Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #102: New Year's Eve in Times Square

answer #101 - Alabama became the first state to recognize Christmas as an official holiday in 1836.

question #102 - In what year was the first-ever official celebration of New Year's Eve on Times Square?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Reflections on: Christmas vacation

This trip home has been different than those of the past. Maybe it has something to do with the 3 kids, or maybe its that I'm getting older. I bet its a combination of these two, plus many other factors. This year has been the first time in 7 years that we've been with our extended families on Christmas. Our first Christmas as a married couple we were in GA and did not go home due to my church responsibilities. That year, we traveled home for Christmas in January. We kept that tradition up for the next six years (and depending on where I end up in ministry we will probably do it again in the future).

But this year, we were able to travel to see family on Christmas. We spent Christmas Eve with my side of the family, at my grandpa's. This has been the celebration day for my family for as long as I remember. It was so great to be there with a lot of my family. Then on Christmas, we drove up to be with Amy's family for Christmas night. It was the first time I remember driving on Christmas day, a lot more people than I thought there would be. Another fun night with family.

Here are some of my reflections on this Christmas trip:

1. Family & friends mean more than gifts. Gifts are great, but I would much rather spend time with people I love and not get a gift from them. The gifts stop working or you lose interest, but the people need to be cherished.

2. Travel with 3 kids is exponentially different than 2 kids. It can be stressful to travel with 2 kids, but adding the 3rd changes everything. It becomes so much more difficult to get everyone to travel in the same sequence, so to speak. Trips that should take 4 hours, can take at least 5 hours. Make sure to enjoy ever moment, though.

3. Always leave room in your vehicle for the return trip. On a Christmas trip, with little kids, you will most likely return home with more stuff than you left with.

4. Busy schedule -> stress -> miscommunication. Vacations can bring out the worst opportunities to stay connected to your spouse. If you do not take the time to talk with your spouse, then you won't be given that time.

5. Talking with your family is extra important on vacations. See #4. When you are with your family (the extended kind) do not just sit around and watch TV. Take the time to talk about topics that are important, talk about faith, talk about your family history, talk about parenting. You do not get these opportunities very often, so take advantage of them.

6. A lot can happen in a year. Since last Christmas a lot has happened in my life, and being home reminded me of just how much. Last year on Dec. 28th, my grandma passed away. In April, I started looking for a new ministry. In May, I stopped ministering at my church. In July, my first daughter (third child) was born. In September, she had hernia surgery. In October I turned 30. Over the last 7 months, I have been constantly amazed at how God provides for and takes care of my family. I can't wait to see what next year holds.

7. All good vacations come to an end. No matter how good a vacation you have, it has to end. You have to return to your daily routine. You have to get back to work. Hopefully, for those working in churches, this is not a bad thing. If you are passionate about what you do for a living, then you will be just as excited to return to that work.

bonus: some guy at church had a dog with him. It was weird to see him walk out with his dog in his arms. On the bright side, the dog never made a sound during the entire service.


What was your favorite moment from your Christmas vacation?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Best of '08: Websites

I use the internet a lot in both ministry and my personal life. The more I use the 'net, the more I find I tend to use the same websites for a majority of my needs. I guess you could say I become a creature of habit, I won't be offended. I like trying new sites and venturing to other corners of the web, but if a website works for what I need why would I stop using it?

According to what I needed most this year, here are my favorites.

Best of 2008: Websites:
Facebook (personal/ministry) - Facebook was a great website to not only stay connected to students, but also to connect with other friends. You can stay connected to students no matter where you in relationship to where they are (ie, even if you move away or go on vacation you can keep up to date with what they are doing). You can be my friend by going to my profile.

Twitter (personal) - Twitter is a fun way to stay connected with friends in 140 characters or less. You can tweet from the website, your phone, or using a number of apps. I discussed a couple twitter applications over a year ago, check out some of the apps you can get to enhance your twitter experience. My favorite application is Tweetdeck, here is my tweetdeck review. I really love the ability to know what people are doing, hear stories of their youth ministries and something just laugh. You can follow me by going to my profile.

Youth Ministry Exchange (ministry) - YMX has a great forum community, some great articles and reviews and a few other youth ministry specific resources. (and every once and awhile you can see a review I write show up)

YouthMinistry.com (ministry) - A great collection of articles, freebies and other resources. There is a lot of great content on here. I think they'll publish anything, though (based on the fact that I've got some articles on there). Seriously, though, if you are in youth ministry, you need to check out this site.

Blogger (ministry/personal) - I use this site for both my ministry blog and my personal family blog. I like blogger's ease of use and relatively small learning curve. Its a great site for beginning bloggers to get their feet wet. It is not the only option out there, but I have not had many problems or complaints - so I keep using it.

PBSKids.com (personal) - Now that my oldest son is 4 1/2, we've been spending a lot more time online with him. PBSkids is a great site for us, it has a bunch of the shows he loves and has some pretty good games for him to play or activities he can do on his own. If you have little kids, you need to check this site out.

Google.com (personal/ministry) - I use google for email (gmail.com), blog statistics (analytics), searching (google.com), writing (google docs), and maps. I'm on the verge of using it for my blog reader, too (google reader). There are so many ways to use google in your minsitry, which will help streamline your online presence. I won't spend any more time talking about it, if you want to know more just leave a comment or email me.

Hulu.com (personal) - Because I am a father of 3 young children, I do not get to watch much TV when it airs. Neither my wife nor I watch much of anything on TV, unless it is a cartoon or something the boys also want to watch. So, we watch most of our TV online after it airs. We usually use hulu.com to do this. It is so easy to use and navigate and has great quality and quantity of content. And they have a growing collection of movies to watch, too. For me, this is a much better alternative to paying for some form of cable or dish.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone.

For everyone who went to church last night, hope you enjoyed the Christmas Eve service last night.

Have a great day and enjoy some time with your family and friends. May God remind you of His love for you this season.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #101: Christmas

answer #100 - March is national frozen food month.

question #101 - Which state was the first to recognize Christmas as an official holiday?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hello Winter... Youth Ministry Style

Sunday (Dec 21) was the first day of winter and that means youth ministries around the US (b/c those youth ministries in Australia, for example, are currently enjoying summer) will be transitioning to a winterized version of youth ministry. Some aspects of youth ministry do not change, but anything that involves the outdoors has to change. Here are some of my favorite winter youth ministry games, events, ideas and more.

