Weekend Wrap-up

[this might very well become a regular series on here, but basically it's a mind-dump for everything that happened over the weekend]
- the youth led the service on Sunday and blew me away.
- i spent most of Saturday sick.
- i'm almost unpacked at the new apartment.
- i've fallen in love with walking the loop at the new apartment.
- i'm getting an intern this week! He's going to knock it out of the park.
- for some reason, the fw starbucks is not open at 6:30 on Sundays.
- i'm freezing
- i'm also unbelievably excited for youth group this year.
- i watched Allison Weiss play every song she's ever written last night. it was a 4 and a half hour marathon, but it was really fun.
- i really love my students. that's an understatement, too.
- i decided on paint colors for the office: deep turquoise, delicate gold [i.e. tan], and a pumpkin color. its going to be awesome.


Polaroids [Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz]

What great gravity is this that drew my soul toward yours? What great force, that though I went falsely, went kicking, went disguising myself to earn your love, also disguised, to earn your keeping, your resting, your staying, your will fleshed into mine, rasped by a slowly revealed truth, the barter of my soul, the soul, that I fear, the soul that I loathe, the soul that: if you will love, I will love. I will redeem you, if you will redeem me? Is this our purpose, you and I together to pacify each other, to lead each othet toward the lie that we are good, that we are noble, that we need not redemption, save the one that you and I invented of our own clay?

I’m not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.

I went looking, I wrote a list, I drew an image, I bled a poem for you. You were pretty, and my friends believed I was worthy of you. You were clever, but I was smarter, the only one liable to be led by you. You see, love, I did not love you, I loved me. And you were only a tool I used to fix myself, to fool myself, to redeem myself. And though you’ve taught me to lay my hand in yours, I walk alone, for I cannot talk to you, lest you talk it back to me, lest I believe that I am not worthy, not deserving, not redeemed.

I want desperately for you to be my friend. But you’re not my friend; you have slipped up warmly to the person I wanted to be, the person I pretended to be, and I was your Jesus and, you were mine. Should I show you you who I am, we may crumble. I am not scared of you, my love, I am scared of me.

I want to be known and loved anyway. Can you do this? I trust by your easy breathing that you are human just like me, that you are fallen like me, that you are lonely, like me. My love, do I know you? What is this gravity that pulls us so painfully toward each other? Why do we not connect? Will we forever be fleshing this out? And how will we with words, narrow words, come into the knowing of each other? Is this God’s way of meriting grace, of teaching us of the labyrinth of His love for us, in degrees, that which He is sacrificing to join ourselves to Him? Or better yet, has He formed our being fractional so that we might conclude one great hope, plodding and sighing and breathing into one another in such a great push that we may break into the known and being loved, only to cave into a greater perdition and fall down at His throne still begging for our acceptance? Begging for our completion?

We were fools to believe that we would redeem each other.

Were I some Eve, to wake and find myself resting at your rib, to share these things that God has done, to walk with you through the garden, you counselling my timid Steps, my bewildered eye, my heart so slow to love, so careful to love, so sheepish that you stepped up your aim and became a man. Is this what God intended? That though he made me from you rib, it is I who is making you, humbling you, destroying you and in so doing revealing Him.

Will we be ashes before we are one?

What gravity is this that drew my heart toward yours? What great force collapsed my orbit, my lonesome state? What is this that wants in me the want in you? Don’t we go to each other with yielded eyes, with cumbered hands and feet, with clunky tongues? This deed is unattainable! We cannot know each other!

I am quitting this thing, but not what you think. I am not going away.

I will give you this, my love, and I will not bargain or barter any longer. I will love you, as sure as He has loved me. I will discover what I can discover and though you remain a mystery save God’s own knowledge, what I disclose of you I will keep in the warmest chamber of my heart, the very chamber where God has stowed himself in me. And I will do this to my death, and to death it may bring me.

I will love you like God, because of God, mighted by the power of God. I will stop expecting your love, demanding your love, trading for your love, gaming for your love. I will simply love. I am giving myself to you, and tomorrow I will do it again. I suppose the clock itself will wear thin its time before I am ended at this altar of dying and dying again.

God risked himself on me. I will risk myself on you. And together we will learn to love, and perhaps then, only then, understand this gravity that drew Him, unto us.


