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

Jacksonville Adventure

October 11, 2009

Today I’m at work, and it’s been very quiet (a fact that we will pay for tomorrow), but last weekend I went on a road trip to Jacksonville.  I had been planning to renew my lay speaking certification by taking the required 10 hour class that was offered in Crawfordville about a month ago, but it conflicted with my work schedule.  Most of the classes are offered on two consecutive Saturdays, which does not work with the way my work works :).  So they were offering one more class this year in Jacksonville on Friday night and Saturday all day.  I could go to that and only have to take a few hours off from work instead of a whole day.  They had a spot left in the advanced “You Can Lead Worship Class.”

I left work at 3 on Friday to get there in time for the 6:30 start time.  And I was able to spent my down time that day planning what I could do with my extra time while I was there.   I even considered getting the hotel room for 2 nights so that I could visit the young adult ministry at one of the Big Churches and go to the Fort Caroline National Memorial, but my cheapness won out and I decided that would have to wait until next time.

But here’s what I did get to do.

1.  I went to the class.  It was mediocre to bad, I am sad to say.  And I guess that’s mainly because I did not learn very much.  The content level was only slightly higher than confirmation class.  And the tone was so pessimistic, whining about how no one wants to got to worship service and no one ever listens to what the pastor says.  And things like spending at least a half hour talking about acrostics that have to do with prayer (PUSH= Pray until something happens…groan.)  On the positive side I am encouraged by the number of people seeking leadership development, and how course there are the people in general who are just the best part of the operation: the leaders and the participants, kind and generous and with great stories and testimonies.

2. I decided to skip the provided lunch so that I could go to “Cozy Tea.”  Which was a bit pricey and caused me to be late back to class, but was totally worth it. Best Scone EVER!!!


3. After class I went to the bank, because they have Compasses in Jacksonville so I was able to make a night deposit. Then I went to the Cupcakery. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

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This is what I made at Everyothers last night. It was a surprise hit. Some people asked for the recipe so I’m passing it on. It’s kind of like a Caribbean chili.

I started with a recipe but I changed a number of things.
This is what I did (though I didn’t really measure so it’s approximate)

2 large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
2 cans black beans drained
3/4 of a large can of tomato puree
1/2 can of Rotel mild tomatoes with green chiles
1.5 cups water
1/2 lb of cooked ground turkey
1 small onion chopped
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Paprika
6 dashes of hot sauce
1 Tbsp Newman Lime Dressing (or about 1 tsp each of lime juice, olive oil, and sugar)
1 Tbsp Gourmet Garden Cilantro in a tube (which I think is equal to a dried amount or maybe a few handfuls fresh)

I just put everything in the Crockpot, mixed it up and set it on low. The potatoes were done in about 10 hours (don’t let it go too long or you’ll end up with mashed potatoes)

There was recently an article in Slate magazine about franchising churches. It’s caused a lot of controversy over the wisdom of having figurehead pastors and huge churches. I’ve been reading stuff from mega church pastors and attenders as well as some people who have problems with any sort of “formalized, in a building, with paid staff” kind of church. It really makes me think. And when I do comment I usually do some defending of formalized structure provided by denominations (like offering national connection, providing things like health insurance to pastors and legal counsel to congregations) and medium size congregations (offering diversity of relationships as well as opportunities for small groups with like interests.) Anybody want to take a guess about what type of church I attend?

But here’s what I think it comes down to… the how is not nearly as important as the what. I think there’s much more consensus on what a healthy church should be achieving (members who display the fruits of the spirit, sacrificial giving, authentic worship) than the specifics on how it gets there. Because frankly there are a million ways and you know if somebody had it down perfect, heck I’d be there, but imperfect people form imperfect churches. So what to do? How do we get better?

Do you know how they train dolphins to do all those cool flips and stuff? It’s a conditioning technique called “shaping” or “reward for successive approximation.” The dolphin would not just do a flip all on it’s own one day you have to teach it how. So the first day the goal is to get the dolphin to touch its nose to the end of a stick. The trainer has a ton of treats and whenever the dolphin comes over the trainer puts out the stick and gives the dolphin a treat (probably some slimy fish eww.) Dolphin now thinks stick=treat… we are on the right track here. So now the dolphin swims over and the trainer touches the stick to the dolphin’s nose, he get a treat… great pretty soon he’ll be touching stick on his own (got to have that slimy fish.) Goal one down. But the next day the trainer mixes it up a bit and has the stick out of the water so the dolphin has to raise up a little to get the treat. And no more rewarding for touches in the water. Slowly the trainer will add harder elements of the behavior (like actually flipping) and remove excess things (like the stick) until they have the desired result. Now different trainers might have different techniques, some use a red stick some use blue, some use sardines, others use guppies. But what do they have in common? Patience and evaluation.

It takes a long time and many tries to get what you really want, sometimes you fall short. And evaluation, the trainer has to look at what the dolphin did and say treat or no treat, close enough or way off. Are we moving toward our goal (the “what”) or not? I think we miss that piece in churches too often. We look and look for the perfect “how” and neglect the “what.”

I was recently on a young adult retreat and the leader wanted us to discuss while we were all there and captive, whether we wanted to start meeting in our small group every week instead of just every other week. We had opinions on both sides and kept going back and forth each making valid points. Until someone said “why don’t we just try it for a few months, and if it doesn’t work we can always go back.” Eureka. Try something new and make an evaluation. Are we moving toward our goal or not?

One big but… for this to work you have to be willing to change, to go back and to move forward. There’s no way around that fact. No matter who fights you on it. Bold chances and honest evaluation have to become part of the ethos of all ministry. We have to be willing to be shaped.

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
Trivial Pursuit
Famous Last Words
Number of Words
Name 6
The Dating Game

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.

Be a Lady

August 3, 2008

We had our young adult beach retreat this weekend. I found my self faced with an interesting dilemma. We were playing board games in the living room and I kept finding ants crawling on me. Well by the end of the night one had managed to bite me on the back, upper thigh, above the hem of my shorts (not quite on my booty but close). Well we went on a walk on the beach later that night and my bug bite was getting pretty itchy. So it’s dark and there’s only flash light… but a lady can’t go scratching in public.

I seem to be one who gets caught doing socially questionable things, well often enough to be uncomfortable. And it got me wondering, “Do the other girls in my group have the same sorts of issues or am I just that special?” Or just females in general. I mean I was itchy. Did I have to go back to the house because I had a bug bite; would other people? Or maybe I am just too self conscious and nobody cares. I mean it’s not like I keep score on other people’s unladylike infractions (well except burping… I mean come on that’s gross.)

I’m at the beach today… without my computer. Try not to feel too sorry for me.

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.