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

"Tribes" by Seth Godin - for under a $1

Seth Godin's new book, "Tribes" is available for download on iTunes for $.95.

It is also available other places and other formats at different prices. Check out Seth's own blog for more info.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm a Cubs fan, but this is too far...

a Cubs cemetery.

I saw this a few months ago and thought it was a bit strange. Recently ran across the information again and found a few more things that just seem odd. Once I die, I'm gonna be in Heaven so I don't really care if my body is resting in a Cubs casket or in a Cubs cemetery. I will be enjoying the afterlife.

Its interesting, nonetheless. I wonder if there are other teams doing the same thing. I know you can get team-themed everything, but I've never heard of the cemetery before.

Read more about the cemetery here or at cbschicago or listen here from NPR.

Not only can you be buried in a Cubs-themed cemetery, you can have a Cubs-themed urn or casket. Read this article "Talk About A Die-Hard Fan"

What do you think?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Shared Birthday Party

Today was my youngest son's birthday party (he turns 3 on the 29th). We had planned a few fun things to do in our backyard and had a few of his friends over, with their families. We had a blast.

I got a surprise, too. My wife had wanted to do a cake for me as a surprise, but didn't know when she would be able to since I'm home a lot more these days. So a friend offered to bake it and bring it to the party. So my son got a tractor cake and I got a red velvet cake, complete with all 30 candles. :)

It was a great addition to be able to "share" the party with my son. I thought I might share a couple of the pictures from the festivities; unfortunately I don't have a video of me accidentally blowing out most of the candles. I was trying to "shoe" a bee away from the cakes and forgot that the candles were lit. It must be that old age settling in.

My birthday cake in all its glory.

The birthday boys. :)

Wes' birthday cake. My wife made it (without a mold) and a friend decorated it.

My birthday mask. Even the adults participated in the events/games.

Part of the obstacle course.

Just how many people does it take to light 30 candles?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Photo Friday: Ric Flair, really?

I am not a WWE fan or anything, but I'm thinking this was a little mistake by Quality Control. I remember Ric Flair from when I saw back when wrestling was on the WWF and I have to say that cannot possibly be him. I have no idea who it is. I just thought it was funny that this made it through the factory.

Note to quality control workers: you should have caught this one, even if you don't watch wrestling.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

5 Qualities I'm Looking For in the Next President

I am not a big fan of politics and the whole political season. But as I am getting older, I am starting to take a new interest in politics. There are a few things I am looking for in a president. And to be honest, I have a hard time finding these five things in most politicians. I thought I would share my top 5 qualities that I look for in a president.

5 Qualities I look for in the next president:
1. Experience - I want someone who has an idea what it is like to be in that position. Obviously, I am not looking for someone who has necessarily been president. I want to know this person knows how to handle pressure, make big decisions, and juggle a lot of issues at the same time.
2. Honesty - I want the president to be a person I can trust; therefore, he needs to do what he says and say what he means. I do not need someone to tell me what they think I want to hear, just to get my vote. I want to trust you and believe what you say - I can't do that with most politicians. I think Scripture says it best, "Let your yes be yes and your no, no"
3. Clarity - I want to be able to understand what you are saying and doing. Do not try to "talk around" me or avoid giving me details. I want a president who will talk straight and honest with the American public.
4. Family Values - I have strong family values and would love to have a president who has strong family values, too. Family is the backbone of America, and if the president does not value the family that will hurt the nation.
5. Humility - This is a biggie to me. Being president carries with it a lot of responsibility (that kinda goes without saying) and power. I want a president who does not consider himself the best person to ever walk the White House floor. If a presidential candidate showed some signs of humility, he would be the type of leader most people would want to follow. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this quality will be one I will never see in a president, though I will always carry hope.

bonus quality - integrity would be pretty helpful, too.

What qualities do you look for in the next president?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #91: Multiple Sport Cities

answer #90 - True

question #91 -Name one of the US cities which has more than 4 sports teams (MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL) in their city?

Monday, October 13, 2008

October - Pastor Appreciation Month

October is pastor appreciation month.

