Monday, December 19, 2005

The Land Rover

A memory surfaced the other day. You see, I used to be a pretty adventurous kid. With heroes like Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker you are BOUND to try some stupid stuff sometimes!
When we lived in Africa, my parents owned a Land Rover. This mode of transportation is NOT comfortable at all, but is purely for the purpose of getting to “hard-to-reach” places! Because of this purpose, one of the main additions is a ladder on the back which leads to a luggage rack on the top.
One day, a missionary friend borrowed the Rover to go into town. As he pulled away, that beautiful ladder called out my name! I couldn’t turn down an opportunity for an adventure, so I sprinted after the Rover and launched myself onto the ladder.
Wow,” I mused, “I did that PERFECTLY…just like the stuntmen in the movies!”
As the Rover accelerated, my pride was quickly replaced by a question, “How do the stuntmen get OFF these things?!”
I knew that I had to get off quickly. Luckily, the road beneath me was dirt and we were only traveling at maybe 10-15 mph.
As I jumped, I formed a plan to run as fast as I could when my legs made contact with the ground. That way, I would not fall.
I learned a lot about physics (and myself) that day! It is NEAR IMPOSSIBLE to match speed with a vehicle after jumping off of it! As a result, I went tumbling…kicking up dust in the process.
As I lifted myself up off the ground, insult was added to injury as I heard, “Look at the silly white boy! Hahahahaha!”
But they were wrong. My face was no longer white…it was red with embarrassment!
I wonder how many other people were adventuresome as kids? Did anyone else ever try a stunt like this? Or did anyone else ever try to jump off their house and float down using an umbrella (a la “Mary Poppins”) ? That doesn’t work, either! So, got any stories?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The first Christmas was not about shopping malls. It was not about credit or presents, but about a PERSON!

This simple fact reminds me that I need to be thankful for many PEOPLE in my life. I am thankful for my son Fischer and our time together. I am thankful for my insanely beautiful wife! I am thankful for the kids in my youth group and my church family. I am thankful for my ministry buddies. I am thankful for my extended family. I am thankful for teachers through life so far. I am thankful that a REAL baby named Jesus was born many, many years ago.

Who are YOU thankful for? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Robber's Cave Retreat

     Just a few reflections on our Fall Retreat this past weekend:
  • I hope that I will NEVER AGAIN see a teen lying facedown after falling about forty feet ever again!! Yes, he is OK, and YES, I believe he had some angels flying with him that day! (Ask me and I’ll tell you the story.)

  • I hope my son Fischer NEVER has an accident like that. But (more importantly) if he does, I hope he knows and loves God. So, I will NOT expend my energy trying to protect him all the time, but trying to lead him to God.

  • I DEARLY LOVE all my ministry buddies! Your love, encouragement, and unity of spirit are a little glimpse of heaven every time we do these retreats!

  • I wish I could budget for a CHURCH JET. That way, it wouldn’t take FIVE HOURS to reach our retreats!

Monday, September 19, 2005

What do you think of this guy? We like him a LOT! We think we'll keep him! Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 12, 2005

You Ate WHAT?!!!

The other day we were returning from the Cowboy Youth Festival when one of the teens asked to stop at a gas station to get some snacks. Like any good youth minister, I slowed down and stopped the minivan at a gas station just outside of Stillwater.
When the kids climbed back in, I turned around...curious to see what kind of snacks they had purchased. At first, I saw the usual...chips, chocolate, sour straws...things that teens always get. But Chelsea had something different.
"Is that beef jerky?" someone asked.
"No," she replied matter-of-factly, "it's a Firecracker."
For those of you who don't know, a Firecracker is a "red-hot pickled sausage" that can be found in most convenience stores.
You also may not know that anything that is pickled...well, it smells awful!
As soon as she opened it, I heard, "Eeeeewwwww...that smells like my socks after marching around in band all day!"
"What?" she said defensively, "It's just like beef jerky!"
If she had left it at that, we might have believed her. Instead, she started reading the ingredients...
"Beef, beef lips..."
"WHAAAAAT? Did you say 'beef lips?' That's like kissing a cow! Oh, sick!"
She should have stopped there, because we soon found out that it also contains "mechanically separated chicken." So, basically, we told her she was eating the leftovers of just about any animal that was ever created!!!
Of course, the rest of us did not share the GROSS things that WE sometimes eat! For example, I have had roasted flying ants (termites) and they weren't that bad! Or what about octopus? Or have you ever read the ingredients of hot dogs?
So, what about you out there? What are some disgusting things that YOU have eaten?

