Post previously titled "puppies & prayer" has moved to my other blog.
Apartment Therapy posted a home tour of Evan B. Harris, and I became smitten with the kitchen and the attic. The bare surfaces, the pretty storage accessories.... quite beautiful to me.
The retreat I went on this weekend was amazing....a time to relax, slow down and actually think, read and pray. Listened to some great teaching and also participated in some discussions. I was in charge of the meals and they went well overall. Two people told me they'd expected retreat food to be peanut butter & jelly sandwiches but instead were treated to homemade chili, cornbread, fresh fruit and vegetables, juice, soda, bottled water, homemade desserts, breakfast casseroles, sloppy joes, and homemade soup. More than one person groaned over the pounds they were sure they gained this weekend.
Hope your weekend was a good one!
friends: Brenda is my mom's bestest of friends, and she was in town this weekend. It took my nephew Hudson hours and hours to warm up to Brenda, but just as he and his family were to leave, he ran up and hugged Brenda's legs and *poof* they are now buddies!
Bonus: Brenda is a nurse and she figured out from my symptoms what medicines I would need, and she was correct. I took her advice and have not had a coughing episode (for that is what they are) in 24 hours. Thanks, Brenda!
family: here's a photo series I'm calling "Tall Kids" as they each look extremely tall. Cute kids, wouldn't you say?! They are my nephews and niece: Caleb (age 12), Mimo (age 5) and Hudson (age 2 1/2). In May they'll be joined by a brother, Christian James (CJ for short).
mansion: Toured Milwaukee's Pabst Mansion with Brenda. Seven of us took the tour and included five of us who were vocal ["Ooohhh....ahhhh....look at that tapestry! the woodwork! the storage!!!"] and a couple who were silent [*crickets chirping*]. Beautiful home with two of the first three stories restored.
concert: Battle of the Bands took place at church this weekend, with one of my junior high small group girls, Alysia, performing her own songs. She did amazing and had such a strong stage presence! She even had fans who made signs!
That was the weekend + a little baking + a little cooking + a little cleaning. Just right.
photos by sunnygirlsf. click on photos for larger versions.
"How Not to Do Youth Ministry"
When volunteering with a youth group at church and leading a small group of eighth grade girls, do not assume a girl is going to ask an irrelevant question when she raises her hand - even if history tells you that the question could be about ice cream or a pet dog.
Your girls may surprise you. One of them may have a question for you and the proper response is not to say, "What is your question about? Is it about shoelaces???" Because you will then find out that her question is about the Bible verse you just mentioned and what the reference is because she wants to look it up later.
Oh. I'm so sorry! It's Romans 8:26. Glad you're looking it up later!
My co-leader Anna and I have a great group of eighth grade girls. They have a lot of energy, they care for each other, pray for each other, and are there on Wednesday nights to have deep discussions. And have fun as well. One of the girls has a mom recently diagnosed with cancer. Another girl has ongoing medical problems. More than one has a troubled family background yet each one shows up cheerful, energetic and willing to dive in to answer discussion questions and share prayer requests. They're such an encouragement to me each week. I've not been there 100% the past few weeks - being sick and then having a whirling mind due to too much cough medicine in my system.... and they welcomed me back with open arms last night!
This Saturday is a battle of the bands and A, in the lower right corner of the photo above, will be featured at the piano while singing songs she's written. I cannot wait to hear her sing!
So now you know how I spend my Wednesday nights! I work with a great team of junior high leaders. Our preparation meetings are filled with laughter and with planning. Then we pile out of the classroom and into the gym where we play basketball, mingle with those who hang out on the side of the gym, then play one big group game - which changes every week. Gotta say those nights are the highlight of my week!
My eyes are instantly drawn to simple lines and like items grouped together on a shelf. I love to see jars lined up on a kitchen counter or shelf. That makes my heart go pitter-patter. (i know, RIGHT? why would I like that?!). I need to find some pretty jar photos. Meanwhile, the photo of boots lined up on the shelf... fun!
Last night was quite fun at church with a fun game similar to rock/paper/scissors: ninja/gun/gorilla. Naturally ninja beats gun, gun beats gorilla BUT gorilla beats ninja. The kids had fun...and we soon had a winner in the 5-minute-long tournament. We then watched a video (a Rob Bell NOOMA video) on prayer. I love my junior high girls! Wouldn't trade them for anything! I'll have photos from last night to post soon.
