Wednesday, January 25, 2006

a humble reminder

It's Wednesday morning, I'm meeting my 8th graders tonight, and I still am not sure what I want to talk with them about. Last semester they said they wanted to talk about how to deal with temptations. When I asked them what temptations they were facing, the response I got was,"You know, just temptation in general." Right.

So we each picked a verse on how to deal with temptation and memorized one verse each week. It went well. I sent weekly postcards reminding the guys about the verse and several of them took turns leading the group, which was something we'd never done before. It was great for me because I got to see how different each of them truly are. It was also our first dive into accountability as a group and at times it was messy, but it was good. Disagreements took place, but there was also growing.

And now I'm stuck. I know I probably only have from now until the end of May with these guys as a group and I want it to matter. I want them to enjoy coming to LIFE Group, but not just because they get to be with their friends. I want this group to prepare them for the challenges they'll be facing once they get into high school and beyond. (Wow, I kind of sound like Buzz Lightyear with that phrase.) I want them to grow in their love for Christ, each other and everyone else. Maybe that's a bit lofty of a goal for guys who don't shave yet. Or maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way. Even though the things I want for them are good, I need to be asking myself why I want these things to happen. Yes, it is so that God will be glorified, but unfortunately, in typing this entry I've realized that I also want to feel good about myself. I selfishly want to say, "I made a difference," when the truth is that I can't make a difference in the lives of these guys without trusting and believing that apart from God I can do nothing. Hmmm...this being humble business is a lot harder than I ever thought.

Monday, January 23, 2006

things that make my day

Sunday, Jan. 15: getting to play with Evie and visit with Laura in the nursery

Thursday, Jan. 19: finishing the first season of 24 without my computer battery quitting on me

Friday, Jan. 20: laser tag and jumping over 2 liter bottles of water with the middle school guys

Saturday, Jan. 21: getting two unexpected phone calls - one from my dear friend James telling me he is getting married in July and the second from one of my favorite Circle F'ers, Tre

Sunday, Jan. 22: getting to spend some time with three of my favorite freshmen: Ryan, Ryan and Taylor

Monday, Jan. 23: checking the mail and discovering a postcard from Jeremy and Kierstin

Sunday, January 15, 2006

the cutest little girl ever

I went to Guatemala for six days over Christmas to visit family. It was great. I expected to have a good time visiting my dad and family over there, but what I did not expect was to meet the cutest kid in the world. Her name is Carol. She moved into a house in the same neighborhood as our's in Zacapa and my dad introduced her to me as "the little Chinita." She speaks some English, so whenever I would see her outside she would wave to me or say something in English.

One night we went to visit some family in another town called Manzanotes, and Carol came along for the ride. She unfortunately discovered that I am still ticklish and she took every opportunity to jab me with her fingers. This picture is from that night and she is the one with a huge smile on her face and standing in front of my dad.

slaps 4 life

To the left, please meet seven of my youngest friends (l-r): Kevin, Haughton, Puckett, Victor, Travis, Selig and Andrew. Thanks to these 8th graders my Wednesday nights are, to say the least, an adventure. They are members of a LIFE Group I lead that they have affectionately named "Slaps 4 Life" in honor of the card game we regularly play. Each Wednesday we go to Chick-fil-A for dinner and then motor on over to the church for our meeting where no subject is off limits. I've been meeting with them since they were 7th graders and I have to come to enjoy this group more than I would ever have expected. I really love these guys. It's a pretty eclectic group and it's been great seeing them grow in so many ways.

This past Friday we had our 2nd (what now appears to be annual) lock-in at church. We stayed up all night playing video games, air hockey, ping-pong, and Capture the Flag. This would explain why some of them don't look particularly alert in the picture. My highlight of the evening was the sleeping bag races. (Note to self: Be sure to take socks off before you begin to run at full speed on wood paneling.)

