Top Five Tuesday: Decaf Coffee… what?

A few weeks ago I was sick for a 24 hour period.  I could barely drink anything let alone eat anything.  Because I was in this woeful state I thought it could provide the perfect opportunityt o go ahead and break the potential addiction I may have acquired to caffeine?  I’m not saying I was addicted, but I can say that I couldn’t remember the last day I had gone without caffeine intake.  What’s worse, is that I couldn’t remember the last day that I hadn’t consumed multiple caffeinated beverages.

I enjoy tea.

I like Coke Zero.

Diet Dr. Pepper… yummm.

Oh yeah, I do like my coffee as well.

So, I went three days straight without a single ounce of caffeine.  I can honestly say that I only had a slight headache, cured by Tylenol on the 2nd of those three days, so whether or not I have an addiction or not, I am not sure, but I do know that as much caffeine as I had been consuming could not have been good for me.  So I broke the habit and am now being very conscientious of how caffeine I am taking in.

With all that said, I have experienced multiple decaffeinated coffee drinks over the last several weeks.  Some places you can really tell the difference between the drugged version and the non-addictive alternative (which still does contain some caffeine, by the way).  So, I decided to make this the subject of today’s Top 5.  The criteria, they have to be branded as “decaffeinated” coffee beverages.  They are not necessarily ones I have had just in the last 3 weeks (yes, I have had the occasional decaf before).

Without further ado, the list.

Five: Tully’s. Elisabeth and I had some Tully’s from Alki the other day, my iced decaf Americano was very good.  I am not normally a Tully’s fan, I have felt they over-sweeten with syrups and their regular brew has often felt weak to me, but the decaf espresso shots did the trick for me this time.

Four: Cutter’s Point. I know that I am influenced by the setting, I simply love the Cutter’s Point cafe settings, and I really like a place that keeps decaf for the majority of the day.  It is a fine coffee, nothing too distinct, but nothing to complain about either.

Three: Peets Coffee. We have their decaf at home, when the decaf beans are fresh I can tell little difference between this and the regular stuff.

Two: “67” at The Edgewater Hotel. We had breakfast there a couple weeks ago and I have always loved their strong brew there, well, there decaf is something to write home about as well.

One: Seattle’s Best Coffee.  Very smooth, yet still have a very full flavor.  I had to double check just to make sure they pulled it from the right brewing mechanism (what would you call those things anyway, “ginormous coffeemaker?”).  Sure enough the refill was just as good.  Nice work SBC!

Any other decaf fans out there?  Have any suggestions for a good one for me?

Oh, by the way, I wrote this from Starbucks, while enjoying a Venti Drip… FULLY CAFFEINATED, after all, it is early!



Top Five Tuesday: Youth Pastorate Misses

Let me start by saying that I love my role with Youthmark.  I really like what I do and have chosen this line of work; it flows directly from my previous role of 16 years as a Youth Pastor. And I am quite happy to not be a Youth Pastor right now.

Now I’ll continue by saying that there are a few things that I miss about being a Youth Pastor.  I am reminded of these things as I meet with the variety of Youth Leaders I get to interact with very often.  So, for the top 5 today, let’s look at the things I miss the most about my old job.

The criteria:  These were all things I got to do as a Youth Pastor that I don’t necessarily have the opportunity to do right now (yes, I know I can volunteer in a church youth ministry, and do to a degree, but I am also a Young Life leader so, there is only so much time available).

Without further ado, the list.

Still love coming up with Retreat Ideas!

Five: New and Innovative Retreats. Retreat for the sake of retreat has been done.  However, doing a new and exciting way of retreating became a nice challenge.  Whether it was crashing another church to save money and use their facility or doing a retreat where students led every aspect, there was always new twists to put on a retreat.  My favorite of all of the ones I made-up was the Senior Thing. It was a pre-senior-year retreat I took with just the seniors-to-be and their core-group leaders.  This retreat would focus on student leadership–not defined by being upfront, rather, being a leader is using your gift, whatever it may be.

