We're going to have a visitor or two...or three...or...

Can I just say...I'm excited!! Time is creeping ever closer when we will be having the friends and family begin to file through...I don't mean file, like oh, drop it in there and think about it some day - I mean file through - maybe file by is better. Like a parade. You can't wait for it to come - you want it to last for forever - you just enjoy what's in front of you, but then again, can't wait to see what's coming and you talk to everyone around you about what you've seen, what you are seeing and what you are about to see. Yep - that's me!! Starting in just 16 days our first guest of the "season" arrives! Melissa is coming! Oh how amazing frequent flyer miles are! On how amazing friends like family are!! I can't wait to see her - hug her around the neck - play rummikub until all hours - eat warm chocolate chip cookies with whipped cream on top - laugh so hard we cry, or snort or whatever ... YIPPEE!!! And then...about 5 weeks later, Steve's parents are coming for a week!!! Then...Jennifer is coming at the beginning of July (not sure of dates yet...oh...be praying for Jennifer...she had ACL surgery...yuck! I wish we could be in ATL with her to take care of her...). Anyway - YEAH!!! Jennifer is coming!! Maybe she will bring her Rimbaldi box along!! Oh- a friend and an Alias fix all at the same time!! (smile...) Then...my parents are coming sometime later in July...yippee again! whew!! That takes us to the end of July...and I know it's just the beginning... Hmmmmmmmm. We need to figure out some new "spots" to visit...any suggestions?? Thanks!


A few "little" questions from middle schoolers

Last week at Crash (yeah, the one I didn't go to) we asked the students to write down the questions they have for God or about God. These questions will be the basis for our topics over the last 4 weeks of Crash this year. We always refer to Crash as the front door - the lobby. A place where we hope students will be willing to step out of their comfort zone - and visitors will be willing to step out of their comfort zone - into a place where we have a blast learning about who Jesus is and just how madly in love with you He is... So...will you pray for and with us as we hope to finish this part of the race strong --- here are the questions the students submitted. They are real. They are honest. They are searching. They are wanting to understand the God who created them and loves them like no other...even if they don't know it yet...

  • What does it mean to be born again?
  • Why did God create humans?
  • If you don’t want to be “born again” like reincarnated…will we be anyways?
  • What the heck is “born again”?
  • How was God made?Why did He flood the Earth?How can I work through with my mom and me fighting?
  • What can I do to get to know the Lord more?
  • How did people go to heaven before Jesus died on the cross?
  • Why was I made?
  • What is my purpose?
  • Why didn’t you help my sister when she needed it most?
  • Why are some parents so protective and some aren’t?
  • How long has god been there?
  • Will there be another world after we die? And if there is will it only be for Christians?
  • How are God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit the same and different?
  • Why is most of my family straight up, but like my cousin and his dad are choosing to do the wrong things?
  • Every once in a while I wil start to think about why I am here and what’s it like when we go away from this life. After this I feel like I forget who I am and my heart begins to race then it turns into a panic attack. I think of this feeling as a wave – it comes and goes. Why does this happen?
  • If God created everything then why did He have us name them?
  • If we are exactly like a mammal, which we are, are we animals?
  • Why did God make me?
  • If God already knew the world would be messed up and people would go to hell, why did He make Earth?Why does God allow pain?Why does God love me?
  • Can God prevent people from going to hell?
  • What does God look like?
  • I wonder why there are signs in the world.
  • Why is there sin in the world?
  • Why does God let sad things happen? Why can’t He just stop and help them?
  • If God made everything why would He ever make sin?Why aren’t there miracles done today?
  • Do you really forgive people for lying and doing the wrong thing, or just make life worse for them?
  • Who is God?
  • Is my mom gonna get better?Am I gonna be a good leader when I’m older?
  • If God loves us so much, why does He allow us to get hurt?
  • Why is it when my mom is angry she takes it out on me and my brother?
  • Why is it when somebody is alone they are prone to suicide?
  • Why is it when people are insecure they take it out on other people for their faults?
  • Why do people shout when they get angry?
  • If God is so powerful, then why did He let me be so hurt all my life?
  • When satan was first an angel, where did he get his evilness from?
  • Relationships with friends, God and guys. Like what does God want us to do? How do we stay pure?
  • Why do people put Christians down?
  • Why are there so many different versions of the Bible?
  • Hell/Heaven??
  • Unchristian friends – I wonder what happens when they die.
  • Why do Christians judge people so much more than non-Christians?
  • Why is saying I love you so much more hard than it sounds?
  • How can we tell things that are on my heart instead of keeping it in? How can we tell God these things cause He already knows?
  • How do you help someone if they want to kill themselves? How do I tell them that just because bad stuff has happened that god is real and He loves them?
  • How do you tell someone about God without preaching to them?
  • Does God have loyalty for everyone?
  • How can You prove You are real?
  • What’s hell like?
  • Am I choosing the right friends?
  • Why did you make us?
  • If we were perfect, then why did Adam make that mistake?
  • If you don’t know God how do you trust Him?
  • How do we know that God is what we should believe in?
  • If we haven’t seen God how can we trust Him?
  • Why isn’t life perfect?
  • Why didn’t God make things easier?
  • Did Adam and Eve have belly-buttons?
  • Why did David not take vengeance in others like Saul and Ish-Bosheth, but then killed those who took vengeance for him?
  • Why does God let us make huge mistakes?Why is it so hard to forgive and forget?
  • Why do people hate other people for no reason?
  • Why is it “not okay” for young people to say ‘I love you’ to their significant other if they mean it?
  • Will you help me and my family with our problems?
Wow...they are amazing. They are honest...may we be worthy of their trust and glorify Him as we serve them & Him.


