Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Long Overdue Post...

Well... Tersie was kind enough to remind me today that my blog is getting stale...

I've been meaning for a week now to write a follow-up ("this is how it went, and what I learned") type of post about the NYWC... but as the days stretched on, and I got busier and busier with real life I just didn't feel like putting the pen to the paper, as it were....

Well anyhoo... Tersie reminded me that it is better to post late than never, which is great advice.

So here goes....

NYWC Atlanta - Day 5 in review

I was right about the short night... Knowing that we would need to be packed up and out of the hotel before we headed over to make 8 AM sessions, and not having packed, organized, or made a plan for the morning, we fell into bed about 2 with our alarms set for 5:15...

I'm not quite sure how... but we somehow managed to get up, get showered, get packed, cart everything to the car, and be checked out of our luxury accommodations by 7:15 AM... This left us plenty of time to drag ourselves to the convention center, detour by Starbucks ( There is nothing that says "Good Morning!" like a half-quart of vanilla-bean frappuccino with a quad shot of espresso ) and get Jenn settled into a session when it started by 8.

While Jenn was in her session I went ahead and picked up our DVD's ( Shane Claiborne's and Phyllis Tickle's general sessions were must have on my DVD list ) and some of those cards for downloading MP3's of the sessions we really liked or didn't make it to... I was lazy and just sat around in the YS store, slurping my frappuccino and making new friends until they opened the gates for us to take seats in the general session.

Since the Monday morning general session always feels sparsely populated after the others of the weekend, it was nothing to just wander in and grab a seat right up against the center stage. I will never get tired of the Skit Guys and Lost & Found... Great stuff that...

This shot is from one of the skit guys skits before the general session...

And this one is the guys giving the sign language interpreters ( who were amazing, throughout the weekend ) a hard time by saying "dog poop" over and over again...

I felt bad for Marko... The technical glitches in his presentation obviously frustrated him, but I don't think they took away from his message. The way we do Youth ministry is changing. It has to change, and we can either be on board with the change or get left behind... ( Sorry for no more recollection than that... It was a week ago and I haven't re-listened to the mp3 yet... )

Jenn and I made some last minute grabs from the YS store after the session, and then headed back to the van for the long trek back home... Oh, and after their prompting on the night before we went through Centenial Park on the way back to the hotel and found the brick donated by Lost & Found.

Long story short on the drive... We left Atlanta about 3:30 in the afternoon, made a stop in Knoxville to switch from me driving to Jenn driving, and then stopped again in Louisville to trade back... We made it home safely ( jamming to Lost & Found most of the way ) at about 12:30 AM... grabbed our laptops out of the van and went straight to bed.

Now that we've been back for a week and had time to re acclimate to "real life" I think that a Highlights/What I learned blog is in order... Since this one is getting long though, I'll adjourn to a new post... See you there.

Monday, November 19, 2007

NYWC Atlanta - Day 4 - wrap up

Well... the rest of the day was a crazy blur, pretty much like I predicted...

At 3 (ish) Jenn took off from the convention center to find us some milk and take more bags of our "stuff" back to the hotel. I feel like we could start a Youth Ministry library with all the books we've carted back from the convention. To make that funnier, I procrastinated in buying some books today until there were none left, so I was able to order them at the show price and have them shipped to me... At least we won't have to find room for them in the car.

I helped Alan & Ed pack up the LW booth, and get it loaded up into Ed's van. By the time we were done with that we were all thinking dinner, so Jenn met us over at Ted's again for a sit down meal ( probably the last one in Atlanta ).

We shared the shrimp appetizer again, and I had a cup of the bison chilli. I also had a bison burger, and onion rings. All tasted good, sweet tea got an A+ again.

Because of the crazy downtown crowd this afternoon ( Falcons at the Georgia Dome, 5000 Youth Workers in town, and a Police concert at the Tabernacle ) we had to wait about 45 minutes for a table at Ted's. So by the time we ate, it was time to book it back down to the convention center for the 8PM General Session.

On the way in to find seats we bumped into Carol again, and got the great opportunity to hang out with her the rest of the evening.

Lost & Found, Bob Stromberg, and Skit Guys all got to play a "warm up" act in the general session. A teaser for the Late Night, if you will.

Worship with Leland was good. I think they might be growing on me.

The speaker at the general session was Marquis Laughlin.

Marquis recites the Bible, from memory, as performance art. Tonight he shared with us Genesis chapter 12 through chapter 22. The story of Abraham. It was awesome!

As Marquis was getting ready to go on, Jenn and Alan slipped up to the Thomas Merton theatre to get some seats for the Late Night. The Skit Guys are some of Jenn's favorite people, and she is being totally honest when she says that the Skit Guys and Lost & Found tonight at the Late night were the highlight of her weekend.

The show was fantastic! Afterward we got to hang out with Tommy & Eddie for a little bit. I absolutely love these guys! Not only are they hilarious, but they are genuinely great guys who really love God and love what they do.

It's now 10 till 2. Jenn really wants to attend an 8 AM Seminar, and among the other things happening in the morning we need to pack up and move out of the hotel, buy our CD's and DVD's from the conference, buy the last couple materials we wanted from the YS Store, attend the closing general session, and prep for the 10 1/2 hour drive home.

Going to be a short night I'm afraid.

I suspect no more blogging until we get back home to Ohio... I will post a Monday wrap up and an overall take on the weekend once we are settled safely back at home.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NYWC Atlanta - Day 4

Got up early again this morning so that we could be up front and personal with the David Crowder Band in the morning general session. We stopped in the CNN center on the way over here for Arby's and Starbucks. Weird breakfast combo, huh?