Disclaimer: Yes, I am aware that my friends in places like CA, GA, or FL do not need to make these adjustments because it does not get that cold or snow that much. And for that I say ":-P"

Winterized Youth Ministry:
Free Version...
1. Sledding. Just take your group, or have them meet, to a local hill. You can spend hours just sledding down and walking back up the hill. You can do something organized like races or just let everyone do what they want.

2. Build Snowmen/Snowball fights. If you get enough snow, build snowmen. This would be a great opportunity for some good video and/or pictures of the group. Have a themed-snowman competition, see who can build the largest... The snowball fights will just come naturally.

3. Shovel snow. Take a day and drive around town shoveling people's driveways and sidewalks. This is a great service project. It will help your group bond together, while doing people a wonderful service. Make sure you have enough shovels, gloves, hats, etc.

4. Outdoor Ice Skating. Depending on your area, this might be a great time to go ice skating or play ice hockey. This is one event that might just draw a smaller crowd, but it will be a fun day together.

5. Any excuse to serve hot chocolate. Find any reason to get the group together to drink hot chocolate. This might be a great addition to one of your outdoor events or just something you do as a stand-alone event. Make sure you have marshmallows (and I suggest the mini ones).

6. Special parties. During this season, most youth ministries will have their Christmas parties and New Year's Eve parties. Maybe you should have a "_______" party (fill in with whatever you want) just to have a party. This is a great time to give the students something to do, since they can't go outside. (obviously, be mindful of the family time activities this time of year)

7. Ice Sculpting. If you have a large amount of ice this is the perfect time to use it. Even if you just have a small amount of ice, set aside a time to let students sculpt it. Allow them to be creative and just make it fun.


Non-Free Version...
1. Skiing. Most students love to go skiing, but do not get to go often. Plan a ski trip with your group. Or if you live close to a ski resort, schedule regular days (or at least some days) that are official youth group ski days.

2. Indoor Ice Skating. Take the group to go ice skating at an ice rink. Depending on the size of the group you can get discounts or even rent the entire rink.

3. Broomball. Rent an ice rink for a few hours of broom ball. You play hockey with broomsticks, only tennis shoes, and a ball. It is a lot of fun. But be careful, as people will fall.

4. Trip to warmer weather. Take your group to warmer weather. Probably want it to be within driving distance, but I hear Hawaii is nice this time of year.


Those are a few of my ideas for a winterized youth ministry. What have you done in the winter that has worked or what other suggestions would you have? Leave a comment with your ideas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photo Friday: Camp Fire



I thought you guys might need some reminders of warmth during these last few days of Fall.

Take these pictures and use them for backgrouds or event promotion or anything else you want. Just don't make money from it, please give me credit and I'd love to hear what/how you are using them.

What is your favorite part of a campfire?

Mine is the quiet atmosphere a nice campfire creates.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Best of 2008: Music

I found some good music this past year. One of the groups to make my list is brand new, two groups have been around for a couple years, one is a new album from my favorite band and one is a new solo album from the lead singer in one of my other favorite bands.


Best of 2008: Music

1. Jon Foreman
The frontman for Switchfoot put together a collection of EP's this past year (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer). Each EP has six songs, but two EP's come together (Fall & Winter, Spring & Summer). You'll love the strong lyrics, fresh vocals and overall sound. If you haven't listened to this music, yet - you need to.

2. Robbie Seay Band - Give Yourself Away
This is an excellant album. I really enjoyed their first album (Better Days), but honestly this one is a ton better. I got a copy of the album for free from Relevant and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen. You can go to iTunes and download the entire album for $8 right now. If you are a fan of American Idol, you'll recognize "Rise" from some of the promos from last season. Go to iTunes and download it now!!

3. Third Day - Revelation
There are only a couple CD's that Thriday Day has released that I can not listen to all the way through. This might be one of my favorites (not as good as their self-titled freshman album, but close). Call My Name is one of the best songs I have heard all year. If you don't know who Third Day is, then might I recommend you take some time to listen on their site (Thief is my favorite). If you haven't heard this album yet, you will want to listen. (and they have a new album coming out early 2009)

4. Leeland - Opposite Way
This is another great sophomore album. "Count Me In" is a strong song with some intense lyrics. One thing I like about Leeland is the fact that they are a fun band. Whether its a concert, their website or even an album - you can sense their joy for life in everything they do. You will not be disappointed with this album. I got mine for $5, the best $5 I spent on music all year.

5. Connersvine - Connersvine
This last group was introduced to my wife, who passed them on to me. Its just two guys (I think one's name is Conner and the other is Vine - wow that was a bad attempt at a joke). They have a great sound and lyrics you have to pay attention to. I especially like "Glory Be" and "Hosanna". You can go to this site and download a free mp3 and chord chart. My guess is that you have not heard of Connersvine, but if you start listening to one new group this week - make it Connersvine.

6. This is Home by Switchfoot. Off the Prince Caspian Soundtrack.


What is your favorite music from 2008?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #100: Your Favorite Random Fact

answer #99 - Nursery School Teacher

question #100 - What is your favorite random trivia fact?

Today's question is a little different, to celebrate it being question #100. This one is all about you, the reader.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Review: The Truth About You by Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham has put together a toolkit to help readers discover their strengths. The toolkit has three parts; an enhanced DVD, an interactive book, and a ReMemo pad. The goal of this toolkit is to create a more interactive experience for the reader. It also provides a chance for the reader to receive the same message/ideas in multiple formats. Finally, this toolkit format leaves the reader without an excuse to not learning what her strengths and weaknesses are and apply that knowledge to her job.

I enjoyed the video format, a mixture of Buckingham speaking into the camera and footage of a boy finding his strengths, and found it easy to connect with the ideas. If you pay attention to the video, you'll notice that most of the thoughts are found throughout the book. This repetition helped me process the connection between what he was saying and my own personal situation. The concepts are fairly simple, so the book is easy to follow (which makes it a pretty quick read).

Overall, The Truth About You is a good resource for anyone who is not satisfied with her current job situation or feels like there is a better way to use her talents. The biggest complaint with this toolkit, along with most other business books, is the price ($30), which seems high to me. If you can afford the cost or can get a copy from a friend, it is worth your time to go through this well-developed toolkit.

