I received a note from my sister Rachel that contained a letter that my mother had written before her death.  Thought you might enjoy it.

“I made a commitment to my children…When I get old, I’m going to get even with them.  How?

I am going to take turns living with them!

I’m going to borrow their car and bring it back two hours later than I said I would (with the gas gauge on E) and if I have a scrape or back into something with it I will pretend that I don’t know what happened.

I’m going to leave my clothes all over the house, tie up the phone for hours, leave all the lights on and stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open and drink the milk right out of the carton!

When I go to live with them, I’m going to bring along an untrained pet or take all the stray cats and dogs in as they come along.  I will put wall to wall posters of men on my bedroom walls!

I am goin to borrow my son’s sports jacket and return it with my teeth in the pocket.

I’m going to have my nose pierced and get a tatoo.  When theyare gone for two or three days and leave me in charge…I will throw a wild party, (if I break anything) I’ll pretend I don’t know who did it.

I’m going to get a big stereo and play all my “Sing a long with Mitch” records really loud.

I’m going to take someone’s (not mine) medicine (too much) and they’ll have to rush me to the hospital and have my stomach pumped.  I may take all my clothes off and run away or go to the local grocery store and steal some candy…

I’m going to join every Senior Citizen’s activity and make them come and watch me perform.

Last, but not least I think I will get married at least one more time and make them help plan the wedding and be in it!

Then, I think I will just live forever!  I love you! MOM”

*Bonnie Rae Sams was a great mother with a huge sense of humor and passed that onto her children.  She passed away in 2008 due to complications with Systemic Schleroderma.  After her diagnosis, she was given as much as two years until the complications with SSc would most likely end her life.  She was a strong woman of faith and God allowed us another 8 years with her before the fibrosis in her lungs got to the point that she could go on no longer.

I will turn 37 in a few days…some would see that as a bummer.  Not me.  I have had a wonderful life.  No regrets…well, i guess there is one thing that still haunts me.  The state quarterfinal game versus ACH back in 1990 still bums me out a little bit, but that is another story.  Other than that, God has seen me through a lot of stuff.  Stuff that has allowed me to become a better person and an even better husband, father, and Youth Pastor.  Here in Stuttgart, we have seen some great things happen in 2009.  Many lives come to know Christ, new friendships made with Youth Pastors and Youth workers all over the place, my son drop his first cuss word, and many other show stopping moments that I am fondly looking back on.  I hope you and your ministry have seen some highs as well.  The start of this blog/site has been a high point for me for sure.  I have revitalized a friendship with a former student and learned much about social networking and the infinite possibilities that the web holds for doing great things for the kingdom.

We have had visitors to this site from 22 different countries: USA, Canada, Germany, UK, Austrailia, Russia, Philippines, Israel, Mexico, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Spain, Austria, Denmark, India, Egypt, Finland, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Slovakia, New Zealand, and Belgium.  The only states that have not chimed in here have been from N.Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine…I guess I don’t have any friends up there yet.  What a humbling thing to be a part of.  The folks down in New Zealand have averaged over 14 minutes on the site…crazy…and that is only with limited content so far.

We have much planned for the site in the coming months for sure. 

  • I am currently working with my network of friends to get them to give me one or two of their “best” messages so that we can develope a database for Youth Pastors and Youth Workers to download.  Not so much to “re-teach”…but to help those out there that are just starting out to see how veterans do it.  There is no real “standard” for developing a message or putting together powerpoint, but to see how others do it is real handy.  Each of us has strengths in our ministries and to be able to share the wealth is important.  Remember that. 
  • Linking to other blogs, videos, and websites is a great way to connect all of us that are in it for the long haul.
  • Expanding the Speakers and Bands area.  This is a part of my blog that has started much discussion and there is obviously a need to find reliable, God honoring, personalities to headline events from the largest to the smallest venue.  This is looking like it will expand to its own website with many people contributing to the lineup.  Good stuff.
  • Outreach events that work well for us is a top priority for me in the new year.  I am trying to get some of our events, both weekly and annually, down on paper to share with you.  I get many questions in this area because we have seen some dramatic success, it is only to bring glory to God, because I sure don’t know what I am doing yet.
  • Encouragement for the bi-vocational or volunteer Youth Pastor/Worker.  What ever we can do to help the small church or individual just trying to get something going.  That is where my heart is.  Just in our denomination there are 1400+ churches in Arkansas.  11o0 of those have 100 or less on Sunday Morning…so you do the math.  Not a ton of churches that can support full-time Youth Pastors.  When you throw in all the other Christian denominations in our state alone…we have a ton of students to be reached for Christ.
  • Whatever we can do to encourage other Youth Pastors to start blogging, contributing, or just connecting with other Youth Pastors in their area is a win-win situation.  So join the fun.  Connect with me on facebook or send me an email and share your ideas or some of the good things you have seen out there…so we can get the word out!
  • Most of all, I would love to pray for you and your ministry.  I have mentors praying for me and it helps me to know that.  Especially when I want to hang my head and wonder why I am even in this thing to begin with.  Have a Happy New Year.

