Grandma’s Kitchen

A few months ago, I was challenged to think of a literal place that brought me complete joy, peace, safety, comfort.  I wanted it to be church.  I gave a valiant effort.  I thought of the youth ministries I have served in the past 20 years.  I thought of dear friends made over the course of ministry done together.  I thought of influential people in my history – professors, pastors, and the like.

But try as I might, I could only think of one place that brought me the kind of security we were thinking about: my grandmother’s kitchen.

I can still see her robin-egg blue enamel kitchen table with mis-matched leather chairs shoved against the wall.  And just behind, the make-shift counter – probably recycled from an old tool shed somewhere by my grandfather.  That counter top was always chock full of stuff – dishes awaiting their permanent home, the huge, black rotary dial phone (on a party line!), and her old clay cookie jar…which I can see clearly in my own kitchen as I write this.

Because we lived on what I have affectionately dubbed ‘the family compound’, I would walk up the hill to grandma’s house every day before school.  She made me pancakes for breakfast almost every day – and every afternoon, gingersnaps standing by in the cookie jar.

She doctored scraped knees in that kitchen.  She ‘told the cow how to eat the cabbage’ in that kitchen.  She comforted scared and scarred children in that kitchen.  She listened to dreams -and encouraged them in that kitchen.  She served, prayed, disciplined, comforted, played, cried, laughed, cooked, cleaned, and loved  in that kitchen.

She pastored me in that kitchen – so in many ways, THAT church is the safest place I’ll ever know.  I miss her kitchen – and her influence and counsel in my life.  I am overwhelmed that God knew from the very beginning what kind of refuge I would need as a kid…and He ordained that position to my grandmother.  And no matter how long I serve in student ministry – how many churches, pastors, or people I lead – my safest place will always be that ‘church’ just up the hill from my house.



Youth Ministry Thankfulness

This is a guest post from a great colleague, Josh Griffin, High School Pastor at Saddleback.  With his permission, I am re-posting his thoughts.  Check out his blog at  And thank you youth workers, for everything you do and are!

Thank you for obeying God’s call to do youth ministry:
Thanks for serving.
Thanks for teaching God’s Word to students each week.
Thanks for being silly and fun.
Thanks for be serious, too.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for listening, especially to that one kid who seems to bend your ear each week.
Thanks for being a great husband or wife and modeling that to your students.
Thanks for watching what you watch, say and do as an example.
Thanks for pointing me toward Jesus.
Thanks for being cool with not getting as much thanks as you deserve.
Thanks for loving God.
Thanks for spending time with God regularly.
Thanks for hurting when I hurt.
Thanks for supporting my family. Thanks for believing in my teenager.
Thanks for seeing the potential.
Thanks for pushing me to join a small group and experience Christian community.
Thanks for carrying burdens.
Thanks for challenging students.
Thanks for all of the inside jokes.
Thanks for guiding me.
Thanks for being there when my grandpa died.
Thanks for what you gave up to be in youth ministry.
Thanks for not needing recognition when you should be getting it.
Thanks for taking care of your heart and soul.
Thanks for helping me learn how to share my faith with my friends.
Thanks for your affirming words to me about my children.
Thanks for you quirks that make you original, I’m so glad you’re not the same.
Thanks for doing your best every day.
Thanks for your blog posts and Twitter.
Thanks for that encouraging word on Facebook when I was down.
Thanks for your counsel on which college I should go to.
Thanks for doing our wedding.
Thanks for making an impact.
Thanks for buying me a Coke.
Thanks for telling me the truth.
Thanks for shaping my life forever.
Thanks for being there when no one else was.

(things I imagine students, parents and other youth workers saying to you this Thanksgiving)


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