Four: Creative & Admin Stuff. Yep, I’m a freak.  I liked putting together the calendar for the entire spring, thinking through the different events, games, skits, talks.  I actually enjoyed assigning this person for that role, emailing the chart and keeping up the general communication chain.  Like I said, I was a freak.  I miss being a freak that way.  I equally enjoyed the “Big” program events that needed creativity behind them.  Like a once-a-year big retreat where we’d pull out the stops with the program.  Because I was so non-program for the most part, doing it once a year was a lot of fun.

Three: Staff Retreat. I could categorize this one as the entire Volunteer team, because I did love and truly miss having those teams, but I REALLY loved doing our staff retreats.  I enjoyed ending the summer with a couple weeks of “down” time for the students before we started the program year.  During this time I ran the aforementioned “Senior Thing” but would also do a staff retreat during this time.  It was a time to do some training, but also bond as a team.  We’d get away to a cabin, eat well, tell lot’s of stories and play lots of games.  It was really part training and part reward for those involved.

my last mission as a YP, Council, ID.

Two: Mission (before, during & after). It should come as no surprise that THIS is one of the things I miss the most.  Though I still participate to a degree and will from time to time go on a mission, it’s not the same as when you are the shepherd of your own group.  I loved the entire process of interviewing, training, taking and following up after the mission.  It’s where this whole Mission51 concept was conceived.  On the actual missions the “family time” at night was certainly the highlight!  The highlight after was seeing students come home with a passion for their lost family members and friends and the struggle that ensued seeing that the field is really no different than the home-turf, but it sure feels different when it is loved ones you’re trying to reach.

my last core-group and our "last hoorah" to the Grand Canyon

One: Core-Group. No doubt about it, the best part of being a Youth Pastor was having my own small group of guys I discipled through their high school years.  I think I was good at it (not in a cocky way, rather I believe God gifted me in this area). The weekly interaction with a bunch of teen guys and seeing them grown through the years and continue in friendship is such a blessing.  I count it an honor that to this day I am still in contact with most of the guys I have been involved with through these groups.

I am sure there are many other things that I miss.  Church Staff meetings NOT being one of them.  Did I miss any?


Top Five Tuesday: Tour “Moments”

The last eight weeks of my life have passed so quickly.  It feels like an eternity ago that Joe Poppino and I met up at SeaTac for our first leg of the Youthmark Mission Ventures Spring Retreat “Tour” as it affectionately became known.  Though the tour was only six of those eight weekends, I had one weekend in Montana for my sister-in-law’s wedding and last weekend I was speaking at a camp down in Oregon, so 8 weekends straight of being at least partially away.  Whew!

Today’s Top 5 gives you a glimpse at a few of my favorite moments during the six spring retreats.  The criteria is that it simply had to have taken place during the travel times for one of the retreats.

Without further ado, the list.

Honorable Mentions: Colorado–seeing/serving with so many friends (Alex, PK, Peter, Steve, etc.); Time with Jeramy, Jerusha and family in Escondido, the fantastic times with all my help @ the northwest retreats (Mike and Ricky need to especially be thanked for all that they did for these retreats!).  Shooting the videos with Frankie (and just time with Frankie in general) would be a highlight too, but the video shoot didn’t take place on the retreats.

Me with Mike and Mike in Canby

Five: The Leaders Lounge at Canby, Grove. On Friday night as the students head to their first family time after snack, Joe and a I carried on the tradition we started in Houston, we’d grab some time together and talk through the night and celebrate.  Well, this happened pretty much every weekend, and on Friday night in Canby the “Leader Lounge” took place in a room next to the dining room.  With about 10 of us, band members, sound and behind the scenes folk we stayed up too late eating, talking and LAUGHING way too much!  It was fantastic.

Joe and Neil leading into "the moment"

Four: The Original “Moment” in Spring, TX. On Friday night our theme was “Listen.”  We ended the worship time with an extended time of silence.  In Spring, TX (and every subsequent retreat) this went off really well.  I loved this moment each week, but especially loved it in Spring.

Joe "has an album"

Three: The many, many moments with Joe. I know, sounds cheesy; but can’t narrow it down to a single moment, but I can say it was very nice to journey the entire “moments” with someone.  We had many a meal along the way at some FANTASTIC places.  Joe is a great person to travel with as well, he wants/needs his own space, just as I do, so I can honestly say we did not get in each others ways!  A couple “moments” that I would mention: “He has an album,” “The Prius,” “The Escondido Waiter” and the many many times we made fun of each others routines (we got to the point where we knew exactly what the other would be saying from the platform).