Jenn's mad dashing skillz were in full effect this morning, and we sat in "the cheap seats" just to the left of the stage. The morning general session was really good overall. Taylor Mason is great. David Crowder Band rocked, as expected.

I really appreciated Doug Field's talk more than I expected that I would. Not that I had low expectations for Doug, I just have heard him speak before and was worried I wouldn't connect...

His message was fantastic, and something I really needed to hear.

After the general session, David Crowder Band was kind enough to be signing autographs and getting photos with people. Jenn got her picture taken with Bwack, Hogan, and Crowder. She's very excited. I will let her post them though.

We wandered around the exhibit hall for a while after the session, and now I'm doing a quick blog update before the day gets all crazy again.

Our plan from this point out is that at 3, I need to help Alan and Ed tear down the LW booth...

Then we're going to run some things back to the hotel, and get some lunch. I'm craving Chinese, so maybe we'll try to find something of that sort...

We're hitting the general session again then at 8 PM, and definitly seeing the Skit Guys and Lost & Found at the late night tonight...

It's sure to be after midnight when we get back to the hotel. I will update again later if we have downtime, but I suspect we will be on the run the rest of the day.

NYWC Atlanta - Day 3 - In Review

Well... After two hours of constant typing to get the blogs up to speed, the battery finally died...
I headed over to the LW booth to check the score and plug up for some power. With the Buck's ahead 14-3 I decided it was safe to leave my laptop on the charger in the booth and look for some lunch.

Alan joined Jenn and I for a walk over to HSUS chinese restaurant, which came highly recommended... A short snafu on the way over ( wild goose chase, by someone we wouldn't give cash to ) caused us to get a little lost, but we did end up finding it only about a block away from the HRC where we ate last night...

Unfortunately, despite our intel to the contrary, Hsus wasn't open for lunch... Bearing that in mind we decided to do Mexican at Mama Ninfa's, across the street from Hsus, in the Peachtree Center. It was good. Great tortilla chips and salsa, and Jenn and I split a monster nachos for lunch.

After lunch Alan had to head back to the booth, so Jenn and I took a couple of hours to wander around the city. We checked out the PeachTree Center, the MARTA, and the Atlanta Underground. Interesting sights... I've never seen anything quite like the Underground.

Check out Jenn's take on the MARTA and the Underground here.

Going down the escalator at the MARTA station at PeachTree Center reminded us both of descending to the subway's in Budapest and brought back happy memories... Except, of course, these escalators weren't moving at 20 miles-per-hour... Still, happy memories...

We headed back over to the Conference around six and set up camp in the "line" waiting to get seats for the evening general session.

Thanks to Jenn's mad running skillz, we got some excellent seats right near the center square stage. A prime location to see the talent, and Loui Giglio. Brent Longnecker is a really talented guy.

Family Force 5 was... well... wow... they weren't quite describable...

One amazing thing though... The lady who signing during the Family Force 5 concert was absolutely amazing. We hadn't been sitting where we could see the ASL interpreters up until this session, so I'm not sure if this particular lady had been there all weekend or not, but she was incredible! (side note: watching her, was also the only way I could understand the words to the songs...)

Then we had some stand up comedy. I think that Bill Arnold is hilarious. Subtle, but very funny. A new comedian I've never seen by the name of Jeff Allen was really funny as well... Jenn laughed very hard as his sketch, which was a little edgy I thought, but indeed very funny.

There was a really excellent presentation next about Compassion International, which included a (now grown up) Compassion girl sharing the story of how Compassion impacted her life. Marko got all choked up as she was sharing. We ( as a family ) have two Compassion kids... We decided right after Ellie was born that we would sponsor a child who's birthday was the same day as Ellie's, and then did the same thing again when Silas was born... Currently we send our money and Jenn sends them letters, but our hope is that when they are old enough Ellie & Silas will want to contribute to the communication for our "other kids" who share their birthdays...

I gotta say this about Louie Giglio... I have really really liked Louie when I've seem him in the past. I still remember, have notes, and use some of the teaching he shared at Icthus clear back in 1998 or 99 when I was there with a crowd from Rio...

[edit] I had a really long thing typed up about why I didn't like Louie's message, and why it really didn't connect with me, but before I posted this blog I actually got to talk to someone this morning who thought my issues were just me, being grouchy and argumentative...

So... I'll leave it to say that I really didn't like Louie's message. If you want to talk about why, or know any more than that email me or let's get together... From where I was sitting it was obviously very powerful for some people, and that it what's really important...

Anyhoo... Enough of that sort of thing... If you would like to share what you thought of Louie's session, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

The Comedy Late night with Jeff Allen, Bill Arnold, and Dave & Brian was hilarious!

We picked up a couple of Dave & Brian Cd's before heading back over to the hotel...

By the time we headed back we decided it was too late to find something to eat... so I worked on this and then crashed about 2 AM.

Sunday updates coming today as I get time...

NYWC Atlanta - Day 3 - crashing

It's almost 2 AM... I have a reaaaaalllly long blog almost ready to go to wrap up the day, but I need to review, edit, and add photos before it will be ready for prime time, and I'm just too tired to deal with all of that tonight....

I will try to wrap up and post first thing in the morning.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NYWC Atlanta - Day 3

We were so tired this morning that when the alarm clock went off I just killed it onto the floor and went back to sleep. As such, we missed the 8:00 seminars this morning. I was really hoping to go hear Dave Ambrose share the seminar 'What Monks Can Teach Us'... I'll be picking it up on MP3 before we split.

