Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Yadnom

- So, after 2 1/2 years, I finally had my "sub-clavian" port removed. This port was inserted in to my chest and a long tube was put in to my sub-clavian vein. When I went for chemotherapy treatments, the nurses would insert an IV needle in to the port and would then inject the four different medications in to my body. Wow, even as I look at that picture right now, it's so strange to think that thing was in my body for over 2 1/2 years, countless samples of blood were drawn from it, and 8 long months of chemotherapy meds were injected in to it. Well, it's out now and it's so strange feeling my chest because there is no lump in it any more. Yeah, this is a good day!
- What a week last week! First Ferrah Faucett. Then, Michael Jackson. Now Billy Mays. I can't remember many weeks like this where we've lost so many famous entertainers. I obviously knew Ferrah and had seen Billy on TV many times, but the death that stunned me the most was Michael Jackson's. Stunned is really the only word I can think to describe how I felt and I think the reason for that is because, as I was growing up, and was really getting to a point where I was starting to remember things, Michael Jackson was just HUGE! So, his death was like losing a part of my teenage years. I also was just so saddened by how this amazing talent just seemingly couldn't find peace or fulfillment in his life. I hope that somehow, someway He knew Jesus.
- Yesterday I was able to go to our South Bend campus for church. It was really good to be there. I haven't had many opportunities to visit, but want to try to do it more often if only to let them know we are behind them and praying for them. This campus meets in Movies 14 in Mishawaka and they typically watch our services on dvd. Yesterday, they watched the final sermon in the "No Perfect People Allowed" series. This sermon began with an absolutlely amazing video which you can watch below if you'd like. What an amazing inspiration!
- Lots of time with teenagers this week. I meet with my teen small group this afternoon. Wednesday we have axis. Thursday, our axis student leaders will be helping with Community Hope at church. Friday is Fast Food Friday at Taco Time. And, Sunday, we're having our kids over to watch the fireworks. I'm really trying to use summer as a time to invest in kids. If I have a bowl full of "investment" I want it to be empty when I'm gone. I have just been so challenged to invest more and more in to our kids at axis. Man, I love those guys and girls and have noticed my role changing a bit ... there was a time (not any more, that's for sure) when I was sorta cool to hang out with just because I was a a college kid. High schoolers just thought it was cool to hang out with me. Now, I've noticed my role becoming more of a father type figure ... maybe not so cool to hang out with any more, but having a big influence in their lives! I pray for that often.
- I'm currently reading Training Camp by Jon Gordon. Wow! What a book! I've hi-lited, underlined, and written in the marges all over the place in this book. A couple of lines so far that have jumped out at me:
"To settle for anything less than your best is a waste of the gifts and calling you have been given."
"To deny being your best is to deny the gift you were meant to give others."
"I think a lot of people spend their life being average or good at something but they don't strive to become great."
"If you're not getting better, then it means you are getting worse."
- What am I trying to be great at? I'm trying to be a GREAT husband, a GREAT dad, and a GREAT pastor. The problem I often have is being trying to figure out how to be great at those three things without sacrificing being great at any of those things ... if that makes sense.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wednesday axis Wrap Up

Topic: Ask Us Anything

Questions: "Is smoking wrong" and "Does God have a view on illegal drugs and/or underage drinking?"

Student Involvement: We had kids on the worship team, tech team, cafe team, and the greeting team.

Attendance: We had about 1/4 of the kids that we normally have. We've noticed that every summer our attendance drops dramatically. This summer Wednesday was no different.

Fun Stuff: We started everything out by watching a funny clip from Land of the Lost, just to break the ice a bit.

Bible Verses: 1 Corinthians 6:12, 19 - 20, Titus 3:1

Lesson Review: We are doing a series in the summer called "Ask Us Anything." It's an opportunity for kids, well, to ask us anything. We are just that creative! :) We're giving kids an opportunty to submit questions through texting, Facebook, or our website. Our first two questions were really good. Even though there are not specifice verses in the Bible that deal with smoking or drugs, I tried to show our kids Biblical principles that were pretty clear in telling us to stay away from smoking and drugs. Plus ... anything with the word "illegal" in front of it ... pretty clear sign God wants us to NOT do it.

