Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Out of the mouth of babes....

I just love kids! Especially my brother's (since I don't have any of my own!)

Tonight I went with my sister-in-law and the kids to VBS (Vacation Bible School) at the church we all used to attend. Some friends of mine are directing and teaching at the Bible school, so I called my sister-in-law to see if she wanted to take the kids. We decided to go!

The kids had a blast and we had a great time watching them! I have mixed emotions and thoughts about VBS these days. It's probably because of my issues with "religion" and anything "religious". I can't stand the thought of doing something just because it's always been done, and sometimes I feel that VBS falls into that category.

Anyway, I just felt like it was something good for the kids and that's why I suggested it to my sister-in-law. They've never experienced anything like it.

So tonight, on the way back to their house, I asked the kids what they had learned in their class. I knew they talked about Paul, so I asked what they had learned about him.

"They put him in a bakset," replied Mackenzie.

"And what did they do with him then?" I asked.

"Threw him out the window," says Hannah.

My sister-in-law and I about died laughing! In case you're not sure why, the real story is that in order to save Paul, his friends lowered him in a basket down the outside wall of the city. Needless to say, we had a blast. I was reminded of how precious and wonderful kids are and I can understand why Jesus would want them around Him. It makes me wonder what funny things were said by the children He held on His lap.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Time flies when you're having fun

I can't believe how long it's been since I last posted! There is so much going on right now! Yikes!

Well, I met with my pastor this past Sunday night to go over the Youth Ministry Plan. I was so nervous! Fortunately, it was a great experience. I don't know what I expected, but my nervousness went away almost as soon as we started discussing things. His questions helped me to get a better handle on what I'm doing and I'm even more excited. Some things he said really helped me to see myself more clearly and to not be afraid to be different in my planning and vision. Like I said - it was a great meeting.

So now, I'm working on revising my ministry plan and putting on paper more specific plans for our group. I'm still a little anxious about the first time our youth group will meet, but I am really trying to be better at listening to God and trust Him for direction.

In other news: I may have an opportunity for a really cool road trip next week. I don't want to say too much about it right now, because it might not happen, but trust me - if I get to do it, you'll be the first to know! (Ok, maybe not the first!) :)

At work things are about to really kick into high gear. School starts in about 3 weeks and then we have a golf tournament the second week in September. Next week we have a staff retreat...this is where our staff from all over the state will come together and plan for the upcoming year. It will be an interesting few weeks....months, to say the least!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Getting ever closer to the day

This Sunday, it will be officially announced that I am the Youth Minister for our church. Woohoo!

I've been working on my Youth Ministry Plan. It is overwhelming, yet so exciting. I have all these thoughts and ideas running through my mind...the hard part is sorting through all that I'm learning and planning and put it in perspective to deal with reality. You know, the reality of what is right now- not what I can see happening way out in the future. Sometimes I'm guilty of running headlong into things without really thinking it through or planning very well. I can see right now, that has got to stop!

I think the reality of what being a youth minister is has begun to set in. Today I was sharing with my friend, Kathy, that I'm realizing that I can't just wait to the last minute to do things - you don't understand how hard that is for me. I tend to procrastinate. I told Kathy that God is definitely moving me out of my "comfort zone". I don't like it, yet I want to move and grow and be more than what I am right now.

It is scary to think that while I'll be responsible for leading the youth at our church, I am still growing in my walk with Christ. Pride within me doesn't want for people to see me fall flat on my face or show the side of me that isn't quite perfect (that really is FAR from perfect!) But I know I will. I want it all to be good and perfect without any problems or issues.....I know, in a "perfect" world, right? Seriously though, I do know that problems will come - in my own life and with the ministry. I just hope that when they do, I don't crumble into a thousand pieces but run straight to the arms of my Father and trust in His strength to get me through.

The truth is, I've never really been in this place in my walk of faith; this place that puts me right out in front as an intercessor for the young people who will be in my care and a target for the enemy. It is a scary and thrilling place to be. Whoever said being a Christian was boring?!!?!?

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Lessons in faith from Spider-Man

Friday night, I went to see one of the best movies I've ever seen. Seriously. In my opinion, Spider-Man 2 joins the ranks of movies like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars (the original trilogy), ET and Super Man (the original movie) as movies that re-tell the Greatest Story Ever Told. I'm not saying these movies are a word-for-word narrative of the Gospel, but if you are paying attention, you can see the story of Christ and His sacrifice and even see reminders of life lessons that are told throughout the Bible.

*****MOVIE SPOILER***** (If you haven't seen the movie and don't want it ruined for you, stop reading now!)

For instance, in Spider-Man 2 - Peter Parker struggles with a major choice for his life. Does he do what he has been gifted to do, sacrificing all that he wants, and serve humankind as Spider-Man or does he only live to please himself? We see him go through the process of discovery to find out which choice he can live with.

I so understand his struggle. Every day, I have to choose for whom I am living - me or God. Am I going to do my own thing or will I live to fulfill the purpose God created me for? I believe it's a struggle we all deal with.

The movie's writers and director were so clear in showing what happened to Peter when he chose to live life for himself. As he struggles with this issue, he begins to lose his "powers" - sometimes his webs don't work and he's left flying through the air with nothing to catch him. Once he makes the choice to leave Spider-Man behind, he loses all his powers and becomes just like anyone else - he has no super-strength, no webs, no ability to climb walls and he even loses his sight again and has to start wearing his glasses. Interesting, isn't it?

