Sunday, December 31, 2006
See you next fall guys! WHO DEY!!!
Okay enough complaining about my in-laws
Saturday, December 30, 2006
In January I weighed myself for the first time in a long time. I was having some health problems and knew that something needed to change or I was going to drastically shorten my life. So I declared a "new year's revolution" and decided to change my life forever. I weighed in at 367, which was really discouraging since I had never been that heavy in my life. I am proud to say that I end the year at 342. I know it is only 25 but I still consider that a resolution kept. I hope to lose a lot more this year, but a lifestyle change is not easy and it takes time.
In February, mom and dad came down for a couple of weeks and we all got to experience our first Mardi Gras. I had misconceptions about Mardi Gras and what it was like, but we all had a great time. You can read about it in the link above or check out the March archives.
March was the first time I got to put my feet into action (literally) in my weight loss battle and life change. I walked my first 5k here in Pensacola. It was tough, but fun and I really felt a sense of accomplishment when I was done.
May brought a much needed vacation and a few days at Disney in Orlando, but the vacation was interrupted when we had to make an unexpected trip home when grandma passed away.It was tough to say goodbye to her, but I know she is not suffering anymore and is in a better place.
June brought on the big 3-0 and visits from family and friends including my folks, sis and brother-in-law, and my college roomie Phil and his family. Although we didn't get to go deep sea fishing as planned fun was had by all and 30 wasn't so bad after all.
July was a busy month as I had the chance to be camp director for the first time in my life. For not knowing what was doing I think it went pretty well. The result? Definitely made me pull my hair out and resulted in the new look for the summer.
August brought three years of being married to the most beautiful woman in the world and a surprise from God in the form of a dream job for Megan. She had been patiently waiting and hoping to get away from the bank and boy did He deliver. She is now teaching elementary music at Navy Point Elementary here in Pcola. I also walked my second 5k and improved my time from March.
September brought 5k number three as well as two trips home to Ohio. It was all about reunions including getting to see my mentor Rick and attending the 100th anniversary of the first church I served in as well as Meg's 10 year class reunion. We even found time to take the teens to Universal Studios for Rock the Universe in the middle of all of that.
October was a life changing month for me. I decided it was time to fess up and start being real. I was ready to leave the ministry but I asked God for help, and he delivered. My testimony is in the October archives if you want to read it.
Of course in November, America "voted for change," but for us it meant hosting our first Thanksgiving dinner. It turned out great, but I kinda forgot to blog about it, so no link sorry. And of course...who could forget, it was also the month when the Buckeyes shored up their shot at a national title by beating that team up north.
Finally this month. It was awesome. Meg and I both had the chance to participate in Pensacola Winterfest. It was a great chance for Meg to play her flute and get her name out in the city and I got the chance to give tours of downtown and tell corny jokes at the same time (think an amusement park ride where there is a story/dialogue with built in jokes that aren't that great sometimes). We have been praying for ways to get into the community and this was one of those opportunities. I also found out that I am going to get a shot at reality TV in the form of VH1's World Series of Pop culture. Then of course we got to go home for a few days, but now it is back to the grind here in Pensacola.
It has been an interesting year. Nothing too exciting or worthy of a movie, but it was our lives for 2006. I can't wait to see what 2007 holds. May God continue to bless you all, and be safe as you celebrate the beginning of another New Year that God has blessed us with.
God is good!
Monday, December 25, 2006
Here is all I could find on the little drummer boy and the story behind it. Anyone know more? Anyone else a little perplexed by it and frustrated that it has made its way into the manger stories today?
Here is the link... http://www.answers.com/topic/little-drummer-boy
Who are you this Christmas? Each of the characters played an important role in the nativity story. So the question is, who are you?
MARY-You could be like Mary-she was chosen to carry the Christ child. She was a young woman who was anointed by God to bring Christ into this world, how awesome is that? When I look at Mary, I think of someone who was willing to accept God's will for her, no matter what. She could have said no I suppose, but she didn't even though she may not have understood the full magnitude of what God was asking her to do, she simply said yes. Am I willing to accept God's call on my life, even when I don't understand the circumstances?
JOSEPH-I think Joseph is sometimes underestimated in the Christmas story. Sometimes he gets looked over. Here is a man that could have very easily chosen to just let Mary go and been on with it. He knew he might have been facing persecution and rumors, but he stuck by her side. He played a support role, one that was very important. He was chosen to be the earthly father of the Messiah. He was beside Mary through everything and chose to support she and Jesus. Sometimes I wonder if we are called to play the role of support. We aren't always the star and that can be discouraging because we all love the spotlight, but Joseph chose simply to play the support role. How awesome is that? Lord help us to be willing to be the support of those who are following your will and are carrying your message to the world.
THE SHEPHERDS-These guys are awesome. I love the shepherds, here are your everyday guys. They lived in the fields with their animals, I am sure they were rough around the edges and probably not really respected in the community. These guys were just simply your average Joe's...but God chose them to be the first ones to proclaim the message of the Messiah. Talk about God at work. This is so awesome, because they weren't important, they were just normal...it was so awesome as the got to be the first messengers! God chose them to take the message of the newborn baby to the world and God still asks us to carry his message today, as everyday people...no matter who we are or what we do.
So who are you this Christmas? Is God asking you to answer His call for your life, even if it doesn't make sense? Is God asking you to support those in ministry? Is He asking you to carry his message to the world in your community, workplace, and family? As you celebrate the Christmas season, ask God to show you who He wants you to be this Christmas.
Merry Christmas and may God bless you richly!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Okay so I am extremely excited about this movie! I cannot wait until next July. I will admit though, I am a little concerned though as with just the brief views of their faces it looks like they may have abandoned the look that made the transformers famous. Call me a purist, but I hope they didn't change it too much as I'll be disspointed. I guess the only way to say it is, "All we need is a little energon and a lot of luck.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
I'll be honest. I really miss this type of community relationship. We have been at our current church for almost two years now and we still only have one couple who would fall into that category. I sincerely wish there was more, but I don't know what to do differently to achieve it. We try as hard as we can, we invest in the kids and their parents as much as possible, but it still feels like all we are doing most of the time is damage control. There are times when I really feel unwanted at our church. It really can be discouraging and I think this lack of community is one of the things that contributed to my thoughts back in October (see the archives for my testimony). What can we do differently? Do these people understand how lonely we feel in ministry? Would they listen if we told them?
