About Impact

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chick Nite - Jan 09

Tonight our high school guys were playing video games at the church with some of our leaders while I had the chance to hang out with some of our incredible high school ladies and phenominal leaders. We changed things up a bit and went ice skating at Merrifield park and then played games as we warmed up at Castle Manor. I had a blast!

I haven't skated in years and was very nervous about it. I'm not always a huge fan of new things. However, it turns out I'm not that bad of a skater. Who would have known?!

As exciting as that was, one of my favorite highlights was starting the fire in our cabin in record time! No we didn't use a starter log or lighter fluid. It was the craziest thing ever...well...except for our massive game of STRAWS!!!

Sure you've played Spoons and I'm sure you have lots of great stories but none of them will compare to tonight's game of straws. We split into two circles and placed straws in each circle. Once someone gets four of a kind everyone runs to the opposite circle and grabs a straw. Hilarious. Enjoy the photos and be prepared to laugh.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why me?

This has been a horrible week. Work has just been plain ridiculous. The church is going through some tough times. Life is busy and there seems to be no escape from it. Yet somehow in the middle of all of that God decided to use me.

Today has been full of conversations with students, friends, teachers, family and strangers. Not your typical "passing by" conversations but "for real sharing your thoughts and feelings" conversations. Some of them have been difficult. I've struggled to articulate what really needed to be said in way that can be understood and shows genuine love.

I fear some of those conversations fell on deaf ears and I came home tonight a bit discouraged. And then some pieces fell into place. For whatever reasons, God chose me to be the one he spoke through. Why me?! I'm a broken mess. I don't have things in life figured out. Shoot I don't even have part of life figured out. But God has it all worked out. Today I've watched what Paul talked about lived out and I am humbled.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Scatterbrained

-Rough day at work today and then came home to a broken furnace and a FREEZING apartment
-Scrubs is on tonight. I also heard the Muppets may be making an appearance.
-I really like air-popped popcorn but need someone to eat it with since I made too much.
-I need to find a way to simplify life.
-I sometimes light my Advent wreath even after Advent is over.
-I miss camp today. May be I should go back into camp ministry.
-This has been a long week and it is only Tuesday.
-I'm getting excited about planning another road trip to see friends.
-Ugh! My movies are out of alphabetical order. That needs fixing.
-I'm really tired of repairing instruments. That will never slow down.
-I forgot what the sun looks like.
-I woke up with a song I barely know running through my head. It is still there. Weird.
-I'm pleased with my last photo project. My next idea will be a lot more expensive and I'm not sure it will be worth the work.
-I hate cats.
-I saw a trailer for the move "He's Just Not That Into You." Is it bad I immediately thought of about five girls I want to take to see it?
-I'm saying lots of extra prayers for my friends who lost their jobs this week.
-I'm proud of my niece after hearing her tell me how she helped a sick friend at school and then telling me her favorite part of snow camp was learning about God because it was awesome.
-I need a haircut.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thankful for the Valley

The last few days I've found myself being a little more thankful for the darkest valley I've ever had to walk through. It started almost five years ago when I was informed I was being let go from my dream job due to financial difficulties. For the last few days several of my friends have been dreading the same news.

There are so many mixed emotions. I've found myself breathing huge sighs of relief and celebrating as the text and e-mails come from friends who get to keep their jobs. But as other messages of friends hurting come, I've found myself experiences once again all the same emotions as that horrible day. But in the midst of the tears, pain and uncertainty I've seen something beautiful.

I've seen the church. I've seen friends rally together. I've seen grace lived out. I've begun to understand why I had to walk through the valley myself. It wasn't a pleasant part of my journey by any means. But looking back I'm not sure I would have grown as much as I have without that pain. I'm praying that in time my friends that find themselves in this valley today will one day look back and say the valley hurt but it was good.

I know I've posted this verse a hundred times but it sums up the valleys for me.
"Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
Hosea 6:1-3

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Living Examples of Jesus - The Inner Circle

TODAY'S LIVING EXAMPLE OF JESUS:
Angela Keim, Brooke Curry and Allison Reynolds - "The Inner Circle"

I've recently decided to start calling these amazing ladies "the inner circle" simply because that are just that amazing. Okay really it is because these are the people I turned to when things are rough, the first ones I celebrate good news with and the people who love the fact I'm weird. We are four very different people, which means pure entertainment when we are together.

Ang Keim - I was pretty sure I would never be cool enough to be friends with Ang when I first met her. Ends up you don't have to be cool to have cool friends. My favorite thing about her is the fact she tells me how it is. Evidently what makes perfect sense to me doesn't to everyone. She helps me remember that.

