The community at LaCygne made me feel safe and comfortable.
People were checking on me and inviting me to activities. I felt like I could walk up to anyone, start a conversation and they would accept me. I want to go back because I loved the experience of community and getting to know others more.
I also really like the environment - especially the Snack Shack and the Blob which were amazing!
I plan to be a volunteer next summer and help create community for others.
I spent some time reflecting over the weekend on what a great year 2015 was. For me, the year was EPIC. Here are the top ten reasons why 2015 will be long remembered. I did not list these ten in order of significance (that would have taken several more days to contemplate that) although #1 is pretty much #1.
#1 – Vicki and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We were high school sweethearts and got married at semester break during my first year in college. I married my best friend and she is still my best friend today… that makes for a great life.
#2 – I celebrated my 40th anniversary of being on the staff of Youthfront. I came on staff part-time right out of high school and soon became a full-time staff member while I finished college and earned two Masters degrees. I am so fortunate to get to work for such a great organization with amazing and wonderful friends.
#3 – Our oldest granddaughter, Lexi, attended Youthfront camp this summer for the first time as a camper. That was awesome.
#4 – Our son, Daniel married Mariel, this year and we are happy to have her as a daughter-in-law.
#5 – The San Francisco Giants paid travel and lodging for Vicki and me to come to the Giants final game of the season at AT&T Park to be with the Affeldt Family on the field for a forty-five minute retirement celebration ceremony for Jeremy Affeldt. I met Jeremy when he played for the Royals and we became close friends and partners in ministry. Our friendship survived Jeremy being the winning pitcher in Game Seven of last year’s World Series when the Giants beat the Royals. Jeremy was the first to call and congratulate me when the Royals won this year.
#6 – Several days after returning from the amazing experience at AT&T Park with Jeremy Affeldt and the Giants, the Royals called and informed me that they were honoring me for my 40 years of public service by having me sit in the Buck O’Neil seat behind home plate. The Royals produced a video of my Youthfront ministry highlights, provided premium seats for my family, and treated me like royalty. And this all happened as the Royals won game five against the Houston Astros. Watching Johnny Cueto pitch his masterpiece behind home plate was extraordinary. Twice during the night they put my family on the Jumbo tron and ran the video about my ministry. What an amazing night.
#7 – The Kansas City Royals win the World Series. I’ve wanted my family to experience what it’s like to win the World Series like I did thirty years ago in 1985. The parade in 1985 was great but the celebration in 2015 with 800,000 people gathered downtown was EPIC.
#8 – For the last couple of years I have served as a Senior Advisor Consultant for the Museum of the Bible that will be opening in Washington, D.C. in November of 2017. Recently, I secured a significant and generous planning grant from the John Templeton Foundation on behalf of the Museum of the Bible. I will be able to lead a process to explore the issue of science and the scripture as literature. Here are excerpts from the executive summary, “A narrative has developed in the Western world that scripture and science are incompatible. Many believe science has shown the Bible to no longer be relevant and even responsible for holding back human progress. There are also those who believe that scripture necessitates an adversarial position against science. While elements of this narrative are certainly understandable in our current cultural milieu, we believe they are mistaken and damaging. The MOTB has an opportunity to help overcome these misleading views. This project will produce a detailed plan for compelling exhibits focusing on science and the Bible and create a fully developed proposal for the John Templeton Foundation requesting support to implement the plans. We believe the stakes are high if the presentation of the Bible and Science relationship is not informative and intelligent.” I feel this has potential to change the conversation about the relationship between scripture and science.
#9 – In June we completed a four-year, $4.5 million capital campaign at Youthfront Camp West. This will go down as one of the biggest highlights and most significant accomplishments of my lifetime. My spiritual life was transformed at this camp forty plus years ago. I’m so thrilled that the facilities are so amazing and well constructed that young people will be transformed at Youthfront Camp West long after I’m dead and gone. I feel so fulfilled and blessed by the success of this campaign and construction completion.
