Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Waiting for the Impossible




Advent. Outside of the church walls (and to be even more specific, liturgical church walls) this word is not used very often.
Contrary to popular belief, we are NOT in the Christmas season. Not yet anyways.We are in the season of Advent. According to Wikipedia.com Advent means:

Arrival or Coming

Advent is the time in the church year that we wait for the coming of Jesus. It starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving and lasts all the way through Christmas Eve. Then starting Christmas Day is the 12 days of Christmas.   So we are waiting right now for our partridge in a pear tree.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Calm Before The Storm

Mary immediately got up and hurried to the hill country, in the province of Judah, where her cousins Zacharias and Elizabeth lives. When Mary entered their home and greeted Elizabeth, who felt her baby leap in her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:39-41 The Voice


It's happening again. John knows something - again. But how?

Elizabeth has always known that her child John was special. She thought she would never have children, then an angel appears to Zacharias telling him that they will have a baby. He didn't believe the angel, and because of this he is mute for the next nine months. (Imagine a pregnant woman and a mute guy in the same house . . . I don't envy them.) Then, her cousin Mary arrives at her door and the baby John jumps in her womb.


Jumps. As a fetus. A child that has not been born yet and is still developing. He was at about six months when Elizabeth saw Mary. To the right is a picture of a baby at 6 months while developing in the womb. At this point in development (according to web sties I Googled) the baby's brain is beginning to recognize touch and even a bit of light. The brain development is beginning to get really intense at this point. But it's just starting . . .

How can an unborn child at this stage leap in his mother's womb knowing that something special is going on? This must be some amazing kid coming into the world . . .

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Questions Without Answers




Part of my job at the church is to teach the 1st year Confirmation class. So on Thursday nights from 6-7:30 I spend time with twelve 6th graders and four parent guides. I have to say, this year's class keeps me on my toes. I never wanted to be a classroom teacher, but once a week for an hour and a half, I can deal with it. It's also nice that I don't necessarily have to stick to "traditional" teaching methods. The picture to the right is an image I see every week. Students excitedly raising their hands. (And yes, sometimes they do try to get out of their seats.) This happens with every class, but I've noticed that this year it has been happening a lot more than usual . . . and it's to ask questions not answer them.

This is by far the most inquisitive group of 11 year olds that I have ever met in my life. It's a lot of fun. They want to know more about the Bible and God and faith. They ask the hard questions too. One of my favorites was "If Jesus is God, then why does he always call on the Father's power for miracles? Doesn't he have powers of his own?"

And my response was . . .

"Uh.... yes?"

In my head I was thinking . . .

"You're 11. You're not supposed to be thinking of hard questions like that which I can't answer."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mary - The Next Cast Member of Glee




As mean as it probably sounds, one of the best parts of my job is embarrassing teenagers. Seriously. I get plenty of opportunities to do so, especially with our picture of the week . . . good times and AWESOME blackmail material. A week or so ago I was able to turn one of my girls so red... it was quite amusing. We've been watching The Nativity Story in Sunday School the last few weeks and we had gotten to the part where Gabriel tells Mary about the baby and Mary's family finding out. We had one girl in the room who was around the age Mary would have been. I asked her, "So what would you do if an angel came to you and told you that you were going to give birth to the Son of God?" Her eyes got SO WIDE and she said that she would freak out. Then I asked her "How would your parents react?" Her eyes got EVEN WIDER and said:
"MY DAD WOULD KILL ME!"

I then responded with:

"He would probably want to kill M too."

(M is the guy she is currently/has been involved with this school year.)

It was hilarious.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Dad



FINALLY I have been able to find a good YouTube video for a song off of Todd Agnew's Christmas CD Do You See What I See? This week I'll be talking about Joseph. If you want to read my first and second posts for this blog series here are the links:



When I first bought this CD, Joseph's song "This is All I Have to Give" was one of the songs that stood out to me. I listened to it over and over again. Before listening to the album or seeing the movie The Nativity Story (which is what the clips in the video are from) I had never really thought about Joseph. He was just always there. I payed more attention to Marry and the angels and shepherds than anyone else. But in the last few years I've grown to have an amazing appreciation for Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. It must have been strange for him to have to act as a father to the Son of God...