Brooke Curry - This girl is a riot! I've don't think I've ever met someone so laid back. I don't know how she does it. My favorite thing about Brooke is the fact she rolls with my obnoxious type A personality. She has this amazing way of keeping me calm when something doesn't go as planned. That isn't an easy task.

Allison Reynolds - For those of you who have read my blog for awhile you know all about our three hour long coffee visits. My favorite thing about Allison is her perspective on life and relationships. She looks at things completely different than me. I've learned so much as she has shared things from her view.

I can't explain how thankful I am for these friends. I love that I have three girls who are so in love with Jesus to walk through life with. We've laughed so hard we've cried. We've done crazy things like tye-died shirts. We've ate WAY too much food together. We've stayed out so late resturant managers have to kick us out. We hashed through hard situations together. We've prayed together. We've discussed Scripture together.

More than anything else they point me towards Christ. I can't help but think Christ has similiar experiences with his apostles. Thank you, my inner circle friends, for showing me Jesus!

Photos by DC Curry

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Friendship

One of the Journey Class teachers this month is my friend Jason Miller. He is one of those friends who seems to be always teaching you something. So when I found out he was teaching a class on the friendships, I signed up quickly! I'm so glad I did!

Jason did an incredible job tonight. It was by far my favorite night of journey class so far. One of the major reasons I signed up for his class is because I really want to start being a better friend. J gave great practical steps to take as a friend. More importantly he nailed something I think too many people forget about. Friendship isn't just about having people around you nor is it all about what those friends do for you. Take a look and what else J had to share.


Class: Spiritual Practices: Friendships
Teacher: Jason Miller
When we talk about Christ-centered relationships we tend to refer to relationships that are static and often have an inward focus. We want those relationships to fit our needs. It becomes about acquiring people instead of building relationships.

Instead we should be building Christ-pursuing relationships. In these relationships we are moving towards Christ and trying to look more like Him and encouraging others to do the same. What does this type of friendship look like? It is a...
  • Prayerful Friendship - Invite the power of God into our lives and our friends' lives (James 5:15-18)
  • Confessional Friendship - Lay down our pride and shake of the things that pull us back (James 5:16)
  • Confrontational Friendship - Challenge the old identity (James 5:19-20)
  • Sacrificial Friendship - Stop being selfish and start doing (John 15:9-17)

Final Adoption Date

My sister-in-law called today and they finally have the court date to finalize the adoption of their foster daughters, Aggie and Gwen. The girls will officially become part of the Koutz family on February 9th.

We have been praying about this for several months and finally it will be official. We are all VERY excited!!! Praise Jesus!!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day of Dreams

We were asked to allow our students to watch the inauguration festivities. My students joked that history was made twice today. One with Obama being sworn in as president and one with Miss Koutz allowing her students to watch TV in class. They're right. It will probably never happen again.

I like to take advantage of every second I have with my students. Everything we do in my classroom has a purpose and my students now it. Today was no different. I wanted them to witness history but I wanted it to be more than just watching TV. We discussed how Obama must feel reaching his dream. I asked them to think about their dreams and write them down. There were some typical responses and some that shocked me.

What My Students Dream...
  • Play Professional Sports (Basketball, football, wrestle, and soccer)
  • Fashion Designer/Visual Artist
  • Professional Musician
  • Dancer
  • Actor/Actress
  • Teacher
  • Rich
  • Doctor/Nurse
  • Veterinarian
  • Scientist
  • Police Officer
  • Chef
  • Join the Army
  • President (including the first women president and first Hispanic president)
  • Astronaut (including the first human to walk on Mars)
Nothing too out of the ordinary in that list. These next two were a little surprising. One student wants to be a pirate, complete with an eye patch, and another wants to be super hero with super powers. I'll be honest, I laughed a little at those. But there were a handful that really made me stop and think.
  • Five students said their biggest dream was to get a good education. You see many of my students will never get the chance to go to college. Statistically a significant number won't even finish high school. For some students an education may be the very thing that breaks the cycle of poverty for their family.
  • One student said he dream was to visit Washington, DC. His parents were both born and raised in South Bend. They have never left the Michiana area. I love that our school takes our 8th graders to DC every year.
  • Three students didn't care what it was they did they just wanted to do some thing that would make an impact. They want to make the world a better place. One mentioned doing it with one act of kindness at a time. They want to feed the hungry and build homes for the homeless. I have some smart students!
  • "No Steeling" was written on one paper. I honestly didn't know what to do with that one. I don't know who's paper this was but I love this student's honesty. I have lots of mixed feelings about this one.
Each of those hit a different part of my heart but this last one hits harder than any. Folded up in a small square, I found a paper that read, "Why do you care?" This breaks my heart. It came from a student in the class I know the best. This student thinks they will amount to nothing because it is what they have been told. That makes me angry.

