Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extravagant Love, Radical Hospitality

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." - Romans 12:12-13

A Challenge to myself and others:
Love Extravagantly
Practice Hospitality
Live life with arms wide open

Although I moved to my little town 2 years ago (almost exactly to the day! wow!) I have hopped from church to church. Tried several, but never felt like I truly found a place to call home. For lots of reasons.
I was always traveling on weekends, visiting friends or family, working... While there were 2 churches that I attended regularly, I never found "home."

I decided recently that the only way to do that is to truly protect certain times. I did that when I was in college. These times on Sundays were morning worship, and Connexion (the college service)....This time on Thursday is when my Bible Study meets....As a result of that commitment, I was connected...and my church was home. While I have protected my Sunday morning time for church, I haven't protected a location. Interesting distinction, I know....but one that I think truly matters.

I also had a hard time feeling like a part of the community different places. No idea how to connect in small groups or Bible Studies....I could literally walk in and out on Sundays and be a ghost if I wanted. While at times that may be appealing, I want more. I want to be surrounded by people who are going to push, challenge, and encourage me. I want to be involved in the life of the church.

Last week, I had a brave moment. I called a church that I had visited a few times to see how I can get involved in small groups and adult classes. (I have tried this off and on various places for a year now and have literally gotten nowhere.) I ended up on the phone with one of their staff members who, after about 15 to 20 minutes of talking, hearing what I was looking for, and where I was at in life just stopped and said, "My small group meets on Friday nights. We would love to have to join us. And hey, you know what? My wife and I love having people over to hang out, just for fellowship. We'd love to have you over for coffee sometime too."

WOW! seriously!?!?! Just like that. An open invitation. This person didn't know me and yet extended and invitation and practiced radical hospitality.

By the time I checked my email later that day, I had an email thanking me (seriously, thanking me....) for stepping out and calling, giving me directions to their house, and just a bit of information about some of the other people in the group so that I would, as he put it, "feel like family when I walked in."

So I took a risk (for me, a fairly quiet, shy, introverted least until you get to know me) and meet a bunch of strangers (who oddly enough, I discovered some connections with once I got there!) And you know was 100% worth it. Everyone was welcoming, loving, and truly interested in my story. Can I just say that this was probably one of the most encouraging moments of definitely the past week, and even the past month.

So why do I challenge myself and others to that? Because it makes a difference to people. I know that I will remember this conversation and this moment for a long time to come.

"But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love." - 1 Corinthians 13:13 (Msg.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chucking the Cell Phone

Every couple of months I have a moment where I want to chuck my cell pone out the window of my car, throw it in a lake, run over it with my car....something that will make it stop ringing. This doesn't happen all the time...but sometimes. (I must have a fairly low threshold for this considering the fact that I am NOT that important of a person and things DON'T demand my attention every waking moment of the day.)

Today was one of those days. Just a desire to escape and be out of touch even if only for an hour or so. Cells phones are great, don't get me wrong. I love that I can just type a quick message to a friend and not too intrusively interrupt their day to ask a question, or people can send me a quick little one liner that makes me smile (I however, have what I call a phone phobia....that is I don't like calling people. I am just worried I am interrupting too much, or bothering them, or catching them when they don't really want to be polite, but feel a social responsibility to be polite and engage in a conversation that they don't really want to be engaged in. I'm currently working through this....) :)

Anyway....I found a great post about just that by a staff member at GCC. I've enjoyed reading books and posts by him and learning as much as I can because let's face it, I'm young, and I've got a lot to learn.

I'll say it again, I am NOT that important of a person....I don't twitter, I don't subscribe to hundreds of blogs or automatic notifications, yet I still crave silence.

I think that was one of the things I loved most about being in Nashville at the National Youth Worker's Convention. Yes, I was still doing some work stuff, and I was busy attending different sessions and seminars. But the great thing was that I could leave a session and just go walk around downtown, or go to the prayer chapel, or back to my hotel and just sit, in silence and actually process and digest what I had just heard. I didn't get a lot of phone calls because people knew I was out of the office, I didn't get a lot of emails, and I didn't even check email all that often. It's been awhile since I've done that...since I've really just stopped to listen and hear what I'm supposed to hear. And it was GREAT!

