Category Archives: humor

overheard at my 7th grade guys small group

ok, new group, new rules. after a couple years of occasional “overheard at my 6th grade guys small group” and “overheard at my 7th grade guys small group” posts, i was partway into a fantastic year of “overheard at my 8th grade guys small group” posts last year when the guys asked me to stop. but i ran it past my new 7th grade guys, and they (predictably) loved it.

IMG_5001it’s a smaller group, and a few of them are wonderfully quiet. so the quantity isn’t large. but: some great stuff…

7th grade guy: I’m a white girl; I need my phone!

me (it was the first week, so i was getting to know them): Do you have any pets?
7th grade guy: I own two parents.

me: Do you have any pets?
different 7th grade guy: We had a fish, but it got stolen.

me: I’m older than most of your dads.
7th grade guy: No, you’re like 40 or something.
me: No, I’m 51.
different 7th grade guy: Omigosh, you’re not quite older than my grandma!

(btw: in the small inset photo above, if you look closely, you’ll notice that i dorkily photobombed my own photo.)

photo in need of a caption, hoopin’ j-man edition

i opened my blog this morning and thought, “today feels like a photo in need of a caption day.” maybe that was a prompting from the holy spirit; or maybe it was the carnitas i had for dinner last night.

either way: this gem is begging for captioning. best caption wins your choice of 6 new products The Youth Cartel is releasing in the next couple weeks:

whatcha got?

one on one with the lord


Jesus Christ Superstar

Bethany Butterfield
Cleveland says, “Nevermind, LeBron.”

Jesus’ biggest foe on the court is Peter. Every time he drives to the hole, he gets DENIED!

close call between cash and bethany; but the scales just barely tipped to bethany. nice one, mrs. butterfield. i’ll contact you about your prize!

photo in need of a caption, kidmin edition

yeah, we need a photo in need of a caption this week, i think. it’s been a while. and you guys (well, those who bother to enter!) make me laugh.

this time around, i’m gonna give away a complete set of The Youth Cartel’s newest downloadable curriculum Viva: Known. these four sessions focus on learning about the character and mission of Jesus through his conversations with those around him.

ok — plenty of youth workers have some responsibility for children’s ministry also. so let’s call this the kidmin edition of photo in need of a caption. whatcha got?

ride the lobster

CONTENDERS (the best of the best!)

Stop playing with your food.

Anybody got another quarter?

Chris Wyatt
Ten years before her first pot. Ten minutes before his last.

Kevin I
Tryin’ to catch me ridin Nephropidirty

Diane Jones
Let us pray for the new youth leaders.

Richard C Mobbs
Thanks, mom. Couldn’t pop 25 cents for the ride outside the supermarket.

Chad Inman
The next Sea World controversy…


once again, a tough call and a close race. but the one that actually made me LOL, literally, was Diane Jones’ “Let us pray for the new youth leaders.”

congrats, diane! you win!

photo in need of a caption

yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve had one of these.

someone’s going to get ticked at this one, i’m guessing. just know that i’m not suggesting that jesus didn’t walk on water! there. geez (us).

9780991005024-front-1000but, really, i’m all a-twitter (in the old meaning of that word) with anticipation for what weirdness and wonder you’ll come up with. need a prize to prompt ya? fine. how about a copy of morgan schmidt’s MUST READ new book, Woo: Awakening Teenagers’ Desire to Follow in the Way of Jesus. it officially released this week. here’s what kenda dean said about it:

Morgan Schmidt is a snappy and relatable writer. But above all, she is a prophet blessed with a winsome honesty that sneaks up on you as you’re planning your umpteenth mission trip and whispers: “Recalculate.” For Schmidt, being human boils down to desire; and youth ministry that’s honest is about desire too—the desires of youth for God, the desire of God for them. With Woo, Morgan Schmidt joins a new class of practical theologians taking aim at the false gods driving the youth ministry industry, and she restores our focus—and our hope—on young people’s God-given desire to become, belong to, and worship as the body of Christ. Woo completely won me over.

so there. youth worker, if you ever asked yourself WWKD? the answer is clear: she would read this book.

winner gits one.

ok — whatcha got for this beauty, sent to me by an old friend and former middle school ministry volunteer, dr. matt carlson? (click on this bad boy for a much larger image.)

jesus walking on water, kinda


Jesus clearly brings out a large quantity of comments, both here and on facebook. here’s the best of the best, from my admittedly subjective and skewed perspective:

…and this was the scene in which you could tell that the producers spared no expense for the special effects in the “Son of God” movie.

