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apparently this is birthday weekend

Sunday, November 25, 2007
So far I've celebrated my birthday every day since yesterday. My birthday is actually tomorrow, so that seems to be a bonus.

Yesterday I was in Dallas still with my family and we went out to a Mexican restaurant I like there for lunch. We tried to go get cupcakes so I would have cake and could at least blow out a candle, but the cupcake place was closed sadly enough. Oh well.

This morning I got in to work rather flustered. I get in at 7:30 which is pretty darn early, but there is lots to do on a Sunday morning during this busy raise money for Costa Rica season. I was actually the only person here besides the custodian for a solid 10 minutes. There were burritos to warm up and brewing of coffee that needed to happen. So as I was making the first pot of decaf, suddenly there is a large group of teenagers standing behind me. I was about ready to tell them to go find some jobs to do when they began singing Happy Birthday to me at about 8:30 this morning. That definitely lightened my mood some.

So tomorrow is actually my birthday, and really it will be mostly like any other Monday. I've still got lots of work to do so I'll be in the office most of the day. I have a lunch meeting about confirmation class to do as well, but it is with fun people so that is good. Then some friends are taking me out to dinner that evening. All around it should be good. I just hope I get some cake at some point. Or ice cream. Or the best of both worlds... ice cream cake. I'm making my mouth water just thinking about it.

So I'm having a birthday weekend, can't complain about that one bit.

Back from camp

Monday, November 19, 2007
11 youth and 2 adults.
10 hours in the car in 48 hours.
10 hours of sleep over the course of the weekend.
18 hours of all sorts of fun.
That's what CCYM camp weekends are all about.

We took our biggest group in the last 3 years to Sr. High camp this past weekend. I was joined by our senior pastor's wife as our other adult, and we headed down to Sacramento Methodist Assembly just outside of Cloudcroft, NM. It was an awesome weekend. I seriously love spending time with my youth, and this is certainly a great way to do so.

Here is my super cool senior high before we left.

This is me... on Saturday night. A kid took my camera. I generally make faces at the camera. This was a new one, though the youth that took my camera says that I give him this look all of the time...

This is Saturday night during an activity called "Peter's Walk." This is recreating Peter's walking on water activity.

This is Saby. He and his sister hung out with me all during Annual Conference in 2006. It was during that experience with them that I remembered what it is like to hang out with youth and started to feel the tug back towards youth ministry. Saby called me two weeks ago and asked me to be an adult for his small group. I said yes and we had a great time. I've already agreed to be his adult for the February event as well because he is just that awesome.

So I had a great time this past weekend and now I'm headed to see family for Thanksgiving! Woo hoo!

cracking up about my youth...

Thursday, November 15, 2007
So I didn't have very many guy friends when I was in high school. I had a few, but not the kind that opened up about what they were thinking very often, and definitely not like the guys I have in my youth group currently.

I'm seriously cracking up still about some of the conversations I had with some of the guys today. As I sit at coffee, I generally have time during the 2 hours where it is just me and a bunch of guys, which I think is awesome. We talk about anything and everything that guys in junior high and high school talk about which is pretty cool too. I love that they trust me enough to talk about bodily functions...

So I love hanging out with them because I really gain insight into the teenage male mind. Today's conversations seemed to center around girls. So here was the conversation that I just lost it over... I'm seriously still laughing.

S: I need a new girlfriend.
L: As in you want to take your current one in and trade it for a new model? (He said it like he was going to go get a new car or something.)
S: No, I don't have one, that's the problem. I need a new one.
L: Well I'm glad you're not shopping for one like a car.
S: Well sometimes I go looking for them in stores.
L: What?
S: Well you really don't want to date someone you meet at Wal-mart. You never know what you might get. But Macy's girls are a good call.
L: Are you serious?
S: Yeah.
L: *Face palm*
S: But I have three options right now. I have a decent chance with all of them. (He proceeded to name them and tell me a bit about all of them.)
L: So how do you decide?
S: Whichever one will go out with me first.
L: Are you serious?
S: Yeah, why not?
L: *Face palm* Well I guess that's a good way of picking a girlfriend...