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Most Morbid Day in History

I love the teens in my youth group...they are so creative! However, one day their creativity got a little weird. Sometimes we just make up stories when we talk, but on this day, we made up stories of how each other would DIE on the way home!
It actually got pretty funny, not because of the gruesome details, but because of the absurdity! For example, I had one girl in our youth group (Maggie Taylor) smoking a cigarette in the church van (in the story of course!) In the story, I got mad at her, snatched the cig out of her mouth and threw it out the window. She yelped angrily and jumped out after the cigarette, only to be run over by the van. The funy thing is that Maggie would NEVER smoke (I hope!)
Do you guys remember any of those stories? OR do you have other stories of when people around you had morbid thoughts?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Recovering Fischer

After a C-section, nurses take over to do what’s called “Recovery.” Basically, what this means is that they are helping the child “recover” after the rigors of birth.
Witnessing a recovery for the first time is quite traumatic, especially when it’s YOUR child! Hearing your baby cry for the first time awakens a Protector gene in the parent (at least that’s what it felt like!)
I felt like they were being too rough with him! I cringed when they stuck needles in him! That nurse put too much ointment on his eyes! They rubbed him raw when giving him his first bath! If Fischer could have spoken, he wouldn’t have called it “Recovery,” he would have called it “Torture!!!”
It wasn’t until later that I learned that all that crying was good for Fischer! It helped his little lungs develop and rid them of some of that fluid.
I still think there could be a better name than Recovery, but at least I don’t think it’s evil any more!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Operation Fischer

5:30 p.m.
August 10, 2005

By the time I entered the Operating Room, Tracy had been prepped, shaved, epiduraled and everything! In fact, they were making the incision as I walked in.
Taking my place by Tracy's side, I smiled and tried to be as encouraging as possible. The doctors helped a LOT by keeping conversation light and playful.
For example, Dr. Johnson (anesthesiologist) joked with Dr. Hamilton that he would have to "wake him up in a few minutes."
Dr. Hamilton said, "Yeah, Tracy...I forgot to tell you that I'm narcoleptic. I'll probably fall over asleep in the middle of this!"
Tracy, quite accustomed to dealing with this kind of humor, replied, "Yeah, and I forgot to tell YOU that all the checks I've written you are HOT!"
Dr. H. continued the jokes, at one point saying that Tracy's "insides looked JUST like in the textbook!" I replied, "Nurse, could you turn the page for him now?!!"
When sewing up her uterus, he informed us of what he was doing and said, " that the liver? I always get those two mixed up!"
Another point of interest came as he was about to cut open the sack of amniotic fluid. He actually SAW Fischer gasp as if trying to breathe BEFORE he was taken out! So Fischer did breathe in quite a bit of fluid. Dr. H. said that was a first for him in ten years of practice!
Coming next..."Recovering Fischer"

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Waiting Stinks!

OK...I promised I would write about our new son, Fischer. I got here and realized I had left my notebook at home!
However, I jotted this down the night before Fischer was born...enjoy!

9:25 P.M.
August 9, 2005

We are sitting here awaiting the birth of our son. Worry and joy are flooding through my heart, but joy is dominating. Being a Christian helps…knowing He’s in control. It’s so awesome to know God, and to know that He is the best doctor in the world!
Even here, amid lights and beeps, I.V.’s and wires…even here, I can feel His presence. Maybe it’s because I sense LIFE here…a small life formed by the hands of God, about to enter into the world.
Or maybe it’s because you can sense a spirit of caring in the hospital. Caring…one of the positive traits that God implanted in the hearts of men and women. Caring…healing…one of Jesus’ main purposes while here on earth.
I’m sure I can sense God because of all these, but also simply because He IS here in person! Jesus promised that He would be with me always...I believe Him!

