What My Brother Is Doing This Summer

Editors Note: This is a post I asked my brother, Brian, to write. Since neither of us are home for the summer, I figured it might be nice to let everyone know what he’s been up to.

This summer I am working in the tiny mountain town of Salida, Colorado. I am the Summer youth Intern at First Presbyterian Church. Me and Hilary Downs, the associate pastor, are responsible for running the entire youth department, including but not limited to high school, middle school, and elementary school. Our ministry is almost completely relational and event based. We don’t have enough kids who would come to a weekly kids service to do one. So we basically just plan a lot of events and hang out with the kids. We have also had one 10-day high school mission trip and Hilary is gone on the middle school mission trip right now.

In addition to working with youth, I also have been helping out with the regular services. Almost a month ago, I was the “Lay leader” meaning I was the one who had to know when to go up between each thing and say things like “Please stand as we sing the first song of the morning” or “You may now be seated” and “Please pray with me”. Needless to say, I don’t think I will pursue a career being a lay leader.

And then two weeks ago, I got to sing with the worship team, and this week I gave the sermon at all three services. It was a great experience. Now I am focusing on Day Camp for the K-4th graders. This will be next week and A LOT has to get done before hand. One thing that is sometimes frustrating about small towns is that you will call people and leave them messages and some times several messages and you almost NEVER get called back. Apparently, it’s just the way things are here, which is fine but makes planning events a nightmare. If I want people to show up, I have to send a flier or postcard like two weeks in advance and then call to remind them. So all this to say I have come to greatly appreciate the youth groups I have worked with before where you could call up a bunch of kids a few hours before an event and still get a better turn out than I do here.

My favorite part of the job has been just doing stuff with high school boys. There is SOOOO much good mountain biking here and so I have been soaking up every ride. And we will get some of the guys together and play paintball at one of the kids ranch. Or I built a sick a jump and we went down to Fronzer lake and jumped mini bikes and scooters into it. It was Awesome.

Note: if you can’t see the video, you may need to click through to the post.

So thats a little bit about my summer.


L’Abri, The Shelter

Huemoz, Switzerland
10 July 2009

I’ve made the first real deviation in my Europe plans today. I broke off from Charlie and Andi this morning and took a train (three actually) to the tiny village of Aigle (which is pronounced “Eegg-le). I’m now waiting for a bus to take me up the mountain to Huemoz, which is near Villars. It is there that I will find L’Abri. As in all cases, I have expectations of what L’Abri is. As in most cases, I’m sure my expections will need to be refigured.

18.0 mm || 1/200 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Aigle, Canton de Vaud, Schweiz

I think this break will do me good. I can feel my mind slowly going bonkers. I’ve been exposed to at least 8 languages, Russian, Estonia, Ukrainian, Turkish, Norsk, Greek, Italian, and now French. I’ve also covered countless kilometers, and spent six nights travling and not in a real bed of any sorts…seven if you count the kitchen floor in Rome.

Despite the fact that Rome and Florence were a bit slower than Greece, I need to find some direction. Not only for my trip, but for me. And I’m hoping that L’Abri will help point me in the right direction.

I have no real plans to journal during the trip, which I think is a bit odd since I would suspect most people would use this as a time to journal explicitly.

I’ll see you on the other side.


Dear Friends

Dear Friends (and Family) in Colorado,

I’m leaving Colorado tomorrow (Tuesday) morning. Leaving Colorado has been one of the most bitter sweet things I think I’ve ever had to do, even more so than at the end high school when I left Seattle for Colorado. The hardest thing for me has been trying to express how I feel. The deep love I have for all of you. The extreme sadness in the fact that I have to go. The giddy delight that I’m returning to Seattle.

I’m sitting in my grandma’s back yard right now, on one of those rocking benches. It’s pitch black out, save the glow from my screen. The wind rustles though the leaves. The wind chime softly sings. It’s one of those perfect moments of reflection, when everything finally comes into focus.

This past year has been amazing. Being a fifth year senior presented a unique set of challenges, and an equally amazing set of opportunities. Most of my friends graduated a year ago, leaving me and just a handful of others left. At the same time, a spark in my faith set me on a journey. I regularly attended church for the first time since leaving Seattle; not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I found an amazing new set of friends through church (both Merge and The Annex). What’s more, this renewed sense of faith found me challenging my beliefs, which is always a good thing, I think. And when I stumbled, you guys were there.

The biweekly Feed1 was often my cornerstone during the week, grounding me when school, and life, was just to much.

At the beginning of this school year, I very desperately wished for school to just be over. However, I’m glad I wasn’t allowed to sleep through these past nine months, as they have easily been my favorite nine months of the last five years. Part of me wishes I could do the first four years over again.

So thank you. To you. To all of you. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for all of you.

With Much Love,


P.S. My hope is that this is not the end. Colorado always has been2 and will continue to be a second home for me. I will be back. And of course, you always have a bed (at least for a few nights) at my place in Seattle.

