mission trip update

Its the last real night of the trip (we travel tomorrow night) and it's bittersweet. I will be glad to sleep in a bed instead of on a floor, but I'm not looking forward to returning to an empty house after living with 22 teens all week. I'm SO proud of our kids and all their hard work and how well they worked together this week. It was seriously one of the best trips I've been on, and I pray that God was able to meet each of my kids right where they're at.

There are a lot of great stories- ask them at church on Sunday :) pray for safe travels tomorrow as the area will be filled with storms and the kids are all tired. see you all soon!


Mission Trip Update

The mission trip is going great! The kids have packed nearly 30,000 pounds of food, cleaned a warehouse, and made a difference in the lives of others. We've told them over and over how impressed we are with their attitudes, their work ethic, and their determination to sweat for Jesus.

We have devotions in the morning, led by Pastor Julie, and every day they remind us that God's Spirit is at work in us- that our lives have prepared us for this moment. At night we've talked about what it means to truly live and how we have the Breath of Life- God's Spirit- flowing in us. Alan led an awesome worship set last night, and the Spirit moved as we talked about our value. Liane and I were with the older girls last night, and I can't even begin to tell you how beautifully amazing they are :)

The kids have done a great job and continue to do so. It's raining today, but they refuse to let that slow them down. Today the upperclassmen (11-13th gr) are working on a special project and it's pretty strenuous, so I'm asking for your prayers. They've had a couple messages from home on twitter (twitter.com/ccumcyouth), but how great would it be to flood them with love from home? :) if you could, please leave them a comment on this post and we'll read them to the kids at night. I'm sure they'd love it :)

This trip has been incredible for all of us. We're halfway done, and I can't wait to see what God's going to do next.


Thanks, Youth Specialties!

I was going through my twitter feed, and I saw that Adam brought up a new book that just released from Zondervan/Youth Specialties. From the description, it sounds like a good read.
You know, we're an interesting breed. We pour our whole life into ministry giving physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, even financially. And, we do all of this to encourage students to live like Christ beyond youth group. Even when we struggle, fail, or find ourselves at the end of a long month feeling drained and discouraged we're still called to show our students the love of Jesus. The Youth Worker Book of Hope offers you encouragement and hope in those moments of darkness by using experiences and advice from people who have been through the valley and learned from it. Youth workers from around the country have contributed personal stories of their own desire to quit, confrontations with parents, struggles with running the ministry, getting fired, and many more. You'll read about how other youth workers messed up and how they found hope at the end of a seemingly hopeless road. In tough times it's easy to get lost. The Youth Worker Book of Hope meets you while you're still struggling and draws you in to the hope of God.
One of the reasons I love Youth Specialties so much as an organization is that they've developed a community for Youth Workers at every level, and this book seems like a great example of what they're all about. I know when I go to a Youth Specialties convention, I'm surrounded by thousands of people who go through the same highs and lows as I do, I'm taught by the best in the field, and I'm cared for as an individual and as a partner in ministry. Being an academic person, I also love that they offer both programming resources AND academic resources, because anyone in Youth Ministry knows that there's more to it than dodgeball and pizza. I'm planning on picking up this book, and I'm hoping things work out and I'll be able to head to NYWC this year; i've missed it the last 3 years, and I've actually felt the impact of it [although I have to admit, the first time I went, I thought everybody was nuts! then I remembered... we're youth workers, of course we're nuts! haha]. There's nothing like worshipping God, surrounded by thousands of other youth workers, knowing all of you are working towards the same goal. It's the coolest feeling ever :)


Need a Reviewer for your ministry tools?

Got a ministry book or blog you want me to follow/read/review?
Got a great youth ministry resource, itching for someone to try it?
I'm your girl.

I like reviewing resources, I'm always looking for new tricks to use, and my kids are always looking for new books to read- I'll be honest about how well they work in my ministry setting [I'll send you a copy of the review first, of course]. We've got around 75 kids, grades 5-12, split up into 5th and 6th grade youth group, 7th and 8th grade youth group, and 9-12th grade youth group, with Sunday School split the same way. We're a church of about 600, and here's the stats about our city.

