June 2008


How’s your morning going?  Tough to come back after the weekend?  Got a case of the Mondays?  Then journey back with me to a simpler time, and get ready to groove along with some great late 80s/early 90s hip-hop/rap classics (the soundtrack of my 7th-9th grade years).  Warn your co-workers, ’cause you will be laughing/doing the Sprinkler/wondering who all the guys with the funny hair are.

(My apologies for the content in some of the videos, which really doesn’t fit in with what I’m trying to do with this site.  Turns out the soundtrack to my early adolescence wasn’t quite as wholesome as I remember it being.  Flip your mental content filters on, and just enjoy the grooves…) (more…)

Here’s the slightly-longer version of my past few months (long enough to be too long for an email, short enough for me to crank out before falling asleep). 

Summer/Fall 2007: After completing my stint at Lynden Christian High School, I set forth on what I assumed would be the beginning of my youth ministry career’s next phase.  Turns out, God had other plans; while the process itself was tremendously valuable to learn from, none of my opportunities ended up being a good fit for both parties.  Though I had hoped to be beginning this new journey by fall, I’m quite content that no ministry job is better than the wrong ministry job.  So, the search continued…

But, first, I needed to make some cash.  After a long job search, a position opened up with the Lynden School District, working with elementary special-needs kids.  I’ve done this kind of thing before, and decided to take the job, and see what the year beheld. 

Winter/Spring 07/08: What did the school year behold?  Well, in a position I wasn’t expecting to take, God used many cute little kids to show me the value of setting your dreams aside, and staying where you’re needed most (a previous analogy to It’s a Wonderful Life was made on this blog, about the moment where George realizes he must forego his dreams of travel and adventure in order to stay back and save the family business.  My favorite scene from my favorite movie). 

My various roles had me working with a variety of students in a variety of settings, but one thread seemed to connect them all: kids need men in their lives, and too often don’t have them.  My building alone had about 40+ women and THREE men (me, plus two custodians).  Factor in the usual 50% divorce rate, and you have Mr. Davies being the only male a lot of kids talked to on any given day.  Sad, humbling, but definitely an honor to be able to help fill that tragic deficit. 

So much so, in fact, that it’s got me asking a lot of big questions.  How much impact can one steady male presence have in a kid’s life?  Has my youth ministry search not panned out for this reason?  Has God used this season as a detour (eventually leading back to my previously-felt call), or an off-ramp (heading in a new direction)? 

Coming up: As I shiver my way through an unusually-cold WA summer, performing odd jobs and casually searching for new job opportunities (ministry or otherwise, plus I’ve still got my low-paying school job waiting for me), I’ve come to the following decision.  My heart and passion still lie with serving adolescents & families in a church setting, and I will continue to search for the right professional opportunity to do this full-time (with a few interesting opportunities still floating out there).  I see many ways where the past 2-3 years have been an incredible time of rest and reflection, preparing me for the next phase of my efforts to help churches minister to their youth.  However, if nothing pans out during this season, I’ll be content to throw in the towel on that career quest, and begin the process of becoming certified to teach elementary/middle school.  Though not my Plan A, it’s definitely a Plan B (or C, or D…I’ve lost count) which I could see some great things happening through. 

What have I learned in this process? (which I hope not to have bored you to tears with, but am very appreciative to be able to share with you)  So many things, but nothing more than this: “…Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ …But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33, NIV).  Just keep your compass pointed in the right direction, and all the other stuff just falls into place.  So simple, yet so complicated.  Such is life…

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Thank you for the role that you’ve played in this journey with me.  I hope you’re doing well, and look forward to hearing how your respective journeys have been going since last we chatted.  Thanks for reading (that’s long enough, time for sleep now…).

From Time’s 50 Best Websites of 2008, a few of my personal favorites.  Enjoy (and my apologies on the wasted hour you’ll kill on these):

HowcastA funnier, more practical version of WikiHow, where people submit video answers to pressing questions, such as “How To Tell If Someone’s Lying,” and “How To Act If You’re Stopped By the Police.” 

Psych Central – Learn. Share. Grow.  Find out just how crazy you really are (with the help of many helpful quizzes).

WikiTravel – User-submitted info on popular travel destinations.  I’ve only skimmed it, but it looks promising.

Afrigadget – Common-sense solutions to everyday needs of millions of Africans (like the $200 laptop, only stuff that people actually need).  Fascinating.

Rate My Professors – This is just sick and wrong…

Urban Dictionary – It’s basically just what it sounds like.  I need to go back and watch Juno while looking at this page.

Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project (UCSB) – Before mp3’s, before CD’s, before cassettes and vinyl, there were…tubes.  Edison’s phonograph cylinders, more specifically, and they recorded decades of music, culture, and valuable history that would otherwise disappear, if not for efforts like this.  Enjoy browsing through this extensive collection, and load up your iPod with these fascinating goodies (my favorites: the “Humorous Recitations,” a speech by Teddy Roosevelt, and the European ethnic humor section…nothing like a good Irishman joke to top off your day).

(As one who doesn’t do too well without structure in his life and work, I’ve fallen into the habit of “scheduling” certain major milestones into my life.  Though the first 32 yrs. haven’t necessarily gone according to plan, I’d certainly be OK seeing at least a few of these hurdles cleared in a timely, orderly fashion.  List subject to change, per my whims, circumstances, and the occasional reality check…)

By Age 34:

  1. Either settled into a youth/family ministry position within a growing, passionate, missional church family, or well on my way in a teacher certification program (not Plan A, but a plan nonetheless – I could think of worse things than being the only male a lot of little kids talk to each day).
  2. Spend a week camping, somewhere (possibilities include long-neglected Olympic National Forest, and a canoe trip that has been bantied about with a friend).
  3. Trade in my Civic for a convertible (everybody hates Convertible Guy.  At least, until that first sunny day of the year.  Then Convertible Guy, mildew-y interior and all, has the last laugh…).

By Age 35:

  1. Hike the West Coast Trail (a week of beach hiking on Vancouver Island, B.C., complete with waterfalls, shipwrecks, and amazing scenery along the way).  Will require a few months of training, and I’ll need 1-2 others in my party…any takers?
  2. Write a book, or at least map out the framework for one.  I’ve got a few bouncing around my head, and just need to get my blood boiling enough to purge those words from my head.
  3. Sign a mortgage on a house.  This buyer’s market has about 2-3 years left in it, my sources tell me, so I hope I can jump in the pool before everyone else decides to back in.
  4. Take another exegetical seminary class (one that pieces apart a section of the Bible).  Such an enriching process (which makes you both want to rip your hair out, and know God more).
  5. Reduce my total personal debt by 25% (100% would be nice, but I’m realistic).

By Age 40:

  1. Spend a month in Italy.  Like pretty much everyone who’s ever had the travel bug, Italy tops my “someday” list.  However, I’ve always wanted to save Italy for something special, potentially with someone special.  So, whether or not there’s a ring on my finger by then, I’m spending a month in the Tuscan hillsides, sipping fine chianti and touring historic cattedrales.  (*a friend observed that, if I’m married by 40, this is a win-win for my future spouse…for cryin’ out loud, who’s gonna say no to a pre-planned trip to Italy?)
  2. Have another missions stint in the works, or under my belt.  Life is meant to be lived serving, learning, and worshipping, and this happens nowhere better than in a cross-cultural missions setting.  I imagine God will point me back in this direction before long, both for the work I could do in that country, and to refresh me for future pursuits.
  3. Eliminate my non-house debt.  A wise counsel once told me that, if you wish to make yourself available to be used by God, you must first eliminate debt.  I would add sin to that list, but that’s another discussion for another day.  Let’s stick to the money thing…

By Age 50:

  1. Hmm.  I’ve never thought about this one before.  I need to chew on this for awhile…
  2. (I thought of one!)  Check another continent off the “need-to-visit” list.  I’m currently up to four, and can realistically get South America and/or Australia out of the way in the coming years.  Antarctica’s going to be tricky, but my geology creds might get me out there to see the penguins.  Yup, I expect that Bachelor of Arts degree will open some pretty big doors. 

 By Age 80:

  1. I’m hoping just to make it this far.  I can’t think of any other men in my family that have in recent generations.  Everything after this will be gravy.

If I ever get engaged:

  1. I’ve already got my elaborate proposal all mapped out.  She’s gonna be blown away, and my name will be spoken of in legend for years to come.  An amazing plan, yet beautiful in its simplicity.  We’ll fill in a few key details later (I imagine a name would be helpful). 

If I have children someday:

  1. By their 10th birthday(s), my kids will have experienced authentic international travel in some form (missions trips or otherwise, not revolving around a hotel or resort).
  2. By their 15th birthday(s), my kids will be able to independently negotiate their way through a foreign bus/train system (like a local).
  3. By their 20th birthday(s), my kids will have planned and experienced their own international travels. 
  4. By their 30th birthday(s), my kids will probably obsess over silly life lists like this one, driving their friends nuts!

When I die:

  1. I want to be cremated, given a simple memorial service with lots of laughter, and have the ashes taken to Jerusalem and spread inside the Old City (where pilgrims from all corners of the world would pick me up on their shoes, and take me home with them).

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(Critique and suggestions welcomed, and most likely ignored.  How could you improve on the perfect plan?)