Creating a curriculum from the ground up

Two weeks ago I was in Wheaton, IL meeting with a content expert to start to develop a new curriculum. It was a new experience for me. I have never been a part of writing a curriculum that is essentially being built from the ground up. We do have source material to pull from and content experts who have done shorter trainings on the same topic, but for the most part we are crafting this curriculum from pretty close to scratch.

I don’t want to talk about the nitty gritty details of this curriculum and the design process even though I could probably talk about those things for hours. What I want to talk about is the experience in general.

I am new to the instructional design field. Sure I have designed curriculum here and there for COSI Toledo and my own classroom, but this is different. COSI Toledo was mostly about having fun while learning some pretty basic science. My own classroom’s curriculum was so regulated by the objectives dictated to me by higher ups, so I was very limited.

This was different.

This was the first large project on my plate.

This was my first experience being the expert in the field, with a good chunk of responsibility on my shoulders.

This was the beginning of the bulk of my work here with GEM eDOT in Germany.

This was and is incredible!

First off it is pretty incredible because of the possible reach of this curriculum. So far we have 1 guaranteed conference with interest being shown in three other locations. The idea behind our design is to allow a properly trained facilitator (which may be a course we create as well) to use our curriculum and facilitate a conference in their area. The easier this is to bring to any area, the more conferences there are. The more conferences there are, the more people trained in this discipleship making movement. The more people trained, the more impact it has for the Kingdom of God in Europe and beyond.

Then it’s awesome on a personal level. I have very rarely been given so much responsibility and trust as I already have at eDOT. Sometimes, I am confident that I will have a clue what to do, but because of the way my supervisors have been treating me I have grown in confidence of my skills. I have been trained for this and they believe that I can do this.

The third way that it was awesome, was that we accomplished what we needed to accomplish in half the time that I thought it would take. That allowed us to get more done than previously thought and also work on other things we needed to get done.

The greatest thing in all of this though, is to see God moving in this project. Are there frustrations? Sure. Is there a pretty tight deadline? Definitely. It doesn’t matter though, because God is moving and where He moves, things far beyond our hopes and dreams will be accomplished. Join me in praising Him, for His work!

I seek for love

As part of the recent training (SPLICE) I went through they asked us to write our joys and thanksgivings everyday (which as a side note, I highly recommend) and during that time God placed an observation on my heart. I wrote the following in my journal:

Before SPLICE I would say that I have an addictive behavior. I would say that my addictions were caused by something inside of me that I cannot control. I could not do anything about them because my genetics determined that I get addicted easily. My addiction to food was because of genetics; my later addiction to exercise was because of genetics; all of my addictions were because of genetics and not because of anything else. I didn’t want to admit that it could be anything else. During SPLICE God opened my eyes. Through godly insight from others I have come to realize that it has nothing to do with genetics and it has everything to do with idolatry. I grab onto the thought of marriage or the taste of food or even exercise to fulfill me since I don’t always love myself. I need to shift my focus to God and search for love there and love myself because he first loved me. I have never loved myself fully and I have been searching for love from people and things and no matter how great people or the things make me feel for a short time they never can make me feel loved until I love myself.

Whenever I would read the commandment about not having any other idols before God, I always felt pretty good about myself in that sense. I never had a wooden idol or image of another god that I would bow down and worship. Man, was I wrong. I was worshiping so many things and Satan was hiding it so well from me that I never really had a clue. I never realized that I was idolizing marriage, or the way food or exercise made me feel.

Bible.lens.heart.smallI was clueless, but no more. It is my full intention to seek for love from God alone. When I do anything for myself or for others, I will look at motives and if they include the word I at all, then I will pause, pray and ask God for the right motives. Not only will this allow me to live a more healthy life, but also a life that will have more of an impact on others for His sake, not mine.

If I recognize His love for me, then I can love myself and if I love myself then I can truly love others.

5 weeks and a whole lot of learnin’

As some of you know I just got back from Colorado after 5 weeks of the most intense training I have ever been a part of. My time in Colorado was amazing to say the least, but it was also very draining.


The training was filled with information, laughter, tears and fun. I met over 60 people from all over the US and one from Northern Ireland who will be going to all ends of the Earth. It was very easy to see how the Great Commission was being (partially) fulfilled through that amazing group of people. We literally had people in our group going to every continent other than Australia and Antarctica. Isn’t that awesome!

In the evenings and on the weekends we had free time (even though there were “blizzards” on two of the four weekends) and so I was able to see some of gorgeous Colorado.

The first two weeks of training was all about learning how to learn a language. I didn’t actually learn any German, but I learned some Russian. While learning Russian I was introduced to some techniques that I am planning on utilizing as soon as I get to Germany and find a German or two who would be willing to help me. The techniques are fun and work very quickly to help people learn not only words, but sentences and sentence form as well.

The next three weeks were called SPLICE (Spiritual, Personal, Lifestyle, Interpersonal, Culture and Endurance/Enjoyment). These three weeks were very emotionally draining. I seriously haven’t cried that much in almost ten years. It was ridiculous! It was all about helping each one of us adjust to whatever culture we are going to and preparing us spiritually, emotionally and habitually for leaving our culture and entering another culture.

If I had to have only one take away from my time in Colorado it would be my new found passion for helping Missionary kids (MK’s) become devoted followers of Christ and preparing them for their next stage in life which is most likely college in the US. Black Forest Academy is a MK boarding school in Kandern, where I will be living and working. I really feel God has given me this desire to help them in any way that I can. My goals are to disciple some of the MK’s and also be someone who will be there to attend things that they are involved in through their school.

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Traversing the Chaos

In life we all go through transition. We all have times that we are dealing with changes in our lives. Adjusting to a new job. A new home. A new relationship. No matter what, we are going to have periods of transition. When you go through periods of transition you go from settled, to unsettled, to chaos, to resettling, and then to a new settled. The picture we were given was like crossing a bridge from solid land to solid land.

How each person interprets each stage of the bridge crossing is vital to the way they cross the bridge. This is how my bridge broke down, one word for the strongest feeling for me a that stage.

Settled – Contentment
Unsettled – Progress (My current stage)
Chaos – Busy
Resettling – overlooking (I meant it’s easy to ignore the minor difficulties here because they pale in comparison to the chaos you just went through)
New Settled – Relief

How would you describe each stage for you? What stage are you currently in?

While learning about this we watched/participated in a demonstration. There were four chairs, three bosu balls, and then four more chairs on our “transition bridge.” The first two chairs were normal, the second two had blocks underneath that made them wobbly and then the last four chairs were the same as the first four. The people traversing the “transition bridge” were members of a team, two singles (one leading and one in the rear) and a family all tethered together with “relationship ropes.” Everyone lining the the sides were the support, the ministry partners, the headquarters staff and anyone else who is willing to provide some help while this team is dealing with change.

Here is a link to the video.

Everyone reading this blog is my bridge support. I will need some of you more than you know. I want to thank you in advance, because without this team I would not be able to do any of this.  We are a team, hand-picked by God and together we can do amazing things!

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.