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pondering prayer

as i write this i have three friends and their families dealing with difficult health issues–one is in hospice with a brain tumor, one is recovering from a serious car wreck, and one is in icu after suffering a major stroke just yesterday.

i’ve been spending quite a lot of time in prayer for each of these friends–and for their families. especially the families–it’s horrible and awful to watch someone you love in any of those situations.

all of these friends live cross-country from me so i’m not able to offer child care, meal prep, or even a physical hug–the things one often does for a friend in crisis. i am only able to offer a text, call or email and my prayers.

and intellectually i know that prayer is the most important thing i can offer these friends. i can enter the throne room and intercede with the king for these friends. and despite that knowledge, i still feel helpless–as though my prayers are simply not enough.

i know other people experience this feeling as well. so the question i’m pondering about prayer tonight, why is it that the most important thing we can tangibly do for a friend-pray-can feel like we aren’t doing enough?

what do you think? ever dealt with this sensation?


100 days

i was looking at my calendar tonite and realized it’s been 100 days since i made the move from san diego to nashville. i’m a little in shock that it’s been that long. and at the same time, it still doesn’t quite feel real that i live here.

there are some signs that i really live here:

but there are 3 really important ways which make this not feel real yet:

  • i haven’t found a church home
  • i’m only just starting to meet people
  • i’m still not fully settled into my condo. it still needs a couple bookcases, a couch (having a hard time finding one i love), and to get through the last of the boxes. plus there are a few shelves to hang and some painting to trim & touch up.
  • i’m still homesick for san diego

back in 2000 when i made the move from tulsa to san diego, a wise co-worker told me to give myself a year to get over being homesick and a second year to fall in love with the place. it was true for that move and i’m reminding myself of this sage advice in the process of this move.

have you moved cross-country? what were the things or events that made the new locale feel like home?

few of my favorite YM things: Ikea edition

when most of us as youth leaders think of ikea, we typically think of inexpensive durable furniture for the youth room or even for our homes.  living in san diego, i was spoiled by an ikea right there. now here in nashville, the closest one is 3.5 hours away in atlanta. i realized i’m teetering on the line between affecianado and addict when, on a recent visit to san diego, i took an empty suitcase to load up at ikea. as much as i miss easy access to ikea as i set up a new home, i know i’ll miss it even more when i start volunteering with a youth group again.

here are a few reasons why:

ikea fyllen laundry basket

1. fyllen laundry basket, $7.99

this collapsible basket is highly versatile. use it as:

  • a goal for games
  • temporary storage
  • donation basket (food drive, clothing drive)
  • camp lost & found
  • tote for soggy clothes/supplies

2. picture frames: starting at .99

clips glass frames

there is a huge variety of picture frames for great prices. my favorites are these ‘clips’ in the picture. plain glass with a backing that clips the photo in place. with sharpies you can totally personalize these frames making them perfect for leader gifts or small group crafts.

plus they have a wide variety of collage frames and cool photo display supplies to use in the youth room.


3. fixa tool kit, $7.99

fixa tool kit

all the basic tools for a price you don’t have to worry if one gets misplaced or damaged. for instance, the hammer falls out of a canoe and disappears in the river. (yes, that happened on a youth trip once. and i still have no clue why that jh boy had a hammer in the canoe.)



4.  koppla 6 outlet power strip: $5.99

koppla power strip

oh, and there are 2 strips in the pack for $5.99!  i also find it’s often handy to keep one of these in my suitcase it can be hard to find enough convenient plugs in a hotel to charge all my gadgets. and on camps and retreats, as a girls leader, i’m pretty sure having these in my camp survival kit has prevented outlet overload on more than one occasion.