My advice (rating) – borrow from a friend (3 out of 5)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Best of 2008: Non-Youth Ministry Books

This is the first post in a series of posts on the "Best of 2008." This year has been a tough year for me, no many levels, but despite all of the downsides it has been a blessed year. As the year comes to a close, I thought I would take some time to share some thoughts on this year. More specifically, these are my thoughts on some of the highlights of my year. Let's just start with one of my favorite things: books.

I read a lot of books this year. This year, it seems I read a high percentage of non-youth ministry related books. This was good. You could call these books for my soul, and nurturing the soul is a very important task. What follows is my list of the best non-youth ministry books I read this year. Some of these books were published in 2008, others were not. Regardless of when they were written/published, these are the best books I read this year that are not directly related to youth ministry. I highly recommend each of them to anyone looking for something new to read.


Best of 2008: Non-Youth Ministry Books:
1. Signature Sins by Michael Mangis
This is a book I read to review for YMX. I am so glad I got this book to review, because I probably would not have found it otherwise. (I'll post a link to the review when its posted over at YMX) A few weeks ago, I posted on a quote in the book that put youth ministers in a negative light. The purpose of this book is summed up by these two quotes from the first chapter. "We do not sin at random. Our sin takes a consistent and predictable course." And "When we allow struggles to turn us toward God we redeem the brokenness."

2. Addiction & Grace by Gerald May
I know it was not written this year, but I just got around to reading it. To be honest, I started reading this a few years ago and then put it down. I am so glad I picked it back up and finished it this year. To be completely honest, I read an original version and not the new updated one that came out a few years ago. I posted two quotes from this book this year - go here and here to read those quotes.

Gerald May does an excellant job discussing the multiple aspects of addiction; physical, mental and spiritual. There is a lot of great, practical information within this book. Another must read for every youth worker. It will help you better understand/help anyone you know who is dealing with an addiction.

3. the dip by Seth Godin
This little book (76 pages) came out the end of 2007, but I didn't get around to reading it until the first of this year. This is a book on quitting. Quitting the right things at the right time, in order to focus on not quitting the stuff you need to stick with. Making it to the end involved making it through the dip - that tough part of the journey which causes most people to give up on their goal. The connection for youth ministers (and any church leader) is clear. In order to make it to your goal (your vision for your ministry) you have to make it through the dip. You will have to quit some "programs" in order to not quit on your goal.

Its worth the read, and it shouldn't take you more than an hour or so to read. To read some of my thoughts on one particular quote, on longevity, read this post.

4. free refill by Mark Atteberry
I got this book from Mark a little over a year ago. Over the years, there have been times where I have felt empty in my faith. I have needed more Jesus, to be filled up. Atteberry has written a book filled with examples of biblical people who were refilled. You will find encouragement within these pages and get a little glimpse of how much Jesus wants you to be filled up with his love.

I posted a quote on Jesus' love earlier this year, go to this post to read it. And when you are done, go to the store (or internet bookstore) and get a copy of this book to read the whole thing.


Those are the best non-youth ministry books I read in 2008. What were your favorite non-youth ministry books from 2008?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Photo Friday: Church at Night

A simple, small church building at night.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #99: Princess Diana

answer #98 - Video Killed the Radio Star

question #99 - What was Princess Diana's profession before she married Prince Charles?

Monday, December 08, 2008

25 White Elephant Gift Exchange gift ideas

Last week, I wrote that one idea for this Christmas season is to do a white elephant gift (WEG, as I like to call it) exchange at a Christmas party. As I thought back over my youth ministry career so far, I remembered quite a few good WEG ideas. So, being the generous person I am - I am posting some of the better gifts I can remember.

Disclaimer: in the case of a WEG, "better" does not always mean "better" in the normal sense. Just keep that in mind as you read the list.

25 White Elephant Gift Ideas:
1. a slice of cheese
2. two stuffed pig dolls
3. a broken "don't spill the beans" game
4. various cds (dishwalla, mercy me, a couple compilations)
5. a vhs version of any movie
6. mark twain paperback
7. 10 random buttons
8. $1 bill (which by the way no one really seemed to want)
9. a mp3 player (it will be a gift most people want)
10. headphones (nothing else)
11. Winnie the Pooh backpack
12. A Casey's top 40 record from 1983 (probably need an old DJ for this one)
13. a plethora of a charity's (like relay for life) material (buttons, stickers, cups)
14. 101 things you need to know book
15. a used sippy cup
16. girl scout cookies and hot chocolate (another item people will actually want)
17. random items from your desk (works best if its a student's desk)
18. a dance instruction vhs tape
19. potpourri (any shape or form)
20. a mostly burnt candle
21. a manual ice cream maker
22. some of your old school papers (for the adults)
23. Britney Spears cassette tape (a few kids didn't even know what a cassette was)
24. one coaster
25. a pink t-shirt that says "Britney's competition" (I'm wearing it in the picture)

There are 25 ideas to get you started. One of my favorite WEG moments came a few years ago. My wife reminded of it recently, because it is her favorite WEG memory. We had a new student, the Christmas party was her first event, and she brought a really nice bath set. Somehow the communication of what kind of gift to bring was lost and she actually brought a nice gift. The best part was the gift she left with, though. At the end of the night, she left with a plastic fork. Classic youth ministry moment. A moment that brings a smile to my face every time I think of it.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Photo Friday: The Nativity... with one change

I took this picture as my boys were playing with our Little People Nativity Set. At first glance, everything seems normal. But if you look a little closer, Baby Jesus has been replaced by someone else. Did you notice who it was?

5 Christmas Season Ideas for Youth Ministry

December means Christmas. And in youth ministry that means a busy schedule (or the possibility of a busy schedule this month). There are so many good things to do with your students during December, but I thought I'd share just a few of my favorites.


Here are 5 ideas for your Christmas youth ministry season...

1. Christmas Party with a white elephant gift exchange.
Plan a party at one of the student's houses. Play some games, eat food, share stories or anything else you want. But you have got to do a white elephant gift exchange. It always provides a ton of laughs and some great memories.

2. Caroling.
Take the students around town, visiting some of the new families at the church. Or go to the nursing home or homes of some of the adults who can't get out much.

3. Bake cookies, then deliver them around the neighborhood.
This might be more geared toward the girls in your group, but its not limited to just girls. We always bake one day and then deliver a day or two later. This activity will help build the community within your students and it will help them get out and serve the community. Plus the community gets some homemade cookies and desserts.

4. Snow shoveling.
No one wants to shovel their walk or driveway, so why not let your students do it for them. Not only is it a way to serve, it usually turns into a fun time for the youth.

