Thursday, October 30, 2008

MercyMe - Finally Home

Check out this new video by MercyMe...
It's sweet. I love these guys and I love this song.

Check out their blog HERE and the video on YouTube HERE.

Closing... "almost"...

We're almost done with the house closing.

We've done our part. Now, it's in the hands of the selling bank to finish up the paperwork on their end. We did have one potential problem. The bank agreed to paid for the furnace to be put into the house until we closed. The price of the furnace would be added into our mortgage payment. When we got to closing, we discovered that not only had the bank including the price into our mortgage, but they gave us a credit for the price of the furnace.

We aren't sure if they were supposed to... we're thinking not since it was $3500. So we're checking on that. If not, then we'll have to get another check for the closing tomorrow to cover that expense. But no problem. We just didn't want to take something that shouldn't have been our's...

So, hopefully tomorrow morning I'll have a quick post about being "Closed!"


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Closing date SET!!!

We've got an official date set to close on our house... 705 Chesterfield Lane, North Aurora.

We're scheduled for Thursday, October 30th at 1 pm.

We're pretty excited... it's been a long process... and there's more yet to be done. Tonight, we relaxed a little after getting back from seminary and watched "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" and talked about carpet colors. One of our cats Zoe helped us.

I should have you some fresh pictures of the house up on Friday after we close on Thursday!!!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sorry that I haven't been around...

As I said a couple of weeks ago, these couple of weeks have been a bit insane. I'm getting closer to the end... the Fall Retreat is next weekend.

But I just wanted you all... my faithful reading audience... that I have not forgot about you. I hope you don't feel neglected as I try to get some things accomplished that need to be accomplished.

Look for a full return of Jim's Blogspace at the first of November...


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Furnace and Good Inspection

Well, our new furnace is in!!!

It looks great and does a great job of heating up the house. I spent about 2 1/2 hours over there this afternoon while it was being inspected. During that time, the house was also appraised and everything is looking good.

We didn't find anything during the inspection that we didn't already know about... other than a couple of minimal things and the recommendation that we might need a new hot water tank. The one that's in there is still doing the job, but the inspector recommended that we go ahead and get a new one. In his experience, hot water tanks are something that typically last 8-10 years... this is is 8 years old. So it might be in our best interest to replace it. Plus, it's a little small at only 30 gallons... with having visitors from time to time, we will likely need a 50 gallon.

But all in all, today was good. Got something's taken care of.


Monday, October 20, 2008

New Furnace tomorrow!!

Tomorrow morning Jackie and I take one step closer to having the house-thing done. We are getting our "Lennex" furnace tomorrow morning... about 9 am.

We're going to swing by on our way to school in the morning. Should be exciting! Might even take a few pictures.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Car Rally 2008

Today's Annual Car Rally turned out to be all middle schoolers. And from all the pictures and reports, everyone had a blast.

We had a perfect fall day... about 60 degrees... bright blue skies... cool temps.

I had to sit back and just laugh afterwards. The teams were pretty even, but even as they arrived at the church they were talking smack to each other... asking questions about the questions and bragging about what they had done or hadn't done.

It's always amazing how competitive church activities can become. But everyone in the end said that they did have some fun roaming around the area, figuring out clues, sitting on rocks and visiting Starbucks and Fermilab.

In the end, there was a clear winner. (They are the last team pictured.) That always makes it easier. If it would have been 1 team winning by 1 point, the whining would have never stopped.

It was a great event.

Thanks to Anne, Kathy and Blaize for driving and making the event work for the students who participated. And congratulations to Will, Ryan, Chris and Ulysses (yes... that is his name... and I think it's pretty sweet) on the big win!!


Friday, October 17, 2008

House Hunters... Frustration!!!


Today was a frustrating day. We were filled with meetings... so filled that I had to cancel a previously scheduled meeting.

First, we met with our mortgage guy to finalize some numbers there. All was good there.
Second, we met and had lunch with our Realtor. She has been incredible through this whole process. She's super-on-top of her game. All good there.

Then we get over to the house to do the house inspection. Only to discover that we can't do too much on the inspection. First, because of the absence of a furnace, it's impossible to test it out. But it also has left lots of un-capped gas lines that will make it impossible to test the gas lines or light the hot-water tank, which also needs to be inspected. (I'm learning as I go...) There were also vents that were open due to the lack of furnace that would mess up things in the inspection.

So, the short of the long of it seems to be that maybe the 24th is unrealistic. We're hoping to get the furnace in on Tuesday... Thursday at the latest. That means the inspection takes place on either Wednesday or Friday. Bummer... not making the 24th as a closing date.