Okay I know I am whining, but I really need to feel this community again. Sorry for being so blunt, but as I said back in October I am tired of hiding how I feel and pretending like everything is always okay. Sometimes I hurt, sometimes I am lonely and now is one of those times. I am thankful for the ones we have, and I know God wants us to stay where we are in ministry, but I long for community and am not sure how to find it. So please pray for me.
Longing for community...
PS. I removed the post from yesterday about the lady from our church. I posted the thoughts for humor's sake and the situation is nothing strange to our church, but I removed it because it could have had the potential to hurt someone's feelings and that would be the furthest thing from my mind so I removed it.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Eggnog, tinsel, falling snow
Buttered rum and mistletoe
Christmas trees and hanging lights
The sound of carolers fills the night
Shopping hours long and hard
Visa phones and cancels card
Unpaid bills and mounting debts
Family gathers; depressions sets
Drinking starts, harsh words are said
Dysfunction rears its yuletide head
Argument turns to shovin'
Drunken brother punches cousin
Tree tips over, popping lights
Curtains catch, house ignites
No one hears the reindeer cries
Wedged in chimney, Santa dies
Though he kicked and did perspire
His chestnuts roasted on an open fire.
It is just a little funny to me, I know I am sick! But I always get a little chuckle out of this, because we can almost all think of someone's family that is like this...To some extent.
Merry Christmas! (early)
I know I am crazy. I thought it would get better when I got older, but I still freak out about it. Any time a teen or anyone for that matter says something about not feeling good I freak out. I actually almost make myself sick worrying about being around it and maybe getting the bug! I know I can't keep from getting it-even if I wash my hands all the time, but I still go nuts for some reason.
I don't know what it is...Even when Meg is sick I am almost paralyzed and she makes fun of me because I want to "help" but she knows how scared I get about it.
I don't know if it is the action, the smell, or what, but I just can't deal with vomit...Never could and not sure how I'll ever be able to.
So I am officially crazy....Call the men in white coats, maybe it will get better when we have kids someday. Speaking of kids I think I'll probably be okay with the morning sickness thing because it won't be catching...I KNOW! See how I rationalize it...I am a freak and should get over it, maybe someday!
Running from the fears...
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I guess this is just a chance to get back to my undergrad years...Ahh the memories, not really. I want to sleep, but here's to coffee and my laptop!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
This is Meg's Nativity made of Heartwood Home (I think is the name of them) collectibles. To the left is the Large wiseman display which she is working on collecting next. The three wisemen combine to show a full nativity themselves.
This is Meg's tree-her Angel tree. The tree has white lights and almost all of the ornaments are flute angels. There are a couple of special ornaments on there as well, but mostly flute angels. Here is my favorite part of the house-the fireplace and mantle are decorated with snowmen and I think the rocking chair adds a special touch...Plus that is my tree-completely decorated in colored lights and "fun" ornaments-mostly M&M related things (M&M-obviously the connection to the candy comes from Matt & Megan), NASCAR ornaments, and Hallmark Keepsakes of Star Wars and Star Trek-I guess this one is our redneck tree, but since it is mine I am a little impartial to it. Speaking of M&M's check out this next picture...This is from our curio entertainment center. The whole thing is decorated with M&M related things (someone at the wedding thought it would be cool since we are M&M and it has been the gift of choice from teens and parents ever since). This is the holiday city that we put out each year. There is a whole series of them and the other smaller ones are left over ornaments from my tree and candy toppers that people have given us.
So there you have it, Christmas in the McKee household. If you stop by you'll have a "warm" Christmas, but you'll still get all the decorations just as if we were in the cold up north!
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Remember this golden gem from our childhood?
"Activate interlock, Dynotherms connected, Infracells up...megathrusters are go...GO VOLTRON FORCE!"
I love it! And now I can relive it every morning on the cartoon network, it's on early so thank God for DVR's!!!
"Form feet and legs...form arms and body...and I'll form, THE HEAD!!!"
Anyone else remember vehicle Voltron? It wasn't as popular, but I always thought it was cool...and actually if I remember right it was on long before Lion Force Voltron.
In Touch with my inner child as always,
So I have gotten pretty good at avoiding the word goodbye, until yesterday. When I dropped my folks off at the airport I said goodbye-I didn't do it intentionally, it just came out that way. I know I'll see them again in three weeks for Christmas, but it still stunk having to say goodbye and I was even angrier at myself for using that phrase. I wonder if it was a subliminal way of admitting how hard it is each time they leave. I have always been close to my family, as is Megan with hers. When we made the decision to move here almost 2 years ago it was not an easy decision. There are times when I hate the fact that we are so far apart...I wasn't able to say goodbye to my grandma one last time before she died, my parents aren't getting any younger (but I don't anticipate them going anywhere any time soon), and my baby niece is growing up and I miss getting to see all of her "firsts" since she is the first grandchild for our family cell.
I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that we were called to be here and God reaffirmed that call in October, but there are times when it is tough to be so far away. There are times when the enemy sweeps in and I catch myself questioning God, I know I shouldn't but it is hard not to sometimes. So pray for me, as the holidays are one of those times...We only have a limited amount of time with family, we have to balance between the two, and then it seems to end and before we know it we are saying "see you soon" again knowing that it might me as much as six months before we do see each other again.
God is good though, and it is in these times that He stretches us most and pulls us closer to Him. I don't know about you, but I am glad that he didn't say "goodbye" after He ascended into heaven...He is coming back, He hasn't left us, and there will be a time when we are all together forever if we know Him. I think that is one of the things that helps me to hold on during these tough times because I know that He didn't say goodbye, but rather "see you soon." I look forward to the time I get to spend with family, no matter how short of a time it is, and I look forward to the day that we get to see Jesus again as well.
