Tuesday, November 08, 2005

tyler perry and his alter personality madea

i love tyler perry. if you don't know who he is maybe you've heard of diary of a mad black woman but if you haven't heard of that maybe you've seen in your local blockbuster madea's family reunion and all of the others.

well he came to grand rapids (which in of itself is a far stretch for our normally pretty light and dutch community). tyler is an amazing actor, writer, and follower of god. if you've never watched one of his plays i would recommend it. each one has a message and is sounded in truth about god. they are real and nearly everyone in the audience can relate on some level.

what i loved most was simply laughing for 2 1/2 hours straight. trying to figure out if my throat was sore because i laughed so loud for so long or if it was from the bruit cologne (if i can call it that) that the man next to me was wearing. regarless it is nearly midnight and i can't stop laughing yet. i keep thinking of all the great one-liners given tonight and will be waiting the best i can to see the next tyler perry production.

Monday, November 07, 2005

sometimes just being heard is enough

i met with denise vanek from mars hill today. i don't know what i expected but i knew from the first time that i met her that i liked her. i felt like i could trust her and that i would be safe.

for the last 2 years i've struggled with church. church as an institution, church as a building, and church as an unhappy place. last summer i even went so far as to leave the church (well i withdrew my membership) but i still went there and prayed that god would show me a church that would make me happy. in the year and a half since then no one from the church ever called, ever wrote, and possibly didn't even care. well that is what i thought at least until today.

i told denise my story, my concerns, and my questions. she didn't try to answer them but she did listen. she didn't offer any excuses but an apology. she gave me exactly what i needed. she gave me herself for the time that we were together. she gave me hope. she also gave me encouragement.

i can't assume that the questions are gone but the restlessness in my heart is somehow soothed.

Friday, November 04, 2005

i can't believe i can see again

i've been wearing glasses ever since the 2nd grade. but, as if that isn't bad enough for a kid i went into bi-focals in the 4th grade and had them ever sine. over the last year or so i've noticed that my glasses really haven't been working (or at least as well as i thought they should). so i decided to go this week and have my eyes checked and found out i don't even need bi-focals anymore.

now this was the most amazing news i had in a long time. then of course he gave me the bad news. while my reading vision was great for the first time in 20 years my distant vision basically sucks. the whole not being able to read street signs at night was finally making sense.

i of course was thrilled to have an excuse to get new glass and found these great red funky little things that are totally me. well i was able to pick them up today and love them. not only do they actually look okay on me i really can see. i drove all over just to look at street signs and then went back out once it was dark to see if they still did, and they do. i can't believe the modern miracle of glasses.

Friday, October 28, 2005

vacation with the kids

i left for vacation yesterday and drove the 8 hours it takes to get to western ny. it did seem like it's been that long since i've seen the kids but they had all grown soo much i couldn't believe it. i was grateful that they let me sleep in why they got ready for school. i'm going to make my rounds on monday to 3 different classes and go to each of their school parties for halloween.

i'm also very sad about news that we got this morning about my grandma. she had small heart attack earlier this week (they found a blood clot in the main artery of her heart) but it was all brought on by the mass they found in her lung. just this morning we found out that she does indeed have lung cancer and that it is bad (she is in stage 4). in about an hour or so they are going do surgery to drain the fluid from her lung and then to repair the hole in her from the drainage tube. we all realize it is a matter of time and the question is how will that time be spent...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

a dinner full of laughs

thursday night was the crazy madness sale that pushes all of the store staff to their limits and we love it. and, pittsburgh was exactly what we thought it would be a slower trickle until critical concerns got out and then we had the rush we were waiting for. so after a very long night mindi, jeannie O, lilly, and i decided to have sushi for dinner.

now for me i've just recently met lilly, not spent a lot of time with jeannie (although i always love being with her) and mindi is very much my partner in crime so i knew this would be a great dinner with amazing women that i could learn more about. well it really was that and so much more. we laughed so hard and it really was fun to just be a girl and share that with these other amazing women who love jesus.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

nywc #2 pittsburgh

i made it in yesterday morning after 2 very quick flights from gr to detroit and then detroit to pittsburgh. it isn't even 10 pm and i'm already back in my room (which is a record during convention)and feeling really great about the staff of volunteers and how the store looks right now. it felt really tight in sacramento so things as simple as more room has done wonders.

