there seems to be so much in life that requires courage. so many small things on the schedule each day that if done right...require big amounts of courage and boldness. what i find in myself so often is the pull and the urge to take the easy road...which usually is the road that avoids courage. i find myself looking like the lion in the wizard of oz (without the back hair). whether it's avoiding confronting someone who needs to be confronted...or not being completely honest and telling it how it really is to someone at a key moment...or coming out of a meeting saying that the situation is ok when it's really not...the pull to avoid the hard but right call is always there. i'm finding that in order to be a good leader you have to have the courage to make the tough call, even when it's not popular, when you'll potentially lose friends over it, and when you know it might get messy.


kitchen cabinets

shanna is apparently still missing. if she was around, she'd probably post something like this:

when cory & i moved into the house, i decided that we needed to give the kitchen a little "face lift" and brighten it up by painting the cabinets white and covering up the dark natural wood coloring. i like thinking out of the box because i'm so creative like that. when cory counted the cabinets...all nearly 30 of em...he wasn't so excited. but we've slowly little by little been working on them. today we spent most of his day off working on this all-consuming project...which consists of the following steps that my anal husband makes sure we follow:
1. tape the wall around the molding
2. sand the cabinet / door
3. primer
4. sand again
5. paint coat #1
6. paint coat #2
7. attach door to the cabinet

after spending ALL day today on this... we have... 4 cabinet doors done! (only 26 to go) since cory doesn't like to feel "behind" he just shouted from the other room that the goal is to get them all done by 2013 (i guess we're doing pretty well)!

here's a shot of the wood-colored nastiness:

and here's a shot of today's accomplishments:


flower city work camp

this week is a big one for a number of teens in the youth ministry: flower city work camp. fcwc is a week-long event where teens from churches all over the rochester area come together to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the city. the teens spend their days at one of 48 'worksites' working with adult leaders to repair homes that badly need it in the city. it's a program that's very much like habitat for humanity, and very similar to Group's Work Camps. the teens spend the evenings together with times of powerful corporate worship, interactive teaching and challenges from God's Word, and discussion groups at the end of the night with their youth group...before falling asleep on the floor for the night. shanna and i stay overnight all nights of the week to be able to connect with our teens and help them process the event. no doubt it's been an exhausting week, very disjointed in some ways - but at the same time incredibly powerful. was up last night till 11:30 having a conversation that needed to be had badly...and i'm excited for what God will do as a result. friday night shanna and i are gonna rent a movie, lock ourselves in the theatre room, watch the first couple of scenes, and then fall asleep till sometime saturday...
it's an amazing week!


where's shanna?

shanna has a shirt that i really like and i think she looks really good in...honestly. but i also think she looks like waldo in it. since it seems she has left the blogging world for good, let's go on a hunt for shanna. where's waldo (er...where's shanna with the red striped shirt)? first one to find her and comment her location gets a prize! for a larger picture, go here.


leaders meeting

one of the things i love most about ministry is the great friendships that can be started and developed by sharing life together. we get together with all of our adult leaders every 4-6 weeks, and it's always such a neat experience. we usually have them on a saturday evening in one of the leader's homes (we all take turns hosting the meetings). while they are always different and unique, they usually look something like this:
- arrival & small talk
- dinner
- game
- life updates / God-sightings
- communal prayer
- training & encouragement
- ministry logistics
- communion (every now and then)
- hang out / laugh / tons of socializing

tonight we had everyone over to our house and it was great! here are some of the highlights:
1. shanna made tons of pizza roll, and it was amazing!
2. one of our leaders found 2 snakes outside the house...and proceeded to show us all how to kill it by grabbing it's tail and snapping it's neck. for me, i think i'm gonna stick with the shovel.
3. played a hilarious game of "four on a couch"
4. between thursday nights, small groups, student leadership teams, and some big events, our leaders have been pushing hard lately. it was so great for some of them to hear from the others how God is now using their labor to break through and move the teens.
4. our leaders are amazing brainstormers. tons of great ideas came out tonight and i'm excited to see them implemented in the coming months!
5. announced that we're heading to mozambique with a team of students in 2010 and the energy in the room was loud. we are so excited about the partnership with what God is doing over there and how God is positioning it all. when asked who was interested in going, nearly every hand shot up!

after the meeting we all got in our cars and headed down the road to the new home 2 of the leaders are moving into. they are so excited right now, and it was cool watching everyone else rally around them and rejoice with them.



one of the things i love to do (and admittedly don't do enough of) is to encourage our volunteer youth leaders and other youth workers i get to come in contact with. this vid was sent to me from another youth pastor in the area...and i think it's super encouraging to us who give week after week to influencing the lives of students. we don't need all the flash, the big budgets, and a big name...just a heart for God and a commitment to love on students. the video's a touch long but drives the point home at the end.