5. Sledding & snowball fights (or other classic winter events).
These are just for fun and to build community within your ministry.

No matter which of these events you do, make sure you take pictures and video. You will be able to use that media in so many ways throughout the year.

What other ideas would you consider essential to a good Christmas season?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #98: MTV

answer #97 - Alaska

question #98 - Name the first song ever played on MTV.

Monday, December 01, 2008

NYWC '08: Picture Tour

I did not take many pictures this year, I guess I was too busy enjoying the convention. The picture tour is in no way a complete picture of what a National Youth Workers Convention is like, but it'll give you a sense of what my week entailed.

Picture Tour highlights: 1. Zaxby's on the way down. 2. Some guy on a really tall bike I saw when I got into Nashville. 3. Youth workers starting to arrive at registration. 4. One of my fellow volunteers, Dan. 5. Stage being set up. 6. Heather and Karen doing some serious Resource Center work - getting stuff ready to bag the freebies. 7. Youth workers signing up for Compassion sponsorship. 8. Giving away the freebie bags before the 4th session. 9. Arena full of youth workers. 10. Zamboni Crossing (need I say more). 11. Crowder leading worship. 12. Starfield leading worship. 13/14. Doing my part to write one verse in the Bible Across America. 15. Mike Pilavachi sharing his version of some of Jesus' miracles. 16. Worshipers. 17. Working in the Resource Center. 18. Breakfast with the convention staff on Monday. 19/20. Adam doing his podcast thing. 21-23. Packing up the Resource Center and saying "goodbye" to other volunteers. 24. View from the elevator going down, marking a close to the convention.






























Saturday, November 29, 2008

Planned Parenthood Gift Certificates

While driving home, I heard a report about Planned Parenthood now offering gift certificates. After a little searching, I found this article from a newspaper in Indiana on the issue. I am a big fan of gift certificates, but this is a bit too far. Here is the reasoning behind them...

"People are making really tough decisions about putting gas in their car and food on their table, so we know that many women especially put healthcare at the bottom of their list to do," said Chrystal Struben-Hall, Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Indiana.
Further down the article it mentions that the gift certificates can be used for abortions, if that is what the young lady wants to use it for. That is not the intention, but there are not restrictions on what the certificates can be used toward.

I hope this does not take off in Indiana and then to other states.

What do you think? Should it be addressed in your youth ministry? What (if anything) should the church/youth ministry do in response to these gift certificates?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Other 364 Days of Thanksgiving

Being thankful is hard for some people and its difficult at certain times. Being thankful is not limited to one day in November, either. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you have the right to be thankful every day of the year.

Being thankful is not about the situation or circumstance you find yourself in. To only be thankful when things are going well is a rather narrow, self-centered and shallow understanding of God and your role in the world.

Thanksgiving should be a way of life. Yet, for many people it is not. For many years I was one of those people who was only thankful when things were going well. It was just easier for me.

1 Thes. 5.18 says "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Really, all circumstances? Being thankful in every circumstance can be challenging, to say the least.

In the last year, I have been around one person who has taught me something about being thankful about anything and everything; my 4 year old. There is one specific thing he does which always serves as a reminder. He always starts his prayers with "thank you."

I'm not talking about a "thank you for our food" or a "thank you for my new toy." I'm talking about prayers like, "thank you that Grandma is not feeling well" or "thank you for our next house." He says a prayer of thanks for things that are going to happen (things he is trusting will happen because my wife and I tell him they will) and things that are happening, even though they are negative.

When he first started to say these prayers, I had a hard time not being emotional. How amazing is it to hear a child pray for someone's sickness or for God's provision. He trusts God to be able to handle and provide. He thinks God is concerned. He thanks God in his prayers for the things going on in his life.

I want to be like my son, able to thank God for every aspect of my life. And I pray you do too. God does, too - "give thanks in all circumstances"

When you have trouble being thankful, take a moment to stop and think about a few things. First, think about what it means to have a Savior who loves you enough to die in your place. Second, think about what your future would be without the hope of eternity in Heaven. Third, stop and take a breath. Now, thank God for the breath of life. Fourth, adjust your outlook.

Do not limit your thanksgiving to just one day a year.

Photo Friday: NYWC Resource Center

The place I spent most of my time at the National Youth Workers Convention - the YS Resource Center. A lot of good conversations were had in this space.

NYWC '08: Monday

Monday was a 1/2 day at the National Youth Workers Convention. But it was just as full as the other days.

A lot of my day was spent tearing down the Resource Center and helping to turn it back into a big open room. This is always a sad part of the week for me, because it means that all of the youth workers are going back home.

This year, the tear down was different. I had a lot of last day conversations with people. I finally got to meet some youth workers for the first time in person - Josh Cook, for example. And it felt like I was leaving behind a lot more friends/family as I left.

In our morning staff breakfast meeting, we shared about what we were leaving with. There was a good amount of tears and laughs. It is always fun to hear how God has touched each person during the week, as we serve. And this year, there was some healing that took place. Other people received hope or assurance.

I was glad to be leaving, heading back home to see my family. But, a part of me wanted to stay at the convention (to stay on the mountain) with everyone else. I will truly miss everyone with whom I worked. I wish they could all come back home and at least live in the same area/town. But, that isn't how the Kingdom works, is it?

(Thanks to technology, it is easy than ever to stay in contact with my fellow volunteers, youth workers, and YS staff.)

I did not leave the National Youth Workers Convention with all of the answers I wanted. I did not leave with a clear plan of what the future holds. I did leave with more than I came with. I did leave with an assurance that as long as I'm following God and trusting Him, I am right where I need to be.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #97: Denali National Park

answer #96 - day 4

question #97 - In which U.S. state is Denali National Park and Preserve located?

Monday, November 24, 2008

NYWC '08: Sunday

Sunday is the last full day of the convention. So a lot of people are pretty tired by this point. I can tell this from all of the people who seemed to be skipping out on sessions and just sitting around. I think it was probably the best thing for them to do. There are definite times where the best thing to do spiritually is to just sit. I pray that no one goes home tired, but rather refreshed and encouraged.