when i left sacramento i really felt like how could the staff of volunteers possibly live up to the staff in sac, but this team is amazing. i had hoped that wouldn't compare and i don't think that will be a problem. i have made contacts already with the volunteers that i will be working specifically with and i'm thrilled with the folks mindi and glenn are giving me. the thing about all of these volunteers that has blown me away is that a great majority of them travel to one of the three cities to volunteer and go to another just to attend with their staffs. i could be wrong but i that that alone is what makes this convention stand out against other youth ministry conventions.

the convention and store officially open tomorrow and we will again have our madness sale. i pray for our attendees, for our volunteers, for all of our speakers, and for the ys staff in general. each person here is working their tales off, not getting enough sleep, and still in love with serving.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

be careful of what you ask for

this past spring i drove down to chicago and attended one of the ys core events and marko was the speaker. it is always a great time to hear marko teach but after this half day seminar i walked away and wanted to be a junior high boys youth leader. but since i'm a women that probably wouldn't work. now, i've had this thought since then but it was nothing i imagined would ever really happen.

that was until tonight. you see i was out shopping with one of my cousins tonight and then went to her house where 4 boys between 11-12 were and we decided to take them to the haunt (at great haunted house). for any of you who are junior high leaders (thank you)and no i don't think that what i did tonight can even compare, but man did i learn that god laughs at the things we ask for.

we stood outside for almost 2 hours waiting to get in and then found some friends (and yes we cut in the line only after 3 of the original 4 boys decided they really didn't want to go through the haunted house). and, even though we lost 3 of our boys we picked up another 4 (that we cut with) and they went through the maze with us. what i did learn is that boys scream just like girls, they really do like to pass a lot of gas in crowded areas and then blame each other, and i should stop asking god to make me a junior high boys leader.

i never thought i would say this...

i'm in michigan and love it. i finally made it home last night around 8:30 and it was cold and dark, but i was home.

for the last five years i've struggled with living here and even more so in the last two years since my parents moved struggled with not having a home. i don't know if it is b/c i'm single, b/c i don't have kids, or what but i have felt homeless but with a home. i've struggled with finding a church home and being empty. i've said time and time again how silent god was in my life. but, i was wrong.

it wasn't until i went on a spiritual retreat a few weeks ago that i realized that god wasn't silent in my life but was in the silence that i didn't let in my life and he was waiting. i was going to move out of my house this weekend to a different apartment and realized that i couldn't. i realized that this is my home or at least for today it is. god told me in that silence that "he is here, to stop fighting the church, to love the community that he has put me in, and that i have a home, a family, and that i'm loved".

it all came together last night on the plane when i watched a sunset from thousands of miles in the sky, with clouds all around me, with silence in my life. but, more than anything i knew when i finally made it home (and yes this is home) that people were going to be there waiting for me and were excited to have me back. people that prayed for me while i was gone, prayed for me to return saftely, but most importantly have been here in my life the entire time. i think like god my friends and family waited for me to be silent and just let them love me.

thank you...

Friday, October 07, 2005

my luck sucks...

so i really had thought about flying standby earlier today since i'm so ready to get home. but, the convention was going great so i stayed as late as possible. i left for the airport it took me just over an hour (which is great timing considering the traffic and rain). then i couldn't get checked in quickly, didn't think i would get through security (seriously i should know by now not to wear metal and that the tsa likes to search me) instead i wore metal like a mad woman. finally made it to my gate and had less than a half an hour before boarding.


they came across the overhead and said my flight was going to be delayed. they were a bit vague and said it could be an hour or two late. normally this wouldn't frustrate me soo much but for the love of god why can't i just get on a plane and go home?


Thursday, October 06, 2005

catalyst is great but i get to go home tomorrow

well day one of catalyst is under our belts and we managed to giveaway over 5,000 tniv pocket bibles to the convention attendees. never in our wildest dreams did we think that we would be able to give them all away but if the right product you just never know. i heard comments like "is that the gender neutral bible, don't you have another color, or even i just want the niv" so you never know when someone just won't appreciate a gift. but, more than anything i heard "thank you soo much you have no idea what this gift means to me..."

i did have a great surprise waiting for me when i got to this hotel yesterday from aletha and megan. while i always have fun when i'm on the road and doing conventions i still miss home, work, and of course my friends. so, megan and aletha i'll see you both on monday and thanks so much for making my day yesterday.

one of the highlights of today was seeing soo many people from my home church New Covenant Free Methodist Church the part that was so great for me was not just seeing them but knowing what a role they played in my life. steve and tammy were there and i realized again had it not been for them taking time to love me when i was 15 i might not be the person i am today. and then seeing pastor dale and knowing that he was the person that baptized me and also played a huge role in my life was very real.

but, what i'm most excited about is that i get to go home tomorrow. as much as i love traveling, collecting frequent flyer miles, and sleeping on someone else's bed it will be great to get home and just breathe.

oh yes and if you have never heard donald miller or read any of his books i totally recommend it. i heard him today and was stunned by his realness.

