Saturday, February 28, 2009

Good Stuff So Far

It's "Day 2" at the National Youth Ministries Conference and it's been a very positive and encouraging experience so far. I'm attending a track by Kent Julian on Developing Student Leaders and really enjoying it. We've had great discussions and Kent has had really good insights. The big "take-a-way" from today ... God is responsible for transformation. We are responsible for environment. We also took a "style of leadership" eval today called TEMP. T = Take Charge. E = Enthusiastic. M = Mellow. P = Precise. With a possible 40 points in each category, I scored a 40 on the Mellow part, a 28 on the Enthusiastic part, an 18 on the Precise part, and a 14 on the Take Charge part. I definately wear different hats in ministry and there are times when I need to put each of those different hats on, but my "default" mode is to be pretty mellow. If it weren't so late, I'd go in to more detail about all of this. Maybe when I'm not so tired.
Kay Warren spoke in the main session tonight and God really used her. Just great thoughts on what it means to surrender, be broken, and to be ruined. Being in ministry means I need to be all of those things.

Saw some really funny videos tonight as well. Hope to get those posted soon.

I'm really enjoying the time with Carol and Mercy also. And, Ezra is doing great with Eric & Debbie! Here is a picture of Carol and Mercy.

Friday, February 27, 2009

We Made It

Finally made it to the National Youth Ministries Conference. I had my doubts there for a while! The morning started at 6:30am when I got up for my 7 mile run. Carol also had MOPS this morning plus getting things ready for the trip plus getting breakfast for Ezra plus getting the kids ready for MOPS plus getting herself ready for MOPS ... long story short ... I stayed at the gym longer than I planned to and should have been home earlier so I could help Carol get things ready. Well, that started the morning out in the wrong way, but we worked through that and are back to our "cuddly" selves. :)

Got home and had to get ready for a funeral this morning. Remember that 7 mile run I mentioned? I was sweating like a dog afterwards, which meant the seat in my car was a little sweat drenched. I didn't realize that until AFTER I got out of the car for the funeral and thought to myself "My butt feels wet." Wouldn't you know it ... there was a big, and I mean BIG, ring of wetness around my butt from my sweaty seat! Gross. So, I'm walking around this funeral with a wet butt.

I survived that and came home only to find Ezra and Mercy both crying when they got home. Yikes! Needless to say, leaving for the trip was getting a bit crazy at this point. We finally dropped Ezra off and started our way to OH. The trip was 3 1/2 hours and Mercy cried for about an hour and a half of it! Oh my word, I was starting to go crazy. We pulled over a few times to try to calm her down. Finally, she started to calm down and we made it to the hotel at 6:45pm.

The first session was really good. This conference makes announcements fun and funny! The speakers, Alex and Brett Harris really did great and challlenged us that teenagers today are able to understand the "big" things of God and God is able to use them to do big things! It was a great encouragement.

I haven't had time to check anything else out yet, but am looking foward to doing that tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Random Stuff

The Top 5 Songs played on my ipod:

1. Our Love is Loud by David Crowder

2. No One Like You by David Crowder

3. Marvelous Light by Charlie Hall

4. Here is Our King by David Crowder

5. All Over the World by Matt Redman

- I'm feeling a little "punchy" today so I've just been thinking about something. It's amazing what adding or subtracting a letter from a word can do to the meaning of the word. For instance: "Sneak Peek" becomes "Sneaky Pee" by adding a "y" and dropping a "k."

- This picture just makes me laugh! Oh, man. Gotta be honest. I've felt that before!

- And, this picture is just a little disturbing to me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

You Never Know ...

One thing I've learned since being a pastor is you never know what a day may bring. Today ... a death, a person who believes their house may have a demon, and a young woman who wants to know if God thinks it's OK for her to be an exotic dancer. And, who said an office job would be boring.

Monday Monday

- Had a great, great time at the 2:8 Weekend. It's the first time Jon and I have ever combined a retreat. We combined 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade and had a retreat geared toward teaching kids how to share their faith and challenging them to do so. The theme verse was 1 Thessalonians 2:8 and the challenge was share your faith with 2 friends in 8 weeks. We had many kids commit to doing that and also had 9 kids make decisions for Jesus! Here are a couple of pictures from the weekend.

I think it was a good combination of fun and seriousness. Fun stuff: a dance competition, bowling, an American Idol contest, dodge ball tourney, video games ... and just hanging out. Serious stuff: 2 challenges from Darrin Holsopple on being sold out for God and what it means to be saved and 2 "break out" sessions ... 1 on sharing your story and another on tools for sharing God's story. It really was a good time, but only getting 3 hours of sleep Friday night ... well, it takes me a bit longer to recover from that than it used too.

