Sunday, November 6, 2011

Surgery 101

About 10-12 years ago a new bone decided to grow on my foot. I have had bunions since late middle school and have had pain from them since high school. Closed toed shoes are a nightmare. Even just ballet flats. Heels - would have shooting pain after about 30 minutes. Forget trying to be on my feet very long - even in comfy tennis shoes it was awful. The worst was winter - I would wake up in the morning - having not had shoes on for hours and the cold would just make them hurt. Well Thursday was the day. Thursday I had surgery to remove my right bunion. Too bad surgery isn't just a walk in the park. It's Sunday afternoon and I've had my foot elevated and iced ever since - I still can't walk. But the fact that this is just a bit of pain now for a lifetime free from bunion pain - it's worth it. In two weeks on Nov. 17th I'll get my left bunion removed. So I'll have to do this weekend all over again. Each foot has to be in a boot for 6 weeks - so 4 weeks with double boot and 8 weeks with boots in all. I say boot - it's more like a super big Teeva. I think all these years of bunions have prevented me from being a runner. So maybe I'll be a runner now. Doubtful. But I do know I can go for walks, play tennis, etc. (things I love) without any more pain! I'll have a scar to show for it. I can keep my heels on a weddings and not have to switch to flats! I'm going to be brand new!!! For now, I'll keep hopping, keep icing, keep resting. But in 8 weeks, watch out, I'm going to be running all over the place!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lately it's been about JOY and being CONTENT

I realized today that a lot of my life lately has been filled with JOY. I also think the word CONTENT has described things. I feel like I'm in a rhythm and it has me satisfied. Satisfied with my relationship with Jesus - when that's right, it all becomes right. I've taken on more this year and I worried that with more "stuff" would come more stress. But the Lord is faithful and He makes it all work. If he brings me to something and it's what I'm supposed to be doing then it will work out well.
New thing #1: Yoga. Who would have known it? I am not your typical yogi...and maybe since I've only been doing it for a month it's too early to call me a yogi...but I'm really loving it. One of the biggest indicator that I am committed is that I get up twice a week at 6am for 6:30 classes. And for those who know me best...I am not a morning person. I'm the type who would get a 9:30am class in college and be devastated that I would have to wake up so early for class to make it in time. I've also had back problems for more than 10 years which over the past 5 years has become neck and shoulder problems. I think yoga is the first thing to help me - not cure it - but help it.
New thing #2: two new bible studies. One for me - CBS. I meet with about 200 other women in South Tampa every Thursday morning to go through the book of Luke. We're only on week two but I am loving it. There are also a few people my age there which is a bonus! Two for 9th grade girls. I am meeting with some freshman girls Wednesday after school and they are HUNGRY to be filled and satisfied with truth. They just want to grow and know Jesus more and it is such an encouragement.
Continuing thing that is so good #1: My job. I love my job. I get to love on teenagers and tell them about the best life possible: one in relationship with Jesus Christ. I am constantly amazed that I get paid to do what I LOVE and what fulfills me. I've wanted to do this since I was 16 and yes there are hard days when I wonder how I will get through - but Jesus gets me through. I love my teenagers - they are the best. From every hysterical middle school boy to mature and fun high school girl and every teenager in between - Jesus continues to give me a heart for them and bring me new ones.
Continuing thing that is so good #2: my number one partner in ministry, Matt. This morning I was like can you believe we get to do this together? This is our life! Last night we ran through the fountains at Curtis Hixon park with about 40 middle schoolers and then did it all over again with about 30 high schoolers. Talk about faces filled with joy. We were like a bunch of 10 year olds. It was so freeing to just run through those fountains. What a picture of the gospel to just run with arms wide open through gushing water - joy. Christ brings joy. Matt gave the chapel talk at St. Mary's today (and although slightly embarrassed when he said it because 300 tiny faces turned and stared at me) he shared that the thing to look for in your spouse is someone who wants to go out into the world and share the gospel (the good news) with you to everyone, everywhere. He's right...that is just the best.
So I am JOYFUL with all that I have and I am CONTENT right where I am because God is good.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

oh dear, I'm afraid it's been a while again

Well with Matt back to the books with grad school, perhaps I will make more time for my blog! It's unlikely that I'll stick with it...but hey! a girl can try. With Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, I'm afraid the 'ole blog gets tossed to the wind.
This weekend we're heading to Rock the Universe!!!
It's my third time leading this trip.
Year one: Friday night at Rock the Universe at Universal Studios...headed back to Tampa for a lock-in at the HUB. Last all nighter I hope to ever pull. Around 35 total.
Year two: Friday night at Rock the Universe at Universal Studios, spent the night in a Orlando hotel, then Saturday at Islands of Adventure, then back to Tampa that late afternoon. Around 42 total.
Year three: Friday AND Saturday night at Rock the Universe at Universal Studio, two nights in an Orlando hotel, and ALL DAY Saturday at Islands of Adventure. Around 51 total.
Perhaps I'm growing more insane with age? Nahh...I love this weekend! It's such a great way to jump-start the fall!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I was Blind but now I See

