After four days off from both jobs, I want to say I could get used to this. Not to say that the time off (I havnt had more than two days off in a row in over a year) wasnt really lovely, it was. Part of me felt like I needed to be somewhere the next morning. I checked my day planner more than once to be sure there wasnt anywhere I pre-planned to be. Its not strange to not have made anyone else coffee for four days.( I did make myself lots of coffee, Gingerbread Coffee from Trader Joes, which I highly recommend. It has bits of actual gingerbread in it, so when you grind the beans, oh just think of the wonderful smells I have in my house.) It was however strange to not see any high schoolers for other a week. Even when I return to my church job tomorrow, I wont see kids until Thursday. Again, while the Sunday night off was nice, I felt like I should be around kids. I dont know how to put into words how its strange this feeling is. Yes, its work but most of the time it really doesn’t feel like it since I enjoy it so much. So taking time off from those lives, its a new feeling Im wrestling with a bit.
One year ago today I started my job as the programming associate for high school ministry. In some ways, this year has flown by, in other ways it hasnt. I still feel like the new girl on campus whos still learning the ins and outs of high schoolers and the events the church has going on in their lives. When I first started this job, I was thrilled, couldnt believe God would give me such a job. Even though I had many fears walking into big shoes to fill, I knew I had great support with constant encourage from a great friend and boss. A year later, I feel that even more. I have learned a lot, mostly from the kids. The group of kids I have to work with are just amazing. This past class, my first class to graduate whom I knew for 8 short months blew me away. I was spoiled my first year in high school ministry for sure. Now they are off to their college years, leaving me missing them while trying to know the new Freshmen. It was said that every year they’ll break your heart by leaving. If I felt that way after 8 months with that class, how am I going to feel with my first Freshmen class whom I will have the pleasure of knowing for 4 years? These kids make me laugh and think in ways only they could. I wish I had the time to give what this day means to me a proper post of lots of rambling words of a recap all that this year has involved, but sadly I do not. Here however is raising my glass to many more amazing years with high schoolers to come. And since I dont ever say it enough, thank you Jesus for this.
I posted some photos on flickr of Project Serve. I wrote a little bit under each photo to tell a little bit about the trip. Enjoy.
Did I mention I was going to Ohio for 9 days? I probably didnt since I havnt been around my blog as much this Spring/Summer time – who KNEW that was crazy time for youth ministry. While I was busy, and was a litte annoyed with being so busy, I loved every moment I got with the students. And thats why I was in Ohio – I went with the youth I work with on their annual Project Serve trip which this year was to Findlay,Ohio to help with flood relief but to also just to serve the community of Findlay. I WILL blog more about that later – with I gather all of my photos together for some visual. Im better at telling/recalling stories when I have photos to go along with them. But for now, why dont you go check out some of my favorite people who were on the news yesterday talking about our trip. This is the fourth press we have gotten! Its crazy how much we have been in the media over this trip. You can also check out the blog we had while in Findlay at www.calmthewaters.wordpress.com . Has a few dailys (two more still to post) that my team created – you can get a glimpse of our time there until I blog again.
Couple of girls in the youth group asked if I would take some photos of them together before they part ways and go off to different colleges. They are sweet friends and loved they asked me to take such photos. They also wanted their good guy friends to come along part way through the photo shot for some photos with them. The boys say they weren’t bored but part of me feel like they were. They are great guys and were great sports the whole time. I posted a few of the two hundred I have! Its hard to narrow them down when my models are so great. Enjoy!
514 had its first morning service today. It was wonderful to be back in the 514 community knowing it wasn’t becasue it was a holiday off from the youth. I meant to take a photo of it, so bare with me as I try and describe this. A friend of mine drew this amazing modern arty looking tree – or more so an outline of a tree and leaves, with falling leaves around it on a huge canvas of white paper. We (the community) were asked to come up and color in a leaf or part of the tree as the service was going on. Part of me wanted the tree to just be shades of green or fall colors, so I was surprised on my turn to color in part of the tree, to find a whole rainbow of colors. Our tree has blue, pink, purple, and other non-tree colors on it. It bothered my orderly side at first but by the end of the time of our community adding its own touch to it, I loved it. I cant wait to see it completely filled in and someday being on the wall of our own building.