#10 – There were too many other great things from 2015 to just pick one, so here is my miscellaneous category. * I made my 22nd visit to the Middle East in May, this time on a VIP trip with a small team from Museum of the Bible. * The Chiefs make the playoffs. * In December, Vicki and I visited Micah and Samantha, who are now living in Cabo San Lucas. * In January, I attended the International Association of Youth Ministry Educators Conference in Cambridge, UK. * Featured in a Cover Story in the Youthworker Journal. * Just about every time we are with our grandkids is a GOOD TIME.
My experience at LaCygne has been powerful for my spiritual life.
I went on several hikes and worshiped God in nature unlike any other experience I've ever had. The daily worship, scripture and prayer times combined with the environment of the prayer space were impactful providing me peace and a strong connection to God. Whenever I go to LaCygne I leave feeling reassured in my spirituality and focused on my priorities.
I come home feeling like my experience at LaCygne prepared me for every day life as a teenager who wants to follow Christ.
I went to LaCygne by myself and didn't really know anyone. It was a chance to meet new people - a lot to do every day and I loved that the activities were optional.
One night after an evening gathering, they surprised us with the "Fugitives" game. It required us to run around in the pitch black dark, looking for clues and avoiding the other team. The combination of the surprise factor (out of the ordinary) and the high stakes made it feel like the Hunger Games. It was really awesome, we were scared and laughing at the same time!
Fugitives actually helped me bond with some other girls and I made life long friends.
A very surreal week started with a wonderful tailgate meal with Vicki while anticipation mounted for the Chiefs playing New England on Monday Night Football on a perfect fall evening in Kansas City. Even though we love our Chiefs, the city is in frenzy over the KC Royals. While waiting for the kickoff the atmosphere was enhanced by a dozen or so Royals players who made a surprise appearance on the field at Arrowhead. The crowd roared as they walked around the perimeter of the field, giving high fives and chatting with fans. The Chiefs made a classy decision to feature a Royals congratulation video on the jumbotron. Arrowhead was charged up. I felt like the Chiefs had a good chance to win but no one expected a 41 to 14 spanking of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This was SO FUN. We also broke the Guinness Book of World Records by becoming the loudest open-air stadium in the world reaching 142.2 decibels.
This event was opening act for the headliner happening on Tuesday, when the KC Royals would return to post-season play for the first time in 29 years. If the opening act featuring the Chiefs was so good, then certainly the headliner playing the next night would surely be stunning.
Tuesday morning started out charmed when I pulled up to one of my regular coffee stops to find George Brett holding court with some buddies, talking baseball and telling stories. George saw the Brett Jersey I had bought my father several years ago hanging in my back window. That brought a big smile and thumbs up from the Hall of Famer.
I headed to Kauffman Stadium early to take in all the festivities. I particularly went to sit in the same seat I sat in next to my father on his last outing before dying a little over a year ago. My dad taught me how to love baseball so deeply. When it became clear that we would be playing the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game, I knew I had to be there. The A’s came to KC from Philadelphia. They never had a winning record in KC but I loved them. In fact, my parents had to get special permission at my grade school to let me where my Kelly Green and Gold A’s hat. I even had my school picture taken with my hat on. When my father told me that Charlie Finley was taking the A’s to Oakland, I cried for days. It wasn’t long before KC was granted an expansion team that we wouldcall the Royals. Some of my earliest memories are of my father taking me to old Municipal Stadium to see the A’s and then the Royals play. Ewing Kauffman, the owner of the Royals, worked to get us a new stadium, along with Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt. Several times a month my dad would take to the overview hill to watch the progress being made on the new stadiums. So it was special, painful and joyful all at the same time to sit in this chair and remember.
The pre-game festivities set the stage for an amazing, one of a kind night. I chatted with Jamie Roach, my brother-in-law; Eddie Garlich, a Youthfront kid now grown up; friends Gary and Vickie Pener; I saw friend and Royals legend Mike Sweeney and exchanged texts; and for a special treat I discovered in row two behind the Royals dugout and right in front of me, Julia Burbridge, a Youthfront supporter and friend, with her two daughters, Lisa and Anna. I was missing Steve, Julia’s husband, who was in Palm Springs on business. I eventually moved down a row to sit with them. I got non-stop messages and texts from friends, during the drama of the game, friends who saw me on TV. I’ve learned that sitting near the dugout gets you TV and JumboTron time.
