Friday, February 29, 2008

A 3 year old and money

The other day, we were out shopping as a family. The had each gotten some money, so we told them they could spend it while we were out. The first place we went, that had toys, Wes picked up some sea creature toys. Nathan almost picked up some western toys. We told Nathan that we had a big day of shopping ahead of us and that he didn't have to get anything right away. He said he really liked them, so we got them. Then we told him that if he wanted to wait to open them, he could return them if he liked something else.

A little while later, we were at another store. Nathan wanted to look at the toys to see if there was anything he liked better. While in the car aisle, he found this truck and trailer set he really liked. So we told him if he got the truck then we'd have to take the western toys back. He wasn't too happy about it, but decided he wanted the truck. (We tried not to convince him to not get the truck and trailer, he already has toys like it and doesn't have many western toys.)

It was tough to not "make" him buy what we wanted him to buy.

Fast forward, just a bit, to the post-toy aisles. We were walking down the tool aisle and I could see that Nathan was getting upset. I knelt down to talk to him and he just started to cry. I asked him what was wrong. He told me he wanted to get truck, but still wanted the western toys. He even told me it was a hard decision. (at this point I started to tear up) I reassured him Amy and I knew it was a tough decision and wanted to help. We stood there in the aisle for at least 5 minutes. Near the end of our conversation, Nathan made this statement - "I want to get both of them, but I know I can't." He was really struggling with what he wanted and what he could get. And it was a struggle he had to figure out.

At that point, he decided on the truck. But ultimately, he ended up with a bike horn and construction set.

The whole process made me rethink my wants/desires. What Amy and I do with our money (how we spent it, what we spend it on...) is an example to our boys about money management. For Nathan and Wes, a lot of their spending and saving habits will come from watching Amy and I handle our money.

New Poll: Are you planning a spring break trip with your students?

With Spring Break right around the corner, lets find out how many people are planning a trip with their students.

Here are your options:

  1. yes
  2. no
  3. they don't get a spring break
  4. the dates for all the schools do not match up, so no
If you are taking a trip, let us know where to by leaving a comment.

Photo Friday: 228

its close to today's date. And it is otherwise known as the regularly scheduled last day of the month. :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poll Results: What lesson material do you use?

It seems like readers of this blog are prone to writing their own curriculum. That is, according to the poll from last week.

Everyone who voted (all 3 of you) said you write your own material.

I'll assume that at times you also use/modify curriculum on some level. Or you might if you have others who do a share of the teaching.

Discussion Starter: School suspends student for mohawk

An Ohio school suspends student for mohawk, after two warnings. Its a short article, but it says a lot about how some parents parent.

Listen to this quote from the end of the article:

Rather than request a hearing to appeal the suspension, Barile (the mom) said she'll enroll him at another school. Changing the hairstyle is not an option, she said.

"It's something that he really likes," Barile said. "When people hear Mohawk, they think it's long, it's spiked, it's crazy looking, and it's really not."

"Changing the hairstyle is not an option." Strong words. Is she taking it too far? Did the school go too far? I wonder what the boy thinks about all of this.

Use this to start discussion on respecting authority, rules, conforming, being different, facing a problem, running away from problems, outer appearance

Trivia Wednesday #58: One-Room school house

answer #57 - honey

question #58 - Most one-room school houses were painted which color?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SNL clip with one great piece of money management advice

Watch this clip. It has some good advice. Don't buy stuff you can't afford.

Monday, February 25, 2008

a weekend project to work on with one of your students

(I've been finding/hearing about a good number of fun Twitter apps and stuff lately and will most likely put a lot of them together in one post. But this one deserves a post of its own)

Are you looking for a good project to work on with one of the students in your ministry? Are you looking for something that will waste a lot of your time? If so, keep reading.