Here is the quick rundown of my day on Sunday (again in no particular order):
1. Sad that I had a couple conversations with people today who have recently lost their jobs. I know what they are going through and my heard breaks for them.
2. At the same time, I love to talk with youth workers. It is one of the best things about the NYWC.
3. I got to make it to the Twitterer/blogger meet-up today for lunch. Though I could only stay for part of it, it was really good to see some of the online friends in person.
4. Some of the people I've met today (sorry if I forget you): Shawn Michael, Brian Senecal, Eli Roogles.
5. I got to have a really great dinner with Andy Brazelton (@outsideallday) and Chris Davis (@crd55). Both great guys. Dinner also included a some of the fine people who work with HomeWord.
6. I got to write a verse (1 Sam. 14.37) in the Zondervan Bible Across America. It was cool to know that I was a part of something that big and there are so many different people who are handwriting a verse at a time.
7. The Skit Guys were just hilarious today.
8. Mike Pilavachi had some great words of encouragement. God wants to use the broken & Do not give up. Discipleship takes time.
9. (This one will sound like a broken record, but its true and its part of my day). I really miss my family. My daughter smiled and cooed when I talked to her on the phone today - just about broke my heart. I am ready to drive home tomorrow and see them.
10. This year feels different. It's not a bad different, just different. I'll have to take a few days/weeks to really process and determine what it is.


I'll try to put up a Monday recap by Tuesday night. And within the next week or so I'm going to post a NYWC in pictures. Not everything, but a few of the ones I've remembered to take.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

NYWC '08: Saturday

I thought Friday was crazy, well Saturday was even crazier.


Here are some quick thoughts:

1. I helped set up the YM Women Luncheon. Women in youth ministry do not get enough acknowledgment. Thank you!!!! (that goes out to all of the women who are in youth ministry)
2. Finally hooked up with Gavin Richardson.
3. I got to talk to Andy Thompson (tydna on twitter). I met his wife before I got to meet him, because she is also a volunteer - so I've been working with her since Tuesday.
4. I got to have a great lunch with a friend, Scott Williams. Some really good conversation - stuff that makes me think.
5. I love my family!!! While talking to my wife, she told me about a situation they had at the grocery store. My oldest son accidentally knocked off some price tags and had to tell one of the store employees about it (a big lesson on responsibility for him). He did it, though he was a little shy. I was so proud of him.
6. I missed the general session with Mark Yaconelli. Before you comment about how foolish that was, I already know I missed a great message. I was planning on going, but ended up helping a friend out instead. So it was totally worth missing out to serve.
7. I am tired.
8. Had a fun time running through the exhibit hall with some friends - picking up some swag :)
9. Got a chance to experience some of the worship (with Lincoln Brewster). I needed it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

NYWC '08: Friday

Friday was day #1 for a majority of the youth workers. Day #4 for me :)

Here is a rundown of the high points from the day, from my perspective (again, in no particular order)...

1. I got to see some old friends. Ones I didn't know where going to be here.
2. I met/talked with Mark Matlock in the green room. Good times.
3. I almost talked with Gavin Richardson a few times, but was really unable to stop to have an actual conversation.
4. God spoke through my reading in Exodus today. It is always good to hear from God. :)
5. There were 2 great general sessions today - though I need to listen to the messages again
6. I did finally get to meet Adam McClane. (no further comment - hehe)
7. I had a good conversation with my family on the phone - I really miss them!
8. I didn't get much sleep last night, but I suspect that will be pretty normal for the rest of the week.


I know that was brief and somewhat sporadic, but that is really how my brain is functioning right now. Tomorrow, I will have up some thoughts on today (Saturday) and maybe they will be a little more developed - maybe not.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Pre-NYWC: Thursday

Thursday was the day that the critical concerns started and people started showing up in more numbers. It was a constant blur as people were coming in and getting ready for a great weekend.

A few highlights from my day (in no particular order):

1. Met Jasper Rains and his family. Had a good, but brief, conversation about life, ministry and rental cars.
2. Got to talk with Tim, a guy I met last year. We caught up on how ministry is going since last year. It is really crazy to think about what a year can bring. It was fun to walk around and talk and meet some of the people he came with.
3. Met a lot of youth workers. Some brand new to ministry, some veterans, part-timers, volunteers. I love youth workers - they rock!
4. Went to dinner at 9pm. On a Thursday night, a lot of downtown food places close by 9pm. So we ended up in an Irish Pub. Got some live music, good food and a great conversation. The cold walk back to the convention center was not fun at all.
5. Got to hear Johnny Parks and Robbie Seay. Good music.

Photo Friday: Spider

Just a simple photo of a spider. Though I do not like spiders, I cannot look at one and not be in awe of God's creativity and wisdom when He created animals.

(this is the last picture this spider ever took)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pre-NYWC: Wednesday

Today is day 2 of set up for the convention. All I can say is that I am excited for the weekend. For me, this pre-convention set up might be just as encouraging as the actual convention. so, I'm having a blast. And as we set up, I can say that the weekend is going to be amazing. There are some awesome things in store for the thousands of youth workers who will be attending.

If you'll be here in Nashville, stop by the Resource Center and say "hi" - I'll be working all week.

What else to say about the convention without giving anything away? I'll just add one thing...

The YS staff truly desire to make sure you (the local youth worker) get to connect with God and hear from Him. That is their heart and goal. I pray you can do that, too. If you are coming to the convention, may you hear God speak to you in just the way you need it.

Trivia Wednesday #96: Creation

answer #95 - weight

question #96 - On which day did God create the sun, moon and stars?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Youth Pastors in a Negative Light

I'm reading through Signature Sins by Michael Mangis (a review will be posted in the future) and came to the chapter on Gender, Family and Sin when something grabbed my attention. In order to try and not lose any of the context, I'm going to post the entire paragraph, then I'll talk about what bothered me and why.

"Several years ago my (Mangis) friend and colleague Cynthia Neal Kimball and I surveyed college women about unwanted sexual experiences. The women wrote their stories anonymously. Although we read some accounts of date rape and sexual abuse, more than half of the stores were accounts that we came to call stories of the 'lost voice.' The women recounted being with men who did not overpower them in any literal way yet left them feeling violated. The men in the stories were often youth pastors or other figures who held powerful roles in the women's lives. These women wrote things such as 'NO! was running through my mind but I just couldn't say it till afterwards' and 'I couldn't say no to a guy even thought I knew I should. I was not forced to do anything - I just didn't have the strength to say no.' The women seldom blamed the men or spoke of themselves as victims. Instead they described feeling confused and ashamed that they could find themselves in such a situation and not know how to get out." (emphasis added)
I am upset with the numerous accounts (high percentage?) of unwanted sexual experiences by the women surveyed. But what bothered me more was the fact that youth pastors had a role in those stories. I am not naive about the struggle many (all?) youth pastors have to stay sexually pure. And I have heard of youth pastors who have been inappropriate with a student. It is not new to me, yet it saddens me every time I hear about it.

