retreat recap

the summer retreat has now come and gone, and shanna and i feel pretty much back to normal. it's funny - a typical retreat takes us away for almost 3 entire days but takes only 1 day to recover, whereas an all-nighter takes us away for only about 12 hours but takes about 2 weeks to recover. hmmm...i vote for retreats. :)

the theme for this year's retreat was URGENT! - all about living a lifestyle with the understanding that Christ could return any day now. overall it was a FANTASTIC weekend for our ministry with lots of postives all around! it was awesome to just casually "hang out" with our leaders and develop community among them, especially saturday night while the teens played games in the dark (yeah...lol), to discover where our students are really at in their spiritual journeys, create an environment that was very "safe"...especially for some, and to just build trust and remind ourselves why we're here.

here's our music team leading the praise time for one of the sessions. they did a really great job and had been working all summer for this opportunity...

playing volleyball...in a little unconventional way (gotta help the middle schoolers out)...

tubing on the lake in 30 degree water...

the guy on the left is one of our newest ISM leaders - he and his wife have been a HUGE blessing to the ministry and were absolutely wonderful on the retreat. this pic brings back a HILARIOUS memory as he was singing "yellow submarine" and "lean on me"...HILARIOUS!

one of the biggest, hottest campfires i've ever seen...i have no more hair on my legs...


Retreat Week...

  • A week of a million to-do's and never enough time...
  • A week of excitement and exhaustion...
  • A week of a stressed-out Type A youth pastor and a narcoleptic husband...
  • A week of last minute practices and long car rides...
  • A week of a stressed-out perfectionistic volunteer and an insomniac wife...
  • A week of everything taking longer than your most educated estimates...
  • A week of life-falshing-before-your-eyes car swerving to avoid a sauntering herd of deer, followed closely by a freakishly large fowl...
  • A week of struggling to keep a good balance and a correct focus...
  • A week of big disappointments and frustrations...
  • A week of figurative curveballs and exercises in flexibility...

My list could go on and on and on... And I'm sure I could make an equally tiring list about the week after a retreat! (But, I'll probably be too tired! lol.) So - if its so crazy and hectic and exhausting... is it really worth it???

Undoubtably and unequivically ~ YES! I can't explain it all and my words would not give it justice. But, for us - we spend 3 days and 2 nights building into our teen-agers and sharing Jesus with them. The very kids that we cry for, pray over, celebrate with, and yell at on a regular basis. The kids that absorb our passion and zeal on a weekly basis. The kids and families that we have been called to shepherd spiritually and occasionally emotionally, physically, and mentally. These kids are the burden God has laid on our hearts and the reason we get out of bed in the morning.

Can't wait until tomorrow.


fantasy football

today i embarked on some new territory for me...and to be honest i'm not sure how i feel about it. after church some of the guys in the youth group wanted me in on their fantasy football league (probably for the same reason that varsity players like playing with jv students lol). today was the draft and i picked some people that i've heard of before, and others that i just trusted the good people at espn for. the interesting thing...and i'm not so sure this is a good thing or not...is a lot of my picks wear eagles jerseys, and though i'm biased to them, when forming a fantasy team i'm not sure that's the best route to take right now... but, we shall see... to be honest, i'm not even sure how these things work and i'm thinking i'm gonna be getting really embarrassed this season!


baptism celebration

woke up this morning - like any saturday morning - wanting to do absolutely nothing and just stay in bed. it's been a tiring and exhausting week and with the retreat happening next wednesday thru friday, i know that a week from now we'll be feeling even more drained. and that's when the battle began. in my schedule today was an "optional" event - i knew it'd be good to be at it, but i really didn't want to show up. but i'm so glad we made the trip (even though we were 15 minutes late!). we attended our first baptism celebration at lakeshore today, and it was so refreshing to hear the stories of 9 people who's lives have been radically changed because of Christ! stories of people involved in destructive lifestyles, pursuing money, chasing happiness, chained to alcohol, addicted to sex, abusive relationships...and then finally at a point in time God ARRESTED them and changed their lives forever! that's what it's all about! no question about it...that's what it's all about - and i'm so glad we were reminded of that today!



