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I will start this post by talking about casual Fridays.  Many places of employment have these things; Friday is more relaxed, you can wear jeans and a polo, or an aloha shirt (mainlanders read: hawaiian shirt).  Well, I work as a youth minister at a church in Hawaii, so that means my typical work dress is more than casual by most people’s standards.  I usually wear shorts and some sort of t-shirt, be it plain or surf.  Now Friday rolls around and it just feels like you are supposed to dress down a little bit more, but where do you go from here.

Well, I prefer to take the cue from my friend and coworker (/sortof boss) Sean who goes all in and wears boardshorts on casual Friday.  Nothing gets more casual than surf shorts and a t-shirt and that is my new trend for casual Fridays here in HI.

Casual Fridays to the max

Casual Fridays to the max

Along those lines I’ld like to pass you on to a blog post by one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller.  Miller is an awesome writer and he always writes and speaks so honestly and thoughtfully about God and faith.  Miller is incredible at penetrating the self-inspired western heretical gospel.  he shows us Who really is the point, and even begins to show where we fit into it.  He is also great at starting discussion.  Anyway, here is a post of his about Faith and Story.  Enjoy, I know I did.

Today has been quite an interesting morning.  I have been pretty tired lately, and this usually happens after we have had house guests and so I was not surprised when I slept in past 8 (despite going to bed at around 10:30).  I groggily got up and made some french toast for the whole family.  Annie finished up her meal and headed off for a meeting, so Ellie and I finished eating and then I changed her diaper, put a dress on her and went to take out Rowdy and take Ellie to Annie over at the offices.

So Rowdy is in the back yard, I take Ellie over, and come back to get the excited dog and bring him inside to feed him.  As we open up the screen door to the back porch I notice that the poop smell I smelled earlier is still around (yes this is a poop story, continue only if you have a strong stomach or really want to laugh).  I had thought the smell was from the bag of diapers on Ellie’s changing table and I was partly right.  The rest however, came from our dog pooping some giant turds on our back porch.  to his credit he clearly was trying to keep it contained because it was all in one spot, but he also had clearly been sick last night because more than one giant turd lay before me at the edge of the porch.  I called him over, gave him a swat and sent him into his kennel, then began the task of removing this gross pile before me.

As I got a hose and hooked it to a spigot, then sprayed down the edge of the porch I was thinking a couple things: 1. Really?! Really?! Those two times I took you out before bed last night were not enough to satisfy your intestinal needs?! 2. This is so gross and so funny.  It looked like some large man had been sick and it all came out the back end on this spot of my porch.  I also wondered how all that fit in my 40 lbs dog. 3. I’m glad I already ate breakfast. 4. I’m glad Ellie is not here, she would find a way to be inquisitive and make this experience horrible. 5. I’m glad Annie’s not here, she has a week stomach for poop episodes. 6. I am thankful that God is making me more patient.  I didn’t yell at the dog, I only swatted him once and it wasn’t out of anger, and all this is happening when my neck has a really painful crick because I slept on it wrong.  I  often worry about my anger and temper, and frequently ask God to make me more patient and gentle.  It is nice to see this little improvement and that God is faithful in literally working against all my nature to make me more into who God wants me to be. 7. I really wanted to take a picture to accompany this post, but thought that my words would have to suffice in describing the grossness of this episode.  8.  This is ridiculously gross and funny.

To wrap the episode up, the porch is clean, I used bleach and then vinegar to sanitize and remove/cover scent, Annie laughed, Ellie didn’t even know and Sean Palmer empathized through the many different dog-poo-episodes he has shared with me.  Welcome to paradise

So that’s an update from Casa de Groves, heres hoping the weather improves, the waves improve and my neck feels better so I can cleanse myself with some surf.

Youth Specialties is a company dedicated to training, education and equipping youth workers to best minister to teens.  We love YS, we go to their conferences, use their products and follow the wisdom of its president, Mark Oestreicher or Marko (here’s his blog – he’s done with it for a while, but you can still get to the good stuff in his archives).  Annie, Sean and I have recently read Marko’s latest book, “Youth Ministry 3.0” and we are processing through some of the implications of his findings and arguments, which is essentially (this is probably a gross overstatement) that what we are doing in youth ministry is already not working (he supports that statement by acknowledging the research – most of us have heard these findings already) and that we need to dramatically change what we are doing to better minister to these teens.

Anyway, Marko talks through the phenomenon of adolescence and addresses what many have concluded are the “three tasks of adolescence” namely identity (who am I?), autonomy (what is my role in this world?) and affinity (where do I belong?).  The deal is that during adolescence teens are subconsciously working on these three tasks simutanouesly but also in a little bit of an order.  They are trying to figure out who they are, what their place is in this world and where or to whom they belong.  Part of what happens during this process is that the teens “try on” or “try out” different selves, roles, and affinity groups throughout these adolescent years (I say adolescent rather than teen because adolescence now continues into the mid-to-late twenties).

YS also hooks up youth workers by sending out weekly informational emails to us with different links to articles pertinent to teens and youth ministry.  This week’s email links to an article on Reuters examining Morgan Stanley’s paper by their 15-year-old summer intern.  He writes about teens use of and affinity towards all manner of technology including facebook and twitter. Here is a quote from the article:

The most memorable moment in the report is its discussion of the irrelevancy of Twitter to teenagers:

Facebook is popular as one can interact with friends on a wide scale.
On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then just leave it as they release(sic) that they are not going to update it (mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they would rather text friends with that credit). In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless.