I showed a few different videos on the harmful effects of smoking and of drugs. Talked through the idea that we are not to be "mastered" by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12) and that our bodies are the "temple of the Holy Spirit." And, then we talked through the idea that drugs are just dumb and smoking is a dirty habit. I think the kids got the idea.

Afterwards, I prayed for all of our kids and desperately asked God to keep them free of drugs and of smoking. God, please do that for every kid involved in axis.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ahhh, teenagers

So, we're starting a summer series at axis called "Ask Us Anything" ... an opportunity for kids to text, facebook, or submit questions through our website ... questions about God, life, dating, family, etc. I guess I should realize by now that if I give that much room for a teeanger to "Ask Us Anything" I'm going to get some pretty interesting responses. Now, we've had some really good, really serious questions asked so far. Here are some of the "not so serious" ones:

- What are napkins made of?
- If I run in place for 30 minute while eating a Snickers bar, will I gain weight?
- Can getting wet while spraying a hose washing my car be classified as taking a shower?

Teenagers ... gotta love 'em.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday Yadnom

- So, in January of this year I had been having some reoccurring cancer symptoms ... reoccurring enough to be concerned and to also concern my oncologist. I had a PET/CT scan done in March and something "showed up" on the scan, but the doctor, quite honestly, wasn't sure if it was a reoccurrence of my cancer or if it was just something else that showed up on the scan (i.e. a virus). So, she suggested that we wait until June and have another PET/CT scan done then. (I just love the waiting game ... especially when it deals with cancer) haha. Anyway, I had the scan done last week and then met with my doctor today to go over the results. I am so happy to report that everything is OK! Woo Hoo! My latest scan had nothing unusual on it and the oncologist felt very confident that my specific type of cancer wouldn't come back. One of the difficulties of being diagnosed with cancer and then seeing the cancer go in to remission is that somewhere in the back of your head is the idea that it can come back. For me, it's not something I really worry about or concern myself with too much ... but it's always there like a nagging ache that you've just learned to live with. It doesn't keep you from functioning, but every once in a while you feel it and remember that it's there. So, when this happened earlier in the year, it was a little scary. The thought of going through treatments again ... uggg! Didn't even want to go there. And, then, after the initial scan in March ... to be told something is "there" but I have to wait another 3 months to find out exactly what it is ... yeah, didn't enjoy that too much. But, I really learned to just find rest in God through that waiting process. Worrying about it, letting it consume my thoughts, well, that really just wasn't going to be productive at all. So, why not let God worry about it instead of me. He's in control anyway and I just needed to trust that He would, and always will do what is best. Anyway, after 6 months of dealing with that, I'm glad it's over and super glad that everything is OK.

- Carol and I were able to make some really good relationships at the cancer center with some of the nurses. They were there through the the birth of Ezra. While I was getting a treatment in the infusion room, Carol was in a chair next to me in labor. About 16 hours later Ezra was born. The nurses and doctors were there for that and have always just shown a genuine interest in us and in Ezra and now in Mercy. It was good to see them today, but I could tell that it had been a difficult week last week. They had lost some patients. Actually, one of the nurses told me that they had lost 2 to 3 patients a day last week. The head of the cancer center said he's been doing this for 20 years and it's the worst week he's ever had! It really takes a special person to work in the oncology department. It's a very difficult field to work in. I'm so thankful for the Goshen Cancer Center and the staff there. If you think of it, say a prayer for them today.

- Had a wonderful Father's Day yesterday. Carol started the day out for me by getting up early and getting me an egg & cheese bagel from Dunkin Donuts and an iced coffee from Starbucks. I'm a big fan of both. So, that was a pleasant surprise. When I came home from church, I found just an absolutely wonderful card that Carol wrote for me and a Starbucks gift card and a "make your own" travel mug that Carol is going to fill with family pictures and the essay she wrote about me for the "He Is" series at Grace. We spent part of the afternoon just talking and then I spent part of the afternoon weeding our garden! Yikes! There were so many weeds. Seriously, it took 2 weeks for our garden to be overcome with weeds. Unreal. So, it felt really good to get it cleaned up a bit. We then went out for Chinese and ice cream. A very, very nice day.

- I loved hearing from the elder team at Grace yesterday. They have so much wisdom and I just loved hearing their thoughts on what it means to be a dad ... to hear about their successes and failures as a dad, and to hear the advice they wanted to give dads today. It was a good day.

