Friday, August 28, 2009

Incompletely Satisfied

I found the largest crossword puzzle I had ever seen in my life back in june. It covered a whole newspaper page. The hints cover another. The whole thing is a mastercard ad because it says,"more time to relax with the paper this weekend: priceless". I've carried it around in my work bag ever since. One day n the lull in a conversation with some youth I pulled it out and worked ob this big puzzle together. Over an hour later we had answered a lot of questions but the puzzle still looked blank. I put it back in my bag when i had to leave. A few days ago I got a message from one of the youth that had helped me with it, wanting a chance to work on it again.

Today we sat in a coffee shop and worked on the crossword. But this young person also started to fill in some of the blanks in their life story as well, opening the door of trust with me a few degrees more. Neither puzzle was "solved" today but progress was made, even if you can't tell from a cursory glance. Who knew my geeky fascination with crossword puzzles would turn into a youth work tool.

Danny Ferguson
Langley Area Director
Greater Vancouver YFC / Youth Unlimited

I love being married to April

We Are Not Alone

I had an opportunity to share the journey I've come on to be in this work, the passion that fuels it and the thinking behind it. It had been quite some time since I had an intentional conversation like that and it felt really life giving to do so. By the end of the conversation it wouldn't of felt right if I hadn't invited them to join me in achieving my dreams for youth. I do not do this job alone.

I need people to push me when I feel discouraged
I need others to support me when I feel down
I need people to cheer with when young lives change
I need people to finance me to be among youth
I need partner to empower me
I need to share what God is doing
I need people to listen

So while I'm jazzed about this. Know anyone that would like to hear about they can help me impact a generation from the inside out?

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Helpless Feeling

"'s killing me over and over."

"...I'm hurting myself and I haven't seen a lot of reasons to stop it."

"Grandpa? I miss you."

"waiting on a cure for this life"

"I hate living with these people. **** this I want my own house."

These were some of the statements I read tonight as I perused the world of facebook. These were the things on the mind of some of the youth. I don't know about you but my heart breaks with compassion but I feel so helpless to make a difference. I know I can't be there for all of them every waking moment, but I wish I could be. Of course God can be, but some don't allow him, others ignore him, some curse him, and some blame him. He could heal them and help them, hold them and hold them more. It's hard to trust him to do it. I just wish i could fix them. Luckily he doesn't want to fix them as much as just know them.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Commitment and Respect

I had a chance to see some very close friends of mine tonight that i met in elementary school. It was good to chat over life. It was good to be with people who know me so well. Even though we hardly see one another these days. It doesn't take much to connect in deep. I love those guys. We have had our troubles but we are all committed to each other.

That's missing in so many young people. They have friends but it seems such an on again off again type of relationship. It isn't safe. It isn't commitment.

My friends love me by respecting me. By cutting through my crap and reminding me of who I really am, then walk with me through re-assembling my life.

Many youth today are never shown respect. At home. At work. In the community. With friends. Respect is something that I can give them as my friends have done for me.

Danny Ferguson
Langley Area Director
Greater Vancouver YFC / Youth Unlimited

I love being married to April

"You found me..." but it may be to late

A young lady I know pointed out this song to me as being significant in putting her life into lyrics. Ther are so many youth that I meet that feel as though God has never been there for them in the hard times. So many that feel abondoned by their parents. So many that are stabbed in the back by their friends. So many that have lost so many loved ones to suicide. So many that have trouble tusting anyone - let alone God whom they feel has never answered their calls.

This song indcates that God found this person, but he doesn't undersatnd why it had to take so long. God wasn't there when he needed him most.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A "Normal" Day

The past year has been a crazy period of life. Every day seems to bring a whole new set of challenges, crisis', and craziness. I never quite know if I will be able to be up to the challenge or not. Today was not one of those days. Today was a day where i was able to hang out with several of my youth friends and just have fun. No strings attached. No deep conversations. No crises' to get through. No opportunities to challenge people on their thoughts or actions.

Today was just a "normal" day. This is not a discouragement - it is a sign of health in these kids. For them to have a normal day is a miracle. I honestly believe that. It is a sign that God is at work just as much as the days when everything is falling apart. i better log off before reality returns. Thank God for the breather.

balancing act

This week has me focused more on my youth work team than on youth themselves. As we have been going through the process of yearly evaluations i have heard myself say the same thing multiple times. Balance.

We have a difficult job to turn off. We can't regulate when youth need help after all. We have a difficult not getting absorbed by our jobs. We have blurred the lines between what is life and what is work. There are many blessings with that and many difficulties as well.

For my team and for myself, as well as any other professional youth worker out there we need to learn balance. Lack of balance leads good people with good intentions so deep in the flames of youth work that the burnout and melt away. I've seen it happen all to often. Lack of balance makes us ill equipped to actually be of much help to these youth. Lack of balance makes us place our families on the alters of self-righteous justifications.

