Monday, March 20, 2017

Do not be afraid, I am with you.


"I love you, and you are Mine."

This little one is getting a bit of assistance from his older sister as his hand is traced.  We wanted to make sure these children know that they are special, important, and loved.  We had them trace their hands and write their names inside the outline.  Their names are written on the hands of the One who created them. Your name is written too.  We are known. We are claimed.  

The Choctaw people in Mississippi have a history of tragedy as do most Native tribes.  Some of the older members of this tribe spoke of being removed from their homes and sent to places in the Midwest where they were put into public schools and forced to speak English, though their native language was all they had ever known.  They spoke of punishment enforced when they did not understand the rules as elementary age children.  Everything that kept them safe and protected had been removed from their grasp.  We heard of the struggle to embrace one's identity while as a young person it was the very thing you were told to hide.  We were invited in, by toddlers with open arms, middle-schoolers with way too much energy, and the elders who taught us how to sing Amazing Grace in the native tongue.  We ate fry bread and hominy, while we fed the community tacos and spaghetti.  We learned something new about God as we looked into the depth of those beautiful brown Choctaw eyes.  

It continues to take me time to process our recent mission adventure to Mississippi.  For me, mission trip is always a whirlwind of a week.  In the midst making sure tasks get accomplished and people feel useful, checking to see if relationships are built and tended, and of course challenging souls to be open to The Christ in our midst each day, I can get a bit overwhelmed. Just when I start to get the hang of having all these people around I find myself back in Big Rapids thinking about it all.  

Saturday night a group of the Wesley House gang went to see The Shack.  I remember vividly my first read of this book when it was published.  I loved it.  Some of my students read it this fall for our Wesley Book Club, and we all agreed that there were some descriptions of this God-encounter that made us want to go and see for ourselves.  I was afraid that the movie would ruin the beautiful pictures I had within my imagination of this story, but it only reinforced the beautiful mystery that pervades the journey of faith.  Sure, there are those people who inevitably will cry out that this is all fake, that it goes against Scripture, but I am betting these are the same people who will be utterly surprised at who their neighbors are in heaven.  If you haven't read the book, do it.  If you haven't seen the movie, do that too.  Just remember to go with an open Spirit because you never know what God might say to you in the midst of the story.  

There's a scene in the movie that really caught me. I'm not going to give anything away, don't worry.  There's a moment where there are a bunch of children playing. One of them is the main character's daughter who was tragically taken from his life.  To see his daughter was his deepest need, of course.  What moved me about it was not their reunion, but what happened next.  As Jesus entered into this child-like chaos the daughter ran away from her dad into Jesus' arms.  He scooped her up in this beautiful embrace and they went back to playing in the mob of laughing, goofy children.  While much of this story is touching and continues to make me ponder and live into the mystery of God, this moment with children had me needing some serious Kleenex.  


 "Let the children come to me."

Children know how to receive love.  They run to be embraced, seek out the safety of a hug, reach out for a reassuring hand, show their sadness and their joy, and don't worry about what other people might think or say about them.  In that moment in this movie I thought of all the children in my life that have shared their lives and love with me, those young spirits that have taught me more about God's identity than I could ever learn from theology books.  I also thought about our little friends down in Choctaw.  We came in as strangers and they embraced us, we asked them to play silly games and they did, all we had to do was show up and show love.  


Jesus was clear that children were important and that this new way of life was going to be radically different.  It wasn't about following the new set of rules or setting up barriers, it is about freedom.  I learned a lot from the Choctaw children and the freedom with which they entered into our lives.  I wonder how different the world would be if as we age we could retain this innocent openness.  If the political-correctness of the world didn't creep in an squelch out our excitement to play, to love, and to embrace others.  

I loved that scene because I imagine that one day when we meet Jesus we will be so uninhibited that we too run to him, get scooped up and overwhelmed by Love.  So many humans lack the ability to fully receive love, which causes us to do all sorts of things to fix and fill our emptiness.  I see this everywhere, all the time in ministry.  Sometimes I think I'm in ministry because people just need to feel a little love and acceptance, need a hug or reassurance that in all things we are not alone.  For me this is what heaven is going to be like.  All this judgment and nastiness will be drowned out by cries of joy, our fears will be overwhelmed by understanding, and we will recognize our 
belovedness.  

