Monthly Archives: June 2011

Here’s the how…

Jeremy and Tiff and I have a great deal of help. I want to show you just a bit of it today, at least those who were present and took great photos last night. ( I’ll get the rest of you at another event.)

The secrets of our success:

This is Haleigh. If you need an idea to become a reality, she’s your girl. Usually, she has the good ideas, too. We mainly nod our heads, yes, at this one.

This is Kim and Lauren. Some of what “we” do is  organize, facilitate, and run a youth program and its communication systems for 200 + students. Well, actually,  that would be what Lauren does. Packing up  all our stuff, keeping up with what we need, telling us what we are doing…that would be Lauren, too.

Kim is starting to do some of that for me with the GRADS. Kim, please don’t stop. Lauren will assure you that I am helpless.

These two ( Milz and Hannah) do everything that I cannot, that I wouldn’t know how to do or that I am just too plain chicken to try. They are my heroes.

This ( center and right) is Katy and Anna.  They are everywhere, doing everything. EPOCH couldn’t do what it does without them. Thanks, girls!

Jarrod breaks boundaries in God, he pushes me to places that I might not go alone. He is awesome and pretty dang fearless. And this little man seems to be following in his footsteps.

                                          Love Ryan’s artist heart…He schools us in worship.

                                                               This is Kenzie. My protege’.

This is Mama Renee. Thank you Jesus for so generous a spirit. A youth pastor friend was relating how much time his kids spend at his house – though he loves it. Hmm. I thought. Ours spend all their time at Renee’s. We like to go there, too.

You may be asking, What do you do? Heck, you are thinking, the other leaders probably even take care of your younguns for you. ( They do.) Mandy  volunteered for the duty last night.

Well, we school them in Fun 101. Jerm is working on his Doctorate, you know. Just call him Prof. Fun.

We help them wrestle through things, like who will get the last of the chips. This is Paddy. Paddy is first in and all out. He does nothing halfway. He often wins the chips.

                                                 But, mainly we just have fun! Can’t you tell?

                        Mostly, we just revel in all God has given us…such beautiful kids to love.

This gang of kids who have been here with us quite a while now…are the real deal. They make us look good at every turn. We don’t know why we have been so blessed to have them come our way, walk with us and help us forge the future… a future that looks even brighter, yet.

But we sure are glad that they did.

Thank you girls. Thank you guys. We sure do love you.


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We had our annual pool party for the youth group last night. We have a couple each summer. They are always well attended (translation: crazy. Sorry, lifeguards. You guys so earn your money.) It was a good time to catch up with some of the students.

We announced yesterday at EPOCH that I had the new applications for EDGE, for the students to come see me about them. So, last night, one of my jobs was to make sure all who wanted one, received one.

An adorable little transplant from Mississippi, good things seem to roll my way from there, ( who happened to room with me at The Freak) came up to me eyes all shining. “What is EDGE exactly? I’ve heard great things. I think I really want be in it.”

“You know,” I struggled. (We don’t really have a marketing strategy or blurb, though I’ve written some professional sounding paragraphs before.) “It’s kinda hard to explain. It’s not really leadership training,” though the students do seem to hone in on their callings and grow in them. “It’s more, it’s different…It’s not hands on ministry training,” though we do some, okay a lot. “It’s community, community loosely cradled in commonly employed disciplines which are ancient and ever new. We learn to listen, to be still, to express, to examine, to encourage, to pray and work in concert with God’s Spirit… and in the process we learn to love who God just might be (Who we hoped, not feared) and the beautiful people whom He has fashioned.”

EDGE is about life shared and enjoyed and gained with God. It’s not systems ( We try new things all the time.)

I struggled to tell this fresh face what it is. I choked words out through some emotion, “It’s the best thing I have ever been associated with. And the best we’ve got to share with you.”

I was thinking that it’s the invaluable that we have stumbled upon, that we’ve mined, that we have found on the other side of failure and desperation… and that we have surrendered to… broken and comforted …in the so very strong arms of God’s grace.

I don’t know if I answered any of her real questions. I hope so. She took the application and related how she was going home to fill it out.



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Just thinking about my friends, scattered…all over the grill top of this world. (Obviously, I am thinking of Waffle House, too.) Which can I say, I don’t know if I prefer more or less since the new non-smoking regulations were employed at my local WH. Granted, I like being able to both see the menu and breathe as I eat, but honestly, something in the experience is gone.

