My Podcast: The Global Fringe Coming Soon

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I love stories. Particularly, I love stories of people who are different from me, expand my vision, and show me a bigger perspective of the world, and remind me that I'm not alone. This coming week I'm launching a podcast that will do exactly that for you and me!

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The Global Fringe:
hosted by April L. Diaz

My podcast will be a collection of stories from my friends and those I've learned from in my own journey. They are predominantly stories from women and/or people of color who have so much to teach us about what it's like to live on the fringe of our culture. The guests I'm hosting on the show are people who are making an extraordinary difference in the world and carry a global perspective we need so much in our world today. 

My guests will make you laugh, think, (re)consider your own beliefs and values, and spur you toward your own preferred future. The stories we tell will guide you toward more in your body, mind, and spirit. Our stories will connect with your story because we are all a part of one big grand story together. In it all, you will find life and next steps to living yours even better. 

Stay tuned! Be ready to subscribe on iTunes, share, and review. PLEASE AND THANK YOU. 
The first episodes are coming out soon!!

Wanna sneak peak?!?!
Here's the intro episode...


** If you are interested in starting a podcast, you have to connect with my producer, Michael Yoder at Truth Work Media. He'll make it easier than you think!

Youth Workers' Mastermind Group

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Youth workers are just some of my favorite people on the planet.

They are fun, future focused, innovative, creative, adaptable, and curious. Youth workers are open to change and are so flexible to do something different if it'll promote growth and a better result. I mean, just this week I saw youth workers posting about a pineapple mayhem event, teenage self-harm, blacklight dodgeball, and talking with teenagers about suffering and political issues. UGH. The range of silly to serious is about as vast as you can imagine.

For just over 20 years I've been a youth worker in some way, shape, or form. I'm so proud to be among this tribe. Our tribe runs deep together. We're all about 2 degrees of separation from each other, which makes it so very fun.

Over the last several years, I've also been über committed to raise the water level of potency and effectiveness of youth workers. It's challenging to be a youth worker. We are on the cutting edge of the culture changes that affect teenagers before adults even know what's up. Youth workers need to be able to dance between leading 3 very different groups of people: parents, volunteers, and teenagers. Add in the layer of being a great team member and often youth workers (even the college and seminary trained ones!) struggle to navigate the waters of the job. I get it. I've been there.

I've learned a few things about leading in youth ministry over the years...

What got you here, won't get you there.

To get from here to there, you need new skills, practices, resources, and relationships. Doing what you've always done won't create the environment for transformation. Those changes - both internally and externally - are vital to be identified and led through well. Youth workers who live with great intentionality and discipline experience breakthroughs and growth all throughout their life on a regular basis.

Who you are determines what you do.

You can only fake it for so long. You can only live off of fumes and charisma for a short period of time. You can only sprint for short distances, not the long haul. Yet all too often, youth workers do those things as a way of life and expect it to work long-term. Proverbs is clear, out of the overflow of what's within comes out in our words and behaviors. Our bodies often reveal the state of our souls. Everything we do - on purpose or on accident - is a reflection of who we are. I believe we are created good and are designed to do so much good, yet it requires reflective, thoughtful self-leadership to live into our potential.

Leaders are learners... especially listeners + readers.

A wise mentor told me years ago that "Leadership begins with listening." I would add that it probably ends with listening, as well...and all the way in between. Leaders should be the most rabid learners of anyone!! If we are going to attempt to influence others' lives and souls, we need to constantly be reading, listening, and learning from voices who will take us to those new places. This element of self-leadership is imperative for healthy, forward moving leadership.

Leaders take responsibility for their life + leadership.

We are not victims to our circumstances or present realities. Your reality today doesn't dictate your reality for tomorrow. Your present doesn't have to be your future. You and only you are responsible for your life. Responsibility is really about your response meeting your abilities. How you connect those two elements together either creates an engaged, active life or a passive, reactive one.

Culture + context is everything.