I won't soon forget the little-people hugs I received on mission trip, I will continue to see their faces when I take the time to reflect on my experience.  The thing I love about the story of The Shack is that it just could be true.  Rather than trying to disprove every single thing that might be different than our own thinking, I love to sit with the idea that this depiction of Loving God just might be.  

I'm going to be seeking out the inner-child in the people around me.  Often that's the easiest part to love, anyway.  Remember friends, your name is written on the palms of God's hands.  You are known.  You are loved.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Throwed Rolls

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.  Hebrews 13:1-2

We gathered together on Friday night, the mission team and most of the adults.  Our motley crew of worn-out-from-midterms students had some fun getting to know one another, eat pizza, and of course take the inevitable trip to Meijer for all things last minute!  The team was beginning to come together, finally after weeks of preparation, planning and prayer.  The early moments of mission trips always remind me of Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones in the desert, coming together tendon and bone with the very breath of God.  No matter how ragged we may feel when we pack our bags and pile into vans the connecting, the laughter, and the stress fade as we leave behind everything we know and enter into the mystery of the unknown and the excitement of adventure through service.  

The day started out a little rough.  It was early.  We had to wait.  But before we knew it we were heading south, singing "Gary, Indiana..." until we actually got there and our bus broke down.  Thankfully it was near a place that it could be fixed, or so we thought.  As we started back out the same thing happened again, and again we found a place that would fix the problem (for real this time) and they didn't even charge us a dime.  

By the time we arrived to Sikeston, MO we were all ready to get out of the cars, tired and very hungry.  We were greeted by Sandy, the warm and welcoming church secretary at First UMC in Sikeston.  They are allowing us to stay here tonight and really being gracious to us.  After dragging in our belongings we decided to head over to Lamberts, the place where they throw your rolls at your head.  The place where everyone else in this entire world decided they'd eat tonight too. That's one of the moments when I realized what a gift it is to be with these young adults who are excited about trying something new, who are generally patient with one another, and who were willing to wait for this unique and fun (not to mention delicious) southern meal.  

These two young gentlemen worked at the restaurant.  Obviously, one is the roll-thrower, a high-demand, job that requires good aim and an effort to please.  The other guy was filling drinks and in the midst of it all went out of his way to flirt with a few of our gals.  By the end of dinner everyone had a great time of fellowship, was way too full, and had made some new friends with the servers.  What a place, and what a great way to end a long day.  

Entertaining angels is an interesting concept, isn't it?  It makes us really aware of who is around us, who it is that might be sent from God to show us something or share something profound with us.  Sometimes this takes the form of a new friend or a deep conversation.  Other times it might show up like a roll thrown at your head when you're weary.  

We entertained angels today.  I expect we will encounter some more along the way.  For today I am filled with gratitude for the grace and care that surrounds me, for the friendships that are deepening and blooming in the midst of this trip, for people offering to help, for above and beyond hospitality, and for a God who works in mysterious and powerful ways.

Have a good night everyone!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Surrounded


Tonight is my last night in my comfy bed.  My days have been filled with excitement this week as I prepare to head to Mississippi with a group of 19 students and 5 other adults.  We are headed to work with a mission located on the Choctaw Reservation and will spend time on projects as well as with the local foster children and seniors.  I can't wait to get loaded up and pull away from campus, because I know the anxiety and fear of many of my students will lessen as they leave midterm exams behind and begin to share in this adventure together.  

Our ministry together at FSU Wesley House is rooted in serving others.  Whether it is inside our building, offering food and community or outside our walls in the community, I am surrounded by young adults that want to make the word a better place, if what we do helps one person or many.  For me this trip signifies a transition in student leadership as we have a large number of graduates this spring.  I have worked closely with nine students, sharing in their lives and recognizing their amazing leadership gifts. I can't wait to see what God is going to do this next 9 days as they lead us in devotions, work together with brand new faces, to accomplish goals but most importantly build relationships.  I know they are not technically my "kids" but they sure make me super proud to serve in this ministry.  More than pride, though, I find that I am constantly humbled to my core.

I often wonder what I have done to deserve this life I lead.  I know I have worked hard to earn degrees and that I work long hours and don't see my family as often as I'd like to.  I know that I am often far too driven to prove, earn, and accomplish.  I just don't want to miss out on anything, you know?!  Life goes way too fast to sit still.  I am proof that with God things you never imagined can become a reality.  

