Friday, May 25, 2007

Playing by the rules

Ever play Chutes and Ladders? Candy Land? Easy games. Simple rules. You can learn them in 30 seconds or less and that includes translating them to a 3 year old.

Yesterday I had an interesting and entertaining conversation with a Horizons member who is interested in what Communications does, blogging in particular. I was reminded during the conversation that when the blog began just more than a year ago, I posted some very simple guidelines.

Then I remembered how after I posted them once and reposted them a few months later I was getting the equivalent of celebrity in how dare I tell the people of Horizons how to behave. I thought it was funny then, but during the interim I've often had other churches email me and ask for our blogging guidelines for our church. I've never modified the ground-rules -- it hasn't been necessary. I don't mind the personal attacks on me, I'm a big girl, but I will continue to protect others and their reputations and, even more importantly, their feelings. So, once again, here are the ground rules for the blog. I look forward, once again, to your comments posted here or sent to me personally:

Blog Ground Rules:

  • Be nice. You don't know who is reading.
  • Be honest. You don't know who is reading.
  • Be real. You don't know who is reading.
  • Be careful. You don't know who is reading.

Have a great day.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

One team -- that's confirmation

I've traveled to Osseo, Wisconsin to witness the baptism and confirmation of my nephew, Brandon.

Pastor Sheri at the Osseo United Church of Christ spoke about why we as Christians have broken into so many different denominations and how that has affected the Church and some believers.

I'm always engaged in the discussion when it comes to us as Christians playing on and for the same team. When working with the ministries at Horizons as Communications team leader, I'm always aware of the following:

  • We are not competing with other Christian churches for members or attenders,
  • When we share best practices with other churches, we're not divulging trade secrets,
  • When I visit other churches, I'm not there to spy -- I'm there to learn and discover new ways to communicate for the Team.
  • Our way of Worship is not the only way...which is why we have so many different churches. Different churches for different people. Church is not a one-size-fits-all solution to helping people find Christ. The point is that they do find Christ, not that they can only or should only find Him at Horizons.

So it was nice to travel more than 500 miles to a small town of less than 2,000 to listen to Pastor Sheri talk about working well with other churches in Osseo. I think one of the best things I can do for guests of Horizons is get to know other churches in Lincoln so that when I do hear someone say that Horizons isn't for them, I'm at the ready with the knowledge of other churches that could be a good fit for them.

I know it sounds like match-making and online dating, but that's a different blog post.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

A local makes all the difference

Several times while in DC, I found myself explaining that my trip was going well because I had a local to give me touring advice, steer me toward the best restaurants and away from the questionable establishments and areas. Something about having a local connection in a strange and new city that's big and intimidating makes all the difference in how successful and meaningful the trip ends up to be.

It hit me today that for guests at Horizons, having a local can and does make all the difference in how they connect and feel welcome during their stay on our campus. When was the last time you were someone's local connection at Horizons? After being a tourist and benefiting from having KP's advice and direction...I now want to bring that concept to my Sundays and be the local for someone new to Horizons. Even if that someone is a stranger, someone I didn't even invite, I'm going to go out-of-my-way to make their stay easier.

I want to go back for another visit to DC. I loved it. Loved the city, the people...the experience. I want guests at Horizons to feel the same way.

Be the local. Make the difference.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

National Community Church, Washington DC

I have quite a few favorite churches within Lincoln and across the country. Coming to DC meant the opportunity to visit National Community Church, home of some of the best communicators around. The fact that these incredibly talented people use their gifts to bring Christ to Capitol Hill is even more admirable.

NCC was founded and aspires to be a theater church. Not a church that meets in a theater until they can afford "better" digs, but as an end for its means. They use the fabulous Union Station theaters right off a grand food court and also have the theaters at Ballston. They use theaters with convenient Metro stops to make NCC and Christ accessible in a town that isn't always easy to maneuver in and around let alone make connections with people.

Last year, NCC bought and old building a block or two away from Union Station and built Ebenezers, a fab coffee shop that also houses their church offices upstairs and has room downstairs for Saturday services. If you know me and my love of free wireless Internet AND good coffee, you know how much I've enjoyed hanging out at Ebz. If they had shirts available, I would have bought one for me and one for Mace (see steam train logo).

My girlfriend and I went to church at NCC at the latest Sunday service, 11:30 a.m., and it was incredibly good. People were relaxed, helpful, and the message series, "Anatomy of Faith" spoke about the heart...ours, Gods, a mother's, etc. I videotaped their final musical set which absolutely rocked! My Lincoln church communications group will be stoked when they get their hands on all of the printed materials the NCC folks loaded me up with to bring home. Talk about best practices...these guys produce some pretty amazing pieces all to bring people closer to a relationship with Christ. For us communications directors, we love to see best practices in action.
This morning, I told Mace I was going out for coffee. He asked: "Are you going to the coffee shop that uses the steam train as its logo?" I told him no, I was going to Mocha Hut and I didn't know what its logo was, but knew it wasn't a train like Ebz.
Praise God and pass the latte!
Choo Choo.

This post brought to you by...

The good doctors at Sibley rescued my vacation. I spent all of yesterday touring every monument and memorial worth experiencing in DC. With the exception of traveling to the top of the Washington Monument -- I have my limits -- my day was filled with history and awe.

