Flower Love


funny stuff

i absolutely love e-trade's commercials - they are so funny. i found this recently and laughed my head off!


swimmin with dolphins

yeah we actually did - it was pretty cool. actually we only think they were dolphins, but they could've been something else in the ocean with pointy fins that stick straight up out of the water. what a blessing to be able to get away, relax and regroup, think, detach, and recharge. here are some highlights from the week that was. we should be getting some pictures up soon...
- enjoyed hot temps and warm gulf of mexico water during the first half of the week.
- the wedding ceremony seemed to go well. it was so unique and fun to see brendan and alaina married on the beach. it's amazing how a wedding is powerful certainly for the couple getting married, but also for you as someone "watching".
- the reception was a lunch cruise around tampa bay, and we sailed by a bunch of celebrity's vacation homes. it was amazing to see how much money they sunk into those properties. i think it made me angry actually.
- it was a GREAT time connecting and spending time with the family - i miss that and wish life and miles didn't get in the way so much.
- we played lots and lots of boggle, and i found that i'm really horrible at it. i guess my brain just doesn't think that way! alaina smoked us all.
- i found that i love palm trees...even if they don't have coconuts. it felt so tropical.
- the second half of the vacation florida was recovering from a pretty bad drought. good for florida...not so good for vacation plans. we still found stuff to keep us busy and had good times.
- discovered this wonderful little donut shop within walking distance from the hotel. the smell inside took me back to my dunkin donuts working days, and their boston creme donuts were amazing. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
- a woman on our flight back home had one of those swine flu masks on. i so wanted to slip her a piece of paper that said 'i have it'.



friday morning shanna and i hop on a plane for tampa, florida for about a week. it'll be shan's first time in the state and my first time since i was a kid, and we are SUPER excited to get away for some time off. on the same front, we are stoked to be able to celebrate with brendan & alaina as they get married on the beach. definitely gonna be an interesting experience. i'll be doing the wedding...and while alaina probably doesn't think this would be cool...i'm thinking how awesome it'd be if a big tidal wave came in during the ceremony! priceless. it'll be great no matter what...so so so excited!

i'm a list person...it's a disease actually, but it's how i function - even on vacation. so for the vacation part of this trip, here's what i hope to accomplish:

1. sit by the pool and look like i'm getting a tan
2. read just walk across the room by hybels
3. swim in the gulf of mexico
4. sleep a lot
5. watch some movies with shanna
6. read one of the cat who... books (fiction murder mysteries...i've been into them since i was a kid)
7. think about big picture / youth ministry "vision" stuff
8. sit by the pool some more and sleep
9. scope out the area and find a sweet cafe for late night coffee with shanna
10. spend some quality time with God & His Word every single day
11. stare at palm trees and think about their creator
11. lounge around on the beach
12. catch the 24 2-hour season finale (oh my)
13. feed a flamingo

what's cool about this vacation is that shanna and i have talked and we really have no interest in doing any sight seeing. kinda weird to be in a place that seems to have SO much all around it, but the thought of going and going just doesn't sound appealing to either of us at this point. i think we're just gonna lay around. i'm sure shan will post some pictures...cuz she's good like that (even if she doesn't actually SAY anything when she blogs).


Spring has finally Sprung!


a few years ago i picked up a fun little book called God's Blogs - basically it's a collection of blog posts that God might say if he blogged. i read it in about 2 days, laughed my head off at times and was deeply challenged at other times. but lately one part of the book in particular came to mind. here's an exerpt:

bubbles are thin layers of film made of liquid and soap that hold pockets of air. all the air inside the bubble is separated from all the rest of the air outside the film. most of you know all that. as i mentioned in a previous post, it's pretty natural to want to burst a bubble when you see it.

there is one that i would like to burst. i have a strong desire for My children, the ones who love Me and claim Me as their father, to be who i made them to be and to relate well in a culture that doesn't yet know Me.

some, however, have chosen to build a wall or a bubble around themselves to keep them away from the culture. they focus inward and tragically don't want outsiders in there with them. it seems kinda silly to Me when i see anger and rejection flare up inside your bubble because some of your artists decide to perform or write for the folks outside of your bubble.

here is a thought...
artists who are christians have a better shot
at changing the world than "christian artists."

you now have your own christian stores and books and singers and mints. you have created your own clothing and music and lingo, and you have isolated the rest of the world.

you have built a bubble around yourselves and used insider thoughts to try to influence outsiders...and they aren't getting it. as a matter of fact, they see your bubble and your actions inside that bubble and they hear your words and they are choosing to not get in there with you. and that is a wise choice. i didn't send My Son to die so you could form a club and dance at your own recital. i did it so all people could see Me and experience Me and understand forgiveness and grace and mercy and love, and so everyone would dance at My recital...and so i could dance at everyone elses's.