Dave Wollan
Oh you of little hands

“During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
That was when I made you carry me
So that I could walk on water
And you could learn your lesson.”

David Hanson
Ancient “Chicken Fighting.”

Dan Jones
Miracle Whipped.

Josh Jones
The lesser known, 13th disciple – Aquaman

Lauren Christian
“Oops. Wrong lake.”

Jason Buchan
the disciples practicing their human video for their next outreach in Galilee.

Klint Bitter
“Jesus, dude, two words: under. Wear.”

and the winner is…

i have to admit, i was hoping for a good Son of God movie line. so i’m givin’ it to Othy, for “…and this was the scene in which you could tell that the producers spared no expense for the special effects in the “Son of God” movie.”

congrats, Othy — a copy of Woo is coming your way!

in need of a cheesy joke? let me help.

i must be in a weakened state of judgement, because these actually made me laugh…

A little silliness to get you through monday morning:

Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn’t much, but the reception was excellent.

A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything.”

A dyslexic man walks into a bra.

A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: “A beer please, and one for the road.”

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: “Does this taste funny to you?”

“Doc, I can’t stop singing ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home.'” “That sounds like Tom Jones Syndrome.” “Is it common?” “Well, It’s Not Unusual.”

crowdlaughingAn invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.

A man woke up in a hospital after a serious accident. He shouted, “Doctor, doctor, I can’t feel my legs!” The doctor replied, “I know you can’t, I’ve cut off your arms!”

I went to a seafood disco last week…and pulled a mussel.

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. “But why?” they asked, as they moved off. “Because”, he said, “I can’t stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him…(Oh, man, this is so bad, it’s good)… A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

photo in need of a caption (sympathy for atlanta edition)

i’m heading to atlanta this weekend to speak at a youth event. of course, i’m hoping things will have returned to whatever is normal for coldlanta. in the mean time, this photo seemed timely. prize (maybe prizes) for best caption(s)! how about a copy of The Youth Cartel’s LENT devotional (we call it a youth ministry resource, but it’s really good for anyone 10 – 100 years old).

bring it!


not as many entries this time around, but there sure are some funny ones! here are the ones that rose to the top, from the subjective lens of my sense of humor:

Tony Roos
Luckily Steve Erkel is always prepared

e. sutter
Yes, unfortunately it is the only plow in Atlanta.

Daft Junk: we plow all night if we’re lucky

Joel Settecase
Minimus Prime: Of course, certain Transformers have always been a little less popular than others.

and the winner is…

rob, you almost won. funny stuff. but i have to go with joel’s “minimus prime,” because it’s just so fun to say! congrats, joel! i’ll email you to get your prize to you!

merry christmas!

i thought about making this a photo in need of a caption. but, honestly, i don’t want to spend a minute checking on blog stuff this week that could be spent either hanging with family or relaxing and decompressing. so, just enjoy this lovely and festive photo, my little christmas gift to you!

santa bunny

blessed coffee, elixer of life (a prayer, a poem, and a hymn for coffee)

coffee beansa prayer
Oh blessed coffee,
drip for us always,
that you may revive us and give us fortitude,
perk for us always,
that you may grant us alertness in this life
brew for us always,
that you may reward us with buzz.

beat poetry
locally roasted fair trade coffee
so nutty
so bold
so sat… tis… fy… (wait for it…) ing
you fill my mug
this a; this m; this mor-ning
special blend
a dolla more
but worth every cent
to these lips
this throat
this stomach
this buzzy-brain
o Helix Mountain Coffee
coffee of coffees
roaster of roasters
of bean
of bean
of rich, nutty, perfect little bean

a hymn (with apologies or thanks to James M. Black)
When the steeping of the press shall end, and waiting be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the smell of beans so roasted drifts up to my nostrils flared,
And the coffee pot is brewing, I’ll be there.

