From the Blog World

I love the internet. I could be embarrassed about the number of blogs I read but I’m not.  Here is what has jumped out to me through my blog reader and/or social networking in the past week.

Kristen talked about the relationships formed through the blogging and social networking world. It is 2011, people, this happens. In fact, it was the catalyst for us becoming foster parents. Which leads me to my next link.

An exciting post from my newest online friend…

Did you know you could miss someone you’ve never met? I long for them to fill this lovely room with their energy and joy. I, just like my Father, look forward to revealing this beautiful room to my future children. I long to see the delight on their faces when they discover what has already been created specifically for them, a place that no one can take from them, a place that’s safe and bright, a mix of past and present, a place to grow.

Jodi shares about the joys and struggles of being married to someone in ministry…

Every pastor’s wife I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a lot) has struggled with the dual nature of the pastor’s wife role. It’s simultaneously exciting and fulfilling and really, really hard.

Yesterday, I lost my patience with my kids more time than I really want to admit. Sometimes, I think, “Where is that nurturing gene I was so sure I had before kids?” I apologized to both of them before bed time and we prayed and asked God to help each of us be kinder and more patient with each other. I appreciated these simple tips from Elizabeth Esther on being a nurturing mother.

One that I would add to her list that I find is an issue for me is making sure to eat well. It is easy for me to feed my kids and make sure they get protein,  fruits and veggies (specifically, using this method). However, I notice that I rarely feed myself as well as I feed them. There are too many days when noon rolls around and all I’ve had is several cups of coffee. Hunger gives me a headache and also makes me way less patient than I’m capable of being.  I’ll feed them lunch, get them to rest/nap time and then eat something that is quick and easy and probably without any protein or good nutritional value. Even five years into being gluten-free, I’m still figuring out what is quick and easy and healthy. What I really  need to do is plan ahead to make sure I have options in the house for me. Anyone else have this problem or something similar?

The Downside of Growth

I am working on an Israel post (4 months late), but there are a lot of pictures to get through and I just reformatted my computer. So that will come later. Instead I thought I’d share a thought I’ve been having recently.

I have been at Bell Creek working with Middle School and High School students for 4+ years. I love working with these kids. It is a highly entertaining job. We have seen a decent amount of growth this past year with both groups (At some other time I need to write out my thoughts on growth, numbers, success, faithfulness, etc – It will probably be a “K-style” rant).

In looking at our “numbers” over the month of April, we have had 50 different students attend at least one Wednesday night Middle School youth group. This is exciting. I am definitely thrilled to see the growth.

However, I have found myself thinking about the downside to this growth as well. In the past, I knew that I could have a conversation with every student that would be at youth group. I knew that I would have a personal connection with each student and get a chance to show them that I valued them. I had a chance to not just run some program, but to build relationships (in varying degrees) with every student. But the past two days I’ve been thinking about the students that I didn’t get a chance to talk to personally this past Wednesday.

I’m really excited that neighborhood kids are coming to Bell Creek and finding out that Church isn’t boring and that God actually cares about all that they are facing. But I think this happens most effectively when a student has some personal interaction and a friendship with someone (or for you church folks – relational ministry). We are at a point that I can’t do that for every student. Which is good, but frustrating.

The good news is that, including K (who works full time and yet is at every meeting/event we ever do), there are 6 other people besides me that give of themselves to let these kids know they are valued and that God cares deeply about them.

Summer Camp Review

Just wanted to write a quick update on what happened at Summer Camp. We ended up taking 26 Bell Creek students with us. Some wanted to go, some where a bit more hesitant for a variety of reasons. However, at the end of the week I can confidently say that all of them had a lot of fun and heard the Word of God preached and lived out in a very clear and powerful way. We had 9 students make a decision for Christ. Some of those students already had received Christ but were struggling with if they could lose their salvation or what to do about the doubts they had. It was great to be able to tell them that they could not lose their salvation and that God was big enough to handle all of their doubts.

The main thing I wanted our students to take away from this weekend was that God was bigger and greater than they could ever imagine. God did that and a whole lot more. One night the students had a chance to write a brief testimony/life change that they had made or were going to make. They wrote their “before” on one side of a card and their “now” on the opposite side. Our students wrote some really powerful things that God taught them. These are especially powerful knowing some of the difficult home lives a couple of these students come from. I figured I’d post some of them now and maybe post some others later on. So here are a few of them:

Before: I thought that if I was having a hard time God could not help me…
Now: I know He can.

Before I used to swear…
Now: I’m trying to stop.

Before: I could not handle the bad things in my life…
Now: I know God will be with me and I can now.

Before: I thought that in order to be saved you could not have doubts…
Now: I know doubts are normal and I will still be saved.

Before: I let distractions get in the way of reading the Bible…
Now: I will do everything I can to put the Bible first.

Please pray that these students can implement these changes into their lives now that they are home.

Summer Camp

Today D and 25 kids from our youth group left for Summer Camp. The same summer camp D and I went to when we were in junior high and high school. I will be joining them tomorrow after work.

D always loved Summer Camp. He would go up early and help set up. I was always hesitant. I would sign up to go because my friends were going and I did not want to miss out on anything. Being the introvert that I am, a week with 200 people freaked me out. One year, one of the youth pastors made me come on stage because I was not doing the hand motions to the song. I nearly DIED!

But, the truth is, I always ended up having a great time. More importantly, summer camp, along with mission trips, were great times of spiritual growth and learning. We are praying and hoping it will be the same for our youth group.

I had to go into the archives for this one, but this is a picture from D and I in high school. I am not sure how this picture was taken since he was way TOO COOL to hang out with me. I can’t believe I am even posting this – it is so bad:

D still has that sweatshirt. I no longer own the hemp necklace.

The Great Escape

Last Sunday night we played a really cool game with our High School youth group. It was a relay race that involved using text messaging to direct teams to different locations around the building. First team done wins. One of the locations that they had to go to was a courtyard in the middle of the building (for those that don’t know, our church offices – as well as youth group meeting location – is in a old elementary school that has closed down).

Here’s the courtyard.

At the end of the night it’s my job to lock up the entire building. As I was going around the building making sure all the doors were shut, one of the kids from the youth group called me. I was about to set the alarm and leave but I remembered that we had used the courtyard and I needed to lock that up. I walked back into the building, while focusing mainly on the conversation I’m having with the student on the phone, and walked into the courtyard and closed the door behind me. I did this thinking the door on the other side was unlocked… it wasn’t. So now I’m locked in the courtyard and everyone is gone. I quickly finished up my phone conversation and started trying to figure out what I was going to do. The tree wasn’t strong enough to climb up so I went with plan B: The kid play structure/tunnel thing.

I flipped it on its end and leaned it against a pole and climbed up it. I made it to where I could grab the roof, but the kid play structure wasn’t sturdy enough for me to push off of. So imagine me dangling from the roof right next to the pole.

I jumped off and came up with a much better plan. I moved it to the corner of the courtyard.

I climbed up the play structure thing again and the tunnel part collapsed so it was just the two box ends on top of each other. However, I could still reach the roof and it was much easier to pull myself up using the walls. I walked across the roof to the front of the building, jumped off, and (knowing first hand the courtyard was securely locked) went to go set the alarm.

I drove away feeling pretty proud of how I escaped until I remembered that I was the reason I was stuck there in the first place. So the lesson: I’m awesome… and an idiot.