In recent years I've seen more and more of my family members and my friends get married and have children. It's a really exciting time in our lives and I love seeing all of these changes. When I think of new dads, there are two people I think of.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Can You Save Me?

In case you missed my latest blog the other day  (Click Here To Read It) let me get you up to date.

For the seasons of Advent/Christmas I am doing a blog series on Todd Agnew's Christmas CD Do You See What I See? Each song is from the point of view of a different person in the Christmas story. It is one of my all time favorite Christmas CDs and I want to be share it with all of you.

The next song is called No Room and it is sung by the Inn Keeper and his wife. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a whole video or audio clip. But here is a link to a preview and you should be able to download the song from there:


Today, my roommate and I had a hard time believing that it was already December 1st. It's crazy how time flies isn't it? Then December is one of the months of the year that seems to fly by even faster than usual because of how busy everyone is with the holidays. I know that I have already begun to feel like that. Between Thanksgiving, getting sick and seeing the doctor twice now, helping the local Lutheran high school with their play, getting Advent Dinners together with the youth, and everything else that goes along with the season.... I can feel myself being torn in a hundred different directions. I know I am not the only one.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Are You Ready For Your Surprise?- Prelude

I'm going to be honest for a moment, and it might sound weird coming from a DCE. But in the past few years I haven't really enjoyed "Christian" music. There are only a handful of "Christian Artists" who I can really sit and listen to for long periods of time. I used to like Christian music a lot. For a few years it was almost all that I listened to. Maybe I went on Christian Radio Overload. Who knows? There are times when I turn to the popular Christian radio station in Cape and I can barely sit through a single song. Now, I don't want to criticize Christan music. If that's what you enjoy, that's awesome. All the more power to you, and again, there are some Christian music artists that I really like.

One of them is Todd Agnew. You may have heard one of his most popular songs "Grace Like Rain." He has a deep rich voice that at times could be compared to Johnny Cash, but with a larger range. He has a distinct sound that once you hear his voice you'll never forget it and you will know almost instantly when a song of his is playing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Confessions of an Emotional Masochist


When I was a student at Concordia, many of my friends would joke around about how I was the center of the infamous "Concordia Grape Vine". If one of my friends wanted to know something about someone on campus, I was the one the would go to. Well, since I have not lived on the campus of Concordia for about three years now, I am no longer the center of the "CGV". However, I have learned that I do happen to know a lot about another community of people....

TEENAGERS

As a youth minister I hear about all of the latest drama happening at the Jr. High and High Schools. If you are either currently in that age group, or remember what it was like, you should know what that is like. Who likes who and who is dating who changes nearly hourly. It can be exhausting. But I have to say, I am honored that the youth at St. Andrew and their friends trust me enough and feel comfortable with me to trust me with the goings on in their lives. It's awesome and I love it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Confessions, the Bible, Vampires, and LGBTQ- WOO HOO!



I've been debating writing this post for awhile and for several reasons.

Too risky - what if the people I work with and for don't like what I have to say?

Too "stick it to the man."

Some might view it as "immature and naive."

But I'm feeling brave today. I've had a long, tiring, and fantastic weekend. I got to stay up all Friday night with 30 teenagers.We talked about our struggles, what we believe in, who we can and cannot talk to, pain in our lives, relationships, and other random ridiculous things that make me laugh.  Sunday I was able to hang out with some of these teenagers again talking about music, playing card games, figuring out how to play the "game of life", and planning a red neck wedding. All of these things and recent events in the news and in society make me feel brave.

CONFESSION TIME. 

I am a bad Christian.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The REAL Job Description of a Youth Worker

The last two days have been a lot of planning for me. Which I guess in my life that's normal because a lot of what I do is plan events for the youth at my church.