When the coffee pot is brew-ing,
When the coffee pot is brew-ing,
When the coffee pot is brew-ing,
When the coffee pot is brewing I’ll be there.

From McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, Cosmos or the 7-11 stop
From the old urn that brews it down the hall
From Via packets while i’m camping to the french press I love most
When the coffee pot is brewing I’ll be there.


Set the timer before bedtime or get up and lumber down
to the perking brewing goodness that awaits
grind the beans to make it fresh and don’t destroy with flavored creams
when the coffee pot is brewing I’ll be there.


the 50 worst and weirdest nativity sets

NOTE: this is the 2013 list. For the 2016 update, with 70 nativities, click here!

each year i’ve posted an expanding list of “the worst nativity sets.” but i have to be honest with you and write that i can’t really label all of these “worst” anymore. for starters, i’ve grown fond of some of them over time. then, as the list has grown, i’ve stumbled on some that i think are absolutely brilliant in one way or another. so there’s no question about it: some are horrible and tacky. some are weird and freakish. some are merely meh. and some, well, rock.

but you’ll have to be the judge, i suppose.

i have one primary rule for inclusion (which i break a couple times because i can’t help myself): i only include nativities that were made as nativities. in other words, i haven’t included photos of the dozens of lego nativities, superhero nativities, star wars figurines nativities, barbie doll nativities, coke can nativities, alcohol bottle nativities, and others i’ve received. however, alert reader “joan from the detroit ‘burbs” pointed me to a website with these kinds of nativities, and i just have to include one or two of them, because they made me laugh out loud (proving that i cannot effectively draw the line).

and a quick word to my christian brothers and sisters (i am one of you!): i believe that the One who created laughter and humor and mouths that involuntarily curl into a smile loves laughter. i don’t believe this list detracts from what i believe to be one of the most significant moments in human history, when God became a human. if anything, this is a roundabout way of drawing attention to Emmanuel, God with us (albeit, in a strange way!).

enough pre-amble. let’s get to it! merry christmas all, and enjoy or be horrified by this weird collection of nativity oddness.

the kitty cat nativity. makes me want to cough up a hairball.

the nativity kitchen timer (ding-ding! baby jesus is born!):

yeah, the cat nativity is probably worse. but these dogs ain’t much better…

technically, not a nativity. but it’s a christmas lawn ornament, showing (can you believe it?) the flogging of jesus on the way to the cross. there’s some christmas cheer for your neighborhood!

also not technically a nativity; just a horribly cheesy christian kitschmas decoration: the jesus tree topper. dude, that robe is not working for you. and stop using that flat-iron on your hair.

back to actual nativity sets. this one is a craft kit, using marshmallows to make a s’mores nativity. yum.

this isn’t a whole nativity set, but there are other pieces available. this mouse drummer boy is just about as confusing as a bit of kitschmas junk can get.

when searching for tasteless nativity sets online, it doesn’t take long for one to stumble onto multiple versions of bears…

this rubber duckie nativity has to be right up there in the “worst” section of cheesy nativity sets…

lotsa santa nativity sets and pieces out there, but this one is a bit disorienting. is the holy family IN santa’s bag? or does santa have an nice applique of the holy family on his bag of gifts? and, what can the letters in santa be re-arranged to spell?

if cats, dogs, and teddy bears weren’t enough, how ’bout penguins!?

sure. snowmen. shouldn’t be a surprise.

ah, the veggie nativity. i debated on this one, because my kids loved veggie tales back in the day. but the baby carrot pushed me over the edge into including it.