Since we were running a tad behind, Jenn made a break for general session and got seats with Marty & Alan in the "cheap seats" area while I waited in line at Starbucks for vanilla bean frappuccinos and scones.

Shane & Shane are really talented guys and Chris Tomlin was really good.

The speaker at the general session was Phyllis Tickle, and she was amazing!

Her session had to do with the huge change that the church is undergoing as denominational lines among Christians are blurring and ermgent patterns are developing all across Christianity as we know it...

She was very very deep, but I really connected with her message... I texted Steve during the session and his reply was something like "Fiesty old grandma' ain't she".

I'm definitely picking up her session on DVD. Steve needs to see it, and I want to watch it again.

Jenn went to the Women in Youth ministry luncheon at 12:15, and I came down here to the tables near the exhibit hall to blog, which I have now been doing for two hours non-stop...

My battery is about to die, I need to go check the score of the Buckeye's game, and I really need to look up some lunch after Jenn gets back from scoping out the show floor.

More updates later.


NYWC Atlanta - Day 2 - In Review (Continued)

When Jenn was done taking the show floor by storm, we were able to grab some relatively close seats for the opening General Session.

Marquis Laughlin and Joe Castillo are both amazing, and I have decided that from a distance I like the music of Flatfoot 56. Because we needed to gain some distance to enjoy them, we sort of lost of our seats to listen to Andy Stanley and Jenn and I ended up sitting together at the tables near the exhibit hall to just relax until the general session ended and our afternoon seminars began.

Unbeknownst to us, Gavin busted us skipping the speaker. I found this in his Flikr set this morning.

I went to a session called 'The Expectations that Killed the Youth Worker' by Marko & Mark Riddle.

There was a large segment of the session on conflict resolution, and developing realistic expectations for the Youth workers role in the church. Along with some great stories by both Marks... The most striking moment of the seminar though, was probably this...

Marko had everyone in the room who was a PAID Youth worker stand up. Due to the nature of the seminar ( let's face it, if you're a volunteer and you don't like the expectations the church is putting on you, you go somewhere else ) most of the people in the room stood up... 80 percent or so I would guess...

THEN he asked everyone who as standing this... "If your church stopped paying you to do youth ministry and you would CONTINUE to go to that church, stay standing"

Marko seemed optimistic about the number of people who didn't sit down... but WOW, a lot of people sat down...

I really feel for all of the people who sat down because I have SO been where they are... Going to a church only because you get paid to do youth ministry there is a hard place to be in... Honestly, it just sucks both for the Youth worker and for the church, and the kids in the youth ministry. It ends up with people getting hurt. I so wish I had been able to hear this seminar three years ago.

I am so blessed to be part of an awesome church where I can honestly say I would continue to attend and get plugged in even if they asked me to step away from the Youth there. It would be hard, don't get me wrong... but I honestly believe that Jenn and I have found our home at RVCC... I've told Steve a couple of times that the only way to get rid of us at this point is to straight up tell us to not come back, because outside of that RVCC is stuck with us.


We felt like we really didn't have time to go to dinner because Jenn really wanted good seats to see Third Day at the general session. So after our afternoon seminars Jenn and I scoped out two more rows of the exhibit hall floor and then went to get near the front of the line for the gates to open and and the seat claiming to begin.

Joe Castillo is just amazing. I'm hoping that Jenn and I can stop by his booth today to get a caricature drawn and buy a couple of his DVD's.

Third Day is great. Jenn loves Mac Powell so while I kept and eye on the seats ( which were a safe distance from the stage ) she went and took up a spot near the front from whence she got some amazing photos. Here's one... We'll have to upload a flickr set of all of our photos from the show later...

The speaker at the general session was Shane Claiborne. He game up on stage, made very brief small talk, breathed fire, did a back flip, put out his torch with his mouth and then prepped the crowd by saying "I'm not going to share the greatest sermon ever given".

He then read the Sermon on the Mount. The whole thing.

I wasn't sitting where I could see Shane right on, but getting to watch his face on the screens while he read was an awesome experience in and of itself... He wasn't just reading. He loved it! He was excited, enthusiastic, he grinned at Jesus' sarcasm, spat out Jesus warnings, preached Jesus' sermon with passion.

When he finished reading ( it took 10 or 15 minutes ) he took a deep breath... paused for a minute, and said "I've just shared the greatest sermon ever given, may God grant us the courage to put it into practice"

And he stepped down off the stage!

Just getting to watch his face and listen to the excitement in his voice while he read gave me chills, but add to that the obvious discomfort in the room while everyone sat in shocked silence, not really sure what to say, or how to react was freaking amazing! I was SO pumped!

Tic came up afterwards to pray and close the session and it was such a relief to hear him say out loud what it was obvious the majority of the room was thinking... "As I sat there listening to him read, I caught myself thinking... Is this all he's going to do?"

The other awesome thing about Shane's choice of message is how uncomfortable it seemed to make the crowd... There is deep truth there! Truth that every single one of us fail to live up to, and choose to ignore ( or only believe selectively ) as we live out our faith in the day to day...

I know we've all heard the sermon on the mount before, and we've all heard bits and pieces of it picked apart and analyzed... but that's the first time in my life I've ever just heard it "preached".

It was awesome!

After the general session Marty, Alan, Jenn and I had a later dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.

By the time we were done eating the lack of sleep, and all the day's acitivity just caught up with me and I mentally shut down...

Fell into bed exhausted at 12:30 this morning.

NYWC Atlanta - Day 2 - In Review

By the time we made it back to the hotel last night we had been going for nineteen hours on six hours of sleep... I was beyond the point of coherence...

