In no particular order…

  • I have another new job… well a seventeen month old new job
  • My sister and I went on a road trip
  • and we went to Epcot Food and Wine
  • and I went to visit her again at her new house
  • I barely did any theater
  • I took a seminary class
  • I preached one of the last nights of our departed Evening Vespers service
  • I had minor surgery
  • that let me gain back most of the weight
  • Ryan Bradley won the US Championship
  • Many hours of “So You Think You Can Dance” were watched
  • More youth got confirmed
  • I agreed to help with Youth Sunday School
  • so I am going regularly to the contemporary service at church
  • I cut my hair short
  • I cried my eyes out too many times
  • I took a 12 week Biblical Greek class
  • I put up a half done online dating profile… then took it down
  • I applied for about 20 jobs… got one phone interview and no jobs
  • I finally turned some acquaintances into real friends
  • Visited Lakeland to go to FTC see old friends, waive at FSC, and see my beloved drama teacher get a distinguished career award
  • I got lots of books
  • I nominated myself to be a delegate to General Conference and did not win the vote
  • I saw the first national tour of the Hair revival
  • I spent holidays at home
  • I picked up a bad YouTube watching habit
  • I got asked to speak at next year’s Women’s Retreat
  • I rode lots of roller coasters
  • I went to the PCC reunion
  • I went to my ten year HS reunion
  • I help organize an emergency cold weather shelter for homeless people
  • I got a new car
  • I had a Seder meal at my house
  • and more… can’t decide if that’s a lot or a little

40 days of prayerBeginning today, join young leaders in our church in praying for the future of our denomination. You can read a prayer a day on the UMC Young Clergy website or buy the book here.

What to look forward to: confession and learning from the past, asking for guidance, and visions for the future.  It’s my pleasure to contribute and I hope that we will all become inspired and energized during this Annual Conference season.

We have the RSS feed: http://umcyoungclergy.com/prayer/rss
Twitter updates: www.twitter.com/umcyoungclergy
Invite friends to the Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173414735012

Like I told the Facebook world, I spent most of the day crying on Easter. It was obviously a very emotional day. First think I was up at 6:00 to sing at the sunrise service and that’s enough to make anyone cry (well me.) It was bit chilly but not like it was last year. Singing went fine, we did this kind of old fashioned-y “Easter Anthem.” No, that’s really what it was called, creative right? Joyce preached the sermon for the morning service, and it was great. I think she’s getting to be a really great preacher. I love that she always uses personal stories, it’s really brave and vulnerable, and it really makes the message seem sincere.  She was discribing a scene from a movie to illustrate a point. 

There was little boy in a consentration camp that got assinged to cleaning the commander’s bathroom. One day he stole a used bar of soap and brought it back to his teenaged friend to show it off.   The theft was soon discovered and everyone was called together to be questioned.  Just as the boy was holding his hand out with the soap, his friend snachted it away and yelled out that he had the soap.  He was shot on the spot.

Wow… that got me.  There is just something about sacrificial love.  Someone else taking the blame.  It’s real easy to say “Jesus died for our sin.”  But it’s good to feel it sometimes.

We had bruch of Sam’s pastries and frozen fruit, not quite the Easter spread we get in Pensacola.  But when Cynthia sat on one of the said pastries that almost made up for it.  That kind of made me cry too, with laughter.

For 8:30 service we were in the sactuary.  The theme for Clarke’s sermon was transformation, and we used butterflies to decorate the window sills and we brought in potted plants to the narthex.  During the service we added butterfly garden stakes to the plants… you know like the tranformation had just taken place.  It was very pretty and colorful, but a little less impactful than it could have been because our narthex is a bit cluttered (my hospitality workshop told me that’s not a very welcoming thing.)    That work great for 8:30 but the service was so long that the 9:45 people were already waiting and saw them before the other service let out.

The thing during 8:30 that made me cry was the lady that was sitting next to me in the pew.  We had a bunch of kids, of course, and they were all being cute during the children’s sermon.  But the whole time the lady who was maybe in her late fourties was holding her husband’s hand and weeping.  I don’t know anything more than that, what happened, if she had a loss.  She was just sitting there in pain.  Besides my empathy for her, I just thought about all the other people who feel pain and regret during happy times.

Then I had to teach Sunday School, which was maybe a little too creative.  I took the kids to the 9:45 service to remove the butterflies from the plants, and to watch my friends play in the pickup band that was playing that day.  Then we had our lesson outside, which was a bit challenging and distracting for my little people.  Then we went back to play Easter symbol memory, which is always the biggest hit ever.  They love it.  Cokesbury must be up on their developmentally appropriate materials (I think I want that job) because they always include at least three memory card sets for each unit.