Everyday lately I've been praying the same thing when I wake up.  It is a bit like the Celtic Prayer above and it goes something like:
"God, please help me to get myself out of the way.  Help me to be as positive and encouraging as I can, to recognize your image in every person I meet, to really receive Your love and share it in word and through the things I do."  
This is my mission trip prayer of preparation as I look forward to little sleep, hearing my name a billion times a day, and watching young people learn new skills, share in faith, and get overwhelmed by what they learn about this new culture in which they are immersed.  

In closing I'd like to share a song with you.  It's one that I've loved for a while now, hope you might like it too!



AMEN!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ashes, Baby Giraffes, and Hope




These two pictures were taken in 2010 when I went on a life-changing trip to Kenya.  Not only did I connect with an organization and children that I will support for the rest of my life (www.hthm.org) but I went on a safari that blew my mind.  I've always loved animals, but was not prepared for the beauty of these creatures in their natural habitats.  I have hundreds of pictures of lions and water buffalo, stinky hippos, wildebeests, elephants, monkeys and ostriches.  I can almost go back there just by looking at these photos.  That trip was truly a life-changer.

For the last few days I've been checking in on April, the giraffe in NY that is expecting a calf any day.  The animal park has placed a webcam in her pen and the response from people all over the world has been quite surprising to them.  People are thrilled to watch and wait, asking questions and tuning in for chats with the zoologists and animal caregivers.  Every day people are asking "when will the baby come?"  or wondering if something is wrong because progress is slow.  

The gift of life causes us to pause, to be filled with wonder and hold our breath.  Hundreds of thousands of people are staring at the back end of giraffe with hopes of catching a glimpse of this miracle.  It may be a giraffe, but it represent so much more than that.  This little camera gives us an inside view of something beautiful, something we long for these days.  Without realizing it Animal Adventure Park in NY has given us all a sense of hope.

"Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.  Repent and believe in the Good News," are two statements you may have heard today if you attended an Ash Wednesday service.  Lent has arrived and we have again been given an opportunity to dig into our faith-lives, to look honestly at our connection with God and God's story of redemption for the world.  

When we remember that we come from dust and will return to dust we are humbled.  We realize we are a small speck in the overall picture of what God has done and continues to do.  The astonishing thing in that realization is that though we are a small pile of dust we have been breathed into life by the very God of the cosmos.  This is the God who wants more than our Lenten sacrifices of chocolate or diet coke.  This is the God who wants all of us.  I mean all of you, and all of me.  No holding back the things we think God may not like, no keeping control of the things that we must do or accomplish to try and earn God's love.  Ash Wednesday means we have a limited time on this earth.  It means that we are all on the same playing field no matter what color our skin, which politicians we support, or who we love.  It means that you are important because you are alive for such a time as this.  

People watching this giraffe with me keep telling the zookeepers what they "should" be doing.  They assume that what they see in this little camera is all there is, that they know more about how to deliver a baby giraffe than the vets who stand by off camera.  We do the same thing with God, I think.  We try to tell God our plans, how we should do things, what (S)He needs to be doing.  We take things on with passion and power of our own accord only to limit the perspective of success by failing to include the Cosmic Creator.  

So here I am again.  My students asked me about this blog which surprised me because I am generally a failure at keeping this going.  Who's to say this time it won't stick as a spiritual discipline, which can only help to keep me grounded. Time will tell, I suppose.  For now, for this Lent I am going to give up control, fear of failure, and frustration.  I am going to remember that what I see at any moment is like that little camera focusing on the giraffe.  That in the background God has things in store that we cannot yet see or understand.  I am going to choose everyday to trust in God and try to live into that relationship despite my short-comings and quirks.  

Join me on this adventure.  My joy is to share a bit of this journey with you, in hopes that you will share your Lent journey with me.  We never know what we may encounter on this road!







Friday, December 16, 2016

Just...