Ignatius from travis hawkins on Vimeo.


random thoughts

easter weekend! been a pretty full week getting ready for it, but today has been relaxing as shanna and i were able to get some stuff done around the house. felt like a typical saturday should. here's some random thoughts about life right now:
1 - we seem to be having a growing problem with snakes in/around the house. only one was found in our house, and he was...taken care of. we've since found 4 others in the yard and flowerbeds near the outside of the house, and we've killed 3 of them. some people seem to get upset when they hear that we kill them, but i don't understand that. they are disgusting creatures and they're like cats...they'll come back unless you don't give em a chance. gross. shanna says if we find another one in the house we should call an exterminator. i hear big $. they better stay out. we were at lowes today looking for some "snake away" product but didn't find any. what is it about one creature that is so creepy and nasty?
2 - the past few weeks have been challenging ones for a number of students in our ministry as close friends and acquaintances of theirs have suddenly passed away. one died from a car accident involving alcohol, and the big one was a teen that got shot and killed last weekend from a man who felt threatened. it's still all over the news and is such a mess. the week was a big reminder to me that we as youth workers are called to pace through some of life's hardest challenges with the teens God puts in our path...and it doesn't always happen in the church office, but over a milkshake in mcdonalds and with a piece of pizza at the cafe...surrounded by tears and no easy answers.
2 - just got a camcorder for the student ministry a couple weeks ago and love love love playing around with it. we had some fun with it last Thursday night, and i've forgotten what a great tool they are for ministry to teens. tomorrow morning with the junior highers we plan to create an "updated version" of the easter story, and then show the movie to the teens. should be a fun and interactive way for them to experience the story.
3 - can't wait to hang out with my parents and brother at the 11 am service tomorrow and then for lunch afterwards. i'm so excited for the services and for people we've invited who've said they'll likely come. shanna invited a coworker and i invited a friend in the area and both have said there's a good chance they'll take us up on it.
4 - it's interesting to me...kinda weird actually...how christian's most "churchy" words tend to come out naturally more during easter, which ironically is one of the times that "non-churchy" people tend to come out. makes me mindful that i need to guard myself against speaking a different language.
5 - starting this next week i'll be changing my regular day off from tuesday to monday...joining most other pastors in america. i'm excited about this switch because it's seemed that just when i was gaining momentum and getting stuff done by late monday afternoon, i'd have to declare a sabbath and stop everything until wednesday morning. then spend all day wednesday trying to get it back. this i presume will help me keep building all week into the weekend.

guess that's it for now...


a beautiful image

last night at church was a pretty sweet night and my mind is filled with tons of cool memories. at church last night 19 people got baptized, some who we've prayed for in our small group since the fall and came to christ just a few months ago! one of our students got baptized as well, and it has been so amazing to see her love for God jump out of her. her small group REALLY wanted to see her get dunked and join her in that moment, and so we actually ended the whole night by sending the teens into the auditorium to watch it. how cool to hear everyone cheer after she shared her story, and how exciting to see her so boldly align her life with Christ without being ashamed! it was a beautiful image!


Thankful Thursday

Hopefully, life is slowing down a little again and we can jump back into blogging! Hopefully, we'll see a come back of "Thankful Thursday"! Here's my list for today.

  1. Our House. I LOVE our house, our retreat from the world. Birds in the duct work, snakes in the basement, and all!
  2. My job. My job is great! It is flexible and a laidback work environment. I'm thankful for the paycheck each week.
  3. Flowers and Sunshine. I love, love, love that summer is on its way! The lilac bush and the mystery bushes have little green buds. The tulips are coming up! My sliding glass door is open and I can hear the rooster crowing away!
What are you thankful for today?