Isn't that what happens to us when we walk outside of God's will and do things our way? We begin to stumble and fall in every area of our lives and don't have the power to overcome the smallest obstacles.

As Peter begins to live life his way everything on the outside looks good - he's able to do his homework and excel in school, keep his promises to his friends, is getting rest and even gets close to getting "the girl" - but on the inside, he knows something isn't right. He sees people in trouble and knowing he could help them, he turns away. This keeps eating at him until one night, he comes across a building on fire and even though he's no longer Spider-Man, he rushes into the building to save a child. In the process of saving the girl, he nearly gets them both killed. He tried to do the right thing on his own as Peter Parker and nearly failed. Once outside, while breathing oxygen from the paramedic's truck, he hears that there was another person who died in the fire. It is then he realizes that had he been Spider-Man, he could have saved that person.

Peter is in the process of readjusting his life to again become Spider-Man when he is confronted By Dr. Octopus. His powers, which had left him, once again begin to return and he is able to save Mary Jane from being crushed by a car. Dr. Octopus (who knows that Peter Parker has some relationship with Spider-Man because he takes Spidey's pictures) tells Peter to have Spider-Man meet him. He then tosses Peter aside and takes Mary Jane as his hostage. In that instant, when someone Peter loves is threatened, he knows he must do whatever it takes to save her. He must become Spider-Man again.

It was so interesting to me the imagery the moviemakers used to show this transformation in Peter. He steps outside the coffee shop, still wearing his glasses but everything is terribly fuzzy, so he takes them off and his vision is clear. I'll tell you, I almost started crying. Isn't it true that when we accept what it is we are called to do that our vision becomes clear? God was speaking right to me through that movie. That, in itself, is an interesting experience. As I shared in an earlier post, I know that God has called me to work with the youth, but I hadn't accepted His purpose for my life because it wasn't quite the way I thought it should be. There were (and are) things I have to give up in order to fulfill what He's called me to be. Funny thing is, once I accepted it, things have begun to come together and I see my "vision" getting clearer.

Anyway, I won't tell the rest of the movie in detail, but there is some strong imagery of the Cross and Christ's sacrifice in the film. Very cool. The other awesome part of the story is that even though Peter gave up his desires, when he became Spider-Man and began to live out his purpose, he still got what he wanted. Isn't that what the Bible says? "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

So there you have it. My humble ramblings about lessons in faith from Spider-Man. God is truly amazing. He can even use a movie to reinforce His message.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

What a great day!

Well, I thought turning 31 would mean my birthday wouldn't be anything special. I was wrong! My birthday turned out a lot better than I expected!

My friend, Kathy, who has been working with us part-time, got to work before I did and left me a bunch of "happys" on my desk. I was so shocked to walk in and see a plant (I call it my "Birthday Tree" - it's a big one!), gift basket and a gift bag on my desk. I thought she had told the guys in the office about my birthday and they managed to get their gifts their early - but all that was from her! In addition to those gifts, she took me to lunch. Kathy is a wonderful friend!

But the fun didn't end there!

After lunch, I received two flower arrangements! I've never gotten this many flowers in my life!!! One of the guys on my staff, and his wife, sent me a cute bouquet of flowers and my precious friend, Tiffany, (you know who you are!) sent me another arrangement that was simply beautiful! I was so overwhelmed!

It was just a great day and I really felt special. Not only did I get those thoughtful gifts, but I received many phone calls and emails from family and friends. I'm so terrible about remembering birthdays, I always feel guilty when people remember mine! That will have to change if I'm going to be a good youth leader! I really should do it so I'll be a better "friend" to my friends!!!

Sometimes we think the small things we do for people don't amount to much, but I believe those are the things that count the most. I think my favorite "gift" of the whole day was a handmade card from Kathy's granddaughter. Trishten is nine and just came back from youth camp a couple of weeks ago, deeply impacted by Christ moving in her heart. Kathy told me there was a song they sung during camp that Trishten especially liked, so I made her a cd containing some great worship music - and this song ("Here I Am to Worship"). Evidently, Trishten has just been awed that the cd is hers forever and was so thankful, she asked her Nana if she could make me a birthday card (I guess she noticed Kathy getting the stuff together for my birthday.) Anyway, in the card, she told me I was "sweet as pie" and I'll tell you - that made my day!

That's what kind of impact I want to have on the young people I will work with. Not that I am so great - but that they are drawn closer to God and are blessed because of something I did to touch them.

As I said, it was a great day!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Another year gone by

Tomorrow I will turn 31. Woohoo!

I must say, my life as it is today is not what I envisioned it would be when I was 21. My plans were to be a wife and mother, raising kids and working in ministry alongside my husband by this stage of my life. The only part of that dream that resembles my life today is "working in ministry" - but I'm doing that by myself.

I do believe that all of those things will happen in my life, but obviously, I've had the events out of order. I've been wondering for the past week or so what other plans God had (or has) for me that I've missed because I thought my life should go a certain way. It's kind of scary to think about. So I don't dwell on it too long and now I'm working at learning to hear God's voice each day. I've already let 31 years go by without fully giving everything to God, so I don't want to do that anymore and miss what God has planned for me.

The youth ministry plan is coming along, although I didn't get to it tonight like I wanted to. :( Instead, I clipped my dog's hair (you would not believe how much I cut off of her!!), gave her a bath and then cleaned the bathroom! :) Tomorrow night I'll work on it - we're not having church, so I can stay home and work on it - I've got lots of reading to do! I have to have that ready to give to my pastor by next Friday. Good grief how time flies!

Guess I'd better get some sleep - I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow!