Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Paper Cheese

Today I was told a story that made me laugh really hard but also made me think about something.  A daughter came into my office today, her name will be changed to protect the innocent, we shall call her Chesson, and told me a story from earlier in the week.  Chesson is a freshman in high school and this is was her fifth day of school.  She was telling me how she gets up at six o clock every morning to get ready for school.  Earlier in the week, her mother made her lunch.  They have the deli style cheese that is packed in a bag but with a piece of paper between each slice.  Her mother made her a sandwich and some other things, packed it up for her and sent her off to school.
At lunch time, Chesson, remember this is not her real name, sat with her friend and pulled out her lunch.  Excited to dig into her sandwich she took a bite and as she started to chew, she noticed something was wrong.  Pulling something out of her mouth, she realized it was a white paper like substance.  Upon further examination and consulting with her friend, she realized that it was the piece of paper that is between slices in her pack of cheese at home.  Pulling her sandwich apart, she came to the realization that the entire piece of paper was in her sandwich, hence paper cheese. 
When she told me this story I died laughing because I know the mom personally so I had to call her and ask her about paper cheese.  She laughed at me and told me that Chesson had brought the piece of paper home with her to show her mom.  That made me laugh even harder, the fact that she had saved it to prove to her mom what she had done.  The best part of the story is that there was the bite mark and corner bitten off where Chesson had bit into her sandwich.   That is awesome!
Later in the day I was sitting and listen to them talk about it because of course I won’t let it go and kept bringing it up.  The mom exclaimed that Chesson, again not her real name, could get up earlier and make her own lunches if she didn’t like what her mom made her.  Laughing, both Chesson and I agreed that there was no way she could get up any earlier, Chesson is not a morning person, and then mom realized what she said and laughed too.
What I realized is that making kids their lunches is something that is done by millions of moms every day.  Although it is considered part of being a mom to get up ahead of kids and make their lunches for school, they do it with joy and love in their heart.  I loved when my mom made me lunch.  Some moms include a piece of paper with an I love you note on it in their kids lunches.  Although I am sure most of the time it is not attached to the cheese and in the middle of the sandwich.  But we all make mistakes and the time and energy that went into making that sandwich far outweighs the mistake.  I wish my mom could still make my lunches; life would be so much easier.
So with that I say to you, youth, embrace your mothers and fathers for making your lunches.  Love whatever they put in your lunch boxes, but most of all love them for putting together your lunch and everything they do for you.  Parents just because I told the youth to love whatever you put in their lunch boxes doesn’t mean that you can slack off and put paper cheese in their sandwich or give them tuna for that matter and expect them to love you for it.  Give them something good and good for them.  Write an I love you note and add it to their lunch.  Cherish these opportunities to show your love to your kids through their lunches and lunch boxes.  This is one of the small things in life that often gets overlooked and taken for granted. 
Hopefully Chesson, again still not her real name, will get a note from mom instead of a piece of paper cheese.  Love you both with all my heart and thank you for letting me share this funny little story!  Even though I didn’t ask if I could!

Day 57

A good day overall.  I didn't get to workout besides mowing the lawn which takes 2 hours and a lot of walking so hopefully that was good enough.  I had a couple of issues but took care of them pretty easy.  I am really tired but I am going to write my blog and head to bed!   I plan to walk to work in the morning!  Only a couple days till football!  Tomorrow night starts the college football year and the panthers play the steelers so that should be good too!  Time to write my blog.  Good night!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Enter Sandman...

                                        I took this picture 2 years ago at a VT game!

I can hear it now, Metallica’s Enter Sandman blaring across the stadium, the crowd yelling and screaming, the stadium rocking back and forth as people jump up and down, the players running out of the tunnel onto the field, and the flags waving as the cheerleaders run up and down the field.  That’s right; it’s time for some HOKIE FOOTBALL. I love Virginia Tech, especially Virginia Tech football, but most everybody knows that.   When I get the chance to go to a game, I love to get there early enough to watch the team take the field and hear Enter Sandman playing throughout the stadium.  Sometimes it is even fun to watch from the parking lot where you can still hear the song, but you can see all the people in the stadium jumping up and down.   Although I love it, I still have such a love hate relationship with football season.  
Every year Virginia Tech is ranked very high in the standings, sometimes too high, but often they deserve to be in the top 25.  The problem with Virginia Tech football is that we just can’t seem to win the big game.  We can’t seem to get over that line between being a good football team and being a powerhouse.   Even though we try not to, my father and I always have high hopes for the season but every year, except for the year 2000 when we played for a national championship, we are disappointed.  We will talk about the upcoming season and state that we are going to let it suck us in and we are going to just enjoy it without expectations.  That never happens and although we end up disappointed.  Have you ever watched a Virginia Tech football game with me?  Then you know how I am.  For those of you that haven’t, it is an interesting experience.
Now I know what your saying, why do you get so bent out of shape over football, it’s just a sport.  You are right, it is just a sport.  You see, the thing about it is that it is more than that.  It is a bonding between father and son.  My father and I always talk about football, we get excited about it and we can’t wait for the season to start.  It is also a family bonding experience as well.  My mom loves to go to VT games, although I think it is more for the tailgating and friends than the football, LOVE YOU MOM J.  My brother also loves Virginia Tech and follows it at home and when he can come up for a game. 
It is such an important part of our lives.  Don’t you have something like that, something that your family bonds over?  It might be board games, or yearly vacations, maybe its concerts, food, or camping, maybe its beach trips or everyone participates in collecting something, or other hobbies.  You probably get really excited about it and anxious over it but someone else might say but it’s only a board game, or it’s only camping, or it’s only football. 
Time with our family is sometimes over looked.  Common interests and bonding opportunities are far and few between.  So I say embrace them.  Take them to an extreme and enjoy every minute of that monopoly game.  Make extensive plans for that annually family vacation.  Get fanatical over your families baseball card collect.  Enjoy concerts with each other.  Get excited for the football season knowing what might happen.  Love your family for who they are and enjoy their company because if you’re not careful, life will get in the way.  
So Dad, I will see you Friday night for the opening game of the season on Saturday!  I promise that this year I won’t get excited and have expectations about the Hokies or this year’s season… Yeah right!  Let’s Go Hokies!