Monday, October 03, 2005

the convention is almost over

today is monday and everyone is buzzing around waiting for the last general session to start. it has been a good convention (long) but good. i've heard so many stories from youth workers across the country this week that have been encouraging, saddening, and very real. my prayer for all of the attendees has been that they would leave hopeful, have something they didn't have before they got here, shared a bit of themselves with their peers, and most of all have been served by ys and all of their volunteers.

one of the most visible things that happened were the anti-gay, anti-gay marriage guys that decided to protest on the corner of the convention center and say they were with YS. it is always nice to spread a gospel full of hate. but like any rebellious teenager their youth workers aren't much different so our attendees started an anti-protest against the protesters. so i borrowed a video camera and started interviewing the people on the streets. it was a great experience and allowed me a bit of creativity.

well the general session is about to start and then we are on for the mad rush of tearing this place down and then i'm onto the next city.

pray for our volunteers, the ys staffer, and myself as we leave the convention and begin to decompress everything that has taken place over the last week.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

the girls are moving

today two of the women i love most in the world are moving away from me (okay it is less than a mile but they are moving). i'm so excited for them today as a new adventure starts for both of them. jody bought a beautiful house even though a lot of things could have changed her mind at any point along the journey and i believe god will bless her because of that. what makes me sad is that i'm not there to be apart of it and to help.

i pray that today god blessings and affirmation are sent to them and that they know how much they have changed my life and how much i need them in it!

one life revolution

today i went through something like never before. one life revolution part of world vision set up an exhibit at the sacramento nywc. just from the outside of it you would think this is just another cool booth that is attractive and wants to bring people in. but, in reality it is much more than that it is a booth that brings awareness to an epidemic that most try to ignore. one life revolution is about hiv/aid in africa and how people are dying, being orphaned, being abused.

this booth is different than any other that i've ever seen and when i went to it i don't think that i was really ready for what i was about to encounter. there are three tracks that take you through a year of 3 different people and then you must face the hardest of them all. you are tested for aids and must wait in this make shift clinic (which is actually a real clinic in africa set up by world vision and wait) the boy who's shoes i was walking in (stephen) did not have hiv but the wait the not knowing was so real it was as if it was my life and my health in jeopardy.

Friday, September 30, 2005

general session #1

mark yaconelli is leading the first general session for this years NYWC. it is my first time to meet him and to see him live. he is his fathers son. he started talking about affirmation.

mark started by telling us that we just need to see the kids. i think back onto all of the girls i've been with in the last 10 years and didn't see and it is a bit surreal. but, then he said that if we just take time to see the kid how amazing it can be to watch the compassion come out of us. i believe in this and that the mere concept can transcend cultures. so the way i see it is once i figure out what breaks me and i mean really breaks me i can start to really see people again. i've often been moved by whatever was driving my passion at that moment but not by what breaks me. if i can figure that part out the seeing and compassion will follow.


it's opening day

it's friday morning/afternoonish and things are really starting to pick up. i have so many pictures to share but i'm afraid it will take up too much room but will put up as many as possible.

on tuesday i managed to get an hour long nap in and then was off to dinner with the entire store volunteer team. some of the things that happened. David and Jay made me laugh so hard that i started to cry. i taught our entire table how to make fart noises with a flexi straw using your armpit. it was a huge hit with all of the jr high leaders. david was presented with a birthday icecream cup and we all (yes there was at least 20 of us) stood on our chairs in the middle of the restaurant and sang happy birthday. (don't tell but it really wasn't his birthday at all)

wednesday was crazy we were up early and finishing everything. it is amazing to see the nothiness of an arena come to be a place of worship. it was a lot of work and the ys staff and volunteers do something like i've never seen before. i hope that anyone reading this will get a feel for the convention through the photos.

