Class Of 2015

Posted in church on May 26th, 2010 and tagged , , , , ,

We are winding down our first year of teaching youth group, and it’s been an interesting experience, to say the least.  Last week, my “small group” consisted of 17 girls, and it was totally crazy.  We couldn’t get much accomplished, but luckily they weeded themselves out – those who didn’t want to participate (their choice) went to play in the gym, leaving quiet for those who did want to participate.  It’s not like that every week though; last week for some reason the other two 7th-grade-girls teachers were missing, so I had to have ALL the 7th grade girls PLUS my 5th graders.  Yeah, you read that right – I  have 7th graders AND fifth graders, and it’s been a challenge to bridge the gap between the two ages groups.  It happened innocently enough  – a new 7th grader brought her 5th grade sister.  At our church, our student ministries typically don’t usually start until 6th grade, but we didn’t want to turn her away either.  She liked youth group and started bringing friends, all of which are great things, but next thing I knew, I was getting a call from the office manager who handles attendence and things like that, wondering why I had all these 5th graders in my group.  I explained to her what had happened, and she acted like she felt sorry for me rather than being upset –  I was a bit anxious to know why I was getting called by my “boss”.  But no problem – the more the merrier!  I just wonder what will happen next year –  I cannot move up to 8th grade and 6th grade at the same time!  I would think the now-5th graders would get a new group with other 6th graders, and I would stay with the 2015 group as the 7th graders are called for their graduation year.  We’ll see.

But anyway, it’s been a fun year, and I’ve learned A LOT.  Tonight is the final youth group of the year, and we’re having a pizza party, plus another party in regular small group time.  That will be interesting – I have a feeling that my girls will forget the snacks they pledged to bring as they’ve done in the past, so they’ll probably just run around crazy doing gymnastics, cheerleading moves and whatnot as usual.  Except tonight I don’t have to interrupt them since we are supposed to be having a end of the year party!  And, I’m bravely bringing my two youngest kids  – my youth group girls have always wanted to meet my little ones, so I figured tonight is a good opportunity.  I just hope I’m not going to overwhelm myself, but there’s only one way to find out…

But anyway, a fun year that makes me look forward to the next one, despite the time commitment involved.  Here is a typical schedule, in case you’re wondering – especially since a friend suggested oh-so-nicely:  “You should make more posts about your youth group.”  🙂

6:30 – students have arrived and assemble in the Linc – a sort of clubhouse-type room.  We watch a short video or two that’s related to the message, usually 2-3 minute clips from movies.  We’ll play 2 audience participation games, and these are always really fun to watch.  One had 2 teams of 2 kids each wearing pantyhose on their heads.  They put bananas in the feet of the pantyhose, and their goal was to swing their pantyhose around until their pantyhose was wrapped around their partners – hilarious to watch.  Another game involved speed-eating of baby food and another one had pies-in-the-face.  Of course my girls were chosen for that one, and after they  were late to small group after having to wash the pie off their face and out of their hair, that one wound them up all night!

Around 7pm, the worship band (not the same one we have on Sunday mornings) begins their set, and the leaders leave for a leaders’ group prayer in another room.  After this, the kids and leaders move to the Wherehouse, a room with a small stage where they’ll sometimes watch another very short video and hear the youth pastor’s talk for the week for about 40 minutes.  We get to small group around 7:40 and have until 8:18 if we need it to talk amongst our small group.  We leaders get a paper with discussion questions on it, but we are allowed much freedom with this – we adjust the questions as they apply to the conversation we have.

I love all my girls, but of course some are better behaved than others.  And some are much more interested in developing spiritually and bettering their relationship with God than others.  The 7th graders are much more mature about this than the 5th graders – they just don’t get it yet.  Probably why our student ministries start at 6th grade, but they’re worth a try!  I wish that all my girls are on the same page, but they’re not.  There is one girl in particular who causes a lot of drama amongst the other girls (they’re all friends in the same social group), so if there is drama going on that day or that week, it’s difficult to  get anything done.  I now understand the process a little better from when I was a new leader – the other leaders “cherry-picked” their students and left me with the clique.  Not that they’re bad girls at all or anything like that, but I can see where it would be so much more fun if I had a group of girls who were all there for the sole purpose of improving their relationships with Christ.

Well, that’s it in a nutshell.  I’m really hoping to have more leaders next year so that our groups aren’t so large, but it’s been difficult to find leaders that have the 3+ hours per week this volunteer job requires.  It’s a shame, but then again, for a job like this, you only want people who really want to be there – the kids can sniff out reluctant and moody adults like bloodhounds!