Day 56

That's right, I did 9 miles today!  I walked to work and back which is 5 miles then I went up to the lake and walked it twice which is 4 miles.  That is the longest I have walked since I started my year.  It was nice.  I really want to be able to run some of it, but my legs just won't let me.  They have a tendency to cramp up.  I hope they get better but who knows.  Hopefully after I drop some weight I will be able to run more.  My show is getting ready to come on so it is time for some America's Got Talent!  Lets do this!

Monday, August 29, 2011

W is for White Water Rafting

When I worked for the YMCA I had a youth named Michael that since childbirth only had one leg.  He did not have a left leg from his knee down.  He wore a prosthetic leg every day.  He was extremely comfortable with it and didn't care what anybody thought about it, said about it, or the way they looked at him.  In fact he was so comfortable that sometimes he would turn his prosthetic leg around so the foot faced the other direction and would walk around the YMCA that way.  It always made me laugh but it also showed me how comfortable he was with his disability.  I was always really proud of him for that.
One year we decided to go on a White Water rafting as our summer adventure trip and Michael decided to go with us.  We camped at a local campground and in the morning we got up and headed down to the White Water rafting company for our trip down the river.  We had enough people on the trip that we needed two rafts.  I was on a different raft from Michael when we started the trip.  Michael’s raft had two guides, a gentleman that had been down the river hundreds of times and a lady who was a raft guide in training. 
We left a little after 9:00 am for our three hour trip down the river.  Everything was going great, the weather was perfect, the temperature of the water was awesome, and the water level was perfect for riding the rapids.  About half way through our ride, in Michael’s boat, the raft guide in training took over to lead them through a couple of rapids.  Their raft was following ours through the rapids.  We came to one rapid that was a large rock in the middle of the river and you had to either go to the left or to the right.  We went to the right and shot the rapid very fast down to the end.  Quickly we turned the raft to watch the other raft come through the rapid.
They decided to go the right as well, but the guide in training didn’t have them pull far enough right and they clipped the side of the rock which made the raft stand straight up in the air and jettisoned everyone off the raft and into the river.  Our guide quickly positioned our raft to catch their's as it floated upside down toward us.  I was able to grab hold and with the help of another youth, we got it turned back over.  The two guides were the first to swim over and grab hold of their raft.  I jumped into their raft to pull them in and help pull everyone else in as well. 
The three of us started to pull in people and that is when I saw Michael swimming up.  He had his leg in his hand.  When he got close enough to the boat, he threw his leg into the boat, grabbed my hands and pulled himself back in.  He sat up and without even thinking anything about it, he picked up his leg, turned it upside down to dump the water out of it, and put it back on.  He then turned to help me pull others into the boat.  Neither one of us realized that the guide in training was freaking out because no one had told her that he had a fake leg and when he swam up with it in his hand her first thought was that he had lost a leg.  We tried to calm her down but the situation was so traumatic to her that we heard the next year when we came back that she had quit the next day because of the situation.
I always wondered why she couldn’t get over the fact that he had a fake leg and was perfectly fine.  The fact that Michael had a fake leg was something that we all accepted and knew.  He had been in the program so long that it never shocked us to see him take it off or turn it around backwards.  He played basketball and hockey with us.  He ran around with the other youth without any problem.  I have always remembered this story as funny but also a life lesson about acceptance and strength. 
All Michael wanted to be was just another youth, yes he had a disability, but what is a disability really?  It is what you allow it to be, and he didn’t allow his to be one.  He has so much strength and I truly admired him for it.  I am not sure where he is today but I will always remember this story and cherish it. It also makes me chuckle when I remember him swimming up to the raft with his leg in his hand.  I can still see the water pouring out of his leg as we turned in upside down and then put it back on.  The best part of the story is that it did faze him and he turned to help his friends out of the water.

Day 55

Well this morning I woke up and was very worried about weighing myself.  I did weigh my self and just as I thought, I did not lose any weight last week.  I actually had a .2 increase.  At first I was really mad at myself.  I knew that I hadn't exercised everyday and I also hadn't really eaten very well so I have no one to blame but myself.  I am getting back in the grove today and hopefully will be good by next Monday!  I just have to stay on target and I should be good! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pops and his Model Trains

