Saturday, February 21, 2015

jimmy appleseed

When I lived in Modesto I was mentored by a man named Jim. He was one of the groomsman at my wedding – and he and I spent many,many hours together riding together to our seminary classes out of town. He was an intern when I was an intern; and he always had me under his wing. and he is a huge U2 fan just like me.

A few years ago, he planted a church in Modesto that has grown to a pretty good size. A couple months ago, he asked me if I would speak at his winter camp for his middle school and high school students. He asked if I had any material on how to share your faith, and I told him about my Johnny Appleseed series.

When the time came for the camp to come around I invited a couple young men who were interested in learning about ministry- one of them was Stevan and the other was JD. Jim asked if I could bring a lady along because you were short on female counselors and I asked my friend Arielle to come as well.

The camp was in Twain hart and I knew the area well because that's where we go for our elevation camps. We left extra early so we could do some exploring in that area. We had lunch in Modesto, and spent some time exploring one of my favorite used bookstores, yesterday's books. We also got to go to Jimtown Frosty for ice cream and we checked out Columbia, Jamestown, and knight's ferry.

The van I rented had a DVD player in it and we spend a lot of time watching Star Wars in the van and talking about our favorite scenes and characters.

The camp itself was a pretty cool spot – although it was raining all weekend so I didn't get to explore that much.
The chapel looked like it used to be an old one-room-schoolhouse that had been furnished with some old pews.

when I first walked into the chapel to set up my stuff, Jim had some classic U2 tracks blaring out of the speakers- and it was then that I knew that something divine was about to happen.
It was really cool to talk to kids who are from Modesto, because a lot of my illustrations and stories come from my years growing up in Modesto. I was able to say things like "does anyone here go to Davis high? "And people actually knew what Davis I was – or the Baskin-Robbins that I used to work at –or the junior high that I used to go to when I was a student. I told a story of how a high school teacher encouraged me in my faith- and students actually knew who she was! I got to talk about my old youth group that I became a Christian in, and there were all kinds of people who knew exactly what I was talking about. One student came up to me and said, "do you remember a girl in your old youth group name Laura? "I said yes. And then he said "yeah, that's my mom!" what?! one of jim's volunteers was a really popular kid in my youth group when I was in high school. it was cool to talk with him about the old days and to see him as a dad. for other kids, I was able to say, "I know your dad- tell him I said hello!"
it was fun to tell my stories to a crowd who could relate to what I was talking about- and to share my messages that I had become so passionate about in a new environment. It was good to work with my friend again-
but most of all- it was so great to hang out with JD and Stevan and Arielle- and to explore those places that I knew as a kid, and to get to know each other better in a new environment. Stevan will be taking a role as a pastor soon, JD will be off to school, and Arielle is moving to a new role in the summer- so it was good to get some time with them while I could. it was great to talk ministry- and to compare and contrast what we do at the church with what they were doing at this camp. and it was fun to talk about star wars and eat lots of junk food in an environment where there were no scales, and no treadmills!
what a blessing on so many levels.
God is love.


Friday, February 20, 2015

staff meeting

I don't really like meetings.
I deal with a bit of social anxiety, and meetings make me a little nervous.
from time to time, we have staff meetings at church, and usually my goal is to be sort of invisible. I try to sit close to people who will do a lot of the talking or the ones I've known the longest for the sake of feeling comfortable.

this last week, we were having a lunch meeting, and I found an open spot at a table next to some old friends. but I also saw the senior pastor's stuff placed near the open spot. I've known him for a few years, but I still feel a little nervous around him. do I sit next to him and my close friends? or do I just go and sit somewhere else? I picked the friends.

well, my pastor sat down right next to me. he asked me how I was doing, and I said, "good" and then quickly asked him how he was doing- to get the attention off of myself. he chatted for awhile and then kept the conversation going. we talked a bit about his new grandchild and then he asked me what I was memorizing. I know that he likes memorizing verses too, so this was a topic that we had in common. I told him that I was working on Hebrews, and I mentioned some theological questions that my study had uncovered. its like I shot off a starter's pistol at a track meet, because he got off and running with commentary, greek grammar and insights about the book of hebrews. and he didn't even have to look in a book or use the bible!

you probably know who this guy is, but if you don't, he is kind of famous in ministry circles. I heard recently that some 3 million people listen to his messages either online, or on the radio every week. and here I was having a one on one conversation with him about the bible- and he was explaining it, just to me. and while he was talking about greek verbs and bible translations, I thought to myself, "there are three million people who would love to sit where I'm sitting and share in this conversation." and it made me appreciate it- and him, even more. and I couldn't help but smile at how cool the whole thing was.

its been 13- almost 14 years at the church for me. I've seen some good times and some not-so-good times; but these are good days. I really like my boss. the volunteer team for the students are so solid. the students themselves, are super-cool; and I have a lot of freedom to do what I think needs to be done. how cool is that?!

instead of looking back on good days, or looking forward to good days- sometimes its just good to recognize that these are the good days right now.

God is love.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

your biggest enemy

last week I was having lunch at jack in the box with jane- we finished up and she stopped to use the restroom before we ran more errands. it was one of those situations where the restaurant had to push a button on the counter to open up the bathroom. so I asked the counter people to push the button, and was making sure it opened, when a bunch of ladies walked in the door. they had a coffee cup and some lollipops and started asking me if I wanted to make a donation to their church. I was watching jane, and talking to the counter people, and I wasn't really paying attention to the church ladies.

then one of them came straight up to me and started asking me questions. she was a really old Hispanic lady with wrinkles like mother Teresa. she grabbed my wrist and said, "do you know who your biggest enemy is? have you ever heard about your biggest enemy is?"

I was pretty sure that she was going to tell me that satan was my biggest enemy and about my need for jesus. so I finally focused on her and said, "who is my biggest enemy?"

and then she looked me right in the eyes and said, "YOU are your biggest enemy. aren't you?"
"when you are impatient- you do things that you wish you didn't don't you? its YOU that is your biggest enemy."

and then she walked off. jane came out of the bathroom and we left the restaurant.
at first I thought that she was kind of a weird lady; but in recent days, my patience has been tested. people in front of me are slow, service at stores is bad, kids (including my own) misbehave; and there is a temptation inside of me to do something or say something that I might regret out my impatience and frustration with the situation. and then I remember that lady- and how my own impatient self is my worst enemy- and that helps me to coach myself to be patient.

and it reminds me of that verse in Hebrews that says, "do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." and it makes me wonder- "WAS she an angel sent to warn me not to be impatient?"

whether she was an angel or she wasn't- it was good advice.
for me- and for you too-

God is love.