When we went down two runs in the first inning my heart sank but soon soared as we regained the lead. I’m not going to lie – I was depressed and resigned to lose when we entered the bottom of the 8th behind by a score of 7-3. But then magic happened and continued to happen. When Peres hit the walk off single, in what had become the first winner-take-all game to go at least 12 innings since Game 7 of the 1924 World Series, I cried, the kind where tears roll down the cheeks. Even though the clock was striking midnight and I had a 5:00am flight to Sacramento, California for the National Youth Workers Convention, I couldn’t leave. The fans couldn’t leave. The players couldn’t leave until we properly celebrated in astonishment what had just happened. My phone was lit up with texts, v-mails, calls, tweets, Facebook mentions, etc. from friends from all over the world. I so wish my dad could have been at this game. One of those voicemails was from my mother. I called her back on the way home and we celebrated, talked about dad and reminisced.
As I finally pulled myself away from the field, I did, what my dad would have wanted me to do. I stopped at least two dozen 8 – 10 year olds who were walking to the cars with their fathers and mothers. With what voice I had left I enthusiastically told them, “You are so lucky to be here. What happened tonight you will remember the rest of your life. You will some day tell your children about it. You were here. You saw this and you will never forget it.” Once the parents realized I wasn’t intoxicated, they affirmed what I was saying and jumped on the moment to drive home the moment to their children. I think my father would be very proud of me for doing that.
This is a powerful TED talk by Zak Ebrahim who is the son of the man who planned the bombing of the World Trade Center. Hearing Zak gives me hope in the midst of all the craziness happening around the world.
One year ago tonight my father, Dave King, and I, along with my brother-in-law, Jamie Roach and family friend Topher Philgreen, attended a special KC Royals baseball game. It wasn't special because the Royals won, they didn't. It wasn't special because they were still in a pennant race, they really weren't. It was special because it was the last public outing of my father just nine days before he died.
It was special because my father and I really had a thing for baseball. We loved the game and we loved the Royals. During my father's battle for his life last summer we had moments of high hopes for the Royals, but alas... like the last, nearly three decades of Royals' baseball, it, once again, was not meant to be. It was special because we got to go into the Royals' broadcast booth before the game to hangout with broadcasters Ryan Lefebvre, Rex Hudler and Denny Matthews. I wrote about it here.
Today, I thought a lot about my father. It's hard to believe a year has passed by so quickly. I wish he could have experienced what the Royals are doing right now. My father and I used to go to Municipal Stadium to watch the KC Athletics play. He consoled me when Charlie Finley decided to move the team to Oakland, I cried. He took me to watch our new team, the Royals, play at Municipal. He took me several times a month to monitor the progress of the new stadium which would become Kauffman Stadium. We had all those great years of rooting for our team in the golden '80's. I celebrated with him when we won the World Series. I wish he could have experienced this season. I hope my kids get the joy of experiencing a World Series (and a Super Bowl, come on Chiefs).
My father and I had a deeper connection than just baseball. He loved Jesus and served God faithfully and he loved to pray. I've thought about him during this pilgrimage I'm currently on. I've though about him during the offices of prayer we've attended in the Cathedral in Chester, at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Palace and today in Canterbury Cathedral. Yes, we connected on the deep level of our Christian faith, but that doesn't diminish the sweet and passionate connection we had over baseball.
He was a coach to me in life and he was my baseball coach for nearly a decade as a child and teenager. I miss you coach.
My friend Jeremy Affeldt, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, just celebrated his 35th birthday, which coincided with back to back wins on consecutive days. Jeremy has won two World Series Championships with the Giants and factored significantly in the titles. He was his team's 2011 nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award and was voted MLB Setup Man of the Year in 2009. Affeldt was also recognized for his anti-slavery efforts with a nomination for the Jefferson Award for Public Service. So far this year Jeremy is once again showing that he is one of the premiere relievers in the major leagues, pitching in 24 games with 19 strikeouts, 9 holds and a 1.71 ERA. And, I might add, the Giants are the hottest team in baseball with a 41-21 record.
All that to say, Jeremy is a better human being than he is a baseball player. Baseball player doesn't define Jeremy, his faith in Jesus Christ does.