I hope that youth pastors would just stop this kind of stupid behavior.

This is one of the reasons why I have certain "rules" for one-on-one interaction with female students. (and if you are a female youth worker, just switch "female" for "male" in these rules)

#1. I am never alone with a female (student or adult)
#2. If I am driving students home and one is a female, she will be dropped off before the guys. (goes with #1)
#3. Always allow a female youth coach to do the counseling of female students (when it is not possible, limit discussion as much as possible and talk in a public place).

#4. I tell my wife about all conversations I have with females, there is no need for there to be any secrecy or suspicion.
#5. If my wife is not home and a female student stops by, I will either talk to them right inside and stay by the open windows or talk to them outside on the porch. (or I'll politely tell them my wife is not home and see if they can come back at a later time)

#6. Make sure the students and adults understand your stance on this issue.


What about you? What do you do to keep yourself accountable and prevent this from happening to one of your female students?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A lot on my mind

I've got a lot on my mind the last couple weeks. Some things are good, some are bad and some are just middle-of-the-road. So, here they are. I would appreciate some prayer on some. Thanks.

1. My brother-in-law's mom passed away this past week.
2. I leave on Tuesday (11/18) for Nashville to help set up for the NYWC.
3. My wife goes in on Monday (11/17) to have minor surgery.
4. I cherish one-on-one time with my kids a lot these days.
5. It have been 6 months this Wed. (11/19) since my last day at my previous ministry.
6. I am antsy to get back into full-time youth ministry.
7. I am excited about the possibilities that await at the NYWC.
8. God has been amazingly good to my family over the last 6 months.
9. I am confident that God will take care of our daily needs (emphasis on the daily part)
10. I hurt for my friends in ministry who are hurting or struggling.
11. I have been encouraged by the family-like atmosphere of Twitter.
12. I have the best wife in the world.
13. Have I mentioned that I'm ready to be back in full-time ministry.
14. I am thankful that I can be involved in the middle school ministry at the church we are attending.
15. I am thankful for all the friends, who act like family, who have been so willing to help us this past week and this next week. It is nice to have a family away from our family.
16. God is so much bigger than anything that I encounter. He can handle all the stuff I can't.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NYWC '08: How to Get the Most From it

Recently, I had a friend ask me for some advice on how to make the most out of the convention. He is only going to be able to be there Thursday to Saturday and wanted to know if I had any insight on how to make the most of it. I thought I would take what I shared with him and expand it a little and post it here for anyone who might be going to the NYWC for the first time or who might just need some new ideas.


How to get the most from your time at the NYWC:

1. If you can afford it, take a Critical Concerns Course
2. Go to a class on something you need to do better within your ministry.
3. Listen to a teacher/speaker you normally wouldn't listen to.
4. Buy the mp3's to classes you don't make it to (not all of them, of course.)
5. If needed: sign up for a spiritual director or ministry consultant - or both.
6. Take time to quietly spend with God. Two convention offered options would be the labyrinth and the prayer room.
7. Go to lunch/dinner with a youth worker you do not know.
8. Take a nap, or two.... every day.
9. Encourage another youth worker.
10. Most of all, do not be worried about sticking to the schedule. Do what you need to do to get the most out of the convention.

Photo Friday: Corn Maze Path

This was taken in a local corn maze. I like the contrast you get beaten the beaten path and the dry corn on either side.

As you look at this picture think about your ministry, your students, your family... Are you traveling down the path that many others have before you? Or are you willing to venture into the unknown and untraveled to find a new way out?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #95: Isotopes

answer #94 - camel

question #95 - Isotopes have the same atomic number but a different atomic...what?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NYWC '08: Anticipation (2 of 2)

This is part 2 (6-10) of my list of anticipations about going to Nashville, TN for the National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC) put on by Youth Specialties (YS). You can see part 1 (1-5) that was posted earlier.


6. Being challenged by God.
This will be my 5th convention to work at and my 8th one total (I think). And each time I go, I am challenged in new ways. This week of the year becomes like a week of camp or retreat for me - a time to get away and unplug from a lot of the stuff I deal with daily and connect with God.

I arrive at the convention with at least one big thing on my heart, something I am struggling with or an area in which I need to grow. If I make it a point to quiet myself and listen to God, I always hear what I need to.

7. Helping/encouraging fellow youth workers.
I absolutely love this part of the week. It is such an honor to be able to encourage someone who is struggling to see just how important they are and how important their ministry is to the Kingdom. There are so many youth workers who go through seasons where it seems like no one appreciates what they do or how much they put into their ministry. There are also those youth ministers who just seem to be going through a rough time in their ministry and feel like it would be easier to just get out. It is so encouraging to be able to help people remember they are not the only ones struggling and to remember why God called them to ministry in the first place.

8. Laughing a lot.
Whether its the skits, hanging out in the store, at a meal or just talking to another youth worker - there are plenty of laughs to go around.

9. Praising God with thousands of other youth workers.
Getting together with a couple thousand youth workers to worship God is just amazing. Hearing people sing with all of their hearts, unreserved, is an amazing sound to the ear. For me, the only thing better than hearing everyone sing is watching the crowd worship. Some people stand with hands raised, some are sitting, some will kneel. Just seeing the expressions of praise can bring a tear to your eye.

Over the 7 sessions, the worship leaders will be: Starfield, Lincoln Brewster, and the David Crowder Band.

10. If its anything close to what I've heard from the first two conventions, it will be an amazing week.
I've been able to hear about the first two (Sacramento and Pittsburgh) through following the liveblogging, reading blogs and following people on Twitter. And from what I have heard, both of the conventions were amazing. So, I'm looking forward to this one in Nashville.


Those are my anticipations for the NYWC, do you have any? Add a comment and let us know what you are expecting or hope to experience.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NYWC '08: Anticipation (1 of 2)

In just over a week, I'll be in Nashville, TN starting to help set up for the National Youth Workers Convention (NYWC) put on by Youth Specialties (YS). With each convention I go to, there are always things I anticipate and I thought I might share those with you. This is part 1 (1-5) of my anticipations...