We need three things
Balance with God
Balance with family
Balance with self

Without proper balance we run the risk of everything crashing down. Everything else falls into place with these as priorities. So ill say it again: balance.
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Friday, August 14, 2009

Cast into the cup

Many times our team finds ourselves wanting to pray but feeling severely lacking in words to say. Today we started to pray but quickly we were hit with the heaviness of what we find the youth were working with going through. Then we had silence. That ia not necessarily a bad thing but this didn't feel like a reverent silence more like a silence of being stuck.

That's when Derian pulled out his notebook and started tearing off little pieces of paper. On each paper he wrote a name, a community, or a concern. He then grabbed an empty starbucks cup and said "here is the alter".

We would take turns picking up these papers and throwing them in the cup as our means of laying rhe people and petitions before God. Sometimes we would say a few words, sometimes not, but we knew God could hear our hearts.

I kept thinking of the bowl of incense that is talked about in revelation being the prayers of Gods people. A pleasing aroma to God. Smell of course is so linked with memory. Its a picture of how God remembers our prayer. Its beautiful. Today we put these prayers in a coffee cup and I ask you when you smell coffee remember us and these youth..

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Continual Drowning

I normally write "work" related things on this blog, which is funny because my life is so integrate that I'm not always sure what is work and what is personal.

I have found this blog to be a very good way for me to process the things that are happening around me with youth work and with God. I don't actually know if anyone actually reads this stuff or not, and to me that doesn't even matter. At least there is a place where I can record what is happening with "work". There are some amazing things that God does in our midst that I have a hard time believing and I am right smack dab in the middle of it. Let alone for anyone reading this. I also keep a personal journal that I am working out things in my own life with God about - apart from being a youth worker. Today as I was writing in my own "personal" journal I was hit with something that made sense in the "work" category and so my worlds came crashing together. From my journal:

"Am I drowning? I don't think I am. But in most situations where someone is in real trouble out in the water they dont usually think so either. Lifegaurds cant save these people until they have lost their will to fight and are simply content to be rescued. If the person is still trashing around they will only become a danger to those trying to rescue them. In the process of drowning things quickly go from being controlled and fun to out of control and dangerous. Then if I think about my life I realize that really nothing is in my control at all. Things may be calm and orderly but still out of control. In that case I really must be drowning. nothing in my life is really within my ability to control - not really. The waves can quickly sweep in and toss me around and drag me under. Although sometimes even in the peaceful waters I can still be in grave danger. If someone came up to me now and said I needed to be saved, i wouldn't believe them. I would probably thrash around and try to get away for the weirdo. But Lifegaurds know the water better than ourselves and they can spot danger far sooner than the average Joe. I'm in constant need of being saved. I am not saved - I am being saved. I also cannot save others, but I can try and tell others there need to be saved as I am being dragger to shore. Maybe I can even work with the lifeguard to help others make it back to the beach. Though I'm not a life guard myself. I can't swim away from the lifeguard unless I want to face drowning all over again. It's no wonder I cant fix anything - I'm in a heap of trouble myself. From one drowning soul to another accept the truth. The ocean of this life is crazy and out of control and will continue to be - that will not stop - but ther is one that is trying to resuce us. Lets let him do so. When we finally make it to the beach we can actually enjoy our saved life. Until then it will be a constant battle. We have no rights on how we will be treated along the way, but we must assume that the one that came to resuce us will not let us go. If we feel that way, we must have kicked and trashed enough that he has to let us wear ourselves out some more before we can continue. We are all idiots. Why do we fight being saved."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Get to work.

I've been hearing a lot of complaints about God lately from my young friends. Either about ways God had done something or NOT done something else. They are not alone in such thinking of course these are the questions of the world, all the way from the ones sitting in the gutters to those who breath in the dust of theological libraries.

Today I heard some words that suddenly made all those things seem well um...unnecessary. We are all looking to God to swoop down and complete a task for us or stand in the way of something but he rarely does. There is a bible verse that says unless the lord builds the house the workers build in vain, but whom of us has ever seen God swinging a hammer. It is a metaphor. A way of understanding how God intersects in our lives. God loves us so much that he sent his son to die in our place. That's the foundation. In this he shows his love. He has already done more than we deserve of him. Now for the rest he puts the hammer in our hands and we have to work for it. If he loves us so much we should realize that we should love ourselves and get to work on building ourselves instead of letting ourselves fall apart. We shouldn't expect him to intervene into the circumstances of our lives but we should expect that he wants to change how we react to these situations.

It was good to hear such words especially as they were directed at one of my young friends. You have to want to build, want to change. In my view let's get to work. Fits with the sign God gave me today in my mind. It said, construction ahead.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Movie Title

We walked through blockbuster and I asked her to find movie titles that described her life right now. She chose "Max Pain", "Fractured", and "Girl Interrupted".