- Just found out about 2 deaths. One is the mother of a girl who occasionally attends axis. She was 38 and died of cancer. We've been praying for this young girl and the entire family. The other was of a man who has been a regular attendee of Grace for a few years. He's been in poor health ever since I've known him, but was always cheerful and praising God. When I heard of his death, I was sad for a few moments and then really just happy for the guy. He's in heaven feeling better than he ever has in years and is worshipping at the feet of Jesus!

- I'm getting geared up for the National Youth Ministries Conference this weekend. I'm very excited to go and looking forward to learning and hopefully being able to connect with other youth pastors. This will be my third year going and I have always come back refreshed and encouraged. This year I'm attending a track on student leaders. I'm really wanting to invest more in my leaders and just want to see how others have done that. It will also be nice to have a weekend away with Carol and Mercy. Carol's not going to the conference but will be staying at the hotel and she's bringing Mercy too.

- I'm looking forward to teaching in axis on Wednesday. This Wednesday will be a very practical teaching time on what we can do to take care of the environment. We'll start recycling at axis this Wednesday and I'm looking forward to implementing more of these things at home and in axis. I have a few video ideas that I'd like to use for illustrations, so hopefully all goes well.

- Half Marathon training is coming along OK. I ran 6 miles on Friday ... have a 7 mile run scheduled for this weekend.

- Went to a party last night for some friends who lost their daughter last year. Yesterday was her birthday and they just had a celebration for her ... on display were here favorite books, and pictures. They also had some of her favorite foods and we just spent time talking about her. It was very special.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wednesday Wrap Up

Topic: God's Planet, Our Responsibility

Lesson in a Sentence: This planet gives us a picture of God and is His gift to us. We have a responsibility to take care of it.

Attendance: 184 with 10 first time visitors

Student Involvement: We had students greeting, serving in the cafe, working in the tech booth, and playing on the worship band.

Worship Set: Forever (Chris Tomlin), Better is One Day (Matt Redman), Indescribable (Chris Tomlin)

Fun Stuff: Dodge ball and the Discovery Channel "Boom De Ada" commercial. (an idea taken from More Than Dodgeball).

Lesson in More Than a Sentence: I talked briefly about two times in my life when I was so overwhelmed with creation that I was 100% absolutely without-a-doubt certain that God existed. The first time was when I went to the Grand Canyon. The second time was last year when I went to Alaska. I felt so small when confronted with these amazing natural wonders. My "self-centeredness" took a back seat to the idea that someone (God) a whole bigger and smarter than I created all of this.

We watched 3 separate 3 minute videos (The Apollo 8 reading of Genesis 1, a clip from Louie Guiglio's "Indescribable" talk, and the "King of the Ocean" clip from the Discovery Channel's Blue Planet). I wanted to use these clips to show that we can see different aspects of God through what He has created. We also saw a variety of pictures of landscapes and wild life. Romans 1:20 talks about being able to see God through His creation so that we are "without excuse."

We then talked about how in Genesis 1, God gave all that He created to man. He entrusted us with it. We used the example of what it would be like if you put all of your best time and efforts and creativity in to making a gift for your boyfriend or girlfriend, and after giving it to them, they spilt soda all over it, got ketchup on it, dropped it on the floor and allowed it to be stepped on ... and did nothing to clean up what you gave them. Would you be hurt? Of course. So, we related that to how God gave us this incredible gift ... the earth ... so we have a responsibility to take care of it.

Next week, we'll look at practical things we can to do help the environment.

Personal Thoughts: This will definately be a journey for me and for our kids. I'll be honest, I know Carol and I haven't been doing "our part" in recycling, etc. But, we've really been challenged in this area lately and want to do better. So, I'll be learning as our kids are learning. It will be fun and I'm excited about the changes that we'll be making in our family.

Pictures from the Night:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Quiet Time

Yikes, Wednesdays can be busy. Maybe if I were a better organizer or administrator or planner they wouldn't be quite as hectic. Maybe if I could prepare a lesson faster or more efficiently, they wouldn't be quite as hectic. But, the reality is ... they are hectic for me. But, every Wednesday I have a quiet time in the Link (where axis meets). I like to walk in there some time in the afternoon when no one else is around. It's quiet, relaxed, peaceful. I'll sit down on the stage or I'll walk around the room and I pray. Today I just sat on the stage for a few minutes and looked out at the chairs. I was reminded that every chair represents a student ... a student who is trying their hardest to follow God ... or a student who could care less about God. Every chair represents a student who just had a great dinner with their family ... or a student who has just been abused by their family. Every chair represents a student who desires to know God ... or a student who even wonders if God is around.

