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Monday, July 30, 2007
Well most of the missionary podcasts that we US-2s made when we were in NYC are up... you can check them out here!

The sad part is that I hardly remember saying any of that. Go figure.

I have 1 more day of officially being a missionary. Crazy. Right now I'm working on some follow up VBS stuff. I sat in on my last Saranam staff meeting today which hasn't really sunk in yet, but it will be good to just have one job. Of course I'll stay busy as youth ministry is definitely demanding. But I am definitely excited about it!

Feature at GBGM website

Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Just wanted to link you all to a feature about the end of being a US-2 that a fellow classmate wrote for the GBGM website.

I'll probably have some thoughts about finishing up my time as a US-2 over the next couple of weeks, but right now I have some daunting tasks ahead of me for the day, things I really really need to get done before this weekend.

Staff meeting time!

and the craziness begins.

Monday, July 23, 2007
I had a completely successful parent meeting last night which was awesome. The staff talked about the game I played with parents and kids all day today. Definitely cool, I have amazing parents to work with, and I am so ready to just be the youth director.

I also finished Harry Potter at some point on Saturday which was amazing. I did in fact wait in line on Friday night, and I was about the 6th in my line to get the book. Very exciting. Here's a picture of me just having gotten the book at about 12:15 am on Friday night.

I'm in the thick of planning a lock in for Friday night, and gearing up for back to school activities. I'm definitely ready to get into the swing of things for sure. As school gears up, we will definitely be doing some fun amazing things. I'm definitely excited for what is to come.


Friday, July 20, 2007
And Vacation Bible School is over for the year amazingly enough. I was in charge of the 4th and 5th graders, who were fun up until about yesterday. All I can say is that I am wonderfully glad they have a year or two before I get them in youth group.

I'm always amazed about how much I learn from kids, and how much I learn from the curriculum that kids are given. Each day had a different theme, I will follow, I will trust, I will listen, I will repent, and I will serve. We really had a fantastic time with it all though we will all breathe a sigh of relief after Sunday is over. We lead worship on Sunday and if the practice run today is any indication, my time will be spent making sure kids aren't causing serious amounts of trouble in the choir loft.

My favorite part of the week was that each morning, our senior pastor got up to pray with the kids, and he would pray and they would repeat what he said. Hearing that chorus of small voices was the highlight of my day for sure.

Now I'm just waiting in anticipation for the much anticipated blockbuster book hit of the summer. Harry Potter. You all know what I'll be doing tomorrow.... reading!

and she's married..

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
We're in VBS week and I'm swamped as usual but I just wanted to throw up a quick update that I was in a wedding this past weekend and it was awesome. My best friend from high school and college got married to another really good friend from high school and college. It was a great week of catching up, really getting to know the adults my friends have become, and having a great time while doing it.

Congratulations Nick and Rebecca!

From right to left: Megan, me, Rebecca, Nick, Alison.
Seattle Matt, Rebecca's friend from grade school is in the back. He's awesome too.

new devotionals...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
I've been struggling with finding a devotion book for me that I am really inspired by. I always spend some of my morning in prayer, but feel like I needed something more.

On Sunday night when I got out of youth group, I needed some consoling so I called my friend Leah and she met me for Boba Tea. Youth group didn't go exactly as planned but I felt better about it on Monday than I did on Sunday night when I got done. Hopefully as I find my groove I'll be more confident about the ministry that is going on.

As we were headed back to my car to sit and chat about what was frustrating about how youth group ended up, I changed my mind and asked if we could go to Hastings and find a book on youth ministry or something. Resources will fix my problem! (They won't. I just like bookstores and looking around helps my psyche.)

I stumbled upon the updated "My Utmost for his Highest" in new language that makes a ton more sense. So far so good. Both of the last two days have really spoken to me. I have the old version as well but this one really stands out and speaks to me more. So if you're on the lookout for a devotional book, I highly recommend checking out the revised "My Utmost for his Highest."

first youth meeting...

