Happy New Years!

Happy New Year!

Happy new year, all! I hope you had good and safe fun during last night’s festivities!

Engine #6I was on the road at 12:10am last night. For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you probably saw a tweet about this. I was leaving the Liberty right after midnight and was on Elizabeth Ave crossing Broad Street towards the courthouse. I saw, out of the left corner of my eye, two engines pull out of the Broad St firehouse, lights ablazin’ and sirens blaring. They came toward my direction with great acceleration as I pulled over and let them pass. I remembered then that, while walking to my car, I heard the distant crackling of a large amount of fireworks, mostly illegal I supposed. I would assume that someone rang in the new year by setting their home afire within 10 minutes of the ball dropping. Nice! I couldn’t help but chuckle a little while still feeling a little sad for the situation.

From the stageAnyway, I went to my church’s New Year’s gathering last night before the fire incident. I wasn’t aware I was supposed to be running sound for the night, so I planned on showing up “fashionably late.” Alas, I received a call about 15 minutes before the start asking if I was coming becuase they needed a tech there. So I geared up with haste and made my way to the Liberty Center. I walked in the door as they were starting to play the first song. There was a guy there who I’ve been training that got the stuff turned on and running, but quickly passed it to me when I arrived. It was a night of prayer and worship. Pretty good. A lot of people showed up… a lot more than I expected to. I think we had about 300 or so. I added a few photos from the night here, on Flickr.

I don’t have much scheduled for today. I’m trying to find something to do. I don’t think any stores will be open, and I’m having a hard time find people with which to do something. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just go shower and then head out and see what becomes of things.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great New Year’s holiday! Peace be with you.

Unwrapping Christmas, and general updates

Merry Christmas

Hey everybody. It’s been awhile. A long while. It seems I’ve dropped off the face of the earth the past few weeks, and I apologize for it.

My father going into the hospital really set me back. So many things were put on hold or postponed or cancelled. I tried, at the start to post something small every day, but going back and forth to the hospital in New York, spending all day in tiny hospital rooms and lobbies, fighting traffic in the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, and still trying to do Christmas things in the (late) evenings… it took it’s toll.

Merry Christmas to meWell, the good news is that my father was, in fact, released from the hospital the day before Christmas Eve. We weren’t sure if it was going to even be possible for him to be home for the holidays, but thank God it all worked out. Christmas was good this year, as you’ve already heard if you listen to my Utterz. I was sick on Christmas Eve and Day, but am feeling much better now. I got a Mr Potato Head. No, seriously. I mean, I did get some gift cards and cash, but I can honestly say I got a Potato Head for Christmas. 🙂 Actually I didn’t want anything. Especially as of late I’ve become dissatisfied with how commercialism has taken over what Christmas is really about.

ConsumerismEven while I was out shopping for gifts for my family and friends I was watching the frenzy people were in running here and there, shopping carts bursting to overflowing, clearing the shelves of every toy and department store. And while it is an amazing and beautiful thing to remember the gift God gave us on Christmas 2000 years ago by giving to those we love, it seemed a bit off to me. Maybe not off. Excessive is a better word perhaps. I heard a teaching in the weeks leading up to Christmas via podcast from a church that my friend goes to in Indy. The teaching and movement they were proposing resonated with things already stirring in me and helped refocus my priorities for this holiday season. I live in the most blessed nation on the planet. We have way more than we could ever need. Yet still there are millions within our own borders and billions outside them who can’t even afford life’s basic necessities. And so I decided to join the conspiracy and give away a significant portion of my “Christmas budget” to bring relief, aide, and justice to those who lack it. It forced me to rethink my shopping and spending. Let me tell you, I realized even moreso how easy it is to fall into the traps of overspending and excessiveness . It was a struggle to keep the dollar amounts down. But forcing myself to do it on top of my father being in the hospital really spoke volumes to me. I mean, what’s really more important? Getting a new iPhone of Xbox 360, or the fact that everyone in my family was able to gather in relatively good health and celebrate the season together? In comparison who really cares about money and stuff?

Honestly, there’s so much more I have to say about stuff that’s happened over the past few weeks, but it’s after 2am and I’m still extremely tired. I don’t even know if what I’ve typed tonight makes any sense. I’m too tired to go back and read through it and edit. It is what it is at this point. I think I may have to take my leave for now. Tomorrow is going to be a long day as well, but maybe I can blog more on Saturday.

In the mean time you can see what I’ve been up to by visiting my Flickr account. I’ve uploaded close to 300 images of my journies and experiences for your enjoyment. Recently added, you’ll find sets of:

1. The School 23 Christmas Party
2. Carlos’ Christmas Dinner for the 4th Ward
3. The Sanctuary’s Christmas Worship Service
4. Our journey to Tuscarora Inn and some Cracker Barrel!
5. My Small Group’s Christmas Dinner
6. Angelica’s School Christmas Concert
7. Castro’s 21st Birthday Dinner
8. The Bridge: Midtown‘s Christmas Party
9. My father’s hospital journies & random shots around NYC.
10. Visiting the Rockafeller Center Christmas Tree
11. Christmas 2007
12. Playing Transformers Risk
13. and finally, a set for photos not in a set – so you can find the most recent random images quickly amidst the mass uploading of other galleries.

5th Ave, Manhattan My turn?

Of course you can always follow me on Twitter or now on Utterz to see exactly what I’m up to right at that moment.

NYWC St Louis Wrap Up and Image Show Off

Well, we’re back. In all honesty, we’ve been back for several days now. We arrived back in the great state of NJ Monday night. I’ve just been running around hither and thither and had no time to blog. Actually I have a pretty good story from yesterday about our wee excursion to New York City, trekking across the length of three boroughs and a fine evening of dining in Chinatown, but perhaps I shall save that for another entry.

