Wednesday, December 25, 2013

End of the Year Awards

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful Christmas.  I know that we have had a great time here in Blacksburg which started with snow flurries when we went to church last night and ended with seeing the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  It was a great time with family. 

It is the end of the year which often brings lists and countdowns of the top / best moments of 2013.  I have decided to do my own list of awards this year based on the 2013 youth group.  I am calling them: The Markies!  So let's get started:

Most Likely to End Up on Jeopardy

Winner: Ryan Cherry

Based on the amount of questions that I get asked on any given Sunday, Ryan would definitely be able to give answers in the form of questions.  I would however feel sorry for Alex Trebek and the questions he would get asked during the commercial break.

Funniest Saying

Winner:  Owen Wilkinson

Although I am not sure exactly how to write it, Owen had the funniest saying at ASP this year.  The way he does it had me laughing so hard that my stomach hurt.  He explained to us that there is a woman at the K and W cafeteria that asks people if they want

"anyching else?"

The Shot Put Award

Winner: Temple Shepherd

One time after taking Liz and Temple out to dinner I was pulling out of the driveway when I turned just in time to witness Temple chucking an apple into the woods.  It was actually a pretty good throw but oh course I had to give her a hard time for chucking a perfectly good apple into the woods from a meal I had just bought her.

The Jamaican Banana Award

Winner: Luke Short

At the State Fair this year Luke wanted to play the games to try and win prizes.  He tried so hard but wasn't able to win anything.  After a few games I told him to save his money so that he didn't waste it.  At one point he asked me if he could go over and watch a game while others were riding a ride.  I told him it was fine.  A few minutes later he returned with a Jamaican Banana that I was given specific instructions on how to hold for the remainder of our stay at the fair.

The Spell Check Award

Winner: Alex Almasy

It goes without saying that Alex has an awesome memory.  That being said if I make a statement or exaggerate anything in anyway at all Alex corrects me or calls me on the exaggerating.  It is kind like typing this blog entry and having red appear under mistakes which of course are misspelled words.  FYI  there is a red squiggly line under Almasy as I am typing this!

Best Live Stage Performance

Winner: Danielle Galloway

A wonderful performance as Miss Strickland in the Christmas Pageant.  It was an excellent performance and she did a great job interacting with the young choir members.

Best Movie

Winner: Dan Man and the Fight Against Hunger

This movie was a lot of fun to make and Daniel Miller did an awesome job in his portrayal of Dan Man.  I was quite impressed by his acting skills!  Everyone did a great job including those that played hunger.

Most Amazing Basketball Shot

Winner: Jonathan Garner

With 10 seconds left in a joyful noise game, Jonathan came off a curl to the three point line and drained a three pointer as the buzzer sounded to win a basketball game by 1 point.  It was by far the most amazing shot ever made in a Joyful Noise Game.

Best F4J Message

Winner: Liz Elliot

We have had some amazing messages delivered by our youth during F4Js.  I am amazed at the messages that they bring to the table when they lead the service.  I have to say though on two occurrences Liz has brought wonderful powerful messages that have blown me away.  I am truly impressed by her ability to write and deliver a meaningful and powerful message.  She has a great future in Ministry if she chooses to pursues it!

King of the Court Award

Winner: Daniel Miller

I could not watch a basketball game in which Daniel was playing in without laughing.  He just makes you laugh when he plays whether it was what he said or his actions on the court.  This year was a lot of fun but he made it a riot. 

Scriptwriter and Director Debut Award

Winner: Will Cook

Will put together a great video and did some amazing acting in the Real Christmas Story video.  I was really impressed and I look forward to seeing him play a role in more films that we make.

The Pizza Award

Winner: Delaney Dabagian

Throughout our ASP trip this year our team was constantly reminded of one food back home and that food was pizza.  Delaney wanted pizza so bad that we surprised her and found a place where we could get some so she could have pizza :)

The Unexpected Sportsman Award

Winner: Ben Miller

I had no clue that Ben was even remotely interested in playing football but he played for the first time this year.  I got to watch one of his JV games and I have to admit that I was very impressed.  He looked good out there and has bulked up a lot over the year.  I look forward to seeing him play next year.

The Best Youth Group Award

Winner: St. Mark's Youth Group

I couldn't ask for a better, funnier, God loving, well behaved group of youth.  I have been given the opportunity to work with some great kids and I thank God everyday for them.  I can't wait to see where 2014 takes us!  Thanks everyone!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Taking a Stand!

Often celebrities get in trouble for taking a stand on a topic or situation.  They make statements to the world about how they feel about something which of course is their own opinion but because they are well known and or famous their opinions matter.  This often backfires because that celebrity is judged based on what they say.  They may lose some of their fan base, they may gain some fan base, they probably even have people in their fan base that don't care what they say.

After a celebrity has made a statement is when normal people decide to either back that statement or go against that statement.  They put their own opinions out there for the world to see.  This in turn has the same effect on normal people as it does on celebrities.  Friends of people that post their opinions and take stands on topics will draw their own conclusion about the person that has taken a stand and posted it for the world to see.

