Everything has changed…

19 08 2014

It’s been more than a year since I’ve even contemplated looking at my blog, much less adding any new posts. And what a year it has been! Since my last post, I have (in no particular order): quit my full-time job as a youth minister, quit my part-time job as a violin teacher, taken on a new job at a non-profit organization, rescued a puppy, written my thesis, graduated with my master’s degree, and survived nine months of pregnancy as well as one blissful month of motherhood. 

One year ago, I never could have anticipated the twists and turns that lay ahead in this journey. Even now, as I write and reflect, I’m amazed by all of the changes that have taken place in my family in such a short period of time. 

Needless to say, as I turn to my blog again, my focus has changed! While I still have several youth ministry ideas that I want to share on the blog, youth ministry is no longer my day-to-day reality. Instead, there is an 8-pound baby boy who is currently consuming most of my attention, time, and energy. My relationship with the church has changed: I’m back to being just a regular layperson and am very much enjoying that vantage point. And as I emerge from the haze of grad school, I’m also rediscovering my own identity and the things that I am most passionate about.

Bear with me in the midst of these transformations. I don’t know exactly what I will be doing within this space, but I am excited about what lies ahead. I am looking forward to new ministry opportunities and new creative outlets…and as always, will be reflecting on where those two intersect.

Hope you’ll join me in the journey!





Bolivia!

19 08 2013

For the past three and a half weeks, I’ve been in Bolivia: first for a week in La Paz with Jordan, then the rest of the time in Cochabamba with a group from my grad school at Eastern University.

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Jordan and me at Lake Titicaca

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We went mountain biking along Death Road!

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My classmates and I preparing for our children’s art class (photo by J. Nathan Corbitt)

mudmaking

one of our sustainable development projects: building a cob wall. Photo by J. Nathan Corbitt

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My contribution to the cob wall. Photo by J. Nathan Corbitt

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(almost) all of our grad school team at Mt. Tunari. Photo by J. Nathan Corbitt

We created an online portfolio of our work in Cochabamba. If you want to see what we were up to, check it out here:

http://artsfordevelopmentbolivia.blogspot.com/





The Pallet Post

12 07 2013

One day before high school mission trip…All of the paperwork was filled out, all of the programming was written, and all of the supplies had been bought. (Hallelujah!!)

But instead of taking a rest, Luke (my summer intern) and I went on an adventure around town to create a Pinterest-inspired worship background. First, we had to find a free pallet. (Shreveport folks, if you need a free pallet, I can connect you!) Then, we printed and cut out giant letter stencils. Next, we experimented with white spray paint that we found in a closet before moving on to our more effective acrylic paint. We ended up staying up at the church until well into the evening!

Each night of the trip, we explored one of the “One Another” verses in the Bible. Some of our girls took responsibility for adding a new word each night, and then on the last night, we had each participant sign the board using a paint pen.

Love, love, love the result!!! Here’s the evolution of our pallet:

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The 10 Commandments!!!

27 05 2013

10 CommandmentsBecause I’m playing catch-up after not posting for a really long time, I thought I’d share some of what we’ve done this year. During Lent, we did a 5-week series about the 10 Commandments, learning about two commandments per week. Download the series here: The Top 10 – 5 week series on the 10 Commandments.

A few things to be aware of:

1. We had some of our high school youth act as small group leaders throughout this series. They did a phenomenal job.

2.  Each week we started with a big-group review session before dividing into small groups to discuss the two commandments in depth.

3. One of our goals was for the youth to be able to remember all the 10 Commandments in order and to know where to find them in the Bible, so we taught them hand motions as a mnemonic. This worked extremely well, based on a quiz we gave at the end: all but one youth could remember the commandments, all but three knew where to find them in the Bible, and a couple offered anecdotes about how they had tried to live out the commandments. All in all, a success.

4. We had just finished a series on sexuality, so we didn’t really talk about adultery at all. Nonetheless, the 4th lesson was one of my favorites.





What I Want Them To Know

26 05 2013

Prayer request time felt especially heavy tonight.

A local teen killed herself earlier today: the second suicide to rock our community in two weeks. One of our youth’s brothers is on trial for murder this week. Another of our youth will be moving to Mexico on Wednesday. One youth’s dad is being deployed with the Air Force next week. And yet another’s grandmother is in ICU.

