Friday, August 28, 2020

Not Rushin' God


In June, I was asked to consider applying for the Senior Vice President position for the Young Life over the Former Soviet Union division.  Last year, I was asked to apply back in August last year when it opened, yet it was an easy 'no' as a 'move' to Ukraine or the Baltic states was required. The requirement to move was no longer required when this job opened again, thus I was asked again.

From the day I was asked to apply, life got complicated. That next week, George Floyd's death on top of many others unjustly taken, sparked worldwide racial outrage beyond anything we've seen. A week later, my brother died, which sent my life into a daze. DoBetterYL hit in a third crashing wave and it took me a month to have the head space to consider seeking counsel and even filling out the application. I ran it by a few people and decided that I did not want to let fear stop me from stepping out and trusting that God would lead, protect and open and close doors. So I did.

Do you ever hesitate to pray, listen, step out, speak up or say yes to something because you are nervous of what would actually happen if God moved you forward into it? That was me! It was so uncomfortable to think about taking on something so incredibly different, so far from home, so complex, traveling so much, and without the incredible team I love serving with here.

Before applying, I laid a fleece before the Lord (a reference in the Book of Judges with Gideon.) That was, If I apply, Dietrich would have to fully support this decision. Fat chance, right? After the depression that hit when we moved to Spokane, it was highly unlikely he would go for this transcontinental leadership position. So, I labored to get a clear year-long schedule of what this job would look like, how many days away, how many days home.  And do the same for my current job. So I did, and I printed them out, and laid the two calendars on the table and let Dietrich look at it, ask questions, and ultimately decide. And so he did.
 
After poking and prodding, he recognized the blue and yellow lengths of time away, yet also the numerous, white blocks of time that I would be home. His question and observations pierced me. "So, I see you'd be away a lot. That's fine, we do just fine when you're gone. But, when you're home, would you REALLY be home? Because that is what I don't like; when you're home and also working, calling, texting and not really here for me." I told him that I gathered that I would be much more present with this new role since. "So, yeah, I am totally good with this job if you're more  home when you're home."

Wow. I was both stunned, convicted and overwhelmed with clarity from his response. Tanya and I had prayed that the Lord would speak to us in this process, yet little did I know HOW and what the Lord would speak. It wasn't about a 'stay' or 'go,' the word God gave me was about my son, and work/home life boundaries and presence. All those times scrolling, texting, emailing...he noticed. He hardly ever said anything but inside, it has all communicated an unintended message that I was not fully there with and for him.

After two interviews that went very well, another person was chosen for the SVP job. My Russian skills will continue to sit on the shelf and collect more dust, and the time and season that the Lord clearly has me in here is confirmed to be exactly where I should be. And the word God spoke to me wasn't about a job afterall. The courage to engage in a process revealed a much more valuable message that I had not expected. To be home when I'm home, and that my son wants me to be with Him. That was all SO worth it. 

Starting to Do Better in Young Life

The capital "C" church has struggled with how to engage with our LGBT+ community and those among us. The variant conclusions of whether people are 'born this way' or 'choose to be this way' influence how they are treated, welcomed and included. Young Life staff have a history with a wide variety of handling these kinds of conversations when leaders or potential leaders 'come out.' Often the way a leader or staff handled receiving that news causes harm. Done poorly, shame is piled on. Done well, grace and love can be expressed powerfully; whether it is 'agreed with' or not, the relationship and response is incredibly important.

In late June, a movement started called #DoBetterYoungLife, that began to share and open a medium for people to share their stories of harm, mishandling and pain of being shamed, excluded or brushed off. The person who started this hashtag and movement, a married, gay man who expressed on social media, that he walked away from the faith, expressed his own hurt from Christians and YL, and demanded that Young Life change. The message of 'do better' has resonated among staff and leaders, the awareness has sparked a major conversation that cannot be ignored. Leaders and staff HAVE to do better with kids who identify as gay or lesbian, no doubt. Based on history, we and the Church has been really bad at this. Empathy, listening without injecting opinions and 'loving regardless of response' are what leaders do in many other topics. Yet often struggle with this one, thus, training and attention is needed and acknowledgment and apologies are appropriate in many cases. We are engaging in this, from the president all the way to former and current leaders, and me. Although the message of DoBetter seems to be really saying 'believe differently Young Life' from my observation, the charge to do better is being taken on seriously.  

