Saturday, 12 September 2009

Training Trevor and a crazy week!

its been a long time since I'vve put anything on this blog so I thought it was time that I got back to it!

The last week has been crazy - Training Trebor arrived at last! Friday was all day with the Youth workers, people full time in ministry and anyone else who was prepared to miss work for the day to be there! I got to spend all day (when I wasn't sorting equipment!) with Marv Penner, listening to his all day seminar on working with teenagers who are hurting. It was really powerful stuff but fascinating listening to Marv talking about something that he is so passionate about and telling stories.

I guess listening to training like that reminds me of the honour of being a youth worker and hanging out with teenagers - whether they are in a good place or bad. I guess that is the bit that I miss about being a youth worker - not the politics of working in a church or the difficulty of with all the things that involves, but just hanging out with teenagers. I miss that. And I should probably try and find ways to do that - and maybe be a volunteer leader - to be able to use the skills and experience I have - without all the responsibility of being paid for it!!

Friday, 10 April 2009


I've had a weird week.....

I heard some news that seemed horrible at the time and then I went home and heard some other news that put everything into perspective. Sometimes - often really - I am very selfish and everything revovles around me - but this week I had my eyes lifted off me to see that actually my life is very easy and good and the things that I think are important, really aren't. I guess I got reminded about the things that are important and how lucky I am to have them - my family, loads of really great friends, a home, a good job and my health. So many people I know don't have all those things and life is so uncertain for them.

Its not that I have everything I want but I guess I realised this week I need to be more content with what I have got - not to lose sight of the other stuff and to still strive for my dreams - but to be content. I am very fortunate to have what I have.

Its Good Friday - I don't always see what is Good in it - cos what happened on Good Friday in may ways was not "good". The person who loves me most died a horrible and painful death. But I guess its what it meant in hindsight that makes it good. And I thank God for that.

Perspective is not an easy thing to gain - and I am sure in a few weeks I will have lost sight of mine - but for now I am saying thank you - for my family, my friends, my health and my life. And mostly for having a God that loves me enough to want to die for me so I can be in a relationship with Him.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Chicago: last day

I didn't get to post our last day in chicago before I left - mainly because I was tired after the whole week and reckoned I could do it once I got back!

On Friday night we went to the local cinema and saw the reader which was a great way to just relax for the evening after the conference and everything else.

On saturday we got the train to downtown Chicago again for the last day - for one main reason! We went to Fado's Irish pub and paid $20 just to walk in the door to watch the Ireland match!

Seemed a bit of a rip off but I think it was definitely worth it!

We then split up and wandered around Chicago separately and I went to see the Giant Bean - I'm sure its got another name but it was pretty cool and I got to wander round the park. It was lovely to relax and have some space to just wander around and not do much!

We met up again at tea time to start going back to the hotel and just chill for the evening. The evening was then just relaxed before bed and we needed to start thinking about packing and coming home!

Friday, 20 March 2009

inside Willowcreek!

Just wanted you to see a picture of the inside of Willowcreek to see the size it is. I had some difficulty focussing the first day on what was going on from the stage because I was so blown away by the size!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Chicago: day 4

Today was a good day - again! It was our breakout day where we were going to the seminars that we had pre-chosen before coming to Chicago - and I suppose some of the stuff that I was most looking forward to as it was stuff I was interested in.

Session 1 was on helping kids through family transition - like separation, divorce, grief, etc - and was led by Beth who runs the ministries to kids in Willow who are going through those things. She was inspirational and I would have loved to spend the next few hours just chatting to her! I had to settle for her email address which I plan to use.

Session 2 was with Ivy Beckwith who has written the book that we use on the Children's Ministry course - and which is quite tough to read. She was really interesting though but I would have liked her to go deeper. I suppose she was doing a start off seminar looking at Children's Ministry in a Postmodern world but because we have read the book we wanted her to go deeper and she didn't do that. We did have a chat with her after though and she said she would love to come to Ireland and do Building Blocks sometime so that was a result.

Session 3 was on te Spiritual formation in pre-schoolers and was not what I was expecting but was better in a different way! Instead of helping me think about stuff in work and how to do ministry with preschoolers, it helped me think about some stuff to do with my Masters and some issues I think through there. I have not been sure how to connect my Masters stuff with work and faith issues with kids but that seminar today helped to join some of the dots! Again a result!

Then came the best part of the day......JC came and we were going for dinner!!! I have really enjoyed the experience of being in Chicago and the conference and all of that but the best thing of this trip has been being able to see JC and hang out with her. And we discovered tonight that I will see her again on Saturday and go and see where she lives! I loved the year that JC and I had in Belfast when we worked at Fitzroy but we have only seen each other once since then and I have realised this week just how much I have missed our friendship, the seeing each other and chatting regularly friendship and it has been great to have that this week. I love friendship!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Chicago: day 3

So today was the big day - the day I would get to see Willowcreek for the first time!! Now I am sceptical about these big churches at the best of times. I am sure they have good points but most of the time I see the negatives that they would create, especially in creating community - in a world where we struggle to get community as it is. Why exaggerate that in a church situation!! Anyway, as we drove in and walked into the building, for the first half hour I was struggling to find words to express what i was feeling - I kept saying "wow!" and "this place is huge" and I struggled for more words and descriptions than that - which is weird as I don't normally struggle for words!!

However as my day went on I found my opinion changing...not that the place is not still huge, I guarentee it did not shrink when we got there but on closer inspection a few things surprised me and things that I assumed to be true simply...weren't! There is no doubt that a lot of money has been spent on some things - like the technology in the main auditorium is incredibe - data projectors everywhere, huge state of the art screens, cameras, computers, lights and loads of people operating them - but everywhere else was a much simpler and less extravagent atmosphere. Willowcreek is not lavish - the furniture and decor is plain and unassuming, the floors and carpets are unassuming nad functional and instead of having all my senses bombarded with opulence, I was hit by the understated everything that I saw - and that really made me happy!!

The conference has been good today. There have been 3 main sessions with everyone together. The first main speaker was the guy who created VeggieTales; the second was apanel with 2 experts on spiritual formation in children and I really enjoyed it; the last was a look at finding strengths in children, by a woman who was very whacky and at times seemed a few sandwiches short of a picnic - bit it was interesting all the same and good to hear people who I did not entirely agree with or love listening too. They all made me think! Tomorrow will be different with the 3 tracks that I have chosen out of about 100 options - and it will be good to hear and be trained in sme children's ministry issues that I am really interested in.

Now I am sitting in our hotel room with a glass of red wine, exhausted but satisfied that today was a good day and hopeful that tomorrow will be even better. And we made some friends today who are staying in our hotel and that is always good!!

Photos of Chicago