My Grandfather did a lot of things with me when I was a kid and I have so many memories of him.  One thing that I took an interest in because of him was model railroading.  When I was a kid he was always working on a model railroad layout.  I can remember sitting and watching he work and I was so amazed at the layouts he would create and the models he would build.  I knew that it was something that I wanted to do as a hobby.
He built a lot of his own stuff and was always looking for new things to model or build.  I remember  that everywhere we went he would look at stuff that normal people wouldn’t pay attention too and think about how he could use it on his layout .  One day we were at Walmart.  My Grandma was buying so stuff and my brother and I were standing with my Grandpa eating pretzels.  I wanted something out of one of those gum ball type machines but it was a prize in a little bubble like plastic container. 
Grandpa gave me the quarter I needed and I turned the crank and out popped the plastic bubble with my little prize in it.  I quickly opened the bubble and took out my little prize and without hesitation threw the bubble into a nearby garbage can.  Before I knew it, my Grandpa was hovering over the trash can and looking in for what I had just thrown away.  Reaching in the garbage can he pulled out both pieces of the plastic bubble.  He turned to me and said, “You don’t see the potential in this?”  Looking at him with the glassy eyes of an eight year old who had no clue what he was talking about, I said “um…no.” 
He smiled at me and said, “Well Eric, this plastic bubble can be used on my model train layout.  With a little paint, a couple of toothpicks, and a piece of fishing wire I can make a satellite and hang it above the layout.”  I smiled back at him.  “I never would of thought of that,” I said.  He just smiled and placed the plastic bubble in his pocket.  As we stood there, I looked around the bubble gum type machine and found two more plastic bubbles which I gave my Grandpa. “We can work on these when we get home,” he said.
Another time, we were at a Lowe’s hardware and Grandpa was looking for something to fix a door knob.  After we looked in that section and he found what he needed, we walked into the paint section.  There was a cart at the front of the section with a lot of random paint colors.  They looked like they were rejects or leftovers.  Grandpa was feverish going through them until he found a couple he wanted.  He picked them up and off we went to the register.  I asked him what the paint was for and he told me that whenever he came into Lowes he looked on that cart.  There were a lot of discarded, rejected paints that were heavily discounted on the cart.  He would buy them because he never knew when he could use them on his layout. 
My Grandpa was a resourceful man.  He looked for every opportunity to use something for his layout.  He was also a very Godly man and often taught the lesson in his Sunday school class.  He taught me that sometimes we tend to discard things without truly looking at them.  We run through life so fast that we don’t realize the uses of something that is available to us.  Maybe it’s a plastic bubble or rejected paint, or it could be an old cd or broken game we have.  We just discard them and don’t look at their potential.
I think that people should pay closer attention to the small things, because you would be surprise what you will find and what you can use them for.  The next time you buy something and our about to discard the box or wrapping material, take a look at it and see if you have a hidden treasure.  Who knows maybe you have your very own satellite and you just didn’t know it.  

Day 54

Another long day at the office :)  But I love Sunday!  It is great to be back on a regular schedule and have my kids all day on a Sunday again. Tomorrow is a weigh in day.  I am not feeling it again this week.  Except for my walk to work, walk on Monday, and my walk to the lake and back, I haven't really exercised this week.  I am feeling it.  I hope I lost something but we will see.  I will let you know in the morning how the week stacked up.  Blasted hurricane!  I was ready to walk yesterday morning!  Oh well, tomorrow starts a new week!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

V is for Videos

A couple of years ago we renovated our basement of the church into a youth area. We have some great stuff including a game room, study room with computers, an office with refrigerator, and a room with a screen and projector.  It is a wonderful space.  When we did this renovation, we also purchased two video cameras.  These video cameras have been an asset to the ministry of our program.
As you know in today’s world, technology is the key.  Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter are the social media outlets for youth these days.  In order to keep our youth engaged and on track with ministry we have created a lot of videos.  Some of our youth have done powerpoint presentations while others have used cameras to make movies.  I have become quite good at editing and creating videos.  The youth really connect through video ministry.  What better way is there to show Christ’s love than through homemade spiritual videos created by youth for youth? 
Two years ago there was a youth that was participating in some youth programming as a friend of one of our long standing members.  She would come to youth group and other events but hadn’t totally bought in.  Later in that year she really started to come to everything we did. 
Last year at a meeting I asked if anyone would be interested in creating a video to a song I had picked out.  She volunteered to do it.  I thought it was a great and wonderful way for her to express herself.  She had two weeks to create the video.  Right before it was due she got it to me so I could burn it to DVD.  When I got her video I took a look at it.  It was amazing.  Her storyline was great, the shots and video footage she took were amazing. The most impressive thing was the message she conveyed through her video. 
When I showed it in youth group the next Sunday, all the kids loved it.  We spent almost an hour talking about it and the different spiritual messages that were shown in the video.  Some of our youth mentors cried when they saw it.  It was so impressive that this eighth grader had such an eye for video creation and production. 
She has since made many videos for us.  Each and every one of them is very spiritually mature.  She has found a way to truly share her spiritual journey with the world.  She got confirmed this year and now is an important part of our youth program.  Danielle truly opened my eyes when she put her video skills in front of me.  She showed me that through her creativity and love of video work, she could spread the word of God in a way that will meet people where they are. 
Danielle has been given a gift and I hope that she will continue to use it to spread God’s love and understanding to those around us.  I hope that she realizes that she has a future in video creation and production.  I am so thankful that she raised her hand that day and was willing to put her creative skills to the test and show us what she is truly made of.  Danielle is the director, creator, distributor, and star of this movie called God’s love through cinema. 
Thanks for sharing it with the world.    

Day 53

Well the hurricane messed up my plans to walk this morning.  It looks like it is either the apartment gym or wii for me today.  I can't believe that in seven days it will be 2 months since I started this Year of Me and JC.  I can't wait to see where it takes me!  I weigh in on Monday so we will see if I lost any weight this week. It has been another hectic week so I am not sure.  Anyway hope you stay dry today and watch out for that wind!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Cracks in the pavement