Again that person that posted will have friends that stand by them, friends that disagree with them, and friends that just don't even care.  A ripple effect happens and it continues down the line as people then post their own opinions after reading a friend's post.

The last thing in the world I am say is don't take a stand.  If you are passionate about something then you need to stand up for it and back it any way possible.  I'm just saying that if you do this please keep in mind that your friends, family, jobs, etc. will read what you have to say and draw their own conclusions and either back you or not back you. 

If you take a stand on something you need to accept the backlash that comes with it.  If you give your opinion then you need to be open to other people's opinions.  If you make a statement expect others to reply and tell you how they feel about your statement.  If you take a stand on a subject, please realize that people are going to form their own opinion about you and if they disagree with you, you may just lose a friend.

I think there are plenty of things in this world that need to be supported and lifted up.  Just remember that when you decide to do that, the world is watching, opinions are being formed and decisions about your stance are being made by people.  Although we should never judge someone for what they say or their actions, we are only human.  There is a reason we must repent for our sins.  Some people are judgmental and will form an opinion about you based on the things you say and the way you hold yourself.

Please make sure before you take a stand on something that you are fully committed to the backlash and falling out of the statement you have made.  Be passionate and fully committed before you type or speak about topics especially ones that are controversial!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

T'was the Night Before Christmas...

T'was the Night Before Christmas

Twas the Night before Christmas,
And all through the Church,
Everyone was stirring,
For a seat I did search,

The choir was singing,
The advent candles were lit,
The preacher was waiting,
I was late I must admit,

I found a seat,
On a row towards the back,
There was only one person,
He didn't talk smack,

He looked over at me,
And gave me a wink,
He had a white beard and red coat,
Which made me start to think,

I settled in for the service,
I picked up my book,
We started to sing,
But at this man I couldn't help but look,

His face full of glee,
His beard pearly white,
He had a big round stomach,
Off him I couldn't take my sight,

We finished our song,
And before he started to preach,
Up quickly I rose,
And for this man's hand I did reach,

As I passed him the peace,
I told him my name with a smile,
He said his name was Nick,
Smiling and laughing all the while,

He said he was visiting,
Just for the night,
For a little later,
He would have to take flight,

I stood in awe of this little old man,
Could he be the one,
On this night of all nights,
Brings presents to everyone,

I sat back in my seat,
And listened to the story of Jesus and his birth,
For on this night,
He was born for all on the earth,

After the service I watched,
This little old man in the red,
As he exited the church,
Up the stairs he fled,

I followed him up to the roof,
Where he turned and stopped,
That's when I knew who he was,
And my jaw did drop,

He was Santa for sure,
For his sleigh was right here,
With gifts and toys,
And all his reindeer,

He entered his sleigh and,
and looked ready to go,
When he looked over and saw me,
He yelled out a whoa,

I walked over to him,
and asked with fright,
Why he stopped at church,
On such an important night,

He smiled and chuckled,
And looked down at me,
And he explained very carefully,
but full of glee,

He said that nothing was more important,
On this special night,
Then to stop and worship,
Before he takes flight,

A baby was born in a stable,
For all of us he exclaimed,
In a stable in Bethlehem,
And Jesus he was named,

For he is the only present we need,
Please be clear,
For without him in our lives,
They would be full of fear,

So every Christmas Eve,
I find a church to stop,
And praise him and worship him,
Before on my sleigh I do hop,

Because he is the King of Kings,
And the Prince of Peace,
Of Christmas,
I am just a small piece,

I smiled at Santa,
As he told me this story,
And reminded me to God we should,
Give all the glory,

Then me smiled back at me,
And told his reindeer to go,
And off they went,
His altitude did grow,

He whipped around the church,
And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of site,
Merry Christmas to All,
and to All a Good night!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Naughty or Nice?

I hear stories, read articles, witness situations, and see videos about children who have been neglected, beaten, mistreated, and ignored.  I see it happen right in front of me sometimes and I just don't understand it.  People treat kids as property or responsibility and not as little people.  They yell, they scream, they hit, they scold, they beat them down verbally and literally.  I know that not every family treats their kids this way but I don't understand why people don't love the beautiful, loving gifts from God they have been given.  It boggles my mind to see how kids are misunderstood and mistreated. 

In the movie Fred Claus, Santa has a brother named Fred.  The movie is about him and how he has to deal with being the brother of Santa Claus.  In the end he has to be Santa and deliver the presents for one Christmas due to Santa being injured.   Through out the movie Fred is labeled as the troublesome, bad kid. Right before he goes to deliver the presents he says this to Santa:

"You know Nick there is one thing that has been eating at me since I got here.  That naughty nice list that you got, There's no naughty kids Nick.  They are all good kids, but some of them are scared, and some of them don't feel listened too, some of them have had some pretty tough breaks too, but every kid deserves a present on Christmas."

I believe that. There are no naughty kids.  They are loving and caring and wonderful.  Sometimes they have bad days and often they are molded by outside sources that cause they to say and do things that are wrong but deep down inside they are all good kids that just want to be loved, cared for, and listened too. 