I offered up a prayer for all these, and more, wondering if my words could possibly be adequate.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)

In many ways, tonight was just an ordinary night. We played kickball, ate hot dogs, made homemade Icees, ran around, got sweaty, celebrated summer.

I think that life happens, MINISTRY happens, in the midst of ordinary moments: the spaces in between the silly games and the heartfelt prayers.

As I drove home, I wondered about the spiritual resources we are passing down to our students. How are we equipping them to cope with the stuff of life, both now and for the long term? What have we given them through youth group that will continue to sustain them after they’ve graduated? It isn’t as though there will ever be a prescribed formula for what to do when life gets tough…they need their faith to be strong enough to endure whatever life throws at them, but flexible enough to adapt to their own situation and emotions.

Here’s what I came up with (in no particular order):

1. I want them to know that our God is big. That there is nothing God can’t handle, including our sins, our doubts, our questions, our grief, our pain. That in the midst of all things God is working for the good of those who love him. And that even though he’s big, he is always with us.

2. I want them to be able to pray. We emphasize prayer all the time at church, but all too often we present it as a boring, dead discipline that we do because it’s good for us…like taking medicine or brushing our teeth. But prayer has so much more potential than that; it is our chance to encounter the living God. I want them to be able to offer short prayers in the midst of their daily, busy routines. I want them to be able to throw themselves at the feet of Jesus and express whatever emotion they’re feeling. I want them to know that they can pray even when they can’t find the words.

3. I want them to be able to search Scripture. I have found so much comfort through the words of Scripture as well as through other psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Instead of just waiting passively for us to tell them what story to read, I want them to be able to use the Bible as a resource on their own, so that they can find what they need when they need it.

4. I want them to understand and appreciate the power of community. I say this all the time: this youth group is not an ordinary group of people. You’re joined together because you have the same purpose. You’re here for each other because you love Christ, and that helps you love each other better. I want them to really do life together, and help each other THROUGH the hard times: bear each other’s burdens, laugh with each other, encourage each other, love each other. And I really want them to experience true community now so that they will seek it out in the future.

5. I want them to have hope. Faith, after all, is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” In non-religious terms, hope is “facilitating creative visions for the future” and developing resilience (Carey, 2007). I want them to know what God’s vision is for his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I want them to recognize that kingdom breaking into our world, to know that this is just the beginning, and to hope for what God will be doing tomorrow.

This is just a rough beginning. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What spiritual resources can we give our youth for when life gets tough? What resources have most helped you?





Philadelphia in photos

8 10 2012

Where we stayed:

 

New friends:





In honor of World Communion Sunday…

8 10 2012

Here are some pictures from my worship experience last Sunday. My master’s degree cohort attended a trilingual church in West Philadelphia, and it was a beautiful experience of what the body of Christ can be!

Every Scripture passage, every song lyric, every prayer had to be repeated three times: once in Spanish, once in English, and once in Indonesian. In contrast to most churches I know, which aim to get people out the door in exactly 60 minutes, this service showed us the value of slowing down…even if we only understood 1/3 of what was being said. But it was a beautiful inefficiency, reminding us of our connection to Christians throughout the world and throughout history.

The service was wonderfully inclusive and participatory. Men and women of all different nationalities sang in the band onstage; then, after each reading, three new speakers would move to the podium for the next segment of the service. Probably half of the congregation was involved somehow in leading worship for their church.

There’s just something about stumbling through the Indonesian lyrics of “Shout to the Lord” that makes you appreciate the power of music. Many of the tunes were familiar to me; some were not. I can hardly put into words how amazing it was to know that we were all praising the same God, with the same tunes, in our own languages.

The sermon for the morning was about prayer; but rather than simply challenging us to pray “more” or “better,” the pastors sent us into the neighborhood to pray. So we, the Urban Studies students who had just arrived in the city one day earlier, joined lifelong residents and immigrant families in praying for their community.

We returned to the church to share a meal together…well, two meals really. First, the sacred Communion ritual practiced by Christians worldwide. Then, a home-cooked Indonesian meal prepared and served by the church members.

 

It was an incredible start to the week. I was challenged throughout the residency to deepen my faith, sharpen my reason, and act upon my sense of justice; this church spoke to me on all three levels. Church members admitted freely that they were far from perfect; they’ve had their share of growing pains and cultural misunderstandings. But in spite of it all, they have remained faithful to their calling: growing, serving, and worshiping together.

(photos by Nathan Corbitt)








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