If I go to “work” at the church building, He is there! If I go to play golf, He is there! If I go home to enjoy a quiet night with my wife (not any more!), He is there! And, if I go to the hospital to have a baby boy, He is there! What a comfort!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Serving Others

Summer is always "crazy time" for youth ministers. A few weeks ago we participated in our third annual "Doulos" (servant) Workcamp. We did some awesome projects this year...
When we tried to give out FREE drinks at Wal-Mart, people kept saying, "Sure, I'll take much?" or "What do you want me to do?" It was pretty cool to be "set apart" from our culture where "nothing is free!"
We also washed dogs at the humane society. I know, I know...weird, huh? But the volunteers there were very appreciative and the teens had a GREAT time!
The funniest comment, though, came when we were helping widows. We were about to purchase items to put into Care Baskets, when I posed the question, "What do widows really need?"
Since we were all expecting a serious answer, Caleb's answer caught us completely offguard, "They need a man!"
We all just lost it at that point. What a funny, innocent answer!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I'm Not Good At Cursing!

This summer (2005), I have taken an extra job to pay off a few bills before our first child is born in August. Monday through Thursday, I mow and clean up the softball fields. It's fun! I get to ride around on a tractor to drag the fields, and I get to chalk them.
One of the umpires is my "boss" for this job. He knows I am a youth minister, plus he sees the church van in the parking lot when I'm working.
The other day, Bob and I were cleaning up the restrooms. Ladies, can I just say something? You are more disgusting than men! I couldn't believe that I was picking up WADDED UP (and USED) toilet tissue from the floor! Bob had to pick up a feminine product from the floor! I know this is a blanket statement, and that most women are cleaner than antibacterial soap, but help your gender look better! Teach your sisters how to pick up after themselves!
Anyways, as Bob and I were picking up, our boss approached outside. As I picked up a pair of underwear I yelled, "SICK!!!"
When we emerged, the boss was standing right there. He said, "Yeah, women are gross, man!" Then he went on to say, "I thought Christians don't curse!" Apparently he thought I had said a different "S" word!
I didn't think anything about it until a few minutes later...after he was gone! I wanted to defend myself! I wanted to let him know that he was right...Christians don't curse! I was afraid that HE was a Christian, and that I had let him down!
Yesterday, he came back and we installed a new home plate. He surprised me when he said that several ball players were b**ching (complaining) about the condition of the fields. Did he just curse right in front of me?! Perhaps the other day he was not pointing the finger...perhaps he was wanting to hear me say I was not perfect! (Even though I didn't curse!) Maybe he wanted to hear that even Christians sometimes struggle with stuff!
Here's the best part of all: This job has helped me get out from behind church walls! I NEED to get "back into the world!" As a youth minister, I NEED to be where my teens are! I NEED to hear that stuff! Isn't that where Jesus would be? If any other youth ministers read this, go and do likewise! We NEED to be out there, not locked up in our offices!
I may not be good at cursing, but the cool thing is...our boss talked MORE to us after that incident than he ever had before! Who knows? Maybe soon we can talk about Jesus...and maybe NOW he will listen...because he knows we are real, and that we struggle, too.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Jamaica Me Crazy!