Just a little sentimental rant...Any ideas to help with the time apart with family?
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
X-Men's Dave Cockrum Dies at 63Nov 28, 6:01 PM EST
The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Comic book illustrator Dave Cockrum, who in the 1970s overhauled the X-Men and helped popularize the relatively obscure Marvel Comics title into a publishing sensation and eventually a major film franchise, died Sunday. He was 63.
In his Superman pajamas and with his Batman blanket, Cockrum died in his favorite chair at his home in Belton, S.C., early Sunday morning. He had suffered a long battle with diabetes and related complications, his wife, Paty, said Tuesday.
At Cockrum's request, there will be no public services and his body will be cremated, according to Cox Funeral Home. His ashes will be spread on his property.
At Marvel Comics, Cockrum and writer Len Wein were handed the X-Men. The comic had been created in 1963 as a group of young outcasts enrolled in an academy for mutants, but the premise failed to capture fans.
Cockrum and Wein took the existing comic, added their own heroes and published "Giant-Size X-Men No. 1" in 1975. Many signature characters Cockrum designed and co-created Â such as Storm, Mystique, Nightcrawler and Colossus Â went on to become part of the "X-Men" films starring Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry.
Cockrum received no movie royalties, said family friend Clifford Meth, who organized efforts to help Cockrum and his family during his protracted medical care.
"Dave saw the movie and he cried Â not because he was bitter," Meth said. "He cried because his characters were on screen and they were living."
Cockrum was born in Pendleton, Ore., the son of an Air Force officer. He set aside his interest in art while serving in Vietnam for the U.S. Navy. He moved to New York after leaving the service and got his big break in the early 1970s, drawing the Legion of Super-Heroes for DC Comics before moving to Marvel.
In January 2004, Cockrum moved to South Carolina after being hospitalized for bacterial pneumonia. As his diabetes progressed, his drawings became limited. His last drawing was a sketch for a fan, who attended a small comic book convention in Greenville, Paty Cockrum said.
Meth said Cockrum, who will be cremated in a Green Lantern shirt, will be remembered as "a comic incarnate."
"He had a genuine love for comics and for science fiction and for fantasy, and he lived in it," Meth said. "He loved his work."
Those of you that know me well know that I have always been a comic book junkie, specifically for X-Men and really for the whole Marvel Universe. So when I saw the headline "X-Men writer dies in his Superman pajamas" I knew I had to read the article. Here is a man who helped to make the greatest comic books what they were today. He wasn't just associated with the X-Men, but even was a part of making the greatest DC comics happen as well. What caught my attention though was the part of the article that talked about they way he was when he died-"under his Batman blanket and in his Superman pajamas." Now that may seem a little bit funny, but here was a man that was dedicated to his life's work. Even after retiring he stayed connected to the comic book world. He even cried when he saw his characters come to life on the big screenNotnot because he wasn't getting paid, but because they were alive. What would it be like if we had the same dedication to Jesus. How many times are we guilty of Sunday and Wednesday Christianity or just simply being satisfied with status quo Christianity. God wants us to be totally dedicated to Him. Now I am not saying go out and get your "Jesus is my homebotshirtirt and your Jesus bobblehead to show your devotion, but we can take a lesson learned from this man in the fact that if someone can be so devoted to what they did as a career what can we do if we are totally devoted to Christ? It's just something to think about. Jesus gave His all for us, can't we do the same for him?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Monday, November 20, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Did anyone else see this show last night? I just happened to catch it out of curiosity because it is being hosted by the "shat" and so I thought it might be worth watching. The premise of the game is deal or no deal meets jeopardy. There are 13 girls who do a rather cheesy dance to the theme music of the show (complete with synchronized claps) and who also hold various dollar amounts. You get the chance to answer some trivia questions (which most seemed pretty easy in my opinion) and then you pick a dancer who then reveals a dollar amount or the "killer card." If you answer right you get the dollar amount ranging from 20k-250k. You get to answer as many questions as possible until you get either 6 right or wrong with your dollar amounts going up or down depending on if you are right. If you get the killer card you either get it right or have to answer the "killer" question which means either you are still in with the same amount of money or leave with nothing. Last night one guy left with a ridiculous amount of money (500K if I remember right) and another left with nothing thanks to the killer card (good move on the editors part). All in all the game show is okay, but the pace is slow and the cheese factor is a little too high for my taste but check it out and see what you think. It premiers next Wednesday the 22nd.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Thursday, November 09, 2006
God was telling me that I can save a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico!!!
WOW! I never knew God was in the insurance business. This was actually courtesy of the Geico sky typers team (www.skytyping.com) who are in town for the big Blue Angels homecoming air show this weekend (the final show before the angels head to Top Gun to train for the winter months). I thought it was funny though. They were actually advertising the show all above us for miles (you can see the previous geicos from before). It was fun to see and I can't wait to see them this weekend at the show. Hope you got a smile out of this one! Be blessed! And remember-don't let Jesus catch you ridin' dirty!
I laughed out loud. Props to the church for being this bold, but I still think it is funny...I think I'll change our sign to say "Jesus wants me to be white and nerdy" to quote the Weird al parody of the song.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Sweet and sour chicken...$3.95, Schechzwan chicken-$4.95, Egg Fu Yung-$5.00, laughter ensued from looking at the sign...PRICELESS!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
It's important for us as Christians to occasionally check ourselves on areas of our Christian walk just as we would when we go to the doctor for our annual physicals. We read in 1st Corinthians chapter 12 that we are a part of the body of Christ, and as churches, youth ministries, and communities of faith we are "bodies" of Christ and our health as a spiritual body is just as important as our physical health...If not more. One area that I think we sometimes fall short is the area of community. So how are we doing in the area of community? How is our spiritual health? (insert your church here, but please understand this was for my church, but I think the principles apply to all churches). Here is how we find out where we stand and how to improve our community health:
- It's personal (how are you doing as an individual?)