I need to carve out more time to do just that. Stay offline, turn off the phone, the tv, and even the music and just enjoy the silence.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Things I never thought I would need to know

One of the things I love about working at camp is all the different things I get to do. Seriously, it seems limitless at times the things I can learn and do if I just set my mind to it. And all of it ultimately goes toward the end goal of building a better program to reach more students.

Every once in awhile, I like to think about all the tools I have worked with and things I never thought I would need to know how to do, but am either learning or have learned, thanks to camp. It tends to be fairly entertaining. So here goes.
  • Power tools. That's right...power tools. My first day as a summer staffer 5 years ago I spent 8 hours pressure washing a net... no joke. And then I learned how to use table saws, drills, blowers, soldering irons....the list goes on. I know this sounds fairly unimpressive, but to me...I think it's awesome that I have learned how to do some of these things.
  • Cooking for several hundred people. Not that I do this on a regular basis, but in a pinch, it's my responsibility to know how to get it done (with help of course).
  • Just about anything to do with toilets and drains....Not that I can always fix the problem, but I have discovered that it's good to have a basic knowledge of what might be wrong, and some common things to check for before calling in the big guns (aka the amazing facilities supervisor)
  • All things paintball. That's right. In preparing to build new programs, I am learning about anything and everything relating to operating a successful paintball program. Crazy
  • Climbing. Where to get equipment, how to run stuff, how to maintain a course. Yep. Love it.
  • Basic AV (sound systems projectors). I by no means claim to be an expert, but I can set up and troubleshoot the basics.
The list goes on. It's just fun to see all the things that I never thought I would need to know, but have had the chance to learn. And trust me when I say, I am by no means an expert in any of these areas (definitely not!) But I sure have had fun learning.

And it's just really funny to look at the progression of my life in general (classical dancer to ropes course operator at a summer camp, to setting up a paintball course...) It just makes me laugh sometimes. The people I used to dance with would probably never believe it.

But it's so fun. And I love seeing how God moves us to different places...where we never thought we'd be.

It makes me wonder what's coming tomorrow.... :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


If anyone that reads this happens to be a guy, I'm guessing they stopped reading after the title. If not....yes this is about shoe shopping. And a frustration I have with it. Really nothing insightful tonight at all...

Shoe shopping is not easy, at least not for women, and definitely not for tall women. This is made even more difficult when you are trying to find nice shoes to wear with a dress. Because apparently they only make cute, fun shoes with 5 INCH HEELS. They are cute. And they are fun. The problem.... they make me 6'2" thank you very much.

I decided several years ago that I would never wear shoes that made me taller than 6 foot. Ha. Yea right. I've given up on that, at least when it comes to nice shoes.

So I'm getting over it. But it still drives me nuts. And to any other tall ladies that may read this...I feel your pain. My advice...wear what you want and have fun. Who cares!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

NYWC Session 2

David Crowder Band, Shane Claiborne, Andrew Marin, Tony Campolo

First let me just say that yesterday was the first time I have ever seen Crowder live. It was great! Such energy and passion for what he does...and he is absolutely hysterical. I think my favorite part was when he busted out the keytar and the modified guitar hero-esque guitar. A-Mazing.

Now, I have a confession to make. A lot of my staff, and just a lot of people that I know in general have read Irresistable Revolution and Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne. They've talked about it, praised it as a "must read" and seriously contemplated selling all their possessions, and living with the poor and homeless. I have been skeptical of anything that seems like a "fad" book. I was skeptical of books like Velvet Elvis and Blue Like Jazz when they first came out. I don't know, I'm sure there's good stuff, but I kind of like the classics.

After listening to him speak last night though, I had to get his book and see what this is all about...Because he said something that resonated with me 100%, that I have been trying to articulate for 5 years, but haven't really been able to.

He talked about growing up in church, having all the "right" answers, and holding all the "right" beliefs, and all the "right" political opinions. And then he came to a realization:

"When I am faced with a 14 year old girl, pregnant and unmarried, how can I be pro-life without being willing to come alongside this 14 year old girl and help her learn how to become a 14 year old mother?"

That's about as close to a direct quote as I could get....I wanted to stand up and say thank you for putting into words far better than I have ever been able to figure out how to, exactly what has always bothered me. I get frustrated (with this issue specifically for some reason) that we seem to condemn young women and girls who find themselves in this situation....regardless of the choice they make...Make the "Pro-life" decision to keep the baby, and be ostracized and condemned for being pregnant out of wedlock...Make the "Pro-choice" decision to have an abortion, and be ostracized and condemned for having an abortion. These girls are in a no win.

Unless we choose to come alongside them and walk with them into and along a path that doesn't seem to have clear-cut, easy decisions.

I had to go to his late-night talk back session to hear more, and I am glad I did. He talked more about the community he lives in and answered some of the questions I have wondered: How do you just do what you do? What about issues of safety? Do you ever feel like you have been taken advantage of?

It was good stuff. Challenging stuff. And I am still thinking about it. I feel like I have so much more to think about and process. But it's been great so far.

And by the way....I love this city.

NYWC Session 1

As ridiculous as it may seem, the thing that stood out to me the most from the first session at YS was Joe Castillo. Joe Castillo is a sand artist. I had no idea what that even meant when they introduced him, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical about what he was doing. But then I sat and watched him tell the story of the Prodigal Son through sand art. It was incredible. It left me in tears.

You can watch it here

Not everyone learns the same, or is affected by the same things. What if someone has come to church every Sunday in their life and still hasn't really gotten it? There has to be a way to reach them. What if we started using the arts in different, out of the box ways? What kind of change might take place if we stop doing what we've always done, take a risk, and try something new.

It was incredible.

NYWC Nashville

This week I am in Nashville for the National Youth Worker's Convention put on by Youth Specialties. It has been a great trip so far with the exception of me being sick since it started (I go between sounding like a man, to no voice, to incredibly squeaky....It's been entertaining.)

I am so thankful that right at the outset, the first thing Mark Oestreicher said in the first session was "make this event what you need it to be." Don't go to all the sessions and seminars. You will be ragged by the end if you do. It's hard going into something like this with that mindset, because I am the type of person who wants to get as much out of it as I can, so to me that means "hit as much as possible!!!"

But after the second session tonight, I feel like already in just the few hours worth of seminars and sessions, I have so much to process and think about that I'm close to overload. So tomorrow morning, I'm processing. No seminar, just processing. Maybe I'll spend some time in the prayer chapel too....

I'm excited. I'm fired up. And my mind is racing (despite the fact that it's 12:30 in Nashville meaning it's 1:30 back home. I definitely have more to say about the sessions, but it will have to wait. I am going to try to shut my brain off for awhile and sleep. More processed thoughts to come.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Three Words: I Hate Turbulence

Flying is always an adventure for me. I feel like I never know what is going to happen. One time while boarding a plane, one of the crew members accidentally deployed the emergency lie. And those suckers don't just get rolled back up and stored away.... No no no. You deploy the emergency chute...maintenance is hunting for a NEW DOOR.

Then there was the time I unknowingly had a hammer in my carry on. SERIOUSLY. I thought the TSA dude was going to take me away (this was on a trip for work, and I thought my co-workers were going to die laughing. It was pretty ridiculous.)

The list could go on.

Today, on my way to my sister's in New York, I added another "What the heck?!?!" moment to my list of flying stories.

I was flying from Indianapolis and leave to drive there at about 6 this morning. That's a rude way to start the day anyway. But then I get to 465...and I start noticing signs saying "New Airport, Now Open," and "New Airport, take I-70 West to Exit 68." And I am going, "Did I miss something here?"