Sunday, July 08, 2007
T- 1 hour until my first youth meeting as youth director. I think everything is in order but I'm surprisingly nervous. This morning I joined the church here. I got to the point where being a member in Illinois where I cannot give my presence, gifts, or service (I can still do the prayers part) just didn't make sense. When you join a UMC, you agree to give your prayers, presence, gifts and service. I can do that here with ease and really felt like I needed to make the move and join the church here. It was a funny process for me though because I've been here 2 years and a lot of the members of the congregation consider me to be family. I got hugs upon hugs upon hugs this morning standing in front of 3 separate worship services, and truly do feel that was the right move for me. I guess it was just odd to have them all welcome me when I've been here for awhile. Leaving Illinois Great Rivers behind was a huge step for me, but it really needed to be done.

Tonight we're eating, talking a bit of logistics, playing some games and then having discussion on a music video by Linkin Park. It should be a good time but I have butterflies in my stomach nonetheless. I probably won't have a huge group as a lot of my youth are on vacation, but the ones that show up will have fun. Once school starts back up I'll have a distinctive program but for a few weeks we'll just be doing games and having a lesson related to something in pop culture. With working two jobs for a month that is about the extent to which I can come up with anything spectacular. It makes me feel a little inadequate, but hopefully the time I've put into this week and next week (and I won't even be there next week) will show that I care about what the youth do each week even if it isn't exactly how I want youth group to look. It should be a good afternoon though but now I'm going to go finish getting ready and spend some time in prayer for the youth before they get here.

On a related note, oh how I love working on Sunday afternoons. It is quiet, the phones don't ring, and I can get a ton of stuff done. It is definitely great.

youth ministry office

Friday, July 06, 2007
Part of this week was spent making the youth ministry office my own. Of course, the office has been mine the last 2 years just in a different capacity. I cleaned out my other Saranam office last week, and this week I got the Saranam stuff taken care of in the church office and then set to work on my office.

Here is the result. Yes, it doesn't look like much but it was a huge deal to get done and make the space my own. I still have some shelves to attack with curriculum from the 80s and 90s to sort through and get rid of, but that is a task for another day when I'm not working 2 jobs and up to my eyeballs in trying to figure out how to do this whole youth ministry thing. I mean, I have volunteered and stuff but it dawned on me that I have to come up with program after program each week which is a daunting but wonderfully fun task.

So here's my wonderful office!

quick break from newsletter...

I'm working on a newsletter, and there is hardly anyone in the office today so it is relatively quiet. Every now and again we have people come to the front desk and ask for bus tokens or lunches which we don't give out on Fridays because we've usually run out with the weeks supply earlier in the week.

Today, a guy came up to the desk, picked up the bell that is normally rung to get someone's attention and stashed it away in his backpack. I was busy in my office, and suddenly heard "Did you just take my bell?" from the front secretary who had come up to the desk.

The guy was stealing the bell. He gave it back oddly enough, but it was a really strange experience to witness from my office vantage point. Reminds me of last year when I was getting lamps out of the storage unit and a guy just picked up a lamp and took off with it. Sometimes people go for the most fascinating things as far as taking stuff. There is probably plenty of other interesting things to take in this church that aren't at all secured, but this guy tried to steal the bell from the front desk. Bizarro.

made it through the day...

Monday, July 02, 2007
Today was my first day in the office having 2 jobs. I'm finding it hard to keep everything all straight in my mind, but ultimately it went ok. At some point I mentioned to the associate pastor who was in that I probably need time set aside to do each job, but I couldn't really think about setting that up when I was in the thick of things.

I had a lot of left over things to do from the mission trip, a staff meeting for Saranam, some office rearranging which is harder than it sounds, a meeting with someone at the Saranam storage unit, then back to try to figure out a little bit of long range planning because I was thinking about it. At some point I was standing in the office common area going through the trash from my office seeing if the former youth director threw out anything I might find worth using in youth ministry. I got more than one comment that I didn't have to dig through the trash to find lunch. Haha very funny. I did find some stellar programming stuff and threw the rest away.

I managed to finally make it to lunch at 3:30 only because Tracy came in and wanted food. I evaluated my hunger situation and decided that I probably could stand to have some lunch at some point rather than continue to eat leftover cantaloupe from the BBQ yesterday. We went out and talked about the prospective people taking my job, then headed back.

