Tag Archives: Youth

a couple of big wins

a while back one of my kiddos decided to run a half marathon to raise money for parkison’s research. her dad was diagnosed with parkison’s when she was 4, making it hard for him to walk or talk. i told her i’d run with her if i could find 13 donors to support her cause, pounding the pavement for parkinson’s. donors did: jocelyn, jay, patty, lois, grace, wendy, christine, chris, pat, anne, another anne, tim, linda, to name a few.

it was a hard race. sara had been battling a cold, and she hit a wall at mile 10, but she kept on pushing, along with two high school friends reid and hannah. together we talked and laughed and coughed our way through the race, maybe shedding a few tears here and there. sara had a lot of fans on the road, cheering her on.

it was enough that she finished a difficult race, it was enough that she had raised awareness of the disease claiming her dad’s mobility, it was enough that she had raised a good bit of money for research. but when the race was over, the checks kept coming, and at a reception held in sara’s honor last thursday, we learned she had raised over $67,000. absolutely amazing.

saturday saw a couple of wins too. jota ran, and WON, a half marathon. and my girls’ relay team placed 3rd. trophies all around!

but sara’s win is the kind that changes lives. YES.

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outdoorsy girl

today i took some of my middle school kids to a theme park. three girls rode over in my car, singing to my adele cd.

suddenly, the girl in the front seat turned to me and said, “do you climb?”

“errr, yeah… i do like to climb, actually… why?”

“you just look like an outdoorsy kind of girl.”

“why is that?”

“your chocos, your watch, your climbing bracelet…”

“that bracelet is from africa. it’s not a climbing thing.”

one of the girls in the back, sporting mark jacobs sun glasses, piped in, “it’s true. you look outdoorsy. it’s not my look, but i think it’s cool.”

even after cutting 8 inches off my “hippie” hair, my kids seem to think i’ve still got some crunch.

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costa rica

last week i went to costa rica with a group of 17 (11 kids, 6 adults) peeps from my church. we spent most of our time in san jose, the capital, working on the diocesan house (which is essentially home base for the regional episcopal churches).

it was a great time. we worked our tails off, plastering, sanding, sealing and painting walls, cleaning up our innumerable messes, gardening, and working (and playing) at hogar escuela, one of our pet projects. hogar escuela is a safe place for children to play and learn. it is a nursery, a school and an after school program. the children there typically live with their mothers, and know no father. if it weren’t for hogar escuela, these kids would be left to the streets during the day while their mothers worked to make ends meet. the streets are not a safe place to be.

hogar escuela started 45 years ago with only 6 families. several years ago, it was almost shut down, bankrupt and in ill repair. with a little help from the church and a lot of dedication from the families in san jose, hogar escuela is now one of the top ranked schools in costa rica (maybe the top ranked school?) and a favorite place for us to visit.

the episcopal diocese is about to build another school and daycare center like hogar escuela, just outside the worst slum in san jose, guarari. there, families live in corrugated tin lean-tos. most have come over illegally from nicaragua, where conditions are even worse. i look forward to returning to costa rica in years to come to see the school’s progress.

our lighter moments in costa rica were spent eating, drumming, singing, salsa dancing, watching the premier of harry potter, playing LOTS of games, zip-lining through trees, and chillin on the beach. we came home with stronger relationships, different perspectives, fun memories, inside jokes, new priorities, and a hunger for more of what God has to offer and asks us to offer of ourselves.

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finally… the long awaited (and highly abbreviated) synopsis of our pilgrimage to ireland.

every year, as part of our 10th grade sunday school curriculum at church, a group of teenagers and teachers depart on pilgrimage together. it is a unique opportunity to leave the rhythms, rigors and routines of home behind. to come away, together, to a foreign land. to explore our surroundings and ourselves, and to draw closer to God and one another throughout our journey. it’s pretty awesome.

this year 37 young pilgrims and 6 slightly older pilgrims spent 10 days traveling around western ireland. you might think it’s impossible to have any kind of meaningful community with 43 people–i was definitely concerned. before i left for ireland, my boss (and head priest) asked what i was looking forward to most in leading this pilgrimage. having never lead a pilgrimage before, i told him i was looking forward to the things i knew i’d have no control over… the moments of grace. he said, “so… you’re basically excited about everything.” “yep,” i said, “i’m pretty psyched.” that was certainly the case with the community forged during our trip. it was nothing any of us could have controlled or planned for, and God’s grace was hugely evident as a result. again, pretty awesome.

so what did we do? we explored castles and forts. we walked around abbeys and cemeteries, thinking (and writing) about how we would want to be remembered. we hiked 4 miles along the cliffs of moher, mere inches from 800-foot drops to the rocky shore below, contemplating the sheer greatness of God, and how it makes us a little nervous and draws us closer all at once. we played golf (the monastery where we stayed had a pitch and put course). we bought loads of groceries and cooked meals for one other (iron chef style), we served and cleaned up after one other. we hiked up crough patrick, the second hardest climb i’ve ever done, in part because of the hail that rained down on us as we summated the slippery shale incline. we traveled to the smallest of the aran islands, a place called inisheer. we visited pubs and listened to irish music. some of our kids met up with local kids and went to an irish dance. we worshiped together in some really holy places, most memorable for me being kevin’s church, which is covered by sand every year, and every year dug out by the islanders on june 13. we shared ourselves in a way we will likely never share again, crying and laughing in spaces made safe by God’s presence. really, it was awesome.

i came home very exhausted, because really, it was a lot of work. but i also came home renewed, because really, it’s fun to watch God work.

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boys’ beach trip… what the…?

i had the absolute pleasure of taking 9 middle school boys to the beach this weekend. we stayed at a place with revolution era forts, great for hide & seek. we only spent about an hour on the beach because the boys were just playing so hard the whole time. basketball all morning, fort running after lunch, mini-golf in the afternoon, dune jumping (i had a hard time not joining in on that one, but i kept reminding myself that my knees aren’t as young as theirs, and i’ve got a big race next weekend), and then a little beach time before clean-up and dinner.
all the things that you might expect to have on a all-boys weekend did.

1) the church bus wouldn’t start. luckily a mom lent me her minivan for the weekend.

2) one of the boys caught something in his eye, which continued to irritate him all day, so we took a little trip to the ER after dinner. he left with an eye patch, thus nick-named “patchy” the rest of the weekend.

3) while at the ER, the other 8 boys, bored out of their minds, started throwing rocks. the police had to give them a little pep talk as a result. oops.

perhaps the worst thing that happened, though, was MY fault. as i was following the GPS in my borrowed minivan, i turned down a dead-end road by accident. upon realizing my mistake, i whispered, “dead end? what the f!” really, i said the letter ‘f’ and did not use the word, but it was implied. and the boys immediately heard me (despite the blasting music and shouts of laughter as they threw playing cards and sour patch kids at each other) and gasped, collectively.

the favorite phrase for the rest of the weekend, was, of course, “what the f?!”

great. GRRRREAT.

glad i could be a shining paragon of upstanding christianly behavior.

surely Jesus cussed when he stubbed his toe?!?!

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warning: this blog entry contains "adult" material not suitable for children

one of the pros of taking time of blogging: only the die hard readers remain. and i think that pool of people can probably handle the following.

as you might know, one of the highlights of my work in youth ministry is talking to kids about sex. i mean that. i’ve never left a sex talk thinking, ‘that was boring…’ or, ‘i wish i spent more time at my desk, preferably wearing a suit and heals.’ no, sex talks are always challenging, always enlightening, and always very real. and i get to wear a t-shirt and flip-flops. can’t beat that.

the 9th grade sex talks were especially good this year. i think we just got off on the right foot… there was a power outage at our first meeting, so we had the entire discussion about “angels and animals” by candlelight. mmmm hmmm. way to set the mood.

but the last 9th grade talk is what assured me that we had accomplished at least one of our objectives: letting kids know that church is a safe place to talk about sex.

here’s what happened…

we were talking about ways to take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically in relationships.

“how do we stay physically healthy?”

“eat right and exercise.”

“ok… and in relationships? and sexual relationships?

one guy raises his hand, “uh, use contraceptives?”

“actually, contraceptives just keep you from getting pregnant… they don’t actually keep you from getting sick. the birth control pill is one example of a contraceptive. can somebody give me another?”

same guy says, “pulling out?”

“huh, well, yeah, there’s that. definitely NOT the most reliable method…”

another guy interrupts, “wait… what exactly is the pull out method? i mean, i can kinda use my imagination, but…”

“sure. no worries. it’s when the guy pulls his penis out of the woman’s vagina before he ejaculates. really not a good method AT ALL.”

“that’s pretty much what i imagined.”

see what i mean? mission accomplished. i promise there were much more meaningful learning moments throughout the night… and year, really… but this at least shows the kids are comfortable. whew. time to start planning next year.

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i recently received two emails regarding the current dearth of blogging.

the first said, “things must be going well with the boy… no recent blogging. your fans miss you.”

mmm… you could say that… but, fans?

the second said, “i’m just hoping everything is okay with you. you haven’t been blogging since you got back from your trip after christmas, and i just was ‘motherly’ worried.”

no need to worry. all is well.

anyway, the truth is, i’ve been slow on the blog circuit for a while now… boy or no boy. but i’ll see what i can muster up, given the encouraging nudges here and there.

so here’s a little piece of news. i went skiing with 94 middle school kids and 11 other chaperons last weekend. it was amazing. well, not the skiing… the skiing was typical eastern slush… but the kids were amazing. not one got hurt. not even their feelings got hurt! 94 pubescent kids living in harmony. amazing. ok, one kid did break his arm. but he didn’t find out till he returned, so i’m not sure that counts.

From 2008-09 Winter

pictured are me, sloan, jane and liza… with our carolina blue bandannas and matching carolina blue eyes.

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facebook official

one of the perks of being a youth minister is talking about sex.

and i talk about sex a lot… like… every month at least. it’s very important!

in a recent conversation with some very savvy 10th grade girls, i posed the question: what defines a “couple?”

a few answers percolated to the surface… including, “if it’s on facebook, it’s official.”

and there you have it.

“couples” according to a 16 year old.

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last night 23 high school kids made shelters from cardboard boxes on the front lawn of our church. our first official lock OUT. the idea was to sleep outside in boxes in an effort to bring attention to homelessness in our community the night before the annual homeless awareness walk. the idea came about last spring or summer, though, in much warmer weather.

i don’t think anyone expected the 16 degree chill.

parents called the church saying their child couldn’t come (that’s fine). our numbers dropped a little.

but 23 brave souls still showed up.

and so did 4 news trucks.

awareness accomplished.

a few events in the evening that helped drive the point home:

1. mark, a homeless neighbor, came to the church to share his story and answer the kids questions. he gave us pointers on how to set up our boxes. he told us the key is to keep your hands, feet and head warm. he said he had no idea we were actually going to sleep outside ALL night, and he was so touched by what we were doing. gayle, a homeless lady i ran into at the coffee shop said the same thing, as did the mother of a homeless family sleeping IN our church last night. their appreciation made it a little easier to bare the cold with my kids.

2. one of our youth has been interviewing homeless people for two years, working on her gold award project for girl scouts. we watched a documentary she had put together. it was cool for the kids to hear from one of their peers how they can make a difference.

when all was said and done, 1 kid went home early, 13 kids went into the sanctuary (all curled up around the altar… pretty cute), and 9 kids braved the cold all night… along with 3 adults.

and then we walked 5k.

and then i went to class, fell asleep during the lecture, and got sent home 🙂

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who needs sleep?

well you’re never gonna get it.
who needs sleep?
tell me, what’s that for…
(lyrics from a bare naked ladies song… where in the world did that band get their name anyway?)

friday night was our middle school lock-in. we had 84 kids. sometimes i forget the magnitude of our youth program, but it’s hard to ignore when you have to rent TWO charter buses just to get to the mini-theme-park at the mall (after it closes) so the kids have their run of the laser-tag, go carts, games and climbing wall. oh, sure, we did the more traditional lock-in stuff too… like playing sardines… nothing like hide-and-seek in a big dark church!

ah, memories.

what i had forgotten, though, is how COOL it is to stay up at that age! one kid came up to me toward the end of the movie we watched (cheaper by the dozen) to ask what time it was. i looked at my watch and said, “almost 3am…” her face lit up in wonderment, “wow… coooooool.”

the following day i watched a kid tell his mom, “we had church at 1 in the morning!!!”


needless to say, none of us were very rested for the service projects we participated in the following morning. hundreds of church peeps did work all over the city. pretty cool.

and this weekend will be our lock-OUT, when the high schoolers sleep outside in boxes. me too. good times to come.