I went for a really long walk this morning.  It was eight miles total.  I walked from my apartment to the lake, around the lake and back home again.  When I walk, I like to take notice of the world around me.  I watch the cars going by, the people waiting at the bus stops, the squirrels that scurry across the road, and the different houses that I pass by.  This morning, I noticed something that caught my eye.  I noticed the cracks in the pavement.  From my house to the lake there is sidewalk.  The sidewalk has shifted over time and some pieces are higher than others due to tree roots growing underneath but it is still a very nice, well maintained walkway.
The things that caught my eyes were these cracks that I kept seeing in the pavement.  Some of them went all the way across the sidewalk while others started on one side or the other and ended in the middle.  Still other cracks started in the middle and spread out to either side.  It became part of my walk to look at the different sidewalk pieces for cracks as I traveled down the road.  Some of the cracks were thin while others were thick.  Some of them had weeds or grass growing out of them.  One crack was so severe that you could see the tree root protruding through the sidewalk. 
As I walked, I began to think about how these slabs of concrete represented us.  These extremely strong concrete slabs of rock seemed to have all kinds of different cracks in them kind of like us.  Each of us has our own problems and worries, our own struggles and stresses.   We each have our own pain and suffering and although we are all very strong, these different issues leave us with cracks.  Some of the cracks are small and are easily hidden or fixed, while others become larger where the issues or problems begin to form roots and dig in causing the crack to widen and deepen. 
Often we try to hide our cracks.  We use some sort of quick fix that may temporarily fill the crack, but eventually it reopens.  Other times we talk about our issues and problems by seeking guidance and help.  When we do that our cracks are permanently fixed or at least stopped from spreading any further.  Although we cannot always control the situation that creates the crack, we can work to fix it properly.
When a slab of pavement on the sidewalk is broken and cracked, they call in a professional with a cement truck.  That professional has fixed so many cracks in their lifetime that they know just what to do to fix the crack.  There is a professional that has fixed all kinds of cracks in people’s life, and the funny thing is that when life gets hard, we forget to call on him.  God can fill your cracks, he is always there for you and trust me, he has the right cement for the job.  We have to lift up our problems to him, we have to go to him in prayer with our issues and concerns.  God wants to help us.  He wants to warm up the truck and start pouring that crack fixing concrete that we need so badly.  He will put workers in our lives along the way.  These workers are people that we can talk to and will help us with our problems, but he is the foreman and it all starts with him.  If we don’t start with him then our foundation, our concrete, is never solid.
Do you hear that? 
Someone must have called him because I can hear the concrete truck backing up into place, beep, beep, beep. 
Make sure you have put in a work order.

Day 52

This is my 100th Post!  That is awsome considering I missed two days when we went to Busch Gardens.  I had a heck of a day.  I walked 8 miles this morning.  It was really hard but really good. I felt good after I got done.  I spent the rest of my day cutting vegtables and working on the video for Pilgrimage.  It is turning out awesome!  The kids did a great job!  I am looking forward to the weekend!  Hope you don't get washed away.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

U is for Unspoken

In life we have a tendency to take things for granted.  We expect people to do certain things and act certain ways and we often don’t thank them properly when they do it.  Often we get caught up in life and just don’t take the time to really think about everything that is done for us.  I know that working in youth ministry can be thankless.  Sometimes our youth seem to not care what we are doing for them or the hours upon hours of time we dedicate to them.  We plan programs, we take them to lunch and dinner, we pick them up for events, we give up our weekends to be with them, we attend their sporting events and concerts, we take them on mission trips, we go to the amusement park, and we plan meaningful worship and Spiritual growth for them.  How many times do you get a thank you?  Do you feel taken for granted?
I believe that the gratitude for everything we do for our youth is unspoken.   I think there are other ways that our youth share with us than just saying thank you.  I often receive hugs from my youth.  When they first get there they hug me and say hey and talk about their week.  The unspoken hug goes a long way.  It warms my heart and I know I am making a difference because they are glad to see me.  It is not everyday that a youth will give you a hug.  That is called unspoken love.
Whenever I try a new event or program, a large majority of our youth group show up for it.  This is unspoken trust.  My youth trust me that I will provide a fun, entertaining, spiritually centered program and they want to be there to support me and youth program.  This is tremendous.  It shows that you have built a level of trust with them and they are going to be a part of the programs you want to run. 
I have a core group of youth that make youth group a priority in their lives.  They are at everything we do.  It is so wonderful to know that there will always be youth that come to events and programs.  I am sure you have them, no matter what you are doing, setting up chairs in the gym, hiding Easter eggs for the children, or going to Busch Gardens, that group of youth are there to support the program.  That is unspoken loyalty.
The world has moved into a new era, facebook, email, and twitter are the main ways to communicate with youth these days.  Often I put out emails, or facebook messages.  I always get answers back from youth.  Sometimes, without even prompting it, I get facebook messages or wall posts just to see how I am doing.  They often like things I put on my page.  It is the way that they communicate.  It’s called unspoken communication.
 Sure, I sometimes get a thank you from my youth, but I will take the unspoken communication, trust, loyalty, and love that I get from them over a thank you any day.  I know I am not being taken for granted because they want to be a part of our youth program and are there to prove it.  Besides, it’s not about me.  It’s about them building a loving, honest, open, and loving relationship with Jesus Christ.  That is what I want them to speak about, and loudly at that.  There is nothing unspoken about their relationship with Jesus.

Day 51

I walked to work and back today.  According to my car that is 5.2 miles.  It was a very nice walk and the temperature wasn't bad at all.  I really enjoyed it.  Today I worked on getting out the information about the new Youth Group t-shirts.  I am really excited about them and they look good!  I can't wait to get them.

I am waiting to see how much it will rain this weekend.  I HAVE to go mow the lawn next week.  Next Saturday is the first Virginia Tech football game!  I can't wait for the season to start! 

Go Hokies!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day of Rest

Sometimes we just need a day of rest.  We need a day to reconnect with ourselves so that we can go out into this great, big wonderful world that God has created and do great things in his name.  It is hard to take that day of rest because we have so many things going on and we just can't slow down.  I hit a wall today.  I couldn't get out of bed this morning.  I have the ice cream social last week, the car wash on Saturday, kickoff on Sunday, and Tuesday was a day of filming in which I ended up floating in a pool for two hours.

I just needed to slow down and recharge so that I can stay on the right path and make sure that I keep working hard on me and JC and my job.  I am so happy with the way the past 50 days have gone.  I can't believe that it has been 50 day already. I am excited to keep going and see where I am in a year. 

I hope that you take a day to yourself.  A day to sleep, pray, think, and plan.  A day to rest is something that we all need.  I think people would be more productive if they took a day of rest.  I know I am ready for tomorrow and the next day and the day after that now that my batteries are recharged!  I will go out into the world and live for him! May you get a day of rest in the very near future!