This weekend has been filled of my heart and mind dealing with some things. It was wonderful to be in mist of a Christ-filled morning to help calm and comfort my thoughts. To be reminded that Jesus is bigger than anything and everything. There is so much meaning behind that, but for me, it reminded me of His power. And if I truly believe that He is bigger than it all, that power is stronger than anything. Also, Jimmy (my pastor) said something I just loved. He asked us “Has the gospel messed you up so much that you act differently?” I love looking it like that, the gospel should mess us up. It should tear us to pieces – thats how amazing and powerful it is.
Our Blocs (sort of our churches version of a small group, but they are not at all like any sort of small group you’d think of, so I hate even comparing it to that) had sign ups today, which went well. Im on the Bloc Leadership Team, and it was nice to see the kick off all our planning finally come together. Next week we are having a church wide baby shower for Kai (or more so his parents, Greg and Angie) who is the second 514 baby to come along (Emma being the first). We are having an old fashion picnic themed shower, which Im looking forward to. As much as my Sundays are going to be very full, I feel beyond blessed to be able to be apart of two things that hold my heart so much. I love being with the high schoolers, and I miss them when we take weeks off. But it was bittersweet since I got to be apart of this community who has grown very close to me over the past year. Now, I get the joy of being apart of both.
Sometimes it can be hard for me to keep work away from my free time. At times, I’m still getting used to being paid to do youth ministry. I’ve been involved in some form or another in youth ministry since I was a youth. When I catch up with old friends telling them about my great new (its been 5 months, that’s still new right?) job, I cant believe how God has provided. I hung out with high schoolers on Good Friday like I mentioned before, I didn’t even think to write it down as part of my hours because I just like being around those girls. Getting to know them outside of a church environment. I do keep youth blogs that I read my computer at work so I am not tempted to “work off the clock”. I’ve been catching up today (my Monday at the church) on the youth blogs and a lot are talking about laying low after a buys Easter weekend. Growing up in youth ministry and then working in it for so many years, I’m glad to have always been apart of churches that don’t make Easter another busy time. The youth programs usually shut down and encourage them to join their families for Easter Sunday. I think that’s good in the busy church culture I see these kids in. If you think you are busy as full time working adult, met one of my high schoolers. I do not know how they keep it all straight. Especially the juniors and seniors who have a job along with trying to find a college to go to. On top of sports, church activities, etc etc…the list goes on. I’ve been listening to seminars from National Youth Workers Convention and its amazing how there’s always something new to hear about youth ministry. Its always changing and how so many of the same things happen when I was in high school, but at the very same time, things are so different. I think that its harder for todays kids these days than ever before. Not that its an excuse for anything, but it challenges me as a youth worker to know these students. Know their story and how to help them know the story of God. A lot of times I don’t feel I’m should be that person in these kid’s lives, that they teach me things way more than I ever can teach them. What I do know though that God provided this role in His big story of youth ministry for me. While the kids are gone at the beach this week on Spring Break I will miss them. I will spend this week planning a month full of Battle of the Sexes themed ideas for them when they return and I will love every minute of it. The lows of youth ministry are very low, but they don’t out weigh the highs.
Ive been busy, but have loved a lot of the moments Ive been busy. Well, the youth minstry part of it. The Starbucks side of it I could always leave. The last two weekends I spent time hanging out with high schoolers and got some photos to document them.
These photos are from some of my kids who go to one of the many high school repersented in the youth groups Twirp dance. Thats right, the dance is called Twirp. What is Twirp you may ask? The Women Is Required to Pay. Apparently Sadie Hawkins is soooo last year (or when I was in high school).
This past weekend I drug Jason along on an adventure of driving over 800 miles with 10 high school kids as we raced ten other teams all around North Carolina and Virginia. It was a lot of fun, despite the fact we didnt win. We did however win the most awards for how strangely we ran the race, but thats another story for another time.
On another random youth note, my Jr. High school youth pastor’s wife found me on facebook yesterday. I love when stuff like this happens! We got disconnected when I moved to San Diego and they to LA. They now have three kids (last I knew there was only one) and doing college minstry on a volunteer bases. We’ve been playing catch up over the last 5 years of our lives and its just great fun.