Reasons I'm looking forward to the NYWC: (in no particular order)
1. Zaxby's
This has nothing to do with the actual convention, but its been 2 years since I've had Zaxby's and I really like it. The route I'll be taking from here to Nashville is the same route we took from GA to here for visits and to move - so I know exactly where one is along the way. Let's just say I'll be stopping by on the way down and the way home. Unfortunately, there are no locations in Nashville.

If you get a chance to stop by and enjoy Zaxby's, might I recommend the Big Zax Snak Meal (chicken fingers, texas toast, fries, and zax sauce).

2. Connecting with old friends
One of the great things about a conference like NYWC is the ability to connect with friends who do not live close. In the past, I've been able to see friends from college and catch up. Being able to hear what happened after graduation is encouraging. I've also been able to connect with people I met at an earlier convention. The NYWC is like a reunion of sorts.

The other group I am excited to see again are the friends I have at YS and the other returning volunteers. It is always a highlight to get to spend long hours "working" during the week to just laugh, think, grow, and share. For me, these friendships are better than those camp friendships you made at summer camp over the years. I know I'll have a blast just hanging out.

3. Meeting "online" friends
I have youth ministry friends whom I have never met in person and this week will be a chance to meet a few of them. There are friends from twitter (some people would call them tweeps). There are Facebook friends. There are YMX friends (though some of these friends have migrated to other areas of online friendship). And there are those people I have met through this blog or other youth ministry blogs.

Last year, I got to meet a few online friends at the St. Louis convention, which was pretty cool. I don't know what to expect this year, but I have been more intentional about trying to connect at the convention. I must admit, I think its pretty awesome that the youth ministry world is so much "smaller" thanks to the internet.

4. Hearing stories from youth workers about what God is doing.
I love listening to other people share their stories. Hearing the stories of God transforming students. Hearing about how God is stretching and challenging youth workers. This is part of the week that I can never fully anticipate. No matter how much I "expect" to hear some great stories, I am always blown away with the extent of what God is doing.

5. Being challenged by general session speakers.
The general sessions are like church services; filled with announcements, videos, drama, mini concerts, praise & worship, speakers, prayer and some greeting. These 7 sessions are the only times most of the attendees are all together in the same place, doing the same thing. It is at times overwhelming.

I'm looking forward to speakers like Francis Chan, Mike Pilavachi, Andrew Marin, and Marko (we'll see if we get an all new message this time).


I can't wait to see what God has in store for this week. And if you are going to the NYWC in Nashville, I'd love to connect. Leave a comment or find me elsewhere online and let me know.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Photo Friday: Mortie & Ferdie Mouse

This picture is in honor of one of the recent trivia questions. Before I saw this book, I had never known Mickey Mouse's nephews. I don't think I even realized he had nephews.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

a bike ride and a lesson on trust

I went on a bike ride with my oldest son (4 yo) the other day. It was just him and I. We started out the same way we usually go, but at our first turn I asked him if he wanted to go right instead of left. He thought that would be good, so we went right. It was a fun ride with him, and he was doing great. He was doing most of the peddling himself, I only helped push him a few times.

As we made our next turn, Nathan was telling me that he was scared to ride down this street because it had a rather big hill. He does not like hills very much on his bike, which I understand completely. I was trying to reassure him that I was going to be there with him the whole time and I would stop his bike if I needed to. As we continued to ride closer to the hill, he started to get anxious about what was going to happen. I started to remind him that I was going to be there the whole time with him, when he interrupted me and said something that completely shocked me (and made me start to cry).

He said, "Dad, I know you are watching over me and you'll protect me, but I'm still scared."

He had just stated to me the same feelings I have been having toward God lately. My son's words were honest and real. He has heard me tell him over and over that I'm going to be there for him. He has heard me tell him that he can trust me. And over and over, I have been there
for him. I have picked him up when he's fallen or caught him before he did. Yet, as he is growing up and learning to do more things independently he still has fears. He is experiencing life in new and unfamiliar ways and knowing I'll be there for him helps, but it does not take away his fear.

I loved the honesty with which he uttered the sentence. It was not something he had practiced. It was not something he had even thought about. It was an honest response to his dad, in a particular situation he found himself in. I sometimes wish I was that honest with God.

I believe that sentence is the very sentence I need to be saying to God every day. Right now, my life is rather unpredictable. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. I do not know how things will work out financially. I do not know when I'll get that phone call I've been waiting for. But there is one thing I do know for sure - God is faithful.

God, I know You are watching over me and will protect me, but I'm still scared.


(even as I type this post I am tearing up)

Free PDF Book: 13 Ways to Ruin Your Life by Jarrod Jones

Looking for another book that is geared toward teenage guys? Jarrod Jones has just released on with that audience in mind - 13 Ways to Ruin Your Life. It deals with sexual temptation and offers advice on how to deal with it.

Go to this website to download a free copy of the book in PDF - 13 Ways to Ruin Your Life

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #94: desert animals

answer #93 - Green Bay Packers. (SBI - 35-10 over the Chiefs, SBII - 33-14 over the Raiders)

question #94 - Which animal is known as the "Ship of the Desert"?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

to quote someone else: Lynne Ellis (preparing students)

"How might God be preparing your students to be world Christians after they graduate?"

taken from Mission Trips: From Start to Finish by Lynne Ellis, with Doug Fields


As youth workers, I think this is a question we need to be asking ourselves on a regular basis.

As you plan your year - ask this question.
As you think about the incoming freshmen - ask this question.
As you plan your lessons - ask this question.
As you put together your next retreat - ask this question.

What do you see God doing in the lives of your students today to prepare them for their future?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Photo Friday: Cubs Pumpkin

Today is Halloween, so I had to repost this picture of our Cubs pumpkin.


I posted pictures of it from start to finish a few weeks ago, go here to see the progression from pumpkin to awesome Jack-O-Lantern.


And here is a picture of what it looked like last night. The poor pumpkin didn't even make it to Halloween (got tossed in the trash this morning). I like to say it had more to do with the freezes than the fact that it was a Cubs pumpkin.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Presidental Campaign TV Ad Spending Baffles Me


As I was skimming some online articles last night, I came across this graphic on the left. I'm just baffled by the numbers on the left of the chart.

Did both Presidential campaigns really spend over $275 million on TV ads alone? What kind of money was spent on print ads, stickers, buttons, signs, billboards....?