This past month, our Young Life region has put on two town hall type meetings we requested that all our staff participate in. The purpose was to listen to each other and acknowledge that there is a diversity of thought and conclusion from believers and staff, and that it is important to be unified rather than divided and separate like our culture is.  In these meetings, we have acknowledged the stories of hurt from people feeling excluded from staff and leadership because of YL's sexual ethic that leaders are expected to commit to as leaders of young people. In our meetings we wrestled with the complexity of deeply loving 'every kid possible' as we aim to, being as faithful to God's word as we can be of honoring how sexuality for those in leadership, according to how YL and many interpret the Bible, fits within the context of marriage. We spent time listening to BOTH sides of this theological views. We heard a thoughtful theological perspective from those that 'affirm' LGB folks in leadership. This feels risky to many to open up this kind of conversation in a live setting. Honestly, it was beautiful. Hearing a more traditional view AND what some would call a 'progressive' view in a deeply respectful, listening forum with time to break into small groups to seek further clarification, was a win. Respect. Listening. Young Life within our mission and region is committed to 'do better' yet at the same time is not changing its deeply held belief on sexuality within marriage. So its a respectful posture of 'both/and' not just 'either/or.' Comfortable yet? Me neither! I am practicing a prophetic word that I preached to all at our regional winter leadership weekends to 'be comfortable being uncomfortable.'

Friday, May 22, 2020

Family Top 5 Bottom 5 AND Mid-Year Update on 2020 Goals

My family Top 5 Bottom 5 during shelter in home. And 2020 goal mid-year updates.

Bottom 5
5. Hair. I'm a glob of grease an 2 inches length away from a legit comb-over.
4. We are all doing video workouts but SOMEONE usually ends up yelling, crying and storming off.
3. Quiet times with God and solitudes at home in a confined place are not easy.
2. Helping kids with school at home and managing their stress. Wow. Eject button?
1. Fights! Fights about puppies, dishes, fairness, chores, messes and triggering each other (and who's actual fault it is for triggering/being triggered!)

Top 5
5. New inside jokes, life-long memories, family pics in an RV we rented and grit developed!
4. Video work outs all together. It was bottom 4 AND its a top 4 too.
3. Watching shows together: Parks & Rec. Brooklyn 99. Tiger King.
2. Staying connected with teammates in YL for work, yet with no travel.
1. The experience of birthing and raising 11 puppies has been an incredibly bonding experience. The birth process was the most united, bonding experience we have ever had. Janna delivered the pups and popped the sac, Tanya cut the cord and cleared the airways, Dietrich weighed them in and I did my part...I videoed the whole thing from two angles, and other helpful things too (I swear!)

Personal Goals for 2020 Update
I was nervous to check progress. I lost the regular rhythms and relationships but gained TIME to do what is important. I definitely have learned to now say "if the Lord wills" before every goal.

1. Say “no” to 10 ‘good’ things. (In order to say yes to best) So far 5/10.
2. 2-3 hour solitudes to pray, journal, reflect. 11 have been at home, not ideal! 19/52
3. 104 eves/days of 'no work' to read, serve, pray, play with family. 34/104 (catching up but still behind, this one is hard for me.)
4. Take 10 middle schoolers and Dietrich to YL summer camp..this will need to be creative!
5. Encourage Tanya to accomplish all HER goals. (a win for her is a win for me!)
6. Going running WITH others: 24/40 runs.
7. Big 'asks' on behalf of Young Life to reach more kids: 5/20.
8. All-4-of Us Family ‘together’ adventures: (projected to be the hardest: 30/50. 