Today, I was simply reminded of my calling and prayed that we would be able to reach each student no matter where they are at on their spiritual journey. "God, allow us to be a GREAT youth ministry tonight where kids walk in and feel loved and accepted ... they get a clear picture of who you are ... and they simply walk away with a desire to know you more." Amen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Monday

- Just finished sending out visitor letters to the 9 "first timers" at axis Wednesday and also finished following up with the 16 kids that made decisions for Jesus. Man ... 16 kids get saved and 9 kids visit for the first time ... wow, God!

- I'm thinking about starting a 2 week series at axis this week on "going green." This is something that Carol and I have really been challenged with and have set as one of our goals for the year. We simply just want to be more environmentally conscious ... not all out "tree huggers" but maybe give trees a "side hug." if that makes sense. God has given us this place and we are to be stewards of what God has given us. So, Carol and I have been wondering how we can simply be better stewards of the environment. It should make for an interesting change in our family and an interesting next two weeks at axis.

- Two things that I've noticed really make my breath stink: cheese and coffee. I've had both of them today, so ... you've been warned.

- From the looks of it, it's going to be a busy week. 5 Star today, prepping for axis Wednesday, 2:8 Weekend all-nighter Friday & Saturday ... lots of stuff to accomplish this week.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Daddy-Daughter Dance

One of my favorite things at Grace Community has been the Daddy-Daughter Dance we've been doing for the past couple of years. I'm convinced my pastor growing up is turning over in his grave hearing that our church hosts a dance! But, he's probably dancing in heaven right now, so maybe he's happy we're having dances.

It is so cool for me to see dads investing in their daughters ... dressing up, taking them out, dancing with them ... from the very first year that we did it, I fell in love with this event. Here are a few pictures.

Not only was it cool to see dad's loving on their daughters, it was also cool to see kids from axis putting on the dance. They did most of the decorating, set up, tear down ... and a ton of dancing too! Here are a few songs from the play list:
- I Like to Move It from Madagascar
- U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer
- Nobody's Perfect by Hannah Montana
- Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough by Michael Jackson
- Beautiful by Christina Aguilera
- Cinderella by Steven Curtis Chapman (Now that I have a daughter, I actually cried during that song).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wednesday Wrap Up

Topic: For some of you ... It's Time.

Lesson In a Sentence: Good people don't go to heaven. Forgiven people go to heaven.

Attendance: Don't have exact numbers at the moment, but I'm estimating 180 to 190 with 9 first time visitors.

Student Involvement: We had kids greeting at the doors, working in the tech booth, on the worship team, sharing testimonies, counseling, and working in the cafe.

Fun Stuff: In honor of Valentine's Day, we started things out with a power point game called "Cheesy Pick-up Lines." Lots of fun.

Lesson in More Than a Sentence: This was a difficult lesson for me to teach. We looked at the story in Luke 16:19 - 31 about the "Rich Man and Lazarus." Lazarus goes to heaven and the rich man goes to hell. It was a hard story to talk about because it's basically about a person suffering in hell. I shared that with our kids and then shared the Gospel with them. The whole premise was that it's not good people who go to heaven, but it's forgiven people that go to heaven. The way to be forgiven is through Jesus Christ. I gave an opportunity for kids to respond and we had 16 kids make decisions for Jesus. We had those kids meet with an adult or one of our student leaders to talk and pray and then to give them a follow up tool. We also had those kids write something on our It's Time wall. Wow, what a night!

Personal Thoughts: I felt very, very distracted during middle school. We had kids sitting at tables (an experiment we are trying) and our middle school kids just seemed to be talking quite a bit. While I'm sharing I just felt distracted for about 90% of the time. The last 10% of the time, though, I felt like things calmed down and the Holy Spirit started moving. When I gave an opportunity for kids to respond to the Gospel, we had 16 kids make decisions. All 16 were in middle school. It's interesting because during our high school time, I really felt like God was moving. Man, kids were engaged and paying attention and there really didn't seem like there was any talking going on at all. I saw kids making major eye contact the entire time. I wouldn't have been surprised if the whole room got up and made decisions. But, when given the opportunity, no one in senior high did. I'm still convinced that kids were really challenged and that some did make decisions. It's cool how God works and it's also interesting to try to work through if this was a difference between middle and high school or if there were just kids in high school who were really hardened. Interesting to think about. But, praise God for 16 kids getting saved! Woo Hoo!