Feeling ick...

So...Wednesday I went to work for about an hour...and felt miserable. I decided to just come home, to rest and feel better before Crash. But better never came. No fever. Just an ache unlike I've had in a long time. I don't think it was being tired. This was much much more than that. I've been tired. I've had to recover from many an all-nighter. This was different. I ached all over. From head to toe. And there was nothing I could do to shake it. Tylenol didn't help. Caffeine didn't help. I came home and slept for 3 and a half hours...that's unheard of in Michelle circles. I just don't do that. My body is not well. So...for two days I just sat and laid down and rested and slept and ached and tried not to complain. And I missed Crash. That was not fun. I just like it. I just like to be there. I like having a front row seat to how God is at work in the lives of middle school students...but not this week. I was home. I was a prayer warrior - that was about all my mind could wrap itself around. I'm trusting He worked in the midst of the chaos and excitement (the girls called in the middle of what should have been discussion groups to tell me there was a bit of a cake fight going on...oops...) I hope this passes soon...I'm thinking tomorrow I just need to get back at it. I hate just sitting...oh wait...didn't I just say, um yesterday, that I wanted to just...be. Well...I don't want be just sick...that's not exactly what I meant. But...it did give me a little more time with the fam...but I don't know that I was that much fun to be with...although Noah enjoyed movie time with mommy curled up in the green chair. He took good care of me - bringing me a healthy snack (a stick person made of baby carrots and a cup of water)...what a sweet boy I have...


PNW District Conference

I attended my first district conference with the Christian & Missionary Alliance. It some ways it was like an old glove - just being with those who love Jesus and desire nothing more in their existence that to serve Him wholeheartedly. To see people who have been faithfully following and serving Him for 50 years, those who are in the midst of losing a loved one who they have faithfully served alongside, those who have been faithfully serving for just a month or two...those who serve in churches that are just 2-3 people on staff to those who are larger that have 50 people on staff...those who serve in a place where the name of Jesus can be boldly proclaimed unashamedly...those who serve in a place where while words must be chosen carefully, the heart and proclamation of Christian love and service is undoubtedly the same. That's just a taste of what the last week held. It was odd to be in a place where I knew so few people, and at times it was evident that I didn't really know many people. Then...there were times that I felt so a part of what was happening - that I was overwhelmed by the fact that I was sitting in the room. Amazing how you can feel so in awe, excited, scared, frightened, overwhelmed, and encouraged all at the same time.

Highlights - taking Paula's pics with all the "somebody's" at the conference, laughing hysterically with the rest of our church team @ Shari's and hearing story after story after story that was living proof of what I already know - that people are real, and it's an honor to serve arm-in-arm with them; going to Wunderland with about 25 other youth pastors and winning some and losing some (shush Josh...I'll catch up to you on DDR someday...) and playing one game that was SOOOOO addicting - and I don't even know the name of it - but it was one where we drew a crowd, which has never happened to me before @ an arcade; hearing the amazing stories of those serving overseas and the victories God is displaying in these areas; listening to Kelving and being reminded of Ichabod's and Ebenezer's...and so much more.