5. (saving the best for last) frakta ikea signature tote: .59

frakta ikea signature tote

this 19 gallon tote bag is made of polypropylene and is seriously durable. it’s perfect to pack all those odd-shaped or bulky retreat supplies like dodgeballs or 48 roll packs of toilet paper.  really great for missions trip supplies as they’ll hold tools and other heavy items plus they’re waterproof and can be washed down with soap and water.

you can also get creative with these for games–put a jr higher in one and let them go sliding down a hill, use them for relays, etc.


a slightly sad note…i realized as i was putting links into this post none of these items are available online. here’s a link to their store finder so you can find out how far you are from one…and if it’s very far, you can also get a list of all their store locations so you can take along an empty suitcase next time you’ll be near one.

a favorite youth min top 10

once upon a time, i used to work on a middle school youth ministry event called ‘youth invasion’. the premise was a group of churches joined together with their middle school ministries and ‘invaded’ some low income neighborhoods and fixed up the exteriors of homes for residents who were unable to do so themselves. a big part of the week involved middle school kids and hundreds of gallons of paint.

and because it was a youth ministry event, there was the requisite event t-shirt. tonite, as i was sorting thru old t-shirts for a t-shirt quilt, i found the one from ’99. and it has one of my favorite top 10 lists ever for a youth ministry event:

10. don’t eat the paint

9.  paint freckles leave you with a really groovy tan

8.  clean sponsors are happy sponsors

7.  throwing buckets full ‘o’ paint at the house will not speed things up

6.  even michaelangelo used a drop cloth

5.  keep the karate kid jokes to a minimum (“paint da fence”)

4.  don’t use the time to practice auto paint and body on the church vans

3.  paint no dogs

2.  paint the correct house

1.  don’t eat the paint


youth ministry needs more…

back in january i posted this piece on youth ministry. it was meant to be part 1 of 4, but i never finished posting the series. it was ending up feeling more critical than i wanted or meant to be. while i agree with what i wrote, after more thinking, i want to reframe it. i want to look at the 4 issues from a more positive perspective. i’ll do this in 5 posts–this introductory post plus one on each of the 4 topics.

youth ministry needs more:

  • parent involvement: we need parents to be more involved in our ministries and oftentimes, in their kids’ lives. to make that happen, we need to reach out to them first.
  • celebration: we’re meant to be people of joy and in our fast-paced stressful lives we often forget to notice and find joy in the midst of our journeys.
  • realistic expectations of our students: having unrealistic expectations can leave us asking either too much or oftentimes too little of our students. it’s important to help our kids develop an accurate vision of how God sees them and then to help them live into it.
  • workers: quite simply, we need more adults involved in students’ lives. we need ‘big church’ to be more integrated with youth ministry so let’s get creative in making those connections.

so now you know where i’m headed for the next few posts. if you have ideas or feedback, be sure to post a comment. i’d love to start a dialogue around any or all of these.

Small Group Snapshot

Last night I met with my small group of 8th grade girls. It was the first time back together after a couple weeks off for spring break. Our group has been together for nearly 2 years and there’s a high level of trust. Among the things the girls shared about were feeling alienated by friends, being bullied, feeling like God doesn’t care, the death of a loved one, and the topic of suicide. Granted, this wasn’t a typical week, but topics like loneliness and bullying weren’t new.

Two things struck me last night as the girls talked. First, students today are dealing with much bigger issues much younger. And issues that have been around for ages, like bullying, have taken on a broader scope and a far crueler edge. (This may become a post of its own.) Second, how important it is that there be enough adults who are willing to step in and be involved in the lives of our kids. As youth workers, we need to find creative ways to continually encourage the our churches to be involved in the lives of the teens. And not just when there is crisis, but also when there is reason to celebrate. More on that later…

great new music today on itunes

i’m so excited for my friend and worship artist vicky beeching! her new 3 song EP released today on itunes! you can get it here: vicky beeching ep on itunes.  it has 3 new songs and is a teaser for her new full-length CD in april.

if you aren’t familiar with vicky and her music, let me introduce you. vicky hails from across the pond, england that is. she’s oxford educated in theology. i’ve had the chance to get to know her and besides being brilliant, talented (and english), what i appreciate most about her is her transparency. vicky has this graceful way of embodying a lifestyle that integrates worship, evangelism, and justice. she openly shares her hope in jesus with those she encounters. vicky cares deeply about justice especially human trafficking.  and her music reflects all of this.

on her ep, there is a song called deliverer. as i listened to it the first time, it struck something deep in me that brought tears. even as teary as i often am, i can’t remember a song having that effect on me. the song is a reminder of God’s faithfulness in transforming us. it’s stuck with me for a couple weeks now.

but you don’t have to take my word for it: get to know vicky over at her blog. and check out her EP today on itunes.

update: the full cd is now available on itunes. go ahead & treat yourself to the download today!

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