Pictures of What Kids Wrote on the It's Time Wall:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

2009 axis goals

I wanted to show you our new log (if you haven't figured it out, it's the big thing above this sentence) and also share the goals that I set for axis this year. My desire is to really try to stay focused this year and to keep things simple and, in so doing, see our ministry grow in our 4 key areas. If you're able, please take a second to pray that we'll meet these goals and keep in step with the Holy Spirit's plan for 2009.
  • “Focus, Daniel-son.” Stay focused on the “FAB 4.” Don’t stray to the left or to the right or get caught up in stuff that doesn’t matter. Move forward: Know Serve Involve Impact … only!

    · Watch a passionate, hope-filled, on mission tribe of teenagers take this town by storm and reach their generation for Jesus.

    · See the hearts of our teenagers “bleed” for service.

    · Axis 3.1: Download the latest version of axis online and upload an online community of teenagers interacting with each other.

    · Strap myself in and hold on tight as I watch our teenagers SHAKE the very foundation of their schools by putting them on mission to “Just Do Something” every Thursday in the place where they will spend a majority of their teenage years.

    · Chop off the “talking head” Wednesday nights and incorporate a more interactive, discussion driven style of learning about God.

    · Plug a kid in and turn on small groups/chat groups once a month on Wednesday nights for an opportunity to DIG DEEP and DISCUSS what we believe. Huh … maybe call them “3D” groups. Just came up with that on the spot. J

    · Take over 100 Elkhart County, 4H lovin’ teenagers to Momentum in Pittsburgh, PA. Rock their world!

    · Push the 300 mark by the end of the year.

    · Kick start grade specific activities in the Link twice a month.

    · Get out the War-ship and shoot the enemy out of the sky when we worship.

    · Tangle our kids up in “Big Church.”

    · Teenagers + Caring Adults = The friendliest place in Goshen on a Wednesday night.

    · Hold 3 events for middle school and 3 events for high school ministries. Don’t let them be as boring as the previous sentence.

    · Did I mention “focus?” Focus on what matters most.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Birthday

In a continued effort to celebrate ALL office birthdays ... today we celebrate Jon's big day! Jon turns 31 today and will eventually be able to grow facial hair. :) Happy Birthday, Jon. Can't wait to dig in to that cake!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wednesday Wrap Up

Topic: It's Time to "Out Give"

Lesson in a Sentence: Give your best no matter what you're doing.

Attendance: 190 with 7 first time visitors.

Student Involvement: We had kids involved in greeting, passing out prize tickets, passing out prizes, working the cafe, taking pictures, working in the tech booth, on the worship team, and reading Scripture.

Fun Stuff: We had a little competition where we showed 4 Super Bowl commercials and asked students to guess my favorite commercial by going to a designated corner. The kids that guessed correctly won 50cents Cafe Cash. The kids just LOVED watching the commercials again and there was a ton of laughter in the room.

Lesson in More Than a Sentence: We talked through the idea that no matter what we are doing, God wants us to give our best. We looked at Malachai 1:8 which talks about how wrong God said it was for priest to sacrifice "blind, crippled or diseased" animals. God wants our best. We watched a video from an episode of The Biggest Loser where there was a contestant who was NOT giving her best and the impact it had on everyone else at the "ranch." We also looked at Colossians 3:23 which says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Often times when we think about giving, we relate that to money. And, we touched on that aspect a little bit with our teenagers, but I tried to drive home the idea that God wants us to give our best at everything we do. If you work at McDonald's, be the best burger flipper around. If your mom asks you to clean your room, don't just sweep the stuff under the bed. Go above and beyond what your mom asks of you. Do your best at everything you do, no matter what it is.

Personal Thoughts: If felt like God was really speaking to our kids Wednesday night. Kids were worshipping during the worship set and also really seemed like they were challenged during the lesson. I shared with our kids a prayer I pray every day: I ask God to help me be a "great husband, a great dad, and a great youth pastor." When I die, I don't want to be known as an average husband, an average dad, and average pastor. I don't even want to be known as good. I want my wife, my kids, and the teenagers in my ministry to say, "He was great!" ... not in a boastful or proud way, but because I just really want to give my best. After I shared that, it was cool to have some kids come up to me and just briefly tell me some encouraging things.