Found out today some of my high school kids read my blog thanks to the bosses wife. Hi girls. How are you? Shouldnt you be doing homework or something instead of reading my blog?
Its funny, my brother was the first in the family to get himself a blog. I found it somehow and read it, asked him about something he wrote. He got very upset with me “WHY ARE YOU READING THAT?!” I look at him with a confused face and said “Its on the INTERNET. World Wide Web.” He didnt really have much to say after that, becasue its true. Careful what you put on the internet, anyone can read it. Im not ashamed of what I have written, but sometimes I forget becasue of this screen that anyone can find and read it. I tend to spill my thoughts more than I would in person, but Im thankful for an outlet like this. Its my own little corner of the internet.
This weekend is Super Bowl Sunday. The youth group is meeting early so they can be out to watch the big game. I had to walk into Johnâ€™s (my boss) office and ask who was even in the Super Bowl (Im a college ball girl, Go Tide!). Planning this weekâ€™s youth night has been a lot of fun. Maybe because I let myself get too stressed over the last one, this one is more fun for me. Im hopefully going to create the yard lines on the floor of the room and the end zone where John with teach from. I love stuff like this, which is one of the many reasons I love my job.
Thankfully, John isnâ€™t going to be cheesy and teach about God being at the end zone or the game of life. Heâ€™s teaching, or more so explaining what Ash Wednesday is all about. I couldnâ€™t believe its become Lent season already. In the mist of planning this Super Bowl Sunday night along with finding references to ashes in a media way, Iâ€™ve been trying to think about Lent. Beyond just what to give up, and more about sacrifice. Whatever I decide to give up for lent wont even begin to touch the sacrifice others make everyday. Or what Christ has done and continues to do for me. I probably would think until next years lent thinking of that if I was disciplined enough.
Thereâ€™s the hope in me that I will keep perspective beyond my sacrifice. To regain the knowledge of others and Jesusâ€™ sacrifice and take it into my daily life after lent has passed. I love how God works in the small things. Even though at times in this upcoming Lent season I know it wont feel small.
Some friends of mine out of state said they were ordering their Girl Scout cookies. Ive always gotten mine from when I worked with middle schoolers. I wasnt sure where Id be getting my fix for this year from. Beginning of my week I send out a facebook message to the youth groups facebook group with the weeks announcements. At the end of it, I asked if anyone happened to have a sister selling girl scout cookies. I got a handful of responses. My roommate and I just checked out the cookies online to refresh our memory for when we were in Girl Scouts and to see what was new this year (just some low fat cookies, why would I even bother getting Girl Scout cookies in low fat?!). We placed our order through a message on facebook for the cookies and I will get them a week before February. I never knew when I signed up for facebook that it be a gateway to Girl Scout cookies. Oh how I love the internet.
Every Thursday afternoon we have a meeting with the student leaders. I look forward to this meeting especially now that Ive been there a few months. Sharing a conversation over a Gilmore Girl episode we both happened to watch. We learned we both like the Gilmore Girls along with just jumping into conversation without the formalities. More than his technical mind, I will miss working side by side this guy Sunday. Thankfully he came this afternoon and we chatted over not tech things. I know whats going on in their lives to ask about their senior projects. Or why their good friend who normally here is missing. We get down to business and they always think more than I ever expect of students to. They all have hearts for their youth group and others outside of it in very different ways. Some to the lost and some to the new. I am completely spoiled now to be working with high schoolers, and a fantastic group at that.
This photo was taken for Kari, but after seeing it, I thought I should share it with everyone.
If you were around last year when I went to the WB, I touched EVERYTHING. Pretty much just like this. I dont notice when Im actually doing it, just when I see the photo. What is that? Should I be worried about it? Nah.
The church I work for made a Christmas video to show at church on Sunday. Our crew is of course the youth, to which we acted like youth. The theme of the video was auditioning for the Christmas video. Our audition is that we really dont care to audition. If you watch Amy D (the gal in the red) towards the end, shes totally giggling. Im surprised they didnt catch me doing that.
Happy Christmas Week!
Weekends like this is the reason I love having weekends off. Just so great to be with the rest of the working world, even if my weekday hours are still odd.