And...hearing the names of those who have completed the licensing & ordination/consecration process...that's another blog for another day...but...I've started my application for licensing with the C&MA. Man, that's a huge step for me. (OK...I could go off on that one for a while...remind me to come back to it later.)

Now, I'll admit - in the midst of it I missed my family - up and back to Portland for two days...late nights, seeing the kids for about an hour on Tuesday was hard - and I didn't even see Steve that day...that really stunk. I'm ready for things to slow a bit so I can just be...with them.


Yes...there is hope...

OK...for as much as I've complained about the weather...I did today see glimpses of things to come. Blue sky is a thing of beauty! (And yes, in the link to music below, I have country music...Brad Paisley's Behind the Clouds (from the CARS soundtrack)...it's a great reminder to me...) Thanks Lord for blue sky...

I just like it...and I'm grateful.

I really love the teaching and preaching at Salem Alliance. We're in the midst of a series called "Leaving the Land of Grey," a study of the Book of John. There have been a couple of messages lately that have just really struck a chord with me. I'm so grateful for the privilege of hearing God's Word preached. I've heard 2 different stories this week of people who are in areas where they don't have that kind of freedom, or at least it doesn't seem so.

One definitely not...this week at our staff coffee, a couple came in to share about their experience on the mission field. They are serving in an area where they can't even tell us where they are or what they are doing. They choose their words carefully, for where they serve they cannot say missionary. What? You can't say missionary? Nope. They carefully have to think of whether or not they can safely speak of what they do. They are in a church, at a staff meeting of people who lovingly pray and support them...and still, they are carefully choosing words. I mean these faithful people (who's real name I don't even know) are truly on the front lines of a spiritual battle that brings them into an area of the world so void of people who know Christ that they are bold with the love of Christ, trusting Him for opportunities to boldly share the Words of Christ with them. It's relationship. It's love for Him. It's love for people.

In another situation we heard of a persecuted pastor in an area in the middle east, who literally was warned of a death threat and attack on him and his family, to later find out that it was the assassins in his home scouting out the lay of the land to fulfill this "threat." He was also literally covered on the floorboard of a back seat of a vehicle to be whisked to the airport, as he and his family had to flee from this country. A man, a family, who clearly and wholeheartedly love the Lord. A clear example in current time of someone persecuted for his faith...and protected by the Lord for a plan that has yet to be revealed to them.

Me - I sit in a church pew and listen to amazing truths being unfolded before me. I stand on a platform and bring those truths to middle school students. I sit in my home, or office, or car and read my very own personal copy of the Bible and listen to music that boldly proclaims Jesus as the Christ. I have no clue what these other people face day in and day out. I've got it easy. We've got it easy. Comparatively. Do we face struggles? Sure, sometimes it can be hard. But there are others who are so much more persecuted.

And we (I'll include all of us) regularly take for granted the privileges and opportunities before us to hear, teach, preach, boldly proclaim Jesus as Christ. Yet, these who are under scrutiny and in areas that are in spiritually dark areas of the world...they are so much bolder, more confident (even in their choice words)...Lord forgive me.

So...here's are links to where you can listen to the podcasts of recent messages that have been a great encouragement & challenge to me. Today's was extra cool. I'll post that link as well when it shows up...Listen. Breathe it in. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in a new and amazing way. May your life be changed and transformed into His likeness. May my life be changed and transformed to His likeness.

Steve Fowler - Talking Taxi
John Stumbo - Kingdom Confusion
Barbara Fletcher - What Does Jesus Think of Doubters?

Another kick in the rear...

OK...as if yesterday wasn't enough...more snow today. I did my best to be of good spirits. I must say the cotton ball like snowflakes were pretty - they were BIG! I mean BIG! But again...it's April! I did CHOOSE to be excited with the kids...and they spent a good half hour or so outside together running, catching snowflakes on their tongues...and posing for pics for mom. Yes, I captured it. I'm reminded again I'm not in control. It's strange to almost find myself begging for rain instead. That's truly crazy.