When this picture was taken, I was about the enter the Lincoln Memorial which is probably the most imposing and most impressive monument I've ever experienced. I couldn't stop asking myself if I were truly there. Even today, it is hard to believe I was there.

While marveling at the imposing Lincoln, a group of fifth-grade boys from Delaware approached me. "Could we ask you some questions?" one began. "Well, yeah, sure," I said, but thinking it would depend upon what they were going to ask. "What does Lincoln mean to you?" one asked. "Oh (easy, I thought) he's the namesake for the city I live in, Lincoln, Nebraska." He wrote all that down in a very slow, fifth-grade boy type of printing. Then he asks, "And where are you from?" Well, that did it as far as his friends were concerned. They all laughed at him, "she told you, dude, Lincoln, Nebraska." The kiddo was embarrassed beyond words and description. "No worries," I tried to say to him, to make him feel a little better, but they all thanked me for my time, including their teacher who was standing only a few steps behind them.

I boarded Tourmobile at 9:30 a.m. at Union Station and was done by 4 p.m. It was the best $25 I've spent all week. I did have to climb a lot of stairs (gingerly this time!) but for all I saw in one day, it was an incredible deal.

Today is my last day in DC. I'll be buying shirts, packing, taking pictures and hanging my my friend who is telecommuting today (i.e., she'll be working at midnight after I'm gone!). More later.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

I Heart Sibley Memorial Hospital

It figures that when I'm 1000 miles away from home I'd need to see a doctor. The day before leaving Lincoln I strained a neck muscle but figured it would feel better the next day. It didn't. By Saturday, the spasms were driving me to the brink of insanity so my girlfriend and I were off to the ER.

Two hours later at Sibley Memorial's ER, I was feeling G-O-O-D. A little IV Valium, a little Vicodin and a prescription to-go and since then, I've been one happy tourist.


Friday, May 11, 2007

I Heart D.C.

I do. I really do. I love this place, the people, the Metro and the history. I heart it so much, I'll buy the shirt.

A few observations:
  • The people. They are nice, helpful and pleasant. They go out of their way for tourists. It's pretty easy to tell who the locals are (they have building security cards/IDs around their necks instead of cameras) and they are more than willing to give help with the Metro, street directions, restaurant suggestions...whatever. Sometimes, you don't even have to ask for assistant, they apparently are pretty good at recognizing utter confusion when they see it.

  • The Metro. Love the ease of travel. Glad I'm not driving here. I might not feel the love as much. I'm getting some pretty good train pictures for Mace but still have to take one of a sign that says spitting on the train isn't allowed. I think he'll like that.

  • The buildings. They are large. Tall. Imposing. When climbing the stairs to one of them, say the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, one should not be looking up at the same time because you can easily fall. Yep. I tumbled down three or four steps and twisted an ankle, but only spilled a little coffee (priorities!). The embarrassment factor was pretty high -- lotsa people around -- but the dozen that ran over to me were very sweet, only wanting to know that I was OK.

  • The security. I knew it existed, but seeing Capitol cops with their rifles in their hands is somewhat startling at first. I was intended to take pictures of the Capitol building, but mostly the men with arms caught my focus every time.

  • The barriers. I loves these barricades in the streets around Capitol Hill that can pop up at a moment's notice. There are others closer to buildings that are all up and as vehicles are approved to pass through, the barricades lower. I was taking some pictures and then was told to stop. Oops.

As I was riding my last Metro train this afternoon, I'd been marveling at the district-wide mind-set here and wondering how that could translate to Horizons -- that making people feel welcome, helping them out and taking on the responsibility to be a host or a tour guide was everyone's job, not just the First Impressions teams...what would that look like?

Would we have guests wanting to buy "I heart Horizons" t-shirts?


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An American Tourist

Thanks to everyone who sent suggestions for sightseeing on my trip to Washington, DC. I take-off in less than 20 hours. I may start packing one of these hours.

It's hard to imagine I'll be getting up tomorrow at 3 a.m. to get to Omaha in time for my flight. Seemed like a fine idea (10 days ago) to fly out at 6 a.m. and get into DC at 9:30 a.m. local time. Then I did the math and realized that with drive time, off-site long-term parking and taking a laptop and injectible medication as carry-on was going to be an early morning.

What was I thinking???

Monday, May 07, 2007

Trip Planning -- Washington, DC

By the time you're eating your breakfast Thursday a.m., I'll be on Capitol Hill. I have a few more days to decide where I want to go...which museums, which many choices. If you have suggestions of must-see places, send me an email at:

More later,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Virginia Tech

This line from Pastor Mark Batterson's blog (National Community Church in Wash., DC) has stuck with me since the shootings:

"It certainly doesn't shake my belief in God. It just affirms my belief in evil."


How I spell relief...

My final is done. D-O-N-E. I can now set aside scholarly reading, writing and thinking for six weeks until the summer session begins...

I have some Horizons projects to catch up on in those six weeks:

  • A serving catalog on the Web site to find where you might like to serve.
  • Updates to ministry pages and training ministry leaders to make their own Web changes.
  • Tackle the Sunday program design/concept.

In these six weeks, I'm also going to squeeze in six days in Washington, DC -- more on that later, but while I'm there I'll be visiting National Community Church, home of some of the best church communicators around.

To those UNL students graduating Saturday, Godspeed and best wishes!