Group shotThis is about the convention. It was amazing. I’ve been stressed about a great many things. Some of which I have spoken of here, others I have not for the reason that there are some that read my words and it would cause more problems than it’s worth. (Censorship, even if not direct, is great, isn’t it?) Anywho, life was crazy. I started vacation at 3:30pm on October 26 and it has been amazing ever since. Life is good. Quite good.

We left for the convention on Halloween night (happy birthday to Sarah). I have already spoken of the beginning adventures of the trip in recent posts, but due to crappy or overpriced Internet connections was unable to continue the blogs.

The entire experience was great. I took many informative and/or challenging seminars, including:

1. God’s Word on Center Stage: Leading a Biblically Centered Youth Ministry – Our Critical Concern. 8 hour course. Lots of good ideas on how to keep the ministry focuses and even how to plan teachings and flesh out ideas. I will use some of them this week as I prepare to speak on Sunday.

2. Deep Justice in a Broken World with Chap Clark – Really good. Had an “ouch moment” in the beginning as Chap ripped apart traditional concepts of service and what is important in the Christian life and approached the issue from a different angle. I think he’s on to something though.

3. Theological Tools… with Tony Jones – Dude is mad smart and incredibly deep. Some things I agreed with. Others I think he might be a bit off on. It all comes down to interpretation. Very challenging though. I enjoyed it.

4. Caring for God’s Creation: How to Involve Ministry in Environmental Stewardship with Peter Illyn – Not too impressed with this one… not because it was bad, but because it was nothing I haven’t heard before. I did get a free “I love God’s Creation” sticker though. Rock on!

5. Developing a Strong Volunteer Team with Doug Fields – Doug is the man. He has a whole lot of youth ministry experience and knows what he’s talking about, mostly because (as he says) he has made so many mistakes in the past. You should listen to his podcast.

As suggested, I skipped two seminars. One, I slept through. 🙂 The other I went to the prayer chapel to, well, pray. It was great. Quiet. Refreshing. Awesome.

I'm a fireThe General Sessions are always my favorite. Lots of great speakers – Duffy Robbins, Chris Hill, Lynne Hybels, Doug Fields, Greg Stier, Ralph Winter, and Marko. I must say that I think Marko was the best this year. He nailed it on the head. Great ideas about Youth Ministry 3.0. Gonna have to order that one on mp3. Crowder was fun as always. I heard Matt Maher and Jeff Johnson for the first time leading worship. I liked Matt Maher. Jeff Johnson not so much. Just not my style. I think Starfield stole the show, if that is possible, with worship. They were awesome. Jars of Clay, Flatfoot 56, Family Force 5, Ayiesha Woods, and Lost and Found provided musical entertainment. I was most into Jars and Ayiesha. Skit Guys were hilarious as always. Ted and Company were there for other skit performances. Somehow it was weird since Lee wasn’t there since he died. It wasn’t the same chemistry Ted and Lee had. Ah well.

The Skit GuysLate night was great. The best was the comedy show. Gut-busting hilarity. Then again, the Skit Guys, I think, were even better. Improv and ad lib all over the place, and it was all pure comedic gold. Laughter is awesome.

Then there was the community. It was great to be around so many other insane people. Felt like home. Met Mike Kupferer finally. I follow him on Twitter and we are friends on Facebook. Got to talk to Marko for all of 5 seconds, but it was still cool. Met some people who incessantly mocked NJ. They’re lucky the airport took our shanks, else we might have had a rumble. 🙂

Anyway, this is quite excessively long. I shall end it here. I could go on, but it would just be more and more ramblings of how much I enjoyed myself. Our group looks forward to the Pittsburgh convention next year.

I have uploaded several to many graphical images of the convention to Flickr. Be sure to view them and comment and do other such social networking things.

Until next time, peace be with you.

Group shot.

Of photography and illnesses

https://i2.wp.com/www.opt.pacificu.edu/ce/catalog/11466-PH/claritin.jpgI feel like I am on the verge of illness. That’s not a metaphorical statement. I think I’m actually getting sick. I’ve felt all achy and sore all day long… like a  dark fever is trying to tighten it’s grip on my being. It, however, has not been successful as of yet. Since I’ve been home from work I’ve also developed some congestion and a headache and other fever-like symptoms. I hope and pray that it all comes to nothing and tomorrow I will be fine. We shall see.

But over the past few days I have been feverishly (pun intended) trying to get my Flickr account up to date. There have been several rather large galleries I’ve wanted to upload but have not really found the time to do. Well, I’m all caught up now. So head on over to my Flickr page and see all the goodess that is there.

New sets include

The Escape
My Photographies
Water Balloon Warfare
Mets vs Padres
The Liberty Center
and Washington DC

Also updated: Home Renovatus

There are some photos not in galleries that you can brows through as well, if you feel so inclined.

Beauty and Pain

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Lots of pictures

Sorry I haven’t posted much. Some of this is due to the fact that I have been photographing a lot of things lately and have not been at the comptuer too much. And many of those images are now on my Flickr account.

View all my sets by clicking here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/whartz/sets/

There are two brand new sets added, one from The Connexion vs Common Ground softball game and one from a recent trip to NY. Other galleries, such as Home Renovatus and This is My Home are constantly updated.

Time Square Jacky

And I have several more galleries to put up when I get the chance.

I have some ramblings to blog as well, but they shall have to wait until tomorrow as it is time for bed.

Peace be with you all.

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