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a true resident of Albuquerque...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Well... I now feel like a true resident of Albuquerque. When I moved here... my parents were a little nervous about me moving to the city most viewed on the tv show COPS. I wasn't going to be able to afford a cell phone, but they felt I was going to be living in a dangerous city, so they kept paying for my cell phone while I was a missionary.

This morning I went out to my car... and my spare tire on the back of the car was gone. It did not make for the best of moods. By the end of the day I had replaced it by calling a friend of a friend who called a few salvage yards for me. I had gas stolen out of my car at some point, but somehow the tire was a much bigger deal to me. I lucked out and got a pretty decent tire for not too much.

So I spent a lot of my day really working through how I felt about it all. I mean, I'm thankful my car was still there obviously. And I'm thankful I have friends who help me out and give me people to call and get things squared away without ripping me off.

I'm currently in the middle of writing a massive amount of curriculum for confirmation, working on a presentation about missions for both a group of youth workers as well as for our confirmation retreat for the conference, have been working on curriculum for camp and still have to do my normal youth ministry stuff. I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed and though I have lots of time to write all of that stuff, writing for me has been on the backburner. I also managed to suffer through a chest cold last week that just about took me down for the count for most of last week. But of course, things keep going and I am much better now and moving on with the rest of spring.

I will be so thankful when it hits summer because I get to spend more time with my youth hopefully and not be running around trying to get a million things done. Or maybe I will. Who knows, but right now looking at the summer is keeping me going at the moment.

Fasting and CCYM

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Well I had an amazing weekend with my youth. It is truly a blessing to be working with the youth that I have. On Saturday night, usually I have to pray with a few youth after a moving experience. This is really not my strong point. What I mean by that is that I am not someone who expresses my emotions outwardly. This can make it somewhat awkward to be praying with youth who are crying their eyes out. As I sat with my youth on Saturday, I watched as many of them began praying together. I sat back and saw God moving through them in a way that I hadn't seen before. I got to witness an outpouring of community that I hadn't seen in a long time. It was truly a blessing to be about to go and pray and supplement what was going on, but on the whole I let the youth do their own thing in caring for one another which was truly powerful.

On Friday, I had my first day of fasting during lent. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it might end up being. There were a few times where I got a little bit testy... but mainly because it was late and after 5 hours of driving and nearing 30 hours with no food it gets a little difficult to not let your emotions get the best of you.

When I woke up on Saturday morning I really had this somewhat amazing feeling deep within me like nothing could stir up my soul. We began Saturday morning with communion, and to me, the first day of trying this Lenten discipline out was really highlighted by the fact that I was able to experience a moving understanding of Christ's sacrifice. It was an amazing way to start this all off.

Of course I have one more trip to camp 2 weeks before Easter in which I have to do the same thing of fasting on Friday and then head down with the junior high group. That one should be interesting as well. In a lot of ways that will really be a time for me to bond with our junior high group. I spend a lot of time with my senior high as they have the ability to get around and come in more often, but my junior high doesn't have that opportunity nearly to the extent of the senior high. I'm excited for that to happen because I've been to camp 4 times now with the senior high and only once with the junior high. It should be a great way to grow deeper with them and get to know them a bit better.

Well back to confirmation prep. It has snuck up on me and I have LOTS to try and get done today. I already know I will have youth in my office tomorrow afternoon so I need to try and get a lot done today. Woo hoo!

The beginning of Lent

Thursday, February 07, 2008
There is something powerful that happens on Ash Wednesday in my mind and spirit. I can be going through the motions of the day, and suddenly I am reminded of my death, I am reminded that I came from dust, and one day I will return.

The powerful experience of having a pastor look into your eyes and tell me that I am dust is one that really rocks me to the core. A lot of people miss out on this experience because many churches never emphasize that this piece is important. But for me, the resurrection cannot happen without it. There have been a few times where I haven't made it to an Ash Wednesday service and it has changed my whole perspective on the season of Lent during that year.

I think for a lot of people, they miss out on the understanding of the season of Lent because they don't really see these rituals as important. And really, to each his own, but if you've never attended an Ash Wednesday service, you probably should at some point in your life.

Normally I take something up for Lent, and usually it is a really obvious thing, but this year something different has been on my heart. My youth director when I was in high school would fast from Maundy Thursday until Easter morning every year. Well I decided to give that a shot and also plan to fast on Fridays during Lent. I even have a support system because last night I was talking to a friend who had decided to do the same thing. I think that the spiritual discipline of fasting is one that can be really revelatory and I figure now is as good at any time to commit to trying it out.

Of course tomorrow is the first test of my fasting on Fridays because I'm headed down to camp with 14 teenagers. I'll manage all right but it will certainly be tempting with food floating around the van and a fast food stop on the way down. I have a feeling that breakfast on Saturday won't be a missed meal like it sometimes is at camp...

I'm hoping it is a good experience and that I get a lot out of it, but it will certainly be a challenge, but one that I'm ready for.
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