Man, I just got through watching some great students from Williams Baptist College (yes, that is where I met my wife) doing an opening number for the newly re-visited Mr. WBC event…and it is better than ever.  Hold on while I wipe the mist from my eyes.  Enjoy this eye candy. Dustin

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Posted by a friend of mine (www.tylertarver.com)as a conversation starter for students in school.  Easy adaptation to get things rolling with your youth group.  Couple of ideas would be to show the various stereotypes that are within your/our youth groups.  Great video that has to be shown.  It got me thinking about how students feel within our ministry-the good, the bad, the ugly parts of weekly ministry.  Take a look at Tyler & Amanda’s www.whatthejazz.com and buy a t-shirt…and go drink some milk.

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Stumbled onto these guys the other day at my local Christian bookstore…looking for new music and I just can’t take them out of the cd player in my truck and I keep them spinnin’ on itunes.  I hope you like them…I love them.  If you like rock and roll, and apple pie, and grandma…I think you will take a liking to these guys from the San Diego area.  Even though the embedding is disabled…it is worth click to youtube to see it.

FBC StaffKnowing that my good friend and Sr. Pastor’s birthday was coming up this Friday…I woke up with a renewed spirit to play birthday pranks. So after calling the local Funeral Home and trying to borrow a hearse, I was told that it was a great idea, but sadly they had gotten some bad feedback from a similar event a few years back, so no dice. That is understandable since there are many, including well intentioned believers that feel that a hearse should only be used for official business. However, given my genetic make-up, coming from a long line of laughers and since I walk around 22 hours of the day with my foot in my mouth, I was not discouraged. Briefly toying with the possibility of calling in a heart-attack for the old man and seeing what would happen when Paramedics rushed into the office, this idea was thwarted with the thought of some sort of fine and my lack of funds. 🙂 I have been at my current church for over 6 years and most will understand that this is expected. (See April Fools announcement of upcoming baby to our perinnially childless Worship Pastor and his wife which was met with a standing ovation!) So I decided just to twitter out a message that mentioned that our pastor fell and broke his hip. After only a few hours, I had recieved numerous phone calls and 60+ messages asking what was up with Dr. Sam. Oh, the beauty of technology. I have only had one person hang up on me so this is working better than expected. I love my job and you are only 50 once…so there you go. Please read this a road map of what not to do and just join with me a smile. I will post additional results soon. Much love and keep laughing. Dustin

ANW052Worked for over three hours today installing an antenna at my home that would help my wife see a few more shows. The rabbit ears and digital box on top of the big screen just wasn’t cutting it. It was fine for me, I rarely watch TV…so when I would sit down to watch a little it would last about a minute before “locking” up and causing to run for my man cave downstairs that has “my” TV and DVD collection. So I broke down and hooked a beast of an array up. I had this idea from friends to try it in my attic and not actually on top of the house…so I tried it. Works great and it just needs a few minor adjustments to 291 degrees compass heading…hahaha…and we should be pullin’ in shows from Cleveland. It literally is one of the biggest TV antennas that I have seen, 15’x10′ seriously. I bought it from my neighbor and it was NIB! I still think TV watching in the evening is a waste of time…i prefer catching up on Hulu.

teddy-bear-hamsterThursday was fairly uneventful…until about 7:25pm CST. My son got a hamster for his birthday. He named it Rhino Sams, when pressed what its middle name was, he and his sister SammyJo came up with the full name of Rhino Pecaboo Pumkin’-punkin’ Sams. Nice. We have had this hamster a total of 6 days and it has been fun…since hamsters are nocturnal and my son is not, he rarely got to see her in action unless we woke her up and put her in the hamster-ball-o-death. So beginning at about 5pm CST…every twenty minutes or so, Dalton would open the amazing hamster habitat, pull off the hut roof and gently stroke the soft fur of a dead hamster. Makes you feel all warm inside I know…I immediatley was taken to the scene in Dumb and Dumber where the blind kid was petting the dead bird…hahaha. I noticed at 7:20pm and after verification, I pronounced Rhino dead at 7:25pm. Forever earning her a place in history as Rhino Sams #1.
I quickly said to my wife, “this hamster is D-E-A-D.” She asked me if I was sure…(insert comment here)…and I replied, “yup.” As with most parents of just-turned-five-year-olds, we didn’t tell him. About bedtime I said to Dalton, “Hey buddy, did you know that sometimes hamsters change the color of their fur?,” and he responded with a jubilant, “really!? What color will Rhino be tomorrow?” I know you are thinkin’ I am one smooth papi at this point. 😉 So as I finish this post up…i will be leaving for Little Rock with R1 in a ziplock bag and headed to PetCo…to get Rhino#2
Blessings. dvs

one parting thought that came to mind…enjoy. “Donny was a good bowler, and a good man. He was one of us. He was a man who loved the outdoors… and bowling, and as a surfer he explored the beaches of Southern California, from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo and… up to… Pismo. He died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time. In your wisdom, Lord, you took him, as you took so many bright flowering young men at Khe Sanh, at Langdok, at Hill 364. These young men gave their lives. And so would Donny. Donny, who loved bowling. And so, Theodore Donald Karabotsos, in accordance with what we think your dying wishes might well have been, we commit your final mortal remains to the bosom of the Pacific Ocean, which you loved so well. Good night, sweet prince”