We live in a world of sin and imperfection. I am a child of God striving each day to live out my calling. Welcome to my blog where you get the inside scoop of this Child of God's life!
"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Life of Pi

So I started going to a book club with one of my friends here in Hesston. I went a couple times at the end of last year and decided that it would be fun to go for real. So we got our new year list of books and the first one was Life of Pi by Yann Martel. You can read the Goodreads description here. I have not watched the movie yet, because I have a problem with actually reading the book if I have already seen the movie. Well even though it took me longer than a month to read it, I finished the book last night. I decided that I wanted to blog about the books I read this year just for the fun of it.

The book starts of really slow, so I had a hard time seeing this book as a movie. I can see this book becoming curriculum for colleges that have literary classes. There was a lot of imagery and descriptive writing. I'm still not sure about this movie, because the book is very gruesome.

Here is the book in a nutshell (Spoiler Alert)
The story is fictional but it is written as if it were a true story. Pi is a young boy who grew up in India. His father owns a zoo so he spends his childhood at the zoo.

There is a large section where Pi discovers Christianity and Islam, my religion nerd brain was incredibly happy about this section. A lot of people see this as confusing and my book club friends were not very impressed by it. I see this part as incredibly beautiful. He is part of the Indian culture so he has grown up with his polytheistic religion and he is very devout. He discovers Christianity through the eyes of his Hindu religion. He gets hooked when he realizes that this God loves his people so much that he is willing to sacrifice his son. Pi is completely baffled and spends a lot of time with the Catholic priest in his town and eventually he becomes a Christian. Then he stumbles upon the Islamic faith. In the same way he is taken by the Christian faith he is baffled by the dedication of the Islamic faith and he eventually becomes faithful here as well. He finds a way in his teenage brain and heart to faithfully dedicate himself to all three religions. I found it completely perplexing and amazing, it was a beautiful way to look at all three religions. It was also interesting to see the way it intertwined throughout the rest of the movie.

The books quickly picks up when Pi's father decides that they are done living in India and they are moving to Canada. So they sell all of the animals to other zoos, and most of them they have to deliver so they pack up on a cargo ship and head out. In the middle of the Pacific ocean the ship goes down. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangu-tan, and a bengal tiger. The rest of the story is his battle to survive on this lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with these wild animals. Eventually it comes down to the tiger and Pi in the boat. He is on the boat for over 200 days and the majority of the story is about him learning how to survive and not let Richard Parker (the tiger) dominate him. There were a lot of weird twists and turns that kept it interesting.

When he finally arrives on the shores of Mexico he is visited by people from the company that owned the ship. He tells them the entire story and they don't believe him. So he tells them a story without animals where there were just people. I would have to say that the people story was even more disturbing than the animal story. It leaves it up for you to believe which one is the real story. I vote animals!

This is not a light read but it is most definitely a good read!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Poems From a Long Carride

This weekend I traveled to and from Garden City in a van full of high school students. On the way to Garden City my mind decided to try and be creative again, so I wrote a couple poems. I haven't written poetry in a long time. I'm not sure I like these but I figured I might as well post them!

Poem 1: (they don't have real names)
When I spend time with you I know who I am.
I feel close to you in a crowded room if I've had quiet time with you.
Simple things in life radiate your beauty
Chaos and confusion are less insane when I have spent time with you.
It is so easy to forget how important it is to spend time with you each day.
The fast pace of this crazy world tries to interfere with my peace of mind, but Satan doesn't have a chance to interfere with my heart if I've had some time with you.

Poem 2:
Sometimes I wish I was a tree.
To be able to stand rooted in the ground
Spend all day rooted in your glory
To sway and bend with your blessings.
At night to stand under your vast sky.
Standing tall above your creation, yet to feel minuscule to your night sky.
To have a front row seat to your daily masterpieces of art.
A tree represents your power and might, your grace and love, life.
Trees are life for so many on this earth, they stand for everything you are and everything I wish to be.
Sometimes I want to be a tree.

Poem 3: (I actually wrote this one on Saturday morning during my quiet time)
That moment I fear, death.
Not my own, but one of mine.
For myself there only victory
But when death strikes before their prime.
How to handle that pain and confusion
My job is one of comfort and grace.
Lord, please ready my heart and steady my mind so when the inevitable happens I can stand with you and hold them.
Please watch over these young lives you have blessed me with and all those they know. Keep them safe and secure in your arms.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Perkins School of Youth Ministry Recap

This post is my way to decipher through everything that happened last week. I had an incredible week at Perkins School of Youth Ministry in Richardson, Texas. I have been back for a few days and my head is still reeling with all of the amazingness that happened. So I have decided to take a break from finding my office to sit down and think through last week. This is going to be a long post.

Thoughts from My brain!