Turns out I did. Turns out there is a NEW Indianapolis airport...that I had no clue about. I'm still driving along thinking, oh they probably just put in new access roads, or redid the entrance. No no no....It's a whole new airport. Brand spanking new. Don't even get there the same way. Wanna know when it opened? Last night. Yep. Last night.

Pretty sweet right? Sure... but let's think about something for a minute. Had I flown to New York on, oh...say Monday of this week, and returned Saturday. I would have driven to the old Indy airport and left from there and returned at the new one. Here's what I want to know....How would I get my car? I sincerely hope someone in the upper levels of management thought about that little predicament. (If not, I would be willing to bet someone got fired fairly recently. Like maybe today.)

To top this all off, I got there and there are a ton of military personnel walking around, lots of flags, guessed it....a band. At first I about laughed out loud thinking how ridiculous it was that there would be a band at an airport opening. But then, as I am finding my way through the terminal, I hear, "Danni!" I turn around and it's an old friend of mine from High School! He is in the military and was working and informed me that there was also a unit of troops returning home from Iraq and that's why they, the band, and all the television cameras and reporters were there. It was pretty neat to see, I'm not gonna lie. And it was pretty great to see him too! An added bonus!

So all this to say....I never really know what to expect anymore when I am traveling. But I am always prepared for an adventure.

Sidenote: They used to not charge for checking any luggage, then recently it became you got charged if you checked more than 1. Today...if you checked any bags, you had to pay. Boo.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Reasons for not running

So of all the reasons to not run....I think I have by far THE BEST reason not to run and it is not:
  • being too tired
  • being too lazy
  • being too busy
  • being too sore
  • being unmotivated
or any of the other reasons that I would have thought I would have come up with by now.

No no. You ready for this?

It is Bigfoot.

That's right...Bigfoot.

Turns out there was an alleged Bigfoot siting at the end of my street (street is a generous term....let's try gravel road of death.)

Seriously. On Monday, I get all excited because it's so nice and I decide I am going to run outside rather than at the Y. I get all ready, iPod going, stretched, and off I go. I make it to the road when I remember....Bigfoot! So what do I do? That's right. Turn into a big ole SISSY and go running back the other direction and decide to run trails instead of on the road. NOT. KIDDING.

Now in retrospect, if I were Bigfoot, I'm pretty sure I would spend more time hiding out in the woods rather than on the main road. So if I was really worried about Bigfoot, I should have stuck to the road. But alas, there are simply times when I am not rational. Clearly this is one of them....on many levels.

But in other news....I am doing well and staying on track with my training plan and my body hasn't revolted yet. So I consider that a huge success so far!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mini Update

So last week, I decided to try to convince a friend and co-worker to train for the Mini with me. I badgered her a bit on Wednesday....and on Thursday she called me and said, "Danni, I am totally in!!!" Yahoo!

I had no idea what would snowball from just that.

So on Friday, I was doing a couple of things with some co-workers and idly mentioned that she had agreed to train to run the mini. And he looks at me and says "Wait! The Indy Mini?!?! My wife and I are running that too!" And I proceeded to tell him how I thought we needed to have an Impact cheering section. Well, he went a step further...sent out an email to the entire staff telling them who all was running and encouraging everyone to consider training to run or walk it. How great is that?!?!

The even better part??? As a result, another girl from the office has decided to train for it, and at least one other person is considering it.

This is so fantastic! What great motivation and camaraderie!

That is what I love. People "doing life together" in all aspects. Spending time together, eating meals together, sharing similar interests... And RUNNING together!

And now I have someone to run with besides whoever happens to be playing on my iPod. :)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Seriously?? Now I'm nervous...

For the second time in 3 days, I slammed my finger in a door.

It happened with the same stinkin door at the office, trying to shut it the same way (which is how I always shut a normal person would shut ANY DOOR), just a different finger the second time (but oh yea...on the same hand.)

Seriously??? Now I have matching black and blue fingers.