Day 50

Wow today was a blur.  I had to take some time to rest because I feel like I have been going nonstop for a long time.  I am so glad to have a day to just get back on schedule.  Now it is time to get ready for this weeks lesson and workout the rest of the week.  Football starts next Saturday!  I am excited...  So tired and headed to bed.  Thanks!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Walk on the Water

Today some of the youth group and I worked on a video for Pilgrimage.  Pilgrimage is a conference held in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Over 6000 youth and mentors attend every year to hear speakers, bands, and youth who share their stories with everyone.  Youth groups are invited to put together a dance, skit, or video to perform or have shown at the event.  Only a few of these are selected each year and we are trying to be one. 
We choose the song “Walk on the Water” by Britt Nichole.  We shoot a lot of stuff at the church and worked hard on planning out the script for the video.  We shoot two main scenes at the church and then we had to make a decision.  We really wanted to add a part about walking on water but we couldn’t figure out what to do.  One of our co workers at the church has a pool so we decided to try and use it to film our walking on water part of the video.
We went to her house and put a table in the pool.  At first the table floated but after sitting and pushing on it we were able to get it to sink. One of the youth and I got into the pool to help hold the table down.  Realizing very quickly that the table was too short for the pool and that we wouldn’t look like a person was walking on water, it fact it would look like they were sinking.  We had to come up with a new plan, so we added another table on top of the first table.  It turned out not to be a not very stable situation.  We ultimately decided to stack blocks up in two stacks and then we had to move them so that people could walk all the way across the pool.  It worked very well and we were able to get four people across the pool. 
Owen and I spent two hours in the pool holding the tables and blocks still while the others walked safely across.  Chesson and Danielle worked very hard on the storyline and ideas for the video.  Daniel, Ian, and Ben were all parts of the video.  Ian at the last minute stepped in to fill a major role in the video.  Daniel was comic relief especially after we had the earthquake today.  Ben is also a comedian, but we can be very serious also which are great qualities.  Bailey and Casey also helped us at church today which really helped us get some great shots. 
I am really proud of them all.  They gave up one of their last days of vacation to help film a video for church.  Their commitment to the church, the youth group, and to me is amazing and wonderful.  I am so thankful for each of them and what they bring to the table.  Together we were able to walk on water today.  We could of never done it alone, but by working together and believing that Jesus is with us in everything we do, we were able to get as close to replicating the miracle of Jesus walking on water as we would ever be able too.  I am blessed to have these youth in my life!  Thank you!
Shout out to Denise and Tim for letting us use your pool!  It helped us to beast this video! 

Day 49

Another day of great work with the youth.  I am so tired and honestly don't fee very well right now.  I think I am pretty drained from everything over the past couple of days.  The video shoot was great.  Everyone worked really hard.  I can't wait to see the finished project.  Thank you to my wonderful youth for putting your heart and soul into the project! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Original What not to Wear

There is a show on TV where a pair of fashion specialists are called in to help someone with their fashion fopaws. The friends of that person, that the fashion specialists are there to help, are the ones that contact the show.  These friends are often tired of the person’s wardrobe and therefore think that a change is in order.  If the person accepts they are taken to New York where after they are given some fashion advise they are given money to change their wardrobe.   Once this is done, the person is brought home for the grand reveal in front of all their family and the friends.  Everyone is so excited about the new look.  I bet the producers of this show thought they had an original idea when they developed this concept, but I think that the Original What not to Wear was Joseph and the coat of many colors.
Joseph was favored by his father Jacob and Jacob made Joseph an ornate coat of many colors.  All of his brothers hated Joseph and his coat because it represented their father’s love for him above all the other brothers.  Joseph also made the mistake of telling his brothers about two dreams he had in which he stated that he would rise above his brothers and that they would all bow down to him. This only angered them more and since there were no fashion experts around to help them get rid of the coat of many colors they plotted to kill Joseph.  One day when the brothers were out with the flocks and Joseph was sent to find them, they saw their chance.  Joseph came up to them and they stripped him of his coat, beat him and threw him in a cistern. Reuben the oldest brother talked them into not killing their brother and instead they sold him to a caravan headed to Egypt. 
We can only imagine what it must have been like to have Joseph prancing around the house in his coat.  He probably wore it day and night only taking it off to bath, if that.  This would only have enraged his brothers more.  There is almost always some sort of sibling rivalry when a family consists of more than one child.  Parents are sometimes blinded by the excitement they get when they give one of their children something.  Maybe Jacob didn’t realize what it looked like when he gave Joseph the coat.  Or maybe he did and actually had given him many other things along the way that brought on the extreme resentment.  I am sure Joseph had a “nah nah a boo boo, I got a coat and you didn’t” attitude.  Talk about instigating a fight with your bothers.  On top of that he added his visions in his dreams about his brothers bowing to him. He is very lucky that Reuben had some sense when all the other brothers were seeing red.    
 In the present day version of What Not to Wear, the reason the person is on the show is because their clothes shouldn’t be worn at all,  they lack a sense of style and fashion.  Sometimes it’s because they wear the same clothes over and over again and they are worn, tattered, and holey but not in a good way.  The person lacks a sense of fashion and their friends are tired of looking at them in their clothes.  Their friends get so fed up with their lack of style that they call in professionals to take care of the problem.  Joseph’s brothers had other reasons why they hated his coat, so they didn’t want the fashion police.  They wanted the coat gone and wanted to hurt Joseph so that is just what they did!   Reuben might have been willing to call the fashion experts if they had been able to not only help with the coat but Joseph attitude as well.  Alas there weren’t fashion experts and the idea of the show had to wait till present day.  I don’t think the pilot episode of What Not to Wear would of floated with people if the outcome would have been what happened to Joseph.  Do you?