But then I get a call from our "super-on-top of it Realtor" and she says that the bank, who owns the property, had called her. Previously they had said that the close could not be between the 25th of the month and the end of the month. They seemed to be saying that there might be a possibility of closing in that time period afterall.

So, things are still moving in the right direction. We won't likely be closing on the 24th, but maybe the first of that next week. We'll see... and hope... for the best.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A little closer to HOME!


We've officially got a contract on 705 Chesterfield, North Aurora!!!! We are still shooting for a close date of next Friday... October 24th... but we have much to do before then.

But we're a little closer to home! Home inspection on Friday. Furnace hopefully soon.

Much to do!!!

And grass that needs mowed. Scary!


(Read more about this house HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Poll Everywhere... on PDYM blog...

I'm with Nick Carnes and a group of other guys who are trying to make some more blog posts over at the Purpose Driven Youth Ministry blog... found HERE.

The PDYM blog is there as a resource for other youth workers to find help, support and to ask questions. We want to encourage the youth ministry community. And so, we're doing that in a variety of ways.

But one of those ways that we're trying to do that is by sharing thoughts, ideas, what's working, what's not working, resources and anything else that we feel might be helpful to others.

I just posted a blog over there about "Poll Everywhere." We used this this weekend and our students enjoyed it. Here's a snipet of my article:
"If your students are anything like mine, about 75% of your high school students and probably 50-60% of your middle school students are carrying cell phones. Most of them have "unlimited" or nearly unlimited text messaging.
This weekend we tried out an online service from I had heard about it before... in fact, the worship minister at my church had shared it with me. But it was one of "those" ideas that I shelved. This weekend we pulled it off and it worked really, really well."

If you want to read the rest of the article, you can find it HERE.



Weekend wrap-up...

We had a really great weekend this weekend at both Live Wire and High Voltage. I'm sitting on the couch doing my usual Sunday night ritual (watching Sunday night football (in this case, the Pats losing at the Chargers and wishing that I had some different players in my fantasy line-up). But I'm also thinking about the weekend.
  • This was the second weekend of having a student band. This has been a great return our weekend line-up that we've been missing. Justin, our weekend worship guy, is doing a great job with these few students... Will D., Will P., Amanda K., Sarah R., and Andrew M. and they are actually beginning to work well together. Plus, the students who are present at the weekend service are taking well to it.
  • We did a couple of fun things this weekend. First, we made THIS video into a countdown timer (with the first part trimmed out). Our current series, YHWH TXT, has a text message over theme, so it made a fun start. Second, we incorporated in a texting poll vote from They have a simple to use texting service where anyone can text in a vote on a specific question and their most basic package is free! Very cool. Finally, we set up our student text messaging system from Simply Youth Ministry to send the final portion of our outline to our students about 3 minutes after church was over... so they got up, walked out and got in their cars and boom, they got a text.
  • We also started a new series this weekend called "YHWH TXT." We're dealing with the 7 letters to the churches in Asia Minor from Revelation and Jesus' call to endure. It should be a fun series. I don't think that in almost 10 years of youth ministry, that I have done a series on the weekend dealing with Revelation exclusively. So we'll see how it goes. But since it's about some of these churches, there will be some cross pollination between other books (i.e. Acts, Ephesians, etc).
  • But finally... we had good crowds this weekend. And it's not about numbers and I know that... but it's just so much more encouraging when we put extra time and energy in (which we did with the band... the texting stuff... etc) to see a good student turnout.
All in all it was an encouraging weekend.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Next Couple of Weeks...

Are going to be a bit insane.

I'm really not kidding. I was looking at my schedule over the next couple of weeks, and it's going to get nuts before it gets better. Here's what I've got coming up:
  • Saturday Service Project this Saturday
  • Car Rally Saturday October 18th
  • Fall Retreat October 31-November 2
  • All the house stuff coming up... including a possible close on October 25
  • Elder/Staff Planning Retreat on October 25
  • School Stuff... including an autobiographical paper due October 28th and a test in one of my classes...
It's going to be a busy couple of weeks. In fact, at this point I'm just hoping and praying that I can make it through the next couple of weeks and make it to November 3rd.

But I find myself wondering, "Who did this to me?"

Then I look in the mirror and remind myself that "I did." My life and world and schedule can get so out of balance sometimes. And I really have no one else to blame other than myself. Sure, things are going to come up. Pressure is going to mount. But ultimately, I have most of the control.

Life about balance. And I allow it to get out of balance.

So for the next couple of weeks, I'll be hoping and praying for balance and that I can get everything done. And quietly resolving not to do this to myself again. (But I probably will.)


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Gathering... in a picture...