Now I'm a little worried. I have to go shoot a video standing on the roof of a cabin. If I can manage to slam my fingers in a door twice in the same week...I wonder what's going to happen when I climb a ladder and stand on a roof.

Someone should probably pray I don't die.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Entertaining Read

I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

If you are ever looking for a fun, easy, entertaining read...this is the book for you. The other night, I sat reading just a few short chapters...laughing out loud uncontrollably for a good 10 minutes (keep in mind, I was by myself...try not to judge me for being ridiculous.)

To give you a taste of the amazingness of this book....A few excerpts from the chapter titled "Well, Doctor, I was just trying to lie down..." about the ridiculous amount of injuries inflicted by consumer products.

"Consider this intriguing fact: Almost 50,000 people in the United States are injured each year by pencils, pens, and other desk accessories. Ho do they do it? I have spent many long hours seated at desks where I would have greeted almost any kind of inury as a welcome diversion, but never once have I come close to achieving actual bodily harm." (pg. 18)

"I would also welcome a meeting with almst any of the 263,000 people injured by ceilings, walls, and inside panels. I can't imagine being hurt by a ceiling and not having a story worth hearing. Likewise, I could find time for any of the 31,000 people injured by their 'grooming devisces.'" (pg. 19)

"But the people I would really like to meet are the 142,000 hapless souls who received emergency room treatment for injuries inflicted by their clothing. What can they be suffering from? Compound pajama fracture? Sweatpants hematoma? I am powerless to speculate." (pg. 19)

This is most definitely worth a read.

*On a side note....On Sunday afternoon I was so exhausted I walked into my own refrigerator....Just straight up walked into it. I have now become a statistic...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Time Away!!!

After a whirlwind fall and many busy weeks and weekends...I am taking some down time up in Mishawaka tomorrow and Friday. I am very ready for it!

The time away started with dinner with my mom, a good friend, and her mom (at Hacienda!!! always a plus...) What a great time. I don't think we stopped laughing once!

Tomorrow is a day to sleep in, lounge around, and hopefully do nothing! Then Friday, mom and I are going to IKEA in Chicago to go couch shopping! I can't wait!

But mostly, I am looking forward to a chance to get away for a bit...relax, refresh, and recharge so I can dive back into everything when I go back to work next week.


Monday, October 20, 2008

The past week or so...

A list to sum up my random thoughts from the past week or so.

  • I find it mildly ridiculous that I used to stand around in pointe shoes for 6 or more hours a day, 6 days a week, and I was rarely phased. Yet three days of running around, standing, cooking, etc. made my legs feel like they were on fire...
  • I have no clue how I frequently ran for days at a time on 4 hours of sleep a night in college. Was I nuts? (Don't answer that....)
  • When you are exhausted, it is always better to take a step back to breathe and think before saying or doing anything stupid (and certainly don't make any big decisions. Exhaustion will pass and rational thinking will return).
  • I am really good at making excuses for not running (last week it was, "Well, I moved lots of heavy stuff and cleaned all morning at I don't need to run today....right?) Wow....that will NOT get me any closer to running the Mini.
  • I need people around me that push me and encourage me. I think about training to run this Mini (I still think I've lost touch with reality by the way) and I wonder why it is that, again....when I was dancing, I would push HARD in classes and rehearsals all day and fight through pain and exhaustion. But for some reason...running is a much bigger giant for me to knock down. I think it's because when I was dancing, directors, teachers, other classmates were always pushing me to work harder, do more, be better (but it was also most effective when balanced with positive encouragement). I think that's the kind of environment I thrive in....One where I am pushed but also encourage.
  • I saw an interview with the 3 boys playing Billy in the Broadway premier of "Billy Elliott" the Musical by Elton John based on the movie "Billy Elliott." I am already plotting a trip to New York to see my sister and brother-in-law and go into the city to see it. Yay!
  • I am taking Thursday and Friday OFF!!!! Yay for going couch shopping with my mom!
  • I've become slightly obsessed with Jon McLaughlin since the release of his newest CD OK Now. Good stuff... (his album Indiana is also great...especially the song "Beautiful Disaster."
That's all I got. I'm exhausted. I'm going home.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lock Me Up

I told my friend Jody that I am officially a crazy person. Why you might ask?

