Sunday, December 03, 2006

Snowboarding, Thanksgiving, Bunnies, and the Stokes


Mark and I decided last minute to head out to Colorado for the week of Thanksgiving. We got to stay with Emily and Josh Stokes in Denver, while taking a few days to head into the mountains to snowboard. While we were there, we also got to hang out with Rudy, Paul Kind, Brook Smith, and a whole crew of people from the Quad Cities, including Jamie Walden, and the whole DeCoster crew [that so graciously included us in their fabulous Thanksgiving meal]. It was a blast, even though there was very little snow on the mountains yet. We were so thankful [no pun intended] for the good friends and the fun, refreshing times we had with each of them! I was really bad at taking pictures, so we don't have many. Mark says next time he gets to be in charge of the pictures so we actually come back with some :). Here are a few that we did take:

Here we are at lunch...taking a break from the slopes at Steamboat Springs, CO.

Em got to come and ski with us for a day. It was SO MUCH FUN, and I'm so glad she sacrificially made the 3 hours drive by herself up to Steamboat to do it.

Okay, so I stole this pic off of Paul's blog, but it was a really good one. This is the four of us jammed together in a gondola at Steamboat. We just saw them in South Dakota a few weeks ago, and even though they live 12 hours away, we got to see them again so soon! I love it when life work out like that!


Yep...not much snow on the mountain. I kept making jokes about having to hike down. You sat in a gondola and looked out over a vast brown, grassy mountain. Luckily there was SOME snow on a FEW runs, and they continued to open up as days passed. It was still a mountain, so I can't complain.

Another view of the grassy runs from the gondola.



Em and Josh had baby bunnies at their house. They were SO CUTE and fuzzy, and would just fall asleep in your hands if you cuddled them right. This pic kind of looks like Mark is squeezing the bunny, but he's not :).
Thanks Em and Josh again for having us!





Saturday, November 04, 2006

Rapid City, South Dakota

Mark and I had the great privilege of spending the last week in SD with Paul Kind and his girlfriend, Brooke Smith. I couldn't get the pic of all of us to load, so sorry Brooke! We had a blast...it was such a relaxing vacation. We got to hang out and see some sites and we came home refreshed with some great memories and shared experiences. Check out some pics below!
Mark, Paul and I on top of Harney Peak...the high point of South Dakota.

Mark and I at Harney Peak. It's a quick walk up that you can do in about a couple hours.


Yep...Rapid City is just minutes away from Mt. Rushmore. It looks a lot like it does in every picture, but it was really cool to see the little video on how it was made. Can you imagine trying to scuplt a mountain?!

Another mountain sculpture called "Crazy Horse." It's named after a Lakota Indian and will eventually look like the white sculpture. It probably won't be done for like another 300 years because it's all privately funded. If you look closely you can see that the face is done. Another fact to note is that it's the largest sculpture in the world. Mt. Rushmore would fit inside Crazy Horse's face.

We found these in Mark's old bedroom before we left. We thought they'd make a great addition to our trip. He looks good, eh?

Our little camp site...we walked from 8pm-midnight before we gave up making it to Mistymoon Lake. There was just too much snow to go as fast as we wanted! If you can't tell, we dug out about 6-8 inches of snow in order to camp here.

Lots of snow!


Here we are...still on our way to Mistymoon!


We had to bundle up at our breaks so we didn't cool off too much. Luckily this rock gave us some shelter from the wind. PS: check out my gators [the things around my ankles that kept snow out of my boots]. I didn't have them when we climbed Mt. Hood, and my feet were soaked! I LOVED them. My feet stayed dry and warm the whole way!

Hiking back out. Doesn't look like much snow, but it's deceptive. There were many places it was up to our knees!

Beautiful sunset.

Ever seen those bumper stickers that say, "Where the heck is Wall Drug?" There are about 150 or more billboards that mention it on the way toward Wall, SD...so we took a 5 block detour to see what it is...not much. It's a touristy drug store that this little tiny town uses to draw people in. We just drove by, but I did get coffee for 15 cents at a gas station down the road. Bonus!

We took a little detour on this road that parallels the interstate to drive through the Badlands on the way home. It was really cool! They are these really sweet rock formations that sometimes have reds and yellows in them too.