I don't do well with plants. I do not have a green thumb. In fact, we do not have any plants in our house right now, nor do we have any outside. Even with my shortcomings when it comes to keeping plants alive, I doubt I would go to this trouble. has a DIY for getting your plant to send you a tweet on Twitter when it needs water and a thanks when you water it. Wow, it seems like a lot more work than just checking the soil every day or so with your finger. Here is a list of the stuff you need to do this:

1) awesome plant


(1) 2N2222A or 2N3904 transistor
(1) 100 ohm resistor

(1) 10K Ohm resistor

(1) LED

(2) galvanized nails, preferably hot dipped

(1) small breadboard

(1) Adafruit Xport shield

(1) XPort or Xport Direct

(1) Arduino USB board

(1) 9V DC power adapter

hook up wire in assorted colors


USB A to B cable

USB A to miniB cable

USB Serial FTDI adapter (optional)

Ethernet cable


soldering iron

helping hands

computer with ZTerm or HyperTerminal, Arduino
Twitter account
Here is a picture of the final product. And remember if you have a few extra hours to waste this weekend, you'll want to try this DIY. Oh, and for those in youth ministry, don't forget to call one of your students to help you with this project (now that would be a memory they would never forget)

Or, if you don't want to go to all this trouble, here are a few other suggestions. Send yourself a weekly email to check your plants (via Or write a note. You could even just make sure each Monday you check your plants (add it to your todo list). But then again, I could just be too old-fashioned and reluctant to use technology to its fullest.

Teens Lie to their parents

Here is an article from the New Yorker on how teens learn to lie to their parents. Here is the first paragraph:

Kids lie early, often, and for all sorts of reasons—to avoid punishment, to bond with friends, to gain a sense of control. But now there’s a singular theory for one way this habit develops: They are just copying their parents.

Its an interesting article, well worth the time to read. Kind of makes you think about the example you are setting for the students in the youth ministry, or it should.

(gracias a PlanetWisdom)

Friday, February 22, 2008 add photos to your Twitter Tweets is a place to upload pictures to Twitter. A fun little thing to add a bit of color (and sometimes explanation) to your Tweets. Its not too hard to set up. If you want the pictures to show up on twitter, you need to go to your settings and give twitxr permission (ie your twitter screenname and password).

It posts a link in your twitter update to your twitxr account. Though I'm having some trouble getting my text to show up along with the picture.

Photo Friday: Jesus and an Orange Car

I found this photo while going through some pictures on the computer this week. The car looks like my old '76 Pontiac Ventura (my had a soft top, though).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Quote of the Day: Texting

"I hate the talk on the cell phone. I don't like it when I have to call someone instead of texting them. The reason I have the phone is to text."

spoken by a student today during a conversation at lunch. I'm hearing statements like this from a lot of the students I talk to. It doesn't matter if it is a middle schooler or a high schooler - they are all on their phones texting. Are you hearing the same thing from your students?

123 Meme

Patti tagged me for this meme. I think it might actually be the first time I've been tagged for a meme. Here goes...

Here are the rules for this fun little bit of Internet foolishness:

  • Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more (no cheating!)
  • Find page 123
  • Find the first five sentences
  • Post the next three sentences
  • Tag five people

I've got over a dozen books within arm reach right now. The closest one to me (being that it is on top of a stack) is Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die or (the eschatology of bluegrass) by David Crowder and Mike Hogan. (The title itself is 123 pages long)

Sentences 6-8
(Commence to animatedly slapping me, classic Ren & Stimpy style, while calling me an 'eediot.') Upon recovery, I would calmly smile, assert that everything is okay, that the real morsels of this little venture are still on their way, and then direct you to this lovely definition of bluegrass by author and historian Neil V. Rosenberg: Bluegrass is part of country music; it originated with Bill Monroe and his band, the Blue Grass Boys, during the 1940's.
Wow, that was odd. First, let me just say that spilled over onto page 124. Second, man there are some long sentences in this book. Third, let us talk about how sentence six is a parenthetical sentence which also ends the first paragraph. Then the seventh sentence runs over to the next page and doesn't really end because it leads into a multi-sentence quote. (though I counted it as a complete sentence) All that to say, those three sentences together make almost no sense.

