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a quick post

Sunday, October 29, 2006
I survived Trick or Treat but not on the Street, praise the Lord! I left my house this morning at 8:45 am and returned home at 9:45 pm. I thought it would be later than that, but when I came back to clean up after dropping my families off there was virtually nothing left to do.

All in all it was a successful night. Last year was great, but I think we topped it this year by adding a couple more booths and also a haunted castle. I was in charge of the haunted castle along with another adult. It ultimately boiled down to me being mostly responsible for it because lets face it, that's what happens 90% of the time. To be fair, my partner in crime had a sick kid today and she was there through most of it. My senior high youth were fantastic, I was a little wary at first (cell phones outlawed beginning next week) but we made it through, were quite scary, and they really had a great time doing it. I spent most of the night leading tours through the haunted house/castle/forest/laboratory, making sure that all of it stayed together well and helping the little kids who were too scared.

I heard multiple times that this was the best trick or treat event that anyone had ever been to, and that to me is success. We do this event not as a fundraiser but as a gift to the community. By my estimates, I would guess that throughout the night we had well over 200 people there. The room was packed up until the end. It was certainly a blast. Now it is time to go and sleep like a rock.

great study

Thursday, October 26, 2006
I've been struggling with the text. I've been wrestling with the Bible, I've been searching, I've been chewing, and still, every Thursday I walk away from my Saranam Bible Study changed. It is often the little things, the diversion from the text at hand that change me.

Today we were talking about the beatitudes, and somehow got on the topic of being in prison. How we made that jump I don't really recall, but we did. We talked about what it was like for the ladies who have been imprisoned, what it is like to have to fend for yourself. What their jobs were like, what they ate, who could visit them, how visits went. It was fascinating. It had nothing to do with Bible study, but for me, for the first time it brought real faces to those prisons that I've driven past. There is one on the way to St. Louis from my house that is right off of the interstate. Often you'll see people outside, you might see a fight, but in any case, you see people who are in a cage, who made mistakes, or maybe people who got caught for other people's mistakes. Today I felt a reality unlike any other that I ever have and it was powerful beyond belief. To know that there are faces behind those fences was incredibly powerful to me. One week soon they promised that we'll have a "prison lunch" during bible study where they'll make the things they ate. I was unaware that they would eat things that weren't in the cafeteria. I'll have to update you all on how that goes, but they promise me that though the food may sound strange that it is actually pretty good. I'm intrigued.

We were talking about being poor in spirit and one of them spoke up... "You know it is right, the more money we come across the more problems we see, just like that song." I can honestly say that never have I come across a Notorious BIG quote in a Bible study but it fit for what we were talking about. That first line, blessed are the poor in spirit is always something that I have to really wrap my mind around, but our families were quick to zero in on the word "poor" and drop the "in spirit." Though in Luke it does in fact say poor and poor alone, in Matthew there is the addition of "in spirit," but my families didn't seem to hear that phrase. It opened my eyes to the fact that our interpretations and readings of scripture really are shaped by the life that we lead or have led. To me, I've always read Matthew's version to mean that the powerless will receive the kingdom of heaven. I guess it was just interesting to hear their perspective, to talk about those who mourn and the link of mourning with that of giving up children or not choosing to raise them.

This Bible study is deep in ways that I have never felt before. I so enjoy that time of teaching, of explaining, of asking the questions and seeing where we can dig to. Last night in my Disciple bible study we talked about how we are unpacking the book of Genesis like we would peel the layers off of an onion. The scriptures are lined with meaning, packed with layer upon layer of things that can be hard, things that can affect us.

I want to end with a small quote from the book Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell that is becoming more and more important with my life. I don't have a page number, but seriously, if you have not read the book I encourage you to do so.

The rabbis have a metaphor for this wrestling with the text: The story of Jacob wrestling the angel in Genesis 32. He struggles and it is exhausting and tiring and in the end his hip is injured. And he walks away limping.

Because when you wrestle with the text, you walk away limping.

