Thursday, July 23, 2009

Map quest

I had run out of words to say. I had run out of methods to try. She simply was lost within herself. She stopped talking, stopped hoping, stopped praying. Really she stopped living. After all her life was simply to painful to acknowledge so she just avoided the whole topic. I asked if she had tried journaling but she shook her head and told me the words never come. I was unsure what to do.

I felt a need to look in my bag. I sort of felt stupid for doing so i didn't know what I'd find in their that could be of any help. I reached around looking for anything of use. Some books, a crossword puzzle, my bible, my journal and a folded up piece of paper. I took it out and as I opened it I realized it was a map of Edmonton. I had been there a few weeks prior and stuffed it in there. Could this be of use? I laid the map out in front of her and said a silent prayer. I had no clue what was about to happen but i hoped God had a plan here. I started talking about the emotions that she was feeling. I told her to write them out. She said she wouldn't know where to start. I showed her the map and said consider this map your life: pick a spot.

She wrote one word and said she was finished. I didn't say anything. She wrote another then threw the pen down. A few minutes went by in silence. Then she grabbed the pen and wrote almost uncontrollably. All over the map. Names, emotions, thoughts, memories, questions, and more scribbled all over edmonton now showered in her tears.

Now she has it all mapped out, i thought, maybe she could use some directions. We talked about God and who he is. Or at least the things were suppose to think he is: big, good, just, everlasting, caring to name a few. She admitted she had trouble believing any of that right now. Then i said knowing in her head who God is and seeing her heart laid out on the map what God would say to her. I gave her a blank sheet of paper and wrote her name at the top of the page as if it was a letter addressed to her. I told her God had been here before us at starbucks and had left this note for her. She just had to write out what he had already written for her. She did not like the idea, but i left the page in front of her and did some writing of my own. I think God left a note for me as well. She was looking off into nothing or at least anywhere but the paper. A long time later in the silence she wrote something down on the page. I wondered what Got said, i wondered how he could make sense of the **** she was young through, I wondered if he would answer her questions or present a challenge to her; a step faith. When i looked up and saw what it said i was moved to tears at the profoundly simplistic statement her note from God read.

It was just three words,

I love you.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shut up and listen

A teen with many troubles contacted me wanting to meet. So we went for a coffee. I asked questions about family, relationships, God, cell phones, but i kept getting the same response, "I don't want to talk about it".

I could see the hurt in their eyes and wanted them to know it was safe place to let it out. I wanted to give advice. I wanted to share the hope offered by Jesus. Instead i felt like I was hitting a brick wall. In our past conversations it had never gone to this extreme.

Finally i said, "you are the one that wanted to meet, what do you want me to say?"

The response blew me away, "i think I just wanted to know you were still here.". I knew God was cluing me into something. He calls me to love others and many times that means teaching or sharing or challenging someone but i had forgotten sometimes the best way to love someone is to shut up.
Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who is to blame?

When life is falling apart who is to blame? When your parents are getting divorced and you are stuck in the middle where do you point the finger? When you see pictures of them on their wedding day looking so happy and in love, but you see them now, who do you find at fault?

When life has been unfair who is to blame? When you have been abused emotionally, physically, or spiritually you ask yourself why. What could you have done that's wrong? When you think back over tose circumstances and wonder what you could have done right to have made it stop?

When life has been disappointing? You have tried to turn the corner; to do the right thing, yet the thing have only gotten worse then why try?

When you cant fix what is wrong who else can you blame... You blame yourself.

Someone comes along and says... It's not your fault...but you don't believe them.
Someone comes along and says...God loves you...but you say yeah right
Someone comes along and says...Don't give up...but you feel like you've already lost.

Then you blame God.

I saw this happen today...and its not the first sucks to see. I wish I could make it all right. I wish I could show them that God is a different kind of parent. I wish I could help them realize the truth in the statement that "it's not their fault." I believe that truth could set them free.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I had a phone call today from someone dealing with a death of a friend. It was good to sit down at starbucks and just talk about the dark reality of life and death. The talk expanded on many things and I was encouraged yet sad.

I had a phone call today from someone who is facing a change in life circumstances. Its a good change, but yet it is filled with uncertainty. I am walking with her in the joyous time of preparing for her wedding, which I will be officiating in August.

These were not youth, but they my partners in this crazy work God has called me to. They are my friends who help me keep balance in the world of youth drama. They are my financiers that keep me available to youth in this community. They are very much a part of my ministry and I am thankful to have them. It would be a lonely world and a lonely work without them. Fundraising is hard, but it forces me to spread the trials along with the terrific stories of what God is doing. I couldn't do it without them,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Its a blurrrr

I'm having trouble putting this past week into words. Unlike previous years there has been no slow down in the work. Goals I had for my week were simply not achieved. Oh well I never road about Jesus writing a fundraising manual or constructing bible college syllabi. What I read about him seems he was often moved with compassion which often threw off his schedule. That's what happened here.