Life has done just that to her interrupted youth and forced her into one terrible situation after another. She is maxed out on her resources on how to deal with the pain it has caused her. In these fragile time she has tried to be strong but found only weakness, she has tried to look for hope and keeps getting blame. If it isn't some one else pointing the finger it is the reflection in the mirror. What little she had is fractured. Its not fair. I only hope and pray at some point she will find titles such as, "home improvement" "it's a wonderful life" or even "amazing grace"

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

An Ode

If you could describe what I saw in that girl
In terms of the forecast of weather
You would have seen a dark blackened swirl
indicating things were not better

If could could have seen in her eyes
the rain that had fallen that day
You would have seen there was no disguise
have could hold her emotions at bay

If you could have seen her walk on the street
As my wife April and I did
You would have seen tired feet
she truly was one sad kid

If you could have invited her in as we did
In hopes that she would eat
You would have wanted the frown rid
as she took her seat

There really are no words to really describe what we saw.
But as she sat there with our Avery in her arms a glimmer of life returned to her eye. She didn't eat and soon went on her way. Tired, confused and lost. I just hope that for the few moments she came in with April and I it was enough for her to know she is worth a lot in God's eyes.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Silent Assistance

The only thing she said was "This is suppose to be the time of my life, but it is turning out to be a S*** hole." Then silence.

I grabbed some paper and wrote at the top, "My thoughts..." and handed the paper over to her. She began to write out the things occupying her mind. In the end there was a formative list of people and things that are happening in her life at the moment. She said she didn't realize there was so much.

I took the paper and wrote out "I wish..." Watching her pen flow over the paper and constructing sentence fragments stirred up emotion of the injustice of everything that is happening to her right now.

Sensing her pain I grabbed the paper and wrote the beginning of the questions I knew she needed to release, "Why..." Without hesitation she began spill herself onto the page. These words were more than a list, more than thoughts. These were prayers, confessions, hopes, fears, and screams.

Taking another page I wrote one last thing, "Dear Mom and Dad,". She looked up at me with eyes that said "I can't". I tapped the page in a attempt to say, "It may feel like you can't but you must." She took the pen and began to write, holding back tears. conveying her hurts, her anger, her questions, her opinion, her attitude, and her desperate attempts at hope. She signed it and said:

"Thanks Danny - you really helped me." but really I just gave her a chance to hear her own voice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It`s all linked

"Ok so what you need to do first is position the club then arrange your body around it. Knees bent, head down and as you swing transfer your body weight from your back foot to your front. Now try it."

He swung. And smiled. The golf ball sailed through the sky and landed about 150 yards down the driving range. He had never been able to hit the ball like that before.

"i always thought golf was so stupid," he said, "but when someone teaches you how to do it, it is actually a lot of fun."

He is one that needs to have more fun. That's for sure. I see to much pain, suffering, anger, heart ache, doubt, rage, hatred, emptiness and loss in his eyes. Today I saw life. He swung again and missed the ball. "Keep your head down and knees bent" i repeated. He smashed the ball again. He laughed. I explained to him that I am by no means a good golfer. I am too pressed for time and money to go often. Golf is weird. Everything is so interconnected. Grip the club wrong the ball flies right. Stand wrong the ball sails left. Etc etc etc.

Then again so is life. For this young man, having me teach him how to swing a golf club well enough so it doesn't dribble ten feet in front of him made him feel value in himself. We as people are a combination of physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual beings all rolled into one package. If you grip your emotions wrong you fly right, if you a wrong stance intellectually you curve left. It is so hard to hit that straight and narrow fairway of life.

Believe me its all connected. On the way home in the car he says: "i think its time I got baptized." crazy.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Scared to ride

I remember the day she called to tell me she had fallen from her horse. Short of breath, scared and in pain from broken ribs. That was months ago and the broken bones have healed, but little did I know her confidence to ride has not. That came as a surprise as her riding time was almost a sacred time. A way to experience some healing in her life of stress. When she rides now and she feels any unexpected bump or movement she jumps and rolls before the horse can buck her. She said its a problem that she will need special lessons for to intervene.

I thought about that some and i realized that her story fits so well with our relationship with God. When something catches us off guard and were thrown off and hurt its hard to trust him to carry us any longer. Every time we feel a slight change in course we jump away before we get hurt but of course in that we are never able to enjoy the ride and experience the speed and power of running faster than we are able to on our own strength. We are not able to truly trust him and not because of anything he has done but because we are scared of how we might fail. It seems easier not to even try.

My hope is she will ride and jump and live again.
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Monday, August 3, 2009

What is hope?

One of my youth, when asked about what they thought about the concept of hope replied by saying that, "hope is the first step toward disappointment." I really appreciated his honesty and his ability to articulate his point. If you find yourself wanting to debate his statement then ask yourself what is hope...when:

Your six year old cousin dies
You're facing the divorce of your parents
You have been raped
Your most insecure place is at home
Your friends all turn on you because of a rumor
Your mom tells you that you ruined her life
You feel the only way toward peace is death
You watch your child throwing their life away

Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic once wrote these words from prison:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well. But certainty that something makes sense. Regardless of how it turns out.

I agree. For me hope is not about what will happen, but about who will be with me when I get there. Hope seems simple but it can be so hard to see where Jesus is when the brown smelly stuff hits the fan. Especially when these youth haven't known him for very long. How do they know he won't reject and abandon them? After all everyone else has. How can they hope?
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