vision trip

we are just about one week away from stepping on the plane for mozambique and the 10 day vision trip to check out the project and try to get an idea of how to best maximize the experience for our teens next summer! i'm so excited for our team, which consists of shanna and i, along with 2 of our adult leaders, dan & sue. they are fantastic people who love jesus with everything inside them. i can't wait to spend the time with them and experience this culture! also, we cannot wait to see some old friends and step into their world.

it's going to be a busy week...here's some of what is still left to do (aside from all the stuff on my desk at the church to crank out):
- fill sandbags with sand and secure around the sump pump
- final details for the dog's vacation from us :)
- finish reading material in prep for the trip
- one more meeting tonight with the team
- mow the lawn 2 more times
- thank you notes all caught up
- balance the checkbook and make sure bills are all paid in advance
- pack and weigh the suitcases
- a few final purchases for the trip
- and some other things that i'm sure i'm forgetting...

we feel so blessed by family and friends who have made this trip possible for us. the support of the church has been wonderful and the buzz in the air has been so refreshing. words can't even begin to express how amazed and blown away we are that right now all airfare and in-country costs have been covered for all 4 of us! God is so good...and we are so thankful!



We need a middle name for Mariska, so we can register her... anyone have any good ideas?


every child in africa is YOURS

one of my favorite songs out there right now has to be steven curtis chapman's "yours". was listening to it the other day and it challenged me anew...thoughts rushing to our upcoming vision trip to mozambique...and now i'm wondering if this should be the theme song for the students going in 2010? it's in the running...



i still remember a comment from craig groeshel at willow's leadership summit last year. it was in a q&a slot after his main session - people all over the world texted in questions. the one was something along the lines of the following (i couldn't find the clip anywhere online): "how is it that i serve God my whole life and yet life is still so hard and i find that i'm just not happy?" it's a question i've asked many times myself, along with many others.

his response was so blunt...but so challenging:
"see i believe something different.
i believe that we serve God...[long pause]...and then we die."

sometimes we get caught up in feeling that we are somehow entitled and that we deserve good from God. the reality is quite far from this. what good we do experience is purely an act of grace on God's part. but regardless of how life turns out, we serve Him. we build into others. we invest in things bigger than ourselves. we love others unconditionally. we seek to make His name great in this world.

and then we die.


cause you're hot then you're cold

as i mentioned in the last post, i've been reading foreign to familiar, and i can't get past what a fascinating read it has been...just can't get the concepts out of my mind. it seems that in normal, everyday occurances they continually surface, and it's really been helpful on so many levels.
like last night at our adult leader's meeting, for instance. we meet every 4-6 weeks with the whole team, and it's really turned into something super special each time. we usually gather at one of our home's at 4:30 on a saturday...we do dinner together, lots of small talk and laughing, some sharing time centered around "life" right now (which always results in people being vulnerable, transparent, and crying), and then we try to sneak in some "business" related to the youth ministry. after that people usually hang around for another 45 minutes just chatting...and people are pretty much out of the house by 11:00pm. crazy.
where it came out last night was at the very end. i knew it was getting late, and like most of these gatherings, i'm trying to cram some super important logistical stuff at the end of the "business" part, inevitably not covering everything. there was a dialogue last night during the meeting that was quite interesting:
(leader #1): "should we maybe start the meeting earlier...or plan to end the meeting later...because we never get to fit it all in."
(leader #2) "OR we should just shorten some of the other elements and make time that way."
the one leader was coming from a hot-culture perspective...the other from a cold-culture persepective...neither necessarily bad - just a reality of any group of people living in community.
more and more i'm finding myself valuing the hot-culture perspective...less of an emphasis on time, more hospitality and indirect communication, more people oriented than task oriented...and i'm actually wondering if we were created by God to be like that?
i'm still wrestling with it all...
not sure we're gonna figure it all out, but this fall we're going to try something that i think might point us in the right direction...
we're gonna have shorter meetings every 4-6 weeks focused on the "business" part of it all, in addition to us all being part of the same adult community group which will meet every other week. should be fun!



no unifying theme to this post...just a bunch of random thoughts from life right now:
- later tonight we'll be traveling back to rochester from camp burton. it's been a really great week and God has really worked here. i've enjoyed speaking to all the students here...but i have to be honest - they're nothing like our teens back home.
- been blown away at the talents and abilities of the college students serving as counselors at the camp. they have so much energy and enthusiasm, and gifted by God to really connect with the teens. but the most refreshing thing has been to see their genuine hearts for God and how contagious that really is.
- almost finished reading foreign to familiar in preparation for the vision trip to mozambique in 3 weeks. what a great read - and so helpful for understanding not just other cultures of the world but also our own.
- shanna and i are sitting in a quintessential, nostalgic cafe here in burton right now. old 50's music...antiques for sale...small town america at its best.
- can't wait to get home (but a little scared of what we might find in the basement). we're keeping our fingers crossed.