I've kept track of every 'all-fam adventure' on my 'notes' section on my iPhone: 
Playing Dutch blitz. Watched 'Harriet.' YMCA workout. Breeding Charley x3. Coronavirus Brainstorm sesh. Watched: Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. YMCA workout. 3 LOTR movies on Covid19 first week. Tennis all together x3. Watched all episodes of Parks n Rec. Making a whelping box for Charley. An RV trip for Spring Break. Milton Freewater 'Polaris rides' seeing Elk. Kings Corner card games. Birthing the 11 Puppy together. Watching the Twilight series. The Hobbit series. Jogged around our neighborhood all together. Weighing, feeding, developing, and matching the puppies to new owners. Tiger King x2 & Brooklyn99 x2. Kings corner more. Making waffles, calzones and steak on Parks & Rec reunion day. Going to Manito Park on mother's day.

Blessings to you as you experience the highs, lows and have grace with yourself in 2020 goals. Its a good time to make mid-year corrections, or to add goals you thought were 'gimmes.' Tanya and I are re-adding a goal of doing a weekly 'check in' that we realized we lost when gyms shut down.

Comment with any of your top/bottom or goal check ins.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Some Clarity For God's Sake!

Is 'Clarity Deficiency Syndrome' a Thing?

Anyone finding themselves deficient in clarity? Side effects may include constantly checking the news and social media, unpredictably snapping at people in your home, thinking about praying but being too overwhelmed and lacking faith of the point of even doing it and uncommon lethargy.

Disclarity in which phase our states and country are in. Disclarity in when we can get our haircut and share a meal with friends. Disclarity of when and if our Young Life leaders can take kids to camp or on a trip, and if so, how many in a group can come. And...when can businesses open and people get back to work? 'Clarity Deficiency Syndrome' is a THING.

For those uncomfortably buried beneath layers of disclarity, consider how Mother Teresa handles it.

A brilliant minded Jesuit professor and author, Fr. John F. Kavanaugh traveled across the globe to stay 3 months at Mother Teresa's “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. In epic fashion, he met Mother Teresa. She asked bluntly, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him.
“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked.  He voiced the request that he had traveled thousands of miles to ask: “Pray that I have clarity.”
She said firmly, “No, I will not do that." (insert record player scratch sound and cue the awkward turtle.)
When he asked her why, she said,  “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of."

Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust.  So I will pray that you trust God."
'Trust' is not often what we WANT to hear when its clarity we seek. Yet it is an essential 'big story' theme with God. Jesus masterfully personified this life. Paul, Peter and John highlighted the life of trust and faith in every Epistle. Trusting God requires that we walk by faith, not by sight. The beautiful, unshakable remedy to clarity deficiency is trust. Good 'ol Vitamin T. The value of trusting amidst the trials and suffering, which James and Peter open their Epistles with, is worth the process because of who we become and how our souls deepen.

We can hardly wait for clarity. Will you deeper your trust in the meantime? That is the bottom line.
(Quote from Ruthless Trust, by Brennan Manning, 2000 that Billy Tormey introduced me to.)

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Huber Personal Top 10 for 2019


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Top 10 for the Hubers in 2019

10. Janna entered marching band at Mead HS with a knee scooter for her broken foot from an accident while square dancing at Malibu. We weren't how it was going to worjk out. She learned extremely complicated choreography and clarinet parts quickly, her band made top 3 at multiple contests and at the end of the season, she was voted most inspirational!

9. Dietrich and a pack of friends going to North Spokane Wyldlife with Jeff as a leader, and Tanya leading Mead YL with Janna and a growing crew of sophomore girls. This has assuredly been a highlight and has promise to continue so for 2020, including both going to summer camp.

8. Spring Break: We surprised the kids with a day at Universal Studios, we enjoyed SoCal and our annual mecca in Rosarito Beach and we snapped ample pics in the Tulip fields of LaConner.

7. Dietrich’s times with friends: His bday: Virtual reality, trampoline jumping, playing Risk, watching Avengers End Game and hatchet throwing with friends felt like big wins for Dietrich. Seeing him come alive with friends is a win we do not take for granted!a

6. Our two family weeks in the summer at Suncadia (Roslyn) and Black Butte with friends. Times with other friends with kids' friends tends to be among the sweetest times for them and us. When kids all hang out, the adult's enjoyment skyrockets too. During these weeks, big prayers were prayed, many books were read, miles of running and biking were logged and big topics were journaled.