Next weekend, I will once again conduct a Graduation Ceremony at our church. This year, we are losing two of our VERY best young men... Phillip Chapman and Dallas Ketchum.
I was reminiscing the other day, trying to recall some memories to share with the congregation. Following is an hilarious story involving BOTH of them!
About two summers ago, 26 members of our congregation embarked on a mission trip to Jamaica. I was privileged to stay in a room with Dallas and Phil.
We worked extremely hard for about a week. We logged about four hours of travel time (by bus) EVERY day to reach our neighborhood worksite. We managed the chaos called Vacation Bible School in the mornings, which grew from 30 to like 130 over a few days. We also did repairs on the old building and painted their classroom building...bright LIME green!
On our final night, we told everyone (especially the teenagers) that we needed to be awake and packed by 4:00 A.M. Most everybody was tired enough that they went to bed early on their own!
My sweet wife had not seen me for a week, so she called Jamaica to hear my voice (ahhhhhhhhh...I told you she was sweet!) I left the boys watching TV and told them I would be right back.
Thirty or forty-five minutes later, I returned to the room to find the door locked. I knocked on the door, knowing that Dallas' bed was not more than three feet from it!
After a few minutes, I started to get worried. It dawned on me that the boys may have gone to visit friends in another room. My visit to those rooms, however, yielded no results. In fact, everyone was already fast asleep! I told one of our male sponsors what was going on, so he returned with me to search for the boys.
We pounded on the door for several minutes, causing other sponsors to poke their sleepy-heads out of their rooms and ask what was going on.
By this time, I was getting very upset! If they were playing a joke, it was NOT funny! If they had left the room without permission, I was going to wring their necks!
We started our search down at the swimming pool. It was Friday night, so they had an open bar and many guests. No luck. We checked around outside...not there. We went to another area where you could buy soft drinks...again, no Phil or Dallas. We searched that WHOLE stinking hotel with NO evidence of the boys!
Suddenly, I had a horrible vision of the boys back in the room, murdered. I started to freak out, so we WOKE UP the hotel manager to get an extra key.
Hurrying up to the room, we unlocked the door and threw it open to find...Phil and Dallas fast asleep in their beds! I was extremely upset, but it was hilarious to see these tough teen boys asleep like babies in their beds! I still scolded them the next morning for locking me out and not waiting for my return (and they apologized to the sponsor since he had to wake up and help me search), but we laugh about it now. What a great memory! I will miss you guys!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Float Trip Funnies

I apologize for not writing in so long. I should probably apologize in advance for the lack of posts during the upcoming (busy) youth ministry season...summer! Here is our most recent goofiness...enjoy!

We just returned from our annual float trip down the Illinois River. There always seems to be something that happens on these trips! Well, this year (2005) was no different!
The first comical thing happened upon arrival. One of our older teens was driving along with our caravan. When we arrived, he said, "I'll be right back" and left.
When I asked where he was going, some other teens told me, "He thinks he hit a dog, so he's gonna go back and make sure it's dead!"
Fortunately, we found out later that he had NOT hit a dog...unfortunately, he HAD hit and killed a CAT!

The next day (Saturday) one of our adult sponsors (Chuck) said he was gonna run into town for a few supplies.
As he entered Tahlequah, he noticed a large amount of traffic. Thinking there was an accident, he turned in behind all the vehicles and began the slow creep towards Wal-Mart.
It slowly began to dawn on him that the traffic was NOT because of an accident, it was because he had entered the middle of a PARADE!!! So, he stuck his hand out the window and started waving!
Forty-five minutes later (normally a ten-minute ride) he turned out of the parade into the Wal-Mart parking lot. But guess what? When he was done, he almost turned into the parade AGAIN! He ended up being BEHIND it this time, so he didn't have to wave!
Chuck, I know you have always wanted to be the Homecoming King, but that's just ridiculous! :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

God Gives You Goosebumps

So far, I have been writing about goofy things that I have witnessed or done. But, sometimes something happens that isn't necessarily funny...but it gives you unspeakable joy. Sometimes, God just shows up in an unexpected way, and all you can do is smile! Let me share with you one such incidence from a few years ago...
Summer camp is (in my opinion) one of the BEST things a Christian can experience. It is longer than a "youth rally", so everyone loosens up after a few days. On the other hand, it doesn't last so long that you are killing each other by the end!
One year at camp, I was blessed to teach a class on "Vision." I challenged the teens to pray all week, asking God to open their eyes to His will. Some of them "got it" and others ordered pizza during my class (true story!) and didn't seem to care at all.
Because of this, my expectations were not high at all when I asked the teens to share their visions at the end of the week. However, I was about to get a pleasant suprise!
One young lady named Stephanie shared that she really wanted to share the Good News with her cousin Brandon. She talked about how she was very close with her cousin, and he went to church, so she did not understand why he had not chosen to follow Christ yet. I thanked her for sharing and encouraged her and the other teens to pray about their visions...asking God to help them come true.
A few weeks later, I was attending a different camp when I heard a familiar voice calling my name. I turned around to see Stephanie, who ran up and gave me a big hug. I could tell she was excited about something.
"Franklin, guess what?!" she said. "You remember how you told us to pray that God would help us accomplish His will in our lives?"
"Well, do you remember I was telling you about my cousin, Brandon?"
"Well, since I don't really know what to say, I asked God to lead someone into Brandon's life that could tell him about Christ and encourage him to be baptized."
"Franklin...God answered my prayer! Brandon is in YOUR cabin!"
As she skipped away, I got goosebumps! God answered her prayer! After a few minutes, I felt the pressure of the situation. "God wants to use ME? What should I say to Brandon?"
I had NO idea how to bring up this subject, plus I didn't want to embarass him in front of the other boys in the cabin, so I asked God to help me. I prayed that He would give me the words.
That night, after we introduced ourselves, I told the boys in the cabin that one of them was at camp for a reason. The result was hilarious...
"Hey, is it me? What did my mom say to you?"
"Yeah, I'm here to find a woman!"
I remained vague for the rest of the week, but I added that one of them had been brought to camp by GOD. That REALLY got their attention! But, I still never found the right time or the right words.
At the end of the week, we write notes in each other's yearbooks. When I got Brandon's I simply wrote, "You're the one I was talking about. Read Acts 22:16"
A few months later, I found out the rest of the story... Brandon went on a hiking trip a few weeks after camp. As he came over a hill, he saw a crystal clear mountain lake. Overcome with God's beauty, he said, "This is it. This is where I'm going to be baptized!"
Isn't God awesome?! Not only did he answer Stephanie's prayer, but he used many people in the process.
When you start to seriously pray for something, and you ask God to help you accomplish His will, watch out!!! He may just give you goosebumps!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Marry That Girl!