What works in Northern Indiana may not work in Southern California or in Chicagoland...trust me, I've lived in all those places. But learning how to discern your culture and context enables you to lead and adapt youth ministry wherever you go. Growing in your ability to decode culture, adapt to your surroundings, and lead well within your strengths and commitments significantly increases your effectiveness as a youth worker.

Does this resonate with you? Are you ready to dig deep and experience a transformational 6 months of coaching? If so, you need....

Youth Worker's Mastermind Group:

leadership development with a youth ministry twist
+ spiked with spiritual formation

  • Groups launching in September 2018 + January 2019
  • 10 youth workers from coast to coast (per group)
  • 6 months with 2 in-person meetings, 4 webinars, and 6 1on1 coaching calls with April (see more details below)
  • Customized, specific action steps so you can break through barriers and achieve your goals
  • Private online community for additional learning, interaction, support, and idea sharing between webinars
  • Investment: $1000 plus 6 books and a couple assessments

You are worth the investment because you have one life to live to its fullest. Imagine what your life and leadership could look like with this kind of new skills, accountability, care, and resources. Take responsibility for your life, courageous youth worker. What can you gain by saying YES? You are loved.


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THE RHYTHM TOWARD TRANSFORMATION.

  • PRIOR TO MONTH 1: Take an assessment and read assigned book 
  • MONTH 1: 2-day working retreat in Orange County, CA with 1on1 Coaching 
  • MONTH 2: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching 
  • MONTH 3: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching + Guided Half-Day Personal Retreat 
  • MONTH 4: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching 
  • MONTH 5: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching + Guided Half-Day Personal Retreat 
  • MONTH 6: 2-day working retreat in Orange County, CA with 1on1 Coaching 

The specific dates will be chosen by the participants. All webinars are 9am-12pm PST.

Eden: A Women in Leadership Mastermind Group

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We were designed to grow. We were created to let go of the good to get to the better. 

More than ever before, women with gifts of leadership and teaching are needed at the table, in meetings, on stages, and fully showing up in all areas of life. 

You are an Ezer, a strong warrior, created to bring all of you
to every space you set your feet.

As an Ezer, you were created to be a full partner in every facet of life and work. You are created for whole-hearted living and leadership and this mastermind group will guide you toward that desired future.

This mastermind group is designed for 10 ezers in any area of spiritual influence. For 6 months we will journey together through two in-person working retreats, four 3-hour webinars, six 30-minute 1on1 coaching sessions, and two guided half-day personal retreats. Our focus will be on 360° of leadership so we can let go of good and move toward the better in body, mind, and spirit. We will dive deep into becoming the best women we can be so we can better influence our bosses, peers, and people within our responsibilities.

Conferences and network meetings are great, but they rarely produce the kind of customized, personalized, long-lasting transformation that next level leaders require.

What truly will make this a mastermind group is YOU. It’s the brilliance of the 10 women who will sit around the table and lead one another through their stories, ideas, courage, wisdom, and service. Being a woman in leadership is different and it demands unique skills and awareness so we thrive in our roles.

I’ve said it before: There's something about the mixture of a group of likeminded individuals coming together with the accountability of a trained coach. It does wonders for your growth and development as a leader and youth worker. I've learned that journeying with a safe group of peers provides fertile soil for long-lasting change.

Years ago I wrote a lament for women in leadership. Today, the lament has been shifted to a battle cry and impassioned calling for ezers to take their rightful place in our homes, workplaces, cities, and world. 

Ready to commit or want more info?
Let's connect.

THE RHYTHM TOWARD TRANSFORMATION.

  • PRIOR TO MONTH 1: Take an assessment and read assigned book
  • MONTH 1: 2-day working retreat in Orange County, CA with 1on1 Coaching
  • MONTH 2: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching
  • MONTH 3: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching + Guided Half-day Personal Retreat
  • MONTH 4: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching
  • MONTH 5: Webinar + 1on1 Coaching + Guided Half-day Personal Retreat
  • MONTH 6: 2-day working retreat in Orange County, CA with 1on1 Coaching

The specific dates will be chosen by the participants. All webinars are 9am-12pm PST.

