Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The End of an Era

So as of this week, Derek and I are no longer young life leaders. {tear} Young Life is an organization we love, that we were both involved in in high school, and have devoted the past 9-10 years of our lives volunteering for. To no longer say that we are young life leaders is definitely weird.

There is a lot I could say about it, but basically it came down to the issue of we simply felt we were spreading ourselves too thin. Derek runs the recreation ministry at our church. Having a full time job that is a ministry (as well as the running of a small business) and then volunteering his time outside of work to a very time intensive ministry was exhausting, and it prevented Derek from doing the ministry side of his job well. I've also become increasingly frustrated with my inability to be at LCA as much as is necessary to really build relationships with students. So after a lot of prayer, we both felt that God could use us more effectively serving the church.

We still aren't sure how exactly this is going to look. Like I mentioned in my last post, we're coaching a soccer team, and hope to be intentional in building relationships with the girls on our team, as well as their families, and hope to be able to share Jesus with those who don't know Him. We both will also stay involved in the lives of students we have met through Young Life, through leading Bible studies, and continuing to hang out with students that we know and love.

One thing we do feel really passionate about is bringing the model of Young Life to the church. When it comes to sharing your faith, a lot of people either don't do it all, do it because they feel like they have to but don't really like to do it, or think they have to set up some sort of even for people to come to so someone else can share.

The model of ministry that Young Life uses is based on what Jesus did. It is about going to people, entering their world, building relationships, and inviting them into relationship with Jesus. We share Jesus because He is the best thing that has happened to us, and when something awesome happens to you, don't you want to tell other people about it? It's not about trying to convince anyone of anything. That is not our job. It is lovingly offering others the same hope that we have. And if it's not for them, we continue to love them and let them know that they are valued.

The ministry of Young Life is for middle and high school aged students, but the way it is done could be applied to anyone. You can enter people's worlds, build relationships, love them and share Jesus with them anywhere. At your job, at the gym, a playgroup that your kids are in, etc. The model of Jesus' ministry was to go to people. He came out of heaven to earth. He entered our world. So often, I think churches just want everyone to invite people to their service, or to come to them. We are excited to hopefully be an example of what it looks like to do ministry the way Jesus did it.

So it's a bit of a crazy time for us. We're not quite sure how specifically we are going to get involved at church, we have no idea what our lives will look like this time next year. But we're taking a step out in faith, and hoping that God shows us what He has for us next. It's a little bit exciting and terrifying all at the same time. God is good though, and we are trusting in the plans He has for us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fall Soccer

So we have some big changes going on in life right now, and I hope to post about them soon, I just want to have the time to properly devote to explaining it all. One new thing that Derek and I are getting ready to take on is coaching soccer!

Little kids soccer.

Kindergarten and 1st grade girls to be exact.

We had our first practice last night. We got to meet the team. There are 11 of them and they are precious.

A few of them we know. Some are kids or siblings of friends, one little girl I've known since she was in her mom's belly. But mostly lots of brand new faces. Some really shy, others very outgoing. 

One girl didn't want practice to be over. She was very enthusiastic and spirited. In the middle of practice Derek asked her if she was going to be a handful. She smiled real big and nodded her head yes.

I think we had a good first practice. I'm really excited to get to know these girls, share Jesus with them and their families, and hopefully teach them about soccer and have lots of fun. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Way back in January I made some New Years Resolutions. One was to simplify. One way I simplified was by only having 3 resolutions.

One was to memorize more scripture. That started out pretty good, but I'll be honest, these past couple of months it hasn't been happening. I know it's so important, but I just haven't figured out a way to make it work for me. I feel like I always end up memorizing something, only to forget it a few weeks later. Which is frustrating. I need to figure out a system that works for me. Suggestions are welcome.

Another resolution was to give more. It hasn't been a failure, but I still feel like we could trust the Lord more in this area.

The final one was to simplify. We've definitely donated a lot of stuff and the garage sale was great for this.