More of the Badlands. The little museum says that there used to be an ocean through here millions of years ago and that's how these were all formed.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What I like about Young Adult Ministry

Awhile back, I posted on why young adult ministry was hard. Since that post can maybe make it feel like I’m just surviving in my ministry, I wanted to balance that out with what I like about young adult ministry.

They long for Connection: young adults are a communal people…they want to be connected to other people like themselves. Even though they may be looking for a mate, they still want friends as well, and they want those friends to be fellow believers. They need opportunities to connect with the larger body within the church, but are still deeply desiring the affinity group of young adults who are in their same life stage or age range.

They want to Serve: young adults want to serve, but they’re just not always sure what steps to take to do it. If pointed in the right direction, they’ll often times step up to the challenge, dive right in, and far exceed your expectations!

I get to Believe in them: even though young adults are transitional, I get to believe in them and encourage their dreams while they’re here! They have so many dreams and sometimes just need someone to validate them and encourage them to take the next step toward seeing them fulfilled. Often times they can’t see in themselves the potential that they have, and it’s so much fun to see people grow into themselves and mature in who God has created them to be. Which brings me to…

They have tons of Potential: They have so much untapped potential! These are the future leaders of the church, and often times, these are the people who want to step up and lead, they just aren’t trusted enough to have a place to develop themselves. I’m blessed to be in a church where young adults are valued and encouraged to lead, but in many churches, this isn’t the case. Churches often wonder why there are no twentysomethings in their congregations. I’ve been amazed at how people come to life when you set them free and encourage them to use their passions and gifting in order to further God’s mission in the world.

They are super Creative people: that about says it all. They have so much creativity that can be expressed in so many different ways: art, dance, music, media, creating ambiance, cooking...yum, writing, and so much more. They are just full of good ideas and think outside the box more often than not!

They want to Learn: Young adults look at life and see so much of it still ahead of them. They feel like they have time to learn and grow…there’s still that feeling of, “I can be/do anything I want to.” They are moldable and teachable [most of the time!], and it’s exciting to see God take a heart that is willing to be shaped and make it more fully reflect His.

And finally:
I get paid to hang out with/get to know people my own age: this is a huge benefit for me! I heard story after story of friends graduating college, moving some place, and having a really hard time making friends or getting to know people their own age that are followers of Christ. I graduated and moved to a church that said they wanted to pay me to hang out with other people my own age. Of course, there’s way more to young adult ministry than just hanging out, but building those relationships are definitely a huge part of it!

What else can you think of? What else makes working with young adults great?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Where have we been for a month and a half?

I spent three days in Frankfort, IN at a FLAME class. I had the privilege of taking Intro to Homiletics with Dr. Jim Dunn - my former boss turned professor. These are the flowers Mark had waiting for me upon my return. Awww...he missed me :).

On our way back from a family reunion in Northern Wisconsin, we made a quick side trip to hit up the highest point in WI: Timm's Hill. It's only 1,951.5 ft. high. We've hit up Mt. Whitney [CA], Mt. Hood [OR], and now Timm's Hill [WI]. 47 left to go!


Mark's parents rented a house on Lake Tomahawk for a week during the family reunion time. This is a sweet sunset overlooking the lake.

We were super blessed, and surprised, when Paul Kind and his dad Kerry, stopped by for a surprise visit on their way to Chicago. Just so happens that we were headed to Chicago as well! We were also blessed to have Amber Abel visiting the same week! It was so fun to have a little bit of the IWU crew back together, if even for a night!

Paul and Kerry in Chicago with the skyline in the background.

Navy Pier.

We ended our day in Chicago with some good ol' chicago style pizza.

But that's not all...

One of the main things that has kept Mark and I super busy these past few weeks, besides a bunch of extra meetings, is our separation into two jobs! In the past few months we have had both of our student ministries pastors resign. We hired Nate Kingsbury to work with our Middle School Students, and Mark has agreed to step in as an interim in the high school area. He will be working with the high school youth until at least January, and possibly until the end of the school year. That has left me to do Young Adult Ministries, which has been super fun, but has kept me pretty busy! We are really excited to both have our own areas of ministry to focus on and invest in, and are really looking forward to seeing what God will do in us and through us as we are both challenged to take a step of faith and step it up in our responsibilities here at the church. Aaron [our former high school pastor] just finished up his final week last thursday [and is probably on his way to Oregon as we speak], so Mark officially takes over full responsibility this week for the ministry. We will now go from sharing a job, an office, and having a lot of free time, to not sharing a job, an office, and having a lot of free time. We believe this will be a good thing, but will challenge us to be more intentional with our time and energies.