A FEW MORE DETAILS.

  • 2 Mastermind Groups Launching: September 2018 + January 2019
  • 10 women in any spiritual leadership capacity (per group) 
  • $1000 for coaching training (travel and resources not included). Payment plans available, if needed. 
  • Online Connection: customized social media group for the purpose of ongoing encouragement, interaction, resource sharing, and ideas.

You are worth the investment. The transformation you'll experience will propel you toward more than you could ask or imagine. What can you gain by saying YES?

I can't wait to walk with you through this group. You are loved.

Wrong/Right: a series about justice for teenagers

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There are injustices all around us. We see injustice in big ways, in small ways, in the world around us, and in our own experiences. I tend to see them in technicolor more often than I'd like. Being alert to the wrongs of our world is challenging, but being empowered to do something about it is everything. 

That's why I was incredibly excited to write this series, "Wrong/Right", for middle school and high school students and the Stuff You Can Use gang. Teenagers are some of the best people on the planet to identify injustice and what's wrong in this world. The news is often highlighting ways teenagers are pointing our society to a more just way of life together. 

As I wrote this series, I wanted to write so leaders and teenagers alike would respond in Jesus’ name to injustice by working to right the wrongs they encounter in their lives, their world, and even in their own hearts. It was important to me that we look at injustice through a holistic lens. Justice is such a giant topic and we surely don't cover it all, but I believe it will open the eyes of students toward how they can use their voice, privilege, and passion to make the world a better place. Here's what we dive into these 4 weeks...

WEEK 1 

Justice is hugely important to God, but it's not always easy to know what justice looks like. This week, you'll help students see how Jesus fought for justice and how He invites us to do the same. 

WEEK 2 

Joseph's life was a testament to God's faithfulness in the midst of difficulty. This week, you'll challenge students to consider how the justice of God can transform our response to the injustices we face. 

WEEK 3 

If there is anyone in Scripture who has been the victim of terrible injustice, it's Jesus. This week, you'll encourage students to respond to one of Jesus' most challenging teachings: the importance of forgiving our enemies. 

WEEK 4 

Jesus' definition of "blessed" was pretty different from our definition today. This week, you'll help students see that, in God's Kingdom, being blessed isn't connected to your possessions but to whether or not you are fighting for justice on behalf of others. 

This 4-week series is just the tip of the awesome iceberg with the Grow Curriculum. It's packed with series that help students form a positive identity, find belonging, and uncover their uniqueness in the world. If you are looking for a solid, customizable curriculum for your student ministries, check out the Grow Curriculum. If you have any questions, holler at me or the book people at Stuff You Can Use. It's solid stuff. I'm a fan.

Recover Your Life

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Rest is not my normal bent. I am an Enneagram 8 with StrengthsFinders cheering me on toward activation and achievement. Add in a solid dose of extroversion, and being still doesn't come naturally. Faster, more productive, and more efficient are more my language that "rest".

Perhaps you can relate. If not, carry on, you rested soul. You don't need what I'm about to serve.

A few months ago during a particularly hectic season of life, my buddies from Stuff You Can Use asked me to be a guest on their podcast (Youth Ministry Answers) about rest. I laughed. OF COURSE!! It's one of the eye-rolling paradoxes of my life because while rest doesn't come naturally, I know how crucial it is to living a whole-hearted story. So, I got a little vulnerable and bold about how necessary it is for my - and our! - soul.

Here's a bit of what I said,
but if listening is more your style you can check out the podcast HERE.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
— Matthew 11:28-30

Unforced Rhythms of Grace. 

Those 4 words literally did not compute to me. That phrase, put all together was like a foreign language. I didn't understand what that phrase meant, much less how to experience that gracious invitation. But that passage has been a primary guide for me to move away from a chaotic soul and toward a more centered way of life.