A Horse is a Horse, of course, of course

The Pops: Make sure you send me your address later.
Kara: #### thoroughbred dr apt ## fort wayne
The Pops: what is that?
Kara: my address?
The Pops: I get it. I thought your horse had a doctor's appointment.
Kara: hahahahahha brilliant!
The Pops: I'm serious.

Quote of the Day

“Is your religion helping you to transform your pain? If it does not, it is junk religion. We all have pain—it’s the human situation, we all carry it in a big black bag behind us and it gets heavier as we get older: by betrayals, rejections, disappointments, and wounds that are inflicted along the way.

If we do not find some way to transform our pain, I can tell you with 100% certitude we will transmit it to those around us. We will create tension, negativity, suspicion, and fear wherever we go. Both Jesus and Buddha made it very clear to their followers that “life is suffering.” You cannot avoid it. It is no surprise that the central Christian logo became a naked, bleeding, suffering man. At the end of life, and probably early in life, too, the question is, “What do I do with this disappointment, with this absurdity, with this sadness?” Whoever teaches you how to transform your own suffering into compassion is a true spiritual authority.” – Richard Rohr, The Authority of Those Who Have Suffered

Marketing your YMin Product/Event

I get maybe 3-4 mailings a day from Youth Ministry organizations wanting to partner with our ministry, and unfortunately, 99% of them end up in the trash/recycle can [my "filing cabinet"], for several reasons:
1. They don't explain the event/product. Great, your graphics are catchy, but what are you trying to promote? Is this geared towards evangelism? discipleship? maybe leadership? Is it for volunteers or students? Junior High or Senior High, or both? I've got this poster on my desk that doesn't explain the event outside of speakers/bands, but it looks like a decent event. I went to the website to try to find more information, and while the website is cool, I didnt find what I was looking for, which left me even more confused.
2. There isn't a price. I try to keep things affordable for my kids, and when you don't tell me the cost, I feel like you're hiding it because it's too expensive, and let's be honest, I'm not going to hunt the price down on your website unless what you're promoting is vastly different from everything else I've seen.
3. You use buzzwords inappropriately. I understand in youth ministry that there's a desire to be cool, but often this can be confusing. On that poster, it says, "Log into the network of your heart. We will take you and your friends, your tweets, your group... beyond the social network." I'm a relatively intelligent person, and you lost me at "tweet."
I'm always looking for new resources or new experiences for my kids, and the information doesn't have to always be packaged with neon colors and sweet adobe scrolls. But the information does need to be there, and it needs to be clear who your target audience is. Not only would you see a change in interest in your product, but you'd also be more effective in reaching your target audience.



this is unbelievably cool... there's this church leadership video conference coming up Sept. 9th, 2009 at 9:09 AM [notice a theme?], and bum bum BAHHH- it's FREE! [you know I'm always down for some free stuff]. While free= cool, and the date= cool, here's why this event is worth your time:

Church leaders from all over the nation [and a few global guests] each get 9 minutes to give you some sort of nugget of wisdom in regards to leadership. Why this is brilliant:
1. They have to be concise: 9 minutes isn't a lot, so there won't be any fluff.
2. Each leader leads differently: You'll get a multitude of perspectives, yet they're all working towards the same goal; glorifying and revealing God in their communities.
3. The speakers know their stuff. I'm looking at the list right now and I see some pretty great names on here. I just tried to type some, and realized I was typing the whole list. It's a versatile list too, from senior pastors to authors to consultants, etc.
So it's pretty great, is basically what I'm trying to tell you. I just registered, and I hope you'll consider doing the same, whether you're a paid staff member in a ministry or just a volunteer.

It'd be really cool if leadnet.org or Youth Specialties could pull this off for youth ministry... definitely something I'd be interested in. It'd be similar to NYWC, but there would be zero expense, which has kept me from attending the YS convention the past few years. Also, it'd be great to have leaders from all different sizes of youth groups- from 5 to 500. Just a thought :)

Why I'm in Youth Ministry, part 2

[sorry guys, with the move and everything, I didn't have time to post this last week!]

Last Wednesday, I posted the first half of this exercise. I think it's important for everyone to do something like this: Why I'm in [your profession or field]. It serves as a reminder and a motivator, and it's pretty encouraging, too :) Anyway, here's numbers 6-10!