Teen to another Teen: "We are the only young ones on stage... everyone else is old!"
Me (very incredulously): "Are you calling me old???"
Teen: "Well, um... you aren't one of us anymore!"

Adult to Me: "As a 32 year old,..."
Me: "Excuse me, Did you just call me 32? I think I'll take that as a compliment since everyone always says I look younger than I am... like 18 instead of 25!"
Adult: "Well, you definitely DON'T look 18 anymore!"

And then ... that which I've been finding for awhile, but trying to pass off as lighter blond highlights... nope, no more... (though Cory acts like his life is on the line when I shove my head in his face for him to inspect - so according to him, I don't have any **** hairs) But, I'll let you decide...
"The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old." ~Proverbs 20:29

So, my strength & glory might be diminishing... but WATCH OUT! because the splendor of the old is coming quick!


5th cup of coffee

right now i'm drinking my 5th cup of coffee for today. either it's been 'one of those days' or i have a problem...or both. yeah...both...but it certainly was one of those days. a great day actually - a day that reminded us anew what's important in life as we helped a hurting friend and their family pace through some pretty heavy waters. thankful for God's providence, His convincing presence, and for the fact that He never leaves us hanging. thankful for all the individuals that breathed life into my broken soul through the years and that He's opened doors for us to be able to breathe life into others.



When I was a little girl, I spent the night at my grandparents house. That night I went to bed snuggled in tightly with my aunt. At some point in the night, a storm reared up and sent a TV antenna crashing through the bedroom window into the room where my aunt and I slept. I remember laying frozen as the wind and rain howled in the room like a beast finally free... The curtains snapping and the glass sparkling all around me... And then finally, the warmth and safety of my grandparents. But, I don't remember much more than that - just the lingering fear. Fear that the storm had eyes and would find me... (I'm shivering just thinking about it!)

Anyways - I've been thinking about the storms of life and suddenly recalled this memory. Sometimes, we know a storm is coming... we see all the signs and hear the forecasts. We prepare as best we can and then ride it out. But, other times, we're suddenly awakened and terrified... laying amidst broken glass and cold stinging rain drops.

I have endured storms in this life. For me, some have been huge and for you, those same storms would seem like a little sprinkle... But, for me they have been pretty life-changing. One of my storms has lasted for several years with no immediate end in sight. God continues to teach me how to tenaciously endure and how to learn to be content and thankful.

Ironically - He has recently brought a friend into my life enduring quite the opposite as me. A year and a half ago, I would have wanted to run in the opposite direction. Yet, now - I see her raw pain and I understand how our pain is very much the same. For once, I truly understand empathy and compassion - not just pity. And I am thankful for my storm.

spiritual warfare

spiritual warfare has always been a hard concept for me to get my mind around - probably because we live in america where for some reason God has kept it mostly in the unseen realm, whereas other parts of the world it's much more out in the open and in your face. but it still exists here...and we've been convinced of that fact more and more in the last few days. it comes in the form of awkward conversations, discouraging phone calls, very strange emails, and other bizarre stuff meant to distract us. it's kind of interesting...i've been noticing a pattern - every august, usually a couple weeks into it i really start to feel it. and it makes sense because that's right when we're preparing for a big retreat and the start of small groups, leadership teams, message series, and other things that God for some reason uses for good. the enemy doesn't want these things to get off the ground, and though there have been some discouraging and frustrating moments in the past few days, i'm trying to learn from them and leverage them to fuel the passion in our heart to challenge students to live lives that count for God. never a dull moment...


Date Night

We actually had an entire day-off today. No appointments or meetings or get-togethers. Just us. Hanging out. We went to Kohl's and rummaged the sales. Found some good deals and Cory encouraged me to splurge a little. So, I got a new shirt, plus a knecklace and earrings to match! Wahoo! Cory found a nice new polo shirt. (Maybe he won't notice when I throw away his holey green polo, since he has a nice replacement!) Then, we went to dinner and used some great coupons. Now we're at home watching the Olympics. Actually, the Olympics are on, but Cory is reading his cat murder-mystery books and I'm obviously blogging...

The breeze is whispering in through our balcony door and the bugs are singing their serenade. I love evenings like this... When life feels good and peaceful. My heart is content and my mind is full of blessings. Here are some pics w/ our new duds.
Too bad for Cory that he's not looking. This pic shows off our new shirts the best.
(Yes, they do match. No, it wasn't purposeful!)