How do you appreciate someone who gives so much to minister to you throughout the year? How do you give back to someone who pours themselves into their "job"? It can be hard to know what to say or do for the minister who has helped you through a difficult time or shared in a special day (wedding, graduation...). As a minister, I thought I might be able to offer some help or ideas.

How to appreciate your Sr. Minister/Music Minister/Youth Minister/Discipleship Minister (and so forth)...

  1. Give him/her an extra week off
  2. Provide money for training or growth seminars
  3. Gift cards are always appreciated
  4. Pray for him/her, and tell them
  5. Write notes of encouragement, telling about how you have been blessed/ministered to. Do this throughout the year, not just in Oct.
  6. Stop by the office and offer to take them out to lunch (your treat)
  7. Buy them new tires for their car, since they drive around a lot doing ministry stuff
  8. Is there any software or hardware that would help them improve their ministry? Find a way to help them get it.
  9. Talk highly about them.
  10. Put together a "memory book" or CD with pictures of them doing ministry.
  11. Get them a new pillow so they can sleep better at night.
bonus: check out this list on how to appreciate the youth minister or this "big ticket" gift idea (southwest gift card)

NO matter what you think about this list - do something to appreciate your ministers.

Reflections on: turning 30

Today I turn 30. As I transition from being a young 20-something into a wiser 30-something, I have been looking back over my first 30 years and reflecting. I thought I might share some of those reflections with you...

Random Reflections:
1. I'm actually having trouble remembering what life was like when I turned 20.
2. When I was in high school, I thought it would take forever to get to 30.
3. I have friends who I've known over half my life. Wow!
4. I wonder what my parents are feeling, as their baby turns 30.
5. I still wear some of the same shirts I did when I was in college. (that was tough to admit)
6. How fast can my hair really recede?
7. I still have my baseball card collection from childhood and I haven't looked at any of them in years.
8. There are some special memories that only grow stronger with time.
9. You know you are getting old when you start using phrases like, "When I was in high school..."
10. When I was in high school, I only used the computer for playing games and writing papers.
11. When I was in high school, none of my friends had email or a cell phone.

Reflections on Parenting/Marriage:
12. When I was in high school, I started dating my wife. (never have figured out why she went out with me in the first place)
13. I have 3 kids already - Wow!
14. Though I do not feel much smarter this year, I like to think I'm a little wiser.
15. I have a huge responsibility to teach my boys to be godly men.
16. My daughter needs a dad who is a great example of a godly man, too.
17. I love my wife more today than when we got married (in '01). And back then I did not think that was possible.
18. As a husband, I continue to make some of the same mistakes over and over. Will I learn?
19. I see a lot of myself in my kids. Some good and some bad. I need to be mindful of those actions/attitudes I want to model for them.
20. I have passed on to my boys an ability to live through pain and disappointment - they are Cubs fans.
21. I love to capture "life moments" with my camera. I'm hoping that I don't mess up my kids by taking their picture all the time.
22. I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world.

lessons I've learned:
23. After 7 years in youth ministry, I still love it.
24. Being a father has changed the way I minister to students, at least on some level.
25. As my family grows, I have had to adjust how I do ministry. Especially as I do not get to minister alongside my wife as much as I used to.
26. People tend to respect you when you are older (for no other reason than you are older).
27. Be wise with your money when you first get married, even if it is just the two of you and you both are working. I am thankful for the financial decisions we made at the beginning of our marriage, they have truly affected our financial situation today.
28. I have a lot to learn from other people and if I ignore the advice I will only hurt myself.
29. I believe humility is just as important in my life today as it was when I was a young punk. ("young punk" - if that doesn't make me sound old I don't know what will)
30. No matter what my age, I need to trust and rely on God.
31. God is always faithful. I have learned this lesson in some big ways. No matter how big the negative situation seems, God has (and is) always been bigger and able to bring me through.

I could not stop at 30, it just seemed too cheesy to me.

I hoping that I can learn a whole bunch more over the next 30 years.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Poll Results: Have you ever had one of those days?

The last poll was a rather general question about life. Have you ever had "one of those days" you would like to forget?

It turns out that all of us have had a day like that.

100% (8 people) said they have had "one of those days"
0% (no one) said no

Be encouraged that you are not the only one who has had a bad day. We all have bad days. We all have days we do not want to remember. Even Jesus had days like that.

