NYWC: What’s More Awesome Than a Bacon-filled Banana?

The news: Today is the last day to register for NYWC San Diego for Super Early Bird prices.

Bacon and flutophones?  The brainstorm session for this video was a blast. Ian, Tic, and I kicked around a thousand ideas around the concept of “What would be MORE AWESOME?

The shoot: This video was shot all around our office in El Cajon. Literally all around. As Ian set-up and moved lights all around the office to get lighting set, Tic got more and more creative. I stepped out for a phone call with Mark Matlock, came back, and Tic was riding my bike around the office. Hilarious. 

But wait… there’s more. (Videos that is. Coming in a few weeks.)

youth ministry

Thank you, Mr. Long

Tic Long & Mark Matlock reviewing their announcement video. They got it on the first take.

Well, I’m in if you’re in.

That was the phrase that began my next season at Youth Specialties. Back in December 2009 I’d been offered the opportunity to stay on with YS after the purchase by YouthWorks. Tic and I exchanged a couple phone calls and texts… and I remember saying to him playfully, “Well, I’m in if you’re in.

Verbalizing with my lips what was in my head for the very first time I wanted to stay on for the next phase of YS’s history. But I wanted it to be with him at the helm. Everyone knew it was our best chance. Just crazy enough to work. And just crazy enough to be fun, too.

Tic rejoining our team meant a world of difference. Instead of pushing the sled uphill we’d take it to the top of the hill, throw our hands in the air, and gleefully shout “wwwhhheeeee” at the top of our lungs.

Today, Tic announced that he was leaving YS to pursue something he’s always wanted to do but never quite felt called to until now, working for his church. I have mixed emotions about that. On the one hand there’s nothing more important than listening to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit and obeying. On the other, when this transition period is over I’ll miss his daily presence in my life.

The last 16 months have been a blast. Knowing you are on borrowed time has made the whole thing more precious. (He made it clear from day one that he didn’t intend to stick around forever. Though, like the video points out, we’d all hoped it would be 2-3 more years. God changed the timing!) Each day of gleaning wisdom and knowledge has been a gift. I’ve known it was a gift– and done my very best to savor that gift day-by-day.

That’s not to say that the last 16 months have been super serious. If you know Tic at all you know the last 16 months have been filled with deep moments where you’d cry followed quickly by massive amounts of laughter. One thing I’ve learned from Tic is that it’s OK to be the guy who is a wussy-sissy-cry-baby and also to break the tension by telling a joke that’d make a middle school boy blush.

All this to say, I’m thankful to Tic for the gift of the last 16 months. Coming to YS three years ago I had hopes that I’d get to know Marko and Tic well. Like a lot of youth workers I kind of grew up in ministry looking up to them. And while I never could have predicted that I’d get to know them in this season of their lives, I’m grateful to call them both friends, to have seen their character exhibited again and again in the toughest of circumstances, and to see them chose the right way versus the easy way again and again… the only way I can express it that its been a gift. A gift I am thankful for.

Am I excited for Mark and the future of YS? Absolutely. I’ll have much more on that another day.

What about you, Adam? How are you doing in all of this?

(Thanks for asking. I appreciate your love for me and my family.)

I love words. And I love making up words in my head that serve as mantras.  This has been the word/phrase rattling around my head for the last few weeks.I’m Happysadexcitedscaredhopefulangst-tastic.

I’m happy for Tic.

I’m sad that I won’t get to work with Tic forever.

I’m excited for Mark.

I’m scared for Mark because expectations are crazy like that.

I’m hopeful for the future of YS. I wouldn’t work there if I didn’t think our best days are yet ahead.

I’m angst-tastic because it feels like we’re leaving the dock of what we know to sail into the Sea of Unknown once again.

More than anything, today I chose to be thankful.

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What the heck is YS Palooza?

NYWC youth ministry

The Naysayer

It still giggle every time I hear this. Just the “Ticky” cracks me up.

NYWC youth ministry

What is NYWC all about?

I have the coolest job in youth ministry. I get to do what I love, connecting with youth workers around the world and I get paid for it!

At the core of it this video demonstrates the 2 things I love most about working at YS.