After 15 years of dancing, my body has always hated it every time I try to hips, knees, ankles....they REVOLT after about a quarter of a mile. That's just life I suppose.

So I need someone to tell me why I have decided that I am going to train to run a mini. Clearly...I am a crazy person. Only crazy people do things like that....right?

I mean, I have hated running my whole life, and now here I am voluntarily saying I am going to spend time intentionally preparing to run....A LOT. It's kinda humorous I suppose. But this could really be a good thing, because I have discovered since I started running awhile ago that it actually does help relieve stress. People have told me that so many times, and I just didn't believe them (I told them they were crazy....are you sensing the theme???) But then I started running, and wouldn't you know?!?! It really does!

So this is actually good right? Because now I suppose if I get stressed, frustrated, whatever...I can go for a run (which costs me nothing) rather than driving around spending $4.00/gallon.

*Sidebar...I am beyond thrilled that gas is now down to $2.99/gallon.

So....If you think of it, please check in on me. Ask me if I'm running, because I'm pretty sure that unless I have people holding me accountable and pushing me to keep training, I might give up. And I really don't want to. I am determined!

I'll post updates...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Things you should never do....

One of the people at work has this rule he lives by... "Don't die stupid." I think it's a good rule. Obviously he thinks it's a good rule too.

I almost violated said rule yesterday....

I would suggest never trying to move a really big ladder from a cramped space by yourself. Obviously, it could fall on you, pinch your fingers, land on an important body part.... You never know what could happen. But let's be honest, in a pinch, we would probably all just tackle it by ourselves if need be and assume the potential risks. Fine...whatever...

Unless the really cramped space has, oh I don't know, hand saws, sickles, pitch forks, and axes hanging on the walls around you.

Yep. Not kidding. Did that yesterday. Fortunately the only things I knocked of the wall were a pitch fork and a hand saw (only one of several, so that's good right?)

Luckily I still have all my fingers and toes and no puncture wounds.

God is good.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Driving....Myself Crazy

I have a bad habit. (Okay, I have more than one. Don't judge me. But I'm only talking about one right now.) It's not necessarily dangerous to my overall health or well being (although I suppose some could argue that it is). But really it's just probably something that I need to figure out an alternative for. Here it is...

When I am frustrated, down, angry...whatever the case may be...I drive. I get in my car and drive.

I started doing this when I lived in Bloomington (actually, now that I think about it, I probably started it in California, but I took a hiatus when I moved back home senior parents may have killed me had I just taken off. And now that I think about it some more, they are probably reading this. Mom, dad, I always told the Hannah's I was leaving, and I was never gone for long. I usually just drove to the ocean and back. Calm down.) I love you! :)

Anyway, for whatever reason, it calms me down, gives me time to think, pray, sing really loudly in the car where no one else can hear me...I don't know what it is. It just usually helps. However, recently my driving escapades have been taking me up to my parent's house (which is great, because it means I get to spend time with people I love and people who love me. Always a good thing when in a rotten mood.)

Here's my problem though and here's why I think I need to break this habit. GAS IS $4.00 A GALLON. Ok, it has gone down a bit recently, but it's still too expensive to keep this up. So I need something else.

I'm open to suggestions....

Anyone? What do you do to relax, de-stress, escape, work yourself out of a bad mood?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The things I noticed....

I was at my Grandparent's house today with my mom getting ready to help them with a few things over the next couple of days. Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa were talking, and I was getting irritated with the persistent chirp of the smoke detector in need of a new battery. I asked Grandpa where the 9V batteries are, grabbed a ladder and proceded to change the batteries, at which point I realized there was another smoke detector obnoxiously begging for a new battery. Well, we were out of 9V's, so that one's waiting until tomorrow.