Thanks for checking back, even though I've failed in my faithfulness to update lately!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Backpacking the Knobstone Trail

This past weekend we took a handful of our young adults from the church backpacking on The Knobstone Trail in southern Indiana. It was a blast, and for many, it was their first experience backpacking. There were 6 of us [me being the only girl], and of the 6 of us, only 4 made it to the end. We had one guy, Nick, who's foot swelled up, and he pulled off at mile 25. The other guy, Rich, we got separated from around mile 6. It was a crazy few days, but luckily, we were all at the end of the trail so we didn't have to go home without someone, or call someone's parents and tell them we lost their son :). Overall, I think everyone had a blast and even learned some things about themselves. Backpacking will do that to you, and if you're not careful, you just might catch 'the bug' and periodically get drawn back out into the woods or mountains for undefined periods of time. Beware - it's contagious! :)
At Deam Lake Trailhead...packing up and getting ready to shuttle the cars and make water cashes. One of our only pictures of Rich, the guy in the army gear with his arms crossed [read on to find out why].

The beginning of the trail, viewed from the parking lot. Step one toward mile 45.


This is what most of our breaks looked like; Mike, on the right, demonstrates how we all felt :).

At a water cash. We hid water off of road crossings near the trail b/c most of the streams had dried up and it was 80+ degrees outside.

Hiking along the trail.

Hiking some more. We had this constant fear of poison ivy. We usually hike this trail in April, so it's all still dead. This time it was extremely overgrown. Don't touch anything with three leaves!

The view up one of the rediculously steep knobs. Who built this trail anyway? Ever heard of switchbacks?

Our last morning on the trail, we discovered this nasty thing on Mark's backpack. Before this moment, the only spiders we'd seen were daddy long-legs. Glad it was on Mark's pack and not mine!

Here we are at mile marker 45 - the end of the trail! Yay! We made it after a few days of bustin up and down steep knobs in 80 degree weather. The tree canapy was definitely welcomed.

Mike "mohawk" Hartlett at the end of his first backpacking trip.

The beautiful lake that marks the end of the trail.

Brandon "Boots" Engleking. He wore army-issue boots that started to fall apart on day 2. They were nicely held together with black electrical tape.

Rich "Footprints" Hendricks in what ended up being his 'home' for a couple days. We also began calling him "invisible rich" for awhile, since we got separated from him around mile 6, and didn't see him again until the end of the trail. He accidentally took a side trail that took him out to a road that he followed toward the hills. Luckily he reconnected with the trail once, ahead of us, and we were able to follow his footprints for a few miles before they disappeared again. Later we realized that when he ran out of water, he found someone to give him a ride to the state park where the trail ends to wait for us. He had quite the adventure, and we were so pumped to see him when we walked up to our car!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Fun with People I Love

This past week I got to spend four days in Spring Lake, MI with Emily Stokes, Julie Collins, and Amber Abel, three of my best friends from college [and still today!]. We had a blast...just hanging out, walking around the little touristy downtown, helping Julie paint her new office, and painting pottery as well! It was so relaxing and refreshing to "just be" with people who simply know me and have known me. I tried to post more pictures, but blogger says no, so these will have to do for now :).
Em and her masterpiece.

Amber's sushi bowl.

Julie's intense concentration.

At the Ceramic Cafe!

This is my "pre-kiln" bowl.

Em and I both dyed our hair brown. Mine just got darker...hers went from blond to dark brown. I hear Josh likes it!

Right before I left for MI my good friend Jill Gay got married...now Jill Stoxen! My camera died, so I only got 2 pictures the whole time...congratulations Jill and Josh!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

18 Rules of Contemporary Writing


By Dr. Dennis Hensley

A few months ago I attended a writer's conference here in the Quad Cities. This was one of my favorite sessions I sat in on, and although the notes may not show how interesting the session was, they are practical and useful for anyone interested in growing as a writer. Dr. Dennis Hensley is a great communicator, and his passion for writing comes through as he speaks. Maybe these simple points will help you as much as they've helped me!

