Tag Archives: mission trip

Why My Stories are Boring but My Heart is Happy

I sometimes say that if I had a tougher life, I would be a better preacher.

I have no idea whether or not this is true.

But I can say with some confidence that if I had a tougher group of youth, I would have better mission trip stories.

Amazingly, not only were my three youth (and my one adult male leader) faithful and engaged all week long, all the other youth (and most of the adults) were, too.

If you want a planter that looks like a donut, I know someone who can do that for you.

The singing.  The serving.  The toilet plunging.  All of it was done with willing hearts and surprising skill.  (Seriously, people.  That toilet was bad news.)  Where was the whining?  Where was the kid who wanders off at lunchtime, the kid who refuses to interact with anyone he doesn’t already know, the kid who gets lost or injured or stung by a bee?

Nowhere to be found.  The fifty or so folks who came to Cass Lake with Youthworks last week–and the four staff members who were waiting for us–were a truly impressive bunch.  God is up to something in Cass Lake, and it is, in the parlance of youth ministry, legitly awesome and amazing.

This is the Hunger Games version of our group photo.



Filed under Ministry Matters, Thankful Hearts

Singing with Your Eyes Closed

Hey there, readers.  I’m back in a place where I sleep in a real bed, plan my own meals, and use the Internet.  Also, my husband and child are here.  So, as great as it was to spend a week serving with the youth, it’s pretty great to be back.

To tide you over while I gather my blogging wits, I present to you my very first guest blogging appearance: the top five witch and wizard fantasy novels I’m recommending for your summer reading list.  And don’t think Dungeons and Dragons.  Think . . . well, think awesome.  Click on over and check it out, and check out all the other great posts on Rochelle’s blog while you’re there!

Praise Song Video Bonus: Here’s one of the songs I liked best during our mission trip worship time.  I chose this acoustic cover because it comes closest to the way this kind of song sounds best–in a room full of faith-filled teenagers and one guitar player, singing their hearts out with their eyes closed.

What are you singing with your eyes closed these days?  Or, what’s on your summer reading list?

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Report, Ministry Matters, Music!

Ready or Not

Wooded road, Washington

I had the best intentions.

I was going to have a week’s worth of pithy posts for you, my loyal readers, so that while I was on the youth group mission trip you could read about Zoe, Dairy Queen, and the like.

Alas.  This was not to be.  So, here’s what I’ll be doing instead of blogging this week:

Three youth, one adult male leader (a unicorn in these parts), and I are headed up north to Cass Lake for a week of service, faith formation, and fun.  We’ll paint houses, do yardwork, help at day camp, and volunteer at other service organizations.  We’ll sleep on the floor, eat a lot of sandwiches, and sing a lot of praise songs.  It’s going to be great.  (You can read about last year’s trip here and here.)

Hold us in your prayers, or your thoughts, or wherever is convenient this week.  I’ll see you on Friday.  (Or, let’s be honest, probably Saturday.)

What will you be doing this week?


Filed under Ministry Matters


It’s that time again.

Time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and realize that our summer mission trip is exactly two months away.  Two months that are going to fly by.  Whoosh!  (Pro Tip: I empower you, reader, to insert your own whoosh sound effect right there.)

Four youth from my two congregations are heading up to the Leech Lake Reservation near Cass Lake, Minnesota, led by me and a brave and wonderful young man with fond memories of his own high school mission trip.

We will paint houses, and weed gardens, and read and play games with kids.  We will meet youth and adults from other congregations, from the reservation, and from the Cass Lake community.  We will learn and talk and sing about Jesus.  We will be so tired.  The good kind of tired.

And, we will need help.  So I will boldly (but blushingly) say: we welcome your prayers, your good wishes, and your financial contributions of any size.  If you would like to help send these four kids on their very first mission trip (and my fearless leader and I on our second / sixth), send your tax-deductible donation here:

First Lutheran Church

P. O. Box 176

Cosmos, MN 56228

This way you help keep the post office in business, too.  And, you get to picture me spinning the P.O. Box lock on Sunday morning, finding your gift in the pile of bills and catalogs and glossy postcards, and doing a happy little post office dance.

Snorkel Chute Curbside Mailbox

Either way, look forward to stories from Cass Lake in just a few months.  They’ll be here before we know it.


Filed under Ministry Matters

Dancing with Jesus

Scuba diver looking at the "Christ of the Abyss" bronze sculpture at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: Key Largo, Florida
Last week, I made my first-ever trip to Dubuque, Iowa! I know, I know. What took me so long?

Since I was there for a ministry conference with a packed schedule, I can’t report on anything about Dubuque besides their Best Western (Pro Tip: it’s pretty nice).

My favorite part of the conference–besides spending time with my friend Jan, of course–was the first keynote speaker, Dwight Dubois.  His presentation was called “Courage in the Country: Dying to Ourselves for the Sake of the World”, and it focused on equipping people for ministry not only inside the church building but also out in their lives in the world.

This really resonated with me. This summer, just four of the ten youth eligible to participate in our mission trip will actually be doing so. The others will be at dance camp, or working, or taking a summer class, or hanging out with their friends. The four kids who go will have a wonderful time (I promise, kids–you’re going to love it!), but I wish that more of them were able to join us.

But after listening to Dwight Dubois, I wonder: how can we equip those other six kids for ministry at dance camp, at work, in summer school, and in their relationships with friends? How can we lift up the way God is at work in their lives every day, not just on days they’re at church or doing churchy things?

Seriously. What has worked where you are? Or, what brilliant ideas spring to your wonderful mind?


Filed under Ministry Matters

Yay God!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Hallelujah!–Psalm 150

On our Youthworks mission trip to Kansas City last summer, we spent time each night sharing “Goooooals!” (great things we saw each other do that day) and “Yay Gods!” (great things we saw God do that day).  Today, I’m going to have a “Yay God!” blog post:

Yay God for . . .

Your funny and faithful people.  Who are such good sports when their pastor does something silly like forget that they install council members immediately after electing them, thus ensuring that the installation is brief (since she forgot her occasional services book and doesn’t know all the words).

Your bountiful creation.  Which provides material for a bountiful Annual Meeting Potluck, from deviled eggs to hot dish to jello salad to something that is apparently called “cheese salad” and is truly spectacular.

Your overcast skies.  Which may or may not be responsible for the gloriously long nap a certain toddler took today, allowing her tired parents to take one, too (even the parent that crept in after said meeting and potluck).  God is good.  All the time!

P.S. If you think my “Yay Gods!” sound like “Gooooooals!”, you may be right.  God has this funny way of working through means, and sometimes the means are people.  


Filed under Ministry Matters, Thankful Hearts