What gets you peeved? dopplegangers
What sound or noise do you love? laughter, Dogzilla's howl
What sound or noise do you hate? Darth Vader breathing
What profession, other than yours, would you like to attempt? tattoo artist, cake decorator, a person who swims with sharks, professional blogger
What profession would you not want to participate in? Septic cleaner, Hotel cleaning lady, crime scene clean up
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive? HEY GIRL HEY! haha :)


today, in pictures.

Kara: Dad, do you need a rusty saw?
Dad: Yeah, so I can put myself out of this misery!
[we were at this scary/weird flea market]

My dad and I convinced my brother we bought this blanket for him as a housewarming present.

I think my power animal is a cheetah. I look good in spots :) [fyi- lots of questions about how i did this. Sally Hansen Nail Art pens and a steady hand, baby!]

other things worth mentioning:
i watched twilight this afternoon, and it's playing right now. I havent read the books, didnt go see the movie in theaters, and wasn't super into the movie for the first half of it. The second half is pretty good though. I'm not sure why I decided to watch it again, though. I don't like the white balance of the film, though, but that's kind of an OCD thing when it comes to movies- I don't like when the colors are all whacked out [LOTR, first half of Corpse Bride, etc]. i'm also going to bed 2 hours earlier than i usually do, because tomorrow is going to be crazy: 2 services, Camp Sunday, fundraiser, volunteer meeting, praise team, youth group, coma. Yeah, I'm planning on the coma...

and a random question: what is the best rental car company, in your opinion? i need to get a car out in CA, not sure who to go with.


I am not a politician.

there's a lot of stuff spinning in my head right now, so we'll see where this leads us...

I never went into ministry to be a politician. I wanted people to be able to experience God- to know that they're loved unconditionally right where they're at, regardless of their circumstances. That kind of love drew me in, and I wanted other people to feel it, too. I wanted people to feel like they weren't alone in the world. I wanted people to know that someone cared about them, even if they felt like the scum of the earth. I wanted people to feel valued.

Somewhere along the way, I got pigeon-holed into being a politician. Everyone has an agenda, that's not any new fact or anything. But working in ministry, especially in a large church, it's easy to get lost in agendas. Everyone has an idea of how they want things to run, how things "should be." They lobby for personal preferences. And everyone feels they're right, because we've touted this "personal relationship with Christ" business without explaining its connection to the body. That connection is vital to our belief and growth in Christ, but the Church [universal] has said over and over, "personal relationship," and in today's world of "have it your way," we cling to the concept that "things should be how I want them, because I love Jesus and I know what's best."

FYI kids, it's not about us.

God slapped me in the face with that lesson at YS's National Youth Worker Convention in Nashville a few years ago. David Crowder was leading worship, and I was kind of annoyed because there were lasers and smoke machines and David Crowder wanted his name in lasers- stuff like that. I was frustrated, sat down, and didn't participate in worship, because I didn't like the presentation. I thought I knew best, because I've worshiped God before- a lot- and "that's not how you do it." There were thousands of other people in that room who did connect to the heart of God in that moment. DCB glorified God to that crowd- they revealed him, and led people in worship. And I sat there like a brat, pouting because it wasn't what I wanted.

Looking back, it pisses me off that I acted like that, but it opened my eyes to a bigger picture- the Church is here to support the mission of Christ, bringing the Kingdom of God to the world. It's not here to massage my ego, give me a power trip, or serve my personal agendas. We're here to reach out to people who live in a broken world, who have actual needs beyond, "I don't like this song." Children are going to bed hungry, people all over the country are losing their jobs, and we're sitting here crabbing about personal preferences. WE ARE UNBELIEVABLY BLESSED BY A GOD WHO LOVES US, AND WE'RE KEEPING IT TO OURSELVES, IF NOT ASKING FOR MORE. Imagine what kind of good the church could do if we took all the energy we put into getting our way and focused it on reaching people who don't' know Jesus! Imagine the kind of lives we'd change if we stopped fighting about paint colors, worship styles, and building use, and we started fighting to change the world for people without hope? People are hurting out there and we're too busy lobbying for our own agendas to even take notice.

I'm tired of politics. I'm tired of personal preference. I've given into it for way too long, and I'm done. I'll be pushing ahead for Jesus. If you want to join me, you know where to find me, and if you don't want to join me, please don't stand in my way.
The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, "Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath."

But Jesus shot back, "You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn't it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?" -Luke 13:14-16 [MSG]


Quote of the Day

“We have a purpose… and it’s not to be a country club with a steeple on top that gives our community the middle finger and tells them to go to hell because reaching them would make us uncomfortable!” -Perry Noble, NewSpring Church
Dang, Perry... bringing the heat this weekend, huh?