  1. Tic lays out the heart of why we do the National Youth Workers Convention. This is really the heart of YS. We do all of this to minister to youth workers… that’s why it is worth it to us.
  2. I get to work with amazing people. Setting aside the amazing people I get to connect with outside of YS as part of my job, I have gotten to work day-by-day with some amazing heroes of youth ministry. These folks continue to be a daily inspiration to me.

When we were shooting this video (ht to Ian) I just kept thinking about those two things.

Dang, I am fortunate.

And dang, I want to be a part of carrying on this legacy.

family hmm... thoughts

Reclaiming Weekends

This weekend I am not checking my work e-mail.

Ah, work.

I love my job. Maybe I love it a bit too much?

When I first started at YS I was pretty good about balance. I limited my availability. I worked from home at least one day per week. Weekends became sacred time again. And I did a lot more little things to set me on a healthy path.

Then last February that all changed. Some positions were eliminated and we were put in a meat grinder position of turning the company around financially. Without being asked to do so I took ownership of that– “I’m going to do my part.” and all that healthy balance went out the window.

The other day Tic and I were chatting about this being a reset point for our lives. Sure, there is infinite work to be done. But if we don’t pace ourselves the workload will destroy us. He said something along the lines of… “If I’m not at a convention or something I’m fully aware that I’m not that important. I don’t need to be reached all the time.” That really resonated to me. It kind of cut to the quick of the issue. Like Marko has talked about on his blog, I have an unhealthy tendency to attach my significance to the world by what I do instead of who I am to the most important people in my life.

And so Tic and I are trying something. It feels like a big step. In reality, it’s a baby step. But we want to start off with one little victory before trying to add more. On Friday we both set out-of-office messages that just said, “I’m not available over the weekend.” And we’re both going to try really hard to ignore work stuff for the weekend. And we’re going to catch-up on Tuesday to see how it went. (Starting on a three day weekend is asking too much, so we just want to make it Friday at 5pm until Monday morning.)

There is lots to do. In fact, there is tons to do. Far more than I can fit into a work week. But I’m just not that important. The world will continue to spin. Projects will wait. I don’t need to work night and day and weekends, too.

The fact that I have 43 unopened e-mails on my work account is driving me crazy! And knowing that that number will be about 200 by Monday morning is tough to deal with. But the truth is simple. I’m not that important to the world. The fact that 43 unopened emails are driving me crazy reveals the true depth of the problem, too.

I am really important to my family.

I desire to be fully present. I need to work on that. I’m trying.

Crap. 47 emails.

I need to stop looking.

youth ministry

Welcome Back, Tic

Life is crazy. I don’t know about other people, but my life is full of surprising moments.

One of those crazy twists just took hold as today it becomes public that Tic Long is back at Youth Specialties.

My first 5 thoughts about Tic coming back:

  1. Woohoo!
  2. Is this for real?
  3. This is going to be fun!
  4. Yes, I won’t be the only middle schooler in the office.
  5. What’s next?

Here’s a little video I put together with some fellow peeps in youth ministry… enjoy! If you want to get a feel for how I feel, read the announcement over at YS.

family golf hmm... thoughts

The weekend that was

This morning my back and arms are sore, my legs feel heavy, my eyes don’t want to open… signs of a very cool weekend. I took the weekend off. For the first time in a long time I actually completely disconnected from work. It was much needed.

Last month Kristen scored some great tickets to San Fransisco on Southwest. We jumped on the opportunity to get away! We were really good about getting away without kids in Michigan, but moving 2500 miles away from that network has meant we haven’t had family or church family around to hook us up with some getaway-ability. We made this one happen.

Kristen and I have been to San Fransisco before. First in 2001 we spent a couple weeks in the bay area. We did a lot of the toursity things down in San Jose, Santa Cruz, Napa, and a day-trip to Alcatraz. Then when we lived in Oroville we did some more quick trips around San Fransisco to the parks and driving across the Golden Gate bridge. But we had never really stayed in the city or did anything beyond the true tourist stops. So we intended to change that.

dsc_0009We flew in Friday afternoon and made our way into the city on BART. After getting lost a couple of times we made our way to Japantown. I’m getting more and more “anti-chain” and while the Hotel Kabuki is part of a larger company it is still a one of a kind place. It was as Japanese as I’d like to go without going to Japan. When we checked in the manager told us that since we were hear for a romantic getaway he was upgrading us to a suite. (Always leave a comment when making a reservation!) So he put us in this funky suite with a living room and a bedroom seperated by these fun sliding panels. The kicker for us was that the room also came with a sauna. I never knew I wanted a sauna in my hotel room before… it was a lot of fun!