I didn't leave until 5:40, and I was the last one out of the office. Something tells me that might be a normal thing for me. As each person left they told me to not stay too long. Thankfully I had a Bible study appointment to get to, or I might have stayed way longer. I just have so much to get done and there is not enough time in a day for me to get it all done. I'm definitely going to have to rely on God in this one if I want to stay the least bit sane.

I was hoping to have some events during the month to just hang out with the youth outside of Sunday nights, but I don't know if that can happen until August when my mind isn't trying to get two jobs done. We'll see though I guess.

I think I am definitely in need of prayers to get through this month being the overachiever that I am. I know that youth directors are prime targets for burnout, and I would prefer that doesn't happen to me. At this point, my love for it all overcomes any chances at being burnt out. Thankfully I already am involved with an amazing support group of other youth directors in the area who I meet with on an almost weekly basis. We never leave each other without asking "How is it with your soul?" And we don't take ok for an answer.

So despite how the day slipped past me while I was up to my eyes in work, my soul is in a good place. I'm feeling energized by the prospects of new ministry, I'm excited that I am in a job that I already love, and I can't wait to really dig in, dig deep and let God do a lot of amazing work. I am blessed to be in a church that is incredibly supportive, isn't afraid to hire a young youth director, and is ready and willing to make some change.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the end of a Mary Oliver poem, and this quote has been coming to mind a lot for me in the last few days. For me, this is it. This is what I choose to do in this precious life right now...

The Summer Day
by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

where did the week go?

Sunday, July 01, 2007
Well it is July. Which means the heat is in full swing down here in the southwest. My computer is telling me it is 96, and though it is a dry heat, it certainly is still hot.

I survived my trips, not without excitement of course. Our mission trip was nothing short of amazing, God has blessed me with an amazing group of youth, as well as amazing adults to work with.

So here is a trip run down, and the reason that I haven't gotten to this yet was that I have been playing catch up. Who knew that being gone for 2 weeks straight would cause me to get so far behind at work and in life. Now that I feel sufficiently rested, it is time for an update...

We worked at Lydia Patterson, a school for kids who basically know little to no English coming in. Most of the kids live in Juarez and travel across the border each day to go to school. We did a ton of painting, fixing up some areas for them, some yardwork, more painting, and did I mention more painting? We also managed to work ourselves out of a job. We had intended to work from Monday - Friday, have a fun day on Saturday and head back on Sunday. Instead, we worked Monday - Thursday, had fun on Friday and a lot of Saturday and got back on Saturday night. It worked out better for a lot of us and I am thankful that I have some really flexible parents so that we didn't have any troubles coming back earlier.

I did all of the nightly programming, and got out of a little of that with some other stuff we did. On Sunday we got there and got settled and had opening worship, Monday we had worship and games, Tuesday we went up to the lookout point in El Paso and worshipped up there. Wednesday night we went to another youth group's meeting and hung out with them which was good for our kids to be a part of, then Thursday the school threw us a big party/cookout. We had our final worship on Friday night which was an amazing witness to me of where our youth are at and where we need to be headed. It could not have been a better closing worship.

We of course had fun the whole week but also had fun on the way down and back. We took a little detour on our way down to visit White Sands National Monument and slide down the dunes. It was hot, and I want to go back in say October and try that again, but it was a good time. Friday we headed over to Carlsbad and went swimming in the river, which was kinda gross but a good way to end a hot week. We also made an attempt to see a bat flight out of the Carlsbad caverns, but we got rained out. We spent Saturday going down 750 ft into the bottom of Carlsbad caverns which was about the coolest thing ever except for my fear of heights. We hiked down, which is about a mile walk which surprisingly takes about 45 minutes because the whole time you're walking at about a 30-45 degree angle. It was cool though I think that if I go back I'll just take the elevator down.

On our way back, we had a crazy tire blow out on the trailer, but it all seemed to work out and we got back safely.

Overall it was certainly an amazing trip. On Thursday the other adults were asking me if I still wanted to be youth director, and I could honestly say, yes.

So today begins the journey. Finishing up one job, officially starting another, and seeing where God continues to lead me. It certainly has been an interesting journey so far, and something tells me I haven't seen anything yet.

Blogging may be sparse in July due to working two jobs, but I think it is a spiritual discipline that I need to keep up as it helps me really reflect on the journey that God has been leading me on, so I hope to really get back on it one of these days here soon.
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