- Dad Fest was AWESOME! What a fun day. It's awesome to be able to say that about church.

- Went for a 4 mile run this morning. About 3 1/2 miles in to it my knee started hurting AGAIN! Needless to say, I was a little ticked ... especially since I had been running lately with no pain.

- Carol had been really sick last week. Seriously, the most sick I have ever seen her. We went to the doctor and she was diagnosed with the flu and strep throat and was put on a pretty big dosage of antibiotics. It took a few days, but she is feeling so much better now. I am so thankful for that. I hate seeing my wife sick.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Being a Dad

I don't trust my kids to just anyone. Whenever Carol and I have an opportunity to go out on a date and we need to find someone to watch the kids, we ask people that we know ... people that we trust.

Ezra & Mercy were God's kids long before they were mine and a thought that just blows me a way is that, when God needed someone to watch His kids, He thought of Carol and I. He believes in us so much and trusts us enough that He gave Carol and I Ezra and Mercy. I am so humbled by that thought and really want to do my absolute best to live up to that responsibility.

One of the big thoughts that I've been thinking about being a dad is that dads shape their kids. This is in no way meant to belittle the absolutely incredible impact that moms have on their kids, but dads, for whatever reason, have an ability to influence and shape their children in an unusual way ... for good or for bad. I've talked with enough people in counseling situations and have heard how they have just longed to know their dads. So many I've talked to have told me how their view of God has been shaped by how their dad interacted or didn't interact with them ... with how their dad responded or didn't respond to them. I've heard many say that how they see themselves has been shaped by the time or the lack of time that their dads gave them.

I can see this "shaping" taking place already in Ezra's life. Below are a couple of pictures. The first one is Ezra "running miles" as he would say. He's seen me come back from runs many times. He's seen me wear that head band many times. And, now he's always wanting to put it on and "run miles ... run 4 miles." The second picture is Ezra cooking. He's "makin' apples." That cracks me up! Both of these are just two things that I do and Ezra is imitating me or, as I like to say, being shaped by me. What isn't pictured are the "cuddles" he gives to his stuffed animals, the people he says are "cute," the people he asks to pray for when we say prayers at night, the money he puts in his "piggie bank" but also says we give to God first ... all values that I am trying to instill in his young life.

When I think of Mercy, oh my goodness, the fact that what she sees in men is going to be shaped by me. How she interacts with men will be shaped by me. How she sees herself will be shaped by me. I want to do everything ... absolutely everything I can to help her see herself as beautiful and strong ... sensitive and compitent. These things will only happen with her when I am engaged with her ... not just putting in time, but truly engaged, truly interested, truly giving myself to her.

The above picture is Mercy looking out of her craddle after a nap. She woke up and did the absolute cutest thing by popping her little head up. I want to be there for those moments and I want her to know that I will be there for those moments. To know that she doesn't have to "settle" for someone to show her love, attention, and affection ... to be there enough for her so she doesn't have to go to some other guy to look for it until God brings that man I am praying for in to her life.

I also want to let my kids see me mess up ... and I'm going to do that many times in their lives. The reason for that is because I want them to know that, as much as I love them, I'm going to make mistakes with them because I'm human. I hope my mistakes will draw them to the Father that doesn't make mistakes. I in no way want to take the place of God in their lives. So, they are going to see my imperfections and my flaws and my lack of ability to do things and my fears ... they are going to see those things. I want those things to point them to a Heavenly Dad who has none of those things and wants to fill up every area of their lives.

I love being a dad. It's not easy. It's a huge responsibility. But, God believes in me enough to allow me the opportunity to do it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thoughts on "Screamo"

I posted earlier in the week about a concert we had this past Friday night. Most of the bands were some hardcore, "screamo" type bands. It was awesome to be able to reach a crowd that we really aren't reaching very well right now and to simply expose them to the church. The idea behind doing the concert was simply to get in to their lives and expose the to the church, so that if a time comes when they begin searching for God or want to grow in their relationship with God, they'll remember Grace Community Church and think to themselves, "That church put on a cool concert. They must be alright."

