Sunday, June 9, 2013
In addition to our “public” forms of expression, we’ve have always tried to grow in our Christian faith as a couple. Our times of prayer, Bible study, and relational ministry hold some very sweet memories. Years ago, Wendy pointed out a passage that reflects our complementary gifts: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11, ESV)
Talk about weighty words! Speaking with God’s words; serving with God’s strength. If I had made that up, I would be guilty of tremendous arrogance—to dare to speak for God or serve in His strength! However, since the Apostle Peter wrote it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I believe it. For 20 years of marriage, Wendy & I have tried to live “as good stewards of God’s varied grace”: Wendy as the “server” (graphics, organization, hospitality) and me as the “speaker” (visionary, leader, communicator). Again, lest you think I’m ascribing divine qualities to our gifts and marriage by my own authority, I’m not—we’re just relishing in the privilege to speak & serve as God’s stewards for His glory, others’ good, and our joy!
I know that many JH families do not share our Christian faith. However, in honor of our 20th anniversary next week, I wanted to shed some light on the spiritual history of Paul & Wendy Arneberg, and how our faith has not only has sustained us for 20 years of marriage, but it sustains us in this work. As we face heart surgery on May 28, we’d like to deeply thank all who have expressed concern for us while expressing gratitude for JUGHEADS. God willing, we will continue speaking & serving for God’s glory for years to come, and we’ll continue helping youth and young adults to find their gifts which will then bless others for a lifetime.
Consider our annual production. Ultimate Club members, specialty acts, and skits have more stage time than the average Jughead. However, even the strongest individual or team is “weak” when ones remembers that we need a stage, an audience, a sound man, a lighting technician, ushers, safety codes, and audience amenities to make the show complete. The “star performers” would not have any fame without a strong network to make up for their weaknesses. And that all applies to our most seasoned performers! For the younger and/or less experienced Jugheads, stage fright and self-doubt can sometimes be overwhelming. One young performer literally prayed about his stage fright in last month’s EYJA Showcase, and his success led him to say, “Now I finally know that God is real.”
Wendy and I have expressed that same sentiment countless times, and we do so now daily perhaps more than ever as we’re between two major surgeries while peaking JJ preparations and approaching our 20th wedding anniversary. I’ll reiterate what I often wait until JJ to say, here quoting one of the great hymns of the Christian faith: “To God be the glory, great things He has done!”
Friday, March 1, 2013
Even though I’m a life-long suburbanite and not a Grizzly Adams, I love the outdoors and any chance I have to run, hike, camp, and generally experience God’s creation. My outdoors experiences (however limited) continue to form life-long and character-shaping memories, from camp counseling in the Sierra Nevada in 1989 to hiking Half Dome with Wendy in 2008 to adventures with my brother’s B.S.A. troop (Troop72.com), including a planned trip to the BWCA with seven other Arnebergs (two brothers and five nephews) this summer.
Anyone remotely familiar with wilderness etiquette knows that the phrase “leave no trace” means that we shouldn’t leave evidence of our presence through littering or excessive disruption to the ground, wildlife, and surrounding environment. This I try to do, even in my daily suburban life. However, it strikes me that the opposite is true in mentoring and parenting roles: we’re to leave a major “trace” (legacy) on the lives of our youth through loving and molding young people’s character in every way possible.
As I age, I must confess that it’s often easy for me to hide behind the excuse that I’m too busy, selfish, and/or non-confrontational any given day to chat with a Jughead, admonish a nephew or niece, or give unexpected time to someone craving encouragement or fun. But just as we’re to minimize our carbon footprint in nature, we’re to maximize our “footprint” in the lives of kids and young adults so that their lives are more fruitful because we were there for them. Leave a legacy for the young people in your lives! Remember: time is short.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
This column lacks my usual efforts at inspirational insights into youth juggling. However, consider this a warm-up toward a future column (or two) regarding how our bodies are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and that every heartbeat is a gift. Our nervousness for this surgery is eclipsed by our gratitude for her healthy life up to this point and our hope of full restoration. Would you join us in praying for wisdom and skill for her doctors and for patience and recovery for us so that we’ll have many more years together of faithful service to our God, family, company, and community? We’re resting in our Great Physician!