I know this seems kind of like I'm looking for the hustle, but I also know this is really helpful for people with new ideas who want people to use as a sounding board or for a little press.

if you're interested, contact me and we'll be in touch: gigitastic@gmail.com

A great article for Ministry folks

Josh posted a great link today about finding rest in the summer when you're in youth ministry. Honestly, I think it's good for ministry as a whole. the church will not fall apart if we take time off! It's hard to believe that sometimes, but fyi- we're not God. the church will go on! haha :)

Here's a run down for those of you who don't like to read [although this is worth it]

1. Continue to take your off day.
2. Take vacation before/after the busiest time of the summer.
3. Take a day trip with the family.
4. Do something without students.
5. Eat/Sleep/Pray.

and i loved this quote:
You are taking an off day, right? I don't mean just having a day you call your "off day" but continue to come into the office, make phone calls, and check email. I mean a real off day, one where you spend time away from youth ministry responsibilities. If you don't have one of those days, stop right now and figure out how to start. (Do not worry, we'll still be here—floating around the Internet when you get back.)

2009 Student Mission Trip!

Next week, I'll be leading a team of 30 on a mission trip to Huntington, WV. I'm pumped- we've got a solid group of kids, some awesome leaders, and a great place to sweat for Jesus! We'll be partnering with Huntington Area Food Bank, and Crossroads UMC has graciously allowed us to stay at their church next week. Big ups to them! Anyway, I wanted to post our trip itinerary, and I'm asking for your prayers for our team and the ministry we'll be doing.

Sunday, July 26, 2009:
1:00 PM Leave from CCUMC
5:30 PM Stop for dinner
8:30 PM Arrive in Huntington, WV

Monday- Thursday July 27-30, 2009
8:00 AM Breakfast
8:30 AM Morning devotions w/ Pastor Julie
9:00 AM Head to Huntington Area Food Bank
12:00 Break for Lunch
12:45 PM Back to work!
4:00 PM Head back to CRUMC
6:00 PM Dinner
8:00 PM Evening Worship
11:00 PM Lights out

Friday, July 31, 2009: MYSTERY DAY!!!
9:00 AM Breakfast
9:30 AM Morning devotions with Pastor Julie
10:00 AM Pack and clean up, load the bus
11:00 AM Head out for Mystery Day!
11:30 AM Lunch at a top secret location
12:30 PM Head to another top secret location
6:00 PM Eat some mysterious food
8:00 PM Hit the road, Jack! Head back to CCity
5:00 AM Pull into CCUMC parking lot with some tired kids!

If you want to see what we're up to day by day, check out @ccumcyouth on Twitter. We'll have fun posts, prayer requests, short updates, and pictures to give you a glimpse of what's going on. I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to load video still... our goal is to keep everyone up here connected with our ministry down in Huntington, since the trip wouldn't be possible without the support of our friends and family!


Charging Rhinos

alright guys... so 99% of the population thinks I exaggerate when I call Cleo "Dogzilla." They say "oh she is so sweet, blablabla." Well, you're wrong.

I want to sleep, but cant, so i'm watching some good old food network because this dude is really boring [he thinks he's funny though, which makes it worse]. I'm minding my own business, and all of the sudden... i hear running down the hall [this sound is basically my own Jaws theme song]. in a split second, I've got myself in a ball, because this is the kind of running that ends with a dog on my head, so I go for the defensive position, you know? "Save yourself" and all that. Sure enough... Dogzilla jumps straight for my face.

if you know me, you know i really don't like when dogs lick my face. i don't call it "kisses," i dont think it's precious or cute, and basically, it just freaks me out. She went to town, licking and just being generally obnoxious. I put her on the floor, and she jumped back up and tried again, and she wouldn't give up. She's got a great attitude for team sports. I have no idea why she's decided to lick off a couple layers of my skin. It's not like I'm one of the Real Housewives, needing a peel or anything, but Zilla clearly has an issue with my face tonight. I got proof for you guys, because in these days, you really need photographic evidence.

as you'll see, just when i thought it was all over, she went for round 2. the only way I got her to cool her jets was by spilling dog food all over the kitchen floor. I figure in the 4 seconds it takes her to inhale it, she'll forget about her new favorite game.

if she keeps this up, and you want a dog, let me know. She's really an angel... or something.

seriously guys

i'm thinking about changing the name of my blog again... to YouTube.
All i've posted lately are cinematic GEMS.
it's summer. bear with me.

and now.... for your viewing pleasure....


Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. -Proverbs 22:6


Human Nature

i'm not sure where his shirt went, but his voice is on point.

go see my friend adam.

if you're near them, go see them :)

Take Care.

i got to see these guys [Copeland] in college with Rachael, Andrea, and Amanda. I remember them being really sweaty. regardless, their music is pretty representative of my sophomore year in college. love.


life lesson.

go see my friend adam.

this band is seriously unlike anything you've heard.
and their lead singer is one of my favorite people in the universe.


one last thought

i was the 2400 visitor to my blog.
little did you know, I was offering my entire salary to the 2400th visitor.
victory is mine.


[before i begin, let's just admit, every word is better with "-tastic" on the end]

- i only blogged 6 times in June, so I'm trying to make up for that.
- i forgot to eat breakfast [like most days], so I'm glad I have a stash of oven-roasted almonds with sea salt on my desk.
- they're sitting by my baptism cross, in case people think about stealing them.
- i'm dealing with some MAD sunburn itch these days
- whenever i scratch my sunburn itch, i remember how awesome camp was :)
- MISSION TRIP IN 9...10 DAYS! [somewhere in between]
- Summer is half over?
- I need to find a place to live..
- I should have already found a place to live.
- "Secret Lovers" is stuck in my head, because I sang it to my almonds.
- I'm introducing CCUMC to twitter.
- @ccumcyouth
- my hair is large today. the height of my hair is directly associated to the level of crazy that day... kind of like Willy Wonka, only better for your teeth.
- CAC kids leave on Sunday :( but they will have a blast, so :) !!!
- secret looooovers... that's what we are.
- Jesus is going to test my patience in August. I'm letting you know now.
- I'm also letting you know that I will succeed in this test.
- because I'm awesome and chock full of almonds.

woah, full circle! 6 degrees of kevin bacon and whatnot...
- big hair.

quote of the day

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! -Psalm 47:1-2

WNDU Curb Appeal Contest Update

If you're in my small corner of the web, you know that my brother was a finalist in WNDU's Curb Appeal contest. He was pretty amped about it, considering his thumbs are as far from green as possible, and generally, it was a fun experience. Friends and family rallied around him, casted their votes, and hoped for the best. We all said from the beginning though that any of the finalists deserved to win, so we weren't upset when Jeff wasn't selected. The family from Michigan won, which is awesome, and I can't wait to see what Linton's does with their yard :)

The reason I'm blogging about this is because some things popped up during the contest that were pretty hurtful and unnecessary. All the voting was online, and you could also leave comments. While there were some really positive comments wishing all the contestants good luck, WNDU also allowed negative comments to be posted, attacking my brother's work ethic, character, and weight, as well as similar issues with the other contestants. I posted a comment of support for Jeff, and a message popped up saying the comment board was being moderated, and my comment would be posted as soon as it was convenient. It kills me that WNDU would allow people to tear down the finalists in a contest that was meant to build them up. The finalists are human, they're not used to being berated [which, even if they were, doesn't make it right], and WNDU took some of the fun out of the contest by allowing those comments to be posted. He'd never admit it, but I know the comments got to Jeff, based on some things he's said in the past couple days. I can imagine the same is true for the other contestants. And it's easy to say "there will always be critics, brush it off," but at the end of the day, we all know it's not that easy.

I'm proud of my brother for putting himself out there and giving this a shot, and I'm hoping that the negative comments don't get to him. He's an incredible guy, and there isn't anything people could throw his way to change that. It reminds me of that old saying, "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt." I'm hoping WNDU will make some changes next year to prevent this issue from happening again.



song of the summer: MGMT "Kids"

you can listen to Allison and Lauren play it here during the PNW tour.