Blonde Moment. First let me say my computer was broken all morning long! I was trying to print a stack of documents and just needed the final page of a letter to print before I could move on to the next document. Nothing worked. I adjusted the settings of the printer, turned the printer off and on again, and was about to uninstall and then install the printer driver when I thought about printing the whole document and see if there's something funky about printing Page 2.
Page 1 printed just fine and looked lovely. However, Page 2 refused to print. ???????? So I was checking the formatting of the document and scrolled down to Page 2 to discover...... a lack of a second page. That's right. I was trying to print the second page of a ONE PAGE DOCUMENT. Where my Nobel Prize at?
The Spams. Now I'll share photos from last night's Cell Group Kickoff for youth ministry (Matchbox Ministries). There was fun, music, then a contest where every small group had 30 minutes to create something out of two cans of Spam (an item not found in the Organic Foods section of your grocery store) - using only the spam, nine toothpicks and a container of white Tic Tacs. The photos speak for themselves.
The winning entry: from Sponge Bob Square Pants, it's Plankton on a Crabby Patty! (from a high school group).
My group of eighth grade girls and I came up with the idea of doing Bryan's face (he's the youth pastor) based on a drawing that came from a photo of a real person. (Bryan dressed up as Pure Awesomeness.) Our strategy involved mashing the two cans' worth of Spam together to make one moldable lump. Didn't work. It flaked everywhere. But the girls worked great as a team, had fun, and survived the smell and texture of Spam on their hands.
All photos by sunnygirlsf.
Aren't four-day weeks after a holiday weekend the longest weeks?! This one was made nicer for me by two things: my early-morning water class started up again at the gym and I was given a bike that I took out for a ride last night. (Hadn't ridden a bike in ten years!!!) Both activities are so much fun that I may now say "Treadmill? What treadmill???"
The weekend holds swimming, biking and the kick-off weekend for the youth service at church.
Oh yes...my weekend goals also include going through my kitchen and donating much of what I haven't used in the 3 years I've lived here...then neatening the remaining items. If I could bring the colors found below into my dining area, that would be lovely too!
Wow. So...my church is having church away from the church building this weekend so that we can all volunteer in the community. One project my church and employers are working on is Imagination Station, a universally accessible playground.
No photos of the discussion but plenty of pics of the fun and games! Last night was quite the night with the junior high (pardon me: "intermediate school") students.
Bryan updates us on his sermon from Sunday - which is the topic for the youth discussion tonight in our small groups. I was distracted by the pretty sunset visible from our meeting room.
Jennie created a custom crossword puzzle for our girls to complete. It was such a success that next week I'll introduce a word search puzzle based on next week's theme. (Thank you, Internet, for having tools to create these puzzles!)
What are they looking at?
oohh..THAT's what they were gazing at. LOOK! The ball is about to go into the basket!
Three of the girls I'll have in my group next year!
That's all for now. I'm happy the week is almost over but I like Thursday evenings: puttering around the kitchen while listening to Dean Martin + Friends, putting groceries away, creating something for dinner, feeling productive while the dishwasher and washing machine are running during The Office and CSI.
It's Wednesday, and in my world, it's called Youth Group Night! My girls are 7th grade girls - 9 of 'em, and last week was our third week meeting together and we hadn't talked about guidlines while we meet together. The group decided on the above guidelines...and it worked pretty smoothly.
Eighteen different times (or eighteen hundred times) various girls would start to tell a random story about: a butterfly, the Jonas Brothers, a classmate, a cousin's girlfriend's great grandmother, a shoelace or another "related" topic to our discussion, but to my surprise (each time!) they'd stop the story, remember the guideline about "don't speak randomly" and they'd say "never mind".
Which reminds me of the time my brother and I used to let caterpillars crawl on us because it was fun. Remember those days? The hot sun, bugs buzzing in the background, the shade of a tree, playing outside all day long....umm... why on earth is there a guideline about talking randomly???
This is the first group I've had in three years that has worked together as a group and supported each other. One week a girl, L., didn't want to sit at our table...even though we made room for her. I asked her to join us. Then the rest of the girls said things like "It's not the same without you!"...."Our circle isn't complete!" "Come sit with us!" And so...L. sat with us.