camp burton

i'm speaking at camp burton this week - camp burton is our district's camp about 4 hours west of us near cleveland. fun times. this video i quickly shot off my phone - the quality is bad, but it was during a really sweet praise and worship time this morning. God's really been working. praying that kids turn their lives over to Christ tonight and tomorrow night and make commitments to follow Him with more passion and intimacy.


new building update

lakeshore's community center is becoming more and more a reality every day. it's always so exciting to walk into the office and see the progress. i snapped these pics the other day. the structure that's being built up currently is the multi-purpose room / gym within the center of the new build. it's so exciting to envision all that God will do in this place!


hard to believe

last night at ISM we were trying to emphasize one main point: "when we run from God, life gets messy". it was a fun night as it lended itself to some fun (and gross) elements. we played a game called 'sardine sliders' which has to be the most disgusting game i've ever done or seen. then we talked through the first half of the book of jonah, highlighting how messy his world got (and consequentially everyone else around him) while he was on the run from God.

as we described the story of jonah...i came to the realization of how hard it is to actually believe it literally occurred. i do believe it happened...i believe that all of the Bible is true and to be taken literally unless there's obvious clues that it's written in a figurative sense...but honestly if i was a skeptic, i'd have a hard time with...
  • the fact that jonah was asleep during this "perfect storm" (was he drugged???)
  • that some big fish just swallowed him whole as he floundered in the water
  • that he ended up in the fish's stomach...alive
  • that he just "hung out" inside there for 72 hours...and spent time praying in there too
  • that he didn't go through the rest of the fish's digestive system...or get eaten by something else that came down the fish's throat
  • that he got barfed up on the shore...and lived to tell about it all

seriously...if you're honest...it sounds like something that was made up by someone who was high. i'm sure there's scientific explanations for it...would really be curious to see them, etc. it's God's Word so i believe it...but wow - that one's a little tough. what other stories/passages are tough to believe?


summer retreat graphics

i'm so pumped for this year's summer retreat. shanna just modified and tweaked the graphics below that we'll use for promotion and for the retreat itself. the original came from creativemyk here. we're coming into a full year of change, and i'm excited about how the retreat theme will carry that concept to the level of change that Christ's presence creates in our lives!


sweet graphics

i'm 'loosely' speaking to the teens this summer from the book of jonah, trying to give quick challenges from his example to their lives. was checking out some of the graphics on creativemyk's site yesterday and came across this great find which will for sure be used some this summer:


indoor swimming pools

thursday morning we woke up to about 2 inches of water in our basement....a quarter of which is now carpeted. we've had water in the basement a few times since we moved in, but this was by far the most extensive yet. i told shanna we should just scrap the plans we had for the basement and go for an indoor pool.
- the water is out now (fire department came and sucked it up) late last night
- a plumber tried unclogging the floor drain unsuccessfully
- everyone says we need to get a hole dug and a sump pump installed because this will only keep happening as the water continues to run off the ridge to lake ontario
- currently the theater room's carpet is off the floor and drying on the back porch...fans blowing everywhere in the basement; the smell reminds me of our guys' cabin at the end of snowcamp
- fighting thoughts of frustration & anger at the previous owner who claimed the basement was "dry". why can't people just be honest? we probably would've still bought the house...we love it here...but be honest.


...the only thing...

...we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. ~FDR
I've always heard the first part of that quote... but the second half of the sentence is so true! I am paralyzed by fear way too much. Just this nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror!

I have some minor, outpatient surgery next week and if I dwell on it this big hunk of fear clogs up my throat! Anyways - I've tried to analyze what I'm afraid of... the doctor messing up and lasering off something vital? nope. having one of the hundred million possible complications? nope. (total exaggeration, Mom! there's only a few VERY RARE complications.) being in tons of pain? nope. I'm just afraid. I don't know why. its not logical. it just is.

but, there are other things i'm afraid of... things more important than a tiny operation... and they paralyze me. When I was a little girl, when I'd wake up in the night from another horrible nightmare - I'd try to lay as still as possible ... because if I laid very, very still "they" wouldn't see me. For some reason this response hasn't changed - when I get scared, I freeze. Whether that's from a weird noise at night or some new chapter in life. But, I don't want to be defined by my fear.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. II Tim 1:7
And I don't have to live frozen in my fear - because I have a God that is pumping me full of power, love, and even self-discipline. So, instead of hiding in fear, I want to be facing the fear head-on, with all the power of God behind me.


helpful posts

i'm quite behind on a bunch of the blogs in my blog reader, but last night i was trying to get caught up on josh griffin's. TONS of useful and helpful information on his blog all the time (anyone in youth ministry should visit there often!) two posts, which can be found here and here, still have me thinking. super basic stuff, but very helpful reminders. this could be good for not just summer interns, but adult volunteers, student leaders, mission trip teams, etc.