I came across this blog post today though, about simplifying your life regarding your time. It suggests that to live your life simply does not mean to make life easy, comfortable and uncomplicated, but to be singular in focus. My favorite line from the post is this:

"When I die, I want to enter Heaven bloody, bruised and completely exhausted from the work I’ve done here on Earth. After all, that’s why He's left me here. I’ll rest and live a comfortable, uncomplicated life once I’m Home"

I love that. It's not a very long post, you should go check it out.

Now to go think about the singular purpose of my life...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Birthday Fun

My parents came into town this weekend for a little birthday celebration. I won't tell you how old I am, because it's depressing, but I'll take any excuse to have them come down, eat cake and bring presents.

We kept the tradition alive this year of going to Sweet Magnolia and getting a sampler cake.

We decided that while all the types of cake are good, strawberry and chocolate are the best.

We sang happy birthday and I blew out my candle.(Please ignore the ends of my hair and the fact that I desperately need a haircut. Oh yeah, and the messy counter, the open cabinet and messy cabinet behind me. Thank you.)

We did lots of eating out, including dinner at Carrabbas. I love, love, LOVE Italian food!

I introduced my parents to the fun that is Mario Kart on the Wii. My dad used to play with us on our super nintendo when we were little. It's changed a little since then.

Derek took my dad frisbee golfing. My mom and I took Moose to the dog park. It's nice that it's not so hot out anymore and we can do things like that.

I took my mom to a little store called Two Chicks. They don't have stores like that in Columbus. She was amazed at how many things they had that you could monogram.

I also got presents. My "big gift" actually came a few days early in the mail.

I love it! Derek loves it too! Sometimes we fight over it.

I got other fun things like a cute new shower curtain and memory foam bath mat. I love getting out of the shower now!

Derek got me some new shoes and a book. I love these shoes. Athletic shoes are a weakness we share.
Derek also took me golfing. I'm not good at golfing, but I like being outside and I think it's fun. If it wasn't so expensive we would probably do it more often. It's probably funny to watch us. Derek is decent, but I'm lucky if I can get the ball into the air and to go more than 30 yards. We share Derek's old clubs that he got in middle school. I like to drive the cart. Keith came with us. He's really good. And we made a friend, a guy named David who was going to play by himself joined us to make a foursome. It was fun. 

I won't talk about the fight that Derek and I got in later that day. Just know that as much as I make it sound like things are always rainbows and butterflies, they're not. But we made up and ended up having a great night together. Yay for birthdays!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I read these thoughts by Richard Stearns, who is the president of World Vision and the author of The Hole in our Gospel {which I haven't read but it's on my list of books to read} and thought I would share it in light of yesterday's post. It was incredibly convicting to me.  I have an ongoing internal struggle of how best to use our resources. How much to save, how much to give, how much to spend. Sometimes I wish there were black and white answers, but that would eliminate our need to rely on God for the answers to those tough questions.

When I read things like this though, it helps me to put things in perspective for me and snap me out my own little self absorbed world. Because I could easily find ways to use all of my money on me, my house, my trips, my stuff, etc. But when deciding how to use the abundant resources God has given us, it is good to be reminded of the reality that people who are no different from me face every day, and to take that into consideration.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink ..." --Matthew 25:35-36

Jesus' words are a powerful and inspiring reminder as I sit in my office browsing on news websites the stories and images of the staggering tragedy unfolding in the Horn of Africa.

Nearly 10 million people are "critically short of food," according to the United Nations, due to what UN officials say is the region's worst drought since I was born 60 years ago. Those 10 million people live in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti and war-ravaged Somalia.

For some, the stories and images will be reminders of the Ethiopian famine. Twenty-five years ago, the images of bloated, dying children, images unlike any others seen before by millions of Americans, prompted a massive outpouring of donations and offers to help. That outpouring culminated in the "Live Aid," concerts in Philadelphia and London, the latter of which brought a group I had never heard of before to the world's attention -- U2.