Saturday I was in my PJs really late. Im up and doing things, but unless I have somewhere to go I have the bad habit of not getting dressed or showering. I was productive, getting my Christmas cards together. I printed some photos from when it snowed to make into cards. They turned out okay, I dont know what really I was imagining, but I like them better than store bought cards. I ran out of prints so I will have a second batch hopefully to send out next weekend. My roommate and I, who rarely actually spend time together went Christmas shopping for her sister and then to take advantage of a great coupon deal NY&Company was having until 2pm. I forget how crazy shopping centers are on the weekends, during Christmas time. It took a lot longer than planned but fun none the less. We had lunch at Chick-fli-a with the sole purpose of hoping some of the youth group kids I work with would be there. I think half of the 200 kid youth group work at this Chick-fil-a. I might have to stop by to visit them more often, even to just to get a Diet Coke. After the shopping adventure I got to take photos of said roommate and her boyfriend. Yall, we planned this day two months ago, and it was delayed a week. Thats how nutty her hours and mine are (and her boyfriends). It was well worth the wait, we had a lot of fun and I liked how most of their photos turned out. I didnt take very many, about 100. Usually I take at least 200. I dont know what to think of that really. After the photo shot with them, Jason and I attended a Bunco Christmas party for the high school staff at the church I work at now. I have never played Bunco before, and had a lot of fun. I got to know a lot of the names I have been emailing with and connect more with these great people who give their lives to these youth. I won biggest loser, which half bad since I got a prize! Im going to hang my bunco score card up in my office too.
Oh yeah, that was just Saturday. It didnt feel as busy as it looks, it was quite delightful actually.
Sunday was a little more low-key but really fun. Worked on the photos from yesterday getting them ready for my roommate today. Again, in my PJs to hours that PJs shouldn’t be worn. Put away the piles of clean clothes sitting on my couch that I had been picking my outfits from the past few days. Looked over my up coming week and how quickly my days are filling up before we leave for California for two weeks. Im glad to go home for that long, but I feel like Im missing so much here. Might not be as easy to go home for Christmas next year, as Im getting so attached to this state and my community here. Jace and I grabbed some mexican food before meeting up with our pastor’s kids to see Enchanted. No, we didnt baby sit them, we invited the whole family to join us but only the kids were available to come. I love hanging out with their kids, because you can have real conversations with them, even though they are only 11,9 and 7. I just love spending time with this family and that only grows the more I hang out with them. I sat next to their youngest, Leia, sharing a box of Jr. Mints (her pick) during the movie. My favorite part of Enchanted (which is a great movie by the way. I would like to see it again its really great.) where the girl is putting her hand on the guys chest and Leia says loudly “EW. What is she doing?!” And during the kissing scene “Do they have to show it SO close?” I couldnt help but laugh. I had a rough time at youth group tonight…but the feeling was everyone did. We tired to do a backwards night, which in theory and paper looked good but it was really confusing. I was just glad I wasnt alone in the feeling. I had some great conversations that encouraged me and reminded me to why I was really there. I love being there even on nights that are hard.
How many times did I say ‘fun’ about my weekend? It really was just a lot of fun. Fun fun fun. My week is full of work and get togethers. Im excited for what it holds, if its anything like how the grand the weekend was. I might of just jinxed myself though.
First night at my new youth group. Well, technically, its my third, but this time I went for me. Once I went when Jason was a volunteer there. Second when my friend, now boss, John was interviewing to be the youth pastor. Tonight was a whole new experience. I shadowed a wonderful gal who was showing me the ropes and more. The student leaders wanted to play a game I know well since the Jr High group back in Cali couldn’t get enough of it. Shuffle your buns. Its a simple game really, put some chairs in a circle, take away one and there is one person in the middle. That person has to grab an empty seat while the folks in the circle of chairs, well, shuffles their buns to keep the empty seat always moving. Im used to playing with this game with maybe 30 kids. Yeah, try 200 kids. It was so awesome, its hard to explain why but it so was. Thats how really I have to look at things from now on with planning the night. Im used to a smaller group, so things will be dramatically different. And it could be more awesome than I ever thought, like seeing 200 kids, shuffle their buns. The impact is just so different. I got to know a little bit more of some of the senior girls who I met on Thursday. One (and of course I cant remember her name! I didnt realize I was so bad with names until Im on new people overload like I have been this week) who I come to find out is from San Diego! Though we only lived 20 minutes apart for about a year before she moved, it was a nice connection. I learned a lot and know I still have tons to learn. Im have lots to apply for next week and a challenge of trying to build relationships while learning this new role.
