Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Update March 30

The Week That Was - I honestly have very little energy to do this after the news from yesterday(see post below). But I know Lee loved the daily details of what his friends were doing. So as with so many things at a time like this you carry on.

The end of last week saw me dispatch one of my least favorite parts of my job. The individual mailing for camp applications. It's a targeted mailing to past campers. And I have to do it all by hand, fold the application, insert health form, fold again, put on mailing sticker (to hold it closed), address label and stamp. Repeat 201 times. Many thanks to Fr. Eric for sitting and talking with me and helping out.

Went to see the kid get inducted to Alpha Zeta chapter of Delta Epsilon Sigma,
the scholastic honor society for Catholic Universities. You have to be in the top 10% of the junior or senior class based on grades to be invited to join. Smart kid. The ceremony for about 40 lasted less than an hour followed by a reception. Very nice.

The To Do List - Hasn't been updated in three weeks. That's very bad. I need to put that on my to do list to get done. Plus the Province 2 youth ministry network is coming to Buffalo and I'm the host.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - Congregational camp mailings. That must get done.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To?Finished Scott McClellan's book "What Happened - Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception". It wasn't too bad. Now I'm reading Stephen King's Duma Key, his 54th novel and another #1 best seller. And I'm liking it a lot. I've never been into his scary horror stuff (Salem's Lot) but I loved The Dead Zone and The Stand. Good stuff.

Movies - Nothing this week. "Grapes of Wrath" is up next and I'm told I MUST watch "Say Anything"

Music - I've re-discovered a "local" band (they're from State College PA) that has been a long time favorite. Don't know why I hadn't put "Cartoon" on the CD player or the ipod recently but I remembered why I love them. Very folk, harmony kind of thing going on. Here's their MySpace page (my favorite here is "I Shall Carry Water"). I think you need to have Facebook to access this one from Kevin Dremel who is a member of the band. Check out the Angry Song. You can buy Living Room, the CD I've been listening to HERE

Next Up CP2 network meeting and the congregational mailings are at the top of the list.

How Am I Doing Saddened by the death of my friend, looking forward to seeing my other friends, hoping that the snow has made its FINAL appearance this morning.


Resource Review - The New Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education

The New Prayer Book Guide to Christian Education By: John P. Russell, editor 225 pages Published by Cowley Publications

(I've gone back and forth about whether to review this or not. I've just discovered that a new edition is scheduled to come out next month. I have no idea how much of what follows may apply to that edition or not. My hope is that the new edition will take care of my reservations but this version is still for sale and readily available. So please keep that in mind and we'll see if we can get a look at the new one soon.

OVERALL - An outline of the Christian year and holidays through the lens of the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The first edition of this book came from a suggestion from the Children's Ministries Officer of the national Episcopal Church. The idea was to create a single volume reference for Episcopal educators that would be of use to everyone from clergy to lay leaders to enquirers of all ages and families. It walks you through the Liturgical calender starting with Advent and breaks each Holy day, season or week into teachable concepts. It includes discussions for all three years of the Common Lectionary so in its way it's quite comprehensive. Each segment has readings, themes associated with the readings, "Phrases for highlighting and Memorization", Key words, ideas and concepts, stories to tell, practice and liturgical tradition and formation in baptismal discipleship. The Holy Days and seasons get special attention and somewhat fuller treatment. While this is not a complete educational program, and was never intended to be, it is a fairly comprehensive outline.

RESERVATIONS Coming into this looking for resources to use with young people I was really hoping for something much more accessible. It uses a lot of church jargon (which if it is intended to be used by "enquirers of all ages" is a huge mistake). Sure you can figure a lot of it out just from context (why not just call them "readings" or "scripture" rather than "lections"?) but I'm not sure why you'd want to make new comers work that hard. Even for use by an educator it presents problems. They'll say that a word like "transfiguration" is important for that Sunday but you're on your own to define it. This is certainly not a book for a new teacher.

RECOMMENDATION Boy, I wanted to like this book. I really wanted this book to be a great tool to bring our young people deeper into what I believe is the greatest creation of Anglican worship, the Book of Common Prayer. Instead I got a dry, academic outline written too often in theological education jargon. The real problem I think is that they tried to be all things to all people. The book that is needed by seminary trained clergy is very different than is needed by an enquirer or a youth. Inevitably they had to tip in one direction or the other and they (perhaps quite rightly) tipped in the direction of the more educated/advanced person of faith. For that audience it might be fine (I still have doubts there) but for direct use by teens it's a total flop. As a tool for a youth leader it would be a good reference but only a starting point. You can certainly get some wonderful framework for teaching here but you're going to have to flesh it out.