We were looking for a name for our group so it wasn't just someone saying in a flat voice, "Yeah - the seventh grade girls meet in that room"...now they can shout with enthusiasm, "You're in 7th grade? GREAT! THE SPECIALS MEET IN ROOM 104!!"
We need a name.
Every girl wants to make a sign to put on our door....but signs need names. Suggestions now being gladly accepted below.
matchbox ministries (the youth ministry at church) kicked off the new school year with the first youth service (a church service run by youth for youth ages 11 to 19 with Youth Guy (age 25) bringing the message) on Sunday. The fall series is called Rhythm, and rumors were flying about a big surprise and boy...was it ever a surprise. Chicago's Kaotic Drumline performed.... amazing. Jamie Poindexter, a high school dropout, started the drumline to keep kids off the streets of his south side Chicago neighborhood...and encouraged them to get better grades. The group has been together three years and Jamie has since completed his high school education. Kaotic performs at WNBA games and other events around the country. It was a privilege to have them in our church yesterday!
I posted a video of Kaotic Drumline this morning. Bear with it. It's dark with the group entering from the back and then the group is easier to see at the front.
More Ignition! photos:
Becca and Lorrie modeling the new tees and showing off the banner. Note how Lorrie's hair matches the banner perfectly...so it appears she's "just a face" (as Becca so kindly pointed out).
Krysta, Kayley and Jamie
Anne and me
the worship band's opening song
I liked how the camera captured the movement of the media team in the "sound booth".
More photos can be found here.
A friend, Erik, took some amazing photos at the concert at church Friday night. If I'd known he was going to be taking photos..I would have left my camera at home! His photos are brilliant!
Youth Guy Bryan Roe + his assistant for the evening, Joey.
Trademark of Family Force 5.
Youth Guy delivering some good news to the crowd!
People traveled from at least six states to see this show: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa and West Virginia!
The company that provides sound and lighting for the world's largest music festival, Summerfest, provided the sound and lighting.
You can view the entire slideshow here.
All photos by Erik Helgestad. Thank you, Erik!!
The youth ministry (matchbox ministries) is blessed to have a photographer who takes thousands of photos of the youth ministry and every church ministry - every week. He captures those still small moments and moments of celebration! I love this image of the band's instruments in sillouhette.
Friday night was the Office Party to introduce three sisters (their youngest sister couldn't make it) to others in the youth ministry. A dozen of us hung out eating sloppy joes, munching on chips, sipping Dr. Pepper, and watching episode after episode of The Office (Seasons Two and Three). We laughed so loud and so long, I about lost my voice by morning.
My mom wants to watch the Office to see what all the fuss is about. I mentioned that for girls, it's the interaction between Pam and Jim.... captured here (as you see one of the girls sitting as close as possible to the TV because most of us were talking through the show... Volume was at 100. and we still couldn't hear!)
Saturday was quality time with one of my junior high girls (Elena), time at the gym, then running the computer for the rehearsal and the evening service at church.
Sunday was a great youth service, more quality time with some of my girls, then a Girls Night with the four sisters (Carolyna, Erin, Elly and Jenny) where we watched Signs (I had never seen it) and giggled and talked. We left "mysterious" messages on a friend's facebook wall...which thoroughly confused him. We giggled some more. And talked. A lot.
I must confess that three of the girls and I are (heads hanging low).... (whispering) "addicted to Facebook". There. We've admitted it. We don't want to..but we have. Or rather, I have for us all. We love getting updates on friends, and getting messages from friends, and posting photos to share and also viewing other peoples photos. We get to join groups that reflect our quirkiness and send "flair" to each other that reminds us of inside jokes. We hear funny lines in a show or a movie and instantly confer with each other, "Yes...that WOULD be a good Facebook status line.... hmm."
Whew. Feels good to share that. Now I gotta go. Facebook is waiting for me to update my status with something witty and wonderful.
at youth group last night....
"I'm sorry..I didn't catch your name... it's.....Luke?"
now it's poetry time...
kids play games
kids like to hurt
kids like to throw
sand and dirt
that's why we medicate.
--an original poem by Rona Selby
The junior high girls and boys last night did an amazing job brainstorming projects to tackle areas of injustice. We have a three part plan to set in place by May 1 which involves helping the homeless, visiting a hospital, and completing a service project. Can I just tell you how focused, energetic and motivated those kids were last night? It will be a student-coordinated project - so it was all them (with a bit of coordination from the leaders). I'll report back with photos of the completed project!