6. I believe it's important to help mobilize teens. This coming Sunday is "Youth Sunday" at church- i.e. the kids lead the worship service. I love watching this process take place- students come up with a theme, a plan of action, and then use their gifts and abilities to lead others. The more we give students opportunities to lead and learn and grow, the more we mobilize them, the better equipped they are to take on the world. Every once in awhile, they need to be reigned in, but the cool thing is that teens have this sense that anything is possible and everything is attainable, and they'll bust their butts to prove it.

7. I want my students to have a "person." Life happens, and there's no promises it will ever be easy. I know how valuable it is to have a mentor who can help you sort through all that life brings- both good and bad- and challenge you to grow beyond personal limitations.

8. I love the community. The more I work with teens, the more I realize how deeply rooted they are in community. They come to youth group early and stay late just to spend time with each other, after being with each other all week during school and all weekend. I see genuine love and care for one another, and I've seen them rally around each other in times of crisis. It really hits my heart, because it reflects the community you see in Acts, and it's cool how much they just want to BE with each other. i love it.

9. I love where they're at in life. The whole process of adolescence is so interesting to me, because you physically see these children turn into adults. I noticed it big time in my upperclassmen this year on the mission trip, because when I got here, they were all just starting high school, and they were still figuring things out. Now, they're helping make decisions, leading others towards the cross, and setting an unbelievable example for our younger students. I get goosebumps thinking about how awesome that transition is.

10. I know the importance of youth ministry in relation to the family unit. Let's be honest- I was a pain in the butt for my parents as a teen. I wanted control, they wouldn't really let me have it, and there was a lot of head butting. The funny thing is, my parents would tell me some nugget of wisdom, and I'd brush it off [kind of a "yeah, whatever"]; when I'd hear it at youth group, a light would go off. My youth pastor was saying the same thing as my parents, but because the relationships were different, I heard things differently. I want to partner with parents in raising these kids- after all, it takes a village- and I want to be a support when parents throw their hands in the air, frustrated with the rollercoaster of being a teen. In my family, we call it a "buffer," someone who can be the translator in tough situations.


Happy Birthday Jeff!

Tomorrow's my big brother's birthday. He'll be 27. I'm super blessed to have him for a brother. He's such a cool dude and I loveloveLOVE him :) He does his own thing, lives his life with such joy, and would give his right arm to anyone who asked. Plus, he's stopped using me as a "hockey goalie" [code for a target], so like, I appreciate him even more now.

Anyway, high five bro. love you.


What were you born to do?

Was reading another YMin blog [Molly's Waiting for the Day], and she was talking about her daughter's newfound fascination with the phrase "I was born to ______."

Got me thinking [like most things do].

What were you born to do?
Are you doing it?

Why I'm in Youth Ministry, part 1

I've immersed myself in youth ministry articles today, and one that I came across was talking about the ten reasons churches need youth ministry- why they should buy into it. It got me thinking about why I buy into it, so I did a little exercise- Ten Reasons I'm in Youth Ministry. As I did this, it was encouraging and served as a reminder for me. When I redo my office, I'm going to hang it up in here. I really think- regardless of what field you're in- this is a good exercise to do. So anyway- here's the first half. You'll get the second half tomorrow :)

1. I've seen the transforming power of God first hand as a teen, and I want others to experience that. God shook my foundation when I was 17, and the adventure we've been on together is indescribable. I want my students to experience that kind of love and grace and power for themselves.

2. I believe in the power of teens. I tell everyone that I have the best teens in the world- so does every other youth minister. I honestly believe that teenagers really run the world- that's why nearly all marketing is directed at them. Being an adolescent is powerful, yet often they aren't given a voice. I want to be an advocate for them- I want to bridge the gap between teens and adults.

3. I LOVE seeing them grow. This is across the board with kids- I love when they realize something for the first time and their faces light up. I love when they go through the awkward junior high phase. I love seeing them start to turn into adults around their junior/senior year. I love hearing them repeat something I've said when I didn't think they were listening.

4. Teens are the church. [Bear with me- I'm about to have a moment] I HATE HATE HATE when youth ministry is seen as glorified babysitting. I love that Josh Griffin's blog is called "More than Dodgeball," because so often, people don't see youth ministry that way [Josh is YP at Saddleback]. Yes, there are times where we have shaving cream in our hair in the name of Jesus, but students relate to that. It's easy to say "Teens are the church of tomorrow" because they're young, but trust me- spend an hour with my students as they plan a worship service around some chips and salsa, and you'll see their heart for this community. You'll see their heart for Jesus. Jesus didn't make people wait until they were 18 to join the church- everyone had a role, regardless of their age, status, gender.