T is for Train

A couple of years ago we went to Washington D.C. We stayed for about four days.  On the first full day in Washington, we decided to take the Subway train into downtown. We had a group of about 15 youth.  Many of these youth had never ridden the subway before.  Some really enjoyed the first experience while others struggled with the enclosed space and the very different people that were on the train.  We made it safely downtown and back that first day without any altercations. 

On the second day, we rode the train again.  Again we were headed downtown.  There were a lot of stops at different stations between where we got on the train and where we were getting off.  At one of these stops, a gentleman wearing a walkman and carrying two white grocery type bags got on the train. He stood right next to the door and didn’t sit down.  Our youth were sitting on both sides of the train next to where he was standing.  He placed his bags on the ground and moved more towards the center of the train.  As the train took off, he was messing with his walkman.  All the youth at the time were pretty oblivious to him, but I and another adult chaperone had taken notice of him. 

Shortly after we started back down the track and the youth were busy talking away, the gentleman jumped up in the air and did a karate kick.  He then quickly turned around and kicked the other direction.  This was followed with some karate chops in the air to one side than the other.  Our youth froze.  They weren’t sure what was going on and what they should do.  A couple of the girls near him started to slowly inch their way down the seats away from him.  The other male adult chaperone told them to stay still and not to react.  The gentleman seemed to rewind his walkman to a certain spot, hit play and redo the karate moves.  He did this about three or four times.  The youth kept looking at each other without saying a word and seemed to be filled with a scared silence.

After about fifteen or so minutes, the gentleman stopped his walkman and leaned down to pick up his bags.  At the next stop he got off.  I got a glimpse of his bags and both had the name of a mental health facility on the side.  As the doors closed there was a sudden flutter of activity as youth nervously laughed and started to talk about what just happened.  We allowed them to have conversation until we got off the train.  Once we got off the train we bought the group together for a quick talk.     

I explained to the youth that there are a lot of different people in this world, some of them are well off, some people are poor, and some have plenty to eat while others go hungry, and some are sick or have mental issues or other disabilities while others of us are graced to be healthy.  But we are all God’s children and we don’t have the right to judge or put down someone or something we don’t understand.  We accept them for who they are and we act with kindness and understand.  We are to be Christ like in our actions and deeds.  Sometimes we might be scared by situations or people, but we most always offer a helping hand a loving heart.  We prayed for the man on the train as we stood in the crowded train station with people hurriedly passing us by.  We prayed for them too.

Day 48

Well to my surprise I lost 2 pounds this week which is right on track.  Things have been crazy and I am so tired this week but I am so thankful.  I really believe that this blog is helping me to stay on track.  Last night was amazing!  I am so thankful for all the help I got and for the blessing it was to have all those kids there last night.  I really enjoyed myself but I am sooooooooooooooooo tired :) 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2 Blogs coming tomorrow...

I am so tired that I can't even think.  Today was amazing but I can't write a good blog!  Talk to yo tomorrow!


Day 47

Today is the big day!  We have our kickoff!  I am excited but I have a lot to do before kickoff starts. Wow this week has been crazy.  I am interested to see where I am on the weight loss this week.  I have been working very hard but this week got away from me.  I wasn't able to work out everyday like I have in the past.  I hope to get back on the right track tomorrow and next week.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

God Winked at Me…

As I started my walk around the lake the other morning, the sun was just starting to peak up over the tree line.  As I was headed for my third time around the lake, the sun had moved up above the trees.  I happened to look up at it as I was walking toward it.  There were clouds lined up just perfectly to make a face.  It looked like it was someone winking at me with the sun as the open eye.  I determined that it was God.  He was giving me the strength to go around the lake for a third time which was six miles and the longest distance that I have walked yet during my year of me and JC.  He was giving me the you’ve got this look!  It was awesome, and warmed my heart.  It made it easier to finish up those last two miles. 
I walk the lake a lot these days.  I do a ton of people watching.  I often wonder which of those around me believe and which of them don’t.  Does the skinny guy who has lapped me three times believe?  How about the girl with the three dogs?  Or the gentleman with the all terrain stroller, does he believe in God?  What about the huge group of runners that pass me on Saturday mornings, are any of them believers?  How about the older gentleman that says hey to me every morning?  Or the lady that sits on the bench every Monday and feeds the ducks, does she believe?  What about the gentlemen fishing every morning?  How about the man who hits golf balls around the field for hours, does he believe? 
I often wonder what they are listening too on their I-pods.  Does anyone have worship and praise music playing?  Is anyone meditating or praying?  Are they thinking about visiting someone from church?  Do they go to church?
It’s interesting to watch.  Some of the same people are there every day.  I often wonder if they are there on Sunday mornings because of course I’m not.  The thing about it is a believer and non believer look the same.  We wear the same clothes, we listen to the same music, we walk or run the same trail, and some of us even drive the same cars.  From outside appearances, it is often hard to tell if someone believes.  We can’t really tell, for the most part, unless we talk with them.
I am working on myself for the next year.  I am working to become healthier in my spirit, mind, and my body.  I know what I am doing why I am out there, I pray, think about my next blog entry, and plan my week of work and worship.  It has been so helpful for me to have the devotion piece to my life style change.  I wish that when I have done this in the past I would of added this component.  But that ‘s me, I know what I am doing, what I want, and what I believe. But what about all my fellow lake people? 
I hope that the other runners, walkers, fisherman, duck feeders, golf ball hitters, and dog walkers believe.  I pray that they too saw the face of God in the clouds above the lake the other morning.  God was winking at us all and saying good job and keep it up!  I hope they all heard him. Maybe one day I will ask them.  Just stop and chat and in the conversation, I will asked them if God has ever winked at them.   If they say no, I’ll just say, I’m sure he has, you just had your back turned and didn’t see it.  Turn around, let the sun shine on your face and I guarantee you will see God winking at you!