- Do you know Christ as your personal savior? Have you surrendered your life to him? If not why not? He gave us everything, can't we give Him something?
- Do you give to Him? I am not talking just about tithe...Everything we have is His. Do we live our lives seeing the blessings that He has given us or do we hoard what we have and pretend that we are the ones who are responsible for all we have. In addition to this, do we offer Him our time? There are 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. What if we were to simply offer the Lord 10% of our time each day-it's not that much time, are we so busy that we can't offer Him some of our day?
- Do we serve Him? He has blessed every single one of us with some type of talent or gift. He made us unique and we have SOMETHING to offer Him whether we're 6 months old, 6 years old, 16, or 60 we can serve Him in some capacity. What are you doing for the Lord right now?
2. It's outreach (How are you with others?)
- How willing are you to help those who are in need. I know I have become cynical over the years of ministry about helping those who ask for money, be it at our church or on the street. Every once in awhile though the Lord prompts me to give and I try to listen to what He is saying and then do my part to meet the need. I am not saying give money to every homeless person you meet, but are you listening for the Lord's voice when it comes to meeting the needs of others? What are you going to do to help those in need during the upcoming winter when giving goes down? What role can you play in helping those who need help during the winter and holiday season? There is something you can offer I promise, begin asking what God would have you do to help this holiday season.
- How do you treat those who come through the doors of your church? This is a big one and I still struggle with this, both as a pastor and as an individual. How do we treat strangers and first time visitors? Do we make them feel welcome? Do we make sure they feel like they are a part of our ministry or do we just stay around those who we are comfortable with and pass off a welcome hand shake as enough? I know there are people from my ministry time who have come as a visitor to the churches/youth ministries I have served in who came once and never came back because they weren't made to feel welcome. Are we attending churches who are full of cliques and close cell friendship groups who don't like outsiders or are we attending churches that reach out to visitors and make sure that EVERYONE feels welcome?
3. It's corporate (How are we with each other?)
- Do we make an effort to step outside our friendship/ministry circles or are we segmented as churches? Do people look at the various ministries as entities in and of themselves or a part of the greater ministry?
- How do we talk about each other? Do we live out Proverbs 27:17 being like "iron sharpening iron" or do we "dull" our churches' ministries because we tear each other down with gossip, harsh criticisms, and lack of support?
- How do we support each other? Do we support our leadership, our lay members, our teens and children? Do we pray for them, encourage them, find ways to serve them?
If we are going to be effective as communities of faith we need to find ways to encourage and support one another. Even if we don't agree with the way everything is done we need to support and encourage each other. We are all part of the same team...We can do so much more if we work together instead of against each other.
So how are we doing in these areas? Those are my thoughts on community. Take your own personal "community health" check up.
So what do you think?
Monday, October 30, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Ugly Betty: Thursdays 8 PM
Now, this one is up against some great competition in Survivor, My name is Earl, and The Office, so if you don't have a DVR I would say skip it until reruns, but it is a good show. Megan loves it, and I'll be honest, although the plot line is a little slow, its redeeming value comes in the confidence of Betty and the occasional "goodness" of the publisher of the magazine who is slowly realizing that image is not everything. It is a cute show though about a Hispanic college grad fresh our into the world of the fashion industry. I really like the fact that it goes against everything Hollywood that says you have to look a certain way to make it in today's world. It fits right in with the "campaign for real beauty" that Dove (I think its Dove) is running. I'll try to find that video and post it later this week. So in the midst of all the good shows check out this "not so ugly" show.
Friday Night Lights: Tuesday 8:00
So the joke about this new show is "if it's about Friday night lights and football, then why isn't it on Friday night." Simple note from communications classes in college and what I know about entertainment: despite the good old days of TGIF you send a show to Friday if it is on its way out...That's why. Anyway though I'll have to admit after seeing the movie of the same name and all the hype about this show I have been a little disappointed in it. However, as the season is developing it is getting a little better, but the plot is a little slow. I honestly don't see this one making it past this year, but I'll keep watching it to see how it goes. The premise here is pretty much the same as the movie...Football in west Texas, which I have been informed by a gentleman in our church IS just like what you see on TV. This town is driven by football and everything revolves around how the team does. Enter a new coach, injured QB and new back up and there is your premise for the show. Then of course you have to throw in the teen love triangles, family conflict and more and there you have it. There isn't a lot on Tuesday's right now except Dancing with the Stars, which is a skipper for me so I say check it out and see what you think.
Those are my thoughts on the new shows this year. I still have to say the new favorite is definitely Heroes (Mondays at 9:00). It's definitely a character drama season for me this year, the sitcoms haven't done much for me. If you want to know what I thought of the other new ones this season, check out my previous blog from the archives.
What do you think?
Sunday night, one of my seniors Erin asked if I would come to her powder puff game as this week is homecoming. Now if you have never been to one of these events, know it is definitely something...The girls play the football (flag football) and the guys are the cheerleaders (to the tune of obnoxious outfits complete with balloons up the shirt). That in and of itself was entertaining, but I was worried about the game at first. It just seemed to drag on at first...Junior versus seniors, stopping the clock after every play, juniors running away with the game due to one REALLY fast girl. Meg and I were about to go since we had been to most of the game, had already touched based with Erin's mom,Erin had seen us and waved, and we saw a couple of other parents and some other students and adults. I felt like we had done our part and we needed to get Meg home since she had an early field trip this morning. Then it happened...
- Large African American junior-push on play one to AA senior girl (who was just as large)
- Large African American senior-hard block on play 2-trash talk ensues (which was in language I am not quite sure I understood-or chose to block out since there was some profanity)
- *warning from officials*
- LAA junior on third play-hard block back and chaos ensues...Officials pulling girls off each other, words flying everywhere,Erin just looks at us and laughs...Which Meg and I were doing also
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
We started offering Bible Studies on Wednesday and Sunday so that students can come on their off night to dig deeper into the word. It was actually more to quiet the criticism from parents who can't get past the idea of "not" having church on a certain night, but it really has gone well so far. In fact, one of the parents who has opposed most of what we have done since we have been here has asked if she could be a part of the Bible Study so that is a praise in and of itself.