My wife is a real trooper! I don't think she fully understood what she was getting into when she married a youth minister! She has stuck with me through good times, criticism, toilet paper in the front yard, and much more.
One of the first impressions of youth ministry was when she accompanied us on our annual float trip. We had just started dating and things were going great! I got to introduce her to my youth ministry buddies, and I was bouncing off the walls with excitement!
Everything started off great. Friday night we had an awesome time of games, a devotional, and fun fellowship.
On Saturday morning, all the kids were buzzing about the float trip coming up after lunch. As we were dividing into groups for the rafts, I was pleased to see that the teen girls swarmed my future-wife...wanting to be in her raft. (Yes! That means they like her!)
Of course, the boys in my raft didn't want to float...they wanted to RACE! So, we flew down the river in no time at all. We literally left everyone else in our wake!
When we returned, I hurried to take a shower. After that I went up to the main hall to wait for my girlfriend and ask how her trip went.
Several of the girls came in, falling over themselves with excitement. They rushed over and began to tell me a story all at once. As soon as they slowed down, I learned that one of the girls had seen a water snake, freaked out, tried to hit it with an oar (she thought it would get in the boat) and clobbered my girlfriend in the head with it on the backswing!
At that point, Tracy came in holding her head. I could tell she was really hurt. The bump on her head was huge! She was really patient, though...reassuring the teen girl that she was OK (and she wasn't going to sue her!)
A few months later, one of my youth minister buddies gave me a book as a gift. In it, he wrote, "I appreciate your friendship and your ministry. Now...marry Tracy already!"
We were engaged six months later. Thanks for the good advice, Tim!

Monday, March 14, 2005

The ABC's of Youth Ministry

Everyone knows that youth ministers in their first year are somewhat cocky and arrogant. Oh, sure...we might be a little scared that this is our first job and we are still "learning the ropes," but generally we KNOW that the teens like us because we are still young and we are "COOL."
This was my situation in my first year...I thought I was up on all the teen "lingo." I was sure I was still 'cool' in their eyes...until one fateful Sunday morning.
I breezed into class as usual, full of energy and ready to mold these young minds using God's Word. I made sure I dressed up a little bit (khaki pants and a polo shirt) so that the older folks at church would be proud of me.
Class began just fine. I went through the announcements, and even said a prayer before I noticed anything was wrong.
Finally, one of the boys said, "Franklin, come over here for a sec!"
Smiling, I approached, noticing that some of the other kids were giggling.
"Dude," he whispered, "XYZ."
"XYZ, man! XYZ!"
Not sure of his meaning, I straightened up, gave him the thumbs up and said, "ABC, dude!" to the delight of all the other teens.
His face turning red, he motioned me into the adjacent room, away from the other teens. When we were alone, he burst out laughing.
"Don't you know what 'XYX' means? It means 'X-amine Your Zipper', man!"
As my eyes dropped to follow his instructions, I must have gone white in the face. My zipper wasn't just partially had gone ALL the way south, if you know what I mean! Underwear and all were in plain view!
I thanked him for being honest and up front with his UNCOOL youth minister. I zipped up my pants and headed back into class where I proceeded to teach from Genesis on the verse (you guessed it) "...and the LORD created them male and female."
To this day I ALWAYS check my zipper before doing ANYTHING in front of a group!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ring the Bell!