Thankfully I took notes to myself on and off throughout the day yesterday because it was too good of a day to not cover in detail.

Jenn's HerStory session went until noonish yesterday, and I was able to spend most of that time just relaxing and lying low at the convention... I walked around the show floor for a little bit, read more in detail about some of the sessions I was planning to attend, and did email and read blogs until about 11:30.

Around 11:45 I had an awesome opportunity to sit down and have lunch with Marko. I've said many times, here on the blog, and in person how much I appreciate Youth Specialties and the work they do to encourage, empower, and equip youth pastors to be more effective in their ministries. And even though I'm a volunteer youth leader in a small church in a small town and may never be a "heavy hitter" in the world of Youth Ministry... it is really cool to be able to come to the conventions and make connections with folks who do wield the big guns in our field...

I really tried to not have an agenda when Marko and we got together because I really just wanted to chat and hang out with him. I know he's been checking blogs on and off throughout the weekend, so if he pops over here hopefully he can confirm that I wasn't a blithering idiot... ( or if I was a blithering idiot, maybe he'll cut me a break since he's famous and probably has to deal with blithering idiots all the time ).

Anyhoo... Had a great lunch just talking and sharing and hanging out. Thanks dude!

Oh... Also as we were wrapping up, I snapped this shot of Marko across the table. I didn't put him up to this, I promise.

Also as we were breaking up Gavin wandered by with his camera handy and snapped a photo of Marko and I with Carol, another youth worker blogging from the convention.

To make this whole situation funnier, when I did meet back up with Jenn on the show floor later she had stopped at some booth where they were custom carving those rubber bracelet things. I have a couple on my keychain for GeoCaching and other things, and she had thoughtfully had one made for me to add to my collection.

I feel like this post is getting long, so I'm going to break it up... More next coming soon...

NYWC Atlanta - Day 2 - crashing

Today was a very very full day. I have so much to post about, and photos as well... but I'm too tired to put something coherent together tonight...

I have notes, I will attempt to post the day in review first thing in the morning.

Good night.

Friday, November 16, 2007

NYWC Atlanta - Day 2 - early

It is funny to me how a persons definition of the word "famous" differs so greatly based on the circles they tend to run in...

Let me back up... I slept so good last night. Being tired does that to you.

Hrm... Let me back up some more...

While we were in Ted's last night, just as we stepped in the door Jenn nudged me and said "Hey, that guy looks like Jeremy Bush, the drummer for David Crowder Band".

I looked up, and it was Gavin! ( I mentioned him last night ).

I wasn't stalking you dude, really...

Also in the spirit of shamelessly plugging my new friend you can read Gavin's initial post about NYWC here, and follow his Flickr stream of the conference here.

Also, as promised, here is the photo he snapped last night compliments of his Flickr feed.

Anyhoo... where was I...

Oh yeah... I slept really good last night. Jenn's HerStory conference resumed at 8 this morning, so we set our alarm for extra early. I'm sure that by the end of the night tonight, I will be wishing that six hours of sleep had been 10, but what can you do...

We bundled up better today than yesterday, and even though it was crisp outside the wind wasn't blowing so I didn't get cold at all on the walk over. We went back to the amazing wraps joint in the CNN foodcourt for breakfast, which we paired with Starbucks coffee. It was excellent.

Jenn made it back to her session and I returned to the range of LiveWorship's wifi to blog, check email, and chill out. Which brings me back to how this post got started.... In case you forgot, let me remind you...

"It is funny to me how a persons definition of the word "famous" differs so greatly based on the circles they tend to run in..."

I'm sitting here, in kind of an out-of-the-way area next to the main walkway in building B of the Georia World Congress Center... Just a minute ago Duffy Robbins walked by going one way, and then back the other way toting a suitcase ( I'm guessing his materials for his morning session ). Tic Long just walked by, in conversation with someone... and, although I haven't seen him yet this morning, I suspect that Marko is also wandering around here somewhere... Oh! and I just spotted Jarred Hall on his way to the show floor...

Although most of my family, the vast majority of my co-workers, and even many of church friends wouldn't have a clue who these guys are... They are big names. Celebrities, if you will, in this field of Youth Ministry. How cool is it that we get an opportunity to be here and hang out with these guys, learn from them, hear what they have to say, and maybe even pick their brains.

Very cool indeed.

Not sure what the plan for the remainder of the day is... Several sessions I'm planning to hit, Jenn is wrapping up the HerStory conference ( which she says is awesome ). I also forsee more coffee in my immediate future.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NYWC Atlanta - Day 1 - wrap up

Ok... For those of you who were not aware of my general level of nerd-ness, I'm about to fill you in.

Marko ( remember him ) keeps a list of people who are blogging from the NYWC.

At the urging of a few folks on said list, he was kind enough to also list the links for those of us who are tweeting from the conference. ( If you aren't familiar with Twitter, look here first, then here, and then go get an account here ).

IF you are already familiar with Twitter skip ahead some....

The act of posting to twitter is referred to as "tweeting".

Well, for me part of the fun of having Twitter is following other people who are doing the same sort of thing that I am doing... I update my twitter and "follow" the people I'm following all from my iPhone using SMS messages. So basically when I want to update mine, I send a text that says something like "is eating pizza". And then everyone who is following me gets a text message that says "Eli is eating pizza".

Likewise, anytime someone who I am following updates their twitter from their phone I get a text message telling me what they are doing...

You can also view my twitter updates online here.

SKIP TO HERE! ( for the folks who skipped ahead... if you've been reading this whole time, just keep going )

Anyway... In addition to blogging from the convention, and updating my twitter I'm also following several other folks who are twittering as well. Some of the guys I'm following are also following me, some are probably not...