This section is taken from the 4th part of the history of bluegrass, in a chapter called "Definitions and Transitions or Gettin' All Academic on Y'all"

I know those three sentences are causing you to want to go out and read the book. If not, wait for my review to show up on this blog. The reason its so close to me is that I've been meaning to write a review of it for a couple months - maybe this will spur me on to actually doing it.

Anyway, the last part is that I'm supposed to tag 5 other people. So I'll tag Jeremy, William, Dr. W, Ben, Mike

Trivia Wednesday #57: Ancient Egypt

answer #56 - Chicago Tribune

question #57 - To ward off evil spirits, newborn babies of ancient Egypt were fed - water, grape juice or honey?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

to quote someone else: Gerald May (addictions)

"No matter how religious we may think we are, our addictions are always capable of usurping our concern for God."
taken from Addictions and Grace by Gerald May

A strong statement on the power of addictions; whether they are big or small. Its a great reminder to each of us to never let ourself think we are too "good" to fall victim.

New Poll: What lesson material do you use?

While I have been working on my upcoming Sunday School lessons, I started to wonder how you guys put your lessons together. Or better, what do you use for the material in your lessons? So that is the weekly question.

What lesson material do you use:

  1. I write my own
  2. We have a team that writes it
  3. I use curriculum, exactly as it is written
  4. I use curriculum, but I modify it to fit the class
Leave a comment and tell us the pros and cons to using a certain method. Have you used more than one and found one worked better for you? Does one method work better at certain times? Does it make a difference whether you are the one teaching or not?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Poll Results: Have you ever been part of a building program?

Not a lot of votes this time. But a good bit of helpful comments on the post. The results are still telling of the amount of building local congregations are a part of.

50% (2 people) have been involved as a minister
25% (1 person) has been involved, but not as a minister
25% (1 person) has not been involved in a building program

I'm a little surprised. Thanks for voting.

Howcast: a collection of how-to videos

Check out Howcast.

What is it? Here is an explanation from the site:

Founded by veterans of Google and YouTube, Howcast brings together the personality of user-generated content with the quality of a professional video studio to create engaging, informative, and free how-to videos for consumers. It also offers emerging filmmakers an opportunity to gain experience, exposure, and income. With high quality, compelling video content, Howcast opens new opportunities for viewers, video producers, content distributors, and advertisers.
There is quite a variety of videos on this site. You can find anything from cars, first aid (might be handy for the youth worker), gardening, house, kids, pets, holidays, and so many more. Here is one example: How to decorate your locker.

Some of the videos you may not want your students to watch. Like "How to sneak out of your house after curfew." "How to fake being sick."

Others are fun, "How to clean your braces." "How to shave your face." "How to house train your dog."

Know about traffic via twitter app Commuter Feed

Commuter Feed is a twitter application that you use to be notified of traffic in your area. Well, that is as long as you live in the areas on this list. If you do live in one of these areas, you can subscribe via twitter and update when you notice an accident or something affected traffic flow. Its worth a try for those who live in a bigger metro area. I don't think I'll need it in my small town of 2,000.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Youth Ministry Summit at CCU - March 6


BOOST Your Youth Ministry to Excellence
March 6, 2008, 9 am - 5:45 pm

Keynote Speaker:

Steve Carter (Mars Hill Bible Church, Grand Rapids, MI) - Speaking at the 10 a.m. chapel service, plus leading general session workshops: “Putting Together Dynamic Messages for Teens,” & “Recruiting Volunteers”

Other Youth Ministry Workshops led by:

Dick Alexander (Lifespring Christian Church, Cincinnati,OH)—“How to stay in youth ministry without losing your soul”

Michael Kast (Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY) “How to survive mistakes, blunders, slip-ups and temporary lapses of sanity.”

Adam Jones (Georgetown Church of Christ, Georgetown, OH), “Overhauling a student ministry.”