For others, the name "Somalia" brings back the events of 1991-1994 when hundreds of thousands of Somalis were starving, prompting a U.S.-led peacekeeping force to intervene. That effort led to a military operation against Somali warlords and, regrettably, the deaths of 42 American soldiers.

I am reminded of two things.

First, the faces, the voices and the stories of people I've met in Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. Kenya was the first nation I visited after joining World Vision in 1998, and where I learned one of the most important lessons of my life: Poverty is not an image, or a statistic; poverty has a face, a name and a story.

Second, I am reminded of the powerful and provocative quote from Josef Stalin: "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."

I fear that for many Americans -- Christians and people of other faiths or no faith -- will devote little time or attention, let alone resources, to the people suffering in the Horn of Africa. Rather they are preoccupied with "First World problems":

~~  How fluctuations in the stock market are affecting my 401(k) investments;
~~  Where to go on my next vacation;
~~  Whether to buy "name brand" or "store brand" items in the supermarket;
~~  Which diet and workout regimen will enable me to lose 10 pounds in a month; or
~~  The struggle over my next computer -- a notebook, a laptop, or the new iPad2?

Or worse, they are obsessed with finding out where Casey Anthony might be living, now that she's been released from jail after being acquitted of charges that she murdered her daughter, Caylee. Thousands of Americans followed Ms. Anthony's trial closely, and expressed outrage when she was found not guilty. They wanted justice for Caylee's death. Where's their outrage or sense of justice for the millions of children at-risk of dying in the Horn of Africa? Their lack of attention proves the late Soviet premier's admonition.

Many "First World" Americans have never met a person with "Third World problems":

~~  Whose income is $2 a day and who has never heard of a 401 (K);
~~  Whose only travel plans are traipsing by foot from Somalia into Kenya to a refugee camp;
~~  Whose primary source of drinking water is infested with animal feces, and has never been inside a supermarket;
~~  Who lost 10 pounds in the last week because of too little or even no food, and who has no use for a health club membership; or
~~  Who has no access to electricity, and does not need -- and maybe has not ever seen -- a computer.

I have the privilege of knowing people facing both First World and Third World problems. It is a privilege because, I believe, Jesus would consider it a privilege. He met with, ate meals alongside and learned from those His society considered its lowest and its outcasts -- prostitutes, tax-collectors, the poor and victims of injustice.

He would have been honored to meet and serve people like Hawo, a woman believed to be about 75-years-old who lives in Kalabeyr, a remote town in northern Somalia. Thanks to my World Vision colleagues working in the region, I know more about Hawo, than I ever will know -- or even want to know -- about Casey Anthony.

After the drought killed the more than 500 goats and sheep Hawo and her eight children lived on, they were forced to abandon their pastoral way of life and move to Kalabeyr. The nine of them live in a makeshift tukul, a small room within the compound of one of the town residents.

It is Hawo whom Mark Bowden, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, might have been thinking of when he said recently: "Resources are woefully inadequate. We have an appeal that is at the moment only 40 per cent met. ... (W)e find ourselves as the humanitarian community in a position that we want and are able to do more, but just don't have the resources with which to do it."

Jesus' words about hunger and thirst, as quoted in Matthew, led me a few years ago to create an NIT version (New Irreverent Translation), one that Americans obsessed with "First World problems" might relate to:

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water."

We did not create the desperate conditions of drought and famine threatening the lives of 10 million people in the Horn of Africa. But, as Christians, it is our responsibility to do something about it. It is our moral duty to help our neighbors in need -- here in the U.S. and elsewhere, and God commands us to help those we have the means to help. We cannot look at their situation -- on television, in newspapers or magazines, or on the Internet -- shrug our shoulders, and say, "Not my problem."   

Written by Richard Stearns.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Garage Sale

Happy Monday, friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I'm feeling relaxed and well rested after finally being home for a weekend. I realized that this Saturday was the first day that I was in town all day and not working since June 17th. Craziness. It has been fun though.