Two: Escondido, CA, Commissioning. The Leaders of Emmanuel Faith and Pine Valley Community Church had no idea that they were setting up a wonderful moment, but their delay in going out to pray for students really set a tone that we wanted to see take place the rest of the weekends.  Overall, the students worship time at this weekend was one that stood out to me.

One: The Last Night, The Last Song. Youthmark has a tradition on how we end our retreats with our unique commissioning.  I won’t give it away here, but it involves a wonderful time of prayer followed by the crowd’s unified voice being lifted in praise.  On this last retreat at Lake Retreat we had nearly 220 strong sining so loudly.  The emotion of all six retreat was rolled in one for me!  I loved that time.

I am sure now that I am done with the list I’ll have several new ones pop into my mind.  I look forward to posting even more pics from the retreats soon. We had a professional photographer, Brooke Anderson, take pics the last two weekends (Canby and Lake Retreat), much thanks to Brooke, as soon as we get more pics back from her I’ll post and give out her contact information so that you can use her for your photo-shoot!

Anyone out there at a retreat and have a favorite “moment?”


Top Five Tuesday: Stuff that Must Get Done ASAP!

Re-read that title and then you can understand why I haven’t posted much lately and why this blog-post is so short.

Today’s list is all about the projects I am working on RIGHT NOW and need to be done with As Soon As Possible.

Without further ado, the very un-lengthy list.

Five: Messages for Colorado.  I am preaching at two Colorado camps I am doing this summer.

Four: Messages for Oly. I am speaking at a Youth Retreat  for Westwood Baptist of Olympia soon.

Three: HomeBase. A devotional I write for the parents of participants who are out on YMV’s.

Two: RoadGrip.  The devotional for the summer mission trips.

One: Merge-Joshua.  The follow-up book given to all our missions participants.

The good-news is that all of these are in process and most are nearly completed!



Top Five Tuesday: Elementary Recess

Another invite to yesteryear…

Had a hard time coming up with the subject for todays Top 5, however, when it finally came to mind, my brain was flooded with some great choices.  So here it is, the top 5 childhood activities for recess when I was in elementary!  The criteria:  The options that were available at my elementary school.

Without further ado, the list.

Honorable Mention: Boys Chase Girls (early elementary), “500,” and Bar Tag.

Five: Rainy Day Recess “Heads Up Seven Up.” Let me start by saying that Rainy Day recess stinks!  But, since we had a few growin up in Western WA I must say that hearing the teacher say, “Heads Down Thumbs Up” got us pretty excited.  The only problem with this game, everyone cheated!  C’mon, tell me you didn’t look at the shoes of the people walking by?

Four: Hoops. Because there weren’t enough good hoops at our elementary school this one is not as high on the list as it could be.  We especially enjoyed picking teams at first recess and keeping those teams for the two longer recesses.  The game started in the morning and ended at the whistle ending the afternoon recess!

Three: Wallball. Do you remember this classic?  “No bouncies, carries or bombs!”  Two people head to head, one bounce to the wall and one bounce after the wall, alternating hitters.  If you lose on serve, you are out and go to the back of the line.

Two: Buttball! A great game with a tennis ball and a wall.  First person serves by throwing the ball at the wall.  All participants try to catch it cleanly with one hand.  If the ball is dropped or touched anyone touching it must run and touch the wall before someone throws it at the wall.  Each time the ball reaches the wall before you do after touching/bobbling it, you get a letter.  If B-U-T-T is spelled you then have to stand against the wall and everyone playing gets to throw a fastball at your rear-end from about 30 feet away.  Bottoms beware!

One: Our grade vs. other Grade Football! I had a very athletic class.  Boone, Randolph, Evans, Joyner and Aaby.  We were the fearsome fivesome back in the day and even as fourth graders we could give the sixth grade bullies a run for their money!  I remember the grass-stained jeans and sweaty shirts coming back into the over-heated elementary school room and creating quite the wonderful smell for all to enjoy!

What were some of your favorites at recess?


Top Five Tuesday: Jr./Sr. High School Dances, Slow Songs

Are you ready to stroll down my sappy-memory lane?