the world has become dark, and bubbles can't be seen in the dark. sometimes i want to take a God-sized pin and burst your bubbles

and hand you all a light instead.


sunday night

the weekend that was:
- spent some time on friday and saturday with some very good friends...some that we haven't seen in over a year now. it's cool how there are certain people you can go months/years without talking to and then bump into each other...and continue the conversation as if there was no break.
- went to a super fun birthday party for two very special 3-year olds. had no idea how much fun inflatables are...even for some 20 somethings. it was amazing. thankful for pictures and skype.
- stopped by my parents' house on the way home to wish mom a happy mother's day. it's amazing how blessed we are with a mother who loves and cares for us so deeply.
- was able to catch the 9am service, and then taught the junior highers during the 11:00 service. started out the time with "mother's day tag" - it was pretty funny, and i love giving middle schoolers "permission" to be middle schoolers.
- had a rare sunday night tonight with no small groups or student leadership meetings. we looked for something on tv, but since the only thing on was desperate housewives (all of which i'd like to shoot) we went to hulu and watched an episode of the office. hilarious...

the week that might be:
- working monday, tuesday, wednesday, and thursday this week as we're taking off for the great state of florida on friday. wedding rehearsal friday night...cory gets a tan on saturday...wedding on sunday...and then vacation begins on monday. we are so excited to get away and detach from ministry/refuel.
- in preparation, it'll be a full week so that nothing gets dropped while we're gone.
- some friends from church are coming over for dinner monday night; tuesday night is a softball game - hoping that we stay undefeated.

thinking about:
- getting a goat. i spent what feels like an 8 hour day between last night and this afternoon mowing the front and back lawn. course in part it took so long b/c i had let it get so high and had to go over it a couple times in parts... i so wish we had the budget for one of these right now - i could do the lawn in less than a half hour!
- genesis 3. it's been on my mind and part of my reading lately...and i'm not sure it's gonna leave anytime soon. i always knew that the fall of man messed humanity up...but i think lately i've begun to recognize that maybe it messed us up far more than i ever thought... there are a number of things in society and life that are hard to explain, and though it doesn't clear everything up, right now it seems that genesis 3 does a good job at least starting to paint the picture.

wishing that:
- coffee didn't come with a headache-inducing addiction.
- simple student ministry came out a week earlier - it'd be a great read for vacation. i read it's companion simple church and it had a profound impact on how i view church.
- shanna would blog. i know blogging isn't part of what the proverbs 31 woman does...but neither is using a dishwasher (yet we still find time for that).


absolute truth

i get very angry when i hear people today say that there's no such thing as absolute truth and unchanging morals. most of the time people don't come right out and say it like that...but a lot of the time it gets masked by qualifying statements concerning certain ideas or behaviors. i guess what particularly frustrates me even more is when people make it sound like the rest of the world believes that there are no absolutes as well right along with them.

i just read an article in the paper on michael phelps and his return to swimming after his 3 month suspension for being caught smoking pot. and i don't know why but the article stirred something inside me on this whole issue. before the summer started last year, hardly anyone knew his name. by the end of the summer, he was america's hero. and in one moment of weakness, the hailed hero was brought back down to our level.

but the world responded. and not in a "there's nothing wrong with this" kind of way... or in a "that's wrong for some but ok for him" kind of way... no. the world responded by suspending him for 3 months, publicly embarrassing him, chastising his "negative" example, and causing him to seriously question whether he'd even return to the sport he so skillfully competes in. and the world responded like this because there is still absolute truth and people still believe in it.

churches working together

this morning before staff meeting we as a church staff did breakfast together at a local family restaurant, and then walked over to a new facility that just opened called "mission share". mission share is the result of a number of area churches working together to love on people in practical and tangible ways, specifically through a community food pantry, clothes giveaway, crisis pregnancy help, and more to come. as we toured the facility, it was so neat to see all that God will do in and through this ministry!


random stuff

- had a great night at youth group last night as we kicked off a new series on friendship. experimented with a new cafe-like format: round tables, dimmer lighting, butcher paper and crayons on tables, discussion groups throughout the message time, iced coffee and milkshakes, etc. the band started the night off by opening with the theme song from the tv show 'friends'...fun night all around and it's looking like a good series that will hopefully meet some needs.

- heading out to pittsburgh this evening for a quick trip to connect with the family and nail down some details for alaina & brendan's wedding on the 17th. we are SO excited for them (and selfishly no doubt we're excited to get away to someplace where the sun exists).

- just this week they started construction on the new addition to our current facility at the church. here's some shots of the action:

- finally finalized some key details for the vision trip to mozambique: shanna and I, along with 3 other leaders from the youth group will be leaving on august 8th and returning on august 18th. VERY excited to see with our own eyes all that God is doing over there and how we can partner and simply join alongside, specifically next summer in 2010 as we bring a team to teens!

swine flu

(ht to stepanie)