And since I have been kinda quite about the Office lately, here is a nice youtube video of Jim and Pam through the season. So glad we are done with Roy.
When I met John Freeman, his hand was behind his back holding a very dirty diaper. He smiled embarrassed and said he’d be right back to properly met me, after opening his front door. Every interaction I’ve had with John has been such a sweet and usually funny one. That first meeting though, I gathered he loved working with youth. Our second meeting, the one more about getting to know me, I still very much got to know John. In the way he thoughtfully listened and asked about my life. Its been a great journey this past year to work and learn from him in the middle school group. Yesterday was his last day, which was bitter sweet. I was happy for him that his family is obeying the call God had placed at their life to move to another great church. It was just hard to know that was the last Sunday we’d share with him under the great big trees on the front lawn. Tuesday night dinners wouldn’t be the same John being there in the mist. I haven’t ever really been able to completely sort my thoughts about saying good-bye to one my favorite youth pastors. Maybe becasue I’m still in the process of it all. I hope to keep with me all that I have been taught by John and apply it to my future in youth ministry and in life.
Number middle school kids (aka prisoners): 55
Number of adult leaders (aka police): 9
Speakers at the weekend: 2
Speakers who cussed in their talk: 1 (I kinda cheered when she did it too, is that bad?)
Number of rented 15 passenger vans: 4
Time spent in car rental office getting and dropping off vans: 2 hours
Number of 15 passenger vans I got to drive: 1
Temperature of the amazing weather we had: 83
Number of turtles seen: 8
Number of turtles caught: 1
Number of turtles that died: 1 (yes, the same as the one above. Its a long story.)
Total times I was told we were having tacos: 4
Total times we had tacos: 0
Amount of times I had sausage gravy for breakfast: 1 (first time ever)
Times the Office got referenced: about 12 (by both leaders and students. This is an Office loving group.)
Showers taken by girls in my cabin: 3
Number of girls in my cabin: 5
Hours spent making a slide show: 4
Totally photos taken: 489
Amount of times I had to tell the girls to be quiet and go to sleep: 10,000
Total amount of sleep that I had during the weekend: about 9
Cups of coffee I consumed: 2
Glasses of sweet tea I consumed: 7
Number of dandelion’s puffs blown: 6
Amount of teddy bears brought to camp: 2
Amount of students who brought teddy bears to camp: 0
Number of boys sitting in John’s car listening to the game: 13
Times I teared up over the kids: 5 times
Hugs I received from kids: dozens and dozens
This weekend, I get to drive a 15 passenger van for the first time. Well, if we are not counting this past week test driving the church van around the church parking lot. Is it bad that’s one of the things I’m really looking forward to this weekend? Nevermind its the middle schoolers retreat and its going to be so much fun because fun people are going, I get to drive a 15 passenger van! Ah, the joys of being 25.
Spring time seems to be approaching just as the groundhog said it would. It was a big chilly this morning, which is actually fine with me. I wouldn’t mind another snow before the leaves and flowers start to appear. Though I am looking forward getting back into the routine of walking, I miss that a lot in the cold.
Tomorrow will been a week into lent. It hasn’t been the longest week, but it hasn’t been the shortest ether. Interesting process I’m already seeing how lent has effected me. I didn’t think it would hit this soon I was giving up something. But then again, if I gave up something that didn’t effect much then what would really be the point, right?
I’ve been thinking about youth ministry and my role in it. Not how I was this time a year ago, doubting my place in it. The community that I have found myself in that really “Came in without notice and settle all around my heart. Took up residence in all the places
That were vacant and dark.” We’ve been talking about ashes (in relation to lent) with the idea of God bringing beauty from ashes. I love watching the kids heads spin as they keep thinking dead people when they see ashes to the amazing thing God has really done in their life. I was asked to “share my story” with the kids soon, so I will be working on that up to the Sunday I will have to speak. I cant think of a group of kids Id rather share my story with.