Rather than share the details of my week let me share the emotions.

9am - anticipation (meeting with staff)
11am - apprehensive (headed to meeting with youth with train wrecks for lives right now)
1pm - defeat
4pm - amazement mixed with heaviness (meeting with friend/volunteer)
11pm - shocked and blessed (unexpected success in fundraising)

9am - rested
10am - camaraderie (good meeting with a friend/financial partner)
12pm - weighty (arriving to a meeting with a youth who had some rough travels the past few weeks in the friendship around her)
1pm - purposeful (same meeting)
2pm - encouraged to tears (same meeting)
3pm - hopeful
4pm - busy and hungry (no time to eat today - headed into another hang out time with youth)
6pm - spent

8am - responsible for others (meeting with past interns)
9am - shocked (at some light hearted yet deep spiritual maturity coming from some normally dark and depressed youth
10am - uncertainty (as to what to expect in a meeting with sometimes volatile person)
12pm - victory (I saw God move in this meeting)
1pm - thankful (meeting with my friend and fellow staff member Derian
2pm - shocked, overwhelmed, concerned, delighted, (meeting with a group of youth)
9pm - unprepared

8am - exhausted but disciplined (meeting with volunteer/friend)
10am - apologetic (disappointed a youth I wanted to see but couldn't fit into my day)
12pm - perplexed excited and unsure (meeting with youth)
6pm - uncertain (arriving at our first ever scheduled prayer meeting with a bunch of youth very uncertain about God at the moment.
9pm - encouraged, amazed, perplexed, forgiven, angry, hopeful, weary yet strong
2am - overworked (completing a few necessary admin tasks)

10am - drained (arriving at our team meeting)
11am - blessed
2pm - excited (interviewed and hired a new staff member)
4pm - annoyed (my days schedule was not working out as planed)
5pm - delighted (observing a youth bible study and seeing some amazing work of God in a young man)
7pm - encouraged and perplexed (discussing need for fundraising with a donor)
12am - incomplete (i didn't even accomplish a single thing on my urgent to do list for the week)

Make sense? No worries it doesn't to me either.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reality Check

This ad caught my eye today. Probably because I've had a lot of conversations with kids lately who really have had enough of reality. I've heard enough stories from youth over the years to not be surprised by what I'm told but my heart still breaks and so do my answers. So tonight my team and I scheduled a prayer night with the youth. Not something we've ever done before with these kids. You probably wouldn't have recognized it as such. It was mostly silent and we invited them to place in the middle that which they were offering up to God what they couldn't handle in their lives this summer. Here is a list if the things thrown in the grass in the muddle of our circle tonight:

Hair tie - represents me trying to hold my life together but I can't

Sunglasses - dealing with others issues but hiding my own

Old shoes - putting off the old ways and ready to set down a new path

3 leaf clover - My bad luck

Heart ear ring - all the heartache at home

Ipod - songs that represent all the emotions I'm going through right now

Cell phone - distraction from the things I really want to focus on in my life

Ripped paper - all the uncertainty in my life right now

Sunglasses - all the stuff I am hiding in my life

Water bottle - getting rid of the garbage so hopefully I can be happy fir once

page of notebook paper - this paper separated from its binding represents all the separation in my life right now

Wallet - empty, nothing left

Some one else's shades - being selfish and only looking at things through my own eyes.

My Cell phone - the bearer of bad news in the lives if my friends. I wish all the problems could just go away. They have had too much of reality. God accept these offerings. Bring your peace into their lives.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry


Reason #1
"ok you win. I need someone to talk to."

All along she's been very vocal about not trusting us as youth workers. Especially because of our emphasis on God. She's been burned by Christians before. Its legit. She even told me once that every time I talk about God a little piece inside her dies. So when I got this text message I about fell off my chair. Today I got the opportunity to share God with her in some real ways.

Reason #2

Youth: "guess what man god loves you"
Me: Are you feeling alright?
Youth: ya man why do you ask?
Me: just not used to you telling me God loves me
Youth: But its true man he loves me and your in my life as a friend and mentor so he also loves you cause god can be funny :)
Me: that's true.

This surprised me because at one points the conversation has gone more like this:

Me: hey want to go to church tomorrow
Youth: f*** no

God is moving. I'm convinced. And surprised.

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Monday, July 13, 2009

Today in Starbucks

In Moses' day God met him in the wilderness through a burning bush. In my day he seems to show up at Starbucks.