Sometimes as preachers we get a habit of saying one word of phrase too often.  Usually nobody tells us until it gets really annoying.  My mom has always been helpful in this situation as she politely brings up that I need to stop saying things like, "you know?" a million times.  I remember in college we would count the number of times a professor cleared his throat or said "uhhhhhhh."  It was distracting.  It isn't until someone points it out that I can even realize I'm doing it.  But once I'm aware I can't help but stop myself before the words escape my lips. It's hard to break a habit.  

"Just" is a word that sneaks into my prayer vocabulary all too often.  For example, "God, I just pray that you would...." or "God, just do...." It's a weird thing that I have heard lots of people do, and I wonder why.  Am I limiting God to do "just" this thing or that? Am I afraid that God won't understand exactly the thing for which I am petitioning?  God, just help me with this one.  Is this a place that somehow gives me comfort in case You don't really want to listen to me today?  


Maybe it's a way to place emphasis on how important this prayer really is?  Parents often say, "JUST do it."  It comes at the end of a long line of asking children to do something nicely, and is usually followed by something like, "I'm your parent and that's why." Am I at the end of my rope with God? I sure hope not. I am a control freak sometimes, so maybe it's like when Martha asked/told Jesus to make her sister "GET IN THE KITCHEN AND HELP ME."  If you don't remember that's when Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing, by listening and learning from him.  


Just.  It has a dual meaning, doesn't it?  It can help to specify, as in the above examples, or it can mean: that which is based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.  This season justice is spoken of often in the prophecies of Isaiah, for example in Isaiah 2:

1-5 The Message Isaiah got regarding Judah and Jerusalem:
There’s a day coming when the mountain of God’s House will be The Mountain—solid, towering over all mountains. All nations will river toward it, people from all over set out for it. They’ll say, “Come, let’s climb God’s Mountain, go to the House of the God of Jacob. He’ll show us the way he works so we can live the way we’re made.” Zion’s the source of the revelation. God’s Message comes from Jerusalem. He’ll settle things fairly between nations. He’ll make things right between many peoples. They’ll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes. No more will nation fight nation; they won’t play war anymore. Come, family of Jacob, let’s live in the light of God.
 Just.  I long for the day when the justice of God is the measure by which all people live, by which nations are governed.  I long for the day when playing war is less about politics, power and ego and more about actually fighting for the rights of people.  We have gotten so off track, I know I have gotten off track. 

This is where the two "justs" are meeting for me today.  Rather than trying to change broken systems, fight for dollars for ministry, scream until the powers that be listen - I have to just focus on the fact that God is Just. If I don't I will be swallowed up by my competitive, people-pleasing, workaholic self.  


Isaiah's prophetic voice reminds us that into the darkness is birthed light. Into the warring madness of humanity is born humble strength.  Into systems of oppression, suffering and death is raised mercy, power, and grace.  The people wouldn't listen, they were stuck in their ways....so much like the world today.    Yet we are not alone.  The advent season reminds us that God is not done yet, the story is not over...in fact the story is just beginning.  


Sometimes in order for something new to begin the old must go away.  In order for things to be let go they sometimes must be removed from our lives.  It's the dance in between that can be difficult, yet we are called as God's people to continue to invest our whole-selves into the transforming redemption of a life of hope.  


So today, and for the rest of this season my prayer is simple, "Just God, help me to live into your light.  Help me God, to just focus on the ways in which I may spread hope, light, and redemption into this world.  Take away my focus on self that I may focus on You in the lives of others. May the swords that I hold up in fight be turned to tools for the advancement of true peace.  Amen."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What is at stake.

I have a mountain bike and we don't always get along.  It seems like I fall a lot. Falling off your bike as a kid was never too big a deal.  Falling off your mountain bike while going down a hill in the woods seems a lot more painful.  It seems that while riding along I tend to look at what is around me, flowers, trees, so forth.  On the other hand, when the pedaling is tough, say up a long hill or on a single-track that is winding, I focus really hard on those little technical things that can make or break my momentum.  In these times I fail to notice the beauty around me in an effort just to get through the trail.  

I rode my bike tonight for a long time. I needed to get my brain in a better space as I head off to Annual Conference tomorrow.  As I'm in the midst of planning for the fall and the upcoming school year I realize just how important the next few days could be.  I've only been a Wesley Foundation Director for two years, but in those two years I have come to see just how crucial young adults are to the future of our denomination.  Serving as a director has offered me huge challenges as I find myself in this weird space of relying on the connection to survive.  I've been overwhelmed by the support we have received from so many churches and individuals, some I never thought would really care about campus ministry.  People are willing to give of their time, talents, and food to reach the hearts and minds of "my" college students.  I am so humbled by this ministry experience that I often do not know exactly how to describe it.  I feel like I have never been so aware of what the Holy Spirit can do, and just how amazing it is when a young person who isn't sure they believe in God realizes that God IS.  

