UPDATED--My Television Debut--UPDATED
RETRACTION--O.K. In the never ending Oprah saga, I must now humbly apologize for being incorrect about my last post. My fellow Oprah attendee was able to help me see that the beforementioned section in the Oprah studio was not in fact my section. I apologize to the producers and video editing department of the Oprah show for the accusation that they had digitally mastered me out of the Oprah show. However, I'm sticking by my claims that we had to practice cheering and reacting (see comments below). Furthermore, if anyone is interested in getting multiple hits on their blog from many cities and countries around the world, might I suggest using the key words "Meg Ryan" and "Oprah" in your next post.********O.K...this is so funny to me that I have to share. I just finished watching the Oprah episode. There was one shot at the first commerical break that should have gotten me on TV. As I paused it and looked at the studio audience I was so confused. Where I thought I was sitting there was a women in a pink shirt. I wore a black turtleneck. I thought maybe the angle was throwing me off. Maybe I was in the next seat over. But that woman was clearly wearing white pants. I was wearing jeans. It was then that I realized that a man was sitting in the upper right corner of the studio audience. That chair had been empty during our taping. Someone had gotten ill and had to leave right before the show and there wasn't anyone to replace her. I laughed as I realized...they superimposed a different studio audience into the shot! They had to! Next to us were four blond haired women who were all wearing the same black shirt and beaded necklace (worthy of a blog entry in itself). But in their places I saw a woman wearing a bright orange shirt. I was digitally mastered out of the Oprah show!
The Oprah show I attended will be aired this Wednesday. Tune in to see my television debut. Honestly, I will be shocked if Robbin and I make it on camera. We were sitting behind Meg Ryan all the way in the top row of the studio. I'm right at the top of the aisle. Probably my best chance for TV fame is I got a little teary-eyed at one of the videos they showed about how the children in Uganda are suffering. They always catch the crying people. I think I yawned once too but I doubt they would put that on the air.
Moments of Significance
Today was an eventful day. We launched our 8th church campus in the Hispanic neighborhood of Chicago known as Pilsen. I arrived on site at 7am to help unpack supplies, put together baby toys, and prepare to receive families. Unlike the other campus plants I've been a part of, we launched the Pilsen Campus with two services instead of one--the first in Spanish, the second in English.
Several dozen people from the across the suburbs poured into Orozco Academy to come alongside the launch team for this opening day. Lupe and Tom were there from our Shorewood Campus. Maria and Paul came from Naperville. Flo and Annie drove out from Montgomery. Scott showed up from Romeoville. It was so encouraging to see our existing campuses supporting this new plant and coming to lend a hand in any way they could.
And then the families began to arrive. I'm not sure how many were there. But they came and enjoyed the coffee and donuts.
They checked their kids into Kids' City. And then experienced something that was probably new and different. The music was great. The launch team was doing all they could to make people feel welcome.
I was surprised to hear someone shout my name in the hallway. I turned to find Lisa Trump running towards me. Lisa is a dear friend who was one of my student leaders at Eastern Illinois University. She and her sister Aimee are thinking about moving to the Pilsen area and came to check out what was happening with this new church. It was so great to see Lisa and finally meet her sister.
Still, for all the excitement and activity that was visible, I find myself wondering about what was happening below the surface. What moments of significance were part of today's launch? Which families stepped through the door and became a part of something that will change the course of their lives?
Who took a big step today towards finding their way back to God? Who was God prompting to be a leader in this new congregation? What strategic relationships have just begun?
It's these unseen moments of significance that thrill my heart. I know they are there even though I don't know their stories yet. I know because the Holy Spirit never passes up great opportunities. I'll just look forward to hearing about them as this new, young church forges ahead.
Fun and a Bit Strange at the Same Time
So yesterday was the big Oprah experience. It was fun to be there. Here is a snapshot of my reactions:
- The topic was a serious one...focusing on conditions in Pakistan, India, and Uganda. Reminded again of the pain, hardship, and fear so many live with. Wondering how we can change the world.
- Meg Ryan and Lucy Liu are unbelievably skinny.
- There are quite a few women out there who have lost touch with reality. I couldn't stand to listen to one more tear-filled testimony about how long some have endured the wait for Oprah tickets.
It really was fun to be there...I'd never been to a television show taping before. But I have to say it was also a big strange. Maybe it was an off-day. Maybe Oprah was really tired. Maybe the seriousness of the topic did something to her. But I was so surprised at how disinterested and almost aloof Oprah seemed towards her guests. Meg Ryan was noticably nervous and rather than making her feel welcome Oprah just asked her matter-of-fact questions about some pretty painful things in her life. I wanted to run down there and give Meg a reassuring hug. When both Meg and Lucy were done with their segments, Oprah didn't even get up out of her chair to say goodbye to them. She barely acknowledged them when they stopped at her chair to shake her hand goodbye. Maybe that's just the way this Hollywood stuff goes, but it was so strange to me in the moment. I wonder what it will look like when it is edited.
Come on already...
One of the best parts of blogging this past year has been reconnecting with people I hadn't talked to in years. Sure we're not really having a verbal conversation, but reading their regular entries has helped me feel "back in the know" of their lives.
One of these dear friends is Leah
. Leah was one of my first student leaders when I started in campus ministry at EIU. We'd been out of touch for years but now I'm tracking with her life through blogspot. Leah and her husband have been persevering through the long process of adopting a baby from Taiwan. A couple months ago they found out that they are getting a little girl and have named her Gracen. Isn't little Gracen the sweetest thing you've ever seen?
But here's the deal. It is taking FOREVER for the adoption paperwork to make it's way through the courts. I'm going nuts with the endless waiting. I can't imagine how this feels for Leah and Jason. So I want to ask a favor. As you read this blog right now would you say a simple prayer that God would move in the court system and that Leah and Jason would receive the news that they can travel to hold their daughter? Just a simple sentence prayer in this moment. That's all I ask.
Maybe a little more blogging prayer is all that's needed.
It's not a book, but...
You might remember some time ago I mentioned a conversation with a children's director from New Jersey who asked me to write a book on multi-site children's ministry. Well, the book thing still feels pretty overwhelming to me, but I've decided to start with a different avenue that's a little less intimidating. I'm starting a Multi-Site Children's Ministry blog. You can check it out at: www.multisitekids.com
It's a bit intimidating pretending you know enough about something to help other people. Mostly I'm hoping this blog can be a forum for many people to share their thoughts and questions. I'm excited to see who finds their way to this new site.
Calling all EIU Campus House Grads...
You know who you are, EIU Campus House Grads! Are you planning on going to the Annual Banquet this April 1st (and, no, this is not an April Fool's joke)? I'm planning on traveling down to Chucktown this year to see the new Campus House building and enjoy the evening catching up with old friends. I'd love to see as many of your faces there as possible! Who's planning on being there? Anyone staying over for church on Sunday?
Church in the Burbs
I participated in a great event yesterday. It was called 'Church in the Burbs' and was a gathering of church staff from 15 or 16 churches in Naperville for the purpose of learning from one another and connecting together. I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to going. Part of that is the introvert in me that has to muster up a lot of energy to meet new people, but the other part was that I've been involved in quite a few ecumenical gatherings throughout my years of ministry and they've always felt a little forced...like everyone got together because we knew we should but no one really wanted to invest anything into the partnership. Something was different about yesterday.
5 churches hosted the event. A couple community churches, a Lutheran church, a Methodist church, and my church. One of the breakouts I went to was led by the pastor of the Lutheran church and it was in that time that I could tell there was something different about this gathering. As he talked about his relationships with the lead pastors of the other 4 churches and specifically about what an impact our pastor, Dave
, had on him and his view of ministry, I realized that the leaders of these 5 churches had really become friends and co-workers in the mission of reaching Naperville for Christ. Something egoless is involved. Something vision-filled is there. Something really good is a part of this.
The good experience continued as we broke into ministry areas for lunch. I enjoyed connecting with the other children's directors who were present. I found myself asking if I could visit their churches on a weekend to check out what they are doing so that I might learn things that could help us get better. I began to place value on what our lead pastors have already discovered.
I don't know what will come of yesterday's event. I do know I left feeling proud of Dave and the other pastors who care enough about helping people find their way back to God to want to help each other become more successful. I just wonder what could really happen in a city when egos are left behind and differences seem to be forgotten in light of the mission.
When I was growing up my dream was to play basketball in the Olympics. I've always been mesmorized by the Olympics and couldn't think of anything more exciting than representing the USA in this global competition. Obviously, I didn't make it. But maybe it's not too late. Sure, basketball is out of the question. But right now I'm sitting here watching the 'B' list sports on CNBC (you know, the sports that aren't actually popular enough to make the regular NBC programming). I think I could do this curling thing. How hard could it be? You slide on the ice and aim a large, heavy object at a target on the other end. After all, I'm pretty good at bowling. I'd just need to find a couple of people to do that broom sweeping thing. That actually looks like it takes stamina. So how about it? Anyone want to form a curling team with me? It's Vancouver in 2010, baby!