Then I had my Easter Whataburger meal and had a laundry and movie day.  That night was the Tallahassee episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  Which was just sad in the classic, human interest story way.  You can watch it for yourself.  But that was so sad.

I told my Sunday Schoolers that Easter is the happiest day of the year.  For me it was little crazy too.

Pieces of her story

October 18, 2008

I had two errands today.  To go get some jalapenos and to mail a few things that I didn’t put out in time for the mail carrier to come get.  I planned to drive through Sonic after the post office for a vanilla coke with a side of jalapenos (homemade salsa is addictive.)

So I got to the post office a couple minutes after it closed and had to go through that drive through too.  That of course meant that that I missed the last pickup too so my mail run was for naught.  But there was this woman standing on the curb by the post office exit. She’d been standing there the whole time I was in the parking lot and had a carry-on size piece of luggage.

I pulled up to turn on to the street and she looked at me and held up the sign she had in here hand.  It was written on ballpoint on a sheet of loose leaf.  The wind was strong enough that the paper was flapping so that the only thing that I could read was “for food.”  It’s getting cooler but I’m still wearing shorts and she had on a winter coat.  She looked like she could be someones grandma.

So I decided I’d go to CVS instead of Sonic and pick-up some trail mix for her along with my jalapenos.  When I pulled back around she was gone from the post office.  And then I looked around and she was sitting on the window sill at the convenience store next door, with her coat on her bag, smoking a cigarette. I didn’t stop.

Thing is, I don’t know what she really needs, or what the right thing is to do. Maybe I’ll hold on to the cranberry trail mix so I’ll have a better plan next time.  And I don’t mean that “dang, I was dooped and now I’m stuck with the cranberries.”  But she is a person, with a life, and a family, and a story and obviously a difficult one at that.  And I can’t do anything that will make a real difference, or not be patronizing.  Or maybe it is that I’m unwilling to.  All I have is the fragments that I gleaned from observation of this women, nothing that tells me anything about who she really is.

—————-

Stephanie had the youth do an exercise a few weeks ago.  They all started by making bags to give to the homeless with a granola bar and a Vienna sausage and an apple sauce.  They then had a scavenger hunt to look for their dinner.  Everywhere they went they were turned away until they found the homeless bags that they had made waiting for them in the sanctuary.  And man did they not like that twist.  Apparently not everyone like Vienna sausages like I do.  But it’s obviously no grand gesture to give away the food you’re not willing to eat.  It humbles you a little, and makes you think about person-hood apart from status and possessions.  So even though I got to be the one denying my spaghetti to the youth, I think I learned a lesson too.  Because today I felt a little something extra. And it wasn’t good.  I think that’s called empathy. And praise God for that.

Inspired by this video.

The summer after my freshman year of college I went on a mission trip with bunch of friends to Atlanta.  Each day we service work and each evening we’d throw block parties with the help of an organization that ran mini missions for immigrants and refugees in apartment complexes through out the city.  We had our band play and we would feed everyone and we talked to people about Jesus.

On the second day we were with a group of refugees from Chechnya, a region in Russia that saw fighting between the Christian and Muslim ethnic groups.  At the block party I was talking to a young girl; we were sitting on a stoop and looking at a track that I had (that’s another post) that had a picture of Jesus on the cross on it.  The girl looked at me and the picture and said “That’s what they did to my dad.”  Man, that did me in. I was sitting there crying and praying and talking to her.

Just as that was happening another one of our group, J, came around to take pictures and just check on everyone.  I called him over and told him the story and we sat there and talked to the girl.  It was really an amazing and touching experience for all of us.  We came back to the church we were staying at and shared it with our group.

So 4 months went by and then we were back in school together.  One of the first things we did was to have a church service where we share our pictures and stories with people who did not come with us.  J was going to be the big finally.  So he started telling this story about how on the second day he’d met this girl who saw the picture of Jesus and said “that’s what they did to my dad.”  But the funny thing was that I was totally removed from the story.  In his mind it was all him and I wasn’t even there.  Funny, especially since there were pictures that he took of me sitting with the very girl.  So I asked him about it and presented the evidence and he was totally baffled; he completely thought it was just him. Crazy.  My memory got coopted.

It’s not my line

August 20, 2008

My head is swimming with improv games for next Saturday. How about a preview?