After checking in we went on a walk in classic Adam and Kristen style. We had no idea where we were going and 90% of our intention was to get lost. So we walked up Filmore Street, had lunch at a place called LeMed, and then got royally lost and tired walking around Nob Hill. San Fransisco is laid out like a grid, so you can never truly get lost. Plus, with iPhone’s in hand all you really ever have to do is open up Google Maps. We walked until we were tired and went back to the room to chill and recharge. (Literally, our batteries died!) Later we went out for a dinner. We started at a wine bar then wandered up and down Fillmore Street a few times before deciding on a Thai place. Literally, we walked until our legs could take it no more!

Saturday morning we got up early and met Dave & Justine for breakfast at a little diner. It was fun to hang with them. When Dave stayed with us in December he was completely miserable with his internship and San Fransisco in general. It was fun to see the 180 transformation… amazing what romance will do to a situation! We lingered around at breakfast, enjoying our visit, but finally had to end it when Justine had to go to work.

From there, we checked out of our hotel, explored the Kintetsu Mall (a treat all its own full of places to eat and unlimited Japanese boutiques, totally worth it!) Then we jumped back on the bus and headed to Union Square. Since that wasn’t our scene we kind of went nuts on the transit system for a while. First we took a cable car over to Fisherman’s Warf. I have always wanted to ride a cable car and it was actually more fun than I had imagined!

Again, Fisherman’s Warf wasn’t our scene. We’ve already “done that” and it’s a total tourist trap. So we jumped on a streetcar and headed out to The Castro. As a straight couple that may seem like an odd place to hang out! But it was a total blast. It’s ecclectic and fun. Since it was Saturday afternoon everyone was out and about, chatting on the street, walking dogs, and basically just enjoying a perfect Saturday weather-wise. We had an awesome lunch at the Anchor Oyster Bar before heading back downtown.

From there we just got on more cable cars and explored. We hiked up the famous Lombard Street curvy road deal and took a ton of pictures. Completely exhausted, we rode the cable car back to Union Square, bought a couple souveniers for the kids, and got back on the BART for the trip home.

We got home about 11 and promptly crashed after saying goodbye to Mandy and Jon. (Who earned their saint stripes by watching the kids… who had quite a good time without mom and dad around!)

Sunday morning, I skipped church and played in a golf scramble with Tic. Tic is leaving YS later in the summer and as much as I enjoy his company I knew this would likely be my last big opportunity to spend a chunk of time with him. We played horribly. Each of the people in our foresome had a few good shots, one fantastic shot, and roared with laughter all day until we finally finished at +2. It completely capped off my weekend!

So that was my weekend unplugged. With a big week ahead it was fun to fully do a weekend where we went all out all weekend. I invite you to check out our pictures from San Fransisco. More importantly, I hope you get the opportunity to unplug and get away with the one you love soon.

Church Leadership hmm... thoughts Video Clip

YS Podcast

Hard to believe that this is the 28th episode of the re-launched YS Podcast. I like that we’ve kept it simple, short, and all about youth ministry.

I’ve talked to Sean a bunch of times about this piece. His ministry helps youth groups around the country buy airtime on local radio. Not event spots… but real ministry time. A very cool concept and surprisingly cheap. The second segment is from Tic… obviously! I love what he says about Lent and taking care of yourself. I know I need to hear this type of thing and I’ve already watched it a couple of times.

The most consistent feedback I get from the show is from the closing. It always amazes me, but at least once a week I’ll get a voice mail, email, or Facebook message says… “I needed to hear that my ministry matters this week.All that to say, if you know a youth ministry volunteer or paid staff member take a couple of minutes this week to express to them how they are making a difference in your church and community. Don’t assume they feel appreciated.