And some people have no limp because they haven't wrestled. But the ones limping have had an experience with the living God.

I think God does know what he is doing with the Bible. But a better question is, do we know what we're doing with the Bible?

And I say, yes, we are bind and loosing and wrestling and limping.

Because God has spoken.

I pray that you may walk away limping as I am finding myself. I pray that you may have an experience with the living God that is like no other.

life blessings

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I sent an email to my class of US-2s yesterday, and I wanted to share parts of it here because it really captured the essence of how I was feeling yesterday even though I've been feeling a little sick.

So I had a retreat this morning with my staff at the church. (I don't really like staff retreats.)

Today was different, and as it blessed me, I wanted to share it with you.

This morning we headed off for the nature center in Albuquerque, walked around a bit, discussed what we would bring if we were missionaries to Albuquerque in the 1850s, and ultimately ended up at the Rio Grande River. People call it a mighty river, and I suppose that in some places it is, but for the most part it is pretty much a stream while it is in ABQ. It was peaceful sitting there and taking in the sights and sounds, it is rarely a grey day here, and today has been one of those, but the sun was trying to peak out from the clouds.

We headed back to have lunch, but before we did so, we played parachute games. Yes, you've got 9 adults trying to knock a ball on one side or the other with a parachute. I haven't had so much fun in forever.

I suppose it is all a matter of perspective. I spent all weekend dreading this morning, and now I feel refreshed and ready for whatever tasks lay ahead of me.

So what are some blessings in your life. Where have you seen God in the little places? In the sun trying to sneak out of the clouds, in the way a ball floats through the air, in laughter with people that you cherish...

If this isn't a blessing filled week, what can I be praying about for you?

God is faithful, God is good, and God is always speaking.

new haircut

Saturday, October 21, 2006

You may remember way back in February when I got my hair cut fairly short for the first time in awhile. I'm always really apprehensive about my hair, but in the end it seems to work out well for me. So I got my hair cut this past week because the length of it was driving me crazy.

It is a little bit different than last time and also a bit shorter. But I like it. The place I go is really trendy so I left feeling pretty trendy. Haha.

I finally have a pretty easy laid back weekend. I needed some time off so I didn't plan a whole lot of things this weekend. I've got some ideas floating around and want to get back into writing a bit, so hopefully I'll get a chance to do that today or tomorrow.

Work has been busy and Eddie and I are gearing up to be on our own when Tracy is on maternity leave. I'm also working hard on getting Saranam Sunday off of the ground. We're having an entire Sunday devoted to Saranam which will be an exciting yet very busy time.

being the body of Christ

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Tonight had some powerful moments. My Tuesday night Bible Study is one of the most amazing gatherings I've ever been blessed to be a part of. In August, 2 wonderful friends from that group responded to a call to ministry and moved far away to Ohio.

Tonight, the rest of the group sat on the phone with Jeremy and prayed. In an act of true humbleness before God, we all prayed for a young boy who is going through a whole lot, a young boy who has been diagnosed with leukemia, a young boy who is Jeremy's godson.

We as the body of Christ have to work hard to uplift each other especially in situations where one of the only things that can be done is to pray. Prayer is a powerful way for people to relate to God and to each other and I haven't felt the power of the Holy Spirit like I did tonight in a long time.

I ask you to pray for Trevor. I ask you to pray for a young boy you most likely do not know. For his family, for his friends, and for my friend. This is a difficult time for all involved, but prayer can't hurt anything. God hears our calls always, what happens next is in God's hands, but certainly the support of those who are part of this body of Christ is important.

You can read updates on Trevor's status here where Jeremy has set up a site.

searching for scripture

I'm looking for scripture on transformation for Saranam Sunday, and I honestly couldn't pass this one up.

Psalm 126 (The Message)
It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when GOD returned Zion's exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn't believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations-
"GOD was wonderful to them!"
GOD was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.

And now, GOD, do it again-
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

May you come home today, from wherever you are, with armloads of blessing.

a whirl of a weekend

Monday, October 16, 2006
This weekend went by so fast without a whole lot of rest but filled with a whole lot of fun.