Mark Hancher (Kenwood Heights Christian Church, Louisville, KY) “Staff relationships”

Josh Lenon (Countryside Christian Church, Michigan City, IN) “Dealing with the highs and lows of adolescent relationship issues”

Costs: $49 ($59 after February 28, 2008)

Photo Friday: GloWorm

Enjoy this picture of a GloWorm. I think its a little bit artsy and a little bit scary. Did you ever have a GloWorm when you were little?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The struggling heart of a giver (1 of 3)

Our church is in a building expansion project. We have plans and have bids for building it. We just voted to continue with this project. I am excited about all of this and cannot wait to see how God is going to use the expansion in our community.

This will be the first building expansion campaign I have been apart of. My home church did one, after I left for college. The church I attended while in college did one, but I was gone for a lot of it (as it happened a lot over the summer). At my first full-time ministry we were in the beginning of an expansion/move/something when I left. So I've been involved with a few, from a distance. I've seen the benefits of an expansion. I've seen the difficulties that come with the process. But this part of the process has not weighed heavy on my heart. Like I said, I'm excited.

One thing has been heavy on my heart: the amount of money my family can (will) contribute to the expansion. We want to help as much as we can. I've been praying about it for at least 2 months (as I knew this day would come). A few weeks ago, the commitment cards were collected. I know you can give more or less than what you write down, but I didn't want to quickly write a number that can't be met or a number that is "easy" to reach.

Here is my struggle. For the weeks leading up to turning the cards in, I didn't feel like I had an answer to how much we can give over three years. The week before the cards were due, my wife and I sat down to talk more about it. I still didn't have an answer and felt a little frustrated that I didn't know. I felt (still do) particularly obligated to go big with my giving - I am the youth minister after all. I should have a lot of faith to step out and say "here's a months worth of grocery money." And have faith God will provide the food we needed.

I could not say that, though. I did not feel God was leading us to give up that kind of sacrifice. That is where my struggle was. I felt like I should have been able to do that. And I wanted to, at least part of me did. The other part of me wanted to be more practical. (more on the struggle in part 2)

Have you ever felt like you should be able to trust God more than you think you can?

The writer's strike is over

But does this mean we might start seeing less reality shows - I sure hope so.

In a few months we start seeing new episodes back on the air. Though not all of the shows will return. The Office will return! hehe

find The Office info here. Two important facts; the show will return April 10 and the first episode is titled Dinner Party.

Happy Valentine's Day Amy

I love you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #56: presidential election

answer #55 - 1,200 miles

question #56 -In 1948, which newspaper proclaimed Thomas Dewey winner over Harry Truman?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Need a tax deduction, try taking your brides as an exemption

Company Seeks Tax Exemption for Bribes

A company in JERUSALEM tried it. Here is the opening paragraph from the story:

Some companies request tax deductions for philanthropy, others for restaurants bills. But one Israeli business tried to push the envelope by asking to deduct nearly $860,000 it paid in kickbacks.
The court rejected it, thankfully. Read the rest of the story, here.

Jr. High overachiever, but at what

The other day, during class, I asked the students to write down some of their recent sins. I wanted them to be honest and open - knowing no one else was going to look at their paper. After thinking and writing for a little bit, they started stating how many they listed.

student 1 - I can only think of 3
student 2 - me too, that's all I got
student 3 - I've got 4. I'm an overachiever. (with enthusiasm in the voice)

This student wasn't thinking that having more sins than someone else may not be something to brag about.

Discussion Starter: car driven more than 1 mil miles

I thought we had driven a fair amount of miles in our Saturn (around 125,000). Well, this story puts me to shame.

Man's '91 Pickup Passes the 1M-Mile Mark

That is a lot of miles!

Use this story to spark discussion on dependability, regular check ups (just as important spiritually as they are mechanically), long term goals, staying focused, or reliability.

Would you still drive the church van if it had 1 mil miles?

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Poll: Have you ever been a part of a building program?