Alright, it's finally time for the infamous "Bell story!" Several people have been asking for it, so here it is!
It started a few years ago during the fall. Our local football team had just finished a game, and a few boys came over for a "Fifth Quarter" activity. They were hungry, so we decided to get some food.
After we had left the drive thru, one of the boys made the fateful comment: "Let's go ring the bell!"
Please first inkling was that they wanted to participate in what is commonly known as "ding-dong ditching." In this exercise of immaturity, you run up to a friend's house, ring their doorbell, and run to a hiding spot where you can laugh at your friend's response as they answer the door to find an empty doorstep.
The only problem was...that's not what the boys were planning! It turns out that the bell they wanted to ring belonged to an elderly couple in town...a couple that our teens didn't even know! Oh...and it was NOT a "doorbell!" The bell is a big cast-iron monster (maybe three feet tall) that hangs from a bar in the couple's front yard. The teenagers in town find it hilarious to lift up the thing and drop it so that the whole neighborhood can hear!
I should have realized it was trouble when they asked me to pull into the parking lot of the local Mormon church. I need to mention something else at this point...I was driving them around in the church van!
The boys said they would be back in a few minutes and ran across the parking lot into a shadowy grove of trees.
After a brief period of silence, I heard a tremendous "GONNNNNNNNG" followed by frightened laughter.
One of the boys came racing into the parking lot. He jumped into the van laughing and out of breath.
"Where are the other guys?" I asked with a smile on my face.
"I think they went another way, " he replied, "they should be coming from that direction."
As I followed his finger to the other side of the parking lot, my heart came to a screeching halt. A police car was pulling into the parking lot!
Panicked, I put the van in reverse, turned on the headlights, and pulled out of my parking spot. I slowly accelerated as I crossed the parking lot towards the police car.
The policeman held his arm out the window and flagged me down.
"Sounds like someone's being mischievous out here tonight, huh?!"
"Yes, sir, it does!" I replied, heart still stopped in my chest.
"That wasn't the church bell that I heard, was it?" he asked.
"No," I said, "I think it came from that neighborhood."
"O.K. Well, have a nice evening."
I have an idea why he let me go. It must have been because I had "Church of Christ" on the side of the van and we were parked behind the "Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints." He must have not put the two together, and thought I was just a minister taking a teenager home from church!
We circled the block a few times, looking for the other two boys. As we passed one of the side streets, I did a "double-take" and my heart stopped again: One of the boys was in the cop's spotlight!
I'm not necessarily proud of what happened next. The teen who was with me asked what I was going to do. I told him that if we circled that area, the cop was sure to we were going to leave our friend with the cop and go to my house.
"What?!" he cried. "You can't leave them behind!"
"Well, I'm sure not getting in trouble for your little prank!" I retorted.
We hurried to my house, where we switched to my car. We were thinking that if we returned in the car it would not look suspicious.
However, on the way back, I decided to park about a block over and walk to the parking lot. As I arrived, the last boy peeked out from behind the bushes and called out to me. Once he was sure it was really me, he emerged from his hiding spot. I asked him where the third boy was, and he told me that he had seen him scrambling off in a different direction.
Racing back to the car, we jumped in and drove around, searching for the teen who had been "busted." We couldn't find him, so we cautiously headed back to the church building.
After checking the parking lot for cop cars, we entered the building to find the last boy already there! Excited, we asked him what happened.
"Uuhhhhhhh, he asked me what I was doing, so I told him everything."
"What do you mean 'everything?'" we all asked at once.
"Uuhhhhhhh, I gave him everybody's names. He said he's gonna call everbody's parents."
"WHAAAAAAAT!" Names started flying as we all freaked out.
I was scared myself, at first, and then I assured the guy that he had done the right thing. Being honest is what God wants us to do, so it's best that he came clean. (Although I was SURE I wouldn't have a job by the end of next week!)
Well, the cop never called, to our relief.
To this day, I REFUSE to take the kids out on a prank...and I especially won't use the church van!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Teenagers and Pregnancy