As I was wrapping up my last blog, and the battery on my laptop was dying a guy happened to walk up near where I was sitting and said "Hey, here's someone blogging from the convention." A quick name-tag glance later and he realized that it was me, who he was following on twitter.

And that is how I met Gavin, who is blogging here and twittering here.

Neat huh!

Gavin, having the presence of mind to have a camera with him, took a photo of the two us of standing with our backs to the exhibit hall, which I hope he will pass on to me so I can share it with all of you thus completing this geek moment.

This update on geeks at the NYWC brought to you by Twitter.

To wind up the rest of the evening.... I met up with Jenn when the HerStory conference was done for the day, bumped into Marty's fam for a couple of minutes, said "Good Night" to the whole gang and slipped off to dinner at Ted's Montana Grill, which was excellent.

We split the jumbo shrimp appetizer, which was amazing, and then had some bison chili and shared a burger, which was pretty good. The sweet tea was an A+.

Now, we're back at the hotel. Jenn and I are both tired and stiff from doing all the walking which neither one of us are accustomed to. We're both slinging blog updates now, and will be crashing shortly. Tomorrow will be here very very soon.

NYWC Atlanta - Day 1 - part 2

While I was waiting for Jenn's session to be over I succumbed to the need for caffeine and went to Starbucks here in the convention center...

Grande Yukon blend, hot with room for cream...


We met back up and rather than go to dinner we decided to take the YS Store by storm during the Thursday night madness sale... picked up a few books, Jenn got a sweatshirt.

Jenn had to be back at the HerStory Conference at 7:30, so we spent a little time walking around the show floor together, and then she headed back and I walked around the show floor for another 45 minutes or so on my own... There are TONS of summer missions organizations here... I'm kind of glad that we already have a great relationship with Youthworks, b/c it just makes it easier to choose them again and again... If it weren't for that connection already, it would be really hard to decide who to go with...

I was also a little taken aback by the huge number of summer camps that are here based in North Carolina & Tennesee... I know that it shouldn't surprise me, since Atlanta is a prime place to recruit for summer campers... Being so far away from most of the camps though, the people working the booth just assume that I'm a lost cause ( small church in Southern Ohio, bringing a dozen teens 10+ hours for a week of summer camp... ) I hope that it is a good show for them... I wonder what the ratio of Youth Workers who are native to this general area ( within a couple hours of here ) is compared to those of us who came from pretty far away...


I'm really tired, and not really looking forward to the walk back to the hotel... People keep coming up to me and asking where my coat is, or if I know how cold it is outside...

Maybe I should wear long sleeves tomorrow. I'm still wearing shorts though.

Maybe one more post before bed... I'm not really sure what our plans are after Jenn gets out of her session.

NYWC Atlanta - Day 1

Well, we're here!

The hotel definitely isn't the Mariott, but the room was clean and the shower was hot, and we both got a good nights sleep after a long day of driving.

The Women in Youth Ministry pre-conference didn't start this morning as early as we thought, so Jenn and I didn't really rush to get ready and make our way over to the convention center. The wind here is blowing hard and is really cold, but if it weren't for the breeze it would be perfect weather!

This convention center is HUGE! NYWC is in the B-Hall. We got registered, got our bags, books, nametags, etc and grabbed breakfast at convention center and ate while we poured over the schedule to decide what seminars, sessions, and late nights we are going to hit for the whole weekend, and what we're not going to make it to and will have to buy on CD.

With all that decided ( tentatively, of course... plans are always subject to change based on the rockage or suckage of the speaker, comedian, presenter, etc ) anyway... with all that decided, we took ourselves on a grand tour of the conference center to find all of the appropriate rooms, halls, and boys bathrooms where our sessions would be.

Don't we sound crazy organized... hahahaha

We grabbed a quick lunch at the food court in the CNN center. Grabbed some amazing wraps from a place (aptly) named 'Amazing Wraps'.

By early afternoon Jenn needed to get to the HerStory opening session, so I went to track down Ed & Alan for the setting up of LW booth. Even though I'm not working in the booth this weekend, it made the trips fewer and setup easier to have another set of hands involved.

The booth looks good. Different than St. Louis, but still good I think. ( photos of the booth coming later )

I've found a great little spot in the convention center where I anticipate being perched on and off throughout the weekend. Jenn and I ate breakfast here this morning, and I'm back here now, updating the blog and checking email. It is a little cafe area with a big window overlooking the exhibit hall. Here's the view from where I'm perched at the moment.

This will be a good place to sit, decompress, relax, catch a snack maybe, and definitely update the blog when I have time.

Oh... I guess it wouldn't be right of me to not point out the LW booth. Click to see the bigger version.

Well... That's it for now. I'm meeting Jenn at 5 to see about dinner. Then hitting the exhibit hall and maybe the Worship Together concert tonight.

More later...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NYWC Atlanta - The Journey

Jenn and I managed to get out of Chillicothe around 12:15, after dropping off the kids to Tom & Billie.

The nuvi ( thanks Steve! ) took us south on 23 to 32, and then down 41 through West Union to Maysville and then down 68 to Lexington. From Lexington it was 75 South alllllll the way.


That first let isn't what me, or Google Maps would have picked out but it was a good drive.

It poured the rain all the way across Kentucky and Tennessee... We took a quick stop at Lexington and again at Knoxville to stretch and trade off driving.

Arrival in Atlanta at 10:30, checked in and settling into the hotel... Tomorrow morning we're going to scope the terrain, figure out how long it will take us to walk from here to the conference center, and look for a good place for lunch.