My hope would be that some or all of this might be addressed in the third edition. My other hope would be that we could create something much more approachable for direct use by teens.

R.I.P. Lee McKinley Davenport

How can it hurt this much?

I met Lee, face to face, exactly once. It was no longer than it takes to eat breakfast and share a few stories. That's it. The rest of our friendship was done virtually through Beliefnet, our blogs and Facebook. There were lots of great conversations and a couple times when we were royally PO-ed with each other. Just like any friendship.

In a lot of ways we didn't have a lot in common. Southern boy-northern boy, he always said he was "nose bleed high church Episcopal" and me, well my favorite photo from a Eucharist shows a kid leaning an elbow on the altar. Pretty casual. I've been lucky to only have minor health issues, Lee had some whoppers. I could go on but our differences weren't the point. Lee was a bright, articulate guy with the same love for words I've always had. And that was enough.

We actually met right around the day he had his diagnosis, might have even been the day he was going to see the doctor. What I remember is that he wasn't in a real good mood but did his best for us. The kid and I were down in Lee's neck of the woods on a college trip and we arranged to meet our two friends, Lee and Kim. It's always interesting to meet online friends.

I was lucky enough to be included in Lee's circle when times got really hard and he needed folks he could trust. I'll treasure that trust as my most important memory and gift from Lee.

His life ended Sunday March 29, 2009. Too damn early. He was a full decade younger than me. He leaves behind family and friends for whom the pain is much sharper than it is for me. If it hurts this much for me I can not imagine their feelings.

Pray for Lee's wife Dawn and his parents.
Pray for comfort for Lee's friends, especially Kim.
Pray especially for Lee's children Ian and Bea.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A milestone and other news

I haven't reported recently on the weight loss because, to be perfectly honest, there hasn't been much to report. I was stuck, fluctuating up or down by less than a pound. It gets discouraging. So I've tightened down a little (and really only a little) on my diet while making sure that I'm eating enough calories and drinking a lot more water. Before the latest wrinkle on this journey (that being South Beach) I drank a fair bit of water every day. For reasons I can't explain I've really tailed off on that with the new eating discipline. There's no reason for it other than my focus has been elsewhere.

Then a couple nights ago I had the very strange experience of virtually full leg cramps in both legs. There was no reason for it, I hadn't done anything strenuous that day or even recently. The worst part was getting cramps in the muscles on both sides of my shin (the calf muscles in the back and the whatever-they're-called muscles in the front). Normally for a calf cramp I just flex my foot upward to stretch it out and slowly it goes away. Problem is that flexing the foot UP plays into the cramp on the front of my shin. Trying to find the balance point between those two began to make the muscles in my foot cramp. Not fun.

I know that one of the causes of cramps can be dehydration. So I'm back to knocking back water regularly. Wonder of wonders there's been no recurrence of the cramps AND I dropped over two pounds in the last week. Hmmmmmm, maybe we're on to something here.

I've now passed the 40 pound lost milestone. Which is an almost unbelievable number to me. Someone asked me this morning what was different this time compared to trying to lose weight before? This time was I really serious about it. In part because of words like pre-diabetes that I'm hearing from my MD. Add in passing 50 years of age, plus the very real value of the accountability of the weight loss contests I've been doing. Each week I have to weigh in and "call it in". I have to say that a TV show has been part of my success. I find the folks on Biggest Loser real inspirations. Compared to their health problems mine are nothing. If they can turn their lives around there's no excuse for me. I would never want Jillian as my trainer (sorry I don't take that crap from anybody for any reason. Give me Bob) but I have to admit there are days when I want to quit when I hear her voice in my head and I work a little harder just to shut her up! LOL! Plus having some real success breeds more success. I wasn't sure I could really lose 50+ pounds at my age. Now I KNOW I can and I'm going to.

Of course at the moment I look like I'm wearing my big brother's clothes!

Other news - Volleyball team won two out of three last night. I think that's a first for us this season. Strange first game though. Several folks either on or family of a team that played before us hung around court side and had a big family dispute. Never rose to yelling but since it was all of 8 feet off the court it was really distracting. And it went on for about 20 minutes! I have become one of the go to guys on the team for serving. Given that I'd NEVER played competitive volleyball prior to last fall I find that pretty funny. But I am very consistent with a quick overhand serve. The rest of my play is coming along as well.

Both cars will be in the shop this week. One for a pair of new tires, the other to get yet another hub replaced. This is at least 3 of the 4 possible, could be the 4th I have to check. All within a year. About $200 a pop now that I'm buying the part from an online retailer rather than ordering it through the dealership. Saves about $150 per. Then a couple of repairs I can handle at home once the weather gets a tiny bit warmer.

Well the sun is shining even though it's still quite cold at the moment. Have to remind myself could be out west where there's a blizzard at the moment.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Resource Review - Rethinking Youth Ministry


OVERALL - Rethinking Youth Ministry is the product of two self described "progressive" Christians working in the Disciples of Christ church. This is a resource for youth ministers (rather than the more general tenor of mine which also includes resources for youth ministry)and covers a lot of ground.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? I read a lot of blogs. Can I be honest and say that most youth ministry blogs just don't grab me? But hey I'm sure people feel the same way about mine so it's all good. Brian and Jacob, the authors, are creating a resource with some real depth here. For example they've done a whole series on Lenten studies and practices that will be useful if you're just "discovering" Lent or have been observing it for years. There are many posts on spirituality, ideas, creative worship, community building and much more. It's offered simply as a gift to the larger community. And their live traffic feed shows that folks from all over the country have discovered it.

RESERVATIONS Ummmm, sorry can't really find one.

RECOMMENDATION Within days of writing the original review for this website they came up with an answer that I needed for our summer mission trip. This is a seriously useful blog with real world, hands on ideas that you can put to use right now. Some folks are going to see the words "progressive Christian" up above and stop reading. That's too bad because they'll be cutting themselves off from some great resources. I applaud the guys for being upfront about who they are. This is one of those sites you just need to bookmark, or do what I do and have them registered on my blog reader. That way I automatically get notified when something new pops up. Thoughtful, useful, prayerful. Can't imagine what else you'd want.

Weekend Update - March 23

The Week That Was - Oh it was a beauty! About mid-week I lost my voice (my vision of hell is me trapped, voiceless for eternity) caused by the head cold that has sunk its claws into me. I probably didn't help it by singing Irish folk tunes mid-week. I'd been invited to a parish to talk about youth ministry as part of their Lenten program (thanks St. Matthias!) and they did an Irish sing along after. Which I couldn't resist. Next morning, no voice.

The groundhog continues to evade me while making more holes. And the weather, which had promised that it would get a tiny bit warmer, has instead gotten colder. Oh frabjous day.

On the bright side I fixed two problems on my lady wife's car. One involved a little creative Bondo work. My father taught me the basics of Bondo for body work on cars and I've found it's very useful for lots of other things. House repair. Repairing trim pieces on car interiors. Felt very good to get that done. Did some cooking for the first time in a while (warming up food to eat is not COOKING. Cooking involves carefully selecting and preparing ingredients and then combining them with love and whatever level of skill I can muster. COOKING is an act of prayer for me these days). Made some spicy peanut chicken soup and some red pepper/garlic hummus. Bumped off a couple other small but satisfying chores around the house too. So on the whole not too bad.

The To Do List - I hate my to do list. There I've said it. Let's move on.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - Being sick and voiceless really limits a variety of things for me to do. I MUST get the camp applications done and printed this week. Everything else is secondary.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To?Still reading Scott McClellan's book "What Happened - Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception". I keep thinking that I've lost interest then I get back into it. Need to move it along however.

Movies - "Hollywoodland" - Wow, what a cast! Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Bob Hoskins and Diane Lane (sigh, Diane Lane). The movie revolves around the death of George Reeves, the man who played Superman on the old TV series. Reeves probably committed suicide but the standard of police work around the movie industry back in the day leaves plenty of holes to poke at if you into conspiracies. Affleck's Reeves is a rather shallow, insecure guy who was alternately a really nice guy and a jerk. The director sticks closely to the known facts and offers three possible answers to what "really happened". The problem is he gets too cutesy at times for my taste and comes off trying to show off his chops. Allen Coulter was primarily a TV director and this was his first feature film. Brody's character of the detective is the real lead in the movie but I didn't really ever care that much about him. I wanted to see the Reeves story which is much more compelling. So great cast, solid script, and an OK movie. If you're into old Hollywood, if you remember George Reeves' Superman and you've got a lazy afternoon to burn you'll enjoy this one.

Music - Back to the no music routine. It's tough to get into it when you have to keep unclogging your ears. Just put the ipod on shuffle and took whatever came. I spent part of the week with Jimmy Buffett's "Barometer Soup" and part of the week with a Sesame Street song stuck in my head. No idea why. I'm thinking of checking out a girl group called "The Pepper Pots" a Spanish group (apparently) that does a ska thing. Got a pretty good review at SXSW this year.

Next Up Camp applications plus at the end of the week the kid gets inducted into a Catholic University honor society. Very cool.

How Am I Doing Still hanging in. Hopefully I'll make some forward progress this week.


Friday, March 20, 2009

A request to those in Junior High/Middle School ministry

I'm looking for some input from anyone who works with the Junior High/Middle School age group. We are in an assessment mode in our diocesan youth ministry.

We are looking at the question of middle school youth in positions of leadership. On one side is the impulse to insure that their voice is heard and to get them involved as soon as they are able to fulfill a leadership role. On the other side are concerns about developmental levels, attention spans and similar issues when it comes to leadership "process". We are interested in your experiences and thoughts on the subject. Any and all insights, thoughts and opinions are valued

Feel free to post in the comments, send me an e-mail, drop me a note of Facebook. Sorry no Twitter at the moment, lol.


Spring is Here?

Welcome to the first day of Spring 2009 at Maison DaYouthGuy. Yes, that's snow you see. Freshly fallen snow. The pile in front of the house is leftovers from the 275+ inches we received this winter. That's from the official total kept by our local village utility corporation. You can see the remnants running down the right hand side of the picture too in front of the fence.

Also note the flower boxes on the front of the porch. Oops you can only see the right hand one clearly. The left hand one is the black oblong behind the snow and next to the shrub. The weight of snow this year tore it off the side of the house, breaking the metal bracket holding it up along the way.

Such is spring in the W-N-Y.

In happier news I await with great anticipation the arrival of this little number and it's brother in brown. This is the Swift River Jeans belt from L.L. Bean, quite simply the best belt I've ever owned. My first one suffered a stitching failure after a good many years. The folks at Bean refunded the cost of the belt even though I couldn't remember how long I'd owned it or had any purchase paperwork. Since they're on sale (the cost of 2 is now only about $9 more than the original cost of 1) I'm getting a couple. They should be wrapped around my somewhat skinnier waist as early as tomorrow!

Meanwhile I'm without much of a voice at the moment (the peanut gallery will keep the celebrating to a minimum!). I've been lurking along the edges of a cold and doing a presentation Weds night followed by singing Irish folks songs just did me in. So I need to keep the talking to a minimum. Yeah, that'll work.

I think I've mentioned before that I'm headed to CREDO later this year. CREDO is a great program offered through the retirement fund of TEC to help clergy and lay employees of the church get healthier physically, mentally and spiritually. I know that it's a little controversial in some corners but it couldn't come at a better time for me. In preparation for the retreat you have to fill out a lot of forms so they know where you are (or think you are) right now. Last night my lady wife and I did the financial report. Which is LONG! The good news is that we aren't any worse off than I feared (in fact we're better off than she thought) but we're a long way off from being in good shape. Sigh.

But at least the paperwork is done.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Resource Review - Better Safe Than Sued

Better Safe Than Sued - Keeping Your Students and Ministry Alive By: Jack Crabtree 236 pages Published by Zondervan/YouthSpecialties

OVERALL - A complete (and I mean COMPLETE) overview of safety issues of all kinds related to youth ministry at virtually any level.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Crabtree has 35+ years experience as a youth leader most notably with Youth For Christ. What he has created here is a must read book for youth ministers. Reading the stories provided brought back every oversight and injury that has happened in my ministry (more than a few of them happened to me!). It also made me think carefully about a couple of things we're still doing. While the author is quick to point out that the book isn't "complete" (meaning that it can't cover everything)it does cover everything likely to happen. Sections on staff selection, bullying, camps and retreats, traveling, sports for all seasons, accidents, even the death of a youth (which he lived through personally and right in front of his eyes. It's one of the most compelling and heart rending parts of the book). What I REALLY appreciated is the chapter devoted to theological questions related to safety in ministry. He takes on the whole issue of the sovereignty of Christ and the power of prayer and how they intersect with what needs to be done.

RESERVATIONS I'm not sure how you avoid it given the subject but the book becomes something of a downer after a while. It really becomes a case of "Oh my God, I don't want to read about any more accidents". In reality it's all a must read.

RECOMMENDATION If I were going to create an intro package for new youth ministers (which might not be a bad idea) I'd start with this book. Yes, it'll scare the pants off a certain percentage of them. That just might be a good idea. It forces you to think about an area most of us would probably rather ignore. Right up to the moment when one of our kids gets hurt. It's also a great resource if you've been doing ministry for a while. Not only as a refresher but because he includes a section on checking an ongoing ministry for its safety standards. Really good stuff.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend Update March 16

The Week That Was - Last week seemed very busy. I have the class I lead at one of the local YMCAs on radio techniques. That's going well although we're stuck in transition mode. Not all the new equipment has arrived so we're trying to generate excitement while we still work with the old stuff. Doing video taping of a mid-week noonday service for broadcast on local access cable. After problems the first week that's gone much better. And then planning for our planning retreat. Which went mostly well I think. I got at cross purposes with one of my young adult leaders (we really weren't as far apart as it seemed and both of us got upset. Sorry Sammi!) and generated a ton of negative energy right at the end. I think we got that set (mostly) to right and came away with some excellent goals and objectives for the next three year cycle. Stayed at a nice Catholic seminary for the retreat (Christ the King). Love to go back and see it when the trees are in leaf and explore a little. Just a shade too chilly for much walking around. But I've been very tired since we got back. My lady wife was off at a vestry retreat at the same time so we haven't seen much of each other. We got to sit together at worship (a rare occurrence), then went out for lunch and held hands and spent the afternoon together. It was kind of nice. We're looking forward to taking a little vacation together sometime in the next couple months. We need some marriage time together.

The To Do List - Yes there's still the video and camp and all the rest of that. It's becoming clearer to me that what NEEDS to be on my to do list is a spiritual retreat. I find myself a little jealous of Marko who has made these kinds of retreats a regular part of each year. I'm trying not to covet my neighbor's spiritual retreat but I think I need to work on that. A good idea has already arisen on how that might be made to happen.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - I'm still stuck with my rocks and piles problem. Have I ever explained that saying? We use it in my family. All the tasks you have each day are represented by rocks. And all those rocks are stacked in piles which make up a larger pile that is your life. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the size of the pile and not know where to start. So you end up not doing much of anything. So the reminder to me is "Just pick a rock!". Start anywhere just to get started.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Still working on "Soul Graffiti". Finished Jonathan Kellerman's "The Conspiracy Club". Really enjoyed it. Nice mystery story with a medical setting. Now I'm reading Scott McClellan's book "What Happened - Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception". An interesting read so far. Can't imagine the Bush fan club like it much. But then he's not making many friends with Clinton fans either so I guess you can say that's fairly balanced. Seems to be pretty up front about the good and the bad. Something different to read. It'll be interesting as a lead in to the next book on the pile "Jesus for President" by Shane Claiborne!

Movies - Watched a part of "Wedding Crashers" and then ejected the disc. Yawn. Sophomoric. Vulgar. Predictable. I really do have better things to do with my life.

Music - Finally listened to the Damnwells and liked them a lot. Indie rock with a kind of folk feel to it.
Also grabbed an old disc that's been sitting on my desk and popped it in. Little Feat "Ain't Had Enough Fun" from 1995. Little Feat have been around forever it seems (since '69) doing their blend of rock, blues, R&B, country and New Orleans funk. The band is one of those ones that are revered by many folks but were never a real hit. This particular album is long after they had waned as stars but I like every single cut on this album. Must be why I keep it around.

Next Up Finally can put the camp application at the top of the list. Got the last price and can move forward now.

How Am I Doing I'm hanging in. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Weekend Update March 9

The Week That Was - OK, whoever has been making off with my weekends had better knock it off! One of the tough parts of this job is dealing with the fact that a lot of your events take place on the weekend. So finding the balance between home life and rest time and work can be tough. It just feels like I'm slacking if I take time off during the week (you remember the "work week"). But I need to be very intentional about that especially since I'm only paid for 80% of FT anyway (which is another fun thing to try and work with in youth ministry). This weekend was part work and part frustration.