1. Prefer the plain words to the fancy.
*Use language people can understand.

2. Prefer familiar words to the unfamiliar.
*People will stop, reread and lose momentum.
*You want people to feel comfortable with your writing.

3. Use action verbs and picture nouns.
*House [boring!] --> mansion, shack, etc. .
*Hit [boring!] --> tapped, slapped, etc.

*not more words, but better words!

4. Avoid clich├ęs or worn-out expressions.
*The “eternal squelch” --> people tune it out b/c they hear it too much.
*i.e. “works like clockwork” or “clean as a whistle” --> Eliminate and replace!!
*i.e. Instead of “roaring thunder” use “the universe cleared it’s throat.”

5. Never use a long word when a short word will work just as well.
*Using shorter words takes more sophistication as a writer when they’re used correctly.

6. Master the simple declarative sentence.
*Clear, direct.
*What do you want me to know?

7. Vary the lengths of your sentences.
*Keep them awake and surprised.

8. Keep paragraphs short.
* It's psychological
*Dialogue is good!
*We like to see white space on the pages!
*It’s a cheap trick and it works everytime!

9. Put the key words you want to emphasize at the beginning or end of sentences.
*Force the reader to pay attention to what you want them to.

10. Use active voice whenever possible.
*Draws you into the action
*Shorter! Crisper, tighter.
*i.e The book was given to Tom by Bill [8 words].
Bill gave Tom the book [5 words].

11. Cut needless words, sentences, paragraphs.
*Hensley Law: if it doesn’t move the action forward or provide vital info, CUT IT!

12. Write like you talk.
*Don’t use plastic, artificial, fakey language.
*If you would never say it, don’t write it!

13. Avoid Imitation.
*You don’t want to be a 2nd best, watered-down someone else. You want to be a 1st best
you.

14. Think clearly and you will write clearly.
*If you don’t understand something, don’t pretend like you do.
*Make sure it’s so clear in your mind that your readers can’t get confused.
*Give them something they can relate to [parables] --> dumb it down if you need to.

15. Avoid jargon, Christianese, “garble-de-gook.”
*Use language the average person will understand.

16. Write to be understood, not to impress.
*If you are understood, you will impress.

17. Beware the temptation to overuse any one point of punctuation.
*It’s like seasoning: sprinkle a little here and there to give it flavor.

18. Revise with time.
*Whenever possible, let your writing sit and “get cold.”
*When you get a little distance from it, you can look at it with a little more of a critical eye.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Inspiring


Mark and I were strolling through the little tourist town of Mt. Hood, Oregon. We had just finished trekking through the Mt. Adams wilderness and rewarding our tired bodies with pizza. As we headed back toward our car, a storefront caught our eye. There was nothing special about it - it was actually rather plain - except for one hand-written sign that said boldly what is now posted on our office door:
“Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the stars and the mountains above. Let them look at the waters and the trees and flowers on Earth. Then they will begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.”
~David Polis~

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Race for the Cure

This past weekend my friends Kate, Heather and I ran the Quad Cities Race for the Cure, a 5K, or 1 mile run/walk [respectively] that supports breast cancer research. It was my first "race" to run in, even though I love to run and have been doing it for years. Needless to say, I'm not really a "racer," but it was fun to do and for a good cause. You had the opportunity to run "in memory of" or "in celebration of" someone you know that has died due to breast cancer or that has survived, which makes the race all the more special for many who have lost loved ones. I don't know anyone personally that has died from breast cancer, but I will give a little shout out to my friend and co-worker Kathy Brothers, who has won that battle in the past couple years. So, even though I couldn't find a sign to wear during the run, know that I was thinking of you!
Jess, Kate, and Heather with our racing numbers.

They were handing out these pink scarves for free at the finish line. I might also mention it was like 50 degrees and rainy out...brrr!


Only in the midwest would race banners be held up with John Deer tractors.

this pic got put in the mix b/c I need a url to put my pic in my profile. :)