When serving in the local church I loved building relationships with my people.  It was so fun to hear their stories and get to know their souls.  It was challenging to keep them growing spiritually.  Rarely however, did I have the opportunity to really be a part of someone's faith journey at the earliest ponderings, doubts, and longings.  In the church I was able to share in community service to some extent, but rarely was I able to see someone's perspective opened-wide to the vast nature of God in the world.  Rarely did I engage in those really hard conversations about justice and faith.  These things are the foundation of what I do at Ferris.  Sometimes it happens when somebody needs a microwave or a printer.  Sometimes it happens when somebody does poorly on a test and needs reassurance that God's got an awesome plan and it is going to be ok.

I'm heading to our annual conference.  Change is on the horizon, a "new thing" is being created as we connect with our friends from the other side of the state.  Change is something I am getting used to, as every few months my congregation seems to change so much.  New things are always on the horizon, some work and some don't.  Our mantra "Blessed are the flexible" seems to be the one steadfast thing in our lives.  We have to keep our heads up and see what is around us, lest we get too focused on surviving.  

For the first time in my life as a pastor I am feeling kind of sick about this gathering of pastors and laity from around the state.  I wonder how many people understand the heaviness my colleagues and I have because of this past year.  This year we have repeatedly been treated as clergy who do not count, ministries that are a nuisance because they are not self-supporting, and our proposed 2017 budget affirms a Conference that does not see a focus on campus ministry as a priority.  The integrity of honest conversation and dialogue has been traded-in for conference leadership decisions that exclude the powerful God-Alive reality in which I (and my campus ministry colleagues) exist.  

Maybe I'm whining.  It happens.  But before you roll your eyes let me just say that I'm looking at the big picture here.  I'm riding my ministry mountain bike and seeing all these churches doing everything possible to be VITAL, I'm watching as some churches are making those hard decisions about closing their doors.  I'm seeing God move in and through us now, and I know that it will survive into the future because of the students that are graduating from our ministries and heading to seminary, lay certification classes, serving in local churches as teachers, and so on.  If my church makes the decision to place no priority on campus and young adult ministry it feels very much like we are only focusing on the financial hill we are climbing and have no idea what we will do when we get around the next bend and half of the members of our churches are no longer living this life.  

So my friends.  If you believe this is important now is the time to say so.  It cannot come from me or my colleagues.  It cannot come from our young people.  It must come from the rising up of the people who really get what is at stake, from those who's lives have been changed by campus ministry, from those who's children and grandchildren have found a home and community within the walls of their Wesley Foundation. Having a United Methodist presence on our college campuses is the most effective way to reach young people at one of the most crucial, defining time in their lives.  This is the time when understanding what grace, faith, prayer, and community is most important.  Don't we want our Wesleyan theology to be present alongside the often louder (and frightening) theologies that exist?

Might you consider supporting one of your campus ministers as a missionary?  After this Annual Conference we will be in charge of raising much of our own salaries.  Maybe you would consider sponsoring an event or class at your nearest Wesley Foundation.  Perhaps you would like to adopt-a-student and help to support the costs for Bibles, study books, meals, etc.

Most importantly I'm asking for your prayers.  My colleagues are weary of this fight.  You will notice less of a Wesley presence this year.  Please pray for us, pray for our conference, pray for the future of our ministries (and the future of your UMC).  Help us to be open to the leading of God in the midst of all the business and numbers.  

Thanks friends.  See some of you tomorrow.  


Monday, April 18, 2016

I'll Keep On


I'll keep on.  We listened to this song on our Wesley mission trip over spring break.  It spoke to us because were were exhausted from early mornings and long subway rides.  This evening the chorus of this song was helping me finish week 9 day 2 of this running program I'm trying hard to stick with.  The past two runs (well more like dragging myself) are 40 minutes.  That's a really long time for me to try to run with this tall girl body of mine.  The last six minutes seem to be the hardest part, and they seem to last at least twenty minutes longer than they should.  "I'll keep on....I'll keep on."  It popped into my head and helped me finish.