It's monday! The weekend flew by. I attended HUSH - a youth ministry prayer/fasting mini-retreat. It was amazing and refreshing and thought provoking and life changing. Saturday was recovering from a youth overnight event. Sunday was a standout message from bryan roe, the youth pastor... and then a walk, chinese food takeout and introducing the film Amelie to a friend who loves all things French to end the weekend well.
Sunday afternoon, Kathryn (see the previous post!) and I were waiting for a friend at church to complete a project, so we had some time to kill. I wandered the church gym and found models willing to pose. Who knew I had so many photogenic friends?!
(above + below = four of the six kanter family kids)
(above) Jessy + Hannah
I love hanging out with grace + seth!
because it is spring break for area schools, there was no regularly scheduled youth group, but student volunteers showed up to put concert posters up in neighboring cities (you can see the "iron fist" poster to the left of the Youth Guy). We fed them pizza, they goofed around, and then the band rehearsed. As I was talking to a friend about Idol, someone overheard me and shouted out the name of the person who left. (I won't tell you because maybe you haven't heard yet!)
Youth Guy "helping" Chris with his pizza.
anne - the amazing event coordinator!!
The drummer for the youth band is AMAZING and the whole group sounded great. I cannot wait until Sunday to hear them!
We're in the middle of a huge youth group last minute trip to an ice cream shoppe when Robotics Guy (RG) and I began a discussion about robotics and the robot his group worked on for months. It's now in a storage facility waiting to be brought out at a regional competition in March. RG's talking about an actual engineer who visited their class and mentioned using "connects" and I have no clue what those are. I even RAISE MY HAND to get his attention to ask what "connects" are. I try to relate and reveal that when I was younger, we had "those wooden sticks with wagon wheels at the end".
I get a very professor-ly nod in my direction, "Why yes, K-nex ARE quite similar to TINKER TOYS.....Sunny"
I sink low into my seat and attempt to act as if I were older than three years old. Perhaps it was my sippy cup that gave me away. darn.
UPDATE: I knew someone would have the correct spelling of the object. It's "K-nex" as Anne reminded me. thanks-a-bunch, anne!!
Spent this weekend at a retreat for the youth and adult leadership of matchbox ministries - a youth ministry. I'll let the photos tell the story....
But imagine with me for a moment... you are sitting in the beautiful dining room of a conference center/campground, gazing out at the snow covered ice on the lake. You're munching on a salad or enjoying a bit of ice cream in the cutest little dessert bowls, when you notice something strange. A parking lot below the dining room is suddenly a flurry of activity. You peer closer to get a better glimpse...being careful not to let your pretty blue jello cubes slide off the table in your earnestness to see what's happening outside.
What? A blonde in a blue car has been quickly surrounded on all sides by an official looking SUV with tinted windows and three other vehicles...blocking her car in. WHAT IS THIS? A bust? is it the SWAT Team on a covert operation? You crane your neck, trying to figure out what this excitement is before you reluctantly finish dinner and leave for the evening session of the conference you drove four hours to attend. You gather your things, wondering what happened.... and miss the cheer that goes up when a group of 8 guys has successfully gotten the hood of the blonde's car open so that the battery can be charged. (the doohickey that one would pull to pop the hood open broke completely off.....so getting the hood of the car open was quite the challenge.) And you certainly can't see the two vans that slid into ditches 20 minutes into their return drive home. Or the big tractor that a farmer used to pull the 15-passenger van out of the ditch.
Now here's a glimpse into the weekend's retreat where we all bonded, prayed for each other, spoke words of encouragement to each other, had a ton of fun, heard some teaching from Bryan and sang together. I can't wait for next year's retreat!
awww....courtney + krysta!
(krysta + megan + lorrie + courtney + sam + monica + hannah)
this must have been around 1 AM.
Annie + Robert who is pretty in pink. AND holding my lovely orange purse.
Annie + Monica
(I took this photo of the two good friends Joe and Joey + I wanted to get the little guy on Joey's tshirt - it's a member of the Jack Black band Tenacious D. The little guy looking out cracks me up.)
Youth Guy - Bryan
chris + friends
alex + bobby
And a great time was had by all!! G'night.