So...here it looks more like they are playing in the rain, right?

Well, before long...

Check out the difference 10 minutes makes...see the snow line under the trees? We ended up with about 1/2 inch in about 30 minutes...

Yes, that's a giant snowflake in front of the lens...and a blooming azalea...

Oh well...here's to the hope of spring.


Bah Humbug!

So...7:12 am - I hear Noah and Kaylee tromping through the house - well, running through the house. They come flying into our room (where I am asleep). "Mom - it's snowing, it's snowing, it's snowing!" The exhuberant cries of a 5 & 7 year old - sheer joy in their voices. Me...a moan. I tell them to open the blinds to I can see. I admit - it was beautiful - cottonball like snowflakes. Then - I moan again. 1) It's Saturday morning. My one morning to "sleep in". Now, Steve told me to just remember the blessing of having kids who just want to be with me. OK...I'll remember. 2) It's April - APRIL! A.P.R.I.L.!! Not December, or November, or January or February! It's April! That's spring folks. That's flowers - that's sunshine - that's not snow! Period. It's just not. 3) It's morning - in general, not my best part of the day. Now...add all those components together --- and you already have a picture in your mind of what I did. I moaned again and covered my head with my covers to try to go back to sleep. No such luck. But it was nice to try to hide for a few more minutes... But...a few snuggles from my kids (along with really cold feet), a few kisses, and a few get up lazy bones...and I was awake.

Fast forward almost 12 hours. I'm at church hearing something hitting the windows or cars or something. It's a hail/slush/sleet combination. A few moments later, Brian tells us it's definitely sleet. My windshield is covered with this frozen precipitation. It's thunderstorm dark outside and just plain ol' gross. As I head to the "Kiz"...the sun breaks through. The sky is blue. In my rear view mirror I see the muck and yuck and ick of this bizarre storm...in front of me...blue sky and sunshine.

Now...that's the picture I hope I have for the months to come. The ick is behind, and the beauty of what I've heard I can experience in an Oregon spring and summer is just ahead!! Hold your breath...ok, maybe not. But I'll wait...and believe me...I'll tell you when it's amazing!

For a different perspective on the snowy morning, check out Erik's blog.


A bumper sticker...

So...I was following today behind a car that had a bumper sticker I didn't really like. I started another blog going off about that bumper sticker and basically a "how dare they" kind of attitude. I was about half way done when I stopped, and just looked at it. I thought why is this so frustrating to me. I didn't understand the "sentiment" or why someone would want to brag about it. I didn't understand why someone would put that on their car. I could never imagine putting that on my car. And I remember sitting in my car thinking maybe it's a sarcastic message. Maybe it's not what they really mean, how could it be? And it's been bugging me all day. Then while I was venting it...I started to think..but what about the person who put that message on their car. What is their perspective? What's happened in their world that made them put that on their car? Maybe it honestly was just funny to them. Maybe it's a true statement in their life. Maybe it's ... well, it could be anything. Without literally getting out of my car and going to the window of that vehicle and asking the driver...I have no clue. I don't know their circumstances. I don't know what they are thinking or what they are dealing with. I don't know why that bumper sticker seemed to make sense to them and be something they needed to put on their car for others to see. And me? What happens to me as I begin to think about it? My hardened judgmental heart switches gears...from frustration and judgement...to compassion and wishing I understood. I've had a couple of situations come up this week that I don't completely understand. I can't wrap my head around them. And in those situations, I hope at least, I've been a little more understanding that then blast I've been putting towards this car and driver this afternoon. Why was I so quick to condemn? Do I do that at other times too? Do I just jump to conclusions? Do I react vs. think? Sometimes. This isn't meant to be a I'm kicking myself kind of thing... just a wake up call and reminder to myself that I'm so in need of being transformed into the likeness of Christ. I soooo want to have His mind. His vision and compassion for others. It may seem like a "little" thing, a bumper sticker...but it was just something God has used in this last hour to remind me how much I need Him.

Check out the team...

