Before school started I took my annual Central Coast camping trip with my niece and nephew. They are 9 and 11 now, and we had a great time. My nephew stayed up with me around the fire one night and saw the Milky Way for the first time. I love camping. (I don't like the dirt part, but the rest is great.)
I came home to a very full in-service week with Providence Hall, where I met with the faculty, coached the student leaders, and co-ran the New Student Orientation (our new students are in the photo below). These were great times of planning and connection, but I what I really enjoyed was the start of classes yesterday. Providence does a great job creating rites of passage, and yesterday was no exception as we started off with a "first walk" and Convocation ceremony. (I guess it's similar to what Westmont does at the beginning of each year.) Yep, that's me in my academia regalia... finally, that ol' Masters' Degree pays off! ☺
I taught my first class of "Foundations" today. I will be teaching on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and the entire student body attends. I will be starting off with a series on the Book of Nehemiah and I am very fired up about it. Today's message was just an introduction. I played a clip of JFK's "we choose to go to the moon" speech from 1962 (it gave me chills -- not sure it made them even blink, but you never know with teenagers...) Scroll to the 7:32 point and listen through his reasons for going to the moon. I noted the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, and how audacious JFK's ambitions were. From there I asked the students what their own "moon landings" were -- those seemingly impossible things, and how we are going to talk about the impossible this fall. I love teaching students, FYI.
Meanwhile, my other projects are plowing forward. As for my consulting with Youth Ministry Architects, I return to the Chicago suburbs on Sept 17-19 for a follow consultation with a church I worked with in June, and in October I start up another project in Seattle. I am continuing with a church in Nebraska, and coaching a great little church in a suburb of Phoenix.
I'm meeting weekly (through video conferencing) with 3 Southern CA Free Methodist lead pastors for coaching in leadership development and I love it! Each church is extremely different, and I have loved drawing upon the diverse opportunities I have had in my ministry history in the past. I feel so blessed.
Eden Reforestation Projects continues to challenge and inspire me. I just got word today, after a lot of emails back and forth, that a major business has agreed to sponsor us -- I will let you know soon which one it is. I'm so stoked! For a limited time, for each product they sell they will make a donations to plant a tree for Eden Projects. I'm praying this could be the beginning of some cool sponsorships by companies seeking to act out some social responsibility.
On behalf of Eden, I'm also slotted to speak at a national pastors' gathering next week in Long Beach, a gathering of Pacific Northwest Pastors in October, and a conference for pastors on the entire Eastern Seaboard in April in Orlando. Pinch me, I'm dreaming! Please pray that this would bear fruit in terms of donors and vision. We need to keep planting millions of trees. I've also connected a church here in Santa Barbara with the president of Eden. The church here has ministered for 4 years in Haiti, and have been praying about how to dig even deeper in caring for this devastated country through reforestation. Through a providential meeting, I met the doctor who has led this ministry, and now Eden is going with them in October to explore tree nursery sites! This would become the 3rd country we work in.
Finally, I have another article coming out in Youthworker Journal soon, and my articles are posted regularly on Youthminblog and YMToday. It's really fulfilling for me personally, but it's especially great to hear from youth pastors serving faithfully in every corner of the US. A cool network of folks is out there.
I'll end with a quote that I read earlier this week. It hit me deeply. I won't even try to say why. I'll just let it speak for itself. Thanks for reading. It means a lot to me.
To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do--
to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive
the world at its harshest and worst--is by that very act, to be
unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more
wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the
harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your
life against being destroyed secures your life also against
being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life
itself comes from. You can even prevail on your own. But you
cannot become human on your own.
... Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), The Sacred Journey, San
Fransisco: Harper & Row, 1982, p. 46
Fransisco: Harper & Row, 1982, p. 46