sunday night randomness

today was a really cool day. we cancelled the youth services this morning so that the teens could join the adults for a special sunday baptism service. we had 3 teens get dunked today, and it's always so exciting to see young people so publicly and unashamedly declare their desire to follow God. the picture below was snapped by a family member of one of the students just before i got to baptize him! so cool! hearing the stories of life change and how God has turned people around never gets old. the student below is one of the guys in my small group, and it's been such a joy to see God at work in him!

church invites
and when today couldn't get any better, a guy at church bumps into me, tells me that i probably don't remember him (which i didn't) but that he remembers me handing him a church invite flyer in the mall over 2 years ago. he said today was his 3rd sunday at Lakeshore and wanted to thank me for giving it to him. he said he was down in the dumps that day, but the simple hello and invitation changed everything for him. i can't wait to hear his whole story!

watching the steelers vs. saints game right now and amazed at how goofy this year's nfl season is shaping up to be. huge upsets all over the league - the lions beating the redskins... the raiders back in it... the browns of all teams humiliating the reigning superbowl champs last week?!?!? the only predictable thing is the pathetic bills, and i'm so glad i don't have to identify with them!

family time
been able to spend the last 2 weekends with our extended family, and it's been great. 2 weekends ago got to head to lancaster, PA with my parents and brother for a showing of joseph at sight and sound, and then to pittsburgh, PA this weekend for a quick trip to see shanna's side of the family tree. always good to reconnect and hang out.

election day
i really need to do some research on our local political candidates before election day tuesday. i so am not into politics, though i'm thankful and grateful for democracy. i'm not one of those guys that finds natural enjoyment in talking politics or government policies. all i know at this point is pretty much what i've seen from the TV ads, and they make everyone look like schmucks.


new website for the student ministry

at the end of last week, we finally were able to go live with a brand new website for our student ministry, and i'm so excited that this project is finally done! it's taken up so much of my time and consisted of tons of emails between us and bridge element (i mentioned them in a previous post), in addition to gathering photos, bios, and crafting the 33 page content map. praying that it'll simply be a tool for our students to point their friends to who are interested in checking it out.


this is one doodle that can't be un-did, homeskillet


shanna's pregnant!

it was quite a shock to both of us when we found out back in late august. at that time, things were in full swing with the adoption. we told our social worker right away, and still offered our continued support and commitment to the birthmom we were matched with if she still wanted to go through with the adoption. since that didn't end up panning out, per agency policy the adoption is now on hold until sometime after baby #1 is born. God's timing is funny sometimes.

we are overjoyed and ecstatic to say the least. and at least for now i think we're past the confusion stage. as you can imagine initially there were all the questions like "where was this 3 years ago???" and "why now of all times???", etc. ...that doesn't mean we weren't/aren't grateful (we're overjoyed and ecstatic)...it was just a lot to swallow at the time.

here's what we know:
1. medicine and biology have a place... but ultimately God is the one who opens and closes doors.
2. God's sovereignty (in all areas of life) is bigger than we can fathom.
3. statistically, only 4% of couples struggling w/ infertility who engage in the adoption process then go on to conceive.
4. it's hard now to be on the other side and tell our friends who are still struggling to get pregnant.

everyone seems healthy and doing well. we saw the little heart beat at an ultrasound a few weeks ago! shanna is currently at the 12 week point, and the due date is May 5th.



make war

last sunday we started a new series called "make war" - all on spiritual warfare and the need to make war against the world, the flesh, and the devil around each of us. i've been so excited about the response and how many of our students are jumping on board and being motivated to fight the stuff around them that needs to go.

i'm not sure if you're into rap - i like it every now and then. one of our students tipped me off to this song by Tedashii and i love it! i love the video that was made with it and john piper's quote at the start of it. enjoy!


the church of the future

just saw this post by scott rubin, the middle school guy at willow creek. i love envisioning the scene he describes. here's a portion of the post...head there for the rest.

After our pastor spoke, we closed our service with a final song. And because the focus was not so much on the past 35 years… but on what God might want to do through our church in the next 35 years… the adult band & vocalists & choir that had led us in the first part of the service were replaced by teenagers at the instruments and microphones. But cooler than that… after the first verse of the song, all of the students were invited to come to the front of the room for the rest of the worship. For the next few minutes, the stage filled with teenagers.


balance...such a tightrope

had some great conversations lately with some youth ministry friends from other churches in the area about something we all struggle with... balance. i feel like we should start our monthly gatherings with: "hi, my name is ______ and i'm completely out of balance." actually the more i talk with others it seems like most people in life struggle with this tightrope of balancing work and personal life, but it seems that for some reason it gets really ugly when you're in ministry.

here's what i currently strive to do to keep us in balance, though even this isn't a complete fix:
- force myself to take a day off every monday no matter how heavy the load
- turn the phone off on mondays so i stay away emotionally by not checking emails, voicemails, or texts.
- aim for only 2 nights a week out for ministry/work stuff... 3 nights max
- on the occasional 4 night week that is inevitable every few months, we get revenge the next week by being away only 1 night, etc.
- home by 4/4:30 on away nights, and home by 5:30/6 on non-away nights.
- constant reviewing of the personal & ministry calendars with shanna. the 4 night weeks are more bearable when they aren't surprises.


i think i ate one of my contacts

"contacts" meaning eye contacts...not a person's contact information. it's kind of funny actually. last night shanna and i were doing dinner (spaghetti, salad, and garlic break...fyi) and we decided to pray before we ate. we don't always pray beforehand - sometimes we thank God for the food afterwards. actually sometimes we forget altogether. but ANYWAYS we were praying and i was rubbing my eyes, and apparently the contact in my right eye fell out during this "moving" prayer time. i didn't even notice that it wasn't there anymore until a little later. after looking for it all over the place (like trying to find waldo in a candy cane shop), we've concluded that it fell in the spaghetti and down it went.