Pictures from the Night:

Monday Monday

- Haven't been able to post for a few days because I was in PA over the weekend. My dad was supposed to go to the hospital on Thursday to have a stent put in his heart. By all accounts, it was to be a pretty routine procedure and he would be "in and out" in no time. Well, as the doctors were getting ready to put the stent in, they discovered that he actually had 4 blocked arteries: one 100%, two 80%, and one 60%. So, they immediately sent him to a hospital near Pittsburgh and decided to do a quadruple by-pass on Friday. Everyone in the family was completely taken off guard by this, especially my mom. So, when my mom called and told me about it, I decided to take a couple of days off and drive to PA to be there for the surgery. My three other brothers and my sister, who lives in Oklahoma, were also able to be there. It was about a 4 hour surgery. All went well and my dad is now recovering in the hospital and should be back home Tuesday or Wednesday.

- It's very sobering to see your dad on life support after the surgery. Brings a lot of stuff "home" for you and reminds you of what's truly important in life. There was one family in the waiting room whose mother had the same surgery, but wasn't doing very well. We had an opportunity to talk with them and just simply try to be an encouragement to them. I'm wondering now how she is doing, but not sure how to find out.

- I did nothing but sit most of the weekend. 7 hours of driving Thursday. 10 hours in the hospital Friday. 10 hours in the hospital Saturday. 7 hours of driving on Sunday. 34 hours of basically sitting over the weekend. So, why am I so tired today?

- Got pulled over on the way to PA. Yikes! Two times in a week. I was driving through OH and had my cruise set at 72mph. I was NOT in the passing lane and was actually between 2 semis ... but the policeman said he clocked me doing 75mph. THANKFULLY he just gave me a warning. Whew! I'm really not this bad of a driver ... or maybe I'm just in denial.

- I knew I was in Western PA when there was no wireless connection at the hospital. I also knew I was in Western PA by hearing the very distinct Pittsburgh accent. Never knew I had that accent growing up. Strangely enough, when I hear it, it has a calming effect on me.

- Common statements you might hear in Western PA:
"Don't feed 'dem duck, dey got disease."
"Yunz watchin' da Stillers 'n at."
"Santanio Holmes went don tawn wit 'dat Super Bowl catch."
"Dese pants make me look like a jag off."

- Ah, yes ... the memories of growing up in Western PA.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Staying Physically Healthy in Youth Ministry

For some reason, any time someone in the offices wants some "junk" food, they always knock on my door. A phrase I often hear is "Got any chocolate?" Have to be honest, I've definately earned the title of Pastor with Most Junk Food in His Desk Drawer.

One of the dangers of being in youth ministry is that we are often surrounded by junk food. Have an event ... order pizza. Having kids over ... get tacos. Scheduling a meeting ... be sure to bring donuts. Our cafe is loaded with candy bars and soft drinks. Teenagers and junk food just go together and, that's one of the cool things about being a teenager ... you can eat about as much of that stuff as you want and you don't really see the effects. But, I'm 37 now. The days of eating an entire pizza are long gone. Oh, I could still do it, but my body doesn't seem to burn off 8,000 calories as easily as it used too.

So, I've been trying to be more health conscience for the past couple of years. I won't be training people on The Biggest Loser any time soon, but here are the steps I'm trying to take to be healthy:

- Exercise. I jog 3 to 4 times a week. I'm currently training for a half marathon and hope to run a few 5K's during the year as well. I do better if I have something to train for. Plus, I want to be able to run around with my own kids and be able to play dodgeball with the teenagers in our youth ministry without huffing and puffing.

- Drink water. Carol bought me a Nalgene for Christmas. I try to drink at least one Nalgene of water a day. That's 32 ounces ... plus what I drink at meals. It typically comes out to around 40 to 50 ounces of water a day.

- Eat fruits and vegetables. I try to have oatmeal 3 days a week and a fruit and vegetable at every meal.

- Be careful at the events. If I know there's an event coming up where there will be lots of junk food, I really try to discipline myself during the week so I don't feel as bad about eating some of the "junk" at the event. Also, I try to limit myself at those events.

- Understand moderation. I like chocolate. I'm a huge fan of Star Bucks. We have a local bakery with the most amazing cup cakes I've ever had. Honestly, I'm not giving those things up. So, I try to eat those types of things in moderation.

