Fundraiser in three days! Heck yeah!

I am a planner. By that I mean, I actually get excited to plan events. Some of my favorite things to do in college was lesson planning. I love the idea of starting with nothing and organizing everything into an amazing event. That doesn’t mean that all of my plans end up amazing or perfect, in fact most of my lesson plans ended up needing a lot of tweaking after I tried to teach them. That made teaching very interesting sometimes.

For the last month or so I have been planning a fundraiser to raise support to get me to Germany as soon as possible. It has been exciting to think about all of the possibilities for this event. The music, the euchre tournament, the silent auction and my favorite part, meeting new people to share God’s vision for my life with them. Therein lies my greatest anxiety and the lesson I believe God is helping me to learn as I go through this time.

People keep asking me how many people I think will be coming to the event and all I can say is, I have no idea. I want to say that a lot of people have told me they are coming, but they haven’t. That doesn’t mean they aren’t coming, it just means they haven’t told me. Then I end up saying things like. “that’s the only part I’m worried about” or “that’s out of my hands.” It’s hard for me to think that few people are coming. It’s hard for me to think that this event might not be a success. As much as I rely on my plans, it is hard to let this part go, but I must. I shouldn’t worry about it, but I do. God has got this in his hands and all I can do is relax and trust that He will bring the people who need to be at the fundraiser.

I’m excited to see God blow my expectations out of the water!

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

Luke 12:22-32

Mom, this is for you!

My mom, step-sister Kim and I after the Charleston half-marathon.

As some of you might now, my mom and I are training to run our second half-marathon in 4.5 months. We ran her first and my second-ever half-marathon this past January in Charleston and we signed up to do the Glass City Half-marathon in Toledo at the end of April.

Our training involves three morning (as early as 5:30, gross!) runs every week. This means that in addition to seeing each other other times throughout the week we are almost guaranteed to hang out with each other for at least 3 hours a week, just the two of us. Now, I’m not saying that all of the time is “quality” time since we can’t always carry on a conversation while running, but to me all of it is quality.

While we were running today I was thinking about how blessed by God I have been to be able to do this with my mom. You see, as of five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to run 1.31 miles let alone 13.1. As of last year, my mom hadn’t run more than 5 miles in her life and some weeks that is our shortest distance.  Had God not allowed me to lose weight or had He not put the idea of running a half-marathon into my mom’s head we wouldn’t be doing this. We would not see each other multiple times a week and be able to truly enjoy interim time before I go to Germany for at least four years. I am so thankful that God has given me this time with my mom and I will never forget this time.

Beyond the fact that I never imagined my mom and I running together I cherish this time, because I get to train her. My whole life my mom has been my biggest supporter. She has cheered me on in sports when I was incredibly mediocre, come to my side when I was in the hospital, taught me how to treat every person with love and supported me even when I was destroying myself with food. Now I get to be her strength, I get to cheer her on, I get the opportunity to run by her side reminding her achieve her goal. I would not trade that for anything.

Thank you God for giving me an amazing mom and for allowing me this opportunity to be her support.

Coffee, with cream and theology? part 3

If you didn’t read my blog on Monday, let me catch you up really fast. As I am today, I normally do most of my work at Plate 21, a coffee-house in South Toledo. Last week I was house-sitting about 15 minutes away so I decided to go to The Flying Joe instead. While there I noticed three pieces of art hanging on the wall and I wanted to share with you all my thoughts about the sayings contained within each one. Monday I talked about living a little each day for Christ which for most of us would be an improvement over our current day-to-day lives. Wednesday I talked about living with the fantasy of Heaven in mind.  Below is the third piece of art.

“Redeem Yourself, You Are Your Biggest Cash Prize.” Let me let that sink in for a bit…..

Ok, so what do you think about this saying? Do you think that if all of your potential was released that it would be as amazing as a big cash prize? Are what you are made of that awesome?

My answer to that last question is a simple yes…..and no. Alright it’s not that simple, but the first part is very simple. We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) so therefor we are made of some pretty amazing stuff.

The no part is pretty simple too. As Paul says, “So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:17-19) I can attest that personal, I suck. I can do good things here and there, but overall I suck compared to how I am supposed to be living.

The awesome thing is what Paul says later in Romans 17:24-8:2, ” Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the powerof the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”

So really, I guess what I am saying is that we aren’t the biggest cash prize we could receive. Anything that is good within us is only because of God. Jesus is the biggest cash prize we could ever receive and it is my honest hope that you experience just how amazing it is when you win the lottery that is a relationship with Jesus.

Coffee, with cream and theology? part 2

If you didn’t read my blog on Monday, let me catch you up really fast. As I am today, I normally do most of my work at Plate 21, a coffee-house in South Toledo. Last week I was house-sitting about 15 minutes away so I decided to go to The Flying Joe instead. While there I noticed three pieces of art hanging on the wall and I wanted to share with you all my thoughts about the sayings contained within each one. Monday I talked about living a little each day for Christ which for most of us would be an improvement over our current day-to-day lives. Below is the second piece of art.