I'm praying God will show me new ways every day to show all of my students they have value and matter to a God who is much bigger than whatever is in their world right now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dear God Series - Grace

One quick thing before the Dear God info - If you weren't able to make it to a weekend service or live out of town, take some time to watch this weekend's service. Mark's message was incredible. The art elements were great. Easily one of the top five services I've experienced at GCC. Check it out here.

Several students have asked me for the quotes and passages I used at GSM this week. I thought I would post them for you. Also, you can head over to DC's blog and he has the wrap up of the week. Keep resting in God's grace my friends.


Series: Dear God - Week 2
Message Title: Why does God still love me when I make so many mistakes?
Topic: Grace

"We cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves--unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely." Brennan Manning, Abba's Child

"God doesn't love us because we are lovable, but because he is love." C. S. Lewis

John 8:1-11

Romans 5:5-8

2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Four Day Weekend

This four day weekend is off to a great start. So far...
  • SLEPT IN Friday morning
  • Allison and I did some secret agent work.
  • Threw a surprise dinner (w/other volunteers) for our GSM staff to say thank you for all they do for us. (If you are volunteering in a student ministry, take a few minutes to say thank you to your student ministry staff. Most likely they don't hear that enough!)
  • SLEPT IN Saturday morning
  • Heat wave with temperatures in the 20s
  • Grocery shopping which got cut short due to the VERY busy Meijer
  • Incredible service at GCC - The service can be found here on Monday. Don't miss this one!
  • After service fun at the Curry house.
Tomorrow I plan on sleeping in again and spending the day at GSM. That guarentees to be a great day!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Death in a bag

Who would sell this?! Better yet, who would buy it? Death in a bag is what it should be called!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Friday, January 16, 2009

I Hate Cold!

It doesn't take much for me to get cold. Not cold as in chilly. Cold as in I'm shivering and my bones hurt. Even when it is 80 degrees out I get cold. Knowing that imagine how this week has been for me.

The lowest temperature I saw was -20 degrees without windchill and the highest temperature I saw today was 7 degrees. My bedroom is the coldest room in my apartment so I normally sleep with four layers. Last night I had six blankets. I've been wearing long johns most of the day with multiple layers.

It is horrible. I need to take a vacation to some place where you can feel the heat of the sun when it shines. I know I should be use to the cold since I grew up in Michigan but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snow Day Plans

We have a snow day tomorrow!!!! More like at too cold to move day. Monday is a holiday so that gives me a wonderful four day weekend. I'm making a to do list for day one of the weekend.

Too Cold To Move Day To Do List
1. SLEEP IN!
2. Message Prep
3. Pay Bills
4. Balance checkbook
5. Catch up with friends (via phone, e-mail, letters, etc)
6. Top secret plans that certain blog readers can't know.


Have I mentioned how excited I am to sleep in?!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SMT Prayer Guide

This is from a post on my friend, Dan's blog. This is a great way for us to be praying for our leaders at GCC. Join the fun.

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The five members of our Senior Management Team from Granger Community Church are going on a multi-day retreat this week to pray, plan and strategize for the coming year/years of ministry.

My friend, and teammate, Adam Callender came up with this idea:

For the 5 leaders of our church, pray 5 minutes at 5pm for this entire week.

I love to see the pastoral heart of Adam in this. Here was his email to our staff:

I don’t think I need to convince anyone that this is a very important time for Granger, not because of budget, but because we have a whole community, country, and world that needs to know Jesus TODAY, all while we face challenges like we have never faced before. Because of that significance I’d like to ask you to join me by praying for them this week. I will be praying for our 5 pastors for 5 minutes at 5pm everyday this week. With that here are the five things I’ll be praying for:

· Their families—that God protect them and show them love and peace while they are away

· Wisdom and Discernment to make sense of our current situation

· Unity—that God grows them together as one during this time

· Strength—to persevere for the 5 days of meetings and conversations

· Courage—Mark (and I believe God) made it very clear to us last year what his One Prayer is for His church and I don’t think that has changed today. Pray for courage for them to lead boldly not cautiously, so we can be a courageous church that gives glory to God.

Again, this is what I’m doing. You may choose to do more or less but I do encourage you to do something special this week.

Adam

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dear God Series

It is a new year at GSM and we are running hard after God. This weekend we kicked off our new series called Dear God. During a previous series we wrote letters to God asking him one question. All the letters were anonymous so students had the freedom to has anything they wanted. The staff team took those letters and found the common questions and themes. Using those themes they created this series where we'll take a look at what God has to say about the questions.