This past week was incredible in so many ways. When I left for this conference I was exhausted on so many levels. It was definitely time to do something for me, and I am really glad I didn't talk myself out of going. I had the chance to catch up with one of my friends that I had allowed myself to lose touch with, I just let myself use her living in Alaska as the excuse for not continuing to keep her in my life. We realized we did it mutually, so we are going to try to be better at that. We were roommates for the trip and we both have a lot of introvert tendencies so we found a lot of comfort in each other and were able to have quite a few amazing conversations. We managed, with the Lord's help of course, to help each other decipher through a lot of feelings and thoughts, we were able to help each other open the door again to what God is really calling us to do with our lives. My calling really is youth ministry and hers really is missions. It is funny how we can know this so securely and then start to doubt because of the chaos of our daily lives. I met some awesome new youth pastors to the Kansas West Conference. Our YES meeting dynamic changed drastically after this last week. It was also really good for me to spend an entire week with people in ministry that are actually my own age. Sometimes I struggle being so much younger than everyone I work with, these people got me on a whole different level. I felt like I could be me, and listen to their stories and advice and give some with out feeling awkward about age. Seriously age is just a number, but it really does affect a lot of interactions with people. I also was able to catch up with my friend that moved to Texas when she got married, that was good too. 

Spiritually I was closer to God this last week than I have been in a long time. It is amazing to me how easy it is to allow myself to become distant from my creator. I get into the cycle of, I do all of this for my job that I forget to do it for me. I took a workshop on Self Care and honestly it was the best thing I could have done. I left before this conference incredibly close to burn out. I look back on the pure chaos of the last year and it really makes sense why I am so exhausted all of the time. My goal for 2013 was to do something fun for me this year (I meant that in a big way, like a cool trip or something) but now I realize that I need to do something for me every single day. I have decided to start and end my day with scripture, I used to be really, really good about spending time with God but I have gotten away from it, so back to that I go. I really want to spend 30 minutes to an hour every day at work, reading. Part of my job is staying educated and that can't be done without reading, and I love to read, so I will start reading education books again (there is a large enough gap between grad school and now so my brain can handle it). I need to go back to the way I know God speaks to me and that is through music. I have allowed myself to walk away from that incredible connection and that is not ok. Lyrics from songs are a huge part of my relationship with God and I have stopped seeking that, I am actually really disappointed in myself for allowing this to happen. I realized something that was always in the back of my mind, I am just managing my ministry, I'm not living it, and I'm not enjoying it, I have allowed it to become a job and that ends here. This is my passion, my livelihood, my desire, and where my heart is. So I cannot allow it to be just a job, this is who I am. Things are about to change.

One other major thing this conference allowed me to do is to appreciate my education. I have master's degree that I just shove under the table and do not allow myself to be proud of. It was really hard work, and I did it in about 8 months (which wasn't the smartest idea) and it came at the most perfect time in my life, and I think that pain that surrounds the day of graduation has allowed me to write it off as just some classes and that thing I did. But I am 23 years old with a Master's degree and I should be proud of that fact. I was able to talk to other youth pastors this week and promote the program and it really allowed me to accept and appreciate my accomplishment. Also, I have decided I want to become Certified in Youth Ministry, and my Master's degree covers all of the classes needed for that, so I just cut that process down, and the application is sitting here on my desk ready to be filled out. So here is to allowing myself to appreciate me, and to be proud of me, and the things that God has brought into my life and allowed me to do. I am going to work on not brushing those things off anymore. God is good, and the ways He shows that to me, and uses me to do His work are not meant to be kept to myself or swept under the rug. It is time for me to start living this amazing calling that I have been given!

Notes from the conference:

Our keynote speaker was Steve Rankin, which was amazing in and of itself. I met Steve when he stepped in as the interim pastor at St. Paul UMC back in 2009. The chance to hear him speak again was something I needed.