Anyway, I'm definately not a "screamo" fan, but if it allows us to reach kids, I'm all for it. But, I've been reflecting on the music a bit. To me, music reflects a generation. So, their are always, always going to be different styles out there and we shouldn't be afraid of the styles or intimidated by them because the style is just reflecting where people are. We see it all the time. Every 10 to 15 years, there always seems to be a different style, a different generation of music that comes out and that's because the ones writing that music grew up in a different time than the ones who wrote the music 10 to 20 years earlier. Times change. Things change. Music is going to change.

I know that "screamo" isn't really main stream all that much, but it does reflect the heart of a certain segment of a generation of teenagers. As I listened to the music Friday night, the music just sounded angry to me. When I saw kids "moshing" and throwing their bodies in to one another, everything about it just looked angry. I mean, man, what incredible stress relief ... to just throw your body without abandon in to another person. I almost wanted to get out there and start doing it! But, one of the thoughts I left the concert with was, "What is making these specific kids so angry?" I'm not really sure, but I know I want to be a person and I want our ministry to be the type of ministry that offers hope. I want to be a person and I want our ministry to be the type of minsitry that doesn't give "trite", cliche type answers to really difficult questions. Some of those really difficult questions may be what are making some kids so angry. But, I do want to be able to listen and offer some hope to a generation who has heard that money, sex, stuff, etc will bring a sense of purpose and fullfillment ... and it just doesn't. I'd be angry too if I was told that, tried that, and was left empty.

God help me to be a person of hope always pointing to you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday Monday

- Whew! It's been quite the weekend. We'll take it in the order of events:

- It started Thursday when Carol picked up our 5 nieces and nephews ages 13 to 4. That meant we had 7 kids in our house! Carol and I have always talked about having a large family, but I think our plans have changed since the weekend. :) It was really good, though, to have them with us for a few days. We went to the park, played laser tag, played some basketball, played some dodgeball, played about a million games of Uno or Skippo, watched some Indiana Jones ... just a good time of connecting with them. They live in Illinois, so we don't get to see them all that often. Gotta be honest, though ... at the end of each day, I was BEAT! And, I wasn't even the one with them the entire day. Hopefully, it was a nice break for Carol's sister and husband as well. The cool story behind the 5 kids is that 2 of them are adopted from Romania. While they were going through the adoption process and were nearly ready to sign the final papers, they got pregnant. So, in just a matter of weeks, they went from having no kids to having 3 kids. Surprise!!

- Friday night we had our 4 Bands for 4 Bucks concert. I used my phone to take a couple of pics from the night.

- I walked away from the night with, what I believe to be 80% hearing loss! I know I'm officially going to sound old when I say it but IT WAS SO LOUD! It was really cool, though. We had over 200 kids there and probably only 20 of them were axis kids. This was an event we put on to try to expose the church to a group of kids that we just aren't reaching right now. 3 of the 4 bands were "screamo" type bands. If you're not sure what "screamo" music is, take a second and literally scream as loud as you can. That's screamo. As far as screamo goes, the bands were great. It's not really my style by any means, but, again, it was cool to reach a "crowd" of kids that we typically aren't reaching. The reason we did this event was to simply expose kids to the church. If there is a time when they begin to search for God or need some help, we want them to remember Grace Community Church. It was also a cool opportunity to pray over all of the kids that were in the Link.

- Also, Friday night my Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup championship over the Detroit Redwings. Hockey is by far my favorite sport to watch live, but I haven't been able to watch the Pens much since moving to Indiana. So, it's been nice to have them in the playoffs the past couple of years to be able to catch some of the games. I thought this series was one of the best series I've ever seen and really had a good feeling that the Pens could pull it off Friday night. I came across a cool story about Mario Lemieux ... Penguins legend, one of the best players EVER in the NHL, and now, the current Penguins owner. This text was sent from Lemieux to the Penguins head coach after a 5 - 0 loss in game 5: "We are a family and in this together. We don't need anyone that is only with us WIN or TIE. I really think this is our year. Let's forget about tonight ... It happens. We will win Tuesday and win the Cup Friday." Then this text was sent to all of the Penguins players before Game 7 on Friday: "This is a chance of a lifetime to realize your childhood dream to win a Stanley Cup. Play without fear and you will be successful! See you at center ice." Here you can read the full ARTICLE. I just really thought it was an example of good leadership and I hope I can inspire people in that same way.
- It's a good time to be a Pittsburgh sports fan. My Steelers won the Super Bowl. My Penguins won the Stanley Cup. Now if the Pirates can pull out of next to last place, we'll pull off the trifecta! :)
- Saturday was our AmazinGrace. I wasn't able to run because my knee is still bothering me, but Carol ran and so did our nephews. I was so proud of Carol for running the race! When I did my half marathon earlier this year, she was always the first one to say "good job" while I was training, and was just such an encouragement to me through it all. I tried to do the same for her when she ran this race. It was her first "official" 5K. I wasn't able to be at the race because I had to stay home with the kids while Carol ran, but heard that everything was great! Many of our axis kids ran and one of them won her age bracket. What's really cool about the race is that all the proceeds went to help our orhpans at Asia's Hope and it's also just a really cool way to be a positive presence in our community.
- Taught 56th Street in church over the weekend. I really enjoyed it. 56th Street is our 5th & 6th grade ministry. We talked about choices and I just really felt led to give kids an opportunity to respond to the Gospel. We saw 3 kids make decisions for Jesus that morning! Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Goal Review