Today’s top 5 explores the memory of my dance-career in high school.  Do you remember the days of being dressed up in your high school gymnasium or cafeteria on a Friday or Saturday night, hoping that the next song is a slow one?  I do.  Don’t give me the fast-paced MC Hammer, give me some slow songs from Richard Marx.  The white-man overbite and running man never suited me, but the mix-tape of Chicago and some moody-Madonna got me geared up for the slow-dances with the ladies.

The criteria for today’s top 5:  these were the top 5 songs I can remember grooving too in my late Jr. High through High School years.

Without further ado, the list.

Five: Time After Time, by Cindy Lauper. Okay, I might be remembering the snowball skate in late elementary with this one, but hey, it was “mass-rad-song.”

Four: One More Try, by George Michael. C’mon, listen to this one and you’ll be drawn back to the slow-swaying of yesteryear!  Wow, I just did and I just flashed back to my Meeker Jr. High Cafeteria and the wretched smells of over-perfumed girls and mal-deodorized boy-pits.

Three: Crazy For You, by Madonna. This one landed in my 6th grade year, I think, but I can remember requesting it at a dance in 7th grade.  I can’t believe that they actually played this stuff.  It’s pretty risque if you ask me.  Warning, these lyrics are NC-17 if you ask me.  But I guess I’ve become quite-the-old-fuddy-duddy.  Or, I have daughters.

Two: Could’ve Been, by Tiffany. Not only did she rock, “I Think We’re Alone Now,” only one of the most popular songs of my eighth/ninth grade summer, she slowed it down for us with this little gem.

One: Somebody, by Depeche Mode. The live version of this song blasted through my white boom-box way too many times to count.  I distinctly remember shot-gun riding in my friend Mike’s Red VW Bug and hushing the convo and turning up the tunes so we could dream of our future MRS. that was sure to be at the dance the next weekend!  Depeche Mode was also known as “Depress Mood,” but they hit the grand slam with this song.

No doubt I am missing some great ones, hook me up with your memories and let me know some of your favorite dance-sap memories of these songs too!



Top Five Tuesday: Childhood Toys

Join me in my walk down memory lane.  I can honestly say that taking on this subject will be tough, and will make me seriously wonder about hitting Toys-R-Us tomorrow just to re-enter my childhood.  I might just have to.

This top 5 looks at my favorite toys as a young’n.  The criteria… I had to have owned one (or more) of these in order for it to qualify.  They don’t necessarily have to be legitimate “toys,” rather something I used to do to go out (or in) to play.  Side note: Do you remember the days of just calling your friend and saying, “can you come over and play?”  I think we should still do that.

Without further ado, the list.

Honorable Mentions: Electronic Football Field, Intelevision and Nerf hoops.

Five: Legos.  Spaceships, hydroplanes and cars made out of these plastic gems.  Enough said.

Four: Big Wheel/Green Machine.  I loved the three-wheel wonder that is the Big Wheel.  I don’t know why they don’t make these for adults?  Do you remember when you did the power brake and power-slides so much that it actually made the wheel go square?  I didn’t mind, because that meant a new one was coming next Christmas…. until I was 12.  Getting old stunk.

Three: Big-Tonka Trucks. I remember a couple years Tonka made some vehicles that were almost perfectly to scale, I had a couple Broncos, Jeeps and Tow-Trucks that were about 18-24 inches in length and a good 8-10 inches tall.  These differed bigtime from what you have out there now… back then it was metal; I’d send those things off rock piles and cement barriers and it was just like I saw on the Dukes of Hazzard!  Loved me some Tonka.

Two: Baseball/Football Cards. I know, not a toy, but the sheer energy spent in purchasing, trading, drafting, researching, ranking and studying these things easily make them a true childhood toy.  I still have thousands.

One: Stompers. These little 4×4 were the best.  I know it is pretty silly to think, but I would honestly still play with mine if I had them.  Equipped with a single AA battery these Stompers did the offroad and off-carpet racing.  I loved setting up the ol’ Sandbox with tall mountains, deep tunnels and  plenty or boulders (baseball sized rocks) along the way.  Anyone have one they want to give me?  C’mon!

What stuff did I forget? Got one you agree or disagree with me on?