I'll keep on seems to be the theme of my environment these days.  For my students there are three weeks of school left.  Keeping on for them means finishing up projects, papers, and tests.  They're focused on summer jobs and securing internships.  At Wesley we are working on next years roster for leadership and already thinking ahead to what will happen in August when we have that exciting opportunity to start a new church (again and again).  

The Wesley House Board of Directors met yesterday.  We spend time sharing where God has been present in our lives.  I love that part, because so often we get caught up in the business part of things that we don't just celebrate God.  God is moving up here in this ministry.  Students are taking on new tasks, leaps of faith in sharing their gifts or stretching their comfort zones.  Even in these last few weeks we have had new students attend and "stick" with us.  I truly believe these are little sacred gifts in the midst of the weariness that comes from a 7-day/week ministry including two major mission trips for the last nine months.  I know it's the end of the year because I keep hearing my name being called even when nobody is there.  It's in my ears!  

When we start to really reflect on the facts from the last two years at the Wesley House we all come away with this deep understanding that God is up to something huge.  We are so challenged by the scarcity mentality of our WMI Conference that it's easy for me to get to a very negative space.  Everyone in conference leadership of this great denomination that I love and serve is so afraid, so focused on the numbers adding up that they're missing out on the power and might of what is happening with our college kids.  Where have most of the young clergy come from the last ten years?  Campus ministry.  And my treasurer challenges me with the question, "Do you believe that God will provide?"

In case you didn't know, our conference ministry shares pay for the salaries of our five WMI campus ministers.  I'm an expensive director because I'm an ordained elder and have to be on the conference insurance plan.  This year that will leave a couple thousand dollars for us to put toward the costs of running our buildings.  All of our programming expenses we are raising through covenant partnerships with local churches and people.  The problem is that in the next year our conference leadership is proposing a 40% reduction in funding.  Nothing says "we don't want you here" like cutting a ministry's funding by nearly half.  

In the meantime your Wesley Directors are being radically accountable to what we do.  We document nearly ever moment of time we spend with students.  We relay numbers of active participants in every single event.  We spend our time planning worship, offering pastoral care, searching for funding sources, connecting with local churches, drinking coffee and laughing with students, and crying out for someone in conference leadership to recognize that this is good and right and necessary for the very survival of our beloved UMC.  And then we are subtly told that it's not enough as our funding decreases and we are threatened though our "output" increases.  

My identity is wrapped up in this vocation.  Who I am is a United Methodist.  My theology is rooted in the principles of grace, mercy, and love.  I believe in what John Wesley was hoping to accomplish....a movement, not a religion.  And now I find myself in this heartbreaking place.  My colleagues and I are literally kicking the walls - not because of the lack of money - but because the very system that defines how we live out God's call on our lives is so broken, so angry, so passive-aggressive and short-sighted that we are choosing to perpetuate the broken power-hungry system rather than minister to the very generations that will carry our beloved UMC beyond the next 20 years.  

My soul has wrestled with this tension all year.  For the first time in my life I've questioned my loyalty to my church.  But here's the thing....in the midst of this nastiness I am overwhelmed with God's movement in the lives of my students.  In the midst of wondering if our doors will close we are stepping out to create a food pantry for the university.  In the midst of the scream of "not having enough" we receive a check in the mail.  Surrounded by the overwhelming frustration of trying to prove viability God gives us life, God gives us more students than we can handle, God gives us the ability to see beyond the now and into the future.  

So we keep on.  We keep sharing the stories, praying for new opportunities for ministry, embracing the young adults who are in the midst of figuring out faith, and life, and church.  I want my denomination to be a place like the Wesley House.  I want all pastors to have colleagues like I do, who are steeped in creative ministry ideas, who are silly and kind and brilliant.  Most of all I want to live out this call in a system that has integrity, faith, and hope. 

I wonder how many of your lives have been touched by a campus ministry.  I wonder what it would look like for all of us to get up on the floor of annual conference and share those stories.  I wonder what our denomination would be like if none of us had ever experienced the care of a campus pastor or young adult camp counselor.  I wonder....and I keep on.