this nativity — well, i just don’t even know how to describe it. clowns? modern art? the baby jesus seriously looks like something out of a circus or a john waters movie.

oh, the animals. i suppose, while i think the dog nativity and cat nativity are somehow explainable as something people WAY too “into” those particular animals might display, this chicken nativity is just a bit beyond my comprehension as a purchasable — nay, displayable — holiday trinket.

you know those people who have those geese on their porch? yeah, them. and they put a cute little goosey costume on their porch-goose to mark every season? yeah, those people. this costume set is made for those people. or, to clarify, for those who actually have TWO of those geese already. sigh. i’m guessing the rubber ducky baby is “not supplied” (not to mention zoologically impossible).

what better expresses the spirit of the incarnation than owls? i found these at this cavalcade of nativities, where the comment was: whoooo is the son of god? whooooo?

yes, i give you, the naked troll doll nativity. eesh. feh.

the irish nativity, where the 3 irish wise guys have clover, gold and guinness:

the most viral nativity from previous years… the meat nativity (yes, bacon and sausage):

and, why not the butter nativity:

the cupcake topper nativity. holy and yummy all at once!

the pig nativity. oink-vey: certainly not kosher…

the mary-and-josesph-as-kids nativity. this one is mildly disturbing, particularly in light of rampant infantalization of teenagers in our culture and the dropping age in puberty (though i’m sure that’s not what the creators of this had in mind).

in keeping with our current cultural fascination with all things zombie, i give you the etsy craftiness of: the zombie nativity. full disclosure: after this collection blew up online two years ago, my business partner, adam mclane, bought me this one as a christmas gift. it now sits proudly in my home. and my interactions with the creators were just lovely (they “get it”).

the nativity carved out of spam! (thanks, adam!)

the shotgun shell nativity. what a blast (get it!?). perfect for your redneck christmas, i suppose.

the peg doll nativity. other than collecting some larger figures and one smaller one, and telling me it’s a nativity, this one doesn’t exactly scream “manger”.

the mice nativity. say goodbye to the cookies you left out for santa.

um, the official description is “folk nativity“. but i’m pretty sure that’s a small 7 eleven frozen burrito with a face on it, along with two new age tree fairies, or something (btw: i had interaction with the creators of this gem last year, and they’re good people).

from a nice reader in the UK (thanks, mary!) who bothered to email this pic…
the soggy jesus nativity. i’m sure there are plenty of nativities in a snow globe, were all three (or more) characters are IN the globe. but this freakish thing just has jesus in there, with mary and joe staring at their baby-in-a-fishbowl. too weird and hilarious.

honestly, this one — the mexican mermaid family nativity — is some pretty beautiful art work, even if it is fairly strange. thanks to karen on flickr for allowing me to post this one.

and what i can only call the ‘minimalist nativity’. props to some kindergarten art class for this one, or some very lazy community college art student.

as you might imagine, this annual list has generated hundreds of additional nativity suggestions, both in blog comments, and via email. many i’d seen before. many were just ok. some were truly inspiring. and most of ’em violate my “must be made as a nativity, not just pulled together into a nativity” rule. this one breaks that rule, but it’s so whip-smart. i just had to post for its creativity. sent to me by David Lober, the ‘arranger’ and photographer. the humor takes a few seconds to start setting in…

yeah, this one probably crosses some line. sent to me by the creators, i give you the halloween/christmas mash-up nativity.

more animals! this time, it’s meerkats! hakuna matata.

not to be left out of the animal kingdom nativities, the frog nativity:

ok. if i had a line, i’ve probably crossed it by now. i hesitated on this one, but it was suggested SO many times last year, and it’s from a crafty little website called (really). yup: it’s the tampon nativity:

more animals! this time its moose (meese? mooses?).

robin, the creator of this soap nativity, sent it to me. i suppose the birth of christ has something to do with getting us all squeeky clean.

i love this one: three wise-men cheers for the color nativity!

new to the list this year!