Today’s saying is “Tomorrow is the fantasy we make it through today for.”  Besides the fact that this phrase is grammatically incorrect since it ends in a preposition, it contains quite a few nuggets of thought. I may have failed my first English class in college, but I at least know that you shouldn’t end a sentence with the word for (dang it, I don’t know how to not end that sentence with for as the last word). Anyway on to the nuggets of information.

My initial thought was this phrase is highly negative, I mean is that all we are doing? Are we just getting through today so we can experience tomorrow which we have high hopes for, but then when it comes it is just another day to make it through? That’s depressing, and yet sometimes I think it is true. I know I have found myself often times thinking about an event and getting really excited about it, but then when I am in the midst of it, I am thinking about it being over. I can be having a good time, and yet I am thinking about it being over.

Then I got a little more deep into the phrase and thought about how, as Christians, we are getting through this life to get to the fantasy of tomorrow that is Heaven. Getting through this time, makes it sound negative, but think about how you act when you are anticipating an awesome event. My brother is engaged right now and his fiance and him are planning the wedding with great fervor. They are “getting through” each day making sure every detail is taken care of so they can enjoy their wedding and the festivities that go along with the wedding. Trust me, they are doing a great job, because I am getting excited about the whole thing. It’s going to be pretty awesome! “Getting through” the day doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy today, it just means that there is something so awesome ahead that each day now will seem like junk when we imagine what is in store for us.

That brings me to the thought that we should act with fervor towards every single day in anticipation of the greatest fantasy ever. Are you? Am I? It’s not a fantasy that is non-existent, but a fantasy that is beyond our wildest imagination. It reminds me of the talk Sammy Adebiyi gave this Monday at the young adult community at North Point church in Toledo, SOMA. Last night Sammy was talking about God’s love. We can think we know God’s love, but as Paul says in Ephesians 3:19 “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Sammy made the comment that we can think we understand God’s love, “but there’s more.” We cannot understand His love, just like we can never fully understand what Heaven will be like. It doesn’t matter. Think about the most awesome thing you can think of and then multiple it by a thousand. That is still not anywhere close to how great Heaven will be. We need to remember this and let it drive us and be our motivation to prepare us and others for that time.

Coffee, with cream and theology? part 1

Last week I was house/dog sitting for my mom and step-dad in Perrysburg, so instead of going to my normal coffee-shop/office (Plate 21) I decided to go to one that was a little closer. I ended up at The Flying Joe in Perrysburg and while I missed the service of Plate 21 it served my purpose of getting me out of the house and giving me a place to do some work. While there, my ADHD (never officially diagnosed, but I have a hard time concentrating on……) kicked in and I started to check out my surroundings. I noticed three pieces of art on the wall and at first glance they did nothing for me. They were nothing too exciting, but they fit very well into the “flying” theme. After checking it out for about the 50th time, I noticed the saying on it and it kind of sparked a little something inside me. Then I looked at the other two pieces of art similar to it and every one of the sayings got my brain working a little. Over this week I am going to do a short blog post about each piece of art and just a few thoughts about how we can apply these sayings into our everyday life to advance the Kingdom of God. Below is the first saying. “How great would life be if we lived a little everyday.” I am going to switch this up a bit. Instead of “How great would life be if we lived a little everyday” I want to change it to “How great would life be if we lived for God a little everyday.” We all know that as servants of the Almighty God, we kind of suck. We do not do nearly do as much as God calls us to do. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” I am going to be honest with you, sometimes I don’t fulfill that verse completely. I know, shocker! Scandalous, even! If you are honest with yourself you might just find out that you too are not that great at fulfilling those words. We don’t even do it when we consider the reward that Paul states two verses later. “I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.” So maybe if we try every day to live a little for God, with the hopes of eventually living completely for Him, then we too can say that “many may be saved.” Every day make a conscious effort to do something for God and see the results in your life and others too.

Fast from food? Have you met me?

I am a big fan of food. You don’t become 400+ lbs and not love to eat, not that I am that big anymore, but the fact that I love food is still the same. That’s why when people bring up the idea of fasting, I cringe. I have used many reasons not to fast over the years including diabetes when I had it, working out now and other reasons to avoid fasting. Greater Europe Mission encourages us to fast at least once a month and yet I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. That is probably the exact reason why I should be doing it, but within the last few weeks I have decided to start the fasting in a different way than I originally thought. I mean, after all Jesus says in Matthew 6:16 “When you fast,” not “if you fast.”

First I had to think about what the point of fasting is.  From what I understand of fasting the point of it is to replace something that you do on a regular basis and replace it with prayer and other actions that are pleasing to God. In Isaiah 58:6-7 it says:

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help

I could be completely wrong about this, but that is what I am getting from the different verses on fasting that I could find. If you think I am wrong, please let me know because I would hate to be misinformed.