Due to the positive vote on Sunday, I am now part of a current building expansion program. To which I am really excited. I've been part of building programs before, sorta. My home church built on while I was in college. The church I went to in college built on, mostly during the summer while I was back home. My first ministry was in the process of building, but nothing happened beyond getting the rezoning for the land and then we were gone.

So, now I am in the beginning stages of what will be my first real building expansion program. I'm curious to how many of you, youth workers or others, who read this blog, have been involved with a building program. So that is my question.

Have you been a part of a building program?
Yes, as a minister
Yes, but not as a minister
Why would you want to build?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the whole process. Leave some hints, tips, advice, or whatever in the comments. Thanks

Poll Results: Would you rather be Bert or Ernie?

Well, the results are in and Bert gets no love - ok well a little.

25% (1 person) would rather be Bert
75% (3 people) would rather be Ernie

Maybe its the love of rubber duckies. Maybe its the pigeons. I don't know.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

We're expanding our building!

Today was the vote of approval to continue with our building expansion project. This was the one to say the congregation agrees with the elders that spending X amount of money is what we want to do.

As a congregation, we voted to continue. I'm excited to watch this process stretch, challenge, encourage, push and help us reach the community. I know its going to be a benefit to the student ministry and children's ministry. As well as just about every other ministry in the church. (The new kitchen will be nice :))

Now, all that praying we did over 36 hours needs to continue each and every day. I am sure God has some really big stuff in store for us and now we're one step closer to watching it happen.

Youth Ministry Resource: Group Text Messaging

Disclaimer: I do not have text messaging on my cell phone. There are a lot of students who do have it, but I don't. So I do not text them. Therefore, I cannot test this to see how well it works.

There is a site called Swaggle. Their tagline: Group text messaging, on-the-fly coordination. Looks like a good way to send a number of texts out at the same time. You can set up multiple groups and send a message to just one group by specifying that group. Or it will go to the default group if you don't specify.

If you use this, let me know how it works.

How do you get a group text message out to your students? How do you get mass messages to your students other than texting?

Friday, February 08, 2008

36 Hours of Prayer

Tonight, we started 36 hours of prayer at the church. This is leading up to our vote on Sunday to continue with our building expansion. I am excited about this prayer time at the church building.

I get to pray twice tonight. Each slot is a 1/2 hour long. I am scheduled for 11pm and 3am. Not sure exactly why I picked two slots 4 hours apart in the middle of the night. Well, I know why - the 3am slot was still open so I thought I could fill it.

I can't wait to hear from others (and experience myself) what God teaches through this extended prayer time as a church.

Youth Ministry Resource: Dry-Erase Paint

I ran across this cool paint - its a dry-erase paint. You just paint it on like normal. It dries clear, so you still have the "look" you want on the wall. But you can write on it like a dry erase board.

I think it would be cool to have in a middle school or high school classroom. Depending on the size of the room, you could paint the entire wall or just a small section. Then you wouldn't need a dry-erase board or chalkboard. Even if you had a projector you used, you could still use this. Project your screen on the "dry-erase wall" and then you could mark up the screen. You could circle words, highlight points, draw funny faces. You could turn it into part of a game. Take a picture of one of the adults and project it onto the wall, then let students come up and "draw" on that picture (add facial hair, scars...) - then you could change the picture and see how the markings look.

Find more about it at

What other uses can you think of for dry-erase paint in youth ministry?

Photo Friday: People Dec 1, 1980 Cover

I found this magazine in a bag of magazines I got from my grandpa's house. We needed some magazines for a collage project for Sunday School, so I took a bag full of People and a few Readers Digest. And in the midst of the covers about Britney going crazy and a number of celebrity babies, I found this gem. What a great cover!!

Maybe sometime I'll scan a few of the inside pages to put up. It truly is from the early 80's.

Notice the headline for the Kenny Rogers story, "Having made his millions, he's patching up his life." Now that shows us where our priorities should be: money first, personal life second.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tips on Winter Events: When to Cancel

The longer you are in youth ministry, the more you will have to make that hard decision whether to cancel an event or trip due to bad weather. (You might have to cancel an event due to other circumstances, but we won't get into those now) When you have to cancel due to bad weather it is not always an easy decision, especially if its a matter of "what" the weather will do in a few hours.

