2011 Reflection & Wrap-Up

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
I flew solo in youth ministry for 3 months as my co-worker took a sabbatical. I officiated a wedding. And… I dove into the joys of home ownership. :)

2.Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did. I failed. Hah! My resolution was to run the mini-marathon, but that didn’t work out. HOWEVER, I did join the YMCA and am working out routinely, so although I didn’t complete my resolution, I got creative.

This year, my goal is to have balance in my financial life. I want balance everywhere (who doesn’t?), but financially, we are making some adjustments. We want to give more. Save more. Spend less.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes, yes. I am in a season of babies & weddings, and I love every minute of it.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. Kyle’s grandfather passed away this fall. One of my former students, Tessa, died this past Spring in a car accident.

5. What countries did you visit?
Zilch. As in none.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Time and space.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 1-First day of Nick’s Sabbatical
March 5-Tessa died
April 30-First GO LOVE INDY. Loved watching our community that day. Rumor has it that I drove around from site to site with some tears.
September 24-Officiated Emily & Brince’s wedding in Eatonton, Georgia
October 23-Celebrated my mom’s 60th birthday in Chicago.
November 12-Stood beside my friend, Katelyn, on her wedding day
December 7-Kyle’s grandfather passed

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
There are lots of little things. I grew a lot this year–in personal maturity, my job, as a wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I just stinkin’ grew!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Taking out anger and frustration from work on my husband. I truly regret that.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Well, yes.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Definitely my iPhone. Life changer!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Bills, student loans, bills, student loans, bills… welcome to adulthood!

13. What did you get really excited about?
Durham Family Vacation in Florida, haven’t seen most of them since our wedding!

14. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons, I’ve Got This Friend by The Civil Wars

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Happier.
– thinner or fatter? Same. 
– richer or poorer? Same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Time and energy in the Word.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Checking email and being on the internet.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Drove all over the place visiting family, led worship at Chapel Rock, and then drove all over the place again. :) Hoping for a more relaxing year in 2012.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Mad Men, Parenthood, Parks & Recreation

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Cold Tangerines (Shauna Niequist), Blue Parakeet (Scot McKnight), Making a Mess and Meeting God (Mandy Smith), Radical (David Platt)

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Mumford & Sons, Adele, The Civil Wars, Over the Rhine, Brooke Fraser

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
The Help

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 24, and I had a relaxing day with my husband and then went over to a friend’s house for dinner. Low key and perfect.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Deciding early on that I cannot control other people’s choices and decisions. That would’ve saved me a lot of anxiety and stress.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Dressy/Casual/WannabeHipster

26. What kept you sane?
Laughing with my husband. Cooking. Funfetti Vacation with my closest friends.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
People are capable of tremendous amounts of good, and tremendous amounts of evil. We desperately need a Savior. Also, chocolate really does help. :)

bible college pet peeves

I had a conversation recently that sparked some of my “Bible College Pet Peeves.” I thought I had put them aside, since it’s been almost two years since I’ve been in school, but nope…. they came flaring up with a vengeance. So, here we go. This may or may not come across incredibly judgmental (okay, it probably will). Please know that all of this has an undertone of grace and understanding.

1. I go to Bible College because my parents made me, and I’m over church stuff. 
First things first: I sympathize with you. But I also want to kick you in the rear (in the name of love, of course). You went to Bible College because your parents MADE you? While I’m sad you aren’t allowed to make your own decisions, that is not a get-out-of-learning-free card. While you’re here, and while you are having doubts about faith/life/church/Christianity/humanity/etc., how about using this time to learn a few things? Go visit professors that will make you think… go voice your frustrations with people who will listen, because they’re EVERYWHERE. And they might even be smarter/nicer/wiser than you perceive.

2. I’m an athlete; why do I have to take Bible classes?
Look at the sign at the entrance of the campus. Sorry, but you should have known.

3. This is my time, I don’t need to serve people while I’m in college. 
One of the most perplexing things while I was in school was how few people actually left campus to go serve the people in our community. Because more often than not, these were also the people who had the most critical opinions about church, Christians, theology, etc., which of course makes zero sense. Knowledge puffs up; love builds up, right? If you want to learn, you have to get outside of yourself and do things that make you uncomfortable.

4. I learned all I need to know about the Bible in Sunday School.
Okay, no offense to your Sunday School teachers, but I’m pretty sure they do not have the level of education of the professors that surround you. Also, you were 12. Or 16. Or whatever. Your brain was not even close to being fully developed, and learning by a felt board is not the same as having your nose in a book written by a New Testament Scholar. These classes, believe it or not, enrich your faith, and if you choose not to attend and actively engage… you are seriously wasting LOTS of money, and time.

5. My professor thinks differently than the way I was raised; he or she is probably a heretic. 
This is the worst one of all. What a sad, sad Christian culture we live in to believe that if people see Jesus, the Bible, Trinity, Baptism, Communion, the Holy Spirit, and/or the Church differently than we’ve always known, they are somehow a pagan heretic. Seriously people. When you get out of Bible College and into reality, you are surrounded by people who disagree with you. And if you can’t figure out how to disagree with grace and learn from others that surround you, you are only limiting yourself. And God.

Time at Bible College has the potential to be some of the most enriching years of your life… if you let it be so.

a four-fold franciscan blessing

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Amen.

prayer from assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

(Francis of Assisi)

on being a female youth minister, part 3: the pool party

There’s this little event in youth ministry circles that’s lovingly referred to as “youth group pool party.” I assure you men came up with this idea, and that whoever started it, did not think long and hard about what this would mean for the women on their team. I don’t hold this against them, how could they know (unless they’ve worn a women’s bathing suit)?

A few years ago while I was doing an internship in NC, I got called up on stage to participate in a “team game” at a Jr. High conference. My partner was a 6th grade boy, Caleb, and the instructions were for the Jr. Higher to put his/her hands around their leader and feed them peanut butter and jelly. Think about the logistics of this for a moment. If you are thinking, “What on earth?” then you’re imagining what happened. A 6th-grade boy’s arms were around my back, trying to feed me a PB&J. If you aren’t feeling awkward yet, you probably should be in prison. I know men came up with that game, because there is no way any full-bodied woman would think that’s a clever idea. Because it’s not. It’s awkward, gross, and embarrassing.

I also know men came up with the idea of youth group pool parties, because anytime we have one at Chapel Rock I hardly ever swim. What’s that? Swimming in a skin-tight-one-piece makes me feel uncomfortable around hormone-enraged teenage boys? And there’s really not that big of a difference between my body and a 16-year-old girl’s body? Oh, you don’t say!

I love swimming, I love laying out, and I love pools. But the older I get, the less I enjoy being in a bathing suit, particularly around boys. I know their minds/bodies/hormones are changing, and let’s be real–NO swimming suit is modest. The very idea of a swimsuit is that it’s suctioned to your body and there is truly no escape, unless you wear a paper bag over your body, and even then, it’s sketchy.

So–to my male youth minister friends that have females on your team (hopefully you have at least a few!), when you’re planning your games, events, and parties… remember the women. Remember that if you ask one of them to lead a devo at your pool party, she will be standing there, half-naked, trying to convince your students that modest is truly hottest. The irony is just too great for words.