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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

"So What's Up with You?"

I run into people and the first question I hear is often "So what's up with you?"

One by one, the details perhaps don't sound like much, but together, they add up to a rather eventful and interesting summer.

Here goes:
  • I got to go to Alaska June 23-July 3. Two words: Uh-mazing. Here's one post I wrote about it. Stinkin' glorious. I cannot recommend it enough as a vacation destination. If you've been wondering and wavering, wonder and waver no longer. Book it.
  • I moved on from Eden Reforestation Projects, and expanded my role at Providence Hall High School. After a really fun year juggling a whole lot of different projects, I'd reached a point where my roles at both organizations were expanding, and I needed to make a choice. After much prayer and consideration, I chose Providence Hall. I am continuing as the Campus Pastor, leading the Foundation of the Christian Faith class with the entire student body. This role also lets me work with the student leadership team, and coordinate the parenting seminars series we title Providence Presents. But as of July 1, I doubled my time there and have taken on some administrative projects as the Assistant Headmaster. My energies are focused on revamping the admissions process, strengthening our technological infrastructure, and working with our new Director of Advancement in terms of marketing and communications. Given that these tasks are often what I work on through my pastoral coaching projects, it's a treat to remain "on the ground" myself and keep sharpening my own abilities. We have 22-25 more students coming in September as we enter our 4th year as a school. Though we're still a start-up in most respects, it feels like we're getting some solid traction as well.
  • I bought a new bike (and sold my old one). Pictured above is my new trusty steed, a Specialized Globe Vienna 4, which I think I'm going to name Blue Steel. To use a word from my students, this bike is sick. The photo shows many of its awesome qualities -- lightweight fenders, a front hub that powers the lights front and back, a built-in sturdy rear rack, a nifty bell, and best of all -- unlike the bike pictured -- an 8-gear internal rear hub. No derailleur (or dirty chain!). It's a smooth ride and a heck of a lot of fun. I take it on the bike bus to Providence Hall, then ride home a few days a week. I often stop on the way home on errands and am able to load up. Since I also have my scooter, I'm getting really close to selling my car. Not quite ready to jump off that cliff, but getting much closer.
  • I've got a lot of church consulting projects -- currently I am working with five churches related to youth ministry, and with seven churches in terms of pastoral coaching (strategic planning, leadership development, staff management, casting vision, problem-solving, etc.) I go on-site at least once to each of these churches, but then maintain our working relationship through Skype. I love technology...
  • I'm surprised to have a few speaking gigs coming up: I'm co-leading a ministry summit seminar for all So Cal Free Methodist churches this Saturday on Children's & Youth Ministries -- how to plan for the year and build a structure around it. On Aug 20-21 I'm speaking at church's youth camp near Big Sur. On Aug 27 I'm meeting with the staff and leadership core in Downey to coach them through Strengths-Finder. On Sept 18 I'm leading a seminar on the stages of adolescent development for a church's parents and youth ministry leaders. Fun fun fun!
  • I had an article featured on YMToday this week. I actually wrote it awhile ago, but was grateful to have it circulated again. I have a new article coming out in September with Youthworker Journal, and am currently working on a larger project with YMToday and the Lilly Foundation on how to teach worldviews to young people.
  • I'm still cooking up a storm... I can't believe that I flunked Home Ec in jr. high and now consider cooking one of my favorite hobbies. Tonight a little treat from the Whole Foods weekly email made me smile -- Banana Nice Cream. Heavenly.
I am speechless as I consider the many ways I get to experience God's creative and gentle grace. However, I do not mean to paint a completely rosy picture. Threaded throughout these many gifts is a painful journey with a close friend as she faces the end of a ten-year battle with brain cancer. I really hate cancer...

In my visit with her this week I read parts of Psalm 107 to her. I end with those lines, finding strength in the reality that this life is not all there is. Because of this, we are sustained.
1-3 Oh, thank God—he's so good! His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
Tell how he freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
from the four winds, from the seven seas.

4-9 Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.

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