Well, we are 6 months in to the year and it's time for the semi-annual axis goal review. I posted our goals in February. Here is where I think we've done well:

- Small groups. Got them up and going and it seems as if our kids and adults are really enjoying being a part of them.

- Getting our kids involved in "Big Church." I feel like we do a pretty good job of this. Part of my philosophy, I guess you could say, is to see kids serving regularly, side by side with adults. We have many of our kids serving regularly every Sunday morning and also in the various community outreaches we do.

- We're doing a pretty good job at holding events for middle and high school. It's not easy to juggle both ministries at the same time, but I'm trying. We're not doing real big things, but trying to do little, very inexpensive things together. This summer, we are really trying to do that often.

- Online stuff. I'm trying to use Facebook a ton and also keeping the website current and hopefully interactive. Kids will receive at least one text from me a week also.

- Worship. Our music is the BEST that's it's ever been. Jeremy does an abosolutely amazing job at investing in the kids in the band and leading us before God.

FAB 4. I think we're doing a good job of focusing on this and trying to make everything we do fit within this concept.

What We Haven't Done Well

- Grade specific events. Hasn't happened.

- More adults. The adults we have are GREAT! We just need more of them. We are very low on adult volunteers at this moment.

- "Just Do Something." Never really seemed to catch on. Not sure why, but I never really got the feeling that there was a "buzz" about this at schools.

- Lessons. I don't want to say that our teaching times haven't been good, because many of them have been. But, I really feel like I can do a better job at making them even more interactive.

- Attendance. We've been consistent. We've grown. But, not as much as I was hoping we would.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Monday Monday

- Had a funeral to do on Saturday for a man who committed suicide. It was a very difficult funeral. There's a verse in Ecclesiastes 7:2 that says, "It is better to go to a house or mourning than to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." To be honest, I never really understood this verse (probably because I love "feasting") ... until I started doing funerals. Nothing can shift your focus & attention to eternity more than losing someone you love. You come face to face with mortality and many of us need that. I took the opportunity at the funeral to speak briefly on the importance of people in our lives, the reality of God being the ultimate source of fulfillment in our lives, and finally to live our lives for eternity and not for the here and now. I shared the Gospel and gave people an opportunity to respond. In such a horrible situation, it would be just like God to turn it around and bring people to Him through it.

- Some "get your attitude right" thoughts that were going through my mind when this funeral came up: First, I didn't even know the person. To do the funeral it meant I had to cancel something that was already on my calendar. It pretty much threw off my weekend and I was a little upset about that ... until the Holy Spirit kicked my butt and said stop being so selfish! A family just lost a dad. A mom just lost a son. A sister just lost a brother ... and I'm worried about a change in my calendar. Besides, what an opportunity to share the Gospel. Ugg ... I HATE my selfish side and battle it every single day!

- Had a great time last night hanging out with pastors and elders from Grace. We cooked out, played corn hole, tossed around the football, played some kickball ... and really just enjoyed being together. Being with everyone last night was another reminder of how thankful I am to be at Grace! I had a blast.