Dependent on God for Every Heartbeat Since 1968,
I referred to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit in last month’s column, and I’ll now refer to his grander epic The Lord of the Rings for an excellent quote that reflects the purpose behind all resolutions and goal-setting. When Galadriel (an immortal Queen among the Elves) bids farewell to the mortal Aragorn as he begins his 120-year reign as King, she says, “Through darkness you have come to your hope, and have now all your desire. Use well the days!” I interpret these words of Prof. Tolkien to mean that we need to be cognizant daily of how we’re stewarding the time and opportunities given to us during our short time on Earth.
The Apostle Paul delivers an even deeper and more comprehensive admonishment in Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV): “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” The phrase “making the best use of the time” is better translated “redeeming the time,” meaning we’re to impart good in exchange for the evil we find in any situation or relationship. Easier said than done, yes; but I can think of few higher goals than redeeming the time, literally conquering evil with the good done through us.
On the heels of the cinematic release of Les Miserables on Christmas Day last month, I can’t help but hold up Victor Hugo’s character of Jean Valjean as an amazing redeemer of evil times. He exchanged bitterness for joy, hatred for love, thievery for generosity, and self-sufficiency for caring for others. I’m praying that I will be more like Jean Valjean (that is, like Christ, my Redeemer) in 2013 and beyond.
None of us are guaranteed another breath, let alone another week or month or year of normalcy. We don’t know what the future holds. But as we kick off 2013 with all its promise and worries, may we use well the days and redeem the time in ways large and small. May we be found faithful in little things so that we will be entrusted with big things, according to the will and grace of God—who transcends evil times.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
Far beyond this merely being an indulgent column about one of my geeky hobbies, I believe there are many parallels betweeen Bilbo’s adventure and the experience of each Jughead & coach as well as Wendy & me through this company. Nearly every Jughead starts with an eager (and/or apprehensive) desire to juggle due to a friend, sibling, or a parent prodding him or her, but many unexpected joys and trials ensue over the course of months & years of involvement. For the coaches who were once Jugheads themselves, they’ve had to make the challenging leap from teen to adult authority figure, exercising at a much deeper level the mentorship skills they began honing as student leaders. For Wendy, her journey started by supporting my humble coaching endeavor through childcare in 1994-1998, then helping me launch the business full-time in 1999, then leaving her own career in graphic design in 2004 to more fully dedicate herself to our “hobbit hole” home and our “unexpected party” of a company. For me, I suppose I’d need a whole book to describe how this has been an unexpected journey, but suffice it to say that I especially relate to Bilbo.
I was “nudged out of the door” not by Gandalf, but by God who called me to youth work. I’ve been supported not by a Company of Dwarves, Elves, and other Middle-Earth allies, but families, friends, a school district, and now a church who rents us space. I am on a quest neither to find treasure in a mountain nor destroy an evil dragon, but to lay up treasures in Heaven and destroy my own sinful tendencies to be selfish and the Captain of My Soul.
Although fictitious, The Hobbit offers many life lessons. The beauty of the real tale of JH is that all members and leaders are simutaneously beneficiaries and benefactors of life lessons learned and taught by and through them. May each person who “dares” to call themselves a Jughead go away positively changed for life, applying the lessons of this adventure to the many stops on “the road” that “goes ever on and on.”
Developing Youth Through Juggling Since 1994,
Monday, November 5, 2012
My family really helped to reinforce the virtue of finishing well. When I threatened to quit my 7th grade basketball team due to my coach disciplining me, my brother convinced me to stay, lest I jeopardize any opportunity to play in 8th grade. I didn’t quit, and we won the city championship the next year. By contrast, I did choose to cut short my junior year track season due to my lead in the spring play. My coach used me as an example to the other runners because he appreciated my honorable good-bye rather than walking away without a word. I thrived even more in theatre with closure from the track team and a blessing from my coach.
Here at JH, we try to emphasize follow-through on all commitments, from finishing a snack (I hate wasting food) to finishing a contest (even if in last place) to finishing a school year or season well. I realize that life gets busy and priorities change. If kids drop out suddenly (especially mid-year), the biggest challenges include loss of passing partners and loss of friendships for the fellow members who stay & the coaches who have mentored. At the least, I encourage any Jughead moving on to leave gracefully with a formal good-bye, whether in writing or in person. Only 47 kids in company history graduated rather than quit, so the latter is the norm. How one moves on, however, is still an important way—perhaps the last way—that youth are developed through juggling. Finish well, for character’s sake!