A snippet of my weekend includes:
3 balloon events
Flying Star
Getting families to and from church
Walking 2 miles for CROP walk holding the hand of a 5 year old
Attending my first "dunking" baptism
Being "official" photographer at said baptism
riding to santa fe and back
attempting to go to a corn maze (it was closed)
Going instead to Chuck E. Cheese (where even adults can be a kid)
Then with friends to Bennigan's

It was a seriously full but fun weekend, I really enjoyed every minute of it.

In other news, I would encourage you to go and sign this Amnesty International petition that was just forwarded to me by a friend. As we continue to move into the 21st century and start defining what it means to be an American, I encourage you to stand up for human rights and help restore dignity to those who are imprisoned. It is our right and our duty to increase awareness about issues such as this. This is not the America that I believe in.

From Amnesty International:

The America I Believe In doesn't torture people or use cruel, inhumane treatment. . . doesn't hold people without charge, without fair trials, without hope, and without end. . .doesn't kidnap people off the street and ship them to nations known for their brutality. . .doesn't condone prisoner abuse and excuse high-ranking government officials from responsibility for that abuse. . .doesn't justify the use of secret prisons. . .and does not rob people of their basic dignity.

I'm joining with Amnesty International USA to restore The America I Believe In. The America I Believe In leads the world on human rights.

I'm committing to tell friends and family about the campaign. I'm also committing to contacting my members of Congress and my local media to tell them that the America I Believe In defends human rights and justice for all.

Balloon Fiesta

Saturday, October 14, 2006
Well it is nearing the end of the Balloon Fiesta and I made it out to see the balloons three times, twice on the grounds and once watching from a parking lot. Overall I had a fantastic time and could never really get sick of watching the balloons. It is one of those events that I like to go to so that I can see the reactions of people, especially children. The awe and wonder of an innocent face among a crowd is enough to bring joy to anyone. Here are some selected pictures from Balloon Fiesta, but you can always see more here. If you ever get a chance to come to ABQ, I highly suggest visiting during Balloon Fiesta, it is certainly one thing about ABQ that I will miss and will certainly be back for from time to time.

Dawn Patrol... 5:45 am and still very dark.

Me out on the field.

Trying to get the balloon up.

Special shapes lifting off.

A crisp fall morning, hundreds of balloons, a breakfast burrito... could life get any better?


Thursday, October 12, 2006
Normally I write when I have a rough week about being overwhelmed, and it is true that this week has been overwhelmed with business, and I feel like I am about 10 steps behind myself.

But there is more to this overwhelmed feeling than being busy, in all honesty, I am just simply overwhelmed with joy. Sometimes, things can be hard. But that is what life is to me, being full and abundant does not come without difficulty. Things have just been good this week, and it isn't that specific things have happened to make me feel joyous, it is more that little things have just made my life feel right.

I've been getting encouraging messages through the week, one in particular stands out. Even though I've done my fair share of worship leading, I've never been one to feel comfortable singing without my guitar. Never. But last week, Billy asked me to sing and I was blessed with an email with a comment from someone that night that came at precisely the right moment. It has brought a smile to my face every time I've thought about it. In many ways, I am very much like my mother. I do things not expecting to ever get credit for them, and usually try to do things inconspicuously so that no one gets a chance to thank me for them. But there are some times in our lives where we need the encouragement of others. Even though I try really hard to avoid it, I definitely think that God knows when I need a boost. No, I know when God knows that I need something to remind me of why I am here and what it is that I do to further the kingdom.

I love when I have days like this because there is often a song associated with it, today's is straight out of the United Methodist Hymnal, the song "What Gift Can We Bring" is floating around in my head and I just feel the warmth surrounding me from the various congregations that mean so much to me as I sing it.

What gift can we bring, what present, what token?
What words can convey it, the joy of this day?
When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing,
what song can we offer in honor and praise?