So there you have it. A look into the mind of a teenage boy from my perspective. Good thing when I go to camp this weekend I am taking 8 girls and 3 boys. The girls... I get them most of the time. The boys... well I seem to smack my forehead an awful lot, but I love them. And am really intrigued about figuring out what is going on in their heads. No amount of schooling can prepare you for conversations like that one.

collective sadness

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
There has been a strange vibe at the church this week that I describe as "Collective sadness." In the past week, 4 church members have passed away, 2 of whom I knew fairly well. So I've had 2 funerals to attend this week, one was yesterday and one is tomorrow, but it certainly hasn't been easy. There is just this sense of sadness throughout the office, and throughout the church this past Sunday.

Death really is never very easy. But it seems like an exceptional blow that so many have happened this week. As we're heading into the holidays it isn't terribly surprising, but that doesn't make it easier.

The children's ministry director and I had a discussion yesterday on how we weren't sure about the theology that God takes people to him when he decides he needs them. That part of us agrees, and part does not. But in the end, poems and stories that use that sort of theology serve to give comfort, and that is why they are needed.

I am glad that at the end of the week I get to go down to camp with my youth. It takes away from the sadness that has been felt this week. Then I get to go visit family for the holiday and then come back just in time to turn a quarter of a century. November will be over before I know it... and then Advent!!

why i love my alma mater...

Thursday, November 08, 2007
Ok, so I do love the Alma Mater statue outside of Altgeld hall... but really, this love comes from seeing stories about the University of Illinois.


Is this not the coolest concept of a class? Oh to get my art requirement out of the way with that one would have been profoundly amazing. Instead I took art history, and don't get me wrong, I love that I can tell you names of painters and sculptors and paintings and even what era they are from and art museums actually make me really excited... but seriously, that sounds like the coolest class ever. And a comp II??? Ok so maybe I took about 6 classes that took care of that requirement, but still.

I don't miss college much... but sometimes I miss the challenges of having thinking exercises day in and day out. I don't miss having to read 300 pages a night and the late nights writing 20 page papers. There is just something about school to me though that gets my blood pumping in a way that a normal job can't... but that doesn't mean I'm going back anytime soon.

office hours bring entertainment

So I had 6 youth and another adult sponsor show up to hang out with me at the coffee shop today which was fun. I really enjoy just spending time with the youth that show up.

They for some reason wanted to show me youtube videos today, but the internet at the coffeeshop wasn't working so i wrote down what to look up and did so just a few minutes ago.

So I looked them up... and my youth crack me up. And there are some weird people on youtube.

If you're interested, just check out videos called: bohemian acid, my hands are bananas, and barney versus spongebob

I was thinking about the appeal of such ridiculous videos... for me, I think that even though these videos are ridiculous, they say something about creativity among this culture we now live in. My youth are making up songs all of the time, and they have the ability to express themselves through different media. I hear a lot of adults complaining about what media is doing to kids, and sure, some of this stuff is incredibly mindless, but taking the time to do this shows drive and creativity in my book.

I'll probably be thinking more about this, but I have some stuff to get done and a very full weekend ahead of me. But I love Thursday afternoons. It means that the week is over and I get to spend 2 hours just hanging out with my youth which is awesome.

do not fear...

Thursday, November 01, 2007
Here's my life lesson for November... coming up with these monthly is a lot harder than it should be, but when all is said and done, my youth seem to appreciate a glimpse into my life and what I think about faith so I'm glad to take some time to come up with something each month.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

So maybe it isn’t on the same level as Israel being delivered from the tyranny of other countries, but I spent the entire night of October 26th in fear. I was with the young adult group from Central out at McCall’s haunted corn maze, and with every turn, I closed my eyes and hoped that nothing would jump out at me.

As I walked through the maze and was greeted by ghouls, goblins, clowns and other assorted scary things, I couldn’t help but jump at every turn. Even being surrounded by friends, I barely had it in me to complete the maze, but once I had made the commitment to enter into the maze, there was no turning back.

For me, often faith is a lot like that maze. Once you enter, there is no turning back. You are surrounded by your friends, and are unsure of where you are going and what you might run into, but something pushes you to go further. At some points you feel lost and might even regret entering the maze, but at the end of it all, you’re thankful for the experience.

Fortunately for all of us, entering into the journey of faith isn’t a guarantee of fright as the “Field of Screams,” was. In choosing a life devoted to Christ, we are assured that we are not alone and God is with us every step of the way. The next time that you are frightened on the journey, rest assured that Jesus is with you, you are not alone, and God is always there to strengthen you and carry you on the journey.

As for me, I won’t be entering a haunted corn maze again any time soon, but I excited about walking on this journey of faith with all of you.
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