Happy Christmas 2010

December 25, 2010

It’s Christmas morning in England; and the sun is shining! What a great gift.

I’ve been a tangle of emotions these past few days. It’s hard to be away from my family and friends during the holidays. I miss them and the comfort of our traditions. I’m grateful for new friends here who are loving me, praying for me and inviting me into their homes and traditions. I’m blessed to part of a staff that gathers for food, laughter and games…some of my favorite things. All across Europe, they understand and are probably feeling some of the same emotions. Several students sought me out at chapel Christmas Eve services for hugs…what joy! More giggles…and probably inside jokes forever…about the two dogs who were in attendance at the English church’s Christmas Eve Service. Tears, memories, love, gratefulness, blessings, joy, laughter, new memories and now…

Excitement! I leave in about 12 hours with 14 students and 5 adults for Winter Blitz in Austria! We will meet about 300 more from around Europe for a week of skiing, snowboarding, sledding, sight-seeing, water slides and learning about Jesus. We need your prayers for safe travel (it’s at least a 16-18 hour bus ride to Austria), safety on the slopes and sled runs, relationship building between leaders and students, and most importantly for each person’s relationship with God. Many will hear the truth about Jesus for the first time this week. Pray for our speaker, staff and small group leaders that God will give them the words that students need to hear. May we be bold for Jesus!

Christmas is here. Jesus is here.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1: 1-5


Style vs. Warmth

December 18, 2010

I did it. I sacrified style for warmth today. Many of you have probably figured out that I’m weird about some things. One of those things is that I always wear white socks with tennis shoes. (And my sister forced me out of the 1990s a while ago by converting me from wearing “slouchy” socks to ankle socks). But it’s cold in England; and if my toes are cold then I’m freezing. So today, I’m wearing colored thermal socks with tennis shoes. Real thermal socks bought at a local English market. It’s got me all out of sorts, but I have warm toes!

Send the fashion police!


December 13, 2010

Wow…Thanksgiving week kicked everything into high speed holiday gear! And I missed a few weeks of blogs. The blogs were written out in my head, but I couldn’t find the time to get it typed out. So, this is an update…full of all kinds of tidbits!

The second week of November, I took four middle school girls on a last minute retreat. I’m glad that my first overseas retreat experience was with another Club Beyond group so that the staff could show me the ropes. It’s not like taking a group of kids to Boone for the weekend! We went to Germany for a long weekend; and stayed in a castle that has been converted into a youth hostel. It was Castle Camp! I learned the logistical ins and outs of traveling by plane and train; and with multiple passports and visas. And walking uphill a lot…because all good castles are uphill! What doesn’t change is Jesus; and He showed up; and He changed lives.

The next week, I took a group of high school and middle school students to play paintball. Yes, that’s way outside my comfort zone, but I played four of the five games. And yes, it hurts when you get hit by paintballs. For the last game, I had a student out of paintballs so I told him that he could have my gun; and I would sit out that round. See how I sacrifice for students…ha! 🙂  As I sat in the tent waiting for the last game to end, I could hear the “gun fire” of paintballs. It struck me that I was sitting on a paintball field that used to be barracks and an active air field in World War II. I started to imagine all the sights and sound and people that had walked those grounds so many years ago. From “Hell’s Angels” to military teens playing paintball…I’m still trying to wrap my brain around it.

The week of Thanksgiving, I went with three of our high school students and one of our volunteers to process shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Just like in the States, boxes were collected from churches in our area of England and brought to the warehouse to be checked, taped and boxed for shipping. In 2009, the UK shipped 1 million shoeboxes…and the churches in my area processed over 17,000! And we’re talking small, small churches with old, old people! When I arrived for our shift, a couple was dropping off 201 shoe boxes that they had collected from their Methodist church. Somehow, they managed to get all those shoe boxes in one car! The boxes that we processed are heading to Swaziland!

On Thanksgiving Day, I went with a group from the base chapel to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Over 2,000 people attended this Thanksgiving Day Service for the American Community in London. Members and staff of the American Embassy, US Armed Forces, the American Church in London and the International Community Church participated in the service. Photography is not normally allowed inside St. Paul’s, but we were allowed some time to take pictures. You can get a rare glimpse by an amateur photographer of the awe-inspiring interior in one of my facebook photo albums. Then I ate Thanksgiving dinner with another wonderful chapel staff person, her husband and neighbors. It was a good day; but, oh did I miss my family!

The first weeks in December brought snow, scrambling to find warm clothes, Christmas Light Switch Ons, lighting of the base Christmas Tree and Menorah, problems with the heat in my car, the strangest frost I’ve ever seen, Christmas gift shopping and shipping deadlines, Christmas Carol Service, Club Beyond meetings, preparing for our high school ski/snowboard retreat in Austria, more service projects, friends, students and trying to find moments to catch my breath!

What a ride!

** And my December newsletter is posted in the Stay in Touch section.

What We Get To See

December 12, 2010

Because of your prayers, encouragement and financial support, I’m working with military teens; and we get to see amazing things! Yesterday, nine of our Club Beyond students prepared food, wrapped gifts, sorted clothes and served a Cambridge women’s shelter at an afternoon Christmas tea. This organization is a refuge for women and their children experiencing domestic violence. I wanted to share the facebook message that I sent to our students and adult volunteers so that you can see the impact that you are having on not only military teens and adults, but also a British teen.  This is what your kids did yesterday. Thank you!