Facing Fear

Posted in church on May 23rd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

In church as of late, we are in the midst of a pastoral series called Fearless.  I  am enjoying this series because so far we have been able to study the Biblical  story of David and Goliath and also the story of Moses and the Parting of the Red Sea – two stories I’ve certainly heard about, but hadn’t heard the details or about how they relate to modern-day Christianity until now.  Last Sunday at church, our pastor told of an amusing story during his Fearless series, and I thought I’d share it.  Also in this service, the band accompanied an amazing Bossa Nova / Spanish-style vocal  duet unlike anything I’ve seen in church so far – it was awesome!  I can’t reproduce the song unfortunately, but here is a summary of the pastor’s fun story:

A beautiful village nestled on the bottom of a valley erupted in flames.  All of the surrounding villages’ fire engines came to fight the fire, but they all stopped at the top of the hill on the road leading to the burning village in the valley, for they figured the village would not be savable and would only pose a danger to their own firefighters.  A rickety old fire truck soon showed up from a distant town, and it didn’t hesitate as it crested the hill and rode straight into the valley to fight the fire.  The fire was extinguished, the village saved, and there was a grand ceremony of celebration.  When the fearless fire department who put out the fire rose to accept their rewards and thanks, the fire chief took the stage.  The mayor of the saved village asked him, “What are you going to do with your rewards and with your thank-you money?”  The fire chief of that heroic fire department who  fearlessly rode down  the hill to save the neighboring town said, “The first thing we are going to do is to fix the brakes on that fire truck!”

The moral of the story?  Here’s my take:  The “fearless” fire-fighters didn’t even mean to go into the fire to fight it…  But they did just that, and once they got down in the valley accidentally (because of the failed brakes on the fire truck), they faced their fears and conquered that fire, even though they didn’t originally intend to and also despite their fears.

The story tied in nicely with our church’s Fearless series.  And our pastor told us that story, I think, to get our attention and to get us thinking…  And that it did.

This Town’s Got Talent AND Faith

Posted in Everyday Life on January 19th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I already wrote about our 3D movie-going experience in my previous post, so I will skip that part of the weekend here, but I neglected to mention the cool restaurant we found because I didn’t want to enlarge an already lengthy post…

Friday night after seeing My Bloody Valentine 3D in Maumee Ohio, a suburb of Toledo, we noticed a restaurant across the street called Nick’s Cafe who advertises breakfast all day.  My husband and I are both Eggs Benedict connoisseurs – we really appreciate a great-tasting serving of Eggs Benedict, which is a breakfast dish consisting of English Muffin halves topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and a layer of Hollandaise sauce.  In our pre-parenthood days, we explored the country and sampled various versions of the dish along the way to our traveler’s goals; whether they were destinations of business or pleasure.  A requirement of great Eggs Benedict is homemade Hollandaise sauce, and by ‘homemade’, we (unlike many of the restaurants we tried) don’t mean mixed up in the kitchen from a package.  You need a double boiler to make it, and good Hollandaise sauce has nothing to do with a powder or a package.  In all of our travels, we never found anything that even compares to the Hollandaise sauce at Uptown Cafe in downtown Arlington Heights, Illinois.  We’ve visited numerous restaurants in our quest, and we’ve called some of them ahead of time, but even if you ask if their Hollandaise sauce is homemade, many will say yes, even if we don’t agree on the definition of homemade.  Such was the case Friday night at Nick’s Cafe in Maumee, Ohio.  They said their hollandaise sauce was homemade on the phone, but oddly, when we arrived, they wouldn’t let us taste a sample.  That was a first!  Of the dozens of restaurants we’ve visited in search of the perfect Eggs Benedict, no restaurant had ever denied us a sample!  On Friday night, my husband bravely ordered the Eggs Benedict at Nick’s Cafe without trying the Hollandaise sauce ahead of time, and disappointingly, it was of the non-homemade, out-of-the-package variety.  He did say that the Canadian bacon on the Eggs Benedict was great, but it unfortunately cannot rescue the dish if it uses packaged Hollandaise.  So negative Eggs Benedict experience aside, the reason I would highly recommend this place is for their Mediterranean cuisine.  And regular readers of my blog (and of those email forward all-about-you quizzes) know that this is my favorite type of food, therefore I am a huge critic.  But Nick’s Place in Maumee has excellent gyros, Tzatziki sauce, and Greek salads.  Gyros are only good when they’re off the spit and even then, it’s easy for them to taste too salty.  Not the case at Nick’s Place; if you like Mediterranean food, I highly recommend their gyros and Greek salads – incredible.