  1. a bunch of us would get together at Lance’s house (usually) for dinner, s’mores, and company 

  2. both my parents are born and raised in Colorado, and all my extended relatives live in Colorado 

Notes From The Annex, Part 4

Several months ago, November 4th, 2008, to be exact, Gordon MacDonald came and spoke at The Annex. To say he was amazing would be an understatement.

The Annex listed some of his books, which I’m now listing here, so I check them out at a later date (and I can throw out this piece of paper I’ve been holding on to for the last 6 months).

  • Renewing Your Spiritual Passion
  • Who Stole My Church?: What to Do When the Church You Love Tries to Enter the 21st Century
  • Ordering Your Private World
  • Mid-Course Correction: Re-Ordering Your Private World for the Second Half of Life
  • When Men Think Private Thoughts: Exploring The Issues That Captivate The Minds of Men
  • A Resilient Life: You Can Move Ahead No Matter What
  • Rebuilding Your Broken World
  • The Life God Blesses: Weathering the Storms of Life That Threaten the Soul
  • The Effective Father
  • Restoring Joy

Notes from The Annex, Part 2

My notes from Bill Stephens talk at The Annex, A Loving Response, February 24, 2009.

Potentially relevant passage: James 2:14-17 (NLT)

Two misconceptions:

  1. God loves us, therefore we are saved for eternity, thus our actions don’t matter
  2. God loves us, therefore I don’t deserve it, this I work my butt off to earn eternity. (“Checklist faith”)

Other things I wrote down:

  • Max Akaido (spelling?)
  • Holy Sweat
  • A love story: Love is what connects me and God.
  • God could show himself, but would that wipe out faith?

Notes from The Annex

My notes from Bill Stephens talk at The Annex, Just around the riverbend…C’mon, the unknown future sucks!, March 10, 2009

Potentially relevant passages: James 4:13-17

What I learned in the battle of the unknown future:

  1. I can’t always trust my emotions
  2. It could go either way
  3. Strong Godly voices are strong Godly voices
  4. Getting more information is not as satisfying as it seems
  5. No information and trusting in God is better than partial information and trusting in myself

Think about the:

  • Present: 80% of the time
  • Future: 10% of the time
  • Past: 10% of the time

Other things I wrote down:

  • Railroad Theology
  • Stay close, even if you don’t want to. Trust.

My Faith Journey

I wrote this at the beginning of the year for a missionary organization that I was applying to. I ended up withdrawing my application for other reasons, however, I thought this was worth sharing. And what better day to share than Easter? He is Risen.

I’ve never really been sure how to best answer this question. I do not believe there is a single identifiable point in time where I became a Christian. I was raised in a loving Christian home, as both my parents are Christian’s. My faith has been, and continues to be, a wonderful journey of understanding. Along the way, I have developed a relationship with the Lord that I can call my own. My goal is to seek Him, incessantly. I can, however, identify some critical points in my journey.

High school was a time when a lot of my faith flourished. I went on student trip to Lake Shasta through my church and an organization called Sonshine Ministries. I became part of an amazing Bible study that, even after high school ended, still stays in contact with each other regularly.

College has been hard though. I attended Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Campus Crusade for Christ for a little while my freshman year, but it was radically different from what I was used to and I soon stopped going. Sophomore year, I tried going to a variety of different churches around my school. Toward the end of my sophomore year, I thought I had finally found a church: First Presbyterian Church of Golden. I went for the remainder of sophomore year and the start of my junior year. However, it just wasn’t sticking. I found the sermons uninteresting and inapplicable in my life. The audience was also predominately older couples and children, there were practically no college age students. So I gave up and coasted for a while, going to church only when I was back in Seattle.

When I was back this last summer, I was talking with our senior pastor, Earl Palmer, and some friends from my Bible Study. One question came up about how to find another church away from home. Part of what I got out of the that discussion is that I was missing something when I was trying to find a church in the past: the community.

When I got back to school this past fall, I called up a friend, Matt, and asked if he wanted to go this church I’d heard about, Flatirons Community Church. As it turned out, he was already planning on carpooling up with another mutual friend, so we all carpooled together. After church, Matt introduced me to his community at church. This is when I stopped coasting in my faith. I had found community within a church; which is the part I had been missing previously. And it has been an absolute blessing to be in this community.

I have been enjoying going to Flatirons. I’ve also been going to The Annex (a college ministry run by First Presbyterian Boulder) on Tuesdays and I recently volunteered to drive freshmen from their dorms to The Annex and back.


Failing with Grace

The other morning, I was thinking about one my goals for this year: Failing with Grace. I don’t think that’s quite right; I think it should be: Failing into Grace.


My Life as a Beach Ball

Sometimes, I feel as though my life is like a beach ball. I’m walking along the beach, between the crashing waves and the rocks, carrying my beach ball. Most of the time, I hold on the beach ball because I’m afraid of loosing it in the water.

Every once in a while, though, I’ll toss up my beach ball. The reasons vary. Sometimes out of frustration, sometimes to see what happens, sometimes because I want to. Whatever the reason, I really think I need to let go of my beach ball more often and trust that God (the prevailing Wind) keeps it out of the water. For the times that I do trust God, I’m usually pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

And for the times I’m not, fail with grace.