Day 46

Today was a long day!  I walked 4 miles around the lake and then headed to set up the car wash.  We washed cars for almost 7 hours today and raised a lot of money for our Feed the 5000 program.  I am excited!  I now can go to bed, sleep for a little while and then get up and do it all over again as we have our kick off tomorrow.  I can't wait.  I am really tired so off to bed with me!  Talk to you tomorrow!

Friday, August 19, 2011

High Expectations

Sometimes we have expectations of events, movies, people, places, and things.  We have a certain vision in our head of what it is going to be like but when we get to the event, go to see a certain movie, hang with the person, arrive at the place, or purchase the thing, we are very disappointed because it doesn’t live up to the expectation.  Working with youth can have you being pulled both ways.  Sometimes I am very disappointed and my expectations are not met and other times, I am amazed and my low expectation level is blown away.
This year I am preparing for our kickoff.  I have this clear vision in my head of what I want it to look like and how I want it go.  Every kickoff I have a vision and high expectations.  Every year, my vision is not met.  It never goes as planned.  Something always happens.  I either forget to buy something, I don’t set something up right, something doesn’t work properly, or we run out of time.  There are so many things that can go wrong when you have high expectations.
  You know what the funny thing about your high expectations is?  You are the only one who knows that you have high expectations, and you are the only one that knows that they event didn’t reach your expectations.  It might not seem funny but it actually is.  Often the youth have a fabulous time at the kickoff.  They love every minute of it.  They get the biggest kick out of the games, puzzles, entertainment, and cooking they have to do.  They are oblivious to whatever details you feel are left out.   They are there to have a good time and enjoy each other’s company.  
This often happens with all events that we are involved in.  Too often we focus on ourselves without even realizing it.  If we are mad or upset because something didn’t reach our high expectations it is no one’s fault but our own.  We set the lofty expectations and we have to live with the results.  Ok, that may sound like we are not supposed to have expectations.  That’s not what I am saying.  What I am saying is that we have to look at the big picture.
Is there still a great, wonderful, God centered outcome from the event? 
Did you enjoy the movie even though it wasn’t a block buster?
Are you visiting the place with family, friends, or that special someone?
It’s humbling sometimes to think how worked up we get when  a plan doesn’t work right, but someone comes up to us and says they had a great time and can’t wait for next year. 
May God bless us with the ability to take a step back, look at the big picture, lower our expectations, and just be in the moment.

Day 45

Today was so busy.  I don't feel like I have a chance to breathe today.  It has been good and I got a lot done.  I can't wait for Sunday it is going to be epic!  I didn't work out today.  I can feel it and wish I did, but I just had to much to do.  I am still working on stuff right now so hopefully I will go to bed on time tonight.  We have a busy day tomorrow with the car wash!  Let's hope there is good weather.  Well I am going to finish some stuff up and head to bed.  See ya tomorrow.... ps.  Come on out to get your car washed.  We are at the bank right next to the church. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

S is for Soldier

 I first met Alex when he came to our youth dodge ball tournament.  He was there on the boy scouts’ team.  He had a great time.  Soon after that he came to my office to ask about playing on our church high school basketball team.  We sat and chatted.  I told him we were going to have a weeklong basketball summer camp before the season started and that he should come.  He came and brought his brother with him.  They played on the basketball team and soon after that started coming to youth group events.  They totally engrained themselves in our youth group.  They were coming on Sunday nights, retreats, basketball games, mission projects, and lock ins.  Their mother is a minister at another church, because they didn’t have a youth group, Alex and his brother made our's their home.
Every now and then the two of them would come on Sunday morning.  The whole church loved them.  I would often get questions asking me where Alex was.  He was such a well liked young man.  For three years he was a vital part of our youth group.  He became a member of our leadership team.  He always had a smile on his face, a warm hug, and a love for people.  I loved watching him interact with the younger kids of the church.  It was a joy to see how much they loved him. 
As the years rolled on, his basketball skills got better and better.  When he was a senior, he was one of best players on our basketball team.   He could dominate a game.  It was a lot of fun to watch him grow. During his senior year, Alex had to start thinking about life after college and what he was going to do.  His father was in the United States Armed Forces (Army), and that is what Alex wanted to do.  He enlisted and shortly after he graduated high school he was off to basic training.
Alex is now stationed in Korea.  I miss Alex and I think about him often.  When you work with youth, you are always worried about them.  Are they doing the right thing?  Are they staying away from drugs and alcohol?  Are they making the right decisions?  I never thought that I would have the added worry of one of my youth being a soldier.  Don’t get me wrong I am so proud of him for fighting for and representing our country.  But there is an everyday worry for his safety. 
God gave Alex a gift.  He gave him a passion to want to defend our country.  Man created the act of war.  The fact that there is not peace among all nations is something that man has allowed to happen.  God gives people the passion and love to defend what is right and to defend the everyday people that go about their lives oblivious of the evil of the world around them.  I am thankful for all the soldiers that protect us and guide us, but I am especially proud of Blackhawk Crew Chief Alex.  May God bless America!