I think it is sad that this is what it means to run for a government office. If you can raise more money then the odds are that you will get more votes. Not to mention the fact that this money could have been used to do so much more for America than fill our commercial breaks with attack ads (and this is just for President).

What would happen if at least some of the campaign money was spent on something useful? What if it went to help rebuild homes, feed the hungry, increase teachers salaries, support local community programs?

But that will never happen. We, as Americans, are too stuck on ourselves to really help out others. At least, not with our own money.

I hope that someday this might change. I hope that someday Americans will realize there is enough "wealth" in this country to allow each person to have a decent life. We don't need to "borrow" (or print more) money do what needs to be done.

I don't normally write about politics, but this just always bothers me. What do you think? Am I way off here? Could this ever change?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #93: Super Bowl 1 & 2

answer #92 - Mortie & Ferdie

question #93 -Which team won both Super Bowl I and II?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Going unnoticed by your spouse

With that title, you would think this was going to be a post about how our marriages can slowly split apart or how one spouse feels neglected and under appreciated. But that is not the direction I am going with this one. I'm talking about serving your spouse on a daily basis without drawing attention to it.

Marriage is a wonderful institution.
A good marriage takes both spouses giving 100%.
A good marriage is not always easy.
A good marriage takes sacrifice.
A good marriage takes effort.
A good marriage takes going unnoticed.

Going unnoticed is about doing things for your spouse without expecting to be seen or acknowledged. This is a valuable part of a good marriage. Yet, it something that can be very difficult to accomplish. Like other areas of your life, you probably like to receive a little praise when you do something good. Everyone likes a "pat on the back" recognition for their behavior, even when it is not above and beyond what is expected.

Stop for a minute and think over the last week. How many times have you done something and waited for some form of affirmation from your spouse. Maybe it was taking the trash out, clearing your spot at the table, helping put the kids to bed, driving your kids around to sporting events or just being home on time. None of these tasks are extra special - most people would say they are regularly expected in a marriage. But if you are like me, there are times you do these tasks and want your spouse to notice. It's not that you wouldn't do them without recognition, its just nice to receive.

But I want to argue that it is far better to strive to go unnoticed. When you strive to go unnoticed by your spouse, you are taking a step toward being more like Christ. When Jesus healed, He did not heal for recognition. He was not serving the people, so that He could get a pat on the back or a thank you note. Ultimately, He served people because He loved them and wanted to meet a need.

What can you do in your marriage to go unnoticed? I've got 10 ideas to get you started.

10 Ways to Serve Your Spouse & Go Unnoticed:
1. Clean up the table after a meal.
2. Take the trash outside.
3. Clean up the bathroom sink after you brush your teeth.
4. Keep the toilet seat down (men) or up (women).
5. Wash the dishes.
6. Do a load of laundry, including folding and putting away.
7. Vacuum the floors.
8. Fix those little household projects without letting them build up.
9. Keep the finances up to date (pay the bills on time, keep track of your budget).
10. Be thankful for the things he/she does for you

You may read that list and think if you did any of them you would most certainly get noticed by your spouse. Well, here is the secret (in my opinion) to doing these things and going unnoticed by your spouse. You need to do them regularly and without drawing attention to them. At first, it may be a big attention getter, but the more you do it the more it goes unnoticed. And ultimately, that is the key - to love your spouse enough to serve him/her on a daily basis. There may be weeks that go by without hearing anything from your spouse about your actions. I think you want these actions to become normal and expected. You do not need extra praise or acknowledgment, because that is not the reason you do it in the first place.

Next time you do something for your spouse - don't do it to get noticed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Help! I'm a Frustrated Youth Worker, NYWC, and me

So, recently I was looking through the YS catalog and was surprised by one of the books coming out in early 2009. I'm not surprised YS is publishing the book or the content of the book - I think it is a much needed resource. I am surprised by the title/author combination and my connection to it.

A couple years ago, while setting up at the NYWC in Atlanta, I got to talk a little bit with Steve Case. He was helping us set up the bookstore before the convention. While we were working together one day, talking about some of the books. I made a comment about how they needed to add a book to the "Help!" line about how to deal with all the frustration/junk that youth ministers go through. I probably said something along the lines of how I thought Steve should write it. We spent some time coming up with titles for the book - most of which were not going to make it to the final version.

Fast forward to today. There is now such a book and Steve is the author. Maybe I'll get some mention in the forward or something. Or just maybe this post will be the only mention of my connection to this book. Either way, I'll probably pick it up and read it.

You have written a much needed book Steve Case, I just wish I would have actually done the writing of it first - like I wanted to. :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Photo Friday: Birthday Cake With Candles

This was my birthday cake from last week. Notice that most of the candles are lit (I think at one point all of them were actually lit) and some of the candles were melting wax onto the cake.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Free Taco - A Must for Youth Workers

You may not think of this as a youth ministry related post, but it is. Here is the deal:




Thanks to a stolen base last night in game 1 of the World Series, Taco Bell is giving everyone in America a free taco next Tuesday (10/28) from 2-6pm (local time). So if you go to Taco Bell, you can get a free taco. I know its not a full meal, but its free and its "Mexican" food.

How to use the free taco in a youth ministry-type way:
1. Use the free taco giveaway as an excuse to take a student to Taco Bell to talk.
2. Take some students to Taco Bell, then take the free tacos and give them away to some person/people who could use some free food.
3. When you order, tell the cashier to give your free taco to the person behind you.
4. Call your local Taco Bell and ask if there is anything your youth ministry can do to help them during that time (ie. clean the tables, take the trash out, make some tacos)
5. Move your small group to Tuesday night, sometime after school til 6pm. Everyone gets a free taco and a new atmosphere for small group.


bonus - go to Taco Bell, order a water with your free taco. Then sit down and use Taco Bell's free wifi for a few hours to "work".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #92: Mickey Mouse's nephews

answer #91 - Chicago, IL (Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, White Sox, Cubs) - New York City, NY* (Giants, Jets, Yankees, Mets, Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Devils, Islanders) - San Francisco, CA* (49ers, Raiders, A's, Giants, Warriors, Sharks)

question #92 - What are the names of Mickey Mouse's two nephews?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cubs Jack-O-Lantern: Start to Finish

Last night, we carved our first pumpkin as a family. We decided to do a double-sided pumpkin. One side was the Cubs logo and the other side was a face (designed by my oldest son). I did the photography and videography, so all of the carving was done by my wife - and she did a great job.

I thought I would share our Jack-O-Lantern, in pictures, from start to finish