I had a bad day yesterday and three of my youth turned my day around for me.  They listened to me, they were more worried about me and why I was angry and sad than anything else.  They hugged on me, laughed with me and just were there for me!  I didn't expect anything from them and was just going to head home and decompress but they were amazing, without them and a couple of adults I would still be upset.

I don't like to have bad days and show that I am having one. It is hard not to show that you are frustrated and angry when you work with youth and constantly need to be "on" and up beat.  I am blessed by the fact that my youth love me as much as I love them.  I am blessed that they are here for me when I need them. 

I hope you realize the gift you have been given.  I hope you know just how wonderful your kids are.  It's Christmas and yes they all deserve presents, but more than that they deserve your love, they deserve your attention, they deserve you.  On Christmas Eve, after you have gone to Church, curl up with them somewhere and just enjoy being with them.  You only get so many Christmases before they will be gone and out of the house.  Enjoy your time together and be a family.  Listen to what they have to say and share, you never know, you may just learn something.

There are no naughty kids, they are all good kids!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Sometimes I just don't understand. 

I watch a lot of videos on the internet.  I am always looking for videos and clips that I can use with the youth to help drive home a point or help to build their spirituality.  There are many different sites that I go to, WIMP, Godtube, and of course YouTube.  All of these sites provide places on their websites for people to leave comments and to click on buttons that show likes and dislikes of a video.  They also show you how many people have watched the videos.

Most of the videos I watch and share bring me to tears.  They are so touching and so meaningful and are a blessing to watch.  Today for example I watched a wonderful video about one of the beautiful little girls that was killed during the Sandy Hook shooting.  Her death caused so much pain for the family and especially the mother but through the love of others and the help of God she has started a non profit which helps other kids based on the giving and loving spirit of her child.  It was a wonderful video and I cried throughout it. 

When the video was over I went and looked to see how many people had seen the video.  The number was 304,793.  That was awesome.  Next to that was the like button.  3,996 people had liked this wonderful video.  Next to that was the dislike button, 141 people disliked this video. 

That shocked me. 141 people disliked a video about a family that lost a child and through that tragedy they were able to over come and not let evil win.  They created something meaningful and wonderful.  I don't get it, even if you don't believe in God how could you dislike a video about someone dealing with the pain of losing someone?  Are there really those kind of people in the world or were people just being stupid by clicking the dislike button?

I know... I know, there are people out there that don't believe in God.  There are people out there that believe that God should of stopped this thing from happening.  There are people out there that have evil in their heart and want to do bad things. 

In the video the mother says this:

"People ask but where was your God when this happened?  Why didn't he stop it?  God allowed others to kill his son.  He allows for us all to make our own choices, good and bad, because that is the only way Good can be in us is if we freely choose it over all else..."

I don't know why people choose the dislike button or are so negative in this world but it is their choice.  I choose good.  I choose the like button.  I choose to stand up for what is right and allow God to work through me through everything I do.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Smells of Christmas

This morning I came in early to get a microphone ready for the United Methodist Women's meeting.  I went into the closet in Anderson hall and looked for what I needed.  It wasn't there so I had to go to the sacristy to get the microphone and stand.  I decided that I would walk to the sanctuary to get there.  The moment I opened the doors to the sanctuary it hit me.  The smell of pine of a Christmas tree radiated throughout the space.  I stopped in my tracks because I knew that our tree in the Sanctuary is fake.  I took another deep breathe to make sure that I was really smelling pine.  Sure enough the pine permeated my lungs.  It was definitely a wonderful, opening presents on a Christmas morning, real Christmas tree pine smell.  I started to look around to see where the smell might be coming from and then it hit me.  The wreathes that are hanging on the walls are pine.  They are real and I forgot about them.

I walked closer to them and the smell got stronger and stronger.  As I got to the steps leading up toward the alter I stopped and looked up at both the wreaths and the tree.  It was such a warm, wonderful feeling on such a cold, rainy winter's day.  As I stood there I glanced down to my left and the manger scene got my eye.  I stopped and sat down on the steps and studied the manger scene. I started to think about the smells that most of been coming from that stable long before Mary and Joseph even arrived.  Just think of all the animals were dirty and obviously do what animals do.  No one had time to clean the stable before Mary and Joseph got there.  They arrived ready to give birth and had to do it in a stable.  It's funny how the beautiful manger scenes can't give us the full experience of what it must of been like in a manger.

As I sat there and thought about it, something hit me.  Maybe someone the Innkeeper or Innkeeper's wife went out and cut some fresh pine branches and brought them in and put them on the hay so that they brought a fresh smell to the stable.  Maybe the manger was made out of cedar and even though it had been there for a while it still smelled fresh and clean. 

I don't even know if cedar and pine trees were available in that area but it sure makes thinking about giving birth in a stable a little more tolerable.  I hope your Advent season is filled with the smells that make Christmas enjoyable.  Hopefully you don't live in a stable :)