I was supposed to run up and see one of my youth leaders in her final high school musical. Having never been to her HS I wasn't worried I have my new GPS which had been doing very well up till then. Weeeeeeeelllllll. Seems the street I wanted and the mailing address are actually in two different towns. So the GPS kept saying that no such street existed. Since I had no idea where to even begin looking I grabbed the cell phone and called the kid. She looked up the address online and got me headed in the right direction. After a missed turn and traffic I got to the school well after curtain up. I HATE walking in late (and some places won't let you). Besides by that point I was in such a foul mood (don't forget I'd driven 90 minutes to get lost) that I wouldn't have enjoyed the show. Word reaches me that she was wonderful. Next time I'm getting a back up map for trips like this.

Sunday was an organizational meeting for our youth mission trip this summer. We have 45 people (youth and adults) signed up! Holy Cow! So now we go crazy raising money. Pray for us. We're going to New Orleans at the end of July.

But that pretty much killed the weekend. The week before wasn't too bad. Although it appears a woodchuck is back under the house again PLUS we have a skunk living somewhere in the neighborhood too (maybe under the porch, sigh). My project with the one YMCA went very well on day one. We'll see how it goes the second week. We're in limbo since we're waiting on equipment.

The To Do List - Video project- still on the list but I tried to get some stuff done! The skies have been overcast and I didn't have enough light. This week I'm going to try and do some scripting. Prep for our planning retreat at the end of the week, hopefully get the camp brochures out,plus the new projects that have been dumped on me. Just the usual mad rush.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - I'm not sure it's procrastination at this point. I think I'm just overwhelmed by the pile of tasks. (Rocks and piles, rocks and piles)

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Still working on "Soul Graffiti". Finished the Ray Bradbury "From the Dust Returned" which is a collection of stories he did for various magazines that all relate to the same family. One of his rather spooky, quirky story cycles. Let's put it this way the artist who did all the graphics for the series and book was Charles Addams. Started and am blasting through Jonathan Kellerman's "The Conspiracy Club". I have no idea what's going on but then neither does the main character. I'm enjoying it.

Movies - None
Music - I'm still trying to get around to the Damnwells album I downloaded two weeks ago! Missed the new U2 album when it was on sale for next to nothing. Sigh.

Next Up First and foremost is the planning retreat. I've got about 5 days to work that out. Then a stock certificate and some mailings.

How Am I Doing Frazzled is becoming a lifestyle. I need some time off and I need to figure out when I can take it.


Resource Review - I Am Episcopalian

I Am Episcopalian -

OVERALL - This is a brand new site from the national Episcopal church (launched on Ash Wednesday!). It is nothing more than Episcopalians talking about why they are Episcopalians.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? This site is the soul of simplicity. These are videos done by everyday folks, lay and clergy, talking about their church. They span the spectrum of ages and it's all done in their own voice. Each video is quite short (all less than a minute as near as I can tell). Some are "cradle" Episcopalians, some arrived here from other places. What's interesting is that the selection isn't intended to be static. Make one of your own and upload it and you too can be part of it all! It's easy to navigate because there's not many choices (other than which video to watch).

RESERVATIONS There are only 29 videos (plus a promo video) and no where near enough YOUNG PEOPLE! We ought to be able to fix that quick enough!

RECOMMENDATION This is fascinating as a place to listen to other people's stories even if it's only the Reader's Digest version. The more I look at it the more I think it could be a great conversation starter as well. Imagine sharing the video with your youth then asking them to discuss their reaction to the aspect of church brought up by the person. I believe that discussions of what it means to be an Episcopalian are one of the areas of greatest need in our denomination. I hope this site grows and so does the discussion.

Friday, March 06, 2009

I can hardly wait

I've been a Star Trek fan since the earliest days. James T. Kirk has been a hero of mine since I was a kid. This gave me goosebumps.

h/t to Matthew McNutt

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ummm, did someone forget to tell me something?

So I'm sitting in my office in the parish house when I hear someone downstairs. Last I knew everyone else was out of the office. So I glanced out my window and saw this:'

Turns out it was just the semi-annual inspection and check of our fire system by your friendly neighborhood fire department.

This is the most exciting thing that has happened today.



On being content

I mentioned a little while ago my Lenten discipline of trying to become more content. So with a week of Lent under my belt I thought I'd reflect (I promise I won't do weekly updates on my Lenten discipline!)