5. I know what being a teen is like. Being a teen is one of the most exciting and painful times in your life. The amount of changes that take place seriously blows my mind- relational, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual all in one fowl swoop. I've told my kids before, part of being a teenager is making bonehead mistakes, and the other part is learning from those mistakes. I can empathize with where they're at in life, and hopefully help them walk through it in a way that honors God.


I don't know where I've been [clearly under a rock], but if you're in youth ministry as a volunteer or in a paid position, there's a great information hub that Youth Specialties has put out there called Youth Ministry Exchange. Check it out.

Youth MiniSTARS

i've been avoiding watching this for awhile, simply because i just don't get as excited as the rest of the population when it comes to youtube videos. but when it showed up in my Google Reader 8 times, I figured I should probably watch it.

It's cute- but it also makes me want to stay away from Wavy Lays :)

Right foot, Left foot

I'm working on this challenge for my students [and myself] called b90d- reading the Bible in 90 days [it's optional for the students, but it'll be cool to see how many take it on]. This challenge is similar to the one Elevation Church is doing with their leadership team, and I thought it'd be cool to do with the kids. I've been typing up the assignment list this morning, and I just hit the book of Luke.

Now, because I already found one typo, and because i had zero hours of sleep last night, my brain said "Luke 1:80? EIGHTY? Luke... really?" [Luke apparently had a lot to say]. Then I got curious and looked it up, because that's what I do- I assume everything has a greater significance than what's on the surface. And you know what it says?
And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
It's about growth- about stepping into your own, taking a step with your right foot for God and then your left. It's exactly how I feel right now. Just like JC, I'm growing and becoming strong in spirit- I'm coming into my own. It's like when you have a baby with big ears- at some point, the baby will grow into them [okay that's a bad example]. Anyway, the point of this is to show you that my God is pretty alright alright, speaking to me in the twilight of my mid-coffee mind.


quote of the day

If death got the upper hand through one man's wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides? -Romans 5:17 [MSG]

25: The Year of the Grown Up

God is doing huge things in my life right now- so huge that every day, I've seen tangible evidence of His provision and presence in my life. I'm moving to a beautiful new apartment, I have an incredible job with even more incredible students, and God is opening doors to positive relationships while shutting some doors on negative ones. I have an overwhelming sense of peace right now, and I can't help but smile, knowing that my God is a God who loves me.

In the midsts of all of these changes, God is changing my heart. I've always joked that I'm an "Accidental Methodist," since I've always ended up in Methodist churches growing up. However, God's been showing me just how important it is to be connected to the local "church" as well as the global "Church." Can I be connected without being a member? Yes, absolutely. But I think it says something about my commitment to local ministry in Whitley County to make my "roots" here. I love the ministry going on at CCUMC, I love what the UMC is doing in Indiana and around the world. Going through membership, it says "I'm committed to this church and its ministry when we're at the pinnacle and when we're in the valley." I never thought God would change my heart about denomination, since I often see it splitting the body, but I think the United Methodist Church is doing a great job and has its heart in the right place. So this fall, I'll be going through membership classes right alongside some of my students, which I think is really REALLY cool :)

My 25th birthday is in a month, and I think God's going to do something explosive with this next year. Everything seems to be falling into place- professionally, relationally, spiritually- all the loose ends are coming together, making a strong cord. It's very very cool to see how far God has taken me in the last couple of years. We serve a big God, guys, a God who can do absolutely anything and never ceases to amaze.



just got a link to this from my buddy Shane. It's an awesome video about the moments in life, and it's absolutely beautiful.

great discussion starter for YMin.


quote of the day

I like being on my own. I think relationships are messy and people’s feelings get hurt. Who needs it? We’re young, we live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world; might as well have fun while we can and save the serious stuff for later. -Summer Finn, (500) Days of Summer


(500) Days of Summer

unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE.