REST DEFINED.

Rest looks different for everyone. Ultimately, rest is whatever reconnects and re-energizes your connection with our Creator and others. Rest reminds us who we are and how important (and non-essential) we are to God and in this world. Rest brings us back into alignment to who we've been created to be. Rest is flexible and contextual. Rest is relationally centered. 

 "My bench" at The Montage -- my deepest place of rest for a decade

"My bench" at The Montage -- my deepest place of rest for a decade

I took a deep dive into learning about rest, because (well, if you know me at all) that's how I roll. Before I became a mom, I used to take monthly days of silence and solitude at The Montage resort in Laguna Beach, CA. For nearly 10 years I came to this bench for a full day to re-connect with Jesus and learned about these unforced rhythms of grace. These days, practically I can't get to this spot every month for a full day of silence and solitude. 

Different seasons call for different rhythms of learning rest. Yet no matter the season of your life soul, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly/annual rhythms are necessary for you to be whole and thriving. If you want to live "future forward" from a well rested place, not a frantic, hair-on-fire, empty, and frazzled place, rest is required. It's not a luxury, nor is it optional.

RESTFUL RHYTHMS.

Since we're all different in how we rest and our unique seasons of life, here are some thoughts as you determine how to recover your life:

DAILY - What brings you joy and helps you feel alive? Do at least one of those things every day. It may include:

  • disconnect from technology
  • speak gratitude for 3 specific things
  • meditate on truth
  • work out
  • practice a hobby
  • create something beautiful

Mine currently includes "coffee in the morning, wine at night". It's a daily rhythm of grounding myself in simple gifts from God for my body. I've also learned to listen to my body's needs and support it with essential oils. Our bodies are our vehicles for personal transformation and increasing love in the world, so I'm learning how to care for my body as a restful rhythm. Articulating 3 things I'm grateful for every day is a newer practice that is rocking my world. When the world feels especially heavy and unjust, I amp up my gratitude list. These have been my game changers to breathe more deeply and reconnect to my truest self.

WEEKLY - Take a Sabbath. Sabbath is a specific kind of rest. Think a 24 hour period, not just a day of the week. It can vary in the day from week to week, because - DUH - life. During a 24-hour Sabbath, you interrupt the pattern of your other 7 days. You stop producing for the benefit of someone else and posture yourself to be reminded that you are enough. You are loved. Who you are isn't what you do. For 24-hours remember that the world will keep on spinning without your help.  Sabbath practices may include:

  • go to places that energize you
  • eat well and move your body
  • spend time with life-giving people
  • do ordinary, unimportant work like gardening or cleaning the kitchen
  • put "do not disturb" on your phone
  • use an "out of office" email until people learn to stop asking you for things on a day off
  • participate in a worship service with other people of faith

One of my favorite quotes from John Ortberg is "sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep". The Sabbath is a great time for a nap.

MONTHLY - This is a great rhythm to get creative! For some of you a day at your version of the The Montage resort would be a good practice for you every 30 days. For others, it may be intentionally creating space to read, listen, pray, meditate, and soak in love beyond what you do on a daily or weekly basis. I've known folks who do a monthly massage or pedicure so they reconnect their body to God and feel loved through some physical touch. 

QUARTERLY / ANNUAL - Vacate your life. Intentionally taking time away from your daily routines and responsibilities gives you perspective that you canNOT get in the hustle and flow of the daily grind. Be strategic about when you do this. This may mean a weeklong vacation, but it could also mean shifting up your daily routine, taking time off from work and intentionally planning excursions that cultivate wonder, mystery, and playfulness. It doesn't need to cost money, but you may want to plan your finances so you can invest in something that will fill you in ways that won't happen otherwise. 

Whatever your rhythms look like, anchor them in grace. If rest results in you living more freely and lightly, you'd doing it right. It doesn't matter if it's different than the religious ways you've learned about it. Know you're loved. And rest will remind you of that truth.

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April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.