One fun thing I did this weekend was have my first ever garage sale! I've been wanting to do this for months and months, but just haven't had the time to go through all my stuff. But last weekend I went on a little girls trip to the lake with some friends, and while I was gone Derek and our summer roommate Keith decided to not only clean our house, but also rearrange our bedroom. I was so excited when I got home Sunday afternoon to a sparkly house, and a room with a new layout that I love so much more than how it was. Since I didn't have any cleaning to do, I decided to take the opportunity to go through our various rooms and clean out drawers and closets, and collect things to sell. Surprisingly, this didn't take as long as I thought it would, so I decided to go ahead and have the sale this past weekend.

After placing little price stickers on all my stuff, placing an ad on Craigslist and putting up a few posters, I opened up at 8 am, and was pleasantly surprised when several cars pulled up at 8 am sharp. It was definitely interesting seeing all the people who showed up, there were all sorts. But it was fun talking to them, and watching a bunch of my stuff leave. Derek left early that morning to go fishing, which I think was a good thing, because when I told him how much I sold stuff for, he couldn't believe how cheap I let it go. It was all stuff that we don't use though, so I was just happy to get it out of the house and thrilled that people were willing to pay to take it off my hands. The sale ended at noon and I had a lot less stuff and just shy of $160 in my pocket.

I decided before the sale that I wanted to donate all the money that I made. Last spring we read the book Radical by David Platt in our small group from church and out of it came the general sentiment that we all have too much stuff while there are billions of people in the world with literally nothing. So why not get rid of alot of the excess in our lives, and use it to benefit those without?

In light of the drought and food crisis in the horn of Africa, I decided to donate a decent portion of the money to World Vision's work in the Horn of Africa Food Crisis. Another organization that I love is Compassion. They just started a Water of Life campaign, where for $55 you can provide a child with a lifetime of clean water. So $55 of our proceeds went there.

Now I hope you all know that I'm not sharing this so you all will think good things about me. Please know that  is not what I am after. My hope is that you would maybe look around your house and see what things you have filling it up that you don't need or even use, and consider having your own garage sale and giving the proceeds away so that others can have food or clean water.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

California Vaca Part 4: Wrapping it Up, Last 2 Days

I think I've drug this on long enough, so here is the last of our vacation recaps.

By the last 2 days we were running out of steam and while there were still several things on our list of places to see, we decided to take it easy and relax a little. So, Friday we headed up pacific coast highway to Malibu. This was a really pretty drive and Malibu was beautiful. It took a little while to get there, but I think it was worth it. We spent several hours on the beach and then stopped at Pepperdine University on the way back. Derek said he would move out there in a heartbeat if he could work at Pepperdine. It is the most beautiful college either of us has seen. After touring around the campus we headed back down the shoreline, stopped for dinner in Marina del Ray and then drove around downtown and checked out USC because we figured we should actually go see downtown LA while we were there. Here are pictures from the day.

Malibu Beach

Derek loved boogie boarding - the boogie board was broken by the end of the trip!

We didn't get any good pictures of downtown, but afterward we went back to the hotel, got room service dessert and called it a night. 

Saturday was the much anticipated "Carmageddon"! A section of one of the freeways was closed for construction and all over the news there was talk about how it was going to be the worst traffic ever and how driving would be a nightmare. So we decided to spend as much of the day poolside at the hotel as possible. We checked out at 3 and decided to head down to Rancho Palos Verdes, a little peninsula that was just south of where we were staying and away from the major freeways. There was more beautiful scenery and lots of photo ops.

After looking at pretty houses and beautiful cliffs overlooking the ocean we decided to head north towards the airport and surprisingly traffic was better than it had been the rest of the time we were there. Apparently all of the scare tactics worked and everyone stayed off the roads. So we did a little shopping and headed to In N Out one last time before we left. We got to the airport with time to spare, and Derek even saw an NBA / Team USA basketball player at the airport, who we assumed was leaving the ESPY's. We took a red eye flight back to Cincinnati, on a plane whose air conditional didn't work and neither of us slept. Even so, we had an amazing time. It was an unbelievable trip and I feel so blessed that we were able to go.