That is the introduction to say, if your father hasn't read Jeremy's book To Stir aMovement,do something special for your father on Father's Day and give him this book. Then you can read it after he is done. It is interesting, inspiring and informative. Act now, and you will have it in time.
We have been able to work closely together to grow Something to Eat™ into something unique that not only provides food for those who are hungry but challenges young people to lean into the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25.
The best part of this video is that it features Larisa, who is much better looking than Jeremy and the dynamos in their relationship.
From now until May 4, 2012 you can get a free digital book entitled A Mother's Journey of Love, Loss and Life Beyond, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple. Let me explain my connection with this book.
Recently, I received an email from Jennifer Scalise, a mother who
wanted to share a story with me about her daughter, Brooke. Just a few weeks after Brooke’s second summer
at Youthfront Camp West, while on vacation with her family, she was killed in a
negligent accident caused by a tour operator in Costa Rica. This senseless tragedy became national
news. Ultimately Brooke’s mom
wrote a book about her story.
Jennifer has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, Good Morning America,
and World News with Diane Sawyer to tell Brooke’s story.
In her book Jennifer describes
how their family did not go to church but Brooke had gone to camp (at
Youthfront) and had become involved in church. Brooke had become increasingly vocal about her love for
Jesus Christ. Her mom spoke about
how gentle yet consistent Brooke was about her faith in God. The book chronicles the process of her
family’s discovery of Brooke’s deep faith and love for Jesus Christ by reading
her Youthfront Camp Journals after her death. As I read Jennifer’s book A MOTHER’S JOURNEY of Love, Loss and Life Beyond, I
found myself moved to tears on more than one occasion.
summer that Brooke died was the summer we focused on Jesus’ parables in Luke
15. It was amazing in the
book to see Brooke's own handwritten words in her Youthfront camper
manual. She wrote about her life
with Jesus. She revealed how the
parable of the Prodigal Son had impacted her. In the camper manual we had the picture of Rembrandt's
painting of The Return of the Prodigal Son. Brooke’s mom included this picture in her book and wrote
about it, “We found a picture of The Return of the Prodigal
Son by Rembrandt, on which Brooke had written “God” with an arrow to
the man depicting God and then “me” with an arrow to the son kneeling in front
of God. We were shocked Brooke would think this way and would have viewed
herself as the child kneeling in front of God.”
I told Brooke’s mom, “We get to serve thousands of young
people and minister to them. We try to do this with a generous posture
that creates space for their humanity. Too many camps and churches try to
force young people into a confining human-created mold when what is really
needed is an environment that allows young people to lean into their own God
shaped humanity. Brooke definitely embraced Jesus Christ and allowed her
spirit to be set free by God's life-giving spirit.
Brooke’s mom continues, “Much
later, a friend looking at the picture discovered something I had missed.
Brooke had also drawn and circled a distinctive mark on the back of the head of
the son (the person she felt depicted her), a mark in the exact spot and in
accurate proportion to what I would later learn was the most severe of Brooke’s
injuries, and ultimately, the cause of death. Stunned, I moved in a fog for
days after finding this, overwhelmed by the magnitude of what it proved.
all surprised me. Brooke and I were extremely close. She had always confided in
me about everything. Our love was so strong. I have many letters that she wrote
to me in which she tells me that I am her best friend and we shared a bond like
no other. But, as close as we were, I will admit that I was shocked to find out
I was not what mattered most in her life. As we pored through what were now the
greatest gifts of my life, I found a sheet that she had filled out at school,
titled ‘Explore Your Future.’ Under ‘Who do you look up to?’ Brooke listed God,
Jesus, and my parents. Under ‘What is important to you?’ she had written: ‘God,
my family, and friends are all important to me.’ Not many 12 year olds would
write this on a school worksheet in a public school. Seeing this and the other
documents made me realize how her love for God was greater than even her love
for me and that she viewed herself as God’s child first. As devastated as I
was, it gave me peace knowing Brooke was with who she loved most.”
Brooke’s family is thankful to Youthfront for introducing
her into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. I am also thankful that Brooke’s story also involves an
extension of God’s grace into the life of the entire family. This happens all the time. This is our mission and Brooke’s story
is one of thousands of beautiful stories of young people transformed by Jesus
Christ through Youthfront’s ministries.