Went to the doctor for my annual physical today and all looks good and for the first time in a long time I am able to be weighed on the old school scales. According to the doctor's scales I was 344 which is great considering that last year when I went for my physical I was up around 370. There is still a long way to go, but I'll take it! My cholesterol also looks good, but they want me to up my good cholesterol because the ratio is a bit off I guess between good and bad, but the bad was not high so another good report there. BUT they did remind me that I need to make sure and hit the gym 3 days a week, which I try to do, but isn't always easy. The only concern was that my iron levels were a bit low and I guess I am borderline anemic...Whatever that means, but they said that would explain why I've been so tired recently. So we'll get that figured out and then maybe it will be easier to get into the gym 3 or more days a week.
But that is pretty much all that is going on...My mom is walking again which is a HUGE praise, many of you know she has been wheelchair bound since helping us move down here a year and a half ago. I am so glad about that as I was afraid she wasn't going to be able to walk again...She won't run a marathon anytime soon, but she is walking!
I'll try to get a youth ministry post on here later this week, but just thought I'd give a quick personal update this time.
Until next time...
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Pastor Matt: Hey guys, we've got some events coming up before too awful long and it is going to cost money for you to go so it is really important for you to show up at the fundraisers so you can have money to go. Even if you aren't planning on coming to this event, you should work it so you have money in your account for future events so you can go when we grab dinner at CiCi's or something...
Teens: When is it? What are we doing? Do we have to work it?
Pastor Matt (to parents): Parents, it is really important that your children be at the fundraiser so they can pay for the event coming up
Parents: They aren't going on that trip, it is too expensive
Pastor Matt: That is why we are having the fundraisers to help pay for it
Parents: But they probably aren't going to that event anyway
Pastor Matt: It would be good for them to work it though just so they can have money in their account the next time they want to do something.
Parents: Well, we'll see, I am not making any guarantees.
The day of the event comes, a few teens show up, but the ones that really need to be there...Aren't
Teens: Pastor Matt I can't afford to go to the event because I don't have enough money to go
Parents: My kids doesn't have enough money to go on the trip...Why do they always have to be so expensive. We don't have that kind of money
Pastor Matt: Well we had three fundraisers, none of which your child was at.
Parents: I didn't know anything about it.
Pastor Matt: It was in the bulletin, an announcement was made, and it was mentioned in the parent email newsletter.
Parents: Well they are still a part of the youth ministry, they should get the money anyway, isn't that what the youth budget is for?
Pastor Matt: It helps, but we only had so much to put towards this event, I have already put that money in your student's account. I am sorry, but I can't pay your child's way, we just don't enough money. Remember in the future that they NEED to be at the fundraisers.
Parents: well I am just going to have to speak to the pastor about this....
Anyone else ever have an experience like this? Am I crazy?
Friday, October 13, 2006
- It makes them feel better
- It helps them "fit in"
- They want to share their "concerns"
- It is being done in an effort to "keep you informed" (which is what I will share about)
It's so funny how the enemy works, I haven't even been home from the convention for a week and someone felt the need to share "what they had heard" Wednesday night after youth group. It isn't anything I haven't heard already...Why students don't like me here, why our numbers are "dropping" since we went to a middle high/senior high format (which they aren't), and basically everything else I am doing "wrong" right now. It would be really easy to get discouraged and want to quit (like I felt before the convention), but for the first time I felt the Lord just surround me with the realization that it was just "words." Simply put, it doesn't matter. Also for the first time, I really felt like the Lord gave Meg and I the words to say back to this person in confronting these issues. It doesn't mean the words will stop-I am learning you just can't please everyone (which is hard for me-I am a people pleaser) and you can't reach everyone. So here are my thoughts on words-I don't know if they will work for you, but they are working for me:
- People are people-They are who they are and we can't change them
- Sometimes people do stupid things-Hey I'll be the first to admit I am guilty as charged, I can't tell you the number of times I have had to go back and apologize for the things I have said (sometimes unintentionally, but most of the time with the specific goal of getting back at them)
- "hurt" people hurt people-We all have tough times in our lives and what I have noticed is that we tend to want to hurt others when we are hurting (again guilty as charged). Each person who feels the need to criticize me right now is going through a tough time in their own lives and maybe I am just an easy outlet for them because they have some "control" over my situation as the youth pastor
- I can't change their minds-but God can. The only thing I can do is pray for the people who feel the need to put me down.
- They are just that, words and only that. They have no bearing on who I am as an individual or how my relationship with Christ is
- Anything coming from anyone other than the source is gossip, no questions asked. This person felt the need to tell us what was going on because she was "concerned" but it was her version of what was said. I know most of it is true because I have heard it from multiple sources, but only what comes from the source is really what was said
- They don't need to be heard-we asked this person not to come tell us anymore what people are saying because of how it has hurt us in the past. I welcome criticism and concerns, but only if they come from the source who said it.
About change and conflict:
- Change is necessary-be aware of when things need to be changed.
- Change is never easy- We have made changes in the youth ministry since we have been here. All of them have been prayed through and done with guidance from the youth leadership board and senior pastor
So of course the enemy would love for me to get discouraged, but I am just not going to this time. God is good and with His help we are going to make it through this. The people who are causing the conflict right now have been since we got here. I have struggled with how to love them from day one, but I think I finally know how. To use the overused Christian cliche I am going to "kill them with kindness." This Sunday I am very deliberately going to go to each of them, let them know I appreciate them, understand their concerns and am glad they are a part of our church. Even if they don't like me I can still pray for them and love on them like everyone else. I am not against them, I am for them-their kids are my kids and I do pray for them daily whether they realize it or not. The prayer is not that they will get on board with my vision, but that God will be very real in their hearts and lives and that He will help them with what they are going through.