Today while sitting in starbucks I met with God and got to home him a little better. He has been showing me some stuff that he wants to work on in my life. It is a good reminder that while I push youth to look how God is active in their lives to see how he is active in mine as well.

Today while sitting in starbucks I met with a young man who told me that he never has had a chance to be a kid. That the complex issues he has dealt with have forced him to leave his childhood prematurely.

Today while sitting in starbucks a young lady shared her tears over the fact that families dont work. And that God doesn't seem to fit into life any more.

Today while sitting in starbucks I had a chance just to have some fun with some youth who just needed a few moments of fresh air in the midst of trials. We passed around a notebook and wrote a jibberish story together.

Today while in starbucks I bought 3 coffees, a jones soda, a breakfast sandwich, a fruit cup, a yougurt and granola, a muffin, and a cookie for youth that needed some nurishment.

Today while sitting in starbucks I got to see my team as we shared battle stories from the past few weeks. The crisis that our youth friends have been facing has been intense.

Today while at starbucks I listen to how God has caught a young man's heart to be used by God when only a few months ago he questioned if was any use to God at all.

Today while sitting in starbucks my phone kept chiming away at the text message from youth that wanted to share a coffee. I wonder what will happen tomorrow

Friday, July 3, 2009

Trust Issues

Of all the phrases and fancy terminology the sociologists and youth culture "experts" use in defining this generation. I would say out of hands on experience working if they could come up with words to define their own generation they would be "trust issues".

Last night I sat with a group of teens at a park. It was a bright and warm sunny day but you wouldn't have known it from looking at them. Oh they were laughing and talking like normal kids. If you walked by you wouldn't have noticed it. I barely did and it was really after the fact that I did. They are so desperately alone and don't let anyone close enough to really help because they are so afraid of being hurt by those who come to help. They say it themselves in the all to familiar phrase: "I have trust issues."

And no wonder. I'd say 90% of them come from broken families. I would assert more than broken they are failed attempts at family. The ones in their lives who should be the closest hurt them the most.

Some there at the park have endured beatings.

Some are trapped in between their parents drowning marriage.

Some just switched living between parents houses due to some atrocity.

Some went home to a parent passed out from drinking.

Some are so sick of it they didn't go home at all last night.

Families can't be trusted.

The issues they have with their families is all they know. Any inconsistency in their friends and they project it all on their friends. It's all they know.

I could go on but the fact of the matter is trust is being sure of something. Reliability. Trust is build on the feeling that you can be sure of something. Can they be sure they wont get hurt? Can they the be sure they wont be betrayed? Can they be sure they wont be lied to and manipulated? Do you have the answers? I don't.

I want to point them to a source of true trust: Jesus. He is the one who is capable of always being there. Who will love them and never reject them. When I met Jesus it was the same deal. He said, "Ill never leave you, never forsake you" and he never has. However when you have trouble trusting the people you can see you definitely project that onto the one you can't see. God bears a lot of blame he doesn't deserve. They can't be taught of God's faithfulness they have to see it in action. They need a mission. Something to drive them forward and together at the same time. That and they need a hug. Don't we all?

Sent on the TELUS Mobility network with BlackBerry

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I love getting the opportunity to get the youth perspective on things. Yesterday I was included in a random facebook quiz and I got to read some interesting stuff that made me reflect about myself as a youth worker. I thought I'd share. With my comments:

Person # 2 is the last person to write on your wall: Danny
(I try to take time to look through what is happening on facebook as it gives me a glimpse into the lives of the youth that I work with. You can see mood changes, events, happenings in their lives. It is a good place to start with many youth. I'm active on facebook primarily to connect with youth. If I was the last one to write on his wall it would have been pretty current)

1) How did you meet this person? I don't really know it just kinda happen
(This cracks me up...It speaks to the way we just start to intersect into the lives of youth. At first they may not even realize were there, but all of a sudden we are a part of their life. Awesome)

2) What was your first impression of this person? whats with the old guy who acts like a kid, neerd
(Kids sniff out for authenticity and we youth workers are looked at as adults at first and are shoved into the adult box, but we are trying to intercede between the world of adults and youth and quite frankly are really bad actors - we actually are as immature as we behave ;))

3) What is the relationship between you and this person currently? long lost brother
(It's true - some kids we bond with and perhaps it is because we see so much of ourselves in them, sometimes the good side of us, sometimes our weakness'. It takes a lot of time to invest in kids at this level. this one really encourages me.)

4) Have you ever cooked for this person? no funny story though, he made me bacon one time
(shared expereinces are the best memories makers. Having fun together is one of the ways we build relationships.)

5) What do you dislike about this person? we don't chill enough
(I wish I had more time to hang out with the youth and I already do so for 40 hours a week. Thanks to all my finacial partners who help me get my hands in there.)