I just like having pictures of my friends...and co-workers. So today, as we began our team meeting, I "just happened" to have my camera with me. Asked a friend from the office to take pics, not knowing he would really do a great job posing us (which met a little opposition from some of the guys...)...but I'm SO glad I got this pic. Take a look at the team God has blessed me to be a part of...they are amazing people who I learn from every day...they challenge and encourage me. I'm SO grateful to be in a place where I get to be part of a student ministries team. It's such a blast to do this serving Jesus thing together...Oh Lord may we be what and who you designed us to be. Thanks for my co-workers...my friends. Honestly, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could go to any of them with something, significant or seemingly significant, and that they would be there for me. What a gift that is to have friendships run that deep. So...here you go...in order Left to right... Brian Condello, Patrick Kelley, Paula Smith, Linda Byeman, Michelle Unwin, Steve Dangaran & Josh Mann. Thanks for praying with and for us...that we will be effective with our lives in such a way that others would be drawn to Him...may be we patient, may we be focused, may we be purposeful, may we be encouraging, may we be...all He designed us to be...


For my friends in the ATL, this may seem silly - for a new "small town" girl, today was HUGE! One of our beloved favorite drive-thru's opened today! SONIC! It was grand opening day --- we had to drive 11 miles to get there (point of reference - our last house in Atlanta had 1 less than a mile away...). It took about 20 minutes to arrive where literally cars were backed up in line! Sonic had 4 employees just directing traffic weaving through the adjacent parking lot, around the side & back of the shopping plaza there, to pull into the back part of the Sonic parking lot, to meet another attendant asking if you want to drive thru or drive in. Kaylee & Noah were SO excited. After waiting in line 18 minutes, we get to talk to the gentleman with the walkie talkie. We'd prefer to drive in, but if we need to drive thru it's fine. The voice on the other end of the walkie talkie squaks through and says they just had a drive in open up...a spot for us! It was fun to hear the kids squeal excitedly as they saw the menu, remembered they had tater tots & onion rings, hear Noah debate himself about the type of slushie to get. Kaylee - she knew hands down what she wanted - Noah...he always takes a little while to decide (ok, sometimes it can be a lot of while). Me? Yeah, I knew what I wanted...and no...it didn't include a Coke. I got a cherry limeade...YUM! Sometimes it's just those simple things that make you feel good...and today, that included just being with my kiddos, eating some of our favorite food, and enjoying the sunshine (even though there was a cold wind). Hmmmmmm...how long do I have to wait to go to Happy Hour (1/2 price drinks @ Sonic every day 2-4 pm) - to get another cherry limeade?? Hmmmmmm......


Now...that was amazing!

So...I'm home after our biggest outreach event of the year. The Price is Right! It was CRAZY FUN and just plain ol' CRAZY! We had 24 contestants, 6 pricing games, 2 great hosts, amazing leaders and a total of 275 wild and crazy middle schoolers all in the same room! Add 4 unbelievable "commercials" which were testimonies from students who have accepted Christ this year at Crash. These students were clear about the decision they made, honest about how their lives were changed as a result of Him. I even turned to Josh earlier today when we were watching the footage and said they were going to take our jobs. And that's ok by me. These students get it. They own it. The longing of their lives and hearts is to be all God created them to be...and to live their lives loving Him. Man...that was fun. Let's do it again.

If I'm most honest, I just didn't know what to expect.
I totally believe in our students, but you just don't know as time approaches what is going to happen. You give it your best effort regardless...but these students amaze me time and time again. At an average Crash we see about 120 students. There were SOOOOOO many new faces and friends to meet. Our students did a great job bringing friends, and starting conversations to introduce them to CRASH and a place to meet Jesus.

Highlights included seeing Trent's reaction to getting a Starbucks gift card - and jumping up into Erik's arms; great t-shirts from the students saying "Bob Rocks My Socks Off"; hearing a student say how much they love Neil Diamond; Hailey & Celeste's great hats; Kailia playing Plinko; cheers as Cliffhanger was brought onto the stage; Connor winning the remote control car; Jerry driving in the Harley; hearing students scream for their friends and their schools; seeing 2 visitors in the final showcase...to sit back and smile watching students listen intently to students talk about how God has revealed Himself to them this year... And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Now the real fun begins! Getting to really meet and talk and live with these students. I've been thinking a bunch about the fact that each of these students have a name and a story. That God had a specific reason for bringing each of them in the doors tonight. And I don't take lightly the fact that He has entrusted them to us...He wants our team to play a role in the lives of these students. Yeah, the fun is just beginning...can't wait to see how He works in them...I can't wait to hear the stories... Keep praying for them and for us...as we turn the pages of this new story and see what He reveals to each of us... To copy the words of Brandon & Riley, I just have to thank you Lord.


