Friday, June 30, 2006

Montreat West...Thursday

Earlier today (Thursday), the Servant Squad spent some quality time exploring the theme of conflict. Some of them worked with modeling clay to sculpt their response, while some finger painted, and others wrote their own "blogs" in response to scenarios posted around the room. Nobody took advantage of the liturgical movement station.

Between last night's sermon and this morning's keynote, hopefully the youth here at Montreat West are thinking about issues of race, gender, sexuality, power, oppression, and control. J. Herbert did a fabulous job of talking about the racial injustices that are still prevalent in our society. He gave us a glimpse into his world as an African-American man, and some of it made me so sad. He talked about being painfully aware of where his hands are at all times when he's in a store, because he doesn't want to appear as if he's stealing something or getting ready to pull a weapon. This morning, Cindy encouraged us to think more seriously about the civil rights movement, and what it means to seriously engage in conversation with "the other."

The sermon last night was pretty convicting for me. As I heard J. Herbert speak, I realized that that "voice" very absent from my day to day encounters. I feel like there was a time, in seminary, and some in college, when that voice was a part of my life, but not so much now. Nor have I been intentional about speaking in that voice in my current situation. When I run, my thoughts no longer focus on the ways that I can transform the world around me or how I'm going to speak the truth to power, but instead I worry about my car payment and my house payment, and whether I have money in my account to cover them...I think about how quickly I can pay off my student loans, or when I'll be able to afford a new TV, or what I "need" at Target, or when I'm going to play golf again, or vainly, I think about how much better I'm gonna look now that I'm running every other day. Yeah...J. Herbert's words were convicting. I need to get back to the roots of questioning the status quo and speaking up for those who don't have a voice.

Why is it so easy to feel fired up about this stuff when I'm here at Montreat or when I was in seminary? What is it about "the real world" that saps away my energy from truly transforming the world around me...from living into the kingdom?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Montreat West...Wednesday

Here are some pics from the last few days here at Montreat West. I'm having a ball with the leadership and my servant squad pretty much rules. I've been in two skits with the keynoter and been dressed as a woman both times...Awesome. I led music this morning as well. Poor Jeffrey didn't listen to my advice and ate at the Mongolian restaurant called Hu Hots (I mean, come on, with a name like that, you have to be a little bit wary) and his stomach didn't respond well. Anyway, here are some pics:

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Montreat West...Sunday

The youth have arrived. Today was a crazy day of skit rehearsals, registration, rec events, scrambling, scurrying, and hurrying to make this place ready for a youth conference. I'm pretty wiped out at this point, so this will be short.

I'm totally psyched that First Presbyterian Church Columbia, MO is here. I already had some quality time with some of them. Unfortunately I didn't get any photos with them yet, but I will. There's something cool about hangin' out with folks from your hometown. I found out that the current youth directors have been hanging out with some friends of mine from Truman. Small world...small world.

Here are a couple of pics I took with a couple of my peeps:

Laurie Taylor Weicher and I at registration

Rex and I (I love this kid)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Montreat West...the day before

Here I sit on Saturday night. There's a lite rain sprinkling down outside the office window. Plannint team members are either scurrying about to be ready for the onslaught of tomorrow, or are taking a much needed break...a little calm before the storm. Rex is lying down with his head propped on his hand reading a book...his second during his time here. Robert and Jeffrey are finalizing the song list for Sunday night. J.Herbert is adding some visual flair to Monday night's worship service. I love to watch the dedication of all these people working to make Montreat a wonderful experience for the youth who will attend.

I spent the better part of four hours this afternoon in small group leader training. I can't say it's my favorite place to be, but it was good to meet the other folks who will be leading small groups this week. Unfortunately, numbers are a bit down, so it's a small crew. The word needs to get out that something awesome happens here at CSU every June.

Laurie Taylor Weicher arrived today. I love that girl. I love seeing friends like her...friends who make you feel known...friends who make your heart smile.