But among all of the planning I do, people still ask me "so... what do you do?" Even the youth at times have asked me this. ::Sigh:: I told one of them once basically what my job was and they said "That's it?" ::Sigh::

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Need Help With a Project

In October SALCY is having an event I am PUMPED about. We'll be watching the movie To Save a Life to 8th-12th graders and tackling these two statements/questions from the movie:

How far would you go . . . How much would you risk . . . How hard would you fight . . . To Save a Life?


and


What's the point of all of this if you don't let it change you?

This movie is one of the few "Jesusy" movies that I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE. All of the youth and parents who have seen it so far love it, and I'm so excited about this lock-in in October. It covers issues like depression, suicide, cutting, teen pregnancy, divorce, pressures of school and getting into college, etc.

Because of what topics this movie addresses, we could have some really intense conversations at the lock-in. So I had the idea to put together a reference sheet of phone numbers and websites for crisis situations. The youth can use it for themselves or for someone that they know. I'll make sure everyone goes home with at least one copy of this sheet. It turned into an all day project! Which is great.

This is where you come in. I'm posting the websites and phone numbers that I've found. 1) so that you also can have these as references 2) in case you have any suggestions about what to put on the sheet or what to take off.

I would love to hear your feedback!


-Suicide
If you or someone you know is/has attempted to commit suicide call 911 IMMEDIATELY.
24/7 Hopeline: 1-800-SUICIDE or www.hopeline.com
MO Suicide Hotline: 1- 800-356-5395
-Child Abuse
National Child Abuse Hotlinewww.childhelp.org or 1-800-4-A-CHILD
MO DFS Hotline:  1-800-392-3738
-Helplines
Community Counseling Center (in Cape):  1-800-356-5395 or 573-334-1100
Teen Advice/Supportwww.teenhelp.org
-Cutting/Self-Mutilation
S.A.F.E. Alternatives: www.seflinjury.com or 1-800-DONT-CUT
-Abuse, Rape, Domestic Violence, Incest, etc.
National Domestic Violence Helpline: www.thehotline.org or 1-800-799-SAFE
SEMO-NASV: http://semonasv.typepad.com/ or 573-332-1900
National Sexual Assault Hotline:  1-800-656-HOPE
-Eating Disorders
National Eating Disorders Association: www.nationaleatingdisorders.org or 1-800-931-2237
Faith Based Help for Eating Disorders: www.findingbalance.com
-LGBTQ
The Trevor Projectwww.thetrevorproject.org or 866-4-U-TREVOR (24/7 helpline)
-Addiction
Celebrate Recovery (Hurts, Habits, and Hang Ups):  JoAnne Erlbacher 450-0246
For Families of Addicts: www.al-anon.org
Substance Abuse Treatment Center Locator: www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov
-Depression and Counseling
To Write Love on Her Arms:  www.twloha.com
Mental Health Treatment Center Locator:  www.mentalhealth.samhasa.gov
Christian Counseling Services Locator: www.aacc.net
-Teen Pregnancy
Stay Teen (As featured on Secret Life of the American Teenager):  www.stayteen.org
MTV’s it’s Your Sex Life:  www.itsyoursexlife.com
Lutheran Family and Child Services of MO: http://lfcsmo.org or 334-5866

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Anti-Resolutions

I find it interesting that even though I am not a student anymore my life is still run by school schedules, classes, school events, school rules, and the school calendar. When I plan the year for the youth group I still divide it into "fall semester", "spring semester", and "summer vacation" in my mind. (Which, in youth ministry, summer isn't really a "vacation" despite all of the traveling you do.) My planner is filled with dates of sporting events, school plays and musicals, and days when I'm picking kids up from school. It looks remarkably like my planner did when I was in high school and college. It's as though not a whole lot as changed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Advice for Teenage Girls- My Two Cents

 I hope you all liked reading what others had to say about relationships and what they would tell Jr. high girls about guys and relationships. It's so impressive to me that people took this so seriously and really thought about what they wanted to say.

Well, I thought that I would put in my two cents. This is what I would tell young women today about love, dating, sex, and relationships.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

If You Could Tell Girls About Relationships... Part 2

I think I'm finally recovered from the Twilight Lock-In last week. Just in time for our trip to 6 Flags too!!!! Oh summers in youth ministry. It's so fun!