So words are words, and with the Lord's help, the won't hurt me.
Trusting the Lord,
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
As we were driving home along I 10 which is never fun anywhere you are on it, I was reminded of the journey we are on and how the youth ministry journey is a lot like the road we travel. I know that is a corny cliche, but that's honestly the way I feel right now. As a ministry, we are on a plateau that seems to go on and on forever. However, as we were driving occasionally there were some bright spots that I found cool, like the part of I 10 where you drive across the Louisiana bayou for 20 some odd miles. The swamps are a amazing...Somewhat barren in places, but full of life and growth. There are things there that thrive, but would die any place else. It is the same way on our spiritual journeys and those of our students. Each on of them is in a different place, some are in the valleys full of ups and downs, some are in plateaus where they just seem to maintain their faith (or lack thereof), and some are in the places that are full of life and growth...Even though that growth may seem strange to me and I wonder how they could get anything out of "that" lesson or event. I think in the midst of the discouragement I forgot to realize that just like physical maturity everyone grows spiritually at different speeds. I want my kids to be spiritual all stars and achieve all they can in their relationships with God. I want them to have the same passion that I have and not miss out on what God has planned for them, but I forget that they are kids and need to have room to be that way. Youth ministry is a lot like the parable of the sower. I have to be constantly reminded that I am planting the seeds and only God can make them grow.
Okay enough of trying to make something spiritual out of a long drive. When I wasn't thinking of illustrations we were listening to the seminars that we bought on CD. I am so thankful that is provided as a resource since there were multiple times when I wanted to go to multiple seminars and a long drive is a great time to listen to that stuff.
But all things come to an end and it is back to life and the battle, but I feel like I actually know where I am going now. Here is what I am working on putting into practice now:
- I need to be more deliberate about my quiet times-it is so easy to write off planning as quiet time, its not
- I need to be more deliberate about my "Sabbath"-it is time I turn the phone off and hit the white ball (golf) or the beach on my own and spend time just taking in all that god has and stepping back from it all
- I need to let kids be kids-I need to challenge and push them, but I can only take them as far as they are ready to go
- I need to be more transparent-It is okay to admit that I don't have it all put together. I still struggle and I make mistakes, I am not perfect
- God doesn't need me-He can do what He wants without me, I need to praise Him more and realize that I am nothing and He is everything, my programs are nothing if they aren't centered around Him
- I need to be more deliberate about the time I spend with kids-I DO need to get into the homes more instead of relying completely on online contact, phone calls, school lunches, games, and more. This will allow me to get with the parents and be more visual in the lives of the students
- I need to disciple someone-I am not sure which kid/s I'll start with, but I need to look for ways to be deliberate in discipling someone (of the same gender of course)
- I need to be discipled-I have been mentored by several people throughout my spiritual journey, but I need to find someone that I look up to and want to learn from who is willing to mentor me through the things I am facing now.
Well that is all that is on my mind now. I would highly recommend taking in one of the conventions if you can...My next pick would be Cincy because it is the home of the soon to be Super Bowl Champion Cincinnati Bengals AND Skyline chili which cannot be beat in my opinion.
Thanks for reading my thoughts, walking along this journey with me, and praying with me. I am praying for all of you (who I do not know) who are on the same journey.
God is good!
Sunday, October 08, 2006
The best part of the day was sitting in on Sean McDowell's (www.planetwisdom.com) seminar "Helping students set sexual standards." Most of it was review for me since I have taken some courses in abstinence education, but the statistics about teenage sexuality never cease to amaze me. The latest one that really shocked me was that 54% of students by 7th grade have participated in oral sex. WOW...I had heard about some thoughts in the past about sex parties with junior highers, but it is still hard to fathom.
With that in mind, the thing I am wrestling with is how do you present abstinence and sexual purity to junior highers. There is no way to avoid it anymore, we have to cover it. The hard thing is parents do not want to believe that their middle schoolers would be participating in such things (or even know about them). We have to begin covering it though in a relevant manner with them. I know there are several great resources for older students, but does anyone know of any for middle school? I cannot think of any, in fact I am considering using that as a proposal for my upcoming master's project...Coming up with some type of relevant middle school purity material.
Here is what I think about middle school purity and how to address it:
- It must be covered!
- Parents must be involved/give input-they must stay educated and we need to help them however possible
- It must be simple but relevant
- It needs to be specific, but not too detailed as to give "ideas"
I am honestly unsure how to handle it. I know living in an area that has a high population of sexually active teens that I must address it, but my parents do not want me to cover it with them. Any suggestions?
It will probably be Tuesday before I post final Austin thoughts since I've got an 11 hour drive ahead of me tomorrow, but I'll get it posted as soon as possible
See ya then!
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I started the morning out in Jim Burns session on partnering parents. Some of this was review as I have already been using some of his homewords material since last year, but some of it is new. The first bit of a paradigm shift that needs to take place is parental involvement. I have been trying to include my parents in my ministry for some time now, but according to Burns I have been giving them too much of an option to opt out. He suggested upping the quality of what we offer them and make it a bit of a requirement, just like a sport or social club would have. The fact is, every parent should be involved in some way. This will be difficult for me I think as some of my parents are the proverbial "thorn" that Paul talks about. I pray that I can find new and better ways to involve my parents and minister to them more effectively.
The second paradigm shift that is going to be difficult is the idea of changing how I do things. Roland Martinson spoke this morning about having a ministry versus a monster. The whole concept here is about not building our ministries around ourselves and the program itself so as when we leave it creates a monster for the person who comes in after us. The real shift that needs to take place is in creating God followers and not jut consumers. It isn't about the entertainment, but about the relationship with Christ.
Donald Miller reaffirmed this tonight in his message about the change that has taken place within the church over the years. What we have created is a church full of consumers who are looking for the best product out there. We (perhaps unintentionally) have turned ourselves into "Corporation Jesus" as he put it, but what we really need to become is more like a family and not a business.