5. Finding something all four of us enjoy doing together is elusive. Jeff and Tanya's collaborative goal was to have 30 family adventures were we all doing the same activity.

4. Sushi together! Who would have thought we would come to Spokane to begin to appreciate sushi? Eating sushi has become one of the activities all four of us enjoy and nerd out with. Seems hardly fitting that sushi would have emerged as the #1 'adventurous' activity, but that is how we 'roll' I guess!

3. Serving at Malibu. Tanya slayed it as camp director. Janna and Dietrich enjoyed an incredible group of teenage kids who were with us for the month too. Jeff lavished being spouse/Tanyas support and focusing on relationships and sweet times with God.

2. It was our most connected year as a couple this year. We started off in Kauai and set goals together for the year. Some we nailed, like to work out every Monday morn and do a 'check in' during it. Some not so much, like going on 25 evening dates (fell short,) stand up paddle board 15 times (only 8.) But adding to the weekly rhythms we've been forming helped and will be built upon even more for 2020.

1. The 100th Apple Blossom, where Tanya was celebrated as a past royalty, waving in the parade from the convertible and fun social engagements with dear friends and families. I never dreamed I would be someone's arm candy...but Tanya was the celebrity so I did my best supporting role I could do while she shined.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Jeffs Young Life Regional Top Ten of 2019

This is my top ten list of Young Life highlights that hang with my soul months later as I reflect back on a year of God's faithfulness. If you want my bottom ten, it'll cost you a beer, but I'll fess up!

10. Brewster and Bill! Our regional YL staff teammate, Bill Dooley, has been consistently meeting, praying with and supporting the efforts of a group of adults in Brewster, WA on the Columbia River. The past few months, after lots of meeting but little dynamic stirring, the adults started pulling kids together and something big is sparking that is leading to Young Life starting there, and a committee chair came forward, an essential part to ensure hundreds of kids here will be known, prayed for and introduced to Jesus.


9. "No way Jose'" kids. Tanya and other leaders and I used to have a 3 columned list of kids we prayed to come to camp. The 3 columns were: Surely Shirley. Maybe Baby and No Way Jose'.  YL is positioned to encourage the latter two columns of kids to come. Two no way Jose' kids came to Malibu with TJ from Leavenworth HS. Both proclaimed they were 'Athiest' and pushed back on everything at camp from club, to cabin time to quiet times. Yet by the end of the week, it was a combination of those three, along with the way their leader, TJ, reflected the love of Jesus, they both stood up at Say-So starting a new relationship with God!

8. Power Women! This year, strong women were given opportunities to step up and they thrived. Two of our staff, CJ and Tanya, served as month-long camp directors for WFR and Malibu. Both slayed it. Three of our largest financial gifts (10K) were written by women. Our new regional admin, Amber Bonetti, is a butt-kicker, as is YoungLives coordinator Cassie Coats, fiercely creating new possibilities for YLVS coordinators across the region. New hires, Stephanie Bugas, (Walla Walla) Kate McGinnis (Missoula) and Tanita Maddox (ARD) top the list of new-to-us-power-women. Many committee chairs making the biggest waves are dynamic women. The list goes on...and women rose strong in 2019!

7. Muslim family, alive in Christ. I cannot say their names, for safety, but a family of kids in Spokane both experienced the power and deep love of God this summer. One met Christ 2 summers ago at Malibu and prayed her little brother would later come and experience the same. He did, and now both know Jesus and their lives will never be the same (see an earlier blog entry for more.)

6. "I'm still standing." Been a tough year, but staff are still standing! This year a few staff whom I love had tough sledding. Financially, emotionally, feeling alone, etc. Three are dear to me. For me to be in leadership and see them struggle and suffer on a heart level, I ached with them. As the year has progressed, seeing God's people rise up alongside them and to see the Spirit carry them through...it is a highlight. Although if I had a magic wand, I would gladly do away with the pain.