First, I have almost always only eaten at WF at the appropriate time to do so: LATE NIGHT, as in I’m so tired, I can’t see anyway. So, I guess the blue haze never really bothered me so badly, just provided an ambiance.

Sad passing.

Anyway..I was just thinking about my friends scattered about everywhere like those taters. Tomorrow, I get to connect up with a few still nearby on the old grill top and boy does that make me smile. Those potato cuts for browns are meant, I think, to stick together, to get brown: thick-skinned and  sweet (carmelized) around the outer edge, but, to stay tender and more transparent toward one another, where they join up…and kinda stick together, the way good hash browns should do.

I don’t like my hash browns scattered and I like lots of ketchup. Pun totally intended. How about you?

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that’s it? yeah…that’s it.

A little music from our brothers and sisters here in Birmingham! Got to love this song. It’s one of our favorites.

Reminds me of a conversation/discussion we had at the Freak. We were discussing youth “evangelism,” explaining how what might have worked a bit once ( occasionally at least) just doesn’t as we swing round this corner of time.

The answer is not confrontation, argument, answers…but love. Yes. love. Not words. Definitely not arguments. And never right/wrong or us/you wars.

But love is powerful. More powerful than anything else and maybe more powerful than it has ever been.  We have learned ( the hard way) to invoke passionate patience and to love purposely and to try our best to confirm what God is doing, saying, displaying in the lives of those He loves.

Last time I checked, that was everybody.


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Make sure you celebrate your students.

During BeachFreak we, the “leaders,” had a class. During the one PJ wasn’t leading, a fellow leader offered an idea, to celebrate your kids. It kind of stuck in me. Not because we don’t do so at all. But, because I think it is something I can do better and more. Maybe, just’s what I do best.

So, I’m going to dedicate lots of space to that here. This sight is primarily an expression of my experiences in teaching and ministering with and to youth anyway. At least once a week, I’ll highlight someone you should know, or something you should know about. (Yes, I see that preposition.)

Things in God’s church are NOT getting worse. I can’t see that anywhere in the kids I am around.

Are their challenges greater? Yes.

Are they made more to meet them? Yes, I believe that they are.

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my world is small

We are getting the pictures up from Beach Freak. This is one of my favorites, and not just because these are two of my favorite folks. This is Kenzie and Jesse. Their standing on the shore is significant. Jesse came a long way to join up with my life. He is my second son. He and Trent are twins, separated before birth by an ocean and a hemisphere and language and well, just about everything…except Jesus.

Kenzie will surely have many such journeys in her life as well. I’m sure she will take me with her through her pictures and the stories she will bring to light. Maybe, I’m hoping,  I can go with her in other ways as well.

All that to say, these kids make my world small, and stretch my heart bigger!

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the beach

The beach blocks out…pseudo-life, from life. Just the sounds, wind and water’s surge, seem to drown the sounds so often in my ear, “You have to remember to do this, at 3:30 you have this, at 4:00 she has that, remember to pick up this” and others less routinely benign, but who circle now regularly as well. I am a worrier by nature and an over-thinker. I imagine potentialities of every variety and deal with plenty of realities as well. Somehow, the beach stops that in me. It’s the only place my mind seems unable to spin. So I run there, time to time for that kind of stillness, even if I am playing games or interacting with others. I am somehow still at the beach.

I drove by lots of little cottages near our retreat center. The church camp isn’t exactly located in a resort district. The little places wedged against one another along our access road don’t have landscaped lawns, they don’t have pristine pools in back or a shed full of play pretties. They aren’t beautiful, but they do seem sturdy. Most have been there at least 50 years. Lots of winds have blown through that coast these 50 years.

Someone asked me on the way to Publix if I would like living at the beach – this beach. It’s really hot at this beach, there seems no natural shade for miles at a time. It’s not my beloved Golden Isles, replete with oaks and their deep shade. It’s open and bare and what grows is armed. The land makes me shudder. But, I stared on at the little paint deprived cottages, concrete block and squat, no flags of welcome flying, no lush St. Augustine to bear my own bareness toward an entrance…and I realized, it could be enough, to drown the sounds I so need silenced.

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