Hi all –

You may think that all you did yesterday was wrap some presents or put together some food or carry something or sort through some used clothes, but you did so much more! I got to see the smile on the face of a 13 year old English girl that could have lit up a Christmas tree! As she opened the gifts that she received yesterday, those gifts could not have been more perfectly chosen for her. As I talked with her earlier in the afternoon, she told me that she wants to be an author when she grows up; she had a sparkly clip in her hair that she made herself with tinsel and a plain clip; and sparkly black shoes. Her gifts included a journal that she could write in; a packet of plain clips to make more tinsel ones; a sparkly belt; and glitter lip gloss and so much more. And when she opened the simplest gift in the pile, I heard her say to her mom…”I needed a new one.” It was a hair brush; and later she was walking around brushing her hair.

Friends…this is God at work; providing for her exactly what she needed yesterday. This 13 year old girl is basically living in hiding because of domestic violence in her former home. You showed her the love of Christ by giving of your time and your energy.

She thanks you. God is smiling at you. 🙂

I Was Here

November 17, 2010

Today at Club I asked the students to answer the question “How do you want to be remembered?” on index cards. Here is how middle school and high school students want to be remembered:

  • As a good person who always helps people and wants nothing in return.
  • I just want to be remembered. But I don’t really care what people think of me.
  • As a tennis beast.
  • Greatest coder ever. Innovator  of software. Good Samaritan.
  • As a person who lived life to the fullest.
  • As a person who was really nice and helpful.
  • The most amazing drummer.
  • I don’t even care. I just want to be remembered.
  • Fun person.
  • Brave, smart, humble, trustworthy, a good guy.
  • As the person to confront my friends; and lead my friends and family in the right direction. And maybe funny and achieving.
  • As an amazing friend.
  • As the funny, non-dramatic girl.
  • For me.
  • As a trustworthy friend.
  • As someone who mattered to at least one person.
  • As a friendly, happy person who put others feeling before my own.
  • For doing something important or awesome.
  • Being there for others. Always nice and thoughtful. A good person.
  • The beast softball player.
  • As the kid who is a good football player.
  • Nice, a good friend, helpful.
  • As a nice person. Someone who will give for others.
  • Funny, nice, smart, awesome, caring, difference maker, cute, amazing, cool, independent, talented, organized, not lazy, sports like, interesting, nice.
  • As an animal lover and someone who was able to help the world in some way; and be able to create a difference in how animals are treated. And as a person who did something for the better of mankind.
  • As the awesome, nice girl who changed their lives or put a little spark in it. I just want to be remembered well.
  • The person who made everyone laugh and made them feel better. Friendly.
  • As the best person I could be.
  • As the girl everyone liked (as a friend).
  • Smart, weird, funny, nice, awesome.
  • Nice, funny, intelligent person. But not as something negative.
  • As a hero or a best friend.
  • As the person that doesn’t let people push her around. I want to be the person that does something really good but no one ever knows, like a spy or volunteer.

Then I challenged them with the words of Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39: “Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

This is our purpose. I shared with them that I want to be remembered for loving God and loving others regardless of their age, what they look like, what they do, whether they like me or not; or any of that external judgment stuff. I want to love people because God loves people; and I love God. For that to be true I need to live this way today! How do you want to be remembered? Start now living the way you want to be remembered tomorrow!

November 2010 Newsletter

November 16, 2010

You can find my November 2010 newsletter by clicking on the Stay in Touch link. If you would like to get my newsletter via email, please drop me a note with your email address.

Thanks for staying in touch! You are loved!

First Staff Conference

November 6, 2010

I just spent an incredible nine days in Germany at my first staff conference and training. How wonderful to be surrounded by new friends who make me feel “normal.” Each one has turned his or her life upside down to serve military teens with a beautiful variety of gifts and talents. They understand all the ins and outs of what it means to work out this calling in your life.

The first morning we had several hours of JAM (Jesus and Me) time to thank God for all that was happening in our lives. I walked through the town that we were staying and found this water wheel. That’s my shadow in the picture. I sat on a bench, warmed by the sun, listening to the water; and thanked God for each of you…family, friends (old and new), financial partners, prayer partners, students.

Here are some of the quotes from worship songs and messages that touched my heart and fed my soul:

“I am loved by the King.”

“Jesus, I thank you. Gratefully thank you. Thank you.”

“Empty handed, but alive in your hands”

“God loves me with passion, without regret. He cannot love me more, He will not love me less. “

“No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” – Jesus (Matthew 19:26)

“Get past yourself and get to me.”

“Heart of my own heart, whatever befall. Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.”

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.” Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

“My life is completely transparent to God.”

“Discipline: postponing the pleasure by scheduling the pain up front.”

“You can have all this world, just give me Jesus. When I am alone, give me Jesus.”

“As a Christian, God is going to be moving your stuff around all the time.”

“Sometimes it is hard to tell whether you are being killed or being saved by the hands that turn your life upside down.” – Mike Yaconelli

“Without Your Word and people to proclaim it, we are lost.”

This is now a new favorite praise & worship song:

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ.
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.