But, at that I point, I began walking around the house trying to find other things that I would be able to help take care of (my grandparents are amazing and still climb extension ladders to get on their roof even though they are 80 years old....I think it's time to put a stop to this personally.)

It's at this point that I realized that camp has made me a strange person. I walked around checking all the things we normally check at the beginning of the season, and it kind of made me laugh at myself.
  • Smoke detectors need checked regularly.
  • Put a smoke detector in every room of the house!
  • Change burnt out light bulbs.
  • Better yet, replace light bulbs with energy efficient light bulbs so they last longer!
  • Line the bottom of all trash cans with extra quick and easy to take the trash out!
  • If it's broke, fix it! Enough said.
The list could go on (and trust me, it does). But I guess more than anything, my little OCD moment at my grandparent's today made me realize that camp has taught me how to prepare well, and plan for success (in this case, I think success would be making ordinary tasks simpler for Grandma and Grandpa....they don't need to be on ladders several times a month changing light bulbs...let's just give them energy efficient bulbs!)

So strange or not, I think it's a good thing!

Monday, September 22, 2008


Yesterday was one of those days that remind me why I do what I do. After a very full weekend of 3 way too long days in a row, I stopped to think about all that had been accomplished and how incredible it is that I get to be a part of it.

This weekend was Illuminate at Epworth Forest Conference Center, one of the Impact 2818 sites. The last count I heard yesterday for the Sunday afternoon concert was 1,050 people in attendance… AWESOME!

I was in a different position than where I usually am for events like this. I got to sit in the sound booth during the concert and help with some of the video elements for the concert (just making sure screens were up and down when they were supposed to be, play videos when they were supposed to be played, etc.) That’s not normally something I do, I’m usually outside the events, running around doing other things. But being in the auditorium let me see something that I don’t always get to see.

As the doors opened before the concert, we knew we were around 750. As people continued to pour in, I remember getting chills as a few of us realized that we were over 900 and were getting close to reaching a thousand people.

We reached a point in the concert when one of the bands began a worship set, and I just sat in the back watching hundreds of people worship together. I sang (with what little voice I had left) from the back and was almost brought to tears just seeing how many people were there to hear about the plan that God has for their life.

I was sick all week leading up to this event, and for the entire weekend of. But last night, as I thought about the weekend, here are the things that make it worth it:

  • The pastor that stopped me by name, who remembered me from an hour long intro to camping that I did for new pastors a week ago…so excited to have something like this to bring a group of students to.
  • The mom and daughter who came up to me to give me a hug. They were both excited to be back after having had a great experience last year at camp.
  • The youth pastor who brought his students to Camp Adventure for a retreat in the spring, heard about Illuminate, and brought the same group back for a great concert.
  • Talking with a new youth pastor struggling to get volunteers and help in her local church. Sharing ideas, frustrations, and encouragement.
  • Seeing a great crew of staff and volunteers who returned for the weekend to bring their energy, talents, and enthusiasm to serve.

It excites me for the things that are ahead of us in this ministry. When I'm tired, or frustrated...these are the things that I pull from the back of my mind, and I keep pushing forward. Because it is AWESOME to see lives CHANGED.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Paying Attention

Okay, I know I do this too, so I shouldn't really complain...

I walk into Subway today and the lady that is always there was... you guessed it... there. I don't actually know her name, and I doubt she actually knows mine, but I should probably find out (Considering it's less than 2 minutes from the office, I usually grab lunch there once every other week... once a week if things are busy and I don't go home for lunch, so I see her fairly frequently. I'm surprised she doesn't know my order yet). But that's not the point.

She goes to ring me up, looks at me and says, "You look tired today."

Now I'm not gonna lie.... this has always struck me as a polite way to say, "You look like crap." Thanks. Thanks a lot.

But, I suppose it is just our way of showing that we pay attention to the people around us. So her saying I looked tired today... means she has at least noticed how I normally look and act, versus how I looked and acted today. (I am sick, so she was right.... I was tired, and feeling rather crappy.... so I suppose she wasn't too far off.)