My beautiful wife and I made an exciting discovery in December 2004...we were pregnant with our first child! We were extremely excited, but weren't sure if we should tell everyone at first.
Well, those of you who go to church know that this kind of news doesn't stay secret for long among your church family! More and more people seemed to find out with each passing HOUR!
Therefore, we decided one Sunday night that we would tell the teenagers. We went to Mazzio's, put some tables together, ordered some pizza and sat down.
Incidentally, one of our church's elders, his wife, and another couple were seated at a table not ten feet away.
When conversation temporarily died down, I went for it. "Guess what, guys?! Me and Tracy have some good news!"
The girls, of course, started screaming immediately! They knew what we were going to say even before we said it!
The guys, on the other hand, gave us blank stares until I told them our good news.
One of them got a big smile on his face, slapped my back, and proclaimed (for half the restaurant to hear...including the elder), "Way to go, knocked her up!"

Monday, February 28, 2005

Swimming Party!

Last summer was so much fun! Some of the best stuff seems to happen on the "spur of the moment!"
One example of this came when a member of our church asked if the teens would like to come out to their place for a swim. I had not been out to their new home, so I got directions. They told me their street address and gave me some landmarks to look for.
Their neighborhood was beautiful! Nice homes surrounded by tall trees, kind of out in the country.
Well, we found the address and the boat sitting out in the driveway, and proceeded to go through the gate to the backyard. Their two HUGE dogs were there waiting to greet us.
We crossed the lawn and started to put our stuff down on the patio surrounding the pool. I started to slap on some sunscreen, and one of the girls started wading out into the pool when a terrible thought came to mind: They never told me they had dogs!

I grabbed the collar of the nearest mutt, checked his tags, and yelped in terror, "We're at the wrong house guys...let's get outta here!"
We grabbed all our stuff and made a mad dash for the gate. As we rounded the corner of the house, I gasped again; some of our boys (who were meeting us there) had rung the doorbell and were talking to a man at the front door!
To my relief, the man shut the door and the boys came over. They told me the man was there to fix the computers and knew nothing about a swimming party! We all hurried to our vehicles laughing hysterically when I realized my mistake...I had switched the numbers in my head! The real address was 120...not 102!!
The lady from church laughed when the kids told her what happened. She would later tell me that she and the doctor had a good laugh about the whole thing!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

"Gelao" is Greek for laughter!

Well, this is my first post! I'd better make it good, huh?!
The teens in my youth group always have fun reminiscing about the crazy stuff that has happened, so I figured I better start writing it down! I'll try to post about stuff past and present, so feel free to read up and chuckle with me!
Last weekend, we participated in the 30 Hour Famine. It's a time where you fast for 30 hours to raise money for those who don't have food. About six kids decided to participate, and they did awesome! We only had juice and water from noon on Friday til 6 p.m. on Saturday night. I wish I had known what Friday night had in store...
I had decided to make Friday night a time of reflection...a time to get closer to God. In fact, our theme was "Hungry for God." I decided the teens and I would go through a prayer labyrinth of sorts. So I found some good ideas elsewhere, threw in one or two originals, and transformed our basement into a "Holy of Holies."
It was awesome! I had like 8 different stations where the kids would reflect on their personal lives, their faith, God, His power, their place in the Church, etc. I had bought like 100 tealight candles to help with the reflective mood. I put about 15 at each "station" on paper plates.
We were about 45 minutes into it when one of my boys (a big football player) starts flailing around on the floor! My first thought was, "Great! He's having a seizure!"
Then I noticed the sparks coming from the bottom of his pants! He had sat too close to the tealights and caught himself on fire!
Well, we put it out with only a few singed leg hairs. The only problem was he was left with a HUGE (almost two inches in diameter) hole in his new pair of jeans!
Anyways, if you ever work with fire, do the "safety talk" and have a fire extinguisher nearby! Oh, by the way, I'm lucky because his mom hasn't called me yet!