OK...that's depressing...

I admit it. I'm still a Southern girl at heart. I still long for flip-flop weather - for sunshine - for warmth - for being on the beach and being able to sit in the water, or actually get warmed from the sun and sand. I admit it. I was even talking earlier today about having to do Christmas in Florida or Hawaii or something. Overall I think I've handled my first Oregon winter pretty well...until...I hear people share statistics. Like when back in December/January, someone told me that there was 6 inches above normal of rain for the month of December. I was ok until I heard that. Then today --- "someone" (Brian) had to go and tell me that this past weekend we'd hit the warmest temperature (78 - which was amazing) since September 11, 2007. OK - do you realize that's 7 months since it was 78 degrees. Hello!?? Um, that does not compute for me. It's April, and I'm sitting here with cold feet - literal cold feet - not the I'm not sure that I should be here kind of cold feet, but actually cold feet. YIKES!! All I can say is that I'm trusting that this summer better be amazing...or I'm going on a cruise next winter...for a month! (How's that for selfish, self-absorbed...but honest...) (ok...and now they are saying the low tonight is 33...and that if we really stayed up all night we'd at least see a little snow in the midst of rain! ugh...)

You've got to read this...

OK...Steve started his blog tonight. I'm still hurting from laughing so hard. I'm not worthy of this man! And I have seriously been outdone in the blog department! Check Steve's blog out now.


Price is Right...Part 1...WOO!HOO!!!

OK...now that was fun! Tonight was our first round of The Price is Right - our big event for the spring, where students are encouraged to bring friends that haven't typically been a part of Flipside or Link or Crash before... Tonight the high school group had their shot at $1000 in prizes and giveaways. I really believe it was definitely a success! Lots of fun! Lots of new friends! Lots of fun games! Lots and lots and lots of laughs - thanks to Kevbo's unbelieveable descriptions and commentary, and Erik's new hair-do and skin-do and students who were crazy and fun and nutsy, and longed to be married to Bob (Barker that is...). It really was so much fun! I'd love to give you lots of specific details, but since we are doing round 2 with the middle school students, and many of the pricing games & prizes are the same, I have to wait, just in case...But...you can check out Erik's blog and Becca's blog for some glimpses of the fun...and their stories. Middle schoolers watch out - if tonight was any indication, we're gonna have an absolute blast! We saw lots of new students, and laughed so hard our sides hurt. So...get ready...we're gonna do it again...and I can't wait!!!


Every Knee Shall Bow...and every tongue confess...

So...I got home a little late tonight from Crash. The phone rings on the way home and it's Chele - calling asking me if I saw "it". Ok, I'll bite - what IT are we talking about here. She wanted to know if I was watching American Idol, which I wasn't obviously since I was on my way home. Then...my jaw dropped to the floor as she tells me that they closed "Idol Gives Back" with SHOUT TO THE LORD. Not that I didn't believe Chele (I did), but part of me couldn't believe that they would close with this song...it's a favorite. And it reminds me every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Watch it for yourself here. God, I trust that Your word will not return void, and thank you that Your ways are not my ways. You amaze me. Thank you that millions of people tonight were praising You. I'm sorry they took your name out (Jesus)...but Lord, nothing compares to the promise we have in You!!!


So...yeah...could it be true???

