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Response magazine article...

Monday, April 30, 2007
Many might recall that I had an article that I was writing for a magazine way back in January. I got it today, so if you see a Response magazine lying around, check out the Bible Study as I wrote it and am featured prominently in it. My awesome friend Tiffany also has an article in there. If you for some reason can't get your hands on the magazine, let me know and I'll get a copy of the article to you if you would like to read it.

awesome weekend

I spent the weekend in Dallas with my brother and sister-in-law and my niece Avery. This was my first time meeting her, (she is all of 3 weeks old) and we had a fantastic time even though we didn't do a whole lot. It was a super relaxing weekend for me just to get away from work and stuff. I really enjoyed the time I spent there, and have completely grown to love the little kiddo Avery while I was there. I am so ecstatic to be her aunt and godparent, and am so glad that I got to meet her this weekend. It was definitely hard to leave her for sure, and I am certainly counting down the days until I get to see her again!


Thursday, April 26, 2007
I’m about halfway through Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution. Amazing so far. This is what church is to me, I just haven’t been able to really put words to it in a way that he does.

I’ve really connected with the importance of community that he stresses throughout the book, and was struck by a situation we are going through at work right now.

A few months back, a family left. We actually asked a part of the family if they wanted to stay, and it just didn’t happen. It definitely should have, but it didn’t. In the last few days, this part of the family has been calling and writing emails to us, and even stopped by today. Both my boss and I are trying to figure out why we’re ok with it all, and why it is so good to see her even though the situation upon which the family left was a hard one.

I think it ultimately boils down to community. Claiborne says, “It is a beautiful thing when folks in poverty are no longer a missions project but become genuine friends and family with whom we laugh, cry, dream, and struggle.”

That’s what it is. I am so fortunate to be at a placement site where I really get a chance to know these families. I was worried when I first came that I wouldn’t have enough to do, but I’ve found plenty of course. God has placed some amazing people in my life, and I am privileged to call some of them friends. I wouldn’t trade the interactions for anything. The Bible Studies, the long car rides taking people to appointments, hanging out in my office and just inviting people to sit and chat. Hearing what they have to say about church, about community, about struggles and about each other, I will walk away changed.

So it isn’t strange to be embracing someone who left. It is just part of community. It is about loving each other even when things don’t go well. And they don’t always go well. They didn’t always go well for Jesus so we can’t expect they will always go well for us. But this is what ministry is all about. Relationships. Community. Loving one another no matter what.

postmodern, millenials, etc...

Monday, April 23, 2007
I met yesterday with the Education Hub to do some long range planning, and though we're not at all done and have just started the conversation, it was a good one. We started out talking about how ministry is going to be different for these generations, because of everything that has changed so rapidly within the last few generations. I am on the edge of being a millenial (born 1982-2001ish), and have some Generation X (born 1964-1982ish) qualities because my brother was squarely in Gen X. But for the most part I understand Millenials, because I am certainly one of them.

We talked a lot about postmodern thinking is going to affect ministry, and discussed absolute truth, which really brings me to my ultimate question that the Children's ministry director and I have been asking each other, and that is, "What is it that is so foundational to my faith, that without it, I can no longer live the Christian life I lead?"

For many postmoderns (approximately 60-70% of millenials are postmodern thinkers), the answer is going to be one filled with mystery I would venture to say. Or really I would even say that the question would cause someone who is postmodern in their thinking to ask more questions. That's my initial reaction to the question at least.

I remember a really great theological conversation that I had while sitting on a porch in Costa Rica very early in the morning. We were up, ready to go work, and suddenly this discussion of the virgin birth came up. And whether or not we believed in it. The ultimate answer for us came in the form of a question about why it matters. The understanding of the context for many of these "core beliefs" is more about the story for me. The relevancy for me lies in why it is important. The importance of understanding the virgin birth is to understand the human and Godly nature of Jesus. Many of these stories for me have meaning far beyond their literal understanding. Jesus spoke in parables in order to teach lessons from a different perspective. He didn't just lay everything out in purpose or mission statements. He didn't make it easy for his disciples to get it. I think that is because there is more to it than we can possibly begin to understand. There are some stories that I don't get. I don't understand their purpose. I get frustrated that I just don't get it, but when I remember the larger part of the story then I understand that maybe I am not supposed to get it all. And I'm ok with that. I'm all right with living in the mystery.

I know that many people would probably question me when I say these things. But I've never been one to be ok with really stringent rules. I like to do things my own way, and I think as ministry keeps happening in this world we're going to have to be able to deal with these questions, and maybe that means asking more questions and being ok with not having the immediate answer. I'm not ever going to say that I've got God figured out, because frankly, I just don't think it is possible to have God figured out. It is part of the mystery of it all.

So what belief for you is so important that if it disappeared tomorrow then you would no longer be able to live your life as a Christian?

social justice issue of the month...

Friday, April 20, 2007
I started doing social justice issues of the month oh back in July and I just was never able to keep up with it. So here is this month's rendition of it and next month is likely to be determined and happen at a later time than in a month. The reality of the matter is that I am busy and though I read tons of social justice news, I haven't had the time to get actively involved in stuff. Lame excuse, I know, but one day, I'll get less busy and be able to pour my heart into more stuff.

There are an estimated 300,000 children in the United States that are forced into child prostitution. There are programs such as International Justice Mission that are trying to put a stop to this both at home and abroad.

What can we do? For now, I've been trying to learn as much as possible about the situation. My good friend Jeremy just came up with a website where he is planning on helping people get informed about the situation. Check it out. Learn something. Then do something about it.

ministry never stops...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
It seems that since it is now public that I am staying here, I am doing about 3 times as much work as I had been before. It is fun, but definitely tiring, and this week has just been tiring in and of itself with the whole Virginia Tech thing. It just seems to take an emotional toll on anyone and everyone I come across.

Today, while reading the biographies of the people that were murdered, the whole thing became a lot more real. One girl was from Champaign, IL, a city I still regard as home in many ways. She was a member at a local UMC in the area that I attended a few times. Reading a statement from a pastor I know, about a girl a few years younger than myself, made it ever so real.

Then reading about a girl from Annandale, VA, a town that holds a special place in my heart even though I've never been there. I still wear a shirt given to me by a youth group there, a group that attended camp at Mountain TOP the year that I was on volunteer day camp staff. I still remember a lot of those kids, they were a great group. I would imagine that most of the kids from there knew the girl that was from there, they are all about the same age as she is and they all attended Annandale High School with her.

I don't know what the proper reaction is to this whole situation. Right now my heart just seems to ache when I read CNN, or hear people talking about it, or bring myself to think about it. It just continues to break my heart.

a sad day...

Monday, April 16, 2007
I've been sitting here the majority of the day just watching CNN update the coverage on the Virginia Tech shooting and I am in utter shock. Violence of that caliber astounds me. Although violence is occuring throughout the world every moment of every day, these acts where someone takes vengence for no rhyme or reason always just seems to surprise me.

I remember in 6th grade, we were sent home with a note that a 5th grader had brought a knife to school and proper actions were being set in place to keep all of us kids safe. There was genuine concern for safety once it had been breached.

I was a sophomore in high school when Columbine happened 8 years ago on Friday. The reality of the situation was felt throughout the country, and I couldn't imagine what it was like to be put in that horrifying situation. I remember distinctly the feeling of fear as televisions in classrooms were turned to watch the scene unfold. This could have been our school, these could have been our classmates.

Today, as I sit in an office a mere 100 yards from a college campus, I feel the same sort of sadness I've felt as countless events like this have unfolded. My prayers go out to those in the situation. The victims, the families, the friends, and the family and friends of the still unidentified shooter. Healing is necessary for everyone in this situation, and those that the situation is affecting. I pray that God may use this event to open our hearts and minds and call us to action in order to work towards peace.

well now that it is official...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I am staying in Albuquerque.

God has called me to take on being a youth director here in this fine city for the church that I currently work for. It has been an amazing journey for me as I have struggled with figuring out just exactly where I need to be in ministry, and I am beyond excited now that I have made the commitment. I will be starting after I finish up my US-2 assignment at the end of July.

I have been richly blessed by my time in the ministry I currently work in, but it is time to do something that I get excited about. And for me, that is youth ministry. I have felt and understood my calling to young people since I was in youth group, and of course everyone questioned that because I couldn't know what it was like to do ministry with youth until I wasn't a youth anymore. I planned my degree to complement the youth ministry I wanted to eventually do, and so now I get to use it.

I'm excited about the possibilities I have with the current ministry and am really excited to do some new innovative stuff. I already have an awesome connection with the youth here so it should be a pretty smooth shift. It is hard for youth to get a new youth director, but hopefully this transition will be easier than other transitions I've heard of.

So yay for awesome jobs and knowing what I'm going to do when I am done here!

Holy week is almost over...

Saturday, April 07, 2007
Ok, so my niece is adorable. This is a more normal picture of Avery Jane, not taken from a camera. They made it home yesterday. My mom is headed down a week from Monday I think, then I'm going to down the weekend after that. Pretty much from here until the end of May I am beyond busy. And let's be honest, this summer doesn't look any better.

So I've made it to Holy Saturday. I actually will be celebrating Easter tonight at counterculture. Last night we reflected on the 7 last words of Christ and ended in darkness. It was an unbelievably long service but was all in all pretty good. The relief is almost there among church staff so that's good.

Tomorrow morning is Easter egg hiding. I'm leading the youth group in the morning as we hide 1400 eggs or so for the annual Easter Egg hunt on the lawn. Should be a good time.

It is a tiny picture but...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I am an Aunt! :-)

The gathering...

Monday, April 02, 2007
I just got all registered and squared away for a trip to Arkansas at the end of May to attend The Gathering. Should be a good time to get to know some other young adult leaders in the UMC and meet some people and hopefully reconnect with some that I've lost touch with. It looks like it will be a good conference minus the fact that my flight leaves at 6 am to get there. Oh well.

I like going to these kind of events though, they fuel me in a way that I can't describe. Getting back into the whole emergent scene is something that I have been thinking I need to do, I've done nothing but read books and introduce people to it as of late, and haven't been an active participant. I think that the United Methodist church can have a future for young people, but only if young people take some initiative and really get to work on being the body of Christ in a world that is ever evolving.

Entering into Holy Week

Sunday, April 01, 2007
Palm Sunday today. For some reason, my church doesn't give out palms to just regular attenders. You had to be a kid in the choir or an adult in the choir to get palms. In any case, singing "All Glory Laud and Honor" was a good way to start my morning. There is something about a king riding in on a donkey that gets me every time. It is just sort of confusing and exciting all at the same time.

This week is busy, filled with a ridiculous amount of meetings. And of course worship on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday, and if all goes as planned, Tuesday brings the birth of my neice. There is some major fun at the end of the week with our pretzel day activities at the church. Thankfully, after this week ends, I've got Monday next week off.

I of course will start my ridiculous ritual of listening to Jesus Christ Superstar at some point. I'm still looking to see if I can find a Seder dinner to attend on Thursday. There is something incredibly moving about this whole Holy week experience. This one should be a good one for sure.

I started Shane Claibourne's book but it is taking a tremendous amount of energy. So today I started Rob Bell's new book, and it too is taking a ton of energy. I think it may be time to read a book that doesn't require me to rethink everything that I know. Of course I have about 10 books on my bookshelf still waiting for me to dive into. And none of them are mindless, and I think pretty much all of them will challenge me in some way or another.

So for now, I'll keep reading. I'll have some free time here soon with my Disciple Romans ending, and a couple of other things just falling into place and opening up some doors for me to have a little more time for myself. Hopefully that will stick and I won't just go and put more in my life that takes up time.
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