More updates to come.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Making the afternoon bearable.

2:55 PM.   

unanswered email.  desk is a disaster.  projects to work on.  retreat to plan.  trip to pack for.  iphone that needs hacked.  blogs to read.   blogs to write.  phone ringing.  stressed because I write at a junior high reading level...

*deep breath...

*sigh of contentment.

the coffee is good though.


Jenn's blog scored a Genius reading level...    

This blog is for all the rest'a'ya'll who don' reed so guud tho...

cash advance

Monday, November 12, 2007

Buzz & Woody - The sad goodbye

Been meaning to post this for several days, but a combination of being a procrastinator and just waaay to busy and preoccupied to sit and blog has kept me from updating...

You may recall that a while back we got some hamsters... Details can be found here.

Well... We got home from work on Thursday of last week to find that Woody hadn't made it through the day... Both Buzz and Woody have been looking haggard for a couple of weeks. I honestly think that our house is/was probably too cold for them to live comfortably in. We had also switched them to cedar shavings instead of pine shavings for bedding and they didn't seem to like that at all...

[ PETA DISCLAIMER : now before anyone goes and calls PETA on us for hamster cruelty, yes they were fed and watered with fresh food and water regularly, and yes I was cleaning the habitat completely out and washing the whole thing down with warm (non-soapy) water weekly... Yes, we have had pets before... and yes, I can assure you the hamsters did not die of neglect... ]

Anyway... Woody was dead when we got home, and Buzz was having a lot of difficulty moving around and didn't act like he was able to see or hear me that well when I attempted to interact with him.

I quickly moved the habitat up out of Ellie's range of vision and reach so that I could check the situation out, and after determining that Buzz was obviously not going to make it I gave him a little boost up to hamster heaven.

I fashioned a hamster coffin out of a paper towel tube (biodegradable) and after placing both deceased rodents inside, stapled the ends shut and went to have "the talk" with Ellie...

Jenn laughs at me now... I guess I was naive enough to think that Ellie would be very sad and need comforting...

I picked Ellie up and sat her down in my chair to tell her that her little pets were no longer with us and the whole process got me all choked up...

Me : "Ellie sweety, Buz and Woody got very sick and they died today"

Her: "Oh yeah?" ( At this point she did look a little sad, but I think it was b/c I was crying and she couldn't figure out why... I did my best to regain my composure... )

Me: "Aren't you sad sweety?"

Her: "I guess so."

Me: "Do you want to talk about it?"

Her: "Not really"

Me: "Do you want to go with me while I bury them?"

Her: "No Dad, can I get down and play with my princesses now?"

*sigh... Great life lesson there Dad.

So... since there was apparently no reason for me to be sitting around sniffling I took the hamsters out back and Ellie got down for some playing with princesses grief therapy...

So we are now hamster-less... Maybe we will try again after the new year... Maybe Ellie will persist in not-caring and we won't get anymore at all... Time will tell I guess.

Friday, November 9, 2007

St Louis Arch

Monday morning in St. Louis, Alan and I checked out of the hotel and decided to visit the Gateway Arch before we headed back to Ohio.

If you are ever in St. Louis, and have the chance to visit the arch, do it! Very very neat.

Here are some photos from our quick visit.

The view of the arch walking in from the park... It was so tall, that I had to take two photos and stitch them together with photoshop.

Me, standing at the top of the observation deck in the middle of the arch.

The shadow of the arch in the park, taken from the observation deck.

The windows are tilted so that you can look straight down at the ground below the top of the arch. Here is another stitched together view of the legs coming up to meet in the middle.

This last one is a self-created panorama of the city of St. Louis from the observation deck...

I didn't take the time or care to stitch this one together very well, but it is neat anyway.

Good show and a fun week in St. Louis. We got back home pretty late on Monday night, and it has been a very busy week at work this week.

Looking forward to the weekend, even though it will be busy.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Happy Birthday Marty!

Today is Marty's birthday.   He generally likes to keep that sort of thing on the down-low...

So, being his friend and all, I just wanted to let everyone know.

Happy Birthday Marty!   Thanks for letting us take you to lunch!


Monday, November 5, 2007

NYWC St. Louis - Last Post Part 2

I just had to tack a post on here to say that the Late Night with Lost & Found, Skit Guys and Bob Stromberg was the funniest thing I have ever seen.

I laughed so hard I might be injured. Lost and Found are awesome... Bob Stromberg is a great storyteller, and the Skit Guys are two amazing and talented folks.

I stayed to talk to Tommy & Eddie briefly after the show just to tell them how much I appreciate their stuff, and say Thanks for their kind emails and comments back to me and Jenn after I blogged about the Skits that Teach thing this past year.

I know that all of these artists are bombarded with people wanting to be their friends, and share with them, and make connections with them and ( even as badly as I want to sit down with Marko and Tommy & Eddie even for a half an hour just to drink coffee and talk ) I always feel terribly guilty about being one of "those people"... because really, in the grand scheme of things, there is no reason that any of them should remember who I am, and it would be silly to expect them to take time out of their ( already ) crazy schedules just to make a connection with every Youth Worker who wanted their time/advice/etc.

Wow... This post is turning out way longer than I intended...

Anyhoo... I guess my point is that I don't want to be one of "those people" who are constantly hovering around the famous people and trying to pretend like we are friends, and that for me, it is really really cool when ( even after a year ) there is a hint of recognition when we make even a momentary connection...

I really need to shake this "marko stalker" label that the kids have on me too... haha

Wow again... I have no idea what any of this has to do with anything...