Recap: In my last blog I told you all about how I asked various women for their advice to jr. high girls about relationships and then gave you their answers.
The general advice given was: don't let a guy ruin your dreams, be friends first, be yourself, don't rush into anything you don't want to do, put your relationship with God first, be honest, don't worry, listen to your gut, you are beautiful, find a man who loves God, God has a plan, and a healthy relationship is hard work.

Friday, July 2, 2010

If You Could Tell Girls About Relationships... Part 1

As many of you may know, Wednesday night I held an all-girl Twilight lock-in where we went to go see the movie Eclipse. Many of you told me I am insane... I won't argue with that. Haha.

For the lock-in portion of the night we did some guy talk. Which makes sense considering it was with a bunch of  jr. high/going into high school girls who just saw a Twilight movie. (They LOVE Taylor Lautner, it's so funny!) As I was preparing I thought that it would be really cool to get some insight from women who are older than them.

The responses I got? WOW! So awesome! I was completely floored by how many people responded and gave such awesome answers. I asked St. Andrew members, non-St. Andrew members, Christians, non-Christians, single, married, dating, engaged, ages 20-60's, etc. The variety was so cool and everyone took it so seriously. Then even beyond that, everyone wanted to know what everyone else was saying. Therefore, the blog. Some people wrote a lot, which was great, but it would take up way too much space. So I'm only going to do highlights/summaries/short quotes of what people said.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chief of Hypocrites

The other day I was going to write a blog entitled "What Bothers Me About Books Today", or something a long those lines. I was going to rant and rave about all of these books that I see at bookstores lately and how terrible they are. Particularly non-fiction books for Christian women.Don't get me wrong. Not all of these books are terrible. I've enjoyed a few of them actually. I thought that Captivating was wonderful. But I can't help but get angry when I see these books at times. They have titles such as "Who Holds the Key to Your Heart", "Feminine Modesty", "The Quest for Meanness and Quietness of Spirit" (No I am not kidding about these titles.) or they are intended for mothers. The most common I find are the ones that talk about romantic relationships. How to find the perfect Christian husband of your dreams, how to keep the perfect Christian husband of your dreams, or what to do while you wait for the perfect Christian husband of your dreams. Basically it's saying "a good Christian girl must get married and have lots of good Christian babies and then you will be fulfilling God's plan for your life. And if you haven't found him yet, it's OK because you will someday or something is wrong with you." Did you know that I actually saw a book in the Christian section called "How to Avoid the Ten Mistakes Single Women Make"? Yeah. You read that right.

Oh I'm sorry, I thought I was defined by my relationship with Christ, not by my martial status. My apologies, I'll get on that right away.

EXCUSE ME????? I don't think so.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Truth and Dare

One of my youth came up with that idea in a way to be honest. Truth and Dare.

I was telling one of my 8th graders that I was working on planning our Jr. High Getaway for June. We started to talk about what we did the year before and how we had gone in a cave and how most people in the group had never done that before. She told me that might be a good idea for this years theme. To in a sense dare everyone to do something over the weekend that they had never done before. So I started to think about it and remembered how last year the group also really enjoyed playing the game Truth or Dare that weekend (like any other jr. high kids).

So this year's theme for the Jr. High Getaway is "Truth and Dare". God's truth, so now what is He "daring" you to do?

Now all we need is a theme verse/story. Originally I thought of 2 Timothy 1:6-7 "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." It made me think of being willing to take risks and God challenging us.

I also went to BibleGateway.com and I searched for "truth." Do you know how many times Jesus says "I tell you the truth"? Almost anytime (in the NIV translation) the word "truth" is mentioned it's Jesus saying "I tell you the truth", and many times it's followed by an action. A dare if you will.

Look it up, tell me what you think. Any suggestions for a good theme verse for my Jr. High trip?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Telling my Story



I had taken a hiatus from reading Donald Miller's book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, but this morning I picked it up again. At the beginning of the book he talked about a friend named Bob who wrote down everything he remembered. Which I think is a great idea and I've been debating with myself if maybe I should start to do the same thing. I just read the chapter where Donald met Bob for the first time, and let me tell you, Bob and his family LIVE AN AMAZING STORY. I won't tell it to you because I think you all need to go read the book and find out for yourself. It's fantastic. Do you know what I thought though after I read it?