Sermon notes: A Bleak Situation, A Blessed Opportunity

  • Ministry is Relational - we learn by watching
  • How serious do you take yourself in youth ministry? - there is not a lot of status in ministry
  • These are tough times to be in ministry. - very few people understand the gravity of what you do in the lives of young people.
  • We are at risk of losing a generation!
  • ~The Lost History of Christianity~ (book to read)
  • There are places on this earth that no longer have a church, and they once had a thriving church.
  • Moralistic Therapeutic Deism - Good - Happy - Believe in God
  • If you don't take yourself seriously as a youth minister, start!
  • How do you help your kids think when they are doing 3 things at the same time on the computer?
  • Goal: To shape spiritually mature and growing young people (this was poorly paraphrased, sorry)
  • 1 Chronicles 12:32 - Men who understood the times. 
  • What goes on in your context that helps you understand your ministry?
    • Conflicting information
    • Kids are searching for framework and are frustrated with the church's passivity - Accountability
  • Accountability vs. Judgement
    • Wide gap between parents and kids culturally.
  • ~The Triumph of Christianity~ (book to read)
    • Simple Transparent Witness
  • 1 Peter 1:1-6; 2:9-10; 4:12-13
    • Share in the suffering o f Christ
  • If God has called you, He has anointed you.
  • Ephesians 1:9-10; 2:13-15; 4:7, 11-16
  • You don't have to be flawless, be prudent & wise.
  • You must teach!
  • You must be a practical scholar!
Pre-Teen Ministry Workshop - Led by Rod Hocott
  • We get so far away from them we forget who they are.
  • The Basics
    • The Senior Pastor is the main youth pastor of any local church.
    • Parent Support & Involvement
    • Have a working leadership team/youth council
    • Committed adult volunteers
    • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Finding a sense of belonging
  • Need a place to claim their identity as a Christian
  • They don't care what you know until they know you care!
  • Godly Play - Interactive Lessons
  • So what?... does it have to do with you?
  • "If parents are for you who can be against you?" - Katie Edwards
    • Parents are our partners
    • Parents provide transportation
    • Parents have influence
    • Parents help shape your ministry
    • Parents have stuff you need.
  • ~Middle School Ministry Made Simple ~ by Kurt Johnson (book to read)
  • Parents of Adolescence Class
  • Parent Council
  • ~Active Parenting~ (book to read)
  • Getting Parents On board
    • Keep them informed
    • Know them as allies, not enemies
    • Let them know they are always welcome to visit your ministry
    • Act your age
    • Use them, don't abuse them!
    • Show appreciation
  • We are in the relationship business
  • Volunteers, give them time constraints so you can let them go if you need to.
  • Pick the battles to fight, so you can win the war
  • Avoid burn out - Share the ministry
  • ~iPhone Contract~ (article to read)
  • Find the right Curriculum
    • Theologically Sound
    • Fit with UM theology
  • Mandalas
  • Worship Lyric Videos
  • ~Created by God~ (book)
Tim & Tim Notes (these two led Bible Study every morning, they are pretty incredible)
  • In the beginning, God!
  • The elements that were in Genesis are still here today!
  • Creation happens every day.
  • We know darkness and we know chaos, it is part of our story.
  • All that is, is contained in God. So there is no place where we can go that God is not.
  • Jesus saved you, to send you to Hell. 
  • Even in the darkness and the unknowing God is there.
  • We are living in an age where technology is advancing so rapidly that we cannot keep up.
  • We put on our stories before we put on our clothes.
  • ~Textweek.com~ (cool resource)
  • The Devil is the dark side of us.
  • Luke 4:1-30
  • Laterally Luke (from Textweek)
    • Each morning he "shaves the Devil", he respects the Devil is real instead of using him as an excuse.
  • The three areas of temptation are the three main areas of sin
  • They read standing, preached/taught sitting.
  • "Churches strive for mediocrity and reach it. Are we succumbing to the temptation of giving less than our best to our creator?" - ?
  • As we prepare students for 2025, these three things need to be in classrooms:
    • The ability to talk to one another
    • Technology
    • Absence of the teacher
  • Go to the margins of society

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

After School Conundrum

I have so much work to do that I should not be writing right now but I'm perturbed and can't get it out of my mind so writing it shall be.

Today I watched, and tried to stop, a girl from getting bullied by other kids. This seems to be a constant battle. Yes, she is kind of quirky and will say stuff to get attention but she is just seeking love and affection. The other kids know this, they have spent plenty of time around her to know this which also means they know what they can say to set her off and then it gives them more to tease her about. Well today they were doing just that, and I was doing my best to stop them but this isn't school we can't discipline them. Well one just happened to say the one thing that sent her and out the door she went. I chased her down and the poor girl was in tears and infuriated that once again she was being bullied. I only know her for about 20 minutes after school every day and with other kids that doesn't leave a lot of time to get to know someone very well. So it was difficult to know what to say to her so I, hopefully, reassured her that I do see this bullying and I am working on stopping it. I am so ready to tell those other kids they can't come back anymore.

There is such a fine line we sit on as a church. We want to be welcoming to everyone and have open doors, hearts, and minds so that everyone can have the opportunity to see Christ and get to know Him. But when kids are obviously being hurt within our doors then obviously they are not getting see the love of Christ, and if the adults have to continuously look like meanies then the other kids aren't either, but then if you kick kids out then they could have a bad image of the church as well and they are not getting the positive instruction they receive when we call them out on their bad behavior. Oh the conundrum of this world I have found myself in.

Well I know there is only so much we can take from the bullies before, for everyone's sake, we have to let them go. I am praying that there is enough time to turn some of these kids around and ensure them that they are loved the way they are and that this place is not a place to come with hurtful words but where they all can come together and enjoy a snack after school in peace without fear or anxiety of what others will say. This simple after school program is proving to be a more difficult part of my job than I would like to admit at times. No wonder I am so exhausted after they leave and they are only here for 30 minutes tops.

I am open to suggestions!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Reasons I Don't Take Time Off of Work

I don't know how many times in the past couple of months people have told me to take time off, or take a vacation. Well I finally listened and took a full 7 days off for Christmas break. I now remember why I don't take that much time off, or time off period.

1. When I stop, I get sick. (it hit Saturday night, still hangin on)
2. Motivation is hard to find normally let alone after being gone.
3. My to do list just gets longer.
And this is just what I had written down before I left, it doesn't include everything I have thought of to add.

4. My brain quits working. (I just struggled to find Colossians in the Bible.)
5. This is what my desk looks like after time off.

6. I may need a mental health day after being gone so long :P

I think I will go back to a day off not vacation....lol