Give thanks for the past, for those who had vision,
who planted and watered so dreams could come true.
Give thanks for the now, for study, for worship,
for mission that bids us turn prayer into deed.

Give thanks for tomorrow, full of surprises,
for knowing whatever tomorrow may bring,
the Word is our promise always, forever;
we rest in God’s keeping and live in God’s love.

This gift we now bring, this present, this token,
these words can convey it, the joy of this day!
When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing,
this song we now offer in honor and praise!


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Next Sunday is the annual Cropwalk here in Albuquerque. This year, I'm participating and walking with the youth group to help keep them in line. (Ha yeah right we're planning on having fun doing it) Cropwalk is an ecumenical walk sponsored by Church World Service that helps to take a stand and raise awareness about hunger issues. CROP stands for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty. If you would like some more information, it can be found here.

As part of the walk, walkers raise money to fight hunger in the world as well as in the community. 25% of the money raised for CROP walk stays in Albuquerque and is given to local food banks in the area. If you would like to donate money towards my walk, please visit this site. It is a completely secure site, so you can feel free to give online, please contact me if you have any problems. Help CROP stop hunger!

site update

Friday, October 06, 2006
Have trouble remembering what my site is? Just plain lazy?

Try this one out.... http://www.lifeawakened.com

Yes yes, I needed to as I put it, fulfill a nerdy need. I'm trying to get back into some webpage designing and want to learn some of the new tricks of the trade. I needed a host to practice on, so I splurged a little and got a domain name and some hosting for the next year.

For now, the blog is staying here and my domain name is just a redirect, but I'll definitely be adding a picture site, and perhaps some other things in the future.

Exciting things to come!

knee deep in Bible

Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I can honestly say that I am full to the brim with Bible studies right now.

I'm back meeting with my Tuesday night group, which is really just Whitney, Jarrod and I now that we've lost Jer and Daen. But we're hoping that maybe we can get some more people interested in that one because it really is great.

Wednesday, I've got the morning study with the ladies from Central. I really enjoy the company of the group, it is a highlight of my week, but the study we're doing now absolutely drives me crazy. Most of that comes from the realization that my Wesleyan theology runs deep and really disagrees with a lot of things that we do in the Baptist centric study (Beth Moore if you're interested). In a lot of ways I also feel that the study isn't as spiritually mature as it needs to be. I think that as we grow deeper in our faith, that our studies need to grow as well and get beyond the superficial level.

Wednesday night, I'm doing another short term Disciple study, specifically Intro to Genesis. In the spring my Wed morning study did the Intro to OT, also a short term Disciple study. These studies are rich, informative, go beyond just reading and go into understanding the context, the history, the theological implications of scripture. They're fantastic. I've always hesitated about doing a full term disciple series, but the short term 8 week ones seem to be great.

Thursday's at noon I lead a Bible study for our residents. They have asked for it, and we're going through Matthew. I'm really excited about it, but they ask really tough questions. It is a challenge to me for sure, but last week went well so I hope that this week is good too. I can only pray that I will be able to help open doors for our adults that they might be able to really explore.

So, is that too much? Is there ever too much Bible Study? Each one is helping me grow in different ways, but honestly I'm not even to Thursday and I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed (this is the first week of all 4) It will be back down to 3 in 4 weeks or so, but can I hack it with 4 Bible studies? I guess only time will tell.


Sunday, October 01, 2006
Up until today I haven't put any artwork up in my apartment. I don't know if I didn't do it because I thought I was going to move (which I thought I was for a year but finally just decided that this apartment is convenient), or if I just didn't have anything I wanted to put up. I've got some posters in Illinois that I have had up the past few years, but I just didn't bring them with me when I moved. Who knows why not. Since moving here, I haven't done much just because I don't really have the money to put up things I really enjoy.

While at our mid-term, Tiffany showed us her apartment and the things that she has done to make it her own. It inspired me to do something about the state of my apartment. I've got some ideas, but I haven't gotten to them yet.