New Fall Series

We're doing a new series in the fall called "Wildfires". I've been trying to think of something a little more interesting than just a pic of a wildfire... I found a tutorial online and this is what I came up with... I'm not totally happy with it - but I think its okay for only my 2nd go at creating "fire" from scratch. :)

i'm handicapped

so we're borrowing todd & christa's car for a few months while they're in africa...and we just opened up the glove compartment and out fell a handicapped parking permit. for the record, i'm not sure who's this is or where it came from, or if I should even be touching it, but...
well, let me just say...i don't know how long i've tried getting my hands on one of these! how exciting!


a view from the summit

the leadership summit was absolutely fantastic - extremely motivating and spiritually energizing. i'm not sure going into the summit i realized how important good leadership truly is to any organization, but it challenged me to evaluate and improve in a number of different areas. hybels started opened the summit with the first session - a very powerful and moving challenge. here's a few highlights:

a few other things that stood out to me:
- AMAZING technology - crazy to think that an event can be viewed and experienced crisp and clear through a live satellite video feed to over 150 locations!
- very interesting to watch us all worship together by singing, clapping, laughing, etc. with everything going on at the chicago site as if it was in our own auditorium. all week i was skeptical if the same response would be evoked on the normal 'small' screens had they not had the massive 'theatre-size' screen that i coveted all week for our next youth outreach event!
- i have always admired craig groeschel - he spoke at the 5th session and it was absolutely phenomenal! i was supposed to be greeting at the door after the session and didn't exactly do my job because i was so into it. very authentic and real!
- i'm realizing that it may take a few days to process and unpack all that i learned...



today was one of those frustrating days that we all have...constant interruptions and poor time management because of poor management of those interruptions. a lot of it was generated for me because of willow creek's leadership summit that lakeshore is hosting via sattelite tomorrow and friday. today is the day where many from the church come out to help setup - dismantle rooms, test the sattelite feeds, set up tents, etc. anyways, i went home so ticked and frustrated by the tiny amount of work that i got done today with an ever growing to do list...frustrated at all the people that interrupted me today and with the event itself. i'm already losing 2 days to go to this leadership training thing...why did i have to lose today too? and then i went here and watched the video...and i've gotta say, my perspective is a little different. there's still lots to do, and it's gonna be a long week, but i've gotta say, i'm honestly looking forward to the summit and i really want to soak in absolutely everything i can. and to be fair...i would probably not go to this event unless i was forced to, and i'm sure i'd be missing out on lots!


saturday night randomness

wow what a week - it was fast paced and busy every day, but a good week. here's some of the highlights...
- lost our last softball game on tuesday night. were sad to end it that way and not go into the playoffs, but also very relieved to have the season over and tuesday nights free again.
- recently got into one of lillian jackson braun's murder mysteries, "the cat who..." books. i like to read, but not usually anything more than ministry-related stuff. but this has been a nice escape from ministry during this busy and draining season. very addicting and intriguing books (though not anywhere near the level of 24).
- debuted our tiki bar for the first time on thursday night...and it was awesome! so nice to watch our ministry space become more 'teen friendly' and give ownership to the students. i'll probably be posting some pics of the tiki bar in action soon.
- shanna and i finally experienced our first garbage plate! it's a rochester thing...basically anything that goes on a hamburger, plus a couple sides and some extra grease all gets mixed together on one plate. very interesting...and despite the sound, it doesn't taste too bad.
- had to replace the battery in the car this morning. it had been working kind of sluggish all week and finally wouldn't start at all this morning when i tried to take off. and one thing i learned about myself...even though i already have my own jumper cables i needed somone's running car, and i HATE asking for help from others. if i could do it all on my own...somedays i think i actually would try.
- some very great friends will be leaving on monday to take the next step in the journey God has called them to...this time to mozambique! it has been amazing helping them pack and get rid of lots of their "stuff" and what a great reminder it's been to me that this life is not about what we can see in front of us...but it's about the unseen, for now untouchable things that are so important, that we sacrifice for, and that we give our lives to. we will miss them like crazy and are thankful for airplanes and email.