I have never paid for a ringtone. Not that I am cheap, I just like creating things.  I use the app Ringtone Designer. With Ringtone Designer you can create custom ringtones, text tones, and alerts from songs on your iPhone. It is simple to create and easy to install. If you like FREE, this is for you. If you do not mind paying, Ringtone Designer Pro is .99 for a limited time. Check out this video to see if it is for you:

Someone actually did this.

It’s called “The Infinite Cat Project.”


infinite_catFirst of all, I hate cats.

Hang on… “hate” is a strong word.

Allow me to clarify.

I hate cats.

For all the reasons that have already been covered by stand-up comics, as well as the fact that when I was eleven a cat attacked me.

I’ll tell you what, though… he did catch some amazing air when I defended myself.

Allow me to clarify.

I hate cats.

That said…

this is brilliant, right?

It got me thinking…

what is something I’m up to that someone else hates?

How can I get them to look at it from another angle and end up saying, “This is brilliant, right?”

What is that “thing” for you?

How could you share it from a new, creative angle and gain a new hearing?

My husband and I got pregnant with our first baby almost immediately after getting married. It was a quick move from single, to married, to having a family in ministry. Within just 3 years after marriage, there were five of us. From the start we have understood that taking care of our marriage and our family is vital. It can be easy to be “off doing ministry” for others while forgetting to be a good steward of those at home.

We have found that if we do not make the time to take care of those at home ministry is lost. All that our talk about “family focus” becomes null if our own family doesn’t know their importance. I have friends who have one parent who “stays at home,” are able to create their own schedules or home school. My observation has been that they can make space during the day for kids especially, that we just don’t have. Financial needs have dictated two paychecks in our home. I wish I were called to homeschool. It lasted for my kiddos and me less than 24 hours. It can be especially difficult when one of you are in “paid ministry” while the other is working a “secular job.”

So what ARE some practical things you can do to create family time?

Jesus and then Marriage:

Find time with Jesus just because you love Him. Focus on your spouse BEFORE you focus on your kids. Make sure your marriage is healthy with Christ at the center. If it is not, then having a conversation about family is wasted.


Learn our kids:

You may have heard of the “Love Languages” or personality tests. These are great tools to help understand how your children best feel loved and cared for. Different kids have different needs, ways of communicating and methods they feel cared for.


“Sacred” Family Time Once A Week:

This is time set aside where your only focus is on being together as a family, more than a meal,  several hours where you have fun and just get to know each other as a family.


Sitting Down Time:

It might be impossible to have a full meal together with the schedules in your family. We tried breakfast for a while and none of us were awake. The point is to take at least 30 min a day when you are openly communicating with each other as a family.


Start young and keep it up.

I used to think that there “would come a day when my kids would be too old for…”  Now that my children are  mostly teens we see they need and want us more than ever.  Start habits when they are babies that open lines of communication and keep it up. We “tuck our kids” in to bed. It’s different than the toddler years, but this is now often the time of day our kids know they will get our full attention.


Vacations and Holidays:

It’s important to say it again: Taking an extended time with my family once a year is essential. It’s when we remember we like each other It doesn’t have to be something huge or expensive. Just take time. During holidays when ministry seems to want all of our time, create spaces that let your kids know they are more important than your “responsibilities.”


Electronic Limits:

Is there a time of day when everyone is “docked” and you are all disconnected from technology?  This one takes more discipline for some of us than others. All of us need to stop multitasking and connect with those we live with for a few moments each day.

The point simply is to FIND time as a family. Those we live with need to know they are more important than any of the other people we “minister” to.

- Leneita

YM_pc try it banner

social-media-imageI am always looking for ways to connect with students, but in my ministry context it is hard to connect over the summer. Here are 5 “Summer Connecting” ideas to help you get touchpoints with your students during these sporadic few months.

• Social Media Contest:
Send out a tweet, Instagram pic, status update, or mass text message telling students you will be at a specific location (ex. Starbucks, McDonalds, or Good Burger: Home of the Good Burger). If you have margin in your budget offer to buy for everyone, or just the first 5 to show up.

• Mail a Gift Card:
Just a send letter to a few students you want to connect with and add a gift card. No agenda other than to connect and encourage, this is something that will be remembered.

• Mass Text Message:
I use Simply Youth Ministry TOOLS to text blast my staff and students. Pray for every student by name one morning and send a text blast letting them know you prayed for them. Or break your list down to a more personal, manageable size and text a few a day. If you decide to narrow down your group, you can text pre-prayer and ask for requests.