So...last year, shortly after I arrived in Salem, the church staff participated in a friendly round of March Madness Bracket-Mania. I like doing brackets and trying to figure it all out. I confess - I don't watch a ton of basketball, but CLEARLY like college ball over pro ball any day. (Don't get me started...) I typically start paying attention close to the regional tournaments...yeah, right before the brackets come out. But I really do like March Madness a lot. We've watched much less since the kids have come along, but I do LOVE watching college ball (I mentioned that already). OK - Long story short - last year it came down to the final game. The top two spots had chosen different teams to win. Yep, I was one of the final two, and my team, Florida, pulled it out and won...and I won March Madness Bracket-Mania 2007. Fast forward a year. Again, we enter into the land of Bracket-Mania. Another frenzy to complete the bracket - oh who will win?? I just don't know...so flip through, make my choices and wait. Going into Final Four Weekend I was #5 out of 15. Not a terrible spot, but not great. The ONLY chance I had was for...UNC and UCLA to lose...and for KANSAS to win! WOO!HOO!! I couldn't believe it! What was the likelihood...I mean, yeah, I chose it to happen...but...at sweet 16, I just didn't know...I was hoping really hard... Man, it was a good final game. I honestly thought Memphis was gonna do it...but, leave it to an amazing steal, and a momentum change (and the foul out of a key Memphis player just before overtime), and missed free throws, and a key 3, and the pieces fell into place for a repeat. Thanks Kansas!! I'm feeling the pressure of a 3-peat now...hmmmmmmmmmm.....


Make Your Mark...

This weekend was great! Well, from a middle school perspective. Friday night and Saturday morning we had "Make Your Mark" - a leadership development weekend for middle school students. Friday night we did something I've never done before. (One of the cool things of working with middle schoolers is having these moments of watching them experience things for the first time!). Anyway - we had 2 guys from the area there to teach them how to do...GRAFFITI! Yep, spray paint & 17 middle schoolers. You have the mental picture! How do you feel about that idea right this moment? Picture it --- 17 middle school students each with at least one can of spray paint! WOW! Now...imagine training up 17 middle schoolers to be leaders. Which is scarier? Spray paint in their hands...or the future in their hands? It is important to train middle schoolers, and others, in leadership...and graffiti. Done in the right way, with the right focus and motivation, it's amazing! Watch out! Done in the wrong way, with the wrong focus and motivation. It's detrimental! Watch out!

So we didn't take lightly the task of training up these students for 6 hours this weekend. Matthew 20 was our focus text vs. 26-28: "But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Serve. Serve others. Think about others. Yesterday morning at The Link, the middle school time @ church on the weekends, I was running Media Shout in the back and just kinda looking the room over...when I see one of the students who attended Make Your Mark get up from her seat next to two friends. I wondered where she was going, and smiled so big as I watched her go and sit on the other side of the room next to a girl who was sitting by herself. She introduced herself, and although it was clear to me she was a little nervous - I was SO excited to see a student MAKE HER MARK and reach out to another middle schooler... We talked about (in a break-out session), how sometimes we feel like we have to make this HUGE change to make a difference, to be a leader...but in the little things we do, they are HUGE to the person we are doing them for...and for this girl, it was huge that someone came to sit with her. She stood up a little taller, and you could just see her smile. She was serving someone else, and willing to give up sitting with her friends and being comfortable. She IS a leader! Way to go girl - I'll give ya' a can of spray paint any day...


I saw Horton...twice...

So...the first time I saw Horton Hears a Who, was with my family! Family day out! What could be better than all being together, hanging out, laughing, eating popcorn...just being together, wait I mentioned that... We laughed big and loud. (Until the last 10 minutes or so, when dear KJ lost it because of the dramatic trauma Horton endures getting tied up and the Who's endure getting almost dropped into...oh wait - maybe some of you haven't seen it. I won't give it away). KJ left the theater in absolute tears - screaming really. Enough to where those around us outside the theater were looking at each other wondering if they should go in. We got her calmed down, but she still is saying she didn't like the movie.

The second time I saw the movie was sitting in the front row with a group from church. (See the post below - the part that says A Day trip to Bridgeport...). It was an absolute blast! I was able to re-hear and remember a couple of favorite key lines, like "a.s.a.p. - act swiftly awesome pachyderm!" or Katie's line saying that everyone in her world would be ponies, and that they would eat rainbows and poop butterflies (ok that one I remembered from the 1st time)... (P.S. You can check Josh's blog for pics and another point of view...GO GIRLS!!!

Bottom line - I love this movie! I love this story! I love the animation! I love the creativity! I love the messages - and there were lots! I love that there was a movie released that was clean, fun, without all the innuendo, well made, made me laugh out loud for real several times...good flick! Go see it! It's so worth it...

(P.S. Check out Josh's blog for pics of the Bridgeport trip...

©2009 Until... | by TNB