some random happenings in life lately:

this whole past week has been SOOOO great for us - 8 straight days with nothing scheduled and no obligations. it has been a wonderful break from the constant pressures of email, texting, facebook, and the phone... truly necessary. spent lots of time reading, sleeping in, and doing little projects around the house. i feel like we're more rested and recharged as we head into another busy season of ministry.

niagara falls
we were able to spend a couple days in niagara falls this past week (why we chose to go there in this "stupid" cold...i'm not sure). we found a really nice italian restaurant for dinner one night, but that was about the extent of our "touristy" sightseeing. we're boring. but... we did head up towards toronto to visit their ikea store. that one made the wife happy.

baby anticipation
shanna is now 30 weeks along with only 10 more to go. we are both getting more and more excited each day for this baby to finally drop by. i'll have to blog more of my thoughts from this amazing journey - but there's some jaw-dropping, unexplainable stuff that happens inside when you feel that little kid kick (shanna probably has a different way to explain it... but i think it's cool). it's still so amazing how God just "makes it all happen". her name is fully picked out, and shanna created some "custom" artwork for her room this week. we'll put pictures up once she's here, but for now you can take a peek at some of it "in progress":

church visit
with being off this week, we decided to check out a different church today - been meaning to check out this place for a while actually and see firsthand the great work they're doing. it was like nothing we had seen before. i'll be writing more about it soon...

simply youth ministry conference
this coming weekend i head out with some of our adult leaders to the simply youth ministry conference in chicago. i went last year and it was probably the best ministry investment i made all year. i'm so excited to be challenged, refreshed, and charged up to love on students better in the months ahead. shanna will be heading to pittsburgh with the dog and one of our students. i love it that the 2 of them will get to connect together a little more than usual.

speaking of the dog... it may just be the extra attention we've been able to give her this week, but she's been SO well behaved. here's a fun little picture i snapped of her earlier in the week:



in the student ministry, we just started something with our student leaders that i'm getting SO excited about! it's actually something that my youth pastor/leaders growing up made me do, and it helped me practically discover how to connect with other students in relationally meaningful ways. it's so easy to just go to church, find your group of friends, and never reach out to someone new. this form is an attempt to help that.

we asked all of our student leaders to take one of these forms and fill it out every sunday morning and thursday night that they're at church. a few have come in already, and it's been SO cool to see what they're writing down and how they're breaking down cliques in our youth group.


an exciting time to be in student ministry

every generation has their "thing" that defines them and causes them to stand out among the other generations preceding them. after working with teenagers and immersing myself in their culture over the last few years, it seems that this generation of young people is being defined (by and large) by something very exciting and positive. in the midst of bloggers and former youth ministry "professionals" saying our whole paradigm for ministry needs to change, it seems that something bright is on the horizon.

i believe teens and 20-somethings in our culture today are ready to make real and tangible differences in response to the injustices and oppression around them. and the "around them" isn't just in their neighborhood or city... with the influx of social networking platforms, the "around them" is now global, and they're ready to make a difference!

see, they've seen a generation before them spend their energy and cash on themselves; the big house, the gated communities, the shiny cars, and the wider TV screens... and they've experienced for themselves a profound emptiness in spite of their wealth. and they're ready to make a change.

they may not believe in God... or in just God... but they believe in justice and they believe that their role in it is big.

it's an exciting time to be in student ministry!


the power of facebook

shanna found this graphic a few weeks ago with some very interesting data on facebook and how it's changing the game in so many ways.

a friend just sent me this video to check out - very interesting and well worth the 7 minutes. the more "wired" we become, the more self disciplined we must be as well. i'm trying to get better at this area of my life...