I went to see (500) Days of Summer today- it was on my summer list- and it did not disappoint. in fact, I'd go as far to say it was the best movie I've seen since Taken and Slumdog Millionaire [saw them on the same day].

the movie begins with the narrator telling the audience, "This is a story of boy meets girl. You should know up front, this is not a love story." and yet, it is- just not as you might expect. Not only was the film beautifully made [some incredible moments- "Expectations vs Reality," "You make my dreams come true," and the Ikea scenes], but it has the little details that pull you in- for instance, the transitions relating to Tom's mood, or Summer's obsession with the color blue. They don't say it outright, but it's clearly there. It was the kind of movie that sent me out seeing the world with wider eyes. It was the kind of movie I needed to see.

Bradley Jacobs [Us Weekly] sums it up the best:
"The movie will have you busting out laughing- and it will also break your heart."
you have to see it. really.


Looking at my apartment, and everything I have to pack, I'm beginning to realize I have WAY too much stuff. I've never had the chance to purge anything over the last six years, because whenever I've moved, it's been home to school to camp to school to camp to CCity... there hasn't been any time to sort or sell or anything, and I REALLY don't want to move all this stuff.

I had the genius idea to post a bunch of stuff on facebook. FOR. FREE. It's all clothes right now, but as I keep going, I'll put some more stuff up. The only thing is that I'm not shipping anything. If you want it, you have to be close enough for a convenient hand off. A lot of it is stuff I've only worn once or twice [or not at all], and it's not doing me any good hanging out in my closet. I figure if somebody else will wear it, then perfect- it's serving its purpose. A lot of stuff has already been claimed, which is awesome, and as I pack, I'll add more stuff. I just feel like it's stupid and wasteful for me to keep all this stuff I don't need/want anymore.

To most people, I probably seem overly excited to be moving. I'll still be working in CCity with my incredible students, just living in southwest FW. I've been looking for a new place to live for the last year, and everything in CCity is low income or no pets, and I'm pretty much in love with my new apartment because it's close to everything [downtown, i-69, jefferson pointe, etc], it has a washer and dryer [no more laundromat!], a huge kitchen, a huge balcony... it's perfect, and it's the same price as my apartment now, with a better location, another bathroom, safer neighbors, etc. Plus, since it's bigger, I'll be able to have the kids over :) The apartment I've been in has been a place to live, but I feel like the new one will be more like home. Its crazy how where you live can affect your mood, but I havent felt like myself while living here, I haven't felt settled. So, to say the least, I'm thrilled to be moving, thrilled to be living somewhere safer, thrilled to start a new chapter. 25 is going to be a GOOD year :)


I love how small the world is, and I love having the freedom to explore it.

I just drove two and a half hours to see Bess Rogers, Allison Weiss, and Lelia Broussard play on a Monday night. I love that I can go do things like this. I love being spontaneous. I love their music. Tumblr introduced me to Allison last year (she's out of GA), and she introduced me to Lelia and Bess (and Lauren Zettler, for that matter, who's actually from IN). Twitter told me last week they were coming to Indy, and here I am. I love the internet, making the world oh so small. Plus, because I posted something on Facebook, my friend Kayla is going to meet me here (haven't seen her in a year or so). Social networking made tonight happen haha :)



Mission Trip 09 Recap

We arrived home in the early hours this morning from an incredible week of sweating for Jesus. On Thursday night, we talked about the impact we made, things that surprised us, etc, and over and over we heard, "I can't believe how well we worked together and how much we got done." NONE of that would be possible without the students relying on the Holy Spirit to spur them on. It was awesome to see God glorified and revealed through the hands and feet and sweat of our 22 students.

I want to post all the work they did- not to say "How great are we?!" but to say "how great is HE?!" God showed up big time this week!
Monday: sorted and packed 568 boxes of food, which equals over 28,000 pounds. Folded and stuffed 600 envelopes for a charity event and called local businesses for support.
Tuesday: cleaned and organized a new warehouse, bringing it to code so HAFB can start filling it with more food. Packed another 100+ boxes.
Wednesday: HAFB got a donation from the post office- the kids unloaded and packed up another 10+ palettes; had to go home early because the food bank ran out of food to pack.
Thursday: underclassmen cleaned and organized the HAFB warehouse, while the upperclassmen cleared out a 50 yd by 3 yd space behind the building, covered in weeds, ivy, and trash, so HAFB can pour cement and make it safer and up to code.

God is good, all the time.