But I must move on to Saturday afternoon, when we took our kids to see the movie, Hotel for Dogs.  I’ve been waiting for this movie for months, which is probably why we didn’t want to cancel our planned outing there on Saturday even though Kid #1 went off her rocker.  Seriously, the kid went berserk and I was really tempted to give her “the talk”, especially after I noticed a pimple on her cheek… (well, one of ‘the talks’ anyway – the one about womanly bodily changes – she’s 9 years old and I would rather we talk about puberty stuff before it happens to her).  But anyway, she’d probably be mortified if she knew I was posting this on the internet (what are mothers for?), so I better get off this tangent…  After the episode Saturday morning, our oldest really didn’t deserve to go to the movie, but it’s difficult in a large family to not ‘let the bad apple spoil the bunch’.  Our younger girls had been very good all morning, so why keep them (or me!) from going to the movie?  Our oldest was punished for the tantrum by having to go without a Kid’s Pack (popcorn, pop, and candy) at the movies, and to her credit, she was mature about the consequences of her actions.  However, soon after our arrival at the movie theater, the tide changed and our 2-year-old became the problem.  I don’t know why we keep trying to take a 2-year-old to the movie theater, but every time, it’s regrettable.  Actually, it’s been this way since even months before she turned two…  I guess we keep hoping that one of these times, she’ll actually settle down enough to enjoy an entire movie without driving anyone crazy.  So anyway, I’m trying to keep our 6-month-old busy and quiet while attempting to watch Hotel For Dogs and not disturb our neighbors, and my husband is busy with our handful of a 4-year-old, so next thing we know, our two-year-old is drinking my Mountain Dew.  Of course she loves it, but even before the Mountain Dew she’s had a sugar-infused Kid’s Pack, and now she’s practically bouncing off the walls.  She smiles and announces in a loud voice, “I take clothes off!“, so now I’m trying to put my son back in his car seat so I can stop his sister from stripping off her clothes right there in the movie theater…  Too late.  She is down to her diaper by the time I get both hands free, so my husband covers her with a coat.  For some reason, she’s willing to wear nothing but a coat and a diaper in the movie theater, and somehow we make it through the rest of the movie without having to leave.  So as for Hotel For Dogs, I liked it (I think – I actually didn’t see much of it)…  it’s a cute, predictable fun movie, and if you’re a dog lover, there’s plenty of canine eye candy.

Following the movie, I went to a local talent show based upon the popular “American Idol” TV show.  Some great friends graciously stayed with the kids, and my husband also stayed home to catch up on the work he missed last week during the 2-hour-school delay and the school closing we have on Friday and Monday.  He works from home, and it’s all I can do to keep the two little ones out of his hair every day – add the older two to the mix and all Hell breaks loose – any chance of getting anything productive done flies out the window.  So, a strange occurrence at the talent show – me, myself, and I for a change.  I did attend with friends, but it’s not like I would bother Carol next to me with my philosophies on music or the tone of one’s voice; that would be something to make my husband endure.  And it was bizarre to simply sit back and listen and watch the show…  For those hours, I had absolutely not one thing else to do besides enjoy the show…  such a change of pace for me and much appreciated.  Not that I would want to experience that all the time, but it was very nice for one night…

Adding to the relaxation for me was the spiritual tone of the evening.  I had known the event would be sponsered by a local church, but I didn’t realize that we, the audience,  would be praying to both open and to close the show; as well as the fact that the majority of the acts were religion-themed.  As I said, for me, it was refreshing and relaxing, but I think they should properly advertise such a theme if they do this again next year.  Less open-minded people may have been displeased.  My dear friend and the entire reason I was a part of this concert experience in the first place, performed wonderfully and I was pleasantly surprised to be able to pick out her voice from the rest of the delightful group with whom she performed.  Despite my best efforts to vote for them, however, they didn’t win the competition, and the top prizes went to a drama group from the church who sponsered the event (!), a very talented violinist, and a well-known local talent who is only a Junior in high school but who has already been a vocalist with the Toledo Opera going on her 3rd year.  Besides seeing and hearing my friend perform, my favorite part of the evening was when a boy who was part of the drama group that won burst into tears.  Their skit was acted out to music, and it portrayed a young girl being bullyed by ‘temptations’ but ultimately triumphing over sins and choosing Jesus.  The group got a standing ovation after they performed and because they were from the church that sponsored the event, it was no surprise when they won first prize in the competition, but the kid asked the crowd, “I just want to know that everyone was moved – was everyone moved?”  There was applause and verbal affirmations, and the next thing I knew, the kid had burst into tears and it slightly reminded me of  the movie Leap of Faith…  But it was sweet and real, and I was glad to be a part of it.  Even though the talent show did a poor job of advertising the theme of the show; thereby the religion kind of snuck up on its patrons, it was a welcome and calming change of pace – at least for this member of the audience.  And even though I wasn’t aware that I needed it, the evening restored my faith while proving to me yet again what a great place it is in Northwest Ohio to raise kids – we have so much talent and so many opportunites here for our youth!