- My office is an absolute wreck at the moment. Last week was a pretty busy week and my office hasn't quite recovered from it. Planning to take a bit of time today to straighten things up a bit and dispell the image of the "typical" youth pastor. :)

- I'm excited about the new pair of running shoes I bought last week. I was planning to test them out ... and my knee ... this afternoon, but was invited to lunch. So, in an effort to be "relational" I blew off my run. Hopefully I'll get to test 'em out soon ... but not until the Chinese food in my system digests.

- I was once again reminded this weekend of how incredible my family is! I love my wife and kids. Carol is just amazing. With different unexpected things thrown in to our weekend, she just goes with it and doesn't complain and just does an amazing job. Ezra and Mercy are just an absolute blast too. I laughed at them so much this weekend. It's great being a husband and a dad.

- I'll be meeting my teen small group at Starbucks soon. I guess I'll have to sacrifice drinking a mocha. :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Out of School "Taco Eating" Contest

Wednesday night at axis we had our Out of School Celebration. We just wanted to make the night all about having fun so we had various games and competitions. I've posted about some of the things we did throughout the night below. The pictures above are from our taco eating contest. We had kids lining up for this 30 minutes before we even started the contest! It really got interesting when kids found out some of the tacos were "laced" with hot sauce. :)

Out of School "Watermelon Carving" & "Duct Tape" Outfits

Give kids a watermelon and some duct tape and it's amazing what they can come up with!

Out of School "Slam Dunk" Contest

We did this for guys and for girls. We have some incredibly athletic & creative kids in our youth ministry! One of our students had his back to the rim, bounced the ball between his legs, hit the back board and then slammed dunked! Another student jumped over the top of a girl and then slammed it. Lots of fun!

Out of School "Human Bowling"

A skate board and some bowling pins made for a great game! It was really funny when the kids didn't find out they were real bowling pins until they hit them with their head! :)

Out of School "Dance Off"

Tried to create a super fun atmosphere at axis Wednesday so we had a "dance off." We got everyone doing YMCA and the Chicken Dance. Then we had individual kids come up and show us their stuff. It was CLASSIC! We haven't laughed that hard at axis for a while. So much fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

News of the Wierd

I'm going to try to start a frequent post called "News of the Wierd." It'll just be strange news stories, events, or pictures that I find out about and think are funny or interesting.

- July 8 will be an important day! At five minutes and six seconds after 4 AM on the 8th of July this year, the time and date will be 04:05:06 07/08/09. This will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!
- This pig was shot because the farmer found it eating a dead cow. And it seems as though this isn’t a hoax or the work of a photo shop wizard.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Mom

My mom, Ezra, and myself during my cancer treatments

I went to a funeral earlier today for a man who unexpectedly lost his mom last week. She had been sick and was definately ready to go home to heaven, but her death still came a bit unexpectedly. Anyway, at the funeral, so many incredible stories were shared about their mom. It was so fun to hear them all and there was really a celebratory mood at the funeral. They were definately sad and tears were shed, but they were also celebrating that she was in heaven with Jesus.

It all made me think of my mom and how thankful I am for her. One story sums up my mom. In 1997, I was a junior at Penn State University majoring in athletic training. That semester I was working with the men's basketball team as the student athletic trainer. Although Penn State has never been a "power house" in NCAA basketball, ,they are in the Big Ten which meant they often played some pretty good schools ... I.U., Michigan, Michigan State ... and the games would often be televised nationally. One night, Penn State played I.U. and the game was going to be on ESPN 2 which meant I was going to be on TV. So, I called my mom up and told her to turn on ESPN 2 at 7:30pm and look for me on the Penn State side because I would be there with the team doing my athletic training stuff. Anyway, it's 10:30pm. The game is over. Penn State lost. I get a call from my mom. On the phone she says, "I saw you on TV tonight." And, I'm like, "You did?" And she says, "Yeah, you're number 32, right? I didn't realize you were that good at basketball!" And, I'm like, "Mom, I don't PLAY for the team! Do you even have any idea WHAT I do here?" It was so funny! It's funny because I'm 5'8" tall. I have a little bit of a "belly." When I jog, I get passed by women pushing baby strollers. I'm not a great athlete by any means! What's even better is that number 32 was Pete Lisicky ... the all-time leading scorer in Penn State basketball! My mom mistook me for the leading scorer on the team. Only a mom could do that!

I believe that story sums up my mom because she always looks for and believes the best in people. My mom actually believed in me enough to think that I was the star player on a Division 1 basketball team. It's a funny story, and slightly ridiculous ... but I'm so thankful that my mom has always seen the best in me and has always believed in me.

Thanks, mom. I love you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Monday Monday

- Had a really nice weekend. I was able to take a couple of vacation days which meant I had Thursday, Friday, and Saturday away from the office. That was really nice. It was a great combination of family time, productive time, and relaxation time. I think I want to try that more often throughout the year. Instead of taking an entire week off for vacation, try to take 2 days here, 3 days there just to try to give me more time away more regularly. The pictures above are from one of our trips over vacation. We went to the zoo. It was very fun and I just loved seeing Ezra enjoy looking at all the animals.
- Got to see 50 baptisms at church yesterday! Man, that was exciting. What was really cool is having the opportunity to connect with many of the people who were getting baptized and hearing their "story" and how they came to know Jesus. And, then hearing why they wanted to get baptized ... that was really cool for me. One of the most fun moments was when a set of triplets got baptized, but we only had Pastor Jim & Pastor Jon in the "tank." So, Jim asked Craig to jump in ... and he did ... in his Sunday "best." It was great! The triplets were baptized together and that was so much fun to watch.
- Started our new series "No Perfect People Allowed." We'll be doing this series for 3 weeks. It was neat to see the "Cardboard Testimonies" from people before the sermon. I just love the fact that God uses us inspite of all of our imperfections! I don't know where we ever got the idea that we have to be "good enough" for God. Serving God through our weaknesses and our imperfections is, I believe, one of the things that brings Him the most glory!
- Still haven't been able to run because of right knee pain. I've gone to my family doctor twice and was finally referred to an orthopedist. I go there on Tuesday. I'm getting a bit frustrated because I really want to run, but after a mile my knee just goes crazy with pain. I thought exercise was supposed to "help" your body! :)
- I'm getting geared up for a busy week. Have a student leadership meeting tonight. Our axis Out of School Celebration on Wednesday. A car wash fundraiser on Saturday. More graduation parties over the weekend. My teen small group on Sunday. It's definately going to be busy. I'm praying God keeps me fresh and helps me be creative in the midst of the busyness this week.

Wednesday Wrap Up

Topic: Everyday Opportunities
The "Big" Idea: God will bring opportunities to make a difference our way every day.
Student Involvement: Students from axis took pictures, greeted, played on the worship team, worked in the "tech cage", led small groups, worked the cafe, and cleaned up afterwards.
Attendance: 165 with, I believe, 3 first time visitors. Don't have those numbers right in front of me.
Fun Stuff: We started our night out with a fun video called "Office Wars." It shows a really funny "nerf" gun war between office staff. Very, very funny.
Cool Stuff: One of our girls shared about an opportunity she had to lead someone to Jesus in Wal-Mart. I didn't know about it until that night, but when she shared the story with me I knew we had to have her share it with our whole group. We also had 3 of our kids who are going on a mission trip this summer talk about what they'll be doing. We finally honored 3 of our volunteers who will be leaving axis. That was tough. Their absence will leave a big void in axis, but we'll trust God to get us through and bring some others who will be able to have an impact like they had.
Bible Verses: Ephesians 5:15 - 17, 1 Timothy 4:12
Lesson Review: It was a small group night for us, so many of our kids left to be with their small groups. Those who stayed behind heard about the opportunities God will bring our way every day ... opportunities to make a difference. Sometimes those opportunities may be big and sometimes they may be small, but the impact will always be huge! I tried to go video "heavy" this night and used video clips from a story used during the NCAA tournament this year on a teenager named Austin Gutwein, who started this organization to help with AIDS relief efforts in Africa. Wow, it was such and amazing story. I started out talking about the fact that God believes in us so much that He will provide opportunities for us to make a difference. We then watched a clip from the brief documentary. I talked a little bit more and then we watched the last half of the video. I challenged our kids to keep their eyes open for the opportunities God brings our way. Those opportunities may be as simple as talking to a friend who looks sad, opening the door for someone, or simply being kind. Those opportunities may be to start an organization to help with AIDS work in Africa. The important thing is to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way. We closed with a music video by Flynn Adams called Such a Time as This. Below is the first part of the video we watched about Austin.

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