- Don't Beat Myself Up. There are going to be times when I give in to the junk food cravings. That happened just last week. Man, I just really wanted a cup cake. I had already had my share of sweets for the day, but that cup cake was just calling my name. So, even though it was completely unnecessary, I got one ... and it was really good. That's going to happen every once in a while. Don't beat yourself up. Wipe off your mouth and get back to it the next day. For me, I ran an extra mile the following day and was a little more careful with what I ate.

- "Healthy" is a life style. To stay healthy, I have to make it a lifestyle. The crash diets may work for a while, but there's no way to maintain those types of things for a long haul. "Healthy" is a way of life that takes discipline.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

If You Give a Teenager a Camera ...

During our services Sunday, some of our teenagers spent the first service making "Super Subs" for a fundraiser that we do every year. I wasn't able to be with our kids the entire time, but I wanted some pictures taken of what they were doing so I gave the camera to one of our teenage guys. I get the digital camera back and there are about 150 pictures taken just like these:

I'll make sure these pictures come back to "haunt" them some day. :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Monday

- Really cool services at Grace yesterday. Jim's topic was "Out Give" and really challenged us on being generous even in hard economic times (2 Corinthians 8:1 - 7). Elkhart County has been hit as hard as any place in the United States with hard economic times, but it's times like this where the church needs to step up and BE THE CHURCH. So, we were challenged to continue being generous and then also challenged to step up and be the Acts 2 church. Some cool things that happened at the end of the services were that people were coming forward and offering their services to others ... mechanics offering labor free service, beauticians offering free or very inexpensive hair cuts, people giving $100 gift cards away, teenagers offering free baby sitting ... very cool.

- Schools in Pittsburg are operating on a 2-hour delay today ... not because of snow or cold, but because the Steelers won the Super Bowl! That's awesome. We watched the Super Bowl with around 25 other teenagers last night at the church. It was a lot of fun, but I should have known that our kids would be up to something trying to distract me from the game. So, some kids got together and tried to come up with a "crisis" for me to handle during the game (a big argument between a boyfriend and girl friend that was escalating). One of my AWESOME youth leaders, though, was tipped off and texted me about a minute before "the plan" was put in to action. So, I went with it for about 1 minute and then went back to the game. It was fun to look like I was psychic. :) They were also standing up in front of our big screen trying to block my view of the game. Ah, I love teenagers! But, I am PUMPED that the Steelers won. What a game!

- Peter King from CNN/Sports Illustrated wrote a great piece on chemistry in his column today. Here's a bit of it:

"Chemistry didn't win the most exciting Super Bowl I've covered, but chemistry did wear a Pittsburgh jersey. I'm convinced it played a part in what happened in the Steelers' last-minute 27-23 win, the same way organization and intelligence helped New England win three Super Bowls. Chemistry got built three years ago in Pittsburgh when Jerome Bettis wanted to draw the franchise quarterback more into the fraternal graces of the locker room and started playing a silly game with Ben Roethlisberger, standing 20 yards from the goal post and seeing who could be the first one to hit an upright with a pass. It stays built because Tomlin flits from group to group at practice, being involved, touching almost every player every day. "FAST Willie Parker!'' he'll say when Parker sprints upfield against air in a practice.

No one knows what chemistry is, or how important it is in winning. But you ask coaches, and they'll say they're trying to build the right chemistry on their team. Always. It's one of those things you can't define, but you can see. And the Steelers are full of it. I spent 10 minutes mesmerized by the defensive backs, one talking louder than the other (except the quiet Polamalu, who mostly looked on and smiled) as they went from a loud brotherly spat to peals of laughter.
The Steelers define "loose.''

"We're brothers,'' said cornerback Ike Taylor. "We're closer than brothers. Sometimes, when I miss a play, I feel awful about it because I feel like I've not only let myself down, but I've let down the group, and we play for each other, so if I fail, we all fail. That's a big responsibility.''

I'm so glad to be a part of a team at Grace that has so much chemistry! I feel blessed to be here and love the guys I work with.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Here We Go Steelers ... Here We Go

I'm about as pumped as I could possibly be for a football game. My Steelers are in the Super Bowl and I can't wait. My palms and underarms are sweaty already ... ok ... maybe a bit too much information. Ezra is so funny. Whenever he sees me wearing my Steelers jersey or hat he makes a running sound and moves his arms like he's running. He does that because he's watched football with me on TV and he associates the Steelers with running. It's really cute. Anyway, he's decked out in his new fleece that Grandma Yauger bought him. Mercy will be draped in the Terrible Towel. Carol's wearing her hat and I'm in my jersey! Go Steelers!

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