I've been reading some of the questions as I prepare for this week's message. (I am praying big time that God will speak clearly through me next week!) They are incredible! And I love that our staff decided to do this series. Our students are asking questions and we are going to go to the Scripture and see what God has to say about those questions. Here are some reasons I love this series
  • Students determine the topics and they are relevant to them.
  • We meet students where they are.
  • We look to God for answers, not our own ideas.
  • We tackle tough questions that may be keeping student from taking their next steps.
  • We show students asking questions isn't a bad thing.
If you are a middle school or high school student you need to come check this series out. I have a feeling you won't regret it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

2008 International Euchre Champians

I know your are thinking "What?! There is an International Euchre Tournament? How did I not know this?" No worries my friends. It was a rather last minute decision.

During a family Christmas in Indy Team USA (Dad and I) took on Team Canada (Uncle Ron and Cousin Patrick) in the great game. After splitting the first two games we decided to play one last game to determine bragging rights for the next year. It was a close game but Team USA came through. Patrick managed to pull off an impressive loner in the game they won but it was the only one they had all night.

Okay honestly, I don't remember much of the details other than the fact we won and everyone decided I needed to blog about it. Here is a picture of both teams, unfortunately they are horrible. Good times with family. That is hard to beat!

Team Canada - Ron and Patrick Sheese


Team USA - Daddy and Me
(yes this is an old picture)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Live from the Band Room

That's right we are live from the band room today. I thought I take a short break and blog while I'm enjoying my lunch. It has been an interesting start to the second semester and I'm not quite sure what to think yet. My younger students are behaving like older students should and the older students seem to have reverted back to early childhood. Only in a middle school classroom do you see this phenomenon!
Really what I wanted to blog about was one of my classes this morning. A student asked if she could as another student a math question. Being the smartypants that I am I told her no but she could ask me. She politely said I wouldn't understand the problem. I informed her I did teach math and suddenly I had a line of students wanting to ask questions about their math homework...in band class.
After I made that comment another student yells out, "You use to be a math teacher AND a preacher? What haven't you done?" That led to a discussion about how I still teach at church. The students had a thousand questions about that. I told them about GSM and they asked more questions. One student who had come last year went on for about 10 minutes about how much they loved DC Curry. So I just invited them all to come on Sunday. I loved the entire conversation and didn't even care that we didn't get much accomplished.
STRAIGHT FROM THE MOUTHS OF MY STUDENTS:
"What do you preach about?" (Hmmm...let me tell you about Jesus!)
"What kind of preacher are you?"
"When you preach are you filled with the Holy Ghost and bust it out on your trumpet?" (the student then tried to act it out)
"No she probably goes to town on the piano. (again student acts it out)
"One time our preacher said he was filled with the Holy Ghost and he started shaking on the ground. That ain't no Holy Spirit. That's a seizure!"
"I would come to your church Miss Koutz but I don't know where it is and I like mine." (I was sure to encourage that student to keep attending their church!)
"Wait so you are telling me you preach at Oasis?! No way!"

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cora is here!!!!

Let me introduce you to my new niece, Cora Marilyn or Cora Mae as she is being called. She was born this morning at 6:03 (CST) weighing an incredible 7 lbs 10 oz and measuring 20 inches long. As far as I can remember that is by far the biggest baby in our family. And her mommy happens to be one of the smallest.

Lois is doing very well. There was a short scare an hour or so afterward where she almost passed out but all is well now. I just talked with her and she sounds great. I got to talk to Cora as well and she smiled! I have a feeling it was a bit of a laugh too as she decided to come the day after I was back in Indiana.

This is the only picture I have right now. Obviously it was taken with a cell phone so the quality isn't great. Anna said she isn't very fond of having her picture taken as you can tell from the picture. She doesn't like the flash. Now I have to figure out when I can some time to head out west again.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Expectation

This is my brother-in-law, Ryan. He doesn't like reading but has been eagerly awaiting Christmas and the arrival of this present, 3 Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger.

He loves the Cardinals. Everyday since we arrived he asked if he could open his gift. Since then he has been reading every chance he gets.

As he was reading tonight I was think about what I expect out of 2009. What am I expecting? What am I going to do about it?

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday, January 01, 2009

On guard!

After a good swim the family is at Denny's for lunch. We love this place. Ryan and I are sword fighting while we wait for our meals. His sword broke and I won!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Friends! I loved laughing in the new year with my family tonight. There have been so many funny moments to share but no internet, except my phone, to use to blog. I'm sure deep down, you are all thankful.

Still no baby! We are all pretty sure Cora will wait until we are all back home to come. Lois is more than ready for the baby to come but I think she may have to wait for awhile.

After I get back to home, I'll be posting some reflections from 2008 and some thoughts looking ahead in 2009. I'll also post some pictures and stories from the crazy times with the family.