Just part of "My Story" I guess.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

NYWC St. Louis - Last Post

This will probably be my last post from the NYWC here in St. Louis. We had a good afternoon on the show floor today. Lots of people came by the booth, and were excited about LiveWorship.

The last 45 minutes or so seemed to take a long long time, as the crowd had pretty much thinned out and we were basically just sitting and waiting for the official pack up time to arrive

Tear down was very quick and efficient for us. We had the whole booth torn down, packed up and back in the van in just over an hour.

With the van packed, we said good bye to the guys who had been stuck next to us all weekend and drove down to Lacede's Landing to look up some dinner. We found a little bar on the landing called the Feisty Bulldog which had good sandwiches and a great appetizer of home made chips with bleu cheese and tabasco on them.

Not much else to tell since then... With the van packed up we returned to the hotel to chill for a while before we head back to the show for the evening. General session starts at 8, followed by the Late Night with Bob Stromberg, Skit Guys, and Lost & Found.

That should put us back here in the room around midnight (or later).

Tomorrow morning we are hoping to check out by 8, and head down to the St. Louis arch for a tour and ride up to the observation deck. Then we're planning to hit Marko's session at 11, and be on the road back to Ohio by 1:30.

See my twitter for minute by minute details if you're curious as to more specific where-abouts until we get home.

If you've been reading the blogs while I'm down here, hope you've enjoyed them.

See you back in Ohio late tomorrow night.

NYWC St. Louis - Sunday Morning Update

The comedy show last night was just plain fantastic! All four of the comedy acts were hilarious, but Bill Arnold was my favorite by far. His humor is a little dry, but he is one funny dude.

Before the comedy show Alan and I had dinner at an little Italian place down around the corner on Broadway. J.F. Sanfillipo's I think was the name. It was awesome! The hot fresh sesame rolls rocked, and there was no way I could finish the huge plate of fettucini alfredo they set in front of me.

I was up really late again last night, even after we got back to the room from the comedy show. I ended up talking on IM and doing email until almost 2 in the morning. Thankfully the time change gave us an extra hour of sleep to go on, so I don't feel all that bad this morning.

We opened the booth for a quick morning session from 8:45 till 11 AM. Had a couple of great conversations, but especially one with a guy who was a very happy MS3 user and not about to give us the time of day when I talked him into looking a demo... I think he was genuinely impressed by our ease of use.

The morning General Session this morning was started by Jeff Johnson who I really really needed at Cinci last year. The slowing down and resting and breathing in God is a pretty powerful experience. This morning I just couldn't get into it though, and ended up sitting in the lobby with Alan researching options for visiting the arch while we are here in town.

We caught the skit guys bit after Jeff and loved it. I stopped and talked to Eddie briefly before the session started ( just to see if he would remember who I was, and to say Hi ).

Now the speaker is on stage, but I've slipped out again. I'm munching on some nachos and getting in a blog update before the booth opens again from noon till 3:30.

Oh... The cheerleaders are back in force this morning. Seemed to be mostly older girls this morning and less 3-8 year olds... Makes the fact they they aren't wearing hardly anything and are made-up like hookers even worse. I told Alan on the way in that there are only a few groups I can think of who could have been more awkward sharing the convention center with 3500 youth pastors... A stripper convention maybe, or the adult film industry...

Ok Ok maybe it isn't really all that bad. BUT... cheerleading is quickly being ruled out of Ellie's future. No way I am letting her get into anything like this. She'll be a band geek, and she'll like it.

Band kids are more spiritual anyway ( see previous post ).

Ah well... back to work.

Edit - Nov 06 - A response

Wanted to take a few minutes to respond to this comment by Daisy, and was afraid my response might go longer than a comment permitted, so I decided to do an addendum instead.

daisy said on November 5, 2007 11:07 AM...

"I have read a bunch of blogs from the people in attendance of the NYWC in STL. Let me ask you this; if so many Christians are "disgusted" by the cheerleaders and find it sad and like you stated, won't let your kids take part in it, then where are all the cheerleaders going to find Christian influence? By just letting them be segregated from the Christians, are you showing Christ's love here?"

First... I have no idea who Daisy is or how to respond to her other than by posting again here... I hope that she comes back to see my response, and that if more dialogue is needed she will continue to comment.

I guess I want to start my response by saying that my feelings toward the cheerleading competition in St. Louis has NOTHING to with the girls here at the convention being cheerleaders... There are a several cheerleaders who attend my own church and youth group and at least one of them is a "core kid" in our youth ministry.

What saddened me about the cheerleading convention ( which I saw very very little of, by the way ) is that these girls are being put on display in a way that is totally inappropriate for girls of any age group no matter how old they are. If our high school cheerleaders dressed in some of the outfits I saw walking through the lobby, they wouldn't even be permitted on the school grounds, let alone into a football or basketball game.

I guess I have no idea what is actually taking place on the stage in the competition either, so I can only assume that the "dancing" that was taking place all over the lobby were girls practicing for their routines and not just imitating the latest Brittany Spears music video...

On the way out of the convention center on Saturday afternoon, I actually walked by a group of six to ten girls ( who I would guess to have been age five or six ) all clustered around a mother who was kneeling in their midst... The girls were all wearing disturbingly short tops and short skirts with far more skin exposed than not. They all had heavy eye-makeup and bright red lipstick on. The mother (parent/coach) was saying as I walked by... "Now girls... the team from [some name I didn't catch] really put you guys to shame earlier so I want you to get back in there and kick their little asses this time!"

I'll paraphrase Marko and say, I wanted to smack the lady.