what’s more fun that a puzzle? i’ll tell you what: little puzzles made out of eraser stuff. and then–in case that wasn’t fun enough!–make ’em a puzzle eraser nativity set! obvious, right, since baby Jesus came to erase your sins!?
puzzle eraser nativity

take, eat, this is the body of Christ MADE IN CHOCOLATE FOR YOU, nomnomnomnomnom.
chocolate nativity

a quick google image search will turn up a wide variety of nativity-themed nesting dolls. but i got a little chuckle out of the idea of the sheep being inside baby J on this one (alert reader Alison pointed out that “maybe that’s the ‘lamb of God’!”):
nesting dolls nativity

really, how did this list of wild and weird and wonderful and horrible nativities get to this ripe old age and NOT have a gingerbread nativity?? just like the nesting dolls, there are hundreds (homemade and not) in a quick google image search. here’s one of ’em:
gingerbread nativity

speaking of gingerbread… just in case you’re hoping to communicate “WE ARE SO CUTE YOU MUST LOVE US” to your neighbors, here’s a gingerbread yard art nativity (i’m sure the word “art” is used merely for reference in that description):
gingerbread yard art nativity

what can i say: the world thanks etsy artist thepinkkoala for finally building a bridge of peace, ending the rancor brought on by the scopes monkey trial. now christians and darwinists can hold hands whilst viewing this monkey nativity set:
monkey nativity

i’m salivating as i post this one, the fondant nativity, from etsy wonder craft rosy. jesus and dessert: two of my favorite things!
fondant nativity

and my favorite two new additions this year:

you saw the snow globe nativity above with only baby jesus in the globe, right? well, a lovely and alert reader sent me a photo of this fantastic piece of awesomeness she saw at a thrift shop. yup, this time the snow globe is only on mary’s head. it’s like a space helmet! HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
nativity - mary snowglobe

and here i have to confess: this nativity is amazing. i want. i already have one on the list called the “minimalist nativity,” so i’m going to be forced to call this the “minimalist balls nativity.” seriously, this bit-o-brilliance makes it pretty clear that the nativity is iconic (btw: here are step-by-step instructions for making this one):
nativity - minimalist balls

check out bohemian rhapsody re-written as “bethlehemian rhapsody” (so totally fun!).

also check out this awesome take on the real christmas story, as if it played out on facebook, and this fantastic imagining of the nativity story played out on a a wide variety of social media.

photo in need of a cpation

ah, let’s have some chuckles today. in the spirit of my insane quantity of travel this month, i thought this photo was worthy of the honor. and let’s see if you can do better than “adam drives marko to the airport.” since The Youth Cartel is giving away a free copy of our new devotional ADVENT free with any purchase through midnight friday, i’ll up the ante and give away a 3-pack (so you can use it with a couple students!) to the winner…

airport run


Jeff Smyth
New sidecar for Daisy the Chihuahua.

That’s what mom gets for asking her 35-year-old man-child to pick her up from the airport.

Jon McIver
If Adam says anything about me “flying Southwest next time” he’s gonna get slapped.
(marko comment: ooh, jon’s paying attention to cartel dynamics!)

Dale Puckett
“They see me rollin’…they hatin’…”

Marion Zoot McClure
Well we are off to fix the Obamacare website, wish us luck

Nathan Peterson
John and Pam really should have bought a car after they had their first baby.
(marko comment: omg!)

Trey McCarty
Just when I think you couldn’t get any dumber, you go and pull something like this….and totally redeem yourself!

Brandi Smith Manes
We gotta hurry over to Marko’s blog! I got a suitcase full of captions!
(marko comment: brandi brilliantly skewering my whining these last couple days as FB peeps didn’t follow the rules and click through to leave their comment on the blog!)

and the winner is…

tough call. but the one that made me laugh the most (maybe it was more of a GASP) was Nathan Peterson’s “John and Pam really should have bought a car after they had their first baby.” and i’m giving an honorable mention or second place (doesn’t really matter, since there’s not a prize for second place!) to Marion Zoot McClure’s “Well we are off to fix the Obamacare website, wish us luck.”