No idea why this is the JOTM [jam of the moment], but it's been in my head for a month now.

Quote of the Day

"I can’t believe I get to do this with my life." -DC, a fellow youth worker
I find myself saying this a lot... I can't believe I get paid to hang out with teens and love on them. I can't believe Christ called me to minister to the coolest kids ever. I can't belive God gave me the perfect gifts and passions to serve him.

I am so lucky.
I am so blessed.

The other night at the Pepplers, Jamie asked, "How do you know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? You've heard it, but how do you know it?"

This is how :)


Life Lessons: Summer 09 edition

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a planner. I like to know what's coming in advance so I can prepare. I anticipate everything, because I want my life to run as smoothly as possible. As a result, when I plan things out and they fall through, I'm thrown for a loop and the stress piles high.

Planning this summer's mission trip has been a huge test of my trust in God. We planned to work at one place, and at the last minute, it fell through. The week before camp, I left messages all over West Virginia, to no avail. This morning, I contacted the Huntington Area Food Bank, and they've agreed to partner with us in serving Huntington, WV. We'll be loading boxes, sorting food, and doing anything and everything needed of us.

God pulled through, like He always does. It's one of those things where you stress in the moment, on the edge of your seat, wondering what's going to happen, and then suddenly, all the loose ends come together and you see a bigger picture.
"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait paitently for him." -Psalm 37:5-7a


Quote of the Day

Andrew: So what's your relationship with God like?
3rd Grade Camper: [thinking, looking up at the porch light] Well... I'm kind of like one of those bugs up there... and God's like the light. I keep circling around and around, and every once in awhile, I land.


12 hours!

[Andrew, Jon, Kaylee, Katie, and I last year at camp]

The countdown is nearing its end.
We've counted months, weeks, days, and now it's just hours away.

All the preparation,
all the praying,
all the excitement has been leading up to this moment.

Join my team and I as we pray without ceasing for our campers. Pray for their families, as this is the first time many have been away from home. Pray for their counselors, that they may be able to be living, breathing examples of Jesus Christ. Pray for the staff, that they may use their gifts to challenge, encourage, and pour into the campers.

Last year was "Murphy's Law" week, and so much of it was out of our control. At commitment night, we discovered why- our campers' hearts were changed by the love of Christ, and there was a spiritual battle going on for their lives. Pray for Christ's love to cover each of them, to keep them safe, and to allow them to be free and be themselves. I've been praying like crazy for God to prepare us for challenges and to give us wisdom in our actions.

God has been preparing our hearts for this moment. It's go time!
I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus... And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. -Phil. 1:3-6, 9-11

Here's a map of my followers...

this just blows my mind... this world is SO connected. wow.

We are the world

I've got readers all over the world! And it looks like I'm big in Canada!

New Hamburg, Ontario, Canada
Denver, CO
Seaside Heights, NJ
London, Ontario, Canada
Decatur, IL
Oberlin, OH
Sun Valley, CA
Quezon, Nueva Ecija, Philippines
Pound Ridge, NY
Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
India [doesn't say where]
Kircaldy, Fife, UK
Kolárovo, Nitra, Slovakia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Guatemala City, Guatemala, Guatemala

You guys wanna hold hands and sing "We are the world," and then like, drink some Coca-Cola? Then maybe we can ride "It's a Small World."

seriously though, THANK YOU! you guys are awesome and I appreciate you all :) thanks for humoring me by reading my nonsense!

Recent Keyword Activity

[besides the usual google search for my name]

1. wear love
2. do not let the sun go down when you are angry
3. am i too finicky about basketball hoop noise?
4. I wanted to be a politician because...
5. "history of my life" everly brothers
6. Hanson SNL skit
7. interview with Satan
8. awkward things to google
9. last train to awesometown
10. allnighter 5 blog

haha, wow guys... i have no idea how #3 brought people here... but if you're still here, trying to figure out if you really ARE too finicky, I'm going to have to say [based on the fact that you googled it] yes... yes you are.