Let me try to wrap this up by saying that I totally agree with you, Daisy, that segregation from cheerleaders in general ( or any group for that matter ) is the wrong approach. And I agree that someone really needs to be "in there" sharing the love of Christ with the girls, their parents, their coaches, etc... I just have a sneaky suspicion that getting that sort of attention from me, or any one else wearing a "Youth Pastor Badge" wouldn't have gone over so well this weekend... I'm afraid it would have come across a lot like the bullhorn Jesus guy.

Also, I don't think I would honestly prevent my three year old daughter from being a high school cheerleader if she really wants to... I just hope she doesn't feel the kind of pressure to be put on display by anyone as she grows up and decides what she wants to be in life.

My biggest problem here is that I can't imagine that these (little) girls would really be doing this to themselves ( the skimpy dress, the "dancing", the kick-their-little-asses competitiveness ) unless they were pushed into it by parents, coaches, society, etc... and that they have that pressure put on them by anyone really does make me sad.

Thank you for making me clarify. I'm open to more comments and/or discussion.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

NYWC St. Louis - Day 2 in full swing.

First of all let me say that I am really bummed because I waited in the second floor guys bathroom this morning for an hour waiting to catch the seminar "Teaching Teenage boys how to kick the crap out of Non-Christians" by Winfield H. Tutte.

Must have been the wrong bathroom.

Secondly, how is this for irony... The America Center which is housing the NYWC this weekend is also playing host to some sort of crazy cheerleading competition out on the other end of the building... What this comes down to is that in order to get to and from the General Sessions and the exhibit hall all of these youth workers and staff have to walk through a mob of little girls ( some as young as three or four ) dancing provocatively (practicing, I guess??) and wearing things that little girls should never ever wear.

If it didn't make me sad, I would laugh.

We had a great crowd in our booth this morning for the show floor hours, and had some great conversations with folks about using our software in their ministries... Can't imagine what would have been drawing them our way...

Had lunch during our break at The Soup Man a couple blocks away. Great bowl of crab chowder and a grilled cheese sandwich.

The show floor opens back up in about five minutes, so I'd better get back over there...

Friday, November 2, 2007

NYWC St. Louis - The Day in Review

Well, it's almost midnight again in St. Louis and we are just getting settled in after a very busy day at the National Youth Worker's convention.

This hotel is really really nice, much nicer than anything I could afford to stay in if I weren't here on "business" and I'm sure waaaaayyyy nicer than the room Jenn and I will be sharing in Atlanta. That is just to say that I slept great last night after finally turning in at 1:30 AM. The alarm went off too soon this morning, so we grabbed a quick breakfast before heading back to the show floor to start this marathon Friday.

At no point today would I call the show floor crowded. We were busy in the booth several times, but nothing compared to what I've experienced working the booth at Macworld. We had a lot of MediaShout "haters" come through today, as well as some Mac fanatics who were excited to see LiveWorship running great on my MBP. Sometime around noon Garfield called in with a Leopard update, so I was able to demo LW on 10.5 for most of the afternoon, which went great!

What makes Friday at YW so busy is that if you are working the show, and plan to attend the general sessions there is simply no time at all to stop and smell the roses. We ran the booth from 9 till 12:30, caught the first Gen Session from 1-3:30, reopened the booth from 3-7, and then hit the final general session from 7:30-10, by which point we were both hungry so grabbed some quick dinner at a restaurant down the block.

Gen Session number 1 was really really good. FlatFoot 56 (an "old school punk band with celtic overtones" ) did nothing for me, but Duffy Robbins and David Crowder Band were simply amazing. Duffy was funny, and powerful and really drove home a great message about letting God be God and not trying to screw it up for Him. I heard DCB do Remedy for the first time live and it left me in awe... What a great song, what a great band.

Gen Session number 2 featured DCB again, which was fantastic. There was also this guy at both general sessions who did performance art by moving sand around on a table. It's hard to explain, but it was really really cool. The speaker at Gen Session # 2 was a guy named Chris Hill. We probably missed a great talk, but he didn't catch my attention right off the bat so we split to come in search of dinner about 10 minutes into his lesson.

Marko's pre session pep talk was very good and I hope that in Atlanta I can take his advice to heart and use my time at YW to "get away" with God and with Jenn for some much needed rejuvenation.

The only other huge highlight of the day that I can think of off-hand is that I had a great conversation with a few of the ladies from YouthWorks over by their booth on the show floor today. What a great group of folks! I'm so excited for our HS mission trip next summer! Can't wait to be able to tell the kids where we are headed and get the ball rolling on plans.

Well, it's been a good day. Busy, but good. I'm tired, and tomorrow is bound to be long again.

More later, Roogles out.

Live from St. Louis

This is post number one, live from National Youth Workers Convention in St. Loius.

We made good time on the drive, got a killer deal on fabric at a going out of business fabric store to use for table cloths, and got our booth setup without any real snafu's.

Yesterday made for a long day with the travel, booth setup, and the mixer in the evening. Made longer by grabbing a really late dinner (which I will blog about later).

Highlight of the day yesterday was definitly dinner, but highlight number two was running into Marko on the show floor and getting to chat with him for a minute. Poor guy... someone had thrown up on his shirt.

It is almost 11:00 AM now in St. Louis, and we've had a steady stream of people coming into the booth.

Here are two photos of our booth. Huge thanks to the girl in the Compassion booth (on the corner from us ) for letting me stand in her booth to get this first one.

And here are the guys from the Noah's Ark booth across the aisle from us. I had to give them a shout out because they are stuck looking at Alan and I all weekend long.

That's all I have time for now. It is sure to be a long day.

Roogles out.