Reading that makes me uncomfortable, but it also stirs something inside of me.


Quote of the Day

"Saying 'i like that you never listen or pay attention in class' is like saying 'your feet don't smell like rotting fish anymore.' What a compliment!"

The Update

a random list of current events in my life.
1. my brother is moving back to Elkhart in 3 weeks. God is good.
2. i will be doing a mega fabulous overhaul on the site in the next few weeks.
3. no Tom, i did not get drenched. I have mad neti-pot skills :)
4. dogzilla ate my ethernet cable last night. thank God for wireless.
5. i painted my nails 6 times last night, and ended up taking the nail polish off. i may be a little indecisive these days.
6. i'm taking a few days off at the end of April to head out to Los Angeles. I can't guarantee that I won't end up on a cheesy tour bus, because they make me laugh. a lot.

Carried to the Table

i don't know why, but this song has been stuck in my head all morning. this is a great video to go with it, so here you go :)


the wind's a-blowin

I'm sitting in my pitch black livingroom staring at a pitch black tv waiting for the cable to do something. No cable = no internet. Remind me to thank my mother for the blackberry.

Anyway, today has been off-kilter, so I'll pass the time by blogging. Daylight savings always throws me off anyway. I know, "spring forward." That phrase is beyond me, and when I tell people that, their response is "SPRING FORWARD." I'm not hard of hearing, kids. I just don't get what that phrase is all about. I over think it. Anyway...

Tonight was our HSM girls/guys night out, and it was awesome. I think we definitely needed a chill night, so we watched John Tucker Must Die (hilarious), ate way too much, painted our nails, and had a good time. Ha, and then there was that whole tornado business.

Yup. "TORNADER!" (I've always wanted to yell that). It went through the backyard where we were, which was interesting. Some girls panicked, others wanted to watch. A basketball hoop would have slammed into my car, had Nancy not asked me to pull forward another foot and a half in her driveway. Several trailers were destroyed across the street from my apartment. Half of one is in my front yard. The trees look magical- like they're made out of cotton candy. It's really insulation. My street has been littered with debris and traffic... Lots of gawking. You'd think Brad and Angelina had fallen from the sky. Thank God no one was hurt. One of my students had damage to her house- something with her garage cracking. We're all very lucky that everything that happened can be fixed. God is good.

Anyway, I'm sitting in my livingroom in the dark, watching out the window, and it is a hot mess. The wind is nuts and I get nervous that a tornado will come in my sleep and I'll miss the siren and die. Ha, okay maybe not DIE, but I worry nonetheless. Second floor apartments will do that to you.

All of this reminds me though of my beautiful Jesus who said "why worry about tomorrow? Let tomorrow take care of itself" and something along the lines of "who can add to his life by worrying." God's promise to us is basically "I love you; I got this. Trust me on this one. I won't let you down."

I'm still sleeping in my hallway tonight. But I'm glad that my God knows what's up and loves me, despite my neurotic tendencies. Keep safe kids; tell people you love them before your chance is up. Tomorrow's not a guarantee, so pour out your love for the world like you have to use every ounce you've got before the day is over :) it will move mountains!


God Save the Queen.

The word "snarky" keeps popping into my thoughts-to-myself these days.

"he's really snarky today."
"i wish i was as snarky as hers."

"Wonky" has also showed up. "My hair is looking a little wonky today."

obviously, I was British in a past life...

Health Tips... or something.

I keep hearing all these amazing things about Neti Pots. They sound like they're next in line behind God, Jesus, and vintage t-shirts when it comes to the "Coolest Things EVER" scale. Here's what I knew: there was this little pot you filled with water, and you poured it in your nose and it cleared you out, so to speak. It seemed pretty bizarre, so I shelved it in my "maybe you need to know about this later" file.

The other day, Soleil Moon Frye brought up Neti Pots on her blog, and if you know me, you know if it's good enough for Punky Brewster, it's good enough for me. Okay, I know Punky was a character, and she's moved on, but when I was little, I looked just like her, so Punky was my nickname. [End of Tangent] Tonight I went out and got one. Since it was scary looking, I thought I'd do a little photojournalism of my voyage. I won't show you the actual "NETI POT ACTION SHOTS" because thats gross and weird. But I will tell you that it does, in fact, work. I can actually breathe. Weird. I'm going to keep it up, but I feel like this has been more effective than pills/sprays/etc, which is awesome because a) it's cheaper b) i hate that other stuff c) it's not putting a bunch of chemicals in your system. If you don't have one, you should invest. They're $14.99 at CVS/Walgreens. Yay!