thursday was probably the longest day of the convention and it officially didn't even start then. but it was a day that registration, the store, critical concern courses, and the exhibit hall all opened. the part of the day is long is the "madness sale" this is the only time attendees can come into the store and buy ys product for 30% off or more and if you've ever done youth work you know that money is always and issue so anytime you can find a good deal you take advantage of it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

the longest day ever

well i've made it to sacramento safe after a long day at the airports and on the plane. i was up at 3:30 am EST (so really 12:30 am in sacramento) and finally made it here at 11:30 am pacific. i was excited to get to my hotel and head over to the convention center.

for anyone who has never seen a NYWC and watched the volunteers set-up with place it is amazing. the exhibitors hall and the store had already been built and youth workers were busily folding t-shirts. the beauty of this experience is that these people work hard and most of them take a week of vacation to come and serve thousands of youth workers. I've included a couple of pictures for your enjoyment. One is of jen howver building chairs for the DCLA booth (the sad part is she has some sweet roller skates on that i didn't catch), one is of her honey jay who is the ys publisher and has the watz up homey look on his face. but, seriously the funniest one that i've got so far is the trampoline in the middle of the store (the theme this year is "jump")

well i'm off to get some rest before i head out to dinner with the ys staff and volunteers.

the withward movement

so i've struggled with going to mars hill for a couple of years now but still haven't found someplace that i was learning like i did there. one of my problems was the fact that no matter how involved i got i still sat in a room of 3,000 strangers every week. but, what actually happened was i withdrew from the people and church that loved me. it wasn't until after a recent spiritual retreat that god began speaking to me and saying stop fighting the institution and just find the church.

well i don't know that i have the answers or that i'm even close to them yet but i have gone back for the last two weeks with tasha and jody and it's been good. this weekend particularly was amazing. rob taught from Ephesians and about "the new man = new humanity" and how as new humanity we are all aware of what we have in common with each other. rob is going through this teaching on direction and this weeks was on "withward" and that being withward was that no one can live life alone. i had no idea that while i walked away from the institution i also walked away from community.

Friday, September 23, 2005

the life of traveling

i will be leaving next tuesday for sacramento where i'll be hanging out with all of my ys friends and 3400 youth workers. i can't imagine life getting any better than being with people who devote their lives to being with kids. i'll be out there for a week and then on the 4th i'll head to atlanta for 4 days of rest and relaxation or working my hiney off at another convention. this one is going to be killer since it will be with 8500 church leaders who just love people and love our product. it is kinda scary since this is a new venture for me. i pressed doug (our new pres) to let us have a huge showing at the event and we are so please pray! then i'll come home for 3 days and head out to pittsburgh to hang out with ys again and even more youth workers.

i'll try to blog daily and keep everyone up-to-date on my latest and greatest but until then please pray for safe travels, that hearts will be touch, and that i can do a great service for my company.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Anca's new journey

i found out recently that a dear friend was being let go from her job. a job that she poured herself into, a job that introduced us. yet she was seemingly and somehow i was not. i was mad, hurt, in disbelief, i was anything but okay. you have to know anca to understand the strength that this woman carries. a strength that i can't begin to understand, but will stand on her sidelines and cheer her nonetheless. as she would tell someone her story she would tell you how God had been preparing her for this move for over a year. "how could God be preparing you to be laid off from your job? how could you not be angry at God for leaving you alone? how could you..." these were all of the questions i had and probably still do, but they are not my questions, they are anca's and she embraces them. i guess that is why she can move forward.

last night i said goodbye to anca and realized that for a month and a half i won't hear her laughter, she may not speak wisdom into my life, that this unbelievable friend was beginning this new journey of her life. i can't believe the selfless heart she has been given and that God is letting me be apart of that.

growing up in the states seems simple, i was born, have had a pretty easy life, and will someday die. but, in so many other places across the earth people are not privilaged to the life i am.

anca was born in a country far from the states, but she hasn't forgotten her people. the first chance she was given to go back and serve them she jumped at it. for that i am honored to call her friend and sister. i sit in my blameless *beautiful* life here in the midwest and dream of day that i will be able to go into "foreign" countries and help their people. but, i'm learning that before i can go out i must first look in. i hope that someday i will have enough courage to face my neighbors and serve them. until then i will watch my friend and learn from her courageous heart, walk on her journey with her, pray Jesus hold me close and teaches me His way. anca is a true disciple of Jesus, she doesn't try to split our tribes, just to heal them.