• Postagram:
Grab a selfie with a student and send it to them with the Postagram app.

Are you connecting with your students in a techy way? Please share how in the comments below.

Quit Wine-ing?

 —  July 24, 2014 — Leave a comment

This generation likes to whine.

No surprise, right?

Apparently Millennials also like to “wine.”

teen-drinking-wineAccording to FoxBusiness.com, Millenials are changing the wine industry:

The Millennial generation, which includes the youngest legal drinkers, is consuming more wine than previous generations when they turned 21, and the industry is taking note….

“Historically, wine has been marketed to older generations and came with a huge pretense,” says Melissa Saunders, owner of wine importer Communal Brands. “But this generation is blowing all of that out of the water. They don’t care about the pretentiousness of a wine, they want something that is authentic and speaks to them. This is a huge marketing opportunity.”

Many cultures allow teenagers to drink alcohol at younger ages than America does. That’s not necessarily slowed down parents and extended family from slipping kids “a sip of wine” at weddings or other celebrations.

What do you make of this?

10397027_812420915457057_1526065733405536655_oLast week I had the privilege of emceeing Challenge, the national conference for EFCA students. There were about 4500 students and 1000 youth workers. The energy was high, the students were dialed in to learning and serving, and the adult leaders were committed shepherds…I was encouraged and impressed. These “6 Things I Learned About Youth Ministry While Emceeing a Conference” are not brand new, but they rose to the top of my learning as good reminders of why and how I do what I do as a youth worker. These 5 things are mirrored in youth ministry but were amplified in a way that helped sharpen me in my ministry. I hope they do the same for you.

  • Pray:
    This conference was prayed for like no other event I have ever been part of. When I was asked to take on the role of emcee I received a job description with direction and expectations. Prayer was in it multiple times, and not in a churchy way, but in a way of humility and expectation…”we cannot do this without prayer.” Leadership was asked to pray before entering into any work for the conference. So, if I was going to sit and work on a game idea for 30 minutes I prayed first. They weren’t being legalistic, they were being expectant…This is God’s. Let’s raise the level of prayer. This has changed the way I enter into any work I do.
  • Make Students the Stars:
    In the picture above you see me with a hand full of students on a couch. It’s an idea I pitched to the leadership asking them if I could bring students on stage every morning and run a 5 to 7 minutes small group recapping everything from the conference. This helped thread the theme throughout the entire week and it put peers on stage which was a huge win. When preparing for ministry nights I look for ways to put students on the stage in a way that makes them and Jesus look good (if I can find ways to have them communicate biblical truth to their peers I let them). How are you doing this in your ministry? I would love to hear in the comments below.
  • Every time I am behind the mic I am an influencer (and every time a student sees me off stage I am an influencer):
    Anyone in the spotlight has a measure of influence. I have heard professional athletes say, “I did not sign up to be a role model.” It does not matter if that is reason they signed up…people are watching (impressionable people). I am not comparing myself to a pro-athlete. I’m just saying there was a stewardship of leadership on and off the stage. Just like walking in the halls and teaching back in my church, I needed to be intentional with my time and words.
  • Get the rest you need:
    Sure, I need to take care of my body, but I need to be ready to engage in conversation at any moment. I need down time and I have never noticed it as much as I did this week. Without rest I am crabby, short, and impersonal. With rest I am ready, have more patience, and am more fun to be around. Rest = Readiness. When I am reseted I can focus on others better, when I am exhausted I focus on me more.
  • Every interaction has the potential to be special:
    I am not a big deal (I was there to serve), but students thought I was a big deal, so they thought it was a big deal, when I treated them like a big deal.
    I prayed with students.
    I interacted on social media with students.
    I jumped into small group conversations with students and their leaders.
    I ate with students.
    I leveraged my position to make their experience great. How can we do that in our ministry context? How are you making a big deal out of the students in your ministry?
  • I need others:
    When you are on stage or needed somewhere else, or on vacation, or whatever…who will be taking care of the other things (students, administration, the music, your leadership team, etc). If you do everything you are in danger of burning out and not letting others shine. Watching all the moving parts reminded me how important it is to nurture my volunteers and student leaders. Ministry nights are not about “ME,” there are built by “WE.” Together more can happen, multiplying is hard but worth it.