Today, a friend of mine posted a program that I just had to try out. The pictures on the site looked really cool, so I tried one of my photos. While I was in New York, I took a picture of the corner that Magnolia Bakery sits on. It turned out pretty cool, and I really like street signs, so I figured that this picture was as good as any. It was pretty easy to cut and put together, and I think it turned out really cool. So of course I had to try another. So I went on a flickr search for street signs in Albuquerque and found this picture outside of San Felipe de Neri church in Old town. The shadow from the one way sign is projected on the church, which I just thought was really cool. I love that you can pick and choose the size of what you want to do. I think that my next one I do I'm going to try to fill up my bedroom wall. I've just got to find the right image to do so. Black and white is much easier to do for sure, but I'd love to do a small one in color. Though I think I would take it somewhere to have it printed. In any case I'm really happy with the result, and I think it has inspired me to make a day of cleaning and decorating my apartment which will be great.

culture, web 2.0 and where are we going from here?

Ok, so I admit it, I've been out of school for over a year now and still find myself studying things... I've been really fascinated by culture lately, specifically the culture of young people. I am fascinated by youth and young adult ministry as well as current trends in culture.

So that tends to mainfest itself in studying it. Who knows how much time I spend on the internet looking up stuff related to youth and young adults and what they are passionate about and what they are doing and how they act and how they interact. Maybe it is because I'm young that it interests me, but culture has always been something that I really contemplate about and think about.

On Friday, I watched an hour long panel that featured youth and young adults, I think from the San Francisco area. They were asked question upon question, and I really found the questions and answers intriguing. It is definitely something from a business perspective, but when you think in ministry you can't help but have to think a little about advertising and marketing. I found it completely fascinating how basically the young adults said that you can't advertise to them. There is minimal tv watching, and if watching it they have a dvr so they skip commercials. They block nearly all internet advertising. I think one said that the only thing they notice is billboards. Of course the panel moderator went on and on about advertising and how to reach young adults, and basically the response was "You can't. I choose what I want based on what friends recommend to me."

I of course immediately thought about this in the context of church. In the context of advertising ministry, I've come to realize that advertising to young people isn't going to work. Evangelism does not (generally) work by sending flyers around and by posting billboards or playing tv commercials at 6:45 am, but rather by forming relationships. By really getting to know people and what they are about.

One of the ways that I think is reaching people is this new phenomenon (coined in 2004, but really starting to turn heads now) called Web 2.0. We all remember the first huge internet boom in the late nineties that just bombed. Web 2.0 is what came next. In short, web 2.0 is all about the users. It has fueled social networking sites, blogs, and other sites that feature the users having the opportunity to share information. Sharing information is what it is all about, and for most web 2.0 companies that is what it looks like. It looks less like profit and more like enabling users which then turns into more profit.

So what if ministries looked like that? What if ministries were less about how much we need to make in the offering plate to run and more about how we are going to enable people to be in ministry throughout the week. More about how we enable our congregation to be people who try be what Jesus called us to be?

As time moves on, and more and more young people are disillusioned because they have no place to go and no place to serve, the church as a whole is going to have to have a mindset shift. There are churches doing this yes, but in my opinion, not very many. I know when I get involved in a church, I want to feel like I matter. How can I do that if it is difficult to meet with a pastor? Or if I feel like my voice is left unheard?

The short answer of what I think churches should be doing about this culture shift is I don't know. I could speculate about how things need to be interactive, how websites need to feature areas where there can be group input. How ministry models will need to shift and how we'll have to leave behind some of our preconceived notions of ministry in order to be more effective. But honestly, I'm studying. I'm 23 years old and I'm finding reason to study people my age. To understand what the passions are and to understand what we need to be doing.

It is going to be next to impossible to make these shifts if we're not constantly studying and learning. That's why I read so many blogs, that's why I read techcrunch (it highlights web 2.0 companies). But I think the most important piece is to be doing. I can learn and study all I want, but unless I am a part of this culture here, I'll never be relevant enough to be effective.
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