My buddy, Nick Carnes, posted a picture from the Gathering.

This says in a picture what I was trying to say HERE. (Thanks Nick.)

A picture really does say a 1000 words.


Friday, October 03, 2008



It's official. The bank has accepted our offer on House #8... 705 Chesterfield Lane, North Aurora. We don't have the completed contract yet... but will hopefully on Monday. There is a furnace issue dealing with getting a 2nd quote and other assorted details before we will be ready to sign the final contract.

It's a great little house. But it needs some serious work... about $27,000 worth of work. It needs a furnace, some plumbing work, new floors throughout (both tile and carpet), paint, drywall fixed in a couple of place, appliances and a few other things). But it's really a great deal and we're really excited about giving it new life.

It's a foreclosure property and so we're working towards a short close date of October 25th. Part of doing that is for a couple of reasons. First, it's going to need some work. So the quicker we close, the quicker we can get to the work and the quicker we can move in. We have to give 60 days notice at our apartment complex and so that will work out perfectly (if it all goes to plan). We've also got a couple of things coming up and it would be great to be in before the Holidays... we actually talked this morning about Christmas Lights outside!!! So it should be fun.

It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bath split level home with a 2 car garage. The main level features a living room and eat-in dining room with kitchen. The family room, bedroom #3 (which we'll likely use as a den), and a full bath is down stairs. There is a basement (with hot water tank, washer and dryer, etc) on
down in an unfinished part that we might make into a game room someday. Upstairs is the Master Bedroom, bedroom #2 and a full bath. The house size is approximately 1500 square feet. So, it's nice size, but not too bad. And it's got a pretty good size backyard that is unfenced (that's the neighbor's fence in the picture below). The house itself is on a subdivision with no through streets... so it seems pretty quiet.

So... It's moving ahead!!! I've talked with our Realtor the last couple of days (while in California) ironing out the final details. Looks fun.

Here's the pictures... Just so you know:
#1 - Outside from street
#2 - Kitchen and Living Room looking up from Family Room
#3 - Kitchen from Eat-In-Dining area
#4 - Family Room from EIDR
#5 - Backyard
(I would have put pics of the bedrooms... but empty rooms are empty rooms.)

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of our (hopefully) new home. More pictures to come as we begin the remodel hopefully in a few weeks.


This year's Gathering loot

Here's a photo of this year's Gathering loot.

One of the great things about the Gathering is that they always load us up on free resources and books. (We (Doug Fields and Nick Carnes) scammed Andy Brazelton out of a free copy of PDYM for the whole crew. In fact, we spent a considerable amount of time and will spend it over the next couple of months working a 2nd edition of PDYM. I'm planning to help out.)

The notable resource this year is the new copy of the LIVE Bible from Group. It looks really sharp and may become the new Bible that we give to students when they are baptized.

I'm looking forward to digging into the loot a little more.



Just touched down at Midway... Home from the Gathering... That's
Chicago off in the distance. Good to be home!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Waiting in Vegas...

Right now, I'm sitting on the floor in the Vegas airport with my back against the wall and my iPod is charging. I'm hoping that I'll have enough charge to make it through a movie and whatever songs I need to get me back to Chicago tonight...

While my iPod battery is almost empty (and my iPhone's too). My heart is full.

The last couple of days have been incredible. I love the Gathering. Definitely the best part is catching up with old friends (and by the way, if this is short it's because I've got to catch my flight). But what an incredible time of talking about houses, ministries, students, programs, purposes, plans... but most importantly... talking about life. And talking about life with guys that I'm doing life with in one form or another (sometimes Twitter... sometimes blogs... sometimes emails... sometimes texts... and sometimes face to face). But it was great to walk into a room full of people that I care about and care about me... and to know that they don't care about me for any reason relating to ministry. They just want to know how things are in my life.

Not that there aren't others in my life that are that way. There are. (And you know who you are...) But it's great to have so many of them together in one room at one place. The room where we met had 6 tables. I could sit down at everyone of them and know that I'm sitting with friends.

I'm leaving finding myself feeling very encouraged... and ready for another phase of ministry and life. And that's what the Gathering is all about. I have lots of ideas in my moleskine... but my heart is full.

Thanks Doug, Neely and others who helped to fill it up... (and I won't mention names because I will forget someone).


Gotta love Vegas!

Get off the plane in Vegas... Gotta love it. First sight: slot

Gathering's 2nd highest score

Doug Fields was the only one to top my 139 bowling at the Gathering...
And he did at 159!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Bowling at the gathering

We're bowling tonight and eating some appetizers tonight!!

Gathering 1st night

Everyone hanging and mingling at the gathering... Good first night...