Recently a good friend of mine told me I couldn’t “feel” her pain. She is in her mid-30’s in full time ministry and single. I was engaged by 24, married at 25, babies by 26.

She’s right I happened to get married and have kids pretty quickly. However, I started working in some form of ministry very young, and I know what it’s like to be single, and in ministry.

I know what it’s like to have people walk up to you and ask,  “When you will be next?” when they hear of the engagement of anyone in a 5 mile vicinity. In America we do not have pre-arranged marriages, so I was never sure how to “make this happen.” At the same time everyone thinks you have all the free time, so you can just be the one to “drop your life” when “something needs to be done.”

There seem to be plenty of books out there (especially for us girls) about how we are supposed to make Jesus the center of our lives then we are “ready” for our spouse. This is what I was taught. If I could just “Kiss Dating Goodbye,” and be about the Lord, then my husband would come. It was almost like he was locked behind a door, that would get opened when I had enough faith in Jesus. The problem of course is that we are pursuing Christ while having one eye open on the moment we arrive at enough “Jesus time” to “deserve a spouse.”

Us “married in ministry” folks do a miserable time at helping a lot of times. I  have realized as my friends reach over 30 I don’t always know how to be supportive. The reality is that all of my friends, who aren’t married, would like to be. Yet, at the same time, I know we can’t wave a magic wand and our “prince” shows up. How many of us have heard stories of parents and grandparents who knew each other for like a week and then planned a wedding soon thereafter, only to go on to be married for 50 years? So in our idiocy we start looking around for viable options of other “singles” for you. You date someone for like a minute and we want to talk about the wedding. We mean well, but we are not always helpful.

Part of the solution is that we realize unmarried does not equal undead. Paul himself talked about ministry and singleness being a good combination. You can’t just snap fingers and “get married” so living like you need it to come along any sec can just be frustrating. So my “single” friends know that for now they do just focus on where Christ has them and then see if/when a spouse comes along. So I guess this article is really to us married folks. We need to back off, and for now, let the single be single.

God has each life… He really does…

(This is the promised 3rd and final post in this series on using older folks in our YM. Phyliss’ story of being 76 and how God called her to do her part with girls at camp is a wake up for us all. Read her thoughts for yourself. – Stephanie) 

My adventure began with an intriguing question: “Would you like to be the Camp Grandma at our Soul Sisterhood Retreat Camp Grandmanext summer?” My reply to Amanda was, “What is a Camp Grandma and tell me about the job description!” I’ll never forget her answer: “Just be there for the girls and love them up.”

Now I have participated in six sessions of Soul Sisterhood retreats and I am so glad that I accepted that invitation. Over the years I realize that what I enjoy most is meeting new people and learning their stories. This new challenge and experience at Soul Sisterhood retreats gives me carte blanche in interacting with these young girls.

The campers come to South Fork Farm with their dreams, expectations, challenges and, for those who have never experienced a sleep-away camp, there is even some apprehension. Most of them seem very confident and sociable, especially if they come with good friends or relatives. They immediately jump into action, enjoying the chatter and activities of camp. But in every group there are those who seem somewhat shy and unsure. I gravitate toward these “slow starters” who linger on the edges of the activities. I feel somehow that because I am an older woman and the “grandma” figure, they sense that I am not judging them. If I ask them about their families, their pets, their favorite food, their favorite vacation experience, they will open up. When that happens – when that shy frown turns into a glowing smile – my heart soars!   This is my greatest joy – to see that young lady share a part of herself with me.

Another gift of being Camp Grandma is the lift that I receive from experiencing the girls’ energy and curiosity. These campers are filled with hope and plans for the future. They are talented and driven to make a difference in their world. Also, they seem to enjoy hearing my frequent anecdotes about the “olden days” when I was their age. All of this exposure to their youth and innocence makes me hopeful for what lies ahead in this country.

Most importantly for me in my role as Camp Grandma is my hope that I play a part in helping these campers realize that our lives are all entwined and connected. We are all daughters of our King and Lord. They see our staff working together, supporting each other and showing respect for our differences. If I had a quarter for every time one of us says “Great job!” to a camper or to another staff member, I would be a very rich Grandma.

This Soul Sisterhood ministry is vitally important in developing the faith lives of each camper. Amanda has created a wonderful experience. She has given the campers an opportunity to witness the love, support, devotion of each other and of the staff members. I feel privileged to have been invited to be a part of this project. My prayer is that I will be able physically and mentally to play the role for many years.