Remember that God loves you and will never leave you. If you need to, take some time to sit in His lap today and take comfort knowing He loves you more than you could ever imagine.

Artcle: Youth Ministry Lessons From A Retail Store

Have you ever walked through a retail store and been frustrated at what you saw or experienced? I have more than a few times. I took one of those experiences and wrote an article about what youth workers can learn from retail stores.

I'd love if you took some time to check it out.
Let me know what you think. Add your own thoughts.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lessons from The Office: Business Ethics

The Office was back on Thursday (10/9/08) after taking a week off due to the vice-presidential debate.

This week's episode was entitled: Business Ethics

A few thoughts & lessons from Business Ethics:

1. It can be difficult to share personal information with your coworkers.
2. Ethics is not an issue a lot of people like to talk about, because a lot of people do not live an ethical life.
3. Training your staff does not always lend itself to a "fun" meeting. And you should not force it to be.
4. It is a smart idea to start tracking your time, before someone else starts tracking it for you. Most people do not really know where their time is spent and are surprised to find out how much time is wasted.
5. Being a positive voice for ethics (or morals) in the workplace can lead to being disliked. People do not like being told they are wrong, even if they know they are wrong.
6. Despite what backlash you receive for being a moral compass, do not give up. Do not stop trying to help people be more ethical/moral.
7. A lot of the people you see everyday are struggling and hurting. Most are drifting into areas they do not want to go. What are you going to do to help them?

Photo Friday: Bubble on Screen Door

Summer is over, but that doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying bubbles outside. Just don't let them through the screen door.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #90: Milk Allergy

answer #89 - a boxer (prizefighter)

question #90 - T or F If you are allergic to milk you cannot eat hot dogs.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Typically Busy Youth Ministry Weekend

Recently, I had a busy weekend. This type of busy weekend is normal for a youth worker. And it used to be normal for me, too. Being away from full-time youth ministry for a couple months now, my normal weekend has really changed. Now it is more of a lot of time around the house with my family. I have really been able to cherish this time, but honestly I have missed the time in ministry "busymode" that seems to happen so often.

Here are the highlights from the weekend:

1st - I had a hard conversation with a college student. This started as an accidental conversation, as we connected while on a walk with my family. Talked about some tough stuff going on in their life and what they want to do about it. I felt like it was a good conversation from both sides.

2nd - I helped out at 5th Quarter. This one was a Saturday evening, since it was a Saturday afternoon game this week. I got to run one of the games, helped set up and tear down, and did some "security" to make sure teens weren't leaving randomly. It was a great event. Good times.

3rd - After 5th Quarter, I headed straight to a Displace Me '08 overnighter. I got called earlier that day to see if I could come help (a few of the other adults had to back out at the last minute). This was really a good chance to see some students I hadn't seen in a few months and meet a few more for the first time. Lots of laughs, sore muscles and lack of sleep were the three main outcomes from this night. I only stayed til around 12:30 or so.
Displace Me is part of Schools4Schools, which is a program out of invisible children. Find out more about each by clicking the following links...
Displace Me '08 - schools for schools - invisible children

4th - I taught Jr. High Class on Sunday night. This was the first time I had taught in a few months and I was ready to get back to it. It was fun to prepare the lesson. My only problem was that I had too much stuff, due to some adjustments to the overall evening that night, and I didn't watch the clock. I wasn't really paying attention to the time and ran out before we got to the end. It wasn't a total waste of a lesson, but I wish we could have gotten to the ending.

What a great weekend of youth ministry.

What about you? Do you love these types of weekends? Do you feel energized after something like this or do you feel drained?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Photo Friday: Old (stale?) popcorn

This is a bag of popcorn that we just ate from this week. It was best by May 2007 (only a year and a half old). It really was pretty good popcorn. Makes me wonder what it would have tasted like at its "best."

Kinda makes me think about some of the "old" stuff in youth ministry. You know, those games or lessons or media or methods that are out-dated. Is there still a use for them? Or should they be tossed aside forever?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Trivia Wednesday #89: Sparring partner

answer #88 - Copper

question #89 - Which athlete uses a sparring partner?