It's been easier than I'd thought and it's been every bit as difficult. It's easy to be content when things are going well. For the first several days everything went swimmingly and I thought "You know, this contentment thing is pretty easy once you get into the swing of it".

Then came a bump in the road. Followed by a glitch or two. And contentment got shoved back.

I can not express how much I want that feeling of contentment, even if its roots are still shallow. I want it to help hold me together on those days when the anxiety gremlins and angst trolls and the succubus of material desire come slinking into my mind.

So I remind myself of what is good, of the gifts that are here. I remember the opportunities that are still open to me even when some are denied. By trying to keep thankfulness first and foremost in my mind I hope to drive out the bad things and leave room for contentment to dig a little deeper into my soul.

I'm trying.

We'll see.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Weekend Update March 2

The Week That Was - The week was pretty quiet but the weekend got hopping. I dropped two more pounds on the weight loss program which was nice. It'll be interesting to see tomorrow's weight since I had a lot of "road work" this weekend and had to figure out how to eat properly. I think I did OK.

Bishop's Ball went well. Numbers were more "normal" than last year. Two of the local school districts had dances the same day. Whattya gonna do? The folks who showed up had a good time. The bishop and his lovely wife both looked tired by the end of the evening. Many thanks to the very hard working volunteers at Calvary!

I've taken to spending the night of Bishop's Ball at a hotel simply because 1: I'm tired, 2: it's a 90 minute drive home and 3: you can't trust the weather in February. So I got up Sunday morning at went to church at St. Paul's Harris Hill. Wonderful folks, very welcoming (but we do need to talk about how they integrate kids into the worship service).

Then I had some fun. I've picked up an extra little job mid-week (which is an "extra" day off for me since I'm at 80 of full time)and I'm doing some video taping for a Lenten program with our ELCA brothers and sisters. It's going to put some extra, non-budget money in my pocket which my lovely, intelligent and graceful lady wife (who spoils me whenever she can. Love that woman!)told me I could use to buy my very first digital camera. I've been a hobby photographer for more than 30 years and it's clear that digital was something I needed to get. So the kid and I hopped in the car and went window shopping (My lady wife doesn't like window shopping. She shops like a man - know what you want, know where it is, get it, buy it, go home). I knew what I wanted (at least 8 megapixels, 10x optical zoom and under $200) and low and behold I found it! The Fujifilm Finepix S1000. 10 megapixels, 12x zoom and on sale! I have LOTS to learn now! Very exciting.

The To Do List - Video project( how much longer can I put this one off?), prep for our planning retreat in two weeks, hopefully get the camp brochures out, just the usual mad rush.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - Apparently I haven't stopped procrastinating about the video project! Maybe this is the week.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Still working on "Soul Graffiti", finished Angels and Demons. I've started a Ray Bradbury book and I've completely forgotten the title!

Movies - None
Music - Nothing new

Next Up First and foremost is the planning retreat. I've got about 12 days to work that out.

How Am I Doing Still feeling frazzled. There's just so many things I want to get done and I'm kind of stuck in neutral. I just need to grab and rock and go.


Resource Review - The Shack

The Shack By: William P. Young 256 pages Published by Windblown Media

OVERALL - This is a little different than the other resources I've talked about. This is a novel and right now a novel getting a lot of attention. The story approaches the questions of "What is God like?" and "How do I relate with God?". If you're looking for something to take a group a little deeper into their faith this could be an interesting tool for discussion. The book itself has been called everything from brilliant to heretical. I fall somewhere in between. I have some reservations about some of the theology here but I was challenged to examine the underlying reasons. One of the best things I can say about a book is "It made me think" and this one certainly does.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? This is the story of a man facing terrible personal pain (his young daughter is kidnapped and killed basically right from under his nose)and a personal experience meeting God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. During their time together they discuss God, Faith, Choices, Forgiveness, and a lot more. It opens up a lot of questions.

RESERVATIONS The early chapters are choppy and the writing style was irritating to me. But he quickly finds his rhythm and the rest of the book reads very easily. I also thought the "surprise" at the end was artificial but that may be just me. If you decide to use this with young people I would be very leery of using it with middle school aged kids. The story of the child's kidnapping and death while not especially graphic is quite powerful.

RECOMMENDATION This book could be a great discussion starter with the right group of young people. They've even provided a free study guide resource at Take the time to read it fully before you start the program. Take a long look at the questions raised. And be prepared for some folks to get grumpy about it. But for that right group this is a resource you should definitely consider.