Based on these recent thoughts of mine I have decided to fast from wasting time with technology for one day a week. For some people that may not be a big deal because they don’t use technology that often, and when they do it is for a purpose. For me, I could literally watch shows on tv I don’t even like, play games on facebook that are pointless and boring or just waste time in general. I would love to completely remove technology from my life one day a week and some weeks that might be possible, but other weeks that just wouldn’t work, especially when I get to Germany and am making online courses. It would be pretty hard to make online courses offline.

I tell you what, the last three weeks I have been much more productive than normal. I have been praying more, I have been reading more and I have been doing things around the house that I would normally put off. Yesterday I literally woke up and while waiting to eat breakfast I did the dishes at 8:30 in the morning. I mean honestly, who does that? Not me, I know that for sure. The only reason I even consider doing the dishes as part of the fasting process for me is because my brother is letting me live rent-free while I raise support and I need to be honoring God by helping my brother around the house more than I was before.

I’m not saying this is the best way to fast, it is just working for me. I would love to hear what some of the rest of you are doing, leave me a comment letting me know how you do what you do “When you fast.”

Icon for Hire smacked me in the face…in a good way!

The other day I was driving in my car listening to Icon for Hire’s song Iodine and some of the lyrics hit me pretty hard, straight in the face. I first found out about Icon for Hire through a music festival that I went to last year. There were definitely a whole lot of headbanging kids and I was excited for them that they found some music that they liked, but at the same time I stayed back on the periphery because, quite frankly, that has never been quite my music scene. The music was pretty hard, the fans were pretty crazy, but the music kept me there. I immediately bought their cd that wasn’t even released yet and awaited it in my mailbox. This band is developing a strong following because their music is really good, but as you might see soon, their lyrics are even better.

I love singing songs while driving and sometimes I find myself actually paying attention to the lyrics. Sometimes I wonder what the band was thinking when they wrote the song and other times I want to force people to sit down and truly listen to the songs words. Not in a “these songs are evil” kind of way, more in a “this song is deeper then you think” kind of way. Iodine is just that kind of song for me. I have been listening to it for probably for six months now and I finally, truly heard the song for the first time last week and I am so thankful to God that I did, because it is a truth that I need to be reminded of. Here are some of the lyrics and at the end of the post I have included one of those super-fancy (insert sarcasm here) youtube lyric videos.

Icon for Hire’s Iodine from the Album Scripted

“Crazy” is, I believe, the medical term
When we wanna recover, but we don’t wanna learn
Keep breaking what’s been fixed a thousand times
And gimme some more of that iodine

This to me, sums up my actions repeatedly throughout my life and I am sure a few of you would agree the same could be said about your life. Think about it for a moment, how many times do you make a mistake and then realize that you made it and promise to not make it again. Oh I’m the only one…….nevermind then, I guess it’s just me.

I say I wanna be happy, but I quickly forget
Will I sabotage all the good I’ve got left?
Depression’s like a big fur coat,
It’s made of dead things but it keeps me warm

Ok, this just made me chuckle. Mostly because after I heard the dead things line I immediately thought about a fur coat made of live animals. That would be awkward. Good insight could be had from these lines, but I can’t get the live fur coat out of my head (and now enters a scene from Ace Ventura 2 with fur coats into my mind).

I don’t like pain, but I bring it to life
I don’t like scars but I am good with a knife
I don’t like tears when I’m starting to cry
And then I realize I’m destroying my life

I do this to myself
I do this to myself
Stop blaming someone else
We do this to ourselves

There are many things we do to ourselves. Sometimes we let other people do things to us, but mostly we do things to ourselves. I’m not sure why we hurt ourselves, but we do. I relate this to my struggle with eating. I was over 400 lbs at one point and got there purely because I ate a ton of food and none of it was good for me. After having health issues that were further complicated by my weight I turned to God to help me conquer my food addiction. It worked! I lost over 170 lbs and was doing things I had never dreamed of doing like running a half-marathon and finishing a marathon. Then I came right back with my own selfish ways and gained 70 lbs of it back. Now, God and I are fighting again to take it off. If I had written this song it may have looked more like this:

I don’t like pain, but I bring it to life
I don’t like fat, but I’m good with a fork and knife
I don’t like knee problems when I’m starting to limp
And then I realize I’m destroying my life

I do this to myself
I do this to myself
Stop blaming someone else
We do this to ourselves

This is a battle we cannot conquer on our own because we are fighting ourselves. We need to have faith that with God we can conquer anything with Him. When we are fighting something within us let’s have the faith in God that David had as he walked up to a giant and said:

“You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!” (I Samuel 17: 45-47)

Oh and by the way, if you are in the Toledo area reading this and you like this music Icon for Hire is coming to Frankie’s in downtown Toledo March 13th. It definitely should be an awesome show.