Day 44

Well I slept great last night.  I must of been really tired.  All the running around the past couple of days wore me out.  I did 6 miles around the lake today!  That was awesome for me and the most I have done!  I am excited about the fact that I even made it around.  I walked and jogged the last four. I wish I could get my muscles in my legs to not cramp up. It is always an issue.  Anyway, long day, lots to do!  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Original Burj Khalifa Tower

A skyscraper is building that juts above other buildings and changes the surrounding skyline.  There is no set height that a building must reach in order to be called a skyscraper.  Most modern day heavily populated cities have skyscrapers.  Over the years many different buildings have been called the world’s largest.  The current largest skyscraper is the Burj Khalifa Tower.  This tower is located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and it stands two thousand seven hundred and seventeen feet tall (2717 ft).   They estimate that it cost 1.5 billion dollars to build the tower.    Can you imagine that 1.5 billion dollars?  This however is not the tallest tower in the history of the world.  The tallest tower was the tower of Babel built on the plain of Shinar.  It was the original Burj Khalifa tower.
Soon after the great flood a group of people came together and decided to make a name for themselves by building a city and a tower to try and reach the heavens.  They were trying to keep themselves from being scattered all over the world.  While they were working on this tower, the Lord came down to see what they were doing.  When the Lord saw that they were accomplishing their goal, he said that because they all spoke one language and were able to do this together that there was nothing that would be impossible for them.  The Lord then confused their languages so that they couldn’t understand each other and spread them out across the world. 
It’s amazing how even during the early days of existence, people wanted to see how high they can build a tower.  Although there is so much land and space available in the world, people populate a certain area.  When they ran out of land the only place to go is up.  That is when skyscrapers are built.  They are built for offices, hotels, stores, and apartments. The Burj Khalifa tower has over 900 apartments in it.  The tower of Babel wasn’t built for apartments, or stores, or offices.  It was built so that the people of the world could make a name for themselves so that they wouldn’t be scattered across the world.
Isn’t it interesting that they wanted to make a name for themselves?  I think in modern times, that is why architects and countries shoot to build the world’s biggest skyscraper.  They want to make a name for themselves for having the world’s largest skyscraper.  There isn’t a need for the largest skyscraper, we aren’t without space which would require us to build upward.  I don’t think spending 1.5 billion dollars just so you can have the world’s largest skyscraper is very practical either.
The fact is that this want, this need to go toward the heavens is not a new concept.  It was started thousands of years ago before the world was even vastly populated like it is now.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to know if any the people who build skyscrapers in the world today are direct decedents of those that engineered the tower of Babel?  Maybe it’s just in their blood to build tall buildings. 
I plan to reach heaven one day, but trust me it will not be in a tower.  The world needs to focus on their individual personal towers instead of building skyscrapers.  Each of us has it with us to reach higher than any tower that could possibly be built.  When we focus on our personal beliefs, talents, and abilities and we keep Christ first in our lives, we are growing a foundation that will lead to a tower that will reach high above all other towers and we will reach heaven. The height of neither the Burj Khalifa tower nor the tower of Babel will ever come close to the heights that we will reach. 

Day 43

Toda has been hectic.  I didn't get to exercise because I have been so busy.  I am really feeling it.  I need to find something to do.  I have so much to still do this week but I am excited for the weekend!  I can't wait.  I am thinking that this might be the week that I don't lose anything.  I just need to stay focused, eat right and exercise when I can.  The rest will fall into place.  I have stayed strong with my blog no matter how late it has gotten, I have written my entry.  Ok gotta run!  See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

R is for Rough Class

I used to spend one week of my summer at a Leadership camp.   I would take anywhere between 10 and 20 youth with me to camp.  The purpose of this camp is to build strong leaders but with a major fitness component as well.  Unfortunately the fitness component was the piece made some of the classes very hard and labor intensive.  Each year you attended you took classes and if you failed a class, you didn’t progress to the next year but if you choose to return, you would still be the same year class.  The program ran for 6 years before you had to be an advisor or on staff as a teacher.  The fact that there were pass or fail classes and honestly some of the teachers were harsh about it was one of the things that upset me about this camp.  If it hadn’t been part of my job, I don’t think I would have taken my youth there. 
Most of my youth absolute loved the experience.  There were few that went one year and didn’t go back.  Most of my youth were in very good shape and passed all their classes and tests with flying colors.  Throughout all my time at this camp, I brought one youth with me named Rebecca.  Rebecca played a major role in all the activities that I had available.  She would always come and participate.  I can still remember that smile and her laugh.  She was a sweetheart.  Rebecca was a heavier set youth and struggled with the fitness testing and the classes that she had to take.  We would often work on it but it was hard for her some years.
My last year attending this camp, Rebecca was taking a class with a teacher who was an older gentleman that had been a part of the school for forty years.  He was very strict about the physical fitness part of camp.  Throughout the week, Rebecca would come and talk to me and tell me that she can’t do what she needs to do in the class and that the teacher gets frustrated with her and she thought she was going to fail.  We talked about it and worked on some things and she felt she had gotten better as the week went on and was very confident that she had improved enough by the end of the week to pass the clock. 
On the last day, the advisors have to go to each class and listen to see if all their youth have passed the class.  I walked into the classroom and sat down.  The teacher read the list and when he got to Rebecca’s name, he said “Sorry by Rebecca failed the class.”  I looked at him and went up to talk to him.  I asked him why and he told me that she had improved but not enough to pass.  I was devastated.  I was angry.  I was fighting back tears.  How was I supposed to go out and tell this youth that I love and tries so hard that she failed the class?
I walked out and Rebecca was waiting for me on the stairs.  I took one look at her and she took one look at me and I burst out into tears.  “I’m sorry you didn’t pass girlie,” I said with tears running down my cheeks. She reached for me and I hugged her up.  She started to cry and for a long time we stood there on the stairs together, hugging and crying.  Eventually she wiped the tears from her eyes and said, “it’s okay, I’ll pass it next year.”    I wiped my eyes on my sleeve and said, “that’s right, you will pass it next year.”
It is such a shame that such a wonderful camp and experience for her had to end like that, but I think we both grew from the experience.  I know that God was working through her that day.  He showed me that I truly care so much for my youth.  He should me that through his love our youth have strength and resilience that will help them make it through tough situations.  He showed me that even if I don’t agree with the outcome; his love will shine through and put a ray of hope in my heart. 
It is tough to watch one of my youth cry, but even tougher when I am crying with them. Rebecca will always be a special memory in my head of a youth that I cared so much for that I was able to express my true emotions and cry with her.  She was the rock and the one to state that she had next year!