5. Hey Jeffrey! Our staff person, Jeffrey Chambers, who's past life has been filled with pain and poverty, has thrived while serving in Tri-Cities area, alongside Steve Vollmer. This summer he was asked to speak at WFR-Creekside. He had typical first week jitters, yet the last two weeks he served wonderfully and will speak again this summer. ALSO, he applied to be the next lead area director for Tri_Cities, after years of believing he's only a second-in-change kind of guy, he was just chosen to be hired as the #1 guy. His tears of joy!

4. Year of the matching gift.  I haven't participated in a 'matching gift' campaign for a few years. But this year...took the all-time cake, for me.  We reached a 45K campaign in September.  And at our 'Art and Wine' Auction in April, we had a 10K match. Both put us in reach of hiring an associate regional director for the Inland NW region. Big time response by our supporters; impact ahead! AND...we were JUST offered ANOTHER 25K match for this year end, by December 31st.

3. Our regional vision has been for our leaders to build relationships with 35,000 kids a year.  The highest we got to was 27,500 and we have stalled.  In October, Inland NW region merged with Montana/North Wyoming and wouldn't you know it...their leaders' total relationships with kids joined with ours and we subsequently reached our 35,000 'kids known by name and prayed for' goal! Time for a NEW GOAL for 2020-2025.

2. YoungLives. Last Sept I shared that it was my worst month ever on YL staff. YLVS in Spokane came unraveled and I stepped in to make tough calls. Since then it has been pulled together. Its in a drastically new season of flourishing. Building upon legendary work of Shauna, Linda and co had established, YLVS has truly begun reaching new heights through the leadership of Melissa, Niki (and Cassie) in partnership with their supportive areas. '19 saw incredible impact in the lives of teen moms across Spokane.
1. Our region hired two Associate Regional Directors: Tanita Maddox and Jim Stuck. After almost two years of deliberating, we made the decision as a board, inspired by those who gave generously. This new direction is God’s way of answering our prayer for growing deeper in faith, reaching more kids and experiencing greater health among our staff. So...giddy up, 2020+!

Part B to #1 is the addition of Senior Associate RD, Keith Dow. He leads Montana/N Wyoming areas and is already among my most synergistic teammates I have ever served alongside. He is wildly gifted and will bring tremendous blessing to the whole Mountain West Region and to me.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Montana/N Wyoming is Joining the Inland NW Region

As I begin the fifth year of being regional director here in the Inland NW (Central & Eastern WA and North Idaho,) we have been asked by Young Life to combine with the Montana/N Wyoming Region. We are one new region together. The wisdom is to leverage the resources, strengths, expertises and slim down leadership to be simpler, more focused and not need two regions to fund and lead, but one that is better together.

If you know me, you know i am a sucker for a good brainstorm. Actually, if you know me, you know that I never leave brainstorming mode. Those gifted with 'critical thinking' skills know to slap me and splash my face with cold water to clarify that we are NO longer brainstorming. With that in mind, here are some brainstormed ideas! 

Gold Rush Region
Mountain West Region
"Washington Family Region"  
Big Sky Northwest
Lewis & Clark Trail Region
Deeper Wider Longer 
Greater NW Big Sky
Basalt and Light 
The Great Northwest 
Triple Threat (this used to be 3 regions...obviously this is a joke)
Northern Skies
Greater Northwest Skies
Greater Northwest Big Sky
Inland Big Sky
Big Ass Region
The Glacier and its Carnage
'Gods Country'
Blue Sky Region
Wild West region
Wild Wild Country! (see Netflix special series) 
Brewster to Billings
Cascades to Dakota
Cougars, Bulldogs, Bobcats and Grizzlies, Oh My!
1/4 of America region
'We ain't City Slickers'
Endless Region
14 Hour Drive Region
Inland NW Big Yellowsky Panhandlers
Rivers Mountains and Lakes for DAYS Region
'No Traffic' Region
Inland NW Big Sky

Any more?