Last night at High School Summer Nights we watched the second part of Louie Giglio's video: Hope When Life Hurts Most. He talked about how suffering is amplifies our message. Everyone has a life message. When suffering hits, our message is shouted out like a megaphone to those around us. He talked about the self-preservation person. The one who cares about getting as far down the road in the best shape possible without sickness and tragedy...they want this for themselves and for their family. But what happens when trouble, death, and sickness does come? They hit a wall. They question the goodness and even the existence of God. Their ultimate goal in life has been destroyed and they have no control. He talked about though if our ultimate goal is glorifying God. If we trade up our self-preservation goal for something bigger than at the end we can still say God is good. It reminds me of the story of the blind man in John 9. The disciples are asking Jesus why a certain blind man was born blind. They asked if it was his sin or his parent's sin that led him to this point. Jesus answered that it was neither his nor his parents sin. Rather, he was born blind "so that the work of God might be displayed in his life." This man's suffering could become a megaphone and an amplifier for Jesus Christ. Had this man not been born blind, how could we see Jesus work a miracle and give him his sight? Suffering amplifies our message. I pray now in the calm that when the storms come I might be a megaphone and amplify that God is good. God is good despite our circumstances. God is good despite our losses. God is always good.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Working Through Things

I swear I'm not a hippee. I also swear I don't condone murderer. I believe in justice. But I am a little overwhelmed by all the true burning hate everyone in the world feels towards Casey Anthony. Now if all that I read on Twitter and Facebook were about wanting justice for Caylee Anthony, I would understand so much more. But not a word about Caylee. Not a single word for her and her gruesome death. Not a word about the messed up world we live in that there are people out there who would murder children. Just sheer hate for Casey Anthony. Did she kill her daughter or didn't she? I don't know. Most people seem 100% convinced she did. I didn't watch any of the trial so I can't say. But did they watch it enough to come to that conclusion? Did they look at all the evidence and say - YES - 100% without a shadow of a doubt Casey Anthony murdered her daughter? Would they want to be on the jury? The one who's decision would mean the life or death of another human being? I wouldn't ever want that burden. I've read statuses that say "Burn in hell Casey Anthony" or "Watch out Casey Anthony, I'm coming to our house with a gun tonight." Seriously?! Again, NOT in any way saying that I think anyone who has done something completely punch you in the stomach awful like committed murder should go free. Of course I don't believe that. I'm just overwhelmed with reactions. I just wish more people were talking about the grief and heartbreak about the death of Caylee. I wish I saw a passion for justice in what people are saying. Instead I see hate breeding hate and death breeding another kind of death - the death of mercy.
Thank goodness it's not about us. Thank goodness we have a Savior who is bigger than all of this. Thank goodness we have a Father in Heaven who loves justice and loves grace. Thank goodness we have a Savior who loved us enough to die for us. Thank goodness it's not up to us.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two Books

I am currently reading two books that have me thinking about all sorts of things. The first is Rob Bell's Love Wins. I have been a fan of Rob Bell's since high school when I first watched several Nooma videos at a bible study. Just last summer I showed the Nooma videos to my high schoolers during Summer Nights. When I heard a few months ago about Rob Bell's new book I was really interested to read it. Everything I heard made it sound like he was now a universalist. "In Christianity, Universalism can refer to the beliefs that all humans either may or will be saved through Jesus Christ and eventually come to harmony in God's kingdom" (Wikipedia page on Universalism). I wasn't familiar with this theology and so I was curious to see how Bell dealt with scripture. I am only 100 pages in - so I still have a ways to go. In the beginning, I liked the way he continued to pose question after question. Questions that Christians have wondered for centuries. At what age is a person held accountable for their response to the gospel? Who really knows the heart of anyone but God? If you really have to pray a specific prayer to accept Christ into your life then what about the criminal next to Jesus on the cross who simply asked Jesus to remember him? I liked how Bell posed that each individual's journey to coming to faith was different. Ok. Fair Enough. But then he started getting into things that were a little off base biblically. He talked about how the words "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" weren't in the bible. Ok so maybe those exact words aren't in there...but what else could Jesus mean when he said "Follow Me" than to be in relationship with him. It's hard to be with some one, spend time with someone, follow someone, and not call that a relationship. I think Jesus absolutely invites us into a relationship with him. He also doesn't like to talk about a future reality. He wants to only deal with the here and now. "To say it again, eternal life is lessa bout a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of life lived now in connection to God" Bell, pg 59. There are some theologians who place to much emphasis on life after death. There are others who place more on the here and now. But I believe it's both. I believe eternal life with Jesus starts immediately when you accept Christ here on earth and continues after you die. "For it is my Father's will that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" John 6:40. It's here now and it's later and then. It's forever. Bell in the beginning of his book also goes back and forth about why is it only those who accept Christ that go to Heaven? If he's asking that question then he must also wonder why Jesus even came. Jesus came to bring the dead to life. Jesus came to make a way for us - after all he tells us he's "the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through him" John 14:6. Why would God send his only son to come and die for us? To reconcile his people. To put all the brokenness and messyness and sin of the world on his shoulders. He came and lived the life we should have and died the death we should have. What about all of that Rob Bell? Are you undercutting the work of the cross? Now to be fair I'm only on page 100 - I've got more reading. But this is where he has me right now. If in the end it doesn't matter who you were, what you did, what you will win and you'll be Ok...then why did Jesus have to die?