Many of the issues higlighted(sic) in the 4-page report are obvious: Teenagers are consuming more media, but not prepared to pay for it. They resent intrusive advertising, while print media and radio are largely irrelevant to them. These observations may be nothing new to anyone who bothers to ask kids what they are up to.

What I find most interesting and disturbing about this article is that neither the people at Morgan Stanley, nor the article’s author understand the basics of adolescence.  This article takes the findings of this young man as the definitive word for marketing to younger generations when the report focuses inherently on teens (read: adolescents).  It is also disturbing that what the readers (atleast those who commented) took from the article was that twitter is a waning fad (apparently since teens signal what is cool or not, no thought or mention to the fact that teens were actually behind young adults in accepting facebook, many preferred [and many of our teens tell us they still do prefer] myspace).

So, where does the “three tasks” discussion come into this?  Simply that, when one examines the three tasks of adolescence one can clearly see that each of the three tasks are self-focused.  If you are a teen or a parent of a teen and are getting upset here, please don’t think I am calling your son or daughter selfish, because I am not.  The fact of the matter is that the whole purpose of adolescence’s “three tasks” is defining one’s self, and therefore much of the psychological, emotional and even physical work of adolescence is focused on the self.  Understand, now that teens can be very selfless, and that many are desperately looking for a venue to selflessly devote all of themselves to (see autonomy), but the very reason that much of their psyche is self-focused is why teens don’t care for twitter.  Twitter is, in it’s essence a pretty selfless application; it may seem selfish upon first glance (ie. what are you doing right now?), but the foundation of the community is that you follow others’ lives.  You can find all sorts of articles telling you to be focused on others in your tweeting (responding, quoting or linking to others) to build a following.  They talk about how self-centered tweeting will lose  followers quickly and how the beauty is in the actual simplicity of sharing what you are doing (not who you are).

Facebook, on the other hand (like myspace) is a self-focused app.  Facebook gives you the opportunity to create your profile and identity from the ground up; it allows you to identify yourself however you want to be seen.  Once you sign up for facebook, you can pimp your profile with all sorts of songs and apps and everything else under the sun.  You can spend a lifetime taking quizes to find out what “Friends” character you are, or what your smile says about you (then you can commment on the results whether you aggree or disaggree). You can explore deeper into your friends lives and interests than a microblog allows, and therefore adolescents would/should absolutely like Facebook more than twitter.  Twitter has the full strength of popularity in post-teens because twitter is about affinity (where/to whom to I belong?) and for anyone to really love twitter, they must have moved past the identity-formation task of adolescence and into the affinity task (or past that also).

The sad thing about this is that what is gleaned from the study is simply first-hand market research.  There seems to be no desire for the health or betterment  or better understanding of teens, but simply of what they like to get their money.  The sad reality is that the culture we live in both idolizes and preys upon youth.  Often teens are seen as little more than dollar signs to adults, when this report could be used to usher and encourage adolescents into adulthood, it seems to be little more than market research.

Also something to think about and note is whether or not twitter will become popular with teens.  If teens completely reject the app and notion of microblogging, what affinity tool will they cling to when they are finished forming their identity?  If not, will they come back to it recognizing it’s value in their lives?   Something to think about.  It seems fairly clear that older millenials and gen-xers have a pretty solid love for twitter, so it may not die off like many of the commentors are predicting.

This past weekend I caught a powerful bug and spent 3 days in my bed. Wondefully, Ellie caught said death-bug just in time to begin her funk as I said aloha to mine. So she has been sick for the past 2 or 3 days and has been miserable. Our family has also, therefore, shared in Ellie’s misery. It has been a rough couple of days and the really sad thing is that she is not being nasty or mean or anything like that, she has just been miserable and we all feel so sorry for her in all this.

Anyway, Ellie was supposed to have her one-year-old appointment at the doctors. I overheard today that this is called a “well baby appointment”. These are the terrible appointments where the babies are checked and vaccinated and kept well, I guess. Apparently they aren’t kidding around about the name. I just also over heard our wife canceling said doctors appointment due to our daughter’s cold.

So I guess nowadays you can’t come to the doctor if you are sick. Unless it’s for a” sick-baby appointment” or something like that. In the midst of my grouchy, sleep-deprived stupor I found this pretty funny.

Well, Elianna is one year old (this is a couple days late). What an incredible year it has been. She is growig so much and is becomming a sweet little girl. When I returned from my trip to the Philippines she started taking her first steps. A month later she walks everywhere. She seriously doesn’t even really even crawl anymore. She just toddles around everywhere. She is talking and communicating more and more. She says words like dad, mom, dog, duck, woof, ok and probably more that I forgot. She also signs pretty effectively signing thank you, more, finished and she’s working on others.

My life has also dramatically changed over the last year. You show me how selfish and impatient I am and can be. You have made me into a father, rather than being just a guy who has a daughter. We are growing together, all three of us. Your mommy, you and I are growing as a family and we love having you in our lives. We love this journey we are on and we can’t wait for all the other things that come. It’s been a great year. Thanks for making it so great.

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