EPIC FAIL EMILY. Sitting at my desk, checking facebook, talking to a college friend on instant messenger, and reading a book. What kind of story is THAT???? Fail Emily, fail. So I'm back to thinking about my story. What kind of story is my life telling?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I SHOULD be Working on my Newsletter Article...

As the title of today's post says... I should be working on my article for our church newsletter The Lamplighter. Sigh. That's a fail. But in my defense, I was inspired for this blog while I was attempting at getting inspired for The Lamplighter. I was going through my favorite books (most of them written by the authors I mentioned in my last post) and looking through what I had underlined/highlighted to see if I could get any ideas. I got ideas... but my Lamplighter article needs to be much shorter than the ideas I had. Again... failing at writing my lamplighter article.

Anyways, I came across this quote in Donald Miller's book Searching for God Knows What and it really hit me today. "The greatest comfort I can feel in the middle of this is that Jesus did not lend Himself to war causes, to tax issues or political campaigns. For that matter, He did not lend Himself to raising money for education or stumping for affirmative action. It was as if He did not trust us to build a utopia. He kept it very simple, in fact. Follow me, He said. I have no opinion about what color the paint should be in this prison. Follow me."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Story

Something to note about me. I love to read. I read ALL OF THE TIME. One of the nice things about not being in school anymore is that I have more opportunities to read the books that I want to read, vs. the ones that my teachers or professors tell me to read. Beyond the fiction books I read there are a few authors that I absolutely LOVE. They are my reference people and I feel as though I can trust the books they have written. When I buy one of their books I am confident that they will not disappoint me. I also need to actually buy these books usually because I end up making notes in them and highlighting and underlining all over them. These authors are: Rob Bell , Brian McLaren,  Brennan Manning, Donald Miller, and  Shane Claiborne. These are my references. When I feel like I need to be inspired for something, I usually turn to these guys. I wish that someday I could have them all meet together in a room and I could pick their brains. It would be incredibly interesting, they would have fantastic stories to tell, and we would probably laugh a lot. 


So if you are reading this blog, I'm probably going to reference these authors a lot. (Along with some fiction writers too, but I won't have you worry about them right now.)


Yesterday I picked up Donald Millers new book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and I'm about halfway through it. (I really really fast by the way.) What he's talking about in this book is living out a story, your life story. Some movie guys came up to Don and said that they wanted to make a movie out of his book Blue Like Jazz. While creating the screenplay for the movie Don realizes that his life is actually too boring to be a movie. So he has to create new things for the plot so that it can translate to the movie screen from the book. Through this process he realizes that he is not living a good story.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The God Question

One of my favorite authors is Brian McLaren. I love his ideas and his writing style. It's so interesting and what I love about him is that he really challenges how I think. Some of my other favorites usually I can agree with pretty easily. What makes Brian McLaren unique is that what he says sometimes I respond with "I never thought of it that way before" or "I'm not sure I agree with that" or "Right on" or I simply am speechless cause I don't know how to respond.

He has a new book called A New Kind of Christianity and he has been doing some videos about the questions he addresses in the book. This video is about "The God Question."

Hopefully I can post that video correctly so you all can see it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Silence

 I'm reading a book called Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus. If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook you might notice that on occasion I'll quote the book on my status. The book defines contemplative as "be in the temple. It means to rest in the temple or presence of God." One of the things I am appreciating about this book is that the author (Mark Yaconelli) has you go through different exercises so that you can truly understand what he is talking about in the book. The chapters today were especially difficult for me because they required me to be in silence and simply be in the presence of God. So I left my office and decided to hide out in the activities center for a little while so no one could distract me. I needed to focus on seeing first, then hearing, then what my body was feeling, and then simply on God.

That was hard.

But it made me think of Junior year at Concordia when I experience silence once... and I wanted to share.