Here's the other book I'm reading, Robert Coleman's The Master Plan of Evangelism. I've only read the first two chapters of this book, but again and again I find myself thinking about Jesus's plan of ministry. The book talks about how Jesus loved the crowds, cared for them, healed them, loved them, wept with them...but ultimately Jesus spent his time with his twelve disciples. Recently I wrote down a list of kids that I feel "responsible" to love and minster to in middle school and high school in South Tampa. The list is incredibly long and filled with teenagers who desperately need the love of Christ and desire to grow closer to him. Jesus - who was fully God - chose twelve. It is a comfort and helps me direct my time. I'm still figuring this thing out. The thing that blows my mind the most though is the ones that Jesus poured into for three years...not that a pastor poured into, that Jesus himself poured into - of those twelve - one betrayed him, one denied him, and all abandoned him. If this doesn't show the power of free will then I don't know what else does. In John 6:66 it says, "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." I know the feeling I get when a kid stops coming to youth group or a bible study. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for Jesus to have some of his disciples walk away from HIM. That is crazy. The had love and truth directly in front of them - life to the full - and they turned away. I am continuing to navigate the time that I spend with teenagers and how best to pour out myself to them. July 1 marks the second anniversary of being the youth director at First Pres. God has done incredible, amazing things. He has shown me the power of his Spirit in ways I have never seen it before. I am anxious to see what year three holds - trusting in his power and grace. Leaning upon him for where to go, what to say, and what to do.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


God's painting on a canvas bigger than anything we could see or imagine. --Louie Giglio

We've been watching The Heart of Passion series with the high schoolers of HUB during Summer Nights. Last night we watched, "Hope: When Life Hurts Most." Louie described life as a whole as a beautiful canvas that God is painting. We can't see the whole picture - but God is working everything for eternal good. Despite our circumstances, when you look at the cross you can be assured that God loves you...even when your circumstances may be telling you otherwise. It was beautiful to watch teenagers who have dealt with hurt and pain come to a point where they could see the beauty of the cross and understand that their lives are being painted on God's canvas. What's at the center of the canvas? The part of the picture that shines most brightly and the eye can't help but be drawn to over and over again? The cross.
I found this picture on the internet...I just googled canvas. I love how the prominent feature is a tree. Just like the cross.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Southwind 2011

Sixteen girls plus one high school leader plus me equals 18 girls who made up my cabin! It was a phenomenal week and such a testimony to God's grace and relentless love. I'm grateful for the chacne to continue to grow with these girls back in Tampa!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Neath the Pines of Palma Ceia

On Friday, June 3rd, Matt and I went to Plant High School's graduation. I hadn't been to one since my own in 2005. It was such a fun way to celebrate and support our 2011 seniors. We are certainly going to miss them next year.
Matt and I realized we didn't take a picture of the two of us. Since we were in traffic for forever trying to get out of the fairgrounds, we decided to snap a pic!

Forget the Spring, It's Time for Summer

I guess you can say I took a wee hiatus from blogging. So rather than trying to back track and go over everything that happened from February to May, I think I'll just start fresh in June. A little time spent at the beach was a nice way to kick off the summer for Memorial Day Weekend!
Matt finished up that Friday and we were able to spend three days with everyone!
To keep the beach days going...I took my 10th grade small group to Frenchy's for dinner as a surprise. Five of us were able to go. I can't believe these girls are halfway through high school!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maybe We Can See TSwift!

March 17-21 I am taking 40 high schoolers and 4 other leaders to do flood relief in Nashville, TN. It has been a crazy ride trying to get all the details in order. We've got the airplane tickets booked and lodging and service opportunities lined up through the TN Conference Disaster Response Team. All that's left is figuring out the final details on renting vans and then figuring out where we'll go to have some major fun in Music City.

Last year I took a similar trip to New Orleans to help out at the Lower Ninth Ward Village. I hope that the Lord will use this trip as greatly as he used last year's trip to New Orleans. I'm looking forward to the adventure!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nom Nom

Right after Christmas, Matt and I along with dozens of teenagers headed up to North Carolina for a week at Windy Gap. Here is my whole cabin!

One of my favorite days at camp was Straight Hair Day. This was a day our cabin decided to have because several of us have really curly hair! This is the longest my hair has ever been and probably will ever be!

Deck the Halls

This was our first Christmas in our house. There is no better way to celebrate the season than with good friends - so we invited my high school friends over for a party. Here's a shot of us in front of our Christmas tree which stood in front of our picture window.

Christmas morning - Santa came!