Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Writing Again

Awhile back I posted a link to a few articles I wrote for WInc Magazine [here and here], a local publication put out by the Iowa local newspapers that celebrates women. Unfortunately, WInc was cancelled in March, which sent me hunting for a new outlet to write. I met with an editor at the Argus/Dispatch, the local newspapers on the Illinois side, and had my first article published in the papers today!

It's a slow process, but I am excited for the opportunity to learn and grow as a writer. I never really saw myself as a journalist, but I am really starting to love it, and I think it really fits my personality. You also get to meet some interesting people and learn about hobbies and interests you didn't even know existed!

If you are interested in reading my article, click here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Farm Auction Pictures

Mark and I standing in the lift of a tractor

The Grandparents :)

They even served food...luckily they had hot chocolate...it was freezing outside!

There were about 5 trailers that looked like this.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Schmerse Farm Auction

Friday and Saturday were spent in blustery Janesville, Wisconsin on the Schmerse Farm. Mark’s grandparents have lived on this farm for 51 years: raised their family and made their living there. Basically, everything that’s defined them for the last 50 years has been there, at that farm. But now, at 85 and 81 respectively, Grandpa and Grandma Schmerse felt it was time to transition. They are both in great health, but haven’t farmed for years, and the stress of keeping up all that land and a big farm house was getting to be too much.

This farm has held it’s many memories for the Schmerse family, few of which I’ve gotten to experience, which makes me a little sad. There were countless Fourth of July Celebrations, Thanksgiving feasts, and childhood memories that will remain in peoples’ hearts; they will even still be celebrated with the same people, yet it will all be just a little different. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to be a part of a Schmerse Family Thanksgiving on the Farm, and look forward to helping build the new traditions that rooted in the traditions of Mark’s childhood.

Grandma and Grandpa’s big moving day was last Wednesday. They had spent the weeks prior sorting through 50 years worth of stuff to decide what would go with them to their new little apartment in town. The rest of the week was spent getting ready for the big farm auction where the rest of the stuff they had there would be sold to the highest bidder. We awoke Saturday morning at 6:30am to begin the tedious process of hauling stuff outside box-by-box. The auction lasted from 10am-2:30pm; four and a half hours of stuff sold – old tools, old toys, books, kitchen gadgets, and even an old car door - often whole boxes would go for just one dollar! I guess one mans trash really is another man’s treasure.

It was a little sad, but overall, a really cool experience if you can handle the man talking a mile a minute for hours on end, “onedollaronedollargimmetwodollartwodollar...come on…I would if I were you!” On Monday, they close on the property, and the farm is officially sold. It was a great time to connect with family, and to support Grandma and Grandpa in a time that was a little overwhelming for them. AND, if you’ve never been to a [farm] auction before, I suggest you try it. It’s a cultural experience [and a social event], even if you don’t buy anything - and one, I suspect, that will die out in the years to come as rural farming continues becoming less a way of life and more of a hobby.

I'll have to add pictures later, since blogger isn't cooperating.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

What Make Young Adult Ministry Hard?

YA’s are transitional: Everyone is in a constant state of flux. Even if they aren’t thinking of moving anytime soon, there’s no way of knowing what’s just around the corner. Many are just waiting for the right opportunity before they uproot and move to California, or Vermont, or Des Moines. You can spend tons of time and energy investing in individuals that you think will one day be leaders, and then they’re gone. Now, that doesn’t mean your investment wasn’t worth your efforts, but it is a bit disheartening to pour into people who you hope will pour back into your local Body, only to have them leave.

YA’s are non-committal: We refuse to make commitments. We don’t RSVP, and we don’t want to say anything “for sure,” because, what if we change our mind? We have no qualms about saying we’ll go to something, and then 30 minutes beforehand, opting out for something else [or vice versa].

There are so many different stages of life: and this is the big one. In the age range of 18-35, we have recently graduated high-schoolers, college students, married college students, recently married couples, married couples with one, two, three kids, professionals, and singles. How do you focus a ministry on an 18 year old who has just graduated from high school and a 35 year old couple with two kids and who hasn’t felt like a “young adult” for a few years now?

Everyone wants something different: Some people are looking for a place to make friends. Others just want a place to worship or study the Bible. Some want to find a mate. Some want couples’ events. Others want singles events. And no one seems to want to do anything with the “other” group. This is unfortunate, in my opinion, because everyone has something they can learn from the “other” group. Single people can learn from talking with/observing married/engaged couples, couples without kids can learn from those who have small children. Those with small children can learn from those with older children. This is a huge benefit of a multi-generational church…or a young adult ministry that encompasses ages 18-35 :).

Should YA’s be “set apart” or become assimilated into the larger Body as full-fledged adults? This is a question that Mark and I have been asking since before we got here. Do young adults need their own “youth group” type meeting every week, or is it their time to become the vital part of the larger Body that they truly are? One then has to consider the fact that hoards of young adults leave the church after graduating from high school [and thus, the youth group], because, until this point, they’ve always had an affinity, age-related group to belong to and now they feel lost. The main thing most young adult want [we’ve found], is connection. So what does it look like to provide those points of connection, while still encouraging them to dive into the larger life of the church? Another question: if this is not the natural transition age, when is it? When do young adults become just adults?

Being younger than most of the people you are ministering to: This has been especially true for Mark and I. We walked into a church where near 4,000 people call Heritage their church home; there are quite possibly 400-450 in the young adult range [and growing], and within the last month or so, both Mark and I turned 24. Most of the people are older than us, and there there's a good chance they wonder what two newly married individuals with no kids and minimal life experience can teach them. Luckily for us, most people have been gracious and nice, but we do get a lot of "you look like kids!" jokes that you have to know ring true to some extent in peoples' minds. Time and experience [and the trust that is built through the combination of those] is what will make the difference for most people, although to some, we will always just be young.

I’ve observed that young adult ministries work really well when:

It’s a college ministry.
The main worship service isn’t very good.
The main worship service is more traditional.

Any other thoughts?