Here are a few tips to consider next time you need to make that last minute decision:

1. Err on the side of safety. It will not always be the most popular decision, especially if it is a fun event. Knowing that you are not going to put their children in needless danger is reassuring to a parent and helps build on the trust they have in bringing their children to youth events.

2. Think through the entire event, not just the beginning. When it comes to bad weather, the changes can be quick and drastic. Make sure the roads will be safe not just at the beginning of the event, but also on the way home. No one wants to get stranded for a few hours while you wait for the road crews to make it safe to be on the roads again. Along with that, think about how far your students/parents will be driving and where they will be coming from to drop off and pick up.

3. Talk to your team. Make sure and communicate with the other adults who are involved with the event. Talk to your team and get their feelings. If anyone on your team feels hesitant about continuing then stop to consider why. Ultimately the decision comes down to the person in charge of said event, but this person shouldn't be making it alone.

4. Don't be afraid to hurt feeling - if you need to cancel; cancel. This goes with #1. There will be other concerts. You can go skiing again later. It is better to make sure you are being responsible and keeping your students safe than to risk it and regret it later. Do not let the decision be swayed by the emotions of the teenagers.

5. Have a backup plan or reschedule as soon as you can. This might be one of the tougher aspects of winter planning. Some events (ie. ski trip) need to be planned in advance and rescheduling is difficult, if not impossible. One option is to have a "make up" date on the calendar and publicize it as a rescheduled date if you have to cancel the first. This way parents can already have it on their calendar and can try to keep it open. The rescheduled date may not have the same attendance as the original, but if you announce it ahead of time you will see a higher number than otherwise.

6. Be Flexible. One thing I don't like about the winter is trying to plan events. One thing I have learned is the need to be flexible. Some events will be canceled at the last minute. Some will need to be modified or adjusted to fit. Some will continue as planned, but with less attendance. Some will not be affected at all. As a youth worker, you have to be willing to go with the flow and adjust as needed.

Remember youth ministry is about longevity, not short term.

How have your winter plans been affected by weather? What other tips do you have on deciding when to cancel or modify an event?

Trivia Wednesday #55: Geography

answer #54 - Moth

question #55 - How many miles from the North Pole is North America's northernmost settlement - 800, 1,200 or 1,500?

Monday, February 04, 2008

New Poll: Would you rather be Bert or Ernie

Which Sesame Street character would you rather be, Bert or Ernie? That is what I am wondering this week. Here are your poll options:

  • Bert
  • Ernie
  • Neither
  • I can't tell them apart

But beyond just voting in the poll, I'd love to hear (read) your reasons why you picked which one you did. Please leave a comment letting us know the reasoning behind your vote.

Poll Results: did you have a superbowl party?

It looks like all of the people who took the poll had a party. Which leads me to think that everyone had a party. That is a lot of pizza :)

The question, though, turned out to be where the party was held:

2 groups (28%) had the party at the church
5 groups (71%) had the party at someone's house

I've done both before and I prefer the feel you get at a person's house over the church. Not saying the church one's aren't fun (or that we will never do a church one). The church setting allows you to do different things you can't otherwise do - like more games. The one drawback is reception :)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Happy Groundhog Day

Today is Groundhog Day. So, celebrate the groundhog's ability to see or not see his shadow.

Here are a few links to help you:

Official site of Punxsutawney, PA, Groundhog club

the "official" movie IMDB site

the wikipedia site

Kids' crafts and more

Happy Groundhog Day!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Jr. High Quotes of the week

"the 80's were a great time."

"one of his bugs was not even dead yet." (talking about someone's bug collection from last year)

-then they told me the conversation between teacher and student-
Teacher: You know one of your bugs isn't dead.
Student: Yeah, I know. I just put it in there this morning.

Photo Friday: Most Unwanted White Elephant Gift

No one wanted this for some reason.