Tomorrow, the conferees arrive. Look for some pictures as I get into the midst of things.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Montreat preparation

Hey folks. That's right, it's almost Montreat West time. I'm out in Ft. Collins helping the planning team get ready for the arrival of approximately 200 young people. I arrived here last night, dropped my bags, said hello to some folks, and went for a run. It's funny how good it feels to get out and run now that I'm past the point of huffing an puffing after five minutes. I actually only ran for about half an hour last night, because I had to be back for skit rehearsal, but I felt like I could have gone a good bit longer.

Anyways, it's fun getting to hang out with the planning team folks. And, I've met a couple of stage leaders who I'd always heard about but never met. For all of you out there who sang the praises of Jeffery Harpeth and Kenneth Slifer, I've found your singing to be right on key. I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to offer from the stage.

The theme of this year's conference is Crossing Boundaries. It should be interesting to see how the leaders dance around that line of which boundaries we're called to cross and which ones we aren't.

OK, more from Montreat West as the conference progresses.

Monday, June 19, 2006

All of this FEMA business

So, it turns out that when given money following Hurricane Katrina, some folks chose to spend their debit cards in ways that FEMA doesn't like. Apparently, people spent the money on NFL tickets, champagne, and other "frivolous" items. Folks at FEMA are upset because they don't think that's what the money was for.

Now, I'm not too excited about folks spending relief effort dollars on NFL tickets when people were struggling to get food and some people still don't have homes.

That being said, I hope that there are no Republicans on the hill crying too loudly. I mean, isn't it the Republicans who say that government should get out of the way and allow people to have more access to their own money? That it isn't the role of government to tell people how to spend their money? That Americans know best how to spend their money? The only difference, as I see it, between this latest situation, and the drastic tax cuts propegated by the current administration is that this time, the expenditures of "the people" could be tracked. I imagine that if we were able to track the money given in "tax relief," we'd find some similar trends. Meanwhile, the national deficit counter is back on in New York City.

My main point here, is that this situation ought to be an eye opener for those who argue for tax cuts for the sole reason that Americans know best how to spend their money. If people who have just lost everything buy NFL tickets and stay in fancy hotels with their relief money, I can only imagine what the rest of us do with our tax relief money.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I love camp

I spent all of last week, June 4-9, at NaCoMe, which is a camp within the bounds of my presbytery. It was a great week. I just love all that is "camp." I love that youth get to disconnect from their hectic lives and simply enjoy God's beautiful creation with a bunch of other youth. I love standing around a campfire at night and singing songs...or yelling songs as in Screaming Jesus. If you haven't heard that one, you simply must find someone who knows it. I love it that high school students still wear t-shirts from their various clubs, sports teams, musicals, bands, choirs, know, the t-shirts that kind of brag and bring attention to the love that that youth has for a particular activity. When do we quit wearing shirts like that? I guess I still do with my Cavaliers shirts, but mine don't have fun slogans on them. I love those t-shirts. I love games called Jedi and Ultimate. I love worship services that are seriously rockin' with the Holy Spirit. I love watching quiet youth come out of their shells. I love watching the loud youth be at a loss for words. I love simply walking around from place to place...walking, not jogging, not running, not driving, not even biking...just walking. I love silly fun songs that youth sing to bless meals. I love it that youth have to sing if they get too much mail or packages or e-mails from home. I love it that most of them act like they hate it but secretly ask Mom or Dad to send a package so they have to sing. I love it that camp is a place where thousands of youth experience God each and every day of the summer. I love it that God sets apart special places for youth (and adults for that matter) to recharge their batteries before walking back into "the real world." I just love camp. Thank God for camp.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Pride and Prejudice

I just finished reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It's definitely a funny book, and Austen does a wonderful job of describing the characters in such a way that makes you feel like you know them personally. I think I chuckled out loud in each chapter. However, I'm a bit stumped as to why so many women think that Mr. Darcy is the quintessential example of what a man ought to be. In some ways, he's kind of a jerk, and while he eventually overcomes his prejudices, it's not so much because of self reflection for self reflection's sake, but because a girl he likes calls him on it. To be sure, his willingness to handle the situation with Lydia was noble, but he had the money to do it without really sacrificing much. Is it that he is so attracted to a free thinking woman? Is it his patience? Is it his willingness to be molded and scolded? I just don't understand why he's so much beloved by all of you women-folk out there. Give me a shout out and help me understand.