We ended the night by watching Signs and what would happen at the end of the movie was worrying me. I knew we had to set up tables and chairs for a meeting that was starting shortly after we left and we had to clean up the mess we had made over the night. These guys aren't fans of even cleaning off the table at Chick-fil-A, so I didn't think getting them to help clean was going to be any better at 7am after being up all night. I prepared myself for moaning, groaning and for Kevin to say, "This is stupid. I quit." But something amazing happened. I told them what we had to get done and they just did it. No complaining, no nothing. I was so happy to be wrong and so thankful for these guys.

Each time someone has asked me how the lock-in went, I can only think of what a fun night it was. They couldn't have been an easier group to stay up all night with. They had so much fun doing the simplest things. One of the reasons I wanted to lead a group like this one was because I wanted to be a part of something that gave kids significant relationships. By no means is this group perfect and I am certainly not the perfect leader, but I can't help but think that God is doing something great in this group. There are certainly times when some of them get on my last nerve, but that's okay. I know that God has blessed me richly by allowing these teenagers to be a part of my life. I only hope they're getting as much out of it as I am.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

lessons from 24

My buddy Danny recently gave me the first season of 24 as a birthday gift. I have been hooked. I've been so into it that I even watch it on my computer at work while I eat lunch if I'm there alone.

Without giving anything away, the basic plot is that Jack's wife and daughter (Teri & Kim) have been kidnapped and there is a plot to assassinate the man who would be the first black presidential candidate (Palmer). Somehow all of these things are related. Last night I watched two episodes before I went to bed ("10am-11am" & "11am-12pm"). They were so intense! I wanted answers to my questions: Would Jack get to his family before the bad guys killed them? Would the bad guys find the missing cell phone? Did Palmer do 24 or Allstate insurance commercials first?

But the best scene caught me off guard. Jack has been up for over 24 hours, 12 of them searching for Teri & Kim, and he has cornered a man he is convinced knows their whereabouts. When this man refuses to cooperate Jack kills him. And then something amazing happens. My favorite fictitious CTU agent breaks down and starts to cry and I almost did, too. While I've never dealt with stakes as high as Jack, I could identify with his feelings of desperation. You want something so badly and are so convinced that this one thing (or person) will bring you happiness and when it doesn't you are crushed. I used to do it all the time when I was in school: "If I can just get through this next test, I'll be fine." And that's good for a few days until the next test comes along.

Unfortunately, I still do it today when I go to work or am trying to fix other things in my life that don't go the way I want them to. Why is it that no matter how hard I try to make things perfect it doesn't work? It's because I forget that I'm not perfect and the only thing that is perfect in my life is Christ. I can't do anything without Him. I need to be pointed back to Christ and His grace on a regular basis. As uncomfortable as it can be and as much as I don't like to admit that I need help, I do. We all do. Praise God that we've been given a Savior who picks us up time and time again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

a recommended guilty pleasure

For just a little more than $1 per fart, you, too, can have your very own remote controlled fart machine. I'm not sure what enjoying this product so much says about my maturity level, but I don't care. It may be gross and inappropriate, but I'm okay with that. I don't remember the last time something has made me laugh so hard that my stomach hurt. (Oh, wait...Jeremy did show me that R. Kelly video...put the phone on vibrate!)It's amazing that something so simple can be so funny. If you want to purchase your own, click here.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

a little explanation

"What's today!?" has easily become one of my all-time favorite phrases. It may even rank higher than some of my other favorites, including "Suck it up." For 6 summers I have heard this question asked at the end of every breakfast at Circle F Dude Ranch. Here's how it goes: Once the person making the morning announcements is done, someone shouts, "What's today!?" Each day has its own answer: Marvelous Monday, Terrific Tuesday, Wonderful Wednesday, Tremendous Thursday, Fantastic Friday, Sensational Saturday, and Su-u-per Sunday. (That "Su-u-per" is not a typo. Circle F law says that any adjective used to describe a day must be at least 3 syllables.) Once the day has been announced, everyone yells back, "How long?!" The response: "All day long!!!" "We hope so!" is then heard throughout the dining room. Everytime that this tradition is carried out I smile and am grateful to be at camp. One of the best perks of being the Assistant Director at Circle F? Getting to be the one to answer this question on Diana's day off.