First Lines
Family Portraits
Only Questions
Sad Solemn Occasion
Ugly Advice
Interview
Trivial Pursuit
Famous Last Words
Ding
Number of Words
Name 6
The Dating Game
Props

Also I full out sang the Oscar Mayer Bologna Song in all three church services…That’s right for all of the blue hairs and everyone. And I was wearing a puffy hot pink and leopard print crown. This is what I do for my ministry.

Can you find it? Part 3

August 5, 2008

Here’s a quote from part 1: “So what do people who want to reach out to this group do? You’ve got to forward the link. Things that are old and worn out get replaced, or refreshed. Or you keep the links active. Who knows when I’ll want to go find my favorite show from middle school or the references I used in a history paper? So brands need to be both innovative and trusting. Look for some practical examples in a few days.”

So I think I got a little off track in part 2 (not that I didn’t make some good points) so I wanted to go back and do what I said I was going to do… give some practical examples on how to be innovative and trusting.

I mean that you have to reach young adults in innovative ways both in original content but also in the genuine relationship building. Like I said we are around the fake stuff all the time so something old (I don’t know like true accountability) can feel fresh.

And be trusting. Give things a chance to grow. Sometimes you’ll have to give and give before you see any results. Don’t just pack it up and go away. Evaluate the positives as well as the negatives.

Like a lot of things it’s a balancing act.

Start something new (like a blog or a bible study or a prayer group) and be dedicated about it (give yourself a time line, ask people to try it for a few months, run some advertising.) We’ll see what God can do.

Can you find it? Part 2

July 29, 2008

Read Part 1 here.

Sometimes I wish people would not help me make a point. I got an email from Julie at GBOD (Global Board of Discipleship.) She’s the young adult coordinator? anyway she’s one of the people that is in charge of young adult ministries for the national UMC. They have a new website (actually just a new URL, the site has been around for about a year.) They added a number of new events and features so I went to check it out.

There was a link for young adult blogs, and since I’m new to the blogging world I thought I’d go look to see what some of my peers had to say. And to my sadness and dishearten-ment (I think I just made up that word) about fifty percent of the links don’t work. So besides being a metaphor… this broken link thing is literally true. I once wrote an email to a pastor who was looking for some tips on the 20-something mindset. Among other things, I said that we are acutely aware that “Facebook friends” are not real friends. And I think that all is a part of what I’m trying to say. We are surrounded by glossy, user accessible, happy/smiley pseudo-community that ultimately has no depth. (And that’s not to say that this is some system being unwittingly foisted upon us; we are master manipulators of it. I just mean that it has become part of what our world looks like.)

So… enough ranting, I promised solutions, (well at least alternatives)

  1. Demonstrate authentic community. Send people actual birthday cards. Ask how people’s families are doing. Help people move out of their house. Work on service projects together.
  2. Follow up on commitments. Show up when you RSVP. Show that welcome is more than hello.
  3. Persevere through rough times. All this stuff takes time.
  4. Show people your weaknesses. That means you’re a real person.
  5. Be Honest or there might be consequences.
  6. Throw out the fanciness when it’s getting in the way of the substance.

I think it’s easier said than done. But that’s the real behind the real.

Every other one

July 16, 2008

The young adult group at Saint Paul’s is called “The Everyothers.” We went through a number of names before landing on that one. Most of the time when people ask why we call it that we say that it is because we meet every other Sunday, but that’s only half the reason.

Young adults, particularly single young adults, often feel like the odd man out. The “others” as it were. So we try to create a community for every other one.

Can you find it?

July 6, 2008

I’ve been looking over my bookmarks, the internet kind that is. First I got a new computer so I transfered all my bookmarks then. That gave me the occasion to go through and check some of them to see if they were still active. A lot were but some were not. Then I discovered del.icio.us, an online bookmark manager that also allows you to share what you have bookmarked with others. And when I imported my bookmarks there I found even more broken links. Bookmarks are precarious things.

I here that the Millennial generation (I am among the oldest of them) doesn’t have the “brand loyalty” that past generations have had. That goes for anything from sodas to computers to churches. One bad experience and we are on to the next thing. Broken links get deleted. So what do people who want to reach out to this group do? You’ve got to forward the link. Things that are old and worn out get replaced, or refreshed. Or you keep the links active.  Who knows when I’ll want to go find my favorite show from middle school or the references I used in a history paper?  So brands need to be both innovative and trusting. Look for some practical examples in a few days.