I'm about to complete another item on my "things I need to do now that I live in Chicago" list. I'm going to the Oprah show! Yes, next Thursday (Feb 23) I'll hop the interstate to head downtown for an 11am-3pm taping. For a while I've been checking the last minute e-mail reservations list on Oprah's website. See, when you go through the normal process of calling the phone line for tickets you have no idea what show you'll see. But the last minute e-mail reservations spill the beans on the program's agenda. I'm going to get to see Meg Ryan! I'm pretty excited about it.
The ironic thing is when the Oprah show called me this morning to offer me the tickets I was working on a talk I'm giving this Friday on taking spiritual retreat days. When they told me the tickets were for February 23rd I checked my calendar and it was the day this month I had blocked out to take a spiritual retreat day. Normally I protect those days with no excuses, but I hope God will understand if I bump it back a week this time.
Look for me on Oprah!
Waking up on this Saturday morning on my 35th birthday. Feeling so grateful for all God has blessed me with... I was thinking last night about that question people always ponder when a birthday rolls around: "Did my life turn out the way I expected it to?" I can honestly say "no" but not because it hasn't met my expectations but rather because I'm not sure I really had any. I really had no idea where I wanted to be when I turned 35 and honestly am not really sure where I want to be another 5, 10, or 20 years down the road. All I know is I want to be walking closely with God and embracing whatever reality he puts before me in the present moment. I think that's enough. The rest can be a surprise. God hasn't disappointed me yet.
Drops of Grace
I've been having a tough week. No major catastrophes. Just a bunch of those little things that leave you feeling a bit sick to your stomach and unsure of yourself (and no, Eric
, I don't think it was Mexican food). But as I'm sitting here tonight trying to find some peace I'm grateful for the thoughts that are coming to mind. They're those drops of grace that are placed so carefully in the moments we need them.
- A surprise birthday party from my children's staff today during our directors meeting.
- Without even knowing anything about the situations I'm in, one of our curriculum writers saying to me, "Any time you say something important people are going to get mad."
- Margaret Becker (who has been my favorite Christian artist since college days) sending me a note through MySpace. I'd had Margaret speak at an event I was in charge of a couple years ago. I'd dropped her a quick note on MySpace telling her I thought it was awesome that her speaking ministry was starting to take off. She wrote back thanking me for helping launch her in that direction by giving her that opportunity a few years ago. She has a new book coming out in March and asked if she could send me a copy when they arrive. Thought that was pretty cool.
- Just when I'm stewing over an issue tonight, my train of thought was interrupted when Joseph called to ask if he could come to my house for a picnic. Something in that 3-year-old's voice is grace personified.
I just love the way God uses words and happenings from unexpected places to encourage our hearts when we need it. I know this stream of grace is always flowing. Sometimes it's just easier to feel the wetness when it comes in small drops.
Did Jesus feel that pit of his stomach uneasiness? When he called people to follow and some shrunk back did he wrestle with doubt about the call? When he made big asks of people knowing some wouldn't like him for it did he wish he'd kept his mouth shut? Was he ever tempted to want to make the way easier for people--to expect less, to settle for mediocrity? My guess is no. So why do I?
Well, the first obvious answer is I'm not Jesus.
But as I'm reflecting on the events of yesterday I'm realizing some ways I need to grow. I challenged everyone at our monthly Kids' City Leadership meeting to step up and be fully "in" to the mission we have of helping families raise growing Christ-followers. Many in the room were nodding in agreement. But there were also those avoiding eye contact, looking uncomfortable, disengaged.
I constrast how I felt before, in the middle, and after that with what I perceived in our lead pastor, Dave
, during his vision talk in the previous session. He talked about money. He really laid some things on the table to challenge our leaders about their giving. He called us to sacrifice. He called us to help the poor and the suffering above and beyond the tithe we give to the church. One of the things I love about Dave is he makes big asks. He lays things out there all the time and from what I can tell does it boldly with confidence. Where does that come from?
Dave lives with a constant awareness that what matters most is the mission of helping people find their way back to God.
The mission has to come first. The mission demands risk. The mission requires bold asks. The mission probably brings some rejection and criticism for those who expound it.
Maybe I won't get over this uneasiness. Maybe the uneasiness isn't even a bad thing. But I don't ever want to let it keep me from challenging others to the Jesus mission.