I guess in the end, even though the whole "You look tired" euphemism kind of irritates me, I appreciate the fact that she has paid enough attention over the past several months to notice me, and notice when something was off. That's pretty impressive when you consider the number of people I'm sure she encounters on a daily basis who just want their turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato, light on the mayo...

So I guess my question is, "Are you paying attention to the people around you?" Would you notice if they were having an off day? Would you ask them about it, even if you hardly knew them? And would you be ready for a real answer?

I want to be someone who notices, asks, and listens.

"Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle."
~Romans 12:9-10 (Msg.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Geeked Out

So I just spent probably 45 minutes doing geometry, maybe a little trig, and using the wonders of the pythagorean theorem with a couple of people I work with to calculate heights, distances, angles, all that sort of stuff for work. (No, I have not switch career fields, I do still work for a camping ministry).

I can't decide whether I feel good about this, or incredibly geeky. I mean on the one hand, how great is it to be able to pull out something you learned back in high school and realize, "Hey! This stuff does apply to real life!" On the other hand.... wow, I am a geek.

I suppose I realized that last year though when I helped a friend work on the data for a psych paper that was being submitted for publication. There is something rewarding about thinking hard, solving problems, and using what you've learned along the way. I guess it feels like you've accomplished something.

So yea... I guess I'm a geek, but I'm pretty sure most people that know me already knew that. And if not.... well if you want to really know me, then it's a good thing you learned now.

And oh yea... we did use calculators online. But at least we knew the theory behind it!


Monday, September 8, 2008

Living Safe

So a little over a week ago, I was up at my parents and went to GCC for church on Saturday evening (although it is not my home church, I am challenged, encouraged, and pushed every time I go. So I go whenever I am able). Rob Wegner spoke about Fear of Failure. I don't want to try to capture everything he said, so I'll just say watch it here.

His message pushed me and encouraged me...and I stayed up until almost 2 am the next night talking with a friend about the message... what God had taught me, and how I thought my life needed to look different.

It all started with a rubber band, and it ended with me wanting MORE. Wanting to take the idea of living safe and chuck it right out the window! Wanting to go further, go deeper, take risks, and not be afraid to fail.

You see, there is one part that has stuck with me ever since that evening. It's the story of Peter, walking on the water, a story I've heard countless times. Peter always goes for it. Sometimes without really thinking things through. You can always count on him for that. So Jesus invites him to walk on water... and he does! He makes it a ways, and then starts to sink... overcome with fear and uncertainty. A failure... Right? Yea. But what about this? The 11 other disciples in the boat didn't even try. That's what Rob drove home, at least to me. Peter tried. Sure he failed, but as Rob put it "He failed gloriously."

How awesome is that? What have I done that, yea... I may have failed. But you know what? I failed gloriously! Probably not too many things... because I don't like to fail.

I want to change that. I'm not saying I'm going to chuck all logic, reason, common sense, and all the good gifts God has given us that go along with being rational beings. But, I want to be willing to step out, take a huge risk, and know that I may fail.

Because I have become convinced that great things happen only when we step up and take great risks.

So it's time for me to step up.

A Funny One

To start things off right... A funny story.

Sarah gave me a cat. Yes that's right. A cat. Wasn't too sure about this.... and am still not too sure about this (especially in light of it's most recent antics).

The cat likes to escape, and it did so Saturday evening (probably after some people tormented the poor thing all afternoon at my house by making it wear necklaces (AKA rings cut out of plastic cups and put around it's neck!) So she escaped. Normally she makes her way back within 12-24 hours, no doubt hungry and in need of protection from the dangerous beasts that live in the middle of nowhere....

Well, she hadn't come back as of lunch today (that would be Monday), so I go out on the front porch to see if she comes running and I just hear a faint, pathetic little "Meow...." I follow the sound until I realize.... SHE IS STUCK IN A TREE!!!! No joke. Like 20 feet in the air.

I tried treats. I tried talking nice. No luck. I'm going to have to get a ladder....or climb the tree.

It could be an adventure.