Can I say that this concept is very difficult for me to grasp since I have invested a lot of time and money in becoming culture savvy and knowing how to provide a quality program that compares to what the world has to offer. All through my college experience I was told that we have to radically change the world by being culturally relevant and offering something just as good as what the world has. So am I now to have to unlearn that? It will be difficult, but I have a feeling I need to let my kids know that I have missed the boat. I have spent so much time trying to entertain them instead of showing them a radical Jesus who is calling them to a radical life change that may be uncomfortable.
So this journey may be a difficult one, but I am willing to give it a shot. I'm not going to go out and encourage my kids to become a monastic society who remove themselves from the world, but I think I have some relearning to do as it relates to understanding and embracing culture and still pointing kids to family style Jesus.
What do you think?
Until tonight...GO BUCKS and BOOMER SOONER (oops I said it)!
Speaking of trust, I am convinced now more than ever that trust is the lesson the Lord is wanting me to learn this weekend. I really feel like I have dealt with the Lord in my own heart and now it is time to simply trust Him for the outcome. Everything that was said today pointed right to that. Buster Soaries spoke about astonishing faith and how I must think of what God can do in ways that I could never imagine-meaning He may do something He has never done IF I trust Him (all things are possible with Him). God specializes in things that have never happened before...Not that I am some great person, but God can do something in the lives of my young people that I would never expect if I will just get out of the way and trust that HE can do it better than I can. Mike Pilavachi reaffirmed that tonight by talking about how Jesus did wondrous miracles, but He did through experiences-successes AND failures, and often more through the latter. He made an interesting point that stood out (actually it may just have been the way I interpreted it) when he said that if everything is going the way we want it to, we can't learn. I guess it is time that I step back and realize that maybe my failures are just ways that the Lord is trying to mold and shape me into the minister than He needs me to be.
The final thing that really got me tonight when Mike was speaking was the concept of "that youth group kid." We all know who they are, they are the one that we are praying will go to another church because they are a distraction or burden in ours. I have to admit, I have prayed that in every church I have been at. I was really convicted of that tonight and I need to apologize to some kids who I have wronged-because I should have been praying that God would use them AS THEY ARE to reach others in the kingdom. There are a few of these kids who I have pushed and challenged and confronted in ways that I shouldn't have all in the name of trying to help them become all they can be with God...What I forgot was that they are on a journey as well, and God can get their attention and use them just as they are right now.
So a lot has been happening, God has really been dealing with me. I feel like if I learn nothing else this weekend I have already learned so much, but I know that with three more days left there are more lessons to be learned.
Thanks Lord for opening my eyes and showing me what I need to work on, forgive me for forgetting how to listen and turning away to myself when I should have been turning to you. It is not about me, but about you! Help me to get out of the way and let you be the God that you are. I am not an expert, I am only a broken and willing vessel willing to be used by you. Help me to minister in spite of myself...Amen
See ya tomorrow!
Thursday, October 05, 2006
This year I am not alone at the convention, I brought Scott with me. He and his wife are my true youth sponsors, they will do anything you ask whenever needed and lift Megan and I up daily in prayer. I honestly do not know what I would do without their help, so I am glad he will have the opportunity to be fed this year as well.
I am not going to lie. I have been saying for a while that I would talk about how ministry is going, but I have been putting it off, because I wanted to put on a good front that everything was okay. Honestly for a long while I have felt like I have been dying inside, and the only thing that has kept me going in youth ministry is the encouragement that this convention brings every year,along with the occasional blessing that someone passes on to me at the least expected time. Last year was a life changing experience, but this year to me was going to be make or break. I was ready to give up. I have felt like I have been pushing and pushing without any results and have felt attacked by parents and apathy among the youth ministry students and leaders. So I really had been contemplating whether or not I was cut out for this...Or whether it was even worth it or of I was God's man or was just in God's way. There was a lot of "me" and a lot of sulking and complaining...I truly had developed a "poor me" mentality.
So with all that said, this convention has already been a wake up call. I chose to take Mark Yaconelli's critical concerns course called "Becoming the beloved-healing your identity in Christ." Obviously, the word healing stood out the most to me because I have felt broken for sometime now. I had the chance to take this last year and honestly felt like God wanted me to do the soul care option last year, but I was hesitant because that kind of stuff was just not for me, and I was coming to learn new stuff, not get away and "retreat" to grow spiritually. This year though, I couldn't get past the fact that I needed this aspect of the convention this year and I have not been disappointed. After today I already feel like God is working and showing me more of who He is, who I am through Him, and who He wants me to be.
This convention for me will be a "Sabbath." I am resting, and focusing on nothing but the Lord. I am shutting my phone off (except when I talk to my wife) and I am spending more time with him and learning who I am through me. The biggest thing that the Lord has shown me so far through this "retreat" is that it is not about me...But about Him. He doesn't need me for His work to get done. It is a blessing to me that He has chosen to use me, but He could do it without me. I think I have spent too much time making the ministry mine, and not enough making it His.
I am learning how to step aside and allow the Lord to love me. I get so caught up in what people think about me, that I miss what really matters. He has gifted me, He has made me unique and all He wants is for me to offer myself to Him to be used.
The strangest thing though, that has perhaps challenged me the most is the issue of "suffering." I have done a lot of whining to those who are close to me. I think even though I put on a pretty good mask of being all together I have not been a good example to those around me because I have been negative. Because of my hurt I was trying to hurt others and pretend that my life was so bad and that I was the victim. I was whining and wanted everyone to pat me on the back and say "it's not your fault, it's okay." What really challenged me though was the thought that suffering is a part of ministry. I do not want to put myself on a pedestal, and make myself look like I am God's chosen one, because I am not anyone special...Anyone who is in ministry suffers at some time. These recent times have just been mine and I wanted to be the victim. The interesting thought though is that maybe the Lord wants us to suffer...So He can suffer with us. This was a shocking thought for me...We're not to be the victims, but to rejoice in those times and realize that Jesus suffers with us. Look at the disciples, the closer they got to Jesus, the tougher times got. It is all about trust and surrendering it to Him. I think for too long, I have made this my ministry and not allowed it to be the Lord's. I am doing the best I can, but I need to make it His ministry. Times will be tough, but He has placed me there for a reason and in the midst of trials I need to trust Jesus and not Matt.
This convention has already been life changing to me and will be more and more everyday as I seek to draw closer to Jesus. I'll close with this...During one of the contemplative prayer times we drew a picture and colored it. My picture was of a landscape with a river running through it and a big oak on top of a hill. The river had red running through it to represent the wounds I have felt with broken relationships, harsh words, and more. The tree was barren, but with roots digging deep into the ground and some new life growing on it. There was one lone tombstone on the horizon and the sun was setting in the background. The tombstone was my "self" dying and the new growth represented the growth that has occurred and continues to occur as I try to find less of me and more of Him. I think I am at a crossroads, and am nearing a time of radical growth in my life. My only prayer is that there will be less of me and more of Him on a daily basis.
I am so glad I came...Even though at the beginning I felt like I was crawling, I now feel like I am walking with the Lord as he nurses me back to a spiritual "health" that I have missed. Times have been tough, and may remain that way for some time. BUT, the Lord is faithful, He suffers with me and I know I am not alone. Thanks YS for ministering to me and offering this convention!
More to come as the weekend goes on!
Seeking new life,
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Okay so just for the fun of it, I thought I would throw my thoughts out here on all things new for the prime time this fall. I'll have to admit, the lineup seems to be pretty good and there are still some new shows to premier so I can't wait to see how the full season pans out. And the cool thing is, we now have a DVR so I can catch the shows that are on during youth or at the same time as another show I want to see...I love technology! So anyway, here goes nothing...
Survivor: Cook Islands- Everyone who knows me knows that Survivor has been my favorite show since it premiered in 2000. I have stuck with it through all 12 seasons, some of which were just "ok" and I have to admit, this year is shaking up to be a good one! I really liked the idea of a racial division among the tribes and those people who have nothing better than do but complain just need to shut up. IT IS NOT CREATING STEREOTYPES-no more than any other season...of course unfortunately this should cease to be an issue to night as Burnett throws in his next new "twist" and shuffles the tribes again. I say let it play out as it is until the normal merge time and lets see what happens. I think the season is going to be great though...my favorite is Cao Boi, but I doubt he'll make it to the end.
The Amazing Race 10- I love this show, but I'll be honest, it is getting a little tired. You can only go around the world and have so many challenges so many times, but I'll stick with it this time solely for the entertainment of the Coal Miner family from Kentucky...talk about sterotypes, there is your example. They are hysterical though...at least she is. Watch it and you'll see what I am talking about.
The Biggest Loser 3- I liked the idea of starting with 50 people from 50 states, but I am disappointed that they cut it down so quick. I know they sent those people home and they are still competing there, but only 2 will make it back to the ranch. what kind of message does that send to the other 34? I suppose they will all lose the weight, but it still doesn't seem right. I do like this show, I wish they spent a little more time on the people and less on the weigh in, but I think it is okay. This show is losing steam for me, but I will keep watching it because it continues to inspire me to keep fighting my own battle. The only issue I have with it is that obviously these people have an advantage that we don't. They are removed from their "worlds" for three months and excercise for 2 to 3 hours a day with a personal trainer, sure they are going to drop 15-20 lbs a week at first.
Well enough of reality tv though. I am beginning to get a little wary of it, and more keeps coming it seems...so lets look at the new dramas and comedies that I have liked so far.
Heroes- There were teasers all through the summer about this new show and I'll admit, the main reason I checked it out was because of those...however after watching the premier episode I am convinced that this is going to be one of the best shows of the season. Sure it plays on my being a fan of comics, but I think the story set up is really cool...people learning they have secret abilities. I look forward to watching this one pan out throughout the season.
Jericho-After two episodes, I am hooked on this show. I think it will rival Lost in its viewership this fall. The story begins with the return of a prodigal son to a small Kansas town followed by the appearance of a mushroom cloud in the distance. Was it an accident, an attack or what? Now throw the whole town into this with no way of finding out and see how the show develops. My only fear in this is how "close" it is to current events. I am pretty sure nothing like this will happen any time soon and it plays on people's fears, but the story is great. Where has the lost son been, who is the mysterous black man that knows so much? Was it just Denver and Atlanta? Watch and see what happens. I am hooked and will watch this all season.
Studio 60-I'm not a huge fan of Matthew Perry, but I do like Aaron Sorkin and the West Wing so I wanted to check this show out. I'll have to admit I was a little leary of this one at first, but have been hooked. If you ever wondered what it is like backstage at a late night show, check this out. The story revolves around two producers who are hired by the show that fired them 2 1/2 years ago after the current producer makes a live rant on the show and gets fired. You would be amazed though at how "true" some of the things were that were said in the speech. I thought it was great and have been watching ever since...can anyone say SNL? It sure reminds me of it just a little bit (circa when Collin Quinn got fired for using Weekend Update to tell Lorne Michaels what he really thought-insert your favorite "f-bomb" here live on tv). Definitely check this one out.
The Class-The only comedy to really catch my eyes this season (sure My Name is Earl and the office are still winners) is The Class on CBS Monday nights. The concept behind this one revolves around a guy who brings back together characters from his third grade class to celebrate the first time he met his girlfriend. I am a little disappointed in the promotion of some things I don't agree with, but the story catches me because we can all think of someone from our classes who is like the characters from the show. Definitely check it out.
So there is dose of what I have been hooked on so far. Some of the returners are going to be turning up the heat I am sure (Lost, ER-which started good this season, and more), and there are some premiering next week (Friday night lights), so I won't make my final decision until later. The only real disappointment for me was that they